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Sin Boldly… Pray Boldly

“Sin Boldly” is perhaps the most infamous Luther quote with the exception of “Here I Stand”. Yet, it is unfortunately removed from its context and often misunderstood.

On August 1, 1521, Martin Luther wrote to Philip Melanchton, whose contributions to the Protestant Reformation and its Lutheran tradition is undeniable. Melanchton was the ‘soft footed’ reformer who attended conversations with the Catholic Church on behalf of the ex-communicated Martin Luther, who feared execution. Melanchton was well-written, mild mannered, and a systematic theologian who provided the future Lutheran tradition with its own confessional writings.

In this letter, Luther wrote the following to Melanchton, his friend and colleague:

If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly (or bravely), but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here [in this world] we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness, but, as Peter says, we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. It is enough that by the riches of God’s glory we have come to know the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day. Do you think that the purchase price that was paid for the redemption of our sins by so great a Lamb is too small? Pray boldly – you too are a mighty sinner.

Martin Luther taught that ‘sin’ is being curved in on the self, which is a condition of our being and not necessarily our poor actions. Therefore, we are always in a state of sin for our focus and intentions are never purely spent on God or Christ reflected in our neighbor, particularly the most vulnerable among us.

Since sin is a constant state of being, the sins of fornication and murder mentioned are not the literally acts of sex outside of marriage and murder alone. The sin of fornication would be the lustful thoughts, glazes, or acts while the sin of murder would be any thought, word, or action that ignores, criticizes, or harms a person in body, mind, or soul. Thus, Luther’s assertion that our shadow side (sinful nature) commits “fornication and murder a thousand times a day” may not be an exaggeration.

Luther understood this shadow side of humanity, which should be acknowledged and not hidden.

The shadow side is always present, yet always forgiven by the pure grace of God.

The truer the shadow side the truer the grace that is needed and appreciated.

Remember, Sin boldly… but pray more boldly – you too are a mighty sinner.

But, may we pray and act more boldly for the sake of our neighbors, the world, and all creation. Amen.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2019 in Newsletter Articles

 

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Intensified Law, Sin Boldly

Our gospel is a continued except from Jesus’ infamous ‘Sermon on the Mount’.

Within the scripture,…

But Jesus’ tone has shifted.
Jesus denounces the rumor that he came to ‘abolish’ the law.

The Torah, teaching, is the first 5 Books in the Hebrew Bible (and Old Testament).
The Torah includes the Ten Commandments and the remaining legal code.

Who enjoys the law? Depends on the situation. 

According to Martin Luther and our Lutheran tradition, the legal code serves three purposes:

  1. Civil Law and Order
    It is a guideline for healthy interaction with God and neighbor while maintaining good order (and boundaries). In essence the legal code restrains us, especially from killing one another, due to the consequences. Honestly, in the words of Brandy Clarks’ Strips “the crime of passion aint worth the crime of fashion” (lol).
  2. A Mirror Reflecting Our Short-Comings
    Who enjoys seeing themselves in the mirror in the morning, without hair and make up done? NO ONE. The legal code is that mirror, which reflects to us the sins, failures, and short-comings we are reluctant to recognize and acknowledge.
  3. Points us to Christ
    Although the third use of the law is debated, after looking into the mirror, it points us to our need for God’s love, mercy, and grace through Jesus the Christ.

Jesus did not abolish the legal code, but intensified it while rebelling against the non-essentials. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2020 in Sermons

 

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Why I Am Single

It is amusing that I am often asked ‘why are you single’.

It is perhaps the most commonly posed question, second to ‘are you pregnant’.
I am not pregnant… I simply love carbs and tacos. Thank you. 

I have chosen singlehood at this time and am comfortable within it.
I have been single since deciding to divorce July 2014 and finalizing Feb. 2015.
During these 5+ years, I have not had a significant other or even been on a date.

Therefore, I decided with Valentine’s Day approaching to address the question.
The answer is not necessarily simplistic or short.

The question is often paired with a qualifier, including:

  • You are attractive/ intelligent.
  • You are established/successful.
  • You have a sense of humor/good personality.
  • You enjoy camping, mudding, shooting, whiskey, cigars, etc.

Thus, the simplistic, dismissive, and ‘easy’ response would be “I intimidate men”.

  1. I hope the majority of the male gender (CIS) would not be so easily intimidated by a woman who is able and willing to be at least their equal.
  2. It fails to recognize my singlehood as an active choice.
    If I chose to seek a significant other, I am confident that I could find a warm-bodied male who is able and willing. However, I am not confident that he would necessarily be the person I would need, or further want, as a partner in this life.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2020 in Singlehood

 

SALT Shaker!

The gospel is an excerpt from Jesus’ infamous ‘Sermon on the Mount’.

Jesus speaks of being a light, which is the emphasized imagery of this Time after the Epiphany that perhaps you have grown weary of hearing…
Well, pause and take a deep breath.

I am not talking about the light, instead the SALT.

Jesus tells the gathered crowd to be the salt of the earth,
but what does that mean?

I am intrigued at times about how language changes throughout the decades, not to mention the centuries and the millennia. For example:

If someone is ‘salty’, they are upset of bitter about something minor.
But, does Jesus want us to be bitter about insignificant things?
I don’t think so.

Or reflecting on my Western States Youth Gathering adventure with a friend from church, I can not help but recall ‘salt’. We noted youth, sorry ladies but primarily female youth, who were sweet as sugar when chaperone eyes were watching but behaving inappropriately and vindictively when those eyes were not. We nicknamed them ‘salt’, because although appearing to be sugar, they were something different. We might say they wore a mask, were two-faced, or the popular and often deserved criticism of Christians as being hypocrites.
But, does Jesus want us to be two-faced, hypocrites? I doubt it. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2020 in Sermons

 

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Jesus: Rebellious, Refining Light

It has been 40 days since Christmas.
It has been 40 days since the birth of Jesus the Christ.

It has been 40 days since the light of hope, peace, joy, and love bursted into our existence in the darkness of hopelessness, conflict, despair and anguish, and hatred and fear.

And yet, our ordinary daily routines have resumed.

The Advent preparations of our hearts and lives are a distant memory.

Those 12 days of Christmas have been celebrated and packed away.

This Time after the Epiphany, its lightbulb moments are dimming while flickering but once a week.

I imagine that it was similar for the newly formed Holy Family:
Joseph, Mary, and of course the infant Jesus.

According to the Catholic tradition, Joseph was a widower with children born of his previous union.

But as we know, Mary was a first-time parent. Perhaps within these 40 days, Mary was miraculously able to establish a routine and is a natural at the ‘parenting’ thing but I am confident that she is mentally, emotionally, and physically drained beyond exhaustion.

Yet, Jesus was circumcised and named on the 8th day after his birth, per Jewish custom.

And now, Jesus is presented in the temple on the 40th day after his birth, per Jewish custom. The presentation was essentially a return of the first-born son to God, who had claimed the first-born sons of Israel (current and future) during the original Passover in Egypt. The parents offered to God a prescribed sacrifice, due to the limited resources of the Holy Family their sacrifice was two turtle-doves or young pigeons.

The mysterious and awe-inspiring divine experience of Advent and Christmas are a memory. Our ordinary routines have resumed. Yes, even for the Holy Family.

But, within their Jewish custom, divine revelation would once again amaze Joseph and Mary. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2020 in Sermons

 

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The Darkness & The Light

Our Isaiah scripture is well-known and inter-connected with its paired scriptures, while embodying this ‘Time after Epiphany’ as the manifestation of God and the imagery of light.

Isaiah writes of those in darkness, which is directly echoed in our Matthew scripture. This darkness, however, is not historically ‘sin’. This darkness is the reality of their community as oppressed persons, who existed in injustice, hopelessness, conflict, despair and anguish, and hatred and fear. This was their darkness.

Yet, Isaiah reminds these people that the empire, and thus the oppressing forces, are temporary for they will see a great light.

This contrast of the dark and the light connects to a basic shared human experience that is not confided by the imaginary divisions of culture and language, race and ethnicity, nationality, socio-economic status, religious or non-religious adherence, generation and age, sexuality or gender identity, political affiliations, or etc. It is the anxious and fearful energy of being in the dark, for it is disorderly chaos of the unknown due to our lack of sight. However, when a source of light is introduced and we regain our sight, the anxious fear is relieved, the disorderly chaos becomes orderly stability, and the unknown becomes known.

This light is the light of our Advent candles: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2020 in Sermons

 

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What are You Seeking?

The Gospel according to John differs from those of Mark, Matthew, and Luke.

John begins with creation, which is brought into being through the WORD that is Christ.

John, similar to Mark, does not include a birth narrative.

John does include Jesus’ baptism, but it is through the witness of John the Baptist to his disciples instead of Jesus. This is where we enter into the gospel this morning.

John the Baptist is excited, this is the One for whom he prepared the way.

John’s disciples were excited for the Israelites had been waiting centuries for their Messiah to come.

And Jesus’ first words, his first impression made, in the gospel of John is a question.

As one who is inquisitive, I appreciate Jesus arriving on scene with a question especially the simplistic yet complex and vastly open ended question posed…
What are you looking for? Or better yet, What are you seeking?

These disciples of John respond ‘to know if you are the long awaited Messiah’. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2020 in Sermons

 

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Affirm Baptism

While in Arizona, an uncle was asking his siblings if they recall him being baptized. It was decided that he probably had not been baptized and his face seemed concerned. He is older with health concerns and married to a Catholic women.

As Christians, Baptism is significant in our faith journey.

I often note our appropriate response to Baptism through commitment to our shared baptismal, or Christian, vocation, which is to:

  • Proclaim Christ in word and deed;
  • Seek justice;
  • Act with compassion and mercy; and
  • Love and serve all people.

But, it is often at the expense of discussing the purpose of and the Triune God’s activity in our baptisms.

Baptism, at its most basic, is an initiation rite. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2020 in Sermons

 

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