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Archive for January 2011

“The Land Beyond the Jordan, the Galilee of Nations,” corrected and with an added Footnote

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I noticed thankfully that I had twelve readers yesterday and proof-reading my sermon I found some typos that I corrected. I had also related an incident orally from my Coney Island ministry that I had not included in the written sermon. I often leave the manuscript while preaching. I have now included it as a footnote, because it is very important consideration in the relationship of systems and individuals.

Written by peterkrey

January 25, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Posted in 1, Selected Sermons

“The Land Beyond the Jordan, the Galilee of the Nations,” January 23, 2011, United Lutheran Church in Oakland, California

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United Lutheran Church in Oakland, California

Isaiah 9:1-4 Psalm 27:1, 4-9  1 Corinthians 1:10-18 Mathew 4:12-23

Prayer of the Day:

Lord God, your loving kindness always goes before us and follows after us. Summon us into your light and direct us into the ways of goodness that come through the cross of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

The Land Beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Nations

The message this morning about being called by Jesus, about being summoned into the light, makes me think of my confirmation verse. Do you ever think of yours? Mine comes from 1 Peter, chapter 2, verse 9:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. God’s own people in order that you proclaim the mighty acts of the One who called you out of darkness into God’s marvelous light.

I guess my father, who was the pastor that confirmed me, gave me that verse because he singled me out to become a pastor at the age of three. Although I have been a rebellious soul, I’ve always tried to nurture and guard my faith. Faith has always engulfed me and I have always wanted to live in it and by it. For example, I wouldn’t read the philosopher Nietzsche until recently, because I knew he could have robbed me of my faith and I did not want that. Now I am strong enough to deal with his negative and atheistic thoughts and overcome them. I also always stay on guard with my knowledge because of my Ph.D. and remember to remain humble. As high as the heavens are above the earth, God’s knowledge surpasses mine – and all our human knowledge. Scientists feel that they have come a long way and they have; but let’s always remember, God was the One who knew the science that put this universe together.

That is what my confirmation verse means to me. How about you? Do you remember your verse and has it had meaning in your life as you follow Jesus?

[conversation]

One thing that we realize is that Jesus, the Word of Heaven came down to be with us. God chose ordinary people like you and me to follow him and walk in Gospel light and we need to have signs on our doors that say: “Gone fishing!” (Do you remember the old song by Satchmo Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby?) because we need to go fishing for more ordinary people so that they too get a taste of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth, and we continue being the place where God’s will is done here, even as it is in heaven.

Reynolds Price the great southern author and novelist just died. Like other authors he dedicated his life to writing about the weight and worth of ordinary people.[1] Sometimes we forget that the gospel has always been about ordinary people. Jesus called simple fishermen, whose profession was looked down on in those days; just like the angels first revealed the Holy Gospel to shepherds who have been compared to used car salesmen of today.

Reynolds relates how he got cancer with a nine inch tumor that ran down from his neck through his spinal cord. The doctors’ operation failed to take it out and he became a paraplegic after receiving radiation treatment. Just before getting this treatment, as he sat in bed awaiting help from a friend, he had a vision in which he was with Jesus at the Sea of Galilee with a great crowd of other people. Jesus took him into the waves and took handfuls of water and poured them on his back where he had the fresh scar from his operation and the tattoo marks for guiding his radiation treatment to come. In his vision, after bathing his back, Jesus said to him, “Your sins are forgiven.” Reynolds was disappointed and asked, “Am I healed too?” Jesus turned and walked away, as if somewhat annoyed and answered, “That too.” The doctors had given Reynolds 18 months to live and the fact is that he lived another 22 years more.

Right after writing this sermon about the Sea of Galilee and the Galilee of the Nations, I heard Reynolds being interviewed on the radio in my car and it brought tears to my eyes. Forgive me for jumping from one lesson and theme to another emotionally.

Ah, the Sea of Galilee is the Sea of life, because it’s where Jesus started his ministry. It is also on the other end of the River Jordan from the Dead Sea and its waters are for healing and life. In this world in all our frailty, we have plenty to fear, as Reynolds shows, but like Psalm 27 says: “God, you are my light and my salvation: whom shall we fear? You are the stronghold of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?” We have nothing to fear, because God is with us. Although Reynolds still remained a paraplegic, a deluge of memories poured into his mind and he wrote one wonderful book after another.

Back to our text: Jesus’ message in a nutshell was: “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Matthew does not say Kingdom of “God,” because it is the Gospel written for the Jews and they avoid uttering the word, “God.”  In our pastors’ bible study we were wondering what would be a better way to refer to the Kingdom of Heaven, when we live in a democracy and the word “kingdom” sounds quaint and passé to us. It lacks the very real confrontation of our nation that it represented for the people in Herod’s kingdom of Jesus’ day. Someone suggested “God’s empire” and our consensus was a “no.” An empire is, however, a collection of kingdoms and an emperor is the king of kings. We often fail to recognize that the Christ as the messiah stands opposed to an emperor, to a Caesar or Kaiser in German or a “Shah,” which also means “emperor” or “king of kings” in Persian.

In the prophets, the cedar of Lebanon stood for an empire, symbolized an empire. An empire was compared to a tree, whose branches reached up into heaven; and the nations, symbolized by the birds of the air, made their nests in its branches. Jesus, however, championed the kingdom of heaven as a humble mustard bush, coming from the tiniest of seeds that then begins growing so strong that the birds of the air could nest in its branches.

So rather than the word “empire” we suggested the “friendship of nations” or the “beloved community,” to use the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. or perhaps the “beloved community of nations.”  But the term Isaiah used is the “Galilee of Nations” and it could do quite well. It is so sweet and much more wonderful than other names, because we read how Jesus had to operate around the Sea of Galilee, when John had been arrested, because he knew that Jerusalem and Judea had become too dangerous for him.

Twenty-five or thirty years ago, church groups took regular trips to the Holy Land, as we called it, and our church, St Paul’s in Coney Island, participated as well. On one trip, when we were taken out on a small boat on the Sea of Galilee, a nun read the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor, the persecuted, those that hunger and thirst for righteousness and justice.” She read these beautiful passages while we were watching fishermen throwing their nets into the water, the same way they did for thousands of years and the way the disciples must also have done. At that moment a wonderful feeling of the presence of Jesus, that Man from Galilee came over us all on the boat. What a testament of the land! What a testament of the sea for the Man from Galilee! Just

Keep your hand in the hand of the man,
Who stilled the water
Put your hand in the hand of the man
Who calmed the sea
Take a look at yourself
And you can look at others differently
Put your hand in the hand of the man
From Galilee!

Do you know the song?

The prophet says that a great light will appear in the Galilee of the Nations. Galilee was not like Judea, filled overwhelmingly with one ethnic group. It had all kinds of ethnic groups living together. It was more like our country, where someone said in a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Last week we saw a white Catholic male Republican judge murdered on his way to greet a Democratic Jewish woman member of Congress, who was his friend. Her life was saved initially by a 20-year-old Mexican-American gay college student, and eventually by a Korean American combat surgeon, and this all was eulogized by our African American President.[2]

Jesus did not operate in a homogeneous ghetto of one kind of people, where routines tend to get into ruts and ruts get into drags on the human spirit.

Let’s celebrate this church [United Lutheran in Oakland, CA] because it is diverse like the Galilee of Nations and it is not a White ghetto, like so many of our churches. Many of our churches are also all Black here, because segregation is pretty much still alive in our churches and neighborhoods even today. A church will respond, “But there are no Black people living in our neighborhood.” The question is, why?

Often we put on blinders and become completely absorbed in ourselves and our own kind. “What do you think hurts other nations more, our ignorance or our apathy?” We usually answer, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”[3] But just think, the prophetic light did not come from Washington or Philly or San Francisco or Boston; it came to us from over there in the Middle East. It came to us not only from the other side of the big lake called the Atlantic, but also from the other side of the big sea called the Mediterranean; from a place populated by the tribes of Zebulon and Naphtali, from Capernaum on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. I am of course looking to the East. If we had to think our way to the West, we would have to cross the Pacific and all of Asia to get to that light.

The light of Christ has come across many nations and through thousands of years of time to get to us – and thank God it shines on us. From that distant place, Jesus’ words also strike our ears: “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven, or the Galilee of Nations [let me say] is at hand. It has come and is still furthermore becoming what God is promising for us, if we follow the One from Heaven to us sent.

Isn’t it something how Jesus goes to Zebulon and Naphtali fulfilling Isaiah’s prophesy? God’s promises become realities and these kinds of realities can come thick and fast, when we strengthen our belief, when we learn to trust God like children, when we gather people together in the nets of the Gospel and share the abundant life made possible by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

How wonderful that the United States and China have come together to strengthen a friendship and work out our international problems by means of negotiation. Let’s let our light shine on the Galilee of Nations, the gallery of nations, upon which Christ can shower new blessings.

In the prophets, the empires are pictured throwing their nets to capture the nations and the disciples also threw out their nets to capture the nations for Christ’s humble mustard bush. Not fish, of course, that are caught in nets. But now the birds of the air find their nests in its branches; [in order not mix metaphors]. So we also have to cast the gospel nets over our churches and all manner of our institutions to summon them out of the darkness into the marvelous light of Christ. We usually think only in terms of individuals, but we need to think about nations, communities, and institutions as well.

A panel discussion recently showed how broken our mental health system was.[4] Instead of being in hospitals mental patients are now in jails. I walked up to our corner a few days ago and there was a forty year old woman, sitting on the sidewalk, looking curiously at a sandwich someone had given her. She had a few bags of belongings and had four little stacks of paper beside her, each held down by a rock. She was talking to herself like the old man that I had just passed a minute before. Both were out of their minds and she was out in the street as well. There she was: another person who had fallen between the cracks of our society. I was shocked! Where is the safety net? Really, we should say, “What safety net?” Do you still see a safety net for the mentally victimized among us?[5] How do we become a people centered society with a system that is intact and helpful to the psychological casualties that our inhuman society produces? How do we summon our mental health institutions into the light, get the patients out of jail and into places where they can really get help?

Churches too, can’t merely claim the light, but have to be dragged with Gospel nets back into the light. Our churches need to hear the call. You and me have to hear it. We need to become fountainheads and well-springs of new thought, life, and love. I like to see miracles as the opposites of crimes. Turn the horrendous murder scene of Tuscan around. In how so far does the thought, life, and love of our church bring God’s miracles to light to overcome the carnage that happens far too often in our midst? Only some mass murders still make the news among us!

But we have access to God’s grace from on high. Jesus declares that it is at hand. We are called to believe and repent. That means because of a lack of faith our lives are heading in a wrong direction and we have to turn our hearts to God and follow Jesus in the right direction. In a stronger and stronger faith, we need to put one foot in front of the other, take one step at a time, in the direction from which we hear God’s call – until we walk on the Highway of Heaven, so we’re walking on the King’s Highway, following our Lord and Savior Jesus.

The fishermen that Jesus called represent us who have become believers and Jesus summons us to follow him. “It may not be necessary for [us] all to leave professions and possessions behind, but [we must all] leave [our old] world behind and enter the new world into which Jesus invites [us].”[6] Jesus is calling. So we have to take the step of faith out of this world and into the Kingdom of Heaven and allow ourselves to become LUI-HS! “Living under the influence of the Holy Spirit,” so that the world, we ourselves and our churches and the Galilee of Nations, enter the marvelous light of Christ and although we cannot as yet see the feature presentation, we can get to see the previews of the coming attractions of Heaven. Amen.

Children’s Sermon

I Will Make You Fishers Again

Jesus is calling!

I will make you fishers again

for women and men

and also children.

I will make you fishers again

for the Lord. Amen.

Peter, Jimmy, Philip, and John

all came along

a happy new throng.

Mary, Suzie, Maggie, and Joan

all came from home.

Let us all then obey his voice

so we can rejoice,

we are God’s choice.

Let us all just drop everything

and go follow him.

Jesus is calling!

This is a song that I changed in a children’s sermon from the original “I will Make You Fishers of Men” to make it less sexist and to put children’s names into its verses.

I talked about how hard it was to bring a fish in. I had a bamboo stick. All we needed was some string and a safety pin and we could catch some fish.

I had the children handle the bamboo stick and make believe it was a fishing rod, that they had caught a fish, and struggle as they made believe they were pulling it in.

Now we are the fish who are out there swimming around doing our own thing and suddenly God hooks us. We fight for our dear lives. Christ gives us some slack but like a skillful fisherman, draws us into the church to come to God so that we give up our lives for others. Bringing in little kids is like bringing in minnows and big fish are much harder to pull in. When God has us on the line it takes our whole lives for God to bring us in.

The Communion Blessing:

Christ draws us in on God’s line so that we die to ourselves and come alive to God and God’s love for others.


[1] See his obituary in the New York Times, January 21, 2011, page B16.  I’m using the words of another novelist, Janet Burroway, here.

[2] Mark Shields quoting a friend, Allen Ginsberg, a historian from Maine, on PBS News Hour. (January 14, 2011).

[3] This is an old remark once made about Americans and Latin America.

[4] “Minds on the Edge:  Exploring Public Policy Hurdles for Mental Illness,” PBS News Hour, January 18, 2011.

See  http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/health/jan-june11/mentalhealth_01-18.html

[5] I felt very guilty that night, because I had not done anything to help her, except to recognize her and say hello. All institutions and systems also need responsible and creative individual response, because there is no system given whereby we must be saved. When systems are very broken, however, creative responsibility by individuals is often insufficient and heroic responses are made. But they very often fail. I took a poor homeless man from a subway entrance into our church in Coney Island to help him. I washed him in the men’s room and realized that he had gangrene and other diseases. I realized that I was putting the members of my congregation at risk, because the facilities of a hospital with strong disinfectants were required. In his shit-impacted clothes he had sixty-two single dollar bills that those passing by had thrown to him. When we had cleaned him and given him new clothes, he left with his money to quickly buy the liquor to anesthetize himself for his final days. That’s what I mean by heroic responses.

[6] Brian Stoffregen ‘s Exegetical Notes at Cross Marks for Epiphany 3 http://www.crossmarks.com/brian/matt4x12.htm.   He is quoting  from Hare’s Matthew, Interpretation Commentary), page 30.

Written by peterkrey

January 24, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Posted in Selected Sermons

St Philip’s in Berlin Friedenau needs a new roof!

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Hear ye! Hear ye! The latest from Berlin. On Pentecost 2010 the roof of St. Philip’s almost caved in and it has been unsafe to go into the building since then. The congregation is worshiping in the mother church, St. Nathaniel, I believe, or in the social hall, which is behind the church. They have begun a fund-raising project for the roof and a series of benefit concerts.

See the article http://www.schoeneberg-evangelisch.de/thema/index13d.shtml

When I worked in Berlin, they called me a fraternal worker or an Ost-Bote, that means, a messenger to the East. Often the Church in West Berlin helped the churches in Eastern Germany, whose roofs needed repair and I would relay the messages. After Willy Brandt’s eastern policies took effect, Berliners could go over there themselves.

I am told that the churches in the West have now become poor. What can we do for St. Philip’s?

Written by peterkrey

January 19, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Posted in 1, Blogging my thoughts

The Rose and the Cross

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Excuse [me if this] may be obvious but I have litle knowledge of German – is Salvation by grace alone and through faith alone the same as Des Christen Hertz auf Rosen geht, wenn’s mitten unter’m Kreuze steht?

Thanks.

Responding to your question:

That German sentence,  “Des Christen Hertz auf Rosen geht, wenn’s mitten unter’m Kreuze steht” translated literally, means, “The heart of a Christian walks on roses, even when it stands directly under the cross,”   (more literally, “when it’s in the middle of the cross.”) So that could only indirectly refer to “salvation by grace through faith.” (I know that you have two “alones” in there.  I could explain why Luther following William of Ockham emphasizes “alone” should you wish for me to.) To your point, however, the statement, deriving from Luther, really means that even under intense suffering, a Christian can rejoice, as if enjoying roses, walking on rose petals, promised a rose garden, and other such metaphors indicating that one is replete with blessings. St. Paul’s saying to rejoice in our suffering is one of the best ways of coping with it and gaining “more than a victory.”

Indirectly, it can also be based on justification, because, the power from on high blessing us with the righteous of faith, also helps us “bear all things, believe all things, hope all things and endure all things” (1 Cor. 13: 7). I do not believe that Luther “came upon the idea of justification by faith.” I believe that Luther experienced a “word event,” meaning that the Word of God, who is Jesus Christ, encountered him and brought about a marvelous change, not only in him, but in the church, a change which we call the Reformation.

I don’t know exactly where Luther says the statement, whether in a song or table talk, or a commentary, but he does have a white rose with a cross in the middle of it in his Christian seal or coat of arms. The Rosicrucians usurp the statement and make it masonic rather than Christian. Not the powers of our mind, but God’s loving grace from on high is what Christianity features.

lovejoypeace,
peter krey

Written by peterkrey

January 13, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Incarnation and Creation, a Sermon Preached at Resurrection Lutheran Church, the Second Sunday after Christmas, January 2, 2011

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Second Sunday after Christmas

Jeremiah 31: 7-14  Ephesians 1:3-14  John 1:1-18

Incarnation and the Creation

In the Prayer for Today we prayed, “Almighty God, you have filled the earth with the light of your incarnate Word. By your grace empower us to reflect your light in all that we do, through Jesus Christ.”  God filled the world with the light of the incarnate Word, the Son of God. In our language the “son” as in the Son of God and “sun” as in the sun up in the sky, sound the same. The words are homonyms, but although they have different meanings, we can make a comparison between the one and the other. On earth the light of the rising sun makes the whole world come out of darkness and become visible to our eyes. In the same way, the Son of God has come to the earth in Jesus Christ and has made God’s whole creation come to light, come into being, for us who believe and receive the One whom God sent to us from heaven.

So Christ is the source of our light while we reflect it, like the moon reflects the light of the sun. We just experienced a total eclipse of the moon the other night. It took place on December 21st, on the winter solstice, which is the longest night of the year. [I watched it outside until about 1:00am. I had to crane my neck and I was afraid I would get a kink in it.] As the shadow of the earth swallowed up the moon, it was still visible as a reddish-brown colored ball. Mostly we see the sky as if it were two dimensional and we see the moon as if it were a shining disk. When the eclipse took place, the sky became three dimensional and began to look like space. The moon looked exactly like a planet floating in space and it was possible to imagine our own blue and white planet Earth just like the moon, floating in space and reflecting the light of the sun. [We experience daylight when the sun shines on our side of the earth and night when it shines on the other side. If we looked at our planet from the moon, our planet would have phases just like the moon as we see it from the Earth.]

Watching that eclipse take place, I thought, “What a wonder our creation is!” The moon is up there and it does not fall down out of the sky. We ourselves on Earth are floating in space as well as the moon. While falling in the pull of gravity toward the Earth (according to Sir Isaac Newton), the moon keeps circling around the earth and in the same way the Earth with our moon keeps circling around our sun.

And reading the Prologue of John, we can say, “What a wonder that the Creator God sent his Son, the Word to become flesh and dwell with us!” In Hebrew “flesh” means a human being. That means the Word of God became a human being and dwelt among us. In the same way, “carno” means flesh in Latin and “incarnation” means to take on flesh. Thus Incarnation means the Word of God became enfleshed, became embodied, became a human being in Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Gospel of John starts with the same words that start the whole Bible. Genesis starts, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Our Gospel starts, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Thus the Gospel of John is relating the creation with the incarnation. Don’t let these 25 cent words throw you. Christmas, the Nativity, the birth of Christ has to do with how God is creating the world. God’s sending the Word into the world is involved with the creation.

Often we simplify heavenly things. We say God the Father created the world; God the Son saves it, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies it. But all three persons of the Blessed Trinity are always involved in each other’s work. So the Son is also involved in the creation as well as the Holy Spirit: remember how it says that the Spirit hovered over the waters of chaos like a mother hen? We also often place the creation back into the past and we do not realize that God is continuously creating the world. We believe in the continuous creation, because God touches our time with eternity – transcending time, lifting up our time into eternity, where God continues creation.

Through the birth of Christ, that is through God’s incarnation, God has done a new thing in the continuous creation of this world, because we ourselves receive a new birth in Christ, when we believe in the One whom heaven sent to us and faithfully receive the One whom the faithless world disowned and rejected, even though it was created by the Word of God. The world did not know and recognize its own Creator.

As the gospel says, “All things came into being by the Word, [meaning the Son of God,] and without him not one thing came into being that exists.”

We mostly celebrate Christmas from an earthly point of view, while the Gospel of John takes a heavenly point of view. We usually think about the manger, the shepherds, Mary and Joseph, that there was no room in the inn, etc. This gospel, however, takes a heavenly point of view, the point of view of eternity (to use the words of Spinoza) and shows how the Son of God or the Word of God in the heavenly places of eternity is about continuous creation. When we believe in the One, that is, the Logos, the Word, who is God’s self revelation to us; and when we receive him, when we make our hearts his manger and his birth takes place in us, then our lives become changed by the incarnation. We ourselves become new creations. The Word becomes flesh in us and we experience the mark of God’s continuous incarnation. As Luther says in his Galatians commentary, we become beautiful new incarnations of Christ.[1]

[When I was translating Luther’s “Freedom of the Christian,” in the places where Luther writes that we become Christs to our neighbor, I wrote, “we are to become ‘little Christs.’” Prof. Timothy Wengert corrected my translation. “No, Luther said we become Christs to our neighbor.”]

Thus Christmas, the nativity, the incarnation is about our new creation. God has adopted us as God’s children through the birth of Christ.

Mark the way the gospel speaks about Christ coming before John, the Baptist, even though he came after him and Jesus himself said, “Before Abraham was, I am.”

I would like to relate that to evolution. I’m sure many people shake their heads and turn away from faith because of the theory of evolution. But I submit, even though evolution is biologically true and real, that we have been lifted up into eternity and the story of evolution is not really our story any longer. Our story is one of God’s continuous creation. We don’t think about the Cromagnons, the Neanderthals, and Homo sapiens. Before that we have been taken up into God’s continuous creation and we have become beautiful new incarnations of Christ. Thus evolution is no longer our story, because our story precedes it, like Christ preceded John, even though he came after him.

What does it matter that they just found teeth that belong to Homo sapiens in an archeological dig in central Israel? They could be 400,000 years old, while they thought Homo sapiens went back only half of that time.[2] Those durations of time, however, cannot compare with eternity.

And the incarnations, which continue because you believe in God’s name and receive Jesus Christ into your hearts, are our story, which begins with the Garden of Eden and ends with the holy city of the New Jerusalem, coming out of eternity. Thus the story of evolution and the many scientific scenarios of how this world could end [I’ve been watching the History channel], are not our stories. Although evolution took place from an earthly perspective, our incarnations coming out of eternity, came before it.

We are part of the continuous incarnation by our new births in Christ. It is not only we ourselves, who believe in Christ and who receive Christ that have this new birth, but our whole world will have a new birth in Christ. [See Romans, chapter 8:22: we know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now.”][3]

In our adoption as the children of God, we become God’s wonderful people finding and taking our heavenly places (Ephesians). We used to sing a song in Coney Island:

Don’t you love the thrill that you feel

When we get together with

God’s wonderful people

Don’t you love the thrill that you feel

When we get together with

God’s wonderful people

What a sight just to see all those shining faces

Praising God in heavenly places

Don’t you love the thrill that you feel

When you get together with

God’s wonderful people.[4]

[When you experience rejection or you get put down, then think about your being a beautiful new incarnation of Christ. Talk about lifting up your self-esteem!]

Now people will look at realities, earthly realities, for sure, and say, “No, we are just a dominant species of animals, who are what we are by adaptation and the survival of the fittest.” But we will say, “No, we are God’s wonderful children.” Because eternity is touching our time and touching us, now the Garden of Eden and the New Jerusalem have become our story.

The world may say, “You are so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good.” But we say, “You are so earthly minded that you are no heavenly good.” And the heavens are still above the earth the last time I looked.

So the heavens have touched us, because God so loved the world that God sent his only Son to die for us, to be born for us, to be a human being for us, to transform us into God’s new creation. The Word of God proclaims the good news, the in-breaking news, the breaking story of our becoming a new species, who awake in the likeness of Christ.[5] The old Adam and Eve have died and we are now brothers and sisters of Christ.

Now our faith and our receiving the One whom God sent accomplish this miracle, in which we become beautiful new incarnations of Christ. None of us from an earthly point of view, conceived ourselves, nor did we labor and bring ourselves to term. No, our mothers did that for us and our fathers had to conceive us, otherwise none of us would have been born. A self made man is impossible. There can be no such person.

In the same way, by our faith and by our receiving the One this world has disowned, the beautiful new incarnation, a new birth in Christ happens to us. It is by God’s grace alone that we receive the new birth in Christ and become children of God in the Beloved Community around the table of the Lord.

So let us live in the light. Let us reflect the light of the love of God. Let us rejoice in the Good News and become part of the breaking new story that is all about not condemning the world, but saving it and entering the abundant life that God’s Word came to us to bring. Amen.


[1] “The Law pertains to doing. But faith is not of this sort; it is something completely different – something that is required before the Law is kept, so that when faith is preexistent, a beautiful incarnation can take place.” Luther’s Galatians Commentary of 1535, LW 26, page 272. WA XL: 425-427.

My own notes here: faith needs to be unobscured by the formation of love – not replete with works, that is, it needs to be free from works, etc. Faith needs to be all alone, so that the new human being can incarnate in the believer. Faith is not idle. By faith Christ brings about his marvelous exchange with us. Our transformation is the fruit of the first commandment.

[2] Archeologist now wonder if Homo sapiens did or did not come out of Africa. Like all science, more evidence, like a skull, is needed to be sure that the teeth belong to our anthropological species, Homo sapiens. “Israel: Old Teeth Could Change Ideas about Evolution,” San Francisco Chronicle, December 29, 2010, page A2.

[3] For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God…the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning with labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8: 19-23).

[4] I doctored the words somewhat to make them more acceptable for Lutherans. See http://www.bensonsound.com/lyrics/0487.htm

[5] See 1 John 3:1-2 and Psalm 17:15.

Written by peterkrey

January 2, 2011 at 11:53 pm