Reformation Sunday

The Text: John 8:31-36

 Some 500 years ago a stocky, German monk with a love of beer and an even greater love of God’s word, took a ten-minute walk from his cloister to the castle church in Wittenberg. On to this insignificant church door he nailed 95 theses – a list of teachings and practices within the church that he wanted to discuss. He’d come to believe on the basis of the Scriptures that there were some problems with the way the church was doing things. And Martin Luther only wanted to speak the truth of God’s Word. So he asked the church to engage in a conversation about the truth.

Luther couldn’t have dreamed of the stink his theses were going to create. The whole of Europe ended up in uproar. Excommunication followed for Luther and others. There was even a bounty placed on his head and princes and knights hunted him down like a common criminal. All because he dared to speak the truth.

The medieval church had strayed a long way from the teachings of Jesus and by 1517 their power and wealth depended on their man-made version of the truth. They’d come to believe that people had the ability and means to earn their salvation. That eternal life could be secured by doing good deeds such as paying money to the church. Luther had lived with this teaching all his life – he did more good works than you or I can imagine – and yet he still knew in his heart that he didn’t match up to God’s commandments. As he studied Jesus’ teachings, he came to realise that the church had distorted the truth and that salvation was supposed to be the gift of a gracious God – not a reward for our good deeds. But as he reminded the church of the truth, he discovered that not everyone really wants to know the truth.

But Jesus makes it clear in today’s reading that the truth is vitally important – but not just someone’s own version of the truth. We will know the truth, he says, when we hold to His teaching. In other words, if we stop and listen to what Jesus teaches, He will reveal the truth to us, and it will set us free. The question is, do we want to hear the truth?

In the Middle Ages the Roman church certainly didn’t want the truth of Jesus’ teaching because they were so committed to their own distorted version of religious truth – a version that filled their coffers and kept people under their control. And today most people don’t want to know the truth of Jesus’ teaching either, because it challenges our comfortable lives and reveals the reality of the struggles we suppress deep inside. If the truth first challenges us and forces us to rethink what’s real and what’s important before it sets us free, perhaps we’d be more comfortable just remaining enslaved to the lies we’ve bought into.

Central to the Reformation and to Jesus’ teaching is the fact that we are born sinful and unclean and cannot save ourselves – no exceptions! Regardless of how good a life we seem to lead, all of us fall short of God’s expectations – we sin. This is the truth. But when we see a beautiful, innocent little baby, we find ourselves challenged by this. How can he or she be a sinner? How can they need forgiveness? Such were the questions that the Roman church had allowed to shape their thinking and practice to such an extent that they believed  we could co-operate with God in saving ourselves – a little bit of money here, an act of charity and love there, would make up for our lapses into bad behaviour. But how much money was enough? How many good deeds would make things right? The end result was that nobody could be certain about their forgiveness – consciences were enslaved to a never-ending treadmill of good deeds and Jesus’ teaching became obscured behind a wall of falsehood.

Jesus’ teaching reveals the truth. And one of the key things it reveals is that we are dead in sin – from the newborn babe to the convicted criminal to the gentle old grandma. In big and small ways, we rebel against the will and ways of God – not just in actions, but in our thoughts and words as well. We tend to think that we’re not that bad – that our sins are not as serious as other’s. But Jesus’ teaching proclaims that all sins have the same consequence, they separate us from God and leave us as good as dead. Now I ask you, can a dead man bring himself back to life? Of course not. And whether we are an infant or an adult, if we’ve inherited our sinful condition and are dead in sin, there’s nothing we can do to bring ourselves back to life. Nothing we can do to free ourselves from this sin and death. Resurrection, new life, freedom from sin and everlasting death have to be a gift of God.

Unfortunately, many people hear the beginning of Jesus’ teaching – they hear the truth about our sin – but don’t hang around long enough to hear the whole picture. Because just as the Word reveals our helpless, sinful condition, it also reveals our help in the person of Jesus. The truth of God does not leave us enslaved to sin and death. It shows us the only way out. Not by our own efforts or understanding. But by the good news of our Lord Jesus, who loved us enough to allow himself to be sacrificed in punishment for our sins.

Luther’s 95 theses nailed to that church door aimed to do one thing. To get the church to remember where our help lies. To open people’s eyes once again to the source of our freedom. To deliver the comfort of the gospel to people in the pews so that they could rest easy knowing that Jesus had done everything to secure their salvation.

We are presented with so many different interpretations of the truth in this day. Everyone puts their own spin on things to try to sell their version. And we’re tempted to pick and choose what suits us – what makes us comfortable, what allows us to do what we want, and what provides us with the least challenge.

Why do we celebrate the Reformation? Well it’s because you and I and the world we live in desperately need this good news just as much as the people of Luther’s day did. We need to be constantly reminded of God’s saving love in Christ. Of our sinfulness and the Lord’s mercy. Of our helplessness and the Lord’s promise to rescue us. We need to be reminded of the truth that when Jesus said ‘It is finished’ – he meant it – in that moment our salvation was secured. No more payment required.

So dear Lord, keep us and our hearts in your Word, that we may know the truth and the truth will set us free. Amen.

Who is your god?

Jeremiah 31:33
Therefore, this covenant which I will make with the house of Israel following those days, says the Lord, I will give My Law in their minds and on their hearts I will write it, and I will be their God and they will be my people.

            He will be our God and we, His people. Who is your god? Where are God Almighty’s people? These are the questions that the Reformation 500yrs ago grappled with and sought to answer. A question of relationship. In those times there was corruption, lies, and fear; Pope’s proclaimed celibacy and mercy while putting their children in places of power and waging war across Italy, monks teaching that money buys forgiveness, and that Bubonic plague had swept through Europe killing even some of Luther’s friends. What gods held sway over the people in all this? What did people rely on and look to for help in times of need? Who could they put their trust in, their faith in? In Fame, Fortune, fun, in their rulers? Our Reformational answer: in Christ.

            For He made a promise, a promise of Life and Purity to His Bride the Church. That He would wash her clean (Ephesians 5:26), and teach her the Truth (John 16:13), and destroy her enemies (Romans 12:19). After all Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). And He fulfills the Word of God in the Old Testament, the Messiah, God and man, come to seek and save the lost. After the days of Exile, which God foretells through Jeremiah, a new covenant would be made, a new relationship, a betrothal, a marriage. This Covenant, says the Lord, means His Law in your mind, His Word on your heart; it means He is your God and you His people; it means a new relationship, a union, and because there’s lots of us, a common union, or for us lazy Australians always shortening words, Communion, Holy Communion. “In the same way He took the cup and said, take and drink, this is My Blood of the New Covenant, shed for you for the forgiveness of all your sins” (Matthew 26:28).

In these strange times we hear again of corruption, of lies, of fear all across the world, let alone just central Europe. We see people put their faith in policies, in media, in money, in family, in medicine; not that these are bad things, they’re given by God, and yet we know the 1st commandment: You will have no other gods before me. What does this mean? I will fear, love and trust in God Almighty more than anything else. And what are these ‘gods’ our Lord is forbidding us from fearing? In his longer reflection Luther writes, ‘anything you look to for all good things and run to in times of trouble, that is your god’. And you know people whose work is their life, people who serve drug addiction in everything they do, people who value money above all else. Often they are more faithful to their gods than we are to ours. Yet we are called to a different life, not to be people of wealth, people of security, or people of power instead people of The Lord, God Almighty. After all He has promised Himself to you in Baptism; now betrothed we, as part of the Church, await the consummation of that Mystical Union between Christ and His Bride, the Church, at the end of this World, the wedding feast of the lamb (Revelation 19:7-10). But He does not just promise us marriage then leave, no, in every Holy Communion we have a foretaste of the feast to come; like a couple engaged might go for coffee, Christ comes to us, to be with us, Body and Blood, truly present, uniting us to Himself and all Christians. In Holy Communion He is purifying us, making us true, and uniting us with Him in love, so we have no need of fear. This precious gift, this time with our Beloved Saviour and all our brothers and sisters across this world and those who’ve gone before, this is our hope.

This New Covenant, this wonderful new relationship, our betrothal in Holy Baptism and in Holy Communion a foretaste of the Consummation at the end of this world, this is what we are about. 500yrs ago, people were kept from receiving Christ’s Most Holy Blood, the Blood of the covenant for the forgiveness of sins. And for 3 months we have refrained from this wonderfully special time with Christ here together. Yet now we can receive this precious gift from God together. Proclaiming our faith in Him as we take our God on our lips, as The Lord Jesus Christ comes to us His people. For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the sheep in His care. It is not money, nor power, nor politicians, doctors, freedom, safety, or yourself who gives you life. It is Christ. Listen to Him. Speak to Him. Look to Him in every circumstance with thanksgiving, joy and requests. In this New Covenant, this new relationship, look to Him for all good things and run to Him in times of trouble. For He is our God, and by His grace and mercy, we are His people.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now unto our wedding feast with the Lamb. Amen.

Pastor Joseph Graham.

Twentyfirst Sunday after Pentecost: Reformation.

Romans 3:23-24
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

            Why are we here? It’s time for the sermon, message, lecture, speech; but if you’ve been listening and receiving God’s gifts in this, His divine service, you’ve already heard all I might have to say. Rejecting pride in our public confession of our failures, those failures absolved and dealt with by God’s true Word restoring us from despair, the Word we pray in the psalm, and hear from the prophets, the apostles and Christ Himself, the creed we confess with His church, and soon the prayer we pray together with Christ.

All of us have sinned, even if you think you haven’t we all certainly fall short of God’s glory.  You can’t reach God by yourself, can’t best Him nor join yourself to Him. And yet He comes to you. Our rock and our redeemer, redeems you through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; freely justifying you, making you righteous, by grace, that wonderful free gift. We trust in Him and Him alone (John 11:; only name; ). This is what faith alone is.

Or more simply, how do you know if Jesus saves you? We know because of what Jesus has done and said, and trusting Him we receive forgiveness from sin and life everlasting in Jesus. So look to Jesus, not yourself. That’s my job as a pastor pure and simple, to point you to Jesus. And that’s your job as a Christian to point others to Jesus. That’s the reason Luther, Melanchthon and the rest preached what they preached, wrote what they wrote. To point others to Jesus. To tell all people, to look not at themselves for their salvation, not to their money that bought indulgences, not to their charity, prayer, or fasting, not their church membership, their decision or any other work; rather to only rely on Jesus Christ, on His promise of forgiveness and life, on His work of defeating sin, death and the devil, in His life, death and resurrection. To live by the first commandment.

And this is why our tradition still exists, why our synod is here, why it’s Prussian ancestors came over; that we treasure Christ’s teaching. The truth that sets us free (John 8:31-36).

But if we have the truth, what about others? Weeks ago we heard Paul call us ‘to be the bee’, as I said (Philippians 4:8-9); and so when you speak to other Christians, to those outside the church, even those here in our parish; we need to remember these words of Paul and focus not on the evil or corruption we see in other teachings or practises, rather to meditate and dwell on what is true and wonderful in our own, even perhaps in theirs. Luther’s last written words, “we are beggars, this is true.” We can do nothing good by yourself (Romans 8:8; 1 Corinthians 2:11-15). You are helpless, yet Jesus helps you (Psalm 40:1-5). In His great mercy He recognises that us poor humans need something sure, so He condescends and ties His mighty Word, that brought creation into being, ties it to simple water, bread and wine, even to the words of another miserable sinner, the pastor. When you forgive sins, they are forgiven (Matthew 18:18); you can trust Jesus at His Word to you through me, because He is trustworthy. Don’t look to the pastor for your salvation, every one is a beggar like you, rather look to Christ and His promise recorded and preserved for you by the Holy Spirit down through His Holy Church. As Jesus says, “do not doubt but believe” (John 20:27), because it is Christ who justifies, who makes righteous, good and straight; and He is true (John 14:6).

Don’t reject His word and, being proud and arrogant, confident in thinking yourself righteous by your own strength, you are a helpless beggar, hear Jesus’ Word and know it to be true. Then when you fall into despair in your life, into depression, anxiety, suffering, guilt or shame; hold onto these words of Jesus, “I forgive you all your sins”, and know that He has promised this to you, His Word is sure. Now, our trust in Christ may not take away our despair immediately, the Holy Spirit may wait, yet Jesus says, blessed are those who believe without seeing (John 20:29). Yet still we cry out with the psalmists, Lord have mercy (Psalm 123:3; Luke 18:13). Jesus Christ you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us and grant us your peace!

And if you doubt my words as a Pastor, Christ’s promise is still there for you, for He promises in your baptism, your sin is washed away as dirt in a river. This is something that can be seen, felt and held onto; your baptism cannot be taken away, just as the Holy Spirit’s baptismal promise to be with you, to kill your sinful self and bring you into new everlasting life in Christ cannot be taken away, only rejected. You have been united to Christ, betrothed to Him in His bride, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. As in our marriages united and sharing all things, He receives our sin and death destroying them on the cross, we receive His righteousness, holiness and everlasting life (1 Corinthians 1:30, 1 Peter 2:24). Yet together with all Christians, we wait for the wedding feast and the consummation of our marriage at the end of this broken world (Revelation 19:6-8, 21:2-4).

The wedding feast that we have a foretaste of in Holy Communion. So if you struggle with the words of the Pastor, ‘are they for you?’ struggle with the gifts of your baptism so long ago, Christ our bridegroom has tied His promise of union, forgiveness and life everlasting, to one more thing. Bread and wine. Not just His Words, He gives His own resurrected and glorified body and blood to you in our thanksgiving meal. “My blood of the New Covenant,” as prophesied by Jeremiah, “for the forgiveness of all your sins” (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Luke 22:20; Matthew 26:28). We can say that we hold our Creator and Redeemer in our hands, that you receive God’s forgiveness and everlasting life on your tongue, that by this Most Holy and precious Communion we are united, together in His Church, with Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. No one can take His promise from you, and as your pastor I must always be ready to bring you these precious gifts, these means of grace.

God offers you peace and joy through these means of grace, I pray that we all receive them well and so live in that wonderful light of Christ knowing that salvation is not about me, rather it is Christ. We do not look to a few syllables of a pastor in a dress, or to only water, or to just wafer and wine, as other Christians might accuse us. We look only to Christ Jesus, who in His great mercy promises His righteousness and life to you through the means He has ordained, not costly certificates, not specific clothes, not marvellous music, but simple water, a few words, a bit of bread and a sip of wine. No need to look anywhere else, but by faith to see Christ where He has promised to be. Why are we here? To point ourselves and others to Jesus.

And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now to life everlasting with our bridegroom and our King. Amen.

Pastor Joseph Graham.

Reformation Sunday

John 8:31-32
if you abide in my word you are truly my disciples, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.

            Abide, dwell, live in Christ’s word and the truth will set you free. What wonderful news! Hallelujah! And thank Him too. Freedom! In Jesus you are free. But what does this text have to do with 95 theological statements 500yrs ago? For that matter, why should we care about any history of God’s people? It’s said, ‘we’re New Testament people, we don’t read the Old one; too many weird names.’ Well 500yrs ago there was a Luther, Bugenhagen, Chemnitz, Andrea, and Melancthon; that last one wanted a fancier latin name than the german blackdirt. Some more strange names, but also some more of God’s chosen people. Since the world began there have been followers of the true God, moreso for 5000 odd years and with the penultimate revelation at the centre of all history in the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. And He said this, abide in me and the truth will set you free.

            Now you, like me, might find today Freedom is used in an odd way, ‘America fights for freedom and democracy’, but what about freedom from democracy? When we say we are free, we have to say what we are free to do and what we are free from doing. An example, I am free to criticise the government and free from being killed for that, but in this free country I am not free to build a car without paperwork. So what does Jesus say those who abide in His words are free from? ‘those that sin are slaves to sin.’ We hear this again and again throughout the New Testament, free from sin and a slave to righteousness, the law of the Spirit of life sets free in Christ from the law of sin and death, for freedom you are free so don’t fall again into slavery to sin (Romans 6:18; 8:2; Galatians 5:1; 1 Peter 2:16). Martin Luther was a faithful Christian of the continuing western tradition. He heard God’s command and truly understood the slavemaster of sin that all of us struggle against. He knew despite his hard work and effort in living the perfect life under God’s Law he still fell into pride, laziness, arrogance, and any number of other failings, small by human standards. He had become a slave to his own poor attempts at righteousness, pushed into depression and focusing on his sin, not Jesus Christ his saviour.

But the truth that he then found, the truth that has been taught for 2000yrs throughout the church, the truth that sets us free is this, in Jesus Christ you are forgiven, loved and made new into a new creation, new life free from sin, death and the devil. Simply put that is the gospel, Jesus Christ is Lord, not the devil or anything else; but this doesn’t mean that we are free to do anything we want. This is where we need to be careful still, the reformation is not over, just like Christ’s reign has not finished and your baptism has not stopped effecting you. Jesus says, abide in my words. Live in His teaching, be surrounded by it, breath it, find your protection and life only in the Word of God. Jesus is the source of life and your righteousness, to live in Him is to be free from death and sin. This is the truth! But do you do this? Or do you stray?

For you and me, we are still tempted to walk out from the tent Jesus set up for us (John 1:14), that has existed for 2000yrs (Matthew 16:18), to find our own way in the world, see what others have to say and generally ‘live life’ as they say. It’s easy to see how some things enslave us, or trap us, addiction is an obvious sin, but we all know what sin is, to not ‘love the Lord your God with every part of your being, life body and soul’ the truth Jesus set down in His teaching from God’s ancient people (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). To rely solely on Jesus Christ and what He has done for you. By your own strength this is impossible (1 Corinthians 2:14-16) so Jesus died for you and sent the Holy Spirit to give you faith in Jesus and sustain you on your way (John 14:16-17), this is why Lutherans look only to Jesus, why I try every week to point you to Jesus, because I know you fail to love God perfectly and that His word is true, you are forgiven. When you live and breath the truth you know that it sets you free, you’ve told me that.

But then why are Lutherans not in all the churches? Why are we different? Why so many different denominations, more every year, changing name and pastor again and again; or like the churches of tradition slowly going their way in this weird, chaotic world. Some began out of arrogance, some from unrestrained freedom, some from stubbornness, but all from the attacks of the evil one, and don’t think we are any different. I would not be here if I was not convinced that this is the best example and explanation of Christ’s word, the clearest teaching of His truth, the truth that sets you free. The early Lutheran reformers, properly and uniquely called evangelical and protestant, these brilliant people amongst all the brilliant of God’s people, saw that the truth the sets free had been obscured at that time, in Christ you are forgiven, made anew. They sought to bring this true Christian freedom that was hidden in our western church, to bring this wonder back to its proper centrality, and by its light renew our wonder of all of Christ’s teaching. To clear away the muck and confusion that had built up over the truth and to go back to the faith of our forefathers, to abide as they did in the words of Jesus Christ our Lord. The Roman Catholics now, not what they were 500yrs ago with all that hedonism and corruption, still keep the teachings of Christ though we would say often obscured. And the other side of the reformation have taken the bare minimum and run with that, some even teaching that there was no true Christians for 1400yrs. But they too still have some of Christ’s word, to rely on Jesus is salvation.

This is the reason the Lutheran church should never compromise without, as Luther put it, being convinced by Christ’s Words and plain reason, convinced by the truth; but also why we should never forget our siblings in Christ, the Christians throughout the other denominations, reminding first ourselves, then others of the truth we have been saved by, abiding in Christ’s words passed down through the ages and also of course, bringing that Christian freedom to those who do not yet know it by the Holy Spirit’s help, as we continually live and breath this wonderful news. You are forgiven in Jesus, free from sin, you have life everlasting in Jesus, free from fear of death, and you will be renewed at the end of time in Jesus when all evil is destroyed, ultimately free from the devil’s schemes. Free in Jesus to rejoice, to love, to live; this is the truth we hold to living in Jesus, so in a word, the truth will set you free.

The peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds abiding in Christ Jesus, now and forever. Amen.

Joseph Graham.

Reformation Sunday 28th October 2018

Reformation Sunday

John 8:31-32

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”


The truth will set you free. Two weeks ago we heard that for us humans it is impossible to enter the kingdom of God, but all things are possible with God. As Ephesians chapter 2 tells us, we were dead in our sin, but God made us alive in Christ; “by grace you are saved through faith. This is not of yourselves it is the gift of God.” (verses 1-10). And last week we heard that the eternal life we have with Jesus our Lord is one of suffering, obedience and prayer. This week we are celebrating, of course, Christ Jesus resurrection over death, but also the return of the church on earth to the teaching of justification by faith, celebrating the Reformation. To say both of those as one, we are celebrating the truth that sets us free!

But, hang on a moment, how can Jesus say that it is His words that set you free, aren’t you free already? We live in a free country, as we hear so often. We are free to say what we want, to associate with whomever, to practise any religion. We are already a free people because we are here in Australia. This was the same reaction Jesus’ followers had, ‘we are descendants from Abraham.’ A bit of a funny reaction I think, because they were subjects to the Roman Empire and the Israelite nation was defined as the people God brought out of slavery in Egypt and into the land promised to Abraham. And for you, you are subject to this nation, you must pay tax and obey the laws of the land, even those you disagree with. We are not completely free in this world.

But even more than that, you are not free in yourself. As a descendant of Adam, you are born in sin and from birth you are turned in on yourself, looking towards your own desires and wants corrupted by sin, and incapable of seeing the truth of the world around us. The Truth that Jesus Christ reveals. You are a slave to sin and you cannot free yourself (Romans 6). Slave to money, to work, to despair or pride. When you lie you can become trapped, and have to lie again and again until it all blows up; until the truth is revealed and you are finally free of your lies. Trapped by your pride, by bad habits, addictions; trapped by sin. If you sin, you are a slave to sin; this is truth that Jesus says (John 8:34). And elsewhere God tells us that sin earns us death (Romans 6:23). Even if you don’t realise it, just like these followers in the text, even if you don’t realise that you are a slave to sin, it is true. Maybe you do realise it and it kills you inside, that you did that horrible thing, that you crushed those you love, you hurt God, to serve yourself, and you wait for the punishment you earned still living with that sin and guilt or even keeping it hidden and failing again and again. But that is not the whole truth, there’s more.

God the Father gave you life, your body, this wonderful world of rain and sunshine. He sustains you through food and water, the air you breath, even your friends and family He has given life to. Then, Jesus suffered and died for you, He asks you to trust Him for your righteousness and forgiveness. And not only these but also the Holy Spirit gives you faith, hope and love; He shows you the truth of this world, your sin and the goodness and graciousness of God particularly through Jesus. Many times we may still reject God’s gifts and instead submit to our own ideas of truth, seemingly wanting to return to the slavery of sin.

But you have been freed from that slavery, you are free to hold to God’s forgiveness and the eternal righteousness and new life you have in Jesus. Saint Paul wrote that in baptism we are taken from that slavery of sin, even we die to that life; and we are brought to new life together with Christ, dead to sin, alive to Christ. Sin is no longer your master, no longer has power over you, you no longer need to submit to it. (Romans 6:1-14). In baptism the Holy Spirit washes it away and clothes you in righteousness, you are joined to Christ, part of His body and adopted as God’s beloved child (Acts 2:38, Titus 3:5-7; Galatians 3:27-29). We are freed by Jesus, the way, the truth and the life. You are freed from sin, death and the devil by Jesus suffering, death, resurrection and ascension. You are forgiven, and given life eternal by Jesus Christ.

That is the truth that sets you free. Jesus died for you, forgiving you by His blood and bringing you eternal life. You no longer need to live trapped by your sin, your failures or your wickedness, but you live by Christ’s words, His obedience, success and righteousness; by God’s gracious gifts, by His marvellous promises. And so, live! Amen

Joseph Graham


Justified by faith

Romans 3:19-28

Dear friends in Christ,
The day has finally arrived. The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is here. We’ve been waiting a long
time for this.
The official date of the anniversary is 31st October. That’s when, in 1517, Martin Luther released his 95 Theses.
At that time the church had turned to the law and forgotten the gospel. It was not teaching the love of
God. Instead it was spreading fear and the punishment of purgatory and hell, selling indulgences for cash
as the way to have your sins forgiven. It needed the money to build a huge new Cathedral in Rome. Luther,
among others, knew this was all wrong, and he decided to tell his bishop.
The rest, as they say, is history. Instead of a pastoral conversation about indulgences, Luther ignited a storm
of change – religious, economic, political and social. The Reformation really did change the world.
Luther’s passion was the gospel. How am I justified before God? How can I know that I have a loving God?
Do these questions still mean anything to us in the 21st century? Why should this anniversary be important?
You might think, for instance, that people no longer care about having a just relationship with God, or any
relationship at all for that matter. Humanity has matured. We are now independent thinking people who
don’t need that kind of crutch. I think you would be wrong. Faith is not a crutch. It is essential to human
A Lutheran congregation in the USA recently asked worshippers to write their deepest needs on sticky
notes. They stuck the notes to the walls of the chancel. Words like ‘acceptance’, ‘love’, ‘forgiveness’, and
‘healing’ kept appearing. There was a common theme: lack of self-worth, guilt, inadequacy, failure and
unworthiness. Simply not being good enough to deserve love. From my experience I think we are not so
very different in Australia. Modern hearts have similar problems to those of 16th century Europe.
Or you might think that people no longer care about justification, the key topic of the Reformation.1 That’s
not how we think these days. But we do know what it means to want and demand justice. We still feel the
sting of injustice when we are treated badly. We scratch the itch of self-justification every time we feel
misrepresented or misunderstood. Our media and law courts are full of people wanting to be justified.
We might express our core spiritual questions in different language to the 16th century, but they are
remarkably similar. We have adopted fashionable new attitudes and thoughts but on the inside our basic
human needs stay pretty much the same. We want to be justified, to be right, to be worthy.
Law without gospel means that the only solution is to prove yourself better and more worthy than others.
Your only hope of recovery is to learn techniques of survival and believe in yourself and your own strength
and achievements. Or, in 16th century language, to buy an indulgence so that when you die you wouldn’t
spend so long being punished for your sins.
God’s law, given to us in the Bible, has the insight and authority to show us where we are wrong and where
we need to change. We know the command to love God above all others. We know the command not
to kill and to do good to others. We know the command not to lie and to speak well of our neighbour. We
know the commands not to steal from our neighbour but to protect everything she or he has. These rules,
and others like them, are our built-in minders. They form the bedrock of our society. They help us live well
The law also shows us our sin, disobedience, and rebellion. We know that even under the best
circumstances we humans break the law, first in our hearts, and then by what we do. This happens even
with the human laws that control society. If you drive a car, for instance, you will know how the traffic slows
down when there’s a police car or safety camera nearby. Then, when it’s out of sight, things speed up
again. Law can make us conform but it cannot reform the heart.

1 See the Augsburg Confession Article 4
Sermon for 31 October 2017
500th anniversary of the Reformation Page 2
The gospel, the bedrock of the Reformation, reverses all that. It’s more than a story about a corrupt church
a long time ago. It’s a divine/human story of the renewal of the human heart, body and soul. God gives
us his Word so we can believe the gospel. Faith in Jesus and forgiveness, justification, rebirth and renewal
go back to Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, and reach forward into our time. St Paul and the apostles
preached this faith and wrote it. The church has believed it and taught it from the beginning. Our text
today, dating from the 1st century AD, says ‘…no one is put right in God’s sight by doing what the Law
requires; what the Law does is to make people know that they have sinned… For we conclude that a
person is put right with God only through faith, and not by doing what the Law commands.’2
Of course we know that rules are not the final answer. Of course we know that a patch-up job never makes
the grade. Deep down we have always known that we need to start again from scratch – new people,
with a new life, a new hope and a new salvation. That’s why the Reformation message – the gospel itself –
still matters today.
You can’t earn or deserve forgiveness and justification. You can’t save up to buy salvation like a medieval
indulgence. You can’t bargain for it. You can’t Google a self-help course to practice perfection. It’s a gift,
or its nothing at all.
Jesus Christ is that gift. He brings salvation, justification, hope, forgiveness and eternal life. He is the Word of
God creating us again: reborn, brand spanking new human beings.
When Christmas comes around we often sing about Jesus as ‘Immanuel’. Quite literally ‘Immanuel’ means
‘God is with us’. We need to keep that in our sights because our natural tendency is to separate God and
daily life. When people understand God as a God only of law, they don’t want him too close. When people
choose not to believe in God they are often rejecting an impersonal, legalistic God who doesn’t care
about us. People don’t want a God who controls them through outdated rules and regulations.
The scandal of the Reformation, of the gospel, is that God is nothing like that. Our God is right here on
earth, mucking in with us, growing up with us, suffering like us, and even dying like us. This distinctly Christian
scandal turns the tables on all law-based religious beliefs. In our multi-faith society no other faith believes
in a God who, while remaining in highest heaven, is born on earth and dies as a human being. Agnostics
and atheists don’t think that any god, if one did exist, would personally suffer and die for them. Humans
assume god, by definition, must be remote, impersonal and unfeeling. The gospel of the Reformation flies
in the face of all that. Because of Jesus we know that God loves us deeply, personally and unendingly.
So if you’ve ever felt unjustly treated, inadequate or unworthy, then the Reformation is for you. If you’ve
ever been afraid of failure, or that you aren’t good enough, then the Reformation is for you. If you’ve ever
thought that if people really knew what you are like on the inside then they could never like you or love
you, the Reformation is for you.
Today we need the gospel of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness as much as we ever did, for we are still
‘… put right with God only through faith, and not by doing what the Law commands.’
That’s what this Reformation anniversary means and why it is important for us today. It’s all about faith in
Jesus, and God’s free gift of forgiveness, justification and salvation in him.

I will be good Mummy


pastor-hans-cropWhen Robert Louis Stevenson was a boy he once remarked to his mother, “Momma, you can’t be good without praying.” “How do you know, Robert?” she asked. “Because I’ve tried!” he answered. This brings to mind a story about another little fellow — one who had been sent to his room because he had been bad. A short time later he came out and said to his mother, “I’ve been thinking about what I did and I said a prayer.” “That’s fine,” she said, “if you ask God to make you good, He will help you.” “Oh, I didn’t ask Him to help me be good,” replied the boy. “I asked Him to help you put up with me.”

 Dear Friends! God says in JEREMIAH 31:28 “And just as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring evil, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the Lord.”

 The world around is broken, destroyed and is filled with evil and so God wants to Repair, Rebuild and Reform our lives but often most people are satisfied to be the way they are as long as others are able to put up with them.


Dear Friends! Look at the world around us or switch on the news on your TV and we hear violence, breaking down of lives, destruction, persecution, hatred, injustice, bombing of the innocent and the list goes on. People in the Middle Eastern world, the ISIS or Talibans or the fundamentalists are trying to destroy this earth that God created.  We learn to put up with all the nonsense and these people take advantage. God’s word has the power to make us stand up and fight the good fight and run the race. We are not meant to just put up with rubbish around us but to stand up to the truth.
We as human beings are so comfortable in our lives as long as people around us are able to put up with us. We don’t see the need to change, to be repaired, to be rebuilt and to be reformed for life eternal.

God promises I will build you up and plant you to be a new creation. We are not called to live lives as unrepairable people, we are called to be people repaired by the Grace of God. A lot of people think they are beyond repair.

Do you feel you are beyond repair?

Hear the good news from Jeremiah 31 “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. From the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more”.

The good news is we are repaired as the law is written in our hearts. Hans Peethala “When the law is written in your minds: we will be slaves to the law and will keep struggling to keep the law and be perfect, But when the law is written in our hearts, it repairs our hearts and rebuilds it so that we may be reformed for life eternal”.

The good news is God has written the law in our hearts and the law is reformed in our hearts and it transforms us to be Gospel living disciples.

Today we remind ourselves Martin Luther saw the church breaking down and losing the Gospel. The Catholic Church was so focused on being perfect and the whole emphasis was on keeping the law. It was all about good works and striving to get to heaven by paying purgatory. Martin Luther stood up and said “Enough is enough” I will not put up with this rubbish anymore.

Martin Luther had tasted the Gospel and he was not able to see God’s children being led astray by working on their good works to be saved. He wanted to ensure that things were put in place and the church was repaired, rebuilt and reformed by God’s Grace. He proclaimed that we are saved by Grace alone. He reminded the church that we need to undergo some repair so that our faith might be rebuilt with Grace, Mercy and Love of God.

Martin Luther said, “I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands that I still possess”.

We cannot save ourselves with our good works, But the good news is God has placed us in the hands of Jesus and It’s by the Grace of our Lord Jesus we are repaired, rebuilt and reformed for life eternal.

God enabled Luther to use God’s word to repair, rebuild and reform the lives of the needy. The Church was reformed as the Gospel penetrated into the hearts of the people. The power of the Gospel has “Repaired, Rebuilt and Reformed our lives forever”.

Paul also was in a similar situation as he was ok as long as people were able to put up with him. But when his eyes opened, He saw that God had “Repaired, Rebuilt and Reformed his life”.

He said “For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.”

Reformation is a reminder that we are Reformed people by the Grace of Jesus Christ our Saviour. We are made righteous by Grace and the Holy Spirit will guide us to live by faith. The world around us is being destroyed, plucked down and torn apart but we who have become righteous by Grace alone that we may live by faith. We do not live by seeing what is happening around us in this world, but we live by faith in what is promised to us by God our Saviour.

Romans 3:22 – 26 “The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; 26it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus”.

Dear Friends! We are justified by the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to be righteous before God. This is the truth that Jesus has given us. John 8:31-36 “Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

This is the truth. Jesus has “Repaired, Rebuilt and Reformed” our lives forever. We are set free by the Gospel, Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, “Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin”. 35The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed”.

The Son of man has set you and I free by the truth. The truth is we are saved by Grace and a faith response to the Grace we have received is good works that builds our faith.  Go in peace. Amen

Pastor Hans Peethala

” Flat lining yet alive to live “

“Flat lining yet alive to live”

John 8:31-36


Mike Holmgren, who in 1997 led the American Grid Iron team the Green Bay Packers to four consecutive finals series play-offs and to their first Super Bowl victory in 30 years, grew up in a religious family in San Francisco.

He went to church every Sunday and at age 11 made a public confession of Jesus Christ as his Savior.But later, in pursuit of a football career in high school and college, he said, “I left God on my bedroom shelf, right next to my dust-covered Bible.” After playing for his college he was drafted to a professional team and then another but never made it.

In his pain of rejection, he went back to his bible and recommitted himself to the Lord and after marrying a committed Christian and coaching football in the high school and college grades he became coach of the Green Bay Packers and after realizing his victory in the Super Bowl he said that: “Win or lose, I now realize what really matters: It’s not winning the Super Bowl prize-it’s the crown of eternal life that Jesus Christ has won for us through His victory on the cross.”
A sentiment, a truth that displays the same knowledge that Martin Luther came to know when he said:

“A person may carry their money wrapped in paper, or they may transport them in an iron chest; yet the treasure is entirely the same. Though you or I have a stronger or weaker faith in Christ, Christ is, after all, the same, and we have everything in Him.”

Wikipedia describes Martin Luther as a “German friar and professor of theology who was a seminal figure of the 16th century movement in Christianity known later as the Protestant Reformation who strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God’s punishment for sin could be purchased with monetary values assigned to indulgences and taught that salvation and subsequently eternity in is not earned by good deeds but is received only as a free gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin.” Finishing with “Those who identify with these and all of Luther’s wider teachings are called Lutherans even though Luther insisted on Christian as the only acceptable name for individuals who professed Christ.

Punching in Reformation in the online dictionary gave me the meaning of “the act of reforming, and/or state of being reformed”. I like Luther because he well and truly knew that outside of Christ he was certainly no saint which begs the question of why was he given the job by God to reform the Church because as he said himself that “if it wasn’t me and I just sat back drinking Wittenberg beer, God would have still got the job done through someone else”.

So why Martin Luther? I’m sure he had many attributes like courage, heart for the poor and communications skills and so forth, but for me one of the greatest “tools” he had was his knowledge of himself and in that knowledge, his absolute need and necessity to find the Gospel for himself.

God over time has seemingly worked through for want of a better word some “interesting people” and situations, and just as Jesus seemed to gravitate to the poor and outcasts, as my Vicar Father said God seems to not pick from the top of the shelf and if that be the case, we Christians come with some baggage. Baggage that God deals with and prunes over time, but baggage that the dark side knows of and how I heard put so well one time, that for us in Christ, it’s like we are surrounded by a picket fence to keep us in the world but not of the world, but like a lion the powers of darkness prowl around the edge looking for one of the railings becoming weakened, and that is where the attack will take place. The take this thorn from my flesh railings like pride, love of money, jealousy, weakness of the flesh to fight an addictive nature and so forth. The things we know are always nagging at us, and the things that we fall for again and again.

The things that get in the way as we try and follow in the words of Hebrews 12:1 and “Run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” The race that is marked out in Christ with the final destination of heaven as our eternal home and of life in Glory with Him.”

The problem is while we in Christ have already passed the finish line, in ourselves we find that we are still trying to get fit enough to make the journey and if you’re like me and unlike in the Melbourne Cup where they put the most weight on the strongest horse, it feels like the weights been put on the weakest, never mind coming from a bad barrier draw. Thankfully we’ve got the right Jockey whose knows his “horse”.

Hebrews 12:1 goes on, so “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”

If only we could because it seems that as soon as we nail back in place the loose picket, another one starts to weaken and so, we like in the Church in Luther’s day are in a constant form of reform. The reform he brought to himself and back to the church which was to re-find the Gospel in unadulterated clarity.

Our personal reformations of seeing things clearly. Of seeing that all have sinned and that being the case, our personal sins are not too great to be forgiven and that is the truth that has set us free.

 The truth as experienced by these people:

 One of the criminals (on the cross next to Jesus) who was hanging there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

And “When Jesus had entered Capernaum; a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralysed, suffering terribly. Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”  The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.

And when she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”  “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

A thief, a leader of the opposition allied forces and a lady in a crowd who did nothing much more than acknowledge who Jesus was and what He could do: and Jesus replies: your faith has healed you, I have not found a person in all of Israel with such great faith today you will be with me in Paradise.

Does that not seem overly gracious, it is but we shouldn’t be surprised because John 1:12 tells us:

But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on His name.

Martin Luther penned the famous quote of “sin boldly.” Not to tell us to purposely sin, but to say that when we do and the devil starts telling us of it, we know that he can never back up his allegations of being lost with the truth.

The truth that sets us free that is Christs never ending well of forgiveness.

Free as I once had so well said to me by a fellow student at the sem. who heard me singing and he said I should join the choir. He was probably tone deaf but that’s not the point. The point was I declined as I said I’m a bit shy about such things and he replied “what being saved in Christ not enough for you.”

He was right. Free in Christ why take myself so seriously and not put it out there. But also free in Christ to remain shy in such matters because all that matters to Christ is you.

The world judges us and we each other. Oh she is so successful and I’m only a grape picker.

A bank manager I knew quit his job to work on the production line at Holden’s in Elizabeth. I wonder what some people said behind his back not truly believing the truth of his statement when he said he had never been happier.

It wasn’t so long ago that to be in the Church was to try and look somewhat a devout sort of person and then sneaking into the bottle shop under the cover of darkness. Or of going to Church like butter wouldn’t melt in our mouth and then going home to be our selves again.

Colleagues and I were put through a leadership course where we were asked a series of question that would show the difference in our actions between work and private life. The gaps varied as they should. Except for one which flat lined. The instructor was somewhere between mystified and uncomplimentary and upon remarking that this shouldn’t be the case, I simply remarked-why?

Would I have manipulated my answers for a more pleasing result if I was going for the job instead of already having both the job and the runs on the board? Most probably.

Yet though flat lining, did I still try and be better at my job? Absolutely.

Do we as Christians try and live better lives turning from sin, helping others, being more welcoming and charitable? Absolutely, because we are free to do so because we already have the job and the runs on the board.

The Job Christ did for us on the cross and though you or I have a stronger or weaker faith in Christ, Christ is, after all, the same, and we have everything in Him.”

And should we carry around our faith in rags or a suit, as the CEO or the candle stick maker, believe boldly in who you are. And that is a child of God. A child of God so loved and special that he has given you to be alongside us and all the people he brings before you. So special that as he hung on the cross and was taunted to come down, he saw your face and felt your very being and remained steadfast in the Will of His Father knowing that “tomorrow”, He will greet you in paradise.

The surety of tomorrow that gives you the freedom to be the special person you are today-however that looks. Amen.

Here we stand

“Here we stand”


Today, like all days we come together in worship to receive from, praise to, thank and celebrate our Lord. That’s our focus today, next Sunday and every day in between. The focus of knowing that God the Father sent His only Son Jesus Christ to this earth to take our sins on himself and that in faith in Him and in His actions alone we are saved and given eternal life. We are saved in God’s gift to us in Christ: start, middle and end-that’s it. Yet amazingly God also works through the sinners that Christ came to save. Abraham, Moses, Noah, the 12 apostles, Mary, Paul and all the big “guys” of the bible. Notable messengers of the Word and united as great workers in God’s kingdom, yet also united in the knowledge of their sin.

The clothing of Adam and Eve after they fell to temptation, the release of Gods people from captivity in Egypt, the baby growing in a young virgin named Mary and all of scripture point to one person-Jesus Christ, the start, middle and end.

All scripture whether history, law or Gospel are to bring His saving Words into our hearts and minds. That’s the aim of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit-and all who have heard it and know it for themselves just like those chosen to be God’s mouthpieces during a time of change in the Church brought about by a Catholic monk called Martin Luther who had the audacity to nail 95 biblical truths to a local church door-the local messaging e-mail of the time and start a movement labelled the reformation.

They say that the pen is mightier than the sword and indeed when young Mister Luther made his observations regarding the truth of scripture in order to unleash the truth of Christ, so to he unleashed powers that wished to destroy him, and though Martin Luther and all the reformers that followed him could well stand alongside those great messengers chosen by God from earlier times, I’m sure they all would scowl in dis-belief that here 496 years later we are celebrating their works. But we do and we should. Not because they saved us, but because they responded to the call of God to bring our focus to one who did, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ said I am the way, the life and the truth and through the men and women of the reformation the knowledge and full words of scripture were brought in front of those who in the time had not the access to nor the educational skill to understand the Holy Scriptures and were being misguided and mislead to believe in means of salvation other than through faith in Christ alone.

Upon receiving his Academy award for his role in Gladiator, Russell Crowe born in New Zealand, raised in Australia and finding fame in America said:

“God protect New Zealand, God Bless America and thank God for Australia” and for the reformers and all messengers of the truth of Christ we thank God for protecting them, thank God for blessing them with the truth, and thank God for that truth, the way and the life that is Christ Jesus.

Salvation not of our works or piety, but in Jesus Christ alone who we know is our start, middle and end that we can line up with St. Paul and know that if we boast, we can only boast of Him our Lord and Saviour.

A simple yet revolutionary truth challenged some 496 years ago and though now the Word of God-the Holy Scriptures of the Bible is available to any of us fortunate to be living in a free country, that simple yet revolutionary truth of salvation in faith in Christ is still challenged to this day and seen only recently when I read in a publication placed in many Christian churches an article regarding John chapter 10 verse 10 of Jesus the Good Shepherd. Firstly, starting prior at verse 7 I read to you the word of God:

“So Jesus said again, ‘I am telling you the truth: I am the gate for the sheep. All others who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Those who come in by me will be saved; they will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life-life in all its fullness. I am the good shepherd, who is willing to die for the sheep.”

The clear Word of God: “Those who come in by me will be saved”, yet which evoked this commentary which not only brings into question the message of the reformers but the question of why Christ needed to die in the first place. The commentary:

“In John 10:10 Jesus promises the abundant life or life on a higher level. As we approach our spiritual destination on our lifelong journey towards spiritual man so the level on which we live our life climbs. I find it totally enlightening to have come to realise that the quality of my life here on earth is completely in my own hands and depends entirely on the effort that I make over time. (&) when I look at 1 Cor.3:13-15 I am pleasantly surprised to see that the quality of my life in heaven too, depends on my actions now that will result in having natural man born again. It’s all up to me!”

Words from a publication serving God in heartfelt service. Yet words that with its connation’s may unintentionally misguide and words that you will not again find within these four walls as we continue to preach and teach the truth of a message fought for 496 years ago and died for some 1500 years before then.

The Word of God, given for you in his mercy:

“You are justified by faith apart from works of law”, for “all fall short of the glory of God”. “For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it”, because “ through Jesus Christ is preached the forgiveness of sins, and everyone who believes in Him is set free”, as “Salvation is to be found through Him alone and in all the world there is no one else whom God has given who can saves us” because God did not send his Son into the world to condemn you, but that through Him you are saved”.

The message of Jesus Christ -our start, our middle, our end. Our everything. Our Saviour. Amen.



Reformation Sunday

John 8:31-36

“He wasn’t just whistling Dixie”

The 1969 moon landing did not take place but was put together in a film studio as part of the cold war propaganda. Lee Harvey-Oswald did not act alone and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was about gaining access to Iraq oil.

Ah, who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory?

I saw a good one about twenty five years ago where this reporter after having investigated the term being thrown at the time around called “The new world order” found out that there was a grand global design in place, and that in regards to Australia, we would basically become like a giant resource pit where after being mined, the resources then would be sent to developing countries, manufactured into goods and then we would buy them back and that this would obviously dramatically effect our production lines was considered collateral damage.

Bruce Springsteen once sang blind faith in your government will get you killed. As Lutherans we believe that our leadership are provided by God for our benefit. I do not argue that at all, but that does not mean that we should not question their actions because they are actually human like the rest of us, and like the rest of us-fallible. When we look at some of the world’s past historic events, it doesn’t surprise that people are led to think of conspiracies. Let’s start the ball rolling by quoting lyrics from Kris Kristopherson:

“There was a man named Mahatma Ghandi

He would not bow down, he would not fight

He knew the deal was down and dirty

And nothing wrong could make it right away


But he knew his duty, and the price he had to pay

Just another holy man who tried to make a stand



Another man from Atlanta, Georgia

By the name of Martin Luther King

He shook the land like rolling thunder

And made the bells of freedom ring today


With a dream of beauty that they could not burn away

Just another holy man who dared to be a friend


The only son of God Almighty

The holy one called Jesus Christ

Healed the lame and fed the hungry


And for his love they took his life away


On the road to glory where the story never ends

Just the holy son of man we’ll never understand


If you are going to take on the establishment, whether it is at your work place or at the very top-be prepared for the consequences. People don’t like change, or the truth when it comes at their cost-whether it is financially or status. Being a whistle-blower is not all it’s cracked up to be if you want to just sit back and smell the roses. But there are those people that put it all on the line, not for their own prestige, but because it’s the right thing to do, you could say it’s what they have been called to do-no matter what the cost.

With my brother, I once went to the funeral of a quirky and fallible lady. She hadn’t been “perfect” in perfects sense whatever that is, but she had touched many, many people and after the crowd had dispersed, looking down at her last resting place my brother commented that “this is holy ground”. Martin Luther was a whistle-blower, quirky, fallible and not perfect, but he desired for all to hear the truth, to bring to light the truth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. A rule of warfare whether in victory or defeat, is to have pre-planned an exit strategy. Wise thinking I would suggest even in our daily lives. Whether to invest in this company or that, to start a business, to change jobs or to take out a loan to purchase a house, it will help greatly to think of “what then” if things turn out pear shaped, or vice versa if things exceed beyond belief of how to remain true to your beliefs and integrity instead of being swallowed up with pride. But then there are people and occasions where there is no such luxury of any exit plan being available. William Wilberforce who lobbied in government against slavery, Nelson Mandela against apartheid, that guy that stood before those army tanks in Tiananmen Square and of course Martin Luther and his band of merry men.

Today is our reformation service and give me half a chance I would just stand here quoting Martin Luther all morning. But I won’t because Martin Luther was never about Martin Luther. So I’ll only give you two of his quotes that display what he was about. The first that shows what he was not about, being not about himself

“I did nothing, I could have just sat here drinking Wittenberg beer with my friend Melanchthon and God would have got someone else to do it”.

And a small quote of ten words that encompasses the whole of the truth in which he risked his life for:

“Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense and understanding”.

There is the truth. The fight against what is dished up to us as logic. Which I might add is logical you our human way of thinking. Being that to be accepted by God we need to earn His favour. Being that with our long lists of failures we’ve blown it. Those two suggestions that are placed before us continually are certainly reasonable; they make sense and are easy to understand. Those lies make much more human sense than the truth. The truth that a man on a cross, a thief who he said himself was “getting what he deserved” yet after seemingly simply to “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” is told by Jesus himself that “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”.

There was a time in the reformation that the churches were trashed in the belief that things like the cross on our alter were being looked on like idols and Lutheran’s have been at times accused of viewing Luther like a God.There is but one God, one Saviour and one truth: “That in faith alone are we saved”. These other things, this wooden cross, Luther, your good works are but gifts that God gives us and others to point to that truth. Luther was prepared to give his life for the truth, but he didn’t have to. God was prepared to give His only Son Jesus for the truth, and he did. Jesus was prepared to lie down his blameless life for the truth, and he did.

The truth that has set us free. George Fox, the founder of the Quakers wrote of when he understood the truth that set him free:

“Then, O Then, I heard a voice which said, ‘There is one, Christ Jesus that spoke to my condition. And when I heard it my heart did leap for joy, and then the Lord did gently lead me along and did let me see His love, which was endless and eternal and surpasseth all the knowledge that men have in the natural state or can get by history or books’”.

We have received that truth at a great cost, the life of our Lord and Saviour who asks that in regard to salvation we trample under foot all human reason, sense and understanding and just believe in him, and why he came: To hear his truths, so, let us do so

“Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be betrayed, and delivered into the hands of men: and they shall kill him; and the third day after that he is killed, he shall be raised again.


It is finished.


I am the door: by me if any person enter in, they shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.


I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. Amen.