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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Trinity’

 

1O LORD, our Lord,
   how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
 2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
   to still the enemy and the avenger.

 3When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
   the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
   and the son of man that you care for him?

 5Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
   and crowned him with glory and honor.
6You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
7all sheep and oxen,
   and also the beasts of the field,
8the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
   whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

 9O LORD, our Lord,
   how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Intro:  This is the appointed psalm for this Sunday, the Holy Trinity.  It’s appointment for Holy Trinity is obvious as it praises the Name of the Lord, the blessed and Holy Trinity,  “…in all the earth” and the Name of Jesus, given in His circumcision, the Incarnate Name of God, crucified for “all the earth” and it’s inhabitants,   “…. (t)herefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Therefore, the significance of this psalm in relationship to the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity is highlighted by the following unique aspects of Psalm 8:

  • Psalm 8 is the first praise psalm in the Psalter.
  • Psalm 8 is the only psalm prayed “…completely as direct address to God” (James Luther Mays).
  • Psalm 8 is one of the Psalms of David, as recorded in the Text.

Verses 1 and 9:  The first sentence of verse 1 is exactly the same as verse 9.  These verses form a kind of  bookends to the Psalm.  Verse 1 is the statement of the theme prompting the praise of David:  the Name of the Lord.  Verse 9 is the conclusion of the Psalm as the reasons for the praise have been sung that are behind and integral to the Name of the Lord.   Verses 1 and 9 are theme and conclusion in the exact same words!

The verses center on the Name of the LORD.

  • First:  His Name is “majestic”, glorious.
  • Second:  His Name is “…in all the earth”.

David’s concern here is obviously the rock which is the LORD’s Name and it is not restricted to Israel but goes out “…in all the earth”, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in His one work in creating, redeeming and sanctifying. 

Names are significant.  Probably the most unique decision parents’ make regarding the prospect of a birth:  the name of the child.  In the Jewish rite of circumcision the question is asked, What will the child’s name be in Israel? In Baptism, the question is asked of the person to be baptized, “How is he named?”. This is all reflected in the authority the Lord gave to Adam in naming the lesser creatures. Names are significant in the Bible all around, for instance:

  • The word “name” grammatically part of the “Lord” or “God” appears in some 110 times in the  Psalms.
  • The Lord names His Son (Luke 2: 21).
  • The Lord changes the name of one He has called as that man has been transformed by the Lord:  Abram-Abraham;  Jacob-Israel;  Simon-Peter.
  • The Lord taught us to pray to sanctify His Name in calling upon Him in the disciples prayer:  Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy Name.

We give our child a name and the Lord gave us His.  When Moses asked the Lord His Name in His revelation in the burning bush, it was  momentous event in the history of the world.  For with the giving of  His Name comes the responsibility of calling upon His Name and also the prospect for us fallen sons of Adam and daughters of Eve to abuse it.  The LORD gave Moses His Name (Exodus 3:  13-15).  Then later the LORD gave a commandment, the 2nd, for the godly and right use of His Name:  You shall not take the Name of the LORD thy God in vain.  Luther in The Small Catechism sums it up well:

We should fear and love God that we may not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.

We know all too well the  misuse of His Name but here in Psalm 8, in fact, all 150 Psalms is the right and godly use of His Name. His Name in Hebrew is usually capitalized in many English translations as LORD.  The photo above is of the Old Cathedral (Roman Catholic) near the Arch in St. Louis, MO.  When my wife saw it she asked, “You went to a synagogue?”(!)  The 4 Hebrew letters, or Tetragrammaton, is phonetically rendered Yahweh.  Underneath the Name is a Latin saying:  Deo Uni et Trino, God One and Three:  the Holy Trinity, the one LORD.   Praying the Psalter we make holy His Name for our  lives transformed by the Holy Spirit in the conformation of them in Jesus Christ.

 The LORD commanded Solomon to build His Temple and as Solomon prayed at the dedication of the Temple, “…the place of which you have said, ‘My name shall be there’” (1 Kings 8: 28). And yet Solomon prayed,“Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8: 27).  The LORD is close by, in His Temple and yet all of creation can not contain Him!  So David prayed in this Psalm, His Name in all the earth and yet His Word is out of “babes and infants”, close-by.  His Name is close-by, in Jesus Christ, in His Word and Sacraments, yet day by day in our daily prayer offered in faith, “O LORD, our Lord” as His Presence is everywhere.

Let us pray…

“Do not My holy name disgrace, do not My Word of truth debase.

Praise only that as good and true Which I Myself say and do.  

                 Have mercy, Lord!”            

                                                                                                                    

(LSB, #581, These Are the Holy Ten Commands”)

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My father, when he was in the FBI, went to the shooting range monthly and I loved it when he brought back a target, like the one  on right, with holes in head and heart.  An officer of the court must learn to shoot to kill. The heart has the most points. This clip art  is to show how to make the sign of the cross.  I also thought it looks like the target, a bull’s eye. Well, it  sort of is. You are the Lord’s target.  You were His target on the Cross. The Word made flesh spoken and administered in the Sacraments takes aim at us, heart and mind and soul and flesh.  To kill?  Yes, He aims to kill the old Adam and put more and more of His life in us. The Lord alone can so take that aim. Your heart and your will count the most and He has given us His most: Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  When we make the sign of the Cross it is mostly with the words of Invocation, prayer:  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.  Please take aim O Lord, forgive, renew and lift up Your servant, Your son, Your daughter whom You baptized.  When sin is killed, it can’t be held in trust,  but I am held in His nail printed hands in faith. We have wounds. He alone heals the holes in heart, soul and mind and fills them by His grace to heal our wounds.

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I took the picture on the front cover. It is the Old Cathedral (Roman Catholic) near the Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. The Name on the top, in Hebrew is the Tetragrammaton (four letters), that is, the Name, the LORD revealed by Him in the burning bush to Moses. The Latin saying translated is, “God One and Three” on the steeple, pointing us to heaven—Pr. Schroeder

Text:  St. Matthew 28: 16—20  

Question:  What is the Holy Trinity?

The Lord, the blessed and holy Trinity is like…like a three leaf clover, 3 leaves, one stem.  No, St.Patrick, that’s modalism, that there are 3 different modes of God.

Like an apple, fruit, core, seed…

Nooo, Patrick that’s partialism instead of the 3 persons coequal.  You’re dividing up God, Patrick. 

Then the Holy Trinity is like water, steam, ice or liquid…

No, Patrick, that’s modalism again. 

Okay, okay.  Answer:  Whoever wants to be saved should above all cling to the catholic faith. Whoever does not guard it whole and inviolable will doubtless perish eternally.  Now this is the catholic faith:

WE WORSHIP ONE GOD IN TRINITY AND THE TRINITY IN UNITY, NEITHER CONFUSING THE PERSONS NOR DIVIDING THE DIVINE BEING.

 There you go Patrick!

We, including me, have tried to use an analogy, a simile to say what the  Holy Trinity is like.  There is no simile to describe God.  The Bible, God’s own Word to us, does not do so.  The first four words of the Bible in English are:  In the beginning God.  In Hebrew:  Ha-barasheet bara Elohim.  In the beginning, God created.  In the beginning there is God.  There is no other.  All mythologies begin with theogony, that is the story of the birth of the gods.  Not the Bible, which indicates the Bible is not a mythology.  “In the beginning God” means He has been since before the foundations of the world.  God is not created, neither is the Father,  as opposed to Mormonism. Joseph Smith falsely taught that the ‘Father’ was flesh and bones and simply evolved into a spiritual being.  So who created this Father?  Again, this is  mythology named Mormonism. 

 The Bible does not begin with the birth of God, but it begins with cosmogony, the way the LORD created the heavens and the earth, which means the Bible begins with theology, that is the Word of God about God from God in Who He is: Creator. But not Creator alone, the Spirit of God hovered, brooded over the face of the deep, that is the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life. And God said, Let there be light.  God SAID and it is written in John 1, and The Word was with God and the Word was God…then later in the chapter the Word became flesh. He is utterly holy, not once but three times over Holy, holy, holy. Thrice Holy, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, yet not three holies in the Lord, but One Who alone is holy.  WE WORSHIP ONE GOD IN TRINITY AND THE TRINITY IN UNITY, NEITHER CONFUSING THE PERSONS NOR DIVIDING THE DIVINE BEING.

 You and I probably understand more of this than we let on but we have been told it is too difficult to understand by well meaning pastors, Sunday School teachers, and/or  friends in Christ. Yet, I do admit a degree of difficulty, that is, hard to wrap the mind around it. So let’s make it simple, but is that the way?  “Theology for Dummies”?  I cannot imagine being a math teacher or professor and promoting, Calculus for Dummies.

 First, no one here or those we know or meet are “dummies”.  I would not call a retarded person a “dummy” since all people can learn per their levels of intelligence.  It is ill befitting for any man and woman, made in the image of God to be called a “dummy”.

 Second, as we confessed in the Athanasian Creed that the Son, having a “rational soul”, as we do, means we can reason and so understand the Bible and confessional Lutheran theology.  Ian Anderson, songwriter and chief singer of Jethro Tull said it well in his song “Thick as a Brick”: “I may make you feel but I can’t make you think”.  Rationality means the ability to think.  What goes for much of American church life is like most of television:  make you feel but when asked to give a defense of the hope that is in us, we are wholly unprepared. Note how many times a serious discussion begins with, “I feel” instead of “I know”, “I think” or “I believe”.  Believing is not feeling but a type of knowing based upon rational facts, as it is obvious from the facts of creation there is an intelligent design. Random chance cannot create order and beauty.   It would be interesting to do one of those man on the street interviews which asking  similar questions to, Who is your governor?, where is the nation’s capitol?, like, Who are the three persons of the Holy Trinity?  Where was Jesus born?  There have been studies of people’s religious knowledge and the people do not receive a passing grade, but then again they have not been taught. Our government sponsored schools will not teach the Bible.

 I have read a couple of articles that golfing has experienced a significant decrease in those playing.  Cited are the length of time to play 18 holes, the difficult rules and the size of the golf hole.  In other words, golf  has a degree of difficulty and you know where I am going with this.  The suggestions have been change the rules and make the golf hole the size of a pizza.  In other words, Golf for Dummies, or would it Golf for Sloths?  Many have rightly decried these suggestions saying, It wouldn’t be golf.  When we make the Christian faith easier, simple, actually simplistic, it is no longer the Christian faith and central to the Christian faith is the Lord, the Holy Trinity.

 First make the rules, that is the 10 Commandments simpler, then God’s Law no longer rules which means we do not want the Lord to rule. Yet His commandments still rule and we can not shake it off. When it comes to rules of life, the 10 commandments, they are hard, not to understand but to do.   So make the target easier that is just replace it with man-made religious rules or  feeling good or self-esteem, that is, a hole the size of pizza.  It is then not a hole but a yawning abyss because people aren’t feeling good or esteem themselves because they don’t believe or do anything. Consider the Word of God:  man and woman is made in the image of God.  Consider today’s Psalm, He made us a little lower than the angels.  The Lord has a better picture of us than our own self-image as say consumer, as, “…man willing to define himself as a ‘seeker after the maximum degree of comfort for the minimum expenditure of energy.’”, so Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel.  And when  one does not believe in anything, especially God, then we fall for anything, as we can see our  churches, nation and world careening out of control, rudder-less. But many have their hand firmly on a rudder, Satan’s, as we see the Islamists growing like a cancer in Syria and Iraq.  Those pizza size holes eventually become sink holes, taking many down with them. Our hope is the Lord who made heaven and earth that His hand is on the rudder, when mankind is bailing. I may make you feel good but I can not make you be good. Only He who is utter goodness makes, recreates us good, by faith in the Son who bore our bad. His rudder is His Cross and the Holy Spirit has a firm grip on the rudder.

 The proper name in the Bible, Michael, or Mik-ky el, literally means “Who is like God?”  The psalmist asked as well,

The Lord is high above all nations,
    and his glory above the heavens!
Who is like the Lord our God,
    who is seated on high,
who looks far down
    on the heavens and the earth?

There is no simile to say who the Lord is like.  Who is like God functions as rhetorical question with the answer: there is no one, no one like the Lord our God.  This is God who is transcendent and most religions concur with this and rightly so, but Psalm 113 continues:

He raises the poor from the dust
    and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes,
    with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a home,
    making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the Lord
!

Psalm 113 is a group of several psalms called in Judaism the Hallel Psalms, as they all have the word Hallelujah.  They were sung on Passover and Psalm 113 is the first one.  It would have been the first one the Lord and His disciples sang in night in which He was betrayed as they celebrated the Passover in the upper room. Then in the fullness of time the Lord Himself became poor. He did not merely look down, but He got down. The Lord is not merely transcendent, and for Him, this is not enough.  He is immanent, that is, He is close to those who are down, in dusty death, He comes. He went into the ash heap to raise us up as He is raised from the dead. We know the Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit not primarily  by definition but His destination for us all: Himself. We know Him by the deed of the Cross, not merely His omnipotence but His power to save in weakness for the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength (cf. 1 Corinthians 1). We know the Lord by what He has done as recorded faithfully in the Bible. The Lord as a teacher, stoops down all the way His students, His disciples,  to forgive us as we have broken all His rules, so to lift us up by His grace alone. His rescue is summed up in His Name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Note, it is not in the names of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not three names but one Name, one God, the LORD.  The Lord has put His Name, in the absolution of sinners, in the praise  and doxology of His Church, in our morning prayers  and in all our prayers, but first and foremost and always  in Baptism, by the Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection,  and flowing forth rivers of living water, the Holy Spirit, in faith, hope and love.  The Lord first called fishermen as His disciples to fish for men and He sent them forth with, and in,  the Name of the Lord. His Name is the net cast into the waters so to fish and save. He called the apostles to be part of the rescue, casting out the net of His Name into the deep.  As the Spirit hovered over the face of the deep, now into depths, His Name is cast to catch others in His grace. We are caught so we can be taught. 

 We have been regenerated and renewed in the spirit of our mind in baptism (Eph. iv. 23) ; let not the flesh then rule the spirit ! ” Old things are passed away ; behold, all things are become new ” (2 Cor. v. 17), let not then the oldness of the flesh prevail over the newness of the Spirit. We have become the sons of God by our new spiritual birth ; let us live worthily, therefore, of our Heavenly Father. We have become temples of the Holy Spirit; let us therefore prepare an abode that will be pleasing to such an honored Guest. We have been taken into covenant relation with God; let us take heed therefore that we do not serve the devil, and so deprive ourselves of the grace of this covenant.

 O Thou most blessed Trinity, accomplish all this in our souls, we humbly pray Thee! O Thou One only God, who hast bestowed Thy grace upon us in baptism, help us, we beseech Thee, to persevere in that grace unto the end.  Amen[1].

 

 

[1] From Sacred Meditations by Johann Gerhard

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Text:  St. Matthew 17: 1-9

Please note:  Today we worshiped in the Sanctuary/multi-purpose room of the Hillel House, the Jewish Campus Ministry center, for Washington and Lee University (see previous post) . If you are unfamiliar about synagogues, the center of a synagogue  is the bema (the place for the Torah Scrolls) and behind it the niche for the Scrolls.  The Hillel House is quite new and contemporary and the Torah niche is locked behind large wood sliding doors.  To my pleasant surprise, the doors were unlocked.  During the Sermon I opened up the niche at the point indicated in the sermon.

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

There are three set of threes in the Gospel lesson: 

First set:  Jesus takes up on the high mountain apart Peter, James and John

Second set:  Jesus conversing with Moses and Elijah

Third set:  The Son is transfigured, and then soon the cloud “overshadows” them all.  As when Mary asked the angel Gabriel, How can she conceive, “And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”  The overshadowing cloud is the sign of the Holy Spirit and then the Father speaks, This is My Beloved Son. The third set of threes is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three yet the one God and Lord of us all.

 The first set:  Peter, James and John

Why did the Lord select Peter, James and John from the twelve disciples?  This happened on more than one occasion, for instance, He took them apart when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane when the Lord was sorely distressed. Yet, on both occasions, Peter, James and John fell asleep. Asleep during the glory they wanted so much.  In the previous chapter from Matthew, Peter confessed Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  Upon this confession, Jesus said, I will build My Church. Sounds glorious, doesn’t?   To build His Church, He said He would be arrested, beaten, crucified, cast out and on the third day rise again. Not so glorious and so  Peter basically said, God forbid.  Peter wanted glory without the Cross, that is, the full pardon of sinners in the necessary judgment of sinners which Jesus bore fully in His sinless body and soul.  Luke tells us Peter and company fell asleep during the Transfiguration, overwhelmed by the light, not able to take it in.   James and John make the request of Jesus to sit on His left hand and His right hand…Jesus told them it wasn’t for Him to give but to those so appointed, in a sense Jesus was telling James and John  they could not take in such glory.

The Old Adam cannot take in earthly glory.  When in ancient Rome, after a military victory, there would be a great parade of the soldiers, exotic animals taken in the conquest, musicians and dancers to honor the conquering Roman General and then a slave would whisper in the general’s ear:   “All glory is fleeting”.  “Sic transit Gloria mundi”, thus passes the glory of the world.  The Romans got some things right but they said it with nostalgia for a glory that would persist and endure but they could not grab with all their military might and cultural glory. We see day in and day out, famous people at the pinnacle of achievement and power, acting to the world as if the glory would last forever and we think so as well, then stupendously fall.  Proverbs 16: 18: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  We will hear next week  in the Gospel for the 1st Sunday in Lent, the devil tempting Jesus three times and the two times, devil takes Him, where? The heights.  First to the pinnacle of the Temple then it is to a high mountain and then shows him all the kingdoms of the world, “…and their glory”.  We do not win in the Faustian bargain.  We cannot be safe in the devil’s dealing on our own.  Now most of us do not have to concern ourselves with such, but we do hanker after it…like at a gas station, a dollar and a dream in a lottery ticket. The Old Adam cannot take in temporal earthly glory in our depravity and so eternal glory? Hardly.  When the three disciples hear the Voice, then they fall down in terror, and Jesus touches them and they see Jesus only.  He goes to Jerusalem. No man nor woman can grab and hold on to glory, but the glory of the Word made flesh holds them and His hand is strong to save.  He is love’s pure light, His love to give and forgive in His hands.

So it was to the first set of three that the Lord showed His glory.  This is the main reason He took them with Him to the “high mountain apart”;  and then, at the end, before Good Friday, He showed them His suffering of soul in Gethsemane:   they may know that the One who goes to the Cross is fully God as He is fully man and a man, so we fully know in faith.

Second set of threes:  Jesus conversing with Moses and Elijah

Peter wanted to build three tents for the second set of threes, equally built.  Maybe another reason Jesus took the first set of three is this:  they were quick learners but like many quick learners, they can also get the lesson quickly wrong, as Peter did wanting to build those three tents.  In the midst of the glory of uncreated light, Peter butts in, he asserts himself when he should have been listening.  Not a shred of modesty and humility. 

 “…what we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert—himself.” (G. K. Chesterton) 

Peter is very careful in his speech: a tent, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah, implying Jesus is an equal with Moses and Elijah. Peter got that wrong.  Jesus is Moses’  and Elijah’s Lord. 

 “…He asked them:  Whom do men say that the Son of man is, they said to Him: Some say Elijah;  some others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.  And so He led them up into a high mountain, and showed that he was not Elijah, but the God of Elijah;  that neither was He Jeremiah, but He had sanctified Jeremiah in his mother’s womb; that neither was He our of the prophets, but the Lord of the prophets, and he had that had sent them.”—St. Ephrem

 Now in this place, to even say Jesus is equal to Moses and Elijah might be hotly contested, let alone He is the God of Elijah and Moses.  Elijah and Moses were talking with Him.  Luke tells us  the content of their holy conversation: it was about Jesus’ departure, literally His exodus.  Jesus does not insist on some bragging rights over against Moses and Elijah which would be sinful.  He wants us to know that all of that which the Lord inspired Moses and Elijah to write and to speak is to point us to the Lord. Joseph Smith and Mohammed, both heretics, rewrote the Bible, Jesus did not, He could not, for He know whom He inspired and knew what He needed for us to hear: the Law and the Prophets. These Words, in the these Scrolls, the first five books of Moses.  He did not rewrite the Bible,  He fulfilled it for us all, and He is clear that the Old Testament is God’s unaltered Word.

“…you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.(2 Timothy 3)

The Lord who called Moses and Elijah, not because they were great, but to show them His Word and now the Lord’s Word shines upon them as it did so many years ago. Still does.  In many and various ways God spoke to His people old by the prophets but now in these last days he has spoken by His Son. 

 Third set:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit

The Son is transfigured, the Holy Spirit descends in the cloud of light and the Father speaks.  Epiphany begins with Jesus’ baptism.  As the Son came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended as a dove and the voice spake:  Thou are my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased, the exact words the Father said of His Son in His Transfiguration but now He adds, Listen to Him.  The Father does not merely say, my Son, but my beloved Son:  for in the Lord, the Father loves the Son and that holy love pours forth in the Holy Spirit. “…God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Peter, James and John fell in terror, not at Jesus transfigured, not at the bright cloud but at the Word of God, yet it is the Word of such holy love…maybe that’s why they were sore afraid.  On another occasion when the Lord filled his fishing boats with so many fish the boats began to sink under the weight of so much goodness, Peter fell down before Him and said, Depart, from me O Lord for I am a sinful man.  Sinful man can not gaze into the unmasked utter goodness and mercy of the living God without terror at their own wretchedness.  The Father says to them and to us all, Listen to Him.  We will hear next week, again Lent 1, tell the devil, Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, quoting the Bible, specifically Deuteronomy.  We listen and hear every Word from God in the Bible and from the Word made flesh.  The love of God in Jesus Christ, literally touched them, Rise and fear not, Peter, James and John, I have loved you from before the foundations of the world and I will go down to die and then to rise. The first set of three is you and me.  The second set of three, the Church, in which we are made part of, His Body by our baptism into the Holy set of Three, In the Name of the Father, and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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At the risk of belaboring this…so this one minute ‘service’ was just a “joke” and according to another website, the church secretary of this congregation said that the regular service followed.  “Just a joke”.  In other words, joking around with the Divine Service, prayer,  the Word of God and the Name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost…the Name of God, as in, the Second Commandment:

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain.

What does this mean?–Answer.

We should fear and love God that we may not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His Name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks. (emphasis my own)

This is not a laughing matter. Lord, have mercy when any of us so does this!  

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Collect of the Day:

Almighty God, You revealed to Your Church your eternal being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in a Trinity of Persons. May Your Church, with bishops like Basil of Caesarea,Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa, receive grace to continue steadfast in the confession of the true faith and constant in our worship of You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who live and reign, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Intro:  Basil and the two Gregorys, collectively known as the Cappadocian Fathers, were leaders of Christian orthodoxy in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) in the later fourth century. Basil and Gregory of Nyssa were brothers; Gregory of Nazianzus was their friend. All three were influential in shaping the theology ratified by the Council of Constantinople of 381, which is expressed in the Nicene Creed. Their defense of the doctrines of the Holy Spirit and Holy Trinity, together with their contributions to the liturgy of the Eastern Church, make them among the most influential Christian teachers and theologians of their time.

(Source: The Treasury of Daily Prayer)

Reflection:  I have not read much by the Gregorys, but I have read the book cited below from which are quotes.  I find the book faith-strengthening.   Basil was responding to a heresy that denied the equality of the 3 persons of the Holy Trinity.  The heterodox were claiming the subordination of the Holy Spirit to the Father and the Son, instead of the Trinity being co-equal,  by teaching that the conjunctions used in the Bible , referring to the Holy Spirit,  demonstrated this.  Basil goes through and logically shows this is not the case by a word by word  study of the conjunctions in the Bible!   The translator of this work takes up the subject that theological work is boring and dry, as taught by Basil, and the translator comments:

  •  ”It is this translator’s opinion that  a good dose of dry logical Cappadocian theology can serve as an effective antidote for the subjective emotionalism in which modern Christians frequently find themselves engulfed.  Doctrine these days is often ignored, taken for granted or replaced with individualism, and perhaps the fathers can help us by reminding us (often with many words!) that God became man to show us the truth which gives life and freedom a truth which is eternal.”(David Anderson, On the Holy Spirit by St. Basil, 1980, St. Vladimir’s Press)

Boring and dry?   Yes, at times, but other times, exciting and wet, wet with  Holy Baptism in God’s Holy Name! C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity that doctrine is like a map.  Maps are not themselves the  geography but can show us the way of the terrain of false doctrine and heresy to the truth to guide the way.  Updating that word picture, doctrine, like the Nicene Creed is like GPS,  showing us the way in the summation of God’s righteous deeds finally and fully in Jesus Christ. The Nicene Creed is Scriptural, check it out here.  At the words of the Nicene Creed, “…and was made man”, the practice is to bow or even kneel at the confession of the Incarnation.  Luther thought this was meet, right and so to do.  Still is.  After all,  every knee shall bow in heaven or on earth at the Name of Jesus, see  Philippians 2:9-11.  Truth is not found in my heart or your heart, with all the subjectivism and sin we are prone, but in the true doctrine as the Church Fathers confessed and lived, there, objectively in Jesus Christ in the glory of God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, received by faith.

The first quote below is Basil’s response to his task of  answering the heretics’ use of  ”syllables”, the minutiae of small words, as integral to teaching and preaching the Truth. The remainder of the quotes stand on their own and also show that Justification by Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ (as in Holy Baptism) was not an invention of the blessed Reformers, but is in the Scripture as testified by many of the Church Fathers:

 Quotes from On the Holy Spirit by Basil the Great

  • “Instruction begins with the proper use of speech, and syllables and words are the elements of speech. Therefore to scrutinize syllables is not a superfluous task…If a man spurns fundamental elements as insignificant trifles, he will never embrace the fullness of wisdom. ‘Yes’ and “No’ are only two syllables, yet truth, the best of all good things, as well as falsehood, the worst possible evil, are most often expressed by these two small words.”
  • “What makes us Christians?  ‘Our faith,’ everyone would answer. How are we saved?  Obviously the regenerating grace of baptism.  How else could we be?  We are confirmed in our understanding that salvation comes through Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Shall we cast away the standard of teaching we have received?”
  • “If there is any grace in the water, it does not come from the nature of the water, but from the Spirit’s Presence, since baptism is not a removal of dirt from the body, but an appeal to God for a clear conscience. (1 Peter 3: 21)  The Lord describes in the Gospel the pattern of life we must be trained to follow after the (baptismal) regeneration:  gentleness, endurance freedom from the defiling love of pleasure, and from covetousness. We must be determined to acquire in this life all the qualities of the life to come. To define the Gospel as a description of the what resurrectional life should be like seems to be correct and appropriate, as far as I am concerned.”
  • “For creatures, holiness comes from without;  for the Spirit, holiness fills His very nature.  he is not sanctified, but sanctifies.”
  • “Are you not ashamed, my opponent, when you hear the Apostle’s words: ‘You are God’s temple and God’s Spirit dwells in you’? (1 Cor.3: 16) Is a slave’s house honored with the title of temple?  How can someone who calls Scripture ‘God-inspired’ (since it was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) use language that insults and belittles Him?”
  • “We worship God from God, confessing the uniqueness of the persons, while maintaining the unity of the Monarchy.”
  • “Moses was wise enough to realize that triteness and familiarity breed contempt, but the unusual and the unfamiliar naturally commands eager interest.”
  • “…every time we bend our knees for prayer and then rise again, we show by this action that through sin we fell down to earth, but our Creator, the Lover of Mankind, has called us back to heaven.”  

Addendum:   This recitation was done at Trinity Lutheran Church, Klein, TX during the March 4, 2012 church services by three members of Trinity as part of Lutheran Schools week. These three members, and students (former and present) are: Mr. Erich Klenk, 97 years old, confirmed in 1928, past Chairman of the congregation, charter member of the Men’s Club in 1946,  and Trinity’s oldest member. Lyle Lovett, great grandson of Trinity founding father Adam Klein, confirmed in 1971, singer/songwriter, and winner of four Grammys. Erin Pali, class of 2016 and current 4th grade student of Miss Marilyn Peterson/ Erin’s Dad Brett also had Miss Petersen in 4th grade during his years at Trinity. This video was posted to YouTube by Pat Blake.

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