"From the Pulpit" - Reflections on the Weekly Texts from Pastor Greg at Living Lord Lutheran Church
FIRST READING FOR SUNDAY
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. Jeremiah 31 - our first reading Sunday
SECOND READING FOR SUNDAY
Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. 21 But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 2 Romans 3 - our middle reading for Sunday
Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and the LORD Jesus Christ.
So, a little different this week. Here's a little quiz for you. When you think of Scripture - the bible, what word or words come to mind, other than the obvious ones - God, Jesus, etc. But I mean other words - words like grace (only mentioned 7 times in the OT, but well over 100 in the NT - interesting); love; forgive and forgiveness; healing; and more. Think of others that might come to your mind, and I'd actually be interested to know what they are. Maybe reply to this post.
In thinking about the words that come to mind in Scripture, does the word BUT come to mind? Probably not. Three letters, seemingly innocuous, BUT. How can such a word have any impact in and on Scripture? If you think about it, the word BUT typically would mean a turning - a turning from one thing to another. Think "I once was blind, BUT now I see" kind of thing. Getting a clearer picture? Before there was one thing, BUT now, after something happens, or changes, etc. there is something else - something new, something different. A new thing.
Which brings us to our lessons for this Sunday - Reformation Sunday. Look at two of the readings for this Sunday above - Reformation Sunday. See how in both readings above there was one thing - an old covenant in the Jeremiah reading; a former way of living (under the law, according to St. Paul, the author of Romans.) And look how things turn after the "BUT". A new thing. A new way. A new way of living; a new way of encountering God; a new way of seeing the world.
In this new covenant that God makes with God's people, the old has passed away. The new is at hand. In Christ, there is a new thing. Once we were dead in our sin, BUT now, we are alive in Christ. Once we were blind, BUT now we see. Get the point?
On Reformation Sunday, which comes this Sunday each year, we turn to these ancient texts to see, hear, and hope for a new thing. Just as the Reformers did in Luther's day, they were hopeful for a new thing - a church that wasn't so corrupt and tainted. They were hopeful that a new thing might come about through Scripture alone; through Christ alone; through grace alone, and that in Christ, all would know the love and mercy that God has brought to the world through Jesus himself.
So, yes, we theologians and preachers like our fancy words. It makes us look smart, feel important and such. But I want to say today that this little word BUT says a lot about our faith. Once we were dead in our sin, BUT now, through Christ, we are alive. We can do all things through God who strengthens us. Amen? Amen.
1. New members tomorrow - We'll be receiving a few new members tomorrow during worship. Please join me in welcoming them to our community of faith.
2. Book of Faith - If you're interested, check out the little "Book of Faith" sheet in the lobby of the church to list the name/s of loved ones lost during the last year, or any time. Next Sunday is All Saints Sunday, the day when we typically remember loved ones lost; those who raised us i the faith, and so on. List these names on the sheet and we'll include them in our worship service next Sunday. You'll also have a chance to light a candle during worship in their memory.
3. Piano/organ recital Saturday, November 12th at 3:00 pm at the church. Nancy Trievel, Pastor Greg's former musician, will be bringing her talents to our church for a 75 minute program of sacred and secular music, including some sing-along favorites of ours. A free will donation will benefit Lutheran Disaster Response.
"A Mighty Fortress is Our God"