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Archive for December 1st, 2012

From AgnusDay

From AgnusDay

Note:  Advent is the beginning of the Church’s new year.  Obviously, it does not correspond to the secular year which can remind us that God’s time is not as our time (2 Peter 3:7-9).  Back when,  I heard of a congregation that on the Saturday before the 1st Sunday in Advent had the Divine Service and then a ‘new year’s’ eve party complete with champagne.  The first service is good, the second not-so.   Advent use to be a season of preparation for Christmas (actually, Christ Mass) which meant fasting.  Still can be.  Rev. Professor Johann Gerhard (1582-1637) taught clearly the evangelical understanding and practice of fasting.  Considering our Lord’s warning recorded in Advent One’s appointed Gospel, St.  Luke 21:  25-36 (see the cartoon above!), it is well to consider Pr. Gerhard’s pastoral encouragement:

             “Christ wanted to teach true fasting with His example: It does not consist of a person refraining from certain foods at certain times and regarding that as being meritorious and as a satisfaction for sin. Instead, the following is a true, God-pleasing fast, namely, “The primary, great universal fast,” as Augustine calls it, is a person abstains from the lusts of the flesh which strive against the soul, I Pet. 2:11, where a person then does not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, Gal. 5:16. Also, all members can fast in this manner if they do not give in to the servitude of impurity, but instead to the weapons of righteousness, Rom. 6:13 and 19.

            Following this there is a daily fast: moderation. With it is observed an appropriate restraint in eating and drinking in order that one becomes adept at praying, skillful at his calling, and in the exercise of godliness. Also, this is of such a vital, essential necessity that Christ speaks with words worthy of reflection and contemplation: However, you be on guard so that your hearts do not become burdened with gobbling food and boozing, lest this final Day comes upon you like an ensnaring trap, Luke 21:34-35. If it were not of the utmost importance, Christ never would have used such stern words.”

 

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