God is present vs. God is present for you

I hope you had a happy Quasimodogeniti, the Second Sunday of Easter with perhaps the coolest name in the Church Year (which comes from the Latin for the first words of the Introit of the day from 1 Peter 2:2:  “Like newborn infants. . . .).  We had another powerful sermon from our pastor, Rev. James Douthwaite, preaching on John 20:19-31:

And the disciples did. Was God with them in that room behind locked doors because God is present everywhere anyway? Sure. But that wasn’t much comfort. Jesus knew they needed not just a “well we know He’s here, somewhere” God, but a “He’s here for me” Saviour. Jesus knew, and so He came. In the flesh. To raise them from their sin and fear to a new life in Him.

And Jesus knows that’s what you need as well. “I know God is with me because He’s present everywhere” just doesn’t cut it when you’re locked in fear and sin and darkness and impending death and God seems a million miles away. Like the young child crying out for mom in the middle of the night, who knows mom’s there, in the house, maybe even right in the next room, but that’s not good enough. That’s a million miles away in child miles. He needs mom there. She needs mom’s touch. [Read more…]

Easter, continued

After Jesus rose from the dead, He spent 40 days on earth.  Then He ascended, and ten days later He sent the Holy Spirit.  So Easter is a whole season, lasting 49 days until Pentecost (which means “fiftieth day”).  So it’s still Easter, and I hope the joy of Christ’s resurrection continues with you.

What insights did you gain from the  sermon you heard or other Easter observances?

 

Baptism, Good Friday, & Easter

Have a blessed Good Friday, everybody, and a joyous Easter.  Towards that end, I give you two remarkable texts from God’s Word, which detail how Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, is OUR death, burial, and resurrection, and how each of us was and is intimately involved in His Cross and in His empty tomb.  From Colossians 2:

8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. [Read more…]

The Crucified God

For Lent I’ve been reading Jürgen Moltmann’s The Crucified God.  It’s sophisticated theology, interacting and often agreeing with radical and liberal theologians, and yet there are treasures on virtually every page.  Here are some quotations:

“When God becomes man in Jesus of Nazareth, he not only enters into the finitude of man, but in his death on the cross also enters into the situation of man’s godforsakenness. In Jesus he does not die the natural death of a finite being, but the violent death of the criminal on the cross, the death of complete abandonment by God. The suffering in the passion of Jesus is abandonment, rejection by God, his Father. God does not become a religion, so that man participates in him by corresponding religious thoughts and feelings. God does not become a law, so that man participates in him through obedience to a law. God does not become an ideal, so that man achieves community with him through constant striving. He humbles himself and takes upon himself the eternal death of the godless and the godforsaken, so that all the godless and the godforsaken can experience communion with him.” [Read more…]

Why the Lord’s Supper

Some years ago, I, as a Lutheran, was invited to write about the Lord’s Supper in Tabletalk, a magazine with mostly Reformed readers, which was doing special issue on the sacraments.  I didn’t want to argue, just explain what Holy Communion means and can mean in the life of a Christian.  I offer it to you, whatever your theology, for Maundy Thursday:

As far as I know, I am the only Lutheran who writes regularly for Tabletalk, so please bear with me. Inviting a Lutheran to write about the Lord’s Supper is like asking a grandmother if she has any pictures of the new baby. So much affection for the subject matter can easily outpace other people’s interest. However, the Lord’s Supper is at the heart of a Lutheran’s piety. Calvinists too, as well as other Protestants, are rediscovering their own sacramental heritage, which has become somewhat forgotten. We Lutherans have never lost the Reformation’s emphasis on the sacrament, so perhaps this description of what it is like might prove helpful.

I do not intend here so much to argue for the Lutheran theological position on the sacrament, but rather to describe — in a way that I hope is helpful for non-Lutherans who are also trying to regain an evangelical sense of the sacrament — what it is like to believe in it. I will then make some cultural connections, showing why the Reformation emphasis on the sacrament is a bracing tonic against today’s highly-internalized pop-Christianity. [Read more…]

Jonathan Swift and the Jesus stompers

You have doubtless heard about the college that had students stomp on the name of Jesus as an exercise in a class on cultural understanding.  I noticed the parallel to something that happened in Gulliver’s Travels in which the satirist Jonathan Swift portrays Dutch traders as being willing to trod on a Crucifix as a way to convince the Japanese that they weren’t Christians so that they could trade with that country.  Of course, the Dutch, being Calvinists, considered the Crucifix to be an idol, so stepping on it didn’t bother them.

I wondered how much of that was true and how much was Swift’s lampoon.  The Dutch were the only Europeans the Japanese would trade with.  Whether that was because they would trod on the Crucifix because of their iconoclastic theology, I’m not sure, but Swift, an Anglican priest, lambastes them.  Anyway, I was glad to see that Anthony Sacramone, who has taken up blogging again, makes that same connection and tells us more about the requirement for blasphemy in the context of Christian persecution, now showing up in a college classroom.

(There was only one student who objected, by the way, and he was a Mormon.  Did the Christians in the room just go along with it?  Surely, desecrating the name of Jesus would bother even iconoclasts whose distaste for physical images never extended to the use of language.)  [Read more…]


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