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 20, 2009

advent IV—dec 20, 2009

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

today's readings
Micah 5:2-5a
Luke 1:46b-55
Hebrews 10:5-10
Luke 1:39-45

today's bach cantatas
bwv 132, "prepare the course, prepare the way"
bwv 147a, "heart and mind and deed and life"
bach's magnificat

collect for the day (bcp)
we beseech thee, almighty god, to purify our consciences by thy daily visitation,
that when thy son jesus christ cometh he may find in us a mansion prepared for himself;
through the same jesus christ our lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee,
in the unity of the holy spirit, one god, now and for ever. amen.

journey to the cradle, IV

there is something about mary.

though evangelicals tend to ignore or downplay jesus' mother, in reaction to what they perceive as overemphasis or even heretical devotion to her by the roman church and other traditions, the gospel of luke portrays her as the true and ultimate matriarch of our faith, who joined and surpassed sarah, rebekah, rachel and leah, ruth, and hannah to become the mother through whom God brought his redemption promises to pass.

her canticle, the magnificat, which is recorded in luke 1.46-55, draws from the song of hannah, who gave birth to the great prophet samuel (1samuel 2.1-10). hannah praised god for the gift of a son and the promise of a king for israel, a promise that was eventually fulfilled in david. mary's song repeats these same themes, as she praises god for giving his son, the greater son of david, who will reign as king over all the earth.

in her song, mary expresses joy in god that he has chosen her, a simple girl, for the unprecedented task of giving birth to the messiah.
  • mary was probably a young teenager at the time, marked by those around her as an immoral, unwed mother-to-be.
  • when the time came, she was forced from her home to travel to bethlehem by an unfeeling government that cared only about keeping its records straight.
  • away from her home and family, she could not even obtain a comfortable place to bear her child.
  • a short time later, according to matthew's gospel, she and the rest of the holy family hit the road again, this time as refugees to egypt, running for their lives.
  • all her life, she struggled to grasp the magnitude of what had happened to her and the significance of the one she bore, and yet she continued in faith to the end.
many times throughout her life, the powers of the world overshadowed, pressured, and threatened this young girl. yet in her song she expresses what people of faith in all generations have learned—god is not with those who wield earthly power. his heart is with those who look to him in simple faith and entrust their destiny to him.

may god grant us grace to honor and follow the example of mary, the mother of god, this christmas and every season throughout the year.

today's church year art
madonna and child

giotto di bondone, 1320-30

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