Today is Good Friday AND Annunciation

The reader and commenter known only as ngb informed me of today’s special conjunction:
In case you all haven’t realized it, this year is a special one with regards to Holy Week. Good Friday falls on the Feast of the Annunciation—March 25—which nicely ties Jesus’ conception and birth together with his death.
Good Friday last fell on March 25 in 2005, and it won’t fall on the 25th again until 2157, so this will be the last time these two feasts coincide in our lifetimes.
So today marks both the day that Jesus was conceived of the Virgin Mary–the beginning of the Incarnation of the Son of God–AND the day of His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world.  The two events are inextricably linked, of course, and today they come together.

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“Was ever grief like mine?”

Read George Herbert’s “The Sacrifice,” a poem from the perspective of Christ on the Cross, quoted and linked after the jump.  Do you see how it influenced the beloved Lenten hymn “My Song Is Love Unknown”?  (Throw in Herbert’s poem Love Unknown and you’ve pretty much got the whole hymn.) [Read more…]

“Which my God feel as blood; but I, as wine”

Today is Maundy Thursday, arguably the climax of our Lord’s earthly ministry, the day He washed His disciple’s feet, gave them the mandate (thus, “maundy”) to love one another, instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion, experienced agony in the garden, gave His high priestly prayer for his disciples and for all who would later believe (us), was betrayed, arrested, scourged, and abandoned.

After the jump, one of my favorite poems, by George Herbert, a Maundy Thursday/Good Friday poem that brings together many of these themes in an unforgettable way.  (I’ve posted it here before, but it is worth re-reading at this time of year over and over.) [Read more…]

The myth of Easter’s pagan origins

As Holy Week gets underway, we once again need to remind the world that Easter did NOT derive from a pagan holiday or from pagan practices.  Read this and this and follow the links.

An object lesson for St. Patrick’s Day

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, a time to commemorate the former slave who escaped his masters, only to come back later to bring Christianity to the whole nation of Ireland.  By extension, it is a time to honor all missionaries.

St. Patrick, who lived in the 400s A.D., the time of the early church, was impressive for lots of reasons.  He is the author of the remarkable meditation/poem/hymn St. Patrick’s Breastplate.  It includes these lines, calling on Christ to be present with him in every dimension of his life:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Applying so many prepositions to Christ reminds me of an object lesson that a Danish pastor offered at the conference I spoke at recently. [Read more…]

Muslims turning to Christ in Denmark

As we’ve blogged about, large numbers of Muslim refugees are converting to Christianity.  (Read Uwe Siemon-Netto’s compelling article on the phenomenon.)  I knew this was happening in Germany and in France, though it is not happening everywhere.  But it is also happening in Denmark, as I learned last week while I was there.

The organization Inner Mission, whose conference I spoke at, does much of the evangelism work in that supposedly secularist country.  Staffers told me about how they are being overwhelmed by Muslim immigrants and refugees who come to them wanting to learn about Jesus and asking to be baptized.

I was told about a Muslim couple who showed up at a Mission House for the weekly Bible study.  The next week, 14 Muslims attended.  The next week, 50 crowded into the facility. This is happening in Mission Houses across the country.

The inquirers are told up front that their becoming Christians would in no way make a difference to the Danish government considering their applications.  “We don’t care.  Tell us about Jesus.”  And if you get sent back, you would be in severe danger as apostates to Islam.  “We know.  Baptize us!”

Inner Mission staff encourage them to continue with the Bible studies.  In the meantime, they are taken to a conservative Lutheran pastor for catechesis and eventual baptism. [Read more…]