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We had One Job….

clydes-cross-2Devotional Thought of the Day:
49 One of them, named Caiaphas, who was High Priest that year, said, “What fools you are! 50 Don’t you realize that it is better for you to let one man die for the people, instead of having the whole nation destroyed?” 51Actually, he did not say this of his own accord; rather, as he was High Priest that year, he was prophesying that Jesus was going to die for the Jewish people, 52and not only for them, but also to bring together into one body all the scattered people of God.  John 11:49-52

9 Without boasting, it is manifest that the Mass is observed among us with greater devotion and more earnestness than among our opponents.
7 Moreover, the people are instructed often and with great diligence concerning the holy sacrament, why it was instituted, and how it is to be used (namely, as a comfort for terrified consciences) in order that the people may be drawn to the Communion and Mass. The people are also given instruction about other false teachings concerning the sacrament.
2 Meanwhile no conspicuous changes have been made in the public ceremonies of the Mass, except that in certain places German hymns are sung in addition to the Latin responses for the instruction and exercise of the people.
3 After all, the chief purpose of all ceremonies is to teach the people what they need to know about Christ. (1)

Today Jesus might, at first glance, appear to be boring and not so exciting, but in him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and charity, all the richness of love, faith and hope.

In the words of Caiaphas, I find some hope this morning.

He didn’t realize what he was doing, and yet, he pointed tho the cross of Christ, and our need for the death of Christ Jesus. He pointed to Jesus, who would die for all of us, to bring us together in one body, all of us scattered across the world, all of us scattered across time, all of us scattered across 42,000 denominations.

Sometimes we who preach and teach, are more like Caiaphas that we want to admit.  We intended something else, and the Holy Spirit made it work just like it did with Caiaphas. We speak of Christ, we teach people what they need to know about Christ.   They are drawn to the sacraments, they find in them the comfort and peace the world and their sin doesn’t offer.

We had one job, and our desire to astound people with knowledge, or convince them of our political position, our pragmatic superiority of mission,  or even to give them a “lutheran (insert your own denominational/non-denominational tag) identity” twists the message, and imparts something extra.  Something different that what should come out of our mouth did.

And we rejoice in God working, not at all realizing that we had one job, and only one, and we screwed it up.

We didn’t give them Jesus, that wasn’t our intent.

He came to them anyway!  While we were patting ourselves on the back, praising each other for the job we did, and celebrating as if our sermon or blog, our podcast or summit was all our work.

Like Caiaphas, the Holy Spirit worked through us, and we didn’t see it, and let’s be honest, we might not have heard it.

This is one lesson that is taught over and over as I teach people about ministry.  It is found in the section from the Augsburg Confession above.  I bastardize it a little, changing the word on occasion to ministry, or pastoral care, or even life. And I change the word teach to the word give, so it ends up as,

The chief purpose of all ministry, all life, is to give/teach people what they need to know about Jesus.

There is our job, whether we are a pastor, a priest, someone who facilitates the response of people to God’s love (what we call worship leaders) or someone having coffee with a friend. They need to know Jesus, heck we need to know Him, and giving/teaching others about Him answers that need.

This is orthodoxy at its best – worshipping and giving glory to God for what He’s really done.  What Pope Francis says, finding in him the treasures of charity and wisdom, the incredible love, faith, and hope.

That’s what we need…. that’s what we need to know about Jesus. More than anything.

We don’t have to be like Caiaphas, we can remind each other, encourage each other, pray for each other, and correct each other when we needed.  All to accomplish our one job….

To give all people what they need to know about Jesus.

That He answers our prayer, “Lord, have mercy on us sinners”, by coming to us, cleansing us, and the Lord is with us!  AMEN!

 

 

 

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.

How Easter Changes Our Worship

Featured imageHow Easter Is Transforming OUR World!

The Change to Our Worship

Psalm 150

Glory to Him Alone

Praise the Lord!

 Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

Hmmm, maybe you think I am saying, “praise the Lord”, as my praise of Him, the God who has called you by name and gathered you to this place.  The God who declared that you are His child, declared you are holy and righteous, backing that up by separating you from your sins, even as His united to Jesus, even as Jesus promised, when He said,

17  Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18  Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19  And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. 20  “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21  I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. John 17:17-21 (NLT)

Actually, like David’s Psalm, I am enocouraging you to praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

With your voices, with your hearts, with your lives,

Praise the Lord!

Why Don’t We?

There would seem to be three things that could stop us from praising the Lord.

The first is sin, and we are reminded over and over, that sin has been dealt with at the cross.  We are reminded of that in our baptism, where we are joined with Christ’s death, that or sins would be nailed to the cross.

Ezekiel tells us of this promise

25  “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. Ezekiel 36:25 (NLT)

as does St. Paul,

6  We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. Romans 6:6 (NLT)

The Second is Satan, whose only real power is to accuse us of being sinful and evil. Again, the cross of Christ is the key to taking care of this, for there Christ defeated Satan by bearing our sins, even as the prophet Isaiah said He would.

10  Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last— salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth— the one who accuses them before our God day and night. Revelation 12:10 (NLT)


That passage then goes on to describe the third enemy of mankind, the last thing that could try to possibly stop us from praising God, the fear of death.

11  And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die..

That doesn’t mean we give up on living, it means that we know what we started the service with, the promise, well, let me read it again

5  Those who win the victory will be clothed like this in white, and I will not remove their names from the book of the living. In the presence of my Father and of his angels I will declare openly that they belong to me.
Revelation 3:5 (TEV)

That means that we will enter into His rest, into His glory, that we will realize what Jesus promised when He said we would be in Christ and in the Father. That means we don’t fear eternity, but we look with patient expectation to His return.

You’ve been forgive, you’ve been cleansed, you’ve been made part of the family of God.  Satan’s been defeated, and eternity in His glory is yours, for you are Christ’s

So let us hear David’s words ring out – not just as David praises, but as the encouragement to know God’s love and mercy so much….that we cannot help but

Praise the LORD!

Lutherans and Catholic Thought about the Liturgy/Mass: Let’s talk

Discussion thought of the Day:Featured image

26  This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27  For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. 28  So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29  That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me. Colossians 1:26-29 (NLT)

This particular blog post found some stimulus in a internet discussion group I was invited to participate in, composed of Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox and Lutheran followers of Jesus Christ.  One of the discussions the other day was about the encouragement given by Pope Francis for Lutherans and Catholics to talk together.  A continuation of what was began under his predecessors.

I will bluntly state that I am all for it, even as I admit that there are some who see such discussions worthless.

I see it as a blessing for the church at large, because of the Bible passage above, which I believe that many in the RCC and the Lutheran church strive to see accomplished in their ministries.  It is that hope, of seeing people realize that Christ is in you, that there is a relationship there that results in His sharing His glory with you.  Being assured of that, trusting in His promise of that, makes all the difference in one’s life, and as it does, in their living it.

And it is that bond we share in common.

Below are three quotes – two Lutheran, one Catholic (from Vatican II) that discuss this, in view of our mass, our worship services, the times where people are gathered together around word and sacrament.  In both cases, these are not the words of a pastor, a bishop, a pope, or some “expert”.  They are documents which define our understanding of scripture, and the ministry.  While there are things that will divide us in these documents, these quotes show something we might benefit from realizing.

For those of my readers who are more used to a devotional blog, or aren’t Lutheran or Catholic, read these anyways.  Feel free to discuss this, to ask questions, to evaluate and see, do all of our ministries do this – do they proclaim Christ in a way the people understand and benefit from them.  (Evaluate your own churches as well!)  I am not saying this is enough to tear down walls, or to solve every problem.  But in this we seem to agree – that people need to have a liturgy that clearly reveals to them Jesus Christ.

Maybe we can start a discussion here, that is beneficial, and not just focused on showing that we have irreconcilable differences.   read the quotes – look to what they have in common to  say…. especially in view of the Bible passage above!

Godspeed!

7 Moreover, the people are instructed often and with great diligence concerning the holy sacrament, why it was instituted, and how it is to be used (namely, as a comfort for terrified consciences) in order that the people may be drawn to the Communion and Mass. The people are also given instruction about other false teachings concerning the sacrament.

2 Meanwhile no conspicuous changes have been made in the public ceremonies of the Mass, except that in certain places German hymns are sung in addition to the Latin responses for the instruction and exercise of the people.
3 After all, the chief purpose of all ceremonies is to teach the people what they need to know about Christ.

and
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

“The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, may be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful may be more easily achieved.

For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance; elements which, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated, or were added with but little advantage, are now to be discarded; other elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the vigor which they had in the days of the holy Fathers, as may seem useful or necessary.

The treasures of the bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word. In this way a more representative portion of the holy scriptures will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years.
By means of the homily the mysteries of the faith and the guiding principles of the Christian life are expounded from the sacred text, during the course of the liturgical year; the homily, therefore, is to be highly esteemed as part of the liturgy itself; in fact, at those Masses which are celebrated with the assistance of the people on Sundays and feasts of obligation, it should not be omitted except for a serious reason.

Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (pp. 56–57). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press  (first quote Augsburg confession Artical XIV, second quote Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XIV
Catholic Church. (2011). Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

The Dance of the Liturgy, Learning to Partner with God

Devotional Thought of the Day,

 11  You have changed my sadness into a joyful dance; you have taken away my sorrow and surrounded me with joy. 12  So I will not be silent; I will sing praise to you. LORD, you are my God; I will give you thanks forever!  Psalm 30:11-12 (TEV)

I’ve been working on a new series for Sunday School – which is shaping up pretty nicely.

It is a refresher of sorts, a way to help people remember why we do what we do in worship – which is in many ways – a rehearsal for life now, and life everlasting.  For those who prefer church terms – it is a on-going catachesis – a way to present the core of our faith in such a way that people see it with fresh eyes.  You see, while our liturgy is worship – it is also where we learn what it means to partner with God, to follow His lead, to celebrate and move.  If we learn the lessons from it – if they become as integral to our life as the steps of a dance are to an accomplished dancer, we find it flowing into our lives – and the dance continues, no longer practice – but lives in us as we leave our sanctuaries.  The steps, the rhythm, the music, all becomes part of us.  Even more – that we are partners with God – becomes more natural, more real, the discipline, the beauty, it is our life.

The first basic key for us – is that everything is focused on our Partner…. as we let Him guide us through this dance of life.

Come, its time to pray, our Partner awaits…

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