Bright, Clear Eyes

 

In 1537, when he was 50 years old and likely in need of bifocal glasses, Martin Luther preached Christ’s return and making all things new.

The sun is now such a clear, bright light that no person, however bright and keen their eyes, can steadily gaze at its brightness.  But what will happen hereafter when the radiance of the sun will be seven times as bright as now…If Adam had retained the innocence in which he was created, he would have had clear, bright eyes and would have been able to gaze into the sun like an eagle.  But through sin…we humans have become so weakened, poisoned and corrupted in body, soul, eyes, ears, and everywhere, that our eyes are not the hundredth part as sharp as Adam’s were before the fall.  Our bodies are unclean, and all creatures have become subject to vanity.  The sun, moon, stars, clouds, air, earth, and water are no longer so pure, and beautiful, and lovely as they were.  But on that day all things will be made new and will once more be beautiful, as St. Paul says, in Romans 8, “The creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

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A Thanksgiving Christmas Story

 

In William Kennedy’s novel “Ironweed,” set during the depression is a scene from the “Jungle,” a community of cardboard boxes and lean-tos populated by cripples, homeless and travelers.  Three men, Francis, Andy Which One, and Michigan Mac have two onions, two turkey sandwiches, some wine, and a bit of plum pudding.  They’re all hungry.

“You want a bite of sandwich?” Francis asked Andy.

“I got enough with the onion,” Andy said.  “But the guy in the piano box over there, he was askin’ around awhile back.  He’s got a baby there.”

“A baby?”

“Baby and wife.”

Francis snatched the remnants of the sandwich away from Michigan Mac and groped his way to the piano box.  A man was sitting cross-legged, warming himself by a small fire.

‘I hear you got a kid in here,” Francis said to the man, who looked up suspiciously, then nodded.  Francis could see the shadow of a woman curled around what looked to be the shadow of a swaddled infant.

“Got some stuff here I can’t use,” Francis said, and handed the man the full sandwich and the remnant of the second.  He gave him the plum pudding.

Later, in the distance was the faint hum of automobile engines, and then the closing of car doors.  One man shouted, “Raiders!” and some jungle people picked up their belongings and fled.  The first collapsed shacks were already burning when the men around Andy’s fire became aware.

The three men moved slowly back from the raiders who were clearly intent on destroying everything that stood.  Francis looked at the piano box as he moved past and saw it was empty.

What Day Is It?

What day is it?

President Lincoln did not proclaim a Turkey Day, It’s

Thanksgiving Day

God gave us turkeys

Give thanks to God

A few years ago, writing poems using the numbers in our address.  Try it, it’s fun.

Pumpkin pie, cranberry bread, turkey out of the oven

Sweet potatoes,

O Give thanks for

The bounty God provides

 

Now the Silence

 

In the wedding of words and tune, Jaroslav Vajda and Carl F. Schalk, tell the story of worship in one stanza.  It may be my favorite hymn.

“Now the silence Now the peace Now the empty hands uplifted”

We have little silence in our world and little of peace. We come before the Lord with empty hands with nothing to offer other than our great need.

“Now the kneeling Now the plea Now the Father’s arms in welcome”

Blessed is the church which has kneelers that with bowed knee and head we make our plea, “Father forgive.” And for sake of Jesus’ our Father welcomes us home and prepares a feast.

“Now the hearing Now the pow’r Now the vessel brimmed for pouring”

We feast on the word heard from scripture and pulpit.  Now filled with the word, the cup on the altar and the bread is prepared.

“Now the body Now the blood Now the joyful celebration”

Christ’s body is placed into our uplifted hands.  Our taste buds rejoice at the wine/blood.

“Now the wedding Now the songs Now the heart forgiven leaping”

The bride of Christ leaves the communion table.  The wedding has begun to be completed when we see his face and hear, “Come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.”

Now the Spirit’s visitation Now the Son’s Epiphany Now the Father’s blessing Now  Now  Now”

There is no period, no ending. We go into our week living in the eternal present and presence of the Spirit, the Son, and in the blessing of the Father.  Let it be so among us.

 

I Just Couldn’t Wait

 

In 1526, Martin Luther wrote an exposition on Psalm 130.  Verse 5, “I wait for the Lord.”

“There are some people who want to show God the goal and to determine the time and suggest how they wish to be helped.  If things do not turn out as they wish, they give up or look elsewhere for help. They don’t wait for God, rather God should wait for them and be ready at once to help in the manner they have planned.  But those who truly wait for God ask for grace and they leave it to God’s good pleasure how, where and when he will help.  They don’t despair, and do not name how the help should come.  They leave it to God to baptize and name it.  But whoever names the help does not receive it, for he does not wait and allow the counsel, will and tarrying of God.”

Luther’s remarks fit into Advent, the season of waiting, but I just couldn’t wait to share his wisdom.

 

 

Centering Our Life

 

The shortest book in the Bible is Psalm 117, “For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.”

The longest book is Psalm 119, “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.”

Psalm 118 is at the center of the Bible, 594 chapters preceding it and 594 chapters succeeding it.

Psalm 118:8 stands at the exact center, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”

Psalm 118 begins and ends with calls to thankfulness, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

That’s the long and short it, when it comes to centering our life.

 

 

Will There be Peanut Buster Parfaits?

 

The Prayer of the Day asks God to “Send forth Your Son to lead home His bride, the Church, that with all of the redeemed we may finally enter into His eternal wedding feast.”  This is only “through Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.”

When I hear of an eternal wedding feast I think of things that have been on my “No, No,” list for 35 years.   Pecan pies, well actually pie of any sort; Fudge ripple ice cream, or fudge of any kind or sort, that goes for ice cream too; Butter Finger candy bar; and of course, Dairy Queen Peanut Buster Parfaits.  I’m sure the eternal wedding feast will have a well – balanced menu, but the dessert table will do as a start.

Am I being flippant?  Perhaps. But consider Isaiah 25:6-9 and Matthew 22: 4 with their menus of well –  aged wines, rich food, Beef Wellington and Veal Cutlets and sweet marrow in the bone.

Then we get to sing.  That’s what the hymn tells us, “At the Lamb High Feast we sing praise to our victorious King, who has washed us in the tide flowing from His pierced side.  Alleluia!”

Yes, Lord send forth Your Son to lead home his bride, the Church, to enter the banquet hall for the never-ending wedding feast.   May I be part of that bride sitting with Christ.  You wouldn’t my Lord, if I started at the dessert table, would you?

 

I Will Wait for You

 

As I thought about the 10 bridesmaids waiting for the delayed bridegroom in Sundays’ Gospel lesson (Matthew 25:1-13), a long-ago love song by Connie Francis ran through my mind.  “I will wait for you…For a 1,000 summers I will wait for you…Forevermore, I will wait for you.”

It’s been about 2,000 summers since Jesus told the parable of his return and we are stilling waiting, or are we?  When I was in school I wished that Jesus would return when final exams loomed, and term papers were due.  But otherwise, I don’t spend much time watching and waiting.

And yet, scripture is all about God’s coming.  From His coming to create the heavens and earth, to his choosing Abraham; rescuing Israel from slavery in Egypt; returning them from exile in Babylon; His coming in the flesh in Jesus; to his resurrection; the promise of his return; to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, to our baptism; to his promise at the end of Revelation, “Surely, I am coming soon.”

We are waiting in readiness when we trust in and live by, “The grace of our Lord Jesus…”  Throughout all our summers and winters.

Why Luther is named Martin

Baptism of Martin Luther

November 11, 1483 was a big day for Hans and Margarette Luther.  Their oldest child was born the day before.  Today, Hans took him to church and he was baptized and given the name, “Martin.”  Why “Martin?”

November 11 was the day the church set aside to remember Martin of Tours.  Martin was born into a pagan family in what is now Hungary about 316 AD.  He grew up in Lombardy, Italy.  He came to the Christian faith as a young person.  His first career was in the Roman army.  But he sensed a call to a life in the church and left the military, becoming a monk.  Eventually he was named bishop of Tours in western Gaul (France).  He lived a simple life and shared the Gospel throughout rural Gaul.  He died November 11.

Prayer:

Lord God of hosts, Your servant Martin embodied the spirit of sacrifice.  Through your grace he became a servant of Christ and defended the catholic faith.  Give us grace to follow in his steps so that when our Lord returns we may be clothed with the baptismal garment of righteousness and peace.  through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Psalm 143: 1 & 10, Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my pleas for mercy!  In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness…Teach me to do your will, for you are my God!  Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!