Monday, May 21, 2012

We Need Worship!

It would be nice to believe that we can do it on our own.
It would be nice to believe that we don’t need anyone else. 
All we need is ourselves, and our hard work, our own savvy and brains.
Let me say something radical this morning. None of us makes it on our own.
I don’t care who you are or what you have done, you at some point in your life dependent on someone else for something.
If you are a successful business person if it wasn’t for all the people that work for you that do their jobs well you wouldn’t be successful.
If you never had to ask for help before in your life it is probably because someone has been helping you all this time and you just never acknowledged it before.
 I have people all the time who call the church looking for help and they say something like, “I’ve never had to do this before. I have never had to ask for help.”
I say the same thing every time, “We all need help at some point.”
That old cliché is true, “No man/woman is an island.”
This morning’s Jesus prays for us.
We hear in his prayer his desire for the Church after he leaves.
It is nice to think of Jesus praying for us individually. But what is most interesting is what he prays for.
He does not pray that individually we go out and conquer the world.
He does not pray that individual we have more faith.
Jesus prays that we might be protected and have faith so that we might be one.
“Holy father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”
Our protection from the world or faith in the name that is above every name comes from our oneness.
It comes from being together.
But more than merely being together our oneness is not tied up in our individual ideas.
It is tied up in the person of Jesus Christ.
Our oneness is not about if we agree on everything.
It is not about if we share the same doctrinal positions, or the same outlook.
It is only about our faith in Jesus Christ. But you see our faith is also not an individual accomplishment.
You do not come to faith on your own.
It is the work of the God.
As Luther said, “I believe that of my own free will I cannot believe in God.”
We come together on Sunday mornings to share in something far beyond ourselves.
It is something that makes us rely on others for our lives.
Most of all it makes us rely on God for our lives.
This past week another pastor from Pennsylvania, Don Wright posted this little poem on his Facebook page.
If I had all faith, so as to move mountains, I would not require water for baptism.
God's word would be enough. I would not require bread and wine for Holy Communion.
The Words of Institution would be enough. I would not need the Church for my faith alone would be enough.
But as it is I do not have faith the size of a mustard seed for I cannot even move a molehill, let alone a mountain.
Therefore give me water, give me bread and give me wine. Surround me with the prayers, the singing, and the joyous fellowship of the saints. Wrapped with God's Word it is enough.
This is what the Church does for us it gives us faith. In it we find strength.
We find strength in being together around the precious and holy symbols of God’s care for us.
Today in worship as we sing songs about Christ, as we hear Jesus prayer for us, as we remember our baptisms, as we receive the body and blood of Christ, we remember that being together is what Jesus wanted for us.
Think about all the other ways that Jesus could have helped us.
Think of the other things that Jesus could have prayed. Jesus could have taken us with him into heaven. Jesus could have ended all things.
Maybe he should have prayed that the world would end so that we could all be with God in heaven.
But instead Jesus leaves his disciples behind.
Jesus goes on without them. (Of course he does not leave them alone…You will have to come back next week for that.)
Instead his prayer is that we remain in the world to carry on the work. “I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.”
His prayer is that we remain one so that together we might be able to defeat and push back evil.
This week I heard someone call this priestly prayer of Jesus his commencement speech to his disciples.
You know it is that time of year when young people graduate.
And at each graduation there are speeches about going into the world and changing it, making a difference.
 I can still remember the speeches, from our valedictorian and salutatorian, when I graduated from high school.
They were both inspiring.
They were both hopeful about all the great things that we would do as the class of 1992.
The difference in Jesus’ prayer is that we do great things not because of our greatness, but because we remain as one, because we turn our lives over to God.
Jesus commencement speech is different because it tells us to rely on God and each other for all the great things we will do.
This week as I was preparing to preach about our Gospel for this morning I was thinking about all of us here.
I was thinking about all the things that people in our congregation are going through right now. I was thinking this morning about the people that might be worshiping with us for the first time.
I know that many of you are facing some very difficult times.
Some of you are confronted with serious evil. Some of you are dealing with your own sin or the sins of others.
Some of you are fighting off some pretty difficult demons.
I am willing to bet that your faith is either sustaining you, or it is crushing under the weight of daily life.
This morning I want you to know that you don’t have to do it alone.
You don’t have to suffer by yourself.
You don’t have to keep it going by yourself.
You don’t have to pray for more faith, because Jesus is here for you. Jesus has given himself for you; Jesus has created this community with all of its own imperfections, to be here for you. Jesus gave us his word.
 His Word that forgives us, that moves mountains, that lifts us up when we have fallen to the depths of despair.
 It is in Church this morning that we have that Word given to us in song, scripture, water, wine and bread.
 As we said together from Psalm 1 “Their delight is in the law of the Lord and they mediate on God’s teaching day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in due season.”
Psalm 1 is like a great invitation to mediate on God’s Word, and to live in the splendor of that Word.
Psalm 1 invites us into the Psalms so that we might let God heal every broken heart, every crushed soul.
 This morning as we hear God’s Word and are overcome with its invitation to us let us remember that with God’s Word it is enough.
Left with only our self-fortitude we are in trouble.
But with the Church that gives us faith, we can move mountains.
Let us continue to mediate on God’s word that we experience together in songs, fellowship, water, bread and wine, so that we might be planted like trees by streams of water, so that we might be one, and we might be able to fend off the evil one. Amen

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