Emmitsburg Council of Churches


The Holy Gospel according to St John 8:31-36

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." 8:33 They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, 'You will be made free'?" 8:34 Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 8:35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 8:36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. This is the Gospel of the Lord! Praise to you O Christ!

Fire Safety and God's Grace

This morning we have these lessons in the scriptures about how Jesus Makes Us Free as he Delivers us from Sin and that the Righteousness of God is Another Way of Describing this Action that God takes on our behalf when he extends his saving hand toward us through his Son, Jesus our Lord. This is a special Sunday for us here at Elias for more reasons than the fact that it is Reformation Sunday. Today is special because we have members of Emmitsburg's own, Vigilant Hose Fire Company (VHFC). These women and men give sacrificially of their time, talents and skills for the safety and security of our whole community. In a great analogy, the Firemen and women of VHFC are like God's Saving Hand, reaching out to us to help us and aid us in our time of emergency and trouble.


From the most Basic Lessons of Fire Safety in our Homes–we know that we all should take fundamental Precautions to prevent a Fire as well as have a Plan to Escape a fire – should, God forbid, there be a fire in your home.

Here's Some Quick Things to Remember to Prevent a Fire in your Home:

  • Never Leave a Candle Unattended
  • Always Clean the Lint Screen on your Dryer
  • Always Use a Screen in front of Fireplace
  • Keep Debris and Flammable Away from Electric Heaters
  • Keep Debris Away from Electric Panel Boxes

Today's Gospel Story and Fire Safety have some complimentary qualities.

I. What if that fire was in your home? A Smart Escape Plan is Essential!

A. You Need to have a plan of what to do if there's a fire.

From our Christian Faith–we know God Had a Plan for our Salvation–He would Send his Son Jesus, to Save us from our SIN–and to Teach us How to Live for God and how to be a Blessing to our Neighbors.

Without jesus – we could not escape from the fires of sin, death and the devil– as Martin Luther would surely tell us!

B. We need to practice our escape route! It's one thing to talk about having a plan of escape, but it's quite another to rehearse it so that you are comfortable and familiar with what you would do if a fire broke out in your home. It is best to physically practice a "Fire Drill" with your family. This can be fun–as the kids practice "escaping" the house by pretending there's a fire. Doing this will make it less of a panic should a real emergency arise.

Living the Christian life should be no less real for us. We ought to be "Practicing" what Jesus said we should do–every day. In loving God, Serving and getting along with our neighbors and giving God the praise and glory on a regular basis. One might wonder why a Christian would not be comfortable doing what Jesus has asked us to do...but I'm afraid there's going to be a whole lot of folk who are caught by surprise when the Lord comes–or when they depart this life–because they have not been living and practicing the faith with their brothers and sisters here in the church! Not that we are perfect, but when we are active in our worship and giving and praising the Lord–seeing him face to face will be even more joyful.

C. To avoid smoke inhalation and asphyxiation--stay low as you crawl or stoop down while exiting the HOUSE.

We can adapt this same behavior in our Christian Walk of Faith. The way we conduct ourselves among our peers and as leaders whether at work or in the church or our families–we can portray humility. If we are not willing to stoop to serve others or if we think we are better than others–we'll surely be headed for a fall! Those who walk around with their heads in the clouds are going to pass out!

INSTEAD when we enter new environments, we can remain humble and lowly, we can practice humility in whatever situation we find ourselves in – we can bless others and lift those up who are bowed down with heavy burdens in life. ....we can learn not to go it alone–but to gather and work together with others as we head for the nearest exit–the place of safety and accountability. That is where Christ is!

D. Establish a Meeting Place:

There's nothing more frustrating than when we go to a place like the fair or on a camping trip or wherever with our children . . . and then someone gets separated from the group. It's a sickening feeling–where's little Johnny or where did little Jessica get to?? If we did not Establish a MEETING PLACE in Advance....we won't know where we are supposed to wind up. So, whenever you get into a big crowd and have little children along–Establish a meeting place in advance–just in case someone gets lost. This is like a security blanket–a place of safety and security where one can flee to if need be, knowing the others will join them there in due time.

This is important from a Faith Point of View as well, we may become separated from our loved ones for a season, but, by faith, we know we can all end up in the same place! If the house catches fire–part of the escape plan should include meeting at the big Maple Tree in the front yard or by the Fire Hydrant on Main Street. In terms of our Christian Faith–we all plan to Wind up with Jesus and with one another at Heavens Gates!!

In spite of all the jokes we've heard and told about St. Peter checking his list there at the Pearly Gates . . . ., sure Hope your name and mine are on his list!! Let's seriously take this plan as God's Promise to us. Jesus told us in John 14, "Behold, I go to prepare a place for you." And, "In my Father's House, there are Many rooms!" These are Jesus' promise that we have a safe place to go – a place where we will one day meet with him and with all those who have made his salvation there promise of reunion. Don't neglect your part in the plan of Christ. Just trust in his death, resurrection and live in his teachings and amongst his people. This is the Calling of Christians in every age.

Better yet, Don't just be waiting to go to Heave, but make your faith practical and living for today and everyday. Let's plan to meet every week for church....because when we gather–this is where Christ meets us now....Not that He's not with you during the week, he is! But it's good practice and will sharpen your life for righteous living and keep you more safe during the daily walk all week!

Finally, practice these fire drills in your mind individually and physically as a family! That can start today at home – and it is part of what we do here at church. Practice your faith individually and together!

Remember, God is like the firemen, he is there constantly reaching out to us – his very Righteousness is his Son, Our Lord Jesus. And he has come to rescue us from all that would endanger us. He gives of himself for our very salvation and that we might know the fullness of God's love and goodness. This is what we call: God's Love, Mercy and Goodness–Which we also know most singularly as GRACE!!! Thanks be to God for his Amazing love, goodness and GRACE--through Christ our Lord. AMEN!!

Peace be with you.

Read more writings of Pastor Jon