Wednesday, September 15, 2010
By Jesse Chaney Brush News-Tribune Staff Writer
Teri Hermsmeyer stands in Brush s All Saints Lutheran Church, where she will be installed as pastor Sunday morning. She is also the new chaplain at Eben Ezer Lutheran Care Center. (Jesse Chaney/News-Tribune)For someone who lives in Boulder, new Eben Ezer Lutheran Care Center Chaplain and Pastor Teri Hermsmeyer spends a lot of time in northeast Colorado.
For nearly two years, Hermsmeyer has served as the Sunday morning pastor at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in the rural town of Anton south of Akron.
She joined the Eben Ezer team about three months ago and will be installed as pastor of the facility’s All Saints Lutheran Church during a special service at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Bishop Alan Bjornberg will lead the special service, and a reception will follow in the Eben Ezer activity room.
“Apparently God is calling me out here to rural ministry,” Hermsmeyer said.
Though her home is in Boulder, Hermsmeyer lives in a duplex on the Eben Ezer grounds from Tuesday through Thursday and preaches at All Saints church on Sunday morning each week. She leads services in Anton on Sunday afternoons.
In addition to preaching at the Eben Ezer church, Hermsmeyer is responsible for any funerals or weddings held at the facility. She said the church is open to anyone in the community, though “our ministry is with Eben Ezer.”
Full story may be seen at:
August 23, 2010
by John Brooks
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (ELCA) -- For nearly 45 years, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Platz (Gettysburg Seminary M.Div. 1965) has served here at the University of Maryland (UM), quietly influencing generations of Lutheran students to remain active in the church and in service to others. Those whose lives she has touched speak highly of Platz's influence on them, her dedication to the church and some wonderful home-cooked meals she serves to hungry college students.
In 1970 the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) ordained Platz at UM's Memorial Chapel, where she serves today. Platz, the first woman ordained a Lutheran pastor in North America, has served her entire ministry as UM Lutheran campus pastor. On Nov. 22 this year, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will mark the 40th anniversary of her ordination.
Before she was ordained Platz served five years as assistant Lutheran chaplain at the university, after earning a bachelor of divinity at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (LTSG), an ELCA seminary in Gettysburg, Pa. Looking back, Platz, a native of Pittsburgh, said she couldn't have imagined becoming ordained.
Full story at: http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx#&&a=4612
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Now that he's retired for the second time, the Rev. L. Guy Mehl (Gettysburg Seminary B.D. 1961) has the time to do what he loves — learning and teaching. "I love to learn anything I can," Mehl said. Mehl quoted an Asian spiritual leader: "You're never old as long as you want to keep learning." The 75-year-old Lancaster resident's recent studies have been about Muslims and Islam.
"I've read the Quran, and, recently, the autobiography of Jehan Sadat, the wife of (the late Egyptian) President Anwar Sadat, who is a devout Muslim."
Last spring, Mehl taught a course on how the Muslim, Christian and Jewish traditions relate to Jesus and Abraham for Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning. "Muslims have a great deal of respect for Jesus," Mehl said. This fall, Mehl will teach about the healings of Jesus in relation to the practices of healing in the first-century Roman Empire.
GETTYSBURG SEMINARY PROFESSOR NAMED GREENFAITH FELLOW
NATIONAL INITIATIVE TRAINS RELIGIOUS LEADERS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERSHIP
(September 14, 2010) GreenFaith announced today that Dr. Gilson Waldkoenig, Professor at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, has been named a GreenFaith Fellow, joining the 2011 class in the only comprehensive education and training program for religious environmental leadership. “We’re thrilled to welcome Gil to the Program,” said Rabbi Lawrence Troster, Fellowship Program Director and a nationally recognized religious environmental leader. Fellows gain “the opportunity to become well-trained leaders in religious environmentalism,” noted GreenFaith Executive Director, the Rev. Fletcher Harper, who added that “they will help create an environmentally just and sustainable world.”
Through retreats, webinars, and extensive reading, Waldkoenig will receive education and training in eco-theology, “greening” religious institutions, environmental advocacy, and environmental justice. Waldkoenig, who already teaches courses in ecological theology in the seminary curriculum, will join Fellows from Jewish, Muslim, Roman Catholic and Protestant denominations who come from congregations, universities, campus ministries, NGO’s, and denominational organizations. Each Fellow develops an eco-theological project intended to mobilize religious leaders in relation to an environmental issue.
Gettysburg is an ideal base for work in the Fellowship. “Seminary Ridge is treasured by millions of people around the globe because of its historical significance,” Waldkoenig noted. “The seminary has been a faithful steward of the natural habitat on the ridge since 1832, helping it to recover from the battle’s devastation in 1863 and collaborating with the Park Service and Gettysburg Borough in long-term care of this public treasure,” he added. “As the global community confronts new environmental challenges,” Waldkoenig said, “how--and why--we sustain the natural habitat of Seminary Ridge will be a witness and inspiration to many.” Waldkoenig serves as one of two faculty members on the Seminary’s Green Task Force, a community wide campus effort to steer the seminary in ecologically healthy directions.
GreenFaith is a leader in the fast-growing religious environmental movement and has won national and international recognition for its work. The Kendeda Sustainability Fund supports the Fellowship Program. For more information visit www.greenfaith.org.
The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, the oldest of the eight seminaries of the 4.8 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, prepares women and men to be outreach oriented pastors, public theologians and mission leaders. In addition, it provides programs in continuing studies, advanced theological education, and specialized educational programs for informed lay persons, ordained and other rostered leaders, and high school youth.
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Texts are Year C Lection 23
Philemon & Luke 14.25-33
Preached by the Rev. John Spangler
Paul's shortest letter in the New Testament is a personal note. So far as we know Paul wrote it, and he did so from captivity, ironically, addressing it to a slave owner about a runaway slave, Onesimus. If you study this letter, its 500 words, you can see why the early Christian community was seen as pushing against the social structures. In fact, you can find evidence of the leadership of women, and of course the presumption of the prevailing slave holding structures; you can infer the breaking down of class divide, and also the need to abide by law; you see an appeal to the freedom of life in the Gospel, and the sheer force of personal persuasion.
In a year in which the first African American president has been caricatured in public political rallies repeatedly in white face and cartoon-like animal drawings, this text sent up a flare. In a year in which a Mid-Atlantic state celebrated its civil war heritage without the mention of slavery, it seems prudent to revisit a little history. In a time in which too many Christians are confused about what is “in” the Bible and what “the Bible” says, it is time to model witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In such a year, in such times, we bear special responsibilities. Our preaching is on the line, and in the spotlight.
What you find “depends an awful lot on what you are looking for,” said a wise Yogi Berra. And this is the bad news: If you are looking for a resource for the one chosen divine idea about social structure, a societal makeover that suits you, you’ll probably find it. If you are looking for confirmation of your conclusions around human sexuality, you’ll probably find that too. If you think that it is your righteous duty to burn a copy of the Quran in public, you will find justification, however inadequate, somewhere in Deuteronomy that calls for the burning of idols, some twisted idea about false worship, and other thinly veiled un-contextual self-justifications.
--The truth is that interpretation matters. Faithful exegesis is no mere luxury in our time. The physical well-being of countless people depends upon preachers getting this right. Self projections upon the sacred texts are dangerous. Things are so bad that perhaps we should press Fox news to rally people to Seminary Ridge to restore honor to the Bible. Well, maybe not.
But the first and most important step is to stop applying inappropriate questions to the scriptures. Apparently, the second is to say more about this when we preach and teach. We work here is a place dedicated to faith in search of understanding. The world around us isn’t getting enough of the “understanding” part.
The first African American to receive a Lutheran theological education arrived here in 1835, 25 years before the civil war began. He arrived with letters of introduction from John Bachman, a leading Lutheran from South Carolina and what he called an album of signatures and associations that testified to his good character and free standing. He had started a school in the South to help open young minds of young African Americans. That activity was such a threat, however, that he was driven from his own school, the victim of new laws passed in a quasi legal way (for no women or African Americans had access to the legislature). The laws were designed to make it impossible for free blacks to survive there, and so he was forced to leave. [Remember, we do not delight in every law, but in the Law of God.]
Upon arrival in Gettysburg, he wondered whether his sponsors among the Lutherans here intended to send him to Liberia. From his own pen:
When Dr. Schmucker, the President, arrived, I called upon him and again asked what the Society had in view--whether it was the intention to send me to Liberia. The reply was: "The members of that Society are not colonizationists, but abolitionists, and they desire you to be trained to labor for the intellectual, moral, religious, and social improvement of the free people of color in the United States." My doubts were at rest, and I was ready for matriculation.
Payne wrote about choosing his affiliations here in town and in Pennsylvania based upon what the various groups thought about these 500 words in the New Testament. Some Northern preachers found justification for the end of slavery in this letter. And in Philemon others in both north and south found slavery’s justification. Interpretation matters deeply, and Daniel Payne will be among the voices saying it can be a matter of life and death.
What we know about the letter to Philemon is this: Onesimus owed his master money, perhaps having borrowed more than he could repay and had also run away. Paul sent this servant back to his master in order that forgiveness and love and new life might have a chance. But as he sent Onesimus, the risks were rather high. A slave would likely be punished severely for running away, let alone for running away owing money.
And Paul faced the risk that the slave would not return to Philemon. And he risked his hope that the new relationship between master and slave would be no longer master and slave, but something new as between brothers. Paul was trading on his relationship with Philemon -- a promise to repay and an expectation that all the parties involved would sacrifice, for the sake of love.
For Philemon, it would mean total forgiveness and perhaps swallowing some righteous anger. And for Onesimus, the order called for courage and obedience and a new steadfastness in service. Paul risked becoming the newest cause for his friend’s suffering, in other words, he was meddling now. As a kind of indirect insurance, Paul told his brother in Christ, Philemon, that he was coming to visit as soon as he was out of prison. I suppose we call that accountability.
Did Paul count the cost? Did he know what the outcome would be? Did he know that things would turn out all right, or perhaps did he suspect that things could get worse? Did he really believe that line about in Christ there is no jew or greek, no slave or free [person]? He expected his brother to give up being a slave lord; he foresaw a former slave to take up new responsibility as a full person. Paul apparently weighed the options and took the plunge, believing that the power of the Gospel to reconcile would win out.
We know little of how this story turned out. We don't know about any such visit Paul made to Philemon after his imprisonment. Many wonder in print about the forces that led to preservation of this letter. Is that in itself evidence of a good outcome for Onesimus and Philemon?
We have hope ourselves because people have counted the cost of discipleship and have followed Christ anyway. The cost is, in the end, too high; we cannot afford it. But in our lives connected to Christ, we cannot avoid taking risks if we are faithful to the Gospel. This letter of Paul reflects a moment, a teachable moment, when one cannot keep blindly following the messiah without understanding what is at stake. The Gospel beckons us to lead a life that reflects real risk, perhaps even becoming sacrificial -- or it is something other than love and something other than the Gospel that we follow. amen.
Preached by President Michael L. Cooper-White
Texts: Proverbs 25, Hebrews 13, Luke 14:1, 7-14
Theologian and ethicist Stanley Hauerwas has been teaching down at Duke Divinity School for nearly three decades. A few years back, TIME magazine deemed Hauerwas the most influential theologian in America. He recently published an autobiographical memoir, Hannah’s Child, which I received as a gift and have begun to read. Looking back at his Texas origins, where his father was a bricklayer, Hauerwas reflected, “I have spent my life in buildings built by people like my father, buildings in which the builders have felt they do not belong.”
Buildings in which the builders have felt they do not belong . . . Hauerwas refers, of course, to the halls of academia, and perhaps even to the great chapels at places like Duke University. Here in our own grand Church of the Abiding Presence, those who built and have stewarded it over seven decades have seldom sat among us as we gather for worship or one of the fine lectures or concerts that take place within these walls.
In the current season, it seems that we are surrounded on every side by questions of who and what belong where and when. Heated debates are waged up in New York City. Out in the New York harbor, Lady Liberty still beckons and beseeches: Bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. But if your idea of freedom is to build a Mosque near the place of horrendous tragedy at Ground Zero, then go elsewhere. Here you do not belong.
Likewise down in Arizona, and in many jurisdictions around the country, there is high anxiety over those who cross our borders without their immigration papers in order. “Send them home or somewhere else,” cry out many. I suspect if they did their family genealogical work carefully, some of those most vociferous in their opposition to so-called “illegal aliens” would soon come across ancestors who came to this country with no questions asked. Many who cling most fiercely to their land and property would have to acknowledge that their ancestors walked onto rich land and simply called it their own in a time of rural homesteading.
Even within our churches, the debates roil on and on about who and what belongs where and when. So-called worship wars continue to be waged in some places over what kind of liturgy and type of songs, even which hymnal shall be used. In my student years at this institution, a couple of professors could not celebrate the Sacrament because they held radical notions about who might receive bread and wine, including very young children. This was at a time when pastoral discretion in such matters was quite circumscribed, and deviations from the norm received a heavy hand of church discipline. Just last week, a new North American Lutheran Church body was created over questions of who belongs where doing what in our churches. Some of the long-time builders, including bishops who gave their lives and careers to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and its predecessors, have concluded that ours is now a building they can no longer inhabit. While I do not agree with their assessment, I am saddened by their departure and hope for a day when they and we and indeed all Christians can truly abide in the same household of faith.
This week’s appointed Scriptures issue some theological vectors and pastoral advice that address these very questions of who and what belongs where and when. And their message is consistent, even insistent. The writer of Hebrews sums it up succinctly: Never fail to exhibit, to demonstrate hospitality to strangers! Those who have done so already have often entertained God’s very messengers, angels coming incognito and in disguise. Go so far, says the Hebrews author, as to remember those in prison, for they too belong in places where they are no longer free to go.
In the Gospel, Jesus once again is mixing it up with the Pharisees, who seemed to spend most of their time worrying about who belongs where and when doing what. On a Sabbath, when Jesus went to dine in the house of a Pharisee, Luke’s Gospel says, “he was being watched carefully.” The Pharisees were always watching Jesus. Theirs was not the loving kind of watching, as when you watch a baby sleep and utter prayers from your perch beside the crib. It was a more sinister watching—to take note when he might stumble. Theirs was the watch-keeping of a security guard or police officer keeping tabs on a shady suspect.
As he did so often, Jesus engaged the Pharisees and invited them to expand their comfort zone. He first offered some friendly advice about how to avoid embarrassing themselves. “Don’t take a seat in first class if you don’t have that ticket. They’ll kick you out and send you back to coach, and you’ll be shamed in the process.” Then he went on to teach them the way of true Christian hospitality:
When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your relatives or rich neighbors. But when you host a five-course banquet with your finest china and nicest linen tablecloths, or when you make a group reservation at your town’s most expensive restaurant, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then you too will be blessed by the experience of offering lavish hospitality.
Once again this year, as I have been privileged to do now most years of the past decade, I sat in as you summer Greek students introduced yourselves and explained how you came to be in this place. I came away that Friday afternoon more grateful than ever for my own call to serve in a Seminary that attracts such outstanding women and men! As I listened to your “call stories,” I was struck by how many of you wondered for so long—and may still be wondering—whether or not YOU belong in this place. Are you not indeed like Stan Hauerwas’ father, the builders who feel you don’t belong in the buildings that you have sustained by your prayers, your offerings, your commitment during all those years of your formation in the faith; during a long season of your lay leadership in the church?
Perhaps some or many of you need a word of assurance, maybe even from me a presidential proclamation. So here it is: Welcome home! This Church of the Abiding Presence is a building that your forebears built. You will continue reinforcing and refurbishing it by your frequent presence within these walls. This Seminary will not be the same four or two or one year hence. As has occurred every year since the beginning way back in 1826, once again this year the Seminary will be rebuilt, refashioned as a community—by all of us.
So, be confident in God’s call and your own sense of calling. You do belong in these venerable buildings and upon this holy hill. Whether or not you come for your very first service of Holy Communion around this altar, or have been coming here for decades already—in the case of some of the faculty, staff and alumni—welcome home. Welcome home!
Now, in the spirit of high transparency to which this school’s leadership aspires, I must go on to remind you that exhibiting good Christian hospitality is indeed hard work. Those who open their doors and their hearts to a host of strangers will on occasion be taken advantage of and even abused. There is some wisdom in the little ditty that Barney the dinosaur teaches children who watch him on television:
Never talk to strangers; that’s very good advice. Cause you just can’t tell if they’re good or bad, even though they may seem nice.
In my experience, however, it is generally not strangers who do us the greater harm. So often, our most painful encounters come with those who are close to us or even within our care. Of late, there has been a flurry of newspaper articles and internet pieces on the topic often referred to as “clergy burnout.” These articles point out that on average those who engage in full-time ecclesiastical service have poorer physical health and more mental health challenges than the population as a whole. Many in the professions to which you students aspire find themselves strapped financially, work far too many hours, often neglect their families, and experience a profound loneliness because they lack either the time or the ability to form lasting supportive friendships. But the even greater burner-out, which leaves some colleagues smoldering in the ashes after a time of ecclesiastical service, is the constant grind of demands by and lack of appreciation from those among whom they serve.
Perhaps in this regard also, there is some word from the Lord for us in the Bible’s many teachings on this important matter of Godly hospitality. I think both Jesus in his mini-lecture at the Pharisee’s house, and the writer of Hebrews issue a reminder, and it is this: The host is the host. The host is not a servile victim who must fulfill every unreasonable demand of every guest who shows up at the banquet, invited or not. In another saying, Jesus urged us to go the second mile; he did not say we have to always run a marathon beside those whose intentional or subconscious aim is to facilitate our fatigue. A good host has to remain healthy enough to issue the invitations, set the table, and then engage in holy conversation that builds up and sends guests away more whole than when they arrived.
Jesus concludes this little lesson in the school of the Pharisee’s home with a promise: “You will be blessed. Even though your guests cannot bother to say thank you; even if they pan you or blast your hospitality in the post-banquet reviews, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. God’s answer to our modest acts of hospitality will be the Great Surprise at the in-breaking of the Coming Age, when the Triune Host of Heaven flings wide the doors to the larger life of God and shouts, “Welcome home, daughters and sons, friends, family all. Welcome home!”
That, dear fellow travelers on the journey this year on this hill, that word of welcome is precisely what Jesus issues to us now as he beckons us to his banquet table.
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
A sermon preached during the summer Lay School, July 2010
by the Rev. Dr. Kristin Johnston Largen
Text: Matthew 12:38-42 [Wisdom]
We live in an unprecedented age of information. Everything you want to know about anything at all is at your fingertips—no further away than a cell phone or a keyboard, and an internet connection. If you give me a woman’s name—any name—in 30 seconds or less, I can tell you everything you need to know about her. If you give me a date—any date in history—in 30 seconds or less, I can tell you everything you need to know about what happened then. If you give me a sentence—a fragment of a sentence—in 30 seconds or less, I can, most likely, pull up the book or article from which you got it [plagiarizers, beware!]. In 30 seconds or less, I can find a list of every state capital, give you the definition and spelling of any word in the English language, or pull up a picture of any picture by your favorite artist. Today, everything you want to know about anything is at your fingertips. Information is everywhere.
However, unless you are preparing for a stint on Jeopardy, these kinds of bald facts are not necessarily all that valuable. What good is it, for example, if I know that it was Matthew’s Gospel in which the wise men visited the baby Jesus; and Luke’s Gospel in which it was the shepherds—if that is all I know?
What good is that information if I don’t understand that, for Luke, the shepherds are another example of the gospel proclamation of the salvation of the last and the least, and the radical reversals in human society that Christ’s coming entails? I would argue that it is this bigger picture that makes any bit of information worth something; it is this larger context in which we can interpret information that makes it useable, that makes it useful, that makes it mean something in our lives. In other words, it is this larger context that separates information from knowledge.
Now, knowledge, of course, is a good thing. Knowledge goes far beyond the simple collection of facts to a synthesis, interpretation, and application of that data to real-life situations, in order to make the world a better place. Knowledge, then, consists of the use of our God-given gifts of intelligence, creativity, and memory to create new technologies, develop new medications, find alternative fuel sources, and to deepen connections between individuals, cities, and countries. Knowledge is information in context, information at work for the sake of the world.
However, knowledge, like information, is, ultimately, a human convention —it comes from our necessity, it is shaped by our convictions, and it is judged by our standards; and what that means, is that, like all things human, it is tainted by sin and evil. And therefore, we deceive ourselves terribly if we choose to ignore the fact that knowledge also consists of the use of our God-given gifts of intelligence, creativity, and memory to create land mines, to develop new ways of trafficking drugs and people, to find alternative ways to torture people more slowly and more painfully, and to deepen the divide between the rich and the poor. Human knowledge in action reveals both the best of who we are, and the very worst.
Now, in saying all this about information and knowledge, I have attempted to set the stage for what is, for Christians, a central paradox, a key faith proclamation, and a particularly rich bit of gospel all rolled up into one outlandish claim: that is, the very best of human knowledge is folly—stupidity, to quote Rick Carlson—when compared to the wisdom of God, embodied and enfleshed first and foremost in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Over and over again in Scripture, we see that God’s wisdom is surprising, and runs quite counter to knowledgeable human anticipations, assessments, and assumptions. I’m sorry, God, but I’ve run the specs and a little runt like David has less than a 1% chance of winning a fight against a giant like Goliath—you really should choose someone bigger and more powerful. Listen God, I hate to disappoint you but I’ve seen with my own eyes that you can never trust someone who was once your sworn enemy—Paul is going to turn on you at the first opportunity—you really can’t count on him. Excuse me God, but I’ve done some research and no one is going to believe a woman if she tells them that she has seen something as miraculous as a resurrection—you really should send someone else.
God’s wisdom really does look like foolishness, when you think about it. Only God could see that choosing a young boy, an agitator, and a woman to do God’s work in the world would bear such extraordinary fruit—our eyes are blind to such wisdom.
And that’s not all: when we turn from Scripture to today, over and over again in our own lives, we see that that God’s wisdom is surprising, and runs quite counter to knowledgeable human anticipations, assessments, and assumptions.
When we’re sure we should go left, God takes us right. When we’re sure we should marry someone like “X,” God brings “Y” into our lives, and turns everything upside down. When we’re sure we’re going to be a lawyer or a teacher, God calls us into public ministry. God’s wisdom really does look like foolishness, when you think about it. But that's only from a human perspective. When viewed through the lens of God's wisdom, we can look back on our lives and see that God never leads us astray. When we put our faith and trust in God and God’s wisdom, we will surely be surprised, but we will never be disappointed.
That’s why I love every single one of these Scripture readings we heard today. Even though Solomon turned his heart away from God toward the end of his life, I will always love him for answering God in such humility and honesty, and choosing wisdom over everything else, when God offered him the whole world on a platter. And as we heard this morning, Solomon went on to use that wisdom for the sake of God’s people, and for the sake of God's kingdom.
In First Corinthians, Paul shocks us anew every time we read this passage, as he calls us away from our typical way of ordering the world—our logic, our hierarchies, and our convictions about what's right and wrong—and back to what really matters, the wisdom of God manifest on the cross of Christ and revealed in weakness, realized in our own lives as we are joined to Christ in our baptism.
This is a lesson we, like the Corinthians, have to learn over and over again, because we continually fight against God, sure that our way is the best way—sure that our human knowledge is equal to divine wisdom. Luther's call for us to return to our baptism daily surely includes the day-to-day practice of conforming our minds to the mind of Christ, and allowing God's wisdom to be the ordering principle of our lives.
Finally, in our Gospel lesson for this morning, we hear the radical proclamation that Christ himself is the very incarnation of God's wisdom—divine wisdom walking, talking and at work in the world. In Jesus Christ, we have more than simply a sign of God’s intentions, we have God in the flesh, living and breathing right in the midst of creation. In Jesus Christ, we have more than just the inspired speech of a human channel for God’s wisdom, we have that wisdom in a flesh and blood human being, not only speaking God’s will, but actually embodying it for all to see and follow and emulate.
What this means for us, then, is that when we want to access this divine wisdom, when we want to see what God desires for God's people, we merely look to Christ. In Jesus’ life, in his ministry, in his healing the sick, in welcoming the outcast, chastising the religious leaders, and proclaiming a kingdom of God that bears little resemblance to any society constructed according to human knowledge, we see a vision of what God intends for the world. And in this vision, against all knowledgeable human predictions of how things should logically turn out, might does not make right, the rich do not keep getting richer, and the status quo is not maintained. Instead, in the kingdom of God, there are no rich and poor, no haves and have-nots, no outsiders; and no one is rejected, no one is abandoned, no one is unloved.
Today, the church as a whole, and we as individual Christians are called to be witnesses to this vision, and live as though this promised reality were already here; seeing and believing with the eyes of divine wisdom that Christ truly lives in each brother and sister, that every corner of creation has infinite value, and that the promised victory over sin, death, and the devil has been won—salvation is not in doubt, no matter how dark things may appear. In God, all things are possible; and with Christ at work in us, amazing things are possible for us, too—not because we have so much information, not because we have so much knowledge, but because in Jesus Christ, divine wisdom has come into the world and changed it forever. Thanks be to God. Amen.