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Archive for March 19th, 2015

March 19th has my vote for Fathers’ Day!

Concordia and Koinonia

Scripture Readings
2 Samuel 7:4-16
Romans 4:13-18
Matthew 2:13-152:19-23

Collect of the Day:
Almighty God, from the house of Your servant David You raised up Joseph to be the guardian of Your incarnate Son and the husband of His mother, Mary. Grant us grace to follow the example of this faithful workman in heeding Your counsel and obeying Your commands; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Intro:  St. Joseph has been honored throughout the Christian centuries for his faithful devotion in helping Mary raise her Son. Matthew’s Gospel relates that Joseph was a just man, who followed the angel’s instructions and took the already-pregnant Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:24). In the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark, Jesus is referred to as “the carpenter’s son” (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3). This…

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The sacraments are called in other churches by names such as “observances” or “ordinances”.  The Sacraments are certainly are that, as they are to be observed because they have been ordered by the Lord, but the universal Church has rightly called Holy Baptism and Holy Communion primarily by the name:  sacrament. The Lord ordered the 10 Commandments to tell us what to do and not do.  His Sacraments is to tell us whose we are and what He has done for each of purposely:  for you.  I baptize you.

The literal meaning of the word origin is pledge or oath. A Roman soldier would give his sacramentum to Caesar and the Empire.  In my limited understanding, it seems that the pledge inherent in the Sacrament is not from us to God, but from the Lord to us.  In the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion are the divine pledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, His promise of grace to us for the forgiveness of sins,the strengthening of faith, the enlivening of the bonds of fellowship in the Holy Spirit.  The Sacraments are not simply something we do, that is, observe and obey, but the Sacraments are the Lord’s means of grace to us that we joyously observe and obey.  His pledge to us is to be our God and we His people and strengthen us these jars of clay ready to receive the fullness of His grace. In German Holy Communion is called “Gottesdienst”, that is God’s Service for us, to us, in us, amongst us.  Likewise Holy Baptism is Gottesdienst. Luther, from The Large Catechism: 

…Baptism is divine, not devised nor invented by men. For as truly as I can say, No man has spun the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer out of his head, but they are revealed and given by God Himself, so also I can boast that Baptism is no human trifle, but instituted by God Himself

From God’s Word in the ears,into the heart, the Lord builds the means, like an arch of His Word to support and encourage His Church.  What we hear we also taste and see:  the Sacraments. 

Baptism obviously uses water.  Water is needed for all on earth to survive.  It is the universal solvent as the steady drip of water can wear down rock and smooth out mountains.  And water brings nutrients into our bodies. The Lord uses matter to convey His work in Jesus Christ for us and for salvation.  Matter matters because God created it and it is good.  Now in God’s Word water recreates and it is the greatest of God’s Word which is connected to the water:  His Name, The Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Baptism is the Church’s family bath by which we are made His so that faith receives His grace. He washes us and the Lord knows we need washing!  Yes, Baptism is as lowly as a washing.  Baptism is not spectacular work like being Pope or going on a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s or serving on some high muckety-muck Synodical board. Even so Baptism is not a regular bath because as the Lord said that His Name, His Word is there and if we go against Baptism we go against God’s Word:  specifically that He has made us His own. He has washed His bride, His Church.

…as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5)

When get dirty as Christians, we are not like the hippies of old and try not to wash!  But we do not have to be baptized again, we just need to be washed:  we are washed but not all of us, said the Lord, as He washed the disciples’ feet. We look into the mirror of God’s Law and see what we have done, or should have done and are soiled.    The Apostles’ Creed points us to the water and there is the water again, the water and the Word of forgiveness. As we are baptized in the Name of the Holy Trinity, so we forgive and are forgiven. There are 5 Wednesdays in Lent to cover the 6 Chief Parts and we can not cover by itself Confession and Absolution, but the Sacrament of Absolution is intimately connected with Baptism. From The Small Catechism:  

What does such baptizing with water signify?–Answer: It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

 

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