Yaaseh Shalom

Standard

I recently read a novel (Inside, Outside by Herman Wouk) about Jewish life in America, and I learned this Hebrew phrase.  It is from the final words of the Kaddish, a prayer for the dead and it means, “He will make peace.”  It made me think about how Jesus does that for us.  He speaks about it in what has been called the High Priestly Prayer, in the book of John, Chapter 17.

First of all, through His sacrifice, He makes peace between us and God.  He prays

“…that they may all be one, just as you, the Father are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us …John 17: 21

He also makes peace between all believers as He brings us into His body, the church:

“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one, even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be perfectly one.”  John: 17:22-23

What a gift!  He has made peace. Yasseh shalom.

Keeping the Peace

Standard

“I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  Ephesians 4:1-3

 The apostle, Paul, writing from prison, gives some good advice on how to maintain our unity with other Christians.  When I read it, I have to ask myself, am I walking in a worthy manner?  Am I humble, gentle and patient with others in my church family?  Am I willing to overlook some flaws as they mature in the faith?  Am I eager, really eager to get along with everyone? Do I love them, each individual, as a child of God and my sister or brother?

 It’s human to fail in all these things.  Just like everyone else, I can sometimes be self righteous, impatient, critical or abrupt.  That’s not worthy of my calling.  I’m called to love others, and that means acting in a loving way.  I can be eager in all the wrong ways – eager to prove my point, eager to look good in the eyes of others, eager to promote my own agenda.  That’s not worthy of my calling, either.  I’m called to serve others, not advance myself.  I can be guilty of surrounding myself with those I find most compatible, failing to include or ignoring part of God’s family.  How unworthy is that, forgetting that Jesus called me His friend, when I was still a sinner!

 Whenever I fall down, I need to remember my calling.  Christian unity depends upon you and me.  Am I committed to keeping the peace?  Are you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Union of Martin and Katie

Standard

Image result for martin and katherine luther

You may have noticed from the quotes I’ve posted that Martin Luther had quite a bit to say about marriage.  Of course, as a monk, he would not have expected to marry, and even after breaking with the Catholic church, he didn’t imagine becoming a husband for one simple reason –he thought he would probably be killed at some point for his faith and his beliefs and therefore wasn’t good husband material!

Enter Katherine Von Bora.  After the death of her mother when she was five, Katherine was sent off to a convent to be educated and to become a nun.  In her 20’s she was convicted by Luther’s teaching that it was wrong for young women to be pressured to take a vow of celibacy not based on personal conviction.  She and some other nuns escaped with Luther’s help and were married or returned to their families.  Katherine’s family did not want her back and so she lived with some friends of Luther and she and Martin became friends.  He tried to arrange a marriage for her with one of his colleagues, but she wasn’t interested.

When Luther did begin to consider marriage,  and proposed to Katherine, he said his motives were to please his father, spite the devil and cross the Pope.  Not very romantic!  However, the Luthers came to love one another deeply;  Martin cherished Kathrine who he called, “Katie, my rib.”  She ran the household well (something Martin had little interest in) and they were known for their hospitality toward family, friends and students.  They were married for over twenty years and parents of six children.

The success of their union sprang from faithfulness to God.  They regarded marriage as a school for sanctification, and were not adverse to correcting one another.  There is every indication that they enjoyed marriage as God’s gift and lived it to His glory.  Here’s how one Luther scholar put it:

“Luther’s faith was simple enough to trust that after a conscientious day’s labor, a Christian father could come home and eat his sausage, drink his beer, play his flute, sing with his children, and make love to his wife —all to the glory of God.!”

Dear readers, tell us about other godly marriage that have been an example to you.

John Donne on the Trinity

Standard

This is only the first part of a litany by John Donne (my English major moment) that  deals with the trinity.

A LITANY.I.

THE FATHER.

FATHER of Heaven, and Him, by whom
It, and us for it, and all else for us,
Thou madest, and govern’st ever, come
And re-create me, now grown ruinous:
My heart is by dejection, clay,
And by self-murder, red.
From this red earth, O Father, purge away
All vicious tinctures, that new-fashioned
I may rise up from death, before I’m dead.

II.THE SON.

O Son of God, who, seeing two things,
Sin and Death, crept in, which were never made,
By bearing one, tried’st with what stings
The other could Thine heritage invade ;
O be Thou nail’d unto my heart,
And crucified again ;
Part not from it, though it from Thee would part,
But let it be by applying so Thy pain,
Drown’d in Thy blood, and in Thy passion slain.

III.

THE HOLY GHOST.

O Holy Ghost, whose temple I
Am, but of mud walls , and condensèd dust,
And being sacrilegiously
Half wasted with youth’s fires of pride and lust,
Must with new storms be weather-beat,
Double in my heart Thy flame,
Which let devout sad tears intend, and let—
Though this glass lanthorn, flesh, do suffer maim—
Fire, sacrifice, priest, altar be the same.

IV.

THE TRINITY.

O blessed glorious Trinity,
Bones to philosophy, but milk to faith,
Which, as wise serpents, diversely
Most slipperiness, yet most entanglings hath,
As you distinguish’d, undistinct,
By power, love, knowledge be,
Give me a such self different instinct,
Of these let all me elemented be,
Of power, to love, to know you unnumbered three.

The Mind of Christ

Standard

“….complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord of one mind.”  2 Philippians 2:2

In this letter to the church in Philippi, a church Paul obviously loves, he tells them that nothing would please him more than knowing they are in agreement, or having the same mind.  Then he goes on to tell them exactly whose mind they are to have– not their own but Christ’s!

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  Philippians 2:5-8

The mind of Christ means having a humble spirit, willing to sacrifice for others.  Paul explains further that being of one mind with Christ means they will:

“Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit” Philippians 2:3

“look…to the interests of others.”  Philippians 2:4

“in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”  Philippians 2:3

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we were all in our right mind (Christ’s)?

Image result for images of the mind of christ

 

A Prayer for Unity

Standard

I discovered this prayer for the unity of the church on a website for the Church of England. I hope you like it as much as I do.

These prayers may take place around a unity candle, the font or some other symbol of the Church.

Jesus prayed that his followers may all be one.
In the power of the Spirit, we join our prayers with his.

The following may be used

O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace:
give us grace seriously to lay to heart
the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions.
Take away all hatred and prejudice,
and whatever else may hinder us
from godly union and concord;
that, as there is but one body and one Spirit,
one hope of our calling,
one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of us all,
so we may henceforth be all of one heart and of one soul,
united in one holy bond of peace, of faith and charity,
and may with one mind and one mouth glorify you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

I am the vine and you are the branches.
All: Abide in me as I abide in you.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
All: Abide in me as I abide in you.

No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
All: Abide in me as I abide in you.

You are my friends if you do what I command you;
love one another as I have loved you.
All: Abide in me as I abide in you.

Intercessions are offered for the unity of the Church.

This response may be used

Lord of the Church
All: hear your people’s prayer.

Silence may be kept.

This Collect is said.

Lord Jesus Christ,
who said to your apostles,
‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you’:
look not on our sins but on the faith of your Church
and grant it the peace and unity of your kingdom;
where you are alive and reign with the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
All: Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer is said.

The peace of the Lord be always with you
All: and also with you.

These words may be added

Let us offer one another a sign of peace,
God’s seal on our prayers for the Unity of the Church

Unity Not Uniformity

Standard

In all our posting about unity, one thing is becoming clear to me:  Christian unity does not mean uniformity.  In marriage, in the church,  even in the trinity, each part retains its own character and qualities;  uniqueness is not lost or swallowed up.  Instead, the individual parts together form something more than they are alone.

Maybe this relates to our different Christian denominations.  My husband’s theory is that denominations are a gift, not a curse.  Each tradition emphasizes different aspects of the faith.  Some are very focused on the sacraments, others on missionary outreach, still others on holy living or manifestations of the Holy Spirit, and so on.  We’re all probably wrong about some things, but we each have a place in spreading and maintaining the faith. We each appeal to or speak to different personalities;  we can fulfill different needs. There are many things we can get together and do, and then there will be points where we have to differ and part.  That’s okay.

There are a few things we do need to agree on.  Paul described the fundamentals to the church in Ephesus this way:

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.”  Ephesians 4:4-6

As long as Christ is our head, we are part of the body.  As long as the triune God is our Father, we are brothers and sisters.  As long as the Holy Spirit calls us, we can serve together.  We don’t have to be the same to be one.

A Hymn About Church Unity

Standard

This has always been a favorite hymn of mine.  It was written in England in 1866 by Samuel Stone and was originally one of a twelve hymn collection inspired by the twelve articles of the Apostle’s Creed.

Stone created the collection in response to a period of heated theological schism within both the Church of England and the Church of South Africa. The Church encountered a crisis over the inerrancy of the Scriptures and the role of Jesus in God’s plan of salvation.  Stone’s deep conviction in the unity afforded by the foundation of Christ Jesus that led him to write it.”

An Image of the Trinity

Standard

Image result for rublev's trinity imagesThis icon of the Holy Trinity was painted by the monk Andrei Rublev.  It depicts the three visitors to Abraham, each angel symbolizing one of the persons of the trinity.  When you look closely, you will notice that each figure wears different garments, but has the same face.  Many comment on the feeling of invitation and inclusion experienced as you spend time gazing at this beautiful image.  I have a number of icons, and this is definitely my favorite.  It gives me a sense of peace and light.

Here’s a quote about this icon from Henri Nouwen’s book, Behold the Beauty of the Lord.

“During a hard period of my life in which verbal prayer had become nearly impossible and during which mental and emotional fatigue had made me the easy victim of feelings of despair and fear, a loving and quiet presence to this icon became the beginning of my healing.  As I sat for long hours in front of Rublev’s Trinity, I noticed how gradually my gaze became a prayer.  This silent prayer made my inner restlessness melt away and lifted me up into the circle of love, a circle that could nt be broken by the powers of the world.  Even as I moved away from the icon and became involved in the many tasks of everyday life, I felt as if I did not have to leave the holy place I had found and could dwell there whatever I did or wherever I went.”

Is there a Christian painting or work of art that has affected you deeply?  If so, please comment and tell us about it.