The Struggle of Wanting Things… the Way it Used to Be…

Thoughts that draw me to Jesus, and to the cross:j

They sang the LORD’s praises, repeating the refrain:
“The LORD is good, and his love for Israel is eternal.”
Everyone shouted with all his might, praising the LORD, because the work on the foundation of the Temple had been started. 12Many of the older priests, Levites, and heads of clans had seen the first Temple, and as they watched the foundation of this Temple being laid, they cried and wailed. But the others who were there shouted for joy. 13No one could distinguish between the joyful shouts and the crying, because the noise they made was so loud that it could be heard far and wide.  Ezra 3:11-13 GNT

To experience anguish on account of the punishment of sin is not real repentance. Staupitz calls it “gallows repentance” (Galgenrew, attritio). True repentance is created by a contemplation of the vicarious sufferings of Christ for our sins. The love of God as revealed in these sufferings of the Savior kindles in our hearts a love for Him and a true sorrow over sin and all that is displeasing to Him.

This mroning Facebook in its wisdom showed me pictures from 44 years ago, the pictures of friends when we were all in Junior High School. My immediate reaction was I wish I could transport back to those days, because life was so much more simpler and joyful back then.

Well, it wasn’t. I got into serious fights with George, and a girl crushed my heart, telling me she would be my girlfriend one night – then changing her mind before school the next morning! My friends and I did things that should have gotten us into trouble. (are the statutes of limitations passed? There was stress… and lots of it. God was surely with me then, butHe is surely with me now.

Thden I came across the Bible passage of rebuilding the Temple and the reading about Martin Luther’s mentor/confessor, Staupitz, and I had to think for a while to see a correctation. There is one, and it has to do with what I did…. looking back at the past.

The elders in Ezra remembered the glory of the Temple Solomon built, something that could never be matched. THey also knew – for they wrote about to to Empoeror Darius, that it was their sin that caused God to no longer protect the Temple, or the people. Betweent he romantic remembrance of the good old days, and the knowledge the actions of their people lost it, the wailing was huge.

It was like Staupitz’s “gallows repentance.” They were “repentant” because of what their sin cost them. Their sorrow caused the desire for a transformation, for soemthing new to occur.

The people who were younger, who didn’t know the old Temple were free to see what God was doing for them in the present. How God arranged to rebuild the Temple – how He was providing, according to the promises made to Hezekiah and Isaiah and others. The transformation in them was because of what they saw God doing-the building of a place where they could fellowship with God, a place they could come and pray, a place where they could experience forgiveness.

SO bring that forward to today, to the people and pastors who grieve that church isn’t as full as it used to be. They don’t know who to blame, (or perhaps they do!) But things aren’t the wya they were…. and someone has to be to blame. But it just doesn’t seem right anymore, and then the search begins for what will restore the church, or who wreck it.

Perhaps we need to look to the present, and see what God is doing, and what He’s restoring. Focus in on the minsitry, through word and sacrament, and rejoice in their being restored. That is why churches and altars are put in places, in the first place – for the ministry that occurs through the people God, to people the Spirit is drawing to that place to be the church.

Rejoice, the Lord is with you!f




Uuras Saarnivaara, Luther Discovers the Gospel: New Light upon Luther’s Way from Medieval Catholicism to Evangelical Faith (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2003), 23.

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 June 12, 2023, in Devotions. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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