Sunday, August 28, 2011

An Interesting Week

Any week that begins with an earthquake and ends with a hurricane must qualify as an interesting week! The hurricane actually wasn't as bad as many expected here, as it stayed far enough east that it really only skirted us, just like many of the snow storms last winter. We got a bunch of rain and some hard winds, but not enough to cause any real damage. Some downed trees and branches, some folks without power. No flooding (to my knowledge) in the area. As for me and my family, we only lost power for approximately 1.5 seconds around midnight, just long enough to . . . yes, you guessed it . . . reset all the clocks in the house! A few more branches down around the church, but an easy clean up. We even had pretty good attendance today! More than I expected. I have good folks.

Next week will have trouble living up this this past week! One of the guys on the radio said that after an earthquake and a hurricane, the locusts should be on the way! :-) Next week, however, I do start school on Wednesday, and we kick off another year of campus ministry on Tuesday - hopefully we'll be able to qualify for RSO status this year. So lots of good stuff going on. AND football season is almost here! Yes! Go Eagles.

That's all for now. Have a great week, y'all.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

More on Matthew 16:27

(Note: This is a continuation of my "thinking out loud" in the last post. Read that one first if you don't understand this one!)

In the Greek Testament, the end of Matthew 16:27 ("he will repay each person according to what he has done") is shown to be a quotation from Psalm 62:13 (that's verse 12 in your English Bible.) That Psalm is a psalm of trusting in the Lord, who is our refuge and strength - not a psalm about "works" at all. Sadly, the Lutheran Study Bible does not show these words from Matthew to be a quotation, nor do they include Ps 62 as a cross reference for this verse in the footnote. Hmmm. But I think this helps support my thought that the "his work" here could be a reference to Christ and His work for us, and not what we do.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Just Thinking Out Loud

The Holy Gospel for this Sunday in my church is Matthew 16:21-28, wherein is this verse:

For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

Normally, when this verse is heard, we begin thinking of what we have done, how many sins, how many good works, and the repayment we deserve for them. In such an understand, the "he" in "according to what he has done" is "each person."

But what if we understand the "he" the same as all the rest of the pronouns in this verse? Then it would sound quite different! It would be:

For the Son of Man is going to come with [the Son of Man's] angels in the glory of [the Son of Man's] Father, and then [the Son of Man] will repay each person according to what [the Son of Man] has done.

In such an understanding, we are then not looking at ourselves, but at Christ. This also seems to fit the context. For these verses come right after Peter's great confession, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," and follow Jesus' statement that He must suffer and die and rise again. And this is what makes all the difference in the world - not what we do. And so the difference then becomes Christ's for you and His cross for you. Whether or not you have received Christ for you, by grace through faith, is how you will be repaid.

Now, this interpretation can also accommodate the first, for as Christians we "do" Christ as He lives in us. But then the focus is still off of us and on Christ. Or, as St. Paul said to the Galatians:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

What we do are the fruits of the faith, but it is the grace of God in Christ and His cross that saves us.

Just thinkin' out loud . . .

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Funny Stuff Found on the Web

Just for a smile today . . .

#1: August 10 was the Commemoration of St. Lawrence, Martyr, who was put to death by being roasted over fire. So . . .

What did Jesus say to St. Lawrence when he got to heaven?
Well done, good and faithful servant."

I know, ugh!

HT: Dr. Larry Rast

#2: A picture of the earthquake devastation in Washington, DC. (Make sure you read the comments here, too. There are some pretty good ones!)

HT: Dr. Gene Veith

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


No, our earthquake today wasn't as bad as this picture! But you'd think it was by the frenzied the media coverage. Good grief.

I was in a local Starbucks doing catechesis when it hit. (Yes, I often do catechesis in Starbucks and locations like it. Part of the fun of not having your own church building!) I was discussing the First Commandment with a young lady when the shaking started. Things did shake quite a bit for about 30 seconds. At first, since we were on a street corner, I thought it was just a truck going past. But when it kept going and got more and more intense, we knew it was an earthquake. My catechumen was a little startled. I thought it was cool. The place emptied out pretty quick, but after a minute or so, we just started back in with our discussion. My catechumen noted how interesting it was that it hit while we were talking about the First Commandment.

I was interested to hear how big it was and where the epicenter was after we finished, but I was not really prepared for the media overkill - though I guess I should have been. A magnitude 5.8 quake isn't a big deal in California, but it is here. The news reports said that the recent Japanese quake was 50,000 times stronger than ours - wow! That would be scary.

Bottom line: there was some minor damage scattered about, but nothing major. The biggest problem was everybody leaving work early and so clogging up all the roads.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Face of Jesus

My family and I spent some time in Philadelphia visiting my father last week. While there, we went to the Philadelphia Art Museum and saw the current special exhibition called "Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus." It was quite interesting. The focus of the exhibition was that Rembrandt painted Christ in more human motifs than had been done before. Up until this time (17th century), it was permitted only to paint the face of Christ in iconic and more god-like styles - but Rembrandt broke with this tradition. It was interesting to see what he did, especially with his two favorites subjects: the Raising of Lazarus and the Road to Emmaus. My favorite, though, was Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.

But I wish there had been a bit more exploration of why Rembrandt broke with tradition as he did. As a Dutch Protestant, did that play a part? The only reference to Rembrandt's religious belief was in discussing a picture he painted of Christ preaching, which spoke of the importance of preaching and the Word in the Reformation. But I wonder if Luther's Theology of the Cross had any influence? What about Cranach? Durer? I really know next to nothing about art (except that I like to look at pictures!) so any of you out there who stumble across this blog know anything about this?

In other news, it's good to be home. No more travels for a while. Have a busy week as we prepare for school to start and try to squeeze in all we can the last week of summer! But I have found that once school starts, things get more manageable. Summer is so busy and hectic; but the routine and schedule of school settles things down a bit. So September and October are actually (usually) good months for me. I am looking forward to them.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Back from Vacation

Well, we're back from vacation. It was a good two weeks. Shut my brain down. Saw and heard very little news - world, national, or sports. Had no idea what was going on with the debt ceiling debate in Washington, no news of the NFL lockout, no knowledge of how my Phillies were doing - nothun'! Just times with my family sightseeing, playing, going to the beach, swimming, and relaxing. It was very, very nice.

What is hard, then, is getting my brain to turn back on when I get home! The first Sunday back is always a struggle. That, and it always seems like my voice isn't as strong after a couple of weeks off. I'm not sure that's really so, but it seems that way. But it always good to be back with my flock and see them again, even though I know they were in good hands while I was away.

I am feeling pretty good now, though, and ready to dive back into things and get some things accomplished . . . which is good, for I have a LOT that needs to get done! I'll post some pictures from the vacation soon, when I get them on my computer.