It was the 10:45 Contemporary Service at Holy Cross Lutheran. Both pastors, Sattler and McClean, were presiding this Sunday. We have 10:45 and 11:00 services on Sundays but only one pastor writes a sermon for the weekend. At the 10:45, pastor #1 delivers the sermon about 22 minutes into the service, leads the church prayers then is replaced with a spiritual fistbump by pastor #2 who was keeping congregants from dancing in the aisles to the music of the praise band at the 11:00 service. Pastor #1 then delivers his sermon and church prayer at the end of the 11:00 liturgy. Pastor #2 completes the 10:45 service which includes creeds, baptisms, communion and ending blessings.
We also had special guest, Don Wharton, a Christian musician and song writer visit and sing songs for the 10:45. He is known mostly for his song “This Holy Place”, one we have been singing for 15(?) years by now. He is also known for his testimony of how Jesus saved him and others after a plane crash in the waters off Alaska. Perhaps one day he will attend your church and explain how The Living Christ intervened to save his and others’ lives that day. There were some songs he sang I wasn’t familiar with. The rest were songs either he or Donna led. “O Holy Spirit, Enter In”, “O Day Full Of Grace”, “Spirit of the Living God”, “Come, Let Us Eat”, “Holy Spirit, Light Divine”, “Creator Spirit, by Whose Aid”.
“Upon this your confession, I, by virtue of my office, as a called and ordained servant of the Word, announce the grace of God unto all of you, and in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
because I first said:
O Almighty God, merciful Father,
I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess to You all my sins and iniquities, with which I have ever offended You and justly deserve Your temporal and eternal punishment. But I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them; and I pray You, of Your boundless mercy, and for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter suffering and death of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor, sinful being.
Pastor Sattler gave a sermon titled “Holy Spirit 101”, a refresher course of what the least understood member of the Trinity is about. God creates, Jesus redeems, and Holy Spirit sanctifies. Sanctification is ‘the state of growing in divine grace as a result of Christian commitment after baptism or conversion’. It is the part of the Trinity that makes you holy, after being redeemed by Jesus, which allows you to stand sinless before God in Heaven. The Spirit fills your words with grace and love as you explain the Gospel to a lost one. The Spirit is the urging within you that offers to help a broken man or a distressed woman or a child in pain. The Spirit bends your knee in prayer when you beg for Jesus to intercede for you, asking Father for all good things and in His will. And only the good that benefits others according to His will comes from Him alone.
James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
As a human, you are still capable of doing evil in His sight. You are still able to curse your fellow man, oggle someone not your spouse, or even roll dice while imbedded with The Holy Spirit. That’s the human desire in you which demands you tussle with God. But don’t be sad. I say that so when you do make a mistake it doesn’t mean God’s love for you has been decreased or erased nor has your salvation been affected in any way. God knows your weaknesses. If we had to depend on our own righteousness to deserve an afterlife with Christ then humanity entire would be sunk. Do keep in mind that we are not capable of manipulating God. Yes, he asks us to pray to Jesus to intercede on our behalf, and He asks us to pray a lot, that we ought to have an ongoing monologue with Him. He will answer when you need it and in a way you will understand. But if you pray for a sick friend and he dies, it doesn’t mean you failed with your prayer. It doesn’t mean God failed with your prayer. It doesn’t mean your prayer was overwhelmed by someone else’s prayer and He chose another instead of yours. God only does good with our situations. We don’t have to understand, only trust.