Last Sunday of the Church Year
November 24, 2019
St. John’s Lutheran Church—Chicago, IL
In the name of + Jesus.
It’s hard to tell a fool that he’s a fool. They don’t tend to take that sort of criticism very well. In fact, most fools think that they’re quite wise. A good chunk of internet traffic is precisely this: fools pretending to be wise. So the question that is begged is, are you really as wise as you think you are? Assuming that you’re wise, perhaps you’re making a fool out of yourself, and no one is willing to tell you because fools can’t be told that they’re fools.
Trinity 22 Micah 6:6–8 November 17, 2019 St. John’s Lutheran Church—Chicago, IL
In the name of + Jesus.
The oracles of the prophet Micah are full of God’s judgments. For behold, the Lord is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place (Mic 1:3–4).
And again, Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand…They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance. Therefore thus says the Lord: behold, against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks, and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be a time of disaster (Mic 2:1–3).
The cause of these judgments is not a momentary loss of ethics. He comes down upon the high places, which is to say, upon the altars and the places of false worship. Judea and Samaria alike draw God’s wrath because they turn to idols.
Matthew 5:1–11 St. John’s Lutheran Church—Chicago, IL “Heaven’s Great Reward”
In the name of + Jesus. 2.
Jesus’ first major public speech turns the world up on its head. He speaks a challenging word for anyone who’s ever encountered a challenge, because when challenges mount up we feel like we’re being cursed. When the doctor utters the fateful word “cancer,” when the boss calls you in and tells you to pack your desk, when you hold vigil overnight for the last hours of your loved one’s life, these are not times when we would say we are being blessed.
The world certainly doesn’t see it that way. No one responds to bad news with, “Blessed are you!” They offer condolences or platitudes, but never a full-throated and hearty blessing. That’s absurd.
But here is Jesus teaching things like, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are those who mourn…Blessed are the meek…Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…Blessed are the merciful…Blessed are the pure in heart…Blessed are the peacemakers…Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” (vv 3–10).
November 1 is All Saints’ Day. “Our churches teach that the history of saints may be set before us so that we may follow the example of their faith and good works, according to our calling” (Augsburg Confession XXI 1). On All Saints’ Day we remember those who have died in the faith, the great host of the faithful who are at rest.