Let Us Worship Together!
Our Saviour is incredibly pleased to have you join us for live in-person worship inside the Nave and Sanctuary on Saturday, February 12 at 5:30 pm (casual with Voices of Praise), and Sunday, February 13 at 8:00 am (simple service) and 10:30 am (traditional with choir and/or organ music). The Saturday evening and Sunday 10:30 am services will will also be online via Facebook Livestream!
Join your prayers with the community! During the live stream of the service, you are invited to type into the Facebook chat any prayer requests for those you want included in the prayers of intercession. (As always, you may also send your prayer requests by Wednesday the week ahead to email@example.com.) Please do this at the beginning of the service so that we can write them up and hand them to the pastors before the prayers start.
Sunday 4:00 pm — High School Youth Group — The H.S. Youth Group will meet on Sunday (instead of the usual Saturday) at 4pm this weekend.
Sunday 8:00 am — First Light Service
Sunday 8:45 am — Fellowship
Sunday 9:00 am — Sunday School for All Ages (including adults)
Sunday 4:00 pm — High School Youth Group
Readings and Psalms:
1 Corinthians 15:12-20
6th Sunday after Epiphany, Year C
Sermon on Lectionary 6 C 2022
Jer 17:5-10; Lk 6:17-26
OSLC 13 Feb 22
Pr. Michael Church
Two Kinds of People
In 1920, the humorist Robert Benchley published a book review in Vanity Fair magazine. The subject of this review was the New York City Telephone Directory.
He did not like the plot.
He also found that the book had too many characters, a flaw he blamed on Russian writers like Tolstoy.
The most memorable line in Benchley’s review, however, comes near the beginning: There may be said, he wrote, two classes of people in the world: those who [divide people] into two classes, and those who do not.
Ironically, that second class seems to have died out in the intervening century, which means, beloved, that there is now only one class of people left – the class that does divide the world in two.
That’s a very complex joke, but I am talking about a very serious phenomenon: the deep divisions in our society, the atmosphere of anger and resentment that governs our public life and much of our private life as well.
You all know that our founding fathers held a deep suspicion of political parties, or as they called them “factions,” which some considered a corrupt relic of the old monarchy, and which Alexander Hamilton called “a fatal disease,” which would tear the Republic apart.
Sure enough, two centuries downstream, the political divisions in America are so deep that many people consider them unbridgeable. Every night, Fox and MSNBC tear down our leaders, planting the seeds of distrust and even rage in ordinary viewers. Supposedly serious statesmen, senators even, entertain talk of a civil war. The times when the president and House Speaker could argue all day and share a drink at night are long gone.
I wish the division were only political, but it is not. It is cultural, spiritual, even personal. Red against blue, religion against secularism, my culture versus your barbarity. There is no humor left in our differences, no sense of seeking common goals by different means, not even a glimmer of mutual respect. We are a house divided against itself.
And none of us likes it. I mean, really, do you like it? Do you want to live this way? Do you think this endless cycle of outrage and resentment is good for the nation, or for your own soul? It is not.
Or … wait a second … maybe it is.
The Bible, at first glance, is one of the most divisive books ever written. Look at our lessons today. Jeremiah divides the world into two classes: those who rely on themselves and get a curse, versus those who trust God and get a blessing. A dried up shrub or a tree planted by the water. Those are the two kinds of people.
And then, almost eight centuries later, Jesus himself takes the same approach. He divides the world into classes, one blessed and one cursed. Who is blessed? The poor, the hungry, the sad. People who are hated and pushed to the margins of society. And cursed? The rich, the well-fed, the happy, the famous.
The words are so familiar that they lose their shock value, but imagine of you were watching television, and a politician or professor appeared for a sound bite to say, bluntly, “God loves poor people and hates rich people.” Would you vote for that person who said those things? Or would you get angry, and accuse them of sowing division, of waging class warfare?
That kind of talk is what got Jesus crucified.
Yet the Bible is full of remarks like this. The Law and the Prophets, the Old Testament and the New. Over and over, the Bible seems to divide the world into antithetical classes, one blessed and one cursed: poor versus rich, Jew versus Greek, Bengals versus Rams. Over and over, the Bible seems to be a template, a pattern for the deep, obsessive factionalism of our own time.
Except … it’s not. It never was. Reading it that way is easy, but also shallow.
In our second lesson today, Paul writes to the Church in Corinth, a church he had helped build, and which hew knew well contained both members raised in Judaism and members raised in paganism. And although Corinth was troubled church, he never told the members to separate themselves from each other, to call their sisters and brothers heretics, to walk down the street and form their own church. No. He called them to love each other, to live together, for the sake of the Gospel. “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” – and the logical corollary is one People of God.
Because the world as God sees it is not divided up into classes of people, some good and others evil, some blessed and some others cursed. It may seem that way to us, but to God who searches the heart, such distinctions are meaningless. A billionaire’s wealth pales before the infinite riches of God’s glory. We are all beggars, Martin Luther said as he lay dying. A saint’s virtues look shameful beside the goodness of Christ. We are all sinners, too.
We are all, sometimes, trees planted by the water, bearing fruit for the Kingdom; but sometimes, each of us is a dry shrub, too, crying out for help.
And that’s the real point: we are all beggars, and yet God gives us his glory. We are sinners, but God gives us his righteousness. We are dead, but God gives us the live of his own risen Son.
So the world is not divided into one or another; each of us is both. Before God, we are all one kind of being, poor and weak and suffering, yet so deeply beloved that our Maker transforms the poverty of our nature by the riches of his grace.
That is why, as Luther once wrote, we do not condemn a sinner, but call him to repentance, and comfort him, saying “You cannot be perfect; you have spots and blemishes – and yet you are holy.” This holiness does not come from you, but from the God in whom you trust, and whose mercy never fails.
This mercy is what makes us one. It calls us to civility, not in the sense of mere good manners, but in the sense of that deep caring and concern that allows people to live together, like citizens of the same commonwealth, or like singers in a choir, chanting, if not in unison, at least in harmony, and by their very song giving glory to Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 “The Most Popular Book of the Month,” attributed to “Vanity Fair’s Book Reviewer, VF Feb. 1920, p. 69
 LW 26:233, 1535 Lectures on Galatians, paraphrased.
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