Pastoral Letter – Thur, April 2, 2020

Grace and peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ.  This note as has become typical has two purposes.  The first is to share a quick meditation.  The second is to share information.

Meditation

Maybe I am losing it, very probably, but there have been a couple of passages on my mind in the unfolding days.  The first is from the larger passage of Genesis 47:13-26, but the specific verse are 20-22, “So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for all the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine was severe on them.  The land became Pharaoh’s.  As for the people, he made servants of them from one end of Egypt to the other.  Only the land of the priests he did not buy, for the priests had a fixed allowance from Pharaoh and lived on that allowance.”

That is the story of how Egypt became “Egypt”, the original stand in for slavery to the world.  Joseph taxed the people during the “seven fat years” and put that grain aside.  Then in the “seven lean years” he progressively sold it all back to the people of Egypt, first for money, then for livestock, then land, and finally themselves.  The only people who were not slaves in Egypt were the special class of priests who drew a salary from the government already.  Joseph in the bible is always the smartest kid in the room, and everything he does is prospered.  But it is real hard to play Joseph off as a hero.  To prosper with Joseph always leads to slavery.  The Egyptian people were saved by his interventions, but it was their grain to begin with that he taxed away and sold back to them.  His brother’s should not have sold him into slavery, but they always lived in fear of him from then on.  And Israel’s prospering in Egypt lasted until “there arose a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph.”  At which time they became slaves.  Joseph over his Father’s death bed asks a question and gives a promise.  “Do not fear, am I in the place of God?” was the question.  He’d like them to say no, but the answer was yes.  The promise was the promise of a god.  “Do not fear, I will provide for you and your little ones.”  Which eventually proves false.

It is a dangerous question in these days, but how quickly do we sell our very selves, our God given liberty for the protection of Joseph?  Will we find ourselves in Egypt when all this is past?  Will the priestly class again rule alone as god kings?

The second verse comes from the end of the story, Revelation 18:17. “For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.”  It is the lament of the merchants and shipmasters over the final fall of Babylon, the other great biblical symbol of the world.  Yet the saints see this same event and “the loud voice of a great multitude in heave cried out, hallelujah!” 

The world always looks grand full of “gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory…and slaves, that is human souls.”(rev 18:12ff)”.  But it is a mirage.  Its greatness a boast that cannot stand.  Its protection fleeting.  Built on the false exchange of one self for its security.  The LORD does not promise wealth and security here, most surely the cross.  But he does promise victory, eternal victory.  All the Egypt’s and Babylon’s and Rome’s of the world pass, but the word of the LORD endures forever.  And that word is “blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the lamb (Rev 19:9).”  That feast never ends.  Even if we do without its foretaste for a while.  Take heart and be of good courage.  The day comes.  Soon.

Information

  1. Services will continue to be at 9 AM and 11AM.  Last week seemed to go very well.  We had roughly 10 here and 10 online in each one.  Proper social distancing maintained.  I wish I could make a better video feed, but I think we got the audio good.  (Please tell me if that is not the case.) This is the zoom link. https://zoom.us/j/6458485288
  2. Here is the link to this week’s service so you can participate from home. https://www.saintmarkslutheran.org/wp-content/uploads/services/April%205%202020%20Service.pdf
  3. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  Next week is Holy Week, sigh.  I’m going to hold those, but I’m not doubling the services.  Regular attendance at those is roughly half of Sunday anyway.  So, if you are here, distancing will be fine.  Everyone will still have their own pew.  And Good Friday I think will translate easily online.  MT is going to be different.  I haven’t worked it out just yet. I will post the services and send the links out next week.
  4. If anyone just needs someone to talk to my cell is (see the email).  And I can jump on that same zoom link anytime. Just give me a buzz.
  5. Confirmation classes have moved to zoom.  LAF is on zoom.  I’m thinking of attempting another bible study, more info to follow.