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Archive for June 2nd, 2011

Let us pray...Almighty God, as Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, ascended into the heavens, so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Lessons:

Acts 1: 1-11;  Psalm 47;  Ephesians 1: 15-23;  St. Luke 24: 44-53

Ephesians 1:  22-23:

22And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Reflection:  43 days ago the Church met on another Thursday:  Maundy or Holy Thursday.  Maundy Thursday begins the 3 Days of Our Lord’s suffering, crucifixion and death.  On that Thursday He gave us the sacrament of His Body and Blood.  That Thursday ties into today, this Thursday:  the crucified and risen Lord, bodily and spiritually gives us His Body and Blood in the Sacrament.  It was only by His Ascension that the Word went forth from Jerusalem:  the Word made flesh, bearing our sins to be our Savior.  His Body and Blood is the Rock of our salvation.

A couple of days ago I posted the introduction to a book by Fr. Peter Toon and from that intro:

For God’s salvation to be a universal and everlasting salvation, the incarnate Son, Jesus the Messiah, returned to heaven where he could be the source of salvation everywhere to all who believe.  From heaven, through the agency of the Holy Spirit (whom the Father sends to the world in the name and for the sake of the exalted Jesus), the incarnate Son preaches the Word of God, builds up God’s church, and continues universally the divine work that began in the restricted area of Palestine.  

Notice that Fr. Toon has the “incarnate Son” as the subject/actor for the verbs in the quote above:  preach, builds up and continues.  After all the Lord said to Peter after his confession, “And upon this rock (confession of faith), I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (St. Matthew 16:  ; emphasis my own) Not I, not you:  He will build His Church.  As proclaimed in the creedal hymn in  1 Timothy 3:

16Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

    He was manifested in the flesh,
   vindicated by the Spirit,
       seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
    believed on in the world,
       taken up in glory. 

 He fills His Church with His Body and Blood by the Holy Ghost.  So if He preaches we do not need pastors and ministers to do so?  No.  He calls pastors to so preach and teach but when the Gospel is preached from the pulpit and administered in the Sacraments, the ascended Lord, bodily and spiritually (the ‘and’ here is not an additive but a connective) is preaching and administering for us and for our salvation. As the Head so goes His Body, the Church.   In likewise, be not doubting, but believing:  hold fast to His Word preached, taught and administered by your pastor (if he be faithful to the Scriptures).  Holy Communion, Ascension and the edifiction/building up of His Church are His promise to us for evangelization, or  if you  will, our program by which He gets His Word out.  Like Lutheran pastor, Helmut Thielicke pointed out:  Our job is not to master the public with public relations and the like, but to make public the Master.

I write this  in part counteract the pernicious works righteousness read in the motto of one denom (ELCA):  God’s Work, Our Hands.  Or in the face of dwindling numbers, now everyone is suppose to be an evanglist/missionary: YOU BETTER SPREAD THE WORD OR WE WILL DIE.  Not much faith in the Lord and His Word of promise:  the gates of hell shall not prevail against His building program!  The kingdom will come of it’s own without our help but in the petition, Thy Kingdom Come, we pray that it also comes among us (Luther).  As one pastor said that motto should read:  God’s Work, Christ’s Hands! This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous our eyes.

For the true Church who correctly teaches salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, utterly the Lord’s work, we sure do not act too terribly graceful.  Why?  We too will say and do that it is our works, our plans, our programs, our models of ministry and the like that will save the Church.  Yikes!  But as I look at all the things tried, none seem to have worked!

The Lord, His Church and His Word come together in the Holy Communion.  Without the Holy Communion, His Body and Blood, we become another religious organization.  And what fruther connects the Lord to us in Holy Communion and day by day is prayer and His people in prayer from the Scripture: the Psalter.  So for your congregation in His Church, a good prayer start is the prayer He taught us and the great petition for us all and so for evangelization, literally ‘good newsing’:  Thy Kingdom Come.

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