Thoughts After the Election

The 2012 election is now over. While Florida still remains unaccounted for, the Electoral College has awarded President Obama 303 Electoral Votes while awarding Mitt Romney with 206 Electoral Votes. For some, their candidate won, while for others, their candidate lost. We are still a nation divided and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

The United States of America has long been called a Christian nation. While it is nice to imagine that it is, I don’t believe that statement holds true any longer. We have elected the first openly gay senator. Voters have also approved same-sex marriage for the first time. While there are those are trumpeting this as a good thing, this goes against God’s holy Word. In Exodus 20:14, it is written, “You shall not commit adultery.” Martin Luther, in his explanation of the Sixth Commandment writes, “We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.” God’s Word speaks against such actions as this. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Marriage has been instituted by God as the lifelong union of one man and one woman. Teaching contrary to this goes against God and His Word and is not Christian teaching.

Those that say that God is a welcoming God and accepts all peoples, regardless of what they believe or practice do not understand the God of the Bible. God destroyed the land of Sodom for their homosexual practices (Genesis 19). St. Paul writes in Romans 1:24, 26-27: “Therefore God have them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves…. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” It is hard to say that God accepts such practices when His Word clearly speaks contrary to that.

Regardless of whether your candidate won the election, God has saw fit to place President Obama in his office as president and we therefore pledge to be faithful citizens. That does not mean that we have to agree with every decision that he makes or like every piece of legislation that comes down from the Oval Office. We abide by the Fourth Commandment, “Honor your father and your mother.” In Luther’s explanation, he says that “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.” As our president, we owe President Obama our support and our prayers, praying that he would lead our great nation in ways that are pleasing to God and which serve the people of our nation.

At the end of the day, we must place our trust in God and not in the princes of this world. As the psalmist writes, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God.” (Psalm 146:3-5 ESV)

Remembering September 11

On September 11, 2001, it was my second day of classes in my first quarter of studies at Concordia Theological Seminary.  As I was leaving my class and heading to Kramer Chapel, people were talking about a plane accident where a plane had crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.  Shortly thereafter, a second plane crashed into the second tower.  Needless to say, we were stunned by the morning’s events.  Our chapel service that day was led by Rev. Richard Radtke, then senior pastor of Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  The following is his sermon which he preached that day.

Text: Luke 11:25-35

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The news this morning is very grim.  A commercial airliner crashed into one of the buildings of the World Trade Center in New York City.  A few minutes later, another airline crashed into the second World Trade Center building.  Then another commercial airline crashed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C.  Just a few minutes ago, we heard news that one of the World Trade Center building collapsed.  There is a great deal of confusion and horror about all this.  In the midst of this tragic news, we ask: How can this be?  How can this happen in our own land – in America?  Yet, this terrible tragedy shows the brokenness of this world, and how this world is truly a culture of death.  This means that today we can see even more than ever the need for the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This is why you are here – as professor, student, staff, or pastor.  In his words of comfort before the service began, President Wenthe said that the work of the seminary will go on because of what has happened this morning.  Nothing else can give us the true hope that we need other then the word of our Lord.  And so, in my homily this morning, I will spend a few moments on today’s Gospel, which is our calling to follow Jesus, and then apply our calling to this morning’s tragic events.

The call to follow Jesus surpasses all else.  But on our own, who could qualify?  Not one of us here, or anywhere, for that matter.  Because of our sin, we are all not only spiritually impoverished, but the Scriptures call us spiritually dead.  The call to follow Jesus is serious and severe.  We must renounce all to follow Him – and not depend on family, possessions, works, or self.

But the One who calls us is gracious.  The One who is sinless became sin for us, and carried our sin in His flesh to the cross.  In Jesus Christ we find our life and our hope.  His gospel. is our invitation.  He invites us to come to Him and find rest for our souls.  He invites us to come and follow Him.

The call to follow Jesus is especially meaningful for us today as we witness the horrifying events of this morning.  We know that the evil one, satan, is working ever so hard to silence the word of God.  He is working evil in this world to confuse and mislead all people, even the people of God.  He wants us to take our eyes off the gospel and the Lord Jess.  And so, we must trust in our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Lord our God has promised in His word: “I will never leave your nor forsake you.”  Our Lord Jesus invited us to come to Him with these words: “Come unto me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  The Scriptures are filled with words of comfort that remind us of the presence and power of our Lord at all times, and especially when we face these difficult and perilous times.

Things will never be the same in the United States.  More tragedies may yet happen this day.  It will be “a day of infamy.”  I would urge all of us to pray for our nation, for President Bush, and for all our leaders, that God would give them strength and courage for today and for all the days to come.

In a few moments, we will have the opportunity to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion.  We so need the strength that God gives in the true body and blood of His Son Jesus Christ.  We so need the presence of our Lord among us as we struggle with questions about this national tragedy.  Here at this altar we will be nourished, and we will receive the strength that only our Lord can give – strength for the moment and for the days that are ahead of us with all the uncertainties of these times.  Therefore I commend you to our gracious and loving God, and I pray with you for His strength for our nation and all our leaders and for those who proclaim the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ.  May His peace be with you.  In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Where were you? 9-11-01

calendar.gifDo you remember where you were? Do you remember what you were doing on September 11, 2001? It was my second day of class at Concordia Theological Seminary. We had just finished our first class of the day: Lutheran Worship. It was 9:55 am and the bell was tolling for Chapel to begin in 5 minutes. We were making our way up from the building to the Chapel. Those of us coming out of class went about our day like it was ordinary: we were talking, joking; everything we would normally do. When we arrived at the steps of the Chapel, the mood was somber. We heard students talking about a plane crash in New York. One plane had struck the World Trade Center. Shortly after that, another plane struck the other tower. Finally, both towers had collapsed. We were speechless. Everything in our lives were forever changed at that moment. Tears started to flow, even from the manliest of men. At that moment, no one adhered to the statement that boys don’t cry. Cry we did.

Rev. Richard Radtke from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne was the preacher for Chapel. (His sermon can be found in CTQ 65:4, p. 297-298.) He always preached at the opening of the quarter. That day, he threw his sermon out the window and tried to give to all of us there some ounce of comfort following the morning’s events. Following Chapel, President Wenthe dismissed classes for the day. We all returned to our dorms or to the Student Commons and our eyes were fixed on the television. We saw over and over the planes crashing into the buildings. We saw over and over people jumping out of buildings to their death, only to save themselves from being burnt alive. We saw the towers fall, again and again and again. Little was said. What needed to be said? A tragedy had happened like no other in our nation’s history. We sat and watched as the events unfolded.

Six years later, the pain is still real. The horror is still real. What happened six years ago today will forever be engrained into our minds. To those who lost friends or loved ones, our thoughts and prayers are with you. To the nation, God Bless America!

Lift High the Cross