Saturday, August 28, 2010

The liturgical assembly is in the world, yet not of the world. Here heaven intersects with earth. And so, like Moses before us, we remove our shoes in the presence of God. We may speak and act a bit differently in the liturgy than we do ordinarily, but then we are in extraordinary circumstances. For the ground upon which we stand is holy ground. Whenever and wherever we step into the liturgy, we step on holy ground; we step into the presence of God.
The liturgy strikes some people as cold and impersonal, but that's because it is an extraordinary situation. Ritual for its own sake is idolatry, but even secular society has certain revered rituals. The formal changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington Cemetery, for example, reinforces the solemn honor a grateful nation accords its dead heroes. No one calls the soldiers of the honor guard hypocrites because they act differently at those tombs than they would, say, at the beach or the movies. Solemn assembly calls for solemn actions.
-- Harold L. Senkbeil in Dying to Live: The Power of Forgiveness

Monday, August 23, 2010

[Jesus] is indeed a baby, but He is also the Word, who is not silent even in His infancy, but says, as our Emmanuel, "God with us," "Comfort, comfort my people" (Isaiah 40:1).
-- Bernard of Clairvaux as quoted in the entry for 23 August in Treasury of Daily Prayer, 650

In many and various ways, God spoke to His people of old by the prophets. But now in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. Hebrews 1:1-2a
But our opponents, clever men that they are, pick out garbled sentences to put something over on the inexperienced. Then they add something from their own opinions. It is necessary to consider passages in their context, because according to the common rule it is improper in an argument to judge or reply to a single passage without taking the whole law into account. When passages are considered in their own context, they often yield their own interpretation.
-- Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Quatro Edition, Article IV, Paragraph 280 translated in The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. ( ed. Theodore G. Tappert;Philadelphia: M├╝hlenberg Press, 1959), 149.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

When God encourages us with warnings and exhortations at the same time He stirs up our hearts so that the exhortations are not in vain and do not pass away without effect. Therefore we cannot gather from precepts and exhortations the power a man has of himself or the capacity of his free will, for the attention which the apostle here requires [Hebrews 12:15] is the gift of God.
-- John Calvin, Calvin's New Testament Commentaries: Hebrews and I & II Peter, translated by William B. Johnston, page 196

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you were able to overcome our inbred sinfulness and reflect the love of Christ in everything you thought, said and did? You would be stricken, smitten and afflicted, scorned and rejected by men. Sadly, you are not able; gladly, Jesus is. (Hebrews 12:3-4)