“The darkness didn’t comprehend it”

2125915359_911d1354bd_zI do not agree with N. T. Wright on “the new perspective on Paul,” but he has a published a fascinating reflection on John 1.  He particularly focuses on this theme:

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness didn’t comprehend it; the world was made through him and the world didn’t know him; he came to his own, and his own didn’t receive him.” (John 1:5, 10-11)

God gives His Word, but the world doesn’t understand it.  The Creator comes to the world that He made, but the world doesn’t recognize Him.  God comes to His people, but they reject Him.

In addition to reflecting on the paradoxes of unbelief, Wright gives some provocative thoughts about the Incarnation, culminating in an affirmation of the Lord’s Supper.

But notice his critique of liberal theology, relativism, and recent theological fads.  Notice too his shot against transgenderism!

After the jump, I get you started, but you have to follow the link to read it all, which is very much worth doing. [Read more…]

“The light shines in the darkness”

How fitting that we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ around the time of the Winter Solstice, when the day is at its shortest and the night is at its longest.  At this darkest time of the year, we celebrate Christ’s coming.  Just as He comes at the darkest points of our lives.  (This is also why lights at night are key Christmas symbols.)  As St. John says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

After the jump, the Christmas story according to the Gospel of John.   Mark begins with the start of Christ’s ministry.  Matthew begins with His birth to Mary and Joseph.  Luke begins with His conception by the Virgin Mary.  John begins where Genesis begins, “In the beginning.”

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Theological music for Christmas

Ken Myers has written a wonderful post on Christmas music, emphasizing particularly how it is sung by choirs and its connection to worship in the liturgy.  He includes a fascinating discussion of how music can be a contemplation of divine mysteries, as in the harmonies of this piece, “Mirabile mysterium” to this text:

“A wondrous mystery is declared today, an innovation is made upon nature; God is made man; that which he was, he remains, and that which he was not, he takes on, suffering neither commixture nor division.”

The composer is Jacob Handl (sometimes called “Gallus”), not to be confused with George Friedrich Handel.  Read what Myers says about it after the jump.

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Mary and the divine inversion

256px-Fra_Angelico_046In discussing why the Virgin Birth of Christ is important, James A. Rogers (Texas A&M professor and LCMS member) cites Mary as an example of the “divine inversion.”  That is, the way God turns upside down what we would expect.  This theme, which Mary herself celebrates in the Magnificat, runs throughout the Bible, culminating in the Cross.  Here is how Prof. Rogers concludes his reflections:

The Virgin Birth, like the Cross itself, confounds what we think we know; it confounds our belief that power, whether human power or the brute force of nature, prevails in the world. . . .A virgin giving birth. A king—the King—lying in a manger. A dead God on a stick. These, along with the many other inversions in the Bible, both big and small, promise the possibility of a different world, a world in which God inverts the natural order of things, including the natural of the human world.

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Cancelling church on Christmas

Trinity_Lutheran_Church,_Friedheim,_Missouri_altar,_Dec_20,_2013Christmas falls on a Sunday this year.  So once again, many congregations are CANCELLING SERVICES!  That boggles my mind.  You should go to church on Christmas even when it doesn’t fall on a Sunday!  But when it does, why wouldn’t you go to church as you usually would?

OK, I understand about opening presents, making the Christmas dinner, and all that.  I understand someone missing church, though that’s not to condone it.  But what I cannot understand is a church that would not open its doors on Christmas day, that would not worship Christ on the commemoration of His birth.

I guess this practice is more common than I realized.  I’ve heard the reason given that Christmas is a family time, so we are going to be “worshipping” by spending time with our families.  But that’s just more secularizing of the holiday.  Maybe someone can explain it to me.

UPDATE:  Here is a defense of the practice, one that slams us critics.  Do you find it convincing?  I guess the big difference is one of theology.  The defense portrays worship as something we do–hard work that we sometimes need a break from–with little sense of what we receive when we worship or of Christ actually being present when we worship.

After the jump, Jonathan Aigner, gives 8 reasons NOT to cancel church services on Christmas.

Just as it’s important to keep Christ in Christmas, it’s important to keep “mass” in Christmas.  In fact, doing the latter is the best way to do the former.

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“Even if they are fools, they shall not go astray”

camino-santiago-1180770_1280More prophecies of the coming of Christ for our Advent contemplation:  Isaiah 35, yesterday’s Old Testament reading.  I give the chapter after the jump.  It’s about how God “will come and save you,” and what this will mean for “the redeemed,” those “ransomed by the Lord.”  This includes those who are weak, infirm, and “anxious.”  I take special comfort from verse 8:  “even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.”
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