Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Prayer for those held captive by ISIS

(Repost of a Facebook status by Rev. William Weedon - Worship Director, LCMS)

Let us pause to pray for those baptized brothers and sisters taken captive by ISIS this morning:

Kind Father, You are our only help in time of need. Remember in mercy these captive children of Yours. Give them grace to confess You boldly. If it is Your will, grant them release from their captivity and restoration to their homes. But if it is Your will that they share in the cup of suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen them with Your Spirit and make them bold to confess His saving name.

Turn the hearts of their captors and all who hate and despise the name of Jesus and give them the gift of repentance that with us they may glorify Your unspeakable and lavish grace.

We pray these things in the name of Him Whose body bears the scars of violence, but whose love no hatred will ever be able to overcome, even Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian

O Lord and Master of my life, give me not the spirit of sloth, meddling, lust for power and idle talk.

But grant unto me, Thy servant, a spirit of chastity (integrity), humility, patience and love.

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brother. For blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages.


Ritual and the Divine Service

Rituals do not reflect reality, they enact reality. The Divine Service does not simply reflect what Christ is like, it enacts us in His flesh as His Word is broken open through preaching that reveals Christ to us as He was revealed to the Emmaus disciples in the breaking of the bread. To break open God’s Word is to see Christ at its center, for as Jesus Himself tells the Emmaus disciples concerning the testimony of the Old Testament: “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:26). God’s Word is first broken open for us in the Liturgy of the Word so that we might be prepared in the Holy Supper to eat His body broken in death and His blood poured out for the remission of sins. In the liturgy of Word and Sacrament you leave behind the world and all its cultural baggage, and only then do you begin to perceive through your rational mind and your senses that Christ is present bodily to give you the gifts of heaven… At the center of the Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper is the cross, where we feast on the body and blood of our host. Think of the ambiguity of this act of participating in a banquet of joy in which the food is the One who sacrificed Himself in a humiliating, shameful, and scandalous death. It is hard to comprehend that through Christ’s bodily presence, heaven itself is present with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven when we eat His body and drink His blood. What is it that we perceive here through our eyes, our ears, our nose, our mouths? Joy at our salvation at the heavenly feast? Horror that the violence of Calvary is in, with, and under what we consume into our bodies? Sadness that participating with us in Christ are all the saints who are no longer with us, including our closest relatives and friends? These are thoughts that ritual can evoke, and they are too big to be analyzed, discussed, categorized, and pared down to size.”

(‘Heaven on Earth: The Gifts of Christ in the Divine Service’ – Arthur A. Just, Jr., pages 38-39)