Open the Gates

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

We come to this sanctuary, God’s house, our home on earth to encounter the Holy Christ. Let us pray for the Holy Spirit of God to guide our thoughts …

We come to meet Jesus on this Holy day. We don’t know quite what to expect, yet we come with expectation that the Lord will amaze us. We think we know what we need, how you can meet our needs. But we come humbly, laying our coats before you. Reveal to us who you are, and what it means to be a Savior in our lives, a Savior in our world today. Come Lord Jesus!. Amen.

FIRST SCRIPTURE READING–          Psalm 118                                                   A Song of Victory

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!

Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”

Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.

This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.  I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.

The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!

O Lord, we beseech you, give us success! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord.

The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you.

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

May the Lord blessing this reading to our understanding.

 

SECOND SCRIPTURE– Luke 19:28-40              Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road.

As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”    

SERMON                   “Open the Gates”

Open gates can be a dangerous thing. Gates control what or who goes in or out of a fenced in area. When we have sheep, it’s important to close the gate when you enter or leave the pasture, so that the sheep to get out and roam around. From time to time, someone goes through and forgets to secure the gate. Inevitably, the sheep will discover this mistake and kick up their heels and prance around the yard.

Growing up, we also had a fence around the garden, just in case someone didn’t shut the pasture gate in hopes that the sheep would not get into the garden. I do remember a time, when both gates were open and the carrot tops were devoured by the lambs. I don’t remember who did either, but it was not a happy time. Everyone became much more vigilant closing the gates after that. Checking and double checking when you went through. Also, you prepared to answer the perpetual parental question, “Did you close the gate when you came through?”

Gates control the water level in Lake Koshkonong and a myriad of other water ways. This time of year, you can see the rapid flow of water through the gates. At some dams, the relief of water pressure prevents flooding that will damage crops, homes, and communities. Once you open the gate, it can be difficult to close until the pressure reduces enough to allow the gates to close again. Even a little opening can have dramatic effects.

The Psalmist proclaims, “Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.” The Psalmist requests that the Lord opens the gate, in order to be able to enter into the Lord’s presence. The Psalmist desires permission to enter into the Holy place. The Psalmist wants to experience the power of God’s righteousness. The Psalmist prepares to enter through the gate and give thanks to the Lord for God’s holy righteousness. In faith, we can experience God’s goodness and respond with thanksgiving.

When we enter through the open gates, we encounter God’s blessing. We come to worship, because Jesus opened the gate to let us come near to the Holy presence of our Creator. When Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he rode on a donkey and opened the gate for us to come near to our God. The opening began small but soon the flood gates were open. The events of Holy Week poured God’s grace into a broken world.

The voices of the throng praising God grew louder. The Jews returning to the Holy City to celebrate God’s activity in their history sang songs of accent. They joyfully sang the Psalms as a mass choir. The closer they came to Jerusalem for the Passover feast, the louder the songs became. They joined with family, friends, and strangers sharing the journey of God’s mighty hand guiding their ancestors to the Promised Land.

If they only knew that this gate that Jesus opened would change the course of history. That Jesus opened a gate of righteousness that they only dreamed possible. The gate to heaven opened through his impending death on the cross for the sins of the world. God’s ultimate act of righteousness opening the flood gates of grace. We stand beyond the open gate ready to respond with thankful praise for God’s gift of grace. At the Lord’s Table, the gate is open to eternity. TGBTG. Amen

 

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH – Philippians 2:5-11

  September 2017  
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