An interesting reflection on the failure of theologies of glory reflected in Game of Thrones. “No, Lord, this will never happen to you!” Peter said it to Jesus. How could the Righteous One be killed as a curse? And we keep thinking the same way. If we’re good, things will go well for us in the end.
And in Game of Thrones, like the real world, that doesn’t happen. Everyone’s rooting for Ned Stark, and then suddenly he gets his head cut off.
Who has spoken and it came to pass unless the Lord has commanded it?
Is it not from the mouth of the most High that good and bad come?
Why should a living man complain,
a man, about the punishment of his sins?
Let us test and examine our ways,
and return to the Lord!
Transfiguration Sunday [Life Sunday]
St. Peter Lutheran Church
St. Matthew 17:1-9
January 20, 2013
“The Father is well-pleased with Jesus’ cross”
[The Father is well-pleased with Jesus’ cross.
- 1. We are pleased with our work and think it brings life.
- 2. The Father is well-pleased with Jesus’ cross because it does bring life to you.]
“I was single, living with some friends, had a good job, and was having a good time. Having a baby just wasn’t in the cards. I told the father, and he said he had no intention of marrying me. He made his intentions quite clear right from the get-go. I had no desire to marry him either. I didn’t think a child was the right reason to get married. He said he’d pay for an abortion. Adoption was, quite truthfully, not an option I ever considered…At the time I thought that I could never give a child up, but now I look back and wonder how I could have done what I did. Giving it up would have been so much better. I didn’t really think of this as being a little person. It was a purely selfish decision. All I thought was, “What am I going to do now? This is a problem, and I have to take care of it.” I went to the doctor, and he suggested a clinic. It all happened so quickly. Looking back, I didn’t agonize. I had to make a decision; something had to be done.”
Those words come from a collection of stories told by women who have had an abortion, and you can find them at the top of the bulletin. Further on the same woman explains how she has tried to deal with the regret and guilt that came to her later as she looked at the children God gave her in her marriage, wondering whether the child she aborted would have been a boy or a girl, whether the child is in heaven. “I just don’t think about things that trouble me. I push them down.”
She goes on to describe what she thinks about God’s forgiveness: “I hear the pastor saying that it doesn’t matter how great our sins are, that God forgives us. But I think, ‘But mine are really bad.’ I guess I believe that my sins are forgiven, but a lot of times I have a lot of trouble feeling that they are forgiven.”
There will be people hearing this sermon who have had an abortion or paid for a woman to have one. Others have been involved in other sins against God’s gift of life. They should hear at the outset of the sermon, now: God put away your sin on the cross of Jesus. Don’t despair. Listen to God’s beloved Son who says “Do not be afraid.”
Others know someone who has had an abortion. And there are those who do not. Tuesday is the 40th anniversary of legal abortion in the United States, but it has been done in this country for much longer than that.
Regardless, the confession of this woman is not only her confession, and not only the confession of people who have had an abortion. St. Peter could relate with it. Like her, he also followed the wisdom of his flesh, called God’s work “bad” and tried to replace it with his own work. Like her he also tried to gain life for himself in his own way, apart from God’s word. He also fell into grave sin and would have despaired if Jesus had not restored him with His absolution.
What was true of Peter is true of all of us. Apart from the Holy Spirit
- 1. We are pleased with our work and think it brings life, but
- 2. the Father is well-pleased with Jesus’ cross because it truly brings life to you.
C H S Funeral Home
Psalm 37:4, Isaiah 57 (1-2, 14-15), Philippians 1: (20-23), St. Luke 2 (25-32)
December 11, 2012
Alberta, Diane, and all of Mildred’s flesh and blood, who allow us to add our tears and our joy to yours,
You members of St. Peter Church, who have been Mildred’s co-workers in Christ during these years of her pilgrimage, with whom I have been allowed to walk for a short time,
And everyone here today who gives thanks to God for the life of Mildred, in whom He showed us His grace and kindness, and His eagerness to bless us richly without asking about our worthiness or our faults;
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
God’s word for our comfort this morning is drawn from all three of the readings, but in particular this verse which was given to Mildred at her confirmation in 1926:
Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
1. The desires of the heart of unbelievers and the sinful flesh
A. Unbelievers want
i. Happiness, comfort, success, family
ii. They want to live in order to pursue these pleasures. When they can no longer get them
they no longer want to live.
B. Christians may desire all these things also.
i. But they don’t always get them.
a. Most women want children—Mildred had none.
b. She was poor and a widow for many years.
C. Christians desire above these things to serve Jesus and do His will; that “Christ be glorified in my body, whether by life or by death.”
i. And the flesh of Christians constantly battles against this desire of the Holy Spirit.
ii. Through affliction we learn to love Christ and the forgiveness of sins through HIs blood more than the
desires and will of our flesh.
St. Peter Lutheran Church
St. Mark 6:14-29
August 30, 2012
Dear sisters in Christ, fellow servants of our Lord who was crucified for us:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Yesterday, August 29th, was the festival day of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist. As I’ve said before, originally Lutherans kept the saints’ days for the purpose of teaching how people in the past lived the life of faith in Christ. What they got rid of was the invocation of the saints, the prayer to the saints. In those days the idea was that the saints were spiritual giants that we could never hope to be. So you went to them so that they would pray for you and ask God to give you grace.
But as Lutherans, we don’t get off that easy. We don’t get to have other people be saints for us. We must become saints ourselves. That’s why John’s martyrdom is such a useful story and example for us. It shows us exactly what we are signing up for when we are baptized and confess faith in Jesus. It shows what it means for us to receive Jesus’ body and blood. To be a Christian is to receive salvation as a free gift through the death of Jesus, apart from our works.
And to be a Christian is also to die with Jesus Christ, to share in his rejection, as John did.
We have a clear picture of this in the gospel. Consider the contrast between
The great men and women of the world and
Those who are great in the kingdom of God, men and women.
The feast of the world contrasted with
The feast of Jesus.
Who does Herod spend his life with? Not with John the Baptist, a man of God who comes out of the wilderness and says, “Repent.” He comes into contact with John, and for awhile he listens to John. But that is not who his life is spent with.
Herod’s life is among the powerful, among the beautiful, and among the wealthy. The rich, leading men of Galilee—the foremost citizens. Men who have operahouses named after them. Among generals and officers. Men who carry swords. Killers. Among lesser lords whom Herod has to control but also keep happy.
Herod lives among celebrities, but the world is also treacherous. Powerful people, wealthy people, violent people—they have to be tough, clever, or smooth, or some combination of all of them. It is a tough world in which to be honest. It’s hard to be rich, powerful, or a successful warrior without knowing how to get what you want and forcefully pursuing it. People trying to get power or wealth, men aiming at being successful fighters or soldiers—they don’t usually understand or respect the meek. Meekness makes you a victim.
But in secret, Herod’s life in this world is thrown into an uproar by John the Baptist, who fearlessly says, “You are damned because you have married the woman who was one flesh with your brother. Repent.”
He speaks with that kind of boldness to Herod, and calls Herod to kneel. But not before him—before God. Who speaks this way to a king? Only someone crazy; or someone who really seeks nothing else than to speak the truth in the sight of God.
What about the great women of the world? Like Herodias, they know how to get what they want. This man, that man; but it’s not necessarily the man she wants but the man’s status and power. And when a crazy, fundamentalist, bumpkin man of God comes and tells her husband, “You should not have married your wife. You have incurred God’s wrath. Repent”—Herodias’ eyes narrow. This man must die because he interfered with her pursuit of happiness.
And her daughter is growing up to be just like mom. She’s learned to use her sexuality to control men and get what she wants.
And isn’t this how our daughters are being taught that they should live today? And aren’t are sons taught to be Herods? And if you’re not powerful, rich, violent, sexy, what good is your life? If you don’t know how to get what you want, you’re a chump. A lamb to the slaughter.
But those who are great in the Kingdom of God are different. In opposition to Herod, and his generals, and the rich men and nobles of Galilee, you have John the Baptist, John’s disciples, and the disciples of Jesus.
John does not seek glory in this world. And he doesn’t get it. He gets crowds of miserable, poor, wretched sinners who come to be baptized. He gets the hatred of Herod’s wife. He gets prison, and in the end he gets neither love nor honor. His wild man, hairy head is cut off and put on a plate and given to a teenage harlot. He is hated and written off as demon-possessed by respectable, orthodox religious leaders as well as powerful, wealthy, ungodly rulers.
And what about John’s disciples? All these poor ragtag nobodies can do is take the headless body of John and bury it. And mourn that once again the sheep are torn apart and the wolves are fat and sleek.
Jesus’ disciples have it no better. John’s story is recounted because Herod, addled and tormented with a guilty conscience that is unwilling to part with sin, hears about the miracles that Jesus’ disciples are doing and begins to think that God has raised John the Baptist from the dead. You can see the terror with which John’s preaching burned Herod’s conscience.
The disciples would like to think that their miracles, done by Jesus through them, mean that they will have a different outcome to their discipleship than John the Baptist did. They do not want to listen to Jesus that He will be killed in shame, brutally humiliated and broken; they do not want to hear that the same fate awaits Jesus’ disciples.
We don’t want to hear it either. We are not able to accept it.
And what about the great women in the kingdom of God? They were not loud and brash. They did not use sex to manipulate men. They served—Jesus and the disciples while they taught God’s Word. They submitted. They did not presume to teach and dominate men, as Eve had done. They did not perfume themselves and make themselves up to own male attention and get their way. They poured perfume on Jesus; they used their hair and their beauty in service to Jesus. Even when Jesus was crucified, they tried to honor Jesus and in some way to show the great honor that was due to Him. They loaded his body with expensive spices and ointments. They were back early to do more to care for His body. They were lowly; they served Christ and his disciples. They put themselves in subjection. Just as the world despises men who don’t know how to take what they want, and how to manipulate power, the world despises women who submit themselves to their husbands and who do not usurp authority over men.
Yet these women were great in the kingdom of God.
What they did is also what you do.
Just as they cared for Jesus’ body even though no efforts of theirs could properly reveal His glory, so you prepare this earthly building so that it will in some way proclaim in our poor, weak way, something of the glory of Jesus.
Jesus was dead and laid in the tomb, yet they still lavished rich, expensive spices and perfumes on him to try to say, “Even as a dead man, this is the King and the Son of God.”
Even though Jesus’ body and blood come to us in such a scorned and despised way, nevertheless your work proclaims—Jesus the Son of God is here in our midst in this church giving us salvation!
Let us compare briefly the feasts of the great people of this world, and the feast of Jesus Christ, the world’s true king.
People want church to be more like Herod’s party, with more people willing to come, especially more of the lords and great men of Galilee. So even if we don’t put out caviar and fine wine and have the daughters of successful harlots shake it at the church’s feast, we do come up with things along the same lines. Music that people like. Sermons that are appealing to our world, which tend to be Americanized versions of the old rationalistic preaching in the Lutheran church in Germany that caused the true Lutherans to move to the US. Then the pastors would come out and preach that God was the Father of us all and was willing to forgive everyone who tried to do what he knew was right; God didn’t really need the bloody death of His Son to forgive us. And they preached “useful” sermons, like modern farming techniques, or 5 steps to controlling your temper, or 3 to drinking less beer.
That’s what church is, far too often, and it’s what we’ve come to expect out of church—it will be, like everything else, from the mall to fast food restaurants—a sensory experience designed in every way to appeal to your desires. Like Herod’s feast, except with a religious spin, and the sex, drunkenness, and gluttony toned down.
Herod’s feast is a display of earthly delights. But you know that those delights often turn bitter in our mouths. Neither wine, nor rich food, nor a much-sought after wife, nor the beauty of a young woman, can take away the horror and pain of a conscience that feels the weight of sin. Herod is sorrowful about killing John because he knows he is committing grave sin—murdering the man who comes with God’s Word.
Earthly pleasures have their time and place. But the feast of earthly pleasures that the great ones of this world struggle for—their pleasures last only for a time.
Christ’s feast is different. Jesus is also a king, but His feast is not simply rich food and well refined wine. He feeds us a different meal that also gives us joy. But not the joy of wine, women, and song. His joy is spiritual joy. It is a sober joy, a joy that remembers that all of the pleasures of this world perish; Food for the stomach and the stomach for food; but God will destroy them both (1 Corinthians).
At the feast of Herod the powerful come because they want something from Herod. Herod needs to share the spoils of power and wealth with them. But Herod needs their cooperation. Everybody is at the earthly feast to get something.
At the feast of Jesus, we receive, but Jesus only gives. In order to spread this feast for us He got only suffering from us; He took our sins and the fury of God’s wrath against them.
Our participation in Jesus’ supper is a participation in His death, a communion in His death, in His pierced, crucified body, and His blood streaming down the tree to the earth.
He participated in the righteous wrath of God against us—He bore it in our place. He became a communicant in our sin, even though he did no sin and no deceit was found in His mouth.
We are communicants in His death—in His martyrdom. That means we are responsible for it. We are also redeemed by it.
Now if on this earth we have constant sorrow and cross—and we are despised, and people walk away from the church, and they cast out my name or your name as evil, if even sometimes members of the church despise me or you—we are only receiving a little bit of what Jesus received, and His disciples received. It is not success, beauty, power that makes you great in the kingdom of God—that is what makes you great at Herod’s feast.
In Jesus’ kingdom, you are great when you believe in Jesus and you share in His suffering–in being despised, laughed at, or cast out as evil.
But none of this comes from us. John didn’t do it on his own. It comes from eating the food at Jesus’ table—the Word of God.
Jesus alone by His suffering and death has saved you and brought you through the red sea of sin and death. In Your Baptism all of that was poured out on You. And as you eat and drink His body and blood the life that He gave for You strengthens the life of Christ within you, so that you do not faint and falter and lose the victory given to you in Baptism.
Yes, when you, me, and this whole congregation come and receive Christ’s body and blood—we are participating in the eternal feast of Jesus’ wedding, that will go on forever—the feast of salvation. The glory of that feast will completely put to shame the Herod-feasts that the world throws for itself.
But when we come to this altar, we sit at this feast already, because Jesus gives all of himself to us now. That is why it is a beautiful thing that like the women who anointed Jesus for burial, you show love and honor to His body and blood by caring for the altar.
But the body of Jesus, for the women who buried Him, as also for us, does not really need us to care for it. Jesus allows us to do so. He accepts our service. But it is really Him who has saved us by His death in the body. It is really Him who works in us through His body and blood so that, with John the Baptist, we cling steadfastly to Jesus with a good conscience, and do not let the hatred of the world or its contempt make us lose heart, or forget that the feast of everlasting life is made open to us now.
May the Lord bless you as you work to keep the house in which that feast is celebrated among us beautiful. But even more, may the Lord work in us through His body and blood, so that we are and remain His house, His temple, now by faith and forever in eternity.
The peace of God, that surpasses understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
“Now David, who presumably is the author of Psalm 23 says that God, as our Good Shepherd, is with us at all times and is concerned about the welfare of our total being. And because this is so, we have nothing to fear. Even when we must enter that phase of life, that terminal of life, which traditionally is unnerving and terrifying, even there we have nothing to fear if the Lord is our Shepherd, indeed.
He uses the imagery of sheep entering a dark valley, halting, hesitating, doubly cautious. He applies this to man and man’s descent into the valley of death.
This descent begins at the top. It may be your kitchen, your bedroom, your workshop, your club, your automobile. It begins in places where you have been hundreds of times before. But it begins.
And it usually begins suddenly, unexpectedly. I know from personal experience. You just don’t know when the summons comes. There are often no advance physical symptoms for the advancing storm.
When I use the word, “suddenly”, I do not want to imply that there was insufficient time for preparation for this descent. But often they were neglected opportunities. And never do we recognize and regret this neglect more than when we are called upon to being this descent.
Now this descent is disturbing and bewildering to say the least. No one really faces death calmly. Do not mistake the bold front. Behind the mask of calmness there is remorse, regret, suppressed fear. Jude in his book depicts the death of Moses in terms of conflict and struggle and I believe that this applies to every one of us.
Certainly this applies to me. I was scared when I found it increasingly difficult to breathe and feared that the last choking breath might come at any time. I feared the physical pains. I agonized at the thought of leaving my family behind. The burden of work in this congregation at the busiest time of the church year, and who would and could do it, lay heavily on mhy heart. I thought of the hospital bill. I thought of being confined for many months. I was suspicious of every pain and shot. I thought of facing God and judgment. And oh, the joy of waking up from every nap or sleep knowing that I was still alive. Beginning the descent into the valley was not an easy one. It was not easy for me. I am sure it is not easy for others.”
- The Nature of Grief (walkthroughthepark.wordpress.com)
The world can’t be upside down forever? Where will people go when they get sick of having their hand held while they kill themselves? Probably not to the people who were holding their hands or doing something other than vigorously warning them.
A young Feminazi mother has the satanic idea of posting on the Internet material (allegedly) concerning the murder of her own baby.
The horror finds an echo on pro-life sites, and as a result the young she-Himmler starts to receive emails of various kind; many of them, no doubt, explaining to her in detail what kind of person she is, and whereto she is headed. These she calls “hate mails” and up to here, we can call this ordinary liberal madness.
Where the liberal madness becomes extraordinary is in the following affirmation of the young Nazi murderer, here given in the context of the interview. Emphases mine:
She noted the content of numerous “hate” e-mails was some variant of the message: “Maybe you do not know God or that abortion is a sin? Praying for you!”
“Even hearing that someone is ‘praying for me,’…
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Gospel for the First Sunday after Trinity: St. Luke 16: 19-31 http://biblia.com/bible/esv/Lk16.19-31
A prayer on the First Sunday after Trinity:
Lord God, heavenly Father! We pray You to lead and rule our hearts by Your Holy Spirit, so that we would not hear Your blessed Word like the rich man, and bear no fruit, nor handle earthly goods so as to forget those that are eternal. Instead, grant that we help the poor gladly and with mildness, according to our means, and not sin through haughtiness and extravagant living. And where we ourselves are afflicted with the cross and misfortune, grant us not to despair, but to set all our hope on Your constant assistance and grace, and by patient endurance to overcome it all. Amen.Johann Eichhorn (c. 1518-1564) from Ev. Luth. Gebets-Schatz
- Are You a Trinitarian? (bobcornwall.com)
- How Do You Pray To A Trinity? Part One (dianasymons.com)
- “Be Still and Know that I Am God”: A “Closer Read” of the Contemplatives’ “Poster Verse” (pnissila.wordpress.com)
- Trinity Sunday: beyond the gibberish (mikerivageseul.wordpress.com)
- Trinity – Irrelevant Or Revolutionary (revsantry.wordpress.com)
- What is Trinity Sunday? (apologus.wordpress.com)