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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  • Back to School, Not Back to Church…

    …at least not all the way. Some ministries of the church are in action, others are not.

    Ministry is Continuing!

    To date we have shared around $7,000 with our local community to help relieve those affected by coronavirus, and we have another $2,000 we will be distributing now. This has gone toward food, diapers for families in need, rent & mortgage relief, and other purposes.

    Thank you for continuing to worship with us—our YouTube videos get around a hundred views each week, and in some cases, there are multiple people watching one screen. Thank you for listening. And thank you for your continued financial support.

    We are going to be doing some new things in the interest of our own spiritual health, fellowship, and the ministry of the church. The first is drive-through communion (or drive-thru, as it is frequently written).

    Drive-Through Communion — Sept 6th, 9:15-9:45am

    If you wish, you’re invited to drive through our parking lot on Sunday, September 6th from 9:15-9:45am and I will serve communion to you. You are just as welcome to partake of communion from home, as we’ve done the last few months.

    Fellowship Bike Ride — Sept 13th, beginning at 1pm

    On Sunday, September 13th we will have an FPC Bike Ride. We will meet at FPC and go on a 10-mile bike ride led by John and Jean Stewart. Maps of the route will be provided, and a shorter route will be available if needed. Some of the route will be on streets and some on dedicated bike paths. Meet us in the parking lot at 1pm, and we will depart by 1:15.

    Zoom Bible Study — every Tuesday morning from 8-9am

    If you’d like to join us for Bible Study we will begin on Tuesday, Sept 8th, from 8-9am. We will meet via Zoom so you can enjoy breakfast and coffee from home. The zoom link will be available on our First Pres Logan Facebook page each Tuesday morning.

    My role as pastor is to be a spiritual guide, someone who helps each of you on your faith journey (and as you might imagine, you help me just as much). I confess to you that feeling like we are connected and in touch these months has been a struggle. Continuing to not meet in person remains one of the more challenging decisions of my career in ministry. I want to see all of you each week. Worshiping at home via YouTube is certainly just as pleasing to God as when we gather and sing, but it doesn’t feel the same to me, and I’m sure it doesn’t feel the same to you. Hopefully, some of the above activities will help us with that.

    In the Presbyterian system the pastor does not make decisions about all of the activities and happenings around a church. The pastor leads worship, teaches through Bible Study and similar endeavors, provides pastoral care, and participates in many other diverse activities around the church and community. We have Elders and Deacons who take on other responsibilities, including making decisions about church activities (reserved for Elders, who serve on Session). Who does what around a church (and how we do it) is outlined in the Book of Order, which covers all kinds of things. But as you can imagine, there isn’t a chapter titled What To Do in Case of Worldwide Pandemic.

    The Elders that we elect as a congregation (you elect them, Pastor Meg and I do not vote) make many important decisions for each congregation, although pastors frequently share their thoughts and offer guidance for any vote that is taken. The Session of FPC Logan met on Wednesday, August 19 and voted unanimously to continue with online worship for at least the next month (until the next Session meeting, on September 16th).  At that meeting we will reassess the situation and take another vote for the coming month (or months). Session made this decision because we don’t feel it is safe for us to be in the same room for an hour together. Some people may be willing to take the risk. I am not, and neither are your FPC Elders. Of particular interest is the effect that the return to school will have on coronavirus numbers. Public schools and the Utah State University are back in class now, with both online and in-person classes. Also, of great interest is progress in vaccine trials. We are praying that one (or several) of these vaccine trials provides good news in the next few months.

    May the grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you all,

    Derek

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