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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Biblical Cudgel

A commentary on this, the stupidest tweet of December 2018, which sadly, will be followed by an even stupider tweet…

As seen on the Internet…

She is a blithering, clueless idiot. I am just as fascinated (analogous to watching a train wreck) by the spectacular idiocy of the district that elected this glittering jewel of colossal ignorance as I am a political party that elevates and celebrates this piece of work.

All of that said, I have heard this Jesus was a refugee assertion from scripture many times as not only a justification for open borders, but used as cudgel to beat those who disagree. As one would expect, I have heard this many times before this now semi famous tweet, given the fact the Congress Woman elect is clearly incapable of an original thought. Just as often, actually more so, I have heard Matthew 25:35-40 used as a proof text for unsustainable (usually socialist) government programs like Medicare for all.

For almost 20 years of ordination I have been confronted with the stupidity of those who want to rip what they want the Bible to say from any possible defensible exegesis or hermeneutic. I have absolutely no problem with someone who sees or interprets scripture differently than I do. In fact, I have learned to benefit greatly from those with whom I most disagree theologically. This kind of utter nonsense is insufferable.

I have no tolerance for unbelieving socialists like the jackass Congress woman elect who wants to use the Bible as a weapon when they otherwise have contempt for the Bible and even more contempt for those who seek to live by the authority of Scripture.

Just once, I would like to see an otherwise unsuspecting TV host turn to an idiot like this and say something like, “I appreciate that you hold the Bible in high enough esteem to impose your theological point of view on the rest of us. Given your point of view that public policy and moral authority should be in fidelity with the Bible, I trust that you oppose gay marriage given Romans 1:26-27. I fully expect that you are pro life given the words of Jeremiah 1:5. However, I am a bit confused given your socialist leanings. Can you help me reconcile the authority you see in Matthew 25:35-40 with what is written in Matthew 7:15-24; especially as these words inform your own Christian faith and practice?”

Just once, I would like to see that scene unfold when one of these socialists start quoting scripture.

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Posted by on December 26, 2018 in Liberals, Socialism, The Bible

 

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The Reason For The Season

The Gospel According to Luke: Chapter 1

Introduction

1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Mary’s Song

46And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

The Birth of John the Baptist

57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”

62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.

Zechariah’s Song

67His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72 to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.

The Gospel According to Luke: Chapter 2

The Birth of Jesus

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

The Gospel of Our Lord

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2011 in The Bible

 

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Sermon – 11/27/2011 – Mark 13:24-37

On 11/27/2011, I was again honored to be asked to lead the services at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau, MO.  With a focus on the Gospel of Mark 13:24-37, I prepared and delivered the following sermon to the glory of God!

GOSPEL: Mark 13:24-37

24But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.  26Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.  27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.   28From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.

30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.   32But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.  34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.  35Therefore, keep awake — for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.  37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

 

h/t bibletimelines.org

The Sermon

I gave the sermon last year on the 1st Sunday of Advent!  It was from the Gospel of Matthew, but it was basically the same story.

I asked the question then… …why are we admonished to prepare for the 2nd coming of our Savior on the same Sunday we start the preparation to celebrate His 1st Coming.  We talked about how the word ‘Advent’ means ‘Come’, and we re-read portions of the Gospel with the word ‘Advent’ in the place of the word ‘Coming’.

I concluded that one reason we may be asked to prepare, at this point, for His Second Advent is that, as we go through the finite four weeks of the First Advent, we know for sure when we will celebrate His First Coming.  But for His Second Coming, His Second Advent, we will not know the hour.

In verse 32 of today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that not even He knows the hour.

Last year we also looked around the world and wondered if various people were prepared.  Were the Haitians prepared for the earthquake, the Iraqis and Afghanis for the wars, the Indonesians for the tsunamis?  Was all this ‘but the beginning of the birth pangs’?

Since that sermon a year ago, we find the Middle East boiling over as the Arab uprisings continue.  We have roving gangs in the U.S. attacking innocent fairgoers and shoppers and people walking down the street. Many of these attacks occur in what is called ‘The Knockout Game’ where youths attack people of my age and older just to try to ‘knock them out’.

We have mobs pillaging local convenience stores, malls, and shops.  We have gone to war in Libya and sent troops into Uganda.  We see the criminal activities of the Occupy Wall Street movement and their related attacks on businesses and their harassment of school children.

I wondered last year if all this is ‘but the beginning of the birth pangs’?  Here we are again in 2011.  Is this just the continuation of the birth pangs?

Seems like it’s getting worse to me.  So, again this year, it is a good question.  Are we prepared for Christ’s Second Advent?

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In the first verses of today’s reading, Jesus says, “24But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.”

What ‘days’ is He talking about when says “in those days”?  What suffering?  As I read the rest of Mark 13 for today’s reading, it started with the Disciples marveling to Jesus about the wonder of the Temple in Jerusalem.  Jesus then prophesies that the Temple will be destroyed with not one stone left upon another.  He goes on to tell them to watch for false prophets with signs performed to deceive you.  He tells them to watch for war and rumors of war.  He warns that nation will rise against nation; kingdom against kingdom – of earthquakes and famine; we will be handed over to local councils and flogged; brother will betray brother; father will betray child; children will rebel against parents; everyone will hate you.

(Mark 13:17)How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19because those will be days of distress unequaled from The Beginning…

I guess… …all that could be considered suffering. [sarcasm]

And now at the beginning of our reading (after all that Jesus has just told us) we hear “24…the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

Well, that doesn’t sound much better does it?

In terms of my human experience, I have always looked at the Earth as ‘here’ and Heaven out ‘there’ – somewhere above the Earth. So the very thought of the darkened sun and moon, stars falling, and the heavenly powers being shaken does not sound very good at first blush.  It sounds like impending extinction!  The scientists tell us that a meteor a mere 6-miles across will be an extinction level event, so a darkened moon, sun and stars would have to be much much worse!

But wait.  God created those things in a blink of His eye (clearly not in a blink of our eyes) and has ultimate power over the sun, moon, stars, and earth.  So, when Jesus makes his triumphant return, does it really matter if none of that remains?  We’re not talking about bodies and brains at that point.  We’re talking about souls.

In two Biblical verses, God has just undone The Universe as we know it.  So, I doubt if Jesus really means ‘hovering frozen water droplets’ when He says “they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.”

There are clouds of water, clouds of smoke, and clouds of dust.  There are clouds of bats, flies, foxes, gnats, grasshoppers, locusts, and tadpoles.  A cloud may be a swarm, a horde, a multitude, a throng, a host, a crowd, or an army.  It could be a white fluffy cloud from a mostly sunny day; it could be a dark angry cloud just before a storm.  It could be a multitude of happy foxes; it could be a swarm of starving locusts; it could be an army of crazed Neanderthals.  I don’t know, but, I probably better reconsider my idea of what the cloud bringing Jesus’ return might look like.

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Jesus goes on to tell us that “this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.”  Generation?  We have had 100 generations since Anno Domini, but have all these things come to pass?  Maybe, like the word ‘cloud’, I need to look into the word ‘generation’ a little more closely.

So, I searched for information on the Greek word for ‘generation’.  It is ‘genea’ and is used 43 times in the New Testament.  I found definitions that matched my traditional understanding.  And, I found definitions and writings that said it was not the 20 year period we normally consider but an ‘age’ or ‘time’ or ‘era’.

It took some digging, but I finally found a discussion of this usage of ‘generation’ that matched our Lord’s usage of the word.  Now, I didn’t take much time to dig around and vet his résumé, but I found a discussion by a pastor named Tony Warren that brings to light the words ‘chosen generation’.  You and I are members of a ‘chosen generation’ of people who are believers in Christ.  Another phrase furthers the discussion: ‘We are the Children of God’.  Clearly we weren’t born directly to God, but we are His Children.  Mr. Warren said, “[The Phrase,] Children of God refer[s] to the whole family of God, which is a chosen generation throughout time, and not just people living at the time in which it was spoken.”  This generation spans the time from Christ’s ministry on Earth, through today, and until the end of times – when Christ comes. Technically, it can go all the way back to Abel.

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As Jesus continued to warn us, He said “32But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Nor the Son?!?! Wait a minute?!?!  We are taught that our God is a Triune God.  The Son is God; God is the Son; the Holy Spirit is God; God is the Holy Spirit.  One but three; three but one.  How could it be possible that the Son did not know the day and hour of His return?

I would think He’d be in on the big picture of His own ministry.  He was there at Creation!  He knew about that!  Watched it happen!  I take that back; He, as the Triune God, made it happen.  How could He not know?

Well, back to the search.  There were many articles that proposed that the phrase “nor the Son” was not originally a part Mark’s Gospel and was added later.  It is said to be ‘peculiar’ to Mark and not found in Matthew, Luke, or John (although it was in the version of Matthew that I was reviewing as I prepared the sermon).  Maybe someone just added it in?

Other articles proposed that the word “knows” should be interpreted as “makes it known”.  In that case, the verse would read, “32But about that day or hour no one [makes it known], neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”  That sounds reasonable, and it flows nicely from our previous discussion of how the word ‘generation’ was to be interpreted as ‘a group’ and not as a period of 20 years.

But, I read on.  And, I quickly realized why I don’t get paid the big pastoral bucks for writing and giving these sermons a few times a year.

I came across the writings of Martin Luther on the subject.  Seems to me, as a Lutheran, the first place I would look for guidance and biblical commentary would be… …Luther!  But, NO! I’ve written at least eight sermons without consulting His thoughts.

And, not-surprisingly, His thoughts on the subject were of great comfort.

Luther’s solution for Mark 13:32 can be found in a debate with Caspar Schwenkfeld von Ossig.  Schwenkfeld believed that since Jesus did not know the time of His Second Advent, He was not omniscient and therefore could not be God.  Luther’s answer was that in this case, Jesus was speaking with regard to His human nature.

Schwenkfeld Argument:  God knows all things.  Christ does not know all things.  Therefore Christ is not God.  I prove the minor premise from Mark, where Christ says that He does not know the last day.

Luther Response:  The solution is that Christ there speaks after a human manner, as He also says:  “All things have been given to me by the Father.”  Often He speaks of himself as if simply of God, sometimes simply as of man.  The Father does not will that the human nature should have to bear divine epithets, despite the union, and yet sometimes [Christ] speaks of himself as of God, when He says, “The Son of Man will be crucified.”  To be crucified is a property of the human nature, but because there are two natures united in one person, it is attributed to both natures.  Again, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.”  There He speaks of the divine nature.  Or again, “They crucified the Lord of glory,” where He speaks of the property of the humanity.

For from the very beginning of Christ’s conception, on account of the union of the two natures, it has been correct to say: “This God is the Son of David, and this Man is the Son of God.”  The first is correct because His Godhead was emptied and hidden in the flesh.  The second is correct because His humanity has been completed and translated to divine being.

In Philippians 2, St. Paul writes that Jesus…

6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; 7rather, He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

8And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!

In explaining that verse, Luther wrote:

[St. Paul] says that Christ emptied Himself of the divine form; that is, He did not use His divine might nor let His almighty power be seen, but withdrew it when He suffered.

Bottom line, if Christ did not use His divine power during His humiliation and crucifixion on the Cross, He certainly can choose at other times of His ministry to humble himself.  The very fact that He became incarnate as a lowly human bears witness to this interpretation.

Thus, He chose not to know the day or hour of His Second Advent.  Or, at the very least, He decided not to tell His Disciples.

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Finally, as we near the end of today’s lesson, Christ gives us the warning to ‘Beware’, ‘Keep Alert’, ‘Keep Awake’ – for his coming will be like a thief in the night.  This warning is not just for the End of Times when the Son of Man comes in his glory.  It is an everyday warning for us as we go through our life and prepare to meet Jesus at our death.

Whenever our Lord comes, be it at our death or at the end times, we must work to make sure He does not find us indulging in wrath or greed or sloth or pride or lust or envy or gluttony. He says to us, “Keep Awake’ that we may be found in peace – aware, and alert.

 

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Miscellaneous

 

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