The Snare is Broken part 2

Ancient Israel didn’t have an “I” society.  The people of that time saw everything through an “us” lens.  Their identities were tied not just to their own egos but to the people into which they had been born.  No Israelite would think of themselves as isolated individuals but as part of a nation chosen by the Lord Himself.  The Church, as the continuation of Israel, is meant to be the same.  We identify not only with the people of St. Paul’s or the AFLC (Association of Free Lutheran Churches), or Lutheranism, we also identify ourselves with all who trust in Jesus living today, as well as those who have gone before us and those who will come after us.

I saw recently that John McArthur, a well-known evangelical leader in this country is calling on us to not let our differences over non-essentials keep us from cooperating when we are dealing with issues not involving the fundamentals of the faith.  Of course we don’t want to associate or work together with those who deny those things which establish the boundaries of Christianity, but with all others we should be willing to go as far as we can without violating conscience.  That is part of being a true community, the true church.

As I mentioned earlier, David is listed as the author of Psalm 124.  It’s not certain when he wrote it.  It could have been when his son, Absalom, tried to take the throne from him.  I think it’s most likely, though, that it speaks of the Lord’s protection against some outside attacker, possibly the Philistines or the Amorites or the Moabites.  We just don’t know.  What we do know, though, is that the Lord delivered Israel, His chosen people from their enemy.

Whatever the enemy was, they would have swallowed up Israel alive.  You and I, indeed the Church as a whole, sometimes experience things which seem able to swallow us up alive.  Illness, financial problems, death, fear — all of these and more can at one time or another seem too big for us to deal with, too great for us to defeat, too overwhelming for us to even contemplate.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow …..

 

For part one of this sermon, go to this post:

The Snare is Broken part 1

Final Questions For Lent

“There are often bound to us, in the closest intimacy of social or family ties, natures hard and ungenial, with whom sympathy is impossible , and whose daily presence necessitates a constant conflict with an adverse influence.  There are, too, enemies open or secret, — whose enmity we may feel yet cannot define.  Our Lord, going before us in this hard way, showed us how we should walk.  It will be appropriate to the solemn self- examination of the period of Lent to ask ourselves, is there any false friend or covert enemy whom we must learn to tolerate, to bear with, to pity and forgive?  Can we in silent offices of love wash their feet as the Master washed the feet of Judas?  And, f we have no real enemies are there any bound to us in the relations of life whose habits and ways are annoying and distasteful to us?  Can we bear with them in love?  Can we avoid harsh judgements, and harsh speech, and the making known to others our annoyance?  The examination will probably teach us to feel the infinite distance between our divine Ideal, and change the censoriousness of others into prayer for ourselves.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe

I’ve come to really appreciate the work of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of the famous anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  She was a staunch Christian and prolific writer.  For more of Harriet, see these posts:

A Lenten Quote

Harriet Beecher Stowe by Noel Gerson — Book Review

For more on the topic of self-examination:

Examine Yourself

Examination of Conscience