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Fourth Sunday in Lent March 18th 2007, Old Zion Lutheran Church in Philadelphia

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Fourth Sunday in Lent March 18th 2007

Old Zion Lutheran Church

Joshua 5:9-12  Psalm 32  2 Corinthians 5:16-21 Luke 15:1-3,11b-32

 

Sing: “Repent All You Believers.”

(For the words, see my Songs.)

 

Read Psalm 32 for the Old Testament Lesson.

 

Love is Righteous Sin

 

     What a story we have today. “Prodigal” means extravagant. And really it should not be called the prodigal son, but the prodigal Father, because the Father’s love is so alive, so selfless, so extravagant that it always gives me the hope that even I could be saved, despite my desperate state. You might feel that way sometimes, too. There are other people who are self-righteous and don’t realize how they drive people away. The late Prof. Robert Goeser of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley used to speak of the “monster of self-righteousness.” Now I feel that always having to be right is a source of evil. It makes others act out openly and outwardly and want to be wrong. They can then easily be judged to be sinners. People who are self-righteous leave the Father the same way that the lost son does, but in their hearts, inside themselves, appearing outwardly to be righteous and that makes them harder to correct and bring home. Their reconciliation can be much more difficult.

Remember that Jesus is telling this parable, this story to tax-collectors and sinners, who are the prodigals and to Pharisees on the other side, who are like the elder brother. They, like the elder brother, do not see themselves as sinners.

     There is another son in this story of course, who is completely one with the Father, who said “I and the Father are one.” That son is Jesus Christ our Lord, who can reconcile the elder brother and the prodigal one by means of the cross. He became sin who knew no sin to give everyone who believes in him and clings to him with their whole heart all his wonderful innocence, blessedness, and righteousness. The friends of God become, just like this Son, rising in all his splendor! (Judges 5:31)

     You have a household with two sons and a father. Our cover remembers the mother looking out of the window, but we could as easily talk about the prodigal daughter and the compassionate mother. We would have to get into how daughters act out. We will not tell that story this time.

Anyway, the younger son wants his share of the inheritance. Ouch! The father has not even died yet, but the son as much as considers him dead. What an insult and what an affront! But face it, who can take being dead? On the inside, from the side of this son his relationship with the father was completely dead.

     Perhaps that is how the prodigal son felt. So he just took what his Father gave him, a full third of all the property, the estate, called a “bios” in Greek, and went to a distant country and spent it all with dissolute living.

Well life has a way smacking us right in the face with reality. His money soon ran out and a famine hit the land and he found himself a good kosher Jewish boy feeding pigs. Feeding pigs! He got so low and so hungry that he envied the dirty pods the pigs ate and not one person gave him anything to eat. They had all partied with him. While he had all that money, they were all his friends. Now nobody wanted to know him, because who wants to relate with a loser? Thank God, he bottomed out.

     He remembers his father and formulates a confession: “I am no longer worthy to be called your son, but please just make me one of your hired hands, Dad. I know I have sinned, before God and against you.”

     Half-dead he is moving home and his father sees him afar off. This is the insulted father. This is the father that was as good as dead to him. This is the father whose honor and upon whose good name he trampled as if it was nothing but a dirty rug, a floor mat. And this is the father that sees him far off, forgets all about his dignity and honor. The old man runs to the son and hardly lets him give his memorized speech. There he is. He shouldn’t run. But heavy and old as he is, his old legs take him to his heart that had left him when the son left and after he had given him everything he asked for without murmur or reproach!

     And there he is, there is this unbelievable Father, embracing and kissing his son. “Let’s celebrate!” Then he shouts. “Quick, get him the best clothes in the house. Make it the white robe. Put a ring on his finger and get him some new shoes. Kill the fatted calf and let’s celebrate, because this son of mine was dead and behold, he’s now alive! He was lost, and behold, now he’s found!”

     And what a time! Such a feast! A Dixieland band was playing, the music was swelling, the feet were dancing and there was no one who called the police to make them turn down the music. But you could hear something strange all the way out in the fields where the elder brother was working: slaving away, another day another dollar. Everything could be so much easier if that good-for-nothing brother had not run off with so much of their substance.

     That sound coming from the distance was so strange. “What is going on?” He hears the noise coming from the house and calls a servant. “What’s going on?”

     “Your brother has returned and your father killed the fatted calf, because he got him back safe and sound.” The elder brother blows his stack! “I will not go in there.” He refuses to go into the house. His arms are crossed and his chin is set. “I will not set one foot in that house!”

     Now here the Father goes again. Where is his sense of dignity, his sense of shame? Where is his honor? He is old and has a set of old legs. His sons are young and have a set of young legs. But the old father goes out to the elder son, even though the son should have come to him. And the son should be pleading with the father and here the old father is pleading with the son! Love has a way turning everything up-side down.

     Now the Father gets a fresh dose of anger because of his love and compassion. “Listen, for all these years I’ve been working like a slave for you and I have never disobeyed your command, yet you have never given me as much a goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours comes back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!”

     One can say that the elder son had to learn to say, “my brother” and the younger son had to learn to say, “my father.” You notice the elder son can’t say, “my brother.” To the father he says, “that son of yours.” He seems to have rejected their relationship long ago.

And what is this about prostitutes? Nowhere does it say the younger brother had any. Perhaps the elder brother’s imagination was on fire.

There is a story about two monks coming to a stream, where a young woman was afraid to cross. The one monk put her on his back and carried her across while the other looked on aghast, and then finally brought it up ten miles further down into their journey. “How could you put that woman on your back? You who are a monk.”

“Are you still holding her?” the other answered. “I put her down as soon as we reached the other bank.” And the older brother resembled the outwardly chaste monk.

The problem was that as self-righteous as the older brother was, in his heart, he would have liked to do a lot of rot, but he was too caught up in respectability. He looked like such a good boy on the outside, but inside himself, he did not care one iota, one jot, whether his brother was alive or dead. He could have walked over dead bodies to get where he was going, because he worked and worked and only was conscious of the labor of his hands and knew nothing about the labor of his soul, the state of his hard and stone-cold heart and what he had to go through to melt it, and become flesh and blood once more.

     How wonderful that the Father loved him too. “Son you are always with me and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours [the father can say what the son has to learn to say], “this brother of yours” was dead and has come to life; he was lost and he has been found!”

     And there is the real son. Jesus Christ, completely one with the Father, full of the same extravagant, prodigal love for the lost; willing to die on the cross to become sin, to save those who go wrong outwardly and those who are full of sin inwardly in the heart. We are all unworthy to be called sons and daughters of God, but Jesus loves us so much, he will do what it takes to save us, even becoming sin for our sake, although he knew no sin. So that we could all enter the righteous house of God, which is so full of love and compassion, so full of joy and rejoicing, because we get out of our phony trappings that make us seem so righteous, and we really become sisters and brothers, with Christ in our hearts and ready to enter the Father’s house of compassion again for the wonderful banquet. And the Father throws a party for us who come back, who repent, because all the angels in heaven celebrate one sinner who repents, who makes a comeback, whether from a life with the pigs or from a dead, stuffy, up-tight, and self-righteous life. Yes, all because of the compassionate righteousness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who rejoices for us who are saved, because we were dead and behold we have come alive; we were lost, but now we’re found. Amen.

Written by peterkrey

March 19, 2007 at 12:10 am

Posted in Selected Sermons

Am Vierten Sonntag in der Fastenzeit, Lätare, 18. März, 2007 zu Altzion in Philadelphia

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Am Vierten Sonntag in der Fastenzeit, Lätare, Die lutherische Kirche zu Altzion in Philadelphia

Joshua 5:9-12  Psalm 32  2 Korinther 5:16-21  Lukas 15:1-3, 11b-32

 

Zuerst will ich euch den 32. Psalm vorlesen. Er ist der zweite Busspsalm und handelt vom Segen der Sündenvergebung. Nachdem unsere Sünden vergeben geworden sind, können wir fröhlich Busse tun, denn Heute haben wir den Sonntag Lätare, welches Fröhlichsein auf Lateinisch bedeutet. Wir wollen fröhlich sein in der Mitte dieser Fastenzeit, denn wenn die Engel sich freuen über einen Sünder der Busse tut, dann gibt’s etwas besseres als Karneval direct im Lent. Die Lesung:

Psalm 32

Der Verlorene, Verschwenderische Sohn

Welch eine Geschichte haben wir heute vom verlorenen, verschwenderischen Sohn! Wie es der Jesus erzählt, sollte der Vater eigentlich als verschwenderisch beschrieben werden, denn sein Herz ist so voll Liebe, er ist so selbstlos, so überschwenderisch mit seiner Barmherzigkeit, dass wir alle aufatmen können und getrost glauben können dass wir auch gerettet und erlöst werden können.

Wie Sankt Paulus sagt, „Denn hier ist kein Unterschied; [wir] sind allesamt Sünder und ermangeln des Ruhmes, den wir bei Gott haben solten“ (Römer 3:22-23). Nur einer ist gerrecht und er heisst Christus. Wir kommen alle zu kurz. Manche von uns verfallen offenbar in Sünde, öffentlich und äusserlich, und können diese Tatsache garnicht verstecken; andere verfallen innerlich in die Sünde und sind oft viel schwieriger zu helfen, denn oft können sie sich in der selbst-Gerechtigkeit verstecken. Die innerliche Entfernung von der Barmherzigkeit Gottes kann schwerer zu überwinden sein als die äusserliche. Jesus erzählt diese Geschichte den Zöllnern auf der einen Seite und den selbst-gerechten Pharisäer auf der anderen Seite, die den älteren Sohn ähnlich sind.

            Es gibt einen dritten Sohn in dieser Geschichte, nicht wahr? Er ist der Erzähler, der gesagt hat, „Ich und der Vater sind eins.“ Er ist unser lieber Herr Jesus Christus, der den älteren und den verschwenderischen, verlorenen Bruder versöhnen kann durch das Kreuz. Obwohl er nie gesündigt, wurde er die Sünde für uns, damit alle die an ihn glauben, dessen Herzen an ihn klaften, die seelige, schuldlose, Gerechtigkeit, die von Gott kommt, erhalten. Ja, „die Freunde Gottes sollen sein, wie die aufgehende Sonne in ihrer Pracht“ (Richter 5:31).

            Nun ein Haus hatte zwei Söhne und einen Vater. In unserem Programm guckt die Mutter auch zum Fenster heraus, denn sie muss dasein. Die Geschichte hätte genau so über zwei Töchter und eine barmherzige Mutter in weiblicher Art erzählt werden können. Aber jetzt weiter. Hier will der jüngere Sohn seinen Teil der Erbe haben. Ach weh! Für ihn war der Vater nichts mehr als Friedhofs Grass. Er war noch nicht tot und schon wollte der Sohn die Erbe. Welch eine Beleidigung! Welch Verachtung seines Vaters!

            Der Sohn war eigentlich der Tote, denn er hatte gar kein Mitgefühl. Das Verhältniss zwischen dem Sohn und dem Vater muss tot gewesen sein und wer kann solch Totsein, wo eigentlich Liebe, Hoffnung, und Lebens Freude dasein sollten, erdulden? Mann kann alles aushalten, aber das nicht. Würden tote Menschen bitte umfallen, denn sie sollten sich nicht bewegen als ob sie lebten und als ob ihr Leben einen Sinn hätte. Sie handeln aber immer weiter und tun so als ob.

            Vielleicht können wir den verlorenen Sohn so verstehen. Daher auch nahm er sein Drittel des Erbe, sammelte all seine Sachen zusammen, und zog in ein fernes Land, wo er sein Erbteil mit Prassen verschwendet hat.

            „Wer nicht hören will, der muss fühlen“ und gewöhnlich schlägt uns die Wirklichkeit des Lebens direckt ins Gesicht und es tut viel mehr weh als irgend eine Backpfeife. Denn als er all sein Geld verbraucht hatte, kam eine grosse Hungersnot über jenes Land und bald als ein guter koscher junger Jude musste er Schweine füttern. Ausgerechnet Schweine! Er geht auch tiefer. Er wurde so hungrig, dass er die schmutzige Schoten, die die Säue frassen, begehrte, um seinen Bauch zu füllen, und es sagt, „Keiner gab ihm zu essen.“ Als er Geld hatte, hatte er viele Freunde. Jetzt wo er unten angekommen ist, wollte keiner ihn wissen.

            Da erinnert er sich an seinem Vater, wie unter ihn auch die Tagelöhner mehr als genug Brot hatten und er beginnt eine Beichte zu formulieren. „Vater, ich habe gesündigt gegen den Himmel und vor dir. Ich bin hinfort nicht mehr wert dein Sohn zu heissen. Mache mich zu einen von deinen Tagelöhnern.“ Und er machte sich auf.

            Schmutzig, verschmachtet, mit zerrissenen Kleidern sieht ihn sein Vater als er noch weit entfernt ist und es jammert ihn. Dies ist der beleidigte Vater. Dies ist der Vater, den der Sohn als Friedhofs Grass betrachtete. Dies ist der Vater auf dessen Ehre und guter Name er Schmutz und Dreck gebracht hatte. Und dies ist der Vater, der ihn, als er noch weit entfernt war, seine eigene Ehre und Würde, ja, sich selbst ganz und gar vergisst. Der Alte rennt zu seinem Sohne und lässt ihn kaum seine kleine Beichtrede, die er auswendig gelernt hatte, aufsagen. Da ist er, der Vater. Er ist viel zu alt und sollte nicht laufen. Aber es ist als ob sein Herz wieder aus der Ferne zu ihm zurück gekommen ist und er kann sich nicht helfen.

            Da ist er, dieser unglaubare Vater. Wie Jesus sagt, Er lief zu ihn hin, fiel ihm um den Hals und küsste ihn.“ Der Sohn versucht wieder seine kleine Beichte zu geben, aber der Vater ruft, „Bringt schnell das beste Gewand aus dem Haus und zieht es ihm an. Gebt ihm ein Ring an seinem Finger und ein Paar neue Schuhe. Bringt und schlachtet das gemässtete Kalb, und lass uns essen und fröhlich sein. Denn dieser mein Sohn war tot und ist wieder lebendig geworden. Er war verloren und ist wieder gefunden worden.“

            Was für eine Zeit! Was für eine Fete. Die Musik spielte, alle tanzten, und ein Oktoberfest war nicht damit zu vergleichen. Die fröhliche Musik lautete bis in den Felder, wo der ältere Bruder arbeitete. Er tat seine Pflicht. Zu leben war nicht nötig, sein Leben war Opfer seiner Pflicht. Mühe und Arbeit war alles. Geld musste verdient werden. „Wenn blos der Taugenichts, der jüngere Bruder, nicht mit so viel Gut abgehauen wäre. Dann wäre die Arbeit viel leichter gewesen.

            Komisch. Er hörte Musik und als er nahe  ans Hause kam, hörte er Singen und Tanzen. Er staunte. Was könnte hier vor sich gehen? Er ruft einen Knecht und fragt ihn: „Was gibt’s?“

            „Dein Bruder ist gekommen und dein Vater hat das gemässtete Kalb geschlachtet, weil er ihn gesund wieder hat.“

            Da braust der ältere Bruder auf in Zorn. „Ich gehe nicht in das Haus!

            „Komme doch herein,“ flüstert der Knecht.

„Nein, ich komme nicht herein!“ und stand da mit seinem harten Gesicht gegen seinen Bruder gesetzt, seine Fäuste geballt voll Zorn und Ärger.

            Nun kommt der unglaubare Vater wieder. Wo steckt seine Würde? Hat er kein Schamgefühl? Hat er keine Ehre?  Er ist alt und hat alte Beine. Sein Sohn ist jung und hat junge Beine. Der alte Vater läuft aber zum älteren Sohn, obwohl der Sohn zum Vater laufen sollte. Und der Sohn sollte den Vater bitten, aber der Vater bittet den Sohn herein zu kommen. Verkehrte Welt. Die Liebe kann alles auf dem Kopf stellen.

            Nun bekommt der Vater die Schläge des Sohnes Ärger für seine Liebe und Barmherzigkeit. „Siehe, so viele Jahre diene ich dir und habe dein Gebot nie übertreten, und du hast mir nie so viel wie einen Bock gegeben, dass ich mit meinen Freunden fröhlich gewesen wäre. Aber nun, da dieser dein Sohn gekommen ist, hast du für ihn das gemässtete Kalb geschlachtet!“

            Mann sagt dass der ältere Bruder lernen musste „mein Bruder“ zu sagen und der Jüngere musste lernen „mein Vater“ zu sagen. Denn sie hatten ihr Verhältniss abgestossen und es sterben lassen. Die Verbindungen von ihren Herzen waren längst zerbrochen. Und wer hat hier von Prostituierten gesprochen? Nirgends sagt die Geschichte dass der jüngere Bruder mit Prostituierten geprasst hat.

            Es gibt eine Geschichte über zwei Mönche die an einem Strom kommen, wo eine junge Frau Angst hatte ihn zu überqueren. Ein Mönch nahm sie auf seinem Rücken und trug sie zur anderen Seite, als der Andere mit offnen Mund schockiert ihn anschaute. Nachdem Beide zehn Meilen weiter gelaufen hatten, konnte der zweite Mönch sich erst ausdrücken. „Wie konntest du jene Frau auf deinem Rücken setzen? Du bist doch ein Mönch!“

            Der Anrdere antwortete, „Trägst du sie noch? Ich habe sie nieder gestezt als wir die andere Seite des Stroms erreichten.“ Der ältere Bruder ähnelte vielleicht diesen äusserlich keuscher Mönch.

            Der ältere Bruder sagt auch, „Ich habe nie dein Gebot übertreten.“ Wie selbst-gerecht! Sein Problem lag darin, dass so selbst-gerecht wie er tat, desto mehr hat sich sein Herz innerlich von seinem Vater entfernt. Er hätte gern viel Unfug getrieben, aber die Augen anderen haben ihn in Fesseln gehalten. Äusserlich konnte er viele täuschen, aber sein Herz hat sich versteinert. Es war so hart geworden dass es ihm überhaupt nichts ausmachte ob sein Bruder tot oder lebendig war. Er hätte leicht über Leichen laufen können und wär vielleicht zu Kadavargehorsam fähig. Friedrich Wilhelm der Zweite, der Grosse genannt, hat einen Officier vorgehalten als er sich für Unsinniges entschuldigen wollte, und sich auf einen Befehl beruft: „Herr, dazu hat Sie der König von Preussen zum Stabsofficier gemacht, dass Sie wissen, wann Sie einen Befehl nicht ausführen dürfen!“[1]

Er konnte schwer arbeiten, aber von der Arbeit der Seele wusste er garnichts. Wie mann ein Eiss-kaltes versteinertes Herz mit einem warmen, mennschlichen, von Fleisch und Blut gemachtes Herz vertauscht, hatte er keine Ahnung. Für den älteren Bruder übertreib ich, natürlich, um an die Wurzeln unserer Sünden zu kommen.

            Was für einen wundervollen Vater! Er liebte auch den älteren Sohn. „Mein Sohn, du bist alle Zeit bei mir, und alles was mein ist, das ist dein. Du solltest aber fröhlich sein und guten Mutes sein, denn dieser dein Bruder, (der Vater will ihm beibringen „mein Bruder“ lernen zu sagen) dein Bruder war tot und ist wieder lebendig geworden, er war verloren und ist wieder gefunden.“

            Jetzt gibt’s auch ein dritter Sohn, der ganz eins ist mit dem Vater, und der nicht nur gesagt hat, „Ich und der Vater sind eins,“ aber auch voll von derselben überschwendlichen Liebe und Barmherzigkeit für die Verlorenen ist, der am Kreuzes Stamm willig für uns gestorben ist, und der Sünde für uns wurde um äusserliche und innerliche Verlorene zu erlösen und retten. Wir sind alle nicht mehr wert dass wir Söhne und Töchter, Kinder Gottes heissen, aber der Jesus hat uns so sehr geliebt, dass er alles für uns tun wird, alles Nötige uns zu retten, auch die Sünde zu werden unsretwillen, obwohl er keine Sünde wusste, damit wir ins Hause des Herrn herein gehen können, das Haus das so voll von Liebe und Barherzigkeit ist, voll Freude und Fröhlichsein. Denn wir steigen aus unseren falschen Herzen wo wir selbst-gerecht sind und wir uns die Gerechtigkeit vortäuschen, und werden eigentliche Geschwister, mit Christus in unseren Herzen, um zur grossen Mahlzeit im Hause des Herrn zu kommen.

            Denn die Engel im Himmel freuen sich mit einem ewigen Fest über einen Sünder der Busse tut, wenn er oder sie vom Schweine füttern zurück oder von der selbst-Gerechtigkeit zurück kommt. Und der barmherzige Vater, Sohn, und Hl. Geist freut sich über uns denn, wir Kinder waren tot und wir sind wieder lebendig geworden. Wir waren verloren, und siehe, wir sind wieder gefunden.“  Amen.


[1] Christian Graf von Krockow, „Die Pflicht und das Glück“,  Preussen: eine Bilanz, Seite 14.

Written by peterkrey

March 18, 2007 at 11:50 pm

Posted in In German

Dritter Sonntag in Lent, 11. Marz, 2007 Lutherishe Kirche zu Alt Zion in Philadelphia

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Dritter Sonntag in Lent, 11. Marz, 2007 Lutherishe Kirche zu Alt Zion in Philadelphia

Jesaja 55:1-9 Psalm 63:1-8 1 Kor. 10:1-13 Lukas 13:1-9

Die Gnade ist Kein Nachlass

Mit diesem Titel meine ich dass wir nicht von der Busse nachlassen sollen nachdem wir die Gnade von einer zweiten Chance erhalten haben. „Der Herr ist gnädig, barmherzig, geduldig, und von grosser Güte,“ spricht der Prophet Joel, „und es gereut ihn bald die Strafe“ (2:13b), aber wir dürfen seine Geduld nicht ausbeuten, denn unsere Busse könnte plötzlich zu spät kommen. Daher ist die Gnade Gottes ernst zu nehmen.

Aber wir dürfen nicht denken dass Katastrophen und grosse Leiden leicht mit unseren Sünden zu verbinden sind. Weil wir Gottes Kinder sind, straft uns Gott nicht. Unsere Sünden werden von Christus dem Lamm Gottes getragen. Verdienen tun wir es nicht, aber Christus wechselt seine Gerechtigkeit und Sündlosigkeit mit unserer Sünde und Schuld, er ist echt so barmherzig. Was für ein Tausch! Welch einen lieben Gott wir haben! Das ist die frohe Botschaft die wir verbreiten wollen unter dem Gnadenhimmel unseres lieben Herr Gott.

Als der Pilatus die Galiläer umbrachte und ihr Blut mit dem Blute ihrer Opfern vermischte, fragt Jesus ob diese Galiläer mehr denn die anderen gesündigt hatten, weil sie solch einen Tod gelitten hatten. „Nein“ sagt Jesus, „Aber wenn ihr nicht Busse tut, werdet ihr alle auch so umkommen.“ Wenn Jesus von Busse redet, dann spricht er von der Nähe des Reich Gottes. Als der Turm in Siloah umfiel und achtzehn Leuten erschlug und tötete, waren sie mehr schuldig als andere in Jerusalem? „Nein,“ antwortet Jesus. „Aber wenn ihr nicht Busse tut, werdet ihr alle auch so umkommen.“

In einer natürlichen Art und Weise wollen wir immer Leiden, Krankheit, Katastrophen, Vergewaltigung, und Tod mit Gottes Strafe verbinden. „Der Wille Gottes geschehe,“ daher müssen die Opfer grosse Sünder sein. Gott sei dank, Jesus war nicht solcher Meinung. Schuld, Leiden, Krankheit, Katastrophen sind alle mehr kompliziert und sie direkt mit der Strafe oder Rache Gottes zu verbinden, verkennt unseren lieben Herr Gott.

Als die grosse Stadt New Orleans unterging hat man gleich von der Kriminalität der Schwarzen gesprochen. Die 82. Airborn Division Soldaten waren zugelich geschickt obwohl die armselige verlassene Leute echt Hilfe brauchten. Wenn Leute verdursten und grosse Not leiden nebst verlassenen Geschäften, dann um Leben zu retten muss mann sich selbst helfen. Obwohl mansche doch Fernseher usw. gestohlen haben, die überwiegende Not war an der Hand und wir hätten keineswegs die Armen dort schuldig geheissen für diese Katastrophe.

Eine Frage: wenn es 99 Schwarze Senatoren und ein Weissen in Washington gegeben hätte anstatt umgekehrt, wäre Hilfe nicht viel schneller gekommen? Wissen tun wir es nicht, aber die Katastrophe New Orleans heisst Busse tun denn oft hat der Leidende nicht so sehr gesündigt, wie andere an ihm gesündigt haben.

Frauen vor kurzer Zeit, wenn sie vergewaltigt waren, wurden als Sünder betrachtet. Sie haben selbst diesen Attentat verschuldet, sagte mann. In Islamische Länder, wenn eine Frau vergewaltigt wird, wird sie umgebracht um die Ehre der Familie zu bewahren. Wie können wir so grausam, ungerecht, und unmenschlich sein? „Tut Busse,“ ermahnt uns Jesus, sonst werden wir alle umkommen.

Wenn Soldaten Opfer des Krieges werden, sagt mann oft, dass war Gottes Wille und er hat die bösen erlesen damit sie nicht nach Hause kommen würden. Gott sei Dank, dass Jesus nicht solcher Meinung war. Wir wissen dass meistens die guten Menschen unter den Soldaten zuerst fallen. Das bedeutet aber nicht dass, diejenige die zurück kommen schlechter waren. Nein, wir müssen alle Busse tun, denn Krieg ist ein ungeheurer Verfehlen des Menschlichen Geistes weil die Pforten der Hölle geöffnet werden und alles Teuflische wird wieder Engross/ Massenweise (wholesale) zum Tage gebracht. Einmal wenn wir im Evangelium leben, wenn wir einiger Masen zivilisiert geworden sind, werden Kriege verboten sein genau so wie die Sklaverei. Wir sollen Busse tun, denn das Lamm Gottes ist ein Friedens Fürst, und sein Friede ist noch höher als all unsere menschliche Vernunft. Denn Gottes Wege sind nicht unsere Wege und seine Gedanken sind nicht unsere Gedanken, sondern so hoch der Himmel über die Erde ist, so viel höher sind auch seine Wege über unseren und seine Gedanken über unseren Gedanken. Und in Jesus Christus ist Gott zu uns gekommen, damit die Herrlichkeit von unserm lieben Gott zu Tage kommen sollte.

Jesus, der ewige Menschen Sohn, der viel weiter in der Zukunft lebt als wir, und viel früher von der Vergangenheit als die ersten Menschen herkommt, predigt die Busse. Wie gross ist die Barmherzigkeit Gottes über uns! Daher, tut Busse, oder wir werden alle genau so umkommen wie die Tausend Menschen von New Orleans und die drei Tausend von der Attentat von 9/11, und jetzt die vielen Opfer des Krieges. Wir sollen Busse tun, nicht weil wir gestraft werden oder weil wir so böse sind, sondern weil darin die Herrlichkeit von unserem lieben Gott zu Tage kommt.

Als Jesus und seine Jünger den blinden Mensch betrachten, fragen sie ihm, „Wer hat gesündigt, er oder seine Eltern dass er blind geboren ist?“

Jesus antwortet, „Es hat weder dieser noch seine Eltern gesündigt, sondern die Werke Gottes sollen an ihm offenbar werden“ (John. 9:3). Damit hat er ihn geheilt! Und damit sollen wir auch Weiteres wagen im Leben der Frohen Botschft unseres lieben Gottes.

Mit dem Feigenbaum der keine Frucht trägt, können wir wieder unseren lieben barmherzigen Erlöser und wie er uns in seinem Herzen trägt, erfahren. Jesus ist hier der Gärtner, wie die Maria Magdalena ihn auch gesehen hat als sie sich vor seinem Grab umdrehte und ihn als den Gärtner gesehen hat. Der Besitzer meint, „Nun ich bin schon drei Jahre lang gekommen um Frucht von diesem Baum zu suchen und finde keine. So hau ihn ab. Was nimmt er dem Boden die Kraft?“

Der gute Weingärtner antwortete aber, „Herr, lass ihn noch dies Jahr, bis ich um ihn grabe und dünge, vielleicht bringt er doch noch Frucht; wenn aber nicht, so hau ihn ab.“ Wiederum muss mann sagen, „Unser Herr ist gnädig, barmherzig, geduldig, und von grosser Güte und es gereut ihn bald die Strafe“ (Joel 2:13b). Er gibt uns noch eine Chance, noch weiter die Gelegenheit um Busse zu tun. Aber seine Güte soll uns nicht weiter die Gelegenheit geben nachzulassen und weiter im Dunkeln des Unglaubens und gottlosen und gottverlassenen Reichs zu leben, als ob unser Lamm Gottes nicht sein Himmelreich für uns geöffnet hat.

Der Feigenbaum kann Israel, Judah, den Tempel, Amerika, unsere Kirche, oder du und ich bedeuten. Ich meine dass wir Busse tun können in dem wir die herrliche Gegenwart unseres Herrn Jesus Christus viel mehr gewahr werden und ihn anbeten, inbrünstig flehen für seinen Hl. Geist. Wenn wir voll seiner Gnaden leben, dann können wir nicht helfen als Frucht zu tragen. Auf Gottes Segen ist alles gelegen. Wir können auch garnicht Busse tun ohne seine herrliche Gnade. Ohne sein Licht können wir garnicht unsere Sünde sehen. Wir wollen irgendwie die Gelegenheit nehmen zu beten und Gott bitten dass der liebe Weingärtner Jesus an uns arbeite, so den Boden auf dem wir stehen locker gräbt und seine gute Nahrung zu uns kommen lässt, damit wir seelisch geniessen, und uns vertraut entfalten, und gute Frucht des Himmelreichs tragen.

Was bedeutet dass mehr als neue gute Herzen von Christus zu bekommen, und neue Menschen, oder halt, traditionelle erste Menschen, wenn sie wollen, wie Adam und Eva, werden, aber ohne die verbotene Frucht zu nehemn, sondern selbst die Frucht Jesus Christus zu sein, und viele andere Früchte der frohen Botschaft unseren lieben Gottes einzusammeln, viele Kinder Gottes zusammen bringen, damit sein Reich komme, und Gottes Willen hier auf Erden geschieht, genau so wie im Himmel. Amen.

Written by peterkrey

March 12, 2007 at 2:21 pm

Posted in In German

Sermon for Lent III March 11th 2007 Old Zion Lutheran Church in Philadelphia

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Third Sunday in Lent March 11th 2007 Old Zion Lutheran Church in Philadelphia

Isaiah 55:1-9 Psalm 63: 1-8 1 Cor. 10: 1-13 Luke 13: 1-9

Grace Gives Us Another Chance

As a human being, Jesus stands out in bold relief, when compared to his contemporaries and even unbelievers would have to try to explain why he is so far ahead of his time and why our time cannot even catch up with him. If you base your life on reason, if you are very rational, then this fact might persuade you to believe that he is the Christ sent by God to show us the way of life. But as Christians, we believe and accept Christ by faith as the one sent from the Father in heaven to save us. Also the very humanness of Jesus’ nature is a window that let’s us look upon the wonderfully loving heart of God. Through Jesus we see that God is so very patient, forgiving, and much more welcoming than we are. Yes, as high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are God’s ways over our ways and God’s thoughts over our thoughts!(Isaiah 55:8-9) But we can’t take advantage of God’s patience! In the words of Joel, “Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.”

But even today many of us draw an easy line between injustice or sin and God’s judgment and punishment, which Jesus refused to do. Just look at how crime in New Orleans was talked about in the face of the disastrous destruction of that city. Even while the disaster was going on, rumors circulated about crimes that were being committed by the victims and the 82nd Airborne division was sent in. Was it to help or to maintain order? It is an inborn but false way of thinking that connects suffering with a person’s sins. Some suffering is indeed the consequence of sins, but often not those of the victims but those of others, who knowingly or unknowingly inflicted the suffering.

Thus Jesus asks whether the people upon whom a tower fell were more sinful than those who were spared. No, they were not more sinful, he said. But unless we all repent, we will also meet such disastrous fates. This is a story of natural evil, except, who knows what kind of material the builders used. You see, however, if they used bad material, they did not suffer for it, but their victims did.

Look at the people who have cancer without health insurance. First we cannot say that we get cancer because of our individual sin. We most likely get it because of a bundle of causes, perhaps because of our biological situation, our life styles, or the conditions of our society. Then we certainly get the medical bills sent directly to our address. They do not go to our neighbors, even if we get leukemia from second hand smoke.

The other story that Jesus tells is more about human evil. When some Galileans were bringing sacrifices to the temple, Pilate killed them and mixed their blood with the blood of their sacrifices. Because Pilate happened to victimize them, were they worse sinners than all the other Galileans? Jesus says, “Not at all. But unless we all repent, we will all perish the way they did.” Someone like Pilate or Herod, the other tyrant, should not be the head of a government, but the people of that day did not have the benefit of a democracy in which a despotic government could be voted out of office. Herod was a brutal tyrant, if you read up on him. He could well be described as demon possessed, as I said last time. One account of his death reads:

[He] eventually came down with a debilitating illness. Before he died in his palace in Jericho, he feared that nobody would mourn his passing, so …[as] Josephus writes, “He got together the most illustrious men of the whole Jewish nation, out of every village, into a place called the Hippodrome, and there shut them in.” He then gave orders that upon his death, all the Jewish leaders [were to] be killed, so that there would be mourning upon his death instead of rejoicing.[1]

His illness was disgusting and we will not go into the list of all his crimes. But when reading the history of that time, we can be so glad that we have a democracy and Jesus stands out all the more as a light shining in thick darkness.

When Jesus uses the picture of the fig tree, it can mean Israel, Judah, or for us, America, our city, Philadelphia, or our Church Old Zion, or ourselves, myself your pastor, or you in the particular calling in which you are to bear fruit and flourish. Let’s apply it to ourselves. Again we see Jesus counseling patience and long-suffering with us. “That fig tree is not bearing fruit,” says the owner. “Cut it down. Why waste the soil?”

The gardener says, “Sir, let it alone one more year, until I dig around it and give it some manure. If it bears fruit next year well and good; if not, then you can cut it down.” Here again, Jesus can be seen in the gardener, the same way Mary Magdalene saw him as a gardener when she turned around from the empty tomb. And the fruitless person, church, or what have you, gets another chance purely out of the gracious nature of our merciful God. Now here is the crucial point: when we allow Jesus into our hearts, when we allow the power of God’s Holy Spirit to fill us, then we cannot help bearing fruit. It is through the grace of God, that is, through God’s strength that we bear fruit and it will remain and it will accomplish the things needful that God is calling us to do, the mission upon which God is sending us.

But we dare not presume on God’s mercy. If we are not bearing fruit, something is wrong. God intends that we flourish and when that does not happen at some point the cards are called in. If we stand, we have to be careful that we do not fall. God is merciful and slow to anger, but when the repentance never comes, when we never end up turning to the Lord our God, then like Jesus said in the last lesson, “Your house will be left to you” meaning without God’s help and left to catastrophe and destruction. Like a tree, you have to stand there and you watch yourself get chopped down. Jesus is like Julia Butterfly, who would not get down out of the old redwood tree to let them cut it down.

What does it mean for Christ the gardener to dig around us and to put manure around us so that we get a second chance to respond before it is too late? When we rely on ourselves, when we place the accent upon ourselves and our own strength, then we will fail. We are just up against way too much. If we place the accent upon God and we trust God to work through us, then we cannot help but come through. Faith is the power of God in us, to use Luther’s insight. We have to get down on our knees and pray, because God has to accomplish what we are to do in this place.

I’m not sure I know what digging around Old Zion Lutheran Church means, nor what food we could place around our roots so that we start growing and bearing fruit. Perhaps the first thing is praying together. We have no Lenten program in this church. Perhaps next year we could share a Wednesday evening Lenten program with other churches. I know it is hard for people to come from so many miles away once more a week. So what do we do to loosen our soil and give ourselves some more air of the Holy Spirit? Let’s think about that. Joan is calling for an outreach committee meeting. Our ability to respond makes us responsible.

What would give us the proper spiritual nourishment to help us grow and mature in the stature of Christ so that we bear fruit, whatever that fruit might be? I do not think we can interpret bearing fruit in a completely individual way. Bearing fruit and receiving nourishment and preparing the soil in which our roots are receiving that nourishment need not be completely individual. We have to think in terms of Old Zion Church and our relationship and participation in it. If people came every Sunday, that would not be enough. People do not even come every Sunday, but we have to turn that around. Not in terms of placing more obligations upon people or requiring church attendance. Not at all. What we need is something happening here wonderfully carrying out the mission of God in this place. Then you won’t be able to help coming and you won’t feel as if it is your effort, because it will not be. It will be Christ ministering through you and your heart and soul will be at rest as untold things get done for the kingdom of God. When you are carried by the Holy Spirit you love doing what you do and you’ll feel like you are doing nothing, but everything will be getting done.

Sometimes I would invite people to come to church. They would say: “Pastor Sunday is the only day in which I get some rest.” If you checked you would find they had Saturday as well. But no matter. The point is that if you do not have the peace that passes understanding and the grace that comes from on high, you will not be able to rest on a day of rest, nor will you be able to work when you are working to bear fruit. “Jesus says, “Without me. You can do nothing.” That means nothing. You cannot rest, you cannot work right, you are as dead as a TV that is not plugged into the electric socket. How is the TV going to work if you have not plugged it in? How are you going to bear fruit in your life, if you do not have the Holy Spirit giving you the strength, the insight, the motivation, the way to roll with the punches that the opposition throws against you, while you are coming through.

You have to expect opposition. When you’re a basket ball player going for the basket, there is always an opponent there waving his hand in your face, reaching in to try to block your shot. That is the way it is. But when you are not living, but Christ is living through you, you get one basket after another, because up against the feathery feet of Christ, the great adversary has sluggish feet made out of lead. The devil could not stop Jesus. And no matter the obstacles that stand in the way of Old Zion Lutheran Church, they will have to vanish, because

Christ is the champion, my friend.

He keeps on fighting to the end.

He is the champion, he is the champion

of the world.

We’ve got mud in our face, what a disgrace.

The devil’s knocking us all over the place!

But Christ is the champion, my friend, etc.

He’ll keep on loving us to the end, etc.

(To quote and sing from Queen)

A Song for Old Zion!

(The melody by Bizet from Carmen)

Here in Philadelphia in Old Zion

In German and English we love to sing.

Here in Philadelphia in Old Zion

We thank the Lord with our sweet off’ring.

 

Here in Philadelphia in Old Zion

We love and honor Jesus Christ the King.

Here in Philadelphia in Old Zion

Let the phrases of our praises begin.

 

Bridge: O God, our God,

            we love and worship you.

Oh! The church grows here

The church grows there.

Soon love and kindness

is growing everywhere.

My light shines here

Your light shines there.

The light of heaven

starts shining everywhere.

O God, our God, we worship you

And give you thanks for all you do.

O God, our God, we worship you

    And praise your name forever, too.

We do!

Here in Philadelphia in Old Zion

J.P. Meyers makes the organ ring.

Here in Philadelphia in Old Zion

We love to hear Jaye’s sweet voice sing.

 

Here in Philadelphia in Old Zion

Our angel choir sings to Christ our King.

Here in Philadelphia in Old Zion

There’s plenty of room so do come in!

 

Bridge: O God, our God,

             we love and worship you.

(Rewritten for Old Zion

              Lutheran Church 03/10/2007)


[1] Quoted from DashHouse, a website of the dash family, Toronto, Ontario, Canada http://www.dashhouse.com/sermons/2006/AM/061217.htm

Written by peterkrey

March 12, 2007 at 3:45 am

Posted in Selected Sermons

Baptism of our Lord January 7th 2007 at Old Zion Lutheran in Philadelphia

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Baptism of our Lord January 7th 2007 at Old Zion Lutheran in Philadelphia

Isaiah 43: 1-7 Psalm 29  Acts 8: 14-17 Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

 

Watching the funeral of President Gerald Ford taking place in Grand Rapids Michigan made me realize how Lutheran the Episcopalians have become. In the service they sang our Palm Sunday favorite, “All Glory Laud and Honor.” Then they sang, “He will Lift you up on Eagle’s Wings” and while taking out the casket, they sang, “A Mighty Fortress is our God”! The liturgy at the graveside was also one that I have used for many years. How wonderful that we have grown so close.

     Yesterday may have been celebrated by the Mummers’ Parade here in Philadelphia, but that does not erase the fact that it was Epiphany, January 6th. It is the day celebrating the star that shone in the East and the way the Magi came to pay homage to the King of Kings, Christ our Lord – bringing him the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. With Epiphany or Little Christmas we have entered the season of light.

     Epiphany means the manifestation of Christ to the world, Christ, the light of the world. It is most recently celebrated by the coming of the Magi; before that, by Jesus turning the water into wine in the marriage of Cana (John 2:1-11); and earlier still, by the baptism of Jesus. In this place our Service Book and Hymnal (SBH) has the circumcision of our Lord and his presentation at the temple, but does not have the baptism of our Lord. Thus we have to use the regular Epiphany introit and collect.

     Luther wrote a song about the baptism of our Lord, which we translated anew in Luther’s Spirituality, the book my brother Philip and I are publishing through the Paulist Press, scheduled to appear in March 2007. This Luther hymn is not in the SBH, nor in the Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW), nor in the new Lutheran hymnal that just came out, called the Evangelical Lutheran Worship Book (ELW). It is in the old German hymnal and we will sing it in the German service.

     The Lutheran Churches in America have often been very estranged from Luther. Thus our hymnal, the SBH contains only four of Luther’s hymns and uses his melodies several times more. The green hymnal, the LBW, contains sixteen of Luther’s hymns and uses his melodies four times more; and the new hymnal that just came out, the ELW reduces the latter number by only one. Let me read the first verse of Luther’s hymn as we translated it:

“Christ Jesus to the Jordan Came”: (A spiritual song about our Holy Baptism in which is finely and briefly summarized what it is, who instituted it, and its use)

Christ Jesus to the Jordan came

To do as God was willing,

To be baptized by John his aim,

His ministry fulfilling.

He gave to us a bath so good,

To wash away our sinning,

And by his own dire wounds and blood

A victory o’er death winning,

It meant for us a new life.

Christ our Lord gave us a passage through death into new life by his baptism. We became a new human species, because the old Adam and Eve are drowned and we rise up out of the water with Christ as new creatures of God. Verse two:

So all shall hearken and conceive

What God means by baptism,

what a Christian should believe

To elude heresy’s schism.

God’s will is that the water bear

Much more than just plain water;

God’s holy Word is also there

With Spirit beyond measure.

The Spirit’s the true baptizer.

Now baptism is not plain water, but water with the Word of God and filled with the Holy Spirit beyond any measure. Although there are four more verses to Luther’s hymn, this verse suffices for the rest of the sermon.

     Look at the Psalm – we never read the Psalms in our liturgy here at Old Zion! “God’s voice is over the waters; the God of Glory thunders, the Lord, over the mighty waters” (29:3).

     In a very peculiar way God’s speaking is creation. In the words of Psalm 33, “For God spoke, and it came to be; he commanded and it stood firm” (9). In the same way in the creation story, the earth was formless and void and darkness covered the face of the deep. And God said, “Let there be light and there was light.” Yehi or va yehi or! to transliterate the Hebrew. There the Holy Spirit is referred to as the Ruach Elohim. In the Greek New Testament the Holy Spirit is called Pneuma to hagion. The Holy Spirit is also identified as the Wind of God, the breath of God; and hovering over the waters, behold, the creation began and continues until this day.

     Thus it is by the Word of God, by the voice of God, the speaking of God in, with, and under the water that new creatures rise up in the form of Christ our Lord, leaving the old Adam and Eve behind, insofar as original sin still punishes us with death and the sins we ourselves commit, separate us from God.

     In the baptism of Christ we are taken out of our free fall and are raised back up into the favor of God. When we are in Christ God also makes the pronouncement over us, “This is my beloved Son, [this is my beloved daughter,] in whom I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).

     Now it needs to be the Word of God full of the Holy Spirit. We Lutheran have to hear that, because at times we seem to want the Word of God with merely a human spirit. Look at the lesson in Acts. It says Peter and John prayed for the believers of Samaria because they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, but the Spirit had not yet come upon any of them. [We do baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.]

     In rereading it this time the fact that Jesus was praying after the baptism, also struck me. It says that Jesus prayed and the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in the bodily form like a dove.

     Thus John says, I baptize you with water, but the one coming after me, whose shoe laces I am unworthy to stoop down and untie, will baptize you with Spirit and fire! I know that is fearful and I am afraid of it too. But let us hear how there has to be a total immersion, not so much in the water, but in the Holy Spirit through prayer.

     Two more things to end this sermon: if the water is plain water and the Holy Spirit and the Word of God do not go through the heart of a person, a devil can be dunked into the water and a devil can also step back out of it. Even with the fullness of the sign, dunking someone completely under water three times, will not prevent [a baptism that does not take], if it is without total immersion in the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

     Secondly, we need to think about getting the Holy Spirit beyond measure. In Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Oakland, California, they scheduled prayer chains. Somebody prayed continuously at the altar and was relieved every twenty minutes by members, who prayed behind them. The prayers would go on 24 hours right through the night and morning until the worship began Sunday morning. Other churches have groups that call themselves prayer warriors. Let us step out of the water into the fire and the Spirit of the baptism of Christ. Amen.

Written by peterkrey

March 7, 2007 at 7:11 am

Posted in Selected Sermons

Good Shepherd Sunday Trinity Lutheran Church, Fort Bragg, California 7/23/2006

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Good Shepherd Sunday

Trinity Lutheran Church, Fort Bragg, California

Jeremiah 23:1-6          Psalm 23           Ephesians 2:11-22             Mark 6:30-34 and 53-56

 

Standing Out in Bold Relief

 

Driving to Fort Bragg yesterday, we could do nothing again but marvel at the glorious countryside – the Anderson Valley, Mendocino, and Ft. Bragg. The beauty of this area stands out by being such a gift of God. I believe God uses the beauty of this nature: the holiness of the redwoods, the glory of the seashore – to invite us all to become the wonderful commonwealth that St. Paul writes about.

     From it, however, we are still far off. We are aliens and strangers to this beautiful commonwealth, but the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ can lead, guide, and direct us by the cross, so that as a people we become taught and healed to be righteous by Jesus; healed of all the evil that clings to us, so that as followers of Jesus, we become so beautiful as this countryside.

     When I was back in grade school, so many years ago, one of my teachers introduced maps in bold relief with so much enthusiasm that I still feel somewhat thrilled by these words today. Bold relief maps were not just flat and two dimensional, but in the place where there were mountains, it was raised up; where there were valleys, it was indented, and you could see the blues of rivers and lakes and the ocean.

     Those of us who follow the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, need to stand out in bold relief as well, raised up as mountains of faith and lowered down in love and compassion in the beauty of our savior, who even surpasses natural beauty. “Fair is the sunshine, fair are the meadows;” but our beautiful savior is fairer, according to that beloved song.

     Jesus is the Good Shepherd who leads us to that beautiful commonwealth from the right hand of God just the same way as he did back there in the time of our lessons, when he sent out the twelve disciples, two by two, and they came back and gathered around Jesus telling him all the things they had done and taught the people. Jesus’ teaching raised them in faith and lowered them in love, so that they stood out and attracted so many people coming and going among them, that they did not even have time to eat. So Jesus said, “We need time alone. Let’s go to a deserted place, because we need rest.”

     God needs us to rest, so that God’s gracious work can happen in us. The righteousness of faith needs to raise us, the love of God needs to fill us, because our ministry has to be sustainable, replenished as we rest and God ministers to us. Thus renewed we can again share this faith and love with the people of God, so we stand out as the beautiful people of the wonderful commonwealth of Jesus, the King of Righteousness, the righteous Branch, foretold by Jeremiah.

     As our story continues, we discover, lo and behold, there is no rest for the weary. When the crowds saw Jesus and the disciples head off in a boat, they could tell where the little company was going, ran ahead and were waiting for them when they arrived at the shore.

     Thereupon Jesus did not say, “Disburse them! I want a free-speech zone! It’s my day off! I’m on vacation. Push off from shore, we’ll lose them!” No, Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, so he taught them many things.

     Jesus will feed them with real bread later, all 5,000 of them. But the lesson is also pointing out that his teachings are the bread of heaven. “We do not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Deut. 8:3; Mat. 4:4; Luke 4:4). The word is the logos, interestingly, it is the same important word celebrated by the Greeks in their philosophy meaning “reasoning.” But for us it of course, stands for Jesus, but when Jesus uses it, as he does so many times when he explains the “sower and the seed” parable where he interprets the seed to be the logos, he means reasoning filled with faith, love, and the Holy Spirit. By his word we are raised up into the beautiful commonwealth governed by that King of Righteousness, that righteous Branch, Jesus Christ our savior, who died on the cross for us.

     The bread of life, to repeat, is Jesus’ teaching. But we certainly need our daily bread. That is why Jesus puts this request into the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.” We need good nourishment. Too much of the physical kind just makes me gain weight of course. How much, however, we need the special education Jesus gives us! Our lesson says, he taught the people many things. His teachings are food indeed, and with them Jesus raises us up into the beloved community, into which we unfold into our new selves, washed in baptism, fed by the word, so that we stand out in the beauty of sharing love and forgiveness and service. Jesus’ teaching is the manna from heaven and when we gather to be nourished by it, we grow.

     Education really changes us and usually we do not even notice it when it happens. Suddenly we realize we have changed “by the renewal of our minds.” It never occurred to me that even while Jesus was ministering the disciples were also going about doing miracles and teaching people like Jesus. But Jesus sent them out and they were ministering the way he did – and in our lesson they come back and tell Jesus what they had taught the people. And the gravity of so much love attracted so many people, Jesus and the disciples cannot even meet their own needs: that is how much the people crowd around them.

     Thank God! Trinity Fort Bragg has the same Good Shepherd, whose righteousness, love, and compassion for the people stand out in bold relief against the apathy, the debauched partying (of the Herodian crowd that sealed the fate of John the Baptist), the corruption, the readiness to take life, and cold calculated bloodshed, and the lie that anything goes when you can appeal to security. Herod even justified the slaughter of Bethlehem’s babies for the sake of security.

     Jesus does not emphasize security. He breaks down the wall of hostility, because he became vulnerable. He was willing to go to the cross to break down the dividing wall, not to build one; to reconcile people, not write them off and make them fair game for killing; not to injure, maim, and bomb them to smithereens.

     We certainly are far off from the commonwealth of Israel – to use St. Paul’s words. We are in very dark times, very much outside the beautiful commonwealth, aliens and strangers to it, indeed.

     With the words, “the commonwealth of Israel” Paul means the spiritual Israel. I am not making a judgment on the flare-up of the war in the Middle East right now. Jesus is about the Gospel. The nations are under the law and reason. But that should not seal off the nations in a special compartment. While the nations use cold, calculating reason, which is all too ready to inflict terrible injuries and destroy life, the reasoning of the Gospel is filled with good faith, love, and compassion, that raises us up into the beautiful commonwealth.

     What can be said is that the nations are at loggerheads with the reign of God and we see how far outside of it, how they rebel against it (see Psalm 2), and how far off we are. How we are not putting hostility to death, but fanning its flames to make it become more alive. . . as right now – as we speak – missiles fly and bombs fall and lives are being taken and the beauty of the earth is being changed into a landscape of ugly craters telling of new hostility and hatred, because we have all let loose the dogs of war.

     Let Jesus teach us many things. His body which is our church, our community, has to stand out in bold relief from those whose sole concern is worldly bread, irrational security, and those who make the concerns of the nations ultimate. But Jesus shall separate the sheep from the goats, so our nation had better pay homage to the King of Righteousness, our Zedekiah, which means our “righteous Lord,” the Righteous Branch, our Messiah, Jesus Christ. Both the Greek word “Christ” and the Hebrew word, “Messiah” mean the one that God anointed and sent to rule over us. The Good Shepherd came to lead, guide, and direct us on the way of life. He did not come to take away life, but to give life and life more abundantly.

     As the King of Righteousness he came to proclaim peace to those near and to those far off. The Righteous Branch brings the reign of God by showing us the way of life. It is not one of security but vulnerability – Jesus goes to the cross. He offers his life for the sake of reconciliation. He demonstrates the greatest love the world has ever known. If we could only learn what he taught us, then our nations would be turned inside out and we ourselves would discover how beautiful we become: America would be beautiful “from sea to shining sea” – when we have compassion, when we give our lives, spend them, pour them out, feed others with ourselves, until the point comes, where we even have to seal our love with our blood, so the love letter of God gets to the right address, so that the wall that divides enemies is broken down, and the friends of God become as beautiful as this God-given countryside. As Abraham Lincoln said, “How do you destroy your enemies? By making them friends!”

     We have to be taught by Jesus and we have to teach others so that the reign of God becomes real among us – by a change of hearts and minds, because the Good Shepherd is our peace, we are touched by the cross, this vulnerability, this love that is victorious, because it heals, renews life, washes, feeds, enlivens, makes us beautiful.

     Let’s stand out in bold relief! Be raised as mountains of faith, empty out in valleys of love and compassion, find our security in the vulnerability of the cross that puts to death the hostility that divides enemies and makes them friends of God, who sent Jesus, the Righteous Branch, and we pledge our allegiance to the reign of God, our crucified and risen Lord, who showed us the way of life that goes through the cross into the glorious resurrection of the beautiful commonwealth of the children of God. Amen. 

Pastor Peter Krey, July 23rd 2006

Written by peterkrey

March 6, 2007 at 11:19 pm

Posted in Before Old Zion

“Jesus Heals our Paralysis” – Sermon for Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church South San Francisco 7th Sunday after Epiphany

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Sermon for Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in South San Francisco, the 7th Sunday after Epiphany, February 19, 2006

Isaiah 43:1-25 Psalm 41 II Corinthians 1:18-22 Mark 2: 1-12

Jesus Heals our Paralysis

Isaiah says God is doing a new thing. That new thing took place in Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ is the Word of God and to use St. Paul’s phrase, he is God’s yes in all God’s promises for us. Jesus is God’s yes in all the words God speaks to us. Christ is the yes of the Word of God for us.

Jesus is speaking the word to the people there in his hometown Capernaum beside the Sea of Galilee. The Greek for “speaking” is lego and the “word spoken” is logos.

That word had a very special meaning in Greek and that is why the Gospel of John starts off:

In the beginning was the word and the word was before God and God was the word.

Here you see that the word has a very special meaning for us, too. Even in the Parable of the Sower and the seed, Jesus says the seed is the word.

The Greeks thought of this word as reasoning and from it they developed philosophy and from their philosophy we get modern science and I believe that the miracles of modern science have made us think that the miracles of faith are impossible. The miracle story that we heard this morning is about Jesus healing a person who is paralyzed. And it is quite a dramatic story. Some people loved this paralytic so much they assured his access to Jesus by lowering him right through the roof of the crowded building in which Jesus was speaking. The people had to move.

But let me get back to the word and the kind of miracles that Jesus’ thorough-going understanding of human nature brings. From science we get electricity, we get such miracles as radios, televisions, cars, airplanes. Isn’t it a miracle the way they stay up in the air? Computers. Those miracles really have us worshipping at the feet of modern science – but I believe that we have become modern technological barbarians. Let me explain.

Human beings use cars but also make them into car bombs. We have the miracle of airplanes and they transport people and we also drop bombs on people from them. We have computers and they can do a world of good, but we don’t have to hold our breath long to discover how much evil they will also introduce. Computer surveillance could make it possible for our president to become Big Brother. Children can be abducted through them and by them hurtful pornography can come right into our homes.

We need the miracles of Jesus – the miracles of the word Jesus introduced. It is the word of God from heaven that understands human nature and gives us eyes that see, healing our blindness; ears that hear, healing our deafness; a body that moves and can be moved so that our paralysis is healed.

Out of Jesus’ divine understanding he could look into our human nature and see what was going on in our hearts. He was reading those scribes around him like a book. Jesus can look into our hearts and throw the light of faith, hope, and love into them to bring about the miracles of forgiveness, healing, the miracles of personal and social transformation.

Just let us reason together – what good are all our scientific miracles without the miracles of Christ? They merely exaggerate the problems of our human nature. There is a saying about fathers and sons that can be used here too: “Like father like son, nothing but a second verse, a little bit louder, a little bit worse.” Our technologically improved nature by our modern scientific miracles only makes our old human nature a little bit louder, a little bit worse, perhaps even far worse. A child can pull a trigger and mow a whole number of his class-mates down. And what an increase in violence our scientific miracles make possible! We can now inflict mega-death by mass-production. They also make the miracles that Jesus accomplished for human nature seem much more unbelievable than ever before.

Science operates on nature with our bodily senses – sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Jesus challenges our human nature so we muster the courage to have the faith, hope, and love to enter our inner-persons, to become living souls who see with the eyes of our hearts, hear with the ears of our deepest selves, touch and move other hearts and become one heart, soul, and mind with God.

Jesus complains that we have eyes, but they do not see; ears, but they do not hear; a heart, but it does not understand; and a will, but it is paralyzed. We see what global climate change is doing and the threat it represents, but we can’t get ourselves to do anything. Paralysis. We saw Rita and Katrina coming and we couldn’t get ourselves to respond until the city of 550,000 people was completely destroyed. Now all the rubble is lying there, hundreds of thousands of people are homeless, and nothing seems to be getting done. A film director made a film about the devastation of Katrina 170 minutes long. When he drove along the Gulf coast through Alabama, Mississippi and into New Orleans, he said for the same amount of time, even over 170 minutes of driving, all that was left down there was rubble and devastated lives.

Our scientific miracles took Iraq down pretty easily, but we don’t have Jesus’ miracles that can bring peace and forgiveness back into that area. The miracles of Jesus bring personal and social transformation with the new seeing, hearing, understanding, and forgiving hearts that could bring peace to Iraq again.

So, how about you? Are you getting the word that Jesus is speaking? Are you hearing your God speaking to you? Are you rising up in your inward self, born out of the love and compassion of Christ, and are you seeing with the eyes of your heart? Don’t you realize that you can have 20/20 vision and be blinds as a bat? It can be bright sun-shining daylight, and you can be in the dark. Are you hearing your neighbors and each other with the ears of your soul? Are you opening yourselves up to the pain and suffering of others because you have become one heart and soul with Christ?

We do not have to speak of miracles in only a social way. We have mentioned our need to overcome war, help hurricane, earthquake, and other victims; shelter the homeless and stop the genocide in Dafur.

It hits us on a personal level, too. What miracle will it take to make us eat right, to help us lose weight, to make us read a book, to make us be able to forgive someone who hurt us? To make us change and improve?

What miracle will it take to make us know what we were called by God to do, and to get out of the rut in life we’ve gotten stuck in and do it? Sometimes I say, “Jesus I’m not getting anywhere!”

Jesus understands you and me. Out of the boundless love of God, Jesus had mercy on our paralyzed souls and says to you and says to me: “I forgive you. I forgive you all your sins. Get up and do the thing you need to do. Get up, and be the loving, miraculous, true self, the real person, the Christ, you’ve been called by God to be.”

And you and I are those scribes sitting there in the presence of Christ, saying, “Who does he think he is? Forgiving that person her sins! How dare he cover up those atrocities done to us? How can he forgive all this injustice, all our apathy and ignorance? Only God can do that.”

And Jesus gives us the word, you know, that Word that was from the beginning, is before God and is God. Let me prove to you that my understanding of your human nature can produce miracles that eyes have not seen, nor ears ever heard, beautiful things, that your hearts cannot even imagine.

Get up and in the power of the resurrection, in your new birth of love, pick up the stretcher your soul is lying on, take off the straight-jacket your soul is imprisoned in, and get into the marvelous miracles that our Lord Christ Jesus has set afoot time and again. Are you going to shield yourself from God’s grace so these miracles cannot happen in your life, in your family, in this church, in this community?

Friday night, Nora and I watched a video called St. Ralph. Ralph is a 14 year-old kid always getting into trouble and is in a strict Catholic school that certainly does not believe in miracles. His mother goes into a coma and he needs a miracle to wake her back up. Ralph gets it in his head, that if he could win the Boston Marathon, it would be a miracle, and it would take a miracle to wake his mother out of her coma. This problem kid starts training with all his heart and along the way, – fixing his heart to believe in a miracle – minds are changed, hearts are transformed, and a heartless and cruel bunch undergo a marvelous change.

Realize that Jesus is doing a new thing to which the miracles of science cannot hold a candle!

As paralyzed as I am and you are: get four friends to lower you right through the roof and lie there on your stretcher right at Jesus’ feet. Be forgiven and then in the miracle of your healing, step right out into your new self – full of love, compassion, and understanding. Receive your new eyes, ears, heart, soul, and mind (don’t forget your mind, mind you) from Christ. Amen.

Written by peterkrey

March 6, 2007 at 10:57 pm