Yearly Archives: 2012

  • Christmas 2012

    Today we are still thinking about Christmas.

    Merry Christmas! Sounds funny to read that, doesn’t it? Aren’t I a little late to the party? I’m writing this on 12/26/12 and you will read it on 12/30. Isn’t this a time to say something like, “Happy New Year?” Today (12/26) I had to make a few stops at some retail stores and the bank. You know, deposit some Christmas checks and return some of the gifts I didn’t want, grr, I mean, that didn’t fit. Seriously, though, I bought myself a watch that Andria didn’t like, and after I looked at it a second time, she was right. A diamond Rolex is a little over the top for a pastor. No, no. It was a watch with two pistols on it that said, Montana. TMI, I know. The other was a fluted … Read More »

  • Advent, part 4

    The older I get the more I am amazed at how quickly time passes. Once again I can’t believe that Christmas is so close. But it has not always been like this for me. When I was a kid it seemed like Christmas was never going to come. The waiting and anxiety were almost painful. I remember Christmas Eve being particularly taxing. It was hard to fall asleep. All I wanted was for Christmas to come.

    By celebrating Advent and waiting until Christmas to celebrate Christmas we say to the world that we cannot and we will not be conformed to your liturgy.

    While not exactly a one-to-one correspondence, this is how we should feel during Advent. During Advent we experience the promise and fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan in the person and incarnation of Jesus. During Advent we look forward, too; … Read More »

  • Advent, part 3

    Last week we considered the way that our cultural calendars are often at odds with the church calendar and how this is especially the case during Advent. And it is especially the case when we consider the theme of Advent which is repentance and preparation. Laurence Stookey calls it a, “little lent.” In support of this, the church has historically appealed to the ministry of John the Baptist who came to prepare the way for the birth of Christ. John’s message was fundamentally a message of repentance. Thus last week we prayed with the church,

    Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives … Read More »

  • Advent, part 2

    Living in a post-Christian world means that often our cultural calendars are in conflict with the church calendar. One such example of this happens every year after Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving most Americans begin to celebrate Christmas or the Christmas season as it is often called. You hear familiar carols in the mall, sales and advertising are in full swing, and gatherings of friends and families and co-workers abound. Then December 26 comes and all the decorations and Christmas talk are put away until next year. This is how we generally celebrate Christmas in our culture.

    This is not how the church celebrates Christmas. Christmas on the church calendar begins December 25 and runs for 12 days after that. Think here, “On the first day of Christmas my true-love gave to me…” Now you know where the 12 days of Christmas came … Read More »

  • Advent, part 1

    Advent is a time for repentance and preparation

    Happy New Year! This is the first Sunday in Advent, which is regarded by Western Christianity as the beginning of the liturgical year. Sometimes Christians mistakenly think of Advent as being synonymous with the birth of Christ or with Christmas. But it really isn’t. In fact, Advent’s primary focus is on what we usually call the second coming of Christ. It’s for this reason that you will find the lectionary readings of the church focusing on this topic, this year Ps. 25; Lk. 21, for example. In this way our reflections and exposition of the book of Revelation is quite appropriate for this time of year.

    I like what Laurence Stookey says about this.

    What may seem to be an anomaly is a very important theological point: The beginning of the liturgical year … Read More »

  • Union with Christ, part 11

    This will bring our reflections and meditations on union with Christ to a close. Next Sunday Advent begins and so I will commence a brief series about the nature of Advent and how we can use it for our growth in grace. Since this is the end of our thoughts on union with Christ I think it helpful for us to think about our union with Christ and how that relates to our death. To be born is to consent to die. All of us will; and, most of us will be buried for quite a long time before the Lord Jesus returns to bring about the resurrection that we confess and long for.

    So what happens to our union with Christ at death? Are we somehow severed from him? The church historically has recognized the problems with confessing a … Read More »

  • Union with Christ, part 10

    Last week we considered our union with Christ as it comes to expression in the Lord’s Supper and as we come to pointedly experience it there. Here we consider our union with Christ and its relationship to the sacrament of baptism. This is fitting for our consideration, as we will see, because of the way that New Testament links our baptism with our union with Christ. It is also fitting for us to consider this morning because this morning we witness again one being joined to Christ in these waters.

    In our union with Christ we share in his death and resurrection and this union is signed, sealed and shown forth in our baptism (cf. Letham, 138). In the mind of many Christians today baptism is a sign not of our union with Christ but of our obedience to him. In … Read More »

  • Union with Christ, part 9

    Nestorianism was an ancient heresy condemned by the church in the fifth century. It emphasized the division between the natures of Christ rather than their union. In its most extreme forms, Nestorianism actually viewed Jesus as being two persons. In response to this, the church emphasized that Christ is actually one person with two distinct natures and that those natures are inseparable, though not mingled. Our confession puts it like this,

    This union we have with Christ is most pronounced in the Holy Supper

    The Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man’s nature, with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; being conceived by the power of the Holy … Read More »

  • Union with Christ, part 8

    Speaking of Christ, someone has said, “He became man that we might become God.” Who said that? Was that Mitt Romney or Joseph Smith? Actually those words were spoken by one of, if not the, greatest defenders of the orthodox view of the Trinity in the history of the church. Those words were uttered by none other than Athanasius himself. But what did he mean by those words? Did he have in mind something akin to the doctrine of modern day Mormons or eastern pantheists? Not a chance. Athanasius was speaking of our union with Christ when he uttered those words.

    Christ flows into us and is blended with us, so he changes us and turns us to himself .Nicolaus Cabasilas

    Actually the church has been speaking of our union with Christ in these terms for quite a while now. Obviously, Athanasius … Read More »

  • Union with Christ, part 7

    A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that often we are guilty of thinking of and talking about the doctrine of election in a vacuum, detached from anything corporate and detached from the Elect One, Christ himself. The same can be true when

    Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners…

    we think about the doctrine of justification. Luther, for example, said that the doctrine of justification was the doctrine upon which the church stood or fell. Taken by itself, this statement could suggest that justification is something that stands or falls by itself; that it is not tied to or related to anything else. As we will see, this is not the case. In fact, what we learn is that just like with election, justification is an aspect of our union with Christ.
    The Westminster Larger Catechism defines … Read More »