Sunday, October 18, 2009

20th Sunday

Today's Saying

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. ~Mahatma Gandhi

Today many of the liturgical churches that use the Common Lectionary will be celebrating the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost and the Gospel will be Mark 10:35-45.
In this text we see in the Church being born a problem that will plague God’s people until Jesus returns. It is the problem of power and what is it foir.
James and John know that Jesus is King. He has power. They want to share that power. They want , in the Kingdom of God, the power positions. These are the left and right hand chairs next to the King. They are bold enough to ask Jesus to give them those positions.
This, of course, angers the other disciples. At this point Jesus sits them all down and tells them something about His kingdom and power. What he tells them the Church and Christians have often ignored.
He says that the leaders of this world are tyrants and lord it over their subjects but it was not to be so with them. Instead , in the Church, the great ones are the servants. Then He points out that he came to serve and not be served.
How different the history of the world would be if the Church had listened to and followed those words.
But instead we see a history in which the pursuit of power often destroyed the message of the Church. We see Bishops fighting for control and having other Bishops killed. We see Pope’s having people they don’t agree with put to death. We see power used for power’s sake.
We see the Reformation Churches using power to force people to agree with them. We see religious wars. We cry for the Church filled over its history with people like James and John.
But if you look again you will also see the real church in action. You will see monks, priests, pastors, nuns, martyrs serving people. They feed the poor. They care for the sick. They establish the first hospitals. They reach out to lepers of every kind. They give themselves in service. They hear Jesus and they respond. They lay down their lives for others.
If only God had something less flawed than us to work through. But He doesn’t.
So some people become Bishop and forget to be Pastor. They push their power and stamp on the flock.
But others become Bishop and use the position for ever greater service.
Some people become Pastor’s and look to build a reputation, get a large salary, be a mover and shaker. While others become pastors and serve God and community.
Some become Christian and see themselves as better than everybody else . They look down on those not as holy as they are. Others become Christian and find opportunities to both share Jesus and to serve.
This morning I want to say to those who believe in Jesus please listen to Him. We are called to serve not be served.
To those of you who aren’t Christian please don’t judge us by the James and John of our history . Yes there are nasty people who name the name of Christ but all of us are not like them.
We struggle to be the servant Church. We really do.

Today at Last Lutheran the second service will be crowded. Today at that service Pastor Joan will baptize her son. Are waiting to discover what they have named him. Some are even betting on the name chosen. The majority think it will be Alexander. That’s a power name. Perhaps Alexander Tommy would be just right.
Old Mrs. Kangas is betting on Kevin. It is such a great name she gave it to her oldest son.
Herman is preaching and here is part of that sermon:
I am ignoring the main text today to talk about Baptism. There is nothing that we Lutherans do that shouts our theology like infant Baptism. We believe in salvation by grace through faith which is a gift of God.
The baby this morning brings nothing to the font. He has no good works to lift up , he has no carefully worked out creed. He can claim nothing.
But God through water and the word will create faith within the baby. God will save the baby by grace.
Other Christian groups denounce our Baptism because the baby can’t make a choice, because the baby doesn’t think right yet, because the baby hasn’t reached out and taken Jesus.
I understand that. There is a need to somehow make salvation something we do.
But here in Baptism of this baby we proclaim that God does it all. That the cross saves us. That faith is a gift.
Go home this morning and read what Luther says about Baptism in your small catechism.”
After the sermon Pastor Joan baptized the baby with these words:
Elijah Hoops Castle I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Today I should have just put up my wrap sign. I got up early and was in Church by 8:00. It was a great morning. The bell choir even played. In the afternoon I pulled together all the pictures I took in the morning and worked on the Church website. That took until 5:00 . Then I visited some blogs . Now I need a breathing treatment.


Blogger Dulce said...

Yes, Dr. It is the ploblem of the power... It seem the higher they get the more corrupted they become.(The reason I stopped going to mass- not to the church)
So let's only admire and devote Christ, the Bible and the real pastors...
Congrats on your award!

2:06 AM  
Blogger Nessa said...

It is so easy to point to the obvious "bad" examples of any group and condemn everyone. But there are many more good people than bad.

Come Get Your Sunshine

5:45 AM  
Blogger Lou said...

For several years I have been going to a "new age" start up church. Lots of rock music, modern day messages. I thought I had found the church of my dreams--real teachings for "today." Now I find myself longing for the "old" message, like the one you write about here.

Awhile back you left me a beautiful comment about returning to the church of my youth. It was very insightful, and I thank you for it.

5:56 AM  
Blogger Gattina said...

I think if you replace the word "church" with "faith in God" I would find it better. The church has done so many damages to people and so many wars were invented by churches for power and not for the love to God !

6:06 AM  
Blogger Melli said...

I JUST saw that quote elsewhere this week... was it in Our Daily Bread? Or Portals of Prayer? I'm wondering what else we might have both been reading? I liked it!

Two GREAT (really outstanding!)messages -- and ELIJAH! I LOOOOOOOVE it! Hoops Castle? Two family names I'm guessing! Pastor Joan is also Pastor CASTLE? Wow! We've never heard THAT before!

6:41 AM  
Blogger PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Sometimes we want for power even within our own homes instead of working together for the good of all.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful sermon my friend. It is sad that there are some few that spoil it for the mass And welcome Elijah Hoops Castle - Wonderful name :) Have a great Sunday :)

8:18 AM  
Blogger Finding Pam said...

Wonderful points to remember. It is sad that organized religion gets such a bad rap.

If people knew how much joy you get from serving instead of being served, then I think we would all be servants.

Congratulations on you lovely award.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Melissa B. said...

That quote reminds me of my childhood, growing up in the Buckle of the Bible Belt. So many down there profess to believe. But their actions belie their words...

1:13 PM  
Blogger Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

I wonder what Jesus would say about that quote?

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Alice Audrey said...

Now there's and unexpected name.

5:48 PM  
Blogger secret agent woman said...

I suspect Jesus would be in hearty agreement with Ghandi. So many people who claim to be Christian don't seem to follow the teachings of Jesus. (Not a Christian myself, but a respect of Jesus the teacher.)

6:49 PM  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

Great post, Dr. John!

I have a grandson named Elijah. Also one named Noah, one named Samuel, and one named Matthew. I have two other grandchildren whose names are not from the Bible. I am blessed six times over.

7:20 PM  
Anonymous quilly said...

Pastor spoke from the Lectionary this morning. She used the scripture from Mark. I went to church this morning with my talk for the evening service already written. My chosen scripture was the Great Commission. Despite the differing scripture, Pastor and I gave very similar messages -- and we did not discussion our theme in any way!

Eligah Hoops. I love it. That is a Pigeon Falls name if I ever heard one!

11:32 PM  
Blogger anthonynorth said...

I quite often have to defend religion when people tell me it is the cause of all the ills in the world. No, I tell them, it's politics. Whether in a religious or secular society, politics of power will out. If we want an answer to this, it won't be found in religion or the secular, but in ourselves.

1:15 AM  

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