A Weekly Deadline

When we gather together, we must remember the wisdom and grace of God.

In an assembly like this, there must be countless offenses, grievances, hurts, misunderstandings, and more. These are knots that should not be untied; the more we try to untie them, the worse we make it. God’s way is far simpler. Love dissolves all such tangles—it even dissolves the rope.

Jesus tells us that when we remember that our brother has something against us, we are to leave our gift at the altar, and go make it right. This has application to the Lord’s Supper, but not the direct application that is readily assumed. The Lord’s Supper is not our gift to God, but rather His gift to us. If you realize that someone has a grievance against you, then put your tithe envelope back in your pocket, and then go, make it right—so far as it depends on you. The Lord said to leave your gift on the altar; He did not say to leave the bread and wine there.

So should you refrain from the Lord’s Supper if you realize that someone has a grievance against you? The short answer is no. But if you know that they have this grievance, and you are unwilling to make peace, then notify the elders of the dispute, along with your unwillingness to reconcile, and they will consider suspending you from the Supper. But if you want peace, and the situation is difficult, you need strength for the task. Take the Lord’s Supper, with the necessary reconciliation in mind. But having taken it, hasten to make peace. Do not let the sun go down on it.

At the same time, if a dispute arises in the course of the week, you know that this Supper is coming. Resolve the dispute before the day of communion arrives. Do not provoke the Lord to jealousy by postponing what you know to be your duty. But if the Supper brings something to mind, then take your nourishment. You will need the strength.

In short, let the Supper serve as a weekly deadline for all reconciliations, and let it also serve as an encouragement and impetus to future reconciliations attempted.

Puritan Poetry: Crammed With Images

“The fear of graven images was an obsession with the Puritans. Like most of their obsesssions, however, it resulted, not in the childish dogmatism imputed to them by nineteenth-century commentators, but in a consistent system of clear, taut, definitions and distinctions . . . A verbal idol, such as might be found in poetry, would be as great a sin as a material idol carved in stone. For that reason, Puritan poetry was clearly influenced by the fear of idolatry; to understand the poetry, we must examine the fear. We have seen that Puritan poets did in fact write and read image-filled poetry. We need to know why they felt they could. We need to know how they defined and recognized an idol” (Daly, p. 45).

Choosing Your Own Designer History, One That Works for You

“Since there is no objective truth, history may be rewritten according to the needs of a particular group. If history is nothing more than ‘a network of agonistic [i.e., fighting, contending] language games,’ then any alternative ‘language game’ that advances a particular agenda, that meets ‘success’ in countering institutional power, can pass as legitimate history. ‘Performance, not truth’ is the only criterion. Scholarship becomes rhetorical manipulation. Truth does not have to get in the way.” (Gene Edward Veith, Postmodern Times, p. 50).

No More Inspired Than the Maps and Concordance, But Still Authoritative

“But when we open our Bibles, before we come to the Word of God at Genesis 1:1, we come to the word of the Church at the Table of Contents. No one holds that the Table of Contents is part of inspired Scripture; rather it points to inspired Scripture, in a similar way that John the Baptist pointed to Christ. However, it is necessary for us to see that the Table of Contents page is important, and that on that page someone or something is authoritatively identifying for us the boundaries of Scripture. Our full persuasion and assurance of the infallibility and authority of the Scriptures does come from the inward work of the Holy Spiriit. The Scriptures are self-authenticating. But we sometimes forget that there is a necessary objective work of the Spirit as well — the work of the Spirit in history, as He has led the Church to make that wonderful confession of faith that we call the Table of Contents” (Mother Kirk, p. 31).

Sacralizing the Violence

“Under our very eyes, the three friends sacralize the violence. The insults and meanness are metamorphosed into the grandiose accomplishments of a supernatural mission . . . Whenever opinion turns against a leader formerly elevated by the people’s favor, the community automatically attributes the change to the intervention of an absolute Justice” (Girard, Job, p. 27).

Eyes At the Ends of the Earth

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

Growing Dominion, Part 104

“Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth” (Prov. 17:24).

A wise man is prudent and watches his feet right in front of him. A fool’s eyes are “in the ends of the earth.” He can see this far because his head is in the clouds. We have to be careful here because occasionally a wise visionary sees the ends of the earth as well, as Abraham looked forward to and saw the city that God was building. But it is far easier for a fool to affirm the consequent here, and assume that he is a visionary, when he is nothing of the kind. A wise visionary is far more aware of the possibility of folly than the fool is.

This translates to the realms of enterprise and entrepreneurial efforts straight across. For every great success story, the kind that you would not have anticipated—like the guy at Starbucks who figured out that people would pay five bucks for a cup of coffee—there are countless others who thought that their blue sky vision was something other than folly. One of the best ways to tell the difference is that the fool is not willing to admit the possibility that the move is a foolish one. His eyes are in the ends of the earth.

Need As Our Glory

Eating is one of the enormous mysteries of life, and one of the greatest aspects of this mystery is how readily we drift into assuming how ordinary it is. But there is nothing ordinary about eating at all—not even with non-sacramental eating. How is it possible for life to be sustained by this means?

As food grows up out of the earth, we see it gather nutrients from the environment—inorganic matter is transformed into organic matter. And then, as the food is tended by a farmer and harvested, and fed to us, the food is transformed from a lower organic order to a higher organic order. You are what you eat, but this is not a materialist dictum, but rather a glorious mystery—God is transforming the world, and He uses the instrument of eating.

He does the same kind of thing in the realm of the covenants. As we eat, we grow. As we grow and mature, our eating does not become less necessary, but rather more obviously important. We never mature past the point of needing food. An eighty year old man looks to his breakfast just as a new born infant does. Maturity is sustained by food, and maturity never matures beyond food. This is because we are creatures, and God has created the world in an interdependent way. We come here to this Table as a needy people, and this is not our shame. It is our glory. We are His people, and He feeds us.

The Apostles” Creed

As a congregation we have been discussing this for some time, and we have been using it in worship in our evensong service. The intent all along has been to incorporate a congregational confession of faith into our weekly service of worship. This morning we begin with the Apostles’ Creed.

This creed is ancient and was used in the early church as the confession that was recited by those receiving baptism. You are a baptized congregation of God’s people, and it is fitting and right that you declare your faith with them, in the glad recognition that it is the same faith. Sects and movements come and go, but the faith built upon the cornerstone of Jesus Christ cannot be overthrown. After we confess our sins, and are forgiven, it is our great privilege to confess our faith.

As you do, the point is not to memorize it so you can rattle it off without thinking about it. That is how the Gentiles pray, who think they will be heard through much chatter. Rather, the point is to memorize it so that each time you confess your faith, your thoughts are taken up to the great God who gave His Son for us. In this respect it is like memorizing the steps of a dance so that you might dance with someone you love. This is not mindless repetition; rather, it is the repetition of life.

Neither is this given to us so that we might mumble it. We are not asking you to stand on your chair and shout it, but I would much prefer that to the listlessness of recitation that perhaps some of you grew up with. Are these things true? Are these things so? If so, then speak as though speaking to the entire world—for you are. Speak so that all Moscow can hear—for they can.

But if you do not believe these things to be true, then what is the point of being here at all? The Christian faith encompasses everything, the claims of Christ are total, and there is never any way to respectably split the difference between His lordship and the claims of the world. So then, when we confess our faith together, speak in the presence of all heaven and earth.