Safe Haven
Clement of Rome, Pastor
23 November 2016
Ancient sailing was a matter of harbor-hopping. No sailor wanted to be far from the safe haven of a good harbor. He was completely at the mercy of the weather that could not be predicted except by experience and eyesight. Experience taught the sailors of the Aegean Sea that violent storms could be expected to blow in from the East beginning in mid-August. These storms, called "Hellesponters," because they came from the direction of the Hellespont, would crack the hull of ships in its path, casting them upon the rocky shores of Greece as toothpicks for giants. While traveling in northern Greece my wife and I experienced one of these violent storms which caused devastation and flooding throughout northern Greece, even making driving perilous on inundated roads and mountain passes. When one of these Hellesponters blew up, a sailor, caught between a storm and open water, has no choice but to make a run for the next harbor. Both are dangerous, but there is no choice.
Hilary of Poitiers, who is teaching about the holy Trinity, having navigated into the open water of speaking about the unspeakable, now has no choice but to sail on chased by the storm clouds of God's holiness to speak of the Son of God, seeking in Him the safe haven of divine grace. This Son, though begotten of the Father, is in no way inferior to Him according to His divinity. This Son does not participate in some portion of the divine nature, but possesses the full nature of the godhead bodily (Col 2:9).
This is rough sailing, because it is hard to put begotten-ness together in the same thought with eternality and the fullness of the divine nature. So we must confess that, though the Father possesses in Himself life, the Son also has life in Himself. This is not a weakness in God's self-revelation, but in our paltry reason. God is what He is (that is His name; Ex 3:14). All there is left for us is to confess faithfully and worship both His name and His substance. The only safety for us is to remain in the ship of Christ's creating: His holy church and its faithful witness to the saving truth. In Christ's craft there will always be safe haven.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Hilary of Poitiers
"We have now exchanged the perils of a harborless coast for the storms of the open sea. We can neither safely advance nor safely retreat, yet the way that lies before us has greater hardships than that which lies behind. The Father is what He is, and as He is, so we must believe. The mind shrinks in dread from considering the Son; at every word I tremble lest I be betrayed into treason. For He is the Offspring of the Unbegotten, One from One, true from true, living from living, perfect from perfect; the Power of Power, the Wisdom of Wisdom, the Glory of Glory, the Likeness of the invisible God, the Image of the Unbegotten Father.
"Yet in what sense can we conceive that the Only-begotten is the Offspring of the Unbegotten? Repeatedly the Father cries from heaven, 'This is My beloved Son with whom I am well pleased' (Mt 3:17). It is no rending or severance, for He that begat is without passions, and He that was born is the Image of the invisible God and bears witness,'the Father is in Me and I am in the Father' (Jn 10:38). It is no mere adoption, for He is the true Son of God and cries, 'Whoever has seen me has seen the Father' (Jn 14:9). Nor did He come into existence in obedience to a command as did created things, for He is the Only-begotten of the One God.
"He has life in Himself, even as He who begot Him has life, for He says, 'As the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself' (Jn 5:26). Nor is there a portion of the Father resident in the Son, for the Son bears witness, 'All that the Father has is mine" (Jn 16:15). And again, 'And all mine are yours, and yours are mine' (Jn 17:10). The Apostle testifies, 'For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily' (Col 2:9); and by the nature of things a portion cannot possess the whole. He is the perfect Son of the perfect Father, for He who has all has given all to Him. Yet we must not imagine that the Father did not give, because He still possesses, or that He has lost, because He gave to the Son."

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 2.8
John 16:4-15

"I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you."
Lord Christ, You have created the safe haven of the church through Your own bloody death, turning the jagged wood of the cross into the craft of Your creation. Bless us with faithful captains who will sail where Your Word navigates that we might arrive at last in the heavenly harbor. Amen.
For clement weather, that we might give thanks to God for the fruits of the earth
For the gift of good government, faithful rulers, and good friends, that we would give thanks in all things
For those who will serve the homeless tomorrow, by providing to them Thanksgiving Dinner and expressing care for them, that the Lord would give them joy in their service
For President Dale Meyer of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, that God the Lord would make His Word grow through his service to the church
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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