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Psalm 45

 

My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe. You are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever. Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your splendor and majesty! In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach you awesome deeds! Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; the peoples fall under you. Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad; daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir. Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear: forget your people and your father's house, and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him. The people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts, the richest of the people. All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold. In many-colored robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions following behind her. With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king. In place of your fathers shall be your sons; you will make them princes in all the earth. I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore nations will praise you forever and ever. (ESV)

 

The Lord of the Dance

Tuesday of Pentecost 25

12 November 2013

With some notable exceptions, weddings are beautiful events. Everyone dusts off their best clothing. The bride is appareled in gorgeous gown and the groom in striking tuxedo. The rest of the wedding party is festooned in luxurious dress. The guests in suits and formals make for a lovely festivity. The bride's maids lead her to the groom. There is a great celebration; usually with dancing, banqueting, and much joy. But as every married person knows, when the afterglow of the wedding wears off, there remains the hard work, suffering, and sacrifice of real married life. Marriage is a kind of martyrdom, where we sacrifice ourselves and our self-centered concerns upon the altar of our spouse's need. The work of marriage in a fallen world doesn't change the underlying gift of beauty that the wedding day represents. Part of that work is to return to the beauty of the gift itself. We live in marriage by a kind of faith that sees past the strife that can arise between husband and wife and see only the beauty of the original gift. To the husband the wife remains a vision of loveliness in glorious white gown. To the wife the husband remains a dashing tuxedo-clad figure.

 

"Seeing beyond" is also the faith of the church. For the bridegroom is Christ. The ministers of the Word lead her to Him. She is crowned with honor and glory. She is cleansed with the gorgeous gown of His righteousness from the baptismal font. She is led forth in glorious apparel. But this makes her a target of His enemies. While they cannot harm Him, they think that they can hurt Him through her. His bride becomes subject to persecution, trouble, and trial. His enemies are attracted to her because she wears the signs of His presence with her. This means that the church and her children are ever subject to suffering and trial.

 

How we face that trial is pivotal to our faith. Shall we see only the splendor of our robe of righteousness while Christ's enemy drags us through the mud, or shall we stagger under the trial we suffer and shall we see only what we see? Will we defect from His love because we suffer, or shall we see Him ever with us wearing the signs of His glorious and life-giving suffering? Will we fear and avoid our cross, or will we see it for the glorious apparel of the Christian life? Will we dance into the jaws of death, in the arms of our bridegroom confident of His rescue? Will we whirl with joy seeing that when we are with Him this is the fullness of all true happiness? Let's dance with Him, for He is the Lord of the dance.

 

Martin Luther

 

"The church is exposed to all misfortunes and torments and individual Christians are either thrown into prison or overwhelmed by sorrow, temptations, and martyrdom. Yet they suffer all these things with a joyous conscience, because the Holy Spirit is with them, making them despise the wrath and fury of the world and the devil with all his terrors, so that they even enter into danger with joy. How is it that Christians remain steadfast in so many temptations, tortures within and without, and still do not deny Christ? Because they know they are in the service of this King and are being led to Him in splendor.

 

"So I, too, could not make even one sermon in public if I were not encouraged by such promises that Christ lives and is our Lord. This brings forth a certain confidence, so that we can think this way: 'If it is true that Christ is our Lord and King, then, whether we are killed or dishonored, you may still be joyful and unshaken in your mind.' This is the allegorical dance about which the prophet speaks in Ps 45:15, in which there is a joy that is neither natural nor fleshly, but supernatural and spiritual, overcoming the fears of death and despising the madness of hell and of Satan and his members. The church should be instructed by faith; that is the golden garment. Then it must be adorned with love and patience, 'that it may glory in tribulation' (Rm 5:3). Then, if anyone undergoes persecution for the sake of the Word, he may say: 'Quite right. I have sought this by my preaching, that I might excite the world and Satan against me. But I will not quit on this account.' So this dance will be danced correctly."

 

Martin Luther, Lecture on Psalm 45, 45.15  
 
Prayer

Lord Christ, bridegroom of the church, You have given us the glorious apparel of Your righteousness, cleansed white by Your blood. Help us to see only You when we are assailed by your enemies, by keeping us focused on the beauty of Your holiness. Keep us faithful in our confession of Your gospel message. Amen.

 

For all those who are suffering persecution because they have faithfully extolled the holiness of Christ, that the Lord would keep them steadfast in His Word

 

For Pastor William Heine as he leads Memorial Lutheran School, that he would be upheld in every good work

 

For Clint and Cristin Emshoff, who are celebrating their wedding anniversary today, that the Lord of life would grant them many more blessings

Art: Eyck, Jan van  The Adoration of the Lamb (1425-1429) 

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