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Sermon of the week: Trying to go beyond my pay grade
by Rev. Don Taylor, Retired Lutheran minister
Aug 26, 2012 | 411 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As an Army chaplain, I was sometimes identified by my pay grade. I was an O-3 and, in the third year of my first assignment, I was filling a slot as a DISCOM staff chaplain, which was a 0-4’s job. While I was in Germany, my post chaplain assigned me the task of putting together the Community Master Religious Program (post budget for chaplain programs covering 7 military casernes). That was usually reserved for a 0-5 (Lt. Col.). Our areas of expertise and sometimes courage can require us to go beyond our pay grade when it comes to doing certain things offered to us.

The text for Sunday from the Gospel of John 6:56-69 describes a time when disciples of Jesus heard words difficult to accept, because they could not “figure out and accept it on their own.” It was beyond the pay grade of a simple fisherman, tax collector, mother cleaning her home. The theologian Martin Luther was explaining the third article of the Apostle’s Creed for his Small Catechism and wrote, “I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him.”

On our own we can neither come to Christ nor understand confusing parts of the scriptures. ON OUR OWN there are too many things that confuse us. “The good news of Christ is too radical, unsettling, and illogical when we put our minds to understand and accept.” On the other hand, the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit can move us toward not only acceptance, but understanding. “Human reason alone isn’t going to grasp Jesus’ teaching in today’s gospel. Faith comes as a gift from the Holy Spirit.”

It is an awesome moment that we come to in that we have to give up a piece of our self in order to understand and accept Christ as personal Lord and Savior. It is at the same time hard for us to give up the control that humans say we must hold on “to be complete, reassured and in charge.” But “give it up” we must if we want to receive all that Christ has to offer to us. To “give it up through the work of the Holy Spirit” will help us to believe despite our doubts and despite the weaknesses of our faith. And we become a little more of what Christ would want us to be!

Christ allows us to go beyond our pay grade by opening our sinful life to the work of the Holy Spirit and helping our failures become successes. This is when we begin to become more “saint than sinner” branching out into the unknown, led by our faith.
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