Divine Protection Racket
Thursday of Advent 2
8 December 2016
The half-known God hovers over the face of the deep (Gn 1:2). He is much misunderstood and even abused. He becomes a cipher for all kinds of human lunacy when we want divine validation for our own religious views. Luther complains that such people have swallowed the Holy Spirit "feathers and all." Some years ago, a popular TV preacher claimed that God told him that he would kill him if his TV audience didn't raise some enormous sum of money. Is the Holy Spirit nothing more than a celestial Don Vito Corleone, running a protection racket for money? (Note to self: read The Godfather for new stewardship ideas.)
The third person of the holy Trinity enables us to see Christ through the eyes He opens, and to hear Christ through the ears He unstops. He clears our noses of moral filth to smell life in the bread and wine of the Eucharist under which Christ's body and blood are given to us. Like Adam we have been created for fellowship and we have the faculty of love and community bred into us by our Creator who desperately desires our fellowship. But those faculties have been anesthetized into the sleep of death by the fall into sin. If we could hear God like Adam did, we would flee and hide because we are afraid, like Adam was. Only when the Gift, the Holy Spirit, is given is the faculty of fellowship opened to us. Only then do we seek God, because the Holy Spirit has sought and found us.
There is no one whom God did not fit for fellowship with Him. This is why the commission to the church to preach to the whole world continues to be the church's challenge. We want all other persons to live in the light of the Gift of the Holy Spirit and to know God as He wants to be known in Christ. Then they, like us, will have hope, solace, assurance, enlightenment, and fellowship with their Creator.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Hilary of Poitiers
"Let us therefore make use of this great benefit, and seek for personal experience of this most needful Gift [the Holy Spirit]. For the Apostle says,'Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God' (1Co 2:12). We receive Him, then, that we may know. Faculties of the human body, if denied their exercise, will lie dormant. The eye without light, natural or artificial, cannot fulfill its office; the ear will be ignorant of its function unless some voice or sound be heard; the nostrils unconscious of their purpose unless some scent be breathed. Not that the faculty will be absent, because it is never called into use, but that there will be no experience of its existence. So, too, the soul of man, unless through faith it have appropriated the gift of the Spirit, will have the innate faculty of apprehending God, but be destitute of the light of knowledge, that Gift, which is in Christ, is one, yet offered, and offered fully, to all; denied to none, and given to each according to the measure of his willingness to receive; its stores the richer, the more earnest the desire to earn them. This gift is with us unto the end of the world, the solace of our waiting, the assurance, by the favors that He bestows, of the hope that shall be ours, the light of our minds, the sun of our souls."

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 2.35
1 Corinthians

We impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"- these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. (ESV)
Dear Lord Jesus, send us the Holy Spirit that we might see You through the ministry You have ordained. Amen.
For those who are despondent in the face of illness or aging, that God the Lord would send His Holy Spirit to them and encourage them with the certainty of their blood-bought value in His sight
For the blessed estate of holy marriage that we Christians would be signs of divine love and fidelity in the world
For President Lawrence Rast and the faculty and staff of Concordia Theological Seminary that they would be faithful to their calling to preach the Word
Art: VASARI, Giorgio Annunciation (1564-67)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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