welcome. why "weak on sanctification"?

this accusation is often made about lutheran christians. because we focus so strongly on god's justifying grace in christ, and our continual need, as "sinner-saints," to receive god's gifts of grace through word and sacrament, people say we are "weak on sanctification." i prefer to say we are strong on jesus, whose sanctifying work in our lives is the fruit of the gospel all along our lifelong journey. i would much rather focus on what he has done than on anything i might do.

the weekly discussion

each week I set forth a topic to promote discourse about some aspect of Christianity, the church, or the spiritual life. i would love to hear your perspective and thoughts on each week's subject. these discussions are usually posted on mondays, so if you missed this week's post and would like to catch up on the conversation, just scroll down and join us.

November 27, 2009

advent I—nov 29, 2009

first sunday in advent (year c)

collect for the day (bcp)

almighty god, give us grace that we may cast away the
works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now
in the time of this mortal life in which thy son jesus christ
came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when
he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the
quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through
him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the holy ghost,
one god, now and for ever. Amen.

journey to the cradle, I
happy new year! some of you may think this premature. however, there is more than one calendar by which to mark the years of our lives. on the church calendar, today marks the beginning of liturgical time for the year to come. today, we begin again to hear the story of jesus.

the texts chosen for this first sunday set our course for the journey...
  • the story of jesus begins with god's promises, spoken to a world that needs saving. "the days are coming," says the lord, "when i will fulfill the promise i made to the house of israel and the house of judah" (jeremiah 33:14). the promise involves a kingly person who will put the world to rights again, who will save those who trust in him and cause them to live in his safety forever. his name will be called, "the lord is our righteousness," and he will spring up like a branch from the tree that is king david's line.
  • the story of jesus encourages us to look for god's promises with expectation. in the words of david himself, we pray, "lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the god of my salvation; for you i wait all day long" (psalm 25:5).
  • the story of jesus instructs us to use the time of waiting as a time to share his holy love. the time of waiting is not meant to be a time of inactivity or selfish preoccupation. paul prayed for his friends in thessalonica, "and may the lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. and may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our god and father at the coming of our lord jesus with all his saints" (1thessalonians 3:12-13).
  • the story of jesus reminds us that the days of his coming will be tumultuous, and we must stay alert and ready. life in this broken world involves constant upheaval. some days, it seems the very stars may fall from the skies. "be alert at all times," jesus says to us, "praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the son of man" (luke 21:36).
this is god's advent agenda. this is what the journey to the cradle involves—hope, expectation, love, endurance. day by day throughout this first season of the church year, we learn to walk and wait like this for the coming of our king.

today's church year art
the visitation

giotto di bondone, scrovegni chapel, 1302-05

1 comment:

  1. Lovely, Mike. Thank you. I can remember (I think!) four words, and I will remind myself of these essentials during Advent. I especially like having the collect included. It's one of my favorites.