The Last Sunday after Pentecost; Christ the King Sunday, Year C (11/20/16)

Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalm 46 (10)
Colossians 1:11-20
St. Luke 23:33-43
Semicontinuous Series:
Jeremiah 23:1-6
St. Luke 1:68-79 (69)

Prayer of the Day: O God, our true life, to serve you is freedom, and to know you is unending joy.  We worship you, we glorify you, we give thanks to you for your great glory.  Abide with us, reign in us, and make this world into a fit habitation for your divine majesty, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

23:33 When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [ 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. 35 And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

St. Luke 23:33-43. New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

What Kind of King?

Christ the King
Christ the King

In the Lutheran church we recognize the fifth Sunday before Christmas as the last Sunday in the liturgical church year. (The new year begins with four Sundays of Advent, as we prepare for the celebration of the Christmas season.) This Sunday is actually a festival. It is called Christ the King Sunday, or in some traditions, Reign of Christ Sunday. It is a relatively young festival, instituted by the Roman Catholic Pope, Pius XI, in 1925.

1925 was the year when Benito Mussolini dissolved the Italian Parliament and became dictator of Italy. It was a time of great uncertainty. Mussolini took advantage of the division and dissension the country was experiencing, amassed power around his Fascist party, and soon began to invade neighboring countries. By the late 1930s he would become one of Adolph Hitler’s strongest and most important allies.

Much of Europe was still reeling from World War I, and many people worried about the impact someone like Mussolini could have on the world. Pope Pius XI was worried too, and in a papal encyclical he warned believers about the increasing secular nature of Europe, and the danger of following the whims of dictators.

In response, the church established a feast which honored the kingship of Christ. Pius XI understood that when nations are spinning out of control, it is even more important for Christians to remember that there is a King above all other kings, who calls us to lives of faith and hope and peace and righteousness.

And so this day comes around each year, providing believers with a different image of what it means to have a king. Christ is pictured not on a heavenly throne, surrounded by the trappings of a powerful kingdom. Christ is pictured on a cross, suffering and dying — loving and forgiving — as an embodiment of God’s profound and sacrificial love for humankind. There is a power in this image of Christ as King, but it is a subversive power. It subverts the rule of violence in the world, and asserts that love will have the final say. Not the sort of love which blithely claims that everything is fine, but the sort of love which empowers people to risk their very lives in service of what is good and right and just.

Christ the King Sunday is a perfect time for us to consider what it means to be welcomed into God’s love just as we are, and then sent into the world as a reflection of Christ. As you and I are sent, how will our lives reflect his passionate commitment to forgiveness (even forgiving those who were crucifying him) and to new life (even welcoming a convicted criminal to Paradise)? We are all subjects of this King, and he may well lead us in other directions than worldly leaders might lead us. The question is: will we have the faith and courage to follow?

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What kind of kings ruled in first century Palestine? In first century Rome?
  2. How do God’s intentions for believers become revealed in Jesus, crucified on the cross?
  3. In what ways did the early church choose to follow Christ instead of the Emperor?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What does it mean to be subjects of a crucified king?
  2. How does both Jesus’ living and his dying instruct us about our own lives?
  3. What “powers that be” are trying to seduce me away from honoring Christ as my king?


The 26th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 28C (11/13/16)

Malachi 4:1-2a
Psalm 98 (9)
2nd Thessalonians 3:6-13
St. Luke 21:5-19

Semicontinuous Series:
Isaiah 65:17-25
Isaiah 12:2-6 (6)

Prayer of the Day:
O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without you nothing is strong, nothing is holy. Embrace us with your mercy, that with you as our ruler and guide, we may live through what is temporary without losing what is eternal, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

21.5 When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them.

“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

12 “But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13 This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14 So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15 for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 You will be hated by all because of my name. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

St. Luke 21:5-19. New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

That Which Is Eternal

Today is election day in the United States. Unless you’ve been hibernating for 18 months, this certainly doesn’t come as news to you. But it is a powerful reality which shapes the way we read this week’s lesson from the 21st chapter of St. Luke.

We have been focused for many months on who will hold office in the coming years, and how their service will shape the future of our country. The claim has been made that if one party or the other gains too much power, it will lead (depending on your personal political preferences) to disaster or renewal for our nation. The truth is: this 240-year-old country is far more powerful than that. No one politician, or one group of politicians, will single-handedly lead to the destruction or the survival of the United States. This grand experiment, including its commitment to a peaceful transfer of power, is designed to survive the best and worst of those elected to lead it. No matter how capable or incapable the present elected leadership corps, the next election cycle brings with it the possibility of new direction and new life. The United States of America will survive, whatever happens today. (more…)

Reformation Sunday (10/30/2016)

Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 46 (7)
Romans 3:19-28
John 8:31-36

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, gracious Lord, we thank you that your Holy Spirit renews the church in every age. Pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in your word, protect and comfort them in times of trial, defend them against all enemies of the gospel, and bestow on the church your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

8:31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”  34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

St. John 8:31-36 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Lutherans, at 500 Years 

It was 499 years ago, as the story goes, that a young, German monk made his way to the large wooden doors on the Castle Church in Wittenberg, and posted 95 complaints he had about the way the church was misunderstanding and misapplying the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The monk was Martin Luther. The church was the bigger-than-life Roman Catholic Church. And this simple act set off what would eventually become known as the “Protestant Reformation” — a movement that would divide the western church, but one that reinvigorated believers who began to study God’s word in earnest, and whose lives and witness were shaped by the good news of the Gospel. (more…)

The 23rd Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 25C (10/23/2016)

Jeremiah 14:7-10, 19-22 or Sirach 35:12-17
Psalm 84:1-7 (5)
2nd Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
St. Luke 18:9-14

Semicontinuous Series:
Joel 2:23-32
Psalm 65 (11)

Prayer of the Day:
Holy God, our righteous judge, daily your mercy surprises us with everlasting forgiveness.  Strengthen our hope in you, and grant that all the peoples of the earth may find their glory in you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

18:9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

St. Luke 18:9-14. New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.


At the heart of living as a follower of Jesus is to have faith. Most Christians would probably agree with this statement, but here is where we often disagree: what, exactly, is faith?

When I went away to school, my parents gave me a copy of “The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language; New College Edition” (© 1975). It lists, as the first definition of faith: “A confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.” There are actually six definitions listed, most of which have to do with ideas, doctrines, loyalties and principles. In fact, our culture has often thought of faith as getting it right. Believing the right doctrines. Embracing the right principles. Holding to the right commitments. There was a time when faith had to do with abstaining from drinking, gambling and dancing. These days it often seems to have to do with what we’ve decided about sexuality, abortion or politics. If faith has, primarily, to do with ideas, doctrines, loyalties and principles, then at its core it is about getting things right.

But consider this: Jesus never says, “Faith is believing correctly.” In fact, he seems to have a different understanding about what faith is, and this becomes apparent in this weekend’s Gospel lesson. (more…)

The 22nd Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 24C (10/16/16)

Genesis 32:22-31
Psalm 121 (2)
2nd Timothy 3:14–4:5
St. Luke 18:1-8

Semicontinuous Series:
Jeremiah 31:27-34
Psalm 119:97-104 (103)

Prayer of the Day:
O Lord God, tireless guardian of your people, you are always ready to hear our cries. Teach us to rely day and night on your care. Inspire us to seek your enduring justice for all this suffering world, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

18.1 Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’ “ And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

St. Luke 18:1-8. New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Do Not Lose Heart

It is a well-known-fact that whenever angels speak in the Bible, they almost always begin with the same words: “Do not be afraid.” They begin this way, of course, because most Biblical characters are absolutely terrified as soon as they see an angel. Most of us, never having had such an experience, can only imagine the majesty and mystery and awe-filled glory that accompany these appearances. There must have been able reason for fear, or these words of assurance wouldn’t be so necessary.

Well, here St. Luke introduces a parable of Jesus with a similar charge: “Pray always, and do not lose heart.” Why does St. Luke find it important to begin in this way? Could it also be that these are necessary words? That the followers of Jesus were liable to fall into despair when it seemed their prayers were not being answered? (more…)

The 21st Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 23C (10/9/2016)

2nd Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c
Psalm 111 (1)
2nd Timothy 2:8-15
St. Luke 17:11-19

Semicontinuous Series:
Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7
Psalm 66:1-12 (9)

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty and most merciful God, your bountiful goodness fills all creation. Keep us safe from all that may hurt us, that, whole and well in body and spirit, we may with grateful hearts accomplish all that you would have us do, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

17.11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance,13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”14 When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

St. Luke 17:11-19. New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.


We know almost nothing about these ten lepers, yet there are some things we can surmise. They are identified as lepers by the community. They may have had different reputations before this illness struck them. They may have been productive, generous, wealthy, famous, friendly, kind, influential… who knows? But these terms are no longer applied to them. They are now lepers. Simply lepers. As such, they are banned from all community events, and forced to live beyond the boundaries of the town with only other lepers for company. They are obedient to these restrictions, understanding that their presence in town could be quite dangerous. When Jesus arrives they are “keeping their distance.” Yet they cry out to Jesus: “Have mercy on us!” (more…)

The 20th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 22C (10/2/2016)

Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4
Psalm 37:1-9 (5)
2nd Timothy 1:1-14
St. Luke 17:5-10

Semicontinuous Series:
Lamentations 1:1-6
Lamentations 3:19-26 (23) or Psalm 137 (7)

Prayer of the Day:
Benevolent, merciful God: When we are empty, fill us.  When we are weak in faith, strengthen us.  When we are cold in love, warm us, that with fervor we may love our neighbors and serve them for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

17.1 Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come!It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.” ]

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’ ”

St. Luke 17:5-10. New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Only What We Ought to Have Done

You could make the case that the disciples, here, finally get it. Jesus has been teaching them about the challenges of living as one of his followers. Give to those who can’t give back to you. Be prepared to pay the cost of following me. Make a difference in the world. Be glad to welcome the lost. Practice your faithfulness shrewdly. Abstain from adultery. Care for the poor. To that, Jesus adds what seems to be the final straw: “If someone sins against you and repents seven times a day, you must forgive.” What? 7 times a day? 49 times a week? 217 times a month? 2,555 times a year? I have to forgive them every single time? Lord, increase my faith!

It seems that his listeners finally get it. They realize that the life of a Christian disciple is a difficult one. Not one they can live on their own. It will take, they surmise, a lot more faith than they currently have. You might expect Jesus to commend them for this insight. He doesn’t. Instead, he says: “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed [implying, ‘and you don’t’]…” (more…)

The 19th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 21C (09/25/2016)

Amos 6:1a, 4-7
Psalm 146 (7)
1st Timothy 6:6-19
St. Luke 16:19-31

Semicontinuous Series:
Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15
Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16 (2)

Prayer of the Day:
O God, rich in mercy, you look with compassion on this troubled world. Feed us with your grace, and grant us the treasure that comes only from you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

16.19 [Jesus said,] “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,21 who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. 24 He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. 26 Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ 27 He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house — 28 for I have five brothers — that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30 He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

St. Luke 16:19-31. New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

On Wealth and Faith

Pastors tend to love the fact that this text rolls around in the Fall. After all, the annual stewardship emphasis is about to begin. In the next two months many congregations will ask their members to think about how God has blessed them, and to respond in thanksgiving by making a financial commitment to support next year’s ministries. (We’ll do this here at Saint Peter during October.) What a gift it is to have a text like this. Can’t you just imagine this weekend’s sermons?

Look at the rich man. He held on to his goods, and ended up tortured in Hades, while Lazarus (a good but poor man, who was unencumbered by the wealth that you and I have…) went on to Paradise. So, friends, if you want to escape that kind of torture, give lots of money to the church (we’ll give some of it to the poor, and get you off the hook) and you’ll be in good shape once you’re dead.

What a perfect text! A little guilt. A little fear. And countless congregations will be financially solvent for at least another year…

But unfortunately (or, perhaps, fortunately), the text doesn’t exactly move us in this direction. Two subtle clues let us in on that. First of all, where does this poor man end up? He ends up in the bosom of Abraham. He ends up gathered into the heart of one of the wealthiest men in the book of Genesis. Elsewhere, Abraham is humbly described as a Wandering Aramean (Deuteronomy 26:5), but the writer of Genesis describes him as a man who has in his possession “sheep, oxen, male and female slaves, female donkeys, and camels.” Not a man who has given everything he owns away to support the poor. Not a man who, like Lazarus, has nothing to his name. Clearly the possession of wealth isn’t what rules out salvation in Jesus’ view.

The second clue is the name given to the poor man. Lazarus is the Latin form of Eleazar, and means: God is my help. What is unique about this individual is not his poverty or his poor health; not even that he spends most of his time lying in the front entrance to the rich man’s home. What matters is that he is a man who looks to God for help. He doesn’t depend on his own resources, or his own ability. But he knows that his only help is in God’s grace and in God’s power.

This, of course, is the struggle for the rich man. He has come to depend on his own ability to protect and preserve himself and his family and his possessions. As he turns in on himself, he consequently turns away from God, who has promised to watch over him, and accompany him. In turning away from God, he looses the only hope that can survive the end of this life.

Is it wrong to be rich? Certainly not. But it comes with its own set of complexities. Wealth (and the longing for wealth) can capture our attention like few other things are able to.Wealth can create the illusion that we are able to provide for our own security. Wealth can distract us from the sort of careful attentiveness to God’s presence in our lives that the faith demands of us.

The Rich Man and Lazarus remind us that no matter how rich (or how poor) we are, what is most important is this: the grace of God which embraces us, and assures us of our future with God. May we never be so rich (or so poor) that we lose sight of this truth.


David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What does Jesus tell us about the Rich Man?
  2. What does Jesus tell us about Lazarus?
  3. How might Jesus’ listeners (the Scribes and Pharisees: described earlier as “lovers of money”) have responded to this story?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. In what ways is my life like that of the Rich Man?
  2. In what ways is my life like that of Lazarus?
  3. How can I turn away from an unhealthy dependence on my own wealth, and towards a healthy dependence on God’s grace?

The 18th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 20C (9/18/2016)

Amos 8:4-7
Psalm 113 (7)
1st Timothy 2:1-7
St. Luke 16:1-13

Semicontinuous Series:
Jeremiah 8:18–9:1
Psalm 79:1-9 (9)

Prayer of the Day:
God among us, we gather in the name of your Son to learn love for one another.  Keep our feet from evil paths.  Turn our minds to your wisdom and our hearts to the grace revealed in your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

8.4 Hear this, you that trample on the needy,
and bring to ruin the poor of the land,

5 saying, “When will the new moon be over
so that we may sell grain;

and the sabbath,
so that we may offer wheat for sale?

We will make the ephah small and the shekel great,
and practice deceit with false balances,

6 buying the poor for silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
and selling the sweepings of the wheat.”

7 The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.

Amos 8:4-7. New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.


God’s Work. Our Hands.

According to H. George Anderson, former Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, in the Middle Ages wealthy citizens gave to the monasteries who, in turn, gave to the poor. In the reformation, the princes found excuse to confiscate church property, and the poor were left without support. Luther saw this early on, and in Leisnig he tried to address it with a ‘”fraternal agreement” where the community would take over the care of the poor from the monasteries. Attention was given to root causes as well as relief. A council was organized in Leisnig, with representatives from the poor included. (It is estimated that in Luther’s day, 30% of the population were considered poor.) (more…)

The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 19C (9/11/2016)

Exodus 32:7-14
Psalm 51:1-10
1 Timothy 1:12-17
St. Luke 15:1-10

Semicontinuous Series:
Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28
Psalm 14 (2)

Prayer of the Day:
O God, overflowing with mercy and compassion, you lead back to yourself all those who go astray.  Preserve your people in your loving care, that we may reject whatever is contrary to you and may follow all things that sustain our life in your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen.

15.1 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to [Jesus]. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”  3 So he told them this parable: 4 “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. 8 “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9 When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

St. Luke 15:1-10. New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.


Joy in Heaven

The one thing we know for sure about God is that there is nothing we can know for sure about God. That is the wisdom behind the theological principle which goes by the name Deus Mysterium (“the mystery of God”). We cannot, and we never will, come to know God fully. All that we know of God is what God has chosen to reveal to us. The rest of God’s nature is shrouded in mystery.

God is shrouded in mystery (Deus Mysterium), yet God is revealed to us (Deus Revelatus), and so every week we turn to the Scriptures to discover what is revealed there about God. This week we read from the thirty-second chapter of Exodus and the fifteenth chapter of St. Luke. We find that two profound aspects of God’s nature are revealed to us in these texts. (more…)

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