Bleah into “Yea!” ?

I have found, reminiscing, there are three times when I just seem best able to write.

Homiletical Deadlines.  They are a powerful urge to write, and get done by a certain point in time.  But in doing so there is a rhythm one attains, as does a musician, and it can be maintained with dedication and effort.  Each effort stands on it own, yet each is also a piece of a grander masterpiece that is, by its very nature, a perpetual testimony, and each effort inspires even more dedication and effort.

The Boink! Effect.  This is when “me Irrish” inspiration hits, and will not let me go until I put the inspiration into words.  There is also a great deal of dedication and effort required – most especially after one has written down the inspiration.  Sometimes, it borders on genius, or comedy, or a mixture of both – it can stand alone, or sometimes can be incorporated into the homiletical task, albeit, like I said, only after close examination.

Bleah.  Many writers, when sick, or feeling ill, will beg off the task.  That can be done even with the Homiletical, but it requires a measured effort for a minimal period each day unless one is incapacitated – the deadline still looms.  The Boink! is usually not working on days when one is ill – or maybe, it changes into the “Bleah.”  I don’t know, because then, I don’t feel like investigating such things.  But unlike most other writers, I always get an urge to write on my Bleah days.  Fortunately, those days rarely happen.  But like a moth to the light, I am always drawn to write when I feel sick.

Today opened as a potential Boink! day, and after that first cup of coffee and then the full gallop to the LiBoRo immediately thereafter, soured the mood pretty convincingly.

At some point in my 64 years, I have seen, and still do – clearly in my mind’s eye – a painting of a gargoyle-like figure on a stool hunched over a small desk, quill pen in hand, inkwell at the top right, and candle giving off a golden orb of light piercing the darkness.  Tried finding something fitting that description online, but today?  Bleah.  Maybe later, if I feel better.  But that gargoyle?  That’s me.  Isolated in the dark, with a bit of light, ink and quill and parchment, and leave me alone.

And one might deduce that said writings on days such as today, lean toward a bleak view of something, or things in general.  Bleakness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  Bleah.

There’s something that wants out, and it will have its way today.  All at once?  Probably not.  Days like this are multi-stage . . . unlike Boink! days.  When the brain feels the urge – I write, when not, I stop.  This one seems like it may go on a good part of the day – something is nagging at me, and I don’t know what (besides my body’s rebellion today).

I know what’s bugging my body – there’s been something out there the past week.  Several I know have caught whatever it is as well.  One of those “there for one or two days, then gone.”  But whatever else has got hold of me, I need to find out.  May take time, writing  pondering, more writing, more pondering.  It may pass on its own, or turn into a special discovery.  This one is a slow pony – just gotta ride it till its done.  and with a gloomy sky outside and a chilled wind – I should go find my candles.

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I had a number of conversations this past week.  Some were quite good; most were not, not merely because of the individuals, but because of the subject matters, and the things dark and foreboding said about them.  Sinister is another word for it all.  They run the gamut – from the rank, almost militant atheist, to the moralists with all the answers, and making this life even more negative with their pontifications.  It is great frustration at those close, who are not doing as they ought, yet hold sway over me.  That is especially frustrating!

And finally, it is a lack – a hunger for that which cannot be had.  That may be the most frustrating of all!

It is that, most of all, that which should not be, and yet is put upon us!

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I am tired of the Pietists dominating comments at Lutheran sites, the not-so-subtle calvinism that has become the basis for the Liturgy, but also, the sermons of many who should know better, and the passive acceptance by the clear majority of members.  Nothing is as it should be, it seems, and yet, I know by faith that it is all in hand.  The Lord’s, of course, Who has been down this road many times with His people in history before, and yet sustains the faithful.

“Lord – I am having a day of Elijah’s discontent (I Kings 19:12ff), and I know how that, as well as our current state of flux, turns out.  But Lord, it is frustrating all the same.”

“So yet again, for the umpteenth time in my life, I give it all to you and say ‘Broke.  Fix it – please!’  First me and this funky mood/attitude of mine, and then, your Church.  Especially now I need to be of right mind and spirit, asking as I am, to be back at the task actively.  Have mercy upon me as a sinner, that I might share that mercy and be about righting the wrongs.”

Hey . . . in the end it’s all I can do.

Pax

 

 

 

 

 

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Luke 24:13-35

Easter 3   Luke 24:13-35

Do We  Get It?

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It is often said of those in gummint, or large corporations, that advancement is not so much what you have done, but who you know.  The disciples in today’s text would have done well to know that.  In the end they got it, but what is most interesting is “how”  Cleopas and his buddy finally got it.

In this day, when our Lutheran flocks run hither and yon, to and fro, seeking “THE PERFECT PLAN” to make themselves successful and “grow the membership” – as the supposed experts put it, Jesus comes across as really old-fashioned – unable, say some, to grasp the reality of today’s world.  It began, that way of thinking, with us “Baby-boomers” – born as WWII ended and up to the mid-sixties.  Of course we are in the news again as we retire and start putting the real stress on Social Security, which the gummint has robbed blind and which is now a budget item.  Another story, another time.

But the Boomers’ generation seems always to get what it wants, and we got vacuum-sucked into the calvinist “church-growth” movement, which as it has gotten old and atrophied, like the movie star with too many plastic surgeries and/or botox injections – it shows.  And it shows badly!  Michael Jackson actually lost his nose!

And we – we lost our very Lutheran focus along the way.  That is the saddest thing in all of it.  As with Cleopas and his side-kick, the answers are right smack-dab in front of us, and we can’t see them.  When asked about recognizing the Church, Luther said quickly: “The Church may be found wherever the Gospel is preached in its purity, and the Sacraments administered according to the Gospel.”

Of course, that succinct sentence, there to help us in what should be a simple matter of Worship and the Liturgy, and the Sacraments, is ignored in favor of some programmatic plan of success to do what Jesus, God bless Him, could never really do – organize and grow the Church.  Please pardon my facetiousness here and there – I have had to endure any number  of “better than Jesus” growth approaches that usually send our money to some group outside our fellowship who themselves, were they to be asked directly “What is the Church?” would stare at you like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights.

So it is no surprise than many in our fellowship – yes, even Pastors – get that look.  When they get asked why they continue in such things, they get the look yet again.  They don’t get it.  They are as slow and dull as Jesus said of Cleopas and his buddy.  Jesus had to start all over teaching them of the prophets’ promises and the fulfillment of them in that Jesus fellow they were talking about.  Still, after having gotten the weekend’s events and Jesus’ many explanations and the three of them having traveled as slowly as the surely did those 6-7 miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus, they still came up with –

Huh?”

Pastors put long hours into their sermons – we do – rule of thumb is one hour of preparation for every minute preached.  No matter how clear it is, we still get that “deer caught in the headlights” look when we are done.

Huh?”

So Jesus went with what today would be called “The Nuclear Option!”

“So he went in to stay with them.   When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.  And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.”

I’m not sure this following phrase (it sure fits!) should be in a sermon, but – “Bidda boom, bidda BANG!!”

No worries, I am Irish, my Guardian Angel has a special “in” with the Lord.

But “whack!!” – up side o’ da haid!

“Pastor – you mean to say that all of that 3rd rate rock-and-roll played to 4th rate music with 5th rate lyrics doesn’t help us recognize Jesus?”

No – I didn’t say that . . . Jesus just did!

“So skipping Communion for the “speshul” program last week, or when we want to be outta here in 45 minutes and the Liturgy takes too long or gets in our way – we are wrong?”  I didn’t say that, but Jesus just said:

“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!   Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” 

Given my years in the Holy Ministry, I better know the right answers to all of this.  But do you?  Are you grasping the phenomenal meaning of this Gospel Lesson today!!?

Jesus – “Preacher par Excellence!” – could not jar the grey matter of these two dullards.  All that He said, much as happens to us here in the pulpit, was lost on Cleopas and his pal.  EVEN with the Resurrection, EVEN!

Now – some of you have already guessed where I am about to go and what I am about to say.  That’s great, because it means I didn’t waste my time composing and delivering this sermon.  And for you new folks, who are still looking around and wondering about this Lutheran thing – it’s okay – relax!  There is a happy ending coming almost immediately!

And to the life-long Lutherans here this morning, who have always done this or that in just a certain way or that and NO other, this is YOUR Sunday.  Your Holy Day, because Jesus is about to tell us all why all those programs didn’t work, or the music is . . . or was a flop, or why so and so finally quit here because the schedule didn’t let them be here on the appointed Sunday for what really mattered, and what is the saving grace of even bad preachers:

“When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.  And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.”

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Honest question, Sports Fans.  Can you now, at this point, understand why Luther insisted in the Lutheran Confessions, that we have the Liturgy and the Lord’s Supper every Sunday and Feast Day?  Not because I say so, but because, with all five of our senses – even if the Pastor didn’t have the best day in the pulpit, or like Jesus in our Gospel, just couldn’t get through to them – all five of our senses can apprehend All of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar!  The Sacrament makes the sermon – well – make sense!  And it fits so perfectly with that our hearts and minds and ESPECIALLY our souls desire – Jesus actually WITHIN us!  Forgiving us, cleansing us from the inside out, making us and declaring us to be His Holy brothers and sisters of the Cross!

Then, the question arises, or dawns on us as the whole matter dawned on Cleopas and his partner . . .

“Why would we ever want LESS Jesus?”

Amen.

ἡ γραφἡ

So much for the idea of a nap . . .

One of the reasons I so rarely comment on other sites, is that there seem to be unappointed guardians at each of the sites, who endeavor to quickly to pounce on any newbie to the joint, as it were, and see if the new voice is “one of the faithful.”  If not the “the worst” – advertised Christian theological sites often seem to be quite adept at “putting one in their place.”  Not all, mind you, but some I have visited have made my commenting as a Pastor on the sites of atheists seem a breeze by comparison.

Others are so “loosey-goosey” as to cause one to stare off in the distance a lot, wondering what all those years of education were supposed to have accomplished.  I still pray the arrow prayer of my childhood – “Help me avoid the near occasion of sin, Lord!”  I know if I comment at such sites, I am going to get dragged down into the muck.

And finally, there are those sites that permit comments to drag on endlessly, as if there is some Guinness Book of World Records record  up for grabs if they can keep comments coming until the Parousia.

I have been asked why I don’t actively solicit comments here; or why I don’t seem concerned about getting “my wisdom” out and about in the maelstrom of conversation that has engulfed the entire world in blogs, chat sites for every human deviation; or the ubiquitous Facebook or the world of tweets, all of which can keep us face-down not merely at home on the puter, but in the face-down cell phone phenomena you see in public everywhere anymore.

I simply want none of that.  I am not writing to make money via Amazon or any other program.  I don’t need a brood of personal groupies.  I have no desire for fame save on the Last Day when I hear those blessed words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Being known in eternity is so far beyond earthly fame that there is no comparison.

Yeah – I was a pert good baseball player in my day, but I didn’t make “the Bigs.”  Other former players know exactly what I mean.  We gave it our best shot.  Didn’t happen, move on.

I was not the tip-top theological candidate at the Seminary – I had excellent grades and many recommendations from professors, but I did not want to pursue all of the additional degrees necessary to “prove myself” to secure a Seminary faculty position nor any position of renown within Synod.  Others were better suited.  I rightly  reasoned that all of the resources needed or recommended for such, could be had or purchased anyway, which I have done in the years since, and I could always be about my education as a theologian.

Nopers – I wanted to be a parish Pastor.  To be the best preacher and teacher I could be with the talents the Lord had/has given me, and lead others to Christ and to eternity.  And in doing so, I have gained a boat-load of experience – good and bad – that those who pursued those other goals will never know.  I can hold my own in any theological discussion with whomever, because the location of my classroom may have changed, but the lessons and studies kept on coming, but I have also been at “ground zero” – the parish.

And I know well the weariness that comes with the territory – the wish that I had a “Bob” of my own some days on whom to unload matters.  When Jesus called the Apostles to “pick up their crosses and follow Him,” he was calling his first parish Pastors to a task that many a wise man has avoided.  Having said that, I am not elevating myself.  I am saying the Cross is always there, and we of the Weird Collars ignore it at our own peril!  We can go there willingly, or be dragged kicking and screaming to that appointment.  But it is always the same.  As I sent out my “special” mail yesterday, and during the drive back, I kept asking myself – “Are you sure you want back in the saddle?”  And my other me said “Give it up, Jeffrey – this is what you have been called to do, so shaddup and go do it.”  I have a love/hate relationship with myself, it seems!



Something, or far more certainly – Someone – beckons always from that great distance.  Explain it?  Fuggedibout it!  In my dreams I couldn’t explain it.  But I dream of it at least weekly.  No prophet of dreams am I, but I am also not dumb.  So again, I have begun taking the steps.  One great advantage?  I know the things that I didn’t know on June 15, 1986, when the Lord saw fit to put His yoke on my shoulders.  Or many of them, anyway.  And I am sure there are more things I don’t know I didn’t know, to learn further.  It’s inherent in the whole process!

But one thing we Weird Collar Wearers know for certain – despite the weariness, distractions, shared tragedies or those of our own.  It’s all “in the doing” of it all.  It’s about those two hours of sleep early Sunday morning because late Saturday night you began fiddling with your manuscript.  Or wearing the worst color possible for the Texas sun and heat.  Or the funerals of those you come to love, and the joys of others you get to share.  It is, as Pastor Koch began to put it (and I am sure he would agree with my conclusion), our special insight into the soul, and the phenomenal quality of the grace that flows from the Cross of Christ.  And also, the boredom and alone-ness that is different from normal loneliness – the alone-ness Jesus knew in Gethsemane when He prayed for His cup to pass, yet submitted to his Father will.  We get a mere hint of it in these collars, and we should pray that hint alone be sufficient, and pray that often!

So anyway, step one is done, stamped and mailed.  And I won’t go back on it – I need to do it – not doing so has hurt for far too long.  Comes now the obligatory “wait” – what is the Lord going to find or have in mind this time?  Since I left the options pretty wide-open, I won’t even venture a guess.  I am thankful I have been on this writing jag of late – I guess now I, at least, understand why it happened.  I want to write as I always have written – with the ultra-substantial subject matter, for those to whom it will make a difference.

Count me among them.

Pax

 

 

 

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

Or maybe you can.

I never know which wall my friend Gary will bounce off next.  I guess he has become bored with his favorite, the Resurrection, because he now seems to have the Holy Spirit in his sights.  Of course, his cover is his justification that he is now “scholarly” because he has read many books (the list however, is hardly impressive).  His penchant for describing the faith as magic is merely part of his schtick in his false attempt to escape the “fundamentalism” that, to this day, still governs his thinking.

The hanger-on in the comments decries “the magic.”  Well, Dude, the “magic” is ensconced firmly, and primarily, in Gary’s mind. That point is then supposedly enhanced by the bragging of Bruce who, doncha know, knows a whole lot!

Bruce, I would have to say I am pleased that after all your education, you finally saw through the calvinistic farce that is disguised as evangelicalism.  Kudos to you for that.  That you folded your tent and moved into the nihilistic camp only enhances and reinforces the nothingness of evangelicalism.  But then, you march on undeterred in your quest to explain your superiority over others?  No kudos on that count.  Erecting straw men to compete with “what you know” is hardly a persuasive line of objective argumentation, no matter John’s  less than ideal delineation of “subjective and objective knowledge.”  Knocking down straw men is child’s play, Bruce.  Beneath someone touting their theological knowledge, to be sure!

John, whom I like as I do Gary despite our differences, dispenses with his usual peace-making and offers an unsubstantiated pronouncement of guilt upon the heads of Christians in general.  Bahd foam, John.  You know better than that!

Gary?  Ah, he has a new term with which to go after ordinary Christians – “the intensity of their emotions.”  I about blew a beer through my nose when G-Man threw that one out!  I mean, for anyone having read his blog for longer that a few months, would clearly come to a two-part conclusion.

A. Gary is chastising Christians for an intense lack of “objectivity.”

B. Gary’s own intense lack of objectivity over the last 4 years is astounding!

Whatever seems to separate Gary from his fundamentalistic past, is in his mind defending him.  He has yet to cogently explain why he is probably more fundamentalistic with his new “faith” that he ever was with the old.  I don’t believe Gary intends to be duplicitous, it just kinda/sorta happens to him anyway.

If nothing else, it is an interesting show.  I admit my regular amusement, and surprise, at each new “revelation” from Gary – I am trying to use that term in judicious fashion, because he is not fond of it all.  Were I an agnostic or an atheist from a non-religious background, I would wonder how all of the fuss he is making is of any purpose.  I reject the concept of lizard people walking amongst us, wearing a skin cover as they go about subverting the human race.  But I don’t need a blog and a desire for blog groupies to emphasize my disbelief of the Lizard People, because I do not need to constantly harp on something that is nothing.

John, you cannot advance any serious notion that Gary is somehow “objective,” – as opposed to “the intensity of emotions!”  If anyone is guilty of that accusation, it is Gary and the words he has “penned” over the last 4 years or so.  His constant need to prove he is “qualified” to talk of such matters, coupled with his likewise constant need to somehow prove himself via his reading list, belie his credibility.  His first problem is his complete lack of understanding of what Scripture says.  He does not have (pardon the term) a fundamental understanding of that.  How he can presently advance himself as an objective arbiter is beyond the bounds of reason. He is taking the Formal and Material Principles (Personal Decision For Jesus and the Faith, and The Bible) of the fundamentalism in which he was raised as a child, and merely replaced them with new words – Denial of Faith and Science (which itself is in a state of perpetual change, overall).  His thought process, and his progress escaping “fundamentalism” as he defines it, are severely subjective!  He is in no position to either prescribe or proscribe anything!

John, defending that, seems very unwise.

My observations above could be uttered by any informed agnostic or atheist, as I alluded to earlier.  That he betrays that when challenged and retreats into a non-response”,  suffices adequately to permit one to surmise, frankly, that he simply does not know what he is talking about.  On that particular post, I would like to simply mention one more crucial thing:

“Gary, your son does not disbelieve in God, rather – he believes in you.  Tread lightly on that ground, my friend, tread lightly.”

I am leaving matters there.  This will pop up as a “ping-back” at his site twice, so he should read it, as will, hopefully, the others I mentioned.  And I am certain, as little as it may have to do with what I have written, Gary will somehow attempt to defend what he says and does.  He must!  Or, the cards of his house, crumble into a heap.

Pax

Is You Is, or Is You Isn’t?

I have been, since 1977 – when I abandoned Rome for Wittenburg, amazed at the ability of the RCC and self-deprecating Lutherans to ultimately coalesce around the Papacy.  It is intriguing, to say the least.  A friend online, despite his protestations to the contrary, is not a “Confessional” Lutheran.  Just saying he is doesn’t cut it.  He has put out a piece describing his own personal doubts about “authority” with the Holy Church.  Since a right-thinking man is going to immediately point to the Formal and Material Principles of a given denomination or communion, it would seem his argument presented would be ended early.

It was not.  And the comments were worse, frankly.

Confessional Lutherans, despite being shuttled to the sideline in modern discussions, have nonetheless retained the simplest and most understandable expressions of both Principles.  They end discussion on authority, how or what to teach, and the well-being of the believer.  They prevent usurpation of the topic, by anyone, because anyone differing must first counter the Lutheran Formal and Material Principles, and must also do so in light of the same from the “competition.”  It is interesting to note that hose confessions which do not adhere to Confessional Lutherans do indeed feel the necessity of Scriptural terms and applications to their particular view, they do not delve to the heart of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith.  Hence, they are, by definition, secondary applications.

The Formal Principal of that Faith is Holy Scripture.  It is, as we confess, the sole source and norm of the faith.  How could it possibly be otherwise?  How can outside authorities of any kind even pretend to be the Formal Principal?  And yet, they are advanced, as with those who advance lesser Biblical principles.

For instance – the Scripture, traditions, and (still sinful after Holy Baptism) human will, as well as the Papacy speaking “ex cathedra” as Rome teaches, are their Formal Principle?  Since in their system the Formal Principal is specifically stated or taught, how can they arrive at any possible and reasonable Material Principal?  They do not, in essence.  It is dropped into the lap of a believer who falsely tries to reason from a sinful will, not “free” as so many like to say or teach, and thus leaves the believer right back where he was under Judaism – trying to please God in what they, and not God, do.  The Orthodox did something Rome did not do – they essentially sacramentalized “what we do” as a cause of salvation.  They are tempting in that they make their argument in a nebulous, mystery-like fashion, and of all confessions, but have retain the original Liturgical worship patterns of the people in Christ!  Odd, that.

Or the Calvinists, who agree with Confessional Lutherans that the Formal Principal is Divine Writ, yet through Calvin’s convoluted reasoning, have accepted and proclaimed “God’s Sovereign Will” as their Material Principle?  It is, using their “TULIP” formulation essentially telling everyone “Lay back and chill.  If you believe AND are predestined to salvation by God’s Sovereign Will, then nothing you do can destroy your salvation (that despite Paul’s clear warning that one can make “ship-wreck of one’s faith).”

The Fundamentalists, who make up the third corner of the triangle, are quite open and succinct from the outset.  Their Formal Principal is the ability of a non-believer, on their sinful own, is suddenly able to make a personal decision for God!  Their Material Principal, of a necessity, follows close behind – the Scripture.  Grace and salvation are secondary, despite their protestations to the contrary.  There is nothing of any certainty in that schematic!

Those are the big three, but if you dissect every other communion, they will follow one of the above three, or a bastardization and mixing of the three.  This chart shows just that.

Which kinda sorta dovetails with my favorite read every morning.  Fr. Peters rightly deplores the inaccuracies of “labeling” – but seems to be looking within politics for a solution (I started to respond there, but the usual fragility of Blogspot’s comments system intervened, it being one of the several Blogspot issues that led me here to WordPress).

Anyway, the Church has always had its own definitions of matters, so proper labels should not be a worry.  It was once understood among us that we were Confessional Lutheran Evangelical Catholics.  Unfortunately, Lutheranism permitted the intrusion of first the Pietists, and more recently and in great abundance, both the Pietists but especially the Calvinists, that now, we have to question just who the heck we really are!  And happens in such cases, what once defined and outlines our very worship of God in Christ, the Divine Liturgy, has been so intentionally bastardized that few safe havens remain.  One must grant the Orthodox their point on that one!

The term “Liberal” as a label is now so nebulous it is useless.  and what Missouri once called itself – “Conservative” – clearly understood as retaining all that was good, right and proper of the past, has likewise, for the most part, become a nebulous term.  The Church needs to use its own terms.  One is either a Confessional Lutheran, or one is not a Lutheran.  Yet again – political terms rush to the scene, and such a clear statement becomes subject to open debate, where it is clear it has been lost.

Given the very close linguistic correlation of the two words, it is safe to say that I am at once amused, yet amazed at such discussions.  Matters once clear and unassailable, have become mere fodder for discussion.  If Lutherans truly desire to be “conservatives” – then let them return to the terms and definitions that define one as conservative.  The very act of doing so would be conservative!

If not, then let us admit we are not Lutheran, and be done with the silly semantics.  I, for one, have listened to every argument for every “middle ground.  None of them wash.

It has become “Is you is, or is you isn’t?”

Pax

Bridges

Tonight, I began crossing a bridge I once crossed long ago in my own past.  I saw the swaying of the bridge, the roiling seas below, and made the decision to reverse myself now!  It was a good call.  I hated the journey the first time!

There are certain things in our lives that are best left in the past, and forgiven, and then, never re-visited.  As a marital counselor and a pastor, such was my counsel in even the worse of situations.  If I could be blunt – there is some shyte better forgiven and allowed to die in the memory banks.

Some things simply are not worth remembering, if you had them figured out at the time of their occurrence.  And when it occurred to me in writing tonight (now last night), was that I almost lost myself as matters originally unfolded.  I lost any desire to re-visit any of it.  I can honestly say that of everyone involved (15), I am the only one who did so, and am now, over 50 years later, am the only one on good speaking terms with all but  one, who doesn’t talk to anyone – another point best left alone, thank you.  🙂

The one thing I came away with from the effort tonight, was a lot of thought and still a lot of missing Sweet Mama Lou.  She was my antidote, as I was hers, too.  In way inexplicable, she brought about the healing for which I had longed for decades.  Trying to go back would be tantamount to profaning her memory, which I will not and cannot do.  None of that has to do with the most previous post at all, for the record.  That, I know she wanted for me!

Grief has the oddest blessings, you know, of all the emotions.  It hurts like hell, never goes away, although the pain does lessen with time, and reminds us of better days to come – not merely in the temporal mode.  Those days do come!  And we find we can rejoice!

I am not saying “Bury your past!”  Nor am I saying “Pretend things never happened.”  The former is pure escapism, the latter but a lie.  Beside the fact that neither ever work, I’ve never been good at either, either, and this late date is not time to experiment otherwise.  Forgive, move on, and let God work with the “forgetting” part.  He’s done an excellent job thus far.  Tonight I forgot about that, and three paragraph’s into things, remembered it.  Two clicks and it was gone.  Good.  Immediate relief!

Which brings me to two key points of the One Holy Faith.  One – yes, as St. Paul cautions, it is best to avoid the contentious ones.  They will never permit themselves to consider what it is they do, and I for one, understand fully what the Apostle meant.  Second – forgiveness has not only long-term effects within us, but is promised to lead us to eternity.  The Lord Christ provides it in such abundance that we can share it with everyone . . . including ourselves!

Sad to say, so many simply walk away from the Lord’s grace.  I cannot imagines holding onto, or nursing 60 years old grudges and imagined hurts.  The point?  None – except for the one doing so.  It has become their best-favored companion in life, and as with the deformed husband in Lewis’ masterpiece The Great Divorce, it causes them to become smaller and smaller each time they do so.  That has long been gone into the past for me, and tonight was an excellent reminder of why.

There is something so mysteriously normal, and yet beyond any of our perceptions, as forgiveness.  In Divine Worship we speak of it constantly, and then walk out the door and often forget the conversation we just had.  Of course, that is another indicator of our need for forgiveness.  Despite our Holy Baptisms, the old Adam still pops up out of the water – being a “good swimmer” as Luther put it.  It will take eternity for us to get past that mess within ourselves.  But – at least, being cognizant of that fact can assist us in avoiding it many times.

As a child I was taught to pray that the Lord would not only protect us from evil and sin, but to protect us from the “near occasion” of sin.  Being of the Faith and in grace, we have the delightful opportunity to serve the Lord in gladness and seek righteousness, or see it as a chore and drudgery we must endure.  Why, I ask, do we do that to ourselves?  Were I ever inclined to give satan a pass on causing a sin, it would be that one – our failure to rejoice and live in the true joy of forgiveness.  Pastor put it well in his sermon today:

“Screw your face into its best scowl, pointed down, mouth small, brows low and then say in your lowest voice – ‘Peace!  Joy!  Christ is Risen!!”

Disconnect!

Yet, it is a fact many live in such a disconnect, and part of the task of us all is to lift faces and scowls and lowered brows and un-purse tight lips – in ourselves and others.  The very purpose of what I call the Divine Repetition of the Holy Liturgy, is that it works most everyone out of such a disconnect.  I never tired of telling Lou I loved her, or hearing the same back from her.  The next time will be glorious, but even here, there was that Divine Repetition which, like the Divine Liturgy, never grew old in its repetition, but ever more precious with time!

And it is there we realize some mighty bridge-building has been going on – since Jesus was conceived in His mother Mary’s womb, and nowhere more than at the Cross, and the Empty tomb.  He crossed the bridge over death and sin, destroyed both, and invites us daily to now stroll in perfect safety over the bridge of His making!

And in the mystery of the Divine repetition of the Holy Liturgy, the proclamation of the Gospel, and the repetition of the Blessed Sacraments, we are constant reminded that our own bridge over death and sin has been built, and will last an eternity – no repairs needed.  Oddly enough, that Divine repetition leads us to discover what so many say is impossible – the peace that passes all understanding, and the ability to actually forgive one another.

And that, I motion, is monumental!  The REAL Golden Gate Bridge!

Pax