In Flesh, Not of Flesh
Philip the Deacon
11 October 2016
Christians who know the power of the indestructible life dread their grave as little as their bed, as the hymn writer, Thomas Ken, says. They can live the life in the flesh with peace and joyful abandon, not committing their hearts to the flesh, but seeing the flesh as the stuff in which the Christian life is lived, like the fish never possesses or controls the water in which he swims. It is necessary. It is a gift of God. It is a buoyant joy. Life is lived in it, but not by it. Flesh is the medium in which we live; it is not the life itself. So to die is to give up the medium of the flesh, dying to it completely only by the grave. We fear that grave as little as our beds because we look forward to that time when the trumpet shall sound and we shall be raised in flesh incorruptible. This is why death may be described as only another name for eternal life.
In the meantime, we live in the midst of the flesh: creatures, creation, and all the created gifts of God; never possessing them, nor being possessed by them, but using them to God's glory as stewards of God's gifts in creation. Like the schoolchild learns the alphabet we learn the created gift of speech and then by God's grace we command the gift of speech to bless and not to curse. We use the speech of God to tell of God's gospel acts in Christ. The created gifts are offered in service to the supernatural gifts of the gospel. The medicine of the Word brings healing to sin-sick souls. The floodwaters sweep us into the cleansing tide of the Red Sea font bringing life from death. Bread and wine are set under the Word of God and become Christ's body and blood. God's gracious gifts given to the life of the flesh simply become more, not less, under the Word of God. 

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Hilary of Poitiers
"In this calm assurance of safety did my mind gladly and hopefully take its rest, and feared so little the interruption of death, that death seemed only a name for eternal life. And the life of this present body was so far from seeming a burden or affliction that it was regarded as children regard their alphabet, sick men their medicine, shipwrecked sailors their swim, young men the training for their profession, future military commanders their first campaign; that is, as an endurable submission to present necessities, bearing the promise of a blissful immortality. And further, those truths in which I myself believed I began to proclaim as a duty of the priestly ministry which had been laid upon me, employing my office to promote the salvation of all men" 

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 1.14
6:12-14, 17-22

And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them." Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.
Lord Christ, made flesh of Mary, help me to live in the flesh never possessing it, nor being possessed by it. Show me how the created gifts need to be stewarded toward Your higher purposes. Amen.
For J. Bart Day, the Executive Director of National Mission for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, that the Lord would grant him many blessings in his labor

For those touring in Germany, that their travels would be safe and their homecomings joyful
For President Barack Obama, that he might govern all the people of the United States for the common good
Art: Durer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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