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The Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost A, October 22, 2023

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The Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost A, October 22, 2023

In the transition from adolescence to adulthood lies an emotional rite of passage.  Its subtlety can escape an observer but it’s profoundly distinct for the participant.  The adolescent anticipates adulthood with a cry of anticipation: “I’ll HAVE all the responsibility!”  After crossing the divide, the newly mature now laments adulthood with: “I have ALL the responsibility?”

     Our God has no laments about responsibility:  God claims it all!  No one else gets a share:  The creation of light and darkness and everything in between?  God’s doing.  The making of weal and woe and everything in between?  God’s doing.  God waves a hand at all creation, staking his claim upon it all, and declares, “I, am the Lord, who does all these things!”

     Theologically this is known as “the absolute necessity of God.”  It is one pole of a paradox.  A paradox is when you must make two contradictory statements (the poles) in order to say one truth.  The other pole of this paradox is “the total responsibility of humanity.”  Luther maintained the paradox’s tension by calling it “The things above us and the things below us.”  Both poles must be held together, simultaneously, and totally.

     The absolute God hides behind his works of weal and woe because he doesn’t want to be found there.  But God reveals himself through his Word—wanting to be found in his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  The absolute God above us comes down into the things below us exposing to us our responsibility: “He has shut up all things in sin that he might have mercy on all” (Ro. 11:32).  In Christ, we’re neither adults lamenting our responsibility nor adolescents anticipating our future  responsibility.  We are, rather, our heavenly Father’s children and we have the run of his household!  Behold!  It is the Lord’s doing!

Table Talk:  Share a time of responsibility you’d rather not have held or time when responsibility was not granted.
Pray:  Heavenly Father, by your very own doing through your Son, Jesus Christ, you have made me to be your child.  Grant that I enjoy the freedom of your household.  Amen

Isaiah 45:1-7

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,

whose right hand I have grasped,

to subdue nations before him

and to loose the belts of kings,

to open doors before him

that gates may not be closed:

2 I will go before you

and level the exalted places,

I will break in pieces the doors of bronze

and cut through the bars of iron,

3 I will give you the treasures of darkness

and the hoards in secret places,

that you may know that it is I, the Lord,

the God of Israel, who call you by your name.

4 For the sake of my servant Jacob,

and Israel my chosen,

I call you by your name,

I name you, though you do not know me.

5 I am the Lord, and there is no other,

besides me there is no God;

I equip you, though you do not know me,

6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun

and from the west, that there is none besides me;

I am the Lord, and there is no other.

7 I form light and create darkness,

I make well-being and create calamity,

I am the Lord, who does all these things.

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