Last week I should have announced the Carol Sing, next Friday evening from 5:30 to 7:30p in the sanctuary. If you can help with set up or clean up, p lease sign up in the Narthex or, if you have questions, speak with Laura Hauck — she is omniscient in these matters.
Also, the Christmas Program replaces Sunday school this week. Join us in the Sanctuary at 9:00a. This is the good stuff; don’t miss it.
Since preaching John’s gospel a few years back, I’ve thought increasingly of how Jesus directs attention to himself—rather than to a body of ideas or practices—as the center of faith, life, and all things. This is evidenced by the famous “I am” sayings of John. For example, when Martha says she knows Lazarus will rise in the resurrection of the last day (an event in the future and an article of faith), Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:17ff). That would be a difficult shift in thought for Martha. It’s one thing to place hope in a coming event; it’s another to place that hope in a person. How does that even work?
Let me say exactly how it works. One of my earliest memories is of my parents taking me, and my siblings, on a road trip to Seattle to see the World’s Fair. It involved hundreds of miles of driving, hotels, getting lost, and eventually milling around with the huge crowds at City Center. I don’t remember ever feeling fear or uncertainty for the simple reason that I vested all trust in mom and dad. It wasn’t that I had evaluated whether they were safe drivers, or competent to navigate the crowds in Seattle. Rather, my sense of security and well-being derived from being in their presence. As long as they were there—and they always were—I was safe.
As long as you are in God’s presence, you are safe. Prov 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” The disciples routinely forgot or ignored this when demanding explanations from Jesus. They thought understanding Jesus’ words, rather than trusting him personally, was the ground of their belief. Read Jn. 16:29-33 where this happens. Once they think Jesus is “speaking clearly” they declare their belief, but Jesus says, “now do you believe?”—he knows better. The truth is a few sentences later when Jesus says, “in me you may have peace.”
It’s unfortunate that theological liberalism of the 20th century hijacked this idea, pitting relationship against theology. We will always need the clarifying, declarative work of the theological vocation—what Paul meant when he repeatedly told Timothy to mind “the teaching” or “doctrine.” Still, we should never get confused and put our hope in our own understanding of things. Trust in the Lord himself with all your heart. In him alone we have peace.
- Pastor Eric