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Archive for November 7th, 2016

On Election Eve

 

I wish that the excitement over this “eve” would be also for Christmas Eve and Easter Vigil…but then again, maybe not.  After all, Christmas Eve is “Silent Night, Holy Night” and this eve is neither silent nor holy, yet even for this night, as Christmas Eve we must pray:  O Christ, Ruler of the Kings of the earth, forgive our sin and protect our nation.  During Easter Vigil we go from the darkness of sin and death to the Paschal morning and the cry, He is risen! This happened through no election of man, but God’s own election in His elect One.  We will not go from death to life tonight and tomorrow, unless the Lord comes again in glory. Nevertheless, we must pray:  O risen Lord, lead this nation out of darkness into your own most marvelous light.  Thank-you for our native land. Come, Lord Jesus, come. Amen.

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They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. The Apocalypse to St. John the Divine 7

Note:  on this day the Sacrament of Holy Baptism was administered to Ernest according to Christ’s own command and promise-Pr. Schroeder

We have welcomed into the Lord’s Church, the communion of saints, a new saint: Saint Ernest.  St. Ernest was washed in the blood of the Lamb.   

 Ephesians:  In him we have redemption through his blood,the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace

 Titus:For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior

Baptized into Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection, Romans 6, our dirty robes washed in the blood of the Lamb. The saints are the Lord’s bloody work. 

            Now usually when we hear the word saint it means more of a verb, “Oh you are such saint to help out”. It is!   But those works are not what saves us as is clear from Titus and all the Scripture: Christ has saved because of our bad blood, the bad blood between us and the Lord and each other. No amount of good deeds can cleanse the bad blood of sin, of anger and lust.  If the Lord waited for us to do the good according to His Law to save we would be eternally stuck in sin and hell, not freed in His blood. He alone cleanses us from all unrighteousness.  We are sanctified, sainted in His blood alone.

            Now if I say, “I was married” means only one thing, I would be divorced.  No, I can say, I am married. From this day forth, Ernie, if you say “I was baptized” means a divorce from the Lord, but by faith alone, through the Lord’s amazing grace alone, you can say with all the saints: I am baptized.

God’s own child, I gladly say it: 

I am baptized into Christ!

He, because I could not pay it, gave my full redemption price.

Do I need earth’s treasures many?  I have one worth more than any

That brought me salvation free, Lasting to eternity!

Baptized and bought not by gold or silver but by Christ’s most precious blood.

            What has happened to the blood of Christ in our day? We don’t hear much in preaching and teaching the central reality of the Lord’s blood shed for sinners.  Certainly so many TV evangelists with their uplifting messages  don’t want a blood of Christ to get us down! A high yuck factor? When mega-churches are more like malls, complete with fancy coffee, it is so antiseptic:  clean but no longer cleansed in the blood of the Lamb.  They don’t preach Christ and Him crucified but dispense bloodless advice because they have a bloodless Christ. Too much of what goes for Christianity is merely warmed-over psychological advice, therapeutic deism.  This counseling’s goal is to make us well-adjusted.  Do we really wanted to well-adjusted to this year’s presidential campaign?  Do we really want to be well adjusted to our own immorality and that which tempts us daily, even hourly?   They want the old Adam, us in charge of our salvation, not the Savior and so the result is they appeal to the lust in our blood. Blood makes us squeamish, as well it should but we don’t seem to be so squeamish watching gallons of blood spilled in movies about murderers, vampires and zombies.  In church we want a bloodless Christ and  if Christ is bloodless (and He’s not!), then He is a zombie. Beloved in the Lord!  Christ is no zombie!  He lives to give us His blood, the eternal gift of life.  This is My Body, not sort of like.  This is My Blood, not kind of. He does so we are fed. As He feeds us, He leads us. 

            If you have given blood at a Red Cross blood drive, you have  to ask a string of questions to assure the purity of your  blood.  There is more than one question about intravenous drug use, AIDS and homosexual contact.  So if taking drugs and sexual promiscuity are so “okay” or right, then how can such ‘normal’ activities spread disease leading to death and affect others if transfused?  There is not one question to the effect:  Have you made love to your wife/husband alone?  There won’t be, or need to be such, because fidelity in marriage will not lead to tainted blood, but sleeping around will and same sex genitals do not fit into each other is basic biology.  Promiscuity and drugs (they usually go together) causes problems physical as well as spiritual. The spiritual problem is death.  

            The Lord has a plan for our life!  The Red Cross wants your “gift of life” to be clean, and bad blood not to be shared. Ever more so, the Lord wants your blood clean and He alone cleanses in the blood of His Son. Finally and fully, the Red Cross cannot clean our blood: there is no medical procedure to cleanse our blood.  By the Cross, Jesus has and does so day by day in the gifts He gives to commune with us: prayer, Scripture, confession of sin and forgiveness of the same, confession of His Name.

            In the Harry Potter novels and movies, muggles are magic folks with a non-magic blood. In one of the books, there was a movement amongst the nasty magic folks for pure bloods. The muggles were also called by the ‘pure’ magic folks the highly derogatory “mudbloods”, so I changed the article’s title. Even in non-fictional life, “mudblood” sounds nasty.   It is in life. Yes, it is self-evident that we can do a lot to insure our blood is pure by NOT doing certain activities as indicated in the Red Cross questions, but once we think our blood is pure from birth then we are heading towards racialist and racist tyranny.  Then we think we’re pretty good, but the Lord is clear in His Word, the Bible we are not good but made to be good and for the good, that is, the Lord. The point is our blood is not pure, as the hymn’s lyric nails it: 

For He alone, whose blood was shed,
can cure the fever in our blood

We are all mudbloods, that is, born in original sin (Psalm 51:5;  Genesis 6:5Jeremiah 17:9Romans 3: 9-20). In the Beatitudes Jesus blesses all the mudbloods!  We are born with bad blood and it can get worse, but not so bad that the blood of Christ shed for sinners can not cleanse us(Hebrews 13:12) from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) and has and does (Matthew 26:28).

            This is a painting started by Lucas Cranach the Elder and then completed by his son. The Cranach family were friends of Luther. It is in the bulletin. It is a Painting that Preaches Christ.

I want to concentrate on only one part of the painting for All Saints and all the saints:  the blood pouring out of the crucified Jesus’ Body onto the three gentlemen standing to right of the crucified and I will tag them:  John the Baptist, Lucas Cranach and Martin Luther.  The depiction of blood coming from the side of Jesus on the Cross, usually going into a chalice, was a common one.  I would dare say that we find such depictions at best a charming relic of the past or most likely just plain yucky.  Wrong has the high yuck factor.

“…you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. ”   1 Peter 1

The blood of Jesus is poured out upon the Bible from which Luther is pointing.  The Bible has 3 Scripture passages on it and one is:   “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so also must the Son of man be lifted up, so that all [who believe] in [him may have eternal life]” (Jn 3:14).  If you asked any of all of the saints, are you a saint because you are good, what do you think their response might be?  No! Just the opposite!  The One who is good became all my bad and shed His blood for me that I may be His. Why would the painter include himself in his own painting?  Because by His blood, Cranach is telling us that he is forgiven, included and stands upon the Rock of our salvation. Picture yourself there. Breathe the free air. We see in this painting and the one behind me, the Lord’s cloth blowing in the breeze.  Why this picture?  Because at the Cross the Holy Spirit blows and moves teaching us Christ Jesus for us.  He died and rose for me and for thee and Baptism and faith receives and gives His gifts through faith.  Through Christ commanded and promised means of grace He gives what He wants to give:  all of God. And the painter is saying to us by the blood of Christ you can picture yourself here as well because you are!   The Lord says in effect:  Picture your self here. His blood is in His Word of grace for you. Your baptism was not only yesterday but today, as today is the day of salvation and we rejoice in it with St. Ernest and all the saints here and there awaiting the day of judgment and the resurrection. Breathe the free air.

He breaks the power of canceled sin;
He sets the prisoner free.
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood avails for me.

(“Oh, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”)

And this is what all the saints sing in the Name of the Father, and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

 

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