A favorite childhood game was called “King of the Mountain”. At recess in elementary school we actually used the Dome Whirl playground equipment anchored on asphalt to play this game. What could possibly go wrong with this? And of the course the point was clawing your way to the top. To be number one. To be the greatest. To sit on top of the world. And to get there you had to pull down the current occupant, and then to out wrestle all the rest of the aspiring contestants for the vaunted position. There was nothing coy about this as children. Of course as adults we have learned to refine such games in life...
Latest NewsletterGrace Notes 2021-09-15
A pivotal verse for understanding Christian fellowship is that which is found in the second chapter of Acts. The context is on the heels of the first sermon by an Apostle in the light of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It happens on the Day of Pentecost fifty days after Jesus’ Resurrection. The sermon by the Apostle Peter is actually scathing. The law portion was very direct. “You crucified [Jesus, God’s anointed] and [had him] killed by the hands of lawless men.” But then the gospel portion was equally strong. “This Jesus God raised up,” and you will, “[receive] the forgiveness of sin, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
We read in Acts 2:37 that many of the hearers were cut to the heart. The law which rightly condemns and kills left folks hopeless in their own ability to right their grievous wrongs. But what is impossible for us Jesus’ death, resurrection, and sending of the Holy Spirit makes possible on our behalf. Peter invites the hearers to “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
Then we read in verse 41, “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls!” It is the next verse that is especially pivotal. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
Time and space only permits me to point out the shape of our gathering for the Divine Service. It is to receive from God. To receive his word in community, this is ultimately our need to receive forgiveness. It is to receive the meal of forgiveness (the breaking of bread) in Holy Communion. And it is to offer the prayers. And this is to be done as often as possible!
Since You Asked…
Why is the Triune Name of God repeated so frequently in our worship services?
The mystery of the Trinity is one of the most distinctive elements of our Christian Tradition. Christianity is not alone in claiming to be monotheistic (belief in one Supreme Being, one god). But Christianity holds that this One, True God has revealed himself to us as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Scripture teaches that God the Father has revealed himself through God the Son and in God the Spirit. Only the Son can be seen, and only through the Spirit are we enabled to believe in the Father and the Son. And so we often invoke the name of the Triune God in the mystery of our faith.
I recently finished rereading the book of Job (pronounced Jobe), and got more out of it this time around than anytime I can remember. I read through this book at least once a year. And why it was so poignant and informative this time I can only guess. Certainly the difficult times many of are experiencing may have something to do with it. And no doubt it was the Holy Spirit’s work to capture my attention, focus, and the ability to make connections.
There is never a time when we don’t need to be wary of the enemy, namely the devil. We can also speak of the enemy being threefold: the devil, the world, and our sinful self (the flesh). St. Peter warns us, “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1Pe 5:8). This has been true from the first transgression of Adam and Eve, and it has remained true ever since. And it is absolutely true in the times we currently live in!
May I never tire of extolling and commending Luther’s Small Catechism as a reliable framework for being well catechized in the Christian Faith! And may you never tire in building on this foundation. Amen.
This is no time to be slack in regards to the Christian Faith! There are so many distractions competing for our attention. Learn from Martha and Mary in Luke 10. Jesus said, “One thing is necessary.” He was commending Martha’s sister, Mary, who was sitting at his feet attentive to his word. Martha had been distracted by lesser matters!