Another lovely Sunday at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church

It’s the 11th Sunday after Trinity and the watchword is from the first epistle of St. Peter in the fifth chapter: “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.” (1Pe 5:5 NIV). The Old Testament reading is from 2.Samuel 12 and tells the story, how the prophet Nathan goes and preaches God’s holy will and law to royalty in Israel – to old king David personally, but right there in public and in the open as he said. It shows that there is indeed a long history of the Church preaching critically to the high and mighty: “Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes?”  (2Sa 12:9 NIV) The prophet names the sin, calls out the sinner and brings the hidden evil to light and into the public sphere. There’s no escaping God’s truthful and righteous judgement. No getting away with sin – never mind murder. Nothing of keeping the dirty linen inside the closet. No, it’s got to be cleansed and fixed in the open. It’s a public affair and the office of this kingly ruling is for every one to see. The good thing about this story is that because the king knew that he was responsible to a higher judge and a divine justice and order more than his own, he hears the law preached, but acknowledges it too and confesses the truth: “I have sinned against the Lord!” No denial here. No killing (cf.Mt.14:10) or rubbishing the messenger either as happens today. And the Lord the almighty God forgave David and he lived to see another day. See, it’s not the will of our Lord that anybody dies, but rather that everybody repent and live forever with him. He doesn’t want us to be so proud as if we are not accountable nor responsible, but rather want’s us to remain humble and confess our shortcomings, failings, errors and sins and seek his forgiveness and pardon – just like that tax-collector, who in Jesus Christ’s words of today’s gospel teaches us the right way to pray: “God have mercy on me – a poor, miserable sinner!”(cf Lk 18:13) and the holy Epistle for today from the letter to the Ephesians illustrates God’s wonderful and forgiving gospel and work: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions– it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith– and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2:4-10 NIV) Reason enough to rejoice and be grateful and live joyfully as God’s forgiven people – truly at home always and justified before God in all eternity.  (cf Luk 18:14 NIV). Obviously that is an ideal passage for a confessional service too, but also for the Christian instruction of the confirmands busy with the 5th commandment of our Lord, the triune God Father, Son and Holy Spirit: “We should fear and love God that we may not hurt nor harm our neighbour in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need.”  This covers a great deal especially in a time and age, where the life of others counts but little in the eyes of many. Jesus Christ however teaches us to love our enemies, blessing those who curse us and praying for those, who persecute us too. In our time, where we have so many countless people migrating, fleeing, running away, we as Christians need to realize the potential of our churches and mission stations as true sanctuaries and shelters for those, who are otherwise ostracised, marginalized and discriminated against. Not only those fleeing from ISIS, Boko Haram or other terrorist gangs, mobs and villains, but also those victims of human trafficking, slavery and terrible ordeals to dreadful to imagine.  Have you thought of adopting a homeless child or sponsoring an orphan or a student? Are you going to do something about that? Remember his word: “What you have done to one of these my smallest brethren, you’ve done to me!” He will not even overlook that one glass of water or that friendly word of encouragement or kind donation, but rather repay it a thousand fold.

Jesus Sinners Will Receive by Erdmann Neumeister

  • Jesus sinners will receive; May they all this saying ponder Who in sin’s delusions live And from God and heaven wander! Here is hope for all who grieve: Jesus sinners will receive.
  • We deserve but grief and shame, Yet his words, rich grace revealing, Pardon, peace, and life proclaim. Here our ills have perfect healing; We with humble hearts believe Jesus sinners will receive.
  • When their sheep have lost their way, Faithful shepherds go to seek them; Jesus watches all who stray, Faithfully to find and take them In his arms that they may live Jesus sinners will receive.
  • Come, O sinners, one and all, Come, accept his invitation; Come, obey his gracious call, Come and take his free salvation! Firmly in these words believe: Jesus sinners will receive.
  • Jesus sinners will receive. Even me he has forgiven; And when I this earth must leave, I shall find an open heaven. Dying, still to him I cleave Jesus sinners will receive. Amen.

And here is the Bach Kantate for this 11th Sunday after Trinity too:

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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