Victim and Victor

Christians, to the Paschal victim
offer your thankful praises!

A lamb the sheep redeemeth:
Christ, who only is sinless,
reconcileth sinners to the Father.

Death and life have contended
in that combat stupendous:
the Prince of life, who died,
reigns immortal.

Speak, Mary, declaring
what thou sawest, wayfaring:

“The tomb of Christ, who is living,
the glory of Jesus’ resurrection;

“Bright angels attesting,
the shroud and napkin resting.

“Yea, Christ my hope is arisen;
to Galilee he will go before you.”

Christ indeed from death is risen,
our new life obtaining;
have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!

A Masquerade for a Post

I’m trying to get a bit of writing done today and failing miserably. After all kinds of administrative and organizational things this morning, I sat down and pounded out a newsletter article for January, which is lousy and I will need to re-write. Then there is the corresponding article on worship for the newsletter: not written. Then the blog post, which this is masquerading as.

I’ve got Sandy Hook on the brain, and everyone has something to say about it. Not me. No words. God have mercy. That’s about all I can say. Pray for the lost and living, your own kids and schools every day and may God frustrate the wicked plans of evil men.

Now, on to more things I need to be doing…

Would Jesus Feel “at home”?

Pastor Peters on worship, architecture, liturgy and Jesus. There’s more to his post on his blog, but I do want to quote a goodly piece of it here:

Jesus also worshiped at the temple in Jerusalem. The worship of the temple was anything but simple and plain.  In this splendid and ornate building attested to both by the building plans given for Solomon to follow and in the reconstructions that follow, the most ornate and elaborate art and metal work was seen.  We have a history of God making sure that the place where He was to be worshiped was sacred and looked like a temple befitting the Lord of all.  The tabernacle, and both the Herodian and Solomonic temples in Jerusalem were splendid, ornate and rich buildings.  What took place inside them was also elaborate, ceremonial, and ritualistic. Priests wore ornate vestments designed by God Himself.  There were processions into and around the temple, ornate gilded images of angels around the worship space.  Incense was burned before God to symbolize the prayers of the faithful rising to heaven and the pillar of smoke rising from the roof was visible to those all around the exterior of the building.

Would Jesus feel comfortable in the Divine Service here?  Well, you take a gander at this list and tell me if Jesus would be put off by the liturgical order and its rich ceremonial tradition:

  1. Beautiful, rich, elaborate and ornate structure for the temple of God
  2. Priests in rich vestments whose every detail was set by God
  3. Set readings from the Old Testament
  4. the chanting of psalms
  5. the burning of incense
  6. an altar of sacrifice
  7. golden candlesticks
  8. the bread of the presence
  9. the holy of holies (the most sacred domain within the temple)
  10. the lamp of the presence
  11. processions of priests and people
  12. the offering of the holy sacrifice
  13. the laver or font for cleansing the offerings
  14. water fonts for ritual ablutions before entering worship
  15. beautiful fabrics, carvings, textile, and embroidery…

If Jesus was accustomed to all of this, what would he think about the empty barns that too often pass as Christian churches?  Or the services dominated by music designed to entertain and those who perform for the benefit of the spectator?  Lets get real here…  Jesus is not indifferent to the things we might call extraneous or added extras.  In His Word Jesus shows His great affection for the worship of the synagogue and temple — even going to the extreme of emptying the temple court yards of money changers so that the intercession and incense of prayer would not be obscured by business.  It is not what Jesus would think of liturgical worship but what does Jesus think of the health club atmosphere that includes Starbucks and lattes and self-help and self-interest activities that seem inevitably to overshadow reverence and awe?

St. Nicholas’ Rowdy Reputation

My Facebook friends are all ablaze about the heretic-hitting St. Nicholas of Myra. It’s a funny story, in a way. Just look it up here.

Warning: I’m about to throw down on y’all.

St. Nick reacting to the bad reputation as a brawler he’s gotten of late.

The irony, of course, is that he venerated and commemorated by millions of Christians for generations and generations not because of this at all. This is incidental and really out of character. We commemorate St. Nicholas because of his Christian witness, life and deeds. He was renowned for his generosity, for his self-denial, for his humility and kindness to the poor and to children. He was a supposed miracle-worker in life–Christ working through him, of course.

Yet in our violent and greedy age, it’s much easier to jump on his violence rather than his virtue. In our Synod so focused on strife and so full of bullies in district offices and in “confessional” groups, it makes more sense to think about Santa Claus hitting a heretic than St. Nicholas giving away his wealth to the poor and hopeless.

We get the saints we deserve. We make the heroes after our image.