2 Peter 1:16 - "We did not follow cleverly-devised myths... we were eyewitnesses."
These words from Saint Peter will be guiding our Sunday Services throughout the season of Lent. And it is possible that these words have never been more important. Let me explain...
Every society has had its "medicine men": leaders whose words are considered more important, more intelligent, more well-informed. When these medicine men spoke, the people listened, believed, and tried to obey. I picked the term "medicine men" at random – some have called them prophets, gurus, rabbis, priests, teachers, emperors, even popes. The names have changed, but every society has had them to some degree... It seems that we humans know we need direction from people with a clearer perspective than our own.
Our current society is no exception. We have our "medicine men" (and women) - people whose words are taken as more valuable, more important than others'. We now call them "scientists" and "celebrities".
Take a look at any modern issue: homosexuality, abortion, climate change, immigration, health, education, economics... any issue. Who do we as a society listen to for wisdom? Scientists and celebrities.
We listen to scientists because we believe they are well-informed, their opinions are well-considered, and their conclusion well-tested. How many times have you believed something because "Studies have shown..."? Very rarely do we examine how the topic was studied or how certain the conclusions are. It's been studied. The scientists have spoken. It must be true.
Or there's another approach: Leonardo DiCaprio lectures about climate change; Jennifer Garner speaks to Congress about urban education; Rihanna wins Harvard's Humanitarian of the Year award; Madonna speaks to tens of thousands about women's rights; the Oscars become a four-hour political diatribe. Celebrity advocacy has become an enormous cultural force. Which is probably not a surprise for a nation that spends over $200 billion dollars a year on entertainment (that's $575,000 every minute!). We love our entertainers, so we let them tell us what to think.
But here's a dilemma: how to remain faithfully Christian when our primary culture-shapers, our "medicine men" in science and entertainment are showing a strong dislike for traditional Christian teaching? It is no secret that maintaining a traditional, Biblical faith is increasingly difficult in the academic sciences and is even more so in the entertainment industry. What are we to do?
We remember that our faith is not built primarily on what "studies show" and that Christianity has never been a popularity contest. The strength of the faith has never been that it was championed by the best and the brightest or by the beautiful people (check out 1 Corinthians 1 for a reminder). Modern science can confirm many things about God's truth, many celebrities do have a strong traditional personal faith in Christ and are willing to speak up about it. But our faith isn't built on studies or celebrity endorsements. It is built on something even stronger: eyewitness testimony. The apostles actually saw Jesus do the things He said He would do; they saw Him be the man He said He was. They saw God in the flesh, punished for our sin, and risen triumphant over sin's punishment of death. 2,000 years of ridicule, mockery, and even torture and death have never disproven it.
Throughout Lent, we will be remembering these eyewitnesses throughout the Old and New Testaments. The reality is that every day we believe all kinds of hard-to-believe or unpopular things. Improbable events are confirmed as true all the time, not because studies show them or celebrities say so, but because we have seen them with our own eyes.
And so it is with your faith in Christ. Let's use this season of Lent as a reminder of what we believe and why.
See you on Sunday!
About Our Pastor Rob Morris:
Pastor Rob Morris has just celebrated his sixth year with us having moved here to Newtown on New Years Eve 2011. Pastor Rob comes to us having earned both a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Biblical Languages from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in S. Hamilton, MA.
Prior to serving at Christ the King, he was a full-time staff member at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Topsfield, MA, focusing on both the youth and worship ministries. In the Fall of 2011, he attended one semester at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Pastor Morris is joyfully married to his high school sweetheart, Christy, and July 2014 marked their 13th wedding anniversary. They have been entrusted with two wonderful boys, Elijah (who turned 11 in March of 2017) and Isaiah (who turned eight in January of 2017). As a family, they love to hike, bike, explore, read, and play music together.
In his free time, Pastor Morris loves reading, playing music (guitar, bass, drums, piano, and a smattering of other instruments), and both road and mountain biking.
Though the journey to serving at Christ the King was not a traditional one, Pastor Morris is excited to serve in such a warm and vibrant congregation. He says, “Christ the King is the perfect name for this ministry, for it is Christ who reigns by grace through his Word and Sacraments. It is also the perfect name because Christ’s reign is extended by the faithful service of his saints here at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Newtown, CT and around the world.”