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.

December 5, 2009

advent II—dec 6, 2009

second sunday in advent (year c)
resources for this day

today's readings
Malachi 3:1-4
Luke 1:68-79
Philippians 1:3-11
Luke 3:1-6

today's bach cantatas
bwv 70a, "watch! pray! pray! watch!"

collect for the day (
merciful god, who sent thy messengers the prophets to
preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of jesus christ our
redeemer; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the holy
spirit, one god, now and for ever. amen.

journey to the cradle, II
zechariah's benedictus is one of the great songs of scripture. its themes are captured by two lines, one at its beginning and the other at the end. both speak of god "visiting his people" to provide redemption and peace for them (luke 1:68, 78). (unfortunately, the nrsv translation misses this key word, substituting other terms.)

god visits us. he does not wait for us to come to him. he does not require that we meet him on his ground, rather, he knocks on our door and comes personally to see us. he enters our world—the word becomes flesh and dwells among us" (john 1:18). jesus does not remain far off in heaven but humbles himself, and takes the form of a servant in human flesh (philippians 2:5-11).

the first appropriate response to the initiative he has taken in coming to us is to offer him hospitality, to welcome him, to embrace him and invite him into our lives. "o come to us, abide with us, our lord emmanuel." receive the good news! god has come to visit us!

the second appropriate response is to go with him as he visits others. this is an especially apt word on this day, which marks the feast of st. nicholas. nicholas, the bishop of myra in the fourth century, was noted for his generosity to the poor and needy, and especially to children. like st. nicholas, god calls all of his people in christ to visit our neighbors and bless them with humble, loving acts of service. share the good news! join jesus in his mission to visit the world!

In his seventeenth century manual on pastoral ministry, george herbert said that the true minister of christ does not "disdain to enter into the poorest cottage, though he even creep into it, and though it smell ever so loathsomely. For both God is there, and also those for whom God died."

during this holy season, may we both receive the divine visitation and, in turn, visit those in need to share the love he has given us.

today's church year art
annunciation to zacharias

giotto di bondone, Peruzzi Chapel, Church of Santa Croce. 1313/14

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