28 October 2008

Another experiment

I don't write my sermons out in full any more. I've taken to jotting down notes and preaching from them. So I thought I'd share with you (both?) the notes from last week's sermon. It's an unsatisfactory way of doing things, I know, because a lot of the 'meat' is left out. But it's what I have time for now. So here goes. If it's helpful to anyone, let me know; if not, let me know that as well. The text is the healing of the demoniac in Luke 8...

1.”Return to your home and declare how much God has done for you.”

Why home? Hadn’t those people seen him

…in his shame and nakedness?

…in the demon-inspired violence and torment?

He wanted to go with Jesus. But Jesus had something else in mind.

2. Christ and the apostles had traveled across the lake, it seems, for one purpose: to heal this man. They left the west shore the night before, and when this man is healed they return again. (Tell story, through “Return to your home.” Stress Christ's power over the demonic--the ultimate conquest being in the cross.)

3. The people of the town had begged Jesus to leave. He did. But he left behind a witness, one of their own, a living reminder of God’s mercy. It was because those people knew what he had been, that they above all might continue to marvel at what he had become through Christ.

4.The holy fathers teach us, “Remain in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.” Here they echo the words of St. Paul, “Remain in that situation where you were called.” It’s happened to me on more than one occasion: as I stay in a place, and get to know people, they see my shame and faults. I have, in the past, sometimes changed my location instead of changing my heart. It feels good for a while—a new adventure. But when I journey, I bring myself along with me. I must learn repentance where I am, or I will learn it nowhere.

5. “But Father,” you say, “I want to journey with Jesus.” Thanks be to God, we have an option that man did not have. We can remain where we are and journey with the Lord as well. For he has promised that we can find him in two places, neither of which requires a move:

* here in the liturgical life of the Church—that’s why, after all, we come (“where two or three are gathered; lo, I am with you always)

*and out there in the lives of his precious ones, the poor and the needy (I was hungry, and you fed me…)

6. Let us therefore stay where we are: let us cultivate not a change of scenery, but a change of heart. And let us seek Christ where he wills to be found: here in his Temple, and out there among the poor and the needy. For so our cell will prove the entrance to his Kingdom, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Thank God...

...my wife arrived safely back home last night at around midnight. And yesterday was the 31st anniversary of our engagement. Hooray!

21 October 2008

This may be a stupid question...

...since I don't sleep well when my wife is away (she's visiting her father in New Mexico; he's ill).

Once upon a time, years ago, I was in discussions to write the Preus dogmatics volume on justification. (By that time, my thinking had become far more eastern than western.) As I considered the connection between justification and the sacraments, I saw a problem.

1. Forgiveness of sins, and justification, are imputational, not imparted, according to Lutherans and other protestants. That is, they consist essentially in the reckoning of our sins to Christ, and the reckoning of his righteousness to us--not in the sharing of the divine energies. Hence the strong Lutheran emphasis on the extra nos (outside us) aspect of salvation.*

2. The sacraments of baptism and the eucharist are explicitly said to be for the forgiveness of sins.

3. The sacraments are said to be "visible words"--that is, they show what the Gospel says.

4. Why, then, would it not be more fitting for those who hold #1 above to baptise by pouring water next to the person being baptised--i.e. avoiding contact with the body? Why would it not be more fitting for the eucharist, if offered, not to be consumed but viewed with faith?**

* Protestants grant some sort of mystical union between Christ and the believer, but they teach this mystical union as a consequence of imputation, an effect of forgiveness and neither the cause nor the essence of forgiveness. Rome recognizes the need for an imparting, but lest the Creator/creature distinction be destroyed, what is imparted (grace) is not God's energies (which for them are identical to God's essence) but rather a created substance or habit.

** Certain streams of evangelicalism are being consistent to the Reformational emphasis on imputation when they abandon water baptism altogether; likewise, when the last remnants of what was once communion consist in a little side table with little glasses of grape juice and a cracker, for those who wish it to serve themselves after the benediction has been pronounced (within a generation it will disappear entirely), this is consistent with an imputational view of grace and forgiveness.

Once again, forgive me if I'm missing something obvious; I am tired. But I'd be interested in others' thoughts on this issue.

15 October 2008

Remember yesterday's date

It represents the fact that more than our economy is bankrupt. The Secretary of the Treasury appointed by a "conservative Republican" President said, "Government owning a stake in any private US company is objectionable to most Americans, me included. Yet the alternative of leaving businesses and consumers without access to financing is totally unacceptable."

In my view, it was a Chamberlain-like moment. To paraphrase Churchill, "He had a choice of abandoning his principles or economic disaster. He chose to abandon his principles; he shall have economic disaster also."

01 October 2008

Episcopal visit

This past Sunday, we were blessed to have our bishop MARK visit Holy Cross. He performed the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, which is much more elaborate than a standard liturgy. In the photo he is inducting Michael Cook, another former LCMS pastor, into the Order of St. Ignatius. Michael and his wife Mary just had a baby a few weeks ago; the baptism is set for this coming Sunday. Many years, Sayedna MARK...and many years, Michael!

(This photo also gives a glimpse of one part of our nave.)
Posted by Picasa