Summary: A sermon preached 9/9/2007 at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, Audubon, Iowa for Sunday School Rally Day. It also happened to be my installation day as Pastor of Our Saviour’s.
Rally/Christian Education Sunday & Installation of Pr. Christopher Martin
Pentecost 15 C Matthew 7:24-27
“Building a Foundation”
9/9/07 Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, Audubon, Iowa
Text: “Anyone who hears and obeys these teachings of mine is like a wise person who built a house on solid rock. Rain poured down, rivers flooded, and winds beat against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on solid rock. Anyone who hears my teachings and doesn’t obey them is like a foolish person who built a house on sand. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded ,and the winds blew and beat against that house. Finally, it went with a crash.”
Today is a big day for us here at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church. In a few moments, the Executive Committee of our congregation will be officially installing me into office as your Pastor, following which, we will mark the beginning of another year of Christian Education here at Our Saviour’s by installing our Sunday School teachers, and presenting our third grade students with their Bibles. This coming week also marks the beginning of our 7th & 8th Grade confirmation classes for the year. While installing a new pastor, and beginning Sunday School for the new year may seem to be a bit out of the ordinary to celebrate in the same service, (in fact, I can’t remember ever hearing of that happening before) we’re going to discover, that it’s actually quite fitting to celebrate both this morning in our service.
As you may have already noticed, one main theme that connects our three scripture readings for today is the importance of the Word of God. On a day where we begin a year of Sunday School and confirmation instruction with the young people of our congregation, it is vitally important that we reflect on this great responsibility we have as a family of faith here at Our Saviour’s. And that’s why, although most churches usually refer to today by its traditional name, Sunday School Rally Day, I tend to prefer to call this day “Christian Education Sunday”, because that title really puts the emphasis on the Christian education programs of our congregation, not just for the Sunday School children, but for all ages, such as our confirmation programs, our various adult Bible studies that meet on a weekly or monthly basis, and out other activities like our women’s circles, prayer groups, quilting, work camp, LYO, and so on. So, what is Christian Education all about? That is a question that our readings for this morning address.
Jesus in our Gospel reading for this morning tells us what is sometimes referred to as the Parable of Two Builders. In this parable, He compares the Word of God to the foundation of a house. As most of us know, when you’re building a house, the foundation is perhaps the most important part of the house. If you have a solid foundation, your house is going to withstand the assaults of the changing seasons for many years. But, if your foundation isn’t solid, or if you choose to build on sinking sand, or damp ground that can’t support the size of a building you’re planning to build there, eventually, the foundation is going to start to crack and crumble, and when that happens, eventually your house isn’t going to be standing anymore. In our readings for today, we learn that it’s the same way with the Church, and it’s the same way with our faith.
The foundation we build our church upon very much determines the spiritual state of our congregation. Our readings warn us of the danger of building our churches on something other than the Word of God. I mentioned this a bit in my sermon last Sunday, and we also discussed this a bit during our Men’s Bible Study this past Thursday evening. There are a LOT of pastors, tele-evangelists, writers, teachers, and churches that are no longer having the Scriptures as the foundation of their preaching and teaching. We’re told by some that heaven is yours, IF you do well enough in this life; that God will bless you with good health, material wealth, you name it, IF you please him, or IF you put enough money in the offering plate each week or participate in certain activities in the church. Some of these folks might even try to back up their teaching with Bible verses, claming what they teach is Biblical. Their “churches” resemble auditoriums or theaters that lack any symbolism or decoration to identify them as places of Christian worship out of fear that a visitor might be offended at the sight of the cross. While they may not outright say it, they are teaching things like “The Bible is just man’s word about God written a couple of thousand years ago, so it’s outdated and we’re free to do with it as we please”, or “it doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you believe it sincerely enough, then you’ll get to heaven.” The last statement implies that Jesus is just a way to heaven, not the way, the truth and the life, as He himself states. What’s worse, is that the world looks at these preachers, these churches, these so called ministries, and points them and tells us if we want to be successful, that’s what we are to look like! And sometimes, they may have thousands attending their churches, watching their TV programs or buying their books and DVD’s. But, the key question to ask is, what is their foundation?