September 13, 2015: ’tis Good Lord to Be Here!

Let us pray: Dear Savior, thank You for granting us this of joyous peace, rest, happiness, and fellowship with the saints here at Pinewood. May this day reflect our upcoming year of worship and praise as we begin our Fall schedule. And may we view each day You give us as a special blessing to be savored. Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE GIVER OF EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT!

TEXT: James 1:17: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

We mark our lives with milestones. Not the old stakes or stones driven into the ground to delineate our progress down some country lane, but events in our lives which stand out and generally bring happy thoughts and joyous emotions. So, what are the milestones in your life? If you start counting them up, there are very many of them, aren’t there? The birth of each child is really never forgotten. Your wedding day is memorable. How about buying your first car or moving into your first home? I’ll not forget getting out of the hospital on July 1st and being driven home! The air was clean and fresh, the verdant green carpeted each lawn. It felt O so good!

Big events are milestones. But, so are little ones. All of us have had certain days that were just picture perfect and we wanted them to go on and on forever. Walking in a colorful autumn woodland with the sunshine warming your face. Or how about sitting on the beach on a hot summer day and just being lazy? On such days my usual verbal greeting to God is: “Lord, it’s good to be alive!” And at such moments you wish they could last forever.

In the life of the Church and her people, Christmas stands out. So does Easter. Likewise, Rally Day! Today isn’t just for the children beginning Sunday School. Today is a glorious day of renewal and uplifting for all of God’s people. Think about what is going on before your very eyes today. First, Christ, the living Word, is present in our midst with His love and compassion. Second, our healing Savior is actively teaching all of us the joy of being forgiven and the joy of our sins and failures being forgotten by God. Third, we get to feed our souls on the bread of eternal life and have our bodies cleansed internally with and by the infinite power of Christ’s love in the sacrament. Fourth, we get to praise God without fear and without any constraints. And five, we get to enjoy the company of saints surrounding us with angel choirs silently, to our ears, joining in! Yes, in the words of Peter, when he was given a glimpse of heaven while on the Mt. of Transfiguration,

‘TIS GOOD LORD TO BE HERE!

I

Every single day should be a Godly milestone in our lives, because every day is a gift from God. As the Psalmist says so eloquently: “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” But, we’re human. We are just like the children of Israel who began eating manna with wonderment and joy, but after a few months of it, took that heavenly food for granted for the next 40 years. So, like them, we repent of our ingratitude and zero in on those special, memorable days to savor God’s blessings. And today is one of those days.

Our text from St. James is very simple and very special. It says it all when it comes to our lives: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Seven years ago our current President was elected on a platform of: “Hope and change.” Into that slogan voters injected their own thoughts and dreams. It all sounded so wonderful and uplifting. However, the problem is: change is not always for the better. Change often short-changes one person while another reaps a big reward. And as for hope, well, human hopes and dreams are a disappointment, more often than not. People change, events change, dreams change—all like shifting shadows. Such is the nature of sin-tainted human aspirations. And outside of God, so it will always be.

But, our God doesn’t change! He’s not like a shifting shadow which hides pain and suffering behind a smiling face. No, our God faced pain head-on. He sent His Son to suffer our pain and suffering on a cross. He died so that we might live eternally. Yes, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved!” In Christ, God gave us His best. His Son. In Christ, He gives to us “every good and perfect gift.” He will never withdraw His hand of blessing from our lives. When He says He loves His faithful, He means it! He cannot go back on it. He’s not a “shifting shadow.”

II

And that’s exactly what Rally Day is all about. That’s why it’s a milestone in our lives. That’s why ‘Tis Good Lord, to be here! Eleven weeks ago this past Friday, I had my heart surgery. That was a milestone day for me. It held the promise of a life of activity and energy. It meant I could savor the Fall colors and once again walk the autumn woods without a care. I well knew that the following weeks of summer would bring a slowness of healing. So, I picked out today, Rally Day, as a milestone event that I would focus on. After all, by that time, by today, I would, should, and now are healed. So, with all that behind me, ‘Tis Good Lord to be here!

My prayer is that each of you may enjoy today and every Sunday with the same upliftedness! I’ve just given you all the reasons why you should. So, take them to heart and never forget that: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights.” Amen