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Archive for April 1st, 2012

34And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15)

When we were in New Jersey, I led a regular Communion service at the Lutheran Home for Aged Women in Jersey City.  The director was a nun.  One day we were talking and she pointed out something a priest once told her.  There are volumes in the Roman Catholic  Church of canon law, the massive rules and regs in the Roman Catholic Church. The priest pointed out to the sister that canon law is based upon the 10 commandments and we would not need canon law, if we just obeyed the 10 commandments.  I don’t know what I said then but I preach today:  Just keep the 10 commandments? Give me a break…but there is none. Therefore, invent canon law, more rules to keep the rules?  Now I do not want to take a swipe at Roman Catholics because this indicates in a big way that natural man thinks he can make it to heaven…and maybe God is our little helper. Bookstores are chocked full books of rules to keep the rules in the religion department and are bestsellers and most are Protestant, by folks who say they believe in His salvation by faith alone through grace.  Those bestsellers  are so-called ‘spiritual’ books.  There is more than a hint of desperation and fear in such and people buy them because they know the fear and desperation of not being right with God.  We heard it as a nation not so long ago with the financial meltdown:  “We’ve got to do something!”  No. Sin is usually we have done enough and always too much.  Be still and know that I am God, prayed the psalmist.  After all the taunting, there is silence at the Cross-It is finished.  It is finished, that is sin, death and the power of the devil and we did nothing.  The Law we could not keep is kept and fulfilled. He did it all, pure God and pure man. The equation is so simple and so profound:  Jesus + nothing = everything. The fullness of His life plus the nothing of my life apart from His equals everything:  salvation, peace, shalom. Peace with God is once more is made.  The kingdom of heaven is open to all believers.

If we can do that, keep the rules, then the Scripture, the Gospel of His death for us all is not needed:  just more rules are. However, all of the real Scripture is the red-letter edition of His grace, mercy and peace for us all. There is no “let’s make a deal” on Golgotha.  At the foot of the Cross-there is no bookstore selling volumes on 40 days to the new you or God is dead theology or spiritual atheism.  He knew that from the inside out in His God-forsakenness. The Gospel writers did not give us some of the 1st century street language, Aramaic that Jesus spoke for literary flavor.  It underscores and emphasizes the deadly literalness of His dereliction from the sin of the world in which He became:  Eloi, Eloi, lema sabacthani.  Moreover, the life-giving literalness of the Aramaic we can now cry and pray to God daily:  Abba, Father because of the love of God pour out through Jesus’ veins for you and for me in the attestation of the Holy Spirit. There is no tit-for-tat religion in the room locked for fear by the disciples as in their midst the risen Jesus came and showed His hands and His side with the wounds from the Cross and said, Peace be with you. Only sheer life and love He gives us by His Word to us all:  yesterday, today, tomorrow…everyday.   There is no death in Him now, no condemnation: only love’s pure light.

I wish everyday were Christmas. It is.  Everyday is Good Friday. It is. Everyday is Easter. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” It is, because Jesus Christ is the gate of righteousness by whom we have entered into His presence. “Our Lord came down from heaven, died on the Cross and entered into my heart”. He is the door of the sheep.  He was made flesh in the virgin’s womb.  He suffered and died.  He is risen.  Everyday is Christmas, Good Friday and Easter by His death and life.  Life is no longer a matter of life and death.  It is His way of death and life.  His grace, mercy and peace are ours and we fear no powers not of earth, nor sin and death.  “Nothing in my hand I bring, but only to Thy Cross I cling.”

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