HOPE for the HAPLESS

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12


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On a Dark, Dark, Night …

95 thesesThe sun had long since hidden its face from the world. The streets of the town were deserted but for a lone figure. The cobblestones echoed with his hurried footsteps. This was no night for a person to be out alone. Evil was about. This was a night of spirits, murder and mayhem. The large black shadow of a building loomed ahead. Determinedly, the man set his shoulders and went straight for his goal. He had started this endeavor in great anger. That anger had now cooled some, but he knew that he must go through with his intentions. With a short intake of breath he steeled himself for the unpleasant task ahead. Staying close to the side of the tall building the man had only to travel a short distance before he came to an old and well-worn door. He stopped. Taking a short breath, the man reached for the door with one hand while he raised the other above and behind his head. The cold gleam of metal could be seen in the moonlight …

Tonight marks one of the pivotal moments in Church history – perhaps even human history. Tonight is the night when in 1517, a lowly monk nailed 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg. They were meant to begin a debate over the sale of indulgences in Christ’s Church. What they did was start a reformation. From the small spark on this night a bright flame called the Holy Gospel would soon reignite the hearts and minds of people world-wide.

Find out for yourself what the big deal was. Follow the link below and read them for yourself.

Luther’s 95 Theses

Then why not have a look at this Article by Ian Adnams to see where it has all led since then.

After 492 Years

May you have a blessed Reformation!

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Going to the Dogs!

Alexa Nadeau with her dog, Christy, at a monthly service being tried at Christ's Anglican Church in Montreal.

A Montreal-area church will offer a monthly service for dogs and their owners as part of a pilot project that hopes to spark further debate on the place of animals in society. The first “Paws and Pray” service was held earlier this month at Christ Church Beaurepaire in Beaconsfield to coincide with the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. Three more monthly services are planned at the Anglican church as part of the pilot project.

Johanne Tasse, president of the Companion Animal Adoption Centre, came up with the idea and said she hopes the concept will spark a debate on the role of animals around us. “Animals deserve our care and respect,” Tass told the Montreal Gazette. “If we can bring dogs to church, how can we turn around and abuse them?””It’s a discussion we need to have in society,” she said.

The service focused on the special bond of companionship between dog and humans and was attended by about 50 worshippers and 30 canines.The dogs ranged from a Chihuahua puppy that could fit in the palm of your hand to a 50-kg-plus bulldog. Most of the pets sat in people’s laps, while the bigger ones stood in the aisles.  “It was moving, I got very emotional,” Tasse told The Canadian Press, adding that sometimes, however, dogs will be dogs. “I have to admit it was a bit of a zoo. There was a lot of barking.”

Dogs get biscuits

The minister, Michael Johnson, conducted a one-hour, full communion service, complete with reading from Scripture. While parishioners received a communion wafer, dogs were treated to a selection of freshly baked dog biscuits, including peanut butter and garlic, and bowls of water. Many Anglican churches bless animals once a year, but Johnson said he jumped at the idea when Tasse approached him about trying a monthly service. “My initial thought? ‘This is great,”‘ he said. “Then my second thought was: ‘I better ask the bishop.”‘

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“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn and attack you.”

Matthew 7:6

Before the fur starts flying, let me state that I have pets and I care for those pets.  I am not hereby sanctioning any form of hatred or abuse toward our animal companions. The quote above is not really about dogs … or pigs … but people who act like them.  People who see nothing wrong with hijacking the services of God’s house to make a point – any point.

The point may be valid, but it (and the dogs used to make it) don’t belong in church.

It is an alarming trend we see more and more.  People coming to view the Services of the Lord’s House as a tool that can (and should) be commandeered for partisan interests.  Need to raise awareness of animal rights?  Host a service complete with doggie communion!  Need to show heavy-metal enthusiasts that they are a valid segment of society?  Host a heavy metal mass!  Feel the need to redress the wrongs society has committed on any minority?  Hold a service of redress and healing!  I’m sure that you my readers can come up with literally dozens more examples. (Post ’em below!)

As Christians we should care about how humans treat animals and all of creation.  It is part of our rightful stewardship under God.  As Christians we should be concerned for all people regardless of musical tastes or social groupings.  It is part of the love we have for our neighbours.  A love that God first shared with us in Christ.

And that is why such “uses” of the Divine Service are never right.  The Divine Service is not some sort of tool to be used … not by us anyway!  It is the exclusive tool of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Every single service of the Lord’s House is meant to be a vehicle of grace and forgiveness in this world.  It is the place where Jesus comes and Serves His people … serves all people … with the Good News of sins forgiven in His holy death and resurrection.  Such forgiveness is never partisan.  It is never out to make a point – other than sinners are freely and completely forgiven in the precious blood of Christ!

Any time well-meaning people feel that they can take the Divine Service out of the Divine’s Hands, and use it for some purpose other than pointing to the forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus, it becomes a mockery of what God designed it to be.  It confuses the issues of this world with the one and only place where the certainty of the next world can be found.  It confuses and muddles people’s ideas of what the church is all about, and why it is so vitally important.  It obscures and belittles the importance of the Word and the Sacraments for the enduring consolation of souls, and hope of everlasting life.  And this forgiveness of sins … this hope in Christ … is simply too important to let go to the dogs!


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No doubt …

The following is reprinted from a thought-provoking post over at Pyromaniacs.  I’m not sure that I would go so far as to say “everyone”, but certainly enough that most of this rings mournfully true.  I know that even in my few short years of ministering I have had more than a few of the charges laid against someone who holds to the Scriptures as the authoritative Word leveled against me personally.  What do you think?  Is this on the mark? Does it go too far? Not far enough?  Have you faced this kind of thinking yourself?

doubt

Have you ever noticed…

  1. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as heroic?
  2. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as tragic?
  3. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints his doubt as different doubt from every other doubter who has ever doubted and come to a bad end from it?
  4. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine insists that his path won’t end up where every other doubter’s path ended? Which is to say…
  5. …everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine hates it when the historical and logical progression of doubt is pointed out?
  6. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as smarter, deeper, less lazy, and more honest than people who don’t share his doubt?
  7. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as humble, while those who point him back to the Word are arrogant?
  8. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as nice, while those who point him back to the Word are mean?
  9. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as academically sophisticated, carefully nuanced, and wonderfully insightful, while those who point him back to the Word are unenlightened hacks and drooling theological troglodytes?
  10. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as courageous, while those who point him back to the Word are bullies and ruffians?


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Too Much … So What!

pastorabsolves“When I urge you to go to confession I am doing nothing else than urging you to be a Christian.”

– Large Catechism, Brief Exhortation, 32

I’ve offered private confession and absolution for over 11 years now, and only performed the blessed rite once (the dear soul wasn’t even looking for forgiveness – just the chance to confess, but I forgave them anyway!)  For 11 years I’ve heard from people that the forgiveness they receive in the Divine Service is more than enough.

Maybe it is because everyone thinks it will be awkward (it really isn’t). Maybe its because no one thinks they really need any more forgiveness.  (I sure hope this isn’t the reason!) Maybe it is because lots of people think that there can simply be too much of a good thing.  (Being forgiven too many times, or for the same thing more than once, might make it less special?)

Not too long ago I remember saying something to the effect that you can’t have too much of a good thing. (Rejoicing in the Routine)  Well it seems like I’m not alone in that sentiment.  Consider the following from today’s daily reading in the good Dr. Luther’s works.

Another Form of Confession

I confess before God and you that I am a miserable sinner, guilty of every sin, of unbelief and blasphemy. I also feel that God’s Word is not bringing forth fruit in me. I hear it, but I do not receive it earnestly. I d not show works of love toward my neighbour. I am full of anger, hate, and every envy toward him. I am impatient , greedy, and bent on every evil. Therefore, my heart and conscience are heavy, and I would gladly be freed of my sins. I ask you to strengthen my little faith and comfort my weak conscience by the divine word and promise.

Why dost thou desire to receive the sacrament?

Answer: Because I desire to strengthen my soul with God’s Word and sign and to obtain grace.

But hast thou not found forgiveness of sins by absolution?

Answer: So what! I want to add the sign of God to His Word. To receive God’s Word in many ways is so much better.

Not only did this reading hit me square between the eyes, saying so much better than I could just how I’ve been feeling lately (yes this is a confession), but it also filled my heart and made me laugh out loud.  You tell it brother Martin!  Forget what anyone else may think, I need to hear it again and again!  So what, I gladly say.  So What!  To recieve God’s Word in many ways … in all His ways …  is so much better!