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Archive for May 5th, 2016

Lessons:

Acts 1: 1-11

Ephesians 1: 15-23

St. Luke 24: 44-53

Almighty God, as Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, ascended into the heavens, so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
    He was manifested in the flesh,
   vindicated by the Spirit,
       seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
    believed on in the world,
       taken up in glory. 1 Timothy 3: 16

This year’s calendar has a juxtaposition of two holy days:  The Ascension of Jesus into Heaven and Yom HaShoah, the Day of Holocaust and the Remembrance of the Six Million Jews.  I think they have a commonality between the two of them: remembrance.

 Our Jewish neighbors urge us to never forget the concentration camps set up in the middle of Christian Europe, in other words:  remember.  The verb “remember” is a key one in St. Luke’s Gospel and in all the Bible.  Peter remembered what Jesus said about Peter’s denial when he heard the cock crow three times and he wept bitterly.  Peter knew his sin.  He was reminded and remembered (cf.Luke 22:61).  When the repentant thief on the cross confesses his just sentence of judgment and his confession of Christ, the thief prayed: “And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)  The angels at the tomb tell the women, 

St. Luke 24: “And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words…(emphasis my own)”

And every week the Lord commands us in His Supper of His true Body and Blood:

“This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

The Church calendar is for remembrance, as we remember our Lord’s Ascension to the Father to be with His Church in ways He could not in Galilee.  Maybe the Church is last community of memory left in our anti-cultural nation and world, yet many congregations just want to focus on the here and now of one’s spiritual jollies.  The remembrance is of sin, as in Yom HaShoah, or Ash Wednesday and of forgiveness, Good Friday and of hope, the Resurrection and the Ascension.  And Sundays are a reminder of all the above. The Church Year is like post-it notes of remembrance for our souls.  

We are living in a time of forgetfulness of the great deeds of the Lord… and of our nation.  So many times the prophets, the poets and patriarchs remembered or encouraged Israel to remember.  Not remembering is the doom of repeating the horrors of our sin. 

You tell a friend about your mother that she is sick.  Please pray for her, you ask your friend.   A week your friend asks you, How’s your Mom?  In your heart, you rejoice because your friend remembered.  You know your friend prayed for your Mom.  You doubly rejoice.  “Thanks for remembering”. You remembered!  What a sad response:  I forgot. “And (the women) remembered (Christ’s) words.” 

Christ is risen!  Remembering is thanksgiving.  Our lives are one of remembrance in Christ.  The devil’s strategy is for us to forget.  We are baptized to remember His Word as it points out where we have gone astray and ever points us to the living Way Who is Christ, the crucified and risen Lord. We must remember all the deeds of the Lord. 

Remembering is learning.  Tests in school, and trials in life, are to see if we do remember.  Tests and trials also are for us to remember our lessons and our Lord.  The purpose of school is not for us to feel good about the subject matter, but to learn it.  Jesus risen was taught by the angels and the women.  When we forget, we die.  Remember what He told you.  We must learn.  We are learning in Christ to love as He first loved us.  He had said three times, the Son of Man MUST suffer, be killed and rise again.  The women remembered because the angels reminded them, as do angels in our lives. Remember the Holocaust. Remember His Ascension.  A divine MUST all the way around is His death and resurrection and so acquiring and learning by faith His resurrected life for us and for our salvation. 

“O Holy Trinity, You Self-sufficient Love, ignite also in our hearts this fire of Your Love.”

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Yom  HaShoah is Hebrew for The Day of Holocaust to remember the 6,000,000 Jews who were killed in the heart of Christian Europe during World War II.  Today is Yom HaShoah which began at sundown yesterday. This day was set aside by the Israeli Parliament in 1951.  Today also happens to be the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord.  Our Lord is a son of Israel.  A “holocaust” was the sacrifice of a whole animal, which was burned entirely upon the Altar.  This quote by Elie Wiesel, novelist, theologian and survivor of the camps, is sadly and importantly relevant as we see new genocides in the lands of the Bible:

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” — Elie Wiesel

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