My Old Man Doesn’t Like this Prayer

 

Martin Luther said that when we pray in the Lord’s Prayer “thy will be done,” we are praying against ourselves.  The same pertains to the Prayer of the Day for this Sunday.

My old man, that is, the old man that I need to drown daily in my baptism doesn’t like to admit that we need to pray, “O Lord, by your bountiful goodness release us from the bonds of our sins, which by reason of our weakness we have brought upon ourselves…”

My old man doesn’t mind receiving God’s “bountiful goodness.” But that I need “release from the bonds of our sins?  No, no.  ‘Sin’ is such negative word.  Just give me your bountiful goods and let’s not have all this negative talk.  That’s why I don’t like this judgmental stuff.  I want to hear about love.

Yes, there are times when ‘by reason of our weakness we have brought upon ourselves’ some problems.  But I have ways and methods of taking care of those. I’m sure ‘that I will stand firm until the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.’”

So my old man thinks.  But when we apply our baptism to our daily lives then, as Luther writes, “That together with all sins and evil lusts, should be drowned by daily sorrow and repentance and be put to death, and that the new man should come forth daily rise up cleansed and righteous, to live forever in God’s presence.”

Yes, that’s God’s way and method to take care of my weaknesses.  All this through Jesus Christ “who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.” Amen.  It is so.

 

 

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Going to Church with Garrison Keillor

Just read a piece by Garrison Keillor about going to church. One of the reasons he goes is because in the face of declining attendance he doesn’t want to be part of a trend. Parents should teach their kids that there is more to Sunday than video games and that Sunday doesn’t have to be the same as Saturday and Monday. Church is also the place when you can greet your fellow attendees with the peace of the Lord, something which won’t happen in the produce aisle of the supermarket. Then you confess your failures, receive forgiveness and everyone goes to communion together. He goes because for about an hour and a half he gets away from thinking about himself. His mind wanders during the sermon. He uses the time to think about and pray for an assortment of people and problems. (As does mine. I’m usually ‘writing” my own sermon and how I would treat the texts while I listen to someone’s treatment of the text. Though I am getting better of paying attention. If I was smarter, I would know how to copy and paste what Garrison actually said and you wouldn’t have to put up with my synopsis.)
He concludes with the thought that with all the shouting going on in our society during the week it’s well to be told as you are about the to leave the service, “Go in Peace, God Bless you. amen.”
For myself one of the reasons I go to church is that I get to sing some fantastic hymns with both depth of meaning and music. I also like to sing tenor when I can easily do so. though I wonder sometimes whether my boisterous singing bothers those around me. But Becky hasn’t told me to shut up yet, so I’ll just keep enjoying myself. Thanks Lord for the opportunity.

He Noticed Her

He Noticed Her

Often, we preachers use the story in Mark 12:38-44 of the widow who put her last two pennies in the temple offering box as an incentive for stewardship giving in church.  We may take another view of Jesus watching people in the temple.  Yes, Jesus people watched.

He noticed her.  His mother, Mary, was right when she sang more than thirty years before, “My soul magnifies the Lord…because He has looked kindly at His humble servant… and lifted up lowly people…those who were hungry He has filled with good things.”

He also knew the widow.  He knew she had put in everything she had.  She made herself a defenseless prey for the long-robed scribes, who while taking the best seats and devouring the food at banquets would leave and then devour the widows house even while issuing long prayers in behalf of the dispossessed poor and hungry.

The story ends with her impoverishment.  How will we write the end of the story?

Hanging on our front door is a blue bag from the Boys Scouts.  Did you receive one?  Filling the bag is a small way we can look after those whom we might not notice during the week.  For as Mary sang, “He has come to help his servant and remember His mercy.”  That includes us. We too have received mercy, even as we are called to show mercy.

Simple Realities

I stole this from former synod president Jerry Kieschnick

Eight Simple Profound Realities
1. Everyone in a village decided to pray for rain. On the day of prayer all the people gathered, but only one boy came with an umbrella.
That’s FAITH.

2. When you throw babies in the air, they laugh because they know you will catch them.
That’s TRUST.

3. Every night we go to bed without any assurance of being alive the next morning, but still we set our alarm to wake up.
That’s HOPE.

4. We plan big things for tomorrow in spite of zero knowledge of the future.
That’s CONFIDENCE.

5. We see the world suffering, but still we get married and have children.
That’s LOVE.
6. On an old man’s shirt was written the sentence: “I am not 80 years old; I am sweet 16 with 64 years of experience.”
That’s ATTITUDE.

7. When an election takes place in any organization, secular or ecclesiastical, there are winners and there are losers. The winners have difficulty representing those who voted for the losers, which makes it difficult for the organization to thrive. Yet in most cases it survives.
That’s POLITICAL REALITY.

8. Jesus loves me, this I know! For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong; they are weak but he is strong.
That’s ASSURANCE.

Who are Those dressed in the White Robes?

This morning many of us heard from Rev. 7:9-17. Numbers beyond counting hope in the Lamb (Christ) having made their robes white in his blood. Among that great multitude are people, “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and and languages.” John also wrote in his first letter, “that when he appears we shall be like him.”
As those words were read in worship, I thought of the vitriol, insults, lies and fears hurled in this present political campaign. At times we who are among blessed in Christ, find ourselves drawn into the fray with strong emotions lumping those with whom we disagree into a heap of ______. We do well to remember that many of those who dressed in white robes will be of a multitude of colors, languages, nations and peoples. Since we will be living in eternity with one another, we do well to make every effort to practice our life together in the here and now.

All Saints Day

 

Who are the saints?  1 John 3:1-3 tells us that the saints are those whom the Father has called his children and live in the hope of seeing Christ on the last day and becoming like him. Jesus identified what kind of people are saints and their way of life when he taught his disciples in Matthew 5.

The saints are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the gentle and humble, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness in their actions, are merciful, have hearts that are pure, make peace, are persecuted, insulted, and lied about.  Saints are followers of Jesus, who died and rose again, that his disciples could be blessed.  Saints are the salt of the earth, the light of the world, who light the world around them.

Saints are those to whom Christ will welcome into his Father’s Kingdom as the blessed ones.  But they will be completely surprised when Jesus tells them they have been visiting him, giving him something to eat, welcoming him, providing him clothes all along.  They will ask, “Who? Us?  When did we do that stuff, for you?”  Jesus will say, when you visited the poor, fed the hungry, healed the gentle and humble, did righteous deeds, helped without being duplicitous, backed the peacemakers, and those who were insulted, abused and bullied, and stood up for the persecuted.

Reformation – Halloween – Law and Gospel

 

Sorry to rain (and it is raining) on your Halloween plans, but today is Reformation Day. In 1517, Wittenberg University professor Martin Luther issued a call to debate 95 points of concern. On New Year’s Eve, 1532 he preached, “The Law is nothing but God’s word and command telling us what we are to do and not do and demands our obedience and service.  In 1518, he wrote explaining his 95 theses, “The Law is the word of wrath, the word of sadness, the word of pain, the word of unrest, the word of a disordered condition.”

In contrast, he wrote in 1521, “What is the Gospel? It is that “Christ gave his body and shed his blood, for us for the forgiveness of sins.  In 1522 he added, “The Gospel is “Good message, good tidings, good news, good report.  The gospel means nothing but a preaching and proclaiming of the grace of God through Jesus Christ.  It tells how Christ has taken our place, made satisfaction for our sins, has canceled them.  Of this we sing, thank God, praise him and are happy forever if we only believe and remain steadfast in this faith.”

Personally, one of the most challenging matters was to preach God’s Word, the Law, in such a way that listeners applied to their life and to preach God’s Word, the Gospel, in such a way that the listener applied to their life.  And to do so in a way that they went home with something to chew on.

 

Law and Gospel

Reformation 2018 Ruma/Evansville Matthew 11:2-19

Matt. 11:17-19, Jesus said “We played a tune on the flute for you, but you did not dance.  We sang a funeral song, but you did not mourn.  John the Baptizer does not eat or drink, and people say, ‘There is a demon in him!’ The Son of Man eats, and drinks and people say, ‘Look at the glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!”

Jesus words reminds me of the old joke about a pastor and a parishioner.  One day a man comes into church. He asks the secretary, “I wanted to see the pastor, where is he anyway?”  The secretary answers, “He’s out making hospital calls.”  “Ach, says the man, “He’s never in the office.”  A few weeks later the man is in the hospital, he calls up, “Where’s the pastor anyway?  He hasn’t been here to visit me.”  The secretary says, “He’s in his office working on his sermon for Sunday.  I’ll let him know you are in the hospital.” The man responds, “I should have guessed, always sitting in his office.” Some people are never happy.

In fact, that’s what Martin Luther said in the 1530’s when he preached on Matthew 11; “For if one preaches the Gospel, it does no good; if one preaches the Law, it does no good.  You can’t make people either really happy or really sad; they do not want to be made sinners.  Nor do they want to be comforted from their sin.”

This morning we see in John the Baptizer and Jesus Christ two distinct ministries with the same purpose in mind.  Both proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was right on the threshold of breaking out in the world.  John as the forerunner of Jesus, the Messiah, came preaching repentance, calling the people to their lives around for Lord is coming.  John was a rough tough prophet, living out in wild countryside of the Jordan River.  If you had invited John out for dinner he would have come in a camel’s hair robe, hair down to his waist because he was never supposed to cut it.  When the restaurant server came and asked if she could bring something to drink he would said, “I didn’t drink,” and he would have ordered a plateful of grasshoppers and a little honey on the side.  He wouldn’t hang around for dessert, he had get back to preaching against people’s sins in no uncertain terms.  Pharisees and Sadducees, he called a tangle of poisonous snakes.  He preached that the Messiah would come the Holy Spirit and fire.  With his winnowing fork he would separate the chaff from the g=rain. The chaff would be tossed into an unquenchable fire.  The people had every reason to mourn over their sins as if they were at a funeral.

And now Jesus came also preaching that the kingdom of God was near, but he didn’t come with fire and brimstone.  John was sitting in Herod’s prison and he likely had a pretty good idea how things would end up for him.  He wondered whether all his work had been useless.  We have those thoughts, “what did accomplish today, or this year or maybe in my life?  When I look back did I really make a difference in all my work and effort?  So, John sent a delegation to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one?”

John came with the law. Martin Luther said the purpose of the Law is “to reveal sins and to pronounce guilty those who were righteous in their own eyes.”  On New Year’s Eve of 1532 he preached, “Law” is nothing but God’s word and command in which he commands us what we are to do and not do and demands our obedience and service.”  In explaining his 95 these he wrote that “The Law is the word of wrath, the word of sadness, the word of pain, the word unrest, the word of a messed-up condition.”  Later he wrote, “The Law gives nothing but demands of us indeed it demands impossible things.”  Wow, who wouldn’t want to get out from under John’s preaching of the law.  The law is God’s Word, but it will demand, demand, demand and not lift a finger to get you out from under it.

Like Jesus, Luther loved to socialize and converse with people.  There were always several guests enjoying a good meal and some beer at Katy and Luther’s table.  On one occasion when he was coming near the end of his ministry, He wondered at how people could take offense at Christ.  “Christ wants to give the kingdom of heaven, while the world wants the kingdom of the earth.”  In Jesus the kingdom of God walked on the earth socializing, eating and drinking in the homes of Tax Collectors and Pharisees, it made no difference to Jesus who you were.  He would even go out to a restaurant with the likes of us.

So, he sent back the messengers John had sent: “Tell John what you hear and see: Blind people see and those who were lame are walking; lepers are made clean and deaf people hear; those who are dead  are raised and poor people hear the Gospel; and blessed is anyone who does not stumble in his evaluation of me.”  Jesus came with the Gospel, he was the Gospel.

For Luther, the gospel was Christ giving his body and shedding his blood for us for the forgiveness of sins.  It’s the “good message, good tidings, good news, good report, which one sings and tells with rejoicing.  It tells of Jesus who fought sin, death and the devil, overcame them, and thereby delivered, without any merit of our own, all those who were captive to sin, were. plagued by death and were overpowered by the devil.  Of this we sing, thank God, praise Him, and are happy forever if we only believe and remain steadfast in this faith…. the gospel exacts nothing from us but gives freely and pleads with us to hold out our hands and take what it offers.”  What will we be doing in a few minutes but holding out our hand taking the gospel in the bread of holy communion and drinking the gospel in the wine.  Jesus came eating and drinking and he wants us to do the same “Take eat,” he said.  “Take drink.”  The church becomes a restaurant offering a menu of food which nourishes with the forgiveness of sin and sustains us unto life everlasting.

Luther puts it this way, “The Gospel tastes best to those who lie in the straits of death or whom an evil conscience oppresses, for in that case ‘hunger is a good cook’ So Mary speaks in her song: ‘He filled the hungry with good things’….

The Gospel is the wisdom of God, beyond reason, beyond our wisdom.  We shall never grasp it sufficiently.  There is nothing left for us to do but thank and praise, serve and obey.  This is most certainly true.

 

 

 

 

In the time of violence in word and deed

During the Prayers at Ruma/Evansville tomorrow morning I,m including this petition:
Mighty Fortress, Rock of Refuge, hear today our prayers to strengthen those who have suffered from intended violence and those who suffered murderous violence this week. Put away all violence in speech and action and lead all to engage in words and actions which uplift and encourage, Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Walk in Unity

 

When I read the comics during breakfast, I discovered that today in “Unity Day.”  During lunch I learned that someone had sent several bombs.  One or more human beings were bent on blowing to pieces other human beings.

I was intending to write about our unity in Christ.  The bombs add a measure of urgency to the subject.  We are falling far short of the image held up in Psalm 133:1&3, “Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers (and sisters) dwell in unity…for there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.”

In Ephesians St. Paul writes of God’s plan to unite all things in the universe and beyond in Christ.  He exhorts us to strive for unity amongst ourselves. “I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

We are under constant bombardment with political ads in which candidates tear down the other person with at best half-truths and plenty of untruths tossed in.  This cannot help but have a negative influence on us.  Therefore, I need to remember I not only live in this fallen world, but also in God’s kingdom.  As we often pray: “Thy Kingdom come.”