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Revelation

4:6-11

 

And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!" And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." (ESV)

Hastening to the Feast

Thursday of Easter 5

22 May 2014

It is thought that Augustine of Hippo and Ambrose of Milan wrote the Te Deum Laudamus ("We Praise You, O God") on the occasion of Augustine's baptism by Ambrose in Milan (A.D. 387). However, it is more likely that some form of the great canticle of praise was already sung among Western Christians before the baptism of Augustine. Some memorable setting of the Te Deum may have been intoned at the baptism of the future Bishop of Hippo, leading to the myth that Augustine and Ambrose spontaneously wrote it on the occasion of the baptism. More than one hundred years earlier, some phrases of the Te Deum appear in the writings of Cyprian of Carthage (d. 258). He may have been quoting from an already fairly well established liturgical text, which would have resonated with his readers.

 

The Te Deum points us to the company of believers who have gathered around the throne of the Lamb giving unending praise to Him who was slain for their salvation: "The glorious company of apostles praise You. The noble fellowship of prophets praise You. The white-robed army of martyrs praise You" (LSB, 939). Here among these faithful apostles, confessors, and martyrs stand our deceased brothers and sisters who died in the faith. Here are our faithful parents and grandparents, who were among those who trusted Christ alone for life. Here are our children and siblings who were nourished on the Word of God around one table. All are singing praise to the God who redeemed them all. All are rejoicing at the arrival of the one sinner who repents and who has been brought to his ultimate home in the Paradise where all look upon the Lamb on the throne.

 

To this cloud of witnesses (Heb 12:1) we refer when we cry the thrice holy in the Sanctus, looking forward to the joyous feast to come in the body and blood that the Lord sets in His holy church to be offered and received now by the faithful. We are in communion with them, though we do not see them. They are in communion with us, interceding for our need before the Lamb (Apology 21.9). We hasten there because we have only tasted the glory of the feast, and want its full experience, seeing those who remain hidden from sight now. With joy we hasten to You, O Lord!

 

Cyprian of Carthage

 

"We should ever and always consider that we have renounced the world, and are in the meantime living here as guests and strangers. Let us greet the day which assigns each of us to his own home, which snatches us hence, and sets us free from the snares of the world, and restores us to paradise and the kingdom. Who that has been placed in foreign lands would not hasten to return to his own country? Who that is hurrying to return to his friends would not eagerly desire a fair wind, that he might the sooner embrace those dear to him? We regard paradise as our country-we already begin to consider the patriarchs as our parents: why do we not hasten and run, that we may behold our country, that we may greet our parents? There is a great number of our dear ones waiting for us, and a dense crowd of parents, brothers, children, longing for us, already assured of their own safety, and still solicitous for our salvation. To attain to their presence and their embrace, what a gladness both for them and for us in common! What a pleasure is there in the heavenly kingdom, without fear of death; and how lofty and perpetual a happiness with eternity of living! There the glorious company of the apostles, there the host of the rejoicing prophets, there the innumerable multitude of martyrs, crowned for the victory of their struggle and passion. To these let us hasten with an eager desire; let us crave quickly to be with them, and quickly come to Christ. May God behold this our eager desire; may the Lord Christ look upon this purpose of our mind and faith." 

 

Cyprian, On Mortality, 26

 
Prayer

Lord Jesus, You invite all who are burdened with sin to come to You for rest. We come at Your invitation to the heavenly feast, which You have provided for Your children on earth. Preserve us from impenitence and unbelief, cleanse us from our unrighteousness, and clothe us with the righteousness purchased with Your blood. Strengthen our faith, increase our love and hope, and assure us a place at Your heavenly table, where we will eat eternal manna and drink of the river of Your pleasure forever and ever. Hear us, Jesus, for Your own sake. Amen. (LSB)

 

For the leaders of Memorial Lutheran Church as they mentor new leaders for the congregation's future works of service, that all might be built up in their holy faith

 

For Kim Cheng, that the Lord would grant her strength and healing

 

For the Board of Regents of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, that the Lord Jesus would lead their deliberations at meetings today 

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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