Church Report

One of the things I love about our church is that although we are what might be called a micro-church, we support 7 seminarians. I’ve been in churches a hundred times bigger than we are that don’t support anywhere near that many church workers, if any at all. Another thing I love about our church is that, small though we are, our congregation consists of such a variety of people–families with babies, the elderly, cool 20-something singles, uncool curmudgeons; and also Africans, Hispanics, Asians, and even Iranians. It all reminds me of the unity-of-variety that St. Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians, what a body is supposed to be.

Anyway, at church yesterday one of the seminarians from our congregation gave the sermon, Vicar Chris Yang. He did a fine job, expounding Luke 20:27-40 and exploring the glorious new life that, through Christ, awaits us after death, when “our hope turns into reality.”

He also tossed off an observation that has me still thinking, that fear and love are two sides of the same coin. I can see that: we fear death because we love this life; we fear embarrassment because we love our status. Vicar Yang related it how we are to “fear and love God.”

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.pagantolutheran.blogspot.com Bruce

    I found myself in a Lutheran congregation singing a Horatius Bonar hymn. In our setting it worked well–but it got me to thinking: how many more of that Calvinists’s hymns are in the WELS (used in our ELS congregation) hymnal? I found seven. One, HERE, O MY LORD, I SEE YOU FACE TO FACE, is one that some Lutherans object to as it purports to advance the doctrine of receptionism. Nevertheless it is one of the more powerful communion hymns that we sing.

    Our sermon theme was mercy, and the difference between grace and mercy. Grace is what the Lord does for us; mercy is the mountain of deserved, nasty things the Lord withholds from us. Rather, it is the act of withholding those things. I think we tend to mesh the two concepts, but thinking of them separately was really helpful.

  • http://www.pagantolutheran.blogspot.com Bruce

    I found myself in a Lutheran congregation singing a Horatius Bonar hymn. In our setting it worked well–but it got me to thinking: how many more of that Calvinists’s hymns are in the WELS (used in our ELS congregation) hymnal? I found seven. One, HERE, O MY LORD, I SEE YOU FACE TO FACE, is one that some Lutherans object to as it purports to advance the doctrine of receptionism. Nevertheless it is one of the more powerful communion hymns that we sing.

    Our sermon theme was mercy, and the difference between grace and mercy. Grace is what the Lord does for us; mercy is the mountain of deserved, nasty things the Lord withholds from us. Rather, it is the act of withholding those things. I think we tend to mesh the two concepts, but thinking of them separately was really helpful.

  • tim prussic

    As to the Calvinism – gotta love it!
    As to the fear/love thingy, maybe the observation applies better to “fear” in the sense of simply being frightened. While the fear of Yahweh certainly involves a healthy bit of that sort of fear, it think it involves a great deal more of awe and obedience. Thus, to the extent that the fear of Yahweh involves being frightened of God, the flip side would simply be the (righteous) love of self (in the sense of preservation or love your neighbor AS YOUSELF). To the extent that the fear of Yahweh involves awe and obedience, it is not the flip side of love, but IS love.

  • tim prussic

    As to the Calvinism – gotta love it!
    As to the fear/love thingy, maybe the observation applies better to “fear” in the sense of simply being frightened. While the fear of Yahweh certainly involves a healthy bit of that sort of fear, it think it involves a great deal more of awe and obedience. Thus, to the extent that the fear of Yahweh involves being frightened of God, the flip side would simply be the (righteous) love of self (in the sense of preservation or love your neighbor AS YOUSELF). To the extent that the fear of Yahweh involves awe and obedience, it is not the flip side of love, but IS love.

  • tim prussic

    YOUSELF is a new and very hip way of saying YOURSELF, by the way.

  • tim prussic

    YOUSELF is a new and very hip way of saying YOURSELF, by the way.

  • fwsonnek

    interesting stuff dr vieth and bruce.

    respect is a good word for fear. as in… respect for power tools like chain and buzz saws… heavy equipment… things that are very powerful “handle with respect“ being frightened IS appropriate. awe…

    Think that Jesus feared God. Ponder this when you think of what fear means here.

    The kind of fear fallen man has for authority over him usually means also a heavy dose of resentment. Godly fear is unnatural to us now.

    For our Lord it came naturally.

    which is why ONLY a God-Man could be our substitute.

  • fwsonnek

    interesting stuff dr vieth and bruce.

    respect is a good word for fear. as in… respect for power tools like chain and buzz saws… heavy equipment… things that are very powerful “handle with respect“ being frightened IS appropriate. awe…

    Think that Jesus feared God. Ponder this when you think of what fear means here.

    The kind of fear fallen man has for authority over him usually means also a heavy dose of resentment. Godly fear is unnatural to us now.

    For our Lord it came naturally.

    which is why ONLY a God-Man could be our substitute.

  • mommy

    This is a little off-topic, but related to what we heard in our Sunday sermon. I visited a PCA church where the sermon was based on the last verses of John 11 and the first verse of chapter 12. In the course of the sermon, the Pastor said,”Remember, this was just 6 days before our Savior was stretched out on the cross.” The phrase “stretched out” really hit me. I’m sure I must have heard it said this way before, but on Sunday, what sunk in for me was the vulnerablilty of arms being stretched out and secured, since the natural human inclination is to protect ourselves with our arms and hands. I have appreciated and meditated on this thought this week.

  • mommy

    This is a little off-topic, but related to what we heard in our Sunday sermon. I visited a PCA church where the sermon was based on the last verses of John 11 and the first verse of chapter 12. In the course of the sermon, the Pastor said,”Remember, this was just 6 days before our Savior was stretched out on the cross.” The phrase “stretched out” really hit me. I’m sure I must have heard it said this way before, but on Sunday, what sunk in for me was the vulnerablilty of arms being stretched out and secured, since the natural human inclination is to protect ourselves with our arms and hands. I have appreciated and meditated on this thought this week.

  • Bror Erickson

    I couldn’t help but take the text and explain that we do not become angels, but like angels, and that the only family we will have in heaven will be that of brothers and sisters, there will be no husband and wife, nor baby making in order to populate other earths. Of course, the only mormon in attendance had to leave for the majority of the sermon to take care of her son. Though she did return in time to hear that Christ died as our brother, and in place of His brothers and sisters, so that we would all be one family in Him, both here on earth, and in Heaven.

  • Bror Erickson

    I couldn’t help but take the text and explain that we do not become angels, but like angels, and that the only family we will have in heaven will be that of brothers and sisters, there will be no husband and wife, nor baby making in order to populate other earths. Of course, the only mormon in attendance had to leave for the majority of the sermon to take care of her son. Though she did return in time to hear that Christ died as our brother, and in place of His brothers and sisters, so that we would all be one family in Him, both here on earth, and in Heaven.

  • fwsonnek

    in the brasilian lutheran synod of churches, we crank out 100 seminarians a year. most speak english.

    all can very very easily learn spanish. and spanish speakers LOVE their portuguese accents.

    they have had their vicarage and are ready to be ordained.

    they are for the greater part confessional but have no idea what a liturgical and confessional church life as many of us are blest to know it would look like.

    For the price of a plane ticket and visa arrangements, these men would be thrilled to have a one or two year experience as missionaries to the USA, or to maybe even serve longer as missionaries. most are single when they leave the seminary.

    Your article Dr Vieth made me think of alot of possibilities that could be exploited for the sake of the Kingdom.

  • fwsonnek

    in the brasilian lutheran synod of churches, we crank out 100 seminarians a year. most speak english.

    all can very very easily learn spanish. and spanish speakers LOVE their portuguese accents.

    they have had their vicarage and are ready to be ordained.

    they are for the greater part confessional but have no idea what a liturgical and confessional church life as many of us are blest to know it would look like.

    For the price of a plane ticket and visa arrangements, these men would be thrilled to have a one or two year experience as missionaries to the USA, or to maybe even serve longer as missionaries. most are single when they leave the seminary.

    Your article Dr Vieth made me think of alot of possibilities that could be exploited for the sake of the Kingdom.


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