A Daily Dose of Good News
Friday, July 10, 2020
I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another. Nevertheless on some points I have written to you rather boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ. Thus I make it my ambition to proclaim the good news, not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written,
“Those who have never been told of him shall see,
and those who have never heard of him shall understand.” (Romans 15:14-21)
There’s Ambition, And Then There’s Ambition
In our good news for today
Paul introduces a precarious concept: Ambition
To be sure, ambition is not inherently negative.
In fact it is healthy and helpful to have goals
And to work toward those goals with perseverance,
Especially when, for people of God like you and me,
Those goals are rooted in the love of God and neighbor
In response the love God first shows us.
And still, we have to admit ambition has the propensity for stoking in us
Sinful pride, greed and other selfish interests
In ways that can end up exploiting other people,
Damaging relationships and disrupting community.
Now Paul’s use of the term would seem to be focused
On the positive, constructive connotation of ambition:
Proclaiming the good news of God
To those who have never before had opportunity to receive it.
Certainly an upright and worthy aspiration in service to God,
Boasting only that the ministry had been given to him
By none other than Christ Jesus our Lord.
And perhaps only Paul would know the degree to which
He wrestled with any self-satisfaction or pride with great to his success.
Being human like the rest of us
I would be surprised to know that was the case
To one degree or another.
The topic raised in this lesson appointed for today then
Also gives us an opportunity reflect on ambition
Within our own mission to promote the gospel of God
In the ministry of our congregation at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church;
namely, within our new capacity to livestream worship
For engagement beyond the walls of the church.
It’s long been a stated goal or ambition for the congregation
That we explore and, as deemed appropriate,
Develop an online worship experience.
Then the sheltering order last March moved that ambition
From the wish list to the necessary list in short order.
In that time, with the assistance of many persons in the congregation
And the benefit of new and cost effective technologies,
Such that we too might boast about the presence of Christ Jesus our Lord
Who has continued to gather us around the Word
While worshipping in our individual homes.
And not only homes of our members,
But we also know other people are engaging those services with us
From Florida and Michigan and Indiana and California.
God and neighbor are being served.
The technology and media format present several other realities too:
As in reporting the number of times a computer, tablet or smartphone
Have viewed any particular service
And how long they watched
And how many views our service got
Compared to the online service for the church down the street.
And you can see what they did in their worship service
Maybe you should try doing the same thing
Seems like you want to get as many views as possible
And at least more than them.
And all of the sudden our ambition to serve the gospel
Boasting only in Christ who always meets us there
Becomes ambition to serve and amplify ourselves and our own success.
So we pray for God’s spirit of wisdom and understanding
To guide our ongoing use of online worship
For the sake of sharing the gospel far and wide
Inviting people to engaging in the community of the church
All in service to God and neighbor
Helping us keep in check our propensity for
keeping score and building up personal credit
That might distract us from pursuing that mission
As faithfully as Paul.
Matthew 15:32-39 August 5, 2020
32Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way." 33The disciples said to him, "Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?" 34Jesus asked them, "How many loaves have you?" They said, "Seven, and a few small fish." 35Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36he took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 38Those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children. 39After sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.