Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘resurrection’

Suggested Lection:

Psalm 45:1-9
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Luke 23:54-24:11 or Mark 16:1-8

Joanna, Mary, and Salome:  Known in some traditions as “the faithful women,” the visit of these three persons and other women to the tomb of Jesus on the first Easter morning is noted in the Gospel records of Matthew (28:1), Mark (16:1), and Luke (24:10). Joanna was the wife of Cuza, a steward in Herod’s household (Lk. 8:3). Mary, the mother of James (the son of Alphaeus), was another of the women who faithfully provided care for Jesus and His disciples from the time of His Galilean ministry through His burial after the crucifixion. Salome, the mother of the sons of Zebedee (Mt. 27:56), joined with the women both at the cross and in the bringing of the spices to the garden tomb. These “faithful women” have been honored in the church through the centuries as examples of humble and devoted service to the Lord.

Writing

Why was Christ’s resurrection revealed to these women first? There are several answers.

  • First, God was keeping His ancient custom of choosing what is foolish, undistinguished, and despised in the eyes of the world in order to put the strong and lofty to shame. (see 1 Corinthians 1:26-28) These women were despised not only due to the weakness of their gender but also because of Galilee, their homeland. (see John 1:46But God exalts them by revealing to them the resurrection of His Son, which is an excellent article of our faith.

  • Indeed, He even sends them to the apostles to share the message of Christ’s resurrection with them, so that they become, as the ancients say, like “apostles to the apostles” …

  • Third, in this way God wanted to prevent the accusations of the Jews. The high priests lied, saying that Christ’s disciples had stolen the body of their master. In order to provethe shamelessness and absurdity of this lie, it happened by God’s marvelous providence that these women came to the grave before the apostles. Now, it is highly unlikely that these few women could have stolen the body from a grave guarded by soldiers and closed by a large stone.

  • Fourth, through the woman Eve, death came to all human beings. On account of this, Christ wanted His resurrection, which brings us righteousness and life, to be told to others by women. At the fall of the first human being, these three worked together: the devil, who deceived; the woman, who proclaimed his talk further; the man, who ate and corrupted human nature. So also,Christ’s resurrection, these three worked together: Christ, who rose and redeemed human nature; the angel, who proclaimed the resurrection; and the women, who carried the joyful message further.

Now if Christ was pleased with the zeal of these women, which was yet bound together with significant weaknesses of faith, and did not let them come away from the tomb empty, how much less will He let those go away empty who in true faith seek Him who rules at the right hand of the Father!

Martin Chemnitz (He has been called the “second Martin”, the first being Martin Luther;  all of the above from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection:  They brought myrrh.  We remember myrrh every Christmas as the magi brought”gold, frankincense and myrrh”. The magi were hard-core pagan magicians and unexpectedly they bring expensive gifts for the King!  Myrrh was a costly ointment used for fragrance.  In the Song of Solomon myrrh is used to scent the marital bed.  It was also used for burial of the dead to cover the smell of death, but it is finally only perfume, a cover up and sin and death “stink to high heaven”.   The faithful women bear myrrh to the tomb and unexpectedly they find out:  He is risen!  O Lord, the holy women came to anoint Your Body in the Tomb and You did anoint them, and us, eternally with Your Risen Life!  You anoint us with the grace of Your forgiveness in the anointing of the Holy Ghost! They did not have to anoint His Body!  As  Christ Jesus is the sweet fragrance of His Resurrection by which He has conquered death, no cover-up of death  but swallowing  up death: Christ the death of death our foe, Christ the life of all the living.  Along with Joanna, Mary and Salome, we are joined with Paul and all the Church to be the “aroma of Christ”:

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. 15For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17For 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)

Let us pray…

Mighty God, Your crucified and buried Son did not remain in the tomb for long. Give us joy in the tasks set before us, that we might carry out faithful acts of service as did Joanna, Mary, and Salome, offering to You the sweet perfume of our grateful hearts, so that we, too, may see the glory of Your resurrection and proclaim the Good News with unrestrained eagerness and fervor worked in us through our Lord Jesus Christ, who rose and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Read Full Post »

A voice says, “Cry!”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
    and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
    when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
    surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
    but the word of our God will stand forever.

Isaiah 40: 6-8

What we think is weighted with glory in this world is but a blade of grass in the Lord’s eyes, but the glory of His love for sinners in Jesus Christ, who bore the weight of the sin of the world in His Body, lifted upon the Cross, outweighs all this world’s vain glory.

Read Full Post »

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 

St. John 15: 5

A church had this sermon theme on its outside sign:  “A Fruitful Life Requires Jesus”. Love, the fruit and so proceed to the vine, the root, the source. No, it is the opposite in the Bible “Jesus requires the fruitful life.” From the vine comes the branches and the fruit.  From Christ comes the Christian. This is plain from the Gospel lesson for today. He uses the word abide some 8 times so that we have the fruitful life in Him.  It’s not, so you want to be a branch, find the vine. The inherent nature and purpose of  the Lord’s creation is to make fruit.  The gardener plants seed for one purpose:  produce, fruits and vegetable, as the Lord requires fruitfulness.  It is His doing and our tending, abiding in Him to plant, water and wait.   Notice the main difference in the two statements:  “A fruitful life requires Jesus”, the subject of “a fruitful life” is you and I, not the Lord.  We’re in charge.  “Do you really want the fruitful life?” “Here are the 5 steps to the fruitful life”, or others might preach that the fruitful life is a certain attainment of material prosperity, the “prosperity Gospel”, your best life now, etc. And so you need to accept Jesus to have the fruitful life,  then Jesus is our branch. Jesus does not grow out of us.  We grow out of Him! If we don’t, we will be unfruitful and cut off. 

Like I said, it’s just the opposite. We are the branches.   “The Lord Jesus requires the fruitful life”,   who is the subject?  Yes, the Lord.  “I am the Vine”, not you or I:  we are the branches, the Lord is Vine, and so the life of the grapevine.  His will, His word is that we are clean in His forgiveness.  His will, His word is that we know His peace.   His will, His word in a world bent in upon itself, fills  us with His love to so love others as He first loved us. His will, His word is  we are found in Him and to so find others as a Shepherd searching today for  His lost sheep.  His will, His Word is fruitfulness unto eternal life as we abide in Him, if we do not then we are cast aside.   His will is His Word in His words which are  His life for you, not your best life, but His life for you, knowing His love, His grace, mercy and peace. 

How do we know this? Answer: I heard it through the grapevine!  Jesus is faithful in all the words of the Bible.  Every word from the mouth of God is bread.  I heard it through the grape Vine:  This is my body, This is my blood.  

The saying,  “I heard it through the grapevine.” actually refers to gossip.  When someone passes on gossip it’s usually to help, I just thought you should know what they’re saying about you.  Or you should know about Sally so we can help Sally.  The false prophets and spirits are gossips about God in all their fine theories about the Lord who loves us.  They will say Jesus is not from God and He came in our flesh.  Test the spirits.  Hear them but do not listen to them that is obey them. The false spirits lead us from our Lord who so loves us. All those who deny Jesus came in the flesh are spreading gossip and rumors under the pretense to help  you.  The false spirits primarily say Jesus is not the incarnate God, come in the flesh. Gossips distort the truth.  They do not state it correctly.  Heretics are gossips. They speak as if they know but they do not, they trim the message to their own flesh and to acceptance in the world.  Jesus was a good teacher, a social revolutionary, a way to God and the like.  When the grapevine is the Lord Jesus we can hear and know that the Lord is good, His mercy endures forever.   His Word of forgiveness and grace cleanses us.  Abide in His Words He taught, His Words are true as is the entirety of the Word of God.

How does the Lord nourish our life as we abide in Him?  Answer: I hear it through the grapevine.   If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  Abide in Him and His words abiding in us and so it is logical to hear Him is to pray to Him and for Him and it is done.  This is child-like faith. We are heard as we hear Him,  the grapevine.  

“…everything has been heard, even though one does not know what has been heard. Even when Christ asked for His life, He was heard.  But the flesh does not recognize how the hearing takes place. Therefore every prayer is heard, and whatever we ask for happens, even though we do not recognize in what ways it happens… God sometimes hurls us into greater evils in order that He may put an end to the evils. And thus He has heard our prayer.” (Luther)

The Father will prune us.  He will cut off the suckers that take away from fructification.  The wild shoots.  Sin is a  sucker.  Sin sucks. It takes life away and deters the true Vine.  His pruning is confession and absolution. 

How are we made clean by His Word?  Answer:  Baptism and Faith. We heard today another witness in the Bible of a man made clean by Jesus:  the Baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch.  He heard the Word and the Word was poured over him in the waters of rebirth in Jesus Christ the true vine.  He heard it through the grapevine and Philip was no gossip, but he taught the Good News of Jesus who suffered and died and rose, as Isaiah prophesied 5 centuries before the Incarnation. And according to a reliable tradition, the Ethiopian eunuch did bear much fruit, even though there could never be fruit from his body.  He went home and may have told of the Gospel of Jesus as Philip told him. From early on,  Ethiopia became a Christian nation and today Ethiopia has one of the largest Lutheran church bodies on earth, a  whole lot bigger than all the Lutherans in the United States. I dare say, if we could ask the Ethiopian eunuch so how did you bear much fruit, tell us your secrets for the fruitful life?  His answer:  it was not me.  It was the Lord Jesus.  “This fruit is not mine; it is the Vine’s” (Luther, page 226 LW vol. 24).  He spread the truth, not gossip He was in charge of all the treasure of the Queen of Ethiopia and on that day, in the arranged meeting with Philip, the eunuch heard of the treasure beyond measure:  the unsearchable riches of Christ. 

How do we know this? Answer: I heard it through the grapevine!  Jesus is faithful in all the words of the Bible.   How does the Lord nourish our life as we abide in Him?  Answer: I hear it through the grapevine. He came in the flesh.

Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 

The Lord uses the word abide as an imperative, a command.  We are to keep His commandments, wrote the evangelist John.  And he wrote, “And His commandments are not burdensome”.  His commandments relieve our burdens. As His command,Come to all who are burden and heavy lade and I will give you rest…”  As His command, Take eat, take drink, this is My Body, this is My blood.  Forgive one another as I have forgiven you. Forgive your brother even 70 times 7 as I have forgiven you a humanly speaking unforgivable debt.  Love one another as I have first loved you.  Go ye therefore and teach all a nations baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I hear it through the Vine we are to love as He first loved us.  The devil hates the Holy Spirit’s fruit, especially the first one: love. We do not love to be saved but we have been so loved so we are saved to love. “We derive the greatest joy from the fact that we have people to love, either a wife or children, and we thank God, who gives us people to love.”-Martin Luther, commentary on 1 John 4: 11 And in all His freeing commands, it is the true Vine, Our Lord Jesus, we can do nothing without Him. 

I hear it through the grapevine. Look again at the picture of  the icon for this sermon. The icon with the depiction of the branch coming from the Lord’s side reminded me of the creation of Eve. It also shows Jesus squeezing grapes into a Chalice to be for His blood. Remember the Lord took a rib from Adam’s side to make a helpmate suitable for him, his wife to whom he would be married.  The Church is the bride of Christ.  We come from the Lord’s side by His grace and favor, His love just as when the Roman soldier pierced the Savior’s side, blood and water flowed out, so we are nourished in the Word of God, Baptism and Holy Communion.

 

Read Full Post »

The text for this morning’s sermon is the Gospel Reading, St. Luke 24: 36-49, especially these verses:

“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

When a man appears out of nowhere, who was dead, the first thing that comes to the Old Adam’s way of thinking: It’s a ghost!  So right away the Lord questions, does a spirit, a phantasm have flesh and bones? Yet He again appeared among the 12, flesh and bones.  He who needs no food eats and most importantly, no ghost has wounds. In the movie “Ghost”, the ghost, played by Patrick Swayze comes back to his wife. He was brutally killed, this ghost had no wounds. He came back to get his murderer.   The Lord has the wounds of the Cross and is risen for the repentance of even murderers.  The Lord cares for His flesh and blood, that is our flesh and blood, and our spirits and minds.

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself (Jesus) likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”(Hebrews 2: 14-15)

Body and soul in the forgiveness He has won for all.  He did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, He came that they might be fulfilled, all the promises of God fulfilled, which we cannot fulfill in a thousand lifetimes or reincarnations.  Now the Lord speaks of the entire Old Testament, the Law and the Prophets AND the Psalms, the Writings are fulfilled.  The  Scripture does not give eternal life, but they clearly, unmistakably, and without error point to Christ Jesus who does give eternal life, raising us up out of the mire and death of transgressions. 

 At the beginning of the written Gospels, Jesus tells Peter, James and John that from now on they would fish for men.  Now the risen Lord has given them the net:

“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” 

The Lord’s net is repentance and forgiveness of sins proclaimed in the Name of Jesus.  The chaotic far and wide sea and ocean is in deep turmoil, “all nations”, all the Gentiles.  Jesus sent the Apostles in the  huge Ninevah of this world.  The Lord’s will is all to be saved, to be fished out of the depths of the world, the flesh and the devil in His mercy  won for us all in His death and resurrection.  Jonah did not want to go to Ninevah as the Lord called him to preach.  The Lord went into Ninevah willingly.  Jonah was not executed.  The Author of life who carried all sin and death, was killed and was raised. 

Jesus taught that the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms are fulfilled in Him and are written about Him.  God is just.  He hates the sin but ever loves the sinner.  The Lord’s will is the just must of Christ Jesus bearing the sin of the  world upon the Cross. The three fold division of the Old Testament is the very pattern of Christ: 

In the Law of Moses, it is clear:  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mightDeuteronomy 6:5 and equally clear is the text, “…you shall love your neighbor as yourself”, Leviticus 19: 18.  Jesus put those two passages together to sum up the 10 commandments, the vertical and the horizontal of the commandments and more:  In His Spirit and flesh they are put together perfectly, as He is true God and true man, perfect love that casts out all fear, for you. 

In the prophets, Isaiah saw the day of the One who would be the Suffering Servant.  The prophets of Israel were not treated well at all by Israelites.  They were thrown into cisterns, marked for death, killed, mocked and despised.  The false prophets who taught false doctrine were warmly  welcomed into the courts of the cultured despisers of the faith.  In Isaiah 52 and 53 is the depths of the prophecy of the Suffering Servant.  Luke 22: 3737 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.”  He cited Isaiah 53: 12.

In the Psalms:   When Jesus was upon the Cross, dying for your life here and to eternal life, He prayed Psalm 22: 1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Psalm 22 is clear: IN the depths of the rout of the world, the flesh and the devil, Jesus triumphed.  The Psalms foresaw the royal Davidide, the King descended from David would come forth and yet this King would be David’s King, and our as well, yet more than King:  Savior. 

Law of Moses, Prophets and Psalms are all the Word God fulfilled in Jesus Christ.   I do not need to have a Phd in theology to understand the Bible.  The usual lament about the Bible is that it is so difficult to understand.  The Bible is so plain. From today’s Epistle reading (1 John 3), Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. I get it. This practice does not make perfect, quite the opposite. Equally clear is godly repentance and sorrow over sin leads us ever to the Lord. Johann Gerhard preached this well:

Whoever preaches forgiveness of sins without preaching repentance is not holding to Christ’s command. For He sets both together: repentance and forgiveness of sins. Wherever there is a broken and shattered heart, there Christ wants to live, Isa. 57:15,wants to impart His blessings which He won through His death and resurrection. He, indeed, calls sinners to Himself, but [He calls them) to repent, Matt. 9:13. True repentance is the pathway by which sinners come to grace.

Isaiah 57: 15 is this Word:

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
    who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
    and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.

In Psalm 51, after David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and his sin was shown to him by the preaching of the Law by Nathan the prophet, David prayed:  “…a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (verse 17).  Out of the depths, the Lord can reach those who have been humbled by their wrong, when we repent.

In these earthen vessels the Lord pours out His mercy to us as His blood covers our sin and comes into these earthen vessels.  We are made His own to act as His own.  The Bible is clear:  You know the Lord is righteous, from today’s Epistle reading, “…you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of Him.” We are born of Him. We are God’s children now.  His Word in our ears and hearts that we may share the vessel of His Word with others, our families, our co-workers, our friends, our colleagues…Abide in Him is the continual encouragement of the Word. Christ, and His unilateral redemption and salvation opens our hearts and minds to understand the Scripture and love and serve our neighbor. He opened their minds to understand Scripture, that all of the Bible points to Christ and undeserved grace, God’s grace in creating, redeeming and sanctifying us. Grace is sheer gift poured into our hearts, as the grace of God is key to the Bible.  Paul called us earthen vessels,not cracked pots, or crack pots (!). We hold stuff and we can hold the wrong stuff, but in repentance the turmoil of sin is gone, He filled us with the Holy Spirit.

Yes, there are Scripture passages that are hard to understand.  Luther wrote about not understanding Scripture passages:

To many people a great deal remains obscure; but that is due, not to any lack of clarity in Scripture, but to their own blindness and dullness, in that they make no effort to see truth which, in itself, could not be plainer.

A musician does not know and understand every piece of music, an artist every work of art, a chemist every equation, etc. but they can still all do their vocation well, as their understanding and love of their vocation increases. So can we as Christ’s communion and brethren.  We need to read the Bible daily because daily we need to be so fed by what we have read.  “I don’t have the time.”  If I can watch Big Bang theory for a half an hour, I have time for the Scripture.

The great orator of ancient Rome, Cicero said: “Read at every wait; read at all hours; read within leisure; read in times of labor; read as one goes in; read as one goest out. The task of the educated mind is simply put: read to lead.”  This also is true regarding the Lord’s written word in the Bible. The Lord reads us like a book, and by His grace alone, He has written us into the Book of life, as we believe. In Jesus Christ, His Word in the Bible becomes the times of refreshing. Read to lead.  Read to lead and so serve someone who might be lost.  Read to lead to stay true to the way who is Jesus.  The task of the saved mind is simply put:  read to lead.
  

Read Full Post »

 

Text:  Hebrews 11

Today’s Epistle reading is the Roll Call of the Heroes of Faith in Jesus Christ with the theme verse, the 11: 1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.

In the middle of the Roll Call, there are verses of hope in Christ, by faith, toward the Lord’s will in Christ for all:

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.

The  hymn “I’m but a Stranger Here” (#748, Lutheran Service Book) expresses an Biblical truth we seem not to like as Christians, the first stanza:

I’m but a stranger here,
Heaven is my home;
Earth is a desert drear,
Heaven is my home;
Danger and sorrow stand
Round me on every hand;
Heaven is my fatherland,
Heaven is my home.

This reminds me of the country song lyric, “Everyone wanna go to heaven, but no one want to go now”.  We like it here.  We have a hard time with the understanding that, “earth is a desert drear”.  Never before in the history of the world have so many people enjoyed the life that just a century before was limited to the wealthy few:  single family dwellings, lawns, vast entertainment possibilities through, radio, TV, internet, even indoor plumbing.  Prosperity preachers make much ado about this that we can even more if we strike a deal with the Almighty. We are very much at home here and now and want to hold on for dear life…even Christians. Yet, if what I have written is true, we are being false to the faith and hope the saints of old lived in Christ:  the Lord has a better plan.  The Lord laid out this plan in the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth:  an enduring city, who’s builder is none other than the Lord Himself.  Even our desire, even lust, for the “good life”, the “best life” now and forever demonstrates that eternity is part of our very thoughts, reflecting in a fleshly way, the Lord Himself. Ecclesiastes 3:

 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Eternity is in our will, that we know we were made forever with the Lord, yet on our own we can not find out “what God has done from the beginning to the end”.  Now with the Lord’s revelation finally and fully of the Incarnation, Ministry, life, death, resurrection and ascension of His Son our Lord, Jesus Christ, we know by what the Lord is doing.  For all our pagan attempts to hold onto life, grab all the gusto, we are looking to ourselves, inwardly, the despair of our times.  All the heroes of the faith, from A-Z, from Abraham to Zechariah were directed by the Lord to seek a “homeland”.  “Homeland Security” cannot give finally security and yet we seek homeland security for the here and now.  The hope of the homeland which is secure forever has been given:  the city of God.  We think our I-Phones/Pods and Pads are the “bomb”, giving us information and control at a finger swipe but all the while we want to be loved.  We live as if this were it, and fear and tremble that it is not. But,

“With all true Christians running
Our heavenly race and shunning
The devil’s wiles and cunning”,

we know by the Lord’s scarred hands that this world is not the final resting place.  Christ is.  I am, maybe like you, not too crazy about dying…but when we know sin is death, Christ is life eternal, seeking His homeland is sanity in this dark world for which Christ died.

In the Hall of Heroes of the Faith, note that all the saints therein were looking forward in hope, in the hope of Christ to come.  They had no cathedrals, except the Temple not made with human hands:  Jesus Christ (John 2:21; 1 Corinthians 3:17 ).  We pray many will hear the Word and come to faith.  But if faith is only for this world, or even for our congregation alone, then we are of all people the most to be pitied:  but Christ is raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:18-20).  It is clear from Hebrews 11:  Faith not only clings to Christ for what He has done for us but what He will do:  Thy Kingdom Come, based upon the Rock of our salvation,what He has done from womb to tomb to the Resurrection. Our national pastime, baseball, has it right:  to go home, after all the strike outs, errors, missed catches, we can in Christ. The homeland is given even now:

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.-St. John 14: 23

Read Full Post »

COLLECT OF THE DAY

Almighty God,by the glorious resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ,  You destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light.Grant that we who have been raised with Him may abide in His presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory;through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord,who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,one God, now and forever.

READINGS:

Acts 3:13-15, 17-19

Psalm 61

 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

 St. John 21:1-14

Reflection on the Gospel LessonJohn 21: 1-14. In this Gospel reading, the risen Lord asked Peter 3 times, Do you love me more than these? 3 times the Lord said, “Feed My sheep”. Feed them in the pastures of His Word. The number 3 was quite significant to Peter as Peter denied Jesus three times. Then after the Lord’s Ascension Peter does not want to go to the Gentile Centurion, Cornelius’ home because Peter would eat unclean animals.  3 times a sheet is lowered with unclean and clean animals, the Lord telling him to eat. The name Peter means “Rock”.  It takes time for many of us “to get it through our thick heads”!  But Peter did not seem to have a hard heart. After Jesus walked on the water, Peter almost commanded the Lord and the Lord invited  him: “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” (Matthew 14)  Then we he saw the waves and the wind, the storm  and Peter began to sink.  When he saw the storm around the fire as Jesus was being taken to trial, likewise he sank.  A good heart is not enough.  Pr. Johann Gerhard made a crucial distinction regarding Peter for our edification:

 “We should also contemplate how Peter came to such a fall (i.e. his denial), in order that we avoid the same. He was entirely too daring (presumptuous)–meaning that it all depended upon a good heart and good intentions. When he noticed others who were not like him in this matter, he held them in disdain. Thus he experienced how very little we are capable of if God does not sustain us. Therefore we should indeed not rely on the strength of our own faith, or on our good intentions. God’s power does it, and it alone must do everything.

I think Peter was the first evangelical-born-again ”I made my decision” Protestant pietist. I would love a congregation of those kind of Peters, but I know I am more like Peter when he saw the waves and the Rock sank.  Peter was a good guy, but even our goodness, apart from God, also needs Christ’s redemption, His Body and Blood, His forgiveness every step of the Way. It is my good heart and good intentions that can wreak the greatest damage in congregations, families and nations. I will impose my version of the good but it will pale in comparison to the Lord in His Word.  A  good person will boast, I live for others.  C. S.Lewis said, you tell who that person is by the hunted expressions for those round about. See Simon Peter and look to Jesus Christ.

Don’t look to  your life for salvation, because the Law points out to us, and our hearts, our sin, and points us to the Lord.  Peter found that out after he denied Jesus three times, the arrested Jesus simply looked at Peter. Peter wept bitterly. (Luke 22:61-63Peter finally knew his good heart was not enough, his decisions for Jesus did not bridge the gap between himself and the Lord, only the Lord’s hand, His Word, His decision savedhim…again and again and again!  He is risen!

Back in Luke 5 and the miraculous catch of fish, when the boat begins to sink because of the haul of fish, Peter jumps into water and falls before the Lord, “Depart from me O Lord for I am a sinful man.” First note, that Jesus did not answer Peter’s prayer in the affirmative!  Peter would discover the depths of his sin and the greater depths of the forgiveness and mercy in Jesus, the heart of His Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.  After the resurrection, Peter would forget this as recorded in the New Testament but the Lord brought Him back to Himself in true repentance.  And in this scene from John 21, Peter once more impulsively throws himself into the depths because he loved the Lord, because by His love  Peter, you, me and everyone we meet has been redeemed.  Now may His Word open our hearts to our Redeemer and  by faith be saved knowing the depths of His truth and grace for sinners and also for me and for thee as well day by day.  We pray…

O Lord Jesus Christ, look upon me, a poor sinner, with Your eyes of mercy, the same eyes of mercy with which You looked upon Peter in the assembly-room, upon Mary Magdalene at the banquet, and upon the malefactor on the cross. Grant to me also,almighty God, that with Peter I bemoan my sin from the heart, with Mary Magdalene sincerely love You, and with the malefactor on the cross may live eternally with You in Your kingdom. Amen. (Johann Gerhard)

Read Full Post »

About the Day:  Shrove Tuesday is the night of “carnival”, see Mardi Gras!  “Carnival” from the Latin carne, “flesh”, as in “carnivore”,and “vale”, farewell, literally, farewell to the flesh. One more night of partying, before the beginning of Lent, Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the 40 days of fasting.  Fasting is one mark of Lent. The other two marks of Lent are praying and almsgiving. The other name for today is Fat Tuesday.  The custom of church pancake suppers comes from emptying the kitchen shelves of eggs and milk by making pancakes, because the 40 days of Lent meant fasting from eggs, dairy, along with meat.  I think it is only the eastern Orthodox keep this fasting discipline.  

“Shrove” is not a word in much use these days, so here is a dictionary defintion, with the word’s origin:

Shrove, past tense of shrive:
Shrive; verb (used with object), shrove or shrived, shriven or shrived,shriving.
1.to impose penance on (a sinner).
2.to grant absolution to (a penitent).
3.to hear the confession of (a person).
verb (used without object), shrove or shrived, shriven orshrived, shriving. Archaic.
4.to hear confessions.
5.to go to or make confession; confess one’s sins, as to a priest.

Origin of “Shrive”before 900; Middle English shriven, schrifen, Old English scrīfan to prescribe,cognate with German schreiben to writeLatin scrībere; see scribe. (definition and etymology from Dictionary.com)

People in droves bought the book about Christian ‘spirituality’, The Purpose-Driven Life, but few would buy a book titled, “The Shriven Driven Life”. So many supposedly ‘Christian’ books are about how to be deliriously happy, your “best life now” without the reality a shriven life:  repentant, confessing sins and the need for the Lord’s absolution. the old 11th Century Hymn, “Alleluia, Song of Gladness” is to the point, third stanza (another translation):

Alleluia we deserve not
Here to chant forevermore;
Alleluia our transgressions
Make us for a while give o’er;
For the holy time is coming
Bidding us our sins deplore.

 Shrive is from the German, “to write”.  His Word written into our hearts and souls so to repent and live in Christ  We are in a spiritual war.  When we read, even view, the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians on the Libyan shore, “your best life now” is probably the beginning of atheism and such a shallow narcissistic idea. When the thief on the cross, to Jesus’ right, confessed and then prayed, Jesus, remember me when me when You come into Your Kingdom, he was shriven.  Jesus said:  Truly, today you will be with Me in paradise. Pope Francis said that some of those 21 Coptic Christians were praying, Jesus.  When we dwell on our own faults, we despair and the Lord says, Lift up your hearts: penitent, pained…and His promise to forgive.  

“Beat down Satan lower and lower and lift up Christ higher and higher” That is part of a hymn sung by Lutherans in Papua, New Guinea.  We can sing it because Jesus Christ has done the heavy lifting:  our sins in His Body on the Tree of the Cross.  It is ashes on the forehead but it is the Sign of the Cross.  Shriven. There is only One Who could literally cross the abyss from the Holy LORD to sinners in rebellion:  the One Who became our dust and ashes.  Jesus Christ is the second Adam, the man from Heaven.  (See 1 Corinthians 15:  45-49)  “In this Christian Church, He fully forgives my sins and sins of all believers.” (From Martin Luther’s explanation of the 3rd article of the Creed).  And when sin weighs you down, come to Jesus Christ where and when He said He will be:  This is My Body, This is My Blood.  If sins weighs you down, (and Satan wants to beat you lower and lower to drive you away from the Lord), pastors are called to hear confession in utter confidentiality  and offer the Lord’s own forgiveness to you personally in your ears and in your hearts (see St. John 20:  22-23;  1 John 1: 8-10). If death has undone you (T.S.Eliot), the last enemy to be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26), and enemies do not necessarily play fairly and death undid God,then flee to Him for refuge for His infinite mercy given in His Son. In the middle of the ashes, there is the Cross.  In the midst of death, there is Life.

 

Let us pray…

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. 
Selah

5I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Psalm 32

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: