I knew waking up this morning would mean learning more details from the tragedy in Moore, OK. It is always difficult to reconcile any tragedy, to make it fit nice and neatly within our categories. It is especially difficult when the tragedy is this massive and includes children. Our deep longing for justice is violated and we often do not know what to do with the emerging emotions.
We can rejoice that we are saved not through the immanent mechanisms of history and nature, but by grace; that God will not unite all of history’s many strands in one great synthesis, but will judge much of history false and damnable; that He will not simply reveal the sublime logic of fallen nature, but will strike off the fetters in which creation languishes; and that, rather than showing us how the tears of a small girl suffering in the dark were necessary for the building of the Kingdom, He will instead raise her up and wipe away all tears from her eyes — and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor any more pain, for the former things will have passed away, and He that sits upon the throne will say, “Behold, I make all things new.”
Weâve decided to quit being a welcoming church. No kidding. Weâre giving it up. It wonât be easy, but weâre committed to it. Weâll have to do it in stages, easing our folks into it step by step. We…
Listen sweet Dove unto my song,
And spread thy golden wings in me;
Hatching my tender heart so long,
Till it get wing, and flie away with thee.
Where is that fire which once descended
On thy Apostles? thou didst then
Keep open house, richly attended,
Feasting all comers by twelve chosen men.
Such glorious gifts thou didst bestow,
That th’ earth did like a heav’n appeare;
The starres were coming down to know
If they might mend their wages, and serve here.
The sunne, which once did shine alone,
Hung down his head, and wisht for night,
When he beheld twelve sunnes for one
Going about the world, and giving light.
But since those pipes of gold, which brought
That cordiall water to our ground,
Were cut and martyr’d by the fault
Of those, who did themselves through their side wound,
Thou shutt’st the doore, and keep’st within;
Scarce a good joy creeps through the chink:
And if the braves of conqu’ring sinne
Did not excite thee, we should wholly sink.
Lord, though we change, thou art the same;
The same sweet God of love and light:
Restore this day, for thy great name,
Unto his ancient and miraculous right.
I’ve never heard Dietrich Bonhoeffer speak to the importance of the sacraments at length. He’s always presented to me as a fairly standard inheritor of the Pietist movement within Lutheranism which is why I was both surprised and encouraged by his Ascension Day sermon, entitled “Joy of the Ascension” from The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It is a magnificent sermon for the day. It speaks to true Christian joy and the hope that is rightfully ours as Christians. Here are his closing words
Christ’s ascension—the curtain falls, the church of faith waits, and its joy is the sacrament. Christ’s coming again—heaven opens up. Home at last, our thirst is slaked—the community of the blessed sees the incomprehensible mystery. Its joy is Jesus Christ, none other than God. At present we are still strangers, wandering in the time between his ascension and his second coming, waiting long in hope and fear. But the ransomed of the Lord shall return with singing, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads [Isa. 35:10]. Rejoice, o Christendom. Amen.
Julian’s feast day is tomorrow, May 8th. Revelations of Divine Love is worth a read (only .99 on Kindle).
For our soul is so specially loved by him who is highest, that it surpasses the knowing of all creatures: that is to say, there is no creature made who can fully grasp quite how much and how sweetly and how tenderly our maker loves us. And therefore, only with his grace and his help may we stand in spiritual contemplation, forever marvelling at the lofty, overflowing and inestimable love that almighty God has for us in his goodness. And so with reverence we can ask of our lover all that we will.
The programmatic and singular place of Jesus was without parallel or precedent in the Jewish matrix in which earliest Jesus-followers emerged. So in that Roman religious environment, early Christian prayer-practice reflected sense of having a particular and distinguishing identity.