Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

It was drummed into us at Seminary. Each sermon must find a balance between the law and the gospel. The law and our genuine inability to live up to the law, offers us a constant reminder of our human failings. This part of the sermon is painfully true, but not very encouraging. The law convicts us, it underscores our need for a Savior. The law acts like a meat tenderizer, softening up the parishioners and paving the way for the gospel. Gospel literally means “good news.” The balance we were told is critical, one without the other will lead to despair, or to cheap grace. If there is an overabundance of grace without the counterbalance of the law, then the good people might assume that they don’t really need Jesus or the church. A sermon must find balance, the cattle prod that pushes us to Jesus. Jesus, the grace filled Savior who never met a sinner that he did not like, and never met a dead body that he did not raise. There must be a balance between LAW and GOSPEL. Now in theory, this all makes sense, but in practice I have found it to be poppycock.

Trinity Lutheran Church is a place of Grace! Broken, imperfect, terrified, insecure people like me come to Trinity every week. They tune in online or show up in person and they are enveloped by grace for an hour or two. And therein lies the problem: an hour or two of grace can be easily overwhelmed by the remaining 167 hours in our week. The reality is that many of us never experience grace except in church. And even at church we are confronted with voices tempting us to compare ourselves to others, unaware of the brokenness that hides behind their masks. There is no escaping the law. Our families are… shall we say complicated, our workplaces are competitive, the company does not really care about us, our bodies are aging, our minds are forgetful, big oil is not concerned with your tight finances, the ferries are off schedule, the medical system is a mess, and by the way, you are too fat or too skinny. All week we encounter the law, the last thing I need on Sunday morning is some preacher reminding me that I don’t measure up. We are most certainly privileged, we are most certainly among the most blessed people in the world, but when we drag our aching keister to church on Sunday morning we are no different from the frail, fragile, diseased, pathetic crowds that followed Jesus around the Galilee looking for a word of hope.

There is no balance between law and gospel. The law is under our bed, in the mirror, in the flashing lights of a state patrol car, in a marriage where tender words are rendered silent, in children who are in rehab, in school shootings, climate change, and that wretched scale that always tells the truth. We are starving for good news! We long for words of hope! We hobble forward, extending our jittery hands to receive bread and wine. Give me Jesus! Give me grace! Come on preacher, what do you have for me?

We are loved, we are forgiven, and we are never alone. We share our humanity, there is nothing we can do to make God love us more and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. How is that for Grace? Now believe it, and share it, and have compassion for family members, neighbors and strangers who journey on in a world of law.

I am one beggar, telling another beggar where to find bread. I am your

Pastor Jim

Contact Pastor Jim if you have questions at [email protected]