Monthly Archives: March 2016
Unity and Division in the Church: Attitude Matters!
the devotional thought of the day:
1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Philippians 2:1-5 (NLT)
3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all. Ephesians 4:3-6 (NLT)
For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect. The differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the Catholic Church-whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church-do indeed create many obstacles, sometimes serious ones, to full ecclesiastical communion. The ecumenical movement is striving to overcome these obstacles. But even in spite of them, it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ’s body,21 and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church. (1)
Catholics, in their ecumenical work, must assuredly be concerned for their separated brethren, praying for them, keeping them informed about the Church, making the first approaches toward them. But their primary duty is to make a careful and honest appraisal of whatever needs to be done or renewed in the Catholic household itself, in order that its life may bear witness more clearly and faithfully to the teachings and institutions which have come to it from Christ through the Apostles.
First off, i must state I am a Lutheran, specifically, a pastor of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. I am not a member of the Roman Catholic Church, though, I will admit that I pray regularly that the church would become one, again.
We clearly see a call for that in the writings of scripture, and int he writings of the church throughout history. The passages from Philippians and Ephesians above clearly show that, and point us to the fact that unity comes, not from our efforts in convincing the other side we are right, but from Christ, and in Christ.
Too often we deny this gift of unity; we deny that all the baptized are one family, as we indicate that their faith is not just in error, but that they aren’t saved because of it. In doing so, we deny the very work of God! How dare we! I’ve seen it within denominations as well, heck even within my own brotherhood as the extremes indicate their concern for their brothers, and rather than love them, pray for them and bless them, they confront in anger, curse and deny God’s grace is truly theirs. They are too willing to divide, and should you mention that our mission, given by God, is to reconcile people to Him, all people, you will join the ranks of them, and not longer be considered one of us.
In the writings of Vatican II I see a more effective way towards the church being one. It acknowledges that faith and baptism unites one to Christ. It acknowledges as well that there are obstacles, and often serious obstacles to the unity that is our in Christ. But read what it says – in spite of these obstacles it is true – they are believers, God is working in them. They are our brothers, they are fellow children of God, they follow Christ Jesus.
The next paragraph I quote is the most amazing statement I have ever read about church unity. It notes that we must be concerned, and the way to live that concern out is not pointing out their errors, but in looking at our own. These words,
But their primary duty is to make a careful and honest appraisal of whatever needs to be done or renewed in the Catholic household itself, in order that its life may bear witness more clearly and faithfully to the teachings and institutions which have come to it from Christ through the Apostles.
We have to remove the beams from our eyes. (And yes, we Lutherans have as many beams as any one else!) We have to hear God’s call to us to repentance, to confess our sins, to stop being so damn divisive, and focus more on the gospel of Christ Jesus. To live and breath our dependence on God, to relish the sacramental times in our lives, to love God and with everything we are, adore Him. Inclusive in this is how we love our brothers, even those who seek to divide our denominational home, or the Church itself.
It’s not easy, yo have this mindset of Christ. It might mean that we die to ourselves, not over the line drawn in the sand. It might be suffering and humility, it might mean struggling with letting ourselves be hurt and betrayed.
The only way to do it is to look first to Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith. To depend on the promises He made us, to let the Spirit work in us, cleansing out our crap.
It’s not easy, but it is how God transforms us into the image of His son.
May we count on the Lord to answer our cry, Lord, have mercy on us, sinners! AMEN!
(1) Catholic Church. (2011). Decree on Ecumenism: Unitatis Redintegratio. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Monday’s Question: Why Are You Working so Hard?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
2 Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That’s what the Quester says.] There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke. 3 What’s there to show for a lifetime of work, a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone? 4 One generation goes its way, the next one arrives, but nothing changes—it’s business as usual for old planet earth. Ecclesiastes 1:2-4 (MSG)
Then suddenly, filled with a holy love, and a sober shame, in anger with himself cast his eyes upon his friend, saying, “Tell me, I pray thee, what would we attain by all these labours of ours? what aim we at? what serve we for? Can our hopes in court rise higher than to be the Emperor’s favourites? and in this, what is there not brittle, and full of perils? and by how many perils arrive we at a greater peril? and when arrive we thither? But a friend of God, if I wish it, I become now at once.” (1)
As I sit in my office this morning, looking at perhaps a busier week than last, I am overwhelmed with thought’s like Solomon’s this morning.
Older translations use the word vanity; all is vain. Others use futile, or emptiness.Most of us on Monday can easily sympathize, why are we here? Is it just to earn a small paycheck, to buy food, pay for a roof over our heads, and find our “escape” whether it be television, or a vacation, or something less positive, like drugs, alcohol, gambling or other addictions.
On Mondays, we tend to be more aware of this futility. Even those of us who work in “noble” jobs, which strive to help. The work is unending, the pain we observe just seems to move from one family to another.
Augustine’s recounting of a friend shows a similar revelation, as they realize their futility. Even if they rise to the highest of heights, there they find the probability that such a place is fleeting. That the favor of those they would count on could shift like the wind, and they could be on the way out, terminated by the boss. In their day, termination was more than going on the unemployment line. It was an actual termination, with prejudice.
So why do we do what we do? What is the end reward, besides simple survival? Occasional moments of pleasure which cost us more in the end?
Augustine’s friend found an answer, simpler than he ever expected, and something I need to remember as I struggle on Mondays.
Being a friend of God.
TO know that we are loved, that we are the children of a promise.
15 I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name. 17 This, then, is what I command you: love one another. John 15:15-17 (TEV)
To walk with God, to talk with Jesus, not as some great Lord, but as with a friend. To hear His encouraging voice, to know that He walks with us, His people. That He draws us together to be His family. What a blessing to be reminded by a hundred voices yesterday that God is with me, to hear them bless me, reminding me of the peace that is mine. To see God’s love revealed, through those who know the love of God!
I am, today, looking at a hard week, as I will deal with family after family struggling with death. It would seem vain, meaningless, even painful, where I not living in the shadow of Easter, the place where God proves His love for me, and for all those He yearns to call his friends. Because of that, I know why I work so hard, why I endure.
It is to give others the hope that all is not futile, that all is not vain, that it all will not just go up in smoke. It isn’t just a pastor’s job to do this, but the life of those who Jesus called friends, who someday He will welcome home.
As St. Peter said,
“simply concentrate on being completely devoted to Christ in your hearts. Be ready at any time to give a quiet and reverent answer to any man who wants a reason for the hope that you have within you. 1 Peter 3 (Phillips NT)
And may you realize you dwell in God’s peace – a peace that goes beyond all logic, yet a peace where your hearts and minds are kept safe, guarded by Christ. AMEN
(1) Augustine, S., Bishop of Hippo. (1996). The Confessions of St. Augustine
. (E. B. Pusey, Trans.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
A Most Excellent Quote about Death, and Easter
Devotional Thought for the Saturday between the cross and the resurrection.
23 In accordance with his own plan God had already decided that Jesus would be handed over to you; and you killed him by letting sinful men crucify him. 24 But God raised him from death, setting him free from its power, because it was impossible that death should hold him prisoner. Acts 2:23-24 (TEV)
14 And God will raise us from the dead by his power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead. 1 Corinthians 6:14 (NLT)
Thus Christ the Lord became our פּוֹדֶה (redemption) and גֹּאֵל (redeemer). For He not only redeemed us but also freed us rightfully for Himself, so that the devil and hell were compelled in strict justice to let Him go, because they had killed the innocent Son of God. Therefore the Law burned its fingers, and death dirtied its pants. The devil, death, and sin overreached themselves. There they all became guilty and debtors to God, to this Son Jesus Christ, who now has the right over against His enemies. For why did you crucify the Son of God, O Law? Why did you kill Him who was innocent, O devil, death, and hell? (1)
I suppose some might find the italicized words above offensive, this idea that death filled its pants, that it couldn’t control its bowels or bladder.
But I find death offensive, brutally so. To be honest, after the last couple of weeks, and even over the last couple of years, I am pretty ticked off at death, at the damage and grief it causes, at the pain, as it separates what God has brought together as couples, as families, as communities. So when I read this quote by Martin Luther, I knew I had to use it, and soon.
I almost wish I knew German, to see if the translators “prettied up” this quote. SOmeohow I think Luther, who was no stranger to death or the anxiety it can cause, said something like this, “when seeing Christ’s resurrection, death crapped…” (not that I would actually use that phrase in public, though it is tempting!!!)
This horrible enemy that is death, whose presence can so hurt, will, in the end, be terminated. Then, St Paul tells us, there will be no more its horrible sting, it will have no impact. Like Satan and sin, it will be an object of ridicule, absolutely powerless.
What a joyous moment, the moment after death thinks it had gathered to itself God, as it wrapped its cold slimy hands around Jesus, as it thought it had at last one, that this God who kept raising people from its power, now was subject to itself.
And the Lamb of God, the sacrifice which redeemed us from sin, this incredible Redeemer begins to breathe, and life pours back into the body of the one who is the Resurrection, who is the Life, our Life. Death who thought to parade its victory around in Hades finds itself bound, and those who it held prisoner rejoicing as Jesus claims His own, the people He redeems because He was the sacrifice.
This scene is repeated, over and over, every time a saint enters into his Father’s glory, as sin and Satan and death are found powerless, (they can’t even control their bowels!)
For scripture tells us, the same power that raised Christ from the dead is at work in us. The Holy Spirit – the gift to all who believe, the gift God has given that brings us the gifts repentance, faith and hope, is ours.
We have been raised with Christ! Live in that peace my friends!
Praise be to God our Father, for by the cross of Christ joy has truly entered the world! AMEN
Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s Works, vol. 8: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 45-50. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 8, p. 162). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
Good Friday Sermon: A Cry of Great Faith – Into Your Hands…
Into Your Hands…
† Jesus, Son, Savior †
May you realize the depth of the love of God our Father for you, revealed in Christ’s purchase of your grace. AMEN!
Is this what we perceive?
It has been said that people hear what they want to hear. Matter of fact, I think most of us are pretty good at it.
Like for instance, if I ask my wife if I can go to Sam Ash or Guitar City, her approval also means I can come home with a new guitar or keyboard. After 28 years of marriage, she won’t let me go to Best Buy or Fry’s alone. She did, however, make the mistake of letting me go to the car dealership to get my oil changed two weeks ago…
It can work the other way as well if a professor says something critical, a student’s world collapses, or if a boss says you need to improve, you go home and tell the wife you are in danger of getting fired.
When we hear the words from the cross, we hear things through our frame of reference as well.
It’s true in the last words Jesus says, the words that he pushes out with his last breath…
Into your hands….I commit my spirit.
They are not just the final words of a man who has been betrayed by his friends, tried, beaten, forced to carry a cross out of the city, up a hill and be nailed on it.
They are a lesson in faith, an example of great dependence on God.
It would be what Paul talks about when we are told to imitate him, as He imitates Christ Jesus.
It was a cry of faith, not one of despair.
But that is not how we hear it.
The struggle of faith, and praying
There is rapid decline, or so the experts say, in the prayer life of people in America.
I can believe it because we have forgotten the joy, the comfort, the peace that comes in trusting God. In depending upon Him, in the words of Jesus, in our ability to says these words, “into your hands I commit my Spirit.”
We hear Jesus, broken physical and I think we expect Him to be broken spiritually. We hear the pain in His voice, the anguish, the trauma. There is, in my mind, no doubt of the pain and anguish, that He felt, and I struggle to imagine these cries being anything else but the despair I would feel in such a situation.
The despair and even doubt I feel when I am subjected to suffering, or when those I love and care for are.
I hear these words, when I am in pain, when I hear them said with His dying breath, and they sound like a surrender, an admission that I am defeated, that you can feel the hope draining out from Jesus,
Because that is what I feel, that is the effect of the brokenness of sin on us who are mortal.
There is nothing left, no strength of body, or mind, or will. There is only the inevitable; there is only death.
In times less trying we can’t even think of God because the weight of despair is too much. We just feel numb, lost, empty. hopeless. It is as if, for the moment, sin has won, and life has been taken from us.
We hear these words as the final admission of defeat.
He breathed His last…
But what if these words mean something more? What if they are not the words of despair, but words from the last breath that reveal hope, that reveal faith, that reveal a trust that is deeper than the pain?
What if these words, like Psalm 22’s cry, accept the pain of the moment given victory that is complete and total and joyous?
Into your hands, I commit my Spirit.
A quote from Psalm 31, a quote which continues
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
Hear it one more time…
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. 6 I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the LORD. 7 I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, Psalm 31:5-7 (ESV)
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
These last words, are not just those of a man has hit rock bottom. They are a cry of faith, a cry of wisdom that knows that the answer is found in the very steadfast love of God. A cry that celebrates that we aren’t alone in our distress, that we aren’t alone in our grief.
That though we barely have a breath left, it is a breath that is taken with God’s spirit.
It is a lesson for us, a cry for us to utter, not just when we have only one breath left, but when we are brought to life in Christ. When we are crucified with Him in our baptism when we kneel and take and eat the Body and Blood of Christ, when we share in His death… and in the promise of His life.
It is His cry, a lesson to us with our very last breath.
A lesson in trusting God through it all, a lesson that we aren’t alone in our trial, in our fight, even when it gets down to the last breath.
St. Paul said it well,
4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
Romans 6:4 (NLT)
So repeat these last words of Jesus with me, knowing that the Holy Spirit with strengthening you, and help you make them your own.
Into your hands, I commit my Spirit…
And in God’s hands, in the Father’s hands, you will know peace that goes beyond your understanding, even as it guards your weary hearts and minds, for as you died with Christ in His death, so you find life in Christ. AMEN!
Jesus gave thanks…and broke…
Devotional Thought of the Day:
“Give us this day, the food We need…”
39 I see myself like a poor little bird, accustomed only to making short flights from tree to tree, or, at most, up to a third floor balcony… One day in its life it succeeded in reaching the roof of a modest building, that you could hardly call a skyscraper. But suddenly our little bird is snatched up by an eagle, who mistakes the bird for one of its own brood. In its powerful talons the bird is borne higher and higher, above the mountains of the earth and the snow capped peaks, above the white, blue and rose pink clouds, and higher and higher until it can look right into the sun. And then the eagle lets go of the little bird and says: Off you go. Fly! Lord, may I never flutter again close to the ground. May I always be enlightened by the rays of the divine sun—Christ—in the Eucharist. May my flight never be interrupted until I find repose in your Heart.
As I have been contemplating the idea of Jesus praying His prayer, and our being able to listen in to the Father hearing, and answering, I arrive at the prayer and promise for God to provide all we need.
Oddly enough, it arrives on the same day we celebrate the same Jesus, reclining at the table with his disciples, taking bread, giving thanks, and giving his disciples His body and blood, the bread and wine.
Luther would talk of this section of the Lord’s prayer being the faith which asks God to provide not only the bread, but all things necessary to life, and more. While we don’t picture Jesus being weak, being dependent, that was what He became, for our sake. He needed to eat, and He needed to pray to the Father.
Jesus needed to depend on Him, especially during Holy Week. Imagine eating with friends, knowing that they would desert you. Imagine that two would betray you, one to your death, one in your time of need. Imagine knowing better than anyone the sacrifice the bread and wine foretold, even as we proclaim that same death now, as we commune. Jesus trusted the Father, and knew His prayers would be answered. We too can pray with Him, knowing this. Even when, especially when we bear our own crosses.
All we need, God provides.
In praying with Jesus, we are the little sparrow of St. Josemaria, caught up with the eagle, We learn to trust in our heavenly Father, we learn to lay all we need at His feet, we learn to trust in Him for the bread, not just of earth, but the Body and Blood of Christ, what the ancients called the bread of angels. How great how incredible, how uplifting.
At the cross, where His body is broken… His blood shed.
When Jesus trusts in the Father to provide all He needs, all we need…..
He took the bread, and gave thanks…
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 366-374). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
The Prayer, and the Cross.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
29 My God, how is it that I do not cry out in sorrow and love whenever I see a Crucifix? (2)
They are to correct the mistaken view that prayer is not action. The men are admonished to overcome the false sense of shame that would seek to conceal their interior life—their silent relationship with God—as something unmanly and old-fashioned. Granted, piety is not to become a public exhibition; discretion is always necessary. But neither is it to be hidden away. It should be courageous, for the body, too, belongs to God. Faith is not just a matter of the spirit; prayer is not just interior. The body must pray, too. (3)
.Yesterday, I thought, and introduced the idea that the Lord’s prayer is not just what he taught us with words, but rather with how Jesus actually lived. His life was the prayer, a lesson in humility, in being the Son, not the Father.
If we are to be Christlike, if we are to grow and mature in our trust in God, this prayer must be seen worked out in our lives as well. For it is not enough to just say the words, but rather we need to trust in God hearing them, and answering them, here and now. That is faith that is not just Spirit, but life. It is prayer that is not just internal, but the prayer of our life.
So as I encouraged us yesterday, let’s begin to see the Lord’s Prayer lived out again, in the life of the Lord we are called to imitate, to be transformed into the image of.
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. (1)
Here is where it all begins, as Jesus lives as the Son. Fully obedient, fully adoring, fully bending His will to the will of the Father. Equal in divinity, the creed informs us, Jesus still submitted in His humanity to the Father.
He didn’t seek emancipation, he didn’t strive to become the alpha male. He loved the Father, He honored Him, He grew up (as a man) to be like His Father, to the extent that to look on Christ was to look on the Father. The image of the invisible God, that is how He is described. We know about the love of the Father because we see it in Christ and his movement to the cross. We know about the Father’s desire that no one should perish, again because of the love of the Son which accomplished the calling of all to repentance.
Something that doesn’t happen unless there is communication. And as Jesus lived in view of the first commandment, He lived in view of the second. For to use a name, to keep it holy, is to use it well, to pray, praise, give thanks, to pour out your heart. We see that in the garden so clearly, and in the high priestly prayer. Prayers we know about, so that we can trust in Jesus, so we can learn to pray as well.
May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. (1)
I just referred to this, but it iis one thing to pray that God’s kingdom come and His will be done, and another thing to grow in desire and want it to come here, right now.
To love your enemies, to live life full of mercy and righteousness. To live a life where you live humbly, as Jesus did. He laid aside it all that was self-centered. Even facing the betrayal, the kiss of Judas, the denial of Peter, He loved.
Someone once said that Christ would have died on the cross for us, even if they didn’t nail Him there. He wanted the nails though, not because of some masochistic tendency, but because the Father had said they would look upon the one they had pierced.
God’s will, God’s kingdom doesn’t always seem pleasant, or easy, or joyous. Until you realize the joy is in the one lost sheep coming home, one of the repentant who brings heaven so much joy!
To pray that God’s Kingdom comes, and will is done, requires that we accept the sacrifice of the cross of Christ, that we die to self with Him, and bear our own cross, humbly, and in love of the Father.
We need to pray, not ofor God’s sake, but for ours. To communicate with Him, to know His love, to see His work, tfor it is in prayer’s dialogue, and in celebrating the sacraments (which is really prayer as well!) that we begin to see the trasnformation God would owrk in us, where faith and work are not longer divided.
It is the beginning of Christlikeness!
So cry out, and pray!
(1) Matthew 6:9-13 (NLT)
(2) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 344-345). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(3) Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (pp. 98–99). San Francisco: Ignatius Press
Walking with Our Father, during Easter Week
Devotional Thought fo the Day:
9 This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven: May your holy name be honored; 10 may your Kingdom come; may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today the food we need. 12 Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us. 13 Do not bring us to hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One.’ Matthew 6:9-13 (TEV)
The word “Father” makes me sure of one thing: I do not come from myself; I am a child. I am tempted at first to protest against this reminder as the prodigal son did. I want to be “of age”, “emancipated”, my own master. But then I ask myself: What is the alternative for me—or for any person—if I no longer have a Father, if I have left my state as child definitively behind me? What have I gained thereby? Am I really free? No, I am really free only when there is a principle of freedom, when there is someone who loves and whose love is strong. Ultimately, then, I have no alternative but to turn back again, to say “Father”, and in that way to gain access to freedom by acknowledging the truth about myself. Then my glance falls on him who, his whole life long, identified himself as child, as Son, and who, precisely as child and Son, was consubstantial with God himself: Jesus Christ
The purpose of observing ceremonies is that men may learn the Scriptures and that those who have been touched by the Word may receive faith and fear and so may also pray.
My work today in the office is to try to get 8 services planned and prepared for printing, all which will occur in the next week. Services for Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and two funerals as well.
It was a good reminder then to hear the words in green above, that remind me of why we do these things, what the ultimate purpose is, that trusting in God, and being in awe of His love and mercy, that we can turn to Him…. and pray. The result of a worship service is to teach people to communicate with God! What a radical idea!
Talk to your creator, talk to Him, not as a minion to a master, not as a lowly employee to the CEO of the company, not as a prisoner to a warden, but as a child, who knows they are loved, talked to their dad.
Yes it is a level of humility that we would not normally want to admit to, but it is not the kind of humility or perhaps better, humiliation, that those other relationships often create.
You see, I think we see the Father-child relationship the wrong way. Pope Benedict nails it, we want our independence, we want to be emancipated, freed from the burden of answering to someone else. But that isn’t the relationship that is pictured in the Lord’s prayer, in all of the times God shares his desire to care for us, to encourage us, to nurture us.
Benedict XVI’s words call us back to that point, to the point where we like Christ identify ourselves as the sons (and daughters) of God.
As you walk with the Father through this week, as we prepare to remember the last supper, the garden, the cross, consider the Father hearing these words from Jesus. Consider our Father hearing these words from Jesus, this incredible prayer he taught us, not just in words, but with His very life… For this is the prayer of a Son to the Father. It is His prayer, and as we go through this week… don’t just say it, hear it said, from Jesus to the Father….
… as Jesus clears the temple courtyard., so people who are not His people can pray and know they are heard
….. as Jesus washes the feet of sinners, because they argued about who was greatest and taught them the greatest serves
…. as He breaks the bread, and blesses the wine, and gives us a feast beyond anything we could imagine
…. as Jesus is whipped and beaten, that by the scars we would find healing,
…. as Jesus carries the beam he would be nailed to
….as Jesus dies, showing the world that all glory, honor and power is the Father’s.
So come to worship the King of Love, our Lord, and learn to depend on Him, and depending on Him, share your life in words, of praise, and of prayer.
as the sons of our Father!
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (pp. 97–98). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 250). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
I am not ready for “Holy Week”, yet… I need it!
Devotional Thought of the day:
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop your doubting, and believe!” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
John 20:27-28 (TEV)
16 Meditate on this frequently: I am a Catholic, a child of Christ’s Church. He brought me to birth in a home that is his, without my doing anything to deserve it. My God, how much I owe you.
The quote is not from Holy Week, but a week after.
It seemed appropriate to me for this day, as we enter a week my heart is not yet ready for. I’ve dealt with too much grief and brokenness. I’ve dealt with too much death, or more precisely, I’ve watched too many others deal with it.
I’ve got to get my head in the game; there are services to plan, sermons to write, people to visit and share the hope that seems distant. It is there, faint in the background, sustaining me, yet it is nearly intangible. As waves of grief and other stresses of life flood over us.
I so understand Thomas today, so devastated that what is true is unbelievable.
I need to see His hands, His side, I need to eat with Him, to hear His voice, to know His love is not ended, nor is His mercy, nor his hand which corrects and guides. I need to focus, and trust, and believe.
Although I would replace the capital c in Catholic, with the smaller c indicating the church is the entire church, I so am ministered to by the words of Fr. Escriva this morning. For it is Christ that brings me into His church, even as I am battered and bleeding by sin. The sin of a broken world, the sin of others which crushes me… and yes, most especially by my own sin. A sin which heightens the anxiety over death, A sin which crushes with grief and shame, a sin which can bind resentment to me in ways I cannot overcome.
And the Savior, the benevolent Lord lifts us up, pours our His mercy and grace on us, and heals our souls.
Faith is nothing more, and nothing less, than depending on Him to come to us in our brokenness…. and bring us into His home, into His kingdom, into His death on the cross so that we will live eternally with Him.
This is the message of “holy week”, the week was broken are drawn to the cross in awe and wonder, and see the love and glory of God.
I may not be ready for it, but oh, do I need it.
You do as well… so let’s walk together, crying out with other pilgrims, “Lord, have Mercy!” AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 294-296). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Sunday of the Passion: Here is your repentant attitude!
Here is YOUR Repentant Attitude
† In Jesus Name †
May the Grace and Mercy of God, which was revealed when Christ came in human form sustain you as you, as you help others know this incredible comforting peace! AMEN!
How does this happen?
Paul writes to the church in Rome
15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Romans 12:15-16 (NLT)
It is something we do here, one of the amazing things seen as we gather at the communion rail, and moments before, as we greet each other with the promise of God’s peace.
Living in Harmony, I suppose I could ask Chris to demonstrate harmonics on his guitar, to show you how a string vibrates when a string nears it vibrates at a precise pitch, without the first string doing anything. It just happens.
Be happy when others are happy, and yes, far too often it seems like we are weeping as those around us weep, that our hearts are crushed as theirs is crushed.
This is the attitude of someone who is repentant, someone God is transforming. It is the attitude that Paul calls us to, in His epistle. Read again the first verse,
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had…
That sounds so hard, yet we see it so clearly, as we look to the way we respond to each other, in times where the peace of Christ must be known, where only God is able to comfort each other, and he does it through our words, our hugs, and the holding of each other, as we pray to God.
The struggle in our souls
The struggle is that we don’t always share in each other’s lives in that way. We confessed that a few moments ago, as we prayed for God’s mercy, as we recognize that we sinned against God and too often, against each other.
Or does anyone around here want to confess something different, that they do love God with everything they are, and that they love their neighbors, even their enemies, as much as they love themselves? Remember that passage I used, about being happy and sad with those we love, that we are in harmony with? Well here is it in context…
9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Romans 12:9-16 (NLT)
Big difference isn’t it? To know we can rejoice and weep with those we grieve alongside this week; but we are to weep and laugh with those we struggle with, that we may not like, or that we’ve been angry with for 7 years…
How in the world can we obey this? How in the world does God expect us to love this deeply?
And if we can’t, are we condemned?
John’s epistle tells us that those who cannot love their neighbor, who they can see, how can they love the God who they cannot?
Harsh words, meant to make us think, and make us walk to the cross this week with Jesus…
The purpose of God’s word teaching us that is not to condemn us, not to make us feel guilty and ashamed, but to help us realize where our hope is found; to help us realize where our power is found to endure…
To realize the very work of the Holy Spirit in our lives…
We have to realize we aren’t alone.
You see, that is the message of this passage of Philippians, one of the earliest praise songs, that was common even as Paul wrote his letters, as two of the four gospel were not even written yet.
Christ humbled Himself, gave Himself, loved us in a way one songwriter declared it to be reckless, as he bought grace for us, by allowing himself to be treated violently.
This is why every knee shall bow, why every tongue will praise and glorify Him.
This is what it means for Him to be Lord, not a Lord who desires to control us, to force us, to use every power He has to manipulate us into behaving the way He wants…
He simply uses His love… and the more we find sanctuary in that love, the more we find rest, the more we can realize the comfort that brings peace beyond all ability to comprehend….
This is how it happens.
You see, growing in the knowledge of Jesus love, of His presence, of all that he is doing in our lives is how we learn to love each other. It is not some complicated thing, but it is profound. For as we are drawn into fellowship with God, as we kneel at this rail and realize that Christ gave His body and blood for us, we can’t help but love the person next to us, and even perhaps, love the guy handing to us the precious body of Christ, and holding out the cup of His blood, a blessing meant for us,
As we praise Him for that, as we know His love, we are transformed. This is what repentance really is, this transformation God works in us, as our minds are conformed to His. That is what it means to be repentant, to be granted repentance by the Holy Spirit. The very fact we hurt this deeply for Sandie and for the Jennings shows us that God can make this change in us, that He has done this….for we love them even as Jesus loves them. And as we dwell in Christ, this shared love spreads out to all…
That this mind of Christ becomes ours…. That we experience a love so profound that those who simply know it, are able to love sacrificially, are able to share the sorrows, and the laughter, of those they come to love.
This is why we rejoice and praise Him, this is why the journey to the cross means so much, as we are comforted by Him, as we know His peace.
The Theological K.I.S.S. Principal for Preachers/Pastors/Priests
A Devotional Thought of the Day:
5 God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
Matthew 5:5 (NLT)
8 No, the LORD has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God.
Micah 6:8 (TEV)
The simple faith of simple souls merits the respect, the reverence of the preacher, who has no right simply to pit his intellectual superiority against a faith which has remained simple and which, by its simple and intuitive comprehension of the Faith as a whole, can, in some cases, understand the essence of that Faith more profoundly than is possible for a reflective faith that is fragmented by division into systems and theories . (1)
Whether I agree with him completely or not, Pope Benedict XVI has to be counted as one of the most brilliant theologian-pastors in the last 100 years. He wrote documents and letters that are stunning in how profound they are, and yet they are intimately pastoral, a look into the life of an introvert who pastored a billion people.
Seeing writings like that in blue above, perhaps it would be better phrased to call him a pastor-theologian, a man who kept his priorities straight, and recognizes it is the faith in Christ, our trust, and dependence on God, that matters more than our meager intellectual pontifications. That is why those of us who would count ourselves as theologians, as professionals in the world of religion, need to respect and honor the simple and deep faith of the simple soul.
It is that Jesus points us to in the Beatitudes, that Micah calls us to, to realize that God’s silliness is far greater than our wisdom, and to live our lives in recollection of this.
For, in the end, it is not the stimulating blogs, our journal articles we write, or the great tomes on doctrine, or our understanding of the great theologians and philosophers in the past that matters.
Rather, as the former pope, who before was responsible for all the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church wrote, the understanding of the essence of our faith.
The joy we take in hearing and responding to phrases like this:
“He is Risen!”
“The Lord is with you!”
and finally, knowing that God will hear and answer our cry,
“Lord have mercy!”
So keep it simple my brothers, reveal to them the height and breadth, the depth and width, of God’s love for them, seen in Christ Jesus! AMEN!
(1) Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (pp. 94–95). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.