description

quod pro nobis traditum est

Friday, September 30, 2011

ongoing

"This glory does not extend over the present time only, as if terminating in the age to come. Rather, it extends throughout all generations and all ages. It is eternally ineffable. It abides, develops and increases." - St. Jerome on Ephesians 3:21 (ACCS, VIII, 157)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Do good works exist?

A while back I posted on the topic of the "goodness" of good works, not as a denial of sin and its effects, but to emphasize the essential "goodness" of good works. While they do not come from us they can be done in and through us. I have not read that post recently but, if I remember, this is the basic gist. All depends on a merciful God. However, and even if works are not meritorious, this does not mean that they are not "good." Once again the emphasis is on where the "good" works come from. Also, there is no question of claiming goodness since these works are worked to glorify the Father in heaven.

"Antinomianism" may rightly be attributed to Lutheranism on certain occasions. Sometimes, we hear works spoken of disparagingly in an attempt to clarify a position on justification. Sometimes this disparaging talk is so successful it leads one to wonder even if good works "exist." "Anti-nomianism" means "against the law." This is sometimes understood, mistakenly, to advance ideas that the law does not pertain to us because we are saved by faith. This may take the form of the law no longer applies to me or I am now "above" the law.

Recent side reading on "antinomianism" and a reading from the liturgy brought this topic back to my attention. This is the wonder of the liturgy. In addition to being prayer, all of it is worth hearing and given to us as a reminder that God visits His people. In one reading from the liturgy the Apostle says, "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." He encourages the church to live not according to the sinful flesh. He adds, "For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."

The Apostle encourages doing good in the context of living and walking in the Spirit. "And let us not grow weary while doing good . . ." ". . . as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." This is not a matter of sanctimony, although it brings into question disparaging talk of works and antinomianism. Other types of living and walking are outside the context of eternal life.

The cross is the central good work for our salvation. Jesus died for all sins and was raised in the body in the Spirit. By connection in baptism, we "walk in newness of life." This is like the Word calling light into existence. God says "Let there be light." And there is. The Word brings into existence good works. They are not just declared from afar with no effect on or in the hearer. Disparaging talk of works gets nowhere, nor is it Scriptural. Mary says, "Let it be done to me according to Your word." The Word is made flesh. In Christ, every good work exists.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

at all times

I will bless the Lord at all times. (Benedicam Dóminum in omni témpore.)
Psalm 33/34

This passage, from the Introit, grabs my attention for its ideal approach. In context these are words of King David. Together with the following verses the thrust of these words is the continuous praise of God among the humble.

One natural reaction in hearing these words, even among the faithful, is to think of everything that is wrong in the world and in one's life or in one's day. It is difficult, if not impossible, to hold on to such an attitude of praise let alone carry out any continuous action of the same. This is the irony - that words that speak of praise of God may raise negative and sinful thoughts out of us.

The above reaction is natural and quick. Now, however, I am considering other thoughts around the words "at all times." It is somewhat common for people to remember that God is omnipresent, that He is everywhere, and that He is especially with us at all times. As He is not only omnipresent but also loving toward us it is not too much of a stretch to find rationale for being one with God - without the Church. We know God loves us and that He cares for us, that He is with us, and that our future is in His hands. Is this not what Jesus teaches us? With this picture, it is easy to let go of that which we may perceive or may be mis-taught as getting between God and us.

With polarization in society, the Church is not immune. But the church is not the Church without Christ who has created her and who sustains us in this world. If there is a center or a unity it only comes from Him. In Christ, the words of the psalmist come out in a new way. He promises, "I am with you always to the end of the age." The Son of Man is with us as the very God who we know is omnipresent. He is with us "at all times." That is the point. He is not only with us when we are viewing the mountains and the ocean or meditating on our own. He is with us, and is especially here for us as our righteousness, in church, in the liturgy of the holy Word and blessed Eucharist given to His humble people, those who seek God's mercy in faith.

Here King David is speaking for himself. He says, "I will bless ..." "His praise shall continually be in my mouth." But this is not just King David. It is not just about God and me. So he adds,

"Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together."

David's words remind us that "at all times" is not just every other time and place outside church. Good times or bad, I am part of a people who are also one with God in Christ. "At all times," even in church.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

like grass with water


Here is a picture of grass. Judging by the condition of the grass the reader rightly concludes that this grass has had no water for some time. One may also attempt to determine the geographical location of this grass. For example, this year, this grass could be in New Mexico, or in Arizona, or in Wisconsin within one mile of Lake Michigan.

We are reminded that all flesh is grass. What better day for rain to fall than today, following baptism, the washing of regeneration.