Eighth Sunday After Pentecost
August 3, 2014
Dear Friends in Christ,
In 1538, the Dance of Death made its way into the Bible. In their printing of the Old Testament, the Treschel Brothers included Life after the Fall, a woodcut by Hans Holbein. In his woodcut, Adam is tilling the ground and Eve is nursing a child. Near Adam, however, one sees death, a skeleton tilling the field. Near Eve, death again is visible, an hourglass measuring the limits of our lives. Death is everywhere, hounding our efforts and measuring our days, so that we “labor for that which does not satisfy” (Is. 55:2).
In his woodcut, Holbein was actually creatively appropriating a much larger painting and a much larger tradition. In St. Mary’s church in Lubeck, there was a painting nearly 100 feet long, weaving itself along the walls of a small chapel. The painting filled the walls with life-sized figures…in a chain dance with death. Death was weaving itself in and out of the figures, calling to them to “Come here to the dance.” People old and young, rich and poor, from the pope and the emperor to the hermit and the peasant were invited by Death. “I call everybody to this dance.” Even an infant who cannot walk heard Death’s invitation and was invited to the dance. Gathering for worship, one was surrounded by the figures dancing with death. You never knew when Death might extend his invitation and take your hand.
Although it took so long for the Dance of Death to make its way into the Bible, God’s people have long heard death’s call. Isaiah gives voice to the question that has troubled all people ever since the fall: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” Today we answer that question as we examine our Christian faith.
“THE LORD OF LIFE OVERCOMES THE DANCE OF DEATH”
Why do we spend money and labor on those things that we know do not satisfy? Because that is all we are able to do. From the glossy magazines that litter our life to the pop-up ads on our computers and phones to the billboards that hover in the sky, our world is filled with merchants crying out to us: “Come and buy.” Like I was telling my boys the other day they are successful. Those who have kids involved in sports know this. Go into any sporting goods chain and the prices for athletic gear will literally knock your socks off. These companies have successfully marketed to kids that it is more important how you look than how you play. Why? To make the little bit of life that we have satisfying, because, in the end, nothing will last. The computer, the phone, the flat-screen TV, the video game, the dry-fit t-shirt. All will decay. Death will whisper its invitation to “Come” and all our labor will be in vain.
In contrast to the Dance of death, Isaiah gives voice to the Lord of Life. Like Death, the Lord’s call is to everyone (v. 1). No one is excluded. But unlike Death, the Lord’s call brings people life. The life the Lord offers is rich – “wine and milk” in verse 1 and “rich food” in verse 2. It is free – “without money and without price” in verse 1. It will answer the deepest needs of human experience, bringing eternal life to the soul (v. 3). Most surprisingly this call is not new. It reaches into the past of Israel based on God’s covenant love to David. It is one that reaches out to embrace the world’s future as all nations come to this one that the Lord glorifies. Even “a nation that you do not know” and “a nation that did not know you” (v. 5) will join in the feast. In this text, Isaiah issues a call from the Lord of Life and his voice triumphs over the Dance of Death.
This call and promise of prophecy has taken on flesh in Jesus Christ. He came to dance our dance with death, died on a cross, and rose victorious never to die again. Suddenly, the church is surrounded with a chorus of witnesses, who invite the world to life. The Apostle Paul heard this call and made it known to the Jews in Antioch. There he proclaimed the certainty of all of God’s promises made known in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
From the voice of Wisdom calling out to all people to come to the house of the Lord (Prov. 9:1-6) to the voice Jesus raised above the banter of the temple to invite all who are thirsty to come to him (Jn. 7:37) to the voice of John, aged and exiled, closing out his vision of the end of all things with the simple cry of the church to “Come” (Rev. 22:17), this cry of the Lord of Life is sounded. It is an eternal cry of salvation for all. It comes from the one who danced with death, overcame death and the grave, and claimed victory on Easter morning. This is the cry that Jesus will raise on the last day. By the power of his life, He will raise all people from the dead and, by the power of His love; He will call all who believe in Him to enter into the new creation.
Because of the fall, the Dance of Death made its way into the Scriptures. Because of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, the Lord of Life is making his way into our world. In 1538, we have a moment when the Dance of Death visually marked the pages of the Bible. Today, the question is, how is the Lord of Life reaching out from the Scriptures to make his mark upon our world? Where is His call? What does it sound like? How is God, through you, calling out to the peoples who are working and buying that which does not satisfy, those that do not know Him as Savior? Can we share with them what we already know that through the work of Christ this life is rich and free and brings eternal life to the soul? Sure we can. May the Holy Spirit bless as we do.
Ushers and Elders
|Aug 3||Daryle Schempp, Jeff Piper, Lucas Schempp, Mike Field||John Hardy||Ryan Kleiboeker, Travis Henson|
|Aug 10||Gerald Semelka, Steve Davis||Paul Gerike||Brian Dirks, Greg McNeely, Holden Lueck, Theron Noth|
|Aug 17||Charles Nottingham, Gene Fuller, Nathan Kluender, Richard Ross||Craig Culp||Bryan Reichert, Mike Huth|
|Aug 24||John Hardy, Joshua Parry||Curt Kessler||Bud Kessler, Karson Lueck, Marvin Huth, Ryan Kleiboeker|
|Aug 31||David Orr, Jeff Piper, Matthew Holland, Steve Parry||Barry Hamlin||Brian Dirks, Greg McNeely, Holden Lueck, Travis Henson|
|Aug 3||J.T. Piper||Pastor/Elder|
|Aug 10||Pastor/Elder||Isabella Kessler|
|Aug 17||Anna Holland||Pastor/Elder|
|Aug 24||Pastor/Elder||William McNeely|
|Aug 31||Katey Parry||Will Dowell|
|Date||8:30 AM||10:30 AM|
|Aug 3||Toni Lueck||Sherry Parker|
|Aug 10||Caleb Evans||Angelina Isaac|
|Aug 17||Emilia Schempp||Joann Hart|
|Aug 24||Casey Scott||Sheri Piper|
|Aug 31||Jill Holland||Ruth Gerike|
The parable of the unjust steward vexes us. Why would our Lord commend the unjust steward and the sons of this world as He does? It’s because the sons of this world know how to treat something that they think is valuable. They love money and the earthly comforts that come with it. They jump to get the job with higher pay, better benefits, or greater prestige.
Yet all of this, as we know, will fade and wear out. And so, Jesus does not commend the sons of this world for what they love. He commends them for how zealously they love and the lengths they will go to attain it.
Mimic their zeal, but do not become a son of this world. Do not be drawn away by the love of money. The sons of this world are set for destruction, but at least they pursue it with vigor. They know what they want, and they go after it.
We, on the other hand, as Christians, desire the joy of eternal dwellings, but sometimes you would hardly know it. And so, we are accused of lacking zeal for the kingdom of God. For we have not pursued what we supposedly value with the same zeal that the sons of this world pursue what they value. We don’t seek fellowship with the Father like the sons of this world seek the comfort that money provides. We don’t put on purity with the enthusiasm that the sons of this world put on the latest fashions. We don’t invest in the work of the Church, our very salvation, with the same zeal that the sons of this world invest in the markets.
Don’t get sucked into pursing the love of money and what it provides, but what money you do have, use for good works. Use money and possessions, but don’t allow them to use and possess you. God in His grace and mercy gives you many things. You are stewards over what He gives into your hands. You control them. Don’t let them control you. Use what you have been given to serve your neighbor, those who are part of your family, your community, and your church.
Get what you need to eat and drink, a home to shelter your family and clothes that you need. But don’t squander. Don’t waste your excess on things that don’t serve you and your neighbor. Make friends with it instead. Give it to those in need. In so doing, you show mercy. And in showing mercy, you give a picture of God’s mercy to you in Jesus Christ. You imitate the loving-kindness and mercy that God has given you to others. By faith, trusting in the promise that God will never leave you or forsake you and will provide everything that you need, you demonstrate what is of the highest value to you: the eternal dwellings of heaven. Thus, on the last day, Christ will receive you into them.
For Christ is the one Son of light who is the most zealous, the most single-minded. He squanders the possessions of His Father with wanton abandon, not in wastefulness, but for your benefit. For these can’t be wasted. They never run out. And so He lavishes the grace and mercy of God upon you without price, without charging you a cent, without keeping any books, without demanding any accounting of you. Christ takes all that belongs to the Father and gives it to you in abundance. And the treasures He gives never run out, never fade away, but are stored where moth and rust cannot destroy. They are eternal. They never end.
Rather than mimicking the zeal of the sons of this world, trust in Christ, and imitate His zeal and His works, for He gives out not only earthly treasures, but also heavenly ones.
8/01 Georgia Boriack
8/02 Ryne Brewer
8/03 Vicki Miller
8/05 Paul Gerike
8/05 Eric Schneider
8/09 Jeanette Ross
8/10 Bryan Benjamin
8/11 Clayton Piper
8/11 Emilia Schempp
8/12 Brian Dirks
8/15 Jacqueline Kwasny
8/16 Kristina Warren
8/18 Chad Boudinier
8/18 Becky Love
8/22 Kitti Miller
8/24 John Campbell
8/24 Michael Huth
8/07 Deborah Huber
8/11 Andrew Benjamin
8/15 Phoenix Kleiboeker
8/23 Stephanie Schempp
8/24 Paul Gerike
8/25 Eric Schneider
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Have you ever faced a difficult decision that involved many options? You look at it from all possible angles and scenarios. You try to make the best decision with all the information you have available. You pray and then decide… but what you decide does not work out the way you thought it would. You’ve been there, haven’t you?
If you have lived long enough you know of whence I speak. Oh, how we wish that all those decisions would work out the way we want. We want the timing to be right, we want the outcome to be bright, we want to smell the roses when we cross the finish line.
But then the timing is all wrong; the outcome is dark and bleak, and the only thing we smell is the stench of defeat. It can knock us down. It can cause us to hang our heads low. It can bring tears to the surface.
What to do in these situations? First, realize that you did the right thing. You took what you knew at the time and you made the call. It felt right, it looked right; you knew in your gut this was the direction to take.
Secondly, you prayed about it. The Lord led you down a path that He wanted you to go. In the end, the path didn’t lead to what you had hoped, but the Eternal Guide was by your side.
Thirdly, you learned a life lesson. I know we used to despise this when our parents told us this, but it is true. It makes us stronger and wiser for the next time we have a big decision. This is part of maturing in our Christian faith.
When our decision involves our faith then we also are making a strong witness to those around us. Never underestimate the eyes that are on you. This is where the Holy Spirit works.
This one is fresh in my mind. I pray these thoughts help you.