Seeking rest.

Pentecost 5 – St. Matthew 11:25-30

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Word Alone

First Lutheran Church    Plainville, Kansas

Peace Lutheran Church    Natoma, Kansas

July, 2017

This is part 3 in a 4 part series on the Solas of the Reformation.  Parts 1 and 2 can be found in the January and April newsletters, part 4 will be in the October edition.

A new edition of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism is due for publication in the Fall.  It will contain more bells and whistles that previous editions did not include, and ultimately will become pretty standard throughout the Synod fairly quickly.

We’ll have signup sheets at the appropriate time if you would like to order one, but here is the thing: the new one will look a lot like the old one, whether the old one you are referring to is the 1943 version, or the 1986 version, or the 1991 version.  In fact, if you happened to come across the original 1529 version, it too would like very similar.

What’s up with that?

How can a catechism be updated every so often, and yet never actually change?

Well, what else never changes?

The Word never changes.  The Bible never changes.  The Word of God is timeless and unchanging; God’s Word does not change from one day to the next based on the times or the will of the people.  God’s Word does not get updated every couple of years because a new discovery has been made.  No; God’s Word is the same yesterday, today and forever.  And if the Word of God doesn’t change, then neither does our doctrine.

This is a radical idea to be sure.  Other confessions of faith believe that God’s word was written in a particular time and to a particular people and therefore does not apply to us modern day people.  Some churches put great value on the Word, but they also place value on tradition and other manmade institutions to account for changes in the world.  Still other religions rely on prophets to have a dream to reveal God’s new teaching to them.

What does this all look like?  It sounds like chaos, and it means that the faithful today really do not look anything like the faithful of years ago.  And it means that the faith is in danger of being led astray by false teachers, poor practices, and the whims and ways of the world.

But when the teachings of a church are based not on man or on practice, but rather on the solid ground of God’s Word, these dangers pass away.  Because who determines the doctrine and practice of the Church?  Not man; not tradition; not opinion polls; but rather the Word of God, the Word which never changes, but is the same yesterday, today and forever.

And that means that what you learn today, is the same things your parents and grandparents and great-grandparents and all the way down the line learned; and it is what your children and grandchildren going forward will learn.  God’s Word does not change.  Not now; not ever.

So why a new edition of the Small Catechism?  If the teachings never change, because the Word never changes, why make a new one?

The cynic would say it is about making money, but in reality, the new edition will do what all the old ones strove to do: to back up the teachings with more of the Word.  To show you how the teachings of the Church provide real, solid answers to the question of how to live as a baptized child of God in the world today.

For the world does change, but the Word does not; therefore the answers never change.

God Bless!    Pastor Schmidt

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Filled with new wine

Pentecost – Act 2:1-21

With a mighty rushing wind, and the appearance of divided tongues of fire, the apostles are filled with the Holy Spirt and are now capable of speaking in other languages.  This is the promised helper that Jesus had said that He would send shortly after He had ascended into heaven.

Now filled with the Holy Spirit, and with a desire to share the good news of Jesus with one and all, the apostles leave the room in which they were staying and go out into the streets of Jerusalem and begin telling others about Jesus.

This is the undoing of the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel; no longer is the world to be divided, no longer is the world to be confused by various messages.  Rather, today, with the help of the Holy Spirit, the world is reunited by the common language of Christ’s death and resurrection for all people.

At Babel, one can imagine that initially, when the languages were confused, more than one person asked if the other was drunk because of the sudden inability to understand the words being spoken.  Today, as the common language of Jesus Christ is spoken by the apostles, the same question appears, as many in the crowd think that the apostles are drunk.

That is the only explanation for what they are saying and doing.  The only way someone could come outside on the Jewish feast day of Pentecost and begin proclaiming the name of Jesus, and declaring the mighty works of God, is that they must be drunk; there must be something wrong with them.  No sane, rational, levelheaded person would say such things, so the fact that these men are, means that something is definitely wrong with them.

Are you drunk?

That is what Bill Nye wants to know; he thinks there is something wrong with you for teaching your children that God created the world in 6 days.

That is what most politicians want to know when you write to them and tell them that abortion is wrong, and that bathrooms are for one sex, not both.

That is what the strangers sitting next to you in the restaurant want to know when you bow your heads and pray the common table prayer before eating.

That is what the family living next door wants to know when they see you get up early and come to Sunday school and church each week.

Are you drunk?

That is what the world now asks of all those who confess the name of Jesus; whether you do it as an itinerant preacher delivering the message far and wide to any who will listen, or if you do it simply as a faithful citizen fulfilling your vocation as a husband or wife, a father or mother, a son or daughter, an employer or employee, a ruler or a citizen, an orphan or a widow.

Are you drunk?

Peter responds no, of course not.  That is your answer as well.  You are not drunk, you are not crazy, you are not insane; rather you are the same fair minded person you have always been.

But….you do not want to be seen as weird by those around you, do you?  You don’t want to be questioned for what you are doing; and you certainly don’t want to stand out in a crowd.

And so what do you do?

Perhaps you are able to shrug it off, but the question as to what you believe lingers.

Society intends to freeze you in your tracks.  If Bill Nye; if the elected officials; if your friends and neighbors think you are strange, than maybe you are.  Maybe you do need to alter your actions, your beliefs, your views; after all, who wants to stand out in a crowd?

There are people who do believe strange things; people whose views you look at and ask if they are the one who are drunk based on the religious and political opinions and social viewpoints they hold that are really odd, and you wonder how anyone could believe them at all.  You know who they are, the tin foil hat club, the kool aid drinkers, the gullible who will believe any half baked conspiracy theory that they read on the internet.

But now, when someone asks you the same question, you are taken aback.  Who wants to be questioned if they drunk?  Who wants to be asked if they are crazy?  Who wants to be viewed as though they were not a normal member of society, but rather, are associated with those odd balls who populate late night television?

And so part of you says no, you are not drunk, but then you immediately alter your views and beliefs so as not to attract so much attention.  That is what the apostles of old would do, in the Garden of Gethsemane, they all ran away, rather than stand with Jesus the outsider.  Even after the resurrection, they hid in locked rooms for fear of the accusations that might come their way of being associated with someone who was odd.

But those were the old apostles, not the Pentecost apostles; just as it is the old Adam in you that runs and hides when others question what you believe, as opposed to the new Adam in you, who has been baptized in the Spirit into Christ’s life, death and resurrection, that now stands tall in the face of opposition.

And so the answer to the question posed on the streets of Jerusalem, the answer to the question posed on the streets of this community, is in fact: yes.

You are not filled with the alcohol or drugs or other mind altering factors, but instead, you, as Peter quotes from the prophet Joel, have had the Spirit poured out upon you.  You are filled with Jesus.

For to receive the Holy Spirit, is to live not as the world lives, but to live as Jesus has called you to live.  To be filled with Jesus, is in fact to be seen as strange and unexplainable by the world, but at the same time it is to be seen as faithful and holy by your Father in heaven.

The apostles are not drunk, and neither are you.  But you have drunk deeply from the blood of Jesus that is poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.  You have immersed yourself in the waters of Holy Baptism that wash you clean.  You have feasted on the meal that is offered here, for your benefit and for your salvation.

The world looks at you as odd, peculiar, a misfit who is trying to force yourself on the society.  But that is not you at all; you are a people, set apart by your Father in heaven, who have been forgiven and redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

And thanks to efforts by Lutheran Hour Ministries, Lutheran Bible Translators, and a whole host of missionaries sent out by our very one Church body, the Gospel is proclaimed in all the world in very language and dialect, so that any who have ears to hear, may hear the good news of Christ Jesus.

The curse of the Tower of Babel remains.  The confusion persists.  Not that the world cannot hear the words of the Gospel spoken, but rather, that the words and actions are strange and out of place in our modern society.

And so the model of Pentecost continues: the people of God, pouring out into the streets of this city, and declaring all that God has done for you.  Some will hear and believe; others will ask the age old question: are you drunk?  To which you can respond with Peter: Not with alcohol, but with the Holy Spirit, filling our hearts and minds with the good news of Christ Jesus.  Embrace the world with this gospel message, tell the world that today, and every day, is a time to hear the mighty works of God in this and every place.

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