Friday of Lent 2

Jeremiah 5:1-9

Norman (Again)

So, my alcoholic brother never repented to those he hurt the most. If he had actually been in recovery, he would have attempted to make amends to those to whom he could have done so without causing further damage. But with morphine coursing through his system, he was on the slow bus to oblivion.

We often talk about addiction as a disease, and, certainly, there are those born with a predisposition to addiction. But it is easy to make the quantum leap from there to believing each of us is not responsible for the things he does and doesn’t do. Yes, one’s thinking can be distorted by alcohol and substance abuse, just as reading Scripture through 20th and 21st century eyes can distort the Lord Jesus’ call to forget oneself and to take up one’s cross and follow Him. This is what we Christians mean by daily baptismal renewal. The Lord Jesus is not subject to revision by us. We are the ones who need His revising!

Baby boomers today still think of themselves as free thinkers and liberators. Meanwhile, the devil laughs and claps his hands (like the evil emperor in Star Wars). How did baby boomers become what we are? We were taught. We were behaviorally conditioned. And, often, parents like my Mama enabled all the bad behavior, because she allowed herself to treat her son as sick and a victim. How did we end up with a culture and churches so ridiculously distorted in their thinking? They were taught and conditioned.

My favorite old movies that still make me laugh could not be made today. Mel Brooks is a Jew. Richard Pryor was black. They lampooned prejudice and ignorance in “Blazing Saddles.” The funniest lines in the movie were written by Richard Pryor. Today, he would be called a race traitor and cancelled. People, who cannot laugh at themselves and their culture (which is epidemic in our day), are allowed to play the victim card all the way to the bank. Back in the early days of Saturday Night Live, when it was always funny, Richard Pryor did a sketch called “The Back to Africa Telethon,” in which he urged racist viewers to give money to send him back to Africa. Three years ago, BLM activists were using emotional blackmail to get money that filled a few pockets and was not spent on improving any communities. Who suffered most from the George Floyd riots? The very people who lived in the neighborhood where he died. And most of those masked Antifa rioters (Really? Anti-fascist?) were children of privilege. They? Victims? Idiots!

Our Lord Jesus looked on the crowds as sheep without a shepherd and had compassion on them. There are a lot of sheep today without the Shepherd, but they are being played liked Stradivariuses by master manipulators. One of the worst mayors of a major American city was defeated last week, not because she was black or a lesbian, but because Lori Lightfoot was a terrible mayor. Countless cities are being destroyed by George Soros funded district attorneys, because a billionaire can manipulate the system to get people who share his worldview elected. Who suffers? The sheep that cannot think critically enough to see they are being conditioned by social media to do the evil will of those who love control? No! The people, who cannot relocate from the neighborhoods where crime is rampant, suffer for Soros’ sins.

I loved my brother Norman and was influenced by him as a teen and adolescent. When I became an adult, I put away childish things. My second chaplain supervisor, Robert Lee, used to say: “Freedom is a terrifying thing. It makes you responsible for yourself.” And there it is. Like my brother, we have the freedom to say “No” to our Lord’s call to discipleship, and many do. Frankly, historical revisionists give me “agita” (an upset stomach) as my Sicilian grandfather used to say. Those who don’t know history are still doomed to repeat it, and a pox on those who pull down the very statues that teach the past. Yes, a pox on those who rewrite Scripture, the creeds, and what it means to be Lutheran. Evil wins when we allow it!

Dear Father, thank you for comedians and Truth-tellers, who say: Repent! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Put seventeen pennies, nickels, or dimes in a bowl or box to feed the poor (Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard).

Pastor Samuel D. Zumwalt, STS
St Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Wilmington, NC

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.