Sunday, June 22, 2014

Trinity 1

Luke 16:19-31 - Trinity One - June 22, 2014
Fear, Love, and Trust in God
It’s easy to oversimplify things and imagine a certain virtue in poverty and a certain vice in wealth.  And so it is tempting to judge peoples’ hearts according to what we see.  This is because it is often true that poverty grants the opportunity to consider what is most important in life.  That’s why Jesus encourages us to fast, for instance —because denying ourselves certain pleasures helps us to consider the value of heavenly things over earthly things.  And if poverty aids a man in his piety, so it is even more often true that wealth corrupts a man and makes him stingy and materialistic.  That’s why Jesus says that it is very difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. 
But this is not a hard and fast rule.  Poor people are very often among the greediest, aren’t they?  Just look at how many people figure that if they don’t possess very many nice things, that makes it OK to covet the nice things that others have – as though it’s only fair that they give up a piece of the pie.  And they’ll even appeal to those in authority to take it from them by force in a way that only appears right.  Well, that’s greed if there is such a thing.  And then on the other hand, rich people are often among the most generous.  Just consider the endowments and offerings made by wealthy Christians to build schools and beautiful churches, and to support the preaching of the gospel in their own congregations and around the world – not to mention their personal contributions to the need they see around them. 
We shouldn’t judge vice and virtue by what we see, because we can’t see the heart.  Only God can.  Rich people are not necessarily bad; and poor people are not necessarily good.  The story that Jesus tells in our Gospel lesson shouldn’t be interpreted to teach otherwise. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Easter 7

John 15:26-16:4 - Exaudi Sunday - June 1, 2014
Pure Doctrine
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.
God’s Word is our great heritage
And shall be ours forever;
To spread its Light from age to age
Shall be our chief endeavor.
Through life it guides our way,
In death it is our stay.
Lord, grant, while worlds endure,
We keep its teachings pure.
Throughout all generations.  Amen. 
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen. 
“We keep its teachings pure.”  We pray that the Lord grant that as long as the ages continue to come and pass we keep pure what his word teaches.  Now obviously, it is not we who keep doctrine pure.  No, it is God who keeps it pure in our midst.  That’s why we pray for it.  But we don’t ask that angels keep it pure, because God doesn’t send angels to preach it to us.  We pray that we keep it pure.  And we don’t pray simply that our pastors keep it pure, since Christ has commanded us to identify his voice on our own and judge our pastors.  So in order for us – for you the hearers who came here to listen to what God wants you to know – in order for you to make sure you are hearing the pure doctrine of God’s holy word, you need to make this prayer your own: namely, that you keep pure in your hearts and minds the word of God like a seed that grows and bears abundant fruit.  You keep it pure by embracing what is true and by rejecting what is false.  You bear fruit when you do — fruit that coming generations will praise God for – just as we also praise God for our fathers and mothers in the faith who left us a great heritage.