Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Worship for Pentecost 7 - 2011

Wednesday after Pentecost 6
July 27, 2011

The Lord be with you

The “big” news about the next two Sundays is that Pastor James Roseman will be filling in for me (Pastor Rickert) as I visit other churches in our circuit in my roll as Circuit Counselor. Rev. Roseman has now shared the Lord’s word with us on several occasions and everyone agrees that his sermons are excellent.

This coming Sunday is the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost. It is also the Commemoration of Joseph of Arimathea. We will be using Matins for our liturgy (page 219). In Matins we use the appointed Psalm for the Day instead of the Introit, which is Psalm 119:153-160 (antiphon v. 154). The other appointed lessons are: Jeremiah 28:5-9, Romans 7:1-13, and Matthew 10:34-42. At this point in time I have not heard from Pastor Roseman what his sermon title is or if he desires any changes in the hymns I have already picked out. All this is to say that some of the following information is tentative.

Our opening hymn will be “Come Down, O Love Divine” (LSB 501). The sermon hymn is the one we are learning this month, “Rise, Shine, You People” (LSB 825). Our closing hymn is “God of Grace and God of Glory” (LSB 850). I am going to repost the same video that we had last week of “Rise, Shine, You People” because it is the only video I can find of this hymn. If you would like a little background on the hymn, check out last weeks worship notes.

The hymn “God of Grace and God of Glory” was written by Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969). He served as a pastor in both Baptist and Presbyterian churches and a professor at Union Theological Seminary. He was known as a liberal theologian and resigned his position at Union Seminary instead of signing the Westminster Confession, which is a confession that embodies the theology of John Calvin. Through his radio broadcasts and books Fosdick influenced thousands of people. The hymn “God of Grace and God of Glory” was written for the opening service of Riverside Church in New York City, October 5, 1930. This is another example of the church’s ability to use great hymns, no matter who wrote it. “God of Grace and God of Glory” can be found in the hymnals of both “conservative” and “liberal” congregations.

As noted above, I will not be at Lamb of God for the next two weeks. My adult Bible class, which is going through the Gospel of Matthew, will therefore be taking a two week break. We will resume Sunday, August 14, at 9:00 AM. As always, everyone is invited to come.

Preview of the Lessons

Jeremiah 28:5-9: For general background on the book of Jeremiah read last weeks worship notes. This reading takes place in the year 593 BC, having been carefully dated in 28:1. Babylon, after years as a second rate power, had thrown off the Assyrian yoke and defeated their former masters. After taking over all the territory of Assyria, the Babylonians continued to expand their power. The other major world power at the time was Egypt, who would lose out in the power struggle and come under Babylonian control. Babylon attacked and defeated Judah in 597 BC (2 Kings 24). They plundered the temple and the king’s wealth, and deported thousands including the king and his family. However the city was left standing, including the temple. The Babylonians also left a number of the major religions items and other temple equipment so the people could continue to worship God. However Zedekiah, the man Nebuchadnezzar left in charge, rebelled and the Babylonians returned in 586 BC, deported all but the poorest in the land, and leveled Jerusalem including the city walls and the temple (2 Kings 25). So this reading falls between the first invasion of Judah by Babylon and the second invasion which left Jerusalem utterly destroyed.

God had sent Jeremiah to tell the people to accept the rule of Babylon as coming from the LORD and if they rebelled it would mean their destruction. Jeremiah symbolized the Babylonian rule by putting a yoke on his own neck (Jeremiah 27). Hananiah, who is called a prophet, contradicted Jeremiah. He said that the Babylonians would be defeated within two years, that all the treasures of the Jews would be returned, and that even the deported king would come home. He spoke in the name of the LORD. This is where our reading picks up and it presents a problem we continue to have. Hananiah was a false prophet. He said everything the people wanted to hear and he said his message came from the one and only true God. He lied. He also called God’s true prophet a liar. The people had to choose and in the end they chose Hananiah. Many today are modern-day Hananiahs. They tell the people what they want to hear (God wants you to be rich, God will cure you of your major and minor illnesses, America and Americans are loved by God above all others, there is no need to repent because God loves you just the way your are, etc.) and they do it in the name of the one true God. They even call those who proclaim God’s word in its purity liars. As in the days of Jeremiah, people today continue to be deceived. In verses 12 through 17 God speaks to Jeremiah and tells him point blank that it is Hananiah who is a liar and that he would die that very year, which he did (28:17).

What makes this reading really stand out, and what I expect most preachers that use this text will focus on, are Jeremiah’s words in verses 8 and 9. Jeremiah points out that the true prophets of old prophesied “war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms.” He goes on to say, “the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the LORD has truly sent the prophet.” In the immediate context Jeremiah is saying “the proof is in the pudding” or “time will tell” who is really proclaiming God’s word. There is one standard for those who claim to have a direct word from God, complete accuracy. That accuracy is two-fold. Anything they say will happen must happen (Deuteronomy 18:22). The second aspect is that he teaches nothing that leads you away from the true God, contradicting the already revealed word of God we have in the Bible (Deuteronomy 13:1-4). The other aspect of this text I expect will be brought out is that the “prophet who prophesies peace” is ultimately Jesus. He not only proclaimed peace but by his atoning work established that peace.
Romans 7:1-13: Paul is continuing his major theme of the distinction between Law and Gospel, extending his sub-theme of baptism which he began with chapter 6. As we saw there, baptism is Gospel, not Law. In our baptism God united us with Jesus; especially noted was his death and resurrection. Thus the damming grip of the Law is broken and we are to live in the power of our baptism. In 7:1-6 Paul explains this by means of an analogy. According to the Law a woman who sleeps with someone other than her husband is an adulteress. However, if her husband is dead she is free to marry another man and sleep with him. She is not an adulteress. Paul explains his analogy beginning in verse 4. The general idea is that, being united with Christ in our baptism, we died to our first husband (the Law) and married our second husband (the Gospel). This new relationship, established in our baptism, is created “in order that we may bear fruit for God” (4). The fruit of living with the first husband (Law) is death. That first “husband” “held us captive.” In other words, the Law is a harsh taskmaster. But we have “died” to that “husband” (6) in our baptism. (All the death and resurrection images are baptismal, building on 6:1-11.)

In verse 6 Paul writes “so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” The word translated “written code” is literally translated “letters,” as in letters in the alphabet, or a letter like one you write, or some other written document. Some have used this as an excuse to throw out the Bible. In other words, they see the “Spirit” and the “word” as polar opposites. Paul surely does not mean this. He wrote in Ephesians 6:17 that we are to take up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” We also read in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” What he means is that the power of the Christian life is not found in our Old Man seeking to be good enough for God by obeying the Law. In stead the power for the Christian life is found in the Spirit working through the Gospel.

In verses 7-12 Paul expounds on the problem of living by the Law. No matter how good we try to be the Law keeps pointing out how we are not good enough. It is like the preverbal carrot on a stick. The carrot is dangled in front of the horse and the horse keeps moving forward trying to reach the carrot. But with every step the horse moves forward the carrot also moves forward. So the Law says, “Do this and you will live,” but you find that you can never truly keep the Law, there is always more to “do.” Those who think they do keep the Law perfectly have either watered down the Law (no matter how stick they may be) or they are remarkably non-self-aware.

Matthew 10:34-42: This is another section of Jesus’ teaching to the Apostles just prior to them going out on a mission trip. In last weeks Gospel lesson we read a different portion of this address. Verses 34-39 are quite jarring to those who do not know the words of Jesus. He speaks of himself and his work as being divisive. In this context it is because Jesus claims first place in our hearts. There are many who lay claim to our allegiance: mother, father, brother, sister, wife, children, work, nation, political party, neighbor, friend, etc. Jesus does not share the top spot. I’m reminded of an incident with my son and one of his former bosses. The boss told him, “As long as you work here this store is your church and I am your god.” To my son's credit he told his boss, “Thank you for making it easy for me to quit,” and he did. Christ is the dividing line. Because of him we must pick up the cross he gives us and follow him (38). However, in doing so, we find life (39).

For those of us who are focused on salvation by grace through faith verses 40-42 can seem quite difficult because Jesus speaks of receiving our reward. A reward seems like something we earn or merit, but that seems to run against salvation by grace through faith. However the problem is easily resolved. Jesus is not speaking of salvation as a reward. These “rewards” are received by someone who has already come to faith. (Remember he is speaking to his Apostles, who believe in Jesus.) When we are in heaven everything will not be a bland sameness. The God who created mountains and deserts, oceans and great parries, some people who are 7 feet tall and others who are 5 feet tall, some who are “black” and others who are “yellow,” does not obliterate all distinctions when we are in glory. That which we do for the Lord in this life is remembered in heaven and the “reward” is way out of proportion to the service rendered. In this life we carry our appointed cross, in the life to come we live in glory beyond our comprehension.

• The August Newsletter will be available Sunday. It will be posted on the blog before Sunday.

Well, I pray God's grace, love and mercy will fill the hearts and lives of all who gather to worship the Lord at Lamb of God Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Worship for Pentecost 6 - 2011

Thursday after Pentecost 5
June 11, 2011

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost. Our appointed lessons are: Jeremiah 20:7-13; Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 10:5a, 21-23. The sermon is titled “Live Like a Christian,” and the text is Romans 6:19. For our liturgy we will be using the first setting of the morning service (page 151). We will be sharing the Lord’s Supper. If you desire to attend you may prepare by reading the sections in the Small Catechism dealing with Communion.

Our opening hymn will be “Rise, Shine, You People” (LSB 825). This hymn was selected by our hymnal review committee as one worth learning and so is a new hymn for us. We will be singing it for the next four weeks, this Sunday being the first time. The rhythm is a little tricky, but the words are great. The video below is the only one on YouTube I could find with the hymn. It is of an installation service in an ELCA church. Their opening hymn is “Rise, Shine, You People.” You can listen to the hymn, but do not feel like you need to listen to the rest of the service. Ronald Klug wrote this hymn at the request of Wilson Egbert of Augsburg Publishing House for a 1973 series of bulletin inserts featuring new hymns. While it is in the “Mission and Witness” section of our hymnal, it was inspired by one of Klug's favorite Epiphany texts, Isaiah 60:1 "Rise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you." The publisher sent Klug's text to Dale Wood so that the text could be published with a new tune. Wood named his newly-written tune WOJTKIEWIECZ (voyd-KEV-itch), the original Polish family name that was simplified by the immigration official to Wood. It first appeared in our hymnals in the hymnal supplement 98.

The sermon hymn is well know to us, “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” (LSB 699). Our closing hymn is “On What Has Now Been Sown” (LSB 921), also well know at Lamb of God. Also each one of our distribution hymns are well known to us: “Lord Jesus Christ, We Humbly Pray” (LSB 623), “What Wondrous Love Is This” (LSB 543), and “All Christians Who Have Been Baptized” (LSB 596).

Last week I told our Sunday morning adult Bible study that I would be visiting Calvary Lutheran in Columbia as the Circuit Counselor this coming Sunday and so we would be taking a break from our series on Romans. I WAS WRONG. I had my dates confused. We will continue with Matthew 6 (picking up with the Lord’s Prayer) this Sunday. I will be in Columbia on Sunday, July 31. Our Education Hour begins at 9:00 AM and everyone is invited to come.

Preview of the Lessons

Jeremiah 20:7-13: Persecuted, ridiculed, jailed, and more, Jeremiah is known as “the weeping prophet.” We know much more about his struggles than many of the other prophets, because he wrote about them. He prophesied from 628 to around 580 BC and witnessed the fall and destruction of Jerusalem to the mighty Babylonian Empire. Kidnapped and taken by renegade Jews to Egypt, tradition says he was stoned to death there by those same Jews. The book itself presents several challenges to the reader. First, it is not arranged chronically. It reads like several collections of Jeremiah’s prophecies were gathered together after his death with no effort to synthesize them into the order they were delivered. Presumably this was done to preserve the integrity and message of each collection. Chapter 52 is essentially a quotation of 2 Kings 24:18-25:21, 27-30 and was certainly written after the days of Jeremiah. The quote is added to show how the prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled. The book has a lot of Law. The sinfulness of the Jews would soon be punished. God would raise up the Babylonians who would attack and defeat Judah, unless the people would repent. They didn’t and Babylon came. However Jeremiah also provided hope. Their exile would last but 60 years. He also, as all the prophets, spoke of the coming Christ. Most people think the book of Psalms is the longest book in the Bible because it has the most chapters (150), but Jeremiah actually has more words than any book in the Bible and so is really the longest.

Our text comes right on the heels of Jeremiah having been beat and put in the stocks overnight for having prophesied the destruction of Judah, Jerusalem, and the Temple because of the sins of the people and their refusal to repent. Like much of the prophecies in the Old Testament, it is written in classical Hebrew poetry. In verses 7-8 Jeremiah complains to God about his calling. No one listens and he indeed receives abuse for his efforts. When Jeremiah says, “O LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived” he indicates that becoming a prophet wasn’t by his own choice. The word translated “deceived” means “persuaded against one’s will” often, but definitely not always, to do something wrong. Verse 9 speaks concerning the inspiration of Jeremiahs words. With his eyes firmly on those who persecute him, Jeremiah complains about his oppressors in verse 10. In verses 11-13 his focus turns to the Lord, and his spirits are revived, ending with “Sing to the LORD; praise the LORD! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hand of evildoers.” This is where our reading ends, but if you finish the chapter (14-18) you see Jeremiah take his eyes off the Lord and his heart sinks again. “This sudden change of mood from praising God (v. 13) to deep melancholy will not surprise anyone who has wrestled with God in the night watches of doubt; that person knows from experience it is possible to fall into self-pity and rebellious complaint at the very moment when faith seems to have a strong grip on God’s promises” (The Lutheran Study Bible).

Romans 6:12-23: Paul has been hammering on the difference between Law and Gospel in reference to our salvation. To sum up chapters 1-5 you could say we are saved by grace through faith in the completed work of Jesus. Our works do not enter into the equation of salvation. In chapter 6 Paul turns to an easy misconception of this teaching, which is that good works are unimportant or that the Gospel encourages sinful behavior. Such attitudes reflect a misunderstanding. In verses 1-12 Paul ties our Christian life to our baptism. We are baptized into Jesus, which includes his death and resurrection. In our baptism we died to sin by being united to our Lord’s death and we have been raised to a new life by being united with his resurrection. This new life is under new ownership. Based on our baptism, then, “you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (11). This extended theological treatment of baptism forms the foundation for our lesson and is basically all Gospel. Verse 12 starts with a “therefore” indicating the tight connection between what Paul is about to write with our baptism. We will speak about that on Sunday.

Matthew 10:5a, 21-23: This is a selection of the instructions Jesus gives his 12 Apostles just prior to sending them out on a short “mission trip.” This is set up by verse 5. As you read this (and much of the rest of this “mission briefing”) you can’t help but feel the more things change the more they stay the same. Jesus encourages his disciples to remain steadfast in the face of rejection, even rejection by their own family members. He also gives them permission to “close the mission” when persecution becomes too much in a given town. They may move on to another town. The meaning of the phrase in verse 23, “I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes” is debated. Some feel it is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews by the Romans in 70 AD. Others suggest it means that the Gospel will be preached to the Jews (though not exclusively) until the Second Coming of Jesus. Some feel this is Jesus’ way of stressing the urgency of the mission. Any way you look at it, out time is limited to share the Gospel.

• Information for the August Newsletter is due Sunday.

Well, I pray I will see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Worship for Pentecost 5 - 2011

Thursday after Pentecost 4
June 14, 2011

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost. Our lessons will be Exodus 19:2-8, Romans 5:6-15, and Matthew 9:35-10:8-20. The appointed Psalm is Psalm 100. The antiphon is verse 5. The sermon is titled “General Truths,” and the text is Romans 5:15. For our liturgy we will be using the service of Morning Prayer (page 235 in the hymnal). This is a non-communion service that has only three hymns. Those hymns for Sunday are: “Come Holy Spirit, Creator Blest” (LSB 498), “If Your Beloved Son, O God” (LSB 568), and “O God of Love, O King of Peace” (LSB 751).

You would think finding our opening hymn on line would be easy as it is over 1000 years old. I found plenty of copies of it in Latin but nothing I wanted to post in English. Our other two hymns don’t appear with the same tunes we have in our hymnal. So this edition of our worship notes will have no videos.

Our Sunday morning adult Bible study is continuing its study of the Gospel of Matthew. We will be starting chapter 6 (the Sermon on the Mount). Our Education Hour begins at 9:00 AM and everyone is invited to come.

Preview of the Lessons

Exodus 19:2-8: The Israelites had been delivered from their Egyptian slavery three months earlier when the events recorded in this lesson take place. They are gathered at Mt Sinai. Moses goes up the mountain to speak with God. The Lord basically says, “I’m the One who delivered Israel, and they know it. This really wasn’t a difficult thing for me because everything is mine. If they will be loyal to me and follow my will, they will be my treasured possession among all that is mine.” The people respond with a “you betcha.” One thing I really like about this passage is that it is clear that God initiates salvation, not fallen humanity. Whether it is the Old Testament or the New, God is the Savior and we are the ones being saved. Our “you betcha” is a response to what God has done, never the event on which salvation is based. In chapter 20 God gives the Israelites the Ten Commandments, but they should always be understood in this response to God’s mercy light.

Romans 5:6-15: In what ways are all people alike? Well we all have hearts and brains, most have two legs and two arms, and so on. These are physical parallels, but they hardly cut to the core of who we are as people. In fact I could have been describing a chimpanzee. There are also some general spiritual truths about humanity, and Paul discusses them in this reading. We will hear about them in Sunday’s sermon, so I’m not going to say more here.

Matthew 9:35-10:20: The big message in this long reading is the mercy of God in Christ Jesus. The opening verse sets the tone, “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.” We notice that the message of the kingdom is coupled with acts of the kingdom, and we see that throughout the reading. “Kingdom,” by the way, is not some fanciful 1,000 year rule of Jesus from Jerusalem, but the rule of Christ right now in our hearts and life. Because of his compassion for the people Jesus sends out his Apostles and they engage in the same works of compassion that Jesus does (preaching and helping the afflicted). As with Jesus, some accept the Apostles and some reject them. This leads into the final segment of the lesson. There will always be those who reject and persecute Christ and his followers. However we have the promise of the Holy Spirit, who will direct us in such trials. This is not a promise of deliverance from temporal persecution. All but the Apostle John died a martyrs death. However, even in death, they remained faithful witnesses and were victorious, inheriting their crown of life.

• There will be a voter’s meeting Sunday. Mostly it will be reports. However we do need to select a lay representative to our Circuit Forum.

Well, I pray I will see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Worship for Pentecost 4 - 2011

Thursday after Pentecost 3
June 7, 2011

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost. Our lessons will be Hosea 5:15-6:6, Romans 4:13-25, and Matthew 9:9-13. The sermon is titled “God’s Welfare,” and is based on the lesson from Romans. The text is Romans 4:16. We will be using the third setting of the liturgy (page 184 in the hymnal). We will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper. If you desire to attend you may prepare by reading the section on the Lord’s Supper from Luther’s Small Catechism.

Because we sing hymns during the distribution of the Lord’s Supper, we always have more hymns in a service where we share Communion. This Sunday our opening hymn will be “God Himself Is Present” (LSB 907). Our sermon hymn will be “Thanks to Thee, O Christ, Victorious” (LSB 548). Our closing hymn will be “Go, My Children, with My Blessing” (LSB 922). Our distribution hymns will be “O God of Love, O King of Peace” (LSB 751), “When I Behold Jesus Christ” (LSB 542), and “O Lord, We Praise Thee” (LSB 617).

The following video is of our opening hymn, “God Himself Is Present.” It is being sung by Messiah Lutheran in Wisconsin. “God Himself Is Present.” was written by Gerhard Tersteegen and first published in 1729. Tersteegen’s theology was Reformed but, because he had not been ordained as a minister, his meetings for “awakened souls” were never really accepted by the mainstream Reformed Church. Due to this “outsider” position, though he wrote 111 hymns, not a single one was accepted until a century after his death. He now is considered to be one of the three most important Reformed hymn-writers to have lived. For us, this hymn first appeared in The Lutheran Hymnal and has been in each of our hymnals ever since.

Our Sunday morning adult Bible study is continuing its study of the Gospel of Matthew. We will are in chapter 5 (the Sermon on the Mount). Our Education Hour begins at 9:00 AM and everyone is invited to come.

Preview of the Lessons

Hosea 5:15-6:6: Hosea is one of the so-called “minor” prophets. This does not mean he is an unimportant prophet. The writing prophets are divided into two groups, “major” and “minor,” based only on how long their books are. Isaiah’s book (a major prophet) fills an entire scroll. All twelve of the minor prophets fit on one scroll. Because all the minor prophets were grouped onto one scroll, they cover a very wide time frame. Hosea was active from 750 to 715 BC. He prophesied in the Northern Kingdom of Israel and saw the fall of that Kingdom to the Assyrians in 722 BC. The book itself is a collection of oracles and it is difficult to determine why they were compiled in the order we have them.

“Hosea’s message is not for the faint of heart. His descriptions of prostitution, war, substance abuse, and corruption easily match the worst police and news reports of our day. He reminds us that simple neglect of what is wholesome and blessed leads to wholehearted sin and self-destruction. Wealth and armies do not deliver a nation. Only the Lord can redeem and restore us. Hosea shows how the spiritual dry rot that caused Israel to collapse contrasts fully with the generous dew of God’s life-giving mercy” (The Lutheran Study Bible, page 1428).

This lesson begins with God depicted as a Lion returning to his den. The idea is that God, due to the apostasy of his people, withdraws far from Israel. When Israel repents, God will return. Chapter 6 starts out with the people recognizing their sins. Verses two and three then has the people anticipate deliverance from God. In verse four God speaks. In it we discover that the repentance of the people is far from wholehearted, in spite of their words. So God sends prophets to straighten them out (verse 5). What God desires, but does not get, is “steadfast love and … the knowledge of God” (verse 6). Jesus quotes verse 6 in our Gospel lesson for the day (Matthew 9:13) against the Pharisees. True faith is always more than a Sunday morning thing. This passage does not undermine the commandment to “Remember the Sabbath Day.” True faith does gather with others to worship God. However, true faith is never parked at the church doors.

Romans 4:13-25: Paul continues to make the vital distinction between the Law and the Gospel. We are, by our fallen nature, legalists. Because this feels natural we seek to justify it with the Bible. Paul demonstrates that Abraham was saved, not based on keeping the Law but based on faith in the promises of God - in other words, the Gospel. So it was not Abraham’s deeds that made him righteous but “his faith was ‘counted to him as righteousness’” (verse 22). This does not contradict our Old Testament lesson for Hosea never says we are saved by our good deeds. What Hosea says (as well as Paul and Jesus) is that true faith results in actions.

Matthew 9:9-13: It is easy to love people in the abstract, to speak of the “brotherhood of man.” It is quite a different thing to put it into practice when you are face to face with someone you consider unworthy in some way. They may lead a life that is despicable in your eyes and so you shy away, do not offer assistance, and generally look down upon those who do minister to them. Perhaps it is people with AIDS, or homeless people, our ignorant people, or people with different religious convictions, or people with a different racial background, or people with different political views, or something else. To reach out to such people in love and faith, when you “know” that you are wasting your time, is more than many people can bear. Once you get this idea, once you can think of your own personal “untouchables,” then you can relate to the shock of the Pharisees in this lesson when Jesus shows compassion to “tax collectors and sinners.” It is easy to forget the reckless nature of God’s love. Jesus died for all, even though many will reject him and his offer of forgiveness. In this lesson Jesus calls Matthew, a despised tax collector for the Romans, to become a disciple. Matthew goes on to write the very book in which we find this story. God’s reckless love doesn’t always result in loyal followers. The same reckless love was given to Judas and Old Testament Israel, but ended with betrayal in both cases. However, whether it ends with betrayal or a disciple, we are to be conduits of God’s love in Christ Jesus to all. After all, he showers that same reckless love on us.

• The board of Evangelism will meet Sunday after the worship service.
• This coming Monday our Greek club will meet.

Well, I pray I will see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert