Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

History is Telling

One of the charges atheists make against religion is that it is the major cause of violence in the world. Yet, history will can prove - depending on how you look at it - that 1) they are correct, but that atheism is itself a religion and is not exempt from this rule or 2) simply that sin corrupts all men and without the renewal of the Holy Spirit, there will continue to be murderous thoughts in the hearts of all men.

So often atheists will point to the crusades and to jihadists to say that religion is the source of hatred in the world. They'll look at select history and point fingers. As it turns out, atheism has an even larger history of the slaughter of mankind. The "goddess of reason" as it is for the atheists tends to be even more murderous. Let's begin with the results of the inaptly named Enlightenment. The Enlightenment produced the French Revolution, Robespierre began his reign of Terror and thousands were put to death. Clergy and "nobility" were slaughtered, guillotined by the state. All this in the name of reason and revolution. Moving forward a little over a hundred years we'll find The Soviet Union doing much the same thing. In the name of reason and equality it promoted the killing and murdering of thousands of its own citizens, slaughtering the clergy to the point that the nation's primary denomination, Eastern Orthodoxy, was put on the endangered list. "Reason" and atheism were key proponents of this slaughter. But such promotion and such devotion must lead one to believe that atheism itself is a religion that promotes even more violence than either Islam or Christianity, despite contrary claims.

Yet, it's evidence of a bigger problem. Original sin penetrates and corrupts all men. Despite "reason" men might still reason that the killing of others is acceptable, and that violence is good if carried out in the name of "reason". So that just as when Christians sadly cried out "God wills it!" to justify their killing, so atheists cry out "Reason allows it!" to justify their murderous inclination. Sin permeates all people.

And there is only one solution for us and for all, Jesus Christ. Indeed, Christ paid for all sin and we are brought back into relation with God. The Holy Spirit, then, works in us to renew our hearts that we might no longer be inclined to kill a life, but to protect a life. It is only in Christ that these things are ever truly possible. For even Robespierre, before his Terror, was opposed to the death penalty, but later exercised it freely and harshly. Reason cannot stop the evil inclinations in men. The Holy Spirit can and does.

Might Christ and His Word be preached into our own hearts that we might be inclined to help and serve our neighbor. Holy Spirit do this.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ambrose-ia

Ambrosia is known in mythology as food of the Gods which bestows immortality.

Saint Ambrose, while His name may not be based upon this Greek godly food, certainly he has given the world a much more wonderful food to chew on. Perhaps with another even more powerful food of the God (note the True GOD here), music, he has made a significant impact on humans throughout history.

In his powerful hymn, Savior of the Nations Come, Saint Ambrose tells us of our wonderful God and his entrance and purpose in this world. Our Lord Jesus Christ step forth from his mothers womb, defeats sin in his own death, rises, ascends and returns to the Father victorious having forgiven our sins and freed us from the bondage of sin.



This message of salvation is the True Food of God, which is the powerful, nourishing, and transforming words of forgiveness. As we eat another Food of God, the Lord's Supper, rejoice in Christ who became incarnate that you might have life everlasting in His name - true immortality bestowed and sustained only in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thank you Saint Ambrose for your wonderful hymn and a reminder to me and all people in these last days before Christmas where real food for thought, life, and eternal life comes from!

+Kyrie Eleison+

Monday, December 21, 2009

Epic Fail


I hugely erred last Friday.

I was delivering Christmas gifts for the wish tree on behalf of the church. I had already delivered to two families and was approached to deliver to one more. This last family happened to be the largest family we were delivering to. There were 8 large bags full of gifts. So I delivered to the address that I was told, but made the mistake of not making sure the family's name was correct. As it turned out, I had delivered this massive load of gifts to the wrong family.

Yes, I feel awful. Not only was I unable to retrieve the gifts, but now a large family was without gifts for Christmas. And even moreso, I cost the church financially, because they decided to buy gifts for this family out of unallocated church funds, from money the church doesn't have. It was an epic failure on my part.

If I had simple spoken a few little words - What's your name? - all the trouble and confusion and pain could have been avoided and there could have been much less stress this Christmas season.

Diligence. Diligence could have prevented this. I was not diligent.

But as through all my epic failures, I intend to learn from what happened. This was simply Christmas presents for a family. They were greatly needed presents, but merely material possessions. How much more then should I be diligent when it comes to things which affect both body and soul?

The epic failure that could result from not speaking a few words - Christ has died for you. You're sins are forgiven. - will result in much more than sadness on Christmas morning. It could affect the entirety of life here on earth and life and salvation with God forever. Without speaking those words, I could leave a person in the depths of hell and without hope. This is something which I immensely desire to avoid.

God grant this epic sinner a repentant heart and diligence with Your word of truth, that I might proclaim Your name in forgiveness.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Refreshed


I am, in general, not a fan of Christmas programs before Christmas Eve. It takes away from Advent. This year I had to make an exception.

Last night the 4th-8th grade classes here at Trinity Lutheran School sang and performed their Christmas program called "Christmas in Reverse." (I'm still boggled about why it was called that.) Nevertheless, the program took us back to Adam and Eve and through the Old Testament and then through the narrative of the birth of Christ and even pointed to the cross, death, and resurrection of our Lord!

It was incredibly well done, and proclaimed the Gospel message perfectly and clearly. The classes were well rehearsed and so not even did they detract from the message of the forgiveness of sins.

It was very refreshing, as this has been a busy time of the year.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Misinterpretation

Sometimes when you preach a sermon, it get misinterpreted. Even though the entire point of the sermon and every single line points to a certain wonderful revelation, I found that it is still possible for the entire sermon to be misinterpreted.

For example, this past Sunday I preached an entire sermon which pointed to the fact that the Church is not silent. It is not silent in the fact that, as Church, we make the confession about who God is and what he has done for us. And that forgiveness of sins and peace we have in our God, that is taught to us week in and week out, is then on our lips that we might confess as Church that very same peace to the world.

Yet, because I had in part an emphasis that the Church is not Silent, I think some may have interpreted it as, not a call to confess and spread the Gospel, but a call to be noisy in church, a call to interrupt the pastor's sermon with "Amen" as often as one likes, a call to wave your hands in the air and be a non-self-controlled evangelical in the worse sense.

But even still, that is the nature of the sinful flesh - to grasp onto the wrong ideas and cling to false hopes and self serving desires. And indeed that sinful failing is called to repentance, and even that sin is indeed forgiven.

Truly, that's the real point anyway, that people might hear of their God, repent of their sins and trust in that forgiveness found in Christ. God is still sanctifying his people - in the now. He is still by His Word bringing them to a right understanding. God willing, these people will one day understand even more fully what it means that the Church is not silent.

And if not then God will have mercy and He will come again. (Advent Thought of the Day)

+Kyrie Eleison+