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A Memorial for a Biker and Rogie Ray’s Biker Song

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Memorial Service for a Biker in 2016

with a Biker’s Song

Text Mark 12:18-27

Believing in another life after we die is very difficult for some people, but not so much for others. One old pastor told me, “It will just be turning a page in a book and coming to a new chapter.”

In the Bible times when Jesus ministered, there were two parties, the Sadducees and the Pharisees. They were somewhat like our Republicans and Democrats, but they held different religious beliefs, our parties are political.

The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection and life after death, while the Pharisees did. As children in Sunday School, we learned: the Pharisees believed in the resurrection, but the Sadducees did not – that’s why they were so sad-you-see.

Really it all depends on our belief in God. If we believe that God created us, called us into existence, then God can call us into existence again. We say, “Dust to dust and ashes to ashes,” but God made us from the dust; we are made out of stardust, and he was as well – and like the objection of the Sadducees in our text, he didn’t have seven wives. And to whom we are married in that life is no trouble at all, because marriage is no more. After we die we become like the angels of heaven, Jesus says.

Now Jesus is special and when he says there is an afterlife, then he should know, because he came down to us from heaven. He left the house of heaven with its many mansions to be with us. (Here “house” stands for the whole kingdom.) In our text he says, when God spoke with Moses from the burning bush, God said, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And he is not a God of the dead, but of the living.” Today we would say, “The God of Abraham and Sarah, the God of Isaac and Rebekah, and the God of Jacob and Leah and Rachel.” And Jesus says that they are alive in God.

So make God your God, so that Jesus can talk about the God of Joe and Liz, the God of Jane and Bob, the God of Barbara, Shawn, the God of Billy, because it is not only a matter of life after death, but also a wonderful life lived in the light of God right now, from this day on.

We thank God that he was baptized into Jesus Christ in God’s name! So he also lived his life in the promises of God. That is why he could be such a loving father and why he is loved by so many friends.

Don’t let the strange stories in the Bible put you off. They can be hard to understand. Like Jesus walking on water? We can ask, “What is that all about?” Well, water stands for chaos and if you have seen the damage a flood makes, you’ll understand how water, the sea, the ocean stands for chaos.

But Jesus walked on that chaos and brought peace and comfort. Jesus overcomes the chaos in our lives.

Whenever I tried to overcome my sins myself, I’ve never been able to. But Jesus can do it. Jesus can overcome our addictions, our failures, the trouble we bring on ourselves or get into. Everybody has got to be trouble for somebody. When we are trouble for Jesus, we don’t have to despair, because Jesus knows how to get us out of trouble.

When I was at the end of my rope and I cried to God, “Where are all the promises you made to me? I don’t see any of them coming true.” And I listed all my failures. Nothing in my life was coming out right. I remembered what a counselor said to me, “The resurrection is our business.”

Well, I got up out of bed and it was not by my own strength, because I realized that when I had come to my end, I could live out of the strength of God. So when life has pushed us as far as we can go and we can’t take another step, then because all of our strength is gone, we have to live out of God’s strength, who is the strength of our strength.

Sometimes we have to cry out to God, “Where are all the promises you made to me?” crying out in prayer from the anguish of our hearts, to hold God to them. That way God keeps them to us. And God keeps his promises even though we are sinners. For God must have loved sinners; he made so many of us.

But when we start praying to God, trusting God, and realizing that God loves us, is rooting for us and searching for us, if we are lost, then you just watch how things change for you and how wonderful things start happening for you.

So among all you Harley Davidson bikers, it’s wonderful that we celebrate his life. And we trust that he is now alive in God and that we will all meet again someday. Thus let’s grieve, but not like people who have no hope.

“On Christ the solid rock I stand!” “Put you hand in the hand of the Man who stilled the water! Put you hand in the hand of the Man from Galilee.” And Jesus will lift you up and you will be so glad that he lifted you and me! God is unimaginably greater than we are and the way God made us out of dust, God can take his dust and ashes and raise him up again on the other side of the Jordan – on that beautiful shore. Amen.

This is a Biker song that I first heard sung by the Sun Mountain Fiddler, Dick Solberg and it was written by Rogie Ray. These words are the censured version in the way I changed them, figuring this must be the way the censored version would go:

“Ride Hard for the Sun” by Rogie Ray of Nashville

My Daddy was a jockey-shifting biker

My Momma was the leader of the train.

I grew up with my right hand on the throttle

And my left hand full of pipe-dreams JID.[1]

But I never in my life went looking for trouble,

but trouble had a way of finding me.


But when I ride, I ride hard for the sun. (Yea!)

And when I die, I’ll die hard by the law of the gun.

And you know

It makes no difference to me,

no difference to me.

Bury me with my brothers, (Yea!) bury me with my colors

in this old Harley D. (Repeat)

So I pierced my ears and tattooed my arms

And wrote, “Back off” up under my lip.

Now you might think that’s crazy and you might think I’m hip.

But if you think it’s tough that’s your tough luck;

If you don’t, get out of the way,

Because the school I went to

Didn’t teach us how to play.

I really have nothing to lose,

but the scars, my dues, and the rules

I choose to die by or just live one more day. Refrain.


[1] I have no idea what “JID” means or if I misheard the words. Can someone help? I heard this song from Dick Solberg, the Sun Mountain Fiddler Bootleg Tape, “No Holds Barred.”   peterkrey


Written by peterkrey

February 24, 2016 at 1:27 pm

Tiny Seeds: a Service Commemorating the Martyr Óscar Romero, died March 24th, 1980

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Reflection for our Óscar Romero Service June 14th 2015

Ezekiel 17:22-24 Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15/ 2 Cor. 5:6-17 Mark 4:26-34

Tiny Seeds

There is a song that goes something like this: we don’t have to worry about the rain because we’ve planted seeds in the ground.

Martyrs have from of old have been called the seeds of the church. And their suffering can make our tears fall like rain, but we can have confidence in God, because those seeds will grow (we don’t know how) and bring a harvest of new Christians. So we commemorate Óscar Romero and think of all the Christians now being martyred in the Middle East and though our tears fall like rain, they will become the seeds for the new growth of our church. So we can no longer be comfortable Christians. We have to get out of our comfort zones.

Jesus said that when a seed is placed into the ground and dies, it bears much fruit. We can’t see the plants grow looking at them. Only patience makes that possible, because growth can be seen only over time. But think of how much fruit a seed can bear. Take one kernel of corn: planted in the ground a sprout grows, then a stalk that can grow 12 feet tall, then on each stalk from six to eight ears of corn that can have hundreds of kernels of corn on each ear. Have you ever tried to count them? So in the sacrifice of one kernel as a seed thousands of kernels miraculously come into existence. (A seed is a sacrifice because we do not eat it.) That growth and that well-spring of new life comes from God. We are not the originators of that whole life cycle and its reproductive multiplier effect. But we can do our part in the gardening which in this case is the ministry of growing and multiplying God’s people.

Often we apologize that we are so small. A nurse in Leigh’s hospital room said there were 2,000 members in her church. That made me think of our small church like the offering of the widow’s mite. But there is a difference between how we are seen by the world and how we are seen by God. We might appear like the widow’s mite to the world but in God’s sight we are mighty. (We could speak about the mighty widow’s mite.) “See this widow,” Jesus said. “She put in more than anybody else, because she put in all she had.” Do you see what we have to shoot for? Not ten percent, but 100 percent. We are invited to orient our whole lives around God’s purposes for our lives.

In our lesson, Jesus does not say that bigger is better, but he features the very smallest of seeds and that mustard seed grows into the greatest of shrubs and the birds of the air come and find refuge in its branches. Now it’s the humility and modesty of a congregation that Jesus underscores here. Jesus does not describe the beloved community as a mighty Cedar of Lebanon or a great oak tree, by which the mighty empires were once compared, where the nations like birds found refuge in their branches.

No, our church is a humble mustard bush, where new members can find refuge and rest and sing merrily in our branches. I knew a fellow who felt very guilty about having had two wives who both had died. He felt very guilty and married a third wife, who was an alcoholic, perhaps as a way to punish himself, because she was very abusive. In the middle of one night he went out of the house contemplating suicide. He was standing under a tree when the morning broke with dawn’s new light. Suddenly the whole tree burst into bird-song with the birds singing away, because it was filled with birds awakening and greeting the sun. The singing birds flooded his emotions with new hope and saved his life.

Isn’t our church like a tree filled with song-birds, bursting into song, because of the breaking light of Christ, the light of the love that is among us, the light of the knowledge of God and of our self-knowledge among us, the light of the developing Christ-consciousness among us. That S-O-N light (Son-light) is greater than the S-U-N light (sunlight), because without the light of our consciousness we could not even see the sun. What good would physical light be if we did not have spiritual light to see it with?

So let’s not apologize for being little. God’s eye is on the sparrow, and Jesus said, even the hairs on our heads, which seem so insignificant to us, God has numbered. Now we know what Jesus meant. Each cell, even in one of our hairs contains our whole genetic code! Can you imagine!?

But we have to be humble as the dust and be a modest bush, knowing that we are called under the cross to become seeds like Óscar Romero. We are called to be buried in the ground and die to ourselves so we come alive for God and our neighbors, bearing much fruit for the glory of God and the people of God so that countries and all their people find refuge in the gentle and friendly branches of God’s church. Our faith becomes active in love and love seeks justice, not the revenge kind, but the forgiving and long-suffering kind of justice. Amen.

Wie Wird Dann die Stube Glänzen, Weihnachtspredigt von 2013

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Advents- und Weihnachtsgottesdienst, 1. Dezember, 2013 United Lutheran Church, Manteca, CA

Deutsche Adventsfeier, 15. Dezember, 2013 Resurrection Lutheran Church, Oakland, CA

Lukas 2:9 und die Klarheit des Herrn leuchtete um sie.

Wie Wird Dann die Stube Glänzen

Warum weiss ich nicht, aber als ich fűr diese Advents-Weihnachts Feier meine Predigt schreiben wollte, kamen mir wieder die Worte in den Sinn, „Wie wird dann die Stube glänzen.“ Ich hab zwar schon einmal davon gepredigt, aber es hat nichts geholfen. Wieder wollte ich diese Worte betrachten.

Die Worte kommen doch von einem wohl bekanntes Weihnachtslied:

1.Morgen, Kinder, wird’s was geben,

Morgen werden wir uns freu’n.

Welch ein Jubel, welch ein Leben

Wird in unserem Hause sein!

Einmal werden wir noch wach,

Heissa, dann ist Weihnachtstag!

2.Wie wird dann die Stube glänzen

Von dem grossen Lichterzahl.

Schőner als bei frohen Tänzen,

Ein geputzter Kronensaal.

Wisst ihr noch vom vor’gem Jahr

Wie’s am Heiligabend war.

Am Heiligabend war unsere Wohnstube fast verklärt. Wir hatten schimmerndes Lammetta am Weihnachtsbaum, mit siebzehn echten Kerzen, eine fűr jedes Familien-Mitglied, fűnfzehn fűr die Kinder und zwei fűr unsere Eltern. Wir konnten wohl singen, „Am Weihnachtsbaum, die Lichter brennen.“ Und dann lagen eine Menge Geschenke im Weihnachtszimmer herum. Wir haben die Weihnachtsgeschichte gehőrt mit Bibellesung und Gebet und wir haben Weihnachtslieder gesungen. Wenn ich mich an das glänzende Weihnachtszimmer errinere, muss ich an Verklärung denken – es kam mir vor wie ein wunderbares, heiliges Licht. Ein geweihtes, heiliges Leben war da in unserem Hause fűr eine geweihte und geliebte Welt. Das Christkind ist gekommen und im Christkind war Gott selbst anwesend und der Raum und die Zeit waren verklärt. Diese Verklärung kann sich durch Gläubige daher in die ganze Welt verbreiten, damit plőtzlich alle Welt und alle Menschen in einem neuen Lichte gesehen werden kőnnen, wie sie eigentlich von Gott so wunderlich geschaffen worden sind.

In der Weihnachtsgeschichte, fűr die Hirten „trat der Engel des Herrn zu ihnen und die Klarheit des Herrn leuchtete um sie.“ Dabei sehen wir wieder, wie die Frohe Botschaft der Engel unsere Welt mit Himmlischen Licht verklärt.

So beten wir:

O Gott, du hast diese geweite Nacht im Glanz des wahren Lichtes scheinen lassen. Verleihe uns, dass wir dort im Himmel der Freude jenes Lichtes innewerden, dessen Geheimnisse du uns hier auf Erden offenbart hast. Durch unsern Herrn Jesus Christus der das wahrhaftige Licht [ist.][1]

Ich wűnsche so sehr, dass ich fähig wäre diesen Glanz fűr euch zu erläutern! Wir kőnnten auch beten: O Gott, du hast die Stube in dieser geweihten Nacht im Glanz des wahren Lichtes scheinen lassen. Dieser Glanz ist dann auch also eine leuchtende Freude innewerdend in uns.“ (Auch ein leuchtender Glaube, Gnade, Liebe, Trost und Wunder innewerdend in uns.) Der Glanz im Weihnachtszimmer kam, weil das Christkind, das Licht der Welt, mit dem himmlischen Glanz Gottes anwesend war.

Ach, nach diesem Glanz der Ewigkeit will ich jetzt etwas weiter forschen, und zwar durch die Weihnachtslieder im Evangelischen Gesangsbuch, denn ich habe fűr diese Predigt all diese Lieder durch gelesen.

In unsere dunkele Finsterniss ist das Licht der Welt gekommen.

Jochen Klepper singt,

Die Nacht ist vorgedrungen, der Tag ist nicht mehr fern/ So sei nun Lob gesungen den hellen Morgenstern! Auch wer zu Nacht geweinet, der stimme froh mit ein. Der Morgenstern bescheinet auch deine Angst und Pein.

Das Christkind treibt die Finsterniss unserer Schwermut weg mit dem Licht der leuchtenden Freude und neu geborenem Trost.

In Luthers Liedern kommt das Christkind zu uns, so zum Beispiel bei „Vom Himmel Hoch da komm ich her,“ kann man an ein kleines Kind denken, das die Krippe anschaut und sich dann auf die Zehenspitzen stellt und in die Krippe hinein guckt.

Da findet ihr das Kind gelegt,

das alle Welt erhält und trägt.

So auch in dem Luthergesang „Gelobst Seist Du, Jesu Christ:“

Der alle Weltkreis nie beschloss,

der liegt in Marien Schoss.

Er ist ein Kindlein worden klein,

der alle Welt erhält allein. Kyrieleis.[2]

In der Schőpfung spricht Gott: „Es werde Licht und es ward Licht!“ Auf Hebräisch: Yehi Or, wa Yehi Or! Weil das Christkind gekommen ist, sieht man kein Tohu wa Bohu, sondern Gottes wundervolle Schőpfung. Das Wort ward Fleisch und wohnte unter uns. „Fleisch“ in Hebräisch bedeutet „Mensch.“ Das Wort ward Mensch. Das Licht der Welt wurde Mensch und besinnt euch in welch einer lieblichen Art und Weise, als ein Kindlein, ein Baby in Marien Schoss. „Ach, mein herzliebes Jesulein,“ singt Luther.[3]

Und er singt weiter:

Das ewig Licht geht da herein, gibt der Welt ein’ neuen Schein/ es leucht’ wohl mitten in der Nacht/ und uns des Lichtes Kinder macht. Kyreileis.[4]

So im Glanz Gottes könnten wir wohl singen: „Wie wird dann die Stube glänzen!“ Und auch, im Licht unseres Glaubens, wie wird dann diese Welt durch das Christkind glänzen! „Denn uns ist ein Kind geboren, ein Sohn ist uns gegeben!“

Luther spricht őfters von einem Gnadenhimmel űber allen Gläubigen. In einem Weihnachtslied wird das Christkind „die Gnadensonne“ genannt. Dieser Glanz ist dann halt also auch die leuchtende Gnade Gottes űber uns. Im Christkind ist Gottes Gnadensonne zu uns kommen, denn er ist das Licht in dem wir das Licht sehen, wie es im Psalm 36 steht. „Bei dir ist die Quelle des Lebens und in deinem Licht sehen wir das Licht.“[5]

Wenn wir Raum in der Herberge unseres Herzens fűr das Baby Jesu haben, dann kőnnen wir mit Paul Gerhardt singen:

So lass mich doch dein Kriplein sein/ komm und lege bei mir ein/ und alle deine Freuden![6]

Welch ein Glanz also von leuchtender innewerdender Freude! Wenn wir seine Krippe sind, dann ist das Jesulein in uns geboren, und unsere Gnadensonne vertreibt unsere Sorgen, Sűnde, Angst und Pein, und in der Klarheit des Herrn, gibt uns unsere Gnadensonne Licht, Leben, Freud, und Wonne. Siehe welch Liebe Gott uns erweisst!

Das Christkind trägt uns unter dem Gnadenhimmel, wo wir auf-atmen, wenn wir die schőnen und warmen Strahlen unserer Gnadensonne innewerden. Und da kann unsere Schwermut und Trűbsal nicht Stand halten. In der tiefsten Nacht ist das Christkind unsere Sonnenschein,[7] denn in einem anderen Weihnachtslied heisst es: „und diese Welt- und  Himmels Licht weicht hundert tausend Sonnen nicht.“ Die ganze Strophe geht so:

Dies ist die Nacht, da mir erschienen des grossen Gottes Freundlichkeit/ das Kind, dem alle Engel dienen, bringt Licht in meine Dunkelheit, und diese Welt- und  Himmels Licht weicht hundert tausend Sonnen nicht.[8]

Dann wird Jesu die schőne Weihnachtssonne genannt:

Drum Jesu, schőne Weihnachtssonne, bestrahle mich mit deiner Gunst; dein Licht sei meine Weihnachtswonne und lehre mich die Weihnachtskunst, wie ich im Lichte wandeln soll und sei des Weihnachtsglanzes voll.[9]

Wie wird dann unsere Seele glänzen! Ja, wenn wir in seinem Lichte wandeln, wie werden dann unsere Augen glänzen! Wie werden dann die Kinder Gottes glänzen, wie wird dann diese ganze geweihte Welt glänzen? Ich konnte mich nur an den Glanz unseres Weihnachtzimmers errinern, aber jetzt merken wir schon, dass zuvor unserer Gnadensonne, unserer Weihnachtsonne, hundert tausend betrűbte Sonnen weichen műssen! Welch ein Morgenstern! Welch eine Sonne bringt uns Gott in diesem Kind fűr uns geboren, diesen Sohn uns gegeben! Und der heisst: Wunder-Rat, Gott-Held, Ewig-Vater, Friede-Fürst fűr uns gekommen!

Die Welt is voll von Trűbsal, Schwermut, Sorgen, Sűnden, Angst und Pein, aber in diesem Christkind will Gott bei uns sein. Der Engel des Herrn trat zu den Hirten, aber er tritt auch zu uns mit der frohen Botschaft der Geburt des Jesulein in der Krippe liegend und in Windeln gewickelt. Die Klarheit, die verklärende Klarheit des Herrn leuchtet auch űber uns, und unsere Gnadensonne, unsere Weihnachtssonne ist auch fűr uns Licht, Leben, Freud und Wonne. Auch zu unserer Weihnachtszeit im Licht des Glaubens scheint der Glanz der Ewigkeit űber uns. Unsere Gnadensonne ist geboren. In dieser heiligen Nacht ist er aufgegangen. Nun bricht an der Gnadentag und in dessen Strahlen werden wir alle glänzen. Amen.

[1] Evangelisches Kirchen-Gesangbuch: ausgegeben fűr die Evangelische Kirche Berlin-Brandenburg, (Verlag Merseburger Berlin GmbH, 1. Advent, 1951), Seite 27.

[2] Ibid., Seite 15.

[3] Ibid., Seite 16.

[4] Ibid., Seite 15.

[5] Ps 36:10.

[6] Evangelisches Kirchen Gesangbuch, Seite 28.

[7] Ibid., Paul Gerhardt, Seite 28, die dritte Strophe.

[8] Ibid. Seite 32.

[9] Ibid.

How our Living Room Glistened and Glowed on Christmas Eve, Advent and Christmas Service at Manteca 12/1/2013 and Oakland, CA 12/15/2013

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Advent- and Christmas Service, 1.and 15. December, 2013

at United Lutheran Church in Manteca, CA

and in Resurrection Lutheran Church, Oakland, CA

How our Living Room Glistened and Glowed on Christmas Eve


[Remembering how our living room glistened and glowed becoming transfigured on Christmas Eve still fills me with awe and wonder. The candles were all lit on the Christmas tree and the tinsel sparkled, glistened, and glowed and presents surrounded us all around in the room and under the tree. A verse in German Christmas song goes, “How our room will glisten and glow that night!” God was present as we celebrated the birth of the Christ-child and the way that room became transfigured, that Christmas glow can spread throughout the whole world. The people and the whole world can suddenly be seen in the wonder of that light. Like that Christmas room, the whole world can be seen in that wonder of the mystery of our being, the magic of our reality, in the goodness of God’s creation. That is the basic concept of this sermon and I go through all the Christmas songs and prayers in the German Hymnal to show how all the world lights up and becomes transfigured like our living room in the glistening grace and Christmas glow mentioned in those hymns.]

The Sermon: Even though I’ve preached about it before, I need to preach about how our living room became transfigured in such a special way on Christmas Eve. “O how our Christmas room will glisten!” is the line from a song.

   Children Waiting for Christmas

  (Morgen Kinder Wird’s was Geben)


1.Tomorrow, children, such elation!
Tomorrow is the day, oh girl, oh boy.
Jubilation, what a celebration!
Our house will be full of life and joy!
Just try to wait for goodness sake.

  And it’ll be Christmas Day when you awake.

2.  How our Christmas room will glisten,

Because of all the candle light aglow!
To the Yuletide story we’ll listen
About the birth of Jesus here below.
Do you remember anymore, Christmas Eve,
the way it was before?

On Christmas Eve our living room became transfigured. There was the shimmering tinsel on the Christmas tree, with seventeen candles, one for each family member: 15 for us children and two for my parents. We could really sing, “On the Christmas Tree, the Candles are burning.” Then there were the many presents surrounding us in the room as well as under the tree. We listened to the Christmas story, heard the scriptures read, said prayers, and sang Christmas carols. When I remember the glistening glow of the Christmas room, then I think about transfiguration; the room became changed in a wondrous, holy light. A sacred and holy life was there in our house for the sake of God’s sacred and beloved world. The Christ-child had come and in the baby, God was present and time and space was transfigured. This transfiguration can spread over the whole world through believers, so that suddenly the world and all the people in it can be seen in a new light, the way they and the whole world actually have been wonderfully created.

In the Christmas story, it says that “the angel of the Lord stood before the shepherds and the glory of the Lord shone all around them.”[2] With that we can again see how the Good News of the angels can transfigure this whole world with the light of Heaven, by making the glory of the Lord shine all round us. In our prayer it says,

O God, you have let this sacred night shine in the glow of the true Light. Permit us there in Heaven to take in the joys of that light, whose secrets you have revealed to us here on earth, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is the true Light of the World.[3]

I wish I were capable of explaining what this glistening light means for us. We could also pray, “O God, on this sacred night you have let this Christmas room shine in the glow of the true light.” So this glow is also a joy that shines through us and inside us. (It can also be a shining faith, grace, love, comfort, and wonder shining from within us.) The glory in which the Christmas room shone came about because the Christ-child, the Light of the World, was present with some of the heavenly light of God.

I want to explore this glow of eternity, this light of eternity, somewhat further, by picking up the allusions to it in the songs of the Evangelical German Hymnal.[4] I read all the Christmas songs for this purpose.

Into our darkness has come the Light of the World. Jochen Klepper sings:

The night is spent and the day is not far off. So let us now sing our praise to the bright morning star. Those who cried during the night, just sing along. The morning star will also shine on your pain and sorrow.[5]

The Christ child drives away the darkness of our sadness with joyful light and new born consolation. In Luther’s songs, the Christ child comes to us in a special way. In “From Heaven Above to Earth I come,” one can think of a small child on tip-toes before the manger and with a shining face, looking into it at the baby Jesus.

Now in a manger-bed, in swaddling clothes,

[lies] the child, who all the earth upholds.[6]

And the Luther song, “We Praise You, Jesus that You’ve Come”:

Asleep in Mary’s lap has lain

one the world cannot contain.

Our God a little child so small

who nonetheless sustains us all. O Lord, have mercy.[7]

In the creation God speaks, “Let there be light and there was light.” In Hebrew it goes, Yehi Or va Yehi Or. (My father used to say that when he switched on a light in a room.) Because of the coming of the Christ child, one does not see Tohu va Bohu, (My mother used to say that when she looked into our rooms.) an expression, which means chaos in Hebrew, instead we see God’s wonderful creation.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory, the glory of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.[8]

“Flesh” in Hebrew mean “human being.” So the Word became a human being. The Light of the World became a human being and just think about in what a loving, gentle, and inviting way – as a child, a baby on Mary’s lap. “The Little Jesus, so dear to my heart” Luther sings:

The light eternal enters time,

giving this world a whole new shine.

It brightens up the darkest night

and makes us children of the light. Lord, have mercy.[9]

So in the shining glory of God, we can well sing, “How our Christmas room will glisten!” And also, in the light of our faith, how our whole world will glow and glisten because of the Christ-child. “Because unto us a child is born; unto us a child is given.”[10]

Luther often speaks about a Heaven of grace that is far greater than our sky and stretches out over all believers.[11] In the Christmas songs, the Christ-child is called a shining Sun Full of Grace. This shining glory is also the luminous grace of God over us. In the Christ-child, God’s Sun of Grace shines over us with the light in which we see light. As Psalm 36 says, “With you is the fountain of life and in your light we see light.”[12] If we say, “Come into my heart Lord Jesus. There is room in our hearts for you,” then we can sing with Paul Gerhardt,

Let me be your little cradle,

come and lay down in me, with all your resplendent joy.[13]

How we will glisten and glow when we receive the shining joy of the light of the Christ-child in us! And when we are his cradle, then Jesus becomes born in us, and his sun-shining grace drives away all our worry, sins, sorrows and pain; and the shining glory of the God gives us a Sun Full of Grace for light, life, joy, and bliss. See what love, beloved, our God has shown us!

The Christ-child carries us under the Heaven of Grace, where we can take a deep breath, and take in the radiant beams of our Sun of Grace shining down on us. Our sorrows, even should we be depressed, will lose their hold on us, as Paul Gerhardt sings:

I lay in the deepest night of death,

And you were my sun, shining on me

You brought me light, life, joy and bliss.[14]

While another Christmas song says, “A hundred thousand suns do not equal to the light of Heaven shining on this world.” This verse goes:

This is the night, in which God’s great friendship appeared, the child, whom all the angels serve, brings light into my darkness and this world- and heaven’s light will not be vanquished by a hundred thousand suns.”[15]

Then in the last verse, Jesus is named the Christmas Sun:

Therefore, O Jesus, beautiful Christmas Sun, shine your goodness upon me with your radiant beams of light. Let your light be my Christmas bliss and teach me the art and skill of Christmas: how I can walk in your light and glisten with the glow of Christmas.[16]

Yes, when we walk in that light, how our eyes will glisten! How the children of God will glow and glisten! Just like this whole sacred world will glow and glisten in holiness. I could only remember with awe our glowing and glistening Christmas room, but now we already have a glimpse of how the Christ-child, who is the Sun of Grace, the bright and shining Christmas Sun, can vanquish a hundred thousand shining earthly suns. What a morning star! What a Sun God brings to us in this child born for us, this Son unto us given. And he is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.[17]

The world is full of sorrows, depression, worry, sin, terror and pain, but in this Christ child God has promised to be with us. The angel of the Lord stood before the shepherds and the angel also comes to us with the Good News of Great joy for all people about the birth of little Jesus, the Christ child, who is lying in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes. The transfiguring glory of the Lord shone all around them and also all around us and in the darkest night we have a shining Sun of Grace, a Christmas Sun to give us light and life, joy, and bliss. Even in this Christmas time, in the light of faith, the glistening glow of eternity will shine upon us, because our Son Full of Grace is born. In this holy night there breaks a day full of grace and in its radiant beams we will all glow and glisten with the Light of the World within. Amen.

[1] These are my mostly unrhymed translations. I worked on this one, however, translating it from the song we sang as children so that it is singable in English.

[2] Luke 2:9.

[3] From the German hymnal. Evangelisches Kirchen-Gesangbuch: ausgegeben fűr die Evangelische Kirche Berlin-Brandenburg, (Verlag Merseburger Berlin GmbH, 1. Advent, 1951), p. 27. For this hymnal I thank Irmentrud Bronsch.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid., Hymn No. 14.

[6] Hymn No. 16 verse 5.

[7] Hymn No. 15 verse 3. My translation from Philip and Peter Krey, eds., Luther’s Spirituality, (New York: Paulist Press, 2007,), p. 250.

[8] John 1:14.

[9] Hymn No. 15 verse 4. Philip and Peter Krey, eds., Luther’s Spirituality, p. 250.

[10] Isaiah 9:6.

[11] Philip and Peter Krey, eds., Luther’s Spirituality, p. 138ff. Luther notes that under this heaven of grace believers are never shut out, because God’s steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 117.

[12] Ps 36:9.

[13] Hymn No. 28 verse 9.

[14] Ibid., verse 3. It continues: “O sun, who configured in me the valued light of faith, how beautiful your radiant beams.”

[15] Hymn No. 32 verse 1.

[16] Ibid. A translation note: In English calling Christ the “Christmas Sun” works pretty well, but not the “Grace Sun,” so I word it “Sun full of Grace” or “Sun of Grace.” Perhaps I should have used “Sun-shining Grace.” Like in Luther’s very meaningful Heaven of Grace, this Sun shines grace; we bask in its radiant beams of grace.

[17] Isaiah 9:6.

Written by peterkrey

December 14, 2013 at 12:43 pm

The Transparent Jesus is a Window to Heaven, Maundy Thursday, March 28th 2013

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Maundy Thursday, March 28th 2013

Exodus 12: 1-4, [5-10] 11-14 Psalm 116: 1-2, 12-19  1 Corinthians 11:23-26 John 13:1-17, 31b-35

The Transparent Jesus is a Window to Heaven

The lessons tonight show how the new covenant in Jesus blood is couched in the old covenant of the Passover in Exodus. Christ is lifting up the cup of salvation, knowing that he is becoming the Passover lamb, whose blood was being shed for us so that we might receive forgiveness of sins and learn to love and serve one another in the wonderful new order, the Beloved Community that Jesus launched into the world.

In the old covenant the people are eating the Passover lamb hurriedly and painting some of its blood onto their doorposts so the angel of death passes over their house. The unjust oppressors of the Egyptian empire would lose the firstborn of all their children and even of their animals on that horrible night of retribution.

It is the Passover meal that Jesus shares with his disciples in the upper room. But Jesus has taken the Passover out of the law and way into the gospel. Sure, the Egyptians were getting their come-up-ance, because they were such cruel oppressors. God had to rescue his people from slavery and lead them into the Promised Land, give them good laws, and a new order by which to live. But Jesus showed his disciples the kind of love that fulfills the new order of the old covenant. No longer was it an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but if your brother or sister sins against you – how many times must we forgive? Not seven, but seventy-times-seven times. This extravagant forgiveness!

Not that we Christians have not continually deserted, denied, and betrayed Jesus, but Jesus loved his disciples to the end and knowing that he had come from God and was returning to God, he washed the feet of his disciples like a slave would do. He did not lord it over others in the way of the kings of this world, but was among them as one who served. He not only served, but loved his disciples in a completely selfless and forgiving way. He did not skip over Judas, who would betray him, but served him as well cleansing him in this foot-washing. And Judas could have received forgiveness just like Peter and all the disciples that deserted Jesus, if he only would have repented and received it.

We serve a Savior who went all the way to the cross without a mumbling word loving and forgiving those who deserted, denied, and betrayed him; as well later, those who, condemned, crucified, and nailed him there like a piece of wood onto the cross. “Father, forgive them they know not what they do.”

Jesus was giving us a window through which to look into heaven to see how good and loving God really is and how this Son of Heaven shows us the way to peace, so that all our lives could be lived in the promises of God, which God fulfills for us, if we follow Jesus in this way of life.

So Jesus does not only show us how our country can experience a Passover from a culture of violence to a more humane order, but also how any two or three people who are gathered in his name can have a holy communion, in which we also receive the strength to love and forgive each other in the real presence of Jesus Christ.

Each of us follows Jesus descending into his humility, service, suffering, and love, but all together we ascend into not only the Promised Land, but the promises that God will keep for our lives. Eye has not seen, nor ear heard the wonderful things God has prepared for those who love Him and are called to his purpose.

The suffering we do in the descent is really worth it. It all adds to the music of our witness. It brings a wonderful new quality into our relationships that we notice in the Gospel of John, where women are championed, and children are lifted up and no egos get in the way. Life changes from prose into poetry. Our feelings become radiant rhapsodies that delight in what God is doing among us.

Girded with towel and wash basin, we will cleanse the feet of all to direct our feet on the way of peace. Not a peace that is empty and negative like nothing, one that just obeys the law, but much more. We will be more than conquerors of our environmental problems, bullies will no longer scapegoat victims. We will overcome war and fight them no more; we will heal dreadful diseases of the body and mind that decimate humankind; we will lift up women so that they are not violated and hurt any more; lift up children so they know they are loved and cherished and our lives will be centered around keeping them safe. We will lift them up into God’s promises as well.

What else fulfills the vision that Eye has not seen, nor ear heard the wonderful things God has prepared? We need to put our imaginations into high gear!

Do you notice how Jesus is not just sacrificing a lamb and thinking that such a scapegoat can change our lives? He not only cleanses our feet to direct them on the pathway of justice and peace, he cleansed the temple, confronting evil head on. His love seeks justice, overcomes sin, and the forces of violence and death themselves. Christ shows us the love that overcomes the fear of death and death itself, showing us and giving us victory.

Jesus was well aware that he was now going to die. He knew it was the last supper. In the Garden of Gethsemane he had to get through all that grief of giving up his life for us. But then when the time came, and the spear pierced his side, we all received the new birth from the water and the blood gushing out of his side. Yes, he died and indeed, John witnessed the water and blood flowing from his riven side.  Amen.

Written by peterkrey

March 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Andacht, a Devotion in German and English for St. Matthews Lutheran Church in San Francisco, CA July 28, 2011

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Eine Andacht für die Sanct Matthäus Gemeinde

in San Francisco, CA

28. Juli, 2011

Der Herr erlöst seine Gefangenen: Psalm 126: ein mir vertrauter Psalm. Ich hab schon ein Lied darüber componiert.

Wenn der Herr die Gefangenen Zions erlösen wird,

So werden wir sein wie die Träumenden.

Dann wird unser Mund voll lachens

Und unsere Zunge voll Rühmens sein.

Dann wird man sagen unter den Heiden:

Der Herr hat Grosses an ihnen getan!

Der Herr hat Grosses an uns getan;

Des sind wir fröhlich.

Herr, bringe zurück unsere Gefangenen,

Wie Du die Bäche wiederbringts im Südland.

Die mit Tränen sähen, werden mit Freuden ernten.

Sie gehen hin und weinen und streuen ihren Samen

Und kommen mit Freuden und bringen ihre Garben.

Ein Psalm kann für viele verschiede Verhältnisse verwendet werden. Einmal ist er für die Babylonische Gefangenschaft verwendet worden und dadurch waren die Worte verändert: auf Englisch heisst es: “Restore our fortunes, Oh Lord!” zuerst lauteten die Worte: Wenn der Herr unser Schicksal ins Glück verändert hat, unser Armseligkeit umgekehrt hat, dann werden wir sein wie die Träumenden. Auf Hebräisch lauten die Worte: Herr, wende die zurück, die sich von uns wenden. Dann wird unsere Niedrigkeit aufgehoben und dann genesen wir wieder.

Die Rede kann über ein Volk, eine Gemeinde, oder über eine Person sein, die tief in Unglück geraten ist. So wir können z. B. über eine Gemeinde sprechen, wie unsere. Wenn Mitglieder sich wenden und wieder zurück zur Kirche kommen, dann genesen wir und werden halt reicher. Wenn alle Leute, wenn unsere Mitglieder sich von uns wenden, dann nehmen wir ab und werden immer ärmer, nicht wahr? Auch bei der Gesellschaft, wenn Kunden sich umdrehen und heraus gehen ist es schlecht für das Geschäft.

Daher sagt’s in Hebräisch, Herr, wende zurück die die sich von uns gewendet haben, dann haben wir wieder Glück, dann wächst unsere Gemeinde wieder. Dann bringen die Mitglieder wieder Dank-Opfer, und zwar reichlich.

Damit werden wir sein wie die Träumenden, denn Gott wird die Träume unserer Gemeinde erfüllen. “Was kein Auge gesehen hat und kein Ohr gehört und in keines Menschen Herz gekommen ist, was Gott betreitet hat denen, die ihn lieben” (1 Kor 2:9) Wenn Gott unsere Träume erfüllt, dann werden wir Glücklich sein und lachen, tanzen, und Froh sein. Wir werden Gott loben und preisen.

Dann werden die andere Kirchen, die andere Gemeinden um uns herum sagen: der Herr hat Grosses für die Sanct Matthäus Gemeinde getan. Wenn von einer Person gesprochen wird, die sich verloren hat und sich in Jesus Christus wieder findet, d.h., Jesus sie wieder findet, und dessen Leben sich mit Segen verändert, dann merken es andere zuerst und nur danach der Mensch selbst. Man fragt, “Herr, wo bleiben alle Deine Verheissungen? Bin ich nicht auch dein Kind? Warum müssen meine Tränen immer fliesen?” Dann augen-blicklich merken es andere zuerst, das Gott eingesetzt hat, und Grossartiges an uns getan hat. Nur danach merckt es die Person oder die Gemeinde selbst. Daher sagt der Psalm: Der Herr hat Grosses an uns getan, Ja, der Herr hat Grosses für sie, für ihn für mich getan, daher kann ich froh sein, daher kann ich lachen, daher bin ich fröhlich.

Nun diese Erfüllung ist vorausgenommen, vorweg-genommen, denn der Psalm ist ein erhörtes Gebet, und wir können getrost auf Gott harren, weil wir jetzt wissen dass Gott uns erhört hat. Aber wir stehen noch davor. Daher packt der Psalmist die traurige Sache wieder an: Herr, bringe zurück die die sich von uns gewendet haben, wie die Bäche im Süden des Heiligen Landes, in der Wüste vom Negev, wo es kein Wasser gibt und alles dürre und trocken sterbend da liegt. Ein Wadi, ein Bach vollkommen ausgetrocknet. Plötzlich kommt Gottes Segen wie ein Platzregen, und all Bäche fliesen, und die Pflanzen wachsen wieder und die Wüste wird in einen grünen Garten verwandelt. So kann und wird Gott unser Glück von einer Wüste zu einem Garten verändern.

Doch manchmal gibt es Mangel, Hungersnot, wie jetzt im Somalien, Wasser mangel, kein Regen. Der Psalmist spricht bestimmt aus Erfahrung. Und doch muss man Samen bei Seite legen, obwohl es Hunger mit vielen sterbenden bedeutet. Und Alles ist so trocken, das nur unsere Tränen die Samen die wir pflanzen bewässern. Kein Regen, nur unsere Tränen die Samen die wir pflanzen bewässern! Aber “wenn der Same, das heist, das Weizenkorn nicht in die Erde fällt und erstirbt, so bleibt es allein. Wenn es aber erstirbt, bringt es viel Frucht” (Joh 12:24).

Daher ist Christus zu uns gekommen und ist für uns gestorben und demnächst wieder auferstanden, und bringt uns die grosse Ernte, wo wir uns freuen, tanzen, und frohlocken. Wir waren verloren und siehe, jetzt leben wir, und in eine grosse Umkehrung, kommen wieder Viele zu uns. Gott wird unsere Träume erfüllen und wir werden sagen mit den anderen Kirchen. Jawohl-ja, Gott hat Grossartiges an uns getan, dessen wollen wir uns freuen. Lasst uns fröhlich sein! Amen.

Lieber Herre Gott, wir danken Dir für diese Gemeinde, diese deutsch/americanische Gemeinde, die true ein Zeugniss hier in San Francisco für Dich, Jesus Chriistus, ablegen will. Wir beten dass wir viel Segen in SF in CA und in dieser Welt verbreiten können. Stärke unseren Glauben damit wir tüchtig wachsen, und eine grosse Ernte für deinen Reich einholen können. Ja, aller Augen warten auf Dich, Herr, und Du gibst ihnen ihre Speise zu seiner Zeit. Du tust Deine milde Hand auf und sättigst alles das da lebt mit wohlgefallen. Dafür wollen wir Dir danken. Amen.

A Devotion on Psalm 126

For St. Matthews Lutheran Church, in San Francisco, CA

July 28, 2011

This is a favorite Psalm of mine that has long accompanied me along the way. I even wrote a song for it.

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,

we were like those who dream.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter

and our tongue with shouts of joy.

then it was said among the nations,

“The Lord has done great things for them.”

The Lord has done great things for us,

and we rejoiced.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,

like the watercourse of the Negeb.

May those who sow in tears

reap with shouts of joy.

Those who go out weeping

bearing the seed for sowing,

shall come home with shouts of joy,

carrying their sheaves.

A Psalm is used in many different situations and this one was used and reworded for the time of the Babylonian Captivity. But it was first a prosperity psalm, celebrating when a nation or a person comes around, but it means much more than that. Yes, when the Lord brings me around, it will be like I’m dreaming. In Hebrew there is a play on words: turn those around who are turning away, O Lord!

The Psalm can refer to a nation, a congregation, or a person, one who has become troubled and lost. We could therefore speak about a congregation, for example, this one. When members turn around and start coming back to church, then we recover and prosper. When people and members turn away from us, then we diminish and become poor. When in our store, if we had a shop, if customers turn around and go out the door, it’s bad for business.

Thus the Hebrew says, “Turn around those who are turning away.” Then our congregation starts growing and prospering again as people come laden, bringing rich thank-offerings.

Then we will think we are dreaming. God will make our dreams come true. “Eyes have not seen nor ears heard nor any heart imagined, the wonderful things that God can do for those who love him, who are called to God’s purpose!” (cf. 1 Cor. 2:9) When God makes our dreams come true, our lives become filled with laughter. We dance and sing with happiness. We praise and glorify God.

Then the other churches, the other congregations about and around us say, “The Lord has done great things for St. Matthews.” When this is about a person lost and found by Christ, a person whose life, let us say, has been changed into a blessing, then others are the first to observe it. The person him or herself is still praying: “Lord, where are all your promises? Am I not also your child? Why do I have to cry an ocean of tears?” Then in the twinkling of an eye, which others first notice, God moves into action, and they witness the great things that God has done for such a one. The person him or herself only notices it afterward. That’s why the Psalm follows with the verse: “The Lord has done great things for me,” not only for others, but also for me! And then a heart is filled with laughter, smiles, dancing and rejoicing.

Now the trouble is that the fulfillment of our dreams is still anticipated. But the Psalmist knows that God has heard his prayer and the answer is only a matter of God’s good time. We have to wait patiently and fasten our hope on God. That’s why the Psalmist prays again: “O Lord turn back those who have turned away from us.” Bring about the great reversal, your marvelous conversion.

The Psalmist uses the metaphor of the dried river beds in the desert to the south of the Holy land. Over there they call them “Wadis.” Suddenly God sends a rain shower and rushing water fills them and suddenly plants grow out of nowhere and the desert changes into a lush green garden. God can change our lives that way. God can reverse our fortunes.

But sometimes there are famines and I’m sure the Psalmist knows about them from experience. There is hunger and thirst death and dying throughout the land. Rain refuses to come and bless the earth. But seeds have to be set aside. They can’t be eaten, even though the hunger bites the gut and spells death. Everything is so dry and parched that only our tears water the seeds as we plant them: no rain, only our tears! But “unless a seed falls and is buried in the ground and dies, it stays alone. But when it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

That’s why Christ came down to us and died for us and thereafter was resurrected, so he could bring us a great harvest, so we can rejoice, dance, and sing. We were lost and behold we are found, we died and behold we live. And in the great conversion, many again return to us. God will make our dreams come true and we will say with the other churches: “Yes, indeed! God has done great things for us!” Let us rejoice! Amen.

Written by peterkrey

July 29, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Nicht Gehaltene Jugend Andacht von 26. Februar, 1975

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Eine Nicht gehaltene Morgen Andacht für die Jugend von der Sanct Annen Kirchengemeinde in Dahlem, Berlin

ca. 26. Februar, 1975

Wollen wir nicht zusammen singen?  #346: Verse 1 und 3

Meine Unterstreichungen in den Psalmen

     Für uns Heute Morgen, nur weil es Heute Morgen ist, wollte ich eine Andacht machen. Wir haben Gestern eine ganze Menge getan, wisst ihr. Wir haben so vielle Sichten des Glaubens angeschnitten und angenommen. Wir sind auch tief in unsere Seelen hineingedrungen und wir suchten Trost. Wir haben miteinander gesprochen und das ist nicht leicht heutzutage.

In meiner Bibel habe ich wichtige Teile in den Psalmen unterstrichen wenn sie mich angesprochen haben. Heute Morgen habe ich wieder diese Teile gelesen und wurde irgendwie wieder gehalten, obwohl man manchmal denkt dass man zu Ende gekommen ist.

Was ich gemerkt habe ist wie immer wieder vom Herrn gesprochen wird, wie er es ist der uns hilft, z. B., Von den Herrn kommt es, wenn eines Mannes Schritte fest werden und er hat gefallen auf seinem Wege. Fällt er so stürtzt er doch nicht; denn der Herr hält ihn fest an der Hand. (Psalm 37)

Von dem Herrn haben wir wenig Gestern gesprochen und daher möchte ich euch ihn vorstellen. Er heist Jesus und ist herum gegangen und hat Viele einen Halt gegeben. Er war sehr frei und konnte auch Andere befreien von ihren Sorgen, von ihren Hemmungen, von ihren Hass und Neid und Hader. Er hat auch die Menschen so angepackt, dass sie ihn kreuzigten und er ist gestorben. Aber danach hat er Viele ins Leben gerufen, das heist, zu einem wirklichen Leben, dass Sinn hat. So, dann wie konnte es sein, dass er wirklich Tod ist?

Vielleicht wenn wir weiter kommen wollen und unsere Aussagen fassen wollen, dann müssen wir uns mit Jesus Christus unseren Herrn auseinander setzen. Denn ich habe gemerkt wie oft derr Herr in den Psalmen erwähnt wurde und wir haben ihn gestern kaum erwähnt.

Und dann meine ich dass noch etwas da drin ist. Wir müssen versuchen so zu werden. Wenn man zu Ende kommt, dann braucht man jemand und die die wir brauchen sind wir. Du wirst von jemand gebraucht, wenn der zu Ende kommt und nicht weiter kann. Wenn Du zu Ende kommst und nicht weiter kannst, dann brauchst Du jemand. Wir sind so schrecklich dran wenn wir keinen Menschen dann finden.

Wir wollen doch so werden. Wir sind so, weil wir so gemacht sind. Daher kommen wir auch so zusammen…und habt ihr nicht das Grosse gemerkt?…Wir sind nicht ausseinander gegangen.

Wir wollen neu diese Sache anpacken. Was wollen wir dort in der Gemeinde zusammen sagen? Wir werden es schon fertig bringen, denn ich habe diese Notizen wieder gelesen und wir haben so viel wichtiges gesagt. Die Leute in der Gemeinde brauchen es…sie brauchen unsere Worte….

Gebet: Dank dass wir zusammen gekommen sind, für ein Halt, dass Du uns hältst, dass Du uns nicht fallen lässt, dass unsere Schritte fest werden und wir Schritt bei Schritt weiter kommen. Amen.

Lied # 347.

Written by peterkrey

July 29, 2011 at 8:11 pm