Easter V, 2023

I have long contended that if you really want to know what a preacher or a congregation really believes, you should attend a few funerals. It is a little voyeuristic, I acknowledge, but it is in the confrontation with death that the truth will come out. Many who sail under the flag of Christianity in fact believe in works-righteousness. You will hear it in their funeral sermons as they praise the good deeds of the deceased and not the salvation of Christ’s work on the cross.

The preacher is gifted with a familiar text this week to preach, the words of John 14. They are familiar because frequently they wash over us at funerals. In the Father’s house are many rooms. Jesus goes to make a place for us. How often haven’t we heard that Jesus has come to bring this person, embedded in the community of the grieving who are gathered, to live in one of those rooms? I think this text is possibly just too easy for us and might be an occasional for our intellectual and spiritual sloth.

In the recent edition of the Concordia Journal (vol. 49, 1, pg. 13ff) Jeff Gibbs treats this text. I encourage you to take a look. If you do not get the CJ or have lost your copy, here is a link to the page: https://www.csl.edu/resources/publications/concordia-journal/ There is a nice little feature there which allows you to read the text online. I am not sure how well Gibb’s approach will preach, but it should give the preacher pause in some of the things that he might say about this text. I highly recommend it.

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