the view from the pew, holy cross lutheran, 2-23-19

Saturday evening service with Pastor McClean presiding.

We sang many songs, played by Pastor and Paul. The opening song was “The Lord Is Present In His Sanctuary“. The sermon song was “Psalm 25“. We sang “Change My Heart, O God” during the offering. When we shared The Lord’s Supper we sang “As the Deer“. The closing song, “Lord Make Us Instruments of Your Peace” was interesting. I don’t know if there are differing versions but when Pastor played it he made it sound like a civil rights protest song of the 60s.

Paul read Genesis 45:3-15 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-26, 30-42. Pastor read Luke 6:27-38.

Nicholas and Joshua each gave very mature Christian witnesses last evening.

We confessed our sins, even the ones we didn’t know we committed. Unknown sins? What are those all about? I’m not sure what they all are but I believe some ‘unknown’ sins are ones we know are sins but we are so used to committing we aren’t aware or don’t care about them. Or ‘unknown’ because everybody else is committing them and they just blend in with society. Either way, rubbin’ paint with the devil is never a good idea.

We recited The Nicene Creed, The Lord’s Prayer and various scripture readings. One of the things I like about Pastor McClean’s services is when he sends us off with a benediction. As he says it he makes the sign of the cross but at the very end he uses his palm to just *push* it out there to the congregation. Now he’s just going to be self-aware of it. Sorry, Pastor.    : )

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Sermon: “How Do I Measure Up?”

In the 2001 film, The Knight, Count Adhemar says to William Thatcher during a jousting competition,

“You have been weighed; you have been measured; and you have been found wanting.”

In the eternal book, The Bible, Daniel tells Belshazzar,

“Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting…”

In the 1967 Star Trek episode, The Squires of Gothos, Trelane casts judgment upon Captain Kirk yelling out,

Silence! This trial is over! You are guilty. On all counts you are guilty. And according to your own laws, this court has no choice in fixing punishment. You will hang by the neck Captain, until you are dead, dead, dead!

One way or the other we are all found weighed, measured and found at fault with the world. The courts can put us on trial for crimes and we can end up in prison. Our neighbors judge us by how we keep our lawn, what sort of car we drive, if the kids are well mannered or well dressed and then treat us according to local mores. Co-workers study how the boss treats you and from that depends how they might treat you. If the boss blames you for something everyone else piles on; if the boss praises you they sidle up to you hoping to catch some of your magic dust. If you’re in school, the cool kids size you up by your looks, your demeanor or your shoes and from these determine if your a derp, a twerp, an OK guy or a girl who’ll fit in with them. In short, culture is about winning. Champs get the money, fame and positive attention. Chumps get none of it. i don’t mean just American culture but every culture. Humans are the same despite political boundaries. People want to be with others who are rich and famous and talented. Nobody wants to be with me.

From the end chapters of Genesis we run across a fellow named Joseph, who despite being fawned over by his father, Jacob, was despised by brothers. They were jealous of him because dad liked him most and was given the best simply because he was a child of Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel. His brothers took Joseph, stuck him a cistern to die but instead sold him to some travelling salesmen on their ways to Egypt. That was bad. Joseph ended up being a slave to Potiphar but performed his duties well. That was good. He was then unjustly accused by Potiphar’s wife and thrown in prison. That was bad. He eventually was able to serve Pharaoh and become his second-in-command and by his talents was able to save the lives of countless persons having saved food for an upcoming drought. That was very, very good. Still, when his brothers came face to face with Joseph they were afraid he wanted them dead. Instead Joseph embraced them and told them despite all the nonsense he’d been through he stayed true to God and as a result many, many lives were saved and Jacob’s family brought back together under one tent.

Jospeph’s story teaches us that lives can be made better, either directly or indirectly, simply by a change of heart. Joseph treated Pharaoh with respect and honor, which changed Pharaoh’s heart, and gained a position by which others would profit. Pushing people never works if your objective is true change. Jesus said these words:

  1. Love your enemies.
  2. Do good to those who hate you.
  3. Bless those who curse you.
  4. Pray for those who mistreat you.
  5. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also.
  6. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.
  7. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
  8. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Question: Which of these teachings find you measured, weighed and wanting?

Answer: All of them.

But it doesn’t mean you ought not make the effort. If you had the opportunity to choose one of these and try it out on the world, which would it be? Honestly, I hardly ever feel that Jesus is right there by my side. I don’t have warm fuzzy Jesus-y feelings or have a glow around me or even a calmness about me but what I do know is the Bible says Jesus is with me. To say otherwise is to condemn yourself by making Jesus out to be a liar. Matthew 28:18-20

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Though on my own I lack in ability and effort to do His will, through my baptism God’s name is on me and as such I am ‘enough’ for Jesus. It is way better for me to see the world through His eyes than having Him see the world through my eyes. God brought me into this world to do good. Now I shall go do it. Because I am ‘enough’.

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Genesis 45:3-15
Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’

“You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”

Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.

 

1 Corinthians 15:21-26, 30-42
For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,

“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.

The Resurrection Body
But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;

 

Luke 6:27-38
Love for Enemies
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Judging Others
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 

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