Need Hope? No Answers? Come Experience Jesus, Have Hope! (evangelical catholic VI)

English: The Lord Jesus Christ in the image of...

English: The Lord Jesus Christ in the image of Good Shepherd. Early Christian trsdition of symbolism. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional/Discussion of the Day..

 15  But have reverence for Christ in your hearts, and honor him as Lord. Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you1 Peter 3:15 (TEV)

At the same time, Evangelical Catholicism recognizes that, in offering everyone the possibility of friendship with the Lord Jesus, it is offering the postmodern world something postmodernity badly needs: an encounter with the divine mercy. As the God of the Bible came into the ancient world as One who liberates humanity from the whims and fancies of the Olympian gods or the terrors of fearsome Moloch, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and friendship with him liberate postmodern humanity from its burden of guilt, born of a tacit (if often intuitive and inarticulate) understanding of the awfulness that humanity visited upon itself throughout the twentieth century. By whom can that burden of guilt be expiated? To whom can that wickedness be confessed, and from whom can forgiveness be received? In offering friendship with Jesus Christ, Evangelical Catholicism offers postmodern humanity a path to a more humane future, absolved of the guilt of the recent past. 12 And where is this friendship with Jesus to be found? According to the evangelical Catholic proposal, this friendship is found in the Church, in the Word of God recognized as such by the Church in the Bible, in the sacraments celebrated by the Church, in the works of charity and service, and in the fellowship of those who have been “born of water and the Spirit” [John 3.5]. Despite the sinfulness of its members and their failure to live fully the meaning of friendship with the Lord Jesus, the Church is always the privileged place of encounter with the living God, who continually forms his people into the community in which the full truth about humanity is grasped.

In the last few days, I have had to deal with an increasing number of people who have struggled to have hope, to find hope.  There have been a large variety of reasons, with a multitude of causes.  Some are young with everything going right, some are more my age – and partially wonder about what is right still, still others, older and wondering if their life has any meaning, and if it ever did.  The weight they bear – each again different, seems crushing.  So crushing is the weight upon them, so much so that I struggle with just watching their struggle.   As I returned to my office, to complete my sermon, I have to write this – as much as for those around those who are struggling, as those who are.

You see – when someone is severely anxious, severely stressed, when they can’t find the answers – they don’t need to know about Jesus – they need, desperately need to know Him.

All of the sound bite apologetics sound nice, and they may even give assent to them  After all – we’ve heard them before – we’ve seen them posted on FB, they’ve made the rounds.  They may have read the books where the quotes we all love come from. and actually know the context of the quotes!

Whether they do or don’t, they need to know the God who is there with them – they need to connect to Who they feel disconnected to, or from whom they disconnected themselves.  They need a tangible and real connection to divine mercy, to the love of God that keeps them, literally guards them.  They need to know the reason we have hope – and that is far more than knowing about Christ – it is about knowing Him deep enough  sure enough, that we don’t just hope in Him the way we hope the tax bill won’t be enormous – but we expect Him, we trust Him to keep everything He has promised.   That our trust in Him, based in knowing even the beginning of the depth, height, breadth and width of His love, because we know HIm, brings comfort to our hearts.

Simple because we know – He is with us!  He is our Shepherd, our caring and providing and merciful Master.

I love how the quote from Weigel’s book identifies the source of that hope – is to be found in the Body of Christ – in the community He established, where He reveals His presence through His word, where He pours out that DIvine mercy in the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and yes Confession and Absolution.  (and I would include prayer – as the Apology of the Augsburg confession most assuredly tells us is sacramental)

You see, in word and sacrament ministry, we don’t just learn about Christ, we don’t just take notes on how God is promising to work, but we see HIm at work, we experience His grace, the miracle of the reconciliation that comes as God bring us to faith, as we begin to truly see what it is like to live – as we encounter His life, His mercy…

That Encounter – one which lasts all our lives, overwhelms any modern or post-modern theory.  It crushes the idea that we are alone, that there is no meaning to life – no constant to hold on to, to base our lives upon.

That is what is needed…. and that is what we bring to the picture – and what we desperately need to be reminded of, even as we do….

Lord, show us the mercy you have and have had on us!


(1)  Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (p. 59). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on April 6, 2013, in Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Sacraments certainty is something we can offer that the other reformation took away.

    • Indeed – one of the things I love about our history is that we didn’t abandon the entire “catholic” faith, and try to determine what the first century church was like. Instead that which we could substantiate from scripture, and often wasn’t anti-thetical to scripture we have kept.

      Of supreme importance is the sacraments – baptism, confession and absolution (called the Ministry of reconciliation) and the incredible feast of Christ – the Lord’s Supper.

      Thanks for commenting!

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