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Posts Tagged ‘NIcene Creed’

Nicene Council

About the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, AD 325:  The first Council of Nicaea was convened in the early summer of AD 325 by Roman Emperor Constantine at what is today Iznik,Turkey. The emperor presided at the opening of the council. The council ruled against the Arians, who taught that Jesus was not the eternal Son of God but was created by the Father and was called Son of God because of His righteousness. The chief opponents of the Arians were Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, and his deacon, Athanasius. The council confessed the eternal divinity of Jesus and adopted the earliest version of the Nicene Creed, which in its entirety was adopted at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381.

“We are waging a war of religion.  Not a civil war between adherents of the same religions, but a life and death struggle between Christian and pagan.”  So wrote Dorothy L.Sayers in 1940 in England, in her essay, “Creed or Chaos?”  I think that Athanasius and the other confessors of the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ, true man and true God are in agreement with Dorothy L. Sayers’ observation in 1940. In A.D. 325, it was a conflict, but between Christians.   man sitting on a branch sawingCreed or chaos?  If the confessors at Nicaea had not remained “steadfast in the Word”, the faith of the Church would have disappeared, but the Lord held fast with Athanasius and others. Christianity would have become a pagan religion, which many branches of the Church are becoming in our day  because they have lopped off their branches by denying the utter veracity of the Bible, Old and New Testaments.

The Lord made us to believe and without the Lord, we believe in the darndest things, like “deeds not creeds”.  But how can our deeds be informed and conformed without true teaching?  Can you imagine a doctor not being taught correctly the doctrines, that is the correct teachings of his profession to make correct diagnoses?  Can you imagine the chaos?  Look at what has happened after denomination after denomination  denied the Law of God in matters of marriage and sexuality?  Yes, chaos.  Or that our deeds supersede the saving doctrine of Christ’s atonement?   People do not hear the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ once and for all.  The result is the doctrinal chaos of our day and note that atheism is on the rise and many congregations have become self-sanctified social welfare centers, not of faith and mercy in the Lord.

In St. Mark 3: 32 and 34, it is reported that the crowd sat around Jesus in a circle.  Jesus is at the center which means so His Father and the  Holy Spirit.  Without this Hub, the wheel won’t move and it will collapse.  When other doctrines are at the center, we will go the wrong way, and  when the inordinate desires of the flesh are at the center. The center is formed by the Creeds, the Center and the Church, and the crowds, hearing His Word, praying His Word, teaching and preaching and eating and drinking His Word and washed in His Word. We are baptized, secured by the Lord to eat His Body and drink the Cup of the New Testament in His Blood, taught His saving doctrine, every Word of the Bible day by day.

Many see  doctrine as simply fussy and nit-picking.  In a Bible study in the liberal Lutheran church of which I was a pastor, a man said to me,  Oh, you are such a nit-picker. Later my wife told me that Ann whispered to her, But nit-picking helps (!).  I am thankful for all those faithful nitpickers!  The Church knew that in the challenge of Arianism (and all heresies)  something is at stake:  the very basis of the Gospel and the authority of the Scriptures. This is why the blessed Reformers, as well,  took their stand on the Word of God (See Resource below:  The Scriptural Basis of the Nicene Creed).  At stake was (and always is) forgiveness of sinners received by faith in Jesus Christ:  the sinless One in the sinners’ stead ( 2 Corinthians 5:21).  In Jesus Christ, we are reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) and the way the Lord accomplished this once and for all  was by sending His Son in the flesh, “very God from very God”, the only-begotten Son of God (1 John 4:9, KJV).  This is the sound doctrine of which the Apostle wrote to Timothy and Titus.  Doctrine is life, eternal life.   If the bishops and pastors had not convened and took a stand against false teaching, we would be lost but the Lord will not let us be lost, but found, and so we praise Him for His faithful Church and the Confessors of the ecumenical Council of Nicaea.  Let us  pray:

Lord God, heavenly Father, at the first ecumenical Council of Nicaea, Your Church boldly confessed that it believed in one Lord Jesus Christ as being of one substance with the Father. Grant us courage to confess this saving faith with Your Church through all the ages; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.


Resource:  The Scriptural Basis of the Nicene Creed:

The Father

I Believe
Rom. 10:9, Jas 2:19, John 14:1

In one God,
Deut. 6:4, Is. 44:6

The Father
Is. 63:16, 2 Pet 1:17, Matt. 6:9

Almighty,
Gen. 17:1, Ps. 91:1, Rev. 4:8

Maker
Job 4:17, 35:10, Is. 17:7, 54:5

of heaven
Gen 1:1, 8

and earth
Ps. 104:5, Jer. 51:15

and of all things
Gen 1:31

visible and invisible.
Ps. 89:11-12, Amos 4:13, Rev. 3:5, Col. 1:16

The Son

And in one Lord
Eph. 4:5

Jesus Christ,
Acts 10:36, 11:17, Rom. 1:7, 5:1, 1 Cor 1:2, 6:11, 2 Cor. 1:2, 8:9
Gal. 1:3, 6:14, Eph. 1:2, 3:11, Phil. 1:2, 3:20, Col. 1:3, 2:6, 1 Thes. 1:1, 5:9,
2 Thes. 1:1, 2:14, 1 Tim. 6:3, 14, 2 Tim. 1:2, Philemon 1:3, 25, Heb. 13:20,
Jas. 1:1, 2:1, 1 Pet. 1:3, 3:15, 2 Pet. 1:8, 14, Jude 17, 21, Rev. 22:20-21

the only-begotton,
John 1:18

Son of God,
Matt 3:17, John 3:16

Begotten of His Father,
Heb. 1:5

Before all worlds,

John 1:1, Col. 1:17, 1 John 1:1

begotten,
John 1:1, Heb. 1:5

Not Made,
Mic. 5:2, John 1:18, 17:5

Being of one substance with the Father,
John 10:30, 14:9

By whom all things were made;
1 Cor. 8:6, Col 1:16

Who for us men
Matt 20:28, John 10:10

and for our salvation
Matt 1:21, Luke 19:10

came down from heaven
Rom. 10:6, Eph. 4:10

and was incarnate
Col. 2:9

by the Holy Spirit
Matt 1:18

of the Virgin Mary
Luke 1:34-35

and was made man;
John 1:14

and was crucified
Matt. 20:19, John 19:18, Rom. 5:6, 8, 2 Cor. 13:4

also for us
Rom. 5:8, 2 Cor. 5:15

under Pontius Pilate.
Matt. 27:2, 26, 1 Tim 6:13

He suffered
1 Pet. 2:21, Heb. 2:10

and was buried.
Mark 15:46, 1 Cor. 15:4

And the third day
Matt. 27:63, 28:1, 1 Cor. 15:4

He rose again
Mark 16:6, 2 Tim. 2:8

according to the Scriptures
Ps. 16:10, Luke 24:25-27, 1 Cor. 15:4

and ascended
Luke 24:51, Acts 1:9

Into heaven
Mark 16:19, Acts 1:11

and sits at the right hand of the Father.
Ps. 110:1, Matt. 26:64, Acts 7:56, Heb. 1:3

And He will come again
Jn. 14:3, 1 Thes. 4:16

with glory
Matt. 16:27, 24:30, 25:31, 26:64, Mark. 8:38, Col. 3:4

to judge
Matt. 25:31-46, Acts 17:31

both the living and the dead,
Acts 10:42, 1 Pet. 4:5

whose kingdom
John 18:36, 2 Tim. 4:1, 18

will have no end.
Luke 1:33, Rev. 11:15, Ps. 145:13

The Holy Spirit

And I believe in the Holy Spirit,
Matt. 28:19, Acts 13:2

The Lord
2 Cor. 3:17

And giver of life,
John 6:63, Rom. 7:6, 8:2, 2 Cor. 3:6

who proceeds from the father

John 14:16-17

and the Son,
John 15:26, Rom. 8:9, Gal. 4:6

Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped
Luke 4:8, John 4:24

and glorified
John 4:24, 1 Tim. 1:17

Who spoke by the prophets.
1 Pet. 1:10-11, 2 Pet 1:21

And I believe in one
1 Cor. 10:16-17, 12:12-13

Holy
Eph. 3:16-17, 5:27, 1 Pet. 2:9

Catholic
1 Cor. 1:2

and Apostolic
Eph. 2:20, Rev. 21:14

Church,
Acts 20:28, Eph. 1:22-23, Col. 1:24, Heb. 12:23, 1 Pet. 2:9

I acknowledge one Baptism
John 3:5, Rom. 6:3, Eph. 4:5

For the remission of sins,

Acts 2:38, 1 Pet. 3:21, Tit. 3:5

And I look for the resurrection of the dead

1 Thes. 4:16, 1 Cor. 15:12-13, 16, 52

And the life of the world to come.
1 Cor 15:54-57, Rev. 22:5

Amen.
Ps. 41:13, 2 Cor. 1:20

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Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, You bestowed upon Your servant Nicholas of Myra the perpetual gift of charity. Grant Your Church the grace to deal in generosity and love with children and with all who are poor and distressed and to plead the cause of those who have no helper, especially those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief. We ask this for the sake of Him who gave His life for us, Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

About St. Nicholas:  Of the many saints commemorated by the Christian Church, Nicholas (d. AD 342) is one of the best known. Very little is known historically of him, though there was a church of Saint Nicholas in Constantinople as early as the sixth century. Research has affirmed that there was a bishop by the name of Nicholas in the city of Myra in Lycia (part of modern Turkey) in the fourth century. From that coastal location, legends about Nicholas have traveled throughout time and space. He is associated with charitable giving in many countries around the world and is portrayed as the rescuer of sailors, the protector of children, and the friend of people in distress or need. In commemoration of Sinte Klaas (Dutch for “Saint Nicholas,”in English “Santa Claus”), December 6 is a day for giving and receiving gifts in many parts of Europe.(from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

The quote below is from an article by Lutheran lay theologian, Dr. Veith in World Magazine which cites a reliable tradition regarding the real Nicholas.

Known for his generosity and his love of children, Nicholas is said to have saved a poor family’s daughters from slavery by tossing into their window enough gold for a rich dowry, a present that landed in some shoes or, in some accounts, stockings that were hung up to dry. Thus arose the custom of hanging up stockings for St. Nicholas to fill. And somehow he transmogrified into Santa Claus, who has become for many people the secular Christmas alternative to Jesus Christ.

But there is more to the story of Nicholas of Myra. He was also a delegate to the Council of Nicea in a.d. 325, which battled the heretics who denied the deity ofChrist. He was thus one of the authors of the Nicene Creed, which affirms that Jesus Christ is both true God and true man. And unlike his later manifestation, Nicholas was particularly zealous in standing up for Christ.

During the Council of Nicea, jolly old St. Nicholas got so fed up with Arius, who taught that Jesus was just a man, that he walked up and slapped him! That unbishoplike behavior got him in trouble. The council almost stripped him of his office, but Nicholas said he was sorry, so he was forgiven.

The point is, the original Santa Claus was someone who flew off the handle when he heard someone minimizing Christ. Perhaps we can battle our culture’s increasingly Christ-less Christmas by enlisting Santa in his original cause. The poor girls’ stockings have become part of our Christmas imagery. So should the St. Nicholas slap.

Not a violent hit of the kind that got the good bishop in trouble, just a gentle, admonitory tap on the cheek. This should be reserved not for out-and-out nonbelievers, but for heretics (that is, people in the church who deny its teachings), Christians who forget about Jesus, and people who try to take Christ out of Christmas. Source: WORLD Magazine  December 24, 2005, Vol. 20, No. 50

Further reflection: Nicholas is called “good St. Nick”!  He was not exactly good and that’s the point.  He knew he was not good on his own steam.  He slapped Arius for his false doctrine that there was a time when Christ was not. Nicholas  knew the Scripture, “The good that I want to do I don’t do but I do the very thing I hate…” (Romans 7: 7-25).  His goodness and love were purified by Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit through the gift of faith by His grace.  Nicholas was good in Christ, but not nice.  We encourage children to “be nice”.  It used to be “be good”.  If a young woman was “good”, it meant, for instance, she was a virgin.  As a friend and colleague had as his screen saver, “Nice is the enemy of the good”.  Even Woody Allen got some things right:  “Have a nice day”  “No, thanks I have better plans”.  So does the Lord. Nice is attainable as a kind of a law of nice deeds and feelings.  Nice Christians won’t stand up to false doctrine.  Nice Christians go along with the crowd, that is, the world and we have seen the result in many a Christian denomination. Good is related to God, as God is good, which also means He is Holy.  Nicholas knew that his goodness was predicated on the utter goodness of God in Christ in His Nativity for children, the fallen children of Adam and Eve.  It also meant that Nicholas stood for something.  The martyrs died for the good of the Gospel, no one was ever martyred for being nice.

  So if a heretic tries to take Christ out of Christmas, literally Christ Mass, there is no Mass, no Holy Communion, no communion of saints and no salvation.  If a heretic denies the Law of God and it’s eternal validity on every soul, then we are soul-less and there is no need for the Savior…but obviously there is and He became flesh, frail flesh.  It’s not only about a “happy  Christmas” but more and more a “slappy Christmas”:  we need to wake up as we see His Day approaching. It used to be in the Roman Catholic Rite of Confirmation the bishop would administer a light slap on the cheek of the confirmand to remind him that he is a soldier of Christ to spread the faith. I guess that people found the slap was offensive…but so is Christ Jesus to the devil and his angels. I think the confirmand slap means  a wake-up call.  Maybe it is Christians who need the slap more than heretics these days!  The Church has a backbone, pure doctrine, so that with a strong back we can bend and serve our dying neighbors Jesus Christ. Nicholas knew that. It’s about the true doctrine of The Nicene Creed. 

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only‐begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; 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; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried. And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. And He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end. And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe in one holy Christian# and apostolic Church I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, and I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

*Us men means all people.
#Christian: the ancient text reads “catholic,” meaning the whole Church as it confesses the wholeness of Christian doctrine

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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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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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About the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, AD 325:  The first Council of Nicaea was convened in the early summer of AD 325 by Roman Emperor Constantine at what is today Iznik,Turkey. The emperor presided at the opening of the council. The council ruled against the Arians, who taught that Jesus was not the eternal Son of God but was created by the Father and was called Son of God because of His righteousness. The chief opponents of the Arians were Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, and his deacon, Athanasius. The council confessed the eternal divinity of Jesus and adopted the earliest version of the Nicene Creed, which in its entirety was adopted at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381. (from Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

Reflection:  Because of other commitments on June 12, I was not able to post this.  I have anyway because it is too important a topic of defending the Faith delivered to the saints once and for all (Jude 1:3). Jude says we are to contend for the faith. Some people see this history as simply and terribly as dogmatic Christians getting their way in a power play.  Others see a creed as simply fussy, nit-picking  doctrine.  But the Church knew that in the challenge of Arianism (and all heresies)  something is at stake:  the very basis of the Gospel and the authority of the Scriptures. This is why the blessed Reformers took their stand on the Word of God.  At stake was (and always is) forgiveness of sinners received by faith in Jesus Christ:  the sinless One in the sinners’ stead2 Corinthians 5:21).  In Jesus Christ, we are reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) and the way the Lord accomplished this once and for all  was by sending His Son in the flesh, “very God from very God”, the only- begotten Son of God (1 John 4:9, KJV).  This is the sound doctrine of which the Apostle wrote to Timothy and Titus.  Doctrine is life, eternal life.   If the bishops and pastors had not convened and took a stand against false teaching, we would be lost but the Lord will not let us be lost, but found, and so we praise Him for His faithful Church which contend for Christ’s truth as He contended for us and for our salvation and does so.  Let us  pray:

Lord God, heavenly Father, at the first ecumenical Council of Nicaea, Your Church boldly confessed that it believed in one Lord Jesus Christ as being of one substance with the Father. Grant us courage to confess this saving faith with Your Church through all the ages; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The Nicene Creed

  • I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.
  • And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only‐begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; 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; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried. And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. And He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end.
  • And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And I believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, and I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

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Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, You bestowed upon Your servant Nicholas of Myra the perpetual gift of charity. Grant Your Church the grace to deal in generosity and love with children and with all who are poor and distressed and to plead the cause of those who have no helper, especially those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief. We ask this for the sake of Him who gave His life for us, Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

About St. Nicholas:  Of the many saints commemorated by the Christian Church, Nicholas (d. AD 342) is one of the best known. Very little is known historically of him, though there was a church of Saint Nicholas in Constantinople as early as the sixth century. Research has affirmed that there was a bishop by the name of Nicholas in the city of Myra in Lycia (part of modern Turkey) in the fourth century. From that coastal location, legends about Nicholas have traveled throughout time and space. He is associated with charitable giving in many countries around the world and is portrayed as the rescuer of sailors, the protector of children, and the friend of people in distress or need. In commemoration of Sinte Klaas (Dutch for “Saint Nicholas,”in English “Santa Claus”), December 6 is a day for giving and receiving gifts in many parts of Europe.

(from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

The quote below is from an article by Lutheran lay theologian, Dr. Veith in World Magazine which cites a reliable tradition regarding the real Nicholas.

Known for his generosity and his love of children, Nicholas is said to have saved a poor family’s daughters from slavery by tossing into their window enough gold for a rich dowry, a present that landed in some shoes or, in some accounts, stockings that were hung up to dry. Thus arose the custom of hanging up stockings for St. Nicholas to fill. And somehow he transmogrified into Santa Claus, who has become for many people the secular Christmas alternative to Jesus Christ.

But there is more to the story of Nicholas of Myra. He was also a delegate to the Council of Nicea in a.d. 325, which battled the heretics who denied the deity of Christ. He was thus one of the authors of the Nicene Creed, which affirms that Jesus Christ is both true God and true man. And unlike his later manifestation, Nicholas was particularly zealous in standing up for Christ.
During the Council of Nicea, jolly old St. Nicholas got so fed up with Arius, who taught that Jesus was just a man, that he walked up and slapped him! That unbishoplike behavior got him in trouble. The council almost stripped him of his office, but Nicholas said he was sorry, so he was forgiven.

The point is, the original Santa Claus was someone who flew off the handle when he heard someone minimizing Christ. Perhaps we can battle our culture’s increasingly Christ-less Christmas by enlisting Santa in his original cause. The poor girls’ stockings have become part of our Christmas imagery. So should the St. Nicholas slap.
Not a violent hit of the kind that got the good bishop in trouble, just a gentle, admonitory tap on the cheek. This should be reserved not for out-and-out nonbelievers, but for heretics (that is, people in the church who deny its teachings), Christians who forget about Jesus, and people who try to take Christ out of Christmas.
This will take a little tweaking of the mythology. Santa and his elves live at the North Pole where they compile a list of who is naughty, who is nice, and who is Nicean.

Source: WORLD Magazine  December 24, 2005, Vol. 20, No. 50

Further reflection: Nicholas is called “good St. Nick”!  He was not exactly good and that’s the point.  He knew he was not good on his own steam.  Nicholas probably knew the Scripture, “The good that I want to do I don’t do but I do the very thing I hate…” (Romans 7: 7-25).  His goodness and love were purified by Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit through the gift of faith by His grace.  If a heretic tries to take Christ out of Christmas, literally Christ Mass, there is no Mass, no Holy Communion, no communion of saints and no salvation.  If a heretic tries to deny the Law of God and it’s eternal validity on every soul, then we are soul-less and there is no need for the Savior…but obviously there is and He became flesh, frail flesh.  It’s not only about a “happy  Christmas” but more and more a “slappy Christmas”:  we need to wake up as we see His Day approaching.  The Church has a backbone, pure doctrine, so that with a strong back we can bend and serve our dying neighbors Jesus Christ. Nicholas knew that.

 The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only‐begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; 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; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried. And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. And He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end. And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe in one holy Christian# and apostolic Church I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, and I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

*Us men means all people.
#Christian: the ancient text reads “catholic,” meaning the whole Church as it confesses the wholeness of Christian doctrine.

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THE NICENE CREED ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE

The following is from the website Letter of Marque, put together by Mr. Richard Gilbert and cited on Brothers of John the Steadfast. This past Sunday was Pentecost and we are in the Octave of Pentecost and the 8th Day after Pentecost is this Sunday:  Holy Trinity Sunday.  

Many misinformed Christians think that the Ecumenical or universal Creeds of the Church are a man-made invention.  They are not but are thoroughly grounded in the inerrant Word of God written for a our learning, reproof and correction in the Bible.

The Father

I Believe
Rom. 10:9Jas 2:19John 14:1

In one God,
Deut. 6:4Is. 44:6
The Father
Is. 63:162 Pet 1:17Matt. 6:9

Almighty,
Gen. 17:1Ps. 91:1Rev. 4:8

Maker
Job 4:1735:10Is. 17:754:5

of heaven
Gen 1:18

and earth
Ps. 104:5Jer. 51:15

and of all things
Gen 1:31

visible and invisible.
Ps. 89:11-12Amos 4:13Rev. 3:5Col. 1:16

The Son

And in one Lord
Eph. 4:5

Jesus Christ,
Acts 10:3611:17Rom. 1:75:11 Cor 1:26:112 Cor. 1:28:9
Gal. 1:36:14Eph. 1:23:11Phil. 1:23:20Col. 1:32:61 Thes. 1:15:9,
2 Thes. 1:12:141 Tim. 6:3142 Tim. 1:2Philemon 1:325Heb. 13:20,
Jas. 1:12:11 Pet. 1:33:152 Pet. 1:814Jude 1721Rev. 22:20-21

the only-begotton,
John 1:18

Son of God,
Matt 3:17John 3:16

Begotten of His Father,
Heb. 1:5

Before all worlds,

John 1:1Col. 1:171 John 1:1

begotten,
John 1:1Heb. 1:5

Not Made,
Mic. 5:2John 1:1817:5

Being of one substance with the Father,
John 10:3014:9

By whom all things were made;
1 Cor. 8:6Col 1:16

Who for us men
Matt 20:28John 10:10

and for our salvation
Matt 1:21Luke 19:10

came down from heaven
Rom. 10:6Eph. 4:10

and was incarnate
Col. 2:9

by the Holy Spirit
Matt 1:18

of the Virgin Mary
Luke 1:34-35

and was made man;
John 1:14

and was crucified
Matt. 20:19John 19:18Rom. 5:682 Cor. 13:4

also for us
Rom. 5:82 Cor. 5:15

under Pontius Pilate.
Matt. 27:2261 Tim 6:13

He suffered
1 Pet. 2:21Heb. 2:10

and was buried.
Mark 15:461 Cor. 15:4

And the third day
Matt. 27:6328:11 Cor. 15:4

He rose again
Mark 16:62 Tim. 2:8

according to the Scriptures
Ps. 16:10Luke 24:25-271 Cor. 15:4

and ascended
Luke 24:51Acts 1:9

Into heaven
Mark 16:19Acts 1:11

and sits at the right hand of the Father.
Ps. 110:1Matt. 26:64Acts 7:56Heb. 1:3

And He will come again
Jn. 14:31 Thes. 4:16

with glory
Matt. 16:2724:3025:3126:64Mark. 8:38Col. 3:4

to judge
Matt. 25:31-46Acts 17:31

both the living and the dead,
Acts 10:421 Pet. 4:5

whose kingdom
John 18:362 Tim. 4:118

will have no end.
Luke 1:33Rev. 11:15Ps. 145:13 

The Holy Spirit

And I believe in the Holy Spirit,
Matt. 28:19Acts 13:2

The Lord
2 Cor. 3:17

And giver of life,
John 6:63Rom. 7:68:22 Cor. 3:6

who proceeds from the father

John 14:16-17

and the Son,
John 15:26Rom. 8:9Gal. 4:6

Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped
Luke 4:8John 4:24

and glorified
John 4:241 Tim. 1:17

Who spoke by the prophets.
1 Pet. 1:10-112 Pet 1:21

And I believe in one
1 Cor. 10:16-1712:12-13

Holy
Eph. 3:16-175:271 Pet. 2:9

Catholic
1 Cor. 1:2

and Apostolic
Eph. 2:20Rev. 21:14

Church,
Acts 20:28Eph. 1:22-23Col. 1:24Heb. 12:231 Pet. 2:9

I acknowledge one Baptism
John 3:5Rom. 6:3Eph. 4:5

For the remission of sins,

Acts 2:381 Pet. 3:21Tit. 3:5

And I look for the resurrection of the dead

1 Thes. 4:161 Cor. 15:12-131652

And the life of the world to come.
1 Cor 15:54-57Rev. 22:5

Amen.
Ps. 41:132 Cor. 1:20

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