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Manteca Weihnachts Predigt, Manteca Christmas Sermon, 2010

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Lukas 2:1-20:  Die Weihnachtsgeschichte

Es begab sich aber zu der Zeit, daß ein Gebot von dem Kaiser Augustus ausging, daß alle Welt geschätzt würde.
Und diese Schätzung war die allererste und geschah zur Zeit, da Quirinius Landpfleger in Syrien war.
Und jedermann ging, daß er sich schätzen ließe, ein jeglicher in seine Stadt.
Da machte sich auf auch Josef aus Galiläa, aus der Stadt Nazareth, in das jüdische Land zur Stadt Davids, die da heißt Bethlehem, weil er aus dem Hause und Geschlechte Davids war,
auf dass er sich schätzen ließe mit Maria, seinem vertrauten Weibe; die war schwanger.
Und als sie daselbst waren, kam die Zeit, daß sie gebären sollte.
Und sie gebar ihren ersten Sohn und wickelte ihn in Windeln und legte ihn in eine Krippe; denn sie hatten sonst keinen Raum in der Herberge.
Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend auf dem Felde bei den Hürden, die hüteten des Nachts ihre Herde.
Und siehe, des Herrn Engel trat zu ihnen, und die Klarheit des Herrn leuchtete um sie; und sie fürchteten sich sehr.
Und der Engel sprach zu ihnen: Fürchtet euch nicht! Siehe, ich verkündige euch große Freude, die allem Volk widerfahren wird;
denn euch ist heute der Heiland geboren, welcher ist Christus, der Herr, in der Stadt Davids.
Und das habt zum Zeichen: ihr werdet finden das Kind in Windeln gewickelt und in einer Krippe liegen.
Und alsbald war da bei dem Engel die Menge der himmlischen Heerscharen, die lobten Gott und sprachen:
Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe und Friede auf Erden und den Menschen ein Wohlgefallen.

Und als die Engel von ihnen gen Himmel fuhren, sprachen die Hirten untereinander: Lasst uns nun gehen gen Bethlehem und die Geschichte sehen, die da geschehen ist, die uns der Herr kundgetan hat.

Und sie kamen eilend und fanden beide, Maria und Josef, dazu das Kind in der Krippe liegen. Als sie es aber gesehen hatten, breiteten sie das Wort aus, das zu ihnen von diesem Kinde gesagt war. Und alle, vor die es kam, wunderten sich über das, was ihnen die Hirten gesagt hatten.

Maria aber behielt alle diese Worte und bewegte sie in ihrem Herzen.

Und die Hirten kehrten wieder um, priesen und lobten Gott für alles, was sie gehört und gesehen hatten, wie denn zu ihnen gesagt war.

Manteca Weihnachtspredigt

Jesaja 9:1-6 Titus 4:4-8 John 1:1-14 Lukas 2: 1-20

November 28, den Ersten Advent, 2010

Recht herzlich möchte ich mich bedanken, dass ich Euch wieder Gottes Wort predigen kann, und zwar wenn ich gut rechne, dann ist es jetzt das zehnte Mal. Wenn Deutsch unsere Muttersprache ist, dann freuen wir uns die Geschichte der Geburt Jesus Christus wieder auf Deutsch hören zu können, weil ich bei mir sicher bin, dass viele von uns die Geschichte als Kinder auswendig aufgesagt haben, (wie ich sie jetzt eben vorgetragen habe). Damals mussten wir als Kleine tüchtig paucken, nicht wahr? Aber heute hören und singen wir wieder so gern all die alten, schönen Weihnachtslieder, welch solch eine Freude für uns ist. Am Weihnachtsbaum brennten die Lichter und bei den Kindern, wie strahlten die Gesichter! Bei uns Deutsch-Amerikaner ist Weihnachten ein grosser Feiertag!

Ja, als Kinder konnten wir echt singen: „Wie wird dann die Stube glänzen. Welch ein Glanz! Der Weihnachtsbaum hatte hell-brennende, wirckliche Kerzen bei uns zu Hause. Unser Jesaja text sagt dass wir uns feuen über die Geburt unseres Königs, so wie man sich freut bei einer Ernte oder wenn man Beute austeilt. (Dieser letzte Satz versteht noch nicht was Christus, der Friedensfurst bedeutet, nicht wahr?) Wir könnten mit Jesaja weiter sagen: wir freuen uns wie wenn die Beschehrung der Geschenke zu Heiligabend statt fand!

Dieser Glanz der Ewigkeit, dieser Glanz der zugleich die Weihnachtsfreude in uns anzündet, kommt weil das Licht der Welt für uns gekommen ist, Jesus Christus, unser König, der das drückender Joch unserer Sünde zerbrochen hat und der Krieg, Ausbeutung, Unterdrückung, und das heist, alle Ungerechtigkeit unter den Völkern tilgen wird. In dieser Geburt die wir zu Weihnachten feiern ist Gott selbst in seinem Sohn zu uns gekommen und durch Jesus Christus wird Gott selbst über aller Völker des Erdkreises regieren. Denn er ist nicht nur Juden König, sondern auch der König aller Völker, aller Nationen. König des Erdreichs, wie des Himmelreichs! Christus ist der Herr!

Ja, der Herr Christus, der Herr ist für uns geboren und ich predige damit wir glauben und gläubig mit unser Leben ihm untertänig werden. Denn Gottes Sohn vom Himmelreich zu uns kommen, ist im Bethlehem für uns geboren. Daher sieht der Prophet Jesaja ein grosses Licht in der Finsterniss kommen; daher wächst der Jubel laut, denn unser Herr Christus ist geboren. Gott der Vater hat uns seinen Sohn geschenkt als unser sonderbarer König. Daher jauchsen wir.

Denn uns ist ein Kind geboren,

ein Sohn ist uns gegeben und

jetzt ruht die Herrschaft auf seinen Schultern

und seine Thron-Namen heissen

Wunder-Rat, Gott-Held, Ewig-Vater, Friede-Furst!

Dadurch erfüllte Gott sein Versprechen, dass der Thron des Hauses Davids ewig bestehen würde.

Das Wort ward Fleisch und wohnte unter uns. Gottes Sohn wurde ein Mensch und ist zu uns gekommen und wir haben eben wieder diese überrasschende Geschichte gehört, wie dieses Ereignis geschehen ist.

Der Vorgang ist ohne weiteres geschichtlich, denn wir überliefern den Glauben an den wahren Gott der uns in unserem Leben begegnet. Cyrenius war der Landfleger von Syrien und der römischer Kaiser war Augustus. Nun folgendes müssen wir wissen: Erstens, eine Frohe Botschaft oder Evangelium ist damals ausgegangen wenn ein Kaiser einen Sohn hatte oder ein König wie Herodas im Palast einen Sohn hatte. Durch solch eine Geburt würde ein Königreich weiter bestehen.  Diese frohe Botschaft ist aber nicht für einen Kaiser, sondern Christus, Gottes Sohn selbst verkündigt. Gottes Sohn ist selbst zu uns gekommen um uns den Weg des Lebens zu zeigen. Dazu, Zweitens, hat damals eine frohe Botschaft oder Evangelium oft eine gewonne Schlacht verkündigt, dadurch ein Königreich gerettet war. Daher bedeutet die frohe Botschaft in der Schrift, dass Christus, das Licht der Welt, die finstere Weltmächte überwinden würde und durch sein Kreuz den Sieg davon tragen würde.

Überraschender weise hat Gott keine adliche und hoch-habende Leute der Zeit erwählt, sondern eine unangesehene Magd namens Maria, und Joseph ist ihr treu gewesen, obwohl sie schon schwanger war. Dann ausgerechnet zu dieser Zeit mussten sie aufbrechen and nach Bethlehem reisen, wahrscheinlich zu Fuss, denn ein Esel ist in der Schrift garnicht erwähnt, weil Joseph diese Schätzung auch erfüllen musste, um auch seinen Zins zu bezahlen. Und wie wir wissen, wann sie ankamen gab es kein Raum mehr in der Herberge und sie mussten diese heilige Nacht in einem Stall mit dem lieben Vieh verbringen.

Eine menge Menschen haben Unterkunft und genügend Speise in der Herberge gefunden, aber für eine hoch schwangere junge Frau gab es keinen Platz. Was für eine verkehrte und Fühlungslose Welt!

Daher musste Maria einen Futter Trog der Tieren benutzen für eine Krippe. Was für eine Nacht mussten Maria und Joseph durch machen! Im Dunkeln, ohne Wasser, ohne Licht, ohne Hilfe hat sie Gottes Kind in die Welt gebracht. Luther meint dass sie vielleicht ihre eigene Unterwäsche zerreisen musste um das Kind in Windeln einzuwickeln. Was für eine Nacht mussten sie durch machen bis Maria das Kindlein in die Krippe gelegt hatte.

Wir fragen: wo war denn Gott? Wo war Gott als die Jungfrau solches durchmachen musste – ohne Wasser, ohne Licht, ohne Hilfe! Wenn wir uns ein wenig besinnen, dann haben wir die Antwort. Gott lag da, nackt und bloss in jener Krippe.

Mit Luther können wir sagen, “Ach Herr, Du Schöpfer aller Ding, wie bist Du worden so gering!“ So sehr wollte uns Gott seine Liebe erweisen. Luther singt weiter: Da ist er und „liegt auf dürren Gras, davon ein Rind und Esel ass.”

Wenn wir auch hier in unser Leben leiden und von der Hartherzigkeit unseren Mitmenschen unsere Stellungen und Arbeit verlieren, unser Haus dazu und Obdachlos werden, dann fühlen wir uns absolut ungeholfen. Wenn wir eine schwere Nacht durch machen müssen, dann können wir gedenken dass diese Nacht, die heilige Nacht war. Gott selbst ist mit uns und bei uns – denn Maria und Joseph waren nicht allein – bei ihnen jetzt war doch der kleine Jesulein!

Und obwohl da kein Platz war in der menschlichen Herberge, und obwohl Maria und Joseph garnicht damals gesehen waren, war Gottes himmlisches Herz weit und breit offen für sie und Gott konnte sie garnicht aus seinen Augen lassen. Gott sieht die Menschen die unsichtbar für ihre Mitmenschen sind, die unsichtbar für die Welt sind. Daher wählt er ausgerechnet unangesehene, gewöhnliche Nachtarbeiter, nämlich, die Hirten, für seine frohe Botschaft. Über sie hat sich der Himmel geöffnet. Ja, über Hirten, die ihre Herden hüteten des Nachts.

Keine Zeitung, keine Zeitschrift hat eine Zeile davon gehabt. Nein, des Herrn Engel selbst trat zu den Hirten und gaben ihnen die frohe Botschaft die aller Welt wiederfahren würde. Heute sind diese Worte nachdrücklich wahrzunehmen, denn fast zwei Tausend Jahre danach in Manteca, Californien; weit, weit entfernt von Bethlehm, hören wir auch diese frohe Botschaft: Ein Heiland ist euch geboren, welcher ist Christus der Herr in der Stadt Davids. Das habt für Zeichen: ihr werdet finden das Kind in Windeln gewickelt und in einer Krippe liegen. Plötzlich ershienen die Menge des Himmlischen Heerscharen: die mussten aus dem Himmel kommen, weil ihr König jetzt bei Maria und Joseph auf Erden war. Der liebe Bengel, der König aller Engel!

Die Engel sind die ersten die die frohe Botschaft, das Evangellium verkündigten, und dann tun es die Hirten, dann auch wir, denn Hirten sind wir alle, wie wir hier in unserer Liturgie sagen. Der Name „Pastor“ bedeutet nur „Hirte“ auf Latein. So singen wir alle mit den Engeln, „Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe, Friede auf Erden, und den Menschen ein Wohlgefallen.“

Wir lassen diese Verkündigung der frohen Botschaft tief in unseren Herzen dringen, so tief dass Christus hl. Geburt mit unserer sündhaften Geburt geweckselt wird. Durch den Glauben schenkt uns unser lieber Herr Gott seine hl. Jungfrauliche Geburt, damit die liebe Maria unsere eigene Mutter wird, Jesus unser lieber Bruder, und Gott selbst

im Himmel unser lieber Vater. Was für eine frohe Botschaft, welch ein Weihnachtlicher Glanz, Welch ein Licht, wenn wir merken dass so gewöhnlich und unangesehen wie wir sind, wir selbst in Marias Schoss gewogen, gekoselt, und geliebt sind und durch Christus Geburt Gottes Kinder schon hier auf Erden werden; ja, schon sind. Amen.

Fröhliche Weihnachten und einen guten Rursch ins Neue Jahr wünsche ich Euch allen!   Pastor Peter Krey

A Manteca Christmas Sermon (A Translation from the German)

Isaiah 9:1-6 Titus 4:4-8 John 1:1-14 Luke 2: 1-20

For the First Advent, November 28th 2010

Let me thank you right heartily for asking me to preach God’s Word for you again for this German service, for if I have counted right, this is the tenth time. When German is our mother tongue, then we love to be able to hear the story of the birth of Jesus Christ again in German and I’m pretty sure some of you also had to recite the Christmas story by heart, (the way I just recited it for you by heart). I remember as a child it took some real concentration and endless repetition. Here again today we hear and sing our old and beautiful German Christmas carols, which give us so much joy. On the Christmas tree we always had so many candles with light, which made the children’s faces bright! For German-Americans Christmas is still an important celebration.

Yes, as children we sang, “How the (Christmas) room will soon glisten!” What marvelous rays of light! Our Christmas tree at home had brightly burning, real candles on it. Our Isaiah text says that we rejoice because of the birth of our new born king like those who reap the harvest or those who divide up booty from a war. (The last sentiment does not yet understand what it means, that Christ is the Prince of Peace, don’t you think?) But to Isaiah we can add that we rejoice like when on Christmas Eve the sharing of the Christmas gifts takes place.

The radiant light from eternity, this sparkle and glistening light that ignites the joy of Christmas within us, comes to us because the Light of the World has come to us. Jesus Christ, our King, is the one who has broken the yoke of sin from around our necks and who will do away with war, exploitation, oppression, and that means all injustice among the nations. In this birth that we celebrate at Christmas, God himself has come to us in his Son and through Jesus Christ. God himself reigns over all the countries the whole earth around, because Christ is not only the King of the Jews, but he is also Lord of all the nations. Jesus Christ is Lord!

Yes, the Lord Christ, the Lord is born for us and I preach to you so that you believe, you have faith, and we all subject ourselves and our lives to our sovereign Lord. We’re celebrating that God’s Son has come down to us from Heaven and is born for us in Bethlehem. That’s why the Prophet Isaiah sees a great Light appearing in and vanquishing the darkness. That’s why a growing acclamation becomes louder and louder. That’s because our Lord Christ was born. God the Father gave us his Son, our very special King as a present. That is why we rejoice. Because unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given and now the government rests on his shoulders and his four throne names are Wonder-Counselor, God’s Champion, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace. Thereby God fulfilled his promise that the throne of David would remain forever.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God’s Son became a human being and has come to us and we have just heard the surprising story once again, how all these things came to pass.

The events that took place are completely historical. The faith that we pass on is faith in the one, true God, who encounters us in our real lives. So Quirinius was the governor of Syria and Augustus was the Roman Caesar. Now we have to know that the Good News or the Gospel was proclaimed in those days first of all, when Caesar had a son or a king like Herod had a son in his palace. Because of such a birth a kingdom enjoyed and celebrated its continuity. But Luke’s Good News or Gospel is not for a Caesar, but for Christ, because God’s Son himself was coming to rule over us in order to show us the way of life. Secondly, in those days the Good News or Gospel usually proclaimed a victory won in battle, which saved the life of a kingdom. So the Good News in the scriptures proclaims that Christ, the Light of the world has overcome the powers of this world’s darkness. By the cross, Christ won the victory.

Surprisingly, God did not choose nobility or some wealthy person, but an ordinary maid called Mary, and Joseph remained true to her, even though she was already pregnant. And of all times, precisely at this time, they had to get on the road and head for Bethlehem, and the scriptures does not mention a donkey, so they probably had (a seven day) walk, so that Joseph could be registered for taxation. And we all know when they arrived in Bethlehem there was no room for them in the inn and they had to spend the holy night in a stall with the dear animals.

A great many people had found lodging and provisions enough in the inn, but there was no room for a woman, who was very pregnant and about to go into labor. What a wrong-headed, uncaring, and insensitive world!

Because of that Mary had to use the animal’s food trough for a crib. What a night Mary and Joseph must have had! In the darkness, without water, without light, without help she brought God’s Child into the world. Luther thinks she may even have had to tear up her own undergarments in order to have the cloths in which to wrap up the baby. What a night she must have had to get through before she could lay the baby into the crib!

We may well ask, where was God? Where was God when the virgin had to go through all the hardships of that night? She was in the darkness, without water, without light, without help! But if we stop and think a bit, then we can come up with the answer. God lay there naked and exposed in that crib!

With Luther we can sing, “O God, you the creator of all things, you have become as tiny as anything.” That’s how much God wanted to show his love for us. Luther continues, “There he is, lying on the hay and grass, from which had eaten the cow and ass.”

When we suffer in our lives here in this world because of the hard-heartedness of our fellow people, say we lost our job, our house as well, and we have become homeless, we can get to feeling absolutely helpless. When we have to get through a really hard night, then we have to realize, that that night was the Holy Night. God himself is with and by us at these times and Mary and Joseph were not alone, with them was the little baby Jesus.

And although there was no room for them in the inn, and although Mary and Joseph were quite invisible to the people there, God’s big heavenly heart was wide open for them and God could in no way have left them out of his sight. God sees precisely those who are invisible to those in the world around them. That’s why he chooses precisely unseen and ordinary people, namely shepherds who are working the nightshift, for his Gospel, his Good News. It is over them that the heavens opened. Yes, over the shepherds who in the fields watched over their flocks by night.

There were no headlines in the papers, no magazine articles. No, the angel of the Lord himself came to the shepherds and proclaimed the Good News to them that would be heard by all, by people around the whole world. These words have come true, because here we are almost two thousand years later and in Manteca, California; a place very, very far from Bethlehem, and we hear the Good News: “A Savior to you is born this day, in the city of David, Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign unto you: you will find the babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly throngs of angels burst out of heaven: they had to come out of heaven of course. Their king was now with Mary and Joseph on earth. The little babe, the King of all the angels!

The angels were the first who proclaimed the Good News, the Gospel and after that it was the shepherds and then it’s us, because we are all shepherds (as our liturgy says). “Pastor” is, of course, the Latin word for shepherd. So we all now sing with the angels, “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to all!”

We have to allow the proclamation of the Good News to go deep into our hearts, so deeply that we receive the holy birth of Christ in exchange for our sinful birth. Through faith our dear Lord God gives us the gift of his virgin birth, so that dear Mary can become our own mother, Jesus our own brother, and the dear God in heaven our own very Father. What Good News! What radiant beams of Christmas light, what a light for the world, when we realize that as ordinary and unseen as we are, we ourselves can be rocked, dandled, and loved on Mother Mary’s lap and through the birth of Christ we can already be God’s children here on earth. Amen.

The following is the Prayer of the Church in German:

Algemeines Kirchengebet Manteca Nov. 28, 2010

Lieber Herre Gott, wir bitten Dich für all die hier sich

heute in deinem Wort versammelt haben,

dass Du sie segnest zu dieser Weihnachtszeit,

dass Du ihnen himmlische Geschenke geben wirst –

ein starker Glaube, frohe Hoffnung, und inbrünstige Liebe.

Wir gedenken besonders George und Martha Nelson, Hildegard Anderson,

Ester Paul und Heidi Petschauch. Lass sie und uns in deiner Liebe ruhen.

Sei Du uns Sünder gnädig:

Herr, erhöre unser Gebet!

Lieber Herre Gott, wir bitten Dich für Frieden in unserer

Zeit. Komme Du zu uns Du Friedens-Furst, damit Blut-

vergiessen, Krieg, Hader, und Streit zu Ende kommen –

besonders in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nord und Süd Korea,

und zwischen Israel und den Palistinenser.

Lasse die Sonne deines Angesichts über uns aufgehen,

damit wir wieder in Frieden leben können und auf

Lebens erfüllung wieder hoffen können.

Sei Du uns Sünder gnädig:

Herr, erhöre unser Gebet!

Lieber Herre Gott, wir bitten Dich für die Leidenden in

Haiti, dass sie wieder so bald wie möglich in stabilen Häuser

einziehen können, die Cholera und besonders ihre Armut überwinden.

Wir bitten auch für die Obdachlosen unter uns, auch für die Arbeitslosen,

für die die ihre Häuser verlieren. Hilf lieber Herre-Gott, dass die niedergeschlagene

Welt-Wirtschaft sich wieder erholt, und die Völker wieder genesen können.

Sei Du uns Sünder gnädig:

Herr, erhöre unser Gebet!

Lieber Herre Gott, wir bitten Dich für die Kranken unter

uns, auch alle Flüchtlinge unserer Krieg-zerissene

Welt, für die Gefangenen im Gefängnis, so wohl als

alle die seelisch leiden, die die heilsame Salbe von

Deinem Hl. Geist brauchen.

Sei Du uns Sünder gnädig:

Herr, erhöre unser Gebet!

Lieber Herre Gott, wir danken Dir dass Du zu uns in Jesus Christus gekommen bist und in dieser bösen Zeit uns für unsagbare Güte gerettet hast. Ja, komm Herr Jesus zu uns und erfülle die Krippe unseres Herzens!

Wir beten das Gebet unseres Herren: Vater unser….

Written by peterkrey

November 28, 2010 at 6:50 am

Pop Quiz for Critical Thinking, Los Medanos College, 8/21/2002

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Dr. Peter Krey                                     August 21,2002

POP-QUIZ 41LS CRITICAL THINKING

The method of Philosophical thinking that constitutes correct
reasoning is called ________________. (1)

A blunder in thinking or reasoning, whether intentional or not,
is called a ____________________. (2)

A logical fallacy is an ______________(3)_____ because it is a
contradiction in terms. Why? __________ (4)__________________________
________________________________________________________________.
“Woman without her man would be lost.” is an example of the
fallacy known as _________________. (5)

When the form of an argument is sound or correct then it is
called ________(6)______, while if a claim is faithful to reality it
is called _______________. (7)

A ____________(8)________ is a simple statement or claim and is the
basic unit for one kind of logic much like a ____________(9)_____ is
the basic unit of language when it is analyzed in terms of
grammar.

_________(10)______ was developed in the time of Alcuin and
Charlemagne (coronated by Pope Leo III as the Emperor of the Holy
Roman Empire in 800 C.E.) And used for the basis of doing
philosophy.

A book of the Philosopher __________(11)_________ on logic was saved
by the Monks of the late antiquity an early Medieval days, while
all of other books save one of this great philosopher were lost
to the West. The _______________ _____(12)___________ saved many of
his other works and they had to be translated from Arabic into
Latin for the Europeans. Then they also came to the West in their
original Greek, when the Eastern Roman Empire fell to the
Moslems.

Who was the first to analyze and categorize different forms of
arguments and and open up the study of logic? __________(13)_____. He
was called the Philosopher in medieval times. Who was called the
Apostle in those days? _____ _____________. (14)

The following argument is called a ___________________. (15)

All human beings are mortal. _______________ ____________ (16)
Socrates is a human being.   _______________ ____________  (17)

Therefore Socrates is mortal. __________________  (18)

Label the three claims of the argument. This argument is called
___________________. (19)

1. Logic    2. fallacy   3.  Oxymoron  4. Because “logic” means correct reasoning and a “logical fallacy” would mean incorrect correct reasoning   5. ambiguity  6. valid  7.  true  8. proposition  9.  sentence   10.  grammar  11. Aristotle  12.  Moslem Scholars 13. Aristotle  14.  St. Paul  15.  syllogism  16.  major premise  17.  minor premise  18.  conclusion 19. BARBARA

Written by peterkrey

November 24, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Posted in Logic, Philosophy

“The Ten Bridesmaids,” Sermon Preached 11/10/2002 on Martin Luther’s Birthday November 10th 1483

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Pentecost XXV – November 10th 2002
Martin Luther’s Birthday November 10th 1483
Pastor Peter D.S. Krey

Amos 5:18-24   Psalm 70  Thessalonians 4:13-18   Matthew 25: 1-13
Bethlehem Lutheran Church West 12th St. West Oakland California

Back in Coney Island when I was a mission developer, we had
a Spanish service and I worked with Maria Lopez, a Pentecostal
pastor and our congregation grew from about 17 people to 173 in a
short time. I had served a congregation that remained at about 55
members attending, and the Puerto Rican service just smashed
through every barrier I had ever thought impossible to cross. I
know it was the Spirit. But Pentecostal Christians have a future
orientation, while mainline churches are often oriented to the
past. Thus some Pentecostal churches are called Christo Viene
which means “Christ is coming.”
I translated a Spanish corito which illustrates my point and
is also relevant to the text for this morning.

“Pon Aceite en mi Lampara, Señor.”

Amado hermano, Christo ya viene,
toma tu lampara, y ponle aceite.
Amado hermano, Christo ya viene,
toma tu lampara, y ponle aceite.

Pon aceite en mi lampara, Señor
Pon aceite en mi lampara, Señor,
Que yo quiero servierte con amor
Pon aceite en mi lampara, Señor.
In my English:

“Pour Oil in my Lamp O my dear Lord”
Sisters and brothers, the Christ is coming
take out your shining lamps
And keep them burning. (Repeat)

Pour your oil in my lamp O my dear Lord
Pour your oil in my lamp O my dear Lord
Like the heavenly angels above
Fill our hearts with your
Faith, hope and love.

Sisters and brothers, the Christ is coming
take out your shining lamps
And keep them burning. (Repeat)

We want to serve you O Lord with all our love
We want to serve you O Lord with all our love
Like the heavenly angels above
Fill our hearts with your
Faith, hope and love.
December 2nd 1984

I believe the way that congregation grew was related to its
Pentecostal future orientation: “Christ is coming.” But whether
Christ is out there in the future or back there in the past, how
does Christ come to us in the present?
How do we get our hearts into the moment we are sharing
together and how does Christ come into that moment? And how is it
that we can be out to lunch and miss Christ passing through our
moment, and then find ourselves outside the door with Christ
saying to us: “I do not know you.” as if Christ were saying,
“What relationship do we have with each other?” or “I have
nothing to do with you.”
That saying is hard. The great marriage feast here has a bad
ending, just like the other banquet, where the disciples go out
to the highways and byways and invite everybody in. Then in the
celebration one fellow is found to be without a wedding garment
and he is thrown out into the outer darkness. (Matthew 22:1-14)
How did that fellow lose out? How did the five foolish
bridesmaids of our story this morning lose out? It would be good
to know so that we do not lose out – much like the San Francisco
Giants in the World Series this year, who were so strong out
ahead but who seemed to have nothing when they were behind.
How do we receive Christ when he comes? Or will we not be
ready? Will we too be out to lunch – and the great entourage, the
glory train will pull in and out of the station, and we’ll come
running, when our great transport of delight is already gone.
With a sinking sensation we will hear our own footsteps and
return having missed the purpose and destination charted for us
by Christ.
To take another example that may be closer to the feeling of
the ten bridesmaids waiting for the Groom, waiting with the
Bride, watching at the door, trying not to go asleep:
When an important visitor is expected, coming to our house,
and the day of arrival of the visitor finally comes, the whole
house is still a flurry of preparations. After the house has been
cleaned, the windows washed, everything made as beautiful as
possible, on that day my mother sometimes still wanted to change
around the furniture so that the room had a fresh look. And then
we all went upstairs to get into our finest clothes. We wanted to
be presentable when we met the precious person about to visit us.
I would be frightened that I might not be ready and everyone
would already be in the room visiting and talking, and when I
would now enter so much attention would fall on me that I might
become too afraid to enter the room. My wishful fantasy would be
that my favorite sister like an angel would run to me and pull me
into the joy of that presence.
Now the coming one does not want this outward preparation
but an inward one. In Luke 12:35 it says: Be dressed for action
and have your lamps lit; be like those waiting for their master
to return from the wedding banquet… so you may open the door as
soon as he knocks. Blessed are you who are alert, awake and
ready, because this master will put on his belt and sit you down
and serve you! What a surprise that he comes to us to serve us
and not vice versa. But he could come in the middle of the night
or at dawn.
Jesus tells us: “You are the light of the world. A city
built on a hill cannot be hid.” (Matthew 5:14) Once on a visit to
Israel I wanted to see the Shepherd Hills of Bethlehem, where
they saw the Christmas angels ascending a descending from heaven.
It was late and the darkness fell all around me so quickly it
took me completely by surprise. I did not know how I could find
my way back. Suddenly all the lights of the city came on and it
was no trouble at all climbing up to it. What an exhilarating
sight! Jesus probably had Bethlehem in mind when he said, “A city
on a hill cannot be hid.”
Like that city, no one lights a lamp and puts it under a
bushel or a cover – St. Luke says, in the cellar, when light is
needed up in the house. A light is put on a lampstand so that it
gives light to all who are in the house. So let your light shine
– [in the darkest hour, even just before dawn – because the
darker it is the clearer and brighter the light] – so people see
your good works and glorify your father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-
16)
Our faith in Christ is what makes the flame in our heart
start on fire and lo and behold, we become like shining lamps of
the Lord. And when our hearts start burning with this holy fire,
then everyone in the house can walk in the light, can see what is
going on. And what is going on? They can see that God is pouring
a new strength of love, faith, forgiveness, and hope down into
our midst – and like walking on wedding day clouds, Christ comes
into our midst, making our lamps burst into burning brightly – so
brightly that people notice that mere daylight is darker than the
midnight hour, and a lamp burning with the light of God, is ready
to escort the Bride to the knock on the door and start the
procession to the marvelous wedding banquet, where, to speak like
Martin Luther of old, who took light to a whole new level, Christ
exchanges his righteousness for our sin, his eternity for our
time, his light for our darkness; his love, tenderness and
compassion for our hard-heartedness, his glory for our
downtroddenness and sadly wanting existence.
Trim your lamp! That means that your whole person needs to
light up in the joy, faith, hope and love of the Light of the
World coming to be with us. What is it if we are a depressed lot?
if our soul is weighed down with hopeless despair? if we keep up
a front on the outside, but our insides snuff out any flame, put
out any light that comes near us? if our heart is a sink-hole of
nothingness and despair, which we try to hide?
I take that expression “a sink-hole of nothingness” from a
philosophy book I use in my college class. It is filled with
cartoons to make the “unbearable heaviness of philosophy
lighter.” Palmer notes that St. Augustine said that evil was the
absence of being, the privation of being, explaining the absence
of good. Next to this paragraph he draws the picture of a burglar
with a mask and revolver and sweeping his arm before his eyes,
the thief says, “Woe is me, I’m a sink-hole of nothingness!”
How do we get our lamps burning so that when the Bridegroom
knocks, we can open the door? And our hearts will not be a swamp
of depression but a glowing fire and we will be lamps full of
fuel and full of light that really shines?
You and I have to clothe ourselves in trust, in trusting
God’s Word, because, indeed, “God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet
and a light unto our path.” That Word of God in our hearts, that
Word, indeed, will get the oil burning. All the depression,
despair and dungeon-darkness of even death, is vanquished by the
Word of God – when we let it into our hearts. Because Christ is
the Light of the World and Christ is the light that no darkness
can overcome: not even the darkness of death, not even the
darkness of losing our minds, not even the darkness of cancer,
not even the darkness of war and violence. Christ is the light
that no darkness can overcome. With the Word of God in your
heart, you will change into a marvelous lamp and you will throw
the rich wonderful colors of God’s light over this whole world
and the fresh new existence of life coming to be in it.
Streaming though you will be a rainbow of feelings in the
stirring of the Holy Spirit, who puts a wedding celebration over
our whole lives and changes our days into marriage days, with all
the promises of heaven, the Garden of Eden, the Garden of
Delights! “What delights?” you may ask. Delight in the Word of
God and the shining light come into our hearts that gives us the
Day of the Lord to walk in, the Day of the Lord to see in, the
Day of the Lord to witness in, the Day of the Lord to love God’s
people in, the Day of the Lord to change our hearts in, the Day
of the Lord to raise us up in, the Day of the Lord to awaken in.
You Bethlehem saints, do you hear me?
The Day of the Lord to speak of the love of God in, the Day of
the Lord so happy to repent in, the Day of the Lord to be filled
with grace in, the Day of the Lord we need no sun to shine in,
the Thessalonian Day of the Lord to be enraptured in. The day of
the Lord no curse can stand in. The lamb is our lamp whose rays
raise up the saints to shine on a whole new level with an end-of-
the-world intensity for the gracious purposes of God.
Our son Joshua has to go across town every afternoon to walk
his Iaido Sensei’s dogs, Frido and Pixel. Sometimes it gets
quite late and I have often gone with him for the beautiful and
invigorating walk though the hills above El Cerrito and Richmond.
Suddenly coming to the crest of a hill you can see all the lights
of the city below. It is such a beautiful sight to see. All those
lights shining where the people live. But as beautiful as they
are, they are only electric lights. What about the people living
under them? Are they filled with the light of Christ or only
living in electric light? Are they fighting with each other under
them, betraying each other, manipulating each other, hurting each
other, lying to each other, abusing each other, killing each
other?
We have to trim our lamps and keep them burning. We have to
receive Christ, the Bridegroom, the Word of God, and receive
God’s light. No longer will our churches and we ourselves dwindle
and dwindle, twinkle, twinkle and go out! The light of Christ
will light our lamps again and take our holy fire to a brand new
level. Bethlehem Lutheran Church has to become filled with light
like a city on a hill. So lifting our lamps, we will all be ready
when the Bridegroom knocks and we open the door and see the
glorious train, and enter the excitement of the marriage
procession, following the Bridegroom, the Light of the World,
into the House of the Lord, to celebrate the marriage feast that
has no end – in the Day of the Lord to be glad and rejoice in,
the day of the Lord to be enraptured in, O Bethlehem, City of
Light, high on a hill. Amen.

Written by peterkrey

November 24, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Posted in Selected Sermons

For Jason: God’s Word is the Living, Concrete, Historical Christ, who Encounters Us

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For Jason: God’s Word is the Living, Concrete, Historical Christ, who Encounters Us

by Dr. Peter Krey (November 17, 2010)

I just finished a blog about the campaign that atheists are planning this Christmas. They want to publicize some of the most blood-thirsty passages from the Bible in order to undo a believer’s faith in God. A point that they and many believers do not understand is that Christians do not “believe in” the Bible. That is a form of idolatry which can be called Bibliolatry. Immature Protestants want an inerrant Bible as an external authority to accommodate their faith much like the Roman Catholics have an inerrant pope and an authoritative magisterium. By the way, only a ministerium is appropriate to the teachings of Christ. We are forbidden by Christ to be masters and bidden to be servants. As Bishop Dolan told the nuns who came out in support of Obama’s health insurance reform, while the bishops took a stand against it: “We’re pastors and teachers, not just one set of teachers in the Catholic community, but the teachers.”[1] I guess that put the nuns in their place.

Both an inerrant pope and inerrant Bible compromise the meaning of faith. After Dietrich Bonhoeffer we have come to understand that we believe in the historical and concrete Jesus Christ, present and living amongst us because of his resurrection. Jesus Christ is the living Word of God, the Word become flesh, that is, the true God become a human being, promised in the Old Testament and witnessed in the New and his Kingdom will come on earth the way it is already experienced in heaven.

The evidence for our belief, our faith, our trusting in Christ comes from encounters we have with him, the Word-Person and the transformed lives we experience because of him. Such encounters with the living Christ in, with, and through his followers, send us on his mission of reconciliation, love, and compassion. Jesus is the Christ, the Prince of Peace, as opposed to a warlike Caesar, an emperor, a master of aggression and domination. The names, Kaiser, Tsar, Shaw, are merely translations of the same title Caesar. But Christ is the Prince of Peace. As opposed to military campaigns launched by earthly empires of the nations, he sent out his followers to do healing campaigns of both the mind and the body, to proclaim God’s reign on earth, so that God’s will is done here on earth as it is in heaven. Note: when we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” it sounds slightly quaint to our republican and democratic ears. Perhaps in its place we should use the “Beloved Community,” the way Martin Luther King, Jr. expressed it.

When writing a sermon I have always tried to uncover a little more truth and I pray for the courage to preach it. That also took place when in 1970 or 1971 I preached in the Wittenberg University Chapel in Springfield, Ohio for the students. The insight came from Gospel of John and it may well be the basis for what Bonhoeffer taught. This passage reads, “You search the scriptures because in them you think you have eternal life, and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me for life” (5:39-40). Isn’t it strange the way Jesus says that you think you have eternal life in the scriptures? Jesus is saying that we need to take the further step to himself, the living Word of God. Christ cannot be pressed between the pages of a book like a dried flower. Flowers grow all around us alive out here in the world. We have to come to the concrete Christ here amongst us alive in the Holy Spirit and leading us into further truths, dressing us up in the Beatitudes that describe the new persons we become in his name.

I believe that the theology of Martin Luther of old can help us get a hold on some of the thorny biblical issues, both the moral ones and the historical ones, the errors found in the 66 books, that library of books called the Bible. (It’s difficult for me to speak of these errors so explicitly, but the scriptures have their human side.) Luther said, “The scriptures are the cradle in which the Christ child was laid; don’t mix up the Christ child with the cradle, the baby with the straw.” Distinctions have to be made and for making them a theological approach is needed to the Bible. Luther speaks of the Old and New Testaments as the 39 and 27 books as well as the old and new testaments, in terms of the witness to and promise of the coming Christ (the old) and the witness of his life lived from the cradle to the cross among us (the new); as well as his last will and testament (the service), when he speaks the words of institution in communion, making us his heirs. Christ and the Gospel of the Beloved Community he proclaimed are the promises of God for us, and not the inhumanities, atrocities, and injustices that God’s law and Gospel contend against.

It is certainly true that the sanction of slavery, genocide, the inferiority of women, and punishment of people for what their ancestors did can be found in its pages. But in the latter case, we have to celebrate the prophet and the time when the immorality of that practice became clear: “As I live says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used in Israel, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge’” (Ezekiel 18: and 2), for “the righteousness of the righteous shall be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own” (20). Ezekiel declares that children will no longer be punished for the crimes of their parents and vice versa.

Now a Biblical literalist approach to scripture that cannot make the distinction between what the Word of God is against and what it is for, gets into outright moral confusion. In addition the problem arises that the biblical writers place these immoral commands, these bum-steers, so to speak, right into the mouth of God. Therefore the scriptures need to be read with the Holy Spirit as well as with a theological approach like that of Luther, in order to understand that the Gospel and the Christ, who proclaimed the Beloved Community and is thereby bringing it into reality, is fighting against these atrocities. This is what he taught his followers, the present-day Christs, the children of God, who are peace-makers, lovers of justice, who hunger and thirst for its realization in this sad world.

A case in point is the principle: “To all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away” (Luke 19:26). In the spirit of Christ, “God fills the hungry with good things and the rich he sends empty away” (Luke 1:53). As a worldly principle, it is true enough, but it is not being championed by Christ as Gospel. It is against the mercy and compassion of Christ. We have to remember that because the devil also quotes scripture to his purpose, we have to discern the spirit in which the Bible is being cited. In addition, proof-texting, that is, using the scripture as if it were merely a series of independent verses without regard to context, its Sitz im Leben in the text as a whole as well as in its historical situation, usually violates the spirit in which the words were intended.

Biblical criticism in its higher and lower forms is also important for an accurate reading and use of the scripture – as much as believers have often rejected it, of course, if such a critical reading is done in the Holy Spirit and not used to reject the scripture’s witness to Christ. Lower criticism establishes the best readings of the text from the most trustworthy ancient manuscripts, while higher criticism in its many forms, can also help discern the spirit in which a text is read. If Christ himself was crucified and arose from the dead, then through all the forms of criticism, the Word of God will also once again arise from the crucified scriptures, full of grace and truth.

One time I remember with trepidation how I felt I had to preach against a text in Revelations, because I thought it taught the revenge of the martyrs. It was in the passage about the blood from the wine-press of the wrath of God that reached as high as a horse’s bridle. (See Revelations 14:20. The passage may well have another interpretation.) But Jesus said, “Father, forgive them they know not what they do!” He did not say, “God will get even with you for what you have done to me!” The higher criticism makes it possible for a believer to stand with the Holy Spirit against a text being used for evil purposes.

Just a word now about what seems like ancient plagiarism to us. “There are a number of books in the New Testament that claim to be written by people who did not write them.”[2] The ancients did not take the words of others and claim them as their own, but took their own words and wrote them under the name of an authority, some teacher or leader, much like Plato putting his words into the mouth of his teacher, Socrates. Perhaps thorough-going individuation had not yet taken place or perhaps people gathered together in a collective identity or it is possible that a school wrote under the name of its teacher. Thus our abhorrence for plagiarism can be anachronistic in some cases, while in others, like the Donation of Constantine and Pseudo-Dionysius, such plagiarism was as problematic for later history as today it is for us.

To reiterate, a theological approach to scriptures, reading them in the mind of Christ and under the influence of the Holy Spirit is important for believers. The theological approach of Luther also distinguishes between the law and the gospel, God’s commands and promises. (Scriptures speak to us in the structure of promise and fulfillment.) The many laws recorded in scripture are by and large, relevant to a particular time and place, one that varies immensely through the millennium in which the 66 books were written. But the Gospel, the promises of God and Christ, as the living Word of God with the Beloved Community he proclaimed, will always remain and that is what we believe in and can trust in forever and ever.

Considering the historical errors of the Bible, it must be said that the Bible is as little a text book in history as it is one for science. The Bible was not intended to be a history book and cannot meet Ranke’s historical standard of history as it actually happened. But don’t allow that to bury the pearl of great price that the Bible contains. According to Helmut Gollwitzer, the very unique character of the faith in scriptures is that, from the very beginning, it is derived from historical events.[3] Never is the faith, he continues, outside of the people’s history, or merely related to an unknown, end-time “God,” to whose providence one has to surrender, and such similar requirements, but here is an invitation to trust in a concrete, living God, who made himself known through concrete historical realities; a personal and compassionate power, able to be heard and called upon as the God of Israel (of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).[4] Thus [the Bible is a book of theology] because it features a [growing] faith that is grounded in these historical realities and challenges us to respond with faith as well in accordance with the historical covenant God made in it.[5]

[The scripture is about the living God active in history and the one who also encounters us in our personal lives, as already described by Bonhoeffer.]

Gollwitzer continues: in the scripture, historical realities are always words and actions related together. Not only the prophets, but all the people understood that their God’s hand was in the historical events that rescued or thwarted them. So the scripture understands the historical event as the deeds of a doer, namely God, who does them, and addresses his people through them. History for the scriptures is not an impersonal causal chain, but the actions of the One who [God, who saves, because of his sense of justice and compassion.][6] Thus whether the Exodus was small and insignificant in the eyes of the world or whether King David had a grand kingdom or was merely a local chieftain does not make a difference to the significance of the faith that understood God really at work saving his people, as a God reigning through history.[7]

When Jesus the Christ is born in the reign of Augustus Caesar and becomes crucified under Pontius Pilate, “God’s Word and deed, become concentrated in this one historical and living Person,”[8] the Christ, who is the Word of God become a human being, who in the last days will lead all the nations through a universal Passover and Exodus into the Freedom of the children of God and the rebirth of mother earth. Amen.


[1] “Catholic Bishops Pick New Yorker as Their Leader,” The New York Times, Wed., November 17, 2010, page A16.

[2] Jason Zarri, “Where I stand on Christianity,”  (November 13, 2010) from his website, Reflections on Religion, http://reflectionsonreligion.blogspot.com/ I wrote this whole essay in response to his article.

[3] I am following the words of Helmut Gollwitzer closely in  Denken und Glauben: ein Streitgespräch, (Thinking and Faith: a Disputation between a Philosopher and Theologian). Helmut Gollwitzer and Wlhelm Weischedel, Denken und Glauben, (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer Verlag, 1965), page 113.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid. I bracket my additions to Gollwitzer’s words.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Look at how the British viewed the attack of the Spanish Armada in 1588. It was God that saved them, when the huge Spanish warships were destroyed by the storm. It is a story similar to that of the Exodus. Without divine intervention, the people would have been lost, that is, in accordance to faith.

[8] Ibid.

Written by peterkrey

November 18, 2010 at 6:17 pm

This Year’s Atheism Campaign for Christmas

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I just read the New York Times article “Atheists Promote  Holiday Message: Join Us,” page A 20, Nov. 10, 2010. I appreciate their stand because it is better to be hot or cold than an atheist or agnostic just disguised as a believer. There is also the problem that many believers are atheists in practice. That having been said, the blood-thirsty portions of the Scriptures that they want to publish, has to make believers understand that we reject bibliolatry, that is, the Bible is not an idol for us. Martin Luther of old said, “The Bible is the cradle in which the Christ child was lain; don’t mix up the cradle with the Christ child.” We believe, we trust in the concrete, living Christ, historical but also present with us, because of the resurrection. His image, which is that of the living God, is the only one before us, because we too are made in the image of God.

I tend to agree with Robert Alter, who just spoke on NPR’s Forum with Michael Krasny: there are many gods in the Bible. It is in Isaiah and Deuteronomy that God becomes one as defined by monotheism and no longer henotheism (one God out of many). Sometimes a god can be a monster in the sky, a god of wrath and judgment. Of course, murderous people will run into that kind of a god, because they are on a collision course with the goodness structured into the creation. When we break the law we are broken by it. That is to face reality.

But those who have come to know the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, know that the heart of God is full of forgiveness, love, and compassion. And the Kingdom that Christ proclaimed cannot be usurped by politicians who want to identify America with it. No, America like all the nations of the world is under the Kingdom of Christ and all nations will one day have to give an account for the way they have turned this world into a hell without God. Look at all the bloodshed of our wars. The death toll continues to mount, soldiers come home to a maimed and brain-damaged future, and all the assets that could lift up the poor out of poverty and make this world safe for children and all living things, are used for mutual mass destruction. Jesus Christ proclaims peace on earth as the Prince of Peace.

“This season celebrate reason” is one of the slogans that the atheists will advertise. I don’t think that the reason championed by atheists can match this vision and promise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, although the governments of this world would do well to become more law-abiding and rational. Meanwhile the Gospel of Jesus Christ lays a cross on our shoulders as the way to the promised peace. How can atheist’s call their message a gospel? The good news remains the coming of God to be with us in the flesh, whose nativity we will celebrate once again this Christmas.

Written by peterkrey

November 10, 2010 at 6:11 pm