Pfingsten Predigt

There are a few fancy German words that I know and actually understand. I’m reasonably functional in German. Key phrases include “where is the bathroom,” “Help, police,” and “another beer please.” My favourite compound German word I can actually use properly is “umweltverschmutzung” (pollution) and “versicherung” (insurance – which requires you to spit twice and take a shot of schnapps to say properly). Schmetterling (butterfly) is always fun to yell in a quiet room, and vertrag (contract) is best growled out after several beer.

I’m a first generation Canadian. I actually have dual German-Canadian citizenship. I didn’t know there was an English liturgy until I joined choir and we had to sing in the English service. I was 10 years old. I can still remember thinking, “they do this in ENGLISH TOO?!” I loved the German hymns, and how we’d sing “HOSE-ee-ANN-ah” for hosanna. You’d hear all the language of the church in German, as Luther meant it to be. Our Gemeinde (congregation) held Gottesdienst (divine service) twice on Sundays; first in German, then in English.

Gottestdienst is a fantastic word. There’s no analog in English. “Worship” is as close as it gets, but it misses the point. Worship is regarded as something we do.  Gottestdienst, as divine service, speaks of God coming to us. It’s not us doing something for God, but rather God coming to his people, through faith in Christ, and he serves us through His Word and the sacraments. In German, no one “has a heart for ministry” or whatever the lame diction currently in fashion tries – and fails – to express. And fails badly.

Pfingsten = pentecost. Predigt = sermon. Add them up, and the Pfingstpredigt – the Pentecost Sermon is today’s topic.

This year, Pentecost falls on the Sunday of the District convention. Congregations are expected to send a pastor and a lay delegate. That means means a lot of congregations will have to either find a supply preacher, or they have to get an elder to read a prepared sermon. District has been kind enough to solicit Concordia Lutheran Seminary President Rev. Dr. James Gimbel to write the sermon resources for Pentecost Sunday.

Normally I wouldn’t take much or bother to write about sermon resources. That’s mostly because I’m a layman and tend to be on the side of the communion rail where we face the guy who is doing the preaching. But we’re living in interesting times. I got a series of emails saying emphatically, “you need to read this.” So, I read it. And it’s interesting. I was actually a bit surprised that the sermon wrestles with the CEF fiasco. Remember stampede wresting? Kind of like that.

Let me be uncharacteristically effusive: I won’t say what I think about it, but I think District President, the board, and officers are delighted with it.

What does this mean? It means you should read it. You can direct download a PDF, or grab a copy from the District Convention Website – Worship Resources section.


13 thoughts on “Pfingsten Predigt

  1. s


    Many of the people I know who are affected heavily by this CEF scandal are some of the most generous, faithful people in our congregations with their offerings of money and their gifts of service. They are some of the people who pledged most generously towards our building program – not only in offering but in putting money on deposit with CEF for our loan. They are the ones that you count on to help you out when anything is needed. By this example, these generous people are also the ones that have been abused financially and spiritually by the District. This sermon shamefully does not seem to recognize that. Anyway, tithing is an old testament form of taxing and does not apply to New testament people who have great freedom in Christ to show our thanks in a free will offering above that or as we decide in our hearts, not under compulsion. 2 Cor 9:7 We give because of thanksgiving and the realization of grace given to us, not for fear of being struck down as Ananias and Sapphira were in Acts 5.

    What I found in reading that passage of Ananias and Sapphira is not so much an anger about the amount that was given but the lie that was told and the lack of repentance. They claimed to donate the proceeds from the sale of their property to Christ and his church. I checked commentaries that stated that indeed they could have kept it all if they chose and be honest, but rather they “lied not only to humans but to God.” v. 4 They thought they could deceive God and test the Holy Spirit. It is a good passage to recall for all of us because deception and lying, as we know, is a huge issue with this scandal.

    • DS

      Jesus fulfilled all the Law. As Christians growing in sanctification becoming more like Christ, when we give proportionately as commanded in NT scripture it should minimally fulfill the tithing commands of God. WWJD?

  2. DS

    Above are arguments against OT scriptures and NT scriptures related to finance and money. That is a major point of the sermon: that we have been ignoring God’s Word and doing things in a way that seems right to us.

    A biblical communal pot model is not based on lending, borrowing and debt mitigating the two. It is based on *giving* and receiving as needs arise. Think of Acts 5 and Ananias and Sapphira.

    Is our God not big enough and powerful enough to provide for projects that we presumably feel prompted by the Holy Spirit to undertake, without His people going into debt on His behalf to implement them? Debt is slavery. The etymology of the word “mortgage” is “dead” or “to die”. That’s not the way of the living God. The Bible’s model is to give and make offerings. Tithing anyone? We’d have no more church extension problems if everyone did. Oh, but wait, that’s OT and doesn’t apply anymore. We need to get back to the Bible and get back under its authority.

  3. s

    What does this mean? The application of this theology means that the other CEFs in the other Districts need to be gotten rid of now, even when they claim to be on stable ground. It means the only way Churches could build in future would be to have offerings up front, which would be a huge amount of savings from a declining and aging population. It would probably mean that Churches also could not keep a charitable status by the government’s regulations.

    It also means that the response to those who have lost Churches and their livelihood through this crisis, should be treated the same. The Churches and members who have not been effected would sell possessions and property and give funds to those in need.

    It’s the slippery slope of communal living with sinful people… which means that if you had money in the bank and did not put it into CEF, which was the closest thing we had to a communal pot to build your own church or even help your brothers in need, then you are guilty also. We quickly get to the issue of abuse of a “communal pot” by those who use but never contribute and yet feel entitled to use it. Scripture talks about this also. “If anyone would not work, neither should he eat.” 2 Thess 3:10

    Who decides what your brother’s need is? Is it a multimillion dollar senior housing facility and village?

    Everything we have is a gift from God and money can also be one of those gifts entrusted to us for the purpose of serving God and others. “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” Lets not forget the parable of the talents where God entrusts different amounts to different servants and has words and actions of condemnation for the servant that did not manage his gift wisely. Read Matthew 25:14-30 It’s interesting this passage was not chosen as a reference.

  4. ANO

    DS – the problem with the sermon, and your analysis – is that neither fits the context of the Scriptural text.

    The injunction against taking interest was made to the Children of Israel, and was done in part to reinforce that God was their provider, and to keep anyone from enslaving anyone. Once the Children of Israel ceased to exist as a theocratic nation, the injunction went with it. Ditto all the other rules that the Children of Israel also lived under.

    Long story short, that rule doesn’t apply any more.

  5. DS

    IMHO, this is the key point of the sermon;

    “How are we all guilty? The Bible includes many relevant references that shed light on different aspects of this situation. In the Old Testament God warns against His people taking interest from any fellow believer … yet we have a sanctioned system for it, citing the need to be fair and equitable to the lender and do good for the church. In the New Testament we are reminded of the rich young ruler who saddened Jesus when he was unwilling to part with his wealth, making him “close,” but not “in” the kingdom of God. The shrewd manager was commended by Jesus for business dealings and a creative way out, and then Jesus continued: “no person can serve two masters … you cannot serve both God and things of this world … where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We see how the early church model of Acts 2 and Acts 4 illustrates the model among the earliest Christian believers who sold all that they “owned” and gave it to the Lord for placing into an open community pot where each person was both a contributor and a dependant. Much of the modern first-world and affluent church is guilty of times when we try to serve God and ourselves … where we forget our need for God. Whether we serve money or something else, this is idolatry. Each person here is guilty of those times when we “cling” too tightly to the things of this world. Each person here knows firsthand that love of money is dreadfully dangerous to faith, for it is the root of all kinds of evil. ”

    Finally someone going to the Word of God and reminding us of the financial principles the Lord would have us follow.

    How many people in the privacy of their own personal deliberations calculated the gain of that bit higher interest rate from a non-CDIC institution? How many people indebted their brother instead of giving a gift to that one in need?

  6. Four Cents

    Everyone should remember this the next time the seminary sends out an appeal for funds. Or when the annual review of your congregation’s contribution to ‘missions’ is up for review. Or when the next hair-brained fundraising scheme, under the guise of ‘missions’ coming from district, arrives at your door. Even the Lord once cleared the money changers out of the temple. How apt.

  7. Campbell

    Wowza!Putting the blame onto the people who invested in CEF is a low blow. We invested with the idea of helping the church and left our money there even when the interest rates dropped. (because we were helping the church!) Blame the victim is exactly what I would expect from the secular world not from a pastor in our “church family.” Sad, so sad.

  8. Darlene

    Having read the sermon for Pentecost Sunday I’m left shaking my head. The author starts off rambling about the church historically–positive and negative aspects–then settles into an attempt to justify the actions of those leaders whose decisions created the ABC district insolvency. There is even an accusation that CEF and DIL depositors and every member participated in creating the insolvency. It seems the author has forgotten that God held His leaders more accountable and there were consequences for their sinful actions–Moses, David, Samson etc. More District propaganda. Is this really what our hurting members need to hear on Pentecost?

  9. PD

    Having read that sermon several times I must say that even a first year seminary student would know better than to write a sermon like that. I can only conclude that the writer doesn’t know the facts and ends up pointing his bony finger at all of us in the hope of vindicating those who created this crisis. Perhaps the writer should read Walther’s “Law and Gospel”.

  10. Larry

    Your roots must be from a different part of Germany than mine. We called it umweltverseuchung.

    • That’s environmental contamination. What are you, a Huguenot or something? 😛

      • Larry

        Yes I am and proud of it!

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