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Archive for May, 2015

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My father, when he was in the FBI, went to the shooting range monthly and I loved it when he brought back a target, like the one  on right, with holes in head and heart.  An officer of the court must learn to shoot to kill. The heart has the most points. This clip art  is to show how to make the sign of the cross.  I also thought it looks like the target, a bull’s eye. Well, it  sort of is. You are the Lord’s target.  You were His target on the Cross. The Word made flesh spoken and administered in the Sacraments takes aim at us, heart and mind and soul and flesh.  To kill?  Yes, He aims to kill the old Adam and put more and more of His life in us. The Lord alone can so take that aim. Your heart and your will count the most and He has given us His most: Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  When we make the sign of the Cross it is mostly with the words of Invocation, prayer:  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.  Please take aim O Lord, forgive, renew and lift up Your servant, Your son, Your daughter whom You baptized.  When sin is killed, it can’t be held in trust,  but I am held in His nail printed hands in faith. We have wounds. He alone heals the holes in heart, soul and mind and fills them by His grace to heal our wounds.

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All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he (the Holy Spirit) will take what is mine and declare it to you. St. John 16: 15

When was the last time you met Cappadocians, Elamites…Medes? Okay, you could have met Libyans and Egyptians, but they would not be the same as back at the time of Pentecost.  And Egyptian Christians have been around since the time of Pentecost.  My point is this:  Christians, baptized followers of Jesus have been around since Pentecost. Christians are in practically every nation under heaven…not Cappadocians and even Egyptians and Libyans.   It seems that Jesus was right when He said that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church in spite of many to raise hell in the Church. 

Christians in so many nations hear true pastors, ministers and priests telling in their own tongues the mighty works of God.  They heard that forgiveness was won in Jesus Christ through His death and resurrection. Jesus commanded His apostles to baptize all nations under heaven.  The Apostles, the first being blue-collar fishermen, told the good news of Jesus Christ that God has acted in utter love and mercy to forgive the humanly unforgivable. 

Peter, some 53 days before had denied Jesus three times.  Earlier,  when Peter confessed Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God, Jesus said that upon this confession I will build my Church.  The Lord then said this is  the way the foundation was to be laid:  He was to be crucified and die and on the third day rise. Peter said, no way and Jesus called Peter Satan.   Peter wanted to walk to Jesus on the water but when Peter saw the fierce waves he began to sink. Jesus grabbed Peter from the storm and chided, Ye of little faith.  Peter was sunk and now like Jonah out of the depths, there he was preaching the first Christian sermon. Peter and the disciples 50 days ago were hiding for fear of the religious authorities. What had changed? How could a Galilean fishermen, with so much baggage and no college education, be preaching Christ and face arrest, imprisonment, and even death?  Answer:  the news was so good, the Lord acted in the mighty deeds of the atonement for us and for our salvation.  All our strivings to walk on water, water down the truth in order to save ourselves do not compare to unconquerable love of God in Christ Jesus.  What had changed? More who had changed Peter?  Answer: the Holy Spirit, Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit. Peter was sunk but the Lord is not.

So, who is the Holy Spirit? Answer:  The Lord.  Yet, we bandy about the word “spirit” a lot with out much understanding the word.  What is spirit? Then what are the characteristics of the Holy Spirit?

When the gathered crowd heard the disciples speaking in other tongues the mighty deeds of God, they said:  they are drunk.  Except Peter pointed out  it is only 9 in the morning!  The first understanding of “spirit” is indicated by  another name for alcohol:  spirits.  Yes, we get rather spirited when drinking.  Just a word about drinking:  it is clear in the Bible it is okay to drink, as in the Lord gave “…wine to gladden the heart of man” (Psalm 104:15), but it is not okay to get drunk.

The second understanding of “spirit” has to do with groups.  We speak of the spirit of a nation, a college, a school.  Note that “spirit” means 2 or more people.  In order to get a school up for a game, the school may have pep rally.  Even drinking implies 2 or more, say, in  a pub and as Billy Joel sang, “they’re drinking a drink called loneliness but it’s better than drinking alone”. Even then it is to get some “pep”, good feeling, going.

These are characteristics of “spirit”:

  • it is about raising spirits.
  • so, it is about “raising”, uplift, well, ascending.
  • it is about our feelings.
  • it is accomplished by us for us.
  • so, it is about us.

These are the characteristics of the Holy Spirit:

  • He does not ascend but descends as in Pentecost. We want to raise ourselves, but some things we can not raise ourselves from, like sin, death and the power of the devil. The dead can’t raise themselves. The Lord has and will. The Lord raises us from the death of sin in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, making us right with God by faith in Jesus through His perfect sacrifice who bore our sin as He is the Savior of the world (cf. John 4:42).
  • He is not a feeling, an emotion, but works through the Word of God, through the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. Further,in the group, to raise the spirits, we are expected, required, even demanded to “go with the flow”.  This is mob mentality.  With the Holy Spirit, we do not go with the flow of our own passions, but are directed by the flow of the Holy Spirit to go with God, His ‘flow’, the flow of His Word of Law and Promise to show the wide and easy path (“flow”) that leads to destruction and the hard and narrow path, going with God that leads to life.
  • He teaches us the Word into heart, soul and mind, but our feelings by themselves teach us little or nothing. Feelings are not the cause but the result. The Holy Spirit works only through the Word and in a similar way a college works through words, and the most important building on a campus is the library!  The Holy Spirit works through the main textbook of His library: the Bible and through the Word, preached, taught and administered in the Sacraments. Now the Lord created us with emotions and so as in all His creation they are good, but the Old Adam in sin can easily make them bad.  So in the imbibing drinks, we reason two beers gladden the heart, then a six pack will really make us feel glad! But it does not work that way.  When we try to raise our spirits, more is never enough and we become spirit junkies, and this is confused as the Holy Spirit, but those spirits are not the Holy Spirit.
  • He made us and remade us in Christ Jesus.  We can not generate the Holy Spirit but too many confusing worship as  pep rally, thinks we are generating the ‘spirit’, as in the Holy Spirit but they are looking the wrong way: to the self.
  • He, with the Father and the Son, centers us on the Lord not ourselves. We are not the hub of the wheel, the Lord is so we can ride straight. Us centered on our feelings alone, our spirits is then easy prey for the unclean spirits, the demons and demonic idolatry. The result is chaos, the Tower of Babel but on Pentecost Babel is reversed as they the “mighty deeds of God” in their own language.
  • We “earn” our good spirits, but the Holy Spirit is never earned, but always given, ever learned.
  • We want to feel good but the Holy Spirit through the Word received in faith is to make us good. The Law shows the way to be good is love, and since we do not love as we ought, we are so loved in Jesus, He gives us our redemption as His good for our good.
  • Our good spirits cannot admit suffering, but the Holy Spirit makes us good through trial and error in His grace and peace, in the forgiveness won once and for all upon the Cross.

Man’s spirit is located in us, in a school, a nation, a bar but the Holy Spirit everywhere bringing us to Christ in all nations.  I have been on Facebook messaging with a Lutheran Pastor, David Ongwaye.  Pr. Ongwaye is a pastor of four congregations in western Kenya.  He recently wrote to me before Pentecost:  “God grant you and yours a very significant blessing. may it dawn to you a new revelation as you minister to them the Word that cometh from the Mouth of God!” The Word is all over the world, for the world to change the world, from the Mouth of God, the new revelation of His forgiveness in this dark world.  We speak the same language of Pentecost in the USA and Kenya!  The Holy Spirit speaks the language of the Gospel. He is with us. 

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139) 

Vios con Dios:  go with God for He goes with you.

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The first small town my wife lived in is the one we now call home.  In the lead up to Memorial Day, the VFW were distributing “Buddy Poppies” and asking for a donation.  She had never heard of buddy poppies.  The story behind Buddy Poppies is a poem written by Dr. Major John McCrae, second in command of the 1st Brigade Canadian Field Artillery during the Second Battle of Ypres in April and May 1915.  Below is the poem’s text and a video song version of it.

A buddy poppy is a good remembrance. Dr. McCrae’s line, “If ye break faith with us who die\We shall not sleep” resonates with a Biblical truth:  the Church is a democracy of the dead where the dead have a voice (G.K. Chesterton).  We can not break faith with the dead then we are dead.  For  the Lord is the Lord of the living, not of the dead for all are alive to Him (Matthew 22: 31-33).  On Memorial Day we do not thank a veteran as we should on November 11th. On Memorial Day we thank God for those who gave the last full measure of their devotion.  Keeping faith with the dead, we keep faith with those who live:  the families and friends of those who died in defense of our Constitutional liberty.  As Lincoln said in his second Inaugural Address, “…let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan”.

Remember the oath every member of the Armed Forces (and the President and Senators and Representatives) gives which begins: “I,(name) do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…” Several years ago I heard an army officer, at a commissioning service at the Virginia Military Institute tell the soon to be officers that they are to defend a document, words on a page .  Every nation will protect their nation. Our armed forces defend our constitutional liberty. In the history of nations, I think our Constitution set forth an idea that at the time was unique in the history of nations shines:  we do not go to war to protect our government, our king, our queen, even our property, but we defend liberty.  Many died to defend our freedom. We thank the Lord for their defense. Freedom and liberty are Biblical words and they are worth fighting for. As it is inscribed on the Liberty Bell:   Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof Lev. XXV X

  Romans 13:  “…the authorities are ministers of God…Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” (emphasis my own)  Honor and respect are due to those who died so we as American citizens can speak freely, without fear of death (!), worship freely, without fear of government political correctness, make our grievances known to the government peacefully, without censorship, protect ourselves when government can not.  

Support the work of the VFW, the American Legion, Wounded Warriors, etc.  Pray for our soldiers and sailors, especially those in harm’s way.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing,

fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

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The Holy Spirit is not holacratic. “Say, what?!”, you may be asking.

 In today’s Wall Street Journal is an article about the clothing e-company, Zappos and their CEO Mr. Tony Hsieh (pronounced “shay”) who has instituted halocracy.  First developedin 2007, it is a ‘new’ non-management style for companys.  The word means literally:  “holos”, or “whole” and the “cracy” ending, as in democracy means “rule of the whole”.  Mr. Hsieh has removed all his company’s managers for the rule, or management by the workers.  The company keeps a display of all the ties they have cut in half because of their “no ties” policy to emphasize their core values including halocracy (cutting my tie would really tick me off!).  So now they have all sorts of “governance meetings” to work through, I guess, governing themselves  to decide how to get the work done, not some manager. This is nothing new. This is communism/socialism in another made up vocab.  Leaderless and eventually they will have a leader and it won’t be holacratic!  From the article, Mr. Hsieh is quoted:

“‘The idea is for each person to selfishly process their own tension’…’The reaction round is sacred space’  (Translation:  Each worker is entitled to his or her opinion and will get a chance to voice it during the part of the meetings when crosstalk and interruptions are forbidden.)”

Mr. Hsieh says this is “sacred”.  The reporter uses the title “The Gospel of ‘Holocracy'”.  There are 15,000 words in the ‘Holacracy’ constitution, and 8,000 in the U.S. Constitution.

No doubt, I will be reading  within the year about some congregation or church body also implementing holacracy. George Bernard Shaw said that socialism is a great idea but it leaves no free evenings. The second part he got right, and the first part he got dead wrong.

There is leading from the whole or from behind.  We are in a democracy but whose founders created the Chief Executive, the President and some historians say based upon the leadership qualities of George Washington. Yes, our nation’s founders were radical,but not that much.  They knew they needed a leader, but not a king to rule by whim, or the mob to rule by pooled ignorance.

Now, you may be asking, what does this have to do with the Holy Spirit?  The Lord leads His people through His Word of Law and Promise.  Jesus leads the way (Hebrews 12: 1-3), has led the way and will (Hebrews 13:8).  The Lord leads and calls leaders, that  is the way it works.  Note that when man invents a ‘new’ way to rule, even the language becomes convulated, as in Mr. Hsieh’s quote above. If you ever tried to read Marxist/Communist literature…well, finally, it is a real snore. Then people have to get their minds right, as in the case at Zappos, by “trainers”.  When I think of trainers I think of someone training dogs.  Jesus was ever leading in His earthly ministry. He lead the Way into Jerusalem for our salvation and in that salvation the Lord leads through His Word. He sends the Holy Spirit to lead by convicting of sin (John 16:8),and  by helping (John 14:16) and teaching us Christ ( John 14:26) and He calls pastors and ministers to shepherd the flock to the Word of God.  We are educated not trained. We need God’s Word, not men aping God’s Word into their own version of “sacred”. Only the Lord is sacred and makes us holy through faith in Christ.

This prayer is one of the post-Communion prayers in the Lutheran Service Book:

O God the Father, the fountain and source of all goodness, who in loving-kindness sent Your only-begotten Son into the flesh, we thank You that for His sake You have given us pardon and peace in this Sacrament, and we ask You not to forsake Your children but always to rule our hearts and minds by Your Holy Spirit that we may be enabled constantly to serve You through Jesus Christ and forever who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

 

 

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The New Testament Reading for this Day in the Daily Lectionary: The Parable of the Ten Minas

11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’”

Commentary:  The parable is prompted by the expectation that the kingdom of God would appear right then and there.  Our Lord taught this parable in between inviting Himself to Zacchaeus’ home and the Triumphal Entry.  In the former He is accused of eating with sinners.  In the latter He will die for sinners, atoning for their sins.  In the former, He is the King at the table of a sinner, in the latter, He enters as King in lowly pomp to die.  Verse 11 is clear that the crowds supposed that the glorious Kingdom was about to appear. This parable in the Lord’s response.  In the parable Jesus is the nobleman who “…went into a far country”.  The “far country” put me in mind of the famous soliloquy by Hamlet who is contemplating suicide and so death and wonders,

who would burdens bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will

Hamlet would rather bear the burdens of this life than to go to that “undiscover’d country”, from which “no traveler returns”.  Jesus from chapter 9 has been on the journey to Jerusalem for one purpose: to go into that “undiscover’d country”, not bearing His burdens, for He has no sin and so no death, but ours, to the grave.  He has returned.  And gist of the parable is that He will return again, this time from heaven, to give an accounting of what we did with His minas.  What do  the “minas”, these silver coins, signify?   The servants in the parable are clear, “…your  mina has made ten minas more…”.  Note:  it was not the servant that increased the mina, but the mina did, that is, the Lord’s utter gift of Word and Sacrament, His riches, that is, the “unsearchable riches”(Ephesians 3:8) of His grace for burdened sinners.   His grace is not to be hidden away (verse 20).  His light is not to be hidden away (St. Matthew 5:16). Those who mock and despise the nobleman, the only Noble Man ever to walk upon the earth, and His grace,  it would have been better for Sodom, Tyre and Sidon than those who reject His disciples bearing the minas of His grace! (Luke 10:12;Luke 10:  14).

Even at the Ascension, the disciples are still wondering about an eternal kingdom out of this world of sin and death (Acts 1: 6-8) .  It won’t happen, and such ‘eternal kingdoms’ have been tried again and again.  The Lord will return and in the meantime, people need to hear of so great a salvation of the Lord who died and rose, a kingdom like no other on earth!  He rules not to end life but to give His.  His  rule appears most unexpectedly: by His forgiveness as He is risen and ascended.

The riches of His grace, His Atonement, His paradise will be enlivened with the fire of the Holy Spirit.   

O God, Who vast pleased to send on Thy disciples the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, in the burning fire of Thy love, grant to Thy people to be fervent in the unity of faith; that evermore abiding in Thee, they may be found both steadfast in faith and active in work ; through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and forever, and unto the ages of ages.

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Gospel Reading:  St. John 17:11b–19

You may remember some of the spy movies during the Cold War, when some American crosses over into the Soviet Union and a brusque guard commands, Let me see your papers.  Having actually experienced that back then in a Lutheran college trip to Russia and Eastern Europe in the ‘70s, I can verify that is no fiction. We saw Soviet soldiers in the middle of the night on the train into Russia literally rifling through our train seats looking for contraband, such as Bibles and Fascist literature.  For all my laissez-faire progressivism, I began to realize that we had crossed the border from freedom into slavery.  Jesus sends out His Apostles fully aware that He is sending them into slave lands.  The entirety of John 17 is the Lord’s Prayer to the Father in the Holy Spirit for His apostles.  He prays, 

 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” 

Jesus prays they be kept from the evil one, because the world is God’s good creation but  without faith, hope and love,it became the “world” and has as it’s ruler  the devil.  Jesus sends them into a world that has hated them.  Too long too many churches have wanted to be loved by world, accepted by the world, adopting their morals, life styles of the rich and famous…it is the stuff of the news and the world pats those churches on the back and says that’s nice, go sit over there.  Too long have churches wanted to hate the world and worldly people.  Jesus did not send the Apostles into the world to hate the people in it, but even to love your enemies and pray for those who persecuted you.  Jesus died for His enemies, us.  “When the devil is mocked, he sheds the blood of the mockers. When God was mocked, He shed His blood on the mockers.” (Pr. Hans Fiene).  

All of John chapter 17 is literally the Lord’s Prayer.  He prayed this in the night in which He was betrayed.  The prayer we call the Lord’s Prayer is actually the disciples’ prayer, the Church’s prayer to her ascended Lord, the head of the Church, as He taught us.  Jesus knew He was sending His apostles into the world and He knew exactly the kind of world He was sending them. He knew the stratagems of the evil one, from along time ago in a garden to a desert fasting to a garden called Gethsemane. Here in John 17, He prayed they be kept from the evil one. He taught us to pray, Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from the evil one. 

The evil one desires to blur the border between the Church and the world with our complicity.  He first did so at the border around a tree, of the knowledge of good and evil, as if the knowledge of the Lord were not enough.  He blurred it by asking, Did God say?  Eve and Adam were complicit and said, Yes to the devil’s lie as he misrepresent the truth of God’s Word. The line was blurred and sin entered the world and made the world worldly. 

Jesus sent the apostles into this dark world for the life of the world, with the light of His Word of His death and resurrection, if you forgive the sins of any they are forgive, if you retain the sins of any they are retain.  He sent them out with message of repentance and forgiveness, of washing in Holy Baptism in the Name of the Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all He has commanded and Lo, He says, I am with you always even unto the end of the age. And the devil like those Russian soldiers will rifle through your heart, telling you do not believe enough, have not done enough, and as Luther, say, I know that devil but I have a mighty Lord who died and rose and ascended for me and He is with me, even to the end. 

When a church begins to look, act and feel like the age we live in, like the world, then it is lost all over again.  When a church walks the counsel of  the wicked from the counsel of so many TV shows, blogs and magazines, such as, “follow your heart”, “you are your own best friend”, “look out for number 1”, “be all that you can be”, then its bound to fall.  When a church stands in the way of the sinners, then its way is the dead end of hell. When a church seats in the seat of the scornful denying Scriptural truth with worldly theologians then it will become fat and indolent in its conceits. When a church walks the wide and easy path, it will lead to destruction. Walking, sitting and standing then that church is on a road to nowhere.  Our delight is in His Law, in His Word, every Word of the Bible. When crossing the threshold of a church building, however religious it may look, into a building where the Word is not preached in all it’s saving purity and soundness, that church will only extend worldly darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great the darkness will be, warned our Lord. And you have beheld the light of His Word, clearly Law and Promise and the light of  the knowledge of God shining in the face of Christ.

The Lord clearly sends out the apostles with the understanding that you are going into the world, the cosmos, which is against God, in the world, but not of the world, into slave lands.    No one will say explicitly, Let me see your papers, but the world will do so implicitly:  “Are you trying to impose your morality?”  “Who do you think you are?  God almighty?!”  “Hey, I do good!”  No, we are not angels but neither are we beasts (Fr. Richard John Neuhaus), as we are the Lord’s own in Baptism. 

We have no papers to show, no certificate from Synodical headquarters that we have attained a certain level of holiness, and we are reluctant to show our good works because they are not even our own…we can only show the Cross, Jesus. Christ is our freedom to be His servants. Thomas More was King Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor.  More did not go along with his King’s lust for a divorce.  As More said,  we are “the king’s good servants, but God’s first.” And we are the king’s better servants because we are God’s first (Fr. Neuhaus). 

Jesus says, “And you will be my witnesses.”  Paul wrote of the apostles that we are Christ’s ambassadors.  Yet, ambassadors of a disputed sovereignity. Jesus sent out the Apostles to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the end of the earth, across so many borders, languages, cultures.  All three of today’s lessons are about witness and testimony. Jesus told the Apostles: You are my witnesses into the world. The Church and her people follows His outstretched arm. Ours is not to master the public but to make public the Master. Someone may be dying to hear a good word this week, tell of Christ, give your witness when asked for a defense of the hope that is in you, but do with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

The odds are stacked against the church maybe in order to show from whom comes the power of Pentecost. As a 2nd century Christian wrote a Roman official about the Christians: 

 “They reside in their respective countries, but only as aliens. They take part in everything as citizens and put up with everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their home, and every home a foreign land.” 

All three lessons refer to prayer.  The apostles, and Mary and Jesus’ brothers between Ascension and Pentecost, next Sunday, were 9 days in prayer, praying the Psalms.  John wrote His congregation and encouraged them to pray that they will be heard. Thy Kingdom Come has  been answered when the Lord takes hold of your heart through His Word of His forgiveness crossing the border with His mercy.  But it has not been answered fully, but it will be.  Then the Gospel:  the Lord’s prayer.  But the Lord did not just pray once for the Church.  In the 1,933 year of His sitting at the right hand of the Father, If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. It is not our prayers alone but in union with the Lord’s Prayer, “interceding for us”, the ascended Lord, at the right hand of the Father which is every  where His Word and people are.   “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

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