Immanuel Lutheran Church

Sermon

Pentecost 16

"Follow the Son"

John 8:12

September 24, 2017

It was later in the week after I'd preached my first sermon on vicarage that two ladies from the congregation stopped by the church office. They were a lovely but eccentric retired daughter and her even more elderly mother. These two brought me a sunflower they'd made. Why? My sermon had referenced sunflowers and they wanted to make one for me because they liked the illustration so much.

Why sunflowers? On the trip from Fort Wayne to Los Angeles, I drove through Nebraska and places west. On the way, I noticed both the fields of sunflowers and the wildflowers seemed to turn their heads to follow the sun as it crossed the sky. It occurred to me that we, as Christians, follow the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 8:12. Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."

The world we live in is one of darkness. Rather than being kind to one another, it seems that people choose to behave badly. Where the catechism reminds us to try to put the better spin on the words and actions of others, our society has become so hyper-sensitive that people take offense at everything. The average person is afraid to say anything either complimentary or critical lest they be accused of all kinds of hateful behavior. This is darkness not light.

The darkness of the world is being exhibited by the actions of a small but vocal number in our society who have lost touch with what was once considered common sense. Why do these people demonstrate and riot over things that have, for the most part, become part of the landscape? Why are they afraid of old statues and slogans on t-shirts? As it turns out, the fears they are so boldly confronting are not real but collectively imagined. Other than making a lot of noise with sporadic outbursts of violence, what that they done to remedy the things they are so keenly upset about?

Because so many in our society no longer look for the good and positive, they see only the negative.The problem is that the negative is not constructive. Negative emotions destroy rather than heal. Negativity breeds fear. Fear has replaced hope. This sense of hopeless has become paralyzing. We need to see light in the gloomy darkness that is enveloping us.

It's not only the world around us that seems to be covered with darkness. Each of us live with our own personal darkness. All of us deal with the negative emotions of life to one degree or another. Some of us are prone to irritability and anger. Some are haunted by depression, guilt or sadness. Some deal with jealousy and resentment. The list goes on. We would be consumed by these negatives unless we find relief and release. These come to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. He is the light that scatters the darkness. When we follow the Light of Christ, we can find our way through the darkness of the world. It is as if you are in the woods on a dark moonless night. How do you find your way? You look for your flashlight. Its light will dispel the darkness enough for you to get your bearings. Of course, you have to hold the light to your feet. By doing so, the light will illumine one step at a time. It will keep you on the path, reveal roots or dips that would trip you and give you assurance and confidence as you make your way through the woods.

With Jesus Christ as our Light, we will make our way through the darkness of life. Although the darkness resists and cannot comprehend this Light, the Light of Christ gives us hope, strength and courage to fight the forces of darkness and sin both in the world and in our lives.

Jesus is the Light of the world. He is like the sun and we are like the sunflowers. We follow His light as we journey through life. Just as the sun gives light to grow and sustain life, so the Light of Christ gives us light and life. His light comes to us in the word and in the sacraments.

This Light is ours because we have received faith to know and understand who Jesus is. Faith comes by hearing. In the Word, we hear the voice of Jesus assuring us, "I am the good shepherd." Using this common agrarian theme, Jesus continued, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." (John 10:27)

Not only do we hear the voice of Jesus speaking to us in the Word but we hear His voice as He calls us by name in holy baptism. This morning little Sawyer Mary heard the voice of Jesus call her by name. She is now His beloved lamb. Baptism is more than a sacred rite or a name-giving ceremony. It is the wonderful mystery of Jesus joining Himself to the ordinary water to give her and all the baptized His gifts and blessings. Along with us, she has received the blessings of faith and eternal life.

Our Lord also comes to us in the Supper. In the great mystery of things, He joins Himself to ordinary bread and wine to give us His extraordinary blessings of the assurance of the forgiveness of sins, strengthening of our faith in Him as our Savior and the grace to live as His people of light in the darkness of the world.

We are children of the light and children of the day. By the grace of God will walk boldly in the light of Christ. Like the sunflowers, we will follow the Son, Jesus Christ, through our journey of life. With the help of the Holy Spirit our faces will always be focused on Jesus. No matter what challenges, frustrations or grief the world throws our way, the Light of Christ will give us hope and encouragement.

Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. These are words of encouragement for you and me today. It seemed appropriate that my first sermon and farewell sermon would come to full circle with the sunflowers. Although we will now continue the journey on different routes, we will still follow Jesus as He leads us in His light. He will guide us now and as He has always and as He always will by fixing our eyes on His Light of life. Amen.


September
09/24/2017
09/17/2017
09/10/2017
09/03/2017
August
08/27/2017
08/20/2017
08/13/2017
08/06/2017
July
07/30/2017
07/23/2017
07/16/2017
07/09/2017
June
06/25/2017
06/18/2017
06/11/2017
06/04/2017
May
05/21/2017
05/14/2017
05/07/2017
April
04/23/2017
04/16/2017
04/09/2017
04/02/2017
March
03/26/2017
03/19/2017
03/12/2017
03/05/2017
February
02/26/2017
02/05/2017
January
01/29/2017
01/22/2017
01/15/2017
01/08/2017
01/01/2017

December
12/25/2016
12/18/2016
12/11/2016
12/04/2016
November
11/27/2016
11/20/2016
11/13/2016
11/06/2016
October
10/30/2016
10/23/2016
10/16/2016
10/09/2016
10/02/2016
September
09/25/2016
09/18/2016
09/11/2016
09/04/2016
August
08/28/2016
08/21/2016
July
07/31/2016
07/24/2016
07/17/2016
07/03/2016
June
06/26/2016
06/19/2016
06/05/2016
May
05/29/2016
05/22/2016
05/15/2016
05/08/2016
05/01/2016
April
04/17/2016
04/10/2016
04/03/2016
March
03/27/2016
03/20/2016
03/13/2016
03/06/2016
February
02/28/2016
02/21/2016
02/17/2016
02/14/2016
02/07/2016
January
01/31/2016
01/24/2016
01/03/2016
01/01/2016

December
12/27/2015
12/20/2015
12/13/2015
12/06/2015
November
11/22/2015
11/15/2015
11/08/2015
11/01/2015
October
10/25/2015
10/18/2015
10/11/2015
10/04/2015
September
09/27/2015
09/20/2015
09/13/2015
09/06/2015
August
08/30/2015
08/23/2015
08/16/2015
08/09/2015
08/02/2015
July
07/26/2015
07/19/2015
07/12/2015
07/05/2015
June
06/28/2015
06/21/2015
06/14/2015
06/07/2015
May
05/31/2015
05/24/2015
05/17/2015
05/10/2015
April
04/19/2015
04/12/2015
04/12/2015
04/05/2015
March
03/29/2015
03/22/2015
03/15/2015
03/08/2015
February
02/15/2015
02/15/2015
02/08/2015
02/01/2015
January
01/25/2015
01/25/2015
01/18/2015
01/11/2015
01/04/2015

December
12/28/2014
12/21/2014
12/14/2014
12/07/2014
November
11/23/2014
11/16/2014
11/09/2014
11/02/2014
October
10/12/2014
10/05/2014
September
09/28/2014
09/21/2014
09/14/2014
09/07/2014
August
08/31/2014
08/24/2014
08/17/2014
08/10/2014
08/03/2014
July
07/27/2014
07/20/2014
07/13/2014
07/06/2014
June
06/29/2014
06/22/2014
06/15/2014
06/08/2014
06/01/2014
May
05/11/2014
April
04/27/2014
04/20/2014
04/13/2014
04/06/2014
March
03/30/2014
03/23/2014
03/16/2014
03/02/2014
February
02/02/2014
January
01/26/2014
01/19/2014
01/12/2014
01/05/2014