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1st Sunday of Advent – 14.11.30

To the elect…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:2).

aug(I’m not going to get into pre-destination here*. Rather than how we are elected, I’m gripped instead by what we are elected for.)

According to Peter’s opening salutation, we are chosen by God to be “sanctified” by the Spirit – literally, “made holy”, or set aside for God’s special purpose. He then says this purpose is obedience to Christ. Easy enough, right?

LutherBut, Luther says (and this jibes with my personal experience) that “it is hard for human nature, hostile to it and exceedingly humiliating, to submit to Christ, give up all its own possessions, and account them contemptible and sinful. But yet it must be brought into subjection.”

This is our holiday-season dilemma. Our human nature wants nothing to do with holiness. Our flesh loves any chance it can get to feed itself with reckless abandon. “Just one more cookie, it’s Christmas!” “Ahh, just buy it – we can pay that off in child-grabbing-cookieJanuary.” The underlying credo behind the season: It’s not the season of disciplined living – it’s the season of unbridled fun!

That dichotomy should make NO sense to the Christian, who truly and genuinely believes that God’s will and ways bring the greatest joy and blessing. Why would we ever put our discipleship on the shelf? Especially during a season that has Christ’s name on it, and is supposedly set aside for His honor and worship?

If the truth be told, I think it’s because many people don’t believe Jesus and His Word. We say we do, but, well, we really don’t. We want to believe so we get eternal life when it’s all over, yes. But, really, we think the descriptions of godly, Spirit-filled living in the pages of the New Testament are have-tos, not get-tos. Deep down, many of us wish wecross carrier could have our salvation cake, and eat all the sins we want, too.

The advent season reminds me of this sobering reality: God says to live one way, but there’s something in me that wants to table that lifestyle, and instead indulge in the world. The classical Advent season, which had been a corporate call to “let every heart prepare Him room”, has now been deconstructed and reassembled into a December-long commercial-bonanza/flesh-feeding-frenzy. Do I go along for the ride? Or do I stand up against the cultural tide, and insist on living differently?

The season becomes a test of what I really believe: If God’s way truly is the best, why would I stray from it, even for a moment?

E     *     O

* As Luther says, “Be not so bold as to try to explore the depths of the divine foreknowledge with the human reason, for thus you will certainly go astray, you will either begin to doubt or be thrown overboard to take your chances…if we consider the foreknowledge of God in the manner Paul is accustomed to do, then it is comforting beyond measure. Whoever considers it differently, to him it is something horrible.”

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2014 in Advent 2014, Early Church, Uncategorized

 

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Advent 2014 with Peter and Martin

adventAdvent, 2014

This year for the Advent season, I will once again offer a daily blog. Some have used these blogs as seasonal devotionals that encourage them to remain focused in the appropriate, counter-cultural approach to the embrace of a classical Advent.

(…Which, by the way, is to enter into a season of preparation and hope. not carnal indulgence. Classically, Advent has been a season of elevated discipline and thoughtful preparation – “what would you do if you knew Jesus was returning on the 25th?” Our culture has taken the weeks before Christmas and turned them into a season of undisciplined license, particularly in terms of spending and diet. “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?” Perhaps not, if he comes during the holidays! So, rather than being duped to believe that unbridling our fleshly appetites is the path to happiness…believers in Christ, who know better, instead take the season to re-up their longing for lives well-lived – both in heaven to come, and on earth as it is in heaven.)

Luther TreeThis year, I’m going to spend time in a New Testament book that speaks much of our living hope in Christ, and to preparing one’s mind for action to live out the appropriate daily life as we await His coming. The book is 1 Peter. And, I’ll be walking through it with a commentary on that book from Martin Luther. You see, during the past year, I have sojourned over to the Lutheran tradition. So, to walk hand in hand with a newly-adopted spiritual father will be a real treat. And, knowing Dr. Luther, it will be quite challenging as well.

Welcome. And a blessed Advent season to you all.

Bill

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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