Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Billboard Theology...

"Live for me. I died for you."

Wretched. Vile. Wrong.

This kind of guilt-trip Christianity is poisonous. It's poisonous because it teaches that God gave you Christ not out of His own Fatherly love, but because He just wanted your obedience. And it's poisonous because it teaches that what Jesus won on the cross was not your full salvation, but merely the opportunity to win salvation for yourself through your own works.

Leave it to the Evangelicals to combine the worst of Geneva and Rome in six words and to think that they're somehow doing the Lord's work in the process.

Thank God for Lutheranism. Thank God for faithful preaching and faithful preachers. Thank God for His Gospel. And thank God this billboard ain't it!

-Pr. Hans Fiene from a Facebook posting

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Prayer Service - Hope Lutheran Church - Aurora, CO

A sermon from Pr. Bryan Wolfmueller

John 10
'A God Who Bleeds'
Prayer Service
The Eve of Trinity Seven | Saturday, 21 July 2012

Dear Saints, 

The devil comes to kill and steal and destroy. He delights in every drop of blood split, in every tear, in every heart broken, family torn in two, every last breath. The devil loves death, he loves violence, he loves darkness; he loves this tragedy that has unfolded in our neighborhood this week. 

But he is never content. He kills, and he wants more. He destroys, and he wants more. The devil is not sitting back tonight, shaking the dust off his hands, content with the pain already inflicted, he wants more. He wants you wrapped up in the chains of the fear of death. He wants your mind and heart to be draped with despair. 

As the dust settles around in Aurora, the devil comes to you to tempt you, to tempt you to anger, to tempt you to fear, to tempt you to despair, perhaps worst of all, to tempt you with the idea that because you are suffering God has deserted you, has left you to yourself, that God is far away. 

“Where is God in all this? He must hate you, or worse, He must not care.” That, dear friends, is the devil's voice, the devil's temptation, and we've heard enough of that voice. 

We are gathered here this evening to hear the voice of Jesus, your Jesus, who is not a stranger to suffering. Listen, Jesus is not a stranger to suffering. You do not have a god who sits far off, who is distant, who sits on top of the mountain, or is beyond the clouds, who is looking the other way. No, you have Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the one who doesn't just watch over the sheep. He lays down His life for the sheep. He takes His life and His righteousness to the cross for you. You, dear friends, have a God who bleeds, who bleeds for you, who suffers with you, who hears of the death of His friends and weeps, weeps over death, and fights against death for you. Jesus stands under the devil's torment, under God's wrath, under the condemnation of the law, stands with you, stands in your place, and suffers for you. 

And if your Jesus suffers for you, then He will certainly suffer with you. When you suffer it does not mean that God is far away. He finds you in suffering; He saves you by suffering. When your friends and neighbors are suffering it does not mean that God has forsaken them or abandoned them. He can't. He loves them, He loves you too much. 

Jesus cries out from the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” so that you never would. He prays Psalm 22 so that you can pray Psalm 23, “Yeah though I walk through he valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with with.” It the shadow of death, He is with us. In the shadow of violence, He is with us. In the veil of tears, He is with. Ha cannot leave you ro forsake you, He has bound Himself to you, written His name on you with His blood, claimed you as His own and promised you life, His life, eternal life. 

Jesus is not far away. The One who died for you now lives for you, prays for you, helps you in time of trouble. He sends His Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to comfort you with His presence and His promises, His forgiveness. 

And it is His forgiveness, at last, that sets us free, even from the fear of violence, even from the fear of death. For in life and in death you are the Lord's, your life is His, and because for you to live is Christ, for you to die is gain. Amen.

And the peace of God which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

+ + +
Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller
Hope Lutheran Church | Aurora, CO

Lex orandi, Lex Credendi

Our ideas of Christianity, our experience of God, and our personal theologies cannot transform our hearts.  They are consequences rather than causes.  Rather, it is the exquisitely particular, richly detailed, and dauntingly complex thing called the Christian tradition...that shapes us rightly and faithfully.  Christ shapes us by drawing us into conformity with His body.  Lex orandi, lex credendi:  the law of prayer is the law of belief. This great truism is a living truth only when we give a privileged place to apostolic loyalty and conservation.  For we must be shaped rather than shape if we are to bear in our bodies the marks of Jesus (see Gal. 6:17).

- R. R. Reno (In The Ruins of the Church)