This week Paul takes a trip to Athens and teaches the Greek philosophers about the "unknown god" for which they have an altar. Peter tells us to be prepared to suffer on account of our faith and to be prepared to give a reason for the hope that we have in us. He reminds us that in the same way that Noah and his family were saved through the ark, we too are saved by our baptisms that connect us to Christ's death and resurrection. Finally, in John, we hear Jesus give us a promise that the Father would send the Holy Spirit.
This week's readings:
1st Reading: Acts 17:16-31
Epistle Reading: 1 Peter 3:13--22
Gospel Reading: John 14:15--21
Next week's readings:
First Reading: Acts 1:12-26
Epistle Reading: 1 Peter 4:12-19, 5:6-11
Gospel Reading: John 17:1-11
Send in your questions:
In the name of Jesus our Savior, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church welcomes you to ‘Dial-a-Devotion’, this is Vicar Tom Schlund. Our text for today is Exodus 14:21 which reads:
21 “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.”
Did you hear the wind blowing last night? I was outside for just a little bit and then inside listening to it. It was blowing really hard. I even heard that some people had lost power due to the strong winds blowing down power lines. It sounded like a strong storm, and yet there was no rain or snow to go along with the wind.
Wind can be a very destructive force. We see winds in tornadoes like the one that destroyed part of Joplin, MO a couple of years ago. Winds also come in hurricanes and other storms of various types and strengths. When the wind blows it can knock down trees and branches, it can pick up objects and fling them, and it can kill people who are outside, especially if the weather is extremely cold.
Now while the wind can be destructive and cause us great problems and headaches, we hear in our scripture reading for today how God has used wind to save his people. God sent Moses to lead his people out of Egypt and they were heading toward the promised land. The Egyptians decided they didn’t want to let them go so they came after them with a great army. The Israelites were distressed because they were backed up against the Red Sea with no way to escape and the thought that the Egyptians were going to capture them and take them back into slavery.
But then something different happened. God told Moses to stretch out his hand and when he did, God brought a strong wind from the east that divided the Red Sea and made it possible for the Israelites to cross on dry land. When the Egyptians tried to follow, God removed the wind and the waters came crashing back together and the Egyptians were killed. God used the wind to save his people.
God has brought us through water to save us too. When we were taken through the waters of Holy Baptism, God adopted us as his son or his daughter, he forgave our sin, gave us faith, life, and salvation. Any time we’re unsure about our lives or salvation we can think back to our Baptism and be reminded of these good gifts that God has given to us. So the next time you hear the wind, think about God’s saving power, about how he brought he Israelites through water for their salvation, and how he brings you through the waters of Baptism to grant you salvation.
Let us pray:
Dear Father in Heaven, Thank you for taking us through the waters of Holy Baptism and for giving us the gift of faith, forgiveness, life and salvation. Help us to always remember these good gifts that you have given to us and trust you in all things. We ask all these things in Jesus’ name, Amen
In the name of Jesus our Savior, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church welcomes you to ‘Dial-a-Devotion’, this is Vicar Tom Schlund. Our text for today is from Romans 6:1-5 which reads:
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
Water is such a powerful substance. We need water to live. Without water we can become dehydrated, get sick and eventually die. People, plants, and animals all need water to survive. However, water isn’t simply a life giving substance, but it is also a life destroying substance. We simply need to recall Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy and the subsequent flooding that took place after these storms that killed so many people. Drowning can happen in as little water as fills a bathtub in your home or as much as is in the ocean.
It shouldn’t come as much surprise then when God choses such a powerful substance with connections to both life and death as what he uses for our spiritual life and death. God takes water and combines it with his word and gives us the wonderful gift of Baptism.
Paul writes about this great gift in our reading for today. Romans 6 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. It is my favorite because it so clearly explains the life of a Christian and what happens in Baptism. Paul tells us that when we are baptized that we are connected to Christ Jesus’ death on the cross. God uses the water of baptism to kill us. He has to kill us because death is the punishment for sin and we are all sinners. But just like water can both kill and provide life, God uses the water of baptism to raise us from the dead to newness of life.
This newness of life doesn’t mean that you can just do whatever you want and commit whatever sins you want because you know that you’ll be forgiven. Rather, since we have been killed and raised from the dead we live our lives loving God and loving our neighbors. Now, whether you were baptized 70 minutes ago or 70 years ago, this baptismal identity is as fresh and wet on you as the moment it happened. You are a baptized child of God! You are forgiven! Go and love God and serve your neighbor!
Let us pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for using water and your word to kill us and bring us to life. Help us to daily live in our baptismal identity as your sons and daughters and to joyfully respond in our faith toward you and our love toward one another. We ask all of this in Jesus’ name, Amen
Our readings this week focus our attention on the great gift that God has given to us -- Baptism. The Old Testament reading describes God's servant people Israel who fail and are replaced by God's perfect servant -- his son Jesus. Our Epistle Reading tells us how we are connected to Jesus' death and resurrection through our Baptism and our Gospel reading tells us of Jesus' own Baptism and gives us a picture of the Trinity.
My name is Tom. I'm fascinated by the ways that people, ideas, current events and theology interact with each other.