the 6th sunday after epiphany
the PRAYER. . .
O God, the strength of all who hope in you, because we are weak mortals we accomplish nothing good without you. Help us to see and understand the things we ought to do, and give us grace and power to do them, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
the READING. . .
[Jesus said to the disciples:] “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.”
the DEVOTION. . .
Last Sunday, I got up and announced the gospelReading. Matthew. Chapter five. Verses twenty-one to thirty-seven. I read … and I read … and I read … Hell and damnation … Thrown in prison … Tear out your eye … Cut off your hand … It seemed like it would go on forever … When I was done, I was exhausted. I looked out at the congregation and they all had the same stunned look on their face. Like they’d all just witnessed a train wreck. You see, what I’d just read wasn’t gospel! Wasn’t even close to it! And truth is, the words had no redeeming value!
Well, yesterday was the anniversary of Luther’s death. February 18, 1547. I came across a pretty good article and shared it on our Facebook page. But one line, in particular, jumped out at me: “He could die without fear of hell or purgatory since he died in full assurance of the undeserved grace: the very message which he rediscovered and proclaimed until death. He had learned to look away from himself, his sins, and guilt, and instead to keep the eye of faith on the crucified Christ.” Now, THAT’s good news! THAT’s gospel! And THAT’s something on which we can stake our lives!
Bob Barndt, pastor