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The story is told about the baptism of King Aengus by St. Patrick in the middle of the fifth century. Sometime during the rite, St. Patrick leaned on his sharp-pointed staff and inadvertently stabbed the king’s foot. After the baptism was over, St. Patrick looked down at all the blood, realized what he had done, and begged the king’s forgiveness.
Why did you suffer this pain in silence, the Saint wanted to know.
The king replied, “I thought it was part of the ritual.”
Knowing the Face of God, Tim Stafford, p. 121ff
D. Greg Ebie
ILLUSTRATION: A senior pastor who told his handsome new assistant pastor to avoid the dangers of immorality in the ministry. The assistant pastor quite sure of himself said, "I’ll do much of my socializing in groups, there is safety in numbers." The wise senior pastor however responded, "Yes, there is safety in numbers, but there is more safety in Exodus!" RUN AWAY FROM SIN! – Source Unknown
Advertising treats all products with the reverence and the seriousness due to sacraments.
Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
Whenever Joshua and his men looked up, they saw Moses standing there - holding the staff of the Lord high in the air. God had told Moses in Exodus 4:17 to take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it. They had seen God split the Red Sea with that staff and turn the Nile to blood. They had heard of how it could turn into a snake and how it swallowed the Egyptians snakes. This staff had the promise of God’s miraculous power behind it. This same LORD had promised them that they would make it to the Promised Land. He promised them a Savior through their offspring. With that encouragement of LORD’s promise behind the staff - the Israelites fought on and won the war.
The funny thing is that this would seem so foolish to the Amalekites. Could you imagine the army joking, “Why on earth is he holding that stick up in the air? Do these guys honestly believe that that piece of wood is going to save them?”
The foolishness of this whole scenario showed God’s strength. God saved the Israelites through a piece of wood. God also saves us through a piece of wood. We call it a cross. We say the cross saves us. We put it on our altar. We talk about it. We put it around our necks. Now, the world would call us superstitious for putting a piece of wood up on our altar. They say, “look at those fools - believing in someone who died a criminals death over 2,000 years ago to save them from their sins!” But they don’t understand - we’re not worshiping the piece of wood or trusting in the wood, we’re worshiping and trusting in the promise behind the piece of wood. Peter says in 1 Peter 2:24 that Je...
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE CHURCH
Calvin, who saw that the Devil’s chief device was disunity and division and who preached that there should be friendly fellowship for all ministers of Christ, made a similar point in a letter to a trusted colleague:
"Among Christians there ought to be so great a dislike of schism, as that they may always avoid it so fast as lies in their power. That there ought to prevail among them such a reverence for the ministry of the word and the sacraments that wherever they perceive these things to be, there they must consider the church to exist...nor need it be of any hindrance that some points of doctrine are not quite so pure, seeing that there is scarcely any church which has not retained some remnants of former ignorance."
SOURCE: Charles W. Colson, The Body, 1992, Word Publishing, p. 107-108.
Those who don’t understand the food that God gives, those who don’t see how deep their need is for it, also consider the Gospel and Sacrament as ’fleeting’, and they seek some new ’rush’ in worship, desiring an emotional high, no matter how lacking in nutrition such a meal is. It’s like the hospital patient who must be hooked to an IV and absolutely cannot eat; he cries out for the food he wants, but only the food he needs--the food that is so easy to despise--will save Him. As that clumsy IV pole can be our ’best friend’ in the hospital, so the wrappings of the Lord’s Supper--the liturgy and hymns that exalt it, but, maybe, don’t make us stomp and dance--the liturgy and hymns that bring us the life-creating and -sustaining Gospel are what we need; like the other things of this world, ’emotional highs’ do not endure.
(But) Jesus gives us something that will last, and He gives it through this Divine Service: He gives us Himself, the eternal Bread of Life. If we rely on Him, our spirit need never hunger or thirst, because the fulness of salvation and peace is ours. As David says: "The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want." We lack nothing, but have a God who has richly provided for us both in this world and in the world to come.
A. Todd Coget
When you work around the church a while it comes quite naturally, the laughter of cynical disbelief.
In 1986 the United Methodist General Conference, on the last day of two weeks of meetings, passed a resolution that said we were going to make 9 million new United Methodists by about 1994--this in a denomination that had been losing about 65,000 members every year since the early seventies.
Nine million new United Methodists!
Well, I laughed.
I thought, Isn’t this typical!
We don’t want to do the systemic changes in our church that would enable us to reach out and get new people.
This is just window dressing, sloganeering, platitudes.
We aren’t serious about it; it’s just more guilt to lay on pastors’ backs!
I went home and wrote an article, "My Dog the Methodist."
In it I argued that there was no way in heaven we were going to make 9 million new Methodists unless we started baptizing dogs.
And I offered as a fit recipient for the sacrament of baptism my mixed-breed terrier sleeping in my garage.
I said, "This dog, as far as I know, has shown no interest in biblical studies. Therefore, it would make a perfect Methodist."
I also said, "This dog has the sexual ethics of some members of my former congregations."
When the article came out in The Christian Century, not everybody laughed.
The magazine lost about four subscriptions, and two Methodist bishops have not spoken to me since.
But I was serious.
The cynicism behind that move!
We don’t intend to really change the way we would have to change to be that kind of church.
[Laughing at the Church, Citation: "Evangelical Laughter," Preaching Today, Tape No. 137.]
“Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church…The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, withou...
(Charles W. Colson, The Body, 1992, Word Publishing, p. 70.)
Yet membership in a confessing body is fundamental to the faithful Christian life. Failure to do so defies the explicit warning not to forsake "our assembling together." His understanding of this prompted Martin Luther to say, "Apart from the church, salvation is impossible." Not that the church provides salvation; God does. But because the "saved" one can’’t fulfill what it means to be a Christian apart from the church, membership becomes the indispensable mark of salvation.
"So highly does the Lord esteem the communion of His church," Calvin wrote," that He considers everyone a traitor and apostate from religion who perversely withdraws himself from any Christian society which preserves the true ministry of the word and sacraments."
Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is Gods handwriting a wayside sacrament.