Sunday, March 31, 2013

   In Christ it is always Easter

   It looks a lot different than it did about 1980 years ago.  The slab upon which our Lord Jesus lay dead was inside a tomb. His body was the first. It wasn't there very long. Thirty-six hours tops the way westerners count. But three days by the reckoning of the time. His rest in the tomb covered a foot print crossing Friday late afternoon, all day Saturday and into Sunday sometime before dawn. No telling from our perspective how much time was spent in Hell proclaiming victory to a quite surprised crowd. On the menu Satan and his crowd had one thing on their plates. Dirt. Burning, flaming hot dirt. They were not invited to the victory party now celebrated across the globe for a good twenty-four hours and echos into the next 7 weeks. It lingers, no, rules to this day in the midst of an angry, worldly crowd. The popularity of Christ's resurrection varies from time to time and from place to place, but it reverberates just the same and over all is getting louder.
   God the Father has been telling this story for all the generations of the earth. At times the picture  gets larger and at others it appears smaller. Never is it so detailed as today. So detailed a single Easter sermon cannot contain it all. It could take all 7 weeks of the Easter Season and not be done. It could take all 52 weeks of the year and not cover it all. The Church year is just too small. Yet the Easter greeting holds it all. Christ is Risen from the dead. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.
   I think some times the Holy Spirit wants to keep you in suspense so that you will keep your attention focused in His Word. Other times he just pulls out all the stops and leaves you with just awe.
   The tomb of Christ in the garden has been destroyed to erase it from memory and covered with a pagan temple thus preserving its location. The hillside into which it was cut is gone It has had churches plural erected over it to leave it enshrined for posterity only to be destroyed and rebuilt. I doesn't look like a tomb. Highly decorated with lots of room for lots of bodies to move in and out, see the ornamentation. Perhaps the only thing left from that first day of the week is a stone slab. There's no body there.
   YHWH spoke through Isaiah to his people about the time to come. It was going to be bad. They deserved it. Reading those accounts we should very well be reminded of ourselves. We can't claim innocence and ignore the history of our world since then. We can't just say we are better than our ancestors when we are imperfectly happy in a selfish society. But He also spoke to them about the time to come. It was going to be refreshing. He was gracious. He is forgiving and for a reason. Wrath was destined to be played out for real and in full to another. Nor has the LORD neglected to let us feel discipline that we understand a loving God desires always to save the biggest remnant he can.
   The first time he spoke the world came into being in answer to his words. Judah was hearing the big picture. Creation was going to be new again. Not just there in their corner of the world, but the whole world. The whole creation. It was too small a thing to save just a small rebel people who couldn't keep their noses clean. He was going to recreate everything. He wanted to include everyone. Everything.
   Jesus rising from the dead is recognized by the Church as the 8th day of creation. Jesus isn't just risen from the dead. He is the first fruits of those who sleep in death. He doesn't just declare his work finished, but ushers in the new creation into each generation.
   We should at this minute be asking the question, Where the Heaven is it? We look for something but it is bigger than our years and don't see it. We miss it when it is so small as a baby washed by water and the Word. The foretaste of the feast to come arrives in a small morsel and sip. It is often overlooked but still real when confessed sin is Spoken away in forgiveness. It is celebrated in song as the people of God are gathered now. It is yet hoped for when we gather around an empty grave being filled by one whose death pierces our own soul too.
   The resurrection of Jesus was not a one time deal. It connects to all of us. It connects us to something bigger that we can only crudely imagine and probably always get wrong in our limited vision. But you have to start somewhere and God starts with what is familiar. Sin will not be remembered in the resurrection. The screw ups and the anger expressed that caused us pain one to another and even more so to the heavenly Father will be forgotten by all parties. What we imagine to be happiness will real but of such small scope when the heavens and earth are restored and recreated.
   The resurrection of Jesus is the end of frustration. No longer will we sweat and labor just to hang on to the life we depend upon. Life will be a joy. All efforts will be a joy and a success. We can see it when our task be it easy or hard surprises  us when someone says, "Thank you so much. I thank God for you. You helped me." And be we bewildered, God has done his daily work again. But in that day when the First Fruits calls us from our tomb, when He calls us from our waiting in his grace and mercy we shall experience everlasting joy that sees no end and endless opportunity without sin or anymore death. Isaiah describes life in the early creation. The work of God in Christ is undoing and returning to the beginning.
   The resurrection of Jesus will be more than filling the marks in hands and side with fingers and hand. It will fill us. We will know good alone. All things, heaven and earth will be seamless with the first 7 days of creation. The wild animals will be tame and get their nourishment from the grass of the field, fruit of the plants and trees and likely beg for a scratch under the neck, a belly rub and offer wet kisses in return. The Church will occupy the whole World and the banquet will not end. This is what forgiveness looks like extending in all of what God has made. We will get to step into the throne room of God. He will dwell with us and will see his face shine on us. And God will once again say, "It is very good."

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Forgiveness and death

I like to think I avoid death (like the plague). I hate it. There is sadness and hurt there that has no earthly cure or comfort. Even the death of my enemies is going to make someone cry. Any rejoicing in death is probably selfish.
This post is really in response to one of those thoughts that gets inspired by another's comment when I am not usually within access to jotting my thoughts down for further musing.
So, to Debra: I saw my Aunt Andrea's response to your posting. I don't know any circumstances, so I can only infer. Nothing I can say will take away your sadness.  But I do wish to offer you a few words of hope. Continue to share the tears and embrace of friends and family.
Forgiveness is toughest when we have to find it within ourselves. There isn't much if any there. Forgiveness can't be earned either. But it is paid for. Jesus did all the forgiving this world needs. All I need. All you need. All Anna needs. Even all BH needs. Jesus paid for the forgiveness of the world with death. His death doesn't make me sad. I don't hate it. I am relieved. It means life. 
Anna's death at 19 was too soon. Had she lived happily until she was 91 it would still be too soon. Death is just wrong. But death for the Christian is like being sent to bed early when you wanted to go play with your friends past the sunset. We know it isn't fair. We know we can't do anything about it but sleep. But the Resurrection is like Jesus saying at sun rise, "Wake up! Have I got a fantastic day planned for us."
All those things she wanted to do are not ended. They will simply have to wait. She like the rest of us will have to wait. In the scheme of eternity, the wait won't be long.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Baptism of Our Lord

Baptism is one of my favorite subjects. I know that in Baptism my sins were washed away upon Jesus. In Baptism I am joined with the risen Christ.
Remembering my baptism is supposed to be a daily occurrence. It should be for you all as well. The Baptized confess their sins, believe and meditate upon the forgiveness of Christ. Forgiveness that is as abundant as water. John was baptizing in the wilderness, but not in the dessert. He was baptizing in the Jordan river. It was resort region. There was an abundance of water flowing there. Jesus requested baptism to fulfill all righteousness. He was filling us with his righteousness. Our sins are washed off of us and onto Jesus. His righteousness is then washed onto us.
Jesus does great work with water. He always has. Sometimes it is just a little like the spit he mixed with earth to make mud and heal a blind man. Sometimes it is a lot like the 18 jars of water that became wine at his will. Wine that he will later say, "Take and drink, this is my blood shed for you. Or that big catch of fish wasn't supposed to happen at that time of day on the Sea of Gallilee. An ocean that Jonah didn't drown in. The river water in which Naaman's leprosy was cleansed. The water from the rock that followed them in the wilderness wanderings. The water that guarded them on both sides as they passed through on dry land. The water that carried baby Moses from death to life in Pharaoh's court. The water that carried the ark and Noah's family, a precursor to Baptism. Water left the Garden of Eden as four rivers. The water in the beginning that seems to be the raw material for God in Christ's creative work. And at the end of his ministry on earth, Jesus commanded the discipling of the nations involve baptism connected to his Word.
I personally am not a big fan of water. I don't care for rain unless it is going to save me the trouble and expense of watering the garden. I can do without swimming and water sports, fishing and splashing in puddles. If I want to get wet I'll step into a hot shower to be soothed and to think but rarely a bath.
But Baptism, that's got Christ for me, for you written all over it. I don't remember my own baptism, but I suspect that Pastor Jesse used ice cold water and that sensation lingers in my subconscious. But while I don't remember it, the Holy Spirit does. He keeps me safe in my baptism my whole life long. That is his work and promise to you too.
We keep sinning, Christ keeps forgiving. We live a life that leads away from God and Christ continues to lead us back to the Father.
The reading from Genesis doesn't specifically mention baptism, but it does mention water and the Spirit. John's gospel helps bring this into focus with his comments about Jesus being the Word which is God made flesh present at creation.
Sin leads us away from the truth and the light of the world. Baptism brings us back. In baptism Christ is using his creative power to restore us. This tells us two things. The bad news is that our sinful nature cannot be handled with our own mere works. The ridding of sin in the world and in us is no simple matter. That is, it is in the incomprehensible. Meditation will not bring us out of sin. Planning will not steer us away from a path of death and misery. Hard work, trial and error will not show us the way to life eternal. Enlightenment does not change who we are. Frustration, denial and unbelief will not change the wages of sin. Praying, doing good and playing fair won't impress the One who doesn't show favoritism. But baptism on the other hand is the same power of God in creation making us new. It is being carried by Jesus into the death we earned, but finding he has taken the sting. Joining Christ in his death through baptism the curse has been replaced by recreation.
Our eyes see simple water and our ears hear a familiar word. But hidden in this weak act is the action of God in all its potency that the first day of creation witnessed. That same power was absent in the dark hours of Jesus death on the cross. Crucifixion killed by simulating drowning. The lungs fill with fluid and breathing halts.
There would only be one act of obedience. It was the life of Christ. There is only one real act of divine punishment. Jesus nailed to the cross faced it full on. He both endured it and ended it. There would only be one act of redemption. It is the life of Christ. But it is shared with you as if you are drenched in God the Father's favor.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I know that my redeemer lives...

    Can anything make you feel more at the end of your rope than the death of another? Can anything make you feel more at the end of your rope than having lost everything including your health? That everything would include friends, reputation, respect and community standing. What is left after everything is gone? The answer isn't, "nothing." At least not for Job.
    Job knows there is something worth sharing for those who are rock bottom or even have an inkling of fear or doubt or despair. He can see his end being near and his voice fading into silent history. But he has a message for us about hope and the in whom hope is real. Now obviously someone heard his plea for a record of this ordeal. The Scriptures contain the Book of Job. And from it we have his words inscribed with pen and ink on a scroll and a codex and then a book and copied all those years so that the Church may confess that the Resurrection was expected at least by a few who left this Word of the Lord for us to read. It wasn't only important enough for Job to desire recording but also for God himself. For God has always revealed his plan to restore creation to it's pristine condition and to have his only begotten rule over it.
   Easter is a message that must endure forever. Without the message of Easter man will continue to look elsewhere and even within himself for salvation. And Job knows for sure that there is none there. While he did not lean on his own understanding and admitted not grasping the understanding of the God of heaven and earth he trusts in the promise and proclaims the vision for us about what today is.
    Job knows he has a redeemer and he knows he has no proof. Everything is lost and gone, children, servants, land, properties, animals and the respect of his wife. Yet hope remains for the redeemer. This word redeemer is the same one used for Boaz in the book of Ruth. This is one who will risk his own property and reputation to restore your fortunes.  This can be seen in Jesus the Christ who being God didn't equate equality with God something to be grasped, but humbled himself taking the form of a servant and became obedient unto death on a cross.
    While we have in Job an example of endurance and hope against all odds he trusts in another. He is not our example. But even his life points to the one who is our redeemer as well. The bold statement, "I know that my redeemer lives," is a hope even when there appears to be none and in spite of no release. Job clearly admits that the time is coming when death wins. But the redeemer lives. And because he lives so shall I. So shall you.
     Demonstrated in the passion of Christ and in his crucifixion is one who has no hope. But Jesus who experienced death without the face of God shining on him mirrored Job's word's with his own, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
    Trials and tribulations are part of life. One is that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. There are other people in the world who don't have the trouble I have, the bad luck that follows me around and they aren't subject to the temptations to which I so easily fall prey. Yes, I know that there are others less fortunate than myself, but either they don't know any different or are helped the generosity of others. I'm the one with the problems, frustrations and seeming insurmountable issues. Don't we all feel this way at times or maybe even all the time? Job did. But here in the near center of the book bearing his name comes his short but powerful confession of the one we call the Christ.
    Job knew no rhyme or reason for being in the situation in which he found himself. His friends tried to convince him of his fault and their arguments fell short. Jobs complaints to God did not even bring him an answer to satisfy his soul. Being sinners in a sinful world is enough to make us subject to God's wrath. But God has mercy on us. He has promised a savior from the beginning. One who will buy us from our sin. One whose life will present us holy and blameless before God. 
    Jesus knew suffering, loss, temptation. He knew the eternal love of the Father at his side. He risked it all in doing his father's bidding and lost it all on the cross. For us he gained it all on the cross. In the victory of the resurrection he proclaimed his work to the Devil and all those allied with him.
    When Job said the redeemer will stand upon the earth he was using the same word Jesus spoke to the little dead girl. "Arise". There's lots of meaning in that word. It proclaims the resurrection and the firm place Jesus takes as the victor over out sin and death. He has become the reason for endurance in the face of defeat, shame and our own guilt. One the one hand he affirms us to endure all things and on the other he assures us that as we fall he will call us up even it is our bed of death in the grave.
    Jesus is not a one time resurrection. He is the firstborn of the dead. We will all on the last day rise as he has. Not as Lazarus, the boy from Nain, the little girl on the bed,  the young man sleeping in the window, the widows son who all in time died and slept with their fathers. But we will rise with Jesus along with those who for a time served as signs to point to Christ. Job wasn't going to take the word of another that the redeemer is here doing his work, calling us from death. He and we will see it for ourselves. There will be no mistaking it. Our communion liturgy confesses it with the song of Simeon, "Lord let your servant depart in peace. For my eyes have seen the joy of your salvation. We today see Jesus in the bred and wine, we see the risen Lord and receive his very body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins. That forgiveness is our resurrection. Not a spiritual one that plays out in happy emotions, but a real resurrection at his calling. The two can not be separated.
   It is this faith in Christ Job carries that gives flesh and fullness to his remark, "My heart is complete." Christ is our completeness. Not the world, not the worries, not the flesh, not the temptations, not the devil, not the lies. Jesus is our truth, redeemer, resurrection and rest. Amen.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tennebrae April 22, 2011

Matthew 21:9
And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!"
   Do not think for yourselves that Peter, James and John were the only Galileans who fell asleep while Jesus was praying in the garden olives and presses. Hundreds, thousands of people were asleep and drifting off after a long evening of Passover celebrating. They ate their fill. They drank their fill and now these folks who were so excited on Sunday at the coming Jesus into the holy city were getting to sleep their fill. They wouldn't quite wake at the crack of dawn this time. Rather the next day would start slow enough and be in itself busy enough getting ready for tomorrow's sabbath that they would miss the trials of Jesus held in the night and at first light and after breakfast that they would even miss the sentencing. Jesus was likey nailed to the cross before most of them found out!
   But let us go back a bit to examine Sunday and so better understand this Friday in the history of man. Jesus was recognized by many as the promised messiah. That much is clear from the shouts of that Sunday by the crowds lining the road. The palm branches and the cloaks that lined Jesus' path echoed the cries of the people.  Jesus in his humility accepted their praises but kept his face like a flint toward Friday.
   It seemed like the people's perception of messiah was on target. Jesus drove out those selling and buying in the Temple grounds declaring, "My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers." The blind and lame came to him there and he healed them. The scribes and the pharisees were thwarted in their attempt dishevel him. Both were silenced by his answers to their questions. He even silences the rest of us in his revelatory teaching of the end of time and judgement from that holy week as we try to present our works before the One seated in Glory. The crowds were right in believing here was a messiah who would get things done!
   While we use these words recorded by Matthew in our communion liturgy, we do so from a privileged viewpoint. These words are found in the Sanctus in settings one, two, three and four of the Lutheran Service Book and in the page 15 Divine Service Liturgy of TLH. There we rightly recognize what is said in the context of Christ's completed work and his ascension on High.
   They were right in calling upon this Son of David to save them.  But they were wrong in what they thought they meant. Abraham, Moses, Isaiah and all the prophets not only had a clue but also the right answer. This bunch, including the disciples who seemed to be either not paying attention or very slow learners had a clue but no idea what Jesus was really in town for.
   When we sing these words about Jesus we must remember to what lengths and depths he went to in order for them to have true meaning. In the context of that holy week the crowds of Galileans should have shouted something else. "Hosanna, hosanna, cursed is he that comes in the name of the LORD. Hosanna in  the lowest." Moses recorded God's words that one hung on a tree was cursed. St. Paul declared to the Galatian Church that Jesus' crucifixion showed that he traded his blessed state for our cursed one, we who did not, could not keep the law as required.
   Jesus' incarnation had one goal in mind. From the throne in heaven to the womb of the virgin Mary, Jesus a living man headed for Golgatha proclaiming the Work of God in him. It was on this day that God's promise to the Man and his Wife would come true for them and all their children. The serpent's head would be crushed as he tried to deliver death to the Blessed One now cursed. Cursed not by Satan, not by a misdeed, omission or rebellion as is the case with the rest of mankind, but cursed by the heavenly Father and by taking our sins and guilt onto his flesh. Here on the cross, Jesus would go to the lowest point. He became separated from the love, grace and mercy of God the Father. His humiliation was not just visible to man in the horror of crucifixion, but also to the holiness of God so that he turned away. Christ the LORD has saved us.
   For this reason the Father is turned toward us in love, grace, mercy, favor and in his eyes all is very good.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent with Confirmation

Traditions are good for teaching, but apart from the content of what is taught, they have no innate value beyond the sentimental. I'm not against traditions, I hold them very dear. I just believe that they are not so sacred as to be above change, omission or skipping for a time. This year we did something different at Zion. It kind of just fell together and wasn't planned out as much as it was an accident that worked out just fine.
On the first Sunday in Advent we used "Red" paraments!
My purpose was not to raise eyebrows or ruffle feathers. I just superseded one tradition in place of another. In fact, my vacancy parish was still green when I arrived this morning. With no time to make the switch. I think Advent being early this year caught some by surprise. Back to the home parish...There was this little patch of Advent Blue in the form of a little banner bearing the word "Hope" hanging from the first Advent candle on the Advent Wreath. The hymns were in the Advent section exclusively and the sermon even included Advent from the series A reading of the Epistle to the Romans chapter 13.
Today we celebrated not only the announcing of Christ's return in Glory, but also Confirmation. I entertained the notion for a little while to compromise the red and the blue with purple, but thought we'll keep some focus on the Rite the kids are going through right now. Two of the three were my own. Now all six of our children are now opening their hands to receive the very body of Christ and drinking from the Cup for the forgiveness of their sins. What follows is the sermon.

The Epistle Reading: Romans 13:11–14
    Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Parents work hard to raise their children up right and hope and pray that the lessons they taught on purpose don’t get brushed to the side by the lessons they taught by accident in the weakness of the flesh.
Pastors work hard to teach the congregation in which Christ has set him before in such a way that they learn to see their sin, but in a bigger way to see their savior Jesus’ mercy rather than see either the pastors gifts or his faults and so be distracted one more time by the devil, the world and the sinful flesh.
The Church year begins anew every year at this time to repeat the lessons of God intervening in the history we soiled with our rebellion, the relationships we strained or broke with our selfish desires or tainted the God Work of God with our meager if not out right arrogant attempts to help him along or worse yet, try and do God’s work for him.
Confirmation Sunday is special because it is the Church’s opportunity to see that there is a future because the Word of Christ has been taught to another generation. On the other hand the future of the Church is and always has been Christ’s Work and doesn’t depend on us receiving it in a certain place. We thank God that in his mercy it is going on right here.
The first Sunday of Advent is special because it reminds us of God’s promise to the World and our corner of it that he keeps his promises to rescue and restore. Often the world asks in unbelief, “If there were a god wouldn’t he rid the world of evil?” To which the Christian responds, “God sent his only Son incarnate into the world to take evil and it’s consequence of separation from the Creator’s declaration of “It is Good” and make sure they were destroyed by dying with the sin of the world upon him on the cross. There is a God, he is good and he has dealt with evil once and for all through his Son Jesus our Lord.. Each generation gets to experience that in the Church and we all get to learn about it every year so that we have no reason to fear death, fear punishment, but rather live in hope and promise.
So, while today has a special recognition for three about to be confirmed. It is also a reminder to you who already have made your public confession of faith and you who will someday that the words you spoke (will speak) are still being upheld by the Holy Spirit. That is, the promises spoken to you at your baptism from the mouth of God himself are still rock solid. They are in Christ who lived died, rose and ascended for you.
Mark and Lorene, I hope that you have been impressing upon Amanda the importance of being prepared as Michele and I have been our kids. This day is not graded nor a pass/fail. It is a confession from our own mouth that the Holy Spirit has been keeping his promise to keep us in the one true faith even though our actions at time don’t profess that very well.  Like any examination preparations must be made and study and learning take place. But Advent is also about more than the approaching holiday season. It is about knowing and acting like Jesus’ promise to return in glory is always about to come to pass.
People of Zion, the end is always near because Christ’s work is finished. The unveiling of his work is delayed so at least one more ear might hear that sins are forgiven and come to faith in Jesus Name, Life, Work, Death and Resurrection. It serves no benefit for us to put off the expression and living of our faith as if it means something only at the resurrection. Such is more foolishness and unbelief because trust in Christ and clinging to his promises are put aside like they are a “use only once” coupon. We have been born of Water, Word and the Spirit, not to play dead with our lives approaching Confirmation or after it, but rather to live in forgiveness, hope, learning and growing, the nurture and admonition of the Lord so that we may claim the prize of life eternal gifted to us today.
Being in Christ means the Father almighty regards us as perfect as his Son. There is therefore every reason to live as his perfect children. Not that we will always act that way, but in this life rejoice in the forgiveness that is Christ for us and all.
So, Catechumens and parents, grandparents, guests and congregation members, do not think for an instant that the rest of life is an easy slide downhill and all cozy. Not only are there persecutions of all kinds for those who are Called by Christ’s name, but there are all kinds of temptations because you today are telling the devil, the world and your own sinful flesh that you have on a big red target. Christians’s don’t need camouflage because Jesus has our back.
Forgiveness, reconciliation and big vintage confirmation certificate do not give you license to grow up and spend your lives making your own wants and desires the rule to live by.
Paul makes a list of sins that are associated with the night. There is an assumption that there is a time when sin can be enjoined without being caught. “He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake,” and I’m not talking about Santa Claus. God the Father invested a great deal in procuring your salvation. But he is not watching over you to catch you at doing wrong. He is watching over you to protect you from yourself and all other temptations and failings so that his promise of everlasting life is good today as well as yesterday and tomorrow.
The Church in Rome needed to know as well as us that Jesus did not gratify his own desires but sought to do the will of God the Father. That will was to live and die in your place to give you a good name. Not your own good name, that’s got dirt all over it, but his good name. His triune name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You receive that at your baptism. Therefore we put on Christ. It is not an act to get God to look at how good or cute we are. It is believing Christ’s good word that we are forgiven and saved in his name.
Jesus is the son of God. He put on humanity. He took on human flesh to himself. The Son of God clothed himself with the true nature of man and accepted it’s weaknesses including the ability to die and be buried. Jesus took on us. Not as to do battle with us, but to do battle for us on our behalf. He reversed the desires and effects of the first temptation and sin of Adam. Whereas Adam and Eve desired to be like God knowing “good and evil,” Jesus came down to destroy the power of the devil by becoming human flesh and accepting our guilt for sin. He worked backwards Adam’s sinful desire to be God in the most intimate way. He came into the world to be like man in all ways including to die in the world for the sake of our sin.
Therefore Christ in his work desires us to know that while the death of the body is the ultimate expression of the death of the Father’s expression, “And behold it was very good.” is now back on God’s lips that we have been granted the resurrection.
Today we are again invited to the Table of Christ and a set of three with a new way to remember their baptism. Not only are we born from above by the Spirit, but we are feed with Christ who is our inheritance. We are clothed with Christ. His righteousness is ours. +

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Out of Order

Here is it is July 6th, more than two months since my last post. Not only have I been thinking about and been busy with other things but I am about to write the first post to this blog. I know.  It's out of order. But what is order? Many things happen when they do. Previous posts (the few of them) were written on impulse and for practice. This one is on purpose.
    St. Paul mentions the whole of creation in birth pains groaning as redemption (read resurrection) is not quite here yet. Only because I've coached my wife through it six times do I know that something wonderful is about to happen, but there is the coming and going pain right before it actually happens, the birth of a child. This illustration can be used in more aspect of the Christian life. Facing sin and guilt is hard. It looks and feels like pain. It threatens and delivers death. Christ is moving us to repentance.Something wonderful is about to happen.
    Christ in his mercy provokes us to repent. He does so, so that he might wrap us up in forgiveness. So that he might  resurrect us in his image holy and blameless. Sometimes that provoking looks and acts like forgiveness working first because it is. We like to do things in some kind of order. Order is nice, but it isn't always the way Christ's Holy Spirit works.  The classic order given by man is to say you're sorry and then wait to be forgiven. Jesus got to us first with the promise of forgiveness. Adam didn't admit his sin. He blamed Eve. She didn't admit it either, she blamed the serpent. They really mean it was God's fault. God accepted their proposal. But chose to order salvation in his order of things. Jesus the Son of God chose us and was slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).
   The Luther quote and title for this blog are a combination with part of St. Paul's letter to the Romans chapter 8 verses 18-25. Where the Word is proclaimed and the Sacraments are administered according to Christ's institution there the Church is and there the Lord of Heaven and Earth is doing his work. Where one believes the Word written and heard, and receiving the Sacraments, there Christ is doing his work. And Christ is always doing his work among, with and to sinners. The righteous among whom Christ is working are the sinners who are repentant both clinging to his promises and begging for more.
    The world offers many reasons to believe that we are all headed for destruction. Nature (metaphor for how the creator Triune God cares for the physical universe and our little globe of it) unleashes fury even though locally it has been pretty mild this year (for which I thank God) but not too far away the flood waters have come up. Months ago the winter made many too cold for comfort and winter storms always set traps for those who feel they must go out and travel when indoors is the best place to stay. And if nature didn't catch us off guard as she keeps a balance on this life sustaining planet we well intentioned mess things up on our own by false assumptions or by accident. I'm all for oil drilling anywhere but in my literal backyard, but I'm completely against oil spills. It's a wasted resource. I'm also for nuclear, geothermal, wind and solar because I believe that they more efficient in the long run and cheaper or at least would be without or human greed factor but now I'm in a tangent and off the main subject. The sin of man is the direct and indirect cause of all trouble. We can make trouble out of anything including an interpretation of something that isn't a problem.
    Now on the other hand our God has promised that he is going to destroy the world. He has also promised that he is going to restore it. But in the mean time we live in a fallen corrupted world that God in Christ is committed to save. The historical evidence shows that the Holy Spirit's work moves across the world when and were he wills. In some places the Word has quieted. Was it rejected? Was it just ignored? Is it coming back?
    It isn't just nature that demonstrates trouble in the world. Man also multiplies sin in the most temperate and wealthy habitats. Sin is our dealings with one another but mostly our rebellion against our creator. When King David psalmed on to God about how "against you only have I sinned," he wasn't claiming we didn't sin against each other. He was merely stating  Christ's claim (on the cross) that 'the sin' stops here.  It is in and among sinful man that Christ does his Work. His Work is to redeem sinners. His patience with mankind and even with me goes way beyond my tolerances. And for that I am sincerely thankful. He keeps working salvation in me and building on the promise given me in my baptism as he also does for you. He keeps repeating his word of law and gospel to draw you to himself as redeemed brother or sister. And when I say he keeps repeating, I mean it happens over and over. It is a promise to last a lifetime. He even works on the hard hearted because I am so poor at doing that myself. We have at this time mediums of unprecedented capabilities to bring the Word of Christ into places it could never go before. This internet blog represents only one, but Marconi and several others brought radio, then TV, recordings to the ever shrinking mp3 players and who knows what is coming next...
    The final word is this, The all knowing, all powerful and ever present God sees you and has chosen to redeem and love you at the cost of incarnation and experiencing our eternal punishment in the time spent on the cross so that he dedicate his earnings of life and salvation to you and upon those who he has caught standing in the rain and those who run out in it trying to get on life's way. They find out he is the truth, the way and the Life.
    Life goes bad all the time. Christ reminds of and brings resurrection. He is making us right.
In this sense, I hope to be here chronicling the weather. The forecast is Jesus.