An ambulance officer was talking about his most unusual emergency experience. He chose to tell about a call received from an usher at a Lutheran church. The usher said, “A man has slumped over in the pew during the sermon, and we think he’s dead.” He relates, “When we got to the church, the pastor was still preaching so we carried the man out as quietly as we could.” “What’s so unusual about that?” he was asked. He replied, “Because we had carried out four men before we found the one that was dead.”
Sometimes “doing” church, like life may seem a little tedious from doing the same old same old. Same bloke up the front, same old hymns etc. Etc. Then off to work to do the same thing as last week and the same we’ll do next week.
I once read a book the challenged the readers that if they thought outside the box and brought a part of themselves and life that they enjoyed into the work place they could do the same duties and enjoy them no matter how tedious the job was. Food for thought.
Similar John Newton, the “Amazing Grace” guy said that church can be done however we like as long as it stays true to God’s Word and teachings. I agree because the guts of worship is receiving God’s gifts in confession and absolution, in prayer and knowing God hears it, in Holy Communion and God’s promise of forgiveness and faith and amongst sing a few hymns and songs not about what we’ll do for God, but about what He has done and is doing for us.
Oops. I think I just described a traditional Lutheran worship. Except I forgot to say that amongst all this is Christ with us, the angels singing in song with us and when we hear the Word of God the Holy Spirit goes to work.
I’m not so worried as people falling asleep during my sermon as maybe even when the angels take a break, but in the rest of what goes on hear it’s hard to believe. Hard to believe but true.
As I said, this can be done under a tree, with a guitar, keyboard or banging some tins together if we want.
The problem comes when we fall into the trap like those standing at the base of Jesus cross who jeered Him and tempted him with “if you come down we will believe you are the messiah, the Son of God.”
There’s good reason he didn’t because of course He had to die as the sacrificial lamb and take our sins on himself.
And though that’s the reason He didn’t, He also knew that the gratuitous displaying of miracles was no any sure fire way of bringing people to faith anyway.
Look at the facts. The apostles seen it all and were still confused until the resurrection and some of those cured in Jesus travels never came back to thank Him never mind worship Him. (As far as we’re told anyway.)
Jesus did do miracles on His travels and for many it pointed to His power but not as in His destinies purpose without first dying on the cross that in Him we may find forgiveness in faith.
I’m sure miracles still happen to this day, but the real miracle is faith.
Where am I heading with this?
It is not directed to anyone or anything here because I’d hope by now you know that I’m not particularly taken aback by carpet colour, service times or any of that stuff and I’m open for any suggestions as long as they fit the John Newton model.
Where I’m heading is toward two points in today’s readings. Jesus saying He will give us another helper in the Holy Spirit and Peter telling us we may suffer even though we are off the faith.
I was once asked by a Christian if I can speak in tongues and after I said “no”, the asker was all but dumbfounded.
I wonder if those standing at the base of Jesus cross who jeered Him and tempted him with “if you come down we will believe you are the messiah, the Son of God” and those expecting the messiah to be a warrior king and destroy the Romans are that far removed from that response to my answer.
Do not get me wrong, I will never limit any of the trinity for what they can do. Because they can do anything they please whenever they want and I have no problem with people talking in tongues even though I don’t understand it-theologically or literally.
The same with churches that practice healings and so forth. Good on them.
The slippery slope comes as to when the healing is due to any part of ours such as if not healed or suffering, the problem is from our lack of faith or our poor relationship with Christ.
I’m sorry but when it gets to that point it starting to sound like the Pharisees mark II.
Miracles happen. I heard of them straight from the horse’s mouth but terms such as faith healers is very, very dangerous because by association , not healed means not good enough faith, which by association leads to doubts of salvation never mind the crap of a class system within the church.
Jesus promised a helper, the Holy Spirit and he’s good to His Word. Because here today without seen fanfare the Holy Spirit is amongst doing what Jesus promised to always be the case, and that is that through the remembrance of our baptisms, through Holy Communion and through the Word of God you are being brought to faith, or being kept and strengthened in faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Messiah who died on the cross that if you trust in Him for salvation and eternal life, than salvation and eternal life are yours. Believe and trust in Jesus and your home.
You can wake up NOW. Amen.