The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream

May 31, Ascension Day Holy Communion,
7 PM Centray Daylight Time
NT Greek Lessons - Thursdays, 7 PM.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Mid-Week Lenten Service, Wednesday 7 PM Central Standard Time



Midweek Lenten Service, 

7 PM Central Standard Time

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson



The Hymn #479          Zion Rise                                 
The Order of Vespers                                             p. 41
The Psalmody                   
The Lection                            The Passion History

The Sermon Hymn # 657            Beautiful Savior                      

God Makes Something Good
 
The Prayers
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace                                            p. 45

The Hymn #49        Almighty God Thy Word Is Cast


God Makes Something Good

"That is enough on the first article concerning which the theologians of the Augsburg Confession have quarreled with each other. Although it was a very scandalous controversy, nonetheless God, who lets nothing evil happen if He cannot make something good out of it, has produced this benefit for His church through the controversy: The chief article of our Christian faith, on which our salvation depends, has been made clear, so that there is not a passage in the Old or New Testament which has not been considered and discussed." Jacob Andreae, The First Sermon, On the Righteousness of Faith in God's Sight. Cited in Robert Kolb, Andreae and the Formula of Concord, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1977, p. 76. 

Luther expressed this in a slightly different way, so that is worth remembering too. From memory - The Holy Spirit is so powerful that He can take the greatest evil and turn it into the greatest good, as shown by Good Friday.

The reason why each Gospel devotes about 25% of its space to the Passion is easy to figure out. The atoning death of Christ is the great treasure of the Bible. Therefore, everything else is an introduction to this great revelation, which connects to all the mysteries of the Bible (mysteries are revealed by the Holy Spirit):
  1. The Holy Trinity
  2. The Messianic Promises
  3. Creation
  4. The Virgin Birth and the Two Natures of Christ
  5. The miracle of Christ
  6. His teaching with authority
  7. The Father and the Son - We are One - witnessed by the Holy Spirit
  8. The Atonement and Resurrection
  9. Justification by Faith
This knowledge of the atoning death of Christ is essential for understanding and interpreting the difficult times of our lives. 

The Atonement is so difficult that unbelievers question it, reject it, and mock it. The famous ELCA Braaten-Jenson Christian Dogmatics book (two volumes!) utterly rejects the atonement, the Trinity, the Virigin Birth, the adiaphora of ELCA! And yet some LCMS gasbags debate (on LutherQuest!) whether one of the Braaten-Jeson editors got the Atonement right. And yet not one of them gets Justification by Faith right - and that is the judge of all other articles of faith - if we follow Luther - a big "if" today.

The Atonement is difficult for children to grasp. I recall wondering - as a child - how it could be called Good Friday and listed as one of the great events of history. This kind of information does not appear to reason, which is  why so many have re-interpreted it to make sense for human reason. The 19th century German rationalists imagined that Jesus simply taught the Brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God, not His Messianic mission at all. It was a Unitarianism for the timid and is still practices today with great zeal.

Children are normally taught first by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and nurtured in that faith by parents. Many of the lessons of faith in childhood are then tested as we grow up, providing a fertile ground for the spiritual fruits that follow. Those who have no background in the faith experience all kinds of trouble in dealing with the challenges and responsibilities of life.

The Atonement is so important because we that God can transform any evil into something good. There are many experiences that are a kind of crucifixion for people. They may  not show it on the outside, but  they feel it on the inside. That can come from having over-sensitive feelings, which are good unless they tune in too long and too hard on every positive negative signal, like playing several video music channels at once.

Some have had painful experiences forced upon them - by the economy, by sudden shifts in culture and public policy, by the sinfulness of man.

I have often had adult students send me messages like this, "I am going to be late with the assignment because I no longer have a place to live. I was tossed out and need to find a place at once."

An accident can cause a disability, and so can bad medical care. To wind up as the victim of a life-long or long-term difficulty is quite discouraging.

The key to grasping the meaning of life's bad turns is stated in the Andreae quotation and Luther's. If God can do this with the greatest of all injustices, Christ dying on the cross, then that Gospel transformation can also happen with our experiences of pain and loss.

The Reformation itself came close to a collapse, as Luther predicted. After 50 years, the Lutherans were squabbling with each other in front of the opponents at theological conferences. One said, "Why should we discuss this with you, when your group does not even agree among yourselves?"

That shame and embarrassment was the best thing to happen to the Reformation. That event united the Lutherans in a study and documentation of what they believed. Martin Chemnitz had been highly trained by many years of publishing and debating the issues. The others were also great, articulate students of the Scriptures.

This shame brought about the only coherent statement of faith in Protestantism - the Book of Concord. Chemnitz was trained by Luther and Melanchthon and shared the Biblical strengths of both men, plus great knowledge of the early documents of the Church.

While most people look at the years from 1517 to 1580 (The 95 Theses to the Book of Concord), just the opposite was true. The entire world was coming unglued, and the Muslims were invading Europe with great success. They helped the Reformation by drawing away the military forces of the Roman Catholic Emperor.

So this is a case of God becoming what we think of Him. If we do not see the good in Good Friday, and many do not, then we cannot see the wisdom and mercy of God in allowing bad things to happen to us. The irony is that many seem to have the least in blessings are also the most thankful about what they have. And the obverse is also true, that some have obvious advantages in many ways and only see the shortcomings. 

People of faith will say, wisely, that God gives special children to those parents who are best for those children. Likewise, those special children teach their parents and others more about love, mercy, and joy than any professor could try to do. Special children with special problems are transparent, to use one popular term, letting the divine purpose shine through. 

One example I often consider, whenever I look at my hymnal marker - Brenda K. who always worried about everyone else and did her best to help others. Her big thrill was giving presents to others when she had almost no money at all.

I have often quoted her - "I cling to the Savior because I have nothing else." And she could laugh. She showed me the mechanical lift for her wheelchair. When I mistakenly made it bang up down and flap like crazy bird, she laughed helplessly. She could barely breathe when she said, "Maybe I will let my helper run the life instead."