When I was doing the Chrismon Tree stuff someone sent me a picture of this tree with a nail as an ornament. We stopped technically celebrating Christmas the 6th of January. We are still oin hte season of epiphany but this picture of a nail hanging on the Christmas tree was jarring. This nail hanging from the tree is a jarring reminder of why Jesus was born. He was born to save sinners. He saved sinners by dying on a cross. The chief article of the Christian faith is the Justification of the sinner for the sake of Christ. Christ came to seek and to save the lost. The Lutheran Church’s job is to witness to Christ in word and deed and to proclaim that Justification won on the cross.
It seems surpassing strange to me that in the church that has the Justification of the sinner as its hallmark and touch stone I heard an awful lot of excommunication talk in this last year. Please understand the church must speak judgement on the “wicked and impenitent”, but I don’t consider disagreements with the Pastor over style or managerial issues as being wicked. Just because someone disagrees with me on the disposition of the plant and the equipment that they are in charge of maintaining it seems a stretch to call them impenitent.
There seems to be a rush to get rid of those that we have disagreements with that is stunning. Once we have gotten rid of them we find oursleves in the strange situation of not being able to afford doing the things that we have been doing. Getting rid or driving away those that disagree with us over the way the church building is managed may lead to the inability to maintain the church at all. I remember an incident in Viet Nam when a village was bombed and completelly destroyed. The comment was “we had to destroy the village to save it”. That seems to be the attitude of some of us preachers. We need to destroy the church on order to save it. Harrison’s sharing of the Sasse sermon shed light on the idea that we are living in a world that has rejected the idea of a final judgement. Maybe that is why some preachers feel the need to be “judgemental with extreme prejudice”.
This is a blog about mercy. I hope that we have some New Year resolutions and some serious theological discussion about Matthew 18 and Matthew 5 and this whole notion of excommunication. If disagreeing with the preacher is grounds for excommunication we have a lot of excommunicating to do.