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Prayers For Manchester

The slaughter of innocents has always awakened a sense of horror in individuals who have any sense of a moral compass.  Societies and governments are particularly tasked to protect the innocent.  We have failed in so many ways that the list would be beyond this space and my patience in writing it.  It would also seem to be political at a time like this and so the best I can do is pray for our allies and friends, our missionaries and brothers in sisters in Christ around the world who are or could become targets of a monstrous scourge that is at large in the world.

I am not sure if I can print the words of the hymn here, but I would suggest that hymn 764 in LSB be our prayer.

The Hymn is titled “When Aimless Violence Takes Those We love” by Joy Patterson.

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So This is Progress.

I grew up with the word “mod”.  It was a short form of “modern” created by folks who were “far out”, “cool”, and “groovy”.  We were “with it” and “wow” and against the “establishment” because if was stodgy and old.  The “Mod Squad” was a TV program about far out, cool and groovy, young,  hip, and with it, undercover cops who showed us all how cool they were by their hair and the fact that they never wore ties.  Looking like a chia pet and making grimaces at the camera was considered progress.

Modernity makes promises about “progress”.  Progress means moving forward into a brave new future where things get better and better.  That’s why the hip and cool and with it today call themselves “progressives”.  That is to separate them from “conservatives” who want to conserve the status quo and restore or conserve the past.

Just look at what progress we see in the world today just in something as simple as the news we consume.  Huge stories based upon unnamed leaks and unnamed sources.  The old days, where a Biblical command held sway even in a news story that “every accusation be verified by two of three witnesses” (Matthew 18 and 2 Corinthians 13), really are the old days.

Look at the progress we have made in societal norms.  I went into the restroom at an airport because I thought I saw a man come out of it.  I could tell very quickly it was the ladies room so I quickly backed out just as a women was coming in.  I told her “I thought I saw a man come out of here”.  She said, “don’t worry he probably ‘identified'”.  It is a bit funny if it wasn’t so sad.  To think that an entire political legacy for some boils down to the “progress” of letting anyone go to the bathroom wherever they want!  We have come along way baby, as they used to say.  It is possible to go a long way backwards too.

Luther said something about progress that will make you think and think again.  ““To progress is always to begin always to begin again”.  Modernity promises what only God can deliver.  When preachers and churches take their cue from modernity and focus on a sort of progressive vision that “everyday in everyway I am getting better and better” we forget that life is lived, by a Christian, in the promises of God.  In Christ God promises a hope and a future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Denominational Novels 2

For Lutherans the great read has to be “The Hammer of God” by Bo Giertz.  Sadly the original has been badly served by American translators who all but excised Giertz’s defense of Confessional Lutheranism and his attack on a watered down version of Christianity.  Yet there is some good stuff left.

“Read God’s Word now as God’s Word, without skipping anything. Underline heavily everything about what our Savior has done for us. And if you like, write ‘For me’ in the margin. You need this yourself, and it is your duty to preach it to your congregation, as well.”
Bo Giertz, Hammer of God   

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Denominational Novels

One of the great joys of life is reading.  I love to read and there is a genre of book that is probably overlooked by many people and that is what I call “denominational novels”.  It is a novel written from the perspective of a specific branch of Christianity or faith.  Evangelicals have seemed to suck the oxygen out of the bookstore with their brand of pop religiosity.  I like the kind of read that gives an insight into a particular faith’s understanding of how the Word of God is conveyed.  From my perspective Catholics have never been particularly concerned about the sermon until I read Bernanos.  Here is an excerpt.

“Teaching is no joke, sonny! … Comforting truths, they call it!  Truth is meant to save you first, and the comfort comes afterwards. Besides, you’ve no right to call that sort of thing comfort. Might as well talk about condolences! The Word of God is a red-hot iron. And you who preach it ‘ud go picking it up with a pair of tongs, for fear of burning yourself, you daren’t get hold of it with both hands. It’s too funny! Why, the priest who descends from the pulpit of Truth, with a mouth like a hen’s vent, a little hot but pleased with himself, he’s not been preaching: at best he’s been purring like a tabby-cat. Mind you that can happen to us all, we’re all half asleep, it’s the devil to wake us up, sometimes — the apostles slept all right at Gethsemane. Still, there’s a difference… And mind you many a fellow who waves his arms and sweats like a furniture-remover isn’t necessarily any more awakened than the rest. On the contrary. I simply mean that when the Lord has drawn from me some word for the good of souls, I know, because of the pain of it.”
Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest   

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The Christians Comfort.

The first President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod wrote,

“When Christ suffered and died, He was judged by God, and He was condemned to death in our place. But when God in the resurrection awakened Him again, who was it then that was acquitted by God in Christ’s person? Christ did not need acquittal for Himself, for no one can accuse Him of single sin. Who therefore was it that was justified in Him? Who was declared pure and innocent in Him? We were, we humans. It was the whole world. When God spoke to Christ, ‘You shall live,’ that applied to us. His life is our life. His acquittal, our acquittal, His justification, our justification….Who can ever fully express the great comfort which lies in Christ’s resurrection? It is God’s own absolution spoken to all men, to all sinners, in a word, to all the world, and sealed in the most glorious way. There the eternal love of God is revealed in all its riches, in its overflowing fullness and in its highest brilliance. For there we hear that it was not enough for God simply to send His own Son into the world and let Him become a man for us, not enough even for Him to give and offer His only Son unto death for us. No, when His Son had accomplished all that He had to do and suffer in order to earn and acquire grace and life and blessedness for us, then God, in His burning love to speak to us sinners, could not wait until we would come to Him and request His grace in Christ, but no sooner had His Son fulfilled everything than He immediately hastened to confer to men the grace which had been acquired through the resurrection of His Son, to declare openly, really and solemnly to all men that they were acquitted of all their sins, and to declare before heaven and earth that they are redeemed, reconciled, pure, innocent and righteous in Christ.”

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The Heart of All Christian Conviction.

 

Martin Luther wrote –

“This is the heart of all Christian conviction, that the believer is assured, first of the Man ,Christ is true God in Him;  secondly, that He, Jesus, in whom God is essentially,  also is within us and we in Him. The Son comes from the Father and inheres in us; we inhere in Jesus and through Him come to the Father. Thus an endless chain has been made between Him and us and the Father, and through this union and communion, sin and death have been abolished, life and salvation have become our own.  Through faith we become one body with Christ and He with us. Through the Word of God and the Sacraments He unites Himself with us. Thus we have the three great unions: the Father and the Son united in the Deity; the man united in Christ; Christ united, becoming one with the Church.”

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Leftover From Mothers Day

A sad story was told to me the other day. A grandmother had been begging her children to go to church if not for themselves for the sake of  her grandson.   The couple believed in Jesus they said, they just didn’t like to go to church. Grandma kept trying until finally on Mother’s Day of the little boy’s seventh year, they came to church with grandma. On the way home the child sat in the backseat and cried. When the mother asked what was wrong the little boy said “that preacher man in the church said that I needed to be raised  in a Christian home, and I want to stay with you guys.”

Keep trying grandma!

 

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Quiet and Peaceable Lives.

1 Timothy 2:1First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered on behalf of all men 2for kings and all those in authority, so that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity. 3This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,…

I wrote an article in which I wrote that I try not to listen to political news anymore because it makes me angry and the opposite of tranquil and peaceable.  Her Paul says that the purpose of Government is to help us live quiet and peaceable lives.

Our Missouri Synod President Matthew Harrison said the our church is an incubator for good citizens.

The task of a Christian citizen and how the church should train them was tackled by a professor a while back.  Here is the opening of his article called “Training the Parish for Christian Citizenship”.

Several alternatives confront the local church. One is that it do nothing. “Preach
the Word” can be stressed to signify that the business of the church is to speak the
words of the Gospel and to fit men for the life beyond the grave. The difficulty
with this alternative is that it does not do what it claims to do. It does teach
citizenship. It can be the citizenship of quietism, which assumes that a Christian
does not really live in this world at all and should withdraw himself from all
participation in human affairs other than those demanded by staying alive. Or
“saying nothing” can breed a citizenship that is actually unchristian. It can
suggest a shuttle theory to the individual Christian believer, that he swings back
and forth between a life at worship and in the congregation which is driven by
Christian motives, and a life under government and in the State which is driven by
worldly motives, fear of punishment, desire for security. Other alternatives
confront churches today. Much propaganda of the churches urges us to take sides
concerning political theory. Many churches are embroiled at the moment in a debate
on the principle of free enterprise as opposed to the State as the safeguard  of
the public welfare. This debate is accompanied by much mutual name calling of
“Fascist” and “Communist.” Congressional Investigation Committees jump into the fray
with gusto. What does the Church say about this? What should the local parish do for
its people about it?

 

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On Christian Persecution – Finally.

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in convention urged congregations and individuals to pray for persecuted Christians around the world and to raise awareness of their plight in whatever way possible.  The LCMS is engaged around the world in helping to alleviate the suffering caused by persecution and the displacement of people because of persecution.

The Lutheran Witness, the official magazine of the LCMS has a huge article explaining the places in the world where Christians are actively being attacked and are in danger of genocide.

Finally a member of the United States Government has stood up and talked about the dangers and the issues facing Christians around the world.  Thank you vice-president Pence.

 

 

 

 

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Udom Remembered

There is a sense that I am having as I grow older that I need to be reminded to remember things.  It is getting a bit frightening to tell myself or someone else that they need to help me remember.  I am getting worried about Project 24 when I think of the fact that some who are intimately involved in running and managing and giving and supporting the work of mercy around the world do not know the history.

This is a picture of the Udom Project 24 Center at a place called Cheparia.  It is called Udom in memory of a young boy that came to the attention of a missionary in Africa, (not in Kenya), who was born with a handicap that meant he was shunned by his village.  He was basically on his own from the time he could walk and the missionary took him in, cared for him, educated him, but most importantly, taught him about Jesus.  When his missionary term was over and he had to come home, the attempt was made to adopt the child and bring him to  the States.   That was not allowed by the country in which he was born.  The missionary told me that once he flew away he never heard from or about that boy, whom he named Udom.

Haunted by the memory of the child and not able to go back because of health, he gave us a substantial donation to build a boarding school where like children like Udom could be educated and cared for.  He had a condition.  If he gave us this large gift of love, the center that would be built should be named Udom in the boys memory.  He did and it was.

Memories can be blessings and curses depending on how we use them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Your comments are welcome but will be held until approved to avoid misuse. Comments posted by visitors to this site reflect the personal opinions of individuals and may not necessarily reflect the beliefs and practices or official positions of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod. Individual articles from this blog may be reproduced by LCMS congregations (i.e., in church newsletters, bulletins, etc.) without writing for permission. Such reproductions, however, should credit the "Northern Crossings" blog as the source.
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