Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ex Nihilo: Lutheran Means Letting God Be God

In light of this coming Sunday's OT lesson from Genesis 1 and the theme of Baptism--both of which illustrate how God takes that which is formless and void to create that which bears His form and full of His holiness, I present Luther's commentary from the penitential Psalm 38 as pregnant for our preaching and practice of the Lutheran faith in our parishes and synod.

Psalm 38:21 "Do not forsake me, O Lord! O my God, be not far from me!"

Luther comments: "'I am lonely, forsaken by all and despised. Do Thou receive me, and do not forsake me.' It is God's nature to make something out of nothing; hence one who is not yet nothing, out of him God cannot make anything. Man,however, makes something else out of that which exists; but this has no value whatever. Therefore God accepts only the forsaken, cures only the sick, gives sight only to the blind, restores life only to the dead, sanctifies only the sinners, gives wisdom only to the unwise. In short, he has mercy only on those who are wretched, and gives grace only to those who are not in grace. Therefore no proud saint, no wise or righteous
person, can become God's material, and God's purpose cannot be fulfilled in him. He remains in his own work and makes fictitious, pretended, false, painted saint of himself, that is, a hypocrite." [LW, V. 14 Selected Psalms III, p. 163]

Lord help me and all of us Lutherans, especially Lutheran pastors, to take this to heart in our preaching and practice. May the Spirit lead us to spend less time seeking to be purposeful, relevant, and impressive to the world and our people and more time confessing and leading our folk to confess our lack of purpose, relevance, and impressiveness in order that we may be given
the form and fullness of God in Christ.

"He must become greater, we must become less." -- John the Baptist, John 3:30

". . . the Lord will have no flatterer as a preacher. he does not say: Go around the village,or to the one side of it: Go in bravely and tell them what they do not like to hear." -- Martin Luther in an Advent I sermon


James Robertson said...

Reverend,you are a true soldier of the cross. Your words make me glad to be Lutheran.

I. M. Abaldy II said...

Thank you kindly, James. There are not many who would agree and it looks as if this soldier will soon be one without a contry.