December Message November 30, 2007 from the Rev. Dr. Peter Krey
In December Advent and Christmas spell the beginning of a new church year. The Gospel readings now change from Luke to Matthew. The Gospel of Luke reminds Christians always to be mindful of the poor. But the Gospel of Matthew, whose name means “disciple,” teaches us at the feet of Christ, where we learn about over-abundant righteousness and the beatitudes of the Sermon of the Mount, for example. Matthew teaches us that Christ is our Mediator, as the old year changes into the new, as the Old Testament becomes fulfilled by the New – and our Lord stands up to Moses, even, and says: “You have heard it said of old, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’ but I say unto you, do not resist evil; but if someone strikes you on the left cheek, turn to him the other also” (5:38-39).
Jesus is all about the present fulfillment of the law, the scriptures, and tradition; and we who are the disciples of Christ, internalize the law, embody the prophets, indeed, Christ himself is born in our hearts through our baptisms when it is connected with God’s Word, to quote Luther’s catechism.
It is in Matthew where Jesus says that you can’t put a new patch of cloth on an old garment, because in the wash, the new patch will shrink and the garment will tear. And you can’t pour new wine into old wineskins. The old wine already stretched out the old wineskin as far as it will go. New wine in the old wine skin will make it burst when it expands (9:16-17).
Jesus is speaking about our wish to be traditional. When a new pastor comes into an old church, the congregation as well as the pastor, need to ask God for renewal. Otherwise the wineskin will burst or the new patch of cloth will tear. Jesus would say, “Those who have ears to hear, let them hear!”
To harp completely on the traditional does not respect our tradition, because by the Holy Spirit our tradition has to come alive in the present realities in which we live.
Thus we read in Matthew: “Therefore every scribe, who has been trained for the Kingdom of Heaven, is like the master of a household, who brings out his treasure what is new and what is old” (Matthew 13:52). The Word of the Lord!
Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year! Fröhliche Weihnachten und ein Gesegnetes Neues Jahr!
Old Zion Lutheran Church, Mt. Vernon and N. Broad Streets, P.O. Box # 24816 Philadelphia 19130