The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (ESV)
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Wednesday of Pentecost 20
14 October 2015
When our oldest daughter was two years old she liked eating grapes. She was very fond of grapes. And she would stand at the refrigerator door, banging on it, saying, "Gapes! Gapes! Gapes!" until someone paid attention, opened the refrigerator and cut up some grapes for her to eat. She knew that she would be fed and she had no doubt. You too should have no doubt. You can stand before the altar of God and bang on it and say, "Dear Father, give me this life-giving food. This is the very body and blood, given and shed, the very food that has come down from heaven, which belongs to my brother, Your Son, Jesus." And He will set this table just for you. And He'll put that food in your mouth with His own hand. And you will have no doubt whose family you belong to. None. You can have none. And you know where you're going. Not because it's up to you, but because it is up to Him. He's your Father and you are His child. There's nothing greater that you can be.
This also affects the business of the liturgy. Now, you know that the Lutheran Church has this liturgy thing and we sing it fairly repeatedly; just about every Sunday. Some people say, "So, why do we sing the same stuff over and over again?" So my question to you is: why do you read the book Pat the Cat to your child over and over again? Wouldn't once be enough? And the answer is "Of course not." The child will demand to hear you say these precious things again and again. So it is for the children of God and the liturgy of the church.
The liturgy affects us we age. As we grow older, we switch places with our aging parents, don't we? Some of us are experiencing this in our lives; as we grow older, our parents begin to grow more childlike. They need to be cared for by us. They will say again what they learned as children: "Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen." Ask any child in our Lutheran school and they will be able to spit out that liturgy. And when the pastors that succeed me go to their death bed, when they have become so young that they will enter into the presence of the Lamb that was slain for them, what will they say? Their last words will be the first words that were set upon their heart and their forehead. "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." "Dear Lord, now I go to see that which I only hoped for and believed and trusted my whole life. Now it's all mine." And so we meet finally at the end, going from childhood to childhood, with what we call (probably wrongly!) adulthood in the middle. Lord, make me a child ever, because I am Your child. Make me a child ever that you might feed me.
"Consider with what sort of honor you were honored, of what sort of table you are partaking. That which when angels behold, they tremble, and dare not so much as look up at it without awe on account of the brightness that comes from it, with this we are fed, with this we are united, and we are made one body and one flesh with Christ. "Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD, or declare all his praise" (Ps 106:2)? What shepherd feeds his sheep with his own bodily members? And why do I say, 'shepherd'? There are often mothers, who after the travail of birth, send out their children to other women as nurses for feeding; but Christ will not do this. He Himself feeds us with His own blood, and by all means entwines us with Himself."
John Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew, 32.5
Feed Your children, God most holy; Comfort sinners poor and lowly. You are the Bread of Life from heaven, Bless the food that You have given! As these gifts the soul does nourish, May our souls in graces flourish, till with saints in heav'nly splendor, at Your feast due thanks we render. Amen.
For Rosalie Brazee, that the Lord Jesus would return to her the strength of her breath and help her recover from pneumonia
For Jo Lodholz, as she continues to undergo diagnosis, that the Lord God would grant wisdom and compassion to doctors and other health professionals
For persecuted Christians throughout the world, that the suffering Christ would strengthen their confession in the midst of suffering
Art: Dürer, Albrecht The Adoration of the Trinity (1515)
© Scott R. Murray, 2015