Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My Cup You Will Indeed Drink

March 11, 2009

Wednesday of the Second Week in Lent

Heed me, O LORD, and listen to what my adversaries say. Must good be repaid with evil that they should dig a pit to take my life? Remember that I stood before you to speak in their behalf, to turn away your wrath from them. Jeremiah 18:19-20

Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:26-28


Jesus, just as you could not avoid the cup that was passed to you, give us the strength to hold up the cup that is passed to us every day. Guide into your loving arms your faithful servant Fred Winters and all who face death while preaching in your holy name.


Must good be repaid with evil?

How can we even fathom the horror of a church filled with worshippers witnessing the murder of their beloved pastor? Sometimes when I read/watch/listen to the news, the “reality” that comes forth strikes me as more amazing than the wildest fictions. Is this the New York Times Bestseller List or the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams?

Rev. Fred Winters probably recently read these very words as he prepared Bible study, religious education classes, and Lenten season homilies for the congregation at First Baptist Church in Maryville, Illinois.

“Must good be repaid with evil?” To that question, Jesus promises that “My cup you will indeed drink.” The lessons of the Suffering Servant stories in the prophetic work of Isaiah in the Hebrew Bible resonate to this day. Even though the ransom was paid, we can never be liberated from all the sins that close in on us everyday in the world.

Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, While we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; But the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all. Isaiah 53:4-6

Jesus took away the sins of the many but not the all. Even dying on the cross could not stop Terry J. Sedlacek from entering the words “death day” into his planner/calendar for last Sunday. Yet Rev. Winters did not have the same freedom. He could not wake up and kiss his wife goodbye like Jesus did to his mother on the walk to Calvary. Rev. Winters did not know what would be measured out to him. Rev. Winters did not know the day or the hour. Neither did his loving family or his shocked parishioners.

Yet Rev. Winters surrendered himself to death even though he did not choose the fate that chose him last Sunday. His parishioners must have felt like members of the early church did when they lost their shepherd. The will of the Lord was indeed accomplished through him.

So while James and John may have been told that they would indeed drink the cup of the Lord, Rev. Winters did not know how literally his life would fulfill that reading. Neither do we.

Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, Because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; And he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses. Isaiah 53:12


Visit the First Baptist Church (Maryville, Illinois) web site. Read the stories by parishioners reflecting on Rev. Winters’ ministry. Consider making a gift to help the family members. Gifts may be made to the Winters Family Memorial Fund, c/o Scott Credit Union, 1100 Beltline Road, Collinsville, IL 62234.

Stop the madness. Repay goodness with goodness.

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