Wednesday, May 23, 2012
I can remember many years as a child my family and I accompanied Grandpa out to the cemetery in Anderson, Indiana to the grave site of his late wife. We’d walk around to see where other relatives were buried and share few memories-along with some regrets. Since then, Grandpa and many others on both sides of my family have died. I was always fascinated by the inscriptions on the tombstones. A few had well wishes, a couple had messages, but most had Scripture quoted verbatim or a verse mentioned. Memorial Day helps us as Americans reflect on the sacrifice our brave servicemen made in defending our nation’s freedoms. More recently, fallen firemen and police officers have taken their place alongside soldiers and sailors and airmen. The events of 9-11 drew our attention to their heroism. But, why remember the dead? Well, we do so out of thanks for the gifts of freedom and family they gave us. We remember them in comforting each others’ sentiments, that those who died in the Christian faith did not take any personal grievances with them beyond death’s door. We can truly rejoice in fond memories and help each other through troublesome rgrets and lingering fears. None of these reasons, though, carry the day unless we remember Jesus Christ, trusting in Him, who is risen from the dead. (2 Tim. 2:8) He who is born of David’s human lineage (Rom. 1:3) is God everlasting (John 8:58) He is the resurrection and the life. (John 11:25) For He will raise all the dead, sending the unbelievers to hell and us who trust in Him to heaven’s eternal bliss. We know this because Jesus has kept all His other promises and fulfill all other prophecies made about Him. Through His death and resurrection, He has become our Lord and promises that we who trust in Him have eternal life now and in hereafter. (John 17:3, 1 Cor. 15:20-28) We remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead because 1. He remembers our sin no more. (Jer. 31:31-34, Ps. 130:3-4) and 2. We were buried with Him in Baptism. (Rom. 6:4) That’s when Jesus made His cross personal to each of us. Our sins are not just swept under the rug of heaven as if buried to reappear at some inconvenient moment. NO, Jesus buried them forever, in His death. He rose triumphant over them. He still remembers us as He brings our prayers of lament and for forgiveness to His and our heavenly Father. For in Baptism, our heavenly Father adopted us as His children, heirs of eternal life, coheirs with His Sole-Begotten Son, our Savior whom death could not hold back longer than He gave permission. Pastors have their vocation the ongoing call to remind us of Jesus Christ, raised from the dead. They serve us the Word in public preaching and public absolution. They put in our mouth Christ’s very body and blood just as they baptized us. That’s why Paul admonished young Timothy to teach, to suffer with the suffering, to preach the Word—remembering Jesus Christ who worked through Him. WE, in our own vocations, have a similar charge, not to go just halfway but to run the race like a well-trained athlete. God works in us to care for our neighbors, friends, and relatives that they, toom, may be built up in the Christian faith. Now, we know that some of our friends and relatives who have sat in funerals and by grave sites with us do not share our hope. Yet, what an appropriate time like Memorial Day to tell the good news of Jesus’ resurrection to them. The grave will not be the end. Rather, we long for those who are unbelieving to repent, so that their punishment may be averted and the life for which Christ died to give the whole world may be theirs as He has given it to us. May God give us the words of comfort to speak with fellow Christian and far off unbeliever alike as we approach this time of memorial. For Jesus, our One and Only Savior from sin, death, and hell lives and rules to all eternity. This is most certainly true.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Many of us who write or preach and study Scripture as a major part of our daily vocation have heard it said: “Oh, you spend so much time in God’s Word, you really don’t need a regular pattern of devotions.” I respond to that assumption as, well, kindly as I can. Certainly, any time in God’s Word profits us with the Law and the Gospel the Holy Spirit plants in our hearts and minds through it. Certainly, even researching or academic study can have a devotional quality when grounded in the Word of Life. WE make a dire assumption, though, when neglecting a regular diet of daily, devotional study in God’s Word. When set on a regular pattern or daily lectionary of readings, we don’t necessarily choose the areas of Scripture that day wil bring us. Whether from PORTALS OF PRAYER, HIGHER THINGS REFLECTIONS, or another set of readings, prayers, and hymns, God’s Law and God’s Gospel come to us whether we like it or not. We don’t choose the topics a day to day devotion puts in front of us in its progress of pericopes. Still, our Lord directs such readings, hymns, and prayers for our conviction, admonition, and peace. We who write or preach and study Holy Scripture as a large of part of daily vocations come our work of rightly handling the Word of truth with clarified, purified minds—clarified and purifried by our Lord through that very Word He gives us to daily read, mark and inwardly digest. A regular progress of devotions brings us Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for us. WE have the comfort that, no matter what emotions and interactions, our daily vocation puts before us, Jesus’ directs us in His saving forgiveness of our sins. After all, the phone will interrupt our contemplations. News of a family or church member’s death may come at the most intense point of studying a difficult word in the original languages. Kids will call for Mom or Dad at a heartbeat, and our vocation as parents will supersede that of writer or pastor or composer for a time. The Holy Spirit always works through His Word, never apart from it. So, through the readings in daily devotion from Scripture, He brings to us the same Law and Gospel to which He brought us when we first opened His Word during the day. AS the hymn says, “God’s Word is our great heritage…” and He brings us to it each day.
Monday, May 21, 2012
What an opportunity we at Holy Cross had again this year! Several of us from our board for mercy and human care assisted Redeemer Lutheran in KC, MO’s inner city with serving a meal to the areas homeless and low income population. The meal follows a brief time for worship led by Pastor Zerckel from Redeemer. He’s been doing this outreach to the homeless for several years. Its my fourth year of having the privilege of knowing him and, with others from Holy Cross, helping to serve. The service to the homeless is called Soup, Supper, and Soul. Redeemer hosts this meal and worship twice a month and several areas congregations assist in providing food. Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ for providing those things necessary to support our bodies and life, at whatever economic or social strata we live. Our Lord Jesus is our refuge and strength, our crucified, risen, ascended, and coming Savior from sin.