the view from the pew 11-5-16

What better time to work on ‘the view’ than during library duty between Sunday services? I am separated by a glass wall between the library and the commons area where up to 200 people swarm the doughnut holes like Biblical locusts. It’s lonely here, like being the cow display in the Wisconsin Zoo.

Saturday service. Population: God

Every now and then we sing a song where I’m better off adding a country twang to my voice to help me stay in tune, not like a goober but just a little bit of a drawl to sing in a lower key. Jesus, Be The Center is just such a song. I can’t describe it anymore than that it works for me. “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing” is a wonderful song but someone, somewhere has to come to the realization that ‘love’ and ‘prove’ DO NOT RHYME. One of my favorite hymns, Give Thanks, remains one of my favorite hymns. King Forever was a toe-tapper, the exact type of song my son, Aleksandrs, abhors. Instead of following the final screen shot of “Go in peace, serve the Lord” he goes out and orders chicken fried rice … with a grimace. Susan was a big fan of the song but I was somewhere in between.

Whereas last week’s confession of sins and absolution were in-depth recitations of Luther’s Small Catechism, this week’s confession was short and to the point and the forgiveness was just as simple but afterlife giving.

Pastor McClean’s message was directed at reassuring us that no matter how off-the-rails our society gets with the election, celebrity goof offs, modern beat music, anti-social mediums like The Facebook, road rage, cheating, and lawlessness, we are on cruise control regarding our salvation. When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians during the mid-50s (not the 1950s, but the original 50s) there had been several earthquakes that rocked the region. When the Earth acts up the way it does sometimes people can be driven to tears and believe the End is near (or ‘nigh’ if you’re feeling a bit Old Testament-ish). Many Thessalonians hated Paul and went out of their ways to hassle, harass and hurt him if they could. They also taught a false gospel to fellow believers to get them to deny Paul’s lessons. Paul was having none of it. He wasn’t troubled at all for being persecuted because he knew Jesus was at his side. Though he was run out of the city he continued preaching and giving aid to the poor and pitiful.

So.

What’s the point with what Paul and Pastor McClean told us 2,000 years ago and as recent as this Sunday morning? Even though we always live in frightful times, we don’t need to be frightened. After all, we can be killed only once and after that it’s off to be with Jesus. I know, we want our children to have gentle, safe lives and to enjoy the wonderful times we have had while walking through the muck of the world. What’s better than to fall in love and get married; to have children and teach them how to navigate the Bible and the culture; to rejoice in the reversal of a disease or to be comforted in the valley of a loss; to laugh through tears and give a deep, heavy sigh? The Sunday school answer is, and always will be, ‘Jesus’, but we are selfish beings at heart and we all want a chance to succeed, be loved and depended upon to do the right thing for others, those things God put in all hearts when we were conceived.
Consider this: You are saved. You are safe. Your wife is the same and so are your children. Probably your parents and most of your siblings, too. Rather, think about the end of the world but not from a ‘how do I make a fishing pole from shoestrings to survive?’ but, instead, ‘filling the ark’ with those you love and know so they aren’t condemned upon death. If the afterlife you see for yourself and family is that wonderful how do you justify keeping it a secret from others?

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