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Posts Tagged ‘Mass’

St. Mark 7:  27 And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” (From the Gospel Reading for the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, year B)

The Syro-Phoenician woman and Mother, as a Gentile had no right to the true table of the Lord in Israel.  She was outside the promises of the Lord.  And she knew that but her need compelled her which was her daughter’s horror: her daughter was demon-possessed.  Jesus crossed the border from the Promised Land to Gentile territory. The devil had taken hold of her daughter for what was coming out of her heart had defiled her:  “…out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit,  sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7). 

The Syro-Phoenician woman and Mother could not claim rights to the Lord’s Table.  She only wanted the crumbs.  Jesus drew her forth from the depths as she knelt before Him. She would not let Him go, oh, that I would have the faith of the Syro-phoenician woman, and the Samaritan woman at the well, the faith to serve as did the Samaritan on the road to Jericho! 

We do not deal under the table to fool people into the Church. The Lord calls His Church to tell people what’s for dinner.  It’s a six course meal:  the 10 commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism,  the office of the Keys, the Sacrament of the Altar,  and then the Table of Duties of the way the Lord instructs His people in their vocations in family and home, in the Church and in the 9-5 work week. 

The Syro-Phoenician Mom was now at the Table of the Lord as she did not even receive a crumb from Him, instead, Jesus gave Himself.   For her statement the Syro-Phoenician woman, literally “For your word”, the word of faith which would not let Jesus go, she could go her way to her daughter now restored, a family restored at the Table of the Lord, all fully members of His Church, at His table.

The Syro-Phoenician Mother “turned the tables” on the Lord and He “turned the tables” on the persistent Mother and  on the unclean spirit. He would turn the tables on sin, death and the  power of the devil upon the Cross as  He gave us the Sacrament upon His Table for peace in His Name so that the faithful by His grace “have a place at the Table”.  “Nothing in my hand I bring, but simply to Thy Cross I cling.”

As we began furnishing the mission here one of the immediate need were tables.  I realized that tables are very important to the Church.  There are three kinds of needed tables in a Church sanctuary and building:

  1. Tables for Bible class and Christian education so that the Word of God, the Scriptures are taught and learned, so that Lutherans can ask question and learns the answers from the Bible, and we grow in faith and love.
  2. Dining tables for church dinners, as a reminder here of the Lord’s prayer petition, “Give us this day our daily bread”, as we do in our homes daily. We are reminded that all creatures look to You O Lord for their food in due season and You open Your  hands and satisfy the desires of all living.
  3. And the most important table, the Lord’s so that He gives us His Body and Blood, for the confession of the faith and the feeding of our faith in Him, in the communion of His very Presence. He touches us with Himself, in His Word He opens, “…the soul of man to faith through the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Gregory the Great).

All these tables point, not to our works, but His work. They are the Lord’s work tables:  His Word for us, His creation for us, His Body and Blood for us and our salvation.

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“Behold, I come to You, Lord, that I may prosper by Your gift and be delighted at Your holy banquet which You, O God, in Your sweetness have prepared for Your poor. Behold, all that I can or ought to desire is in You. You are my salvation and my redemption, my hope and strength, my honor and glory.

“Gladden, then, this day the soul of Your servant because I have raised my heart to You, O Lord Jesus. I long to receive You now, devoutly and reverently. I desire to bring You into my house that, with Zacchaeus, I may merit Your blessing and be numbered among the children of Abraham.

“My soul longs for Your Body; my heart desires to be united with You. Give me Yourself—it is enough; for without You there is no consolation. Without You I cannot exist, without Your visitation I cannot live. I must often come to You, therefore, and receive the strength of my salvation lest, deprived of this heavenly food, I grow weak on the way. Once, most merciful Jesus, while preaching to the people and healing their many ills, You said: “I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.” Deal with me likewise, You who have left Yourself in this Sacrament for the consolation of the faithful. You are sweet refreshment to the soul, and he who eats You worthily will be a sharer in, and an heir to, eternal glory. Amen.”

 

“It is indeed necessary for me, who falls and sins so often, who so quickly becomes lax and weak, to renew, cleanse, and inflame myself through frequent prayer, confession, and the holy reception of Your Body, lest perhaps by abstaining too long, I fall away from my holy purpose. For from the days of his youth the senses of man are prone to evil, unless divine aid strengthens him, he quickly falls deeper.  But Holy Communion removes him from evil and confirms him in good.

 

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My brother-in-law had this ale and was a little vexed by the name of the ale…but the problem is the use of the name in conjunction with the graphic:

The graphic shows what looks like  a drop of blood, with the word “ale”, going into a chalice.  Needless to say, no “brewer’s art” can do this.  I wonder what were the brewers thinking about?!  Ale is good, but it’s not the Word of God!  This borders on bad taste, at least. 

Yet it could be corrected:  change the word “ale” to “Christ” or a picture of a cross, showing that from the crucified and risen Lord Jesus comes the “Blood of the New Testament”, the Holy Communion.  Johnny Hart pictured this Biblical truth another way  in his comic “B.C.”:B.C. Empty Tomb CommunionAttend the Divine Service tomorrow,”… in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered”! (From Article VII, The Augsburg Confession)  His hands blessed the bread and gave the Cup of the new testament in His blood, as the Word is preached, FOR YOU!

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“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.

― H. Richard Niebuhr

Jesus prophesies His suffering, crucifixion and Resurrection three times.  In The Gospel According to St. Mark, the three prophecies begin at 8:31, 9:31 and 10: 34, almost exactly a chapter apart.  This is noteworthy because the addition of chapters and verses was well after the completion of  the Scriptures.  The three prophecies are like the tolling of the death knell.  They are yet another pointer to the utter centrality of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ in the Bible.  The Cross of Christ as symbol and the proclamation of “Christ and Him crucified” ( 1 Corinthians 1:23 ) with the Church Year is centered on Holy Week and Easter (or Pascha). This clearly reflects the Word of God, the Bible.  We see, though, so many times, beginning in the narrative of  the Scripture, flights from the crucifixion:

  • This Gospel reading for the 5th Sunday in Lent (Year B) includes the third Passion prophecy and immediately after that James and John request Jesus that they sit on His right and left hands in glory. It was as if they had not heard the prophecy of the crucifixion at all.
  • Earlier, after Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus proclaims His first Passion prophecy, and Peter says basically, God forbid and Jesus calls Peter Satan for tempting Him away from Golgotha.(Matthew 16:22-24)
  • The Apostle Paul wrote to the spiritual Corinthians, who were thinking they were standing so tall as the saved that sins involving their bodies could not affect them, they forgot crucial preaching of the Crucified by which the Holy Spirit made faith in them, 1 Corinthians 2:  “ And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.       

We see all around us in our time both explicit and implicit flights from the Crucifixion:

  • Many denominations do not observe Holy Week or only in part.  Near Holy Week,several years back a devout Baptist told me that he loves the preaching of Christ in his church but he could not figure how they could just ignore Good Friday.
  • Many Lutherans, and other Christians skip on Good Friday and hasten to the sweet smelling lilies of Easter Sunday.
  • Too many Lutherans and many Protestants disdain the sign of a crucifex in a sanctuary as “too Catholic”.  Too many for that same reason do not make the sign of the Cross. We preach the Crucified, we are baptized into His death and resurrection, the four Gospels are all about His death and resurrection, then the Crucifixion is “too catholic”?!  Yes, it is! Amen!  The word, “Catholic” and its origin is Greek: “kata holos”, that is, according to the whole…the whole of salvation history, that is, “universal”: again, Amen!
  • When I see photos or videos of or from mega-churches, there is no cross in sight, let alone a crucifix.  Furthermore, there is no Altar and no Scriptural literalism, which is the foundation of His Presence, “This is My Body”, “This is My Blood” (see 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26), for the Supper on an Altar that is not there to begin with!   The Scriptures are clear about the Lord’s Supper, “For as often as you eat of this bread and drink of this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes”. The Divine Service proclaims the death of Jesus for our salvation. They practice the divine absence.
  • But all of the above pales in comparison to what is preached, literally, “what”, not “Who” is preached.  Morals are preached. “Your best life now” with Jesus as a kind of positive thinking coach is the lecture.  The Christian is put back on to himself, not pointed to the Lord.  They preach the Christian, not the Christ.  

Holy Week is about proclaiming, preaching and teaching Christ.  Attend the Church which proclaims Jesus as Lord, in which the Sacraments are administered according to the Gospel, and there are a people who know they are sinners saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and that faith is “not their doing”,and neither are their good works, see Ephesians 2: 4-10.  Don’t flee the crucified and risen Lord, but flee for refuge to His infinite mercy to the Lord’s Church.

“For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2: 17

“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” 2 Corinthians 4: 5

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And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.St. John 1: 14  (King James Version)

 There is the perennial wish that Christmas were every day.  The gifts, the lights, the food, the preparations, the  presents, the wrapping, the buying, the scurrying, the lack of funds, the traffic the busyness, the family squabbles and fights, the loneliness, the turmoil…oh, never mind.  And Christ was born for this.  Maybe not Christmas every day, but Christ Mass every week. We can not take Christ out of Christmas, but let us always keep the Mass in ChristMass.  The word “Christmas” is simply the shortened, if you will, the slurred version of Christ Mass. Mass or the Divine Service of His Body and Blood for us and for our salvation. His Body and His Blood for  you.    As the angel told Joseph, the Son to be born will save people from their sins.   His Word is for us all each and every day.  Maybe not Christmas every day, but a Christmas card every week.  Christ Mass card every week is confessed,  for us all. By His grace we believe in,

 …one Lord Jesus Christ…who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man.” (The Nicene Creed)

The Creed is His Christ Mass card to us every week summing up the Incarnation, for the Incarnation is our salvation:. 

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

St. John 1: 14 

 and again, from Colossians,

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation

and again,

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

and again, John’s Gospel:

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

And again, John’s Gospel:

Jesus came and stood among them and said to them,“Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

This past week I watched an interview with a renowned television mega-church reverend.  The interviewer asked the reverend the meaning of Christmas.  He said, “To me, Christmas, is the birth of Christ, number one, but it’s all about making memories.”    He got the first part right, Christmas is about the birth of Christ, number one, no buts. Period.  The “buts” to God’s grace in Jesus Christ only gets us going the wrong way. There are no “buts” to the grace of His forgiveness coursing through His Sacred Veins.  The reverend then went on to explain that Christmas is not about presents and food but memories and “making memories with your family”.  No, it really is about Jesus Christ.   First, a lot of families have downright painful and sorrowful memories associated with this time of the year and then second, notice the path  the minister puts the hearer on: into himself, his memories, his works, his spirituality…not out to Jesus Christ, God in man made manifest. The One has come for those broken, divorced, lonely, prone to wander, Lord I feel it.  The interviewer then responded: “Well, I can’t think of a better and more appropriate Christmas message to all of our viewers.”  Well, I can because the Lord has given us a much better message, His Son, Jesus Christ who will take away people’s sins. The message became man.   Unto you this day is born in the city of David is Christ the Lord.  Who did the angels say that first Christmas card to?  Answer:  To the shepherds, not the rich, the powerful and the famous.  If the Lord were born a political king, the politicos would have come and worshiped, instead they would seek to kill Him, still do. But the Lord’s rule is of a holy, H O L Y,different sort, spiritual.  “The end purpose of government is the peace of the world, the end purpose of Christ’s Church is eternal peace.” “The world rejoices when things are good and it has money and possession, power and glory.  But a troubled, sorrowful heart craves nothing more than peace and comfort, to know that it has a gracious God.  And this joy, whereby the sorrowful heart has rest and peace, is so great that all the world’s joy reeks in comparison” (Luther) Looking for the perfect gift this Christmas?   The angels announced  good news of  great joy to the shepherds that the Good Shepherd was born. They found the perfect gift for Christmas and this perfect gift finds you, for He is the Giver of all things, visible and invisible.

“Christmas is for kids.”  No, it’s not. Christmas is for sinners. This is the reason for His coming, for the Incarnation, for the Word becoming flesh.  Christmas is for the Child, the Son born of Mary, the Son of God so that we become in Him children of the heavenly Father in Holy Baptism. We have.  Christmas is for sinners, for you, for me. For the grace of God has appeared, appeared, came among us full of grace and truth, more palpable than any Christmas card, especially an e-card, can ever be: flesh of our flesh, bone of our bones. Every birth and life  is testimony to the Creator but the gestation and birth of Jesus Christ is even more marvelous for it is the testimony to our Redeemer:  “The first sound God heard with human ears was the music of His mother’s heart.”  bringing salvation for all people, the only gift that lasts is His grace in this place, from heaven’s place to your hearts and homes in His forgiveness 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age… The law of God shows us daily when we had gone astray, but only the grace of God trains us to renounce the ungodliness and worldly passions.  Ungodliness and worldly passions tie us all up and tied us down and His grace breaks the bonds of the evil one, to say No the devil and all his empty promises daily paraded on T.V. and the internet,  to live “self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age”.  Looking for stability in your life?  Go to the stable and the manger where He was born so He is born in us. His life in our lives is the grace of God that brings us again to the child born of Mary, the only begotten of God before all worlds, in love’s pure light for us all, which will shone forth in a stable and finally and fully, upon the Cross and the cry, He is risen.

 Notice that a real Christmas card is always a birth announcement.  Birth announcements like real Christmas cards, not holiday cards, are of joy:  a child is born.  The birth of every child is sheer joy. The angel told the shepherds this is Great Joy, the Lord is Great Joy.  “…poor consciences need to be preached to as the angel here preaches: Hear me, one and all , who are miserable and sorrowful in heart, for I bring you a joyful tiding.  You must not imagine that Christ is angry with you.  For He did not to earth and become man for that reason, that He might shove you into hell.  Much less was He crucified and died for that purpose; instead He came that you might have great joy in Him.  in short, there are no sorrow grapes with Him.” This birth announcement, this Christ Mass greeting is for you:  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. For you, for every man, woman and child on earth and in this Divine Service, the perfect gift, the perfect greeting is for sinners, for our redemption has come.  The world sees him sore oppressed and oppresses Him, but for all who believe and are baptized, He frees us to live in His freedom as His dear children. Luther:   “Accordingly, wherever Christ is, in the manger or at God’s right hand, whether called Lord or Judge, as we confess in faith concerning him, he is at all times our Savior. Everything that he has done and will yet do has this significance and this purpose, that we might be saved. God grant us his grace that we may receive and ever hold fast to these things. Amen.

 

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“The first sound God heard with human ears was the music of His mother’s heart.”  (source: unknown)

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