What Would Jesus Have Us Do?

Matthew 25:31-46New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Judgment of the Nations

31 “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. 32 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, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 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; 35 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, 36 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.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,[a] you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The Good Light

 

In these cold dark winter months of long nights and short days we depend a lot on lights. Before artificial light was easily and cheaply available our daily lives were shaped by the natural daylight between sunrise and sunset. Now we have light pretty much whenever and wherever we want it.

And that’s good because light reveals the world around us. It can make our world safer when it reveals the uneven ground on which we walk so that we are able to go without stumbling or falling. It can make our world more productive when it allows us to work longer or more efficiently. It can make our world more caring when we use it to see and dress the wounds of others.

Of course, it can also make the world less safe when the bright lights of the oncoming car blind us. It can make us less productive when it allows employers to press production times to points beyond weariness. It can make our world less caring when we use it to see our way around those along our path who could use our help.

Light can reveal for good or ill. God’s son, Jesus, came into this world to be a light for good. The words and example of Jesus and his cross-bearing way, serve as a light to guide us out of our inner darkness. In our darkness of guilt, he reveals the promise of forgiveness. In the darkness of shame, he reveals the possibility of reconciliation. Jesus is the light that reveals our enemy as a person who could use, and even deserves, our love. He is the

light that reveals despair as the breeding ground for hope. When the light that is Jesus is used in this way, God is revealed to us and to the world.

But this isn’t always the case, is it? Can Jesus-the-Light be used in dark ways? Sure. We can use him like one of those Maglite flashlights when we use his words, or the words of his followers, to verbally knock people out. We can use him like a laser when we use his words to burn bridges in our relationships. We can use him like the high-beams of an oncoming car when we use his words to shine on our righteousness, our superiority, compared to others.

In this church season we call Epiphany, we celebrate that God has done something good and wonderful by giving to us the light of the world, and we ponder an even more wondrous thing: that God allows us to hold this light in our hands, in our lives. God knows we can use it for good or ill. Will we use it to reveal God to the world?

As you know, this is the kind of thing we, as the Church, think about and talk about when we get together. I’m sure we’ll see each other soon. If you get there first, please turn on the light.

Thanks,

Pastor Lamb

 

Epiphany, 2017

 

Have you ever had an “epiphany”? Many can say that they have had one, when speaking of a new idea, a new way of seeing a situation, or discovering a unique connection. In the church,”Epiphany” has a specific meaning, and a central one to our faith.

To Christians, Epiphany is the revealing of Jesus’ being as divine. It originated in the Eastern Church in AD 361, beginning as a commemoration of the birth of Christ. Later, additional meanings were added – the visit of the three Magi, Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River, and his first miracle at the wedding in Cana. These three events are central to the definition of Epiphany as events where the divinity of Jesus was shown to all.

So, take down the Christmas tree and pack away the decorations. Be open to the epiphany that Jesus is divine and came to show us how to live rightly with God!

A New Year’s Message

 

New Year Resolutions, Repentance, and the Good Life

 

Do you see how New Year’s resolutions are like repentance? Just as our resolutions describe ways in which we resolve to change our behavior to improve our lives, so does repentance.  And we make resolutions because we want to live a new way that is better for us and, hopefully, better for those around us, too.  We want our lives to be good! Repentance aims at that same goal.

 

If you’ve been to worship at St. James during Advent, you probably heard me describe repentance as a change in life’s direction.  It’s when I lay my way of living my life alongside of the way Jesus would live my life, and then make course corrections so that my way and Jesus way line up better.  In other words, repentance is making changes in our lives to follow Jesus better.

 

So, if we want our lives to be good (at least better) who is better equipped to offer advice about living a good life than the One who created our lives?  Who is better to listen to than the One who, at great cost, came so that we might have light burdens (Matthew 11:30) and life abundant (John 10:10)?

 

In that light, here are some suggestions we might draw from Jesus’ life with his disciples (apprentices) and his teaching:

  • Set aside time each day for conversation with God (prayer).
  • Visit regularly other members of our church family.
  • Attend Bible study classes or other faith formation gatherings to grow your understanding of the One we follow.
  • Speak the name of Jesus in your daily conversations so that it becomes more natural for you to spread the good news.
  • Come to worship and stay for fellowship more often.
  • Take stock of all the gifts God has given you and think of new ways to share them.
  • Thank God and people more often for the blessings you experience through them.
  • Look for God in the people and events around you especially among the powerless and poor (look for positive reversals in fortune, surprisingly gracious behavior, or great generosity) and then share these observations with others.

 

You can probably think of other resolutions, other ways to repent.  But, if you start with this list and decide to adopt any or all of these changes and actually do them, I am sure you will find that:

  • you will be an encouragement to others;
  • you will strengthen the body of Christ;
  • God will be revealed to those in your world;
  • your connection with God will become more deeply rooted in your soul;
  • your life will be better in ways you can’t imagine or make happen by yourself

 

How can I be sure of this? Because these are ways that align our lives with Jesus’ Way, and good always results from that.  You will probably find it to be more fun and fulfilling, too!

 

May your new year be filled with an awareness of God’s love for you and others, and may it be fun!

 

Your brother in Christ,

Pastor Lamb

 

letter-article-jan-2017

Community Thanksgiving Dinner and Fellowship, Thursday, November 24, 2016

You are invited to a community Thanksgiving dinner and fellowship time at St. James Lutheran Church

Turkey dinner will be served at 1:00 PM

The sanctuary will be open for private use from 12 noon till 3

Come, eat, give thanks with us

All Community Members are Invited!

The Observance of the Protestant Reformation, October 31, 1517

What was Luther’s world like? Very different from ours in many ways no doubt, but we would recognize the beginnings of our own “civilized” life. By the 1400’s, advancements in communication, exploration, capitalism, humanism, science, and nationalism were creating upheaval in traditional ways of life. And because the Church was the main force for communicating with God, for stability, for order and tradition, the Church began to be impacted by these changes.

Enter Martin Luther, monk. As was the custom of the day, notices were posted on the door of the church for all to see, so that’s what the story says he did. 95 Theses, written by Luther as statements for discussion had two central beliefs—that the Bible is the central religious authority and that humans may reach salvation only by their faith and not by their deeds. Although these ideas had been advanced before by others, Martin Luther codified them at time ripe for religious reformation.

The system of indulgences, or buying merit so that one’s soul could exit purgatory, was Luther’s main target. The money spent by the people to purchase these merits was sent to the church in Rome.

The result of the posting of the 95 Theses eventually became the Protestant Reformation. For Protestants, purgatory is not necessary because Jesus Christ is sufficient.

 

 

St. James Lutheran Church

Hello,

This is the first post to the blog for St. James Lutheran Church. Here you will find information, photos, plans, events, and fellowship with God’s people. The idea is that this will be the site where you can find the monthly newsletter, the bulletin and inserts, photos of people doing God’s work on earth, and things that we find interesting for the building up of the body of Christ. 

This is a work in progress, and we do not yet know all that this site can do, so please be patient. If you can be helpful, or positive, or loving, please use the comment section to communicate with us.

Love,

A fellow Christ-follower

Preparing for Reformation Sunday

“As Christians we live in Christ through faith and in the neighbor through love.”

— Martin Luther (The Freedom of a Christian)

 

Martin Luther posts 95 Theses

On October 31st, 1517, the priest and scholar Martin Luther approaches the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and nails a piece of paper to it containing the revolutionary teachings that would begin the Protestant Reformation.

In his theses, Luther condemned to practice of asking payment – called “indulgences”- for the forgiveness of sins. At the time, a Dominican priest named Johann Tetzel, commissioned by the Archbishop of Mainz and Pope Leo X, was in the midst of a major fundraising campaign in Germany to finance the renovation of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Though Prince Frederick III the Wise had banned the sale of indulgences in Wittenberg, many church members traveled to purchase them. When they returned, they showed the pardons they had bought to Luther, claiming they no longer had to repent for their sins.

Luther’s frustration with this practice led him to write the 95 Theses, which were quickly snapped up, translated from Latin into German and distributed widely. A copy made its way to Rome, and efforts began to convince Luther to change his tune.He refused to keep silent, however, and in 1521 Pope Leo X formally excommunicated Luther from the Catholic Church. That same year, Luther again refused to recant his writings before the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V of Germany, who issued the famous Edict of Worms declaring Luther and outlaw and a heretic and giving permission for anyone to kill him without consequence. Protected by Prince Frederick, Luther began working on a German translation of the Bible, a task that took 10 years to complete.

The term “Protestant” first appeared in 1529, when Charles V revoked a provision that allowed the ruler of each German state to choose whether they would enforce the Edict of Worms. A number of princes and other supporters of Luther issued a protest, declaring their allegiance to God trumped their allegiance to the emperor. They became known to their opponents as Protestants; gradually this name came to apply to all who believed the Church should be reformed, even those outside Germany. By the time Luther died of natural causes, in 1546, his revolutionary beliefs had formed the basis for the Protestant Church.

Source: WWW.history.com/thisdayinhistory