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Exodus
40:1-15
 
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "On the first day of the first month you shall erect the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. And you shall put in it the ark of the testimony, and you shall screen the ark with the veil. And you shall bring in the table and arrange it, and you shall bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. And you shall put the golden altar for incense before the ark of the testimony, and set up the screen for the door of the tabernacle. You shall set the altar of burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. And you shall set up the court all around, and hang up the screen for the gate of the court.

"Then you shall take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and consecrate it and all its furniture, so that it may become holy. You shall also anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar, so that the altar may become most holy. You shall also anoint the basin and its stand, and consecrate it. Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and shall wash them with water and put on Aaron the holy garments. And you shall anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve me as priest. You shall bring his sons also and put coats on them, and anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may serve me as priests. And their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations." (ESV)
Don't Give Up or Give In
Bernard of Clairvaux, Hymnwriter and Theologian
19 August 2015
Before the Formula of Concord resolved the conflicts which arose among Lutherans about the Interims (1548) imposed on Germany by the adversaries of Lutheranism, Lutherans struggled to respond appropriately to the imposition of indifferent things (Adiaphora) that implied agreement in doctrine with the Roman Catholic adversaries. Both Interims insisted on the reintroduction of the ceremonies of the Roman Catholic mass in places where these external ceremonies had been abolished and the mass cleansed of superstition, because these external ceremonies contradicted the chief article of Christian doctrine, the article of justification.
 
While the Formula of Concord provides a faithful confessional resolution of the problem of indifferent things, it is instructive to see how faithful Lutherans battled against the re-imposition of traditions and ceremonies that contradicted the chief article. One example of this is the book produced by Nicholas von Amsdorf in Magdeburg. The Magdeburg Confession of 1550 rejects the impositions enforced on the churches by means of the Interims and denies that such teachings as are implied by the modification of church practices can be imposed apart from God's Word, even by lawful government as represented by the Emperor and his perfidious minion Duke Maurice of Saxony. The book is produced while Duke Moritz was investing the town of Magdeburg for the express purpose of re-imposing Roman Catholic ceremonies on the Lutheran parishes and their clergy. The book was written in the crisis of war and its threat, and despite that, is a deeply faithful precursor of the Formula of Concord.
 
Even in the face of the threat of an investing army, Amsdorf confessed that practice follows doctrine. Accommodation with the enemies for the sake of earthly peace steals from the faithful church the peace of God. Worldly peace may not be the aim of the church or her children. When earthly peace becomes superior to the peace given by God through His divine Word, we have already broken the first commandment by enshrining as paramount the idol of earthly peace. We have accused God of being intolerant because He demands faithful expression of his word in both life and doctrine by the children whom He has given birth in baptism. There can be no retreat on ceremonies that bear the teaching of the doctrine of justification and convey that teaching to those who are in the services of the church. Such ceremonies are beneficial not in and of themselves, but for the sake of teaching the people about the mercy of God in Christ.
 
Of course, those who supported the Interims argued that the changing times and circumstances forced on the Lutheran Church by the Emperor and his minion Maurice required the ceremonies of the church to change. Amsdorf rejected this out of hand. Indeed at a time of persecution such things become even more obligatory, especially if we are fleeing the cross when we change our Lutheran worship practices. Such crosses will always come to the church. The true church is never without suffering. She will always be challenged for the sake of earthly peace. Since ceremonies are not able to be separated from doctrine, she must not give in or give up, because the evangelical truth demands it.

 

Nicholas von Amsdorf

"We also have ceremonies in our churches which agree with the doctrine of the apostles and the pure church of the post-apostolic age. These ceremonies are pious and useful for edification, just as we received them from the churches outstanding for their true piety. And as we are able to change nothing from the doctrine of these churches without grievous insult to Christ, dissent and blasphemy (nor do we want to, since Christ supplies our strength because we ask Him and hope in Him), so we judge that ceremonies are not able to be separated from doctrine by times and circumstances, nor are specious agreements between Belial and Christ - which some men are making, so that they may escape the cross - able to be allowed by that standard of judgment."

Nicholas von Amsdorf, The Magdeburg Confession of 1550, 1.7
 
Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, by Your grace You have vouchedsafe the evangelical truth to Your church. Cause us, by your Spirit, to be continually faithful to the church ceremonies that display and support that truth in the presence of your people. Free us from modernistic skepticism which would doubt Your ability to use ceremonial acts to convey the gospel to Your people. Amen.
 
For Carol Crump, that she might recover fully from surgery
 
For Robert Peddycoart Sr., as he undergoes diagnostic testing for cancer and therapy, that the Lord would grant him strength and healing
 
In thanksgiving to God for the gift of holy marriage, especially for those who are preparing for their wedding day, that they might have hearts united as one
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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