Sunday, August 18, 2019 – Pentecost 10

August 18, 2019  

Pentecost 10 2019

Luke 12:49-56

Jeremiah 23:23-29

Hebrews 11:29-12:2


“Am I a God nearby, says God, and not a God far off? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” (Jeremiah 23:23-24a).

 “Is not my word like fire, says God, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29)

 Jesus said: “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled.” (Luke 12:49)


When you know, really know, the power of God that power can be terrifying, terrifying enough to want to hide from it.

I don’t mean terrifying as in “I’m afraid I’m going to get hurt.”

I mean terrifying as in “I’m afraid of being overwhelmed.”

God’s word is like a hammer that breaks a rock into pieces.

Jesus came to bring fire to the earth.


During our ELCA’s Churchwide Assembly some incredible decisions were made. The Assembly approved a Social Statement on Faith, Sexism and Justice which names patriarchy and sexism as sins.

The Assembly adopted a Declaration of Inter-religious Commitment, witnessed by 39 ecumenical guests from around the world.

The Assembly authorized ELCA World Hunger to spend $21.5 million in the year 2020.

The Assembly adopted a Strategy Toward Authentic Diversity in the ELCA.

The Assembly presented a Declaration of the ELCA to People of African Descent.

The Assembly adopted 26 memorials on subjects ranging from gender identity to seminary tuition.

The Assembly adopted a memorial calling the church to create a Social Statement of the relationship of church and state.

The Assembly Adopted a memorial encouraging congregations to celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the ordination of women, the 40th anniversary of the ordination of women of color, and the 10th anniversary of the decision to remove barriers to ordination for people in same-gender relationships.

The Assembly moved to support the vision and goals of the Poor Peoples’ Campaign.

The Assembly adopted a memorial that affirms the ELCA’s long-standing commitment to migrants and refugees and declared the ELCA a sanctuary church body.

That’s a lot of decision-making. Those are a lot of commitments. Our Church is on fire, carrying the fire Jesus kindled into the streets and the homes and the communities we live in.

There are those who might wish we could hide from these things. There are those who fear those things we do as a church will cause great division. There are those, perhaps some of you, who disagree with the decisions made and who feel distanced by them.

Jesus was not kidding when he asked “Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth?” And then answered his own question, saying: “No, I tell you, but rather division.” (Luke 12:51).

Jesus said “From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided father against son…mother against daughter… (Luke 12:52-53).

And just so, households have been divided for centuries, not agreeing on the meaning of Jesus for the world and the power of the Word in the world.

“Is not my word like fire?” God asked (Jeremiah 23:29).

How do we live when our “house” is divided?

A few years ago there was a division in my immediate family.

My older brother believed I had done something that would have had a significant effect on one of his daughters. He was livid. He believed in his heart I had done this thing. He accused me in a phone call, angry and hurt.

I didn’t do what he thought I did, I couldn’t have; I didn’t have the power to do what he thought I did. But he was so hurt and so angry, he wouldn’t listen to me.

My other siblings heard about his accusations and some believed him. Some stayed neutral. My parents tried to heal the hurt.

Our division broke their hearts.

It lasted over a year.

My first inclination was to constantly defend myself. That didn’t work. So I put up healthy boundaries, kept a distance, trusting that time would prove I hadn’t done what I was accused of doing. Which it did. Eventually my brother apologized. And my parents rejoiced.

Divisions need not destroy families, they need not destroy communities, they need not destroy congregations, they need not destroy God’s Church on earth.

If we model the gifts God has given us: patience, kindness, respect and love—even if we never agree on the meaning of Jesus for the world and the power of the Word in the world… we will be ok.

We will be ok if we

“Lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely”

And we

“run with perseverance the race that is set before us,

looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).