Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Pentecost, the Season of Growth, Part Two
As we approach being three-fourths the way through our Pentecost Season, it is necessary to review the purpose of the season of Pentecost and what we have been hearing and learning over the past three plus months.
As a gentle reminder, the liturgical color for the season of Pentecost is Green, which is the color of growth. Thus, we are reminded by the color green that Pentecost and the Sundays after Pentecost are Sundays in which we have the opportunity, through the Scripture readings (the Old Testament Reading, the Epistle Reading and the Gospel Reading) to grow in our Christian faith and life, that is to grow in our knowledge and understanding of God and His work in our lives. The ultimate goal is that as we are able, as we are asked, we will always be ready to give an apology, which is a defense or an answer to others who ask about our faith in Jesus. So we see the importance of our Divine Service and Bible Class attendance.
So far we have discussed the texts for the first fourteen weeks after Pentecost. We pick up at the fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost where Jesus challenges us with having an attitude of humble service, that is that we serve God by serving others. Jesus’ example is that He gave His all, even Himself and His life on the cross for us because of His great love for us even though we cannot ever repay Him. Our response of faith flows out of the fact that we love only because Jesus first loves us. And so, Jesus challenges us to acknowledge that everything we have is a gift from God so that rather than thinking we are giving, caring for and helping others who repay us through like kinds of giving, caring and helping, that true giving is giving to those we know cannot repay. Here we were challenged to think about our Christmas tradition of exchanging presents. Instead of only exchanging presents this year, we might consider either giving to someone we know cannot return the present and doing so anonymously so as to remove any guilt on the recipients part, and/or perhaps giving a gift to our Lord, i.e., the church.
The sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost reminded us of the first commandment and the fact that we are to “fear, love and trust in God above all things.” The cost of discipleship is our life. Jesus gave His life for us on the cross, and although He asks and requires nothing of us, which we are usually ready give (nothing), His desire as He sends the Holy Spirit through His means of grace, is that we respond to His gifts by being given His gifts, rather than refusing and rejecting His gifts. We respond by being where the gifts are given, in Divine Service and Bible class, and we respond by living lives of faith, serving Him by serving others, loving as He first loves us.
God loves each one of us as if we were the only person in the world, to love and yet He loves every person with that same intensity of love. That is what we heard on the seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost. We were also reminded that because we are conceived and born in sin, our nature is to wander, and when we wander, we do not know we are lost and so we do not go looking for our Lord. Rather we continue wandering, looking for those who would confirm us in our spiritual problems, that is those who would rejoice in our wandering from the faith. It is God who comes seeking to save the lost, including us. It is God in Jesus who saved us, who continually seeks us, who forgives us, and who calls us back into His flock.
On the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost Jesus reminded us of the fact that we cannot serve two masters. He told the parable of the shrewd steward to His disciples and to us. This is a parable that is talking about sanctification, what we do as a response to what God has done for us, not what we do in order to gain something from God. Remember, Jesus is speaking to His already converted disciples. Jesus does not tell us that worldly wealth should be an end in and of itself, rather He is telling us that we should use the gifts of this world that God has given us in order to help others. More specifically, Christians should use worldly wealth in order to increase Christian charity. One more way of saying that is to say that, as Christians, we are to use our worldly wealth responsibly, to help those in need, understanding that the wealth of this world comes from outside ourselves, from the Lord, and so we are to use it in service to Him and His Kingdom.
The month of September had five Sundays, five opportunities to be in Divine Service and be given the gifts God has to give. How fitting that on the fifth Sunday in September, on the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost we were reminded of the temporariness of this world, the fleetingness of worldly gain, the necessity of Christian charity, and the importance of faith given through the means of grace. The Gospel Lesson motivates a desire to be where God’s gifts are given, to live lives of faith including having eyes to see those in need, and an anticipation of eternal life in our home in heaven.
And that about catches us up for the third quarter of the Pentecost Season. It is amazing the gifts the Lord delivers to us through His Word each and every Sunday in Divine Service and in Bible Class. Thanks be to God!