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Archive for March 5th, 2014

During the current crisis in the Ukraine, after the Russian invasion of Crimea, the Secretary of State said that Vladimir Putin was, “… on the wrong side of history”.  This has also been said about us who are for the sanctity of marriage between man and woman, that we  are,  “… on the wrong side of history”.  So as a Lutheran and a pastor I, and with many orthodox Christians, are on the same side of history,’ the wrong side’,  as Vladimir Putin, former head of the KGB, and petty tyrant.  Those who are  for the sanctity of marriage are considered to be on the same as a cold-blooded killer according to these self-esteemed estimators of all that is ‘good’.

Who determines which is the “wrong side of history”?  Answer:  Those who are in control…or so they think.  There is only way to know the right and the wrong side of history:  the 10 Commandments.  It does not really matter if one is on the wrong side or the right side of history as this is currently determined by the cultural elites.  There is only one judgment, God’s:  we are on the wrong of God.  Again, see the 10 Commandments.  Jesus Christ, and the forerunner, John the Baptist, both preached the sanctity of marriage, so they also are on the “wrong side of history” with Vladimir Putin? Hardly.

Ash Wednesday and Lent is about the Lord who fully entered the wrong side of human history, the whole megillah.  He entered our history of warring against God and all that is right and good, to make us right by faith through His grace, mercy and peace, for sinners, everyone.  The real and actual wrong side of history is marked with the cross of ashes. The Lord Jesus was quite specific in teaching and sending the Apostles and the apostolic, catholic and evangelical Church: you too will be considered to be on “wrong side of history”. This entails persecution. Lent is about repenting and returning to the Lord our God, to be more purposeful in being on the world’s “wrong side of history” for the life of the world:  Jesus Christ.  This is good.  The world will do it’s best to stop you.  But,

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” St. John 16:33

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Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Joel 2:13

The Divine Service with Imposition of Ashes, 7:30pm at the Hillel House, Jewish campus ministry center, 204 W. Washington Street, Lexington, VA.  

Ash Wednesday Reflection:

The following quotes are from  For the Life of the World (1963) , chapter 6, ‘Trampling Down Death by Death”, by Fr. Alexander Schmemann (1921-1983), Orthodox priest and professor.   A blessed Ash Wednesday and Lent, Pr. Schroeder

We live today in a death-denying culture. This is clearly seen in the unobtrusive appearance of the ordinary funeral home, in its attempt to look like all other houses. Inside, the “funeral director” tries to take care of things in such a way that one will not notice that one is sad; and a parlor ritual is designed to transform a funeral into a semi-pleasant experience. There is a strange conspiracy of silence con­cerning the blunt fact of death, and the corpse itself is “beautified” so as to disguise its deadness. But there existed in the past and there still exist—even within our life-affirming modern world—”death-centered” cultures, in which death is the one great all-embracing preoccupation, and life itself is conceived as being mainly preparation for death…Christianity is not reconciliation with death.  It is the revelation of death, and it reveals death because if is the revelation of Life.  Christ is this Life.  And only if Christ is Life is death what Christianity proclaims it to be, namely the enemy to be destroyed, and not a “mystery” to be explained…A martyr is one for whom God is not another-and the last-chance- to stop the awful pain;  God is his very life, and thus everything in his life comes to God, and ascends to the fullness of Love…And if to  love someone means that I have my life in him, or rather that he has become the “content” of my life, to love Christ is to know and to possess Him as the Life of my life…The great joy that the disciples felt when they saw the risen Lord, that “burning of heart” (see  Luke 24) that they experienced on the way to Emmaus were not because the mysteries of an “other world” were revealed to them, but because they saw the Lord.  And He sent them to preach and to proclaim not the resurrection of the dead-not a doctrine of death-but repentance and remission of sins, the new life, the Kingdom.  They announced what they knew, that in Christ, the new life has already begun, that He is the Life, Eternal, the Fulfillment, the Resurrection and the Joy of the world.

When I first read the above, I thought of this Lutheran Hymn:

1. Christ, the Life of all the living,
Christ, the Death of death, our foe,
Who, Thyself for me once giving
To the darkest depths of woe,–
Through thy sufferings, death, and merit
I eternal life inherit:
Thousand, thousand thanks shall be,
Dearest Jesus, unto Thee.

2. Thou, ah! Thou, hast taken on Thee
Bonds and stripes, a cruel rod;
Pain and scorn were heaped upon Thee,
0 Thou sinless Son of God!
Thus didst Thou my soul deliver
From the bonds of sin forever.
Thousand, thousand thanks shall be,
Dearest Jesus, unto Thee.

3. Thou hast borne the smiting only
That my wounds might all be whole;
Thou hast suffered, sad and lonely,
Rest to give my weary soul;
Yea, the curse of God enduring,
Blessing unto me securing.
Thousand, thousand thanks shall be,
Dearest Jesus, unto Thee.

4. Heartless scoffers did surround Thee,
Treating Thee with shameful scorn,
And with piercing thorns they crowned Thee.
All disgrace Thou, Lord, hast borne
That as Thine Thou mightest own me
And with heavenly glory crown me.
Thousand, thousand thanks shall be,
Dearest Jesus, unto Thee.

5. Thou hast suffered men to bruise Thee
That from pain I might be free;
Falsely did Thy foes accuse Thee,–
Thence I gain security;
Comfortless Thy soul did languish
Me to comfort in my anguish.
Thousand, thousand thanks shall be,
Dearest Jesus, unto Thee.

6. Thou hast suffered great affliction
And hast borne it patiently,
Even death by crucifixion,
Fully to atone for me;
Thou didst choose to be tormented
That my doom should be prevented.
Thousand, thousand thanks shall be,
Dearest Jesus, unto Thee.

7. Then, for all that wrought my pardon,
For Thy sorrows deep and sore,
For Thine anguish in the Garden,
I will thank Thee evermore,
Thank Thee for Thy groaning, sighing,
For Thy bleeding and Thy dying,
For that last triumphant cry,
And shall praise Thee, Lord, on high.

The Lutheran Hymnal
Hymn #151 
Text: Matt. 26:64-67
Author: Ernst C. Homburg, 1659, ab.
Translated by: Catherine Winkworth, 1863, alt.

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