More Trust, Less Fear!

Pastor Jim Kniseley preached this sermon at Resurrection on June 29, 2014, the Third Sunday after Pentecost.  The theme comes from 3 sources: Matthew 10, the “Cross and the Dove” Anniversary Moment, and Resurrection’s Guiding Principles.

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

 

I am giving this sermon a title: More Trust, Less Fear!  Would you agree that in every generation of the Church, Christians need to be reminded that our strength comes not from  ourselves, but from the Lord?  If we trust just in ourselves and in our resources and our understanding, we are truly weak.

 

We have a Vision Statement that is shared by almost 10,000 ELCA congregations across the United States.  See and hear how we have personalized it:

 

Resurrection Lutheran Church is a Christ-centered family of believers, so deeply and confidently rooted in the Gospel of God’s grace, that we are free to give our lives joyfully in witness and service to those whom God has brought into our lives: within our congregation, our community, and our world.

 

What does it mean to be deeply and confidently rooted in the Gospel of God’s grace?  It means that we trust that our God wants the best for us in this life and the next.  It means that everything we have is a gift from God.  It means that we can trust God to get us through any adversities we may encounter and that in the end everything will be just fine.

 

I really like our 25th Anniversary Logo.  This was developed by members of our 25th Anniversary Committee and charter members Tom and Nancy Evans are to be especially thanked for taking the lead on this.  While we are thanking God for these 25 years of Resurrection, we must humbly note this is just a sliver of time in the history of the Body of Christ.  We are mere infants and are still in the formative stages of what we shall be.  Hopefully every one of us here today realizes that these things are true: we are still in the midst of building a firm foundation, we are still experiencing  birth pangs, we sometimes stumble as we learn to walk, growing up is a hard thing to do at times, and this can be a joyous time as we look for signs of God’s presence in the life of this congregation.

 

One of the symbols in this logo is the dove.  The dove is a wonderful sign of the Holy Spirit.  It appeared at Jesus’ baptism and God said: This is my Son, my beloved.  With him I am well pleased.  Listen to him!  On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended on the believers.  And various gifts were given for the building up of the Body of Christ.  The symbols that we associate with Pentecost include flames of fire and the dove of the Holy Spirit.  We trust that the Holy Spirit is present in our lives at Resurrection now, has been present these past 25 years, and will be present here in the future.

 

We have a Purpose Statement here at Resurrection.  It is easy to remember because of the letters RLC: Resurrection Lutheran Church (RLC) Reflects the Love of Christ (RLC) by Reaching, Loving and Caring (RLC).

 

We have  seven  Guiding Principles that remind us how to practice RLC.

 

1.     Jesus is Lord and Savior – In all that we say and do we serve Jesus, for by His grace

we are saved through faith.

 

2.     We trust in the Lord – Through God all things are possible.

 

3.     We call on God.

 

4.     We invite and welcome all people.

 

5.     We share God’s blessings generously as we are generously blessed.

 

6.     We proclaim the Good News of the love of Christ in word and deed at all times and in all places.

 

7.     We participate in a global communion of churches as ecumenical Lutherans.

 

Our gospel lesson today is from Matthew 10.  Jesus is sending out the Twelve Disciples to conduct a mission of healing.  Some of words to them are also for us: Do not be afraid…Are not two sparrows sold for a penny.  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows…Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

 

 

What does “taking up your cross mean for our congregation, for you and me?  This is the part of being a follower of Jesus that is hard for so many people.  We tend to love being a Christian when life is sweet and the earthly trappings of success are evident and folks around applaud.  But then we look to Jesus who died on the cross willingly and the world thought he was an utter failure.  We look to the Disciples of Jesus and learn that 11 of them willingly gave their lives as martyrs.  Only John lived into his 90’s and at the end was living in exile on the Island of Patmos.

 

When I think of folks “taking up their cross” I think of so many of you in this congregation today.  Through thick and thin, through adversity and joy, in lean times and in flush times, you have witnessed through your trust, through prayer, through digging deeper into your pockets, through blood, sweat and tears.  You’ve done so to uphold some of those Guiding Principles, especially the ones that talk about welcoming all people, by trusting in the Lord, and by sharing God’s blessings.

 

Again, the title of this sermon is More Trust, Less Fear!

Amen.