Some Thoughts about Access
Devotional Thought for our Seemingly Shattered Days:
50 Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. 51 Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen •asleep were raised. 53 And they came out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.
54 When the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they were terrified and said, “This man really was God’s Son!” Matt 27:50-54 HCSB
You possess God only in community with others; you speak to God only if you call him “Our” Father, using the “we” that includes all of God’s children. Jesus is not the property of just one people or one organization. His domain is oecumenical, universal, as is conveyed in the account mentioning the emperor. Faith is the path offered to all peoples. The era of Jesus, the era of the Church, is the missionary era. Our faith is in touch with Jesus only if we understand and live it as missionaries, only if we truly desire that all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
35 It is patently contrary to God’s command and Word to make laws out of opinions or to require that they be observed in order to make satisfaction for sins and obtain grace,36 for the glory of Christ’s merit is blasphemed when we presume to earn grace by such ordinances.
You can fool others about the relationship you have with God. A pious posture, a liturgy held with angelic face, the breviary opened and handy when someone enters the room are masks which have stuck so well to certain persons whom they really believed to be respectable and pious.
As I read the devotional readings this morning, they all seem to be about gaining access to God. Working from the bottom quote up,
Pope Francis’s quote talks about people pretending to have access. When you and I are like this, we pretend to be spiritual, we pretend to be holy, we pretend to have all our crap together, when inside the masks we are empty, broken, and struggling. We are looking around, wanting what others seem to have, but we can’t gain access. We are seemingly cut off, from what we need, from the fellowship of God
The early Lutheran Fathers talk about the times where we are so broken, we want to block others from the healing that all of us need. We do this by setting up rules, by creating religious doctrines and requiring people to confess them, even if they are only our logical extrapolations. (recently I read a note from a minister that said unless you believe Mary didn’t suffer pain when she gave birth to Jesus, you were a heretic! I’ve probably done similar over the years.. ) But again, access is seemingly blocked, we are seemingly cut off.
Pope Benedict XVI approached it a bit differently, showing us the access we have together. That together we enter the presence of God, that together we commune with Him, that part of gaining that access is becoming a missionary, going out and bringing others back in, for being a part of the Kingdom of God is that incredible. We have been given access to God, freely, and our joy grows as others join us.
The most remarkable of the readings is the reading about the death of Jesus. For there we see access incredible given to us. The first hint of access is when the Temple veil is torn, and people could see into the Holy of Holies. The place where God made himself know was now open to all, no one is denied the Holy of Holies.
But there is another access that is incredible – as those who died are welcomed back to life. You see, God is not just the God of the living, but He is the God of those who have died, and those yet to be born. The church is made up of all His people, those who have entered into His rest, and those of us still in the mission field of this life. Because of Jesus’ death, we are joined to that death and to the resurrection, because He loves us.
This is the access we have. We don’t have to pretend we have it, we don’t have to guard it and create barriers to it. We come into His presence together, with saints from every time, every place, For God has made us Him. AMEN!
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print.
Pope Francis. A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. Ed. Alberto Rossa. New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013. Print.