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Archive for August 9th, 2014

I have the following article at Brothers of John the Steadfast:  Persecution is One of the Lord’s Precious Promises.

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For your prayers:  “Anglican Vicar of Baghdad: ‘Child I baptized cut in half by ISIS’”

Hebrews 11:  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

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Growing up in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod we confess in the Holy Communion service  The Nicene Creed and in the third article of the same, we confess that the Holy Ghost, “…spake by the prophets”, that is, the prophets of Israel:  Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, etc.   When later I learned that Moses too was a prophet, this only expanded the scope of understanding the Old Testament.  Growing up in the church, I heard many a sermon on Old Testament texts (an important aside: preaching on OT texts in our time seems to have fallen off, why?).   The Psalms were regularly prayed and were part of the Liturgy, such as Psalm 51, Create in Me a Clean Heart, sung before Distribution of Holy Communion.  In the Sanctus, we sung, “Holy, holy, holy, LORD God of Sabaoth”,which as a kid, sounded like the OT word, Sabbath, but really means, “hosts”, that is angel armies. Then after receiving Holy Communion the congregation sings the Nunc Dimittis, the Song of Simeon, the song which Simeon sang upon seeing the child Jesus in the Temple, with these words: “…for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou has prepared  before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the Glory of Thy people Israel.”  I knew I was a Gentile and a Christian and how could I despise His ancient people? 

Why I am not an anti-Semite? Answer:  the Lutheran liturgy.

Until I was ten years old my family lived in Yonkers, NY and my elementary school, P.S. 30 was half Jewish and the  other half Roman Catholic.  Lutherans were a minority.  I have studied the Holocaust and the rise of Christian anti-Semitism in Lutheran seminary.  I had the privilege of going to Israel.  Those experiences and education also reinforced my respect for the Lord’s chosen people, but I think it was the Lutheran liturgy, sung every week that catechized me in the right way.  It’s important what we sing and pray in the Divine Service.  If you excise “the glory of Thy people Israel” for some bouncy praise hymn, I would not have learned that the Lord is Israel’s Savior.  With so much worship these days, we tend to glory in our selves.

I also write this in the darkness that is growing over the Mideast, the darkness of Arab and Islāmic anti-Semitism.  We must remember that the goal of many in the Middle East is the complete destruction of Israel.  This darkness has been there since 1948 and the formation of the State of Israel…at least.  The Lord encourages us in His Book: 

Psalm 122:  6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
    “May they be secure who love you!
Peace be within your walls
    and security within your towers!”
For my brothers and companions’ sake
    I will say, “Peace be within you!”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your good.

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