In John 8, while Jesus is teaching in the temple some of the Bible Scholars (scribes) and lay watchmen (Pharisees) brought a woman to him whom they had caught in the act of adultery. How did they manage that? Makes me suspicious. His opponents claimed Moses commanded them to stone such women. “So, Jesus, what do you say?”
Jesus bent down and started to write in the dirt while they kept after him for an answer. Finally, he stood up and told them that the one without sin, (never missing the bullseye of God’s target of perfection) could throw the first stone. Then he bent down and continued to write in the dirt.
What did he write? I think it was not only what he said, but what he wrote which caused the would be stone throwers to wander off. I think he started writing the ten commandments. When he got to the sixth, about committing adultery, he stood up and told whoever hadn’t broken any of those commandments could fire away. Then he crotched down and continued to write the rest of the commandments, don’t steal, don’t lie about people, don’t covet what someone else has.
What do you think he wrote in the dirt?
Read a story in Country Today about Arcadia Wi. It unearthed a memory of a burial there when Becky and I lived in Winona, MN and I was Assoc. pastor at St. Martin’s Lutheran. Future, sister -in-law Bev. taught at the school.
After the funeral at St. Martin’s I rode in the hearse with funeral director Tom Martin. We started the 25-mile trip north along Hwy 93, crossing the Mississippi River and leading the procession through the hills and curves of the driftless area of S.E. Wisconsin. (Driftless, is the term where the last glacier, 10,000 years ago, did not rearrange the landscape.)
A police squad car met us at the edge of town and led us to the Catholic Cemetery; except we didn’t want to go the Catholic Cemetery. Next, we drove to another cemetery outside of town. Alas, it was also not the right cemetery either. By this time, I was enjoying Tom’s embarrassment. “I should have come over and checked it out before today,” he said. Someone in the procession then spoke up. “I think there is another cemetery in town.” With the hearse no longer leading the way, the procession returned to town and someone led us down an alley between two brick building and there it was, a little cemetery located on a knoll right off main street.
The cemetery tour having been completed we finally laid the deceased in his resting place until the resurrection when all cemeteries will have become useless.
I have always maintained, funerals are more interesting and memorable than weddings.
We’re all familiar with Proverbs 9:10, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
With wisdom God created the world. With wisdom God crafted our salvation on the cross. With wisdom we are His workmanship to do good works.
How do we practice wisdom in our own life?
Retired Chief Inspector Gamache has an answer in Louise Penny’s mystery novel, “The Long Way Home.”
Recognize that: I don’t know. I was wrong. I’m sorry. I need help.
Wisdom is practicing practical smarts.
My grandfather, August Glaubitz’ died in 1957. Yearly, at his birthday in September the family gathered at the farm he homesteaded. The memory that stands out is of a grape vine which had grown up into an apple tree and spread onto the roof of a granary/woodshed. If it hadn’t froze yet, we might find some grapes to eat, along with some apples.
In the psalm, God brought a vine out of Egypt, cleared the ground and planted it. It spread its branches over the mountains and mighty cedars, filling all the land and beyond. But now the psalmist asks, “Why then have you broken down its walls, so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?” Israel has been plundered.
The psalmist pleads that God would restore them, “let your face shine, that we may be saved!”
Jesus compares himself to the vine from which we, the branches, grow and bear fruit. The problem for Israel is that it forgot God was their savior. Now, they plead for God to look upon them and save.
At the end of the service on Sunday, we branches attached to Christ the vine, are sent on our way with the face of the Lord looking upon us, keeping us, and giving us peace. Thus so, connected to Christ we spread out into our communities bearing fruit in our life.
Prayer of the Day, Pentecost 16A
“Gracious God, You gave Your Son into the hands of sinful men who killed Him.”
Gracious God, really? You deliver Your Son into the hands of sinners. Is that what a gracious God does? Delivered Your Son into hands that bound, slapped, grasped the whip, wove thorn branches into a crown, pounded nails through his flesh into wooden cross beams, threw dice to win him clothes. Is that what a gracious God does, to His own Son, his only Son who helped create the creation, gave up his royal rights, was born of a woman, took on flesh, all to carry out a plan set in place beyond the advent of time to save our lives for eternity?
Would you do such thing? I wouldn’t. As someone told me one time, “It’s a good thing you’re not God.”
It’s well that we complete the prayer, “Forgive us when we reject Your unfailing love, and grant us the fullness of your salvation; thought Jesus Christ our Lord.” There it is unfailing love which backs unfailing forgiveness granting salvation, through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. All that in thirty-six words.
From Louis Penny’s mystery novel, “A Trick of the Light.”
“The skyline of Montreal was looming in the foreground now, across the river. And Mont Royal rose in the middle of the city. The huge cross on top of the mountain was invisible now, but every night it sprang to life, lit as a beacon to a population that no longer believed in the church, but believed in family friends, culture and humanity.
The cross didn’t seem to care. It glowed just as bright.”
Prayer of the Day, Pentecost 17A,
The first part of the prayer is clearly drawn from the epistle lesson (Philippians 2:1-18), where St. Paul reminds us to use in unity with one another, the mind which we have already received in the Holy Spirit. That is, to have the mind of Christ who humbled himself, was born in human likeness, died on the cross and was exalted “to the place of all honor and authority.”
Once again, this week we prayed that the Holy Spirit would enlighten our minds that we join in confessing Christ and be led into all truth. Of course, all truth is Jesus Christ, our Lord. Having the truth motivates us to live as shining lights in the world keeping a grip on the word of life, until the day Christ returns and we too are exalted.
Almighty God, You exalted Your Son to the place of all honor and authority. Enlighten our minds by Your Holy Spirit that, confessing Jesus as Lord, we may be led into all truth; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
I love to sing, and often pay more attention to singing than to what I am singing. However, occasionally the Holy Spirit manages to get the words beyond my eyes. Such was the case this morning when during Communion we sang, “Jesus Comes today with Healing” LSB 620.
What initially caught my eye was the image of the pastor/priest entering the bread and wine, “Christ Himself, the priest presiding, Yet in bread and wine abiding.” Try to imagine that happening to your pastor/priest doing the liturgy.
In stanza 3 we declared as we sang, “Under bread and wine, though lowly, I receive the Savior holy.” Christ dwelling in ordinary wheat flour harvested by a combine and water from a well combined and grapes which grew and were picked by hand and allowed to ferment.
Stanza 4 tells that this morning, in our presence, “God descends with heav’nly power, Gives Himself to me this hour- in this ordinary sign.” Furthermore, as I kneeled at the communion rail, “I tasted His love divine.”
No wonder the hymn ended with reference to a ”Balm to heal the troubled soul…Makes my wounded spirit whole.”