Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Government and Citizens

"Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Matt. 22:21).

The Small Catechism covers most everything.  In its Table of Duties, for example, it explains the duty of government and the duty of citizens.  It does this by using select passages of Holy Scripture: Romans 13:1-7, 1 Timothy 2:1-3, Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 2:13-14, and Matthew 22:21.  After carefully considering these verses, I wrote the following two hymn stanzas, one for government and the other for citizens.

Of Civil Government

God has established government
To be His earthly instrument,
And given it authority
To exercise the penalty
For those who do not as they should,
And to praise those who do the good.

Of Citizens

To country lend your loyalty;
Obey all in authority,
And for them pray and intercede;
Your taxes pay, live peaceably.
To Caesar render what is just;
To God alone, your love and trust.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Content of Contentment

"I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content" (Phil. 4:11).

Paul doesn't just say this, he says it from prison in Rome.  Thus he proves that he has learned the lesson God has taught him: in whatever situation, to be content.

What does it mean to be content?  In other words, the content of contentment.  Using Philippians 4:4-13 as a guide, one definition could be this: a joy and peace not dependent on my situation, what I have or don't have, but on Christ who strengthens me.

If you have three minutes, watch this interview with a young man named Rob Jones and listen for him to say, in the Spirit of St. Paul, "I have an uncanny knack for being able to accept my situation."

And this: Are you asking God to change something in your life?  Pray that prayer with faith, but a faith that gives God a choice: to change the thing, or to change the way you see the thing.  Because it's possible that God wants to use the very thing you're asking Him to change "to advance the Gospel," the way He used Paul's imprisonment (Phil. 1:12).

Above all, ask God to teach you to be content.  And then say, "I am learning in whatever situation I am to be content."

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Mary's Last Words

"His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever He tells you'" (John 2:5).

These are the final words of Mary in the Holy Gospel.  After this we do not hear from her again.  How significant!  Her last words are imperative: "Do whatever He tells you."  We are left with no choice.

Lutherans have deep reasons for not praying to the saints.  But what about Mary, the blessed mother of our Lord?  I will answer that question from my heart.

I will honor her, hold her in much love and esteem, and join Luther in calling her "the noblest, holiest mother," "the greatest of women in heaven and on earth," and "the princess of the whole human race."  And it saddens me when people remember her only at Christmas.

But, in line with her own command, I do not pray to her.  When it comes to prayer, I must do whatever He tells me.  And He tells me to pray to Him (John 14:13-14) and through Him to the Father (John 16:23-24).

Later, Mary's crucified and risen Son appeared to Paul, and Paul writes, "There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all" (1 Tim. 2:5-6).  He is "middleman" because He touches the Father with His divinity, and us with His humanity.  And because His cross is the bridge, over sin, to heaven.

Let us truly honor Mary by remembering her last words, both when it comes to prayer - and everything else.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

An Act of Pure Goodness

"Lamb of God, pure and holy" (John 1:29 and hymn).

The Sacrament of Holy Communion goes by such other names as the Lord's Supper, the Lord's Table, the Breaking of Bread, and the Eucharist.

But when the President rightly called the shooting in Las Vegas "an act of pure evil," I added another name for Holy Communion: an act of pure Goodness.

an act of pure Grace
an act of pure Forgiveness
an act of pure Life
an act of pure Salvation
an act of pure Hope
an act of pure Comfort
an act of pure Strength
an act of pure Endurance
an act of pure Courage
an act of pure God
an act of pure Christ
an act of pure Holy Spirit
an act of pure Love

Love toward us.  Love toward each other.  Love toward all.

What we need in the face of an act of pure evil is an act of pure Goodness.  And that, in the Sacrament, is what we have.