Sermons with Insight
by Roland Zimany
First Edition Design

"When God comes to the world, inequalities are reversed! The foundations are shaken! Nothing is the same again."

A dedicated Lutheran minister offers an enlightening look at scripture and the life of Christians from earliest times to the present day. Zimany opens his book in the section entitled "The Church Year," with an exploration of the meaning of Christmas. He asserts that it isn't sufficient to be and feel friendlier, more giving, at that season. People must be like the grain of wheat described by Jesus: as a dead and useless thing, it could only prosper and bear fruit when it was willing to "give up being what it was" and allow itself to be planted and thenceforth productive. Also included in Zimany's examination of the church year are sermons concerning Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost. The author parses all of these time-honored commemorations for intensified meaning that takes into account their history and original purpose. He presents an unusually frank position, holding that many of the treasured stories that Christians cherish are, as in the case of the three wise men who visited the baby Jesus, simply "legendary material" meant to promote symbolism, and indeed, to put finer focus on concepts beyond the limited celebration of the birth of Jesus. The star that guided the Magi, for example, can signify "that the Lord of the Universe" has come—a far more powerful message than can be conveyed in the "sentimentality" of many common Christmas routines.

Underpinning the significant aspects of the Christian calendar and creed is a special focus on reformation. Zimany has clearly made an intensive study of the life of the great reformer, Martin Luther. Luther, who became a monk by choice and diligently studied scripture, gradually pulled away from the ritualism required of Christians in his day and began to rely on faith—a profound quality based on absolute trust in God and willingness to surrender one's will to God. It is the Church's role, Zimany states, to put people in touch with God so that they can find their way to a life path that allows them to see God's will as it touches individual lives.

Zimany is highly educated, with a master's degree in divinity and a Ph.D. in religion. His specialized knowledge shines through all segments of the wide variety of subject matter he has chosen to emphasize. The sermon entitled "With or Without God" provides an example in his diligent delineation of reasons for believing that God exists and the implications inherent in that belief: faith can be seen as a risk, but non-belief leaves one with a "cold, impersonal universe." Zimany's personal warmth is evident in his often-repeated stress on the need for parents to convey biblical truths to their children through their constant, loving oversight. He also makes open-minded references to the worthy teachings inherent in other world religions. All of Zimany's sermons are as insightful as his title implies. They can be read as if heard on the Sabbath, providing a deep study that can sustain the reader through a week or a difficult situation where higher guidance is needed.

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