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Posts Tagged ‘Concordia Lutheran Mission’

Hillel House Washington and Lee University 204 W. Washington Street Lexington, Virginia 24450

I found out this past week that the Library will not be available for us this Sunday, 2 March,  so we will be meeting this Sunday, Transfiguration,  at the Hillel House, 204 W. Washington Street, Lexington (across from Sweet Things): Bible Class @ 9:30am, (on 1 Corinthians) and the Divine Service @ 10:30am. 

On Ash Wednesday, 5 March and likewise we will be at the Hillel House, Divine Service with Imposition of Ashes @ 7:30pm.

 During Lent on Wednesdays, beginning March 12, a Lenten Bible Study on the 6 Building Blocks of Faith and the Church from Luther’s Catechisms, 6:45pm-7:45pm, @ the Library, in the Conference room.

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13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

In the 70s, symphony conductor and composer, Leonard Bernstein wrote a kind of an opera/musical called “Mass” which the story of the celebrant of a Roman Catholic Mass and his faith and loss of it, and restoration, told within the parts of the Christian Liturgy. .  The opening is “Simple Song”. Part of the song’s lyric has stuck with me now for years, “Sing like you like to sing; God loves all simple things. For God is the simplest of all” A simple man is a humble man.  Jesus said, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.(St. Matthew 11).  God is the humblest of all, compared to the preening of his creation, man.  Man, wanting to be like God, will only say I am humble to impress someone.  Someone wrote, How odd of God to choose the Jews.  Only odd to man who thinks he’s god. He chose a people needing choosing, despite themselves, Israel.  He chose as His first disciples 3 fishermen. He began the Sermon on the Mount with beatitudes with the first Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.  His blessing is simple. For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,     but the haughty he knows from afar. Psalm 138: 8 And before Sermon on the Mount,  the Lord simply called His first disciples.

One day Carl asked Jesus:
 

He called, the fishermen followed but it is in the Lord’s calling they followed, by His Word.   He baptized, we follow, all His Words from love your enemies to seek ye first the kingdom of God, coming to realize only by staying close to Him as He is to us, we are not straying. Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  His last beatitude before today’s Gospel, Blessed are you when you are persecuted.  The message of His forgiveness will not be received well in self-sufficient, self-made, self-invented world that is Olympic in it’s ambitions. 

You are and you are, the salt of the earth, the light of the world. The Lord loves simple things, after all He created them.  We take salt and light for granted yet without salt and light there would be no life on the earth.  The first thing the Lord created was light.  He created salt to sustain life.   Salt and light are so simple.  You are the salt of the earth, the light the word:  these are plain declarative sentences.  They are not imperatives, You must be the salt of the earth, you must be the light of world.  There is nothing to achieve in our Lord’s declarative statements but everything to receive by faith in His call to us all.  It is you He redeemed to be salt and light and they are meant to be in the earth, here and now. It makes not sense to light a candle and put it under a basket!  Maybe we, as a mission, should not be hidden away here in the Piovano room here in the library. 

 Jesus is describing His Church, His own Body.  Salt is bitter and is so different from that which it preserves, seasons and yes, saves.  Light is so different from darkness so that we can see the way and yes, be saved.  The Apostle Paul really only had one mission strategy:  For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  We have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, so good that He died alone, shamed, bloody and naked on the cross to save us from even our selves.  So good, He rose again from the dead and gives us His Body and blood, taste and see the Lord is good, His mercy endures forever, as the psalmist prayed. The Cross is so different from the tasteless and dark world. If any pastor or minister in his preaching and sermons does not lead always to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he’s not doing his job.  The apostle Paul said we preach Christ and Him crucified, present tense.  Jesus Christ is the present tense Savior for present tense sinners.   His Word pierces the darkness as to who He saves us to be:  the salt of the earth, the light of the world.  Our righteousness is to exceed that of the Pharisees. And, as Pr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer commented on this lesson:  “…the disciple had the advantage over the Pharisee in that his doing of the law is in fact perfect. How is such a thing possible? Because between the disciples and the law stands one who has perfectly fulfilled it, one with whom they live in communion. They are faced not with a law which has never yet been fulfilled, but with one whose demands have already been satisfied.” The righteousness it demands is already there, the righteousness of Jesus which submits to the cross because that is what the law demands.  Jesus Christ was born under it that in Him we have the righteousness that comes by faith, exceeding the law.  He deepens our righteousness into our very hearts and will as we will see next week. 

A few years back I saw an ad for this kind of hand-held olive wood cross with this ad copy, ““Shaped to comfortably fit into the palm of your hand as you pray and meditate, crafted to inspire you with its deep meaning in your faith.” The cross is no talisman. His Cross is not about fitting comfortably into the world but that we be comforted and fit into His hand, forgiven, loved before the foundations of the world. Pastors, congregations, have tried so many ways to make the church tasty to attract new members, or maybe consumers.  A comedian once quipped that when he came back to church, in addition to communion, they now have a salad bar.  Trying to be tasty, we become tasteless.  Our calling is not to use the salt but not to lose the savor of His grace, mercy and peace in our lives.  Our good works in our Monday through Saturday life will point not to our selves but to Him, which we won’t even know we are doing pointing to Him who is our beatitude, our righteousness and peace. His Cross is not fitting comfortably into the world but that we be comforted and fit into His hand, forgiven, loved before the foundations of the world and we will look different than the world, in Him we point to him, who bore the Cross, we preach Christ and Him crucified, a present-tense Savior for present tense sinners, forgiven.  I conclude with a portion of a sermon preached by Pr. Johann Gerhard:

The Lord  the Master,  dies instead of the servants

In place of the debtors, the Faithful One; 

The Physician dies for the good of the patient;

The Shepherd rescues His sheep,

The King dies for the sins of His subjects;

The Peace-maker for the warriors;

The Creator dies for His creation;

God Himself wins man’s salvation!

What now should the servant, the debtor,

the sick one, the sheep, the nation, the multitude do? What should the creatures, mankind, do?

In love extol his Redeemer!

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

 

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The Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord: ChristMass Eve, Divine Service, 7:00pm, at the Library, refreshments following

 

“I am fearful and anxious, and for that reason I must remember that Christ is known by no other name than the one the angel gives, namely, “Great Joy.” Here I see another picture before me, that a virgin sits in a darkened stable in Bethlehem with a dear, gracious Child in her lap, whose name is “Great Joy.” (from Martin Luther’s Holy Christmas Day Sermon, 1532)

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What does sin look like?  No, it does not look like the front page of the newspaper, or the daily internet feed…that’s too easy, for then I can say, It’s them, not me…that somehow I am exempt from the sin of the world for which Christ Jesus came? I am not.

If I think I am, I lie and His truth is not in me, but beloved in the Lord, His truth is in me. 

What does sin look like?  It looks like the Word picture, the verbal icon we just heard from St. John’sGospel and as we sung and prayed in O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.  Sin looks like Jesus Christ: there, in Him as He is beaten, flogged, derided, spat upon, impressed with a crown of thorns, mocked, whipped 39 times, chained, bound, nails pounded into His feet and hands, thirsting…bloody and naked.  Adam, after he ate of the tree to become like God, saw he was naked and he was ashamed.  Jesus died naked for all to see, bearing the shame on the Tree for you and for me, so He calls us to His own.

What is unbearable to see in my self, He makes bearable by carrying our shame. He has.  once and for all: He does and He will be our Savior.  Not just in one time of decision, but His decision is to be your Lord day by day.    What is unbearable to see in your self, He has bourn.  Do not look inward, look outside into His Face, His Cross, His Word, His life.  This word picture is for you that when sin and sorrow oppresses, we see not only what our sin looks like but we hear who our Savior is and immensity of His burden. For you. The two most important words in Holy Communion are For you, as in His body broken for you, His blood shed for you.  Everyone of His Words from the Cross are for you. I will focus on two:

In the old B.C. comic strip by the late Johnny Hart, two cavemen are gazing off and the one asks, “Do you believe in heaven or hell?” “It depends on what I did the night before.”

This is great cartoon!  It is a great cartoon of God’s Law!  On Good Friday we are reminded heaven or hell depends finally and fully  upon what He did…for you!  He does not want to give you hell, but His heaven as the thief on His right hand knew he deserved,  as we all do, and there on his cross he confessed his sin:

 

 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  St. Luke 24

There is little ditty, made popular by the Taize community, with the lyric straight from thief on the cross, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  It is simply repeated again and again and again, but it never comes to the answer to the thief’s repentant prayer and his answer, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”[1] This is what finally matters and upon which our salvation rests in true repentance…today you will be with Me in Paradise:  for you.  Even before the last day, when we know of the Lord’s love toward us it is paradise even now:  for you.     

 

It is finished. Finished…come to a completion, fulfilled. Here in His Body is the beginning of the end of the world and beginning of eternal life in Him…for you.


[1] Insight courtesy of Pastor Mark Jasa, campus minister at USC, from his video blog

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34And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15)

When we were in New Jersey, I led a regular Communion service at the Lutheran Home for Aged Women in Jersey City.  The director was a nun.  One day we were talking and she pointed out something a priest once told her.  There are volumes in the Roman Catholic  Church of canon law, the massive rules and regs in the Roman Catholic Church. The priest pointed out to the sister that canon law is based upon the 10 commandments and we would not need canon law, if we just obeyed the 10 commandments.  I don’t know what I said then but I preach today:  Just keep the 10 commandments? Give me a break…but there is none. Therefore, invent canon law, more rules to keep the rules?  Now I do not want to take a swipe at Roman Catholics because this indicates in a big way that natural man thinks he can make it to heaven…and maybe God is our little helper. Bookstores are chocked full books of rules to keep the rules in the religion department and are bestsellers and most are Protestant, by folks who say they believe in His salvation by faith alone through grace.  Those bestsellers  are so-called ‘spiritual’ books.  There is more than a hint of desperation and fear in such and people buy them because they know the fear and desperation of not being right with God.  We heard it as a nation not so long ago with the financial meltdown:  “We’ve got to do something!”  No. Sin is usually we have done enough and always too much.  Be still and know that I am God, prayed the psalmist.  After all the taunting, there is silence at the Cross-It is finished.  It is finished, that is sin, death and the power of the devil and we did nothing.  The Law we could not keep is kept and fulfilled. He did it all, pure God and pure man. The equation is so simple and so profound:  Jesus + nothing = everything. The fullness of His life plus the nothing of my life apart from His equals everything:  salvation, peace, shalom. Peace with God is once more is made.  The kingdom of heaven is open to all believers.

If we can do that, keep the rules, then the Scripture, the Gospel of His death for us all is not needed:  just more rules are. However, all of the real Scripture is the red-letter edition of His grace, mercy and peace for us all. There is no “let’s make a deal” on Golgotha.  At the foot of the Cross-there is no bookstore selling volumes on 40 days to the new you or God is dead theology or spiritual atheism.  He knew that from the inside out in His God-forsakenness. The Gospel writers did not give us some of the 1st century street language, Aramaic that Jesus spoke for literary flavor.  It underscores and emphasizes the deadly literalness of His dereliction from the sin of the world in which He became:  Eloi, Eloi, lema sabacthani.  Moreover, the life-giving literalness of the Aramaic we can now cry and pray to God daily:  Abba, Father because of the love of God pour out through Jesus’ veins for you and for me in the attestation of the Holy Spirit. There is no tit-for-tat religion in the room locked for fear by the disciples as in their midst the risen Jesus came and showed His hands and His side with the wounds from the Cross and said, Peace be with you. Only sheer life and love He gives us by His Word to us all:  yesterday, today, tomorrow…everyday.   There is no death in Him now, no condemnation: only love’s pure light.

I wish everyday were Christmas. It is.  Everyday is Good Friday. It is. Everyday is Easter. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” It is, because Jesus Christ is the gate of righteousness by whom we have entered into His presence. “Our Lord came down from heaven, died on the Cross and entered into my heart”. He is the door of the sheep.  He was made flesh in the virgin’s womb.  He suffered and died.  He is risen.  Everyday is Christmas, Good Friday and Easter by His death and life.  Life is no longer a matter of life and death.  It is His way of death and life.  His grace, mercy and peace are ours and we fear no powers not of earth, nor sin and death.  “Nothing in my hand I bring, but only to Thy Cross I cling.”

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