The Glory Has Departed
Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence
Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Below is today's selection from the John Sander collection of Devotional Readings from Luther's Works. Today being November 16, of course. Page 403-404. Augustana Book Concern, 1915.
Remembering that the distraction of the times that enabled the Lutherans to continue with little attention from the powers that were, that it was the Turk (Muslims) at the gates of Vienna, the comments by Luther on the Old Testament lesson of Ezekiel 16: 49-50 remain appropriate today, given the goings-on in the Middle East and other places.
Ezekiel 16: 49-50 This was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness [sic] of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.
These same conditions now exist everywhere. Every peasant, burgher, nobleman is simply gathering dollars, waits and saves, eats and drinks, is insolent and mischievous as though God were nothing at all. No one cares for the despised Jesus in his poverty; nay, he is even trod under foot, until all obedience, discipline and honor are destroyed among us, as they were in Sodom and Gomorrah, and matters become so bad as to become unbearable, because all admonition and preaching seem to be of no avail. The world will not recognize that it must die and stand before God in judgment, but rages against the known truth. Let us give heed and take heart, that the wrath of God may not also sweep us away. What else would God need to do to that end than let loose the Turks and Satan among us. The Turk would be compelled to cease doing what he has done and is still doing, were we not so hardened in blindness and impenitence and so completely ripe for judgment. The reason is that we rage so blasphemously against God's Word and his proffered help.
I hold that if we Lutherans, as they call us, were only dead, the whole world would immediately cry, "Victory," as though they had already devoured every single Turk. But it shall happen to them also that a hundred shall be slain by one Turk. The younkers in Jerusalem thought, if they should only put the profit Jeremiah out of the way they would surely be safe from the king of Babylon. What happened? After they had cast Jeremiah into the dungeon, the king came and led them all into captivity.
I can also see that God has spun a web over Germany as it is determined to be guilty of willful blindness, wickedness and ungratefulness in opposing the precious gospel. It is determined to be guilty of foolishness before God for which it will have to pay dearly. May God preserve us and grant us and our little flock that we may escape this terrible wrath, and be found among those who honor and serve our dear Christ, and await the judgment at his right hand joyously and blissfully. Amen.
Almost 500 years on, we find ourselves in similar conditions. Only the times change; people do not change.