Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A sermon on preparing to die

Martin Luther wrote some very practical material. This might be a good one to read while listening to Henry Paulson and other government officials try to explain all the bailouts that will ruin us while watching the stock market struggle. Luther actually makes 20 distinct points, but only the first three matter, because 4-20 really expands on three.

Unlike a lot of his material where he begins with the Gospel, then moves to every day life and relationships, in this advice he reverses the order. He first suggests you get all your worldly affairs in order so that in the event of your death, "there won't be occasion for squabbles, quarrels or other misunderstanding" among the survivors. "Second, we must cheerfully and sincerely forgive, for God's sake, all men who have offended us" and seek the forgiveness of others we have offended. Then the third thing is "we must turn our eyes to God, to whom the path of death leads and directs us." Here he makes the interesting comparison between the passage "from the small abode of the mother's womb into this immense heaven and earth, that is, into this world." So when we depart this life, which seemed so big after the womb, we pass through another narrow gate into a large mansion and joy will follow.

Points four through twenty expand on grace and the believers relationship with Christ, particularly in the sacraments.

Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings, ed. by Timothy F. Lull, (Fortress, 1989), Ch. 28, p. 638

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