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Archive for April, 2016

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Meme of the Day

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Quote of the Day

“It is God alone who alone knows humility; He alone judges it and brings it to light, so that no one knows less about humility than he who is truly humble.”

(Martin Luther, “Commentary on The Magnificat, Luther’s Works:  American Edition, volume 21, page 313)

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Revelation 5

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”

There is no subject in the world (always excepting sport) on which I have less to say than liturgiology. And the almost nothing which I have to say may as well be disposed of in this letter.

I think our business as laymen is to take what we are given and make the best of it. And I think we should find this a great deal easier if what we were given was always and everywhere the same.

To judge from their practice, very few Anglican clergymen take this view. It looks as if they believed people can be lured to go to church by incessant brightenings, lightenings, lengthenings, abridgements, simplifications, and complications of the service. And it is probably true that a new, keen vicar will usually be able to form within his parish a minority who are in favour of his innovations. The majority, I believe, never are. Those who remain—many give up churchgoing altogether—merely endure.

Is this simply because the majority are hide-bound? I think not. They have a good reason for their conservatism. Novelty, simply as such, can have only an entertainment value. And they don’t go to church to be entertained. They go to use the service, or, if you prefer, to enact it. Every service is a structure of acts and words through which we receive a sacrament, or repent, or supplicate, or adore. And it enables us to do these things best—if you like, it “works” best—when, through long familiarity, we don’t have to think about it. As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don’t notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.

But every novelty prevents this. It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about worship is a different thing from worshipping. The important question about the Grail was “for what does it serve?” “‘Tis mad idolatry that makes the service greater than the god.”

A still worse thing may happen. Novelty may fix our attention not even on the service but on the celebrant. You know what I mean. Try as one may to exclude it, the question “What on earth is he up to now?” will intrude. It lays one’s devotion waste. There is really some excuse for the man who said, “I wish they’d remember that the charge to Peter was Feed my sheep; not Try experiments on my rats,  or even, Teach my performing dogs new tricks.”

 

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There are three prisons in today’s readings: 

  • The apostles imprisoned for preaching Christ Jesus in Jerusalem. Acts 5:12-32 
  • John was exiled to the island of Patmos for preaching Christ Jesus.Revelation 1:4-18 
  • The apostles self-imprisoned because of the fear of Jews, in a locked room. John 20:19-31

In the Gospel reading, Jesus three times blesses saying, “Peace be with you.”

“…it is good to note that the Lord does not wait for His disciples to go after Him, but He goes after them, through locked doors, greets them in a friendly manner, comforts and strengthens them in the faith of His resurrection.  He could not have done it in a kindlier manner that to offer them peace and show them His hands and side, so that they would be sure of His resurrection and would be comforted against all sorrow, fear, and terror.”

We know our wounds, our prisons.  Jesus stands at the door and knocks.  He comes in.  They knew  it was Jesus because of His wounds.  

The apostles in self imprisonment on account of the fear of the Jews, Jesus stands in their midst:  Peace be with you.  John,  Peter and the apostles are imprisoned for preaching Christ and His “Peace be with you”. 

But there are only two types of prisons in today’s Scripture readings:  imprisoned on account of the Word of God and imprisoned by our own fear and unbelief, not taking Jesus at His Word. Jesus frees in all our prisons. 

The doors were locked and Jesus stood in their midst.  Jesus came into the locked hearts of His apostles by filling them with the Holy Ghost for faith.  How?  He did not need a key. Jesus Christ is the Key. 

Jesus sends the apostles into the world locked in sin and death with message of forgiveness and eternal life, preaching Christ Jesus and Him crucified, risen for our justification; because Jesus Christ is the Key. 

“…no door of any kind, no lock, no bar could keep out Jesus Christ.” (Johann Gerhard)

Jesus Christ shows His fleshly wounds from His Crucifixion for you and I and by His wounds we are healed.  And yet He came into a locked room.  He, the very Body of Christ came into that room.  No spirit, no ghost, no ethereal being of pure spirituality walked through those walls because John reports Thomas could put his hand into His side.  How? You can not place your hand into a ghost.  The Bible does not tell us but here is a reasonable answer: when we swim and the density of our bodies is greater than the water and so parting the water, so the utter density and reality of His risen Body could part the walls (insight from Jim Prothro).  After all: this is our Lord and our God.  Jesus Christ is greater than sin, death and the power of devil.  We think that unholy trinity constitutes reality but sin, death and the devil are finally unreal, even surreal.  The devil loves the saying better the devil you know.  Jesus says do not know him. As if the Lord were saying:    I have known you.  I have passed through your sin, your death and the power of the devil holding you in fear of death. I am more real, endurable than your sin and death itself. I have tasted death for you all and I am not ashamed to be your Lord and your Brother.  I am  the Passover Lamb of all time and for you.  I have passed through the flood.  “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. The Lord’s will is for others to know Him, the key. 

O come, thou Key of David, come, and open wide our heavenly home; make safe the way that leads on high, and close the path to misery.

He sent the apostles to the four corners of the world with this message, Christ is risen!  “The Gospel is not only a report of the salvation earned by Jesus, but it is the application of this message, the imparting of the forgiveness of sins.” 

‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.

“‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. (The Book of Revelation)

His wounds are the faithful Word of God’s forgiveness for each and every one of us.  He opens our prisons. He comes into our hearts.  Confession and absolution is aptly titled, The Office of the Keys.  If one resists the Holy Spirit, the door is locked and shut, and sin is retained  It is the prospect of eternal sadness.  If he repents, the door is open and joy floods through His Wounds of grace for us all.  The message of the imparting of the forgiveness of sins, in Christ, is so needed in these dark days. 

Peter who knew Him in the flesh and loved Him was sent  by Jesus to people who had not seen Him and Peter preached Jesus Christ and so later Peter wrote to them: 

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

This is the very same Peter who heard the risen Christ say to Thomas His beatitude, “Blessed are are those who have not seen and have faith.

Believing in ourselves, believing in the gods of our technology, believing in our self help philosophies, atheism is on the rise.  Those gods only inspire knee knocking fear and the absence of peace.  They will do anything to debunk the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and so two points on His bodily resurrection: 

Thomas was told by His brother apostles Christ is risen.  Then Thomas made his famous statement, Unless I put my hands in his side, etc. I will not believe:  but Thomas did not believe the eyewitness of his brother apostles!  The brother apostles did not believe the eyewitness of their sisters in Christ!  Thomas did not believe the Word of God.  He then heard the Word of God, the Word of Christ, Thomas, put your hands in my side.  Different than the old song, put your hands in hand of the man of Galilee, is Put your hands in the side of the man of Galilee. Thomas heard and believed.  These are written that you believe.  Remember, the prowling lion the devil, seeking someone to devour, and the devouring sinful flesh, has tried to do a number on the Scriptures now for a century or more.  The result is we do what we want to do (Old Adam) and in the last century genocide, wars, and terror inside and out, has been unleashed upon the earth as never seen before in the history of mankind.  His wounds seek a wounded mankind. 

Second:  Easter is 50 days.  In forty days after the Resurrection Jesus bodily ascended into heaven.  Ten days later Pentecost.  On the day of Resurrection, Peter and the apostles locked themselves up for fear of the Jews..  Understandable:  if their leader was crucified, then…In fifty days, Peter faced imprisonment, and possible death,  for preaching publicly in the Temple (!), “We must obey God rather than men”.  The same Peter who denied Jesus three times, What happened?  Jesus happened. Peter denied Him thrice and thrice the risen Jesus charged Peter: Feed my sheep. Only one explanation is needed and it is written in the Bible and in the witness of Christ’s Church: Christ is risen. .Bodily and spiritually, the risen Lord sought Him after the resurrection to unlock him and the apostles.  If Jesus had not bodily risen, Peter and company would have eventually left that locked room scurrying away like rats a sinking ship.  But the ship had not sunk, for the captain was on board as He was that time on the Sea of Galilee in the storm, walking on the deep.  He is risen. 

They went out with the message of forgiveness, the Word of His Wounds, the crucified and risen Lord.  Jesus did not primarily give a new religion, but He ever gives new life.  We need His breath, the breath of the Holy Spirit day by day.  Joseph Smith, Mohammed, Buddha do not have wounds and are not risen. They are breathless and Spirit-less. The false gods of Joseph Smith and Mohammed will even assert Christ rose…but not in the wounds of our eternal forgiveness.   They just established man made religions with enough of the actual Law of God to make their religions seem real, hard and doable.  They do not bear the cross. Jesus is real and risen. We do not preach religion, we preach Christ and Him crucified.  Christ Jesus sends the Church with the actual Law of God, and the actual Gospel of God, the actual Word of God, in the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father.

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,    for his wondrous works to the children of man! 16For he shatters the doors of bronze    and cuts in two the bars of iron. (Psalm 107)

The world is locked up dying to hear of Jesus Christ’s indestructible forgiveness, the key of the Kingdom, faith more precious than gold, than what is seen, for even diamonds are not forever, is forgiveness in Jesus Christ, and this is always key, by His wounds ye are healed,  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

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