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Archive for April 18th, 2017

COLLECT OF THE DAY

Almighty God,through the resurrection of Your Son You have secured peace for our troubled consciences. Grant us this peace evermore that trusting in the merit of Your Son we may come at last to the perfect peace of heaven; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

READINGS

Daniel 3:8-28

Psalm 2

Acts 13:26-33

St. Luke 24:36-49

St. Luke 24:44-49:

44Then He said to them, “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.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47and 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. 49And 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.

Comment:

      The pattern of Christ’s death and resurrection is the pattern of the apostolic message He gives to “all nations” for His Church to proclaim:  “repentance and forgiveness of sins”.  I hear too often in the media about the Church about “what the Church says” and it is usually on morality.  Morality is Biblical but so is the disciples not acting morally courageous:  me, too.   The Lord said that “the Law of Moses” is also “written about me”, that is He is the fulfillment of  the Law and the Prophets so that by faith in Him by the utter grace of His Sacrifice we are saved, who can not keep the Law.  The Decalogue in particular is also written about us  the way we should go and have not gone. Repent, turn around, make a u-turn and the sign of the u-turn in going down the dead end of iniquity is the Cross of Jesus.  By His death resurrection He effects our u-turn.

The pattern and form of our daily lives in Christ is summed up by Martin Luther:   

“(Baptism) signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”

Our repentance is the acceptance of God’s just judgment of our sin and the Gospel is the just fulfillment of the Law in the Son of the Father. Baptism makes us alive in Christ on account of Christ.  

 We are living in a time in which the Lord’s message of “….repentence and forgiveness”  proclaimed in Jesus’ Name has fallen away in churches  serviced by progressive pastors to prosperity gospel preachers to pablum preachers. In a thoughtful article in The Federalist, How Well Will American Christians Wear Our Cross? by Leslie Loftis, wrote:

The coming days will show us that the Body of Christ in the United States isn’t as large as the guide books tell us. And it might not be as strong as assumed, either. I fear that some among the rest of us might counsel silence by reminding us that we don’t face violent persecution like Christians overseas. We don’t, and we should keep our own burdens in perspective. But we should not use that perspective as an excuse to hide and hope the hate goes away. As Christians overseas might tell us, it doesn’t.

Mrs. Lofts talks about wearing the cross as a Pakistani Bishop, who’s congregation was bombed and his friends in Christ were killed, he always wears his cross.  In Egypt, the ancient custom is to have a cross tattooed on the wrist in the predominately and now hostile Islamic majority.  We bear our cross, not in despair but in hope, as the Old Adam is crucified daily  in true repentance and in the hope of the world to come. Too much of Christianity is only about this world, and politics, and our vision is myopic and so:

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Indeed, the church in the United States is pitiful and only in the risen Lord can we take our stand here and with our persecuted brethren around the world.

Wearing and bearing our cross may be at the expense of social discomfort, others and ourselves, and even worse, but the risen Lord’s command to Apostles, and the holy, catholic and apostolic Church to proclaim repentance and forgiveness in His Name has not been rescinded and that we have been marked, tattooed with the Cross and Christ. 

The Father sends the Son and the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit so that beginning in Jerusalem, the Word of so great a salvation (Hebrews 2:2-4) is preached into which we are baptized. The Holy Trinity is the one God, if you will a “conspiracy”:  literally con, with, “spirare” to breathe, (same root word for breath or  for spirit), literally” to breath together,  breathing as one the Word of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father into a sin-soaked, dark world.  

Rev. Pastor Johann Gerhard:  

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, and 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.

We were widely separated from God by sin, Isa.5. Just as the Lord Christ promised His Apostles the Promise of the Father—that is, He wanted to send them the Holy Spirit and clothe them with Power from on high—so also He proffers to us the comforting promise that He does not want to leave us orphaned or comfortless; instead, He desires to send into our hearts the Holy Spirit, who makes us strong in the inner man and comforts us in every anxious doubt.

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

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