St. Paul Lutheran Church Sunday Service

Message: “For The Praise of His Glory”  Ephesians 1:11-14

5th Sunday After Pentecost

July 13, 2003

   “A Wish For Wings That Work!”  That’s the title of a cute little story by a cartoonist named Berkeley Breathed, who used to do a comic strip that appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star titled, “Bloom County”  The main character of that comic strip was a thoughtful, humorous, sometimes cynical little penguin named Opus. 

   One Christmas the one and only gift that Opus wanted for Christmas was a pair of “wings that worked.”  Opus had this one wish, a strong wish, a dream if you will. Although he could walk & swim & get around like the rest of us, Opus wanted to fly.  He wanted to be able to rise high, to be lifted up, to soar above the landscape, to be free of things flat and heavy and sometimes frustrating or hard to face.

   I think we all know the feeling.  While some folks are afraid of

flying or riding Ferris wheels and some of us may cautiously keep our distance from the edges of deep canyons or steep cliffs, still it is an inviting, interesting, uplifting thought to imagine oneself soaring above the landscape; rising high above the storms & troubles of life; feeling an exhilarating freedom from things flat & heavy & sometimes frustrating or hard to face.   

   “Oh, for wings that work!”  Or as a hit song made popular by Bette Midler says, what a different feeling to life there is; what a joy to be alive; what great hope to have -- when you can fly higher than an eagle because someone you know is “the wind beneath your wings.”


   Maybe you know the feeling. Maybe you have longed for “wings that work” or for “the wind beneath your wings.” Yes! There are those who would call this “wishful thinking” or “day-dreaming” or not-being-being-able-to-face-reality.  But then again, when it comes to “wings that work”, the Bible, is on our side.  The Bible says, “Go for it.”  When Sadie sang “On Eagle’s Wings” & we joined in to sing  The Lord will raise you up on eagle wings, bear you on the breath of dawn, make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of His hand, this is not wishful thinking. This is not day-dreaming. This is not avoiding reality.  This is good, sound, Christian theology.

   God is our refuge & strength, a very present help in trouble, says Psalm 46, and so we picture God as a rock, a fortress, a safe place to go when times are dark & stormy.

   But then there is also this wonderful, incredible picture of God at the end of Isaiah 40, where the prophet declares, Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.  


   Have you ever been there; done that?  Have you ever gone so far and didn’t think you could go any further - or given so much and you didn’t think you could give any more, but you did.  To be strong in the face of adversity; to run & not be tired, to walk & not be weary; to rise to a new day and know that the God’s mercies are new unto us every morning, what a blessing when God gives us wings to fly, wings that work.  What a blessing when God Himself with all His love & power & grace focused toward us in the life & work, the suffering & death of Jesus Christ winds up being, the wind beneath our wings.       

   Yesterday morning, about 10:30, when I called Lincoln to see how our daughter and her family were doing as they faced another long hospitalization with their 2 ½  year old son, Nathan, Rob’s mother, Marge, answered the phone at Rob’s Uncle & Aunt’s house where all of them were staying for the weekend. Marge told me the family had a good night after Rob & Jenny & Nathan had had a long day at the Children’s Hospital in Omaha and Nathan was doing well.  Then Rob’s mom said, since it was such a nice Saturday morning, the five of them were headed together for the children’s zoo in Lincoln, which to me sounded like a welcome respite, a real “picker-upper”, a nice change of pace, something light & easy-going – like an eagle lifting off a tall tree, soaring, swooping, letting the wind carry it, up & down, floating, flying, yet not straining, not worrying, not wearing out.  

   Oh, for wings that work!  Oh, for bit of God’s power from on high, for God’s perfect love without any strings attached, for salvation & reconciliation with God free & clear.  Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing My great Redeemer’s praise,  The glories of my God and King,  The triumphs of his grace. (LW, no. 276, v.1)

   “You know,” writes one author & observer of churches, “The congregation in the pews this time of year is mostly the regulars. Generally, they are the ‘old faithful,’ those for whom church is a lifetime habit.  Many of them are active, hard workers in God’s vineyard.

   And then this author continues, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Sunday ser-vice just to relax; a Sunday to let our hearts & minds coast a little, maybe even soar a little on eagle’s wings?

   No matter how full or how empty the church is on a summer Sunday ought we not give God a bit more room to move us above & beyond those things that weigh heavy on our hearts & minds? Ought we not let God in His Word and with His rich grace heal & strengthen & renew our whole being?  Who knows, we might then be able to believe the truth about ourselves, “no matter how beautiful & wonderful that truth it is.”   

   That’s the point the apostle Paul makes in the Epistle for this Sunday, in the opening verses of his letter to the Christians in and around Ephesus.  To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus, writes Paul.  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


   What then follows this warm, grace-filled greeting is a great, uplifting, soaring, joyful, powerful, thankful song of praise to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who has made us & continues to make us what we are as God’s dearly beloved children no matter what happens to us in this life. 

   Like an eagle stretching out it’s powerful wings, lifting off from a tree high on the side of a magnificent, sprawling valley, taking in the wondrous view of how everything below fits together, Paul launches into this beautiful, soaring, magnificent testimony to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit working together for the good of those who are one in Jesus Christ; created, redeemed, sanctified in Christ; blessed, beloved, beautiful people in Christ, like Christ, full of Christ.            

   On Eagle’s Wings!  Wings that work!  Wind beneath our wings!  Here it is.  Words of good news - a song of truth that enables us to fly higher than an eagle - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places . .

   In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgtivenes of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us.

   In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance . . so that we,  who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory . . .

   In Christ you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, (you found your-selves home free – signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit.

   This is the first installment of what’s coming, a reminder that we will get everything God has planned for us, living our lives for the praise of God’s glory now and forever.

   If you and I want “wings that work”; when we want to rise & be lifted above the troubles & tensions, the burdens & bad news, the unknowns & uncertainties of life without having to have everything explained to us or make sense to us, what better way to go each day, to face each day than knowing who we are & what we have in Jesus Christ.

   God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit enables us to ride the winds of any storm that brings sickness, tragedy, failure and disappointment in our lives.  God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit which is God above us, God among us, God within us enables us to rise above the realities of our lives without being overwhelmed by them.  It is something for us to remember – that it’s not the tribulations and troubles of life that weigh us down; it’s how we handle them.

   Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.  May we too set our hope on Christ that we might live for the praise of His glory, today, tomorrow, and forever.