October 16, 2017
[Jesus said:] Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's.
It occurred to me last week that in these musings, I often refer to the lessons for the upcoming Sunday, but don't always provide a link to those readings. So, beginning this week, I will make every effort to post links to all the readings for your convenience, in case you, the reader, would want to read them without having to look elsewhere.
Here are the lessons for Sunday, October 22:
I always use the readings as a springboard to my weekly writing. They offer a convenient framework for my thinking, most notably on mornings when I have no idea what to write about.
The lectionary is a priceless resource for anyone who engages in the reading or study of scripture, particularly a preacher. It is rare that a lectionary preacher, on any given Sunday, cannot apply one or more of the readings to events, or issues in our world or nation that are the dominant topics of discussion in society. Jesus' response to the trick question the Pharisees ask him in the Gospel reading from Matthew is a prime example (see above). In their sermon preparation for this week, many preachers will wrestle with how to interpret Jesus' words in light of our current political climate. Some will choose to avoid them altogether and choose another lesson.
For those who aren't involved in sermon preparation, the lectionary offers a disciplined pattern of studying God's word. It is wonderful devotional material. Most of all, it is inspiring.
One of my favorite verses in scripture is Paul's advice to his pupil, Timothy: "All scripture is inspired by God and isuseful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work."[2 Timothy 3:16-17]
Among the most perplexing issues we as humans wrestle with is discerning God's will for our lives. The truth is, we will never fully know. But scripture offers us valuable guidance. To quote the blessed Martin Luther, "Let the man who would hear God speak, read Holy Scriptures."
Contrary to what some may think of the Bible, it isn't a list of laws and detailed instructions for carrying them out. But through the reading of scripture, we grow into mature sons and daughters of God, confident of God's love, confident of our relationship with Jesus Christ.
It is through the reading of scripture that we listen to the prompting of the Spirit, allowing it to show us the way of love in our thoughts, our choices and our actions. It is that relationship of love that moves us to respond to others in ways that reflect the love of Jesus that is in us.
May we be ever diligent in coming to know God's mind even better through studying the Scriptures.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, October 17
, I will join the rostered ministers of the Eastern Conference at Shepherd of the Valley Retirement Community in Warren for our annual gathering together. We will worship and then discuss what is happening in the synod and the wider church.
I will be accompanied by Nick Kiger, Associate Director of Mission Support for the ELCA, who is spending time with us this week conducting a symposium with our synod. Nick will also spend time with our synod council as we meet in retreat this Friday and Saturday.
Wednesday, October 18
, I will be at St. Hilary Catholic Church in Fairlawn, which is combining with its next-door neighbor, Faith Lutheran Church, to observe the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, and discuss Declaration on the Way, a review of the positive steps that have been taken in the past 50 years of Lutheran-Catholic dialogue. The evening begins with a prayer service at 6:30 p.m.
And as stated above, the Northeastern Ohio Synod Council will gather in retreat on Friday evening, October 20, and Saturday, October 21, at Camp Mowana. Our time will be spent in worship, discernment and discussion, as we look ahead toward the coming year as people of God serving Christ's church together in the 20 counties of our synod.
Sunday, October 22
, at 1:30 p.m., I will be at the Episcopal Church of Our Savior, as they welcome our mission congregation, Iglesia Sagrado Corazón, to its new worship location. Sagrado Corazón is one two Latino mission congregations in the Northeastern Ohio Synod. This move was necessitated by the closing of Bethany Lutheran Church last week. We give thanks to God for our full-communion partnership with the Episcopal Church, which opens new doors to doing ministry together, and share in the mission of Christ.
That same Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m., I will once again join the people of God and the talented musicians at Faith Lutheran Church, in Fairlawn, for the 500th Reformation Anniversary Hymnfest, as we celebrate the musical heritage of our Lutheran tradition.
This week and always, may we seek out the will of God as best we can and go forward entrusting the choices we make into the hands of our loving and forgiving God.
+Bishop Abraham Allende