Des Lammes

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Revelation

19:1-9

 

After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants."

 

Once more they cried out, "Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever." And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, "Amen. Hallelujah!"

 

And from the throne came a voice saying, "Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great." Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God." (ESV)

 

Always the Bride

Wednesday of Pentecost 25

13 November 2013

"Always the bridesmaid, never the bride," or so the saying goes. Our pastors must remain at the service of the bride, the church purchased by the blood of the bridegroom. The pastor is the bridesmaid of the church. He gives her the gifts that belong to the bridegroom. The church's trousseaux is provided by her gracious groom, who confers these gifts through the hands of her ministers. The ministers serve both the bride and the groom; taking what it is His and giving them to her. How exalted this bridesmaid is! For such rich blessings are placed in her hands and from such a tender and attentive groom. The bridesmaid dresses the bride in the garment of salvation and the dalmatic of Christ's righteousness. He lays upon her cleansed skin the pearl necklace of the gospel (Is 61:10), and adorns her with precious jewels. He leads her to the altar of consummation where the groom sets the feast and serves her with the richest of fare. The ministers are there to be in the middle of this adornment and feasting. The bridesmaids have their work.

 

Unlike human marriage, in which no one can be both the bride and the bridesmaid, the church's ministers are both the bridesmaid and the bride. For they too have been served and adorned, while they are serving and adorning. There is no conflict between the bridesmaids and the bride. Wouldn't it be unseemly if the bride and the bridesmaid fell out at the wedding feast and brawled upon the dance floor, all making claims upon the gifts of the groom? Yet this is the division that often occurs when congregations and pastors have a falling out. They brawl at the wedding feast of the Lamb, each demanding their own rights, their control of the gracious gifts of the groom; everyone shouting, "they're mine and not yours!" How unseemly to brawl in the presence of the groom! And all the more foolish, at least on the part of the pastors, because they are both the bride and the bridesmaid. The pastor who brawls with the bride is attacking himself!

 

For the sake of the groom, the bride and bridesmaids must live in harmony. Anything else amounts to spiritual suicide. For if they feud over the gifts, like children, they will destroy the very gifts they should be sharing. The bride is beautifully adorned. The bridesmaids joyously confer on her the gifts the groom gives. This is as it should be. 

 

Martin Luther

 

"The bridesmaids who lead the queen are the ministers of the church. They comfort her and say she should be of a happy disposition. It seems to the flesh, indeed, as though this were death, but it is really life. It seems to us as though we were forsaken by God on the cross, but precisely then we are loved and cared for most. 'The Lord disciplines the one he loves' (Heb 12:6), so that thus from the cross He may produce salvation; from death, life; from shame, glory; from long-suffering, joy; as Paul is accustomed to say (2Co 4:8-10): 'We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.' So the bridesmaids lead the church and strengthen her with the words of faith and consolation of the Holy Spirit and encourage her: 'Hold on and trust.' But it is a great art to know that this is the Christians' dance, when the heart pounds because of the bitter hatred of the world, the trial of the devil and sin, as Paul complains of the thorn and messenger of Satan (2Co 12:7). It is a hard dance and impossible for the flesh. Yet it must be done, so that we must admonish ourselves and say what someone else said: 'Here do your dance.'

 

"The promises are the flutes, the ministers of the Word are the dancers who lead the maidens. These two can sweeten the bitter dance. For the church has no other joy than the Word. Thus the Holy Spirit has sought to sketch the distressed church with this happy picture. Therefore, if you are somewhere at a dance, think: 'Look, this girl is the allegorical representation of some troubled and tormented church. The leader of the dance is the pastor, the flutes are the promises of Christ and the angels.' But it takes spiritual eyes to see such things in tribulation."

 

Martin Luther, Lecture on Psalm 45, 45.15   
 
Prayer

Lord Christ, You have sent us ministers to adorn us with the rich jewels of Your Word, the pearls of Your baptismal waters, and lead us to the feast of Your body and blood. Help us to follow them and honor them as Your ministers, that we might share both the gifts and the glorious consummation of the Lamb's wedding high feast. Amen.

 

For all those who are planning weddings, that the Lord would strengthen them in their marital love and prepare them for their lives together

 

For the Council of Presidents of the LCMS, that they might be strengthened in their confession of the truth of Christ

 

For all police and other law enforcement officials, that they would be kept safe in the performance of their duties
Art: Eyck, Jan van  The Adoration of the Lamb (1425-1429) 

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