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Tag Archives: Isaiah 40

New Chapters

Jesus has exorcised an unclean, demonic spirit from a man within the synagogue.

Afterwards, Jesus and the newly called disciples enter into the home of Simeon (Peter) to find his mother-in-law is in bed ill. This means that Simeon (later Peter) was a married man, who would leave his home, career, parents, spouse, and possibly children behind to follow Jesus.

Jesus does heal his mother-in-law, who responds appropriately with gratitude in service.

As we might imagine, the news of the exorcism and this healing ripple through the small town. The community begins to bring their loved ones who have demons for exorcisms and their ill for healing. Although Jesus does exorcise and heal many, he does not exorcise and heal all of them.

In the night, Jesus escapes to pray. The disciples will encourage him to return and continue exorcising and healing, but Jesus shares that the time has come to end this chapter and begin the next.

This narrative, especially paired with our Isaiah, Psalm, and 1 Corinthians scriptures, is simple but offers profound teaching about the divine character of the Triune God, our appropriate response, and the next chapter.

Our Scriptures include an over-arching truth, God desires life that is truly LIFE for all; and thus, God is life-giving. God is merciful, slow to anger, steadfast in love, and according to our Psalm and Isaiah scriptures it is experienced as:

  • God gathers,
  • God lifts the lowly,
  • God binds up wounds,
  • God heals the broken-hearted,
  • God rebuilds,
  • God sustains,
  • God provides, and
  • God protects.

Within our Christian tradition, we experience this life that is truly LIFE through baptism.

In baptism, we experience a death to the Old Adam, our old selves, or the ending of a previous chapter.
This includes an exorcism through renouncing all forces that defy the Kingdom of God to Come.

In baptism, we are raised as a new creation into this new life and the new chapters ahead.
This is a healing or restoring of our souls through forgiveness, mercy, and of course grace.

Our appropriate response to this new life is to strive for the Kingdom of God that is here in glimpses now, that is near, and that is not yet fulfilled with gratitude in living further and further into our Baptismal vocations:

  • To proclaim Christ in thought, word, and deed through imitation,
  • To seek justice and honest peace,
  • To act with compassion and mercy, and
  • To love and to serve all people, especially the vulnerable.

Unfortunately, this is NOT easy.

We fail. We easily become weary, faint, and eventually exhausted and over-whelmed in faithful service.

When we are weary, faint, and exhausted, it hinders our ability to recognize the creative power of God, which is on-going and sustaining activity fostering the life that is truly LIFE, and our envisioning of a new creation that is the next chapter and beyond.

But, fortunately God does not fail. God does not become weary, faint, or exhausted.

And thus, we can and must rely on the sustaining grace of God.

And so, Jesus and the disciples continue into their next chapter of proclaiming the good news, exorcising demons, and healing people beyond Capernaum and eventually beyond Galilee.

Meanwhile, those who have been exorcised or healed are left behind to continue expressing their gratitude in faithful service through proclaiming Christ, acting with compassion and mercy, while loving and serving especially those whose demons and illnesses remain. Those who were exorcised and healed have been freed to boldly serve the “other”, similarly the baptized have been freed and are subject to the Triune God alone. According to the Apostle Paul (and Martin Luther), this freedom enables us to become servants who boldly serve all persons, grabbing ahold of and expanding upon the glimpses of the Kingdom of God that is here in this time and place. That is their next chapter. That is our next chapter.

May we embrace the life that is truly Life offered by the Triune God.

May we embrace our appropriate response to serve with gratitude
in accordance with our baptismal vocation.

May we embrace the next chapter and beyond.
Amen.

Scriptures were Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-11, 20c; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23; and
Mark 1:29-39.

Originally preached 7 Feb. 2021 for Trinity Lutheran Church (Union City, Indiana).

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2021 in Sermons

 

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Peace Making

Isaiah foretells of a voice in the wilderness calling for us to prepare the way of the LORD, to prepare a highway that is straight with mountains and valleys leveled, rough places smoothed, and pot holes filled.

John the Baptist is said voice in the wilderness.

John the Baptist is the bridge between the prophets of old, sharing fashion with Elijah echoing their voices, and the new, as Jesus’ cousin who foretells of his ministry and identity as the Christ

But, John the Baptist is not the biblical person I would associated with peace.

John was brutally honest, extremely vocal, and lacked tact.
John made waves among the common persons.
John rocked the boat with the political leadership and social elite.
John stirred the pot among the religious leadership and elite. 

Again, we do not often associate said persons and actions with peace.

However, humanity has been taught, continues to teach, and far too often embraces a lie. It is the lie that all strife, all unrest, all conflict is unhealthy and destructive; thus, it must be avoided. This lie is the foundation for a dishonest and false peace.

This dishonest and false peace is embodied in the notion of Pax Romania, or Peace of Rome. This Peace of Rome was ensured through oppression and fear. This Peace of Rome was ensured through violent, military force at the mere murmur of unrest.

Dishonest peace avoids differences, disagreements, strife, and conflict at the expense of meaningful but uncomfortable conversations, necessary but challenging changes, and honest peace.   

Dishonest peace maintains the status quo and its systematic injustices.

Dishonest peace protects the privileged and harms the under-privileged and vulnerable.

Dishonest peace affords opportunities to those with authority, power, wealth, and privilege at the expense of those without said authority, power, wealth, and privilege.

Dishonest peace creates ‘Peace-Keepers’, who discourage the ‘Good Trouble’ of John Lewis, the civil rights moment, and those who have and continue to prepare the way for the LORD seeking to level the mountains and valleys, smoothing the rough places through establishing sustainable equality and equity.

In the words of Martin Luther: “Peace when possible. Truth at all costs.”

Honest peace rejoices in the truth and prepares the way of the LORD.

Honest peace dispels unhealthy, devastating strife, unrest, and conflict through those honest meaningful but uncomfortable conversations.

Honest peace establishes the necessary but challenging changes that level the mountains and valleys, which continue to distinguish persons based on positions of authority and power, amount of accumulated wealth, social status, and privilege.  

Honest peace encourages the ‘Good Trouble’ that continues to demand and establish sustainable equality and equity that smooths the rough places.

Martin Luther King Jr., spoke that the arc of history is long but always bends towards justice.

Honest peace is a force that bends the arc of human history towards said justice.

Honest peace is a force that prepares the way of the LORD through mountains and valleys leveled, rough places smoothed, and pot-holes filled.

John the Baptist was not a peace-keeper. John the Baptist was a peace-maker.

John the Baptist was creating honest peace, rather than maintaining a dishonest peace.

John the Baptist demonstrated that peace-making may include brutal honesty and being vocal,
but hopefully with more tact.

May we, similar to John the Baptist, be peace-makers who are willing to make waves, rock the boat, and stir the pot for the sake of ‘Good Trouble’ establishing an honest peace upon all the earth for the sake of preparing the way for the LORD. Amen.

Scriptures were Isaiah 40: 1-11 and Mark 1: 1-8.
Originally preached on 13 Dec 2020 for Trinity Lutheran (Union City, IN).

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2020 in Sermons

 

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Advent Peace (2020)

Peace. Peace upon all the earth. It sounds idealistic. It seems impossible.

We are often taught to ‘keep the peace’, for example:

  • Don’t cause waves;
  • Don’t rock the boat; and
  • Don’t stir the pot.

Our broken humanity, communities and nations, and entire creation embraces the lie of false and dishonest peace. Dishonest peace proclaims that all unrest, strife, and conflict is unhealthy and devastating; thus, it must be avoided at all costs.

Perhaps, it can be connected to the notion of Pax Romina, or the Peace of Rome, which was maintained by violent suppression at the mere murmur of unrest.

But, this dishonest peace is a significant disservice to all of humanity.

This dishonest peace discourages uncomfortable, challenging but necessary, meaningful conversations.

This dishonest peace discourages the ‘Good Trouble’ caused by John Lewis, the civil rights moment, and the persons who sought and continue to seek reforms establishing equality and equity.

This dishonest peace too often maintains the status quo and its systematic injustices.

This dishonest peace too often protects the privileged while causing harm to the under-privileged.

This dishonest peace too often affords those with authority, power, and wealth opportunities at the expense of those without said authority, power, and wealth.

This is not Advent peace. This is not the peace of Christ.

This is not the peace that surpasses all understanding.

Instead, Isaiah summons us to prepare the way for the Lord, which requires honest peace.

This Isaiah text is a ‘Grand Leveling’, where those in positions of authority, power, wealth, and privilege are humbled while the under-privileged and vulnerable are lifted up.

Honest peace dispels unhealthy, devastating false peace, strife, and conflict through meaningful, respectful dialogue and action resulting in sustainable equality and equity.

In the words of Martin Luther: ‘Peace when possible. Truth at all cost’.

Martin Luther King Jr spoke about the arc of history might be long but it bends in the direction of justice.

Although ‘keeping the [dishonest] peace’ may be more comfortable and secure,
may we seek the honest peace that embraces truth and arcs towards justice through ‘Good Trouble’.
Amen.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2020 in Devotions/Reflections

 

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