“For faith must come freely without compulsion. Take myself as an example.
I opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force.
I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing.
And while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing; the Word did everything.”
Martin Luther, Eight Sermons at Wittenberg (1522)
We are concluding our series based on Journey of Lent: the Seven Wonders of the Word. We have briefly explored and pondered how the Word, both written Scripture and Christ, has the ability to create, call, command, shape and sustain. The remaining wonders of the Word is its ability to save and send.
Although I did not and will not focus on the ability of the Word to save, I had alluded to the widely held misconceptions regarding my responsibilities as a called and ordained Minister:
- It is not my responsibility to ‘shape’ you into Biblical Living and Old Testament law-abiding Christians. The Word shapes us.
- It is not my responsibility to ‘sustain’ (‘fulfill’) you in your spiritual journey.
Again, the Word sustains us.
- It is not my responsibility to bring anyone to faith or to ‘save’ them.
Again, the Word saves us.
In general, my responsibilities as a called and ordained Minister is rooted in the Christian vocation that ALL baptized Christians have been called into, which is:
- to proclaim the Word in word and deed;
- to seek justice for ALL;
- to act with compassion and mercy; and
- to love and serve ALL people, animals, and creation.
Additionally, I preside at worship, baptisms, marriage ceremonies, and memorial/funeral services.
Therefore, the simple truth is that we have all been created, called, commanded, saved, shaped, and sustained by the Word in order to be sent into the world to live out and into the whole of our vocation (again):
- to PROCLAIM the Word in word and deed;
- to SEEK JUSTICE for all;
- to act with COMPASSION and MERCY; and
- to LOVE and SERVE all people, animals, and creation.
Although it is simple truth, it is profound and challenging.
Martin Luther understood this simple, but profound truth.
Luther, quoted above, argued that he simply taught, preached, and wrote about the Word; otherwise he only drank beers with his friends over theological discussions and slept. The Holy Spirit, however, worked through the Word to bring people to faith (not by force) and caused the whole of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.
Thus, Luther understood that
- he was “sent” by the Word to proclaim the Word;
- the Word is powerful; and
- it was the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word, and not Luther’s work.
May we share in Luther’s wisdom regarding the power of the Word and the Holy Spirit.
May we acknowledge that it is the Word’s work to create, call, command, save, shape, sustain, and send… not our own.
May the Holy Spirit work through our proclamation and teaching of the Word in our words and deeds to seek justice, to act with compassion and mercy, and to love and serve ALL people, animals, and creation.
Loving God, you have entrusted each of us with a rich inheritance to share with all people, imprint your image upon our hearts placing your Word upon our lips as you send us forth. Amen.
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who called on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Romans 10: 12-15
Originally scheduled to be preached on March 21, 2018, but was cancelled due to winter weather and travel conditions.