OSLPK movie night

Tricked by the Devil

The problem with evil is that it seems so good. Evil is not like the old westerns where you could tell who the bad guy was by the color of his hat. Nor is evil like the vile demons of horror movies with looks that not even a mother could love. No, evil wears the cleverest disguise. Evil looks good. As it is written, Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor 12:14). The now sainted Dr. Louis Brighton put it a little more colorfully. “Satan isn’t some little ugly fellow in a red suit with a pointy tail, he is a beautiful blond in a red negligee lying on satin sheets.” So just as Satan disguises himself, so does he disguise his evil and his messengers as Paul notes, “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Co 11:14–15).

Evil isn’t dark, shadowy and scary. It’s bright, cheery and sounds good. In fact, more often than not it is simply a twisting of something that is good. Satan isn’t really all that original. He’s not good at coming up with his own material, but he excels at making twisted parodies of that which is good. For example, a way that he can snare a Christian is to trick us with the idea of doing things that please our Heavenly Father, because we naturally want to do things that please God because they are good to do and helpful to the people around us. So, Satan takes those God-pleasing actions and he twists them into something evil. Usually, Satan warps them into away to build up ourselves and turn them into a means of self-worship – just look at what happened to the church in Corinth, they twisted all sorts of God pleasing things into status symbols (1 Corinthians 14). He also likes to trick us into abandoning the mind-boggling generosity of our Father in His gracious gift giving by leading us to believe that God is somebody we have to buy off.

I recently read a devotion that takes thankfulness, which is good, and turns into a means to manipulate God for His favor which is absolutely horrible. One, we could no more manipulate God than we could suddenly learn to breathe water. Two and worse, it leaves us in a place of uncertainty. If God giving me joy is based on me being thankful, how can I be sure of being thankful enough? You can’t. The devotion at hand doesn’t even offer you some external evidence of material blessing ala Joel Osteen. I guess not being like Osteen could be a point in favor, but leaving us hanging with no way to know for sure of God’s blessing is a just as horrible place to be as his pointing us to our material blessings as evidence of God’s disposition towards us. And in fact, what the devotional does is quite contrary to what God has done. Even though God has made it clear we cannot judge our state before Him by our circumstances – He has promised that because of His faithfulness we can have assurance that He is there for us to forgive our sins – bless us – in the gifts of His Word, Baptism, and Communion (John 20:22, Romans 6:3-5, Matt 26:26-28.) The devotional, doesn’t take you there. It just leaves you hanging – “Am I blessed or not? I can’t tell.”  And so, Satan takes being thankful and sends us into a nasty tailspin of always seeking to be more thankful so that you can be blessed and then wondering if you were thankful enough because you can’t be sure. And thus, Satan tricks us away from Jesus and the assurance of the free gift and moves us towards ourselves and the work that we do leaving us in the pit of doubt or self-deception.

Sadly, what I describe above is from the incredibly popular devotional called Jesus Calling. Notice in the picture to the side, that she openly states: “in this transaction: you give me thanks …and I give you Joy.” Essentially, she is saying if you pay Him, God will give you a service as if He were the person at the counter of your local fast food joint. That’s not how it works. jesus speaksThankfulness is not an act of obedience. Thankfulness is the natural reaction of gratitude one who has received a wondrous gift that is offered freely and not from obligation. More often than not thankfulness is expressed in the equally natural result of God’s redeeming work, our new obedience. Yet, even here we do not benefit from our new obedience. And our new obedience isn’t even for God, it’s for the benefit of our neighbor. Which means, we cannot confuse it with a system of payment as is portrayed in this devotion.

When we are thankful to God we aren’t paying a bill; we are overflowing with the gifts He gave us. Take for example Psalm 89, which Mrs. Young quotes. We will look at the context immediately surrounding her quote.

                Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
                         steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
                Blessed are the people who know the festal shout,
                           who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face,
                who exult in your name all the day
                           and in your righteousness are exalted.

(Ps 89:14–16) ESV (Please note she uses the NIV which is different from all the major translations)
The way Hebrew Poetry works is that it generally uses thoughts in parallel that play off of each other usually negating or building upon one another.  That means in order to understand the verse you need to look at its paralleling thoughts. In this case verse 14 and 16. Our question is who are the blessed? Verse 16 tells us. They are the ones who have been exalted in God’s righteousness. They are righteous because as verse 14 tells us, “God’s steadfast love and faithfulness” goes before Him. The people are blessed or in a joyful state because they have been made righteous through God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. In other words, they are joyful because they have been redeemed through the gracious work of Jesus on the cross. They are not given joy because God gave rendered a service on payment the joy came first.

The other verses do not fair much better.  Ephesians 5:20 is in the midst of several exhortations on our treatment of our neighbors.  It unpacks what I pointed out earlier, that our thankfulness benefits the people around us.  It also involves proclaiming the great work that God has done in saving us – that is the heart of the Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph 5:19).   Psalm 118, is worse.  Here the Gospel is clearly overlooked.  Without going into too much technical detail, I will say the verse “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” is a bookend verse.  The last verse of 118 is the exact same words.  This a signal to the reader.  The main point is in the middle of the psalm and that central point is going to inform our understanding of the bookends.  So, our main point is going to be centered around verse 14-16 roughly speaking.

The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
15  Glad songs of salvation
are in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the LORD does valiantly,
16  the right hand of the LORD exalts,
the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!”

Once again, it becomes clear that thankfulness is a response.  Even more if you read further on you will find that this is a prophetic psalm about Jesus “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Ps 118:22).  With the way the verse is used in the devotion we are turned away from the intended meaning of Jesus towards ourselves.  We are taken away from the glorious news that God works out my salvation freely because He is gracious and delivered into the hands of a bill collector who fixes our credit rating only because we paid him something.

Mrs. Young took a part of Scripture and removed it from its context. In doing so she changed its meaning. Did she intend to change the meaning? I don’t know, I want to assume the best. However, we still must take seriously the verse means the exact opposite as the devotion would have you to believe. Sadly, such a thing is very common. And it would seem that Mrs. Young has fallen for one of Satan’s more common tricks. As Rev. Jonathan Fisk notes “One of the sneakiest tricks of the devil is to quote God’s words, but to not quite quote *all* of them.” That’s what has happened here. Part of God’s words were quoted and so it looked like what she wrote is correct, but reading God’s word in the context of the rest of His words makes it clear the words mean something different than Mrs. Young implies. The more I hear of this book, the more that I think that it is Satan’s words in his well-used disguise – a messenger of light. I really do not know Sarah Young so I will not comment on her personally, but I am pretty sure she has not been hearing Jesus as she once claimed. (you can read more about her “hearing Jesus” at 10 Serious Problems with Jesus Calling).

So what does this mean to you who have been reading Jesus Calling? Satan has taken advantage of your good desires.  You’re not the first person Satan’s tricked. In fact, welcome to the club. He’s tricked pretty much everybody including yours truly. I bought into a few of Satan’s lies myself. I can sympathize and so could a few other far more notable figure such as Peter, Paul and Martin Luther. Each of us has bought into a lie of Satan’s, more importantly the light of Jesus’ truth shined forth, breaking the lie and renewed us in the life giving Gospel of Jesus. You were looking for something good that spoke to your situation and Satan tricked you with something that appeared to do so. It is not too late for you. Now that Satan’s trick has been exposed, it’s time to admit you were tricked. Set the book aside, preferably in the recycling bin. And once again, hear Jesus’ real words of great Joy in the pronouncement of Absolution – “I forgive you of all your sins.” If learning these things about a book you held dear has shaken you up, I invite you to come and talk. I’ll commiserate with you. I’ll even offer Jesus’ words of great joy and comfort for free in Holy Absolution (That is assuming you are one of my parishioners reading this article; if not talk to your own pastor. I am sure he’d be happy to help you.) We can even explore devotionals that really do what Jesus Calling only claimed to do – give you true comfort.

 

Update – I wish to quickly address if the above is an isolated incident.  As much as one would hope that maybe she had a bad entry this is not the case.  Young does, what I address,  throughout the entire book.  For a more comprehensive review of Jesus Calling please listen to this podcast on Just and Sinner by Pr. Jordan Cooper and his wife Lisa Cooper.

OSLPK movie night

Keep Calm and Proclaim Law and Gospel

Last week the Supreme Court ruled to overturn laws concerning Same Sex Marriage by requiring all states to recognize the desires of those who wish to marry a person of the same gender. I know that some of my fellow Bible believing Christians view this as a huge blow. I have seen your posts and comments. I have seen emotions running from fear to anger to just plain shock. And so, I wish to offer this word of encouragement. Jesus has already overcome the world. By His death, sin, the devil, and this world have already been conquered. We are merely experiencing its death throws. And by the resurrection of Jesus, we have already been given new life and a hope in what is to come. Jesus has already gone to prepare our places so no matter what happens here we have nothing to fear. As Paul said nothing the world can bring against us can compare to the glories that await.

Brothers and sisters, if you are worried about what the Supreme Court ruling means for the church as she continues to confess the Biblical definition of marriage, turn to Scripture; join with your fellow Christians in fellowship and prayer. Find your peace at Christ’s table.   For our hope is in Jesus, not in nine judges.

Whatever you do, do not lash out.

Often, we humans turn our fear into anger and we begin to lash out. We respond with angry and sometimes vile words. I have already seen this happening with fellow Christians responding to those who favor the Supreme Court’s ruling. We need not be insulting to remain true to the confession of the Biblical faith. We can speak an unwavering truth without words we know that will hurt, words that hurt not for the truth they speak but the baggage they carry. The last thing we need is to make it easy for them to lump us together with Westboro Baptist. As I point out to the addicts I counsel, being honest doesn’t excuse being mean. We can maintain our confession that certain thoughts and activities are sins without resorting to being mean.

Instead follow the words of Rev. Matthew Harrison.

As faithful Christians, we shall continue to be obedient to just laws. We affirm the human rights of all individuals and the inherent and equal value of all people. We respect the divinely given dignity of all people, no matter their sexual preference. We recognize that, under the exacting and demanding laws of God, we are indeed sinners in thought, word and deed, just as are all (Romans 3:9ff.). We confess that the “blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all our sins” (1 John 1:7). We confess that God’s divine law of marriage and the entire Ten Commandments apply to all, and that so also the life-giving sacrifice of Christ on the cross is for all. It is a “righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Romans 3:22).

What does that mean?

We need to rethink our political strategy. I am the first to say the government’s job is to enforce morality. By this statement, I mean enforce the second table of the Ten Commandments which largely boils down to how we behave towards one another. However, for too long, many of us have thought we can build and maintain a “Christian” nation via our laws. We bought into a lie. We cannot have a Christian nation through laws. The Christian nation exists not in the form of earthly government, but in the Church united in the body of Christ. And, Christians only come about through the life changing work of the Gospel and the Gospel falls under the realm of the church not the realm of the government. And so, we need to rethink how we have been going about things politically speaking. Honestly speaking, we were never going to win the same sex marriage debate. Once the world learned God wasn’t about to go and open heaven’s flood gates on it, the world was going to do what the world wanted. Any attempt right now that we make to overturn the ruling is going to make us look like people trying to grab back the privilege we supposedly just lost. And in turn, make it easier to paint us as bigots. I think we can afford to take a long view right now. Other work needs to be done. We need to win the hearts of the people and it will not be easy.

 

We start by becoming a sympathetic figure. We do what we should have been doing all along. We treat people as nicely as we possibly can. Give people respect even when we do not think they deserve respect. We need to be overwhelmingly generous with our words and deeds. Centuries ago, the pagan Romans complained about how Christians were making them look bad because we were so generous. That’s a complaint we need to hear again. Think about it this way. It is easy to hate the faceless person whom you can label with an evil name. To quote the Blues Brothers, “Illinois Nazis, I hate Illinois Nazis.” Illinois Nazis are faceless. They are easy to hate, because really who likes Nazis. They are only known for getting in the way of what we want.  The same thing happens with the word “bigot.” In many ways “bigot” has become the new “Nazi.” Who likes a bigot? They are all haters. It is very easy to be labeled the bigot when you are the faceless entity who seems to be getting in the way of what people want. We cannot afford to be the faceless entity. We shouldn’t have been anyways. We should have been friend and neighbor. Therefore, we will need to do everything we can to be that friend and neighbor, without compromising our confession, so as to not be called the bigot. The bigot is easy to hate particularly in this world enthralled with the idea of reliving the Selma days. While on the other hand, the neighbor who lives next door and will give you the shirt off his back is really hard to hate. I’m not saying that being outrageously generous and kind is going to be a magic pill to turn people around. People will still be people and there will be those who scream bigot when they find out you do not support their pet sins whatever they may be. But, it is still harder to do so to someone you know personally and have experienced their generosity.

We cannot lose our confession or we will cease to be a help to our brother. We hold to the Law of God ourselves and repent of our failings while continuing to immerse ourselves in the Gospel. We will not survive if we cave in on our confession. And if that happens who will be there for our brothers and sisters when sin drives them to rock bottom and they are left with a broken life. So, we continue on confessing that which we have been given to confess – the revealed will of God given in Law and Gospel. We must hold fast just as the martyrs did in the face of Roman persecution.

We cannot lose our confession of the Law because without the Law the Gospel is empty words. We need the humbling words of God’s command. We need to see our sin for what it is. One, because we ourselves need to repent. Thus, we need to see ourselves for the broken people we are. If we compromise on the Law in the name of being liked and we only end up losing sight of who we are. And in the end we will reject the Gospel itself.  The other reason is because in seeing our own sin we will find it easier to see our neighbors as broken people in need of help.  It’s hard to feel high and mighty when the Law has chopped your legs off at your hair line.

At the same time, neither can we lose our confession of the Gospel. Without the Gospel all is lost. There is no hope and there certainly is no compassion. During these troubling times we are going to need the hope of our victorious resurrected Savior more than ever. And there are people, having been given over to their sins, who are going to need the life renewing gift of the Gospel.  And we can’t give them the Gospel if we do not have it ourselves.  If you have ever been on a plane and listened to the safety talk, you will have heard them say, “Put your mask on first then help the person next to you.”  The reason they tell you this is because if you don’t get that mask on you’re going to pass out and be no good to anybody.  Same principle applies here, if you don’t have the Gospel you have no hope to give.

 

In short, keep calm and proclaim the Law and Gospel

 

And now some questions to consider as we move forward

We may need to rethink our role in society.  There may be roles we as Christians can no longer take. This is nothing new for us Christians. A Christian could not engage in prostitution or filming pornography and remain true to the faith. Similarly, we may need to rethink taking positions where we would be involved in officiating or licensing immoral acts of any kind. We may even have to rethink being in the catering business, simply because a cake may not be worth the fight (I know there is some debate over whether or not this constitutes participation, it’s just an example). Honestly, these are thoughts we need to have regarding any job.  If you know they are going to ask you to do things that are against God’s Law, you shouldn’t take the job.

At the same time, we need to work on strengthening our sense of community as a church and limit our involvement outside the community. I am not advocating a complete withdrawal from the outside community a la the Amish. Rather, I am thinking we will need to limit how much we are influenced by the outside community. We still interact, but we treat outside worldviews with care and discernment. And so, we need to limit the outside world’s influence over our community.  The things in the outside community that are good should be acknowledged, but at the same time, we should limit the exposure our children have to the bad parts of the outside community. We may need to see to educating our children ourselves, either through parochial schools or home education. I am not sure how much longer we can safely rely on public schooling, as it is simply too prone to following the predominant culture and our kids need a better foundation before facing the false views of the world. We may also need to cut ourselves off from much of what passes for entertainment in our world, while at the same time encouraging high art amongst our more artistically inclined Christian community members. The things in the paragraph above are just possibilities, I do not have definitive answers on how our future interaction should look in detail.

In the days of Rome, our own predecessors in the faith also had to rethink their role in society. The Apostles counseled them through this process. Paul writes extensively on this idea. He encouraged slave owners to, if possible, free their brothers in Christ or, if not possible, to treat them as a free man. Christians ceased participating in things that linked them to the pagan religions such as eating meat sacrificed to idols and no longer participating in the municipal festivals to pagan deities. The ancient Christians created their own art, extended charity to the surrounding community, continued to serve in helpful vocations, and served the population as a whole. All the while, they maintained a degree of separation and accepted the consequences of the separation.

 

It is not an easy road we face. However, the One we follow down the road has already overcome it. We continue to be the church. We live, breathe and proclaim Law and Gospel.

OSLPK movie night

Passing on a Christian Worldview: Beginning with the end in mind

If you want to accomplish anything you need to have a goal. Our goal is straightforward, to instill a Christian worldview. Ok, we have a simple goal.  However, do we understand our goal.  If we want to succeed, we first need to understand.  So, without further ado here is what our goal entails.

What is a Christian Worldview?

A Christian worldview is simply one that sees everything through the lens of the cross of Jesus. This may seem to be a narrow view on first glance and in a sense it is as it will exclude various views, ideas and paradigms. On the other hand, it is a view that allows us to take in the world and understand it. Through the cross we can see the core issue, we can understand God’s relationship with creation, and our place in it.

It answers the big question

What is wrong with the world?

You don’t get to the cross without a problem. The cross is pretty plain about the problem. Sin. Paul makes it pretty clear when he writes,

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come…Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:12–21 (ESV)

Seeing life through the cross we begin to see how sin has affected all of creation in a general sense and a specific sense. Obesity is a great example. In the general sense we can see that sin has affected our bodies in such a way that they cannot metabolize food to its fullest and at the same time prior to the fall it is hard to imagine such a thing would be a problem. And at the same time, we can see obesity is largely due to our own sinful overindulgence. Without sin we would not feel the need to overindulge. We would have perfect contentment with just the right amount of food with perfect nutrition. Sin is the reason bad thing happen. It sounds simplistic, it even sounds overly black and white. But without sin there would be no shades of grey. The cross, helps us to see the reality of sin and its place as the root of suffering.

It remedies the wrong.

Ultimately, the cross is about redemption. It is the loving act of the gracious Creator of all things that restores His creation. Through the death of Jesus the sins of the world is atoned. From this we can understand the fundamental question of humanity of “what is the problem and how is it fixed?” The cross tells us that sin is what is to ultimately blame for all suffering. And it tells us how the problem is fixed. Namely, God takes on human nature, lives perfectly, takes on sin, dies, and rises again. The act of God redeeming the world answers those immediate questions but like a rock thrown into a still pond its importance radiates outwards.

Ripples in the pond

Like ripples radiated out from the stone’s landing point, the Gospel’s effect radiates out in our lives. As the Gospel restores us in Christ it naturally effects other parts of our lives. It creates the desire to have God pleasing lives. It affects how we view things such reason and revelation. The Gospel changes our relationship with others – a whole host of things are changed. A great example of the effect of the Gospel has on our view of the world can be seen in the recent bookletIn Christ All Things Hold Together by the LCMS Committee on Theology and Church Relations. The booklet is a summarized view of how the cross affects our view of science and how a Christian can work in the realm of science. Working through that dynamic it cannot help but touch on how the cross affects our whole view of the world and how we understand it.

We are at home in the paradox

As a pastor I frequently get questions that boils down to which is the right answer that is asked in an either or format. Frequently, my answer is “both,” because even as the answers appear to be completely opposite they are both true. When you have two apparent opposites that are equally true you have a paradox. The cross establishes a paradox. Because of the work on the Cross, we Christians exist in the paradox of being both justified and sinner. The work of the cross did not remove us from the world so we still deal with the effect of sin and yet, we are also no longer a part of this world but of the renewed world to come. How this can be is a paradox. We can only confess both to be true. It is when we try to reconcile the paradox we get ourselves into trouble. For example, those who claim Christians cease to sin and so you can not be a Christian if you still have sin in your life. It is true a Christian in Jesus is without sin. However, it is not true that we stop sinning (Rm 7:13-25). Both are true. Both cannot co-exist or at least should not and yet, they do. Hence, our lives being a paradox.

Our ultimate goal

In this post, I have given an extremely basic overview of what a Christian worldview looks like.  I will draw out some more details in following posts, but please realize because of its all encompassing scope there is a great deal more that can be said.  However, now that we do have a basic understanding of what the Christian Worldview looks like we can begin to explore how we pass on the Worldview. We will start covering the “how” in my next article.

OSLPK movie night

‘Tis The Season for Really Bad Jesus Scholarship.

Every year without fail around Christmas and Easter time, poorly researched articles come out claiming all sorts of wild things about Jesus, Christmas, and the faith in general.  They come from atheist and Christian alike claiming that Christmas (and Easter) is really pagan.  Or that Jesus is a plagiarizing of various pagan gods.  It’s really kind of sad for when you have actual facts the claims do not make any sense at all so without further ado here are the facts presented in these funny and informational videos.

OSLPK movie night

The Dash

Job 5:7  ‘Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.’  Job 8:9 ‘for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow.’   Job 14:1  ‘Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.’  You gotta hand it to Job, he sure could throw a wet blanket on life’s party!  Course, you can understand that given his situation.  Remember the story – Had everything, was on top of the world; then God took it all from him.  You can understand why he said the things that he said.  Funny thing though, this is what the first Chapter of the story tells us:  ‘In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.’   Job lived by this philosophy:  ‘You only control the Dash’.

Ever look at a tombstone?  They usually have a date the person was born, and a date the person died, separated by a ‘dash’.  We only control the dash – the time in between.  We do not control how God chooses to bless us, or challenge us, we only control our Attitude to the situations God lays before us.  It has been said:  ‘The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.’  

It’s times like these that ought to lead us to surrender everything to Christ.  Even after loosing everything, Job said this in Chapter 19  ‘I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.’  What a great profession of Faith in our Risen Lord!  So, when your eulogy’s being read with your life’s actions to rehash…Would you be proud of the things they say about how you spend your dash??  (‘The Dash’ is a famous poem by Linda Ellis and can be read at this website:  http://www.sba.muohio.edu/snavely/415/dash.htm )

OSLPK movie night

Lifesaver

June, 1967.  Sitting on the beach, watching people swimming in the lake; hundreds of them.  Notice a kid on an inner tube who had floated out past the ropes.  A minute later, I notice the inner tube; but no kid.  Where did he go?  What should I do?  Do I get involved?  Do I ignore what I saw?

I don’t know why I got up and raced over the beach and swam like crazy through those hundreds of  people, out into deep water – but I did.    As I approached the inner tube, the kid was about 3 feet down, struggling to get to the air.  I pulled him up.  When he broached the surface, with a look of desperation, he said simply ‘Help Me.’  Out of all those hundreds of people, that little boy was alive because, by the grace of God, I noticed his plight and I did something about it.

Are you a lifesaver?  You can be.  God has called us to follow Jesus’ example and serve.   Remember the picture of Christ, washing the disciple’s feet?  We are called to be ‘Footwashers’ for Christ.  The Book of  James puts it this way: ‘15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?’  Remember our theme this year ‘Get out of the Boat; Give Hope!’  John Maxwell has said ‘People don’t care what you know; until they know that you care!’  Show YOU care by helping someone today!  Matthew: 25:40   40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

OSLPK movie night

Stand and Wait

One of my favorite poets is John Milton; often compared with Shakespeare as one of the truly great English writers.  After going blind,  Milton wrote the poem ‘On His Blindness’.  In the last line, he reflects that even with his disability, he has a place in God’s world, he wrote these famous words ‘They also serve who only stand and wait.’  A more modern reading would be: ‘Those people who only stand and wait also serve.’

Did you ever notice at a ‘State dinner’, there are always servants (or “servers”) standing by, in addition to the servers who are bringing food, pouring beverages and clearing dishes.  Or, maybe you haven’t noticed those other servers who stand in the background because they stand so still, they look like “part of the furniture,” “part of the wallpaper.”

I am struck by the number of people we have at Our Savior that provide critical services to us that we never think of – the bulletin folders; the altar people; the food preparers and servers; the drivers; the yard maintainers – and the list goes on and on!  These are the unsung heroes of Faith, the people who ‘Stand and Wait’.  This is what the Lord says of them:  (Matthew 25)  ‘ 34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

On behalf of a grateful congregation Thank You for your service; your reward is great in Heaven! (verse 40) – 40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’