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Posts Tagged ‘blood of Christ’

1 Corinthians 3: 16-17:

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

The “you” in these verses is the second person plural, as “y’all”.  The Church is the Body of Christ filled with the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:  12-13) and the Christian’s body. The word “temple” in the Greek is naos which designated the Holy of Holies.  The Temple can be destroyed by desecrating the Temple with the practice of sinning without contrition and repentence. The Corinthians were ‘hooking-up’ with prostitutes and justifying themselves that this was okay.  The ravages of sexually transmitted diseases, though not mentioned in 1 Corinthians, were known back then, and yet pales in comparison to the spiritual ravaging.  Such sin desecrates the Temple, body and soul.  The Apostle Paul is emphatic in his Gospel statement: “…you yourselves are that temple”.  We have been made sacred by the blood of Christ preached into these bodies and souls by the Holy Spirit through the Word of the Cross.  

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6)

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

Below is a quote from Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “A Temple of the Holy Ghost” and is a great illustration of the Scripture above.     The quote is from the beginning of the story in which a mother and her daughter go to pick-up  two younger female cousins from their convent school, Mount St. Scholastica. The girls are into boys and clothes and are quite silly.  On the car ride, in the back seat, the two cousins  keep on giggling as they keep on calling each other, “Temple One” and “Temple Two”.  When the daughter and her cousins are conversing about someone else, the Mother has finally had enough with this silliness coming from the back seat:         

                 “…she said, “That’ll be about enough out of you,” and changed the subject. She asked them why they called each other Temple One and Temple Two and this sent them off into gales of giggles. Finally they managed to explain. Sister Perpetua, the oldest nun at the Sisters of Mercy in Mayville, had given them a lecture on what to do if a young man should—here they laughed so hard they were not able to go on without going back to the beginning—on what to do if a young man should—they put their heads in their laps—on what to do if —they finally managed to shout it out—if he should “behave in an ungentlemanly manner with them in the back of an automobile.” Sister Perpetua said they were to say, “Stop sir! I am a Temple of the Holy Ghost!” and that would put an end to it. The child sat up off the floor with a blank face. She didn’t see anything so funny in this…

            Her mother didn’t laugh at what they had said. “I think you girls are pretty silly,” she said. “After all, that’s what you are—Temples of the Holy Ghost.”

The two of them looked up at her, politely concealing their giggles, but with astonished faces as if they were beginning to realize that she was made of the same stuff as Sister Perpetua.  Miss Kirby preserved her set expression and the child thought, it’s all over her head anyhow. I am a Temple of the Holy Ghost, she said to herself, and was pleased with the phrase. It made her feel as if somebody had given her a present.”

O Lord, stir up the hearts of Your faithful people to welcome and joyfully receive Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, that He may find in us a fit dwelling place;  who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

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I gave blood today and every donor has to ask a string of questions to assure the purity of the donor’s blood.  There is more than one question about intravenous drug use, AIDS and homosexual contact.  So if taking drugs and homosexuality are so “okay” or right, then how can such ‘normal’ activities spread disease leading to death?  There is not one question to the effect:  Have you made love to your wife/husband in the last year?  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 and causes problems physical as well as spiritual.  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.  Finally and fully, the Red Cross can not clean our blood, but by the Cross, Jesus has.

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.  My wife reminded me after reading this article that 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, or by  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. 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).  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).

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70 years ago today the largest fleet ever assembled in world history landed on Normandy Beach, France to invade Hitler’s “Fortress Europe”.  Many brave and frightened men died this day for our freedoms, especially freedom from political tyranny.  Fly your flag today. The results were not a foregone conclusion.

The United States of America fought in order to win and stop tyranny. This seems like such a straightforward thought which seems to elude our leaders in our generation. We can not bargain with tyrants and tyranny, political or spiritual. I think the motto of the Commonwealth of Virginia is right on target: Sic Semper Tyrannis. And I give thanks to the Lord for all those on this day, borrowing the Marine’s motto for all, were Semper Fidelis. 

C.S. Lewis, writing at the time, gave us a poignant lesson from D-Day for the Church.  Before the quote below, Lewis is discussing the fact that Faith is not about God having one part of us but He claims the whole and then makes the comparison with D-Day:

 In all of us God “still” holds only a part. D-Day is only a week ago. The bite so far taken out of Normandy shows small on the map of Europe. The resistance is strong, the casualties heavy, and the event uncertain. There is, we have to admit, a line of demarcation between God’s part in us and the enemy’s region. But it is, we hope, a fighting line; not a frontier fixed by agreement.

On Pentecost, 50 days after Easter, the  Lord, Holy Spirit began assembling the invasion force, the militia Christi, the army of Christ  to preach and teach His Word.  The resistance of the flesh, the world and the devil is strong, the martyrs many, and the event uncertain.  Many died for freedom in Christ Jesus against the idolatries of the age.   Our hope we pray is fulfilled in the kingdom come. In The Large Catechism Luther taught that in this life we are only half-way pure (fwiw:  I think he was being optimistic!). I think both Luther and Lewis are teaching that this is, “…a fighting line;  not a frontier fixed by agreement.”   C.S. Lewis uses this comparison as a man who fought in the front lines during the first World War.  This is the strife of the Spirit in our lives, for us and for our salvation and the salvation of many in Christ Jesus. It is bloody, as in the blood of Jesus Christ shed for us all.  It is bloody, as in the blood of the martyrs who witnessed to Jesus Christ.  Luther sang, “…he fights by our side with the weapons of the Spirit”. (See Ephesians 6)  The devil does not take his enemies alive neither do political tyrants.  Tyrants are demonic.  They finally want the soul.  We can not bargain lives with tyrants and tyranny.  Sic Semper Tyrannis because of those who were and all Semper Fidelis. The Lord does take His enemies alive and frees them (see Romans 5:9-11!)   From the Epistle reading for the 7th Sunday of Easter, 1 Peter:

 “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”

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The Circumcision of Jesus

His infant body now
Begins the cross to feel:
Those precious drops of blood that flow
For death the Victim seal. 

(Hymn #898, stanza 3, Lutheran Service Book)

Readings:  Numbers 6: 22-27;  Psalm 8;  Galatians 3: 23-29;  St. Luke 2: 21 (also read, Philippians 2: 1-11)

Reflection:  Eight days after a male Israelite’s birth, he is circumcised according to the Lord’s covenant with Abraham and Abraham’s descendants.  January 1st is 8 days after the birth of Jesus, December 25th.  This feast day stands in sharp contrast with the secular holiday of New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day. This feast day seems so stark, even a little bit on the squeemish side, as you look at the photo above:  an old man coming at an infant with a knife to cut off his foreskin! “What God proposes does not please the world, and what the world undertakes does not please God!” (Luther, sermon on Luke 2: 21)  But what is actually the odd holiday?  Remembering that our word “holiday”, is actually “holy day”.  No one intends to be holy on New Year’s Eve, just the direct opposite: drunkenness and hooking-up are the entrees on the New Year’s Eve menu, not covenant and Christ, yet this was the reason He was born, 

In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4: 3-5)

Jesus, under the Law, Who needed no Law, yet loved the Word of the Law, went under the knife to begin shedding His blood, and one day His whole body would be under the  knife, upon the Cross…He is risen.  Circumcision is a bloody business, so is sin, so is our salvation and our Savior, who in His blood, has given us the “gift of eternal life”. 

As He was given the Name above all names (Philippians 2:9), so that we are no longer children, but His Sons and Daughters through “adoption”, that is, Baptism, born from above, in the Name of the Lord (Matthew 28:19John 3:5).

He was circumcised on the 8th day.  “The eighth day follows the Sabbath and a new week begins.  So also a new and different circumcision began when the infant Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day” (Luther’s Sermon on Luke 2: 21), that is:

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2: 10-12)

The new year is basically not new but the wearied cycle of sin causing resolution.  Only Christ Jesus makes, not a new year, but a new people, through Him,

“…who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2: 14)

It is about repentance, not resolution.The new people can have daily and joyful repentance, looking to Him daily in Word and Sacrament, prayer, praise and thanksgiving,

“… looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12: 2)

Lord God, You made Your beloved Son, our Savior, subject to the Law and caused Him to shed His blood on our behalf.  Grant us the true circumcision of the Spirit that our hearts maybe be made pure from all sins, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

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“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3: 13, NIV)

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. Leviticus 17: 11

For this day, the Thursday of the 4th Sunday of Easter, the appointed Old Testament reading is Leviticus 17: 1-16, including the verse above.  Pr. Scott Murray (Memorial Lutheran Church, Houston, Texas) has this solid reflection on Leviticus 17: 11 from his A Year with the Church Fathers: Meditations for Each Day of the Church Year.  After which I have some additional comments.

Life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). Therefore, there cannot be atonement for sin without the shedding of blood. The sacrifices of the Old Testament with their profusion of blood reminded the people of their blood-shedding depravity. Oceans of blood were poured out over the centuries at the temple. But none were sufficient, until the final sacrifice made them all obsolete. Only the blood of God’s Son was sufficient to make whole the corrupt flesh of poor sinners. “The life of the flesh is in the blood.” Thus the blood poured out from the flesh of the Son of God was alone able to make whole the flesh of all. His blood gives life to our flesh. So powerful was that blood that repetition was unnecessary.

Though our sins are great and we feel their weight, greater yet is the power of the blood that pays for all sin perfectly for the whole world and for all time.

Old Adam and his ally, Satan, are ever casting doubt upon the power of this blood, demanding a repetition of sacrifice from us. No such repetition is possible; none would be good enough. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). The life is in His blood.

In an excellent article in Touchstone magazineThe Red Cross of Jesus : On Recovering the Lifeblood of the Church Rev. Russell D. Moore (1) takes up the issue of the blood of Christ in the church by basically asking the question:  Whatever happened to the blood of Christ in hymnody, worship and preaching?

His first sentence is:  “American Christianity is far less bloody than it used to be.”  And it seems that American society is whole lot more bloody than it used to be.  We have ‘sanctioned’ pornography and also violence.  We use to avoid both because pornography and violence feeds the fever in our blood and it seems that “blood lust”  works for both for violence and sexual lust. I do not think 21st century American society is more violent than it used to be but the difference is that we now say to  play at sex and violence is okay.  It’s not.  When we look at what breaking the 5th Commandment (You shall not murder) and the 6th (no adultery) has wrought in our time, the pursuits of both through games, gaming, videos, movies, etc. is temptation to thought and word. The Old Adam loves it. It is not new but as old as Cain.  Law can only contain it.  Whole armies of therapists, sociologists, social workers can not stop it. It can not be stop by human agency.   Jesus Christ was not bloodless as many make Him out to be.  He came to shed His blood.  This hymn verse is spot on:

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

Only He can, by His forgiveness, His blood shed for you, cure the fever in our blood.  “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). The life is in His blood.”

O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your passion.  Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

(1) Baptist minister and  Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also serves as Professor of Christian Theology and Ethics

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