29 July 2018

Today’s Homily by Pr. Ball

St Paul Lutheran Church

The 9th Sunday after Trinity  

July 28/29, 2018+

St. Luke 16:1-9

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The way of Jesus is just plain different.  Jesus is shrewd.  Now normally you wouldn't think that what the man does in the Gospel is something that should be commended.   He is an operator, knowing how to work the angles and get ahead in life.  The man in the Gospel story that Jesus tells is definitely a shrewd operator.   If you are going to get fired from your job, like the guy in the parable, and fired for good reason, because you have been a lousy employee and if that you are too weak to work with your hands and too proud to beg, what you need to do is find all the people who owe your boss money and cancel out a bunch of their debt so that you will make friends with them and they will soften your fall after you get canned.  This is a very shrewd plan, it almost seems like sinful, cancelling debts that weren't his to cancel.   For Jesus cancellation of debts to make friends is commendable, as a matter of fact it is good, so good that in the story Jesus has the rich man who owned the business commend the guy who not only made up the plan but put it into action, at a loss to him.  

So the way of Jesus is different, not minding too much when his employees are wasteful, not minding when they cook the books to cancel debts that don't belong to them.  Waste, and the cancelation of debt by an employee that wasn't his to cancel – all commended.    Because forgiveness, that is, debt cancellation is exactly what he has come to do and any time it happens with his people he rejoices in it, and He wants you, his people to live that way, the forgiveness way.

The debt you owe to the Father simply cannot be repaid by you.  Not with gold or silver, dollars, offerings to church or God.  Of course you should be giving your offerings faithfully and sacrificially, but not to pay debts.  You can't make up what you owe with your smarts or your engaging personality.  You owe a debt you cannot pay.  Let anyone who stands take heed lest he fall.  Because of the debt of sin, the fall of eternal death would come to each one.  So Jesus pays it.  He has paid the debt, with his holy precious blood and his innocent suffering and death. Jesus gets into the accounting of your life and picks up all with debt and cancels it all out before his Father by paying the price for it all, by shedding his blood, by dying.  He lives now to have you live in the cancellation of your debt, which is the preaching of the forgiveness of your sins.  All debts paid for at the cross, debt relief delivered to you now in this time, in this place, that is what happens when you, in repentant faith receive the Body and Blood of Christ here and now.  The debt was paid once on the cross, the relief of that debt being paid is given do you now.  Jesus way.  Forgiveness won and delivered.  

This is how the Lord chooses to deal with debts that are owed to him, with debtors that are on the hook to him – he forgives their debts.  It is a shrewd way the makes friends out of debtor  He who forgives the debt is God, and he who won the forgiveness is His only-begotten Son.

The Church lives and works in the  shrewd debt cancellation way of Jesus.  You as a member of the Christ's  deal shrewdly, when someone owes you something, you forgive it.  When someone has hurt you, you release them from their guilt.  You work and strive to lessen everyone else's debt, knowing that your Father in heaven has not only forgiven you, he will also forgive them.  If you tell someone that you forgive them, you are simply acting as one who has been forgiven first, and this is how Jesus has you believe and live.  St. Paul would warn us to live no other way than by the Jesus way, and certainly not the way of idolatry or sexual immorality.  The children of Israel did that, the people had their idols, they sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play and they indulged in sexual immorality and on one day 23 thousand of them died.  We must not put Christ to the test, in the assumption or presumption of forgiveness.  God will not be mocked.  

Though temptations will come, they need not overtake you.  God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it.  The way is not to give into the temptation, or to excuse sin or to imagine that it doesn't matter, or to presume that you can go ahead and put God to the test because "He will forgive me anyway" rather as you heard, "This God, his way is perfect, the Word of the Lord proves true he is a shield for all who trust in him..  For who is God but the Lord? And who is a rock except our God?  The Lord Jesus Christ, our of his eternal riches became the debt bearer and forgiver and is the one who stands alive as the man who is the refuge in temptation the way of escape. His way is the way of his Words and promises.  His way is perfect. That is Jesus way, the perfect way, giving you life by his Gospel, the proclamation of the cancellation of debt of sin by his blood.  That is Jesus' way; different, shrewd, and it is your way unto everlasting life.   Amen.

26 July 2018

Lovely evening

Biked down to Rebekah's for dinner with her, Andy, and Opa (which was delicious). Then a game of liverpool, and biking back home, treated to some beautiful cloud formations as the sun was setting.

Today’s Homily

Chapel for 7.26.18
P&P, p. 260
Reading: Romans 8:28-39

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
  “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Yesterday we celebrated the martyrdom of St. James the Elder. He was among those who heard Jesus say: “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.” (Matt 10:16) But also heard Him say: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19)

Think about that just for the 12! Nothing shall by any means hurt you? I guess we don't count chopping off heads, getting crucified, being flayed alive, or any of the other horrible ways the 12 (except St. John) died as being hurt? Huh???

Ah, but this is why our text today MUST not come unglued. I don't know if you're like me, but I have long tended to put the promise at the start in a separate memory compartment from the promise at the end. The promise at the start is so well known: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good." That takes a Spirit-wrought faith to hold tight to in life. I always think of the Patriarch Joseph as he is rotting in his cell, unjustly imprisoned and totally forgotten by the one to whom he did nothing but good. God is working all things for good? But you know the ending of that story. You know how in the end Joseph himself would tell his brothers: “Look, you meant evil against me, true enough. But God meant it for good, for the saving of many lives alive!”

And so we bump into this great mystery of the ways of God: His goodness is so massive, so vibrant and song, that it literally takes the discordant music of sin and resolves it again and again into grace. Nowhere of course so clear as at the cross. He literally takes the very worst thing that could ever happen: His creatures telling the Creator, get lost buddy. We don't need you. We don't want you. Our lives are our own and you are dead meat. AND He flips that around to bring forgiveness pouring out from His heart on every last one of us.

God works all things for the good of those who love them is a very precious promise and holding onto it when Herod has ordered your head to be chopped off, or Nero has ordered you crucified, well, that's always a work of the Holy Spirit who enables us to believe, to trust precisely what we can't see.
And the promise that gets us through is the one at the end of the reading: that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation. ANYTHING ELSE IN ALL CREATION. Will be able to separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You see, James could place his head on the block KNOWING that death was not going to separate him from Jesus or for the fulfillment of every promise Jesus ever made him. Paul likewise! I love that according to tradition, Paul was also beheaded as a Roman citizen and so when he lists the stuff that's impotent against us, he says: “Shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness OR SWORD?” Nope. We're more than conquerors in Him who loved us. Because absolutely nothing can separate you from His love in Christ, then absolutely everything you go through HE will turn to be a blessing.

No, we don't all get the Joseph moments of seeing the promise of everything working for our good come to fruition before our very eyes in this life. There are plenty of times when our moments are rather like James moments when we close our eyes here without seeing how all things are actually working out for our blessing. But that's okay! Not even death can separate you from His love and certainly not anything that befalls you on your journey to the grave.

“Nothing will by any means hurt you” He promised. And you see, He meant it. Nothing is going to finally hurt you if every blasted thing that comes your way you receive as coming from the hand of Him whose goodness is beyond measure, whose love for you is as sure and unconquerable as Jesus Christ Himself.
Why it frees you to sing: When with sorrow I am stricken Hope anew my heart will quicken All my longing shall be stilled. To His lovingkindness tender Soul and body I surrender, For on God alone I build. Well He knows what best to grant me, all the longing hopes that haunt me, Joy and sorrow, have their day. I shall doubt His wisdom never; As God wills so be it ever; I commit to Him my way.
Through the darkest moments, through times of absolute perplexity about what is going on with you, with your loved one, with your world, this can sustain you. All things for good; nothing can separate you from His love. You, more than conquerors in Jesus. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Hymn: 732 All Depends on Our Possessing
Missionary - Freeman and Susan Rohlfing (in chapel, concluding missionary service in the Czech republic)
Joel, Amy, Hannah, Paula, Roger, Ruth, Allan and Jan (healing)

25 July 2018

Meet Evangeline Grace Herberts

She's grandchild #8 for Cindi and me; granddaughter #4; and child #5 for Lauren and Dean. Thanks be to God for safe delivery and may God keep her safe until her rebirth in Christ.

24 July 2018

On the way home from the funeral

My glasses broke. This is the second time in only a couple months and they were not yet two years old. David told me to get my prescription and buy from Warby Parker over the net. Wow! I got my prescription from the eye doc and then placed my order from home on Monday afternoon. On Friday afternoon my glasses arrived, and I absolutely love them. Solid frames, and they're working great. AND for every pair they sell, they donate one to someone who can't afford glasses. How sweet is that? And, if you want, they'll send you several test pairs to check out. I knew what I wanted, so didn't go that route. I'm still getting used to this internet econmy, but I love it when something like this comes along. I am keeping their app on my phone. Next time you need glasses, check them out!

19 July 2018

Today’s Chapel - 7.19.18

Prayer and Preaching, p. 260ff.

Reading: from 1 Corinthians 16

Keep alert. Stand firm in the faith. Demonstrate manly courage. Be strong. Let everything you do be done in love. [EHV]


In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Back when I was a young man and a new Christian, a supplement had come out to the hymnal. The Worship Supplement (either red or blue; ours were blue).— There was one service in there that got used a bit, and I fell in love with the way it ended.

Having heard God's Word read and the Gospel of Jesus proclaimed, having lifted up the needs of the world in prayer, having received into our mouths the very body and blood of Christ and given Him our thanks, we stood and the pastor said to us: "Go out into the world in peace; have courage; hold to what is good; return no man evil for evil; strengthen the faint-hearted; support the weak; help the suffering; honor all men; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. And may almighty God, the Father, the + Son, and the Holy Spirit, bless you." To which we all answered "Amen!"

It might sound kind of silly, but I appreciated so much hearing those marching orders. Not that I did them, but that they reminded me of where God was inviting me and the shape of the life of Christ wanted to live in me in this world. I think that's really what Paul is doing at the end of 1 Corinthians. He'd already served them up a whole heaping helping of doctrine and exhortation, rebuke and correction, along with a fair bit of sheer poetic beauty. And now he's wrapping things up and he just wants to remind them one more time where they're headed and how to get there.

So first, warrior language: be on your guard, stand your ground in the faith, live like men, be strong! You can almost hear the men banging their spears on the ground in rhythm, woo-woo (grunting). Bring it on! And then he blows them away with: Let everything you do be done in love. Kinda sounds discordant with the war drums, doesn't it? Let's get back to the battle, right?

Well, that is the battle: to let everything you do be done in love. If it's not in love, not to do it. This is, First Corinthians, after all, and they can't have so soon forgotten the words they'd heard from him only moments before in that hymn to love: love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy. It does not brag. It is not arrogant. It does not behave indecently. It is not selfish. It is not irritable. It does not keep a record of wrongs. It does not rejoice over unrighteousness but it does rejoice in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love doesn't come to an end.

And it's not very long into that song before you realize: He's not talking about us and our love; He's talking about Jesus and His love. The Love Paul is singing about isn't a quality of mine, but a Person, and that Person has always and only treated me in love. Not keeping a record of my wrongs; rejoicing over the truth of how much in Him God has loved me. "Let everything you do be done in love"—that's really not saying anything much different than let everything you do be done in Christ, to Christ, for Christ. Or even stronger, let Christ love through you.

Use all your army lingo to drive it into your head that THIS is what Satan assaults. This is what he wants to drive you away from. From the love that is Christ. From living in Him and Him living in you in love. Why, St. Paul would even point out that you could speak angelic tongues and have all the knowledge in the world and bravely give up your body to be burned, and if it all happened without love, it would be worth less than nothing.

So Christian soldiers, watch! Stand firm! Be men! Be bold! Guard your life that you might do everything in love. For that is to live in Christ whose love for you brought Him to the Cross where all the lovelessness of the human race, heaped in a pile and poured onto Him, simply could not quench the burning fire of His divine love for each one of us, for you.

To love will always mean to suffer in this fallen world. He shows the way, but even more, He invites you to live in union with Him who IS the way and to guard that way with vigilance and all the woo, woo, woo you can muster, until He finishes His new creation and you are changed from glory into glory by love Divine and your life becomes love. His work in you complete.

But until that Day, go out into the world in peace… You know where you're headed and what the battle is. Keep alert. Stand firm in the faith. Demonstrate manly courage. Be strong. Let everything you do be done in love. Everything. In. Love.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Hymn: 700 Love, Divine, All Loves Excelling

Prayers: Amy, Hannah, Paula, Roger, Ruth, Allan and Jan, Pr. Edward and Monica Naumann (in chapel) serving in sri lanka

12 July 2018

From Johann Walter’s great hymn

There God shall from all evil
Forever make us free,
From sin and from the devil,
From all adversity,
From sickness, pain, and sadness,
From troubles, cares and fears,
And grant us heavenly gladness
And wipe away our tears.

In that fair home shall never
Be silent music's voice.
With heart and lips forever
We shall in God rejoice,
While angel hosts are raising
With saints from great to least
A mighty hymn for praising
The Giver of the feast. 
LSB 514:3,4

05 July 2018

More Maupin Memories

In no special order... Stopping at Cattlet's Texaco on our way back to Maryland to get our Grape Nehis (or Cokes), into which Maupin inserted salted peanuts... The year the snow was so deep Penny couldn't get out, and Maup made a snow tunnel for her in the backyard... Chewing wads of Clark's cinnamon gum together... Winston cigarettes... The little Sunoco transistor radio he gave me... Him trying to be “Jim” when he worked at Esso... The jacket he brought me from Danang... His incredible eye for photos... Nancy picking a random hair off his pants to which he went OUCH (it was attached and had made its way through)... Munching our Wise Barbeque potato chips together... The secret of sprinkling garlic salt on bacon... The horrible night that Butch got shot and so glad Maup was with him... Him stepping between Daddy and Uncle Edgar in some tense moments after Granddaddy Chance passed... Me inviting Nancy to see our patio, to which she replied to Maup "I didn't know you had a patio" and Maup made a sign to show that I was a little cracked in the head (hey, imaginary patios can be very real)... Him chaffing at the powder blue tux he got to wear at my wedding... So many more.

04 July 2018

+ James Maupin Weedon (31 December 1951 to 3 July 2018)

Yesterday my brother died. Words fail me as I try to describe this man. The quintessential free spirit. He introduced me to all manner of naughtiness. He taught me to love Johnny Cash and the Eagles. He had a heart of gold, the kind of person that quite literally would give you the shirt off his back without even thinking about it. The kind of person who would play with a brother nine years younger and never even hint at the fact that he wasn't having the time of his life! I remember the time he thought to fill my pool up with Mr. Clean and we took a bubble bath outside; or him hammering into my head: "Never forget, Billy, anything you can do, I can do better. Repeat it." And I would and I believed it! His "Afternoon!" And "Howdeedo!" Were legendary with my kids. They all loved Uncle Maupin. In fact, all the kids did. He was like Uncle Jimmy Mastin in the next generation. I remember him deciding he'd had enough with stuffing ads into the papers he was delivering, so he decided to burn them. Right across from Glenmont Elementary one morning. And how he showed me that he was like a god by passing his hand through the flame. Yup, he was a god. I was in awe. And when he left for Vietnam, I remember being so sad. But the sadness faded into joy when he finally came home. He and Nancy and little Jimmy. And then Jeremy (leave the eletric cord alone, little one!) and finally Jessica. Maup and Crackers riding in his truck—he always seemed to have a vehicle on the edge of breaking down, but he kept them going. Maup and I working at Joe's warehouse. Two summers I got to work with both of these brothers, and only rarely did I get sent out with Maup to deliver paper, but that was always the best of days when I did. Because I could talk to him like I could talk to no one else. He never judged. He'd just laugh and give some off-color advice and I'd be laughing right along with him. I am so blessed that 10 days before he died I got to preside at his daughter's wedding and see him give away his daughter in marriage and dance with her. I'm going to miss him big time. We walked together over to the cemetery and visited our mom and dad's graves and also our brother Joe's. He showed me the memory garden, "so you can just sit and think...and remember." I'll use it to remember you, Maupin. To paraphrase my favorite children's book: "I'll love you forever; I'll like you for always; as long as I'm living my brother you'll be."

When I was born, I almost died with an intestinal blockage. Our neighbor across the way took Maupin to her church to light a candle and pray for me. Today I lit a candle and prayed for him: Rest eternal, grant your servant Maupin, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him!