Monday, 28 April 2014

How does Jesus do that?

He rises from the dead without moving the tomb stone.

He appears in a locked room.

He eats food while He is there and...

He disappears at the end.

He appears to hundreds of His followers in many different places in a short period of time.

And finally, He ascends into heaven.

How does Jesus do that?

As true as it is that Jesus is a man, He is also God.  You can imagine this allows Him to do things (as a man) that mankind can otherwise not do.  And in the weeks following Easter, Jesus is on a rampage of glory.  He is purposefully displaying His divine characteristics while maintaining His human ones.  He eats - has His disciples touch Him - then leaves the room in the blink of an eye.  And, as always, Jesus is trying to teach us something.

The Biblical accounts do not describe Him entering - they describe Him "coming" - "appearing" - "revealing that He is already there" - even as a man.  We all know God is everywhere, that He sees all, hears all, knows all.  But because of the incarnation - that is, the Son of God assuming humanity into His person - Jesus is everywhere, sees all, hears all, knows all - AS A MAN!

St. Paul writes, "He who descended is the One who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things."  Let's be clear.  Paul knows the Son of God filled all things before He descended.  Now He fills all things as a man. A human being is in the position of ALL power.  And that human being died for you, rose for you, loves you beyond telling and is always watching out for you.

And mysteriously enough, this is also how our Lord is able to come to His people in His Holy Supper, all over the world, all the time.  Christ has placed His perfect humanity - the new kingdom - the restored, resurrected, sinless, death defeating, Satan shunning body and blood that hung on the cross - into a simple, free meal that He instituted for this very purpose - that you always know He is there for you and your HUMAN salvation. 

Drink deep.  For you drink the life of God.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

What is Guilt?

"Oh, I wouldn't want to do that.  It might make them feel guilty about what they've done."

Have you ever noticed that in our post-modern culture we are often afraid to have our words or actions cause other people to feel guilty?  We think feeling guilty is bad, and that if we cause someone to feel guilty - we have done something wrong.  Like we are the ones who need to guard people from the truth.  Or we are the ones who need to control other people's feelings.  And what's more, most of the time, should someone admit to guilt or imperfection - our gut reaction is to tell them that they did nothing wrong.

But what if they did?  I mean, its at least possible, isn't it? 

Guilt isn't bad.  And it isn't bad to feel guilt.  Guilt is like the fever your body gets when it is responding to infection.  Guilt is the way your conscience reacts when it knows something is wrong.  Oh!  Something isn't perfect - release the guilt pheromones. 

Your conscience is trying to protect you from harmful sin by making you feel guilty - but in today's day, the moment you speak of this "fever" you are having - everyone around you tells you "You shouldn't have a fever"  "You shouldn't feel guilty."  "You've done nothing wrong."  What does this do to your conscience?  To your health?

Here is the news flash.

You are not in control of other people's feelings.  If the truth makes them feel guilty - they are supposed to feel guilty.  (This is not a licence to hurt people's feelings.)

You are not to guard people from the truth.  If the truth makes them feel guilty - they are supposed to feel guilty.  (Again, not a licence to hurt people's feelings.)

But Guilt isn't BAD!  Christ has taken the guilt of all people!  He has been punished for it, and promises forgiveness.  There is only one way to get your "fever" to go down.  Hear Christ declare you righteous and forgiven on account of Him.  Hear God say - yeah, you did this or that - you thought this or that - you said this or that - but I forgive you.  His Word is the Tylenol that cuts the heat.  His Promise is the truth that overcomes the truth of your guilt.

So instead of telling someone - "You've done nothing wrong" - say - "You are forgiven.  Jesus died for you."

Monday, 7 April 2014

What is Confession?

When most people hear the word "confession" they think of one thing.  The Roman Catholic, get in the booth, clutch your rosary, prepare for penance confession.  But this caricature is robbing Christ's Church of a whole variety of gifts.

The word confession actually means "say the same thing."  There are many things we confess and not all of them are sins.

For example: We make a confession of faith.  That is, we say the same thing that has been handed down to us by the apostles.  We confess the Apostles Creed.  We say the same thing as them.  We say the same thing about Jesus - who He is and what He has done for us.  That means we confess the Gospel!!!

We also confess our sins.  That is, we say the same thing about ourselves that God has said about us in His Word.  God was the one who said - you are a sinner.  Our confession simply joins our words with His - simply says what He says and agrees that this is true.  Confession isn't some big, scary monster that the caricature presents - it is agreeing with God outloud!  It is saying, "Lord, you are not a liar.  What you have said of me is true, I am a sinner and I deserve nothing but punishment and death."  Ahhh... but confession has two parts the Catechism says.  First that we confess our sins, and second, that we receive absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.

After we "say the same thing" as God about our sin, He declares us forgiven of it through His sent one, His pastor.  God wants us to say the same thing, so He can say something different - something new.  He wants us to hear His Gospel - so that we too may confess it!  He is making us into little christs, those who walk around saying the same thing as Him.  Whether sin or grace.  So confess!  Confess your sin to hear God's grace.  And confess His grace - this faith He has given you as a gift.