April 7 – Fifth Sunday in Lent
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Read Luke 20: 9 – 20
Grace and Peace to you as you let God take over your dreams, from God, our Father, our suffering Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
As children, we have big dreams, like “I wanna play in the Final Four!” “I’m gonna swim in the Olympics!” “I’m going to be a fireman when I grow up.” “I’m going to be the first woman president!” Now for most of us those dreams often don’t materialize. Life goes differently than what we’d planned. Our gifts and abilities don’t match up with our dreams and desires. At some point in our lives, the dreams we have get shattered. We all know about this at any age and yet we all dream that thing would be different. What were your dreams about?
The parable of the vineyard and the tenants that Jesus tells the people of His time is about us and our dreams, especially our dreams when they do not include God’s will. Fortunately for us God Shatters Our Dreams That are Self Centered and Rebuilds Them into Something Worth Dreaming about. The Vineyard in this parable is each of our lives in this world and like the tenants in the parable, we to have our own dreams. Often our dreams become self-centered and don’t want to give a portion of the fruits of life to God, at other times we want to give something to God but our plans and God’s plans are quite different.
In Jesus’ parable, the tenants saw that they had a comfortable arrangement and thought that they should have the right to keep it all and not give any of it to the owner and provider of it all. The owner had a right to a portion of all that he provided for them. God sends His servants to encourage us to give a portion of the fruits of the Spirit to Him. The fruits of the Spirit of God are; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23) This is what the world wants in their life and their dreams for them may be great, but at times they want to destroy the one to gives them these fruits, just like the tenants foolishly thought they would get their dreams when in actuality they lost them all.
Today Jesus wants us all to look at our past. Do you remember some of your dreams as you were growing up? How have some of those dreams been shattered or redirected to enable you to produce more fruits of the Spirit of God in this world as you let God be in control of your dreams instead of your-self pride? In Jesus’ parable, the owner comes to shatter the tenant’s dreams and the people respond with “Surely not!” (Lk. 20:16) “May it never be!” But, what else could they possibly expect? Jesus looks at each of us, as He looked that them and says, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” (Lk. 20:17-18) Throughout history you can find many example of tenants like the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ time, who would try to kill the Son of God in their lives only find that He will rises up again to give us a new creation. You might even be able to see how some of your dreams have been shattered because you wanted to take Jesus and the Cross out of your life. The cross doesn’t allow for things to be “my way;” it doesn’t allow dreams to be self-centered. Let me explain by using my own life as an example of how God can redirect or shatter the “my way” dreams and redirect them to be ‘God’s way.’
I grew up in what most would say was very strong Christian family, as both of my parents were very involve in the Lutheran church and made sure that all of their kids were involved in the church with them. I grew up very involved in many different sports and was expected to get good grades in every class that I took. Oh, I had my many flaws as my parents, brother and sisters can tell you all about them. But as I was graduating from high school I had a dream and that dream was to be a teacher and a coach. In high school, I had been given opportunities to do some coaching and teaching. I enjoyed doing both so that was my dream, to be a successful teacher and coach. Now, Pastor Riese, once asked me what I wanted to be and where I was planning to go to college. I told him I wanted to be a teacher of math or Industrial Arts and a coach and I was thinking about going to the University of Northern Colorado, CU or CSU. He said, “Pete,” as he handed me a brochure about Concordia University at Seward Nebraska, “you should think about becoming a pastor and going to Concordia University in Seward Nebraska.” During my senior year of high school, I looked into all four of those university and was accepted at four of them but chose to go to the University of Northern Colorado because the others didn’t have one or another of the things that I wanted to be involved in my dream.
Now in high school I was a good athlete but not good enough to earn any scholarship to play a sport but that didn’t stop me from being a walk on. So, I walk on to the football team at UNC and this was when freshmen couldn’t play on the varsity college teams. That was the way it was when I was a freshman but by the time I got out of college that was not true anymore. So, I made the freshman football team at UNC and was one of the starter and we played the other freshman college teams in the area like CU, CSU, Wyoming University, University of Mines, the Air Force Academy and the Air Force Academy prep school. Now I don’t remember winning any of our freshman games but the main point of the freshman team was to earn a position for the next year. When the year was over you had a meeting with the coaches and they told you what they thought about your chances of making the varsity squad. I was told, “Pete, we would be glad to have you come out for the varsity squad, but you will never start for us because we are looking to recruit someone bigger than you for the defensive back position and that person will be our starter.” I told them, “Thanks for the offer and that I was going to walk on to the wrestling team and after wresting I would decide which team I would like to continue to be on.” I walked onto the wrestling team at UNC. I beat the varsity wrestler for my weight in a wrestle off but I was the freshman and couldn’t compete on the varsity team. I won most of the matches that I got to wrestle in tournament and against other freshman teams, which meant Wyoming University, University of Mines and the junior college in Sterling. At the end of the wrestling season I went to the meeting with the coach and was told that they would like to have me stay with the team, but I would not be able to wrestle at the weight I was wrestle that year because the varsity wrestler had a full scholarship and he would be there varsity wrestler for the next two years. They told me they could give me a Scholarship for books and fees if I stayed on the wrestling team but I would have to wait and see if there was any opening in weights that I could wrestle in. I accepted the offer and wrestled my way through college always getting to go to a few tournaments but never being allowed to be on the varsity squad because I didn’t have a full ride scholarship and they were the ones who wrestle varsity. In my senior year of wrestling the coach came over and talked to me after one practice and asked, “Pete, what are your plans after graduation?” I said, “I’m going to be a teacher of Math or Industrial Arts and a coach. That was what I was apply to school districts for.” He said, “Well good luck with your teaching and coaching carrier.” I thanked him. Now the Lutheran Campus Pastor, Pastor Blanco, encouraged me several times during college to consider becoming a pastor after graduation, but I told him that my goal was to become a teacher and a coach.
Now I was bound and determined to be a teacher and a coach even though some would say that God was putting road blocks in my way, but I was stubborn enough to not see them and kept trying to do it “my way.” Oh, I became a teacher and some would say a good teacher, for they gave me two ‘teacher of the year’ awards in my 16 years as a teacher and I would become a head wrestling and football coach but the biggest complement that I was given in those 16 years of teaching was the nick name “Coach Shepherd.” I got that nickname because many of the Hispanic wrestlers and football players had a hard time pronouncing Scheele and it came out shepherd. In my 16 years of teaching I was always the sponsor of the Fellowship of Christian Athletics group and at Frederick High School quiet often there would be a group of FCA members around me. The principle and the Assistant principle would tease me about being their shepherd, which is what Pastor means. Now I was fired from both of my head coaching positions but I continued to teach and coach until in 1992. That’s when God got me to listen to the advice that so many people had told me before, that I should be pastor. So, I quite by teaching job, pack up my family and went back to school to become a pastor.
Now I’m sure that each of you are not as stubborn or hard headed as me and can see God’s hand working in your life to show you the right way instead of ‘my way’. For God is working in each of our lives, just as He is working in my life and He has plans for each of us to use the fruits of the Spirit that He is producing in our lives to be shared in the ways that they need to be shared doing it ‘God’s way’ and not ‘my way.’
God through the life, death and resurrection of His Only Son, Jesus Christ, has made each of us a new creation through our baptism and His Word. As we let the Holy Spirit go to work in our lives, we are being transformed into what God dreams for us now and with Him forever in the heavenly home that He has prepared for us. As we let God be our shepherd we get to experience life and care for others by doing it God’s way. We get to see God’s mission and be about his work with Others in mind and not Ourselves, for Our ways or Our pride taking us away from God’s love for us. As we let ‘God’s way’ be our dream we become the bears of the Fruits of God and we learn how to share the Fruits of the Spirit produced in our lives with others. Yes, God has shattered our dreams and it is a good thing, for He has transformed our life into something worth dreaming about forever. So, go and share the dream that God has given to you as you do it ‘God’s way.’ Amen.