The Pandemic Luther

The Covid-19 Chronicles : Reflections in a Pandemic, Part 1

Martin Luther was well-acquainted with epidemics. Waves of Black Plague wiped out significant portions of the local population. Pastors conducted thousands of burials; some buried entire congregations. Luther’s Wittenberg experienced an outbreak of the plague in 1527, prompting him to write a treatise addressed to a fellow pastor in Breslau concerning the question “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague”  (Luther’s Works 43:119-38). Luther’s approach provides some good reflection for our day.

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Beloved, Let Us Love

Divine love is not the same as our love. It is not the love of a parent for a child or the passion of lovers or the love of brothers, though these are all embraced by divine love. Divine love is not a feeling but an action, an act of will. God loves in sending His Beloved Son. God is love, and His love is seen in the Beloved.

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Forgiveness

Forgiveness. The word is central to what we believe. We hear it often, and hopefully we speak it more often. We pray for it. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” This past week we saw and heard what that looked like in a Dallas courtroom where Brandt Jean forgave Amber Guyger, the ex-police officer who mistakenly killed his brother Bothom Jean, and embraced her in open court before television cameras. He not only forgave her, he urged her to turn to Christ for peace and forgiveness.

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Covering Up

You probably heard the story by now. Carson King, a 24-year old man from Iowa, holds up a sign asking for beer money at a college football game to replenish his dwindling Busch Lite supply. Donations come pouring in like a frat house kegger. Then matching donations, along with a few cases of Busch Lite. King decides to donate everything to a local children’s hospital. The donations exceed a million dollars. Then a reporter for the Des Moines Register does some internet trawling and dredges up some less than politically correct sludge dating back to when Mr. King was 16 years old. Outrage ensues. Then people dig and find similar dirt on the reporter. And, of course, more outrage.

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The Grace of Slowness

I decided to improve my handwriting, which had deteriorated to the point where even my pharmacist couldn’t read it. Years of banging away at the keyboard had taken its toll on my penmanship. Even my printing had become illegible. I could not decipher notes I had scribbled to myself the day before yesterday. Writing a card was a chore, a hand-written letter unthinkable.

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The Grace of Silence

When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. – Revelation 8:1

I talk too much. I know that, and those who know me know it all too well. It’s an occupational hazard for a preacher. I pontificate, I preach, I lecture, I dump the latest contents of my head on anyone who will listen, even if they aren’t listening. People come seeking a sip of wise words; I turn on a fire hydrant. Conversation with me is the verbal equivalent of being waterboarded.

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Tourists, Travelers, and Pilgrims

Too often, we travel as tourists, bringing the comforts of home along with us. Tourists are known for their excess baggage. You can easily spot a group of tourists. They travel in tightly closed groups, surrounded by their own language, tastes in food, and culture. They prefer to keep foreign lands and peoples at a safe distance, touring in a hermetically sealed bubble of the cruise ship or tour bus. Like bird watchers on an Audubon outing, they maintain a safe, sheltered distance and observe through their own presuppositional lenses, content to collect souvenirs and selfies.

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Spiritual and Religious

“I’m spiritual but not religious.” I’m sure you’ve heard people say that; I have. It’s become increasingly common among those who claim “None” as their spiritual identity on religious surveys. They are growing in numbers, especially among the rising generation who are not carrying on with the faith traditions of their parents and grandparents. They aren’t atheists or agnostics. They believe in some sort of spiritual Presence. They may even pray and practice spiritual disciplines such as meditation and fasting, but they have no use for religious institutions. They are, as they say, “spiritual but not religious.”

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