St. John's Lutheran
When Looking in the Mirror, "Who Has Your Heart?"
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. 16 Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it. 23 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”
December 9, 2021 It’s a difficult and painful thing to be judged and found wanting. Advent by many in today’s world take it like an early extension of Christmas, at least many stores do, reducing the holy season to another opportunity to make a buck. Our attention becomes commingled with the consumerism of the day and we become distracted yet again, like one satisfied with the hors d’oeuvres at a grand dinner party when the feast is yet to come, our eyes and hearts are elsewhere than they ought to be. One does not gloss over bad manners or inappropriate clothing when one is preparing to greet the Lord of the second Advent. The Scriptures use many parables about clothing and dinners and the like to refer to the state of one’s being before the Almighty. Advent is such a time to be looking in the mirror and remembering what has been done and what will be, and what we are clothed with ought to reflect the state of our heart. Hypocrisy is denounced soundly in Matthew and elsewhere and the word as an acting term means, speaking from “under a mask as an actor” would in those days of old. These days of preparation call us to contemplate whether we are acting the part or living faithfully. The good news is, despite the glossing over of the holy by the secular and at times profane, the Spirit of who is to come seeps through the veil and some still anticipate and celebrate the goodness of the God who knows our weaknesses and gives us time, mercy and grace until that day we confess in the Apostles’ Creed, “He will come again to judge the living and the dead.”