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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

Lessons:

Exodus 19:1-9

Psalm 113

 Romans 8:12-27

St. John 14:8-21

GRADUAL:   Acts 2:17b, Rom.10:10

I will pour out my Spirit  on all flesh,*and your sons and your daughters shall  prophesy. With the heart one believes and is  justified,* and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

VERSE: Alleluia. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love. Alleluia.

Intro:  Pentecost is the third, but by no means the last, of the Three Great Holy Days of the Christian Church year.  Each day, and its season, corresponds to the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity.

  • Christmas, originally Christ Mass, is the celebration of God the Father.  God the Father in the fullness of time sends His Son to be born of the Virgin Mary and He is the Word made flesh.
  • Easter, or Pascha, is the celebration of God the Son, Who after His earthly ministry and then sufferings, crucifixion, rises again on the Third Day.
  • Pentecost, 50 Days after Easter, the Holy Spirit is publically pored out upon the 120 (Acts 1: 15) gathered together and they begin to speak of wonderful deeds of the Lord He accomplished in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

As the Holy Trinity is one so are the 3 great feast days of His Church.

Reflection:  The word “spirit” in Biblical Hebrew is “ruah”.  Spirit in Biblical Greek is “pneuma”.   Our English word, which is from the Latin, “spirare” translates well both Hebrew and Greek: all three words can also be translated as “breath” or “wind”.  So our Lord uses these different definitions in a word play  in John 3.  Scripture reports in Acts 2 that the descent of the Holy Spirit was like a “mighty rushing wind.”Now our English word “spirit” and it’s Latin original “spirare” is also the second syllable of these following words and taken together form a whole Bible study of the work of the Holy Spirit.

  • expire
  • respire
  • inspire
  • conspire
  • transpire
  • perspire
  • aspire
Expire:  literally without breath .The “s” has dropped out in our pronunciation.  We were dead in our trespasses, spiritually dead, expired.  In sin we are spiritually in the tomb with Lazarus until the Lord calls out by His Word: Come out!   When we sin again we are without breath till repentance and forgiveness.
 
Respire:  literally, to breathe again. The Holy Spirit performs resuscitation in the work and word of Jesus Christ so we  can breathe again.
 
Inspire:   breathe in.  All Scripture is inspired by God, God-breathed.  He breathes in the Word and makes it alive as Jesus Christ is alive.  Scripture is also for the Holy Spirit to rebuke sin and reconcile us once again to the Lord.  Every Word of the Bible, either Law or Gospel, is inspired.
 
Conspire:  literally breathe together.  The Holy Spirit builds us up in Christ to the glory of God the Father, a holy conspiracy, that is, His Church so that the Word is preached, taughted, administered, served, confessed and believed upon in the world. Yes, the Church is the Lord’s conspiracy so that breathing together we tell the deeds of Him who called us out of darkness into His most marvelous light. (cf. 1 Peter 2: 9). 

From Dr. Martin Luther’s The Large Catechism, 3rd Article of The Apostles’ Creed:

 If you are asked: What do you mean by the words: I believe in the Holy Ghost? you can answer: I believe that the Holy Ghost makes me holy, as His name implies.  But whereby does He accomplish this, or what are His method and means to this end? Answer: By the Christian Church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  For, in the first place, He has a peculiar congregation in the world, which is the mother that begets and bears every Christian through the Word of God, which He reveals and preaches, [and through which] He illumines and enkindles hearts, that they understand, accept it, cling to it, and persevere in it.

 
Transpire:  literally breathed across, as in the whole history of Israel culminating in the 3 great feast days of the church and in the Church today till the day when forgiveness will no longer be needed in the Resurrection: Come, Lord Jesus, come. The Spirit and the Bride say come!
 
Perspire:  literally breathe through, that is sweat! The Holy Spirit works and man sweats, when we know the depth of our wrong and nothing we can do to extricate our selves from it.  We sweat and panic and the Holy Spirit blows upon us the Word of Christ to soothe,cool, heal…forgive and so make us holy. 
 
Aspire:  to breathe towards, to want to do better.  We can not aspire and be saved on our own, we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ.  But once baptized and forgiven, we aspire to be made holy in our lives through faith, the fruit of which is love, joy, peace, etc. by walking in the Spirit, feeding on His Word and Sacrament day by day, for as branches are to the vine, we can do nothing without Him.
 
All of these words describe the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is not an independent operator but works in perfect sync with the Father and the Son, who is forever to be worshiped and glorified in His Church, one God, one Lord,  both now and forever. Amen!
 
Almighty and ever-living God, You fulfilled Your promise by sending the gift of the Holy Spirit to unite disciples of all nations in the cross and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ. By the preaching of the Gospel spread this gift to the ends of the earth; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.    

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For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9

 

READINGS:  Numbers 11:4–6, 10–16, 24–29 Psalm 104: 27-35  James 5: 13–20 Mark 9:38–50

The Lord’s concern in response to the disciples’ question about the man casting out demons in Christ’s Name is like Moses’ response about Eldad and Medad receiving the Holy Spirit outside the Tent of Meeting:  Would that all people be prophets and the Lord’s Spirit be upon them! The Lord’s will is all people to be saved in the sheer gift of Himself to know Him and love Him and love our neighbors aright. 

“As a true servant of God, who was not jealous for his own honor, but desired only the extension of God’s influence and power, Moses wished only for a further extension of the Lord’s gift of grace. A little more of this same Spirit in our days would help to solve many of the problems of the Church.” (From The Popular Commentary (1924), by Dr. Paul Kretzmann, Lutheran Pastor and Scholar)

The Lord’s solution of political problems is not pastors, ministers and priests offering political solutions to people who suffer from the spiritual problem of sin.  The Lord’s solution is salvation in teaching and preaching Christ, His Cross, His resurrection and ascension, His Word of Law and Promise. Not a pope nor a president telling us pollution is bad, or abortion for that matter, but God’s Word and teaching thus sayeth the Lord from the  Bible.  The greatest apostolic ministry is not first casting out demons, that is, rare, but receiving a cup of water because, beloved in the Lord, “you belong to Christ”.  You belong to Christ. This means the person giving the cup of water to one of Jesus’ own, is beginning to believe through the grace of God in, through and with His Son Jesus Christ and that is quite a reward.

The one who has given the apostle a cup of cold water because He belongs to Christ, one of the little ones, like the child Jesus enfolded into His arms, and so Jesus is clear:  the greatest sin is to cause him or her believing in Christ to sin. So solemnly in a three-fold repetition

If your hand causes you to sin …

If your foot causes you to sin …

If you your eye causes you to sin

“Causes you to sin” in Greek is root of our word scandal, which was something that  causes you to stumble, into sin.  Now it is clear my hand does not think nor does the eye nor does the foot.  Oh, my hand hit you, now hand apologize and cut it out. That’s an absurdity as is sin.  Jesus knows what needs to be cut out.  He already taught earlier in chapter 7 the defilement comes out of the heart:  “evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, etc.”.   Cut it out. Arduously keeping the Law of God will cut out some outward behaviors, which is good, but the heart condition remains. The Lord by His Law shows us the true source of the offense:  the heart, that is, the will.  He has cut out the blockages of sin and death and hell.  He cut it out in His Body upon the Cross. Salt stings in order to preserve.

“Christ here mentions some other members that are very apt to offend, to commit sin, to lead others into sin. The law of sin is always active in our members. Here it is necessary that a person keep these members in subjection. For the Lord speaks figuratively and does not want to be understood, as Luther says, that He here advocates physical mutilation or dismemberment, since that would obviously not take the sin and the desire to sin out of the heart. It is the heart which must be controlled by the spirit of love toward Christ and our neighbor, in order that the hand, the foot, the eye do not perform that which sin desires them to do.”  (From The Popular Commentary (1924), by Dr. Paul Kretzmann, Lutheran Pastor and Scholar)

Cutting it off is called confession, cutting it out to be healed in His forgiveness. His Word like a surgeon’s scalpel cuts to heal. “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;  There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul.” The costly balm is Christ’ blood.

Churches have greatly watered down the Word of God to make it palatable for ourselves and the results have been disastrous, tolerating all sorts of sin, as in marriage, thus causing one of the little ones who believe in Christ to sin. Look at what the rampant sexual immorality of our time has cost children in divorce, abuse, pornography…and so let’s water down the saltiness of the Law of God  which mean  no repentance, no return to the Lord your God for He is merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Still:  “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole; There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul”.

Jesus is clear:  the result is hell, where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. We have watered down hell.   Hell has been watered down for people who don’t believe it, but note that it is still in full force for someone I don’t like! Then the belief is quite strong!  Hell is not merely fictional frightening children’s tale to scare, “…rather, they are true reason publicly proclaimed with a straightforward voice.” (St. Basil).    Hell is where the stink of putrefying sin always feeds the worms, the maggots.  Such is a world which harvests aborted infants’ body parts, commits genocide, beheads Christians and others, says nothing to “hooking-up”, or getting ahead at all costs using people is okay, its called being a “winner”.  Hell is a Biblical doctrine.  The Lord wants no one in hell, but all to be saved and come to the knowledge of Christ.

The list of ingredients on a food package always begin in descending order with  ingredient that is the most and salt is not usually the main ingredient.  In the Church, and proclaimed throughout the world, the main ingredient is the Name of Jesus Christ for us and our salvation.  When salt becomes more important than the main ingredient then there are problems.  When our theological solutions become more important than Christ our Lord, not interpreting truly the Scriptures, the Word of God, then men follow manmade doctrines such as the office of the pope, as the head of the church. He’s not, Christ is, as the Bible makes clear.  During the Pope’s visit, they had a canonization Mass in D.C.  As one reporter said, The pope made a new saint today.  No, he did not, most emphatically, none of the 266 popes ever made a saint.  The church does not make saints, Christ Jesus does.  The saints in Christ are His baptized, His little ones, not the great ones.  Salt does not make salt. The Lord does.  You are the salt of the earth. Not you should be, you must be, you can be, or we’ll make you salt.  You ARE.  Not by your doing, nor your works, but by the gracious work and word of Jesus Christ, whose we are, is who we are.    

The lesson ends with Jesus speaking of salt.  He did this early, Matthew 5:  Y’all are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost it’s saltiness what is it good, except to be thrown out and trampled on by men.  Funny thing though:  salt, sodium chloride, is quite the stable compound and does not lose it’s saltiness.  You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant  with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt. Leviticus 2: 13.  The Lord’s covenant, His testaments, old and new endure as salt, stable.  His promises fulfilled in Christ are there, His Word for us and for our salvation.  The very Word wounded for our sin.

Salt is a cheap grocery item in our day, but not back in the time of Christ.  Salty ocean water had to dry out and the salt gathered which could be filled with impurities. The impurities would dissipate the saltiness of salt and so salt loses is saltiness and becomes worthless.   So does the  impurities of  false doctrine, and unrepentant sin.

“Where the salt loses its saltiness, and the Gospel is spoiled with doctrines of men, there the old Adam no longer can be spiced, there the worms will grow. But salt is sharp; therefore it is necessary to have patience and peace in the salt.” (Martin Luther)

And sayeth the Lord, “ You will be salted with fire:   the fire of His Law and judgment, the fire of His mercy for sinners the fire of the Holy Spirit purging and renewing His Church;  the fire of His love for you and our neighbors to know the peace of God surpassing  human understanding.  His Word is our salt, preserving and flavoring our lives, making us thirsty for the draught of His Baptism and His Word. The word “salary” comes from the Latin for “salt”.  Roman soldiers received a stipend for salt.  My Dad told me that in the army, part of the rations was a salt tablet because it was indispensable to stay alive and keep on going.  His Word is the salt of the testament in Jesus. Have this salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another, the salt of the new and everlasting covenant in His Body and Blood. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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Intro: The Augsburg Confession, the principal doctrinal statement of…Martin Luther and the Lutheran reformers, was written largely by Phillip Melanchthon. At its heart it confesses the justification of sinners by grace alone, through faith alone, for the sake of Christ alone. Signed by leaders of many German cities and regions, the confession was formally presented to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at Augsburg, Germany, on June 25, 1530. A few weeks later Roman Catholic authorities rejected the Confession, which Melanchthon defended in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession (1531). In 1580 the Unaltered Augsburg Confession was included in the Book of Concord. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

 The Augsburg Confession:  Article IV: Justification.

Our churches also teach that men cannot be justified before God  by their own strength, merits, or works but are freely justified for Christ’s sake through faith when they believe that they are received  into favor and that their sins are forgiven on account of Christ, who by his death made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in his sight (Rom. 3, 4).

The common understanding that the Lutheran Church began on October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg church door, is mistaken:

It was on this day, when the true and unadulterated Confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Faith was presented in Augsburg, that the Lutheran Church ‘began’. This was not declare independance  and begin a ‘new’ Church but the continuation of the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church” which proclaims justification by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, alone. Rev. Professor Hermann Sasse wrote it well: 

“Lutheran theology differs from Reformed theology in that it lays great emphasis on the fact that the evangelical church is none other than the medieval Catholic Church purged of certain heresies and abuses. The Lutheran theologian acknowledges that he belongs to the same visible church to which Thomas Aquinas and Bernard of Clairvaux, Augustine and Tertullian, Anthanasius and Irenaeus once belonged. The orthodox evangelical church is the legitimate continuation of the medieval Catholic Church, not the church of the Council of Trent and the Vatican Council which renounced evangelical truth when it rejected the Reformation.For the orthodox evangelical church is really identical with the orthodox Catholic Church of all times.” (Here We Stand (1932) by Rev. Hermann Sasse, Lutheran theologian and professor, at the time publication at the University of Erlangen)

The Fathers at Augsburg were not really trying to “change” or update the Church, or leave the Church, but change it back to the way it was according to the Gospel.  It was a conservative reformation. They did not want to start a new church, as did Calvin and Zwingli.  The orthodox confessional Church is catholic, literally, “according to the whole”, of the Bible, as when the faith was evangelically proclaimed and taught by the Church Fathers. It was a reformation not a revolution, yet this conservative reformation had revolutionary aspects for a tradition that confused itself as the truth, both Roman Catholic and Protestantism.

Even though historically significant as the posting of the 95 Theses was in Church history, Luther would later distance himself from some of his theses as being too papist.  It was in Augsburg that the Catholic Faith, reformed according to the Gospel and Justification was presented that the Lutheran Church continued.

Let us pray…

Lord God, heavenly Father, You preserved the teaching of the apostolic Church through the confession of the true faith at Augsburg. Continue to cast the bright beams of Your light upon Your Church that we, being instructed by the doctrine of the blessed apostles, may walk in the light of Your truth and finally attain to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

 For further reading on the Presentation

 

 

 

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My father, when he was in the FBI, went to the shooting range monthly and I loved it when he brought back a target, like the one  on right, with holes in head and heart.  An officer of the court must learn to shoot to kill. The heart has the most points. This clip art  is to show how to make the sign of the cross.  I also thought it looks like the target, a bull’s eye. Well, it  sort of is. You are the Lord’s target.  You were His target on the Cross. The Word made flesh spoken and administered in the Sacraments takes aim at us, heart and mind and soul and flesh.  To kill?  Yes, He aims to kill the old Adam and put more and more of His life in us. The Lord alone can so take that aim. Your heart and your will count the most and He has given us His most: Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  When we make the sign of the Cross it is mostly with the words of Invocation, prayer:  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.  Please take aim O Lord, forgive, renew and lift up Your servant, Your son, Your daughter whom You baptized.  When sin is killed, it can’t be held in trust,  but I am held in His nail printed hands in faith. We have wounds. He alone heals the holes in heart, soul and mind and fills them by His grace to heal our wounds.

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All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he (the Holy Spirit) will take what is mine and declare it to you. St. John 16: 15

When was the last time you met Cappadocians, Elamites…Medes? Okay, you could have met Libyans and Egyptians, but they would not be the same as back at the time of Pentecost.  And Egyptian Christians have been around since the time of Pentecost.  My point is this:  Christians, baptized followers of Jesus have been around since Pentecost. Christians are in practically every nation under heaven…not Cappadocians and even Egyptians and Libyans.   It seems that Jesus was right when He said that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church in spite of many to raise hell in the Church. 

Christians in so many nations hear true pastors, ministers and priests telling in their own tongues the mighty works of God.  They heard that forgiveness was won in Jesus Christ through His death and resurrection. Jesus commanded His apostles to baptize all nations under heaven.  The Apostles, the first being blue-collar fishermen, told the good news of Jesus Christ that God has acted in utter love and mercy to forgive the humanly unforgivable. 

Peter, some 53 days before had denied Jesus three times.  Earlier,  when Peter confessed Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God, Jesus said that upon this confession I will build my Church.  The Lord then said this is  the way the foundation was to be laid:  He was to be crucified and die and on the third day rise. Peter said, no way and Jesus called Peter Satan.   Peter wanted to walk to Jesus on the water but when Peter saw the fierce waves he began to sink. Jesus grabbed Peter from the storm and chided, Ye of little faith.  Peter was sunk and now like Jonah out of the depths, there he was preaching the first Christian sermon. Peter and the disciples 50 days ago were hiding for fear of the religious authorities. What had changed? How could a Galilean fishermen, with so much baggage and no college education, be preaching Christ and face arrest, imprisonment, and even death?  Answer:  the news was so good, the Lord acted in the mighty deeds of the atonement for us and for our salvation.  All our strivings to walk on water, water down the truth in order to save ourselves do not compare to unconquerable love of God in Christ Jesus.  What had changed? More who had changed Peter?  Answer: the Holy Spirit, Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit. Peter was sunk but the Lord is not.

So, who is the Holy Spirit? Answer:  The Lord.  Yet, we bandy about the word “spirit” a lot with out much understanding the word.  What is spirit? Then what are the characteristics of the Holy Spirit?

When the gathered crowd heard the disciples speaking in other tongues the mighty deeds of God, they said:  they are drunk.  Except Peter pointed out  it is only 9 in the morning!  The first understanding of “spirit” is indicated by  another name for alcohol:  spirits.  Yes, we get rather spirited when drinking.  Just a word about drinking:  it is clear in the Bible it is okay to drink, as in the Lord gave “…wine to gladden the heart of man” (Psalm 104:15), but it is not okay to get drunk.

The second understanding of “spirit” has to do with groups.  We speak of the spirit of a nation, a college, a school.  Note that “spirit” means 2 or more people.  In order to get a school up for a game, the school may have pep rally.  Even drinking implies 2 or more, say, in  a pub and as Billy Joel sang, “they’re drinking a drink called loneliness but it’s better than drinking alone”. Even then it is to get some “pep”, good feeling, going.

These are characteristics of “spirit”:

  • it is about raising spirits.
  • so, it is about “raising”, uplift, well, ascending.
  • it is about our feelings.
  • it is accomplished by us for us.
  • so, it is about us.

These are the characteristics of the Holy Spirit:

  • He does not ascend but descends as in Pentecost. We want to raise ourselves, but some things we can not raise ourselves from, like sin, death and the power of the devil. The dead can’t raise themselves. The Lord has and will. The Lord raises us from the death of sin in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, making us right with God by faith in Jesus through His perfect sacrifice who bore our sin as He is the Savior of the world (cf. John 4:42).
  • He is not a feeling, an emotion, but works through the Word of God, through the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. Further,in the group, to raise the spirits, we are expected, required, even demanded to “go with the flow”.  This is mob mentality.  With the Holy Spirit, we do not go with the flow of our own passions, but are directed by the flow of the Holy Spirit to go with God, His ‘flow’, the flow of His Word of Law and Promise to show the wide and easy path (“flow”) that leads to destruction and the hard and narrow path, going with God that leads to life.
  • He teaches us the Word into heart, soul and mind, but our feelings by themselves teach us little or nothing. Feelings are not the cause but the result. The Holy Spirit works only through the Word and in a similar way a college works through words, and the most important building on a campus is the library!  The Holy Spirit works through the main textbook of His library: the Bible and through the Word, preached, taught and administered in the Sacraments. Now the Lord created us with emotions and so as in all His creation they are good, but the Old Adam in sin can easily make them bad.  So in the imbibing drinks, we reason two beers gladden the heart, then a six pack will really make us feel glad! But it does not work that way.  When we try to raise our spirits, more is never enough and we become spirit junkies, and this is confused as the Holy Spirit, but those spirits are not the Holy Spirit.
  • He made us and remade us in Christ Jesus.  We can not generate the Holy Spirit but too many confusing worship as  pep rally, thinks we are generating the ‘spirit’, as in the Holy Spirit but they are looking the wrong way: to the self.
  • He, with the Father and the Son, centers us on the Lord not ourselves. We are not the hub of the wheel, the Lord is so we can ride straight. Us centered on our feelings alone, our spirits is then easy prey for the unclean spirits, the demons and demonic idolatry. The result is chaos, the Tower of Babel but on Pentecost Babel is reversed as they the “mighty deeds of God” in their own language.
  • We “earn” our good spirits, but the Holy Spirit is never earned, but always given, ever learned.
  • We want to feel good but the Holy Spirit through the Word received in faith is to make us good. The Law shows the way to be good is love, and since we do not love as we ought, we are so loved in Jesus, He gives us our redemption as His good for our good.
  • Our good spirits cannot admit suffering, but the Holy Spirit makes us good through trial and error in His grace and peace, in the forgiveness won once and for all upon the Cross.

Man’s spirit is located in us, in a school, a nation, a bar but the Holy Spirit everywhere bringing us to Christ in all nations.  I have been on Facebook messaging with a Lutheran Pastor, David Ongwaye.  Pr. Ongwaye is a pastor of four congregations in western Kenya.  He recently wrote to me before Pentecost:  “God grant you and yours a very significant blessing. may it dawn to you a new revelation as you minister to them the Word that cometh from the Mouth of God!” The Word is all over the world, for the world to change the world, from the Mouth of God, the new revelation of His forgiveness in this dark world.  We speak the same language of Pentecost in the USA and Kenya!  The Holy Spirit speaks the language of the Gospel. He is with us. 

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139) 

Vios con Dios:  go with God for He goes with you.

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 From a Sermon by St. Augustine;  Text:  St. John 2: 13-25, The Cleansing of the Temple.  Note that the word “trade” in Greek is emporia as our word “emporium”.  As you read this quote from St. Augustine, can you think of any current equivalents of selling 

in the Church, as an emporium?

“…who are they who sell the oxen? Who are they who sell the sheep and doves? They are those who seek their own interests in the church rather than those of Jesus Christ.` Those who have no desire for redemption have everything for sale. They do not want to be bought; they want to sell. Yet surely it is for their good that they be redeemed by the blood of Christ so that they may attain the peace of Christ. For what profit is there in acquiring anything temporal or transitory in this world—whether it be money, or gorging oneself on food or achieving high honors from your fellow human beings? Are not all things smoke and wind? Do not all things pass on in a moment? And woe to those who want to hang on to passing things, for they pass with them! . . . My brothers, those who seek such things sell them. For Simon [Magus] too wanted to buy the Holy Spirit for that very reason—because he wanted to sell the Holy Spirit”(see Acts 8) —and he thought that the apostles were the kind of merchants that the Lord drove out of the temple with a scourge. But he was the one who was actually such a merchant, wanting to buy what he might sell. He was of those who sell doves. For the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove.” Therefore, brothers, who are those who sell doves—who are they except those who say, “We give the Holy Spirit”? Why do they say this and at what price do they sell? At the price of their own honor. They receive for a time bishops’ seats as their price, that they may seem to sell doves. Let them beware of the scourge of ropes. The dove is not for sale; it is given gratis, for it is called grace.

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The Lessons:

1 Samuel 1: 21-28    Psalm 84   Hebrews 2: 14-18     St. Luke 2: 22-32

Prayer of the Day

Almighty and ever-living God, as Your only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in the substance of our flesh, grant that we may be presented to You with pure and clean hearts; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About the Feast Day:  

Thirty-two days  after Jesus’ circumcision and seventy weeks after teh announcement of John’s birth to Zechariah by the angel Gabriel, the Lord comes to His temple to fulfill the Torah (Luke 2: 22-38).  The days are fulfilled with the presentation. Jesus’ parents keep the Torah and fulfill it by bringing Jesus to His true home. Also, Jesus’ parents offer the alternative sacrifice of two turtledoves or two pigeons. Leviticus 12:8 allows this instead of a lamb, since not everyone could afford a lamb (showing the poverty and humility of Joseph and Mary). Yet no lamb was necessary because already here at forty days old, Jesus is the Lamb brought to His temple for sacrifice. Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis is a beautiful example of the immediate response to this inauguration of God’s consolation and redemption in the Christ Child. Speaking to Mary, Simeon also prophesies about the destiny of the child. (from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

Reflection:  

St. Luke 2, the Nunc Dimittis, or the Song of Simeon:

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
    according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.

 Here  was a 40 day old infant, not potty trained, born in poverty, with his poor parents  and this crying Child is being sung about as, “…a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel“?  A child has achieved nothing and yet has received everything with no choice in the matter. The Child had not demonstrated wisdom nor talent nor anything to earn an accolade, not even the praise of being born for that praise of labor belongs to the mother. Later Jesus’ disciples would say of the Temple in marvel at it and say to the Lord, “…Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” (St. Mark 13: 1). What did this Child compare with the magnificent Temple in which the Presentation occurred?   How did a poor child compare with one of the wonders of the ancient world?  What did Simeon see in the Child that he sang that the Child is “…a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel”?  He did.  How did Simeon see this in the Child presented this day in the Temple?  We are told earlier in Luke chapter 2 about Simeon that  “…the Holy Spirit was upon him.” (vs. 25.)  The Holy Spirit taught Simeon, Behold, Simeon you have seen the Christ!  The light and revelation of Jew and Gentile! “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (St. John 14: 26).  The Holy Spirit witnesses and teaches through the Word alone, written, spoken and incarnate. This is the way Simeon knew the Child was and is the One.   “…for my eyes have seen your salvation”.
The magnificent Temple and its wonderful stones did not save.  It is  the Lord, whose house the Temple was, alone saves, presented in His Father’s House for us and for our salvation.  Our church buildings, our church polities, our denominational stratagems, our good works, our self-chosen spiritualities do not, can not and will not save.  Here is God deep within human flesh, born under the Law to redeem us, presented that day in the Temple for us and for our salvation. “The deeper we plunge Christ into the flesh of mankind, the better for us.” (From Luther’s House Sermon on the Presentation, 1537) He who needed no sacrifices to be made pure became the Sacrifice to make us pure. Outside of the Christ is only darkness.  In Him, love’s pure light shines.

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