Sunday, July 4, 2021 @ 11:00 a.m.
The Rev. Thomas Nibbe
HAPPY BLESSED FOURTH OF JULY!
the scriptures…and more
“…let the people think they govern…and they will be governed…”(William Penn) [Governor of Pennsylvania]
“…it is for freedom that Christ has set us free…Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again with a yoke of slavery…you, my brothers, were called to be free, but do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature…”(Galatians 5:1)
“…indeed…I tremble for my country when I reflect thatGod is just…” (Thomas Jefferson)
“..Yahweh said, ‘Son of man, I am sending you to…a rebelliousnation…that has rebelled against me…they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day…the people to whom I’m sending you are obstinate and stubborn…”(Ezekiel 2:3,4a)
“…people are not punished for their sins, but by them…”(Elbert Hubbard)
“…I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven…”
“…for Christ’s sake I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships,in persecutions, in difficulties…when I am weak then I am strong…”(2 Corinthians 12:2-10)
“—-to escape criticism—-do nothing…say nothing…be nothing…”(Elbert Hubbard)
“…there is luxury in self-reproach…when we blame ourselves…we feel no one else has a right to blame us…” (Oscar Wilde)
“…the only difference between the saint and the sinner is thatevery saint has a past, and every sinner has a future…”(Oscar Wilde)
“…Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples…when the Sabbath came He began to teach in thesynagogue, and many who heard Him were amazed…’Where didthis man get these things?’, they asked, ‘What’s this wisdom thathas been given Him, that He even does miracles?…”(Mark 6:1-13)
Would you pray with me this morning…
“Gracious, freedom-loving God!
You deserve our praise on this—the Fourth of July…As Americans, we are said to be a free people, but we cannot be truly free if we are bound by appropriate accusation, just conviction and consequent judgment. Jesus became “our sin” and freed us from these things.So, you free us from the stain of sin, and the fear of death, by the power of Jesus’ precious, innocent and divine blood, shed as a sufficient sacrifice for all that would personally imprison us. Through the merit of your beloved Son, we are able to take on each new day as refreshed, energized persons, anticipating the assurance of eternal life, not based upon our deeds, but rather, based upon our Scriptural assurance that Christ died for this moment whenwe truly able to know “freedom of mind and soul” from above. Thank you, Lord, for this benefit we rejoice in this special dayand all days, in which we experience true and complete freedom of mind, soul and body… You always give us only the very best…
In Jesus’ name.Amen.
The Scriptural material for this Sunday is very powerful, givingus a variety of life-changing insights. The text from the ancientprophecy of Ezekiel gives us the idea that people just do not change, no matter the age. Whether we’re sixth-century BC Judeans or twenty-first century AD Americans, we seem to manifest the same characteristics and tendencies as human beings, and all too often, unfortunately, negative characteristics. It therefore makes Ezekiel relevant to our current situation. Fallen human nature, apart from redemption in the Holy Spirit, in accepting Jesus, is dangerous and destructive. I should say, I hate to admit it, but it’s the truth. We note that what will eventuallyhappen in Ezekiel’s time isn’t so much to punish God’s people as it is to rescue them from the influence of their rulers. Currently, I keep up with the news to understand with a biblical mind-set what God has in mind for us, because I am convinced there is a directconnection between current events and what had already happenedin biblical times. Another insight in regard to reading Ezekiel is tonote the artistry involved in his proclamation, his use of allegory,and poetic language, indeed, without sweetening the beverage(so to speak). The saying goes, “You can catch more bears withhoney, than with vinegar.” That was not always true of Ezekiel’s ministry, because, as we note, there were severe words he was called upon to deliver. But it was presented artfully and powerfully. It needs to be true of us as we preach in these days.
In terms of the Gospel lesson, Mark 6:1-13 (and I’m really getting intoMark these days) reminds us that when we ministers go back to our hometown to preach, [and I’ve done that], we’ll often get the sameresponse that Jesus got. In essence, the attitude often is, “Who doeshe think he is now…?” We don’t get to manifest the presence we have acquired over the years. We remain the kid we were to those who receive us at home after years and years. My father-in-law was once invited to serve as the first “native-born” Bishop of Karachi, but he refused that invitation because he was a Sindhi, and like Jesus, he would probably not have been well-received in his home territory.
Today, I’m fascinated with the passage from 2 Corinthians 12:2-10.Saint Paul, in this section, refused to boast about himself, but rather,chose to share the story of his weaknesses, as a human being.
This is a great insight for us to grab onto. I would’ve thought that the way one would approach this sort of “unavoidable” is to present the best possible image of who we think we are, and not come right out with the whole unvarnished truth about ourselves. In another section, that is, Romans 7:18 following,
“…I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature…for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out…for what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I don’t want to do—this I keep doing…
We hop down to Romans 7:22,23—
“…for in inner being, I delight in God’s law, but I see another principle at work in the members of my body, waging war against the principle of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members…”
The struggle isn’t just Saint Paul’s. The struggle is also ours.It’s astonishing to read along seeing Paul with great transparency as he shared his very personal struggles. It’s encouraging for usall to know we have permission to be openabout our struggles and our shortcomings. Hopefully, let it be, that within the fellowship of faith we’ll always be accepted for the person we actually are.
We’re human, even though we’re people of faith. At times, especially when we desire to be fit representatives of our Lord—and we seem a contradiction to others—it’s great to know Paul came right out to share the story of his full humanity, along with the outstanding ministerial feats. What an example for all Christians to follow. I do declare—it so liberating to be fully impressed with Paul’s transparency. On the other hand, how uncomfortable it is when fellow believers present themselves as “holier than thou”. Our congregations need to be hospitalsfor sinners rather than country clubs for saints.
May our celebration of Independence Day be a blessing!
Thank you for your fellowship in the Lord Jesus!