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Archive for April 6th, 2020

Collect of the Day

We give thanks to You, O God, creator and fashioner of the universe, for the work of Your servants Albrecht Dürer and Lucas Cranach; and we pray that by the vigor and strength of their creations you would open our eyes to the wonder of life, the glories of creation, and the exploration of our place in the world; through Your son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

About: Lucas Cranach (1472-1557), a close friend of Martin Luther, was a celebrated painter of portraits and altar pieces and a producer of woodcuts of religious subjects. Albrecht Duerer (1471-1528), a native of Nuernberg, Germany, was one of the most learned of Renaissance artists and also an ardent admirer of Martin Luther. He was considered tHis paintings and woodcuts include examples of the splendor of creation and skilled portrayals of biblical narratives. Both Cranach and Duerer are remembered and honored for the grandeur of their works of art that depict the glory and majesty and the grace and mercy of the triune God.

“Who can exhaust all the virtue and power of God’s Word? The Holy Scriptures, sermons, and all Christian books do nothing but praise God’s Word, as we also do daily in our reading, writing, preaching, singing, poetizing, and in painting. This blessing abides and sustains us when the temporal blessings vanish and when through death we part from them and from one another. This blessing does not leave us or depart from us; it goes through death with us, tears us out of it, and brings us to eternal life, where there is neither death nor fear of dying.” – Martin Luther

This Durer piece is probably his most widely known work:

After Durer's Praying Hands Art Print by Peter Jochems

Lucas Cranach’s Wittenberg Altarpiece, in the Church in which Luther preached, portrays the Church nourished in Word and Sacrament which is based upon Christ’s death and Resurrection:

How Did Christians 500 Years Ago “Do Church”? | Painting, Medieval ...

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“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified”  St. John 12: 23b

Almighty God, grant that in the midst of our failures and weaknesses we may be restored through the passion and intercession of Your only-begotten Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Readings:  See “Read Before You Hear’ Page, Above

There was a famous televangelist, Robert Schuller, who’s TV show was entitled, “The Hour of Power”. He was more a proponent for positive thinking than he was of the Gospel.  His hour of power was all about positive thinking.  He even gave away the “Positive Thinker’s Bible” in which all the positive passages were in the color blue. I wondered if the 10 commandments and the cross were in blue.

Jesus also spoke quite a few times of the coming “hour”:  John 2:4John 7:30John 12:27,  John 16:32,John 17:1.   The hour would be suffering and death, humiliation and shame, then on the third day rise from the dead. Rev. Schuller said that the passages about Jesus’ crucifixion just showed that He had positive thoughts by which He would get through this.  It was not positive thoughts that led Jesus through it.  It was His love of mankind, for me and for you  and our redemption in His blood that Jesus led us the way through the valley of the shadow of death and sin.  He came to do the Father’s will.  

There is more to life in this world than this life lived on our terms.  Even positive thinking is a symptom of the sin of Adam.  Such positive thinking helps to alleviate symptoms but not the root cause:  man separated from his God. Man cannot bridge the chasm, only the One who true God and true man has. Thinking apart from the Lord leads us down many a rabbit hole:  first the hole seems utopian but rabbit holes are terrible dead ends. That fruit always looks good but it is cursed.  And in the faith and life in Christ we can admit we have failures and weaknesses, as we did in the prayer above.  The Lord knows as He cares for you and He bears you up.  The second Adam, the man from heaven came to this hour to bear our sin and be our Savior.  

The hour was the  Triduum,  or The Three Days:  the period of three days that begins with the liturgy on the evening of Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) and ends with evening prayer on Easter Sunday. The Triduum is the culmination of the Lenten journey.  All of our positive thoughts, as nice and good as they can be, won’t lead us through.  Christ is the good Seed planted into the earth, His death and now risen to bear much fruit:  faith in Him, love of Him, hope in Him to bear fruit as He is the vine and we are the branches (cf. St. John 15).  He leads us through as He is the pioneer and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12: 1-2), not us!

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