What is apparent though is that we are sinful. No matter how we look at it, we are broken people who are curved in on ourselves, whether we are in the middle of the hurricane aftermath or not. In places that should have been sanctuaries, women were raped, and people killed. When the storm was coming, and people were evacuating, there were stories of people in SUV's leaving, but not taking others with them.
In the gospel lesson tomorrow, we hear the reading open with, "If another member of the Church sins against you..." So often we approach this part of Jesus' Church Sermon (Matt. 18) as a lesson on how to avoid conflict and be a healthy congregation by confronting those who sin against us. But WHAT IF, we approach this lesson from the other perspective... mainly that WE are the ones who are sinning against another brother or sister. Would we be ready to hear the accusations of another against us? Can we truly live in the Spirit and be open to our brother's or sister's solo approach? Will we be able to hear the cries of the Gulf Coast residents who cry out, "Where is our help? Why haven't you done anything?"
In this congregation, we have been studying the Large Catechism. Last Tuesday, we came across the fifth commandment, "You shall not kill." In his explanation, Luther radicalizes this commandment, so that none of us can say, "Ah! Kept that one!" Luther writes,
This, then is the brief summary of this commandment (to impress it most clearly upon the common people what this commandment means by “not killing”). First, we should not harm anyone, either by hand or deed. Next, we should not use our tongue to advocate or advise harming anyone. Furthermore, we should neither use nor sanction any means or methods whereby anyone may be mistreated. Finally, our heart should harbor no hostility or malice against anyone in a spirit of anger and hatred. Thus you should be blameless in body and soul toward all people, but especially toward anyone who wishes or does you evil. For to do evil to someone who desires good for you and does you good is not human but devilish.You have withheld your love from them and robbed them of the kindness by means of which their lives might have been saved.
In the second place, this commandment is violated not only when we do evil, but also when we have the opportunity to do good to our neighbors and to prevent, protect, and save them from suffering bodily harm or injury, but fail to do so. If you send a naked person away when you could clothe him, you have let him freeze to death. If you see anyone who is suffering from hunger and do not feed her, you have let her starve. Likewise, if you see anyone who is condemned to death or in similar peril and do not save him although you have means and ways to do so, you have killed him. It will be of no help for you to use the excuse that you did not assist their deaths by word or deed, for you have withheld your love from them and robbed them of the kindness by means of which their lives might have been saved.
Is there anything more damning to us? As we respond, we are to respond in a way that would bring about the wholeness that God intends.
May we give till it hurts. Pray unceasingly. Bear the cross that we might truly live.
Grace and Peace,