Monday, April 29, 2013

These Words Seemed to them an Idle Tale

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words,  and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.  Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles,  but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.  ~ Luke 24, ESV

Discouraged was the word that described my feelings.  There were words and ideas being thrown around that exposed their devaluation of women.  We are all such sinful beings who need a holy savior.  There are times when our friends become our enemies, and they may not even realize it.

Among believers there are at least two ditches that we can fall into:  Some believers will extend the admonition for women to be orderly in church, and ask their husbands questions at home, to all areas of life.  By doing so, they silence half the Christian world, making them irrelevant and causing division.  Why would I, a woman, stick around to be dismissed?

The second ditch women endure is to be disrespected by bawdy views and voices.  With this view they think our mouths are shut because we have become objects.  So we are also viewed in this ditch as being idle tale bearers, good only for the selfish purposes of another person.

Am I offended?  Yes.  Are these men and women forgiven in Christ Jesus?  Yes.  Do I wish they would see women differently?  Yes. Will I forgive and repent over my being offended?  With Jesus' help, yes.

Thankfully,  Jesus sees women wholly.

"These Words Seemed to them an Idle Tale" is what scripture tells us about the apostles when Mary, Joanna, and another Mary report the news that Jesus is risen.  I took great delight in reading that in Luke 24 today.  We live under the curse of the fall, and the tower of babel.  The fall brought in sin, and placed a wedge between women and men; and the tower of babel put communication breakdown among all of us.

Here is why I took great delight in those words ... these words seemed to them an idle tale ... it is a misperception, a miscommunication, a result of the fall.  Those women took the news to others.  The others dismissed the good news that Mary, Mary and Joanna brought, and struggled with Jesus' death and resurrection for a longer time.  The women already faithed!  Jesus gave the lowly-valued "idle tale bearers" the gift of faith first because He loves us.

The good news is that Jesus sees men wholly, too.  And my ranting does not diminish His love and forgiveness for you.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Nobody Listens to Me, and other lies

"Why don't they listen to me?  I have some things they could hear.  They listen to other people."  And here begins the party of pity.  Particularly when discussing theological ideas we want others to believe the same way we do, come hell or high water.  Oftentimes, both hell and high water arrive on the scene of the conversation.  "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I guess I'll go eat some worms" says the schoolyard rhyme.  We've all been in that schoolyard.

We cannot force people to believe or hear us.  That is the job of the Holy Spirit.  We need to repent of the jealousy that comes along with our words being rejected while they listen to our friends.  We become jealous of our friends who have gained an audience.  May the Holy Spirit bless THAT conversation.

Our children appear to us as if they left the faith.  We have done all that we can as parents, and even what we have done is not perfect.  We are sinners teaching other sinners.  Pray for your child that they can hear the words of another prophet that brings them Good News of Jesus' forgiveness.  May the Holy Spirit bless THAT conversation.

The job given to us is to bring Jesus before the eyes and ears of others.  Leave the results with the Holy Spirit.  He points to Jesus perfectly, sometimes through us, sometimes through others, sometimes through Word and Sacrament.  Bring your family and friends before the throne of God.  He is good at recovering His sheep.

I am reminding myself of this as much as I am reminding you.  Here is the good news for you and me:  Jesus forgives you of your jealousies and frustrations.  He took that upon himself on the cross, so you can be free and joyful. He is faithful.  Praise Him!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rainy Day in April

The day was unusual.  It is almost May and I had to use my windshield wipers, I was underdressed for the weather with my lightweight turquoise  jacket.  I arrived at work a couple of minutes late, but so did everyone else except our faithful janitor.  We were all huddled around the stairwell and desks talking about kids and young adults leaving churches, sometimes leaving faith altogether.

We left work around the lunch hour to attend an inter-denominational symposium regarding the topic of why kids are leaving churches.  Non-denominations, Nazarenes, Anglicans, Reformed, Calvary Chapel, and Roman Catholics were all present.  We shared lunch together and listened to presentations by four presenters.  

What we found out is that we have a lot in common.  The slow fade of young people is everywhere.  Somehow, we have failed our children.  Intergenerational relationships seemed to be the most talked about topic.  A need for generations to tell one another that we need each other, reconciliation, asking forgiveness of older generations for pushing them aside while the newest and greatest church scheme was implemented, was also discussed.

Were there feelings of hopelessness?  Believe it or not, no.  I walked away with much hope.  It is in our brokenness and weakness that Jesus shows up.  We all confessed that our churches are broken.  We all confessed weaknesses.  Jesus, help your church.  Christ, have mercy on us.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~2 Corinthians 12

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Persistent Witnessing

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.  He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man.  And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’  For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself,‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man,  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’”  And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says.  And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?  I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”  Luke 18:1-8

While reading this I saw that it can also apply to giving others the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Others may not hear the gospel the first time around.  It may take them several times.  Do not give up.  Pray.  Give your hearers time.  Pray.  Have patience, but do not give up. Pray.  If an opportunity arises again, give them Jesus again.  

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle,
    but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.  Proverbs 13:11

Old Dead Theologians - Proven True

This last week has been an unfortunate eye opener for me.  I observed Lutherans beating up other Lutherans, all of them pastors, by the way, over on Facebook.  All of it stemming from the notorious "third use of the law".   Some afraid to be called a "pietist", others affirming our confessions.  And I have an idea both of these sides are speaking past each other.

In these discussions the name of a Lutheran author came up, who I have read several of his books.  I had been "warned" about this particular author, but without specifics.  Lo and behold, it turns out he denies that the scripture is without error.  It caused me much concern.  What have I believed that is error?  Am I gullible enough to believe everything a person writes?  I pray that I have chewed on the meat and spit out the bones.  Jesus can correct me.

In light of all of this, for the time being my reading list is culled down to:  Scripture and Book of Concord; a book on young adults; and a novel or two.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

In Thee is Gladness

Do you remember the 1970s?  Churches were full of people of all ages.  People still sang.  Some of us even sang parts.  We sang at school, we sang on the way home from school, we sang with the radio, I sang with my Dad, we sang in the car, and we sang at church.  Singing was a joyous thing.  I still sing to My Savior when I do chores.

Tonight I went to a worship service that was part of a pastors' conference. My mind briefly went back to my high school days with full churches, with people who sang.  Tonight was full of men with strong voices, not timid self conscious singers.  I could sing along, enjoy the company, and relish the taste of what awaits us in heaven.

The service was about as liturgical as a service could be.  There were parts of the service that I had never heard.  Chanting Psalm 130 brought me to tears.  Ending with a praise to the triune God.  I could not hold back my tears.  I did try to keep them to myself.  The Holy Spirit was ministering to me, bringing a balm of joy and peace.  Never have I wanted to raise my hands in worship of God more than during this service.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now and will be forever.  Amen.