Archive for May 9th, 2019

First Anecdote:

I just came back from the Virginia Military Institute.  At Concordia Lutheran

Image result for VMI logo

Mission, two VMI Fourths (whom we civilians call “freshmen”) and I tried to meet once again for a confirmation class at Preston Library.  This is now at least the third, maybe the fourth time we have tried to meet and between either professors changing class times, or confinement or other factors, we have not met.  I am wanting to finish the 2nd Commandment with them. At least one time, one of the cadets finding out he could not meet about fifteen minutes before the beginning of class. I have found this frustrating. I thought tonight was going to be a lock but we forgot because it’s finals week, every spare room and study is being used!  Next, the three of us stood outside of Schipp Hall and we planned our next move to have a class this coming weekend before end of the academic year next week.

I do not bring this up to kvetch about our bad luck or VMI but to speak of my amazement at the dogged determination of these two cadets wanting Confirmation Instruction and trying again and again to make the class. Every weekend they try to make it to the Divine Service.  These two VMI cadets breathe new life into the old saying:  “Giving it the old college try”. 

Second Anecdote:

Several years ago, when I was the pastor of the ELCA congregation in Lexington, we had a snow storm of some size.  My wife and I realized we could make it into town to have Holy Communion.  We did not cancel.  We

maybe had a dozen for the Service.  I remember being fully vested and looking down snow covered South Main Street with no cars at all.  What to my wondering eyes, I saw two people walking down main street in the snow and the cold. As they approached  these two people were two of our Washington and Lee students, Jacob and E. W. coming to Holy Communion!  The distance is far enough to pick up students and cadets because it is at least 20 minute walk in good weather. I thought Washington and Lee needed to be heard from for this article!  It was so heartening to see them…btw, they were usually at the Service every Sunday.

Third Anecdote:

My Father-in-law, Ed, suffered from Parkinson’s and in the last years of his life, he could no longer speak and he would “freeze up”or he had amazing and scary bursts of vitality.  Anita, my Mother-in-law, brought Ed faithfully to the Divine Service every week and she did so to the last Sunday before Ed died.

These folks did not and do not “blow off” Christian education nor Christian worship.  They knew where they were “fed”. They have gone to some lengths to be with the Communion of Saints and then to think of our brothers and sisters in the Lord doing so under the penalty of imprisonment or death. We usually encourage people to come to Church for their own spiritual good and that’s true enough. Yet, when one goes to Church, this is an encouragement and a witness to others, a silent witness, to the centrality of Pulpit, Table, Font and Classroom for our lives in the Lord. “Oh, he’s there every Sunday”, as if that is nothing:  it’s not!  A saying:  The Lord’s People at the Lord’s Altar Every Sunday. And thank the Lord for those in your life who have encouraged you!

Maybe you have stories about a friend or family member and their devotion to the Lord in Church service/Bible class attendance. Please share them below in the comments section.

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On Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka, over 350 Christians were murdered in three churches as they worshiped on the day celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father. 

Yet, on this side of this troubled planet, some of our former political leaders, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton seem to have difficulty in using the word, “Christian”.  Look at this comparison of Mrs. Clinton’s tweets about the New Zealand mosque murders and the Easter killings:

The Christians of Sri Lanka are called “Easter worshipers” while Mrs. Clinton calls the mosque community by their right name, “Muslim”.  Former President Obama also used this curious label of “Easter worshipers”.  Obviously, we do not worship “Easter”.  We worship Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father:  The Lord our God. Why the avoidance of the name “Christian”?  Is this the now part of the accepted anti-Christian bias in liberal and progressivist elite society?  Yes, I think it is, but it does not explain the avoidance of the name “Christian” and with it, “Christ”.  The use of the name “Christian” is just the plain, sociological and reasonable use of an accepted cultural name. A Muslim would use this name in describing us.  Lutheran writer and commentator, Gene Edward Veith, in an article on anti-Christian feeling, wrote,

“But Christians want to take away my sexual freedom!” some will say.  “We are right to hate people like that.”  Well, Jews and Muslims don’t believe in unbridled sex either.  Do you hate them?” 

The answer is no to the last question but why hatred toward Christians? Is it because since the Enlightenment and the time of Voltaire, the prejudice against the Church has been part of European culture and has not abated and is now ensconcing itself on these shores? For instance: During the French Revolution and the reign of terror, this anti-Christian prejudice resulted in the cathedral of Notre Dame being confiscated, statues were destroyed, and it was made into a ‘temple of reason”.  But if Christianity is just a silly superstition that the enlightened, have seriously debunked, why avoid a word, that is, “Christian”? I think a deeper reason lies in the very word “Christian” whose root is “Christ”.

Some may be surprised to know that the word “Christian” is only used three times in the Bible, in the New Testament:

Acts 11:26: “…and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.”

Acts 26:28  “And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”

1 Peter 4:16  “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

Years ago, in a commentary that I cannot remember, the Biblical scholar ventured that the use of the name, “Christian” in the texts above was a pejorative name, used by the pagans of the “followers of the Way” (Acts 9:2 and 5 other references to “the Way” in Acts). The scholar reported that Nero had gangs of Roman tough guys called “Neroni” and so this “Christ” has his gang, the “Christiani”.  I think this is more clearly sensed in the 1 Peter citation, as if to say, “Though they try to smear you with the name Christian, live up to it, don’t be ashamed but glorify God with your good deeds, and don’t smear the name itself by immoral deeds.” If this was the case, then it was another way for the ‘enlightened’ pagan to make fun of Christ.  Now former President Obama and Mrs. Clinton are both Christians, why do they eschew the Name by which they have called themselves?  My guess is the Biblical understanding the Name of Christ is the only Name by which one is saved, and a person can be saved from Islam. The cultural elites know the Scriptures:

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2)

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved Acts 4:12

I speculate that the former President and Secretary of State would construe these texts as cultural superiority that has oppressed people and is offensive to them. The Lord and His Name has done just the opposite! Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton are in fact de facto universalists/unitarians. I can not in this article respond to the charge of cultural superiority, except to say that when the New Testament was written, the Church was in no superior cultural position!    The first followers of the Way knew from the get-go that in the Name of Christ there is authority, the authority of the preaching of the Name and Who stands behind His Name, in His sacrificial death and Resurrection to change lives in repentance and forgiveness to eternal life.  The censure of the Name of the Lord was in the beginning of the Church.  

The Epistle Reading for the 2nd Sunday of Easter (Year C), Acts: 5: 12-32, Peter is told by the religious authorities:

“We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 

They did not want teaching in “this name”.  The Apostle Peter and company were not trying “…to bring this man’s blood upon us” to condemn. Ironically, His blood is upon us to save us! The religious authorities could not even speak it. Yes, they probably thought it was heretical but they also knew the power in the Name of Jesus Christ that these Jews, followers of the Way, were ascribing to the Name of Jesus Christ. This is the reason so many want to stop the name, Jesus Christ, and its cognates, because the Lord is in His Name for our salvation in the public square.  The devil doesn’t want the Name preached and taught under the guise that’s it’s ‘culturally insensitive’ and especially in the public. Hell wants the public square to itself. The Name of the Lord is okay in the four walls of a church sanctuary but not for others to hear outside in the mall, the street, the internet, public gatherings because they might be saved. Yes, stopping the use of the Name and its forms, like Christian,  is clearly anti-Christian bias. Yes, the world does not like the morality that stands behind the Name. The base reason, though, is the world resists its Savior because the world intuits the claim that Jesus Christ is, “…Savior of the world” (John 4:42) could be true. The world resists because Jesus Christ has “overcome the world” (John 16:33), and the world in its vain lust wants to rule in its idolatrous ruin.

What was the Apostle Peter’s response to the authorities’ strict charge?

2But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

We need to pray for those times and opportunities we can publicly proclaim Your Name, Lord Jesus Christ, especially from the Church’s called and ordained Servants of the Word, and all Christians, one to one. Why? As Peter preached:

“…’And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ ” (Acts 2: 21)

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