Not Too Cold for GOD

So here in the Suburbs of Chicago, it’s very cold today. Well, not just us but the whole region. Polar vortex it’s called. Air that normally swirls far to the North of us has descended upon our happy hamlets, ok maybe semi-depressed sub-urban existence to make our teeth chatter.

There are those who wish to see in this the climate change boogeyman raising his foul head. They argue for man caused climate change, and I’m always thinking: good luck controlling for all the variables.

Doesn’t matter because it’s still bone chillingly cold outside. The feels like this morning was -50F. I can feel the cold seeping in through the small gaps in the door. It pours off the windows. The heat seems to kick on every 15 minutes to hold back the onslaught.

We use the word “cold” when we talk about indifference. A cold shoulder. Cool indifference. The cold indifference of the human heart is far deadlier than the physical cold outside. I think of this because I was reading an article earlier on human trafficking and the sex trade. It takes a cold, cold heart to do what these smugglers do. The pleasures of power, sex, and greed have chilled these people’s souls to rock hard blocks of ice. I say people, because although it is primarily men who do this, there were 2 women’s names among the list of the top 20 smugglers caught in the last 10 year period.

I also think of those who cheered on the heinous abortion bill in New York. And before I go seeing it in everyone but myself, my cold indifference is there too. It may not be as fully formed, but that same tendency resides within my flesh. As Paul says in Romans, I am at war with my own flesh.

There is but one remedy and that is to look to Jesus as my Savior. As Paul says so beautifully in Romans 8, God has done for us what we couldn’t do ourselves. GOD turned the cold and dark indifference of the human heart in on itself to destroy sin and death. Ravi Zacharias uses the the following quote many times in his speaking engagements. It is an immensely concise and powerful observation on the sheer awesomeness of God’s salvation.

“It is a glorious phrase of the New Testament, that ‘he led captivity captive.’ 

The very triumphs of His foes, it means, he used for their defeat. He compelled their dark achievements to sub-serve his end, not theirs.

They nailed him to the tree, not knowing that by that very act they were bringing the world to his feet.

They gave him a cross, not guessing that he would make it a throne.

They flung him outside the gates to die, not knowing that in that very moment they were lifting up all the gates of the universe, to let the King of Glory come in.

They thought to root out his doctrines, not understanding that they were implanting imperishably in the hearts of men the very name they intended to destroy.

They thought they had defeated God with His back the wall, pinned and helpless and defeated: they did not know that it was God Himself who had tracked them down.

He did not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil. He conquered through it.”

James Stewart (1896–1990) was a minister of the Church of Scotland

Copyright © 2019 Amateur Anglican, All rights reserved

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Sunday Morning

A fairly full day ahead today. I need to drop off the laundered linens at the cathedral, specifically put the larger corporal back on the altar. I need to see who arrives early at church to look for new volunteers to add to the communion prep team rotation. For some reason finding people to volunteer for an unseen role that involves getting to church an hour early isn’t all that popular. But those who do, they are some wonderful people to work with.

After church is a wake for the mother of my wife’s best friend. Please pray for us as we look for ways to share the gospel. There is a luncheon afterwards where I hope the family gets along, there’s a deep history of mistrust and animosity.

To God alone be the Glory

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The Eucharist

I wish I could tell you where this post is going, but I’m not altogether sure yet myself. I’ve entered the phase of reading a book (I’ve been reading The Eucharist by Alexander Schmemann) where some of its core ideas are really starting to make me think. Not just think about them to understand them, but make me compare them to my own ideas on the topic. To consider what is essential to the idea and what is extraneous.

There is plenty in the book that is unremarkable as Christian Theology: Jesus is the Savior, the bible is the revealed word of God, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Spirit is given to us as Christians, there is but one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, to name a few.

The concept that I’m digging through at the moment is this, that in the garden Satan did tempt Eve, but additionally he subverted language, he subverted words to do this. He lied and twisted God’s words. The meaning of words are subverted. We regularly dissect the meaning of words, trying to pinpoint what is exactly being said. Schmemann uses this idea to undergird one of his main assertions, that symbols are more powerful than words. Symbols join something together. A symbol points to something that mere words can falter with. I think instinctively of the Cross. Jesus said “and as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” The image of the cross immediately brings to mind that sacrifice. That symbol has been imbued with a power beyond mere words. Likewise the bread and wine of communion have been imbued with power. Jesus said we must eat his flesh and drink his blood. Many of his followers left him after he said this and he never modified the statement. He then instructs his disciples in the institution of the Lord’s supper: Bread is the body and wine is the blood, do this in remembrance of me.

The son of God joined himself to sinful flesh and became joined to human flesh for eternity. He redeemed us on the cross. Fully God and fully man. God remembered us. It’s not like God forgets, this is an active engagement, he did something for us. The remembrance in the Eucharistic feast draws from this understanding of “remembering”. His body, broken for us. His blood poured out for us. Thus in taking the bread and drinking the wine we are joined to Christ, into his body and blood. AND, we are joined to each other as partakers of the divine mystery. And then to all who came before us in Christ and to all who are to join with Christ.

Ok, that’s enough mind blowing concepts for one sitting. I need a glass of wine.

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