Saturday, October 25, 2008

Really? #1

This is the first installment of my new mini-series of posts called Really? In this series I am going to point out some things which are common misconceptions about certain aspects of Christianity. Hopefully, it will be helpful to some, and thought provoking to others. And to others, simply enjoy what you already know, or dispute with me how I could be off kilter.

Here we go.

One common misconception that I have found:
People don't realize the devil and demons are really real, or they simply don't think these beings have any power.

We have all kinds of examples showing that Satan and his demons are real.
In Genesis, Satan himself shows up as a serpent. He tempts Eve away from God and ultimately Adam as well. The book of Job shows that Satan there also is very real. If we look in the Gospels, Jesus is casting out demons and rebuking Satan himself. Truly, Satan and demons are real. And they at least have some power to cause harm and danger in this world.

But, it is easy for us today to not even think of Satan nor his demons to cause us any grief today. We attribute almost anything and everything to a rational explanation (thank you enlightenment) and are just as skeptical if someone tells us that demon possession is real. But here, we must stick to what God's Word says. If Jesus cast out demons, then they are real. If Jesus rebuked Satan, then Satan is real. If these demons could possess a human, or cause a person grief, then demons really do give people grief and lead them away from the one true God.

I am not going to go into detail trying to decipher what might be a demon as compared to what might simply be an actual medical condition. However, I think there is room to say that temptation and grief and burden can, in fact, come from actual attacks of devils.

This is why Luther writes so adamantly that prayer (especially the Lord's Prayer!) is the main offense against the devil and all his ways. Because of this very real threat of the minions of Satan, prayer is essential in calling out to God against Satan and assuring the believer that they have God's promise of salvation from these attacks.

Looking at it from another perspective. What does this mean if you don't believe that Satan and his minions actually exist? It means that Satan has you where he wants you. He doesn't want you calling out to God for help! If there is not enemy, there is no need for a savior. There is no need to cry out. There is no need for salvation.

That there is no need for salvation!

This is what Satan wants you to believe. This is Satan's vanishing trick that turns people away from God. If he can tell you it's all good, then he'll let you believe also that you don't need Jesus.

Into temptation lead us not.
When evil foes against us plot
And vex our souls on every hand,
Oh, give us strength that we may stand
Firm in the faith, a well-armed host,
Through comfort of the Holy Ghost!

From evil, Lord, deliver us;
The times and days are perilous.
Redeem us from eternal death,
And when we yeild our dying breath,
Console us, grant us calm release,
And take our souls to Thee in peace.

- "Our Father, Thou in Heaven Above"
The Lutheran Hymnal #458
Stanzas 7&8, Petitions 6&7 of the Lord's Prayer

+Kyrie Eleison

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On Writing a Hymn

If you didn't know. I am on the chapel staff. I help out with the 4:00 Vespers Service preparing the sticky notes in the hymnals, for the lectors and liturgists whom I hi-jack from the student body and faculty. One of the duties in preparing the services is to pick out the hymns for the week. Here is a few interesting discoveries I have made:

1) There are a large number of hymns which come from the psalms... and rightfully so. Since, the psalms are the hymnbook of the Old Testament, it is only fitting that we sing many of the songs which they did then.

2) The second thing however, is how much explicit Christology is missing from the hymns which are based solely off of hymns.

Addressing the second point, I, of course, understand that all the psalms are to be understood with Christ in mind. But, I am not sure that many people do have Christ in mind when they are singing. In fact it is often is easier to make God seem abstract in singing the psalms, than understanding that the psalms really speak about Christ.

With this in mind, Kurios, the name used to address Jesus is, in fact, the same word used over and over again in the Old Testament and the Psalms. This title, Kurios, points to Jesus as God, as the one who has done the marvelous deeds and as the one to whom Israel cries out when they are in distress.

But, you understand all this from a careful study of the text and a proper understanding of the Scriptures. So, what of a psalm made into a hymn? Often, it is hard to see Christ in the hymn text without reading Him into it. The hymn does not explicitly show Christ, and thus, I think is very deficient.

We know who Jesus is and what he has done. The Jews and others in writing the psalms only knew what God had done for them, and what he was going to do for them, even though they didn't know exactly how. We have that advantage; we know how Jesus has fulfilled the promises of God. I think that it is sad that we did not take the opportunity in writing psalmic hymns, sermons of the Church, to include Jesus and what he has done.

Without Jesus the church is nothing. Without preaching Christ, specifically Christ, then people are not saved, and Christians are not edified.

+Kyrie Eleison

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mid-Quarter Break

Today is the Mid-Quarter Break. What better way to celebrate the halfway point of the quarter than with "Keg and Eggs."

Breakfast and beer. Yes, it was delicious. Yes, I am going to take a nap now.

+Kyrie Eleison