Need Your Help to Answer a Question: What is the “Love of Christ?”

This post was originally written June 7, 2011.  In light of the LCMS debate taken public (intentionally or not) over unionism and syncretism, that well worn phrase “All You Need is Love” has cropped up again:  “Share the Love of Christ,”  “You’re not being very loving Confessionals!”  “They will know we are Christian by our Love.”  I think it is time again to pose the question — this time it is directed squarely at those throwing this phrase around so cavalierly and loosely on the issue of syncretistic worship — What is this “Love of Christ” of which you speak?  Here is the rest of the post occasioned on the hearing of a sermon preached at the wedding of that famous royal couple across the pond:

Driving home from Louisville, Kentucky this past weekend, I was listening to a Sermon Review over at Issues, Etc.  It was the sermon given by Bishop Chartres on the occasion of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton last month.  As I was driving on I-65 south in Bowling Green Kentucky, a couple of things that struck me in the sermon.  In particular they can be found in the following excerpts:

The spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this: the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.

                                                                                             *********
As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive. We need mutual forgiveness in order to thrive.

As we move towards our partner in love, following the example of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is quickened within us and can increasingly fill our lives with light. This leads on to a family life which offers the best conditions in which the next generation can receive and exchange those gifts which can overcome fear and division and incubate the coming world of the Spirit, whose fruits are love and joy and peace.

Reading between the lines, one can make out the shadow of the Trinity in this sermon — God so loving this world that He sent His only Son into it…  to be our example….  the Holy Spirit being made alive by the power of the love in our relationships with one another, with marriage being the most powerful of these relationships — like two magnets being drawn together creating a magnetic field.  Christ is mentioned in this sermon, but we do not need Him.  Instead, we move into our relationships toward others in love — using as our template the love Christ modeled for us.   Read the rest of this entry

Advertisements

Is Jesus calling you?

For those of you who read the Jesus calling devotionals, I have a question for you: Did you realize that Sarah Young the author receives messages from God through a “practice of waiting on God to receive and record his messages?” In essence Ms. Young waits and listens for the voice of God, writes down what she hears Him say, and passes the message along to all of her reading audience as messages that she received personally from Jesus or God. That is the description given to Jesus calling, the blockbuster series by Sarah Young, in the latest catalog for Christianbook.com.

Now Jesus calling is being marketed to children and teenagers. Maybe we ought to look at this phenomenon with a little more discernment.

20121231-161506.jpg

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.  This is a nice feature, and I share it here with you today.  Thank you for reading.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 19,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 4 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

The Mysteries Hidden in the Gospel of Christmas Eve, Luke 2:1-14

Detail - Glory of the New Born Christ in prese...

Image via Wikipedia

Preached rightly, the Gospel does not change, but is timeless. 486 years later the Word preached should still apply to us today, otherwise it is not the Gospel of God. Below are some excerpts of a sermon preached by Martin Luther on Christmas Eve 1525. Luther addresses the Gospel hidden in the Christmas story, in the shepherds, the manger, the proclamation of Christ to the World from heaven itself. He notes that Christ must be preached in every proclamation of the Gospel — Christ for YOU and for ME, Christ for SINNERS. Christ must become ours and we His before we can take those steps forward in service to our neighbor to do any good work. And no work is good either if it does not benefit my neighbor. This is still the work of Christ, my work that is. For just as Christ serves me, so I serve my neighbor in the same way Christ does, giving everything in service to my neighbor.

May the peace, love, and joy of the Christmas season be yours, in Christ for YOU!

The Mysteries Hidden in the Gospel of Christmas Eve, Luke 2:1-14
Excerpts from the 1525 Christmas Eve Sermon of Martin Luther

Faith – What is to be Believed
Christ For YOU
The first matter is the faith which is truly to be perceived in all the words of God. This faith does not merely consist in believing that this story is true, as it is written. For that does not avail anything, because everyone, even the damned, believe that. Concerning faith, Scripture and God’s word do not teach that it is a natural work, without grace. Rather the faith that is the right one, rich in grace, demanded by God’s word and deed, is that you firmly believe Christ is born for you and that his birth is yours, and come to pass for your benefit. For the Gospel teaches that Christ was born for our sake and that he did everything and suffered all things for our sake, just as the angel says here: “I announce to you a great joy which will come to all people; for to you is born this day a Savior who is Christ the Lord” [Luke 2:10–11]. From these words you see clearly that he was born for us.

He does not simply say: “Christ is born,” but: “for you is he born.” Again, he does not say: “I announce a joy,” but: “to you do I announce a great joy.” Again, this joy will not remain in Christ, but is for all people. A damned or a wicked man does not have this faith, nor can he have it. For the right foundation of all salvation which unites Christ and the believing heart in this manner is that everything they have individually becomes something they hold in common. What is it that they have?

Read the rest of this entry

O Emmanuel — God is With Us

O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, hope of the nations and their saviour: come and save us, O Lord our God.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

O Emmanuel,
Rex et legifer noster,
expectatio gentium,
et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos,
Domine, Deus noster.

O come, o come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

O Rex Gentium — King of Nations

O Rex Gentium

O king of the nations, you alone can fulfil their desires: cornerstone, binding all together: come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust of the earth.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

O Rex Gentium,
et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis,
qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

O Oriens — O Morning Star

O morning star, splendour of the light eternal and bright sun of righteousness: come and bring light to those who dwell in darkness and walk in the shadow of death.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae,
et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina
sedentes in tenebris,
et umbra mortis.

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer,
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

O Clavis David — O Key of David

O Clavis David – O Key of David

O key of David and scepter of the House of Israel; you open and none can shut; you shut and none can open: come and free the captives from prison, and break down the walls of death.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

O Clavis David,
et sceptrum domus Israël,
qui aperis, et nemo claudit,
claudis, et nemo aperuit:
veni, et educ vinctum
de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris,
et umbra mortis.

O come, thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall Come to thee oh Israel!

O Radix Jesse — O Root of Jesse

O Radix Jesse – O Root of Jesse

O root of Jesse, that stands for an ensign of the people, before whom the kings keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: come, to deliver us, and tarry not.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

O Radix Jesse,
qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos,
jam noli tardare

O come, O Rod of Jesse free,
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

The Church as the Reformation Understood It — Herman Sasse

Great Quote from Herman Sasse on the Church:

But if one proceeds from God and not from man, not from human religion, nor even from the Christian religion, but from the Gospel, as do the Reformation confessions, it is possible to understand the church.  If one has understood what faith in the Evangelical sense is, worked by the Holy Spirit himself, and never “by my own reason or strength” [SC, Creed, 6];  that the Holy Spirit creates faith in the Word of God;  and that this is quite different from all human religions within the bounds of pure and practical reason, then it is possible to understand the church as the Reformation understood it.  This church is not built by us.  It is created by God himself.  And this is so as surely as God is God, as surely as Jesus Christ is Lord, as surely as God’s Word is the Word of the Creator and Consummator, the Judge and Redeemer, the greatest power on earth.

The concept of the church of Luther and Lutheranism originates from faith in this Word.  In this definition of the church, man, as individual or Volk, can never have a founding or co-founding role.  He is passive.  One does not decide to join the church;  he is rather called to the church.  We do not build the church (“Arise!  Let us build Zion!”);  we are only the stones used to build it, or at most the tools used to build it.  The church of the Word is the chur of the sola gratia [“by grace alone”].  It is the true catholic church because it alone is the curhc of God, not a Roman or German church, not Reich or national church, not Volks-church or free will church, or whatever other adjectives we place beside it.  These adjectives finally have no other intent…. than to smuggle man back into the definition of church.  All these names serve finally only to deny the unity, holiness, and catholicity of the church.

— Herman Sasse, “1933, The Lutheran Confessions and the Volk,” The Lonely Way:  Selected Essays and Letters, Vol. 1, tr. Matt Harrison, Kindle Edition, Loc. 2937-2953, Concordia Publishing House  (St. Louis, MO 2010)