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One Fruit Cake Too Many! Third Saturday of Advent – 14.12.20

personalized-christmas-cookies-500x262A brief offering for you today – in light of the growing pile of Christmas goodies on your kitchen counters.

(First, let me preface this with an apology to any over-sensitive Germans there might be out there. I’m just quoting Luther!)

Today, we hit upon this Advent-related verse from 1 Peter: “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.Now, when I think of being “sober”, I think about avoiding the effects of inebriation. Luther has a broader view….

schlaraffenland2“’To be sober’ means that we eat and drink only sufficient, so that the body may practice abstinence and perform its functions aright … On this subject there should be a great deal of preaching, for we Germans are about sinking in ruin under the shameful vice of overeating and overdrinking!”

I rarely connect my physical fitness with my spiritual life. But Luther does, and calls us all to temperance in our appetites – not so we’ll look good, feel good, or live longer, but that our prayer lives would be stronger! What do you think?

(And a brief word about 16th century Germans: I don’t know anything about your eating habits, but I must venture a calculated guess that you didn’t suffer the propensity to obesity that we collectively experience in 21st America, land of fast lifestyles and fast foods. If anything, we need to hear Luther’s thoughts more than the people of his day did!)

Again, in the irony that is the Advent-turned-commercial-Christmas season, what once was a time dedicated to heightened discipline has turned rather into a less-than-holy-day of license, even gluttony. Fitness clubs’ biggest month of the year is January, partly because everyone lets themselves go during the days around Christmas.

sfIf Luther is right … could our over-eating be a key reason why Jesus has slipped from being the reason for the season? Is there any chance that some of us might do the edifying, counter-cultural thing … that is, stay disciplined during this season, allow Christ and His Word to remain on the throne of our lives, and help make the holy-day genuinely holy?

By the way, our feast is coming on the 25th … and for 12 days after that! Hang on, everyone! And pray richly and deeply during these last few days of Advent as we prepare for the true celebration ahead.

E     *     O

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2014 in Advent 2014, Discipleship

 

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First Thursday of Advent – 14.12.04

“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:13-15)

keep-calm-and-gird-your-loins-1Be alert and sober. Or as another translation says, “prepare your mind for action.” These are both paraphrases of what Peter literally says: “Gird up the loins of your mind!” (I think I’m happy for the paraphrase!)

This is an Advent-specific passage, in that it deals with preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ. I don’t know about you, but I find being spiritually alert during the holidays to be uniquely difficult. I tend to cut myself all kinds of slack, knowing that my New Year’s resolutions are right around the corner – when I can diet again, exercise again, be spiritual again… until then, I let the loins of my mind go ungirded.

Peter, and Luther, say no. Especially during Advent! Jesus Christ is going to be revealed at His coming! And we are eagerly awaiting that coming (that’s what Advent is all about). So – what should we be doing in the meantime? We are called to be alert. Sober. Prepared. Girded. Ready.

Luther makes this bold statement: “To be sober is the chief part of faith.” You see, a life based on faith doesn’t just happen. You have to have Biblical truth impressed on you by the Spirit, pray over your actions, align your will with the will of God, and step out in righteousness. You’ve got to be sober-minded to live this life.

But, once we become a Christian, isn’t obedience easy? Hardly. Again, Luther:

luther-inkwell-demon-art

Luther Throwing an Inkwell at the Devil

“When man through faith becomes at once justified, he is not yet entirely free of evil desires. Faith has indeed commenced to bring the flesh into subjection; but it still continually bestirs itself and rages at times in all kinds of lust, which would gladly again be experienced and act according to their own will. Therefore the Spirit has to work daily to bridle and suppress lust, to slay it thus without intermission … wherever faith is true and pure, it must attack the body and hold it, as it were, with a bridle!”

This doesn’t happen if there’s no sobriety. And there is simply never a time to let up. Satan doesn’t slow down his activity, just because it’s the holidays. Rather, I sense he’s about some of his most diabolical schemes during these weeks.

I feel it even as I’m typing this. I sense that you’re thinking the same as you read. “C’mon…its Christmas! Can’t we just relax?”

Hold fast to the treasure of the Gospel now, and place your trust in it with all your affections, so that yours may be a true faith and not a painted or devised fancy and dream … It must not be a lazy and sleepy faith or dream, but a living and active thing!”

Now that’s practicing Advent. Keep the faith!

 

 

E     *     O

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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