The April Newsletter has been printed, will be available in the mailboxes in the narthex, will be mailed to others soon, and is available for online viewing here.
Some thoughts on St. Matthew's Passion. Here.
Today we entered Passiontide, the last two weeks in Lent. Images are veiled. All Glorias are removed. We rivet our attention on the suffering of our Lord. This is clearly prefigured in the day Abraham took his beloved son Isaac, who was bearing the wood, up the mountain of sacrifice, and was prevented from following through on the order to kill him at the last minute, by the angel, and so received him back on the third day. And so this may have been what Jesus had in mind when he told the Jews, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; he saw it, and was glad." Yet on that day Abraham called the name of the place Jehovah Jireh, meaning, 'In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen'. So there was likely more in mind when Jesus told the Jews about Abraham, for on that day it was only a preview that was seen. On the day of Isaac's birth, on the other hand, we are told that Sarah laughed (for joy), and those who were with her. So the previous disbelieving laughter of Abraham and of Sarah was turned into joy. And on the day of promise, Abraham is said to have seen the Lord himself. What do we learn from all this? That Abraham saw the Lord without seeing the Lord's glory; that he saw him even in the midst of distress (for it is written that a horror of great fell upon him); that he saw him with faith to trust his word; and that therefore he rejoiced. He even expected, as the writer to the Hebrews tells us, that if he put Isaac to death, he would receive him back to life, for it was through Isaac that the promise would come. Such faith is what we need: to trust in the darkness. To know that behind the veil is the glory of God. Behind the veneer of sorrow and suffering is his everlasting love; beneath the simple forms of bread and wine is Christ's body and blood, given and shed for us. We see him now by faith; one Day we shall see him in his glory. To hear the sermon for Judica Sunday, click here.
Our radio show/podcast will be looking at the last chapters of the Gospel of St. Matthew in the coming weeks, to coordinate with Passiontide and Easter. So on the schedule for this Sunday (and available by clicking here) is St. Matthew 26: Jesus in Gethsemane; Jesus getting arrested; Jesus mocked; Peter's denials. An undeniable under-girding theme here is that God is still in charge of all these events, and that they had of necessity to happen just so in order that the redemption of the world might be accomplished. St. Paul's on the Air
In the Gospel for Lent IV, things are not as they appear. No one could see the miracle, but clearly a miracle had occurred. For where did enough come from? This is Jesus' way: things are not as they appear. Neither in the way he often did miracles, or in the events that occurred in the Scriptures (always meant to provide us with a deeper meaning, as St. Paul shows in Galatians 4), or at the cross. There, Jesus is dying, and the appearance is dreadful; but there, he is in fact redeeming the world by his blood. There, he is defeating the devil. And so it is in the Supper: it appears as ordinary bread, but it is in fact the Bread of Life, Christ Jesus himslf. And so it is in life: what may appear hopeless for God's people is never so, for, as it is written, The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. Sermon for Laetare Sunday.
Be sure to set your clock ahead, or you'll miss church. Speaking of which, as we like to say, come to St. Paul's and you'll know you've been there! 8:30 a.m. tomorrow.
Beware of lies: of telling them, and of hearing them. For it is easy to lie, but God sees, and the devil knows too, because he is the father and source of all lies. And there are lies all around too, in society; examples abound. The greatest of the lies is the twist the devil makes out of the truth of your sins. He tells you there is no other way of salvation than to try better, thus burdening the conscience all the more; this is worst, because the greatest truth is Christ and his mercy. Sermon for Lent III is here.
The weekly radio recording of St. Paul's on the Air (Kewanee radio WKEI am 1450) will be wrapping up the Sermon on the Mount this Sunday, St. Matthew chapter 7. Jesus emphasizes the importance of living by the mercy we have received, and of believing and holding fast to his words. You can already listen to it right here (click) if you want.
The Apostle Paul connects our redemption to the importance of fleeing fornication. Since he sacrificed himself to God for us, we ought to turn from the evils of the fallen-ness of the world. In the Book of Revelation, the great enemy is called Babylon the Whore, the sexual beast that is opposed to God. This is seen in our culture today quite clearly. Let us hold to Christ, and to our life in him instead. Audio is here: Sermon for First Tuesday Vespers, on Ephesians 6.
The mist of the approaching breaker is in the air. It was in the Oscars last night. It was in the atmosphere that ruined the Olympics. It's in the media, at the mall, in the market, in the streets. The LBGT agenda is cascading apace through our culture, recklessly deconstructing the very fabric of Western civilization.
And if, as seems likely, it should gain the ascendancy, it will be merciless toward Christians.
We are already being labeled as loveless, bigots, haters, and even godless, although the reverse is the truth. It is in love that we speak the truth to our culture that God is our creator, that we were made to worship him, that we have failed miserably, that we need to repent, and that we have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, but that there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.
But these truths are in the way, and so they must be swept aside. And when that day comes, we ought to lift up our heads and look up, for our redemption draws near. And we will do well to remember our Lord’s prediction and promise: Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.