That Gospel Crazy Law

The following is only an excerpt of this sermon. The full sermon can be heard by clicking the audio link below.

Luke 10.25-37

I’m going to go out on a limb here… have any of you heard of this thing called the ‘Internet’? Yes, you use the internet? Wonderful tool, isn’t it? One of the blessings of the Internet is that it offers us a place where folks like you and me can discuss and learn. It offers a chance for us to offer our thoughts and our opinions and to listen to the perspectives of others. It offers us the opportunity for mature and reasoned and useful dialogue. Right? Right? Well, the opportunity is there. Yes, the comments section on internet stories offer us chances for good dialogue, but that’s not what we get, much of the time.

There is a maxim that has been offered about internet dialogue called “Godwin’s Law” – I don’t know if any of you have heard that. It’s an observation, and I’m paraphrasing here, that no matter what the discussion may be, it can be about science or politics, it doesn’t matter what it is, at some point sooner or later, someone is going to call someone else a Nazi. Or someone’s going to compare another to a Nazi. Sooner or later, dialogue devolves, says the maxim, to a place where one demonizes another as the epitome of evil. That’s what Nazis are, right? The epitome of evil.

It’s interesting for me to reflect on what this says about us, that this maxim turns out so often to be true, but the reason I raise this law at this moment is that it popped into my head when I was thinking about the story that Jesus tells us in scripture. Because Jesus seems to fall right into Godwin’s Law. Jesus and the lawyer, scripture says… Well, let me go off on a small tangent here. I had to apologize in the first service to Nathan, who happens to be a lawyer, and lawyers you know, always get a bad rap, right?. Any other lawyers here? Sorry about that! But in this story I have to come clean and say that the lawyer is much more like a scholar of the Torah, a bible teacher, a preacher. That’s me.

Jesus and the one who studies the bible are having a discussion, and a good one. They are dialoguing about the law and the lawyer asks a question that we all ask at one point or another: What do we need to do to inherit eternal life? It’s a good discussion, perking along, and wouldn’t you know it, Godwin’s Law comes up because Jesus ends up talking about a Nazi. Except that in the telling of his story, the Nazi is the hero and not the demon. Jesus tells the story about a Samaritan playing the role of hero. Now Samaritans weren’t Nazis, but for the lawyer and many of Jesus’ listeners, the Samaritans were the hated enemy. The hated ones. The demonized ones. If you wanted to insult a Jew, you would say, “You Samaritan, you.”

(To listen to the sermon in full, please click below)

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  • November COVID Update

    If you are reading this before Sunday November 1st, I hope you take the time on Sunday morning to join us for communion in the parking lot at FPC.  It’s communion in the drive-through style, something the first Christians could never have envisioned.  It is nonetheless a faithful celebration of the meal that Jesus first initiated with his disciples.  Pastor Meg and I will be in the parking lot from 11 to 11:30 a.m. and we’ll have music to go along with the meal and hopefully lift your spirits. Stop by to hear the music, and for a blessing along with the communion meal.

    One of the most exciting things for me in recent weeks was our congregational meeting that we held via the online service Zoom.  It was so heart-warming to see that many of you in attendance.  Counting the couples on various screens, I think there were around 50 of you in attendance.  Thank you for your participation.

    At the meeting we elected new elders and deacons for the Class of 2023.  Please join me in expressing our thanks to elders Lovet Fokunang, Dee Logterman, Scott Hofmann, and Dawn Drost, and deacons Terry Brennand, Darcie Bessinger, and Marcia Baker.  We also elected Sheryl Bessinger to fill a partial term as an elder in the Class of 2021.  I’m thankful that they’ve accepted God’s call upon their lives to serve God by serving the people of our community.  May we lift them up in prayer (along with our other deacons & elders) as they help to care for and lead our congregation in challenging times.

    As you might imagine if you’re watching the news, Session unanimously voted to continue with YouTube worship for the month of November.  We continue to get around one hundred views each week, and I am very thankful for your participation in worship on YouTube.  It’s wonderful to have Pastor Meg back from maternity leave.  She is already busy planning Christian Education events and leading youth ministries.

    We will not host a church Thanksgiving dinner for obvious reasons, but we are spending this month getting ready for some exciting things in Advent.  We will have special music throughout our Advent worship services, there will be Advent activities for families, there is a special online bell choir concert in the works, and we’re hoping for an in-person outdoor Christmas Eve service.  Yes, it will be chilly, but we live in northern Utah and I know you people are hardy!  This service will be 30 minutes long, so you don’t get too cold.  We’ll have wonderful organ and bell music and Christmas hymns to sing, along with gospel readings of the birth of Jesus.  I think it’s going to be a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of the Christ-child.

    May the grace and peace of our Lord be with you all.

    —Pastor Derek

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