On the night when he was betrayed

We commemorate quite a lot of things on Maundy Thursday.  Jesus washed His disciple’s feet, giving them–and us–the “mandate”  (maundate; hence, “Maundy”) to love one another.  Then He gave them His body and His blood in bread and wine, thereby making clear the meaning of what was about to happen (“this is my body given for you”; “this is my blood poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”), ensuring that His followers would continue on as a Church (“do this in remembrance of me”), establishing His continual presence with them (“this is my body. . .my blood), and instituting the means by which His followers are incorporated with Him and receive the promise of the Gospel (“given for you”).  Later, Jesus prays for His Church, for His disciples and for those in the future who will believe because of their testimony–that is to say, us.   Then Judas betrays Him, He is arrested, arraigned before Herod, and Peter denies Him.  And the rest unfolds.

The events of Maundy Thursday are all for the benefit of His followers–washing their feet, exhorting them to love each other, giving them His body and blood in an ongoing sacrament, praying for them–whereupon one of those followers betrays Him, another denies Him, and the rest run away. [Read more...]

George Herbert on Holy Communion

The Invitation

Come ye hither all, whose taste

Is your waste;

Save your cost, and mend your fare.

God is here prepar’d and drest,

And the feast,

God, in whom all dainties are.

Come ye hither all, whom wine

Doth define,

Naming you not to your good:

Weep what ye have drunk amisse,

And drink this,

Which before ye drink is bloud. [Read more...]

People who just come to church on Easter

Church attendance is down, but lots of people–including those who don’t come the rest of the year–still go to church on Easter, as well as Christmas.  The tendency is sometimes to look down on “Christmas/Easter Christians.”  But the fact is, on these two days of the year, they show up.  Why is that?

You pastors, how do you handle this phenomenon?  (Do you take the opportunity to upbraid them for not coming the rest of the year?  I have heard that!  Do you do anything different?)  After the jump, an interesting discussion on the topic from the Barna people. [Read more...]

Easter did NOT come from a pagan holiday

You’re probably already hearing the old canards about Easter and its customs being based in pagan festivals.  It’s just not true!  After the jump, links to two documented accounts from Pastor Joseph Abrahamson that gives the historical background and churchly contexts of the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. [Read more...]

What the Bible is all about

On Sunday we read the entire Passion narrative from Matthew 26-27.  Read what our pastor said about it in a sermon that contains the “God  who didn’t act like a God” bit that I blogged about yesterday.  From Rev. James Douthwaite, St. Athanasius Lutheran Church: Palm / Passion Sunday Sermon:

You just heard the story that all the Bible is about. This is not just part of the story, this is what it’s all about. Take this story out and the Bible is just another holy book – teaching us what to do and how to be good. But with this story, the Bible becomes a wholly different book, and everything in it gains new meaning. Everything in the Bible must be understood through the lens of this story, or not be understood at all. [Read more...]

A God who doesn’t act like a God

Our pastor on Palm Sunday said that people’s confusion over Jesus–so that they hailed Him with palms and soon thereafter demanded His crucifixion–was because they wondered, “Can a king who doesn’t act like a king be a king?  Can a God who doesn’t act like a God be a God?”

It occurred to me that the same confusions are rampant today, and that this is precisely what the events we commemorate during Passion Week are all about.  God is supposed to be an abstract philosophical proposition; here is a God who made Himself a tangible, material human being.  God is supposed to be  transcendent and glorious; here is a God who descends down into the depths, subjecting Himself to humiliation and suffering.  God is supposed to punish sin; here is a God who forgives sin, atoning for it by taking into Himself the sins of the world and punishing Himself for them.  God demands sacrifices from human beings; here is a God who sacrifices Himself for human beings.  God is supposed to be far above the world of suffering, looking down upon it all; here is a God who bears the world’s evil and the world’s griefs.  God is supposed to either exist or not exist; here is a God who died and rose again.

 


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