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Jeremiah
31:15-25
 
Thus says the LORD: "A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more." 
 
Thus says the LORD: "Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work, declares the LORD, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future, declares the LORD, and your children shall come back to their own country. I have heard Ephraim grieving, 'You have disciplined me, and I was disciplined, like an untrained calf; bring me back that I may be restored, for you are the LORD my God. For after I had turned away, I relented, and after I was instructed, I slapped my thigh; I was ashamed, and I was confounded, because I bore the disgrace of my youth.' Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, declares the LORD.
 
"Set up road markers for yourself; make yourself guideposts; consider well the highway, the road by which you went. Return, O virgin Israel, return to these your cities. How long will you waver, O faithless daughter? For the LORD has created a new thing on the earth: a woman encircles a man."
 
Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Once more they shall use these words in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I restore their fortunes: 'The LORD bless you, O habitation of righteousness, O holy hill!'  And Judah and all its cities shall dwell there together, and the farmers and those who wander with their flocks. For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish." (ESV)
Fighting About the Right Things
Thursday of Pentecost 16
17 September 2015
Lutherans love to fight. They fight about worship, about theology, about life; you name it and they will fight about it. We may lament this greatly, because it doesn't always place our church in the best light. It reminds me of the story about the new rabbi that begins to lead his first service. He reaches the point of the V'Shamru (Ex 31:16-17) and half the congregation stands and the other half remains seated. Somewhat to the shock of the rabbi, a noisy public debate breaks about whether the people should sit or stand during this recitation. So he calms the people down by suggesting that each side send a representative to his office the next day to discuss this. When they arrive the next day they find the rabbi and the oldest member of the congregation waiting for them. One man says, "It is always the tradition of this synagogue to stand during the V'Shamru." The rabbi looks at the elderly man for confirmation or denial, and he shakes his head, saying, "No, that is not the tradition of this synagogue." The other man says, "It is always the tradition of this synagogue to sit during the V'Shamru." The rabbi looks at the aged congregant again, who says sagely, "No, that is not the tradition of this synagogue either." Now quite exasperated with the three men the new rabbi exclaims, "So all you can do is fight about whether to sit or stand during the V'Shamru?" The elderly man nods his head solemnly, and says, "Now that is the tradition of this synagogue! To fight about whether we sit or stand during the V'Shamru."
 
There are things certainly worth fighting for because they are worth believing. Sitting or standing is probably not one of them, nor should we argue just for the perverse pleasure of arguing. The early church certainly did more than its share of arguing about theology. For example, in the years after the confession of the Nicene faith (A.D. 325) the people of Alexandria as much as rioted in favor of the Christological descriptor: "being of one substance with the Father," and against the Arian heresy of believing the Christ was merely similar to the Father or that He was a creature like other created beings, having a beginning. No matter how unruly a Lutheran church meeting might get, it hardly ever rises to the level of out and out rioting.
 
As much as we might deplore the wild excesses which the believers of the early church perpetrated in favor of their theological opinions, at least they were fighting about something supremely worthwhile. The Nicene faith they bequeathed to the world through the extraordinary efforts of their Bishop, Athanasius, and his successors, has been essential to the theological health and integrity of the church and her teaching through the centuries. Oh, that we would both understand this faith and be prepared to defend it with every fiber of our being. By contrast, today we see people demonstrating to advocate for all kinds of economic and political ideas, many of which are purely selfish or intended to gain access to the fruits of other people's labors. While I do not think we ought to create similar uncivil scenes in our cities to advocate for our Lord and His faith, when is the last time we went even out of our way to speak of Christ's lordship with the vehemence of our spiritual forefathers such as Athanasius? They were willing to fight about the right things. Are we?

 

Athanasius of Alexandria

"[Christ] is by nature an Offspring, perfect from the Perfect, begotten before all the hills (Pro 8:25), that is before every rational and intelligent being, as Paul also in another place calls Him 'firstborn of all creation' (Col 1:15). But by calling Him firstborn, He shows that He is not a creature, but Offspring of the Father. For it would be inconsistent with His divinity for Him to be called a creature. All things were created by the Father through the Son, but the Son alone was eternally begotten from the Father. This is how God the Word is 'firstborn of all creation,' unchangeable from unchangeable.
 
However, the body which He wore for our sakes is a creature; concerning which Jeremiah says, according to the Septuagint: 'The Lord has created salvation for a new planting. Men shall go about in safety' (Jer 31:22). But according to the Hebrew, the same text runs: 'For the LORD has created a new thing on the earth: a woman encircles a man.' Now the salvation created for us for a planting, which is new, not old, and for us, not before us, is Jesus. In respect to being Savior was made man, and whose name is translated in one place Salvation, in another Savior. But salvation proceeds from the Savior, just as illumination comes from the source of light. The salvation, then, which was from the Savior, being created anew, as Jeremiah says, 'create for us a new salvation,' and as another version has it: 'The Lord created a new thing in woman,' that is in Mary. For nothing new was created in woman, save the Lord's body, born of the Virgin Mary without sexual intercourse, as also it says in the Proverbs in the person of Jesus: 'The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old' (Pro 8:22).

Athanasius, Statement of Faith, 3
 
Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, give Your people the courage to confess You as God of God, You who are of one substance with the Father. Free us from petty animosities. Give us the courage to keep our speech full of Your work for us and Your Word to us, that we may be made daily new in You. Amen.
 
For all those reaching the end of life, that they might be attended by a myriad of the holy angels
 
For John Meyer, that Lord Jesus would grant him healing
 
For the faculty and staff of Memorial Lutheran School, that they would find joy in their service to the children they are instructing
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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