The promises of God

Pentecost 9 – Genesis 15:1-6

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Keep it simple

First Lutheran Church  Plainville, Kansas

Peace Lutheran Church   Natoma, Kansas

August, 2019

When I was in high school, science class could sometimes be hit or miss.  The hit would be when we did something really cool, and we learned some new insight into what was going on.  The miss, was when we would spend the whole class discussing some random question, and then at the end the teacher would say: You don’t really need to know this, I just wanted to show you that I am a boundless source of useless information.

That feeling likely crosses the mind of more than a few when driving home after church on Sunday morning.  There are some Sundays when the law really rakes you across the coals, and then the Gospel swoops in and rescues you, assuring you of the forgiveness of sins that is found on Christ Jesus alone.  Other Sundays, you may feel like you just got an in-depth history of the Moabites, interesting stuff, but also something that leaves you wondering if the pastor is a boundless source of useless information.

So the question is asked: what is relevant?  What are the real issues in your life that you wish the church would address in either Sunday School or in the sermon, preferably both?

Ultimately Satan is working in our hearts and minds, telling us that God’s Word, and the teachings of the Church are nice and all, but they just don’t apply to the situations that you are facing in your day to day life.  Satan whispers in your ear that the Catechism is for children and confirmation, but once you are confirmed, once you pass a certain age, that stuff just doesn’t apply anymore.  Your problems are just too big for God.

Which brings forth another high school memory, this time from math class; we were often told to use the KISS method; Keep It Simple Simon.  Don’t go off looking to invent new equations when the old ones will work just fine.

And that is what we should remind ourselves in the church and in life; that when things look complicated and nothing appears black and white, we need to keep it simple; and that means going back to what we learned when we were younger: remember what you learned in confirmation from the Small Catechism.

It’s amazing how many things are addressed just in the Ten Commandments alone: when your language runs afoul, re-read the 2nd Commandment; when you don’t want to go to church is laid out in the 3rd Commandment; when your parents are stressing you out is covered in the 4th Commandment; bullying is covered in the 5th Commandment; how to act on a date, let alone how to dress, is covered in the 6th Commandment; plagiarism is covered in the 7th Commandment; gossiping in the 8th Commandment; that plot to get what another has is found in the 9th and 10th Commandment.

It is shocking how many real life issues are solved in the Ten Commandments.

But not to be left out, the Gospel comes forth in the Apostle’s Creed, where we confess that God the Father has created us; God the Son has redeemed us; and God the Holy Spirit keeps us in the one true faith.  The Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, Lord’s Supper and Confession and Absolution is then all about living and being sustained in the Christian life.

Real, relevant teaching and preaching is found in the very book that most forget about 15 minutes after they are confirmed.  And where does the Catechism find its basis?  In the Bible, God’s Holy Word that speaks to us just as much today as it did when it was first composed.

Take some time to go back to the simple stuff, and review the most relevant, real life guide you can find: the Bible and the Small and Large Catechism.

These are truly God’s good gifts to us in a world where confusion reigns.

God Bless!  Pastor Schmidt

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All is vanity

Pentecost 8 – Ecclesiastes 1:1-2, 12-14, 2:19-26

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Teach us to pray

Pentecost 7 – St. Luke 11:1-13

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Oh to be like Mary

Pentecost 6 – St. Luke 10:38-42

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My pleasure

Pentecost 5 – Leviticus 19:9-18

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Are zoo’s next?

Any trip home to New York features three things: family, food and the Bronx Zoo.  The first two are obvious; seeing family takes precedence, and a get together of the extended family is always scheduled.  Food is also obvious, as there are just certain New York delicacies that one cannot find anywhere else.

The Bronx Zoo might seem strange, after all, there are zoo’s nationwide, and after so many trips, how could one possibly still find joy and excitement in a zoo?

And yet, the Bronx Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the nation; and along with the San Diego Zoo, possibly the most famous.  The Bronx Zoo is a massive sprawling zoo, nestled in the middle of the Bronx, one can literally walk around the zoo, this picturesque place, surrounded by trees and plants, and glance over and see high-rise apartment complexes just on the other side of the fence.  As we left the Zoo, we mused as to whether or not those near the top could look in and see the animals from their windows.

And yet, zoos are in danger.  While engaging in another New York specialty – two daily newspapers, my eye caught an editorial, in which the author was calling on the Bronx Zoo to transfer its elephant to a wildlife refuge in Tennessee.  The elephant, named Happy, was not happy in the Bronx, and the cure-all was to move the elephant to a more expansive place, where she would be with other elephants.

To its credit, the Bronx Zoo has dismissed this idea, saying the elephant is fine, just temperamental, much like humans, and would not prosper elsewhere.

Again to the Zoo’s credit, whatever one may think of Happy’s current habitat, it is infinitely better than the old one.  I remember as a child seeing the elephants, presumably including Happy who is 48, in a much smaller area, even inside a building in a small area during the winter.  Happy now is in a much more spacious area, more suitable for an elephant; although not as conducive to being seen by visitors.

But what happens when Happy dies?  Will there be a new elephant to replace her?  It is interesting that the zoo’s polar bear died and has yet to be replaced; the reason?  The habitat is no longer considered suitable for the animal.

I am by no means advocating for the animals to be mistreated, or even housed in less than ideal conditions; but one should also remember what zoos are.  Most of us will never go on an African safari and see elephants in their natural habitat; nor will we be able to go to the North Pole and see a polar bear in the wild.  Zoo’s show us these animals, live, in person, that we had previously only seen on television and in picture books.

What happens when Happy dies and the Bronx Zoo never gets another elephant?  What happens if the polar bear is never replaced?  What happens when the brown bears, or the sea lions, or the rhinoceros, or the tiger die, and they are not replaced?

Will people still come to the zoo to see pictures of animals that used to be there?

It is interesting that less than a year after announcing elephants would no longer be a part of the circus, the Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Baily Circus folded.

Oh, the most popular attraction on a Monday in late June at the zoo?  An exhibit featuring animatronic dinosaurs.

Go to the zoo now; they might not be worth going to in another generation as they are just a picture book of animals that used to be there.

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