April 30, 2006

Psalm 122 125th Anniversary Sermon

Psalm 122125 Anniversary Service April 30, 1989

Friedens Ev. Lutheran Church New Prague, Minnesota

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together. That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to praise the name of the Lord according to the statue given to Israel. There the thrones for judgment stand, the thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity.

Through all the passing years, O Lord,
Grant that, when church bells are ringing,
Many may come to hear God’s Word
Where he this promise is bringing:
I know my own, my own know me;
You, not the world, my face shall see;
My peace I leave with you. Amen
IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR, THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH,

DEAR MEMBERS AND FRIENDS OF FRIEDENS LUTHERAN CHURCH:

For you the members of Friedens congregation, today is a day of great rejoicing. Today you are privilege to celebrate a milestone in the history of your congregation. 125 years ago, a group of German Lutherans organized a Lutheran congregation here in Lanesburg township, LeSueur Co. Minnesota.

The name that was chosen for this congregation was Friedens. The name Friedens reflects the German background of this congregation. Friedens is the German word meaning “peace.” The name Friedens is a very fitting name for a congregation. A congregation worships in a church building. A church is a place of peace and tranquility. As you enter this church building, you enter a place that is peaceful and tranquil. All the cares and worries of life are to be left outside the church. You enter this building to find and to enjoy peace for your soul.

This morning, as you observe the 125 anniversary of this congregation, I invite you to consider: “THE PEACE OF GOD’S HOUSE.” This peace is to be the object of your joy and is to be the object of your prayers.

The writer of Psalm 122 certainly found peace and joy in the house of God. He declared, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” Nothing gave the psalmist greater joy than going to the house of the Lord. Even the thought of going to God’s house and to worship God filled him with great joy.

Not only was the psalmist filled with joy over the thought of going to God’s house, his friends shared that same joy.

He and his friends were happy to go to the house of the Lord. That was the highlight of their life. These words of the psalmist give us an insight into the kind of friends he chose and was happy to be with. He chose friends who had the very same interest he did. He and his friends rejoiced in the same thing, namely, going to the house of the Lord to worship.

Coming into this house of the Lord for the sake of worshipping God should be the most joyous occasion in your week. Going to church on Sunday morning ought to be something that you look forward to all week. If you really find such joy in coming to church, than coming to church on Sunday morning, will be done without any hesitation whatsoever.

Can you image how different the worship service would be for you and for your fellow members, if you all came to church joyfully? The joy you feel as you come to worship would rub off on others and their joy would rub off on still others. Such joy would excite and stir up one another to go to church on Sunday morning and to worship God together.

The object of your joy is the peace that you find in this house of God. It is here that you find that “peace of God which transcends all understanding.” For it is here that you hear God’s gracious invitation to bring whatever troubles you have to him. Through the prayers offered here in God’s

house, you present all your problems and troubles to him. Through those same prayers you thank him for all the blessings which he has showered upon you as individuals and as a congregation.

Here in God’s house you find peace for a trouble soul. The soul is trouble by the enmority of sin. Sin weighs heavy upon the soul of a believer, because the believer realizes what a terrible thing sin really is. How it offends God and calls down his wrath upon the individual. The believer desires to be rid of this guilt of sin. The only way that the load of sin is lifted is to be assured that God has forgiven the sinner. This assurance is found here in God’s house. It is found in the gospel which is proclaimed in word and sacrament.

During the past 125 years Friedens congregation has found peace in this house of God. During those years the members of this congregation heard the gospel message of forgiveness as it was proclaimed in word and sacrament. The members could leave this house of worship with a conscience relieved of the burden of sin. Having been relieved of the burden of sin you know that you are at peace with God. This knowledge of peace fills your hearts with joy.

There is joy in God’s house for another reason. The psalmist points this out by saying, “That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to praise the name of the Lord according to the statue given to Israel.” The psalmist found joy in seeing all the tribes of Israel coming together in the house of the Lord. They came together from all parts of the country. They came together to praise God. They also came together to hear the Word of God and to receive instruction from him.

It is a joyous thing to look out over the congregation and to see the members gathered together on a Sunday morning. You come from different directions for not all of you live in the same area. Although you may live in different directions from the church, all of you come here for the same reason. You have come to worship God. You have come to hear his Word. You have come to receive instruction from God, instructions which you are to put into practice in your every day life.

You also come to praise the name of the Lord. Each and everyone of you has his or her own reason for praising the name of the Lord. The Lord has blessed each one of you in

different ways and in different degrees. But today, all of you have assembled here to praise the Lord for his special blessings upon this congregation.

The Lord has richly blessed this congregation. During the past 125 years the Lord blessed this congregation with faithful servants, eleven in number. These servants preached and taught the Word and administered the Sacraments, comforted the sick and bereaved. The Lord has blessed the preaching of his Word in your midst so that you have grown in your faith and understanding of his Word. You were comforted in your moments of worry, distress, sickness and grief. You were encouraged in your daily life with the assurance that the Lord is with you and always stands ready to guide and help you.

There is peace and joy in God’s house for yet another reason. When people come together in God’s house to pray and worship together they build a better understanding among themselves. When you gather for worship of God there is no room for petty grievances and for prejudices. One cannot come to worship God if he or she is still carrying a grudge against a fellow member or against the pastor. Carrying a grudge is a sin and sin destroys the worship of God. For this reason Jesus says, “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, then come and offer your gift.” [Mt.5:23-24]

The peace of God’s house is not only the object of your joy, but it is to be the object of your prayers. The psalmist exhorts, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.’”

This church and this congregation are to be the objects of your prayers. You are to pray that God will continue to hold his protecting hand over this church and this congregation. Pray for the welfare of this congregation. Pray that God will continue to have his Word proclaimed in its truth and purity in the future as he has in the past. Pray that God will continue to bless the preaching of his Word so that the faith of all who hear will be strengthened. Pray that his Word may always have free course in your midst and be preached to the joy and edifying of you, God’s people. Pray for your pastor. Pray that the Lord will give him the needed strength and ability to carry out his great office. Pray for

your fellow members. Pray for the sick and bereaved. Pray for the erroring. Pray that there always may be peace and harmony between pastor and members.

These prayers that are said in behalf of this church and its congregation are to be unselfish prayers. The prayers of the psalmist were certainly unselfish. He states, “For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’ For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity.” When you pray for this church and its membership, you are not to pray selfishly, that is, with the idea that since I am a member of this congregation and pray for the good of the congregation, then I will also be blessed. You are to pray for this congregation because you are deeply concerned about the welfare of God’s house and of God’s people.

Such unselfish prayers will be answered by God. He has promised to hear and to answer the prayers of his people. You know that God never goes back on his promises but always keeps all his promises. God will answer your prayers said in behalf of this church and its members.

As members of Friedens congregation, you have experienced the peace of God’s house each and every time you came here to worship. That peace was the object of your joy. May it always be the object of your joy. May that peace always be the object of your prayers. May you, like the psalmist, say,

“I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels. For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’ For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity.”

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