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Sunday, April 13, 2014

God Visits His People as a King

God’s grace, peace and mercy be with you. … “The time has come,” the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes and ships and sealing-wax, of cabbages and kings.”
God visits us as a King is my theme. My focus is John 12:12-19, with an emphasis on verses 14-15: “They took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!’ And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, ‘Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!’”
Let us pray. Heavenly Father, the psalmist wrote, “I rejoiced when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’”[1] Now that our feet are within your gates, we rejoice to hear your Word. As we listen, may your Spirit enlighten our minds and move our hearts to love deeply as Jesus loved. This we pray to you, Most Holy Trinity. Amen.
Easter in the Cwynar home meant visiting the Bednarski girls, my mother’s sisters. Most of them lived in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, allowing us to visit Aunts Jane, Jessie, Helen and Stella in 2 days. This childhood revelation reminded me that we’ve done a whole series of sermons focusing on God visits, without defining the term visit. So, let me lay out 3 points. First, the King visits; second, the King is welcomed; and finally, how we respond to the King’s call.
First, the King visits. To visit means to go and stay with a person or at a place for a short time for sociability, business, or curiosity.[2] We visit friends, clients and famous places, like Guthrie.
The word visit is from the Latin visitare meaning "to go to see or come to inspect." By the 13th century, pastors and doctors would visit or "pay a call" to people in their homes. It also means to "come upon or afflict" with sickness or punishment.[3] Depending on who the visitor was, you would either welcome or reject him.
If your visitor arrived on horse, be wary. Throughout Biblical history, horses were the mounts of kings, princes, conquerors, and soldiers. Horses heralded threats of war, and were such a symbol of army strength that God ordered Israelite kings not to keep many horses because He did not want the Israelites to trust in their own resources of strength, but to rely on Him for victory and deliverance from their enemies.[4] A king visiting on a horse implied war, doom and victory.
If your visitor arrived on a donkey, relax. Donkeys hold the distinction as being one of the earliest and most frequently mentioned animals in the Bible. A king visiting on a donkey symbolized industry, peace and wealth.
Visits imply welcomes. Welcome to my second point – the King is Welcomed. … Today, we welcome kings and heroes with parades. In Jesus’ day, when they welcomed heroes, people laid cloaks and leafy branches on the ground and shouted “Hosanna!”, a jubilant praise for victory or salvation.
John tells us that Jesus’ disciples did not understand these things.[5] What did these “things” mean?
Jesus’ humble entry into Jerusalem foreshadowed victory over his enemies. Of the four accounts, however, only John wrote that the crowd took palm branches, which symbolized victory in Jewish culture[6], and went out to meet Jesus, singing Psalm 118, a processional hymn for the feast of tabernacles. The significance is that Psalm 118 announces triumph[7] because of reliance on Yahweh, echoing Israel’s jubilant Exodus chant.[8] Shouting hosanna – a phrase invoking God to save them – victors with branches in hand proceeded to the altar where they offered sacrifice.
John’s point? Before ascending the Cross in His hour of triumph, Jesus knew He had won. That is why Scripture records the people singing “Hosanna.” Jesus was victorious - and humble.
Jesus was humble to the point that when others declared Him King of Israel, He brushed aside the comment or withdrew into the mountains.[9] Yet, Jesus knew His entry into Jerusalem demonstrated His fulfillment of prophecies from Genesis through Malachi. That is why John records these “things” – the King’s visit and how the King is welcomed – and now we ponder how we might respond to such a King.
For a moment, imagine yourself as a disciple in John’s Gospel, who did not understand these things when they occurred, but now you do. You understand Jesus is the King who conquered Satan, sin and death in His victorious Hour, and now He visits you. The king asks you to follow Him. … Are you willing to follow Him? ... Really?! … Are you truly interested in following a man riding a donkey?
People are willing to follow inspirational, heroic leaders like Patton, Grant or Washington, and sometimes only if they got paid. Even Napoleon Bonaparte possessed the charisma to inspire multitudes of men. In his own words, Napoleon said, “I know men, and I have inspired multitudes to die for me. A word from me and the sacred fire was kindled in their hearts. I do, indeed, possess the secret of this magical power that lifts the soul, but I could never impart it to anyone. None of my generals ever learned it from me; nor have I the means of perpetuating my name and love for me in the hearts of men.”[10]
Napoleon knew that, unlike Jesus, inspirational leaders do not possess the means of perpetuating their names and others’ love for them. Only Jesus Christ possesses the means of perpetuating His name and love for Him. The difference between dynamic human leaders and Jesus Christ? They are dead. Jesus Christ is a living Person who is present and calls me now. He visits us with grace to expand our hearts which gives us the desire and generosity to do something about this disordered universe. Jesus does not simply say, “Your sins are forgiven.” He calls you to follow Him … on your own donkey.
You need your own donkey because you must ride in peace extending your victorious palm branch to the conquered enemies of this world and let them know – as you know – that they are loved by our victorious Christ and by us. Otherwise, what’s the point of being a Christian if we don’t accompany Christ as compassionate companions? What’s the point of observing Palm Sunday and Good Friday if we can’t say to the world’s Barabbases, “I love you”?
In other words, the King’s visit implies a call to saddle up and ride with Him into the world. His call, His challenge forces us to ask: Is our spirituality authentic if we exclude public issues that conflict with our self-interests? As sinful humans, we have an inordinate hunger for wealth, honor and power. The Word of God, the call of the King, is not held in honor by the world. There is another line in Psalm 118 that reads, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”[11] To heed the King’s call, to obey God’s Word, to welcome the visiting King suggests dishonor in the world’s eyes, but victorious honor in God’s.
I offer one example of a man who embraces the visiting King and accepts his call. Gary Haugen, founder of International Justice Mission and author of “The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence”, pinpoints a basic source of entrenched poverty overlooked by well-intentioned outsiders: corrupt government officials who turn their heads while criminals victimize the poor. For example, 90% of murders in Mexico go unsolved. Haugen reminds us that the church played a critical role in the struggle against child labor and for civil rights. He urges Christians to accept their biblical, prophetic role and use their moral voice to ensure the state protect the weakest in our world.[12]
To embrace biblical justice and heed our King’s call, you don’t have to start an international justice mission. Simply embrace His call and apply biblical justice to whatever you do in life.
I close by quoting the prolific Scripture scholar and pastor, NT Wright, “We must speak truth to those with power so we can speak love to those without it.”[13]
We must speak truth to those with power so we can speak love to those without it. When we accept our biblical, prophetic role and use our moral voice to ensure those with power protect those without love, because we know Christ our King has already conquered Satan, sin and death, this we know: We are simply donkey riders with palm branches responding to the call of the King. Ride with God, my friends. Ride with God. And may the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7). Amen.

Resonate – Creed

[1] Psalm 122
[5] John 12:16
[6] See 1 Maccabees 13:51
[7] 118:7
[8] 118:14; Exodus 15:2b
[9] John 1:49; 6:15
[10] Mark Link, Decision, p. 11.
[11] Psalm 118:22
[12] Timothy C. Morgan, “Why We’re Losing the War on Poverty,” Christianity Today, January/February 2014, pp. 56-59.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Jesus Came to Humbly Serve - John 13:1-17

God’s grace, peace and mercy to you. My theme for today’s sermon is Jesus Came to Humbly Serve. To reinforce that theme, you will receive a small towel to place inside the cross you received at the beginning of Lent. My text is John 13:1-17.
Let us pray. Heavenly Father, the psalmist wrote, “I rejoiced when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’”[1] Now that our feet are within your gates, we rejoice to hear your Word. As we listen, may your Spirit enlighten our minds and move our hearts to love deeply as Jesus loved. This we pray to you, Most Holy Trinity. Amen.
I dare say that when some people read the 13th chapter of John, they see Jesus as a humble servant, perhaps forgetting He is the Second Person of the Trinity; but even in an act of hospitality often executed by servants, His glory shines forth. Some might imagine Jesus resembling a Mother Teresa cradling the dying of Calcutta, a dedicated social worker or even a faithful volunteer handing out hot dogs to the homeless. To see Jesus in that way – forgetting his divinity – diminishes the deed and the message John delivers. Remembering His divinity, as He executes this act, exponentially multiplies His humility. Imagine God – the all-powerful – washing your feet!
With a reminder that His divinity never disappeared even when He was engaged as a humble servant, let us examine what John said in chapter 13 about Jesus and His disciples, what it meant for his community and what it means for us today.
The washing of one’s feet is a common cultural practice in the ancient Near East. In Genesis 18, Abraham said to his guests, “Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on — since you have come to your servant.”[2] Scripture records God commanded Moses to remove his sandals before setting foot on holy ground.[3] In Exodus 30, we read, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘You shall also make a basin of bronze, with its stand of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it, with which Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet. When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn a food offering to the Lord, they shall wash with water, so that they may not die. They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die. It shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his offspring throughout their generations.’”[4] During Jesus’ day, Temple priests walked in bare feet because the ground was sacred, and wearing sandals would have profaned their ministry. Therefore, the practice of washing feet had significant cultural and religious meaning to Jews of Jesus’ day.
What did it mean for John? How did his community see Jesus and His disciples? John divided his Gospel into two books – the Book of Signs and the Book of Glory. Chapters 1 – 12 make up the Book of Signs where Jesus performed miracles that caused others to believe in Him. Read what happened after He turned water into wine, healed the son of a royal official or the man born blind, fed 5,000 and raised Lazarus from the dead. People came to believe in Jesus.
Chapters 13 – 20 (or 13 – 21) make up the Book of Glory or the Book of Exaltation where Jesus was exalted on the Cross. The beginning of that Book illustrates that the footwashing was not merely an act of hospitality, but the foreshadowing of Jesus’ death on the Cross, his exaltation.
The meaning of the footwashing is originally lost on the disciples, and recognized only after the Resurrection. In fact, in response to Peter’s protest, Jesus answered, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”[5] Just as the disciples did not understand why Jesus had to be crucified, they did not understand why He had to wash their feet … for the moment. After the Resurrection, the Spirit enlightened them and they understood. Only then could they correctly interpret Jesus’ signs, His death on the Cross and this humble act of washing their feet.
After washing their feet, Jesus asked His disciples, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”[6]
Meaning what? Meaning Jesus mandated that His disciples engage in acts of humble service because He did. Because John included the footwashing in his Book of Glory, we understand that we engage in acts of humble service not simply because Jesus said so, but because we cannot imitate what Jesus did later on the Cross. We can only do what Jesus did at the beginning of the Book of Glory, not the end of it. We cannot reconcile sinful humanity to the Father, but we can humbly serve our Father.
That is how John understood Jesus’ humble act of washing His disciples’ feet – an act they could imitate because they could not imitate what it foreshadowed – His Crucifixion.
What else did this passage mean for John’s community? … That is revealed in verse 1: “Before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
The passage meant Jesus embraced His crucifixion and this humble act with love. Imagine Jesus washing their feet lovingly, gracefully – the way He washes your feet and my size 13’s. John’s Church is commonly known as the Community of the Beloved Disciple. His members could never imitate Jesus’ love on the Cross but they could imitate His humble service of washing others’ feet.
They could only do this, however, if they were humble enough to allow their Lord and Master to wash their feet. … Dare I ask, are we?
A colleague of mine once wrote, “Many of us find it hard to receive undeserved love from another. For some reason it is very humiliating to the ego. We want to think we have earned any love that we get by our worthiness or attractiveness. So Jesus has to insist on being the servant lover. Thank God Peter surrendered, but it probably took him the rest of his life to understand what happened.”[7]
It may take us the rest of our lives to understand what happened. What happened is that God loved us. Take a moment now and recall the person who loved you the most in your life – and know that God loves you at least that much – and that God calls you to love at least that much.
Each of us loves and humbly serves in some unique way. Each of us possesses different gifts and interests, various talents and skills, as well as the ability to humbly and lovingly serve our Father. God poured forth into our hearts the ability to love as God loves,[8] and each of us has the potential to imitate Jesus’ love as humble servants. Whether we visit incarcerated mothers or serve hot dogs to the homeless, spend a year as our mother’s primary caregiver or an hour a week tutoring inner city elementary students, whether we cook meals at Cooks Night Out or teach others how to make Easter baskets, we serve others as Jesus served His disciples, and we love as Jesus loved.
I close with a few words of Prayer for the Increase of Humility from Johann Gerhard, the premier Lutheran theologian of the early 17th century. “Omnipotent and merciful God, You bitterly hate all arrogance. Help me to be a rose of charity and a violet of humility so that I may spread a fragrant aroma through works of love and think humbly of myself. What am I in your sight, O Lord? Dust, ashes, a shadow, nothing. Therefore, because I am nothing in your sight, grant that I consider myself nothing in my own eyes. Push back the inborn swelling of my heart so that I may receive the dew of heavenly grace.”[9]
As God’s humble servants, may we live that prayer and may the peace of Christ, which surpasses all human understanding, keep our minds and hearts in Christ Jesus. Amen.

[1] Psalm 122
[2] Genesis 18:4-5
[3] Exodus 3:5
[4] Exodus 30:17-21
[5] John 13:7
[6] John 13:12-15
[7] Richard Rohr, Yes, And … page 78
[8] Romans 5:5
[9] Johann Gerhard, Meditations on Divine Marcy, page 106.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mean Joe Greene, Moses and a Mob

My focus today is on Exodus 17:1-7, with emphasis on verses 6-7: The Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will stand before you on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’
Let us pray. Heavenly Father, the psalmist wrote, “I rejoiced when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’”[1] Now that our feet are within your gates, we rejoice to hear your Word. As we listen, may your Spirit enlighten our minds and move our hearts to love deeply as Jesus loved. This we pray to you, Most Holy Trinity. Amen.
On your next drive to Dallas, when you reach Denton, look left towards the University of North Texas, and you will see a larger than life-sized mural of UNT’s most famous alumnus, and undoubtedly the greatest football player born in Texas – #75 of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mean Joe Greene. Today, Mr. and Mrs. Mean Joe Greene and his six Superbowl rings live a quiet, Christian life in Flower Mound, Texas.
Why open a sermon entitled God Visits His People with Refreshment with Mean Joe Greene? Two reasons. First, in the time it takes to drive to Dallas, Moses – if he had a bus and an interstate – could have driven across the Sinai to Israel. It’s 200 miles. Even with traffic, it don’t take 40 years. Second, because, in 1979, Greene starred in a Clio Award-winning commercial for Coca-Cola that changed his life more than his helmet-slapping, stunt stance ferocity. In the commercial a sheepish boy offers an injured Greene a Coke, prompting Mean Joe to grab the bottle and guzzle the contents, before turning to limp away. He then turns back toward the crestfallen child, smiles and tosses the kid his jersey with the famous punchline, "Hey Kid, Catch!" The heartwarming commercial became immensely popular and made Greene an international celebrity. 35 years after Tommy Okon offered Mean Joe his Coke, kids still approach the Steel Curtain stalwart with theirs. No one sells refreshment better than Coca-Cola, but no one refreshes better than our Triune God.
Today, we reflect on first, how God refreshed His people in the wilderness. Second, how God refreshes us with His Word. Finally, how God calls us to refresh the world today.
First, how God refreshed His people in the wilderness. After leaving Egypt, Moses did not travel east along the Way of the Philistines, but turned south into the wilderness of Shur. After 3 days without water, they arrived at Marah, where the water was bitter. Here, Scripture records, “The people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’”[2] As he was prone to do, Moses cried to the Lord, who showed him a log, which Moses threw into the water, and the water became sweet.[3] This was the first of three times God provided refreshment to the Israelites wandering in the wilderness. Shortly thereafter, they camped at Elim where there were 12 springs and 70 palm trees.
A few weeks passed, and the people again grumbled against Moses. “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”[4] Hearing their complaint, God provided bread in the morning and meat in the evening.
That brings us to today’s reading. The Israelites camped at Rephidim, an oasis in Sinai that provides enough water for large flocks and people.[5] As Exodus records, however, there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses. ‘Give us water to drink.’ Moses replied, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?’ Unsatisfied with Moses’ inaction, the people grumbled, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?’ Moses then cried to the Lord, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’[6]
We know God provided refreshment once again when Moses struck the rock as commanded, but … what is really going on here?
More than providing water and food for His people, God was initiating a relationship between Himself and Israel with Moses as their leader. Bear in mind, God’s people were in Egypt for 400 years before Moses led them out of slavery. In Egypt, who was God and who led the people? … Pharoah
The Israelites were accustomed to a cruel, murderous leader who enslaved them and made life unbearable. As the nation’s leader and god, Pharaoh did not hesitate to kill the Israelites or their young.[7]
Imagine that the only god you have ever known is a murderous slave-driving tyrant. Along comes Moses, a prince raised in Pharaoh’s palace. This fugitive murderer tended flocks of a cultic priest in Midian. There, he met Yahweh for the first time. Now, he returns and talks of freedom in a land of milk and honey.[8] … You would be crazy not to follow him, and you would be crazy to follow him – and his God who promises faithfulness, mercy and loving-kindness.
The Israelites could not believe life could be different. They had no experience of a loving, merciful God. He did not exist in Egypt. That is why the Israelites had difficulty adjusting to Moses as their leader and Yahweh as their God. They were accustomed to a precarious existence.
Is it any wonder why the Israelites had trouble entering into a faithful relationship with a God who not only responded to their cries as oppressed slaves and wandering sojourners, but also provided refreshment and protection? They grumbled out of desperation because they honestly believed that Moses led them into the wilderness to kill them. … One day Israel would look back at Massah and Meribah, where they wondered, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’ and realize He was.
Having examined how God refreshed His people in the wilderness, we turn to how God refreshes us.
Most of us were raised in Christian homes by parents who taught us about a Triune God. We attended worship and religious instruction on Sundays. Unlike the Hebrew slave under the oppression of Pharaohs, we live in a nation where most people know God’s presence, mercy and loving-kindness. As Lutherans we recognize the means of grace as God’s Word and Sacraments, namely Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
God refreshes us through His Word, that is, Scripture. Read the Bible daily and you will undoubtedly find a passage where God promises you His presence, mercy and loving-kindness. My favorite is Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Rest in God’s presence. Rest in God’s Word.
Baptism. When we were baptized, we were joined to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His Paschal Mystery sets the pattern and rhythm for our daily lives, strengthening and refreshing us.[9]
Confession. Most of us do not like to admit our faults, our sins, even to ourselves or our Savior. What God’s Word says about our favorite vices may make us angry, ashamed or afraid. However, God’s call to repentance is one of love.[10] God did not call the Israelites into the wilderness to kill them but to love them.
Absolution: For us, repentance or that rhythm of turning from sin and to Christ is no theological abstraction, but a concrete practice of Christian living. I need to hear, “I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” from my pastor. Pastors restart our crushed hearts with Jesus’ words of ultimate love: I forgive you all your sins.[11]
Holy Communion. I need to be in a faith community that believes Christ is present under the elements of bread and wine.[12] Eating and drinking His Body and Blood refreshes me. Through this Sacrament, we experience God’s love in the resurrected body and blood of Jesus in the bread and wine.[13]
One way we can ponder the refreshing power of this Sacrament is to pray after receiving Holy Communion these words that are often printed in our worship guide: “Dear Lord Jesus, I thank You and praise You that You have again refreshed me with the gift of Your holy body and blood in this comforting sacrament. Bless my participation that I may depart from Your presence with peace and joy in the knowledge that I am reconciled to God. I ask this in Your name. Amen.”
Finally, God refreshes us through one another. Have you pondered how God calls you to refresh not only the people you like, but everyone? Why do I greet some people with enthusiastic joy, but others with the same enthusiasm I feel when my doctor prescribes MiraLax.
Daily God greets each of us with enthusiastic joy and His renewed promises of faithfulness, mercy and loving-kindness. God visits us with refreshment. Refreshed as God’s people, we now ask how we might refresh the world today.
Most people know that I am not from Oklahoma. A couple of years ago one woman after asking, “Where are you from?” commented, “You sure do talk funny!” … I am not from here, but I was overwhelmingly impressed last spring how Oklahomans and Lutherans responded to the victims of the tornadoes. To quote President Matthew Harrison, “When disasters strike, we make an enormous difference by bringing our resources to bear where people are hurting.”[14]
We strive to ease their hurt and bring refreshment through grace. All Christians should respond as we did, but to apply our theme drawn from the refreshing waters of Exodus, think about a population of people who, like oppressed Hebrew slaves, grew up not in a Godly home, but in an environment where God was absent.
Twice in my life, I ministered to the incarcerated. My first experience was to men at the Collins Correctional Facility in New York, an exclusive, gated community, whose motto was – “You pulled the crime. You do the time.”
My second experience was the Allegheny County Jail. I created a program for incarcerated mothers. Few experiences are as distressing and dispirited as meeting with incarcerated mothers. These women committed non-violent crimes related to their addiction – theft, trafficking, solicitation and so on. They sorely missed their babies, their toddlers, their teenage sons and daughters.
Like Hebrew slaves, they grew accustomed to cruel people who made life miserable. They grew up in harsh environments with no knowledge of a God promising faithfulness, mercy and loving-kindness.
My friend, Liguori Rossner, and I designed “I to I” or “Incarceration to Independence” where I went into the jail to see what these women needed before they went to court or returned to the former lives and habits. The details I will save for another day. Suffice it to say, this is one way God calls us to refresh the world today.
God does not call everyone to minister to incarcerated, addicted mothers or homeless men with mental health disorders. God knows, however, there are many people in our world who sigh desperate cries of anguish that fall on deaf ears. However, if we listen, we can hear them in our children’s classrooms, in nursing homes or just down the block. We can hear them from here and we can minister to them. We can because God has visited us with refreshment, just as He did in the wilderness.
When people in crisis wander in the wilderness, refreshed Christians walk alongside them. We strive to ease their hurt and bring refreshment through grace. As thirsty as we get when we wander through life’s wilderness, we realize that the Lord is among us. So, stay thirsty my friends. Stay thirsty for God’s refreshment and you will meet the world’s most interesting men and women. When you do, may the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7). Amen.

[1] Psalm 122
[2] Exodus 15:24
[3] Exodus 15:25
[4] Exodus 16:2-3
[5] Jean-Pierre Isbouts, The Biblical World: An Illustrated Atlas. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society (2007, 136.
[6] Exodus 17:1-5
[7] See Exodus 1:8-21
[8] Exodus 3:7-10
[9] Lutheranism 101, p. 138
[10] Lutheranism 101, p. 140
[11] Lutheranism 101, p. 141
[12] Lutheranism 101, p. 150
[13] Lutheranism 101, p. 160
[14] Caring for Body and Soul in the Name of Jesus, A letter from the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, May 22, 2013