quod pro nobis traditum est

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

the simultaneous life of the saints

Back from a brief silence that included a vacation.

This post is rated for adults (please see the disclaimer below).

Lutheran teaching is quite clear concerning the merits of Mary and the Saints, that salvation is not gained through their merits. This is a huge topic, one too big for this particular post. I only mention this because not mentioning this will detract some readers from the focus of this post.

The apostle says, "perfect love casts out fear." A quick rejoinder, "we are sinners there is no perfect love." Good, we are sinners, we know that. Now back to the words, "perfect love casts out fear." Why does the apostle write this or why is anything written in the Scripture if we are sinners? Why does God do any good if we are sinners? Are not these words written to and for us? Can we not be led by God who creates faith to trust in "perfect love."

In my preparations I came across some hymns recently that mention Mary and the Saints. One hymn calls Mary "the bearer of the eternal Word." Another hymn says, "sing with all the saints in glory." Finally, another hymn says, "how firm a foundation, O saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word."

I am not so struck by the words of these hymns. They reflect the reality of the one church in heaven and earth existing simultaneously in communion in Christ. Rather, I am struck by the cynicism and fear that the words "Mary" and "the saints" cause us. Are these people not in Scripture? Are they not upheld there? Ought we fear them? Do not their examples inspire us? Do they not reflect God's good work in people? Are they not blessed? Do we really trust what God's Word says about them?

The Apostle says, "Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world." Our boldness in the day of judgment is possible through Him who was judged for us on the cross. I personally am not afraid of Mary and the Saints. They mean us no eternal harm. Rather they reflect the glory of the one Mediator. Rather than bring me cynicism and fear they remind me of the great salvation of the Lord. Did not Mary say, "my soul magnifies the Lord?"

As one hymn that previously mentioned the saints says, "Fear not! I am with you, O be not dismayed . . ." What about perfect love? God is love. He sent His only begotten Son into the world, born of the blessed virgin Mary. In Him we are given salvation and made saints, together with those who now live in heaven, an ongoing communion under the Church's head, Christ our Lord.

DISCLAIMER: Different church bodies have different doctrines or teachings. Discussing doctrines or theology on this blog when there may be similar or united belief in doctrine does not equate with unity or union of churches or promotion of the same. This is simply a blog that discusses theology and other topics.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A crisis to fear or the deliverance of the body

It is a trend today to ponder the earth in terms of crisis.

This week I have been pondering the earth in a sense that I heard in a reading on Sunday. The apostle speaks of the earth as "creation" and the creation is painted in terms of present sufferings and "the glory which shall be revealed in us." That is, the author draws a parallel between the creation "subjected to futility" with the plight and hope of the children of God. It is even described as the creation eagerly awaiting "for the revealing of the sons of God."

The apostle alludes to baptism, that is "we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit."

There is the idea that all of creation suffers with birth pangs and so too those have these firstfruits. The present includes labor and groaning and waiting. The creation waits for deliverance and so do we. The apostle writes, "because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." The creation is tied to the children of God in terms of deliverance.

So the creation is "corrupt?" This is not how we are normally led to look at "Mother Earth." The apostle offers a different picture. It is corruption in all of creation as it is in us. But this is not a fact to simply rub in the wounds when we are down. These sufferings, this futility, this labor and groaning is only temporary, a part of a bigger picture that brings hope and redemption.

We see this all working out in the death and resurrection of our Lord. So "bondage of corruption" is changed into "glorious liberty" and those born in sin are changed to await "the redemption of our body." From dust we are and to dust we will return. But the real end foreseen in the resurrection from the dead is the redemption of the body together with our Creator in eternal glory.

During the summer months we enjoy the fruits of creation. Autumn and Winter come with their changes. The firstfruits of Spring soon bud again. So too, it is for us whose body is a wonderful creation. We wither and die but our bodies are not forever in the ground - they are redeemed. If there is a crisis it is of our own making for our present sufferings cannot "be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."