I may have told you before about how on March 1, 1912 on the homestead of August and Johanna Glaubitz a rumored tumor turned out to be my mother.
How at age 46 Johanna was preparing to take the train to the Twin Cities for surgery. How pains she hadn’t felt in eight years sent son Bruno on horseback to fetch Dr. Tanner. How Dr. Tanner came out by sleigh. How a snowstorm prevented him from going back home that night. How their oldest daughter, Ida, gave birth to her third son on Feb. 28. How both my mother and her nephew missed being leap year babies by a day. How they were both baptized on May 25. How my mother, Esther, married my father, Victor. How her nephew, Bernard, married dad’s sister Mildred. How their son Monte is both a second and a first cousin.
In other news, Autumn begins in Australia and New Zealand today and its St. David’s Day in Wales and this day is the first day meteorological spring whether you believe it or not. No I don’t know who St. David was in Wales. Google it.
when we hear the phrase, “It takes my breath away,” that’s a good thing. The photos
of the snow in Wisconsin are breath taking.
That’s not taking into consideration digging out. In the
St. Louis area, it’s a beautiful morning with the sun shining brightly, an
unusual thing for winter here. For me it’s
literally a breath-taking day. With wind blowing, 25 to 60 miles mph, I wouldn’t
be able to get my breath outdoors.
Epistle lesson (I Corinthians 15:21-42) for this week is also breath taking. As we labor through winter; as we approach
the purple season of lent, we have a bit of Easter. The good news of Resurrection. If are wrapped up in politics, struggles in
the church for control, at work, personal ambition, or power struggles within us,
then consider this breath-taking news. “Then
the end will come, when He hands over the Kingdom to God the Father, after He
has put an end to every government, authority, and power.” All the political power struggles, all those
power difficulties among followers of Christ, all those we encounter at work,
or within ourselves exist in the realm of death which came through that first
man Adam, the man made of dirt. But resurrection has also come through a man,
Jesus Christ. He is the first fruits of
the harvest of the resurrection and we will follow him. As Paul wrote to the Philippians, Everyone
and everything will kneel before the true and lasting power in the universe and
proclaim, “JESUS CHRIST IS LORD.”
That will be
a day that takes the breath away.
lesson for this weekend is a bit lengthy, I Corinthians 15:21-42. It begins and ends with some great good news.
“For since a man brought death, a Man, also brought the resurrection of the
dead. For as in Adam all die, so in
Christ all will be made alive. (Vs 21-22)”
Then at the
end you will hear, “That is how it will be when the dead are raised. When the body is sown, it decays; when it is
raised, it cannot decay. (V. 42).”
between the beginning and the new beginning where life is challenging. The entrance Psalm (Ps. 37) begins and ends with,
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over
the one who prospers in his way.”
lesson from Luke 6 begins, “But I tell you who are listening: Love your enemies, be kind to those who hate
you.” Near the end of the lesson, “Stop
judging, and you will not be judged. Stop condemning, and you will not be
condemned. Forgive, and you will be
Testament lesson from Genesis 45 tells of the occasion when Joseph revealed his
identity to his brothers who had sold him into slavery several years ago. They are dismayed. But Joseph invites them, “Come near to me,
please.” He invites his brother to come
near not to take their life, in return for what they did to him, but give them
life. Joseph tells his brothers, “It was
not you who sent me here, but God.”
news from beginning to new beginning.
What will we do with such good news this week? Will we heed it in the week ahead or will we
rationalize it away? Pray the Spirit
that we read, learn, mark and digest it.
One of the
reasons I like to preach on Old Testament texts is that the OT contains such
interesting and vivid stories. I Samuel
21, was my OT reading for today.
However, I don’t see a lot of sermon material in the following. Stories surrounding
David are never simple and straight forward.
David though already anointed to be king by Samuel is on the run from king Saul who means to kill him. David seeks refuge with Achish the king of the Philistine city of Gath. This is the area from which Goliath came, who got stoned and then lost his head. Achish’s advisors recognized David and remembered how the people sang of David striking down ten thousands of people. David knew he was in trouble. Not only because of Goliath, but when Saul previously had offered his daughter Michal as David’s wife, he put the bride price at 100 Philistine foreskins (ouch). David and his men brought Saul 200 foreskins (ouch ouch). David, always overachieving, counted out the foreskins in front of Saul.
David was a
persona non grata in Philistia. So, what
to do? David was no dummy. He pretended to be insane, scratched on the
doors of the gate and let drooled like a mad man. The king took one look at him and said, “Look
at him! Don’t you see that he’s
insane? Why bring him to me? Do I have such a shortage of lunatics that
you bring this man so that he can show me he’s insane?”
You can read
of David and Michal’s marriage in I Samuel 19 & 2 Samuel 3 & 6.
When we are
caught between a rock and hard pan it may be as Paul writes in Romans 8:26. “For
we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes for us
with groanings too deep for words.”
near the end of Cecilia Ekback’s novel, “Wolf Winter,” catches what Paul is
getting at. The novel is set in Lapland
conversation with the bishop, Olaus had tried to return to the Lappmark. He hadn’t got far. The thaw set in. He had returned and spent the days on his
knees in the barren room in the bishop’s residence, in agony facing choices,
unable to pray, unable to do anything else, and it wasn’t until toward the end
of his stay that he had felt something else, someone, and he wasn’t going to
say it had been the voice of God…but he had felt compassion amid pain.”
“And he came
down WITH (meta) them and stood on a level place, WITH (meta) a great (mega) crowd
of his disciples and a great (mega) multitude of people.” That’s how our gospel lesson (Luke 5:17-26) for
this week begins. Jesus had been in the
hills praying together with a large group of his disciples. While up there he selected twelve of those
disciples and called them apostles (sent ones).
Included was Judas, of whom Luke adds, “the man who would betray him.” So, we already know how that will turn out.
level place, not from a mountain, but a place on the same level as the people
he began to teach his disciples. “His disciples.” If you are a follower of Jesus, then pay
you who are poor for the Kingdom of God is yours.” Not “poor in spirit,” but just plain poor. Jesus
doesn’t promise wealth, which he says later, is not necessarily a blessing in the
long run (v.24), but a cause for woe.
Mary’s when she sang while pregnant with our Lord. “God, my Savior…has scattered
those who think so proudly in their hearts…and lifted up lowly people. He has filled the hungry with good things and
the rich he has sent away empty handed.”
then, Jesus means for us to stand WITH those who are poor and hungry. I’ve found that whenever we discuss poverty
and hungry, we soon shift to thinking of those who don’t deserve our help. Nowhere in scripture, do I find that God adds
qualifications, even as he does not place qualifications on us to receive grace
said, “Go and do likewise.”
teaching a class covering some of the Psalms last Friday. I sense that the men are a little
apprehensive, which means one of my goals is to raise their appreciation and
understanding of biblical poetry which comprises the bible’s hymnal.
When Martin Luther began teaching at Wittenberg University as a freshly minted professor, he started with the Psalms in August 1513 and finished in 1515. His view of the psalms echoed that of the early church fathers, “It might be called a little bible. Everyone, whatever his situation may be, finds in the psalms words that fit his situation and apply to his case put in a way that seems only for him.”
When Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples, they sang psalms 113-114 before the meal and 115-118 after eating. Mark tells us, “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mt of Olives.” (The Greek word for hymn is “umnos.”) Soon Judas and his agents showed up and arrested Jesus. We know that ended on the cross from which Jesus called out in the words of Psalm 22, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” That afternoon darkness ended with Jesus voicing Psalm 31:5, “Into your hand I commit my spirit.” But as anyone around the cross who was well versed in the Psalms knew, that verse ends with a note of gospel, “You have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful Lord.” Jesus was not giving up his life to no good end. God would be faithful and rescue him from death and in doing so would also redeem our life and death with new life.
“We’ve been shut out all night,” Peter said,
“But if you say so, I’ll try again.”
That was Peter’s response (Luke 5:1-11) to Jesus command to take the
boat out and “lower the nets to catch some fish.” Yes, the nets they had just washed clean.
Yes, this is Jesus the preacher who now suddenly thinks, not for the last time,
he knows where the fish are. But then,
this is the One who had said long before, “Let the water swarm with swimming
creatures” of whom John will write, “Not one thing that exists was made without
him.” I’m not sure how much Peter knew
about him, but he preached good news and healed his mother-in-law. So, Peter and his partners threw the nets
over the side.
the nets netted so many fish that it was starting to tear, and they had to call
out for help. More fisherman came and
they filled both boats with flopping fish until the boats were in danger of
overwhelmed, knelt before Jesus, “Leave me.
I’m a sinful person.” Jesus doesn’t say “You are forgiven,” but says
“Don’t be afraid.” 120 times that phrase
is used in the bible. Grace is such an undeserved gift that it can leave us
fearful. You know, if the sun is shining
today and I’m enjoying the warmth, then I’m going to pay for such joy. Its, going to storm tomorrow and I’ll be
miserable because that’s what I deserve.
A few verses
down, Jesus does forgive sins. Yes, God
graces us with undeserved forgiveness, but also gives comfort and
encouragement. And Jesus has a plan for
Peter the sinner. “From now on you will catch people instead of fish.”
reading a passage from James Joyce novel Dubliners in which he wrote of snow
falling on a cemetery. It made me think
of Ida who had been a first-grade teacher at Immanuel School in Marshfield. She was Sarah’s teacher. It must have been
about 1982 when she was diagnosed with cancer and had to resign her position.
She was a
shy person who when it was her turn to lead staff devotions, she recorded them
the night before and played her recording for us the next morning. Ida had never married.
We were in
Peoria, Il. for a basketball tournament the weekend she died. We had left Marshfield’s high snow banks
which had led some to put orange balls on their car antennas so they would be
visible. The temperature rose into the
70’s in Peoria that weekend, which was a welcome two-day respite from winter in
learned of Ida’s death our group wanted to have our own Sunday morning service
to remember her and her service to our school.
Her funeral service was later that week at a Wisconsin Synod
congregation out in the country. The pastor
mentioned her service to their congregation, but never mentioned her work in an
As we drove
away after the committal that afternoon, Sarah looked at Ida’s casket sitting
out in the snow-covered cemetery. Our 6-year-old
youngest said, “Won’t she get cold?’ I’m
not sure what Becky and I answered, but I always remember Sarah’s question.