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He Lives My Mansion to Prepare

 

John 14:1-12 tells us that after Jesus rose from the dead, he assured his doubtful disciples that he was going to heaven to prepare a place for those who believe in him. Only a living, risen Savior can promise an eternal, unchanging home in heaven and actually make it come true. That’s right: “He Lives My Mansion to Prepare.” 

 

I have an aunt named Emma. Well, actually, I had an aunt named Emma. My sister and I always called her “Auntie” Emma even when we grew up and called all our other aunties aunts. Auntie Emma taught kindergarten for 44 years, and she was good at it. What made her our perpetual auntie, I think, was that she was just as kind and gentle when we were adults as she was when we were children. I don’t remember Auntie Emma ever being upset or perturbed about anything. Except once. It was all about a Bible passage in today’s Gospel where Jesus said: “In my Father’s house are many rooms.” I knew Auntie Emma was upset. I could see it in her eyes; what had always been silk and satin turned into steel. I could hear it in her voice; what was usually soothing and sweet turned to grit and grind. “When I get to heaven,” she said, “I want more than a room; I want a mansion.”

 

You know where she got that from. The old King James Version said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” If you’re older than 50, that’s what you learned in catechism class. But even if you’re younger than 50 (and I realize most of you are), you know about the mansions. “The mansions of heaven” is a term Christians use pretty often. Preachers say it, poets write it, people sing it—there are even jokes about Lutherans who live in heavenly mansions. The newer Bible translations don’t use “mansion,” but it seems that nobody but the Bible translators are willing to give the mansions up. And I’m not surprised. Living in a mansion is a wonderful thought. Our mansion would be a place like nothing we knew on earth, all white and gleaming, with light beaming in through crystal windows: the perfect place to spend eternity with Jesus. It seems a lot better to have a mansion than a room!

 

So what is Jesus promising us in the Gospel today: a mansion or a room? That’s a good question, and Jesus is going to answer it this morning. But there are more questions here; there are always more questions when we look into the future and the future is unclear. In the Gospel, Jesus’ followers were full of questions, and we’re full of questions, too. You know why? We are still struggling to come to grips with Easter. What difference does it make for us that Jesus is alive? How does Jesus’ resurrection change the way we think about life down here? And here’s the bigger question: How does Jesus’ resurrection change the way we think about life up there? You know how this goes: Christ is arisen! (He is risen indeed.) I’ll tell you something: He Lives My Mansion to Prepare.

 

The words that Jesus spoke in John chapter 14 are some of the most beautiful words in the Bible, but the night he spoke them wasn’t a beautiful night. Within a few hours of this conversation on Thursday night, Jesus would be under arrest. By the end of the next day, he would be dead. Jesus knew the rest of the story, but his disciples didn’t. So when he told them that he was going to be leaving them and that they wouldn’t be able to follow him, they were just all upset, almost beside themselves.

 

That’s when Jesus spoke these words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” So is it a room or a mansion? It’s more than a room, but mansion isn’t right, either. What Jesus promises here is a dwelling place that lasts, a home that’s always secure. No renovation; no relocation. When you think of Jesus’ words here, think of the house where your grandparents lived when you were little and still live today; it was always exactly the same. Think of Jesus’ words and think of “home, sweet home” or “There’s no place like home.” On that Thursday night the disciples couldn’t imagine life without Jesus. And Jesus knew what life was going to be like without him. He knew the miles they would travel and the threats they would face. They couldn’t put down roots; they couldn’t stick around. They’d have to sneak out the back door when enemies showed up at the front door. They’d have no place to call home; no place to hang their hats. Jesus was preparing them for their future. When they were huddled around a fire without a roof over their heads, when they were hiding in hovels that were no better than barns, they would remember Jesus’ promise: In my Father’s house you have a home you will never lose, an abode where you will always be safe; a home in my Father’s house is better than home, sweet home.

 

I’ve lived in the same house for 26 years. It’s a beautiful home on a beautiful campus. But the day is coming when I’ll have to move out of that home, and I know right now that’s going to be a sad day. Down here on earth where we live, home isn’t always a happy place. Some homes explode in anger and criticism. Some homes burn down and some are lost to financial downturns. Some homes are the place of tragedy and some homes have a room in which somebody died. Some homes evoke memories we would rather forget. Here’s the problem: My home and your home—all homes on the planet—are infested and contaminated by sin.

 

It wasn’t always like that. Once upon a time God’s people had a perfect home. But Adam and Eve wanted something better, so they went their own way. You know how they ended up: homeless and on the street. No one since, and certainly no one here this morning, has ever been able to buy that home back. So where do you think Jesus was going when he said, “[I go] to prepare a place for you”? He was going to the cross; in fact, he was going to the cross the very next morning. You might say he was going to the cross to pay off the mortgage. He was going to assume the debt we owed because of what we do and don’t do. And so he died and the deed was done. And then he came back to life again, and he handed the deed to us. A room, a home, a mansion: You can call it what you want to. What Jesus promised us in the Gospel for today is a place that will never need repairs, never be sold, never be sad; a place that will always be secure, always be safe, and always be home, sweet home. And he came to life on Easter morning to make the promise sure. Like I said, He Lives My Mansion to Prepare.

 

Well, this was all too much for Thomas. You probably remember that Thomas had a tendency to doubt anyway. “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” We can almost hear Jesus exhale in frustration. How long would it take for them to understand? But Jesus answered. How do you find this home I’ve promised you? “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.” And then Philip chimed in, another disciple with a reputation for dumb questions: “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus must have sighed again. “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” You and I know how Jesus must have felt. We go through this with our teenagers or with classmates or the guy we work with. You just want to explode. What part of this don’t you get?

 

There wasn’t an explosion in the Upper Room that night. No harsh words, no patience running thin. Jesus did nothing more than invite his disciples to ponder the mysteries of God, to think about the relationship that existed between the Father and his Son, to explore the depths of the mind of the Holy Trinity. “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”

 

What could they have answered? Despite all his words and all his miracles over the span of three years, these disciples still struggled to understand Jesus. Not yet did they see Jesus as “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians1:15). Not yet did they believe that “by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” (16). Not yet did they grasp that “he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (17). And not on this Thursday night did they have a clue that “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (19,20). They didn’t believe this on Friday or Saturday. They didn’t even believe it on Sunday until Jesus came walking through the locked doors and said: Peace be to you. On Easter night they saw Jesus, and then they knew and then they believed.

 

I’m not going to stand up in the pulpit this morning and accuse anybody here of being dumb or asking dumb questions. But, brothers and sisters, we talk and think like Thomas and Philip way too often. We talk about heavenly mansions but long for earthly ones. We get ourselves focused on renovations and relocations and take our sights off our home in heaven. We gather knowledge and accumulate wealth as though they will last forever, when the reality is that we will be neither smart nor rich when we die. We want our children to know about computers and sports so they can get to college, but are not so concerned that they learn to love Jesus so they can get to heaven. We whine and complain about how tough life is, and we wonder and worry about the life to come as if we have no Savior who has promised us his presence on earth and a home in heaven. How much of this do we not get?

 

Christ is arisen. He is risen indeed. Yes, yes, yes. But that is so much more than an Easter greeting or an Easter shout. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead changes everything. It changes the way we think about Jesus: Only a living Savior can be the way, the truth, and the life. It changes the way we think about life: Only a living Savior can provide answers that lead us to faith and confidence. And it changes the way we think about death. Only a living Savior can promise an eternal, unchanging home in heaven and actually make it come true. That’s right: He Lives My Mansion to Prepare. But there is more: He lives to bring to bring me safely there. Amen.  

Sunday Bible Classes
Sundays 9:00 AM 
We are studying Luther's explaination for each of the
10 commandments God gave us. 

Jude Bible Study
Every Tuesday morning at 6:30 AM
Want a great way to start your day? What's better than the
good news in the book of Jude?
 
Wednesday Bible Class 6pm 
A study of the basics of liturgical worship. 
Gwen Smith will provide childcare during the adult Bible study from 6-7 PM on Wednesday nights. My goal is for it to be very similar to the Sunday School that Ms. Pearl leads during the summer, so a Bible lesson and craft/games. Please contact Gwen if you have any questions at gwen_yarbrough@yahoo.com or 256-506-1024. All ages are welcome!!

Confirmation Classes  
Classes are Wednesday afternoons at 4:30 PM
 

Sermons are Live on Facebook!
Sermons each Sunday are on facebook, share with a friend! 
 
Come Join Choir! 
Choir practice Wednesdays at 7pm. Any member interested in singing is welcome. No auditions.


Quilling Party!
Saturday, Nov. 17th at 10:00am: Come and learn the beautiful but easy art of quilling! After a short lesson, you'll be able to try your hand at making cards, ornaments, jewelry, gift tags, or art. I'll have several Christmas-themed samples which you can copy but of course you'll be free to create your own too. Recommended ages 7+. Feel free to bring a friend too! The event is FREE and all supplies will be provided. Please bring a small snack or dessert to share. An evite has been sent out - see that for more details and to RSVP. Samples will be on the table by the church entry way. Hope to see you there!
 
THANKSGIVNG MEAL DONATIONS 
Once again, our Lamb of God family will be collecting donations of money and food for Thanksgiving meals for the families we serve in our food shelf. If you would like to donate, please bring your items no later than next Sunday. We will also need families to assist in delivering these meals to the families. More details coming this week. If you have any questions, please speak to Laurie Aikens.
 
Advent by Candlelight
Friday, November 30th at 7:00pm
Ladies, please join us for an evening of Advent worship and fellowship. A sign-up sheet with more details will be on the table in the entry way at church. Contact Sheila Schmeichel or Krista Hahn if you have any questions. 

Advent Meals
We will be serving dinner prior to the services this Advent season. But we need your help! If you can provide a main course, side dish, and/or dessert – please sign up! Sign-up sheets with more details will be located on the table in the entry way at church.
Meals will be served at 6:00pm with services at 7:00pm. The Advent dates are December 5th, 12th, and 19th. Any and all help is appreciated! Contact Krista Hahn for questions. 

 
Church Library
You can search online anytime to see what is in our library collection! Here's
the link or you can click on the Church Library link from this LOG Website. About to buy that book from amazon.com or make a trip to the public library? Wait...check our church library first! We might have it! We now have 186 titles plus 21 DVD's in our collection. If you have a special birthday or anniversary coming up and you would like to donate a book to the church library in honor of a special event or person, please see Gwen Smith at church or you can e-mail me at gwen_yarbrough@yahoo.com or call me at 256-506-1024. 
To God be the Glory!

 
Free Items for College Students--
While you sign up for classes and possibly attend orientation on campus, also think about signing up for your course material in spiritual education. The perk: no homework, tests, or papers! Sign up to get both Forward in Christ magazine and Meditations, a book of daily devotions, mailed to you free. When you sign up, you will also be able to get other free, helpful information from WELS Campus Ministry.

CRAFT CIRCLE
Anyone can come to the fellowship room on Fridays (10 AM to noon) and join with others working on their own arts and crafts projects. The Craft Circle is the place to come to relax and work on any sort of project you want to!! Our ladies have worked on cross stitch, knitting, crocheting, embroidery, scrapbooking, quilts, beading and jewelry, or just come and relax~! Come and join the ladies~feel free to bring a friend.  She works with her hands in delight...Proverbs 31:13


Bible Reading on the Go!
Would you like a free app for your iphone or ipad for bible reading? The Bible Gateway Bible App offers many wonderful ways to experience Bible reading and Bible study, including:
More than 90 different Bible translations, including NIV. Easy-to-use and reliable Bible search, both online and offline. Daily Bible verse in the translation of your choice Daily Bible reading plans Bible audio in a number of different translations and styles.
Here is the link to
get it at itunes



WELS Connection
Here is the WELS Connection that is played once a month after service if you would like to rewatch it or share with a friend!

Lamb of God Coming Events   
 
Sunday 11/11  Adult Bible Class & Sunday School 9 AM   
Special Veteran's Worship Service 10:30 AM
Fellowship Potluck Meal after Service 

Tuesday 11/13  Jude Bible Study 6:30 AM
 
Wednesday 11/14 Confirmation Class 4:30 PM    Bible Study 6 PM     Choir 7 PM
 
Friday 11/16  Craft Circle 10 AM
 
Saturday 11/17  Christmas Quilling Party 10 AM
 
Sunday 11/18  Adult Bible Class & Sunday School 9 AM    Worship Service w/Communion 10:30 AM  
 
11/21 Thanksgiving Worship Service 7 PM 
 
11/30 Advent by Candlelight 7PM

12/01 Church Decorating 9AM

12/09 Children's Christmas Program & Fellowship Dinner


12/15 Christmas for Kids 9AM