Wed, 28 October 2015
(Rm.8:31-39; Ps.109:21-22,26-27,30-31; Lk.13:31-35)
“For your sake we are being slain all the day long.”
And yet, “in all this we are more than conquerors because of Him who has loved us.”
We die. Each day we die, we sacrifice our lives. We are “as sheep to be slaughtered.” This is our call, to be as our Lord who was crucified – our King wears a crown of thorns. And yet in all this apparent weakness, in all those places where violence seems to reign, where death presumes dominion over us… it is void. It has no power. For God holds all the world in His creating hand, and He watches over us. So, indeed, “if God is for us, who can be against us?” If God fights for us, how shall we be conquered? We shall not, we cannot. “Christ Jesus, who died or rather was raised up… intercedes for us.” And so the death He suffered, which led only to life, becomes our own, and only life is ours in Him.
The Lord would gather all His “children together, as a mother bird collects her young under her wing,” but so many refuse. So many are disobedient. So many desire not the love of God. And so, death comes. Because of our sin, Jesus must suffer, Jesus must die. And we must die with Him if we are to follow Him through this world of darkness and sin into the kingdom of light. For the emptiness of the power of this world must be exposed. It must be shown for the nothingness it is. And only by dying does this become clear to our minds.
And so, Jesus does not shy away from death; He does not save Himself from its clutches. Freely He offers Himself for our sakes, that we might overcome the fear it produces in our fallen souls, that we might then be raised from darkness to light. The prayer of David is the prayer of Christ, standing in our stead, “I am wretched and poor, and my heart is pierced within me.” The sword, which has no power over Him, nor over us now, He accepts in His side that new life might flow out from His broken flesh. The suffering which should be our own He takes and nails to the cross. And it is dead. And the power of Satan is nullified. And in His “generous kindness” the Lord has rescued us. And so as we suffer now with Him all the temptations of this earthly life, our heavenly king is by our side breathing upon us new life. Let us have no fear for any presumed power of this universe; the Lord is greater than them all.
O LORD, you will save us
from all trial and persecution –
YHWH, by the love of Christ we have been saved, and nothing can separate us from that love. Though Satan persecute us, though the kings of this earth seek to destroy us, yet we shall live in your only Son who, though He died, was raised up and sits now at your right hand interceding for us this day. And so, what need we fear?
To His death Jesus went, freely and without fear. In Jerusalem He was slain like all of the prophets. Yes, the walls of Jerusalem were torn down and the temple abandoned. But in His resurrection the true Temple is rebuilt, and to the holy City we are now drawn. Blessed is he who comes in the Name of your Son! Blessed are you, dear God, who desire so earnestly to justify our poor, broken souls.
And so, now that Jesus has died for our sakes, we shall not be condemned. We shall conquer all sword and danger in His love. Praise you for your kindness, LORD! You have heard our cries.
Fri, 23 October 2015
(Rm.8:1-11; Ps.24:1-6; Lk.13:1-9)
“You will all come to the same end unless you reform.”
We hear again today in our readings of the distinction between those who are of the flesh, and so of sin, and those who are of the spirit and justice. And since “the tendency of the flesh is toward death but that of the spirit toward life and peace,” rightly does Jesus warn us that we will die in our sin if we do not repent and turn to Him. For indeed He and the Father, with the Spirit, are of life and have nothing to do with death, with sin.
Paul continues to make clear the difference, the separation, between those of flesh and those of spirit, and continues to encourage his reader to allow the body to die that the spirit might live: “If Christ is in you, the body is indeed dead because of sin, while the spirit lives because of justice.” It is in Jesus that our salvation from sin has come, for when “God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, thereby condemning sin in the flesh,” He made it possible for us to live no longer “according to the flesh,” but “according to the spirit,” for we know that “He who raised Christ from the dead will bring [our] mortal bodies to life also through His Spirit.” Even now His Spirit brings our spirit to life, and on the last day our flesh shall also be joined to Him in heaven.
David’s psalm questions, “Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord? Or who can stand in His holy place?” Only those “whose hands are sinless… shall receive a blessing from the Lord,” and so, again, we must turn to Him, we must be of “the race that seeks for Him.” “The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it” are of Him. But how our hearts have turned from Him in sin, and so, how shaken we have become, inviting death into our lives. And so only those who renounce their sin, who come by the power of the Spirit and the grace of Jesus’ blood, shall attain to His presence. And only those who bear fruit in His Name will He preserve.
The end of our gospel makes clear that there must be fruit in our lives, brothers and sisters. This is indeed the sign that we are of the spirit – if we “bear fruit” in the Spirit. We cannot claim to be of the spirit and bear the fruit of the flesh, which is sin. Jesus will not fail to recognize the difference, however much we may fool ourselves or others. We will die in the flesh like any sinner if we do not live according to Christ and His Word.
O LORD, let us be dead to the flesh
that we might bear fruit in the Spirit of Christ!
YHWH, let your Spirit dwell in us that we might conquer the flesh and bear fruit in your holy NAME. How shall we be holy as you are holy, how shall we stand in your holy place, if your Spirit is not with us? Fulfill our desire to see your face!
Your Son came and walked amongst us for three years, seeking fruit upon this fig tree. Upon His death and resurrection He sent the Spirit forth to nourish the Church that we might perform works worthy of Heaven. O LORD, help us to repent of our sin and reform our lives in the image of your Son.
Jesus has indeed condemned sin in the flesh that what is mortal might be redeemed and come to life in the Spirit, that we might be free from the law of sin and death by which all creatures are justly condemned and come to dwell in the peace of your presence. LORD God, may the Spirit of Christ make us worthy to stand in your sight.
Tue, 13 October 2015
(Rm.2:1-11; Ps.62:2-3,6-7,9,13; Lk.11:42-46)
“Your hard and impenitent heart
is storing up retribution for that day of wrath
when the just judgment of God will be revealed.”
“He will repay every man for what he has done… Yes, affliction and anguish will come upon every man who has done evil… But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who has done good.” This is the just judgment, and it comes only from God, not from sinful man.
And so we are chastised in preparation for that day, that of His wrath we may be spared. We should all wish to be “insult”ed by Jesus as are the Pharisees and lawyers in today’s gospel, here, today, while there is still time. We should all desire His difficult words of instruction which would serve, if heeded humbly, to separate us from the sins of the world, the attachments of this life that cling to our soul and prevent our coming into His presence. Under His mighty hand we should all subject ourselves, that He might lighten our “impossible burdens,” that He might take from us all that is not holy, all that is not true – that we might be freed from the judgment upon our souls and walk with Him in immortality. We must be ready for His day. But as it is the darkness is with us.
“Only in God is my soul at rest.” With David we must sing this truth from our hearts. The emptiness of the flesh and its imagination must not possess us; vain pride must take no place in our lives… All our lusts must be set aside and we must know with certainty that only in God do we find our peace: He is our refuge and our strength. “He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold,” we must cry, and “trust in Him at all times,” or wandering from the truth we will find ourselves in the way of destruction.
“God’s kindness is an invitation to you to repent.” In His patience He gives you time to turn from sin and find His grace and mercy. Pray He will convict you of your sin in this time and you will not convict yourself by your judgment of others. Seek His redeeming hand at work in your life and do the good before Him. Then you “shall not be disturbed,” when His Word has taken root in your soul, when you have left behind all the vanity of this world. Then the glory of God will be your own, and nothing shall remove it from you. Soften your heart to His blessed chastisement; it shall work for you against the day of judgment.
O LORD, we will be judged by what we do,
and by what we fail to do –
let us set our hearts on you alone.
YHWH, let us not fall into judgment of others but treasure rather your Son’s chastisement of our souls, that we might find freedom from our sins and take our refuge in you alone. Soon your just judgment will be revealed; let us benefit from your kindness and take this time to repent, lest we be condemned on your day of wrath.
Your love, O God, is shown in the call to repentance you make to all your children, the Jew first, then the Gentile. You indeed chastise every son whom you love. And so Jesus proclaims great woe upon the Pharisees, hoping to turn them from their wicked ways; and so St. Paul makes known to us our hard and impenitent hearts, that from the punishment they invite we might be spared.
While there is time, O LORD, while your grace and mercy are yet being offered forth, let us place our trust in you alone, and so find rest for our souls in your eternal glory.