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Transcript of N E W S O F P E A C E Peace Lutheran Church, Steeleville, IL 2013 ... newsl · PDF file...

  • N E W S O F P E A C E

    Peace Lutheran Church, Steeleville, IL

    2013

    Reflections from the Pastor – Pastor S. Blake Duncan

    When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are

    raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” St. Matthew 11:2-6

    Is Jesus the one? Is Jesus the Messiah? Who is this Jesus? These are the questions that John poses to Jesus in this text. It is a fair question. Let’s face it Jesus is doing all kinds of things that just didn’t fit in with what everyone (including John it appears) thought the Messiah should be doing. The Messiah should be putting together an army, he should be all about judgment and vengeance, he should be exclusively for one group of people only, he should be all about glory and power. Right? He shouldn't be concerning himself with the poor and the hungry and the ill and those who are lost or different or foreign. But for Jesus this is exactly who the Messiah cares for and he sends back his answer and says – well, the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the poor are lifted up and cared for! Wow – what kind of a Messiah is this?

    So what kind of a Messiah are you looking for? Is the Jesus of the Gospels the one you want or do you want something else? When I see the way Jesus is invoked in public and political discourse I get the distinct impression that the Jesus of the Gospels is not really what a lot of people want. We see in popular culture a Jesus that is very different than the one that we meet in the Gospels. In popular culture Jesus is all about judgment and even about hate; In popular culture Jesus is all about prosperity and success; In popular culture Jesus supports violence against “bad” people (who Jesus also hates and who are not like us); and In popular culture Jesus is all in favor of cutting food assistance and bringing intensified hunger to thousands, including children who find themselves struggling. The problem is that no matter who or how often this Jesus is invoked this is not the Jesus of the Gospels.

    In fact, the Jesus of the Gospels completely rejects this power Jesus, the judgmental, hateful Jesus. What we find in the Gospels is a Jesus who loves and who loves so intensely that he completely gives of himself for others on the cross. What we find in the Gospels is a Jesus who reaches out to those who are struggling and hungry and on the fringe – the poor, the unemployed, the immigrant and so on – in order to lift them up, to assist them, to feed, to clothe to love and care for them. This is the Jesus of the Gospel. Not only that, but despite an overwhelming popular opinion to the contrary the Jesus of the Gospels is not primarily concerned with individual, personal salvation as much as he is concerned about establishing the Kingdom of God right here and now – a Kingdom where all of God’s beloved children live together in love and grace – where hunger and poverty is defeated and where violence is replaced with love and acceptance and where all are accepted and loved!

    This is where it gets hard, because as disciples of Christ we are the ones who are called to continue to do the work of the Kingdom and our work is to reach out, like Jesus, to care for those in need every possible way we can. This includes giving of ourselves – time and talent and financial resources – participating and supporting various programs that seek to bring assistance. But our calling also includes working through the various federal, state and local systems that we have to insure that important programs that provide for those in need are supported and fully funded by those in power – especially programs that provide food for hungry people! There is no excuse for allowing these programs to be cut!

  • We are coming into the season when it is traditional for us all to reach out and do something to help others. What will you do this year? I have some suggestions: We have a number of programs right here at Peace. Please consider participating by giving your time and/or money to the food pantry, the Angel Tree, find some old coats for the coat drive, bring your old shoes to our shoe collection, get a packet of Christmas cards and send cards to those who are shut in or ill. And while you’re at it consider contacting your politicians to insist they maintain programs that help the poor and needy and hungry. And also consider giving to Lutheran Disaster Response who is currently working to bring relief in the Philippines and /or ELCA Hunger Response which addresses hunger issues here at home and abroad.

    And here is another idea: Pastor Adam Hamilton serves a large Methodist congregation in Kansas City and each year he challenges the members of his congregation to give an amount equal to what they will spend on gifts for themselves and their families to various relief agencies and programs that offer assistance. I think this is a great idea, and one that I plan to participate in again this year as I have in years past. However much I will give in gifts I will give the exact same amount to the programs and agencies I have listed above. I encourage you to prayerfully consider doing the same.

    I leave you with yet another quote from Jesus from the Gospel of St. Matthew:

    “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ … ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ St. Matthew 25:31ff

    Have a blessed Advent!

    Pastor S. Blake Duncan+ [email protected] Pastor Duncan’s blog: Musings on the Faith: http://pastorduncansblog.blogspot.com - please feel free to visit and comment as you are led. There you will also find links to other interesting blogs.

    CONCERT BY JONATHON RUNDMAN

    We have begun to use a new liturgy for the times when the band plays. This liturgy

    is called the “Heartland Liturgy” and is composed by Minnesota-based composer

    Jonathon Rundman. We are happy to announce that Jonathon will be coming to

    Peace on Wednesday, January 29. Jonathan will sing with the children of the

    Wednesday All-Stars in the late afternoon and he will perform a solo concert at 6:00pm in the

    Sanctuary. All are invited and encouraged to attend – confirmation students and families, youth,

    members of the choirs and all members of the congregation are encouraged to come for what should be

    a wonderful concert. A reception will follow.

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