10212018 22 Aft Pent 21 Aft Trinity Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

“Membership Matters: Membership is God’s gift to me!”

10212018 22 Aft Pent 21 Aft Trinity Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

October 21, 2018

“Membership Matters: Membership is God’s gift to me!”

Sermon Audio

Recently all of you heard of the passing of my Aunt Kathy in Virginia and I sincerely appreciate the heartfelt expressions of sympathy.  This past week her daughter Rebecca, expressed a sentiment that resonated with me concerning her feelings of loss. She said in a Facebook post, “she felt heartbroken because she missed the opportunity she had become used to of calling up her mother when she was having a ‘bad day’ and hearing comforting words from her mother that she was a ‘child of God’”

In our introit for this morning which is one of the auxiliary liturgical texts for this morning, David connects clearly with this same sentiment of being ‘heartbroken’.  David connects being ‘heartbroken’ with a truth we need to hear. In Psalm 34:18, David responds to our feeling broken hearted like Rebecca saying, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

We who gather here today as well as many in our world are ‘broken hearted’.  Daily individuals in our world and even members here at Emmanuel carry burdens that are overwhelming and make us feel like we are being drowned by the cares of this world and have no salvation.  Whether it is the relationships we have with our spouse, children, both near and far, jobs that cause us undue stress because of change that is uncertain what the outcome will be or disease or failure of our bodies that even medicine can only find remedies that are short term fixes, whether by surgery or taking a pill.  We who gather as the Body of Christ feel broken and hurt and doubt how the church and even God can fix that which we face today. This is why soldiers facing PTSD see suicide as the only way out, depression among our culture is at an all time high, prescription drugs are used to help us face the day and why we wonder if the message we hear from this pulpit, receive from the Altar of God or sing about in our worship really matters.

Ultimately for the church and for we who gather today, it is a question we ask why Membership Matters?  I have truthfully struggled with this myself in my lifetime and even recently. It seems the front door for our church and the back door here at Emmanuel are not only wide open, but we daily have the challenge of having people attend worship and Bible Study, making ends meet with our budget and giving, feeling engaged in our service and even how we communicate with people and it translates to how we proclaim the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In light of loss both near and far, health that challenges each of us today, I return to the question, “Why Membership Matters?”  We are a broken people in relationship with one another, broken in how we treat one another, broken in every facet of our lives. Why would a person who comes here to Emmanuel choose to sit in the pew for an hour?  Commit to returning weekly to worship here, receive the Body and Blood of a Man Who walked the earth 2000 years ago and desire to become involved in a church that looking at the numbers seems destined if things don’t change to being obsolete?

The simplest answer I find to this question “Why Membership Matters?” comes not from me, nor from we who gather here today.  The answer comes by inspiration of God, yet again from King David. David felt the same way we do today, neglected, outcast, doubting his own worth in the eyes of the people he loved and were loved by him.  David found the answer and he gives it to us today in Psalm 91. David wrote: (Psalm 91:11) “11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”

The He that David writes about is none other than God our Father.  You see, God our Father Who created each and every one of us in our mother’s womb is the same One Who ‘will command His angels concerning’ each and every one of us gathered here today and Who claims clearly that our Membership Matters.  For the message God wants us to hear today is that Membership is God’s Gift to Me, not ‘me’ the Pastor, but the Me of ‘we the people’ who gather here weekly to hear the Word of God, receive His precious Body and Blood and we who take an interest in our church in affirming how we are called to budget and spend God’s gifts received in our offering.

Membership is God’s Gift to Me isn’t about getting our way in any decision, but by sacrificing our entitlement mentality and serving God for His Glory not our own.  For the Gift of Membership we receive finds fulfillment in the message of Grace, Forgiveness, Mercy and Love we proclaim in song, in action and in deed when we leverage the gift of grace given freely and lovingly to each and everyone of us from God in order for God’s message of salvation proclaimed in our world for the people of God.

Today in our Epistle lesson, Paul in his letter to the Hebrews says something profound and very true.  He says, “we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:14-16)

Today our culture, our world, our community and especially our church here at Emmanuel needs to hear and heed Paul’s words.  We need to draw near to the ‘throne of Grace’ of Jesus Christ. For it is at the throne not only accessing, but demonstrating that our Membership Matters that we show what God offers us in Membership is God’s gift to Me.  And as Paul concluded, what is promised us is that “we may receive mercy and find grace” for each and every one of us so that we will receive from God through His Son Jesus Christ, “help in time of need.”  This is God’s promise to us and how we should not block God’s promises to us today found in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

This is why Membership Matters and it is God’s Gift of His Son Jesus Christ given to each and every one of us.  Let us share in this gift of His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ and personally claim it for ourselves and lovingly share it with others by inviting them to come, encounter our Savior, Jesus Christ, and receive God’s promises for us from His Word, His Body and Blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins for all of mankind as we make it a personal slogan for ourselves saying, “Membership is God’s Gift to me.”  AMEN.