Black Bean Soup

Pastoral Messages | January 3, 2016

Steve is bright, resourceful, and fun loving, blessed with the capacity in not taking himself too seriously. He also happens to be deeply faithful – a guy who loves the Lord and who, with his wife Joan, has made St. Paul Lutheran Church a second home for nearly 20 years.

Seventeen years ago, Steve essentially learned bass guitar in front of the congregation. I remember well his early strumming. He was all thumbs in those days, playing with a finesse that resembled someone trying to write neatly with the non-dominant hand. Today he is a rock star, an anchor of rhythmic musicality in the back row of our Open Spirit ensemble.

Several Sundays ago, Steve dropped by Panera after church to pick up food to bring home to his wife. The restaurant was out of quart-size takeout containers so the server handed him his black bean soup in four separate bowls. Once the four bowls were strapped into the backseat of his pickup truck, Steve drove off. A few blocks away, he pulled into a convenience store to pick up the coffee he forgot to purchase. As he walked toward the door he spotted a gray-haired man with sunglasses and shoulder-length hair – a Unabomber look-a-like, Steve recalled later. Unkempt. Unshaven. Possibly homeless.

The man was carrying a pool cue stick and had a guitar case strapped to his back. No respectable bass player walks by someone carrying a guitar case without saying hello. “Hey. You a musician?” “All my life,” the man told Steve. He then added, “Can you do me a favor?” whereupon he told Steve the address of where he wanted to go. “I got you covered,” Steve said.

When Steve went inside to purchase the coffee, he asked the clerk if this guy outside was legit. Safe? Yeah, he was a regular around the joint. No problem. Steve helped the guy and his cue stick climb into the front seat, and off they went. “Have you had anything to eat recently?” Steve asked his friend. “No, not at all,” Jeff said. Steve clicked into high gear. “You like black bean soup?” The guy looked as if he had never heard of the stuff before, though his eyes revealed a world of hurt. Steve reached toward the back seat and handed the man a bowl, a baguette, and a plastic spoon. “Here you go. Treat yourself to lunch.”

This is when the guy looked straight at Steve with complete disbelief, “Who are you, man?!” Steve told him he was just a bass player. Off they went. They talked music. Jeff expressed interest in wanting to play together sometime. Steve was friendly but unready to share his phone number.

When they pulled into the parking lot of the address the man had provided, Steve put his truck into park. There was no pool hall nearby, but the man gathered up his cue stick and guitar case, which turned out to be full of bottles and cans for the recycling center, and prepared to climb out. That’s when a young kid in his 20s came up and knocked on the driver’s window. “You got some jumper cables? I need a jump.” Steve rolled down his window to say, “I’ve got you covered. Be right there. First, let me take care of getting this guy on his way.”

The pool shark, who may or may not have been a musician, looked up at Steve and said, “Man, who are you, anyway?!” “Just a bass player,” was the reply.

Sometimes I think of the blood spilled, the barrels of ink drained, and the countless lives exhausted, as Christians have waged doctrinal wars over the centuries. What if, instead of hammering out intricate systems of belief, each of us simply astounded the world with our way of life? Imagine living your life in such compelling fashion – so hospitably – that other people could not help themselves from wanting to know this Jesus whom you know. Wouldn’t that be something?

– Peter W. Marty

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Daniel 12:1-3

The Time of the End

1“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.2“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.3“Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Psalm 16

1Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.

2I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord;

I have no good besides You.”

3As for the saints who are in the earth,

They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.

4The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;

I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood,

Nor will I take their names upon my lips.

5The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;

You support my lot.

6The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;

Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

7I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;

Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

8I have set the LORD continually before me;

Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;

My flesh also will dwell securely.

10For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;

Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

11You will make known to me the path of life;

In Your presence is fullness of joy;

In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Hebrews 10:11-25

11Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;12but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,13waiting from that time onward UNTIL HISENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.14For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,

16“THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM

AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD:

I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART,

AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,”

He then says,

17“AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS

I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.”

18Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

A New and Living Way

19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,21and since we have a great priest over the house of God,22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Christ or Judgment

Mark 13:1-8

Things to Come

1As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples *said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”2And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

3As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately,4“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”5And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.6“Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many.7“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.8“For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

Daniel 7:9-14

9“I kept looking

Until thrones were set up,

And the Ancient of Days took His seat;

His vesture was like white snow

And the hair of His head like pure wool.

His throne was ablaze with flames,

Its wheels were a burning fire.

10“A river of fire was flowing

And coming out from before Him;

Thousands upon thousands were attending Him,

And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him;

The court sat,

And the books were opened.

11“Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire.12“As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.

The Son of Man Presented

13“I kept looking in the night visions,

And behold, with the clouds of heaven

One like a Son of Man was coming,

And He came up to the Ancient of Days

And was presented before Him.

14“And to Him was given dominion,

Glory and a kingdom,

That all the peoples, nations and men of every language

Might serve Him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion

Which will not pass away;

And His kingdom is one

Which will not be destroyed.

The Vision Interpreted

Psalm 93

1The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;

The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength;

Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.

2Your throne is established from of old;

You are from everlasting.

3The floods have lifted up, O LORD,

The floods have lifted up their voice,

The floods lift up their pounding waves.

4More than the sounds of many waters,

Than the mighty breakers of the sea,

The LORD on high is mighty.

5Your testimonies are fully confirmed;

Holiness befits Your house,

O LORD, forevermore.

Revelation 1:-4-8

John 18:33-37

33Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”34Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?”35Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”37Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”