Monday, June 11, 2018

Sermon June 9-10, 2018 Anniversary

Title: Your sins are forgiven in Christ!
Text: 2 Cor. 4:13-5:1

15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

What a joyful time for our congregation! We celebrate today the many blessings of God given here at Peace over the last 55 years as we honor this place of worship now well into our 30th year!

Our first worship service was held here in this building on September 13, 1987 and our Festival of Dedication service was held on October 25, 1987 at 3 o’clock in the afternoon with Pastor Merrell officiating as the liturgist and the Festival Sermon being delivered by the Rev. Dr. Richard L. Schlecht – now called to glory and at home with the Lord.

Pastor Merrell, who has served Peace as pastor for over 32 years and additionally 5 years as pastor emeritus, is once again fulfilling that great blessing of conducting the church’s liturgy for us here at Peace today, and I get to stand in for Dr. Schlecht - a man I knew and heard preach many times during my time at St. John in Rochester in the late 90s.

What a wonderful blessing and humbling experience to say the least.

Surely the Lord is in this place: this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. Alleluia! Gen. 28:16-17

The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty; the Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith he has girded himself. Psalm 93:1

So began the introit for the dedication of this wonderful building some 30 years ago quoting Gen 28 and Psalm 93.

In the same joy Paul addresses the Corinthians:

13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.

The glorious word of God who spoke in time past – was written for our learning - and also we have spoken and continue to speak God’s word, here and in this place, as a confident hope of a savior who saves – Jesus Christ our Lord.

The confidence of those Peace members, of time past, who undertook this big project of building a new church and a new home by a step of faith did so, not in their own confidence or power, but in hope and in the power of God.

“No phase two!” Judy Harroun once told me about the planning of this place. “You never get to phase two or three so we decided to build what we needed from the start.” And so it was here at Peace. A big church was built, for a growing congregation, with a fellowship hall, on a large piece of land (17 some acres), with room for expansion.

Dr. Schlecht’s sermon was titled “Time for Praise and Commitment” a fitting title for then and a fitting thought for today as we rededicate and recommit ourselves to the Lord’s work here at Peace in this beautiful sanctuary now 30 years old.

So what do the next 30 years hold?

When this building was dedicated this congregation had been around for almost 25 years. Much had changed and Pastor Merrell was the fifth pastor to serve Peace. An average of 5 years of service for each pastor - though some had only served three years here. Pastor Merrell was already changing the culture here at Peace and pushing the average up. By the time he retired those same 5 pastors had served the church for 50 years of its existence thanks to 32 years of Pastor Merrell’s service.

God blessed Peace much during his service. As he once told me when they closed the old building and dedicated the land here for it future use it gave the congregation a real picture of whom and what the church is – the people. Not any people but the people here that God has called and gathered to hear his word and receive his gifts now 55 years into existence.

As Paul reminds the Corinthians:

15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

We are here today to give thanks for the grace of God that has been extended to the people of Peace in our previous building and in this place today. We celebrate with joy and thanksgiving all that God has done and this time of praise and recommitment for God’s people here.

How do we go forward? What does the future hold? Who is going to do the work tomorrow and in the years to come?

I don’t know – but the Lord does. It is in fact his house, his people, and his kingdom.

On Transfiguration Sunday in February of 1963 when this church began I was a 7 year old Slovak, Roman Catholic boy living in Allen Park Michigan with no connection to Waterford, Peace, Lutheranism or what the future held – but the Lord did.

In 1987 at the Feast of Dedication service here at Peace I was a 32 year old married father of two still with no connection to Peace or Lutheranism – but the Lord had moved me to Waterford!

In February of 2013 as we prepared to celebrate our 50th anniversary of this congregation I was preparing to officiate as the newly ordained and installed 6th Pastor here at Peace. Much had changed in my life and change had come upon Peace as well. But it was all in accord with the Lord’s will, plan and desire.

What was once a new congregation and what was once a new building have now been in mission and ministry for 55 years together. 

Much has changed and many who have served here are resting in Jesus. We think of them, we miss them, and we thank them for all that the Lord has given us through them.

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

It is the Lord’s work though he uses sinful people in service to him and in service to one another.

Though we age and change through the years his plan and work continues.

Though we as a congregation are not a new mission start as we were in 1963 we can still be renewed as we focus on our mission and ministry together.

Our Mission Statement makes clear what we as Christ’s followers and children here at peace are to do – "To witness and live as followers of Christ; serving one another in Christian love, so that God’s Holy Spirit may save the lost and strengthen the saved”

We live our lives together as followers of Jesus so that the love of Christ might dwell in us through the forgiveness of sins found in the gospel of Jesus and that by God’s continued work through the Holy Spirit those who are lost might be saved and we who are saved might be strengthened.

The work of the church hasn’t changed but the times that we live and the people have. Our work as the church requires new people, new thoughts, and a new vision as to how we might best fulfill God’s mission here at Peace.

It might require new people and a new thinking as how best to do the work God has given us to do here. Obviously the internet, email, and social media were not part of the fabric of society in 1963 and social norms, same sex marriage and gender identity were not embraced by our society - as they are today - when this building was completed and dedicated in 1987. So how we share the love of Christ and the gospel message going forward will require new ideas, new methods and new opportunities.

7 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

The things that are seen are transient – lasting only for a short time; impermanent – even this building and its use as a place of worship may someday come to an end.

As we ourselves will leave this tent that is our earthly home for the life eternal one day - knowing that we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

This is the hope that all followers of Christ have and will continue to share - that all our sins will be forgiven and that we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!

I pray that this joy and this hope will be our focus and mission as we together make know the love of Christ to a broken world here at Peace and here in Waterford.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit


1 comment:

  1. Hello Pastor RST. I am also a Pastor from Mumbai, India. I am glad to stop by your profile on the blogger and the blog post. I am also blessed and feel privileged and honoured to get connected with you as well as know you and about you being a Pastor. I am blessed by your blog post on Sermon on "Your Sins Are Forgiven In Christ". The sermon is very enriching, strengthening and encouraging. I feel preaching this sermon in one of the up coming Sunday worship service in our church. I hope you do not mind to make use of it. I love getting connected with the people of God around the globe to be encouraged, strengthened and praying for one another. I have been in the Pastoral ministry for last 40 yrs in this great city of Mumbai a city with a great contrast where richest of rich and the poorest of poor live. We reach out to the poorest of poor with the love of Christ to bring healing to the brokenhearted. We also encourage young and the adults from the west to come to Mumbai to work with us during their vacation time. We would love to have young people from your church to come to Mumbai to work with us during their vacation time. I am sure they will have a life changing experience. Looking forward to hear from you very soon. God's richest blessings on you, your family and friends and also wishing you a blessed and a Christ centred rest of the year 2018. My email id is: dhwankhede(at)gmail(dot)com and my name is Diwakar Wankhede.