Envy & Call
The transfer of the vineyard
Tag Archives: call
The End of Days, Eschatology and the trouble with Universalism
Bishop/Pastor/Deacon and the requirements for office
The hard call of the gospel, prioritizing Jesus and the Kingdom
Vision and Call, a thanks for those who bring God’s Word, as strange as it might be
Text: John 10:22-30
Full Sermon Draft
The world is full of voices. In the past week we’ve heard from some of the more gruesome. What Jesus says in the text today is “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” He also says bluntly that those who don’t believe (because they haven’t accepted/heard the testimony) are not his sheep.
What the Gospel according to John sets up is the duality of voices. The voice of Christ is the call to life, and the call to life is the call to repentance and a life transformed by the Spirit. All the other voices, whatever their form, are voices of the world leading to death, voices breathing threats and murder. And there is no blending of these voices, just a division. Either we follow the voice of the shepherd, or we follow other voices. Either we believe, and nothing will snatch us out of the Father’s hand, or we join the voices contra Christ. There is no middle ground. And if this week has done anything it has shown the foolishness of dialog with those voices of the world. Voices not based in the life of Christ yield bad fruit.
Biblical Text: Mark 6:1-13
It is a truth of this world that the really important things are usually hidden right in our midst. Think “rosebud” from Citizen Kane. All the great stories are about going out and returning home. When we leave, we don’t know what we are leaving. Think the prodigal. And when we stay, we don’t recognize the good. Think the older son. The good stuff is hidden in our midst. And it takes a revelation for us to see it. [By the way, this is the story of the Odyssey. In The Aeneid, Aeneas stops in the underworld to talk to the mighty hero Achilles and asks him if he would rather have the glory of renown promised, or the years at home. Achilles the shade answers he’d rather have had the stuff he turned down to get on the ship.] And in our moderns world – it is usually the things that shout the loudest that get our attention. The 6-year old sees a commercial and asks for whatever piece of junk it is pushing. He mocks me now he’s heard it enough, but I usually answer him “if it has to be advertised it’s a piece of junk”.
This is true for congregational life is spades. All the really important things God has hidden in our midst: The sacraments, the Word proclaimed, the communion of saints. None of them call out. All of them tend to be neglected. We don’t always recognize them for what they are. Yet these are the real, the important things. Yet we so often react or treat them as the residents of that town of Nazareth. We are scandalized that they are not bigger, or grander, or that they claim too much. This is how God acts? Water, Bread, wine and some fool flapping his mouth? The Word Hidden in our Midst.
This sermon isn’t so easy to break down. It is really a longer argument around that call to be perfect. We don’t hear perfect the way the disciples did. First I had to try and restore that original sound which is more completeness and wholeness and maturity. In a world of children demanding their rights, their honor, Christians were to be mature. That maturity would be salt and light.
The modern world, miracle of miracles, learned something from the church. That is good news. The modern world is better for that. The common good has increased. Something has been restored. But it has left Christians a little less salty, looking a little less mature. Figuring out how to again be salty – to be whole – to be perfect, is part of the disciple’s call.
A few remarks by people in bible class afterward were interesting feedback. This seem seemed to strike harder than I would have expected. Not that the notes that struck were not there, just that I would have expected a slightly different reaction.
Protestantism and Lutheranism in particular are very polar – either this or that. When you are talking about discipleship or responding to the call of Christ, that isn’t always helpful. Modern protestants have become very able to reduce the gospel to one dimension – believe the right thing. Faith Alone. The dramatic flattening of the gospel in many churches isn’t all Paul’s fault, because Paul is never that one dimensional, but Matthew and the gospels help. The call comes to different people in different ways. The gospel is that it is from God’s guidance and never more than we can handle. That simple faith in the right things – for me encapsulated in the creeds – is the general call given to all humanity. Repent, the Kingdom is here!
But the life of Faith may contain individual calls that go beyond that. They are part of the individuals call to follow. They are part of separating out the disciple of the Kingdom from the admirer.
That title questions – Do you have a church? – is from a story used in the sermon. It is important to ask. Do you have a community of people responding and guided by the call of Jesus, or a club of Jesus admirers?
[Another deeper point not touched on in the sermon directly, but broached in bible class and always floating in Matthew is: are the disciples the embryo church or are they the apostles? When you hear the call to be fisher’s of people, is that given to the entire church, or to the ministers? Same in Matthew 28:18-20. Is the great commission to the church as a whole, or those who normally baptize and teach? It is not as clean as we’d like it. Although I’m sure that many would not like this, how you answer that question is probably a bigger difference today between Rome and Protestants than justification. And that also has an impact on Do you have a church? Rome traditionally said Protestants didn’t. Now we are just imperfectly in communion. Is there a church structure – an ecclesiology – that acknowledges the ambiguity?]