Enough for Him

 

In his meditations based on “In the Bleak of Midwinter,” Herb Brokering wrote.  “Eighty years and so much stuff.  Teach me Lord; Enough is enough!”

Brokering continues, “Little was enough for the Child.  Seven loaves and a few fish fed five thousand.  How?  God breaks things open, and there is more and more inside.  Plant an ear of corn.  One ear of corn will grow a field.  Cut a potato in several pieces so each has an eye and grow five hills of potatoes.  Enough is a matter of dividing.

Holy Communion is about dividing.  Not eating a loaf alone.  Blessing and breaking it with others.

The stable was enough for Him.  He had come from realms of glory.  Christ was the Word, who said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  Now he lay inside a dark stable near an oil lamp.

With one word he made the universe, and now he lay in straw, having premiered a birth cry.  His word woke stars and eons and now he clung to Mary’s breast for a drink.  Without the girl he could not live.  Without Joseph’s dream he would be trampled by the wrath of Herod’s army.

The stable is enough for Him.  Hand carved nativity sets cost more than Joseph and Mary spent with their firstborn in Bethlehem. Read what he had in Luke 2: it was enough.”

 

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Poe’s Nevermore meets Evermore

 

Each Stanza of “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” (LSB 384) ends with, “Evermore and Evermore.”  While we sang the 4th century hymn on Christmas Day, I thought of Edgar Allan Poe’s’ 1845 poem, “The Raven” with verses that end, “Quoth the Raven ‘Nevermore.’”

In Poe’s poem a person is filled with despair over the death of a young maiden, Lenore. Sleepless at midnight in bleak December, he hopes for relief. He hears a knocking at the door.  It’s an imagined raven knocking at the door of his heart. The voice he hears calling out “Lenore” is his own voice.  Is there deliverance from his woe? The answer is “Nevermore.”

In “Of the Father’s love Begotten,” the author tells us that God has planned the world’s deliverance from “Ere the world began to be…Evermore and Evermore.”

A Stanza omitted from the hymnal speaks to Poe’s “Nevermore.”

He (God)is found in human fashion,

Death and sorrow here to know,

That the race of Adam’s children,

Doomed by Law to endless woe,

May not henceforth die and perish

In the dreadful gulf below

Evermore and Evermore.

 

The hymn ends with praises to the Trinity, Son, Father and Holy Ghost:

Honor, glory and dominion,

And eternal victory

Evermore and evermore. Amen.

 

Murder in Bethlehem

 

Holy Innocents Day: “(Herod) became very angry and sent men to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and all the country around it, up to two years old.” (Matthew 2:16)

Once again Rachel cried from her grave over her children.  Joseph got up, took the little Child Jesus and His mother and fled to Egypt.  Thirty- three years later another Herod, together with the religious and government leaders succeeded in killing the One God sent to save us from our sins; to save us from ourselves.

In our world, every day is still a day for killing the little ones.  More than 200 people have been killed in St. Louis, more than a few of them children caught in the line of fire.  However, Jesus enlarged the concept of killing to belittling our neighbor with insults and verbal abuse.  Luther said the Fifth commandment includes hurting or harming our neighbor rather than offering to help and support them.

Holy Innocents Day is a day to focus on the ways that people are killed within in marriages and families through physical, emotional and verbal abuse.  Yes, even those in highest positions of power use that power not to demonstrate how to help and support, but to belittle and insult.  Holy Innocents Day is a mirror for humanity.  The Herod’s still live.  Rachel still cries from her grave near Bethlehem.

How will the words of Jesus sound in our ears upon his return when he says, “As you did to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Pontius Pilate tried to wash his hands of the abuse, insults and murder taking place before him.  Can we?

 

 

St. John

John, Apostle and Evangelist

The remembrance of John goes back to the fourth century in the Eastern Church.  John was one of Zebedee’s sons and one of the twelve disciples.  He along with his brother James, and Peter and Andrew were fisherman until Jesus called them to follow him.

John, together with his brother and Peter were the three who witnessed Jesus’ Transfiguration.  When Jesus and the disciples were turned away from a Samaritan village, the sons of Zebedee suggested they would call down a bit of fire and brimstone upon the village.  Jesus response showed that His reign was about service to others.  John is credited with writing the fourth gospel; three letters and the vision he shared in the book of Revelation.

John’s version of the Christmas story (John 1) speaks of the Word becoming flesh and living among us.  Jesus is the light of God shining in the darkness.  He was the Beloved disciple emphasizing Christ’s love for the world. John was the only disciple to die a natural death.  According to tradition he was banished to the island of Patmos by the Roman emperor Domitian.  He died at Ephesus around 100 A.D.  There were Christians who either knew John or one of his students well into the second century.

 

St. Stephen, Martyr

 

The days immediately following Christmas vividly remind us of the cost of our salvation as well as the cost of following our Savior.  In Jesus birth, God tore open the heavens and came down.  Angels burst through the barrier becoming the first evangelists of the Good News of Jesus.  In the death of Stephen, God tore open the heavens showing him the risen and ascended Lord standing at the right hand of God.

In his last words, Stephen emulates the words of Jesus and gives us the way to face our enemies and our death, the last enemy.  “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” he asks Christ.  As he was being knocked to his knees by the onslaught of stones against his body, he cried out, “Lord do not hold this sin against them.”

Luke introduces a young man, Saul, holding the clothes of the stone throwers.  Years later, on the road to Damascus, the ascended and reigning Lord knocked him to the ground and blinded him, so that he might finally see the good news Stephen had proclaimed.  We know him as Paul, who proclaimed Jesus throughout the Mediterranean world.

 

Emmanuel

 

December 23, O Emmanuel, our king and Lord, the anointed for the nations and their Savior: Come save us, O Lord our God.

The prayer for Christmas Eve eve calls for God With Us to come and be God with us as king, ruler and anointed savior.  That’s a lot to ask of the baby Mary carries in her womb as they arrive in Bethlehem.

Over 107 million people will travel this weekend, by air, rail and auto.  But none will travel on foot or perhaps a donkey.  We know nothing about Joseph and Mary’s more than 70 – mile trek. From Nazareth in Galilee they traveled south along the Jordan route to Jericho.  After leaving Jericho, they faced a fifteen mile up hill climb along a winding and narrow road to Jerusalem. At the Mount of Olives they reached the summit and looked down on the temple gleaming from across the Kidron valley.   But they weren’t done yet, it’s another six miles to Bethlehem, David’s city.  You know how it is.  You get to a spot and figure you’re almost there, only to realize you have another two hours to go.

Thirty – three years later God With Us would again make the same journey.  He would look down at the gleaming gold – plated temple and mourn its coming destruction.  This time he would not lie in manger bed, but be enthroned on a cross where he would be established as king and ruler,  the Savior, which is what he became to be.

 

O Dayspring

 

December 21, O Dayspring, splendor of light everlasting: Come enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

This antiphon is fitting for this shortest day of the year, when we look forward to the lengthening of days.  Think of being in Barrow, Alaska where the sun set in late November and won’t rise until well into next year.

Today’s name for Jesus, is “Dayspring,” a poetic word for Dawn.  However, its not a biblical term.  That impelled me search out my Latin dictionary.

This is my own unpoetic literal translation.

Come, come, O East!

Come, sun, drive out the night’s clouds

And burst asunder our darkness.

 

Writing 10 centuries prior to the writing of the O Antiphons, Clement of Alexandria penned fitting comments:

“As the sun illuminates not only the heaven and the whole world, shining on both land and sea,  but also sends rays through windows and small chinks into the furthest recesses of a house, so the Word, poured out everywhere, beholds the small actions of our life.”

Jeremiah Ingalls wrote in the 18th century:

“How long, dear Savior, O how long

Shall this bright hour delay? Fly swifter round the

Wheel of time,

And bring the welcome day.”

 

 

 

News from the Turtle Lake Times

 

An 80-year-old man from Amery drove to downtown St. Paul to do some business.  He parked in a parking garage.  However, when he looked for his car he couldn’t find it. After about five hours of frustration he got a motel room.  The next day he renewed his search which was fruitless.  Exhausted he hailed a cab to take him back to Amery.  The cab driver was the daughter of the woman who owned the cab.  She knew he was in trouble, so during the 80-mile trip to Amery, he told her his situation.  She said, she would search for it.  He gave her the keys, so that if she found it, she could bring back to him.

After searching at least 12 parking garages, she found the car at 1:00 AM.  She called the man and she and her mother delivered the car in the afternoon.  The cab driver and her mother are Christians and know God works in our lives at all times.  She had prayed that she would be able to help the man.  She found the car on a second sweep through a garage she had already searched.

Katie Luther

Katharina von Bora Luther, 1499-1552

Katharina, “Katie” was five when her mother died and she was sent to a convent.  In 1515 she took vows as a nun, but in 1523, she along with seven other nuns were rescued from the convent and taken to Wittenberg.  Katharina and Martin were married on June 13, 1525.  They were blessed with six children.  Katharina needed to be a skilled manager of the household, for the home was often filled with people enjoying Luther’s hospitality.

Luther took to calling her, “my Lord Katie.”

In a letter to Katharina, Luther writes,

“Most holy Ms. Doctor, We thank you very kindly for your great concern that kept you awake.  For from the day you (started) worrying about us, a fire right outside of our quarters’ door was eager to consume us.”  He added that a stone almost fell of his head from the ceiling of the chamber in which he was staying.   “I am concerned that if you do not stop worrying, the earth might swallow us up at the end.”

In his Table Talks he is quoted, “To have grace and peace in marriage is a gift second only to the knowledge of the Gospel….Kate; you have a god-fearing man who loves you.  You are an empress, realize and thank God for it.”

She continued to live in Wittenberg after Luther’s death in 1546, though her state was one of impoverishment much of the time.  In 1552, while traveling with her children to escape the plague, she died in an accident.

 

O Key of David

 

O Key of David and scepter of the house of Israel, You open and no one can close, You close and no one can open.  Come and rescue the prisoners who are in darkness and the shadow of death.

Isaiah 22:22, “And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David.  He shall open, and none shall shut, and none shall open.”  Shebna, the manager of the king’s affairs, commissioned for himself an ornate tomb carved out of the rock.  However, Isaiah says, the Lord will “whirl you around and around and throw you like a ball.” He will die in exile.  Instead, Eliakim, the Lord’s servant will become king’s steward, deciding who sees the king.

Jesus, King and son of David, will also bear the responsibility of the stewardship of God’s grace.  One’s attitude toward him determines whether a person enters into the presence of the Lord.  He doesn’t come to lift – up those are already in lofty and secure positions. He comes, as Zechariah sings in Luke 1:79, “To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

When walking in the shadow of death, Jesus brings good news.