Friday, October 20, 2006

Thoughts on the Church

Calvin - "The Communion of saints" is added...This clause though generally omitted by the ancients, ought not to be overlooked, for it very well expresses what the church is. It is as if one said that the saints are gathered into the society of Christ on the principle that whatever benefits God confers upon them, they in turn should share with one another...a community is affirmed, in which the heart and soul of the multitude of believers are one...if truly convinced that God is the common Father of all and Christ the common Head, being united in brotherly love, they cannot but share their benefits with one another.

Dr. Leithart - Christ's body and His Spirit are "public goods", the "common property" of every member. This basic level of koinonia in the Son and Spirit takes various visible forms in the life of the Church. Having a "share" in the Spirit, each member is obligated to "share" whatever gifts he receives for the good of the body. What the Spirit gives is, as Augustine would say, only rightly possessed insofar as it is given away. Every gift is a seed, which produces a harvest only if sown.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fall. Half-naked trees emerging forth from pools of orange and red. Scarves. Candle flames aiding the aromas of cinnamon apples and wild currant. Jack-o-Lanterns. Hot spiced cider.
Rich, frothy maple lattes. Feelings of something new. Something exciting. Birthdays, laughter. Scarves, tights and hats. Warm hearts and homes. Gatherings around a table. Spiced tea and pumpkin flavored pastries. Chilled noses, dry lips and hands. Squash soups. Socks. Layers.
The anticipation of celebration. The anticipation of white.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Liturgy teaches us who we are.

Paul, in Romans, makes it very clear that we are no longer slaves to unrighteousness and sin, which leads to death. Rather, he teaches us that in our Baptism, and by faith, we have been joined to Christ by the Spirit, this means we have died with Christ, but also that we have been raised with Him and now live to God in Christ Jesus. Paul goes on to teach that since this is the case we are to no longer allow sin to reign in us, but rather we are to offer up ourselves to God as instruments of righteousness. He goes on to say that this leads to eternal life!
So much of what Paul is talking about throughout Romans has to do with our identity in Christ. He wants us to understand the change that has taken place through our baptism in Christ. We need to understand who we are as the called out ones of God. We are called to be saints, in other words, holy. This is what your baptism says to you.
Many of you may be thinking that you have failed at this miserably. Many of you may be saying to yourselves, “I haven’t turned from sin and temptation the way that I ought, am I truly saved?” And to that, I say to you trust in God and not in yourselves! You have been baptized, you no longer live, but Christ lives in you by His Spirit, “but”, no “buts”!, You are here today amongst God’s people, in Christ, presenting yourselves to Him as instruments of righteousness, as living sacrifices, this is our calling, this is our duty before God, this is life!
For there is no Condemnation In Christ, death no longer affects him, for he has already died and if you are in him then you have died to sin as well! Put to death the deeds of the flesh, do not walk in them any longer, set your mind on things above, set your mind on the things of the Spirit that you may live!
For many of us our minds are far too often set upon ourselves. And what I mean by this is our old selves, who we are outside of Christ. This is a very difficult challenge that we face, for us to discover who we truly are we need to refrain from looking inside and look outside to our baptism, to the cross, to Christ who sits at the right hand of God the Father. He is our Brother who has passed through the heavens in our flesh and has entered into the holy of holies.
So then, if you have been buried with Christ in baptism, you have also been raised with Him. So do not subject yourselves any longer to the spirits of this world, for your life is in the Spirit of Christ. And you have come this day in that Spirit to the things that are above, where our life is in Christ who is seated at the right hand of God, where every spiritual blessing is ours.
Throughout this morning, like every Lords Day, we are reminded of these things. This is what the liturgy teaches us. It teaches us who we are. We begin with a call to worship. We are the called out ones, God has called you out of this world to come into his presence to worship Him. For this we praise Him. Yet, we are quickly reminded that we are sinners, throughout the week we have not perfectly obeyed God, we don’t deserve to be in the presence of the Holy. So, we confess our sins believing in the promise of God that when we do confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us. And as a minister of Christ I remind you of who you are in Christ, because of His death for you, you have been forgiven. So we praise Him. One of the greatest blessings of being saints, righteous ones, is that God hears our prayers. We stand before God in Christ, therefore in the right, and so with boldness we speak to Him, praising him, petitioning him, and asking him to change us through this time of meeting with Him. The means by which he seeks to change us with is his word, the whole word, we hear parts of the grand narrative, particularly the promise and then the fulfillment. The word is applied to us through the preaching and we are through that once again reminded of who we are.
And now we have been led to this place and because you have been washed and because the Spirit of God lives in you, our God and Savior Jesus Christ says, come take and eat do this in remembrance of me.

Communion Meditation

Adam’s first full day was with God in the garden on the Sabbath. The climax of creation was not only man, but man enjoying God’s rest and worshipping Him, this is what he was created to do. His life was to flow to God and from God out into the garden, to Eden, and the rest of the world where he would reflect God in all that he did. His whole life from beginning to end was to be shaped by the Sabbath, this is where creation led him.

When God was reestablishing his garden in the midst of Israel; by establishing His presence with them in the tabernacle, and later in the temple, He was showing us what it truly meant to be human, worshipers of Yahweh. This is where the Exodus led them.

In the book of Leviticus one would be tempted to divide the laws into two categories, ones having to do with the tabernacle and others having to do with life outside the tabernacle. But, if you were to do this without understanding that these laws are inseparable you would be making a grave mistake. Everything that went on inside the tabernacle had to do with the lives of the saints outside of it, and all that they did outside needed to be governed by the daunting presence of the tabernacle set up in the center of the camp. For, the Holy of Holies is where the law was leading them.

“When Christ came into the world, he said, Sacrifice and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.” And by doing the will of His father Jesus our Lord laid down his life, and sanctified us through the offering of His Body once and for all. This is where His incarnation led him.

When God called us to worship Him this day we praised Him for it. We confessed our sins and were forgiven, and we praised him for it. We confessed our faith together, and we praised him for it. We were taught His word and exhorted by it, and we praised him for it. We heard his word in faith, we have sung his word in faith, we confessed our faith, and now we have come to his table to commune with Christ, and with each other, by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. This is true food, and apart from eating it there is no life in us. This is where the Spirit has led us in truth, to the holy of holies that we may be renewed in Christ this day.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Ok, the child is a little rediculous sporting his too-big shoes as well as his first tie this last Lord's Day.