“From the Pulpit” – Reflections on the Weekly Texts, from Pastor Greg
at Living Lord Lutheran Church, Vero Beach, FL Sunday, February 13th, 2022
After choosing his twelve apostles, Jesus teaches a crowd of followers about the nature and demands of discipleship. He begins his great sermon with surprising statements about who is truly blessed in the eyes of God.
17 [Jesus] came down with [the twelve] and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon.18 They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.
20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
25 “Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”
Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the LORD Jesus Christ.
OK...I bet I know what you'll be doing Sunday evening around 6:30 or so. Watching the Super Bowl, right!? Right. You, and another 190 million other Americans, not to mention the billions of others around the world. BTW...I'm really pulling for Cincinnati. How about you?
But just like there will be two teams on the field on Sunday, so, too, in our gospel this Sunday from Luke, as Jesus addresses the disciples and this crowd, many of whom came from pretty far away, there will be two types of people Jesus is addressing in this setting. First, the poor, the hungry, those who are weeping (think mourning what life has thrown at them), those who are excluded, those whom the world hates. In other words, the "have not's", as we might think of them.
And then, there are the "have's" - the ones with big bank accounts, large trust funds, plenty of food on the table, few worries as the world would have known it back then.
And Jesus has a message for both of these groups. For the first group, he brings a message of hope. A message that the promise of God will include them. A message that they will have a place at the heavenly feast. A message that God, through Jesus, will walk, and has walked, where they are now. In their hunger, in their poverty, in their feeling excluded by the world. He has been, and will be there again, at his trial and crucifixion.
And for the other group, the "have's", Jesus' message of woe, to me, is a call to action to this group. To say to them, "Use your resources to feed the hungry, to comfort the afflicted, to bring respect and dignity to those who are on the outside looking in. Give yourself away for the sake of others, right there in your own community, who are struggling, who are down and out, who have few options in life."
The message of the gospel is for rich and poor alike. For Jew and Gentile. For all people, regardless of your present situation in life. But to those who have been given much, as scripture reminds us, much is expected (required) of them. Salvation is for all God's creatures - being rich, or well off isn't a death sentence. But we, who have much, are called through our baptism to give ourselves away. To give sacrificially, as Jesus gave himself away for our sake.
So, as you and I sit in the comfort of our homes, perhaps surrounded by friends and family, know that there are two teams on that field, AND, there are two groups Jesus is addressing in this gospel passage today. We are called to be mindful of the one group, who likely lives right under our noses - the poor, the other. To be Christ to these sisters and brothers ourselves. Amen.
NOTES 1. Souper Bowl of Caring - This Sunday, as we leave worship, there will be an opportunity to give your loose change to the Souper Bowl of Caring (www.tacklehunger.org.) This organization has been working for years to gather funds on Super Bowl Sunday, to feed the hungry in local neighborhoods around the country and world. It's goal is to bring to light the stark contrast between the abundance that is spent/wasted at this humongous sporting event, and the need for basic life necessities in the communities that host the Super Bowl, and beyond. Bring your loose change, bring a check, bring cash, and we'll pass along what we collect, and send it to local VB food banks and more. Thanks!
2. Lenten Midweek Worship - We'll again be offering Lenten midweek worship, starting Wednesday, March 9th, and going weekly through Wednesday, April 6th. These short, contemplative midweek services will begin at 5:30 pm with a simple soup supper (interested in hosting one? see the sign up sheet in the lobby of the church.)
3. Ash Wednesday - Wednesday, March 2nd - Pastor Greg will again be offering our "Ashes on the Fly" at the church from 8:00 am to 9:00 am. Stop by the church, have ashes imposed on your forehead, etc. to remind you and those who see you that "dust you are, and to dust you shall return". There will also be an evening Ash Wednesday worship service that day, at 5:30 pm. Join us for one or both of these. 4. Ingathering and blessing of the wine - This Sunday, during the Prayers of the Church, we'll be bringing forth the donated wine used for Holy Communion, and blessing it. Thanks to all who donated wine!
4. Ingathering and blessing of the wine - This Sunday, during the Prayers of the Church, we'll be bringing forth the donated wine used for Holy Communion, and blessing it. Thanks to all who donated wine!
5. Holy Week/Easter -
Thursday, April 14th Maundy Thursday worship (*)
Friday, April 15th Good Friday worship (*)
Sunday, April 17th Easter Sunday worship - 10:00 am
(*) worship times 5:30 pm