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A New Pastor is the Way to Go: Encouragement for a Church in an Interim

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Devotions for Our Redeemers Lutheran Church Council April 11, 2013

A New Pastor is the Way to Go

The text I chose for tonight comes from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans 10:1-17. It is quite difficult and I will try to open it up for you. My brother Philip and I are writing a commentary on Romans so I have been working with this text a great deal. I chose it mostly because it shows how necessary a pastor who proclaims the Word of God, the Gospel is and the way you are about to choose your pastor for this congregation:

10 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.”[a] But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”[b] (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’”[c] (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”[d] that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[e] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[f]

14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”[g]

16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”[h] 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.    New International Version (NIV)

Like those who rejected Jesus, we dare not be self-righteous or try to be righteous by thinking that the law is the way of salvation. Christ is the objective, the end for which the law existed, the New Human Being. Now the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount describe those who have received Christ and know that Jesus Christ is the way to salvation and through our faith in him, we also can fulfill the law, but in terms of the Gospel. Thus it is “no longer an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” but if someone sins against you seven times or seventy times seven times, we forgive and overcome evil with good. The extravagant love that Christ taught us fulfills the law and what’s more, like a cup overflowing.

The emphasis on the righteousness of the law is upon us and our effort, while the righteousness of faith places the emphasis on God in Christ, the one who made the promise and can keep it, and whom we believe and trust until it comes true. We have to find a way through the wilderness of this world where there is no way. If we go by our efforts and our human strength and wisdom we will fail. But if we rely on the Maker of Heaven and Earth, God the Father of our Lord and Savior, then the right Hand of God will accomplish what is completely impossible for us.

The Word of God that is near us and in our hearts is: “Christ died and is risen.” In my website, I tried to say it with flowers. Nora received a wonderful bouquet of roses that I photographed with my smart phone again and again until they wilted and we had to throw them in the trash bin. In the reversal of the resurrection, my first photo was of them in the trash bin and then all the way to their first day as lovely roses in full splendor. “The roses a-rose!” You say, “No way!” and really for us there is no way. But when the Right Hand of God acts, then like for the children of Israel facing the Red Sea and Jesus on the cross, God makes a way where there is no way. That goes for this congregation and its growing and experiencing a renewal again, as well as whatever you are facing with impossible issues in your life. “It would take a miracle!” you say. Yes, indeed, it would and God performs them every day.

So we don’t have to go all the way up into heaven, nor descend down into the abyss of Hell. Christ already has and Christ crucified and resurrected is in our hearts and we exist in him and we believe that he is risen from the dead and that we too will rise in him. Our Redeemer’s is the wonderful place where we call upon the name of the Lord so that we are saved.

This church is incredibly precious and a resource above all resources, a divine capital that puts money as capital to shame. The fountain of life is dispensed freely for those who believe and receive the promises of God. The issue here is Jew versus Gentile. For us it is European descent versus Latino, Asian, African Descent Americans, etc. – all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved and through Christ we have become brothers and sisters. No one of us deserve anything, we all receive this gift by grace.

But how can people call on this life-saver, if they have not believed in him and how can they believe if they have not heard the wonderful news? That is where your new pastor comes in, but also yourselves, who have this word in your heart and tell others this wonderful news with your lips. You are choosing one to publicly proclaim the Word, who is Jesus Christ in this place! How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news! I was washing feet on Maundy Thursday and I can tell you many of us do not have beautiful feet. You would hate to see mine! Luther thought words had to have feet or how could they travel from ear to ear and get there all at once and at the same time? From that I thought, poetry is measured by feet so how beautiful the poetry of those who proclaim the resurrection of Christ! Karl Barth leaves out the word “beautiful” and says how timely Christ comes to rescue us. Christ comes right in time! But through all the trials and all the rejection and all the troubles of this world, the beautiful feet of Christ find God’s way to us, right to our hearts, and we will not die, but live and continue as a Church, like a city on a hill, proclaiming that Christ died on the cross, but Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Pastor Peter Krey

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