Friday, September 5, 2014

Proper 18

Proper 18
13 Sunday after Pentecost
7 September 2014
Matthew 18:18-20
“When We All Get Together”

So, why do we gather anyway? Why go to church? Why take the time to meet? On a regular basis? You’ve come here today. Why? Why did you come? There are a hundreds of other things you could have done? So why should church attendance be such a priority?

From the Catechism, we are instructed. “We should fear and love God that we may NOT despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.”  We observe Sunday and other church festivals in order to have time and opportunity for public worship. The early Christians. The 1st Century believers, observed the first day of the week. Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2

The writer of the Hebrews reminds us, “NOT forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” And, from the book of Acts, chapter two, verse 42, from our Parish Vision Statement, “They continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine, and in fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in prayer.” Acts 2:42

Worship is not a private affair. Worship is always public. Worship is never conducted with the individual in mind. Worship is always corporate.  Worship is never designed for the individual. 

True. We have our own needs. Have you noticed the prayers lately? They stack up. They get longer. There are more petitions added every single week. There’s a reason for this long list of petitions. We’ve got needs! There are many Stresses. Concerns. Worries. Do not go it alone. Do not carry your problems alone. Take them to the Lord in prayer.  

True. You have come today to seek relief from the Great Physician. You have come here today to seek answers to your individual desires, priorities, reservations, burdens, and cares. Yet the focus of your worship. The purpose of your worship. The reason for your worship. Must always be centered and find its focus on Christ. It’s not about you. It’s about Jesus! 

When our focus is upon Jesus. When we are Spirit directed and not program driven. Things begin to happen!  What should we expect when our focus is upon Jesus and we all get together in His name?

There is great value in Christians gathering as Church.

1 The Church has the power of the Keys. “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”  V. 18 You have the power to bind and to loose. In other words, you have the power to forgive or not to forgive.  The Office of the Keys is that special authority which Christ has given to His church on earth to forgive the sins of repentant sinners, but to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant as long as they do not repent.[1]

What a relief. What a release. When you become burdened because of you sin. Do not loose heart. Do not despair. Rather, trust the promises of Jesus. Trust in the words that your pastor speaks to you Sunday after Sunday.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, has had mercy upon us and has given His only Son to die for us and for His sake forgives us all of sins. To those who believe on His name He gives power to become the children of god and has promise them His Holy Spirit. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved!”

And again, these sure and certain promises are given to you for your comfort. “In the mercy of Almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for His sake God forgives us all our sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ He gives the power to become the children of God and bestows on them the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”[2][3]

Based on repentance and faith God for Jesus’ sake forgives you all your sins. This confirms and assures us that your prayer, asking for the Father’s forgiveness, has been answered!

2. When the Church prays, prayers are answered.  “If two of you agree on earth concerning anything that you ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.” V. 19 Notice, how Martin Luther explains to us in simple yet powerful words. With these words God tenderly invites us believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.[4] 

God does take notice. He does hear your prayers. And He answers them according to His perfect will. This means that I should be certain that these petitions are pleasing to our Father in heaven, and are heard by Him; for He Himself has commanded us to pray in this way and has promised to hear us.[5] 

Never ever, give up on prayer. Continue to seek after God. He knows your need. He has promised to hear your every petition. He will answer every single prayer according to His perfect will.

We need to be a people of prayer. Without daily prayer, growth in God would be minimal at best. We can only be our strongest when we are seeking the Lord. May we here at Friedheim be remembered as being a house of prayer!

Not just a church where we come to talk to God. Not just a church where we come to a worship service. But rather, a place where we glory in His Name. Where in service, we praise His glorious name.

In prayer, we uphold one another. In our petitions, we are taking our needs, burdens, joys and sorrows to the throne room of grace. And, we’re thankful as the Savior answers each petition!
We continue to pray because Christ is present as you gather.

3. When the Church assembles, Christ is present. “For where two or three are gathered together in My name I am there in the midst of them.”  V. 20

We are not alone in this work. Christ is at the center of all that we do. He is the unseen, yet present guest in every conversation. We do not go it alone. Christ is present with and among us. Common faith in Christ links us together like mountain climbers who are tied together in one cause. John would remind us in his first Epistle – We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 1 John 3:14

So, why attend church?  Church is the assembly of the faithful. The gathering of Christ’s people is a channel for forgiveness. Through the Word and Sacraments, the Holy Spirit effects forgiveness of sins. God the Spirit forgives through the sacramental ministry of the gathering of believers called the church.
Words –1,247
Passive Sentences –7%
Readability -79.8
Reading Level -4.6

[1] What is the Office of the Keys? Luther’s Small Catechism © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[2] General Confession from Divine Service Setting Three and Setting Five, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis
[3]see Mark 16:16; John 1:12; Philippians 1:6
[4] Explanation to the Introduction of the Lord’s Prayer, Luther’s Small Catechism, © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[5] Explanation to the Conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer. Luther’s Small Catechism, © Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

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