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Archive for April 1st, 2015

If we need proof of Dr. Luther’s statement, I think this video does the trick. A friend posted this on Facebook, from this article:  “Unresponsive Man Living In Nursing Home Has Incredible Breakthrough”

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Wednesday in Holy Week

COLLECT OF THE DAY:

Merciful and everlasting God, You did not spare Your only Son but delivered Him up for us all to bear our sins on the cross. Grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in Him, that we fear not the power of sin, death, and the devil; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

READINGS:

Isaiah 62:11-63:7

Psalm 70 

Romans 5:6-11

St. Luke 22:1-23:56 or St. John 13:16-38

The Epistle Reading:  Romans 5:6-11  English Standard Version (ESV)

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Graham Greene’s novel The Power and the Glory is set in Mexico, the 1920s when the Roman Catholic Church had been suppressed.  Priests were not allowed to say Mass.  The main character is an unnamed priest, given to whiskey, who goes about the country saying clandestine Masses.  In the scene quote below he is in a shed and mestizo is crawling in the shack and grabs the priest’s ankles.  He wants the priest to hear his confession about adultery and “boys”, as his confession comes forth between his yellowed teeth, the priest reflects:

“How often the priest had heard the same confession–Man was so limited: he hadn’t even the ingenuity to invent a new vice: the animals knew as much. It was for this world that Christ had died: the more evil you saw and heard about you, the greater the glory lay around the death; it was too easy to die for what was good or beautiful, for home or children or civilization–it needed a God to die for the half-hearted and the corrupt.” 

Greene is illustrating the Scripture text appointed for Holy Wednesday from Romans, above. For God and country, a man will dare to die.  Even for a “good person”.  When I think of the petty larcenies and lusts lurking in the attic of my heart, it’s shameful. It is true we can not even invent a new vice  (nor a new virtue! As C. S. Lewis wrote that a man can not produce a new value as much as he can not create a new primary color).   I do not remember if the priest absolved the penitent in the novel.  Christ Jesus has for all who know they need fixing in their hearts. He will. No amount of fixing on our part will do it.

In the prayer of the day, we pray, ” Grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in Him, that we fear not the power of sin, death, and the devil”.    In Advent there is a collect with a similar petition that “our hearts may be fixed where true joy is found.”  Fix:  eyes on the prize or corrected/ healed.  Which is it?  I suppose the former but the former makes for the latter.  This prayer presupposes we have confessed our need to be fixed!It seems that Judas did not see himself as one who needing fixing, otherwise he would have repented.  I know a Lutheran campus minister in Southern California who will sit outside at a table in the commons areas with large sign reading: “Christianity is for the Weak”. I think this accusation was first re-hurled at the Church in our day and time with the Communists, “Religion is the opiate of the people”, a sop for the weak.  I did the same as my colleague at a campus here and had a young man look at me incredulously that I was reiterating this statement. I said it’s true:  Christianity is for the weak, that is, Christ Jesus is for the weak, the poor in spirit, the repentant sinner. God and Man in One, Christ Jesus died for the weak that we be forgiven in joyful repentance. And nowadays, Christianity seems to be for the spiritually powerful, who have all sorts of the religious/spiritual excitements and enthusiasms as I have seen on TV with too many ‘evangelists’ who preach themselves and read the titles of the latest ‘Christian’ book fad.  And the poor man or woman, knowing their need, despair that they surely can not be saved look at the ‘new’ Pharisees. If that were the case, then all of Scripture is wrong!  He lifts up our hearts and eyes to Him lifted upon the Cross. Our eyes fixed upon Him, in the depths, height and breadth of His love stretching out from the Cross to us  and we are fixed, by steadfast faith, as sinners, in Him.  It seems to me that sin, death and devil dogs us when we are not so steadfast in faith.  Our true condition apart from Him is just as it is written in Romans 5:  weak, sinner, enemy,dead and you can not get weaker than dead.  His power and glory has been shown upon the Cross and on the third day and today. We are justified, reconciled and we shall be saved, the weak steadfast in the grace wherein we stand. In this we “rejoice”! Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ!

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