The Core of Worship….A Lesson Learned at a Homicide Scene…

Thoughts that draw me to Jesus and toi the cross

2 When the LORD first spoke to Israel through Hosea, he said to Hosea, “Go and get married; your wife will be unfaithful, and your children will be just like her. In the same way, my people have left me and become unfaithful.”  Hosea 1:2  GNT

Jewish thought continually returned to that mysterious moment when Isaac lay bound on the altar. Often enough, Israel was obliged to recognize its own situation in that of Isaac, bound and ready for the fatal knife, and was thus heartened to try to understand its own destiny. In Isaac, Israel had as it were meditated upon the truth of the word, “God will provide”. Jewish tradition tells that, at the moment when Isaac uttered a cry of terror, the heavens opened and the boy saw the invisible mysteries of creation and the angelic choirs. This is connected with another tradition according to which it was Isaac who created Israel’s rite of worship; thus the Temple was built, not on Sinai, but on Moriah.2 It is as though all worship originates in this glimpse on the part of Isaac—in what he then saw and afterward communicated.

Two years ago today, I found our George had passed away.

He greeted me a few times as I stopped in his store to buy a bottle of sparkling water, or some quick snack. But few people in my life have I been as close too as we became that night

On October 15, 2021, he was bunch in the face by a young man, just one punch, and George fell back, and proceeded to bleed from his nose, ears, mouth and his skull where in cracked open. For twenty minutes I held this man, a man I learned later was a man whose trust was unshakably in Chirst Jesus.

I just held him, and prayed.

The Sherriff’s department showed up- they said the Fire Department was on the way – best if we don’t move till they got there. I was on the ground for nearly 20 minutes, it seemed like so much longer, til the only thing I could do was to cry, “Lord, have mercy…”

And yet those words took on a deeper meaning that evening… as I went from despair to grieving to oddly, being at peace.

It was a Friday night, and worship on Sunday was never sweeter, as my people reminded me that the Lord was also with me.

I wasn’t Issac, I wasn’t the one being sacrificed. Nor did a ram appear in the bushes outside the 7-11.  I didn’t hear the Lord’s voice, though I got to speak about him to the deputies on scene. I still would prefer, like Hosea, that the event wouldn’t have happened. Too many nightmares, to many tears driving by the 7-11 come, even to this day. Yet, there are moments where insights into the presence of God gained in those moments amaze me.

When I went to his service, as I greeted and told his son I was praying for them, I said I was there… He and his mom broke into tears as they realized the person that held him was a pastor.  They started praising God…in the midst of their grief, their loss.

Life is short…God is there!

Life is painful…God is there!

Life doesn;t have to be alone…for the message of Hosea is not only that we’ve walked a way and betrayed God… but that we are welcomed back, cleansed, and dressed for a party!

And then, life is eternal, and filled with joy and peace!

Somehow, this truth is more relevant in the presence of death, and even in the presence of suffering and horrid sin.

Hosea learned that, and the man Joseph Ratzinger did as well.

Joseph Ratzinger, Behold The Pierced One: An Approach to a Spiritual Christology, trans. Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), 115.

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 October 17, 2023, in Devotions, Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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