Easter 6 2022
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
May 22, 2022

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            It is daunting to face a long journey.  I had to go to Cleveland this week, and I thought, all the way to Cleveland!  In my air conditioned car at 70 miles an hour.  I am pretty spoiled when it comes to traveling.  Between planes, trains and automobiles we can get anywhere.  In a little over 24 hours I could be in Australia or most places in Africa.  We have amazing transportation. 

I cannot really imagine the courage and/or desperation of those who set out from Europe for the new world in sailing ships or those who set out west in America in covered wagons facing a four to six month journey on dangerous dirt trails. It is easy to imagine many people giving up and saying, “The destination is not worth journey.” 

            Facing long journeys can be daunting.  If a five-year-old only knew that the first day of kindergarten is the beginning of 13 years of education, or maybe 17, or 21. It is a daunting journey. 

            There are a lot of journey’s you face in life. Military service.  Parenting.  Marriage. I try to comfort nervous grooms on their wedding day by reassuring them, “Marriage is not forever, it is only until you die.”

            There are many journeys in life.  Running a business, working, illness, injury, joint replacement, aging, dementia.  There are journeys you choose and journeys you reject and journeys that you do not choose but are forced upon you.

            There is one journey that you have been chosen to undertake that is the most important journey of all.  It is a long, difficult journey to a destination that is most definitely worth it.  It is the journey from the font to the heavenly city of New Jerusalem.  Today we rejoice and celebrate that little Myra Kehr is baptized into Christ.  Myra [will] has travel[ed] to the font and all the devil’s might [will] has come unraveled.  Myra is baptized, but her journey is not ending, it is just beginning.  Her life of struggling against sin and temptation has now begun.  Myra is so tiny and cute and sweet, and yet we know she is by nature sinful and unclean.  In baptism she receives the Holy Spirit to combat her sinful tendencies.  The Holy Spirit makes Myra holy and will help her battle each day to be the person that she already is in Christ. 

            Going through the waters of baptism is comparable to the children of Israel making their way through the waters of the Red Sea into the desert.  Baptism sets you on a journey through the wilderness of this life toward eternity in the Heavenly City.  This is a journey of trial and tribulation and temptation.  Life in the wilderness is not easy.  There are constant threats and the devil never gives up trying to get you off the straight and narrow path onto the wide and easy path to destruction. So do not attempt this journey alone. We make the journey together.  We struggle together.  We hurt together.  We forgive together. 

            Life in this world is indeed a life of tribulation. We are all hurting in so many ways but often we are not very good at admitting our hurts.  Living the suburban type life here in Hamilton and its surrounds we are often loath to talk about our weaknesses and our struggles; that is not what polite suburban people do.  Instead we are tempted to pretend that everything is always wonderful.

When our youth do a community dinner at Prince of Peace Lutheran in Over-the-Rhine there is a short service before dinner.  Pastor Sugitan will ask for prayer requests and people will chime in with the most honest, open, gritty prayer requests.  They will share things that “polite suburban” people are not comfortable sharing.  They admit their hurts and struggles. 

There is something wrong with you.  You are a sinner, and you are not alone.  Now, the fact that you are a sinner is not news to you.  You began worship today by getting on your knees and admitting this.  You are a sinner who needs Jesus, and Jesus forgives you your sins.  He forgives you and all those around you.

            Now, I do not know if it is always beneficial to share your deepest, darkest struggles, but I do believe that it is good to be honest about life being a struggle.  I fear that we can sometimes be so practiced at pretending that everything is okay that we may start to believe it about others and about ourselves.  There are times when you meet fellow Christians and they have such positive attitudes and are seemingly always so happy and energetic that you think, “There must be something wrong with me.”  There is something wrong with you, but it is the same thing that is wrong with the positive people; the same thing wrong with everyone here.

            Look around you.  Look at the people in front of you and behind; to your right and to your left. These are people who are struggling on the journey from the font to the heavenly city.  These are people who carry burdens of sin and failure.  These are people who are broken and hurting.  These are people who would be mortified for you to know their inner thoughts and desires. 

There is something wrong with you.  You are a sinner, and you are not alone.  Now, the fact that you are a sinner is not news to you.  You began worship today by getting on your knees and admitting this.  You are a sinner who needs Jesus, and Jesus forgives you your sins.  He forgives you and all those around you. 

So again look at the people around you.  These are people who have been redeemed by Jesus.  These are people set free by the cleansing blood of Jesus.  These are your brothers and sisters in Christ.  These are your fellow travelers on the journey from the font to the Heavenly City.  Today we rejoice with Myra and we rejoice with all those who are joining us on the journey and becoming new members of this congregation of the Saints of God on the journey.

It is a long, hard journey but you do not go it alone.  God holds you and no one can snatch you out of His hand.  It is a long, hard journey, but you travel together with your fellow believers strengthening each other and leaning on one another.  The journey is long and it is tiring; it takes its toll on your body and spirit.  So each week on the journey you gather together and take a break from all the busyness of life for a while and rest here in the love and forgiveness of God.  Gather here to repent of wandering off the straight and narrow path to the Heavenly City to dabble in evil desires and passions.  Gather here in God’s rest stop to hear the Good News that you are forgiven all your sins.  To hear that Jesus died for you and Jesus rose from the dead for you.  To hear that you have been reserved a seat at the wedding feast of the Lamb in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem.  Gather to hear God’s Word and receive sustenance and nourishment in the Body and Blood of Jesus. 

God has chosen you for the journey from the font to the Heavenly City.  It is a desert journey and there is danger along the way.  Stay on guard.  Many will succumb to the devil’s temptations and lies and give up.  They will declare that the destination is not worth the journey because the journey is so long and difficult and they cannot see the destination.  Resist the devil.  Reject his lies.  Know you are not alone.  Know you have the Holy Spirit.  You have Jesus.  You are in the hand of God.  Know that there is strength and safety together and so we stick together on the journey.  Remember, in this world you will have tribulation, but Jesus has overcome the world.  Jesus has overcome the world.  The destination is worth the journey.  Amen.