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Archive for December 2nd, 2015

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

St. Luke 21: 33

The Word of the Lord gives His Word in three different ways:

  1. Spoken through pastors preaching and teaching the Word of the Lord and through Sunday School teachers, Bible teachers, seminary profs, deaconesses, deacons, catechists teaching the Word.  Faith comes by the Gospel: So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.  Into our ears, into our hearts.
  2. Written:   Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
  3. Incarnate, in the flesh:  “And the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us full of grace and truth.”  The Word made flesh, incarnate, is the reason for the season of Advent.  Take note that “my words”, as Jesus taught, will not pass away. The Word of the Lord endures forever. And ever note, that it is only by the Good News of our redemption in Jesus Christ in His Advent that we have faith. Faith does not by the Law and what we do, but by Christ and what He has done.  Tired, anxious, terror stricken sinners lay hold of Jesus who has taken hold of us.

God’s Word of the Gospel alone gives us new birth: 

 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers,and the flower falls,25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”And this word is the good news that was preached to you. (1 Peter)

The Apostle makes it clear that is by imperishable seed of Christ, the Word made flesh we are born again.  Not by our words, deeds or decisions but  by His. Word, deed and decision. His Word in our Baptism is not any Word but His Name:  Baptized in His Name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit

As the Sacrament of Baptism is about the Word made flesh for each Christian beloved of the Lord, so is His Holy Supper.  The Word made flesh said, This is my body.  This is my blood.  The Sacrament of the Altar is the Church’s proclamation as often as we come together:  “for as often as we eat of this bread and drink of this cup we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”

The written Word are the words of the Bible.  Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Deuteronomy and the time of temptation.

Through Word and Sacraments, the Lord delivers His Word into our ears and the heart.

The Lord’s description of  the signs of the time are terrifying for this dark world does not want the Lord to come again and it’s birth pains want to stop it. The world does not want the Word which is for the life of the world. Someone once called our days, the age of anxiety.  Now this anxious age has become the age of terror.  

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  

It is not an easy matter to remain steadfast in the Word and faith under the conditions as pictured here by Christ; in fact, no person could hope to stand firm and brave all dangers to the end. But by following the Lord’s admonition here given, the impossible becomes possible, and we shall be able to stand against all our enemies and against all the temptations of the latter days. We should take heed, watch ourselves very carefully, not permit our flesh and its lusts to gain the ascendancy. We are to watch for dissipation and drunkenness.  Dissipation:  wearing yourself out chasing things that never satisfy. We should not weigh down our hearts with the burden of gluttony and drunkenness.  I saw an ad for an Advent calendar for over a thousand dollars because for each day of Advent, you drink a dram of good whiskey.  And about this increase of gluttony and drunkenness, Pastor Paul Kretzmann, in 1918, wrote in his commentary,”… this causes headache and stupidity, and makes the Christian unfit for the battle with the powers of darkness.” It is not an easy matter to remain steadfast.  So many attempt to silence the Word of God even ourselves who do not speak His Word to those need the good Word of the Gospel, or churches denying that Word.  Too many churches do the world’s work for it and the devil likes that.

Of all the thousands of televised Christmas specials, probably the more enduring is, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.  It’s about Charlie and the gang putting on a Christmas show.  Charlie Brown wants to know the true spirit and meaning of Christmas but no seems to know and this perplexes him. He is perplexed by the commercialization of Christmas which I do not think we even care about much these days.  We all want the spirit of Christmas and whip ourselves into a yuletide frenzy.  So the Peanuts gang to put on a show for Christmas.

They needed to get a tree for their play. So Charlie and Linus go the tree lot. Now this was made in 1965 when aluminum trees were all the rage…along with pink-flocked trees etc.  The trees were ghastly. (Off topic: this is good reason enough not to fool around with the liturgy.  Just think of those trees, and avocado green refrigerators and robin egg blue tuxes, which were all the rage!)   Charlie Brown and Linus go a tree lot with the garish pink, yellow, and multi-colored trees of the time.  Charlie comes across a pitiful little tree, all bent over and he cries out, This is it! He picks it up and needles fall.  Linus says,   “But Charlie Brown, that tree does not fit into the modern spirit of Christmas”

Yes, that’s right Linus. One year watching Charlie Brown Christmas,  during a commercial, I flipped to NBC and lighting of the Rockefeller tree with 45,000 lights! But Charlie Brown, that tree does not fit into the modern spirit of Christmas.  Yes, that’s right.  Linus then saved the day when the play went all wrong and he read a goodly portion on stage of Luke 2: “Shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks by night…”  Just think, those words have endured.  We do not yet  know if Christ’s Word “forever” because we are not yet at “forever”, but we take Him at His Word.  After all the Word has endured.  In this age of terror, we must remember Jesus was born in terrifying times.  Christ’s Word endures, this we do know.  None here could tell me much about Platonic idealism or Nietzsche “ubermensch” or “superman”, the birth of Zeus, the birth of Mohammed.In the TV show, Linus puts his security blanket around the base of the tree. 

Even in 1965, Charlie Brown Christmas was controversial.  Why? Complaints ranged from a lack of a laugh track (standard in those days, especially for family comedies), to the overtly religious message. The now-famous scene of Linus speaking of the birth of Christ was seen by TV execs as especially controversial. The overt rejection of the Christian faith has been going on for sometime now. It is not new.

Nowadays Linus reading Luke 2 might offend atheist and Islamic sensibilities.  The Savior laid in a feeding trough is not in keeping with the “modern spirit” which wants it all, wants government to give away all, grabbing all the gusto it can, read lust, for “gusto”.  Bigger, better, “huge”has not saved.

IN all the years of reading Peanuts, I think this may have been the only time Linus ever parts with his security blanket.  The Lord is Linus’ secure portion. This tree does not fit into the modern spirit of Christmas and that’s precisely the point. (Matthew 5:13The tree of the Cross does not fit into the modern spirit of Christmas, in fact it kills it to make us alive in Him.  To the world it looks pitiful, folly, not powerful and great but to us who are being saved, Christ is the power of God unto salvation.  (1 Corinthians 1:22-24) It does not fit into modern spirit of Christmas. John the Baptizer with his clarion call to repentance does not fit.  A virgin giving birth to the Son of God for our salvation does not fit…but all of what the Lord does in His Word for you makes us fit by His grace, mercy and peace.  Unto us a Son is given, unto us a Child is given. (Isaiah 9:6)  We need to be awakened day by day by His Word. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not understood nor overcome it.  Wake up. Let your light shine that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven, taught our Lord.  In this dark world, it makes no sense not to turn on the flashlight we are holding, the light of His Word shining in the darkness which the world does not understand nor has overcome.

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