Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Times of Testing - Hard News Reminds u of the Powerful Gospel

I've heard several horrible stories of deaths this past week which leave one awed, humbled and all too aware of the kind of world we live in. First, a classmate of mine who lives in South Carolina, was on the way to a funeral with his wife and her family when they were hit by a semi-truck. His mother-in-law died instantly, and his brother-in-law is still in a coma. He and his wife appear to have sustained only minor injuries, but that does not make for much comfort. Then, last night I heard from another friend who pastors a small congregation in the northwest, about a family who pulled off the side of the freeway for a moment. One of the children dropped something out of the window, and the oldest boy, in gradeschool, said, "I'll get it," and opened the side door to hop out. A moment later he was gone, hit by a swerving truck.


Even recounting this story swells within me tremendous amounts of pain and fear. In selfishness I think first of my own children and my desire to protect them. In charity my heart goes out to this family and their pastor who tries to comfort them. Where to begin? What to say?

This alone demonstrates the vast importance of learning the faith we have believed in the here and now, when things seem at their best. What we believe, teach and confess is that no matter how good things appear, at any moment the chaotic sins of the world can bring destruction and death upon us. Such times will try and shake us, even to the very roots of what we have believed. How could God let that happen? Why wasn't I more prepared?

The faith which we are given by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus is one which can and will stand against all the powers of sin, death and the devil, even in the face of tragedies like these. But tragedies like these are not the best time for evangelism. Evangelism happens now, building the foundation of our faith so that when the storms come, the rock of Christ holds true for us. If we neglect this need of ours to feed and sustain our faith with the pure Word and Sacraments of our Lord, we will find that the storms come and we rest on nothing but sand.

There are no platitudes to take away these tragedies that this week touched your lives through my own connection to them. But I share them with you for a very real purpose. I share them so that you and I and all will once again be equipped to say, "God's own child, I gladly say it. I am baptized into Christ. Death you cannot end my gladness, I'm a child of paradise."

Fellow Christians who die in auto wrecks, whether elderly or children, all have the same, singular, one, real hope - that in Jesus death is defeated. No matter what our ending, or how our bodies finally meet decay, we each have the same, confessed, true, absolute hope - that in Jesus death is defeated.

This is the promise of baptism. This is what the shattering of the gates of death by Jesus mean. Now is the time. Today is the day of salvation. Learn what you believe and why you believe, because you never know the hour of testing.

Remember the point of it all: He is risen, and with him we shall rise. Alleluia!

the Lord is with you, as always, in your Baptism,

Pastor

9 comments:

Jason Zoske said...

Excellent article. I am going to share this on my blog for my family.

RevFisk said...

thanks Jason

+pax+

Anonymous said...

"They say that in the beginning there was a command to fill the earth, but now that the earth has been filled, [it] is not commanded. APXXIII
8:49 AM Jul 7th via web"

What is APXXIII ?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and who are "they"?

RevFisk said...

APXXIII is the Apology to the Augsburg Confession, Article 23. It is part of the official confession of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which is contained in the Book of Concord of 1580. It is the norm by which all Lutherans believe, teach and confess what we believe the Bible says. Or, said another way, it is the way we together have said back what God has said to us in Scripture.

In the context, they were Roman Catholics who were arguing that marriage was a lesser estate and that priests should not marry and bear children because....the earth was filled already, and so God's blessing in Genesis is no longer held true. I find great irony in this, for I have heard the same argument from many late-modern Lutherans as their reasoning for avoiding the estates of father and mother.

The Confessions of the Lutheran Church are a treasure trove. They never cease to amaze me with their relevance to our day to day world. While the contexts have changed very much, it remains so much more true that there is nothing new under the sun.

Did that help?

Pax

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I will look that up. I just bought a pocket edition of the Book of Concord to have my son read with us this fall. 20+ years in Lutheran churches and I just heard of it last year when one of our pastors brought in a new edition and told us it was easy to read. The truth is the book was so huge it terrified me. It was bigger than the Bible. Anyway, I think I am having a crisis of conscience because my son is now in confirmation and I ask my husband (lifelong Lutheran) stuff and he says he didn't learn anything in confirmation class ('70's ALC). Plus he absolutely refuses to go to any church that doesn't say Lutheran on the sign out front. Don't get me wrong. I have more respect for him than anyone I have ever know, but still these are my kids and eternity is a long time. I can't say I was ever enthusiastic about the whole Lutheran thing not being raised in it. However, I recently attended a conference where the pastor read the most wonderful readings and prayers from a book each day. I was so impressed that I asked him what the book was. Turns out it is a rare book; Church-membership: Addresses and prayers at the meetings of the Ev. Lutheran joint congregation of St. Louis, Mo., and its board of elders, by C. F. W Walther. The author also got great reviews on Amazon for a devotion book, so maybe I will try that.

If it weren't for the internet, I wouldn't have found the conference, and I wouldn't have heard of that author either. So, I have that and this blog to be thankful for today.

So, thanks and that concludes my confused meandering musing.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I cheated. I looked up APXXIII online.

The original tweet made it sound like you agreed with the "adversaries".

"8] The adversaries cavil at these arguments; they say that in the beginning the commandment was given to replenish the earth, but that now since the earth has been replenished, marriage is not commanded."

http://bookofconcord.org/defense_22_marriage.php#para8

RevFisk said...

@Anon

Thanks for the comment again.

I know that first post was a little confusing. I tend to twitter comments that strike me and let the chips fall, so, for example, now you've gone and looked it up!

If the BoC seems daunting at first, that's ok. Think of it as 8 little books bound into one. And then ignore all of them except the Large Catechism. It's easily the most accessible, and probably the most fulfilling. Unfortunately, it's in the middle of the book. But once you start reading it, you won't be able to put it down. (As a side note, the pocket edition is a nice resource, but it's not very readable. Most of the notes are not there, and those are really helpful.)

I too was a life long Lutheran, and I never heard to the Book of Concord until I attended Seminary. At first, I was mad about. "Don't we just need the bible?!?" But then I started reading it, and I realized that it wasn't a replacement for the Bible. It was speaking the Bible back again. It was marvelous. It was like everything (or a lot of what) I always knew I believed but never knew how to say was already said, and so much more clearly than I could have ever dreamed. I still had to overcome a few things - like learning the value of Baptism, (which is HUGE!) But I went from being a life long Lutheran who could have attended Rick Warren's church without batting an eye, to being a convicted Christian who would give my right eye before I'd let go of the theology confessed in the Lutheran confessions.

It's not about "being Lutheran." It's about Christ and him crucified for you. It's about mediation of real Words and tangible Sacraments which are radical grace in time and space *for you.* This is simply Christianity.

But in the gray and dark days of this evil fading of the world, the word "Christian" doesn't mean those things. The word "Lutheran" does. Although, heretics are fighting to take that word to.

Labels won't save us. The good news is that Jesus did, and his Word will never pass away.

God bless you as you continue to sit at Jesus' feet!

RevFisk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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