Community of Sinners
Conversion of St. Paul
25 January 2019
Dana Carvey's "Saturday Night Live" character, the Church Lady, is the epitome of pharisaism. She looks down her nose upon sinners who do not meet her standards. The church is full of church ladies. The church lady exhibits a thinly veiled glee when others are found to be sinners, "Yes, well, of course, I knew it all the time!" Such discoveries comfort her that others are far worse than she is and in comparison to others she is much better in God's estimation. This is like one hog looking down upon another as dirtier, when in fact both of them are filthy.
 
The church is and remains the community of sinners, the filthy, under God's gracious covering of sin for Christ's sake. Here God's preached good news is proclaimed to all who are sinners, and that is all of us. Our goal under God's grace is to snatch one more sinner like us into the fold of God's merciful care. We cannot look down on others, because there is no one worse than us in the sight of God.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"Here you have a comforting and certain promise, with which Christ allures and attracts His Christians: 'Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be filled.' That is, they will be recompensed for their hunger and thirst by seeing that their work was not in vain and that at last a little flock has been brought around who have been helped. Although things are not going now as they would like and they have almost despaired over it, all this will become manifest, not only here on earth, but even more in the life hereafter, when everyone will see what sort of fruit such people have brought by their diligence and perseverance. For example, a pious preacher has snatched many souls out of the jaws of the devil and brought them to heaven; or a pious, faithful ruler has helped many lands and people, who testify that he has done so and who praise him before the whole world.
 
"The counterfeit saints are exactly the opposite. Because of their great sanctity they forsake the world and run into the desert, or they sneak away into a corner somewhere, to escape the trouble and worry that they would otherwise have to bear. They do not want to pay attention to what is going on in the world. Never once do they think of the fact that they should help or advise other people with teaching, instruction, warning, reproof, correction, or at least with prayers and sighs to God. Yes, it even disgusts and grieves them when other people become pious; for they want to be thought of as the only ones who are holy so that anyone who wants to get to heaven has to buy their good works and merits from them. In brief, they are so full of righteousness that they look down their noses at other poor sinners. Just so in Luke 18[:11] the great St. Pharisee in his intoxication looks down at the poor publican and spits on him. He is so much in love with himself that he pays court to God and thanks Him that he alone is pious and other people are bad."

 Martin Luther, 
Sermon on the Mount, 5.6
Psalm 32:1-7

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
 
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
 
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
 
Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. (ESV)
Prayer
O God, be merciful to me a sinner. Amen.
 
For Bobby Vollman, who is undergoing a biopsy, that Jesus, the good Physician would be with him granting him peace
 
For all those suffering from addiction to drugs or alcohol that God the Lord would rescue them from this slavery
 
For those who reckon others are unworthy of God's mercy, that they might be brought to repentance and seek God's mercy and grace
Art: CARAVAGGIO  The Conversion of St. Paul (c. 1600)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2019
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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