04 June 2014

The Abruptness of a Reading

Pentecost approaches, and the thing that always has struck me as odd is the reading from Acts 2 for Pentecost.  Oh, don't get me wrong - we should be reading Acts 2, but it seems so bizarre to cut the lection off after verse 21.  I'm sure there's a reason for it (verses 22 and following probably show up later or on some other holiday), but it just strikes me as just plain odd that we get this wondrous focus and build up - look, the Holy Spirit is here so that everyone, in all the various languages (more languages than Apostles!) are able to hear this preaching that is coming, and look, Joel pointed to the coming of this day...


And then we stop.  Just cut off the reading.  Peter's sermon - nah, no need to hear that.


Do we see how strange this is?  There is the promise of the Holy Spirit, and what does this promise lead to?  The preaching of Christ's death and resurrection.  Law and Gospel. Baptism.  It's fantastic - and yet, so often we don't get there.

So, yes, this year, our second reading is going to be a bit longer.  All the way through verse 41.  We'll see how it goes.

14 May 2014

The John 16 Reality Check

I have come to love that which I used to dread.  The late Easter season in the 1 year series... the lessons from John 16, the ones that don't even go in order but move around.

See, I'll be honest - one of the things I appreciate about the 1 year series is how it is not sequential - how it jumps around from topic to topic and theme to theme, rather than just moving at a plodding pace through the Gospels chapter after chapter, to where (in my brief, 5 month experience) you would get those times where you think "didn't I just preach this last week?"  And then we have Easter.  And we have 4 weeks in a row dealing with John 16.  And I used to dread it - I would transfer Ascension simply to give me something other than a 4th week of John 16 again.

Now I see the wisdom.  Now I see the great reality check that the Late Easter season is.

Consider - Easter 4 - John 16:16-22.  The world is going to hate you, and people will rejoice at your suffering.  Well, there's some blunt reality -- but over and against this this Truth - Christ will see you again.  Resurrection trumps the lousy reality.

Consider - Easter 5 - John 16:5-15.  It's good that Christ leaves, that there isn't a big, visible Earthly Kingdom.  Rather, the Spirit will proclaim Law and Gospel, will proclaim that we are sinners, that we are forgiven, and that Satan and his world are defeated.  This is a great "theology of glory" reality check right there -- the Spirit is going to have to remind you that you are a sinner, that you are forgiven, and that Satan doesn't win.

Consider - Easter 6 - John 16:23-33.  What greater reality check is there than the last verse?  In this world you will have tribulation.  But take heart, I have overcome the world.  Even as the world around you is wicked and evil and falls to pot - there is the reality.  Christ is risen, He is risen indeed, alleluia!  The world is over come... and we have peace in Christ.

And then Easter 7 - John 15:26-16:4.  You are going to get battered and bruised.  That is the reality.  Even the most holy and pious seeming of people will be the ones to trash you, to toss you out of the synagogues, the churches.  That's the way things will be - but you still proclaim Christ and Him crucified for sinners, bear witness to His death (I was there, I saw the blood and water pour out - he who saw it has borne witness and his testimony is true!).

All a giant reality check.  And as the attendance dips again, and once-in-a-while families are done with Easter and Confirmations, as Easter Lilies start to die off (although this may be a joy to those suffering from allergies) and all the other joyous things fade away - we get this wonderful reality check.  Yeah, things will go back to normal, normal for this fallen world.  And that's lousy.

Christ is still risen, He is risen indeed.

22 April 2014

I submit for your regular use until we hear the ruling the following collect:.........Father, who judges all men’s hearts perfectly and in Your wisdom appoints justices in the land, give wisdom to the justices of our Supreme Court as they decide the future of religious freedom in our country. Cause them to see that we will obey God rather than man and by that knowledge make them rule that we may practice our faith openly in a time hostile to the Christian Faith, through You, Who sits on the Highest Judgment Throne, with the Son and the Spirit, now and forever. Amen.