Jesus’ humble life contrasts with ‘blatant display of riches’

As I enter the autumn of my years (based on current events I dread what winter will bring!), I find myself pondering the perplexities and practices of modern life, particularly Christian life. Recently we had the coronation of King Charles III, a sumptuous spectacle resplendent with history, tradition and esoteric religious rites, including the ‘secret’ order supposedly descended from the ‘Divine Right of Kings’.

I was dazzled by the magnificent robes of the ‘princes’ of particularly the Anglican Church as they assisted in this event. No doubt many of them were able to relax later in their palaces provided as a reward for their ascendancy in the church ranks.

A few days later, I saw a photo of Catholic cardinals in their black robes and red hats, seated in the basilica in the Vatican – a state dedicated to religion. I read that the Vatican employs a jeweller to provide adornments for ecclesiastical vestments and other office ‘necessities’.

As I witnessed these lavish celebrations, which purport to be Christian-based, I found it extremely difficult to reconcile them with a poor, itinerant preacher, the Son of God and Man, who had nowhere to lay his head, let alone adorn it with precious stones. Surely this blatant display of riches is inappropriate in a Christian setting.

Janise Fournier – Murray Bridge SA

Encourage others to bring a friend

We support the article ‘Bring a friend Sunday’ (The Lutheran, Aug-Sept 2023, page 26).

We, of the congregation in Maitland, South Australia, arranged a similar Sunday last year, filling two pews with new people. Several were fairly new Christians, and most had not been in a Lutheran church before.

The message was very well received, with the more orderly service order, plus the explanation of the Apostles’ Creed standing out for them. An added attraction was the inspection of the local Lutheran school and the beautiful refreshments that followed.

May we encourage congregations to consider and implement this relatively simple mission approach.

Hedley Krieg – Ardrossan SA

Unity of believers ‘over-arching concern’

God has given us the scriptures as a revelation of divine grace, love and mercy. Jesus prayed that the believers would be one (John 17:20–23), and Paul reminds us that the basis of our unity is Christ crucified (1 Cor 1:10,23). The number of times that Paul appeals to the believers to live peaceably and in unity makes it clear that the early church struggled, as we do, to keep their eyes on Jesus rather than get bogged down in conflicts over things not central to our faith.

A letter to The Lutheran (Aug-Sept 2023) refers to 1 Corinthians 11:19: ‘Indeed, there have to be factions (divisions) among you, for only so will it become clear who among you are genuine’ (NRSV).

These words need to be read within the context of Paul’s over-arching concern in 1 Corinthians for the unity of believers, and his repeated warnings against dividing into parties around leading figures and disputed topics (chapter 3). There is no contradiction between verse 19 and the writing that precedes and follows it when we understand that Paul is making a facetious comment in order to challenge the Corinthians to think about their behaviour at the Lord’s Table. The Corinthians that have wilfully or unthinkingly kept themselves separate at the Table are called to examine themselves with the implicit invitation to return to full fellowship and equal sharing.

God has given to each of us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18). As the Way Forward project seeks to find a pathway for the LCANZ to continue in harmony and unity despite there being different theological opinions regarding the ordination of both men and women, we can be confident that the Bible does not encourage us to break the fellowship of the LCANZ.

Tanya Wittwer – Carey Gully SA

Opinions expressed in letters are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or the Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand. Shorter letters will be given preference over longer letters. Subscribers’ letters will be given preference over those from non-subscribers. Letters longer than 300 words and those containing personal attack will not be published. No more than two letters from the same author will be published in a calendar year. Some letters may be edited for clarity.

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