10072018 20 Aft Pent 19 Aft Trinity Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

“Membership Matters: Who am I responsible for?”


10072018 20 Aft Pent 19 Aft Trinity Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

October 7, 2018

“Membership Matters: Who am I responsible for?”

Sermon Audio

In the first book of Holy Scripture after the creation of the universe, the biting of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, our first parents have two children.  In typical fashion the brothers, Cain and Abel have a ‘rocky relationship’. What is more profound their relationship results in the first death in the bible. What is so profound about this is the conversation, not between Cain and his father Adam, but the dialogue between God and Cain.

God asks Cain a simple question, “Where is Abel your brother?”  And Cain’s response is non-commital when he says, “I don’t know; am I my brother’s keeper?”  This response impacts each of us who claim our membership as Members of Emmanuel.  In our Membership Matters series we have answered many questions concerning membership like ‘why’ be members, ‘what we are’ as members and ‘how can God redeem us’?  Today the rubber hits the road, because we need to rectify and respond to a very personal question, that even Cain struggled with nearly 7000 years ago. Since “Membership Matters:  Who am I responsible for?”

It is clear that we are responsible for our individual actions.  We confessed it earlier, when we said, ‘by what I have done and by what I have left undone’.  Yet this only scratches the surface of our responsibility.  The responsibility we have began with God’s responsibility to and for us.  God out of His love for us seeks us out. God wants us to know and feel His presence and be comforted in everything we encounter in our daily lives, knowing He is with us always.  God daily and personally seeks and wants us to be with Him in His Kingdom for eternity. The desire on God’s part flows for each of us into our opportunity to lovingly seek our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  For our responsibility is not only for ourselves, but also for each other as the church and especially as members of the Body of Christ.

Our membership in the Body of Christ flows from our Baptism into Jesus Christ, His life, death and resurrection.  For Jesus Christ even died for both Cain and Abel in order to set them and us free and offer us the greatest gift of eternal life.  Even though we at times avoid like typhoid mary our responsibility to and for our brothers and sisters in Christ, God still wants us to understand His desire is that we look out for, love and seek others to hear the good news of what He offers all of mankind.

The responsibility we face and daily can encounter in response to “Who am I responsible for?” isn’t meant to scare us, but to engage us to see our brothers and sisters in Christ as God’s way of binding us together.  In our Baptism we are bound to Christ and to one another as co-heirs of eternal life in the Body of Christ. This binding isn’t only within the confines of these four walls, but is meant to include all of our lives and encounters outside of these four walls.

“Who am I responsible for?” doesn’t end with the people we call our church family or our ‘small group’ that we call weekly, have coffee or a meal with, but is meant to be the beginning of how we can show we are Christians by our love for all the world.  A very good example of this is what occurs every day at the top of the hill in our sub-development. All of us remember the days when we would go to the one place where the bus would come and ‘pick us up’ to transport us to school.  As a parent, I look out for Sarah, but also I take my responsibility of her and the other children of our neighborhood very seriously. If a car or vehicle is coming down the lane or up the hill at a high rate of speed, like a ‘mother hen’ I herd the kids to safety, because, I don’t want anything to happen to them.  Yes their parents may be waiting there in their cars or standing with me, but I want to show my love for these gifts from God for their family and insure that no one is harmed, even to the point of escorting some kids down the street until they are safely at their home.

This may seem like an extreme for some, because these children are not my own.  But I look to the question that Cain was asked by God about Abel and look and take my responsibility for all of God’s children and masterpieces seriously including the children of my neighborhood.  Are we to do no less here at Emmanuel? When we haven’t seen our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, do we think, that’s what we pay the Pastor to do? Yes this is possible, but it also is our individual responsibility, our opportunity and our calling as well fulfilling God’s desire in our baptismal calling in living and caring for all of the people God brings to the church here at Emmanuel.  

Ultimately it is our opportunity to answer “Who am I responsible for?” by seeking the lost and showing the love of Christ for all of mankind by our gathering God’s children here through our contact and our caring for them.  In this way we clearly show one another the love of God found through Jesus Christ and that Membership Matters and answering “Who am I responsible for?” with, ‘We are responsible for ourselves and everyone we meet in our world as God’s Children.’  AMEN.