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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Here I stand...One year later

What has remained the same since we arrived in St. Louis? In every respect time has flown because we have learned so much since August, 2005. Well, we are still sinners (Rom 3:23) and every day realize anew that we have nothing to bring to the table regarding the salvation that the Father has granted us through Christ’s work on the cross. But precisely because we are sinners, we rejoice (Rom 5:11) in being reconciled with our Lord and because of all He has done for us. Furthermore, we continue to have a passion for sharing the Gospel with those who don’t yet know the Lord. While this is true for our little ones as well, it is especially the case for Lula and me because we can both clearly recall the years not so long ago when we were still very distant from Him. What have we learned here at the Sem or, put another way, how are we different from fifteen months ago? As “good Lutherans”, we are continuing to realize that the more we learn, the more we have yet to learn.
One of the key concepts I have become acquainted with is that we sometimes need to “let God be God” and should not try to peer into His mysteries as we humans are prone to do. Whether it’s divine mysteries such as how the Trinity might “work” or more practical applications such as “Why did such and such happen in my life?”, there is a limit as to how far we can and should delve into His mysteries. After all, it’s no coincidence that, when asked by Moses to reveal His glory (Ex 33), the Lord replied that He would let His goodness pass before Moses—and then showed Moses His back. All we really need to know about God has already been revealed: in Christ’s suffering on the cross on our behalf. Another thing we have learned, which has come as a surprise to me—having grown up with everything from the Beatles to Van Halen—is our newly found appreciation and growing love for the richness of Lutheran liturgy and hymnody. If you think about what liturgy—or more precisely—worship is, namely receiving the gifts of God, which are His Word and Sacrament, then it comes as no surprise that, as we learn to understand Lutheranism better, we would also come to increasingly cherish the Divine Service—a most important component of our denomination.
Lastly, one other thing has certainly changed since we have come here. We have another mouth to feed—Lilly’s, although since she is still breast-fed, that task is at this time still more or less Lula’s. It is amazing how the six of us are quite comfortable in our snug 700 square foot apartment, one third the size of our house in Texas… Yet, while we had three acres to run around on back then, with no neighborhood kids, we now have the 72 acres of beautiful Concordia Seminary Campus—with some 200 playmates… The Lord truly provides!
What’s next? On November 30 we were exactly half way through our time in St. Louis. God willing, my studies here will be followed by one year of vicarage, which could be anywhere from Alaska to Florida. Ordination should be in the spring of ’09. If I am accepted into the church planting program for which I have applied, we would stay in the same region as our vicarage congregation, which would then be the “mother church” from which we would launch our church plant. We will see what the Lord continues to have in store for us. Regardless of whatever that may be, we are excited to be part of His program.



Alban said...

Hi Chris,

having read your post, I want to raise some questions. What is sin? What would it imply, if we were created in the thought and likeness of God?

In the idea of ONE God, one power or source of reality, can there be something that could turn His perfect creation into something that is no longer perfect? In creation, an act of extension, the Creator must have extended Himself. Would it be possible that what is part of Him, is totally unlike the rest? And if so, could it be healed, through an act of cruelty, as it is claimed? If sin is real, God is denied, because it would imply God is at war with Himself, split and torn between good and evil; partly sane and partly insane. For He must have created what wills to destroy Him, and has the power to do so.

Is it not easier to believe that we have been mistaken than to believe in this?

How could anyone die for my sins?

I am mistaken if I assume reality can be changed and be something that denies its Source. My mistake might seem very real, it might take the appearance of reality, but it could not establish anything real. Therefore healing would be nothing more than the rememberance of what I REALLY am. I, in my mistake, have done nothing. It easily can be undone. It would be like waking from a dream, a nightmare, wouldn`t it?

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect. Jesus said this to me, to you, to all of us. It did not require his death on the cross. It only requires that I am perfect as God created me, and want to be what I am again. I am not saying he was not curcified, but that it was used to demonstrate there is no death, as he has taught. He went through it to demonstrate that the body is nothing. He said he can rebuild it in three days. In that he has taken death away from me. He has taken everything away from me that would justify me in my idea of myself as a limited and separate human born to get old and sick and die. In that I am healed. All I need is accept this.

Kind regards,

Lula said...

Thanks, Alban,
for your comment.
I wouldn't want to speculate why and how God created us and rather refer to the Bible as God's word. Here a couple of points.

- He did create us in His image (Gen 1, 27), but with the freedom to reject Him, which is shown in sinful behavior and rebellion.

- God is absolutely holy, cannot tolerate sin and demands sacrifices as atonements (s. the old Testament esp. Leviticus)

- Jesus fullfills what is fore-shadowed in the Old Testament and is the ultimate lamb that is offered for the forgiveness of our sins

- Jesus himself acknowledges that we are sinners in need of forgiveness and that we cannot be perfect without the Holy Spirit, who works in us when we are believers.
Matthew 9:2

2Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."

Matthew 9:6

6But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home."
Mark 2:5

5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

Mark 2:10

10But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ." He said to the paralytic

Luke 5:20

20When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven."

Luke 7:47-50

47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."

48Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."

49The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"

50Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

John 14

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
15"If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

22Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?"

23Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25"All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

- Jesus tells us that his death was necessary, not to overcome the body (he was raised in his body), but to bring us to life

John 6:54 (New International Version)
54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

Mark 8:30-32 (New International Version)
Jesus Predicts His Death
31He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

John 12

47"As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. 48There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. 49For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. 50I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say."

Blessings to you,