October 6, 2017
Acts 4:12 - (Peter said) "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other Name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
In Japan they have an event called the Life Ending Industry Expo.
The Life Ending Industry Expo is an occasion for everyone involved with Japan's funeral industry to see the latest and the greatest products which hope to shape the future of funerals. This year the star of the event was Pepper the Robot.
What, you don't know Pepper? Allow me to make the introduction. Pepper is a human-shaped robot who was introduced in 2014 by his manufacturer, the Nissei Eco Company. Pepper first found employment at SoftBank Mobile stores where he welcomed customers to the establishment. His software enabled him to "read" people's emotions and tailor his greeting accordingly.
Now it appears the economy has made it necessary for Pepper to branch out into other areas. You see, many Buddhist worship leaders have been having a tough time making ends meet. As a result, many of them are taking second jobs. Who can say whether such a thing is good or bad? I do know it's difficult to schedule a funeral with a priest who has a full-time job.
This is why Pepper came to the Life Ending Industry Expo.
Dressed in the robes of a Buddhist monk, Pepper's trainers and teachers had given him the ability to chant Buddhist mantras and sutras. Along with knowing the inner workings of a funeral, Pepper's biggest selling point was he can be rented to preside at a funeral for almost $450. To get a living, breathing Buddhist priest to do the same can cost in excess of $2,200.
That is not to say that Pepper has been greeted by all with warm and open arms. There are those who think Pepper is never going to be up to the job.
They believe Pepper is severely hampered by a lack of soul and an inability to understand faith, sin, guilt, faith, forgiveness, and religion. They say Pepper's shortcomings are the reason why nobody in all of Japan has used the robot to perform a funeral service for their family.
Me, I hate the idea of seeing a robot in a pulpit on Sunday, in the confessional on Saturday, and in a hospital's sick room the rest of the week. Now, I'm not ready to say these robots won't be able to make it uncomfortable for the Savior's undershepherds. As fast as technology is advancing, the sad day may come when clergy find themselves being benched, while the artificial intelligence squad is sent in.
There is no such replacement worry when it comes to the Savior's work of rescuing us from sin, Satan, and the world.
In the halls of history, Jesus is unique. His miracles of healing and resurrection, His command over the forces of nature show that He possesses a power that is limitless. His teachings are powerful, profound, and divine. His willingness to suffer and lay down His life as the ransom price for sinful humanity defies human explanation or understanding.
Jesus is unique, and He is unique because He is the Savior.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we live in a sinful world which is constantly changing. Grant that I may put my trust in that which never changes: my Savior, Jesus Christ. In His Name I pray. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by Benjamin Fearnow for International Business Times on August 23, 2017. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written, click here.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries