Archive for August, 2009

Tragic Confusion.

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Deuteronomy 4_1-9 Tragic confusion

 

dig tree.4This is the tree on the banks of the Cooper Creek that Burke and Wills saw when they arrived, near death, after a journey of discovery to the top of Cape York.

 

dig tree.3This is the ‘life saving’ inscription carved into the tree, telling Burke and Wills where to dig to fine food and provisions.

 

What happened?  Why didn’t the life saving message not save the life of Burke and Wills?  Yes.  They misunderstood the meaning of the writing, dug in the wrong spot, never found the provisions and so died.  By digging in the wrong spot, they never received the gift of life that was left for them. 

Can there be such confusion about God’s word to us?  Could we get God’s life saving word so wrong that we fail to find the real treasure of God’s gift to us and die?  I would argue yes!  And what is our confusion? Its the mixing of Law and Gospel; a confusing of God’s commands with God’s blessing.  We are digging for life in the law, in our obedience to Jesus’ commands, when the actual treasure is only found in the gospel, in receiving rather than in doing. 

The Law, the 10 commandments and other statutes, were revealed by God on Mount Sinai to Moses and the people of Israel.  These commands were written on stone tablets as a testimony and covenant pointing to how our life with God needs to be.  Like the writing on the dig tree, that said what needed to happen in order to find the hidden treasure.  The law pointed out what needed to happen to find the treasure of being God’s people.  It laid out how to live in the presence of God himself and receive from him the blessings of the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey.

Just before the people entered the Promised Land, Moses gathered them together and re-read the Law to the people, reminding them that the Law of God intended to bring life and blessing.  ‘Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you.’… ‘what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?’

The Law, the 10 Commandments brought life with God because they showed the Israelites and now show us how God intends us to live.  Its like God is saying ‘I created you to be in my image, and these commandments are righteous because they reflect that image.  Live up to them, obey them with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and you will live.  Don’t and you will die.’ 

Silently now for a moment, in your heart, are you thinking ‘yes, I must try harder and live up to God’s Commandments, or else I will also die?’

This is our first fatal confusion about God’s word.  We miss-read, confuse or fail to understand the intended function God has for his law.  In the same way as the Pharisees did, we think that if we try hard enough and have enough successes in keeping the law as God intended, we will live and be blessed by him.  Surely this is what the Pharisees were thinking when the questioned Jesus ‘So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ‘unclean’ hands?” 

They, like us confuse the intention of God’s law; ‘we dig’ for life in the wrong place, like Burke and Wills.  No, there is no life with God or blessing from him by trying to keep his law.  We can’t, as St Paul warns in chapter three of Romans ‘Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.’ 

The proper understanding of the Law, the purpose of the law, for the Jews, and for us Christians, is to reveal our sin.  God set his Law in place to show us who we really are on the inside…sinners who break the law and that we are not the people God intended us to be.

If we think we are pleasing God by obeying the law, following every command, even those Jesus calls us to do.  And if we think that if we point out and correct others who don’t keep every command, like the Pharisees, and are certain God is pleased with us for doing this…let us hear what Jesus has to say ‘Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’  All we are doing by outwardly keeping the law in order to please God, is masking our sin in good works; papier-mâchéing over the sin inside that God intends to reveal.  We are confusing the law into gospel.  Luther says in his commentary on Galatians ‘The principle purpose of the law in theology is to make a [person] not better but worse.’

Why is the Law life if we are made worse?  Why is it righteous?  Because it reveals our sin so God can deal with it.  Most importantly, the law points us to Jesus, the hidden treasure, who fulfilled the law for us.  The function of the 10 Commandments is to point us away from our righteousness and point us to the righteousness of Jesus.   It says ‘dig here’ and receive the righteousness of God.  If we don’t clearly understand this, we will be like Burke and Wills and perish looking for our righteousness in the wrong place.

Life with God or our righteousness is found only in our treasure Jesus, who ‘was pierced for our transgressions, was crushed for our iniquities… and by his wounds we are healed.’  We are given the gift and blessing of forgiveness and eternal life only by trusting Jesus at his word.  Trusting that if by faith we ‘dig here’ in Jesus, we will receive the hidden treasure of life, because Jesus promised clearly in John 11 “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”  

As loud as the law condemns us, even louder the gospel saves us.  It illuminates our hearts and makes us alive.  It discloses what grace and the mercy of God are; what the forgiveness of sins, blessing, righteousness, life, and eternal salvation are; and how we are to attain to these. (Luther; Galatians -1535, pg 313)

The gospel of Jesus that we hear and receive from the bible and in the sacrament of baptism and Holy Communion, is like finding the hidden provisions under the sand near the dig tree.  Its like reading and understanding what was written on the Coolabah tree and receiving life out of the hidden parcel of food; we eat and drink salvation!

Sadly…this is where our second fatal confusion over God’s word happens.  This good news, the gospel, seems too good to be true and so we place the gospel of Jesus, the free gift of forgiveness and life for his sake, back under the law.  We add conditions upon grace as if some sorts of requirements are needed.  Once our heart takes hold of Jesus and we receive life, instead of trusting and leaving it at that, we feel we need some works to help our doubting conscience.  ‘I must improve my ways’; ‘I must commit myself to mission; ‘I must do this or that in order to be certain I am saved’.

Put a condition on grace and you have a law.  There are no conditions, which means we cannot judge who is a Christian or not, or who is saved or not by what they do, how they dress or how committed they may seem.  Yes, that grinds in our ears and doesn’t seem right, but as Jesus said to the man who worked the longest in the parable of the vineyard ‘Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

When we do not confuse the law with the gospel, then we have found the hidden treasure of life. Had Burke and wills found the hidden provisions, they would have lived and been forever grateful.  When we receive the free gift of forgiveness from God, we are also forever grateful.  The gospel empowers us to love God and love others freely.   Only the gospel can do this, because the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:’   Amen

The armour of God.

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

The armour of God  Ephesians 6

car crashDid you realize that every time you get into a modern motor car, you are putting on an armoury of protection?  Many of us take this for granted, and don’t understand and even despise all the lights, beeps and warning tones that go off in our car, every time we turn the key.  We take little notice of what is happening around us as we click on our seat belt and drive out onto the road.  But did you realize the car has now provided an armour, a safety cell for us, that protects us against impacts from outside.

The instant there is an impact, often, before we even respond ourselves, the armour around us defends our bodies, our life from being killed in an accident. A plethora of safety systems deploy: front and side airbags, curtain airbags, seatbelt retractors, crumple zones collapse absorbing energy and the strengthened cage around the cabin transfers the impact load through to the crumples zones.  All this armour remains hidden yet always active, ready for when there is an impact that could kill us.  Without it, we would certainly die.  Its our modern day armour.

St Paul uses the imagery of armour, that of the Roman soldier, the helmet, the belt, the breast plate, the shield and sword, that protects them from the enemy’s weapons, to describe what Jesus victory over sin, death and the devil really means for us in our lives.  The gospel of Jesus, as Paul describes it in Romans 1:17 ‘a righteousness from God…a righteousness that is by faith from first to last’, is the full armour of God; the armament given to us for protection against the day of evil.  Today, it is equally valid to state this armour of God, this righteousness from God, as being like the safety cell in our car that surrounds us and protects us every moment we drive.

After watching  video advertising, who here would not put on their seatbelt?  Would any of you dare to disconnect the airbags?  After seeing the protection a safety cell provides, would you want to go back to the old cars, like my Valiant, which I am sad to say, has no safety features at all?  We would never do that.  It would be too dangerous…we might be killed.  Have you thought the same way about using the armour God that he has given us to protect us from the fiery arrows, the impacts of the devil?  It’s a sad reality for many of us, and I am often just as much at fault, that we take more care of our physical safety than we do for our spiritual safety.

When we begin each day, because there is no automatic alarms, sirens and flashing lights reminding us of the protection we have around us, we often go though our day without a thought of using God’s full armour.  We face the day, so to speak, with all its impacts from the devil, in an old car, without a seatbelt, without a safety cell, and still expect to be alive and well at the end of the day.  In spiritual terms, we go to work or school, face constant attacks from the devil, all without relying on any protection from God’s armour.   We have no thought about the truth of Jesus; the righteousness we have because of him; the power of the Spirit that can transform our lives, nor understand  the influence that being saved by grace can have on our decisions and on our daily struggles with other people or  in our temptations to sin.    

Have you ever experience a day when you got home in the evening and thought…’what went so wrong?’  How could have I allowed myself to speak like I did, or lose my temper the way I did?’  Or have you lay in bed at night worrying about what the next day was going to bring? Or how you are going to handle your anxiety over a conflict or a desire to act on something you know isn’t right?  Sadly, it is so easy for us to feel confident to face our crisis alone and by our own armament and capabilities; as if our faith is nothing more than an ideology and Jesus word has no power to protect us from such a deadly foe.

You are a Lutheran, I am a Lutheran and Justification, being made right with God through faith in Christ alone, a righteousness of God from faith to faith, as St Paul says, is the central teaching of our church and is what we believe.   This central belief is the armour of God and is the power to enable us to stand in our most difficult days.  How, you may ask?  We have two options when facing a difficult time or an attack from the devil; either we stand and face evil with our own righteousness and works or we put on the armour of God and rely on the righteousness of Christ:  which of these will you choose?

Stand against the devil by your own power and you will spiritually die.  In the same way as you would physically die if you were in a car without a safety system.  Stand in the armour of God and Jesus fights for you and you will live, as Jesus says ‘The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.’ In other words, you can’t fight on your own.

St Paul encourages us then, to put on Christ as our armour or safety cell, ‘be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.’  We have no mamby pamby God on our side.  Jesus has defeated the devil and sin on the cross and by rising again he has defeated death.  Evil can’t harm us anymore.  Luther writes ‘if sin makes you anxious, and if death terrifies you, just think that this is an empty phantom and an illusion of the devil – which is what it surely is.  For in fact there is no sin any longer, no curse, no death, and no devil, because Christ has conquered and abolished all these.  Accordingly, the victory of Christ is utterly certain.’ 

St Paul says the same ‘we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’  By faith we believe this to be so; trusting in Jesus as our shield, breastplate, helmet and belt.  When the devil impacts us, accuses us of fault and guilt, justification instantly springs into action on our behalf. 

When there is a severe impact to our car, the strengthened cage around the cabin transfers the impact load through to the crumples zones, so that we remain safe and unhurt.  In a similar way, when the devil or sin impacts on our life, Jesus becomes our crumple zone; he is our armour around us who absorbs the impact to keep us spiritually safe.  Suddenly, as an attack happens…the devil accuses us, or someone hurts us with a lie or there is some sort of abuse against us, Jesus takes upon himself all the attacks.  By faith in him we allow the impact to be transferred onto him. 

To put the armour of God at a time like this is to remember and recite passages of scripture like ‘Isaiah 53 ‘Surely he took upon himself our infirmities and carried our sorrows.’ Or 2 Corinthians 5:21 ‘God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’  Better to be safe than sorry.  Begin everyday by being strong in the Lord, remembering to put on the armour of God, saying ‘I am a child of God, I am baptized and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.’  Let’s put on the armour of God now and say after me ‘I am a child of God, I am baptized and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.’  Amen.

We are what we are given.

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Only fools observe. Ephesians 5-15-20

 

(hold up the Valiant service manual) How do you think I became a motormachanic mechanic?  Did I just pick up this book, put on a pair of overalls, tuck the book under my arm, and walk into a garage? No, of course not!  What makes a mechanic a mechanic?   For someone to be a motor mechanic, they have to be totally involved in the job; working on cars, studying how they work, pulling engines and gearboxes apart and …hopefully, putting them back together again.  By actually doing the job you grow in knowledge, confidence and ability and before long, you become what you do…a mechanic.  

This is the same with every thing we do isn’t it?  Both for our good..or…for our bad.  The fact is, whatever we involve ourselves in, we become.  We become a cyclist when we ride a bike or we become a criminal when we steal.  While we might intentionally want to become a mechanic or become any other profession, by immersing ourselves in the work and allowing the very job we do transform us, very few of us intend to become what we don’t want to be. 

No one wants to become an alcoholic; none of us intentionally become addicts to sex or gambling; none of us intentionally become adulterers or murderers.  It literally just happens.  It really does.  What we involve ourselves in, we will finally become.

Listen to a testimony from a reformed gambler.

 Many years ago, on odd occasions, I would, as they used to say, go into a club and have a “pull on the machines.”
What that meant was, having a bit of a flutter on a “one-armed bandit” or poker machine.
I was always able to go into a club with no more than $5 or a few coins, have a bit of fun and then when all that amount that I had allocated for that time had run out, then I would leave and was content in that. This would happen only about three or four times in a year. So this was for about thirty years.

 But one day, I won $100 on a 1c machine and that is when I really started getting “hooked.” Can you see how subtle Satan works? All addictions start out so small scale, so innocent. And you may say, that as a Christian, I should not have been in there anyway. Yes that is true, but every now and then, we do veer off “the path” (exert from www.Life Connection Ministries)

Did you hear what this person found out the hard way?  Slowly, over time, as we involve ourselves in something, we become what we do.  Simply knowing about gambling doesn’t make you a gambler. Gambling is what makes you into a gambler; knowing about unjust anger won’t make you an angry person.  Harbouring anger will make you an angry person.  Participating in such things, bad or good, will turn us into what we are doing. 

St Paul warns ‘Be very careful, then, how you live– not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.’   Be careful, Paul says, there are real consequences in the way we live; both for now and in eternity.  He gives a very relevant example of actions that change us.  ‘Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.’  No one sets out drinking a few beers to intentionally become wicked, depraved and be involved in acts of indecency.  It just happens.  The alcohol becomes a part of us, and changes us to do what we would not normally do.

Paul here chose wine as an example, but I am sure we could all think of one bad influence in our life that, if we continue in it unabated, we would become what we do; It just happens, as St Paul says in Romans 7 ‘I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do

Even though we are baptised, born again by the Spirit and have all the gifts of Jesus; forgiveness, life and salvation, our inclination is not now to always do good, but to still always err on the side of sin.  An unwise believer, as Paul puts it, is one who thinks they can, once baptised, live their Christian walk by their own strength of will and determination. 

An unwise or foolish believer is one who thinks they can participate in worldly acts and not be changed by it.  Have you thought that yourself?  Sorry, but this won’t cut it, Paul says ‘the days are evil.’  And since this is the case, we who are by nature sinful and unspiritual, if we continue to feed on the evil the world provides, we will, slowly become as evil as the age.   

So what is the point here?  To make us feel horrible and stop us trying to do the right thing, since we will end up being evil anyway? No.  St Paul writes this to shine forth the glorious gospel of Jesus.  He says ‘do not be foolish, but rather, know what the will of the Lord is’.   The writer of Proverbs also encourages us to do the same ‘leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.’   As a Christian be clear on the gospel!  Know the will of the Lord, then you will be truly wise and will walk in the way of understanding; in freedom and in joy.  Do you know what the will of God is?…

Jesus clearly states it, just a few sentences before today’s gospel ‘For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.’    The will of God is for us to hear the word of Jesus, look to him for salvation and believe. 

And again, at Jesus’ transfiguration the Lord states his will ‘This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!  And the word of Jesus that our Heavenly Father, the Lord, wills us to hear and believe is this “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him and I will raise him up on the last day.’ 

Many Christians think the will of God for us is all about just living a good and moral life.  But, thanks to St Paul’s promptings, we discover here the true will of God; to believe in Jesus that he is our savior and to listen to his word and to eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus.  The good news is that as we continue to do this, he remains in us, and we in him.  Or put another way, we become what we participate in.  By faith in Jesus, as we indulge in his body and blood truly present here in the bread and wine, we become what Jesus is, righteous, holy, and the honor of being adopted as sons of God.

By reading, listening to and studying God’s word and taking the sacrament of Holy Communion, or ‘doing’ God’s word, we become what we do, or better still we become what is given to us.  Luther called this the great exchange he writes Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, just as I am your sin.  You have taken upon yourself what is mine and have given to me what is yours.  You have taken upon yourself what you were not and have given to me what I was not’.  He made your sins his own and has made his righteousness yours

The good news is found in will the of God; that we are made into Christians by God himself as we eat the body of Jesus and drink his blood, hear and believe in him.  As we ‘do’ God’s word.  And as we ‘do’ God’s word, Paul encourages us that we will be filled with the Spirit; speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs; singing  and making music in our heart to the Lord, and always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  That’s joy in the gospel and the gospel is what you have with you and in you.  Praise God.
Amen

Jesus is the King of the castle

Saturday, August 8th, 2009
 

Jesus is the king of the castle Ephesians 4 25-5:2 sand castle

I have a bucket and spade here.  What do we use these for?  (beach, sand, children playing and making things in the sand pit)  What is one of the first things we build out of sand with a bucket and spade?  Yes, a sand castle.  Right from our early childhood we instinctively know how to make a castle for ourselves.  Then, once we have finished the sandcastle, do you know or remember the chant that goes with it?  ‘I’m the king of the castle and you’re the dirty rascal.’ We build a castle and then claim our right as king.  It comes so naturally to us and it comes to us at such a young age.   

Can you remember how we reacted when our kinship is challenged?  Grrrr…Why you liddle…I ought a….Raaa we become angry and aggressive.  No one wants to be dethroned.  You and I, right from a young age, even in our play acting, build castles, rule over them, and then become angry when our rule is challenged.  Have you ever had an angry outburst, then, after you cooled down, thought ‘where did that come from?’ Or maybe you don’t explode outwardly when angry.  Perhaps you internalise your anger – and like a pressure cooker it keeps stewing away, building up pressure and pulling you apart on the inside.  Anger always has a root and often it is deeply seeded in our castle building and ruling over our castle. 

As we grow, this sequence of events, which lead us to be angry people, building a castle and claiming kingship, never seems to change only the stakes are higher; from sandcastles to brick houses, from ruling over kids in the play ground, to ruling over our families or siblings, from the sandpits to the suburbs, in every town and in every house, there are castles and little kings ruling them; demanding authority and the right of their rule be upheld and then getting angry when things don’t go to plan.  

An example of this can be found in 1st Samuel where King Saul harbours anger against David, because he feels he is a threat to his rule over his castle, the people of Israel ‘Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. “They have credited David with killing tens of thousands,”, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdomAnd from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.’  We can almost imagine Saul saying ‘I the king of the castle, you, David, are the dirty rascal.’  The same case scenario happened between Cain and Abel.  Cain’s castle was pride in his offering to God and when God disapproved of his offering and accepted Abel’s, Cain wanted to be king over Abel and so in anger killed his brother.    

The consequence of this way of living for us today is, in every house, in every family, even in your family, there are individuals, you and me, our children, all trying to be king and harbouring anger when we don’t get recognition.  There are angry power struggles as each of us tries to assert our rule over the castle.  ‘I am the father and you WILL obey me!  I’m mum and what I say goes.’ ‘I’m the oldest or youngest in this family, so I should be the one who has the say.’ Have there been fighting words in your family this week?  Have you got into an argument with your wife or husband, or with one of the children, or sulked and gave people the ‘silent treatment’??  Have the kids had an angry argument over something?   

Unjust angry outburst or sulking is often our way of displaying the hidden power struggle over the kingship of our castle; Anger, that real deep inner desire to explode, is always over two things: either its our attempt to dethrone someone who we feel is a threat or its our response when we are dethroned. St Paul is fully aware of our desire to build castles and rule over them in anger and warns us saying ‘In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a footholdGet rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 

As an emotion, anger is not necessarily bad, as Paul says ‘in your anger…do not sin’, not ‘don’t be angry.’ It all depends on what you’re angry about! And what you DO with it! Anger is a healthy emotion that alerts us that something is wrong.  Ideally, it moves us to address the cause of those wrongs.  The trick is to go about it in a healthy way!   

Anger is an ideal emotion God gives to us to diagnose and alert us to a personal castle we may have built. It shows us that, our anger may mean we have set ourselves up as king over those around us.  Our anger can show us that we may be trying to protect and justify our rule.  Anger, if kept in control and understood correctly, will point out our hidden issues, the little idols we hold to and will help us to destroy our personal castles and dethrone our ego’s. “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold’ is Paul’s encouragement to us.  

Don’t just be angry, diagnose it!  Harboring anger only gives the devil a foot hold.  It allows him to blow it all out of proportion, by rerunning the incident in our head at night; over and over and over again, convincing us of our right to be angry and to be king over another person.  Instead, ask God to reveal what the root cause of our anger is; ask this of yourself ‘All I really want out of this is…’  If it is anything other than wanting glory for God and love for the other person, you have a castle and you want to be king. 

The good news for us as Christians, is that in our anger we don’t have to strive to be king, we already have a king.  A king, who, in every action and word, gives glory to God the Father in heaven and loves us dearly.  Psalm 2tells us that Jesus is our king.  God, our Father in heaven said “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.”  And also in Revelation it says ‘He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.’  

In Jerusalem God has set a king to rule over us forever, but not a king who rules with anger and with violence.  No.  On the cross, in Zion, in a robe dripping with blood, that is, his body, Jesus paid for our sin and defeated the powers of death and the devil.  In doing so gained the right to be king, as Jesus himself said ‘All authority on heaven and earth has been given to me ’. He rules from the cross.  His body and blood won the victory and the winnings of battle are ours…grace and forgiveness. 

  Jesus is king, not us, which frees to stop fighting for what we need, frees us from having to make castles and trying to be king ourselves by being angry in order to get what we need.  From the cross and risen from the grave, Jesus says to you today, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.’  Isn’t that what we are angry about?  Not getting what we need?  Jesus, as king, here promises to provide everything we hunger for, and fulfill everything with thirst for.   

When Jesus rules as king in our life, his gift to us, is grace, peace and forgiveness and this now becomes our castle.  And Love and servant hood towards each other becomes the weapons we use in arguments rather than anger and power struggles.  This is what Paul means saying ‘Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 

Jesus is the king of the castle, not us.  And that castle is our heart, where he rules in love and forgiveness.  As part of the ‘Jesus all about life campaign’ you will see in the bulletin that we are running a parenting course over six weeks.  It has been developed by Pastor David Ludwig of the Lutheran church in America.  Called, ‘parenting families…from me to we’, it challenges us to allow Jesus to rule in our hearts to become forgiving families, rather than angry families.
Amen.