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Concordia and Koinonia

St. Andrew the Apostle - Donora, PA
“If I feared the punishment of the cross, I would never have preached the mystery of the cross.“

Scripture Readings: Ezekiel 3:16-21 Psalm 139: 1-12 Romans 10:8-18 St. John 1:35-42a

Collect of the Day:

Almighty God, by Your grace the apostle Andrew obeyed the call of Your Son to be a disciple. Grant us also to follow the same Lord Jesus Christ in heart and life, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

About St. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was born in the Galilean village of Bethsaida. Originally a disciple of St. John the Baptist, Andrew then became the first of Jesus’ disciples (John 1:35-40). His name regularly appears in the Gospels near the top of the lists of the Twelve. It was he who first introduced his brother Simon to Jesus (John 1:41-42). He was, in…

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“Cheer up, things could get worse. So I cheered up and sure enough things got worse.” The old joke catches the problem. In fact change is not always for the better. Not by a long shot. But the ideology of progress has no way to deal with that.”

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Nowadays, one of the most cited forms of exercise for health and well-being is walking.  We now have all sorts of computer gizmos to track how many steps one can take in a day.  “How many steps” has become a new conversation topic and open to one-upping  a friend or family member. The result for the person with the fewer steps can be defensive excuses, even feeling guilty.  Walking is a good thing, not only for the body but mind and spirits as well, “clearing out the cobwebs”.  The Lord did not create us to be locked down, but up and about on His good earth.  And the ability to walk is one of the first milestones in our lives, in the lives of our children.  The first steps of a child are a joyous event, complete with wonder and fear of a fall. 

Walking is getting from point A to point B, and walking is also whole lot more:   getting somewhere good and salutary. An odyssey, an adventure, root word of adventure is advent. Look at the appointed readings:

From Isaiah:  “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
    and that we may walk in his paths.”

Psalm 122: I was glad when they said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
Our feet have been standing
    within your gates, O Jerusalem!

St. Matthew: Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

Romans: The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light…Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

I think there’s a theme!  All of the appointed Scripture readings are about walking.  I will be concentrating on the verses from Romans.

Much of the Bible is about walking…from the house of bondage in Egypt, the Israelites’ long walk to freedom in the land of promise:  we too.  Why? The Lord walked on earth…the greatest adventure of all time.  He sent out His apostles and Church to the ends of the earth in the adventure of His Advent, as His freed travelers. “God the Father was His Source/Back to God He ran His course/Into hell His road went down/Back then to His throne and crown” His adventure goes on for in His Church the song goes on…as the Song first was sung to the Shepherds. 

Hail a cab in New York City, and you’re asked by the cabbie, “Where to?” Indeed, where to? “Jerusalem, the mountain of the Lord, come down as bride adorned for her Husband, the wedding feast of the Lamb.”  For the Lord has given us our walking papers from the employment of sin, death, and the power of the devil.  The second Advent…the word Advent, literally coming close, coming to, a walk, a pilgrimage.  This season of Advent is about the first time the Lord came to His people and all the nations. There is a choice for Advent 1 of two Gospel readings:  Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, His long walk coming to an end and the holy beginning for us and our salvation, the church given her walking papers to the ends of the earth.  His second triumphal entry, in glory, for an end of the heavens and the earth, and a holy new beginning:  the new heavens and new earth. He prepares us in His advents through the first Advent for the second Advent.

Even though we all know how to walk, still, that, “…(The Lord) may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”  A Dad or a Mom will kneel, with waiting arms for their daughter to walk those first steps.  No less our Father in heaven. A Dad or Mom, as their daughter gets older teaches her where not to go.  We still need to learn how to walk in the Lord’s path, the ways to avoid the attractive off ramps by not walking in orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, sensuality, quarreling and jealousy. Nor going to those places, and not to walk, “… in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers”.  The Lord has guided us to His House, His Church, the living Body of His beloved Son. 

Quarreling is an affection for dispute. We just finished Thanksgiving and contradictorily a time for giving thanks to God and giving hell to relatives quarreling over politics.  This should not be. There is much advice, some not bad, how to avoid an argument over the issues of our day with the family and extended family, and friends. Our fuses are short these days and we can’t run away fast enough when our fuses are lit. We need to dampen our fuses and the Lord will. So easy, get under someone’s skin or under your skin. Push all the buttons. We have walked a long while in quarreling.  It is the cottage industry of sin on the internet.

Then there is Jealousy, in Greek zḗlos, zeal.  It kind of  mimics the sound of water bubbling over from heat and perhaps derived from Greek word to “boil”.  Zelos is properly, burning emotion, an inner feeling boiling over, “boiling from heat,”  boiling anger, love, zeal, for what is good or bad”:  like Bilbo wanting the ring with boiling anger and jealousy.  Now zeal for the Lord’s house consumed Jesus.  It was His fervent feeling and thoughts toward the holiness of the Temple, His temple and its good use.  Zeal can be a good thing for service, fervent love toward one another.  But when zeal, jealousy turns inward it becomes coveting, I should have this!  I’m jealous!  Jealousy is a motivating factor in what I want for Christmas.  Ooh, I so jealous, I want that to.  

Advent reminds us that the old age of sin and new age in Christ and His kingdom overlap, and we are exposed to both. The world’s darkness seeks us still and the morning Son seeks to rescue us from the darkness. So cast off the works of darkness!   

We are called upon to cast off the works of darkness that naturally sprout like fat and noxious weeds, in the night of sin. The enemy sows his seed in the darkness. The hope that is in us is confessed before men in things as mundane as their attitude toward alcohol and sex, things as common as their ordinary dealings with their fellowmen., things as common as their ordinary dealings with their fellowmen. Amid the guzzling, wenching, brawling sons of night they walk in radiant decency.

Of the many things, my wife taught me one was a love for country music.  Heard this a couple weeks ago, a Terri Clark song:

You’re easy on the eyes
Hard on the heart
You look so good but the way things look, ain’t the way they are
Better say goodbye
Before this goes too far
Cause now I realize you’re easy on the eyes
Hard on the heart

I think that describes sin and the work of the devil: easy on the eyes, hard on the heart. Temptation:  You look so good but the way things look/ain’t the way they are
Better say goodbye/Before this goes too far. 
Sin and the devil are hard on the heart. Before it does too far:  cast off the works of darkness!   Better say goodbye. The devil wants to take us far away from the Lord…to hell…and to hell, it begins with an easy step or two…and it’s hard on the heat.   If the only time you pray is when you come to Church, given sin and the devil, our unnatural/natural inclination toward,  orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, sensuality, quarreling and jealousy, then for this reason, in the Bible and in life (same thing), prayer is not a one-stop deal, but non-stop, any time and everywhere.

So how to protect ourselves from ourselves and the world?  Answer: Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Before we go out the door in the morning, we may give thought to what shall I wear. Be ye not anxious on what are you are to wear, but be ye anxious that ye are clothed in Christ and He is our peace. His life, such a life is possible only for men who are clothed in Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is their armor of light that can overcome all powers of darkness. They have been clothed in Him by Baptism (Gal. 3:27), (and the word for “put on” both in today’s Epistle and Galatians is the same, clothed in Christ) therefore they can be bidden to take up the given gift, to put Him on anew. Their baptism is to become their daily dress. Dress for success?  Dress for faithfulness.

We have been given our in Baptism they have participated in His death and resurrection; in Christ we have reached the frontier of the world to come. Only in Him can we find strength to live on that frontier as in the day. In Him we can find strength to speak a constant no to the importunities of the flesh, the futureless flesh with its desires that hold men fast within this world. To “provide for the flesh” is a contradiction in terms; such pro-vision is no foresight at all, for it looks no farther than this dark and dying world.

If we ask what shall I do to inherit eternal life, you’ve asked the wrong question.  It is what Christ Jesus has done, riding, walking, teaching His way, so many steps that no smart phone could ever, ever count:  steps to the Cross…and before that to the blessed Virgin’s womb.  Every step He took the Lord has come close to us, today. Luther on putting on the Lord Jesus Christ:

“In Baptism…it is not the garment of the righteousness of the Law or of our own works that is given; but Christ becomes our garment. But He is not the Law, not a lawgiver, not a work; He is the divine and inestimable gift that the Father has given to us to be our Justifier, Lifegiver, and Redeemer. To put on Christ according to the Gospel, therefore, is to put on, not the Law or works but an inestimable gift, namely, the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, peace, comfort, joy in the Holy Spirit, salvation, life, and Christ Himself.” 

This is Christmas gift of Christ Himself that does not go out of fashion, and yet will be scorned by the world as wholly out of fashion, but we don’t dress for the world: are dressed in the Lord and for Him and our neighbor: He saves. How many steps to the Kingdom? As many as it takes because the Lord took all the steps to be born and we born from above for us and our salvation. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.

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There is more than one advent. How many Advents are there?

Advent as the beginning of the Church year.  Advent means to come near, arrive, coming. The Advent Season is all about His first coming, His advent, beginning in the Blessed Virgin’s womb.

The second advent is when He comes again in power and glory for those whose, “… citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”.  The Lord calls us to wait and watch for His coming, engaged in His work of grace in our lives in our vocations, families, town and nation.

And in between the two central Advents, pivots of human history,  thousands upon thousands of Advents, the Lord drawing near, arriving. The Lord inviting himself to Zacchaeus’ home, preaching in His hometown synagogue, at a Pharisee’s home, telling of a runaway son and his ever-seeking Father welcoming the advent of his son. So many…and from there, in Acts of the Apostles: the centurion Cornelius’ home, a Roman jailer, a dealer in purple cloth, Lydia; Phoebe and Dorcas, Philip the Deacon…and you.  In your baptism, the Lord came to you, a personal Advent…and every time we do as He says, Take, eat, Take, drink, and in every prayer in your homes. His whole life is an Advent, drawing near. As Martha said to the Lord outside of her brother Lazarus’ tomb: “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” How many Advents? As many as there are stars in the heavens.

Then cleansed be every life from sin:

make straight the way for God within,

and let us all our hearts prepare

for Christ to come and enter there.

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Image result for elizabeth of hungary

Let us pray…Mighty King, whose inheritance is not of this world, inspire in us the humility and benevolent charity of Elizabeth of Hungary.  She scorned her bejeweled crown with thoughts of the thorned one her Savior donned for her sake and ours, that we too, might live a life of sacrifice, pleasing in Your sight and worthy of the Name of Your Son, Christ Jesus, who with the Holy Spirit reigns with You forever in the everlasting kingdom. Amen.

Elizabeth  of Hungary, born in Pressburg, Hungary, in 1207, was the daughter of King Andrew II and his wife Gertrude. Given in an arranged political marriage, she became wife of Louis of Thuringia (Germany) at age 14.Her spirit of Christian generosity and charity pervaded the home she established for her husband and three children in the Wartburg Castle at Eisenach. Their abode was known for hospitality and family love. Elizabeth often supervised the care of the sick and needy, even giving up her bed to a leper at one time. Widowed at age 20, she arranged for her children’s well-being and entered into life as a nun in the Order of Saint Francis. Her self-denial led to failing health and an early death in 1231 at the age of 24. Remembered for her self-sacrificing ways, Elizabeth is commemorated through the many hospitals named for her around the world.  (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

The words hospice, hospital and hospitality are all related.  Their root word is “hospes”, that is host.  All three of these related words have to do with being a host.  When I was a hospice chaplain, I am a guest in many homes of a dying family member and his family were my host.  A hospital, the host,  welcomes guests…quite a different understanding than patients!  Many a hospital guest will note the care of especially the nursing staff, as do hospice patients, because they are welcomed and taken care of.   Hospitality is a requirement of a pastor and a bishop:  to welcome friends and strangers to his home as guests.  It is hard work to be a host: food, linen and beds, wounds of body and soul. The host may feel tired and diminished but the guest is replenished.  

It is easy to say that government should take care of the  refugee, the sick or the foreigner and pat oneself on the back that I am caring!  It’s another thing to actually love your neighbor, one to one,  as Christ has served us and serves us daily.  Elizabeth of Hungary knew that.  She was royal as a faithful wife and mother and as one who served the poor.

For instance, Luther and his wife and family were quite hospitable in opening their home to all sorts of people. The Luthers would have at a given moment, 30 -40 guests at table:  seminarians, refugees from religious persecution, visiting professors and pastors. It says in the Bible a pastor is be hospitable (1 Timothy 3: 2 ). All Christians are encouraged and commanded to show hospitality: Romans 12: 13.

Elizabeth of Hungary, and Martin Luther teach us in word and deed the Biblical understanding of hospitality and it is hands on, not hands off letting someone else doing it, especially government! After all, our salvation was and is “hands on”, nail-imprinted Hands. 

Reflection by Dr. Martin Luther:

This is … an outstanding praise of hospitality, in order that we may be sure that God Himself is in our home, is being fed at our house, is lying down and resting as often as some pious brother in exile because of the Gospel comes to us and is received hospitably by us. This is called brotherly love or Christian charity; it is greater than that general kindness which is extended even to strangers and enemies when they are in need of our aid…. For the accounts of the friendships of the Gentiles, like those of Theseus and Hercules, of Pylades and Orestes, are nothing in comparison with the brotherhood in the church; its bond is an association with God so close that the Son of God says that whatever is done to the least of His is done to Himself. Therefore their hearts go out without hypocrisy to the needs of their neighbor, and nothing is either so costly or so difficult that a Christian does not undertake it for the sake of the brethren, … But if anyone earnestly believed that he is receiving the Lord Himself when he receives a poor brother, there would be no need for such anxious, zealous, and solicitous exhortations to do works of love. Our coffers, storeroom, and compassion would be open at once for the benefit of the brethren. There would be no ill will, and together with godly Abraham we would run to meet the wretched people, invite them into our homes, and seize upon this honor and distinction ahead of others and say: “O Lord Jesus, come to me; enjoy my bread, wine, silver, and gold. How well it has been invested by me when I invest it in You!

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2 Timothy 2:

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

Three seemingly disparate events are associated together on this date:  

1.  On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the armistice was signed ending World War I and

this date became Veteran’s Day.  We remember all military, soldiers and sailors, who have defended our nation in war.  We thank them for their service and the best way to do that is, as is rightly encouraged in the media: THANK A VETERAN TODAY!

2. On this date, Martin of Tours, Pastor and Bishop was buried in the city of Tours, France:

Martin was born about the year 316 in the town of Sabaria in the Roman province of Pannonia, present day Hungary, of a pagan family, his father a Roman legionary. He spent his boyhood in Pavia in Lombardy where he came under Christian influence, and at the age of ten he decided on his own to become a catechumen (a catechumen is a person preparing for Holy Baptism). When he was fifteen, being the son of a soldier, he was drafted to serve in the army. He was apparently a good soldier and popular with his comrades. One winter night when he was stationed in Amiens, Martin saw a poor old beggar at the city gate shivering in the cold, and, having nothing else to give him, he drew his sword, cut his own cavalryman’s cloak in two, and gave half to the man to wrap himself in. The next night Martin dreamed of Christ in heaven wearing his half-cloak and saying, “Martin, still a catechumen, has covered me with his cloak.” The young soldier, however, found it increasingly difficult to combine his own ideal of a Christian life with the duties of the military. Eventually he decided to be baptized and asked to leave the army, since he was no longer willing to kill. Like his modern counterparts, this fourth century “conscientious objector” had difficulty proving he was not a coward, but finally he was released, now about twenty years old. (from Festivals and Commemorations by Philip Pfatteicher)  But sensing a call to a church vocation, Martin left the military and became a monk, affirming that he was “Christ’s soldier.” Eventually, Martin was named bishop of Tours in western Gaul (France). He is remembered for his simple lifestyle and his determination to share the Gospel throughout rural Gaul (present day France) (Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

3.  On November 10th, 1483  a miner and his wife gave birth to a son.  Baptisms were done quickly due to infant mortality. The next day Hans and Margarette brought their son for Baptism, St. Martin’s Day.  So they named him Martin, as was the custom, after the saint’s day he was baptized.  The son baptized today was

Martin Luther.

What do these 3 commemorations have in common? They are all about being a soldier.  We give thanks for those veterans who served in our armed forces.  I have heard many a veteran say that I did my duty and I came home.  Listening to vets, and yes, watching war movies, war is hard, to say the least.  Many veterans do not want to say what happened over there.  They bore arms to defend our freedoms inscribed in the Constitution, the words of the charter of our political freedom.

Martin of Tours left one army and joining the militia Christi, the army of Christ for the salvation of souls.  Christ enlisted him. As bishop he did battle against the heresies of his day and served his people the green and eternal pasture of the Word of God.  He fought against the powers and principalities:  sin, death and the power of the devil. The man named after him, Martin Luther, likewise did the same. Martin and Martin bore the weapons of the Spirit to defend the charter of our eternal salvation, one Lord, one faith, one birth.  Martin and Martin did their duty, lived their callings.  

As the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy that he was enlisted by the Lord!  Soldiers have a clear discipline and as Christians, disciples have a discipline to not get entangled in civilian pursuits, that is in the world, but for the world to fight the good fight of faith, so that souls are saved.  Paul focuses Timothy and us on the Lord.  When a superior officer comes into the room, all the soldiers come to attention as we do when we stand to hear the Gospel in the Divine Service.  And all soldiers suffer, as did Paul, Timothy, Peter and all the army of Christ, and as our armed forces do in combat, and even in peace.  We fight for freedom’s sake Christ has set us free and in Christ to not submit again to a yoke of slavery, see Galatians 5:1. This day is united in thanksgiving for our freedom, political and spiritual.  The armies of darkness are on the move again in our nation and amongst the nations. We are freed from  the tyranny of political and spiritual despots and so freed to serve our neighbor, our nation and church, as free citizens of both that  tyranny is defeated, finally by the Lord’s weapons:  the weapons of the Spirit, cf. Ephesians 6: 10-20.

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead; We give thee thanks for all those thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence, that the good work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.

 Lord God of hosts, Your servant Martin the soldier embodied the spirit of sacrifice. He became a bishop in Your Church to defend the catholic faith. Give us grace to follow in his steps so that when our Lord returns we may be clothed with the baptismal garment of righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns With You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

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Johann von Staupitz (ca. 1469–1524), was vicar-general of the Augustinian Order in Germany and friend of Martin Luther, was born in Saxony. He studied at the universities in Leipzig and Cologne and served on the faculty at Cologne. In 1503 he was called by Frederick the Wise to serve as dean of the theological faculty at the newly founded University of Wittenberg. There he encouraged Luther to attain a doctorate in theology and appointed Luther as his successor to professor of Bible. During Luther’s early struggles to understand God’s grace, it was Staupitz who counseled Luther to focus on Christ and not on himself. (The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

Quotes from Correspondence between Fr. Von Staupitz and Dr. Luther:

From Luther:

 “I am expecting the curses of Rome any day. I have everything in readiness. When they come, I am girded like Abraham to go I know not where, but sure of this, that God is everywhere.”

From Vicar-General Staupitz:

“The world hates the truth. By such hate Christ was crucified, and what there is in store for you today if not the cross I do not know. You have few friends, and would that they were not hidden for fear of the adversary. Leave Wittenberg and come to me that we may live and die together. The prince [Frederick] is in accord. Deserted let us follow the deserted Christ.”

(From Here I Stand by Roland Bainton)

Proverbs 17: 17: A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 18: 24: A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

“…it was Staupitz who counseled Luther to focus on Christ and not on himself.” This is sage advice. The old Adam and the devil curve a man in upon himself. The serpent’s temptation in Genesis 3 to the woman was look to yourself to be ‘God’.  We live in age that has made the self ‘okay’ to be a deity: “Follow your heart”, “The heart wants what the heart wants”, the age of the selfie.  Up to two years of the insidious and wrong-headed covid lockdown, lockdowned many into themselves in these Godless and rebellious times.  The results have been catastrophic:  depression, suicide, drug addictions…despair.  Luther keenly knew that  as a monk (from the Latin, mono, alone).  Dear reader, don’t look into the internet mirror of Facebook, but into the Book pointing to Christ:  The Bible.  Von Staupitz made Luther a doctor of the Scripture and Luther then by the power of the Holy Spirit through the Word was made to see by faith, the face of Christ Jesus, the glory of the Father. Looking to Jesus we then find our brothers and sisters to serve and love. When down, look up to a friend in Christ, pray and seek the Lord as He is near.

2 Corinthians 4:5-7 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

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Election Day Sign

1 Not alone for mighty empire,
Stretching far o’er land and sea;
Not alone for bounteous harvests,
Lift we up our hearts to Thee.
Standing in the living present,
Memory and hope between,
Lord, we would with deep thanksgiving
Praise Thee most for things unseen.

2 Not for battleship and fortress,
Not for conquests of the sword;
But for conquests of the spirit
Give we thanks to Thee, O Lord;
For the heritage of freedom,
For the home, the church, the school;
For the open door to manhood
In a land the people rule.

3 For the armies of the faithful,
Souls that passed and left no name;
For the glory that illumines
Patriot lives of deathless fame;
For our prophets and apostles,
Loyal to the living Word;
For all heroes of the Spirit,
Give we thanks to Thee, O Lord.

4 God of justice, save the people
From the clash of race and creed,
From the strife of class and faction:
Make our nation free indeed.
Keep her faith in simple manhoood
Strong as when her life began,
Till it find its full fruition
In the brotherhood of man.

Amen.

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“Everything will be quite different when you as a Church cease to have such an entirely different flavor – when you cease to practice preaching which is the opposite of what the world around you preaches. You really must suit your message to the world; you really must bring your creed into harmony with the present. Then you will again become influential and powerful.” Pr. Martin Niemoller

Concordia and Koinonia

The two quotes are on the Scripture Text:  “Ye are the Salt of  the earth” (St. Matthew 5:  13).  Both quotes are a challenge to a church growing too worldly and this is right because  this challenge is also in the Scriptures:  James 4:4, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”  Our Lord’s promise regarding the salt of the earth is also a challenge in this regard.

1.  The first quote is by G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936).  He was a convert to Roman Catholicism.  His mystery novels, the Father Brown mysteries, are his most popular writings.  Like C. S. Lewis, he wrote Christian apologetics:  a defense of the Faith.  His most popular in that genre is Orthodoxy. The quote below is from his devotional biography of…

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Idolatry Today

Today’s Old Testament reading is Jeremiah 1. The “gods” then were not the same as our idols. Our idols are astronomically more complex than a statue…yet both incite the Old Adam to worship, lust, greed and violence because such inheres in our fallen nature and we like it, we love it. In Luther’s explanation and teaching on the 2nd Commandment on the Lord’s Name, cites in particular false oaths in court and then has this to teach:

“…if anyone is caught sinning, God’s name is dragged into the affair and must make the wickedness look like godliness, and the shame like honor. This is the common way of the world, which has covered all lands like a great flood. So we get what we seek and deserve as our reward: epidemics, wars, famines, raging fires, floods, wayward wives, children, servants, and all sorts of filth. Where else should so much misery come from? It is still a great mercy that the earth bears and supports us [Numbers 16:28–50].” (McCain, Paul T. Luther’s Large Catechism with Study Questions . Concordia Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

It is obvious that Luther sees an almost cause and effect: our sin and God’s judgment and punishment today. Was Luther some sort of wacko fundamentalist?! First, not every fundamentalist is wacko, nevertheless, many Christians hold to Biblical doctrines that can be decried as such. So, I will wear the label as truth as there are fundamental truths. Still, Luther’s teaching is harsh. Not really because man is harsh in his idolatrous bent which always results in immorality. Such teaching and preaching wakes us up as we have fallen asleep while the devil planted his seeds. Have the false doctrines and catechism, pouring forth from our smartphones 24/7 (the average young person spends 70 hours a week in screen time, that’s 10 hours a day!) seized our minds and souls, “wives, children, servants” with all sorts of filth? Yes, sadly yes. None of us are immune to the flood of filth. We have seen all about us, “…epidemics, wars, famines, raging fires, floods” and even if all of that can not be proved to be from God, but, again, we don’t know, and yet: Shouldn’t the disasters, man-made and in creation on our soulless nation and her people, remind us to repent and return to the Lord our God who is hard in His judgment, yet overflowingly with forgiveness for His creatures and creation?

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