On Tuesday morning the pastors of Lutheran Saints in Ministry gather in Fairborn Ohio to discuss the texts for Sunday.

These are the contributions that are brought to the table.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Liturgy of Hope - Pr. Kruse

Article I: Of God.
1] Our Churches, with common consent, do teach that the decree of the Council of Nicaea concerning the Unity of the Divine Essence and concerning the Three Persons, is true and to be believed without any doubting; 2] that is to say, there is one Divine Essence which is called and which is God: eternal, without body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the Maker and Preserver of all things, visible and invisible; and 3] yet there are three Persons, of the same essence and power, who also are coeternal, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And the term "person" 4] they use as the Fathers have used it, to signify, not a part or quality in another, but that which subsists of itself.
5] They condemn all heresies which have sprung up against this article, as the Manichaeans, who assumed two principles, one Good and the other Evil: also the Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, Mohammedans, and all such. 6] They condemn also the Samosatenes, old and new, who, contending that there is but one Person, sophistically and impiously argue that the Word and the Holy Ghost are not distinct Persons, but that "Word" signifies a spoken word, and "Spirit" signifies motion created in things.

No, I have not looked up what all these heresies listed in the Augsburg Confession taught. The fact that Melanchton saw it necessary to write down so many of them might ought to give us cause to ponder: How useful is the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity if its prime practical application seems to be misunderstand it? 
Don’t think its over either. I had a friendly interchange with a Pentecostal acquaintance who is dead certain that the whole thing was made up at Nicea. God is one, and acts as Father in the Old Testament, Jesus in the New and as the Holy Spirit now. He asserts that baptism ought to be in the name of Jesus - I counter that if what he says about the oneness of God is correct than why is he baptizing in the name of Jesus and not in the name of the Holy Spirit? He comes back with 9 passages where baptism is done “in the name of Jesus,” and I counter that that that same Jesus commands  it ought to be in the Name of the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit and . . . then he unfriended me. Nicea lives.

Scripture is full of liturgies. It begins with a litany — Genesis 1— and ends in a book that is fairly much a compendium of liturgies — Revelation. I know, the order of the books as we have it today is but accident more than anything else, though there is no denying that a book about the beginning and one about the eschaton ought to be at opposite ends of the library known as scripture. 
The liturgies recorded in Genesis 1 and in Revelation have commonality. Their end is community. Community!? Have you read Revelation? Yes, I have. In the beginning “a wind from God swept over the face of the waters,” (1:2) and as the hymn would tell: “God whose almighty word Chaos and Darkness heard and took their flight.” In that short battle between emptiness, void, chaos, darkness, and the creator of creation the will of the creator is revealed. From chaos there will be order. As the litany of Genesis 1 completes, from the dim of chaos will come the splendor of creation. The same is true of Revelation. Out of the dim despair of sin and the chaos of war, oppression, and suffering eventually arises a new creation through a cataclysmic battle that had only one outcome at its very outset. The same “armies” fights both battles. The same overwhelming force wins both of them utterly. 
At battles’ end there is a sense that holy completeness has been arrived at. In Revelation’s case  the conclusion of individual sorties in the battle drive that point home by a holy silence. In Genesis, it is a word that does so: It is good. In both case, completeness has come and in both cases God is both master and end of that completeness. In both cases, God then dwells in that completeness and creation or new creation dwell there with God. Community. Unity. Trinity?

Rublev’s great icon of the Holy Trinity — the only “orthodox” icon of the matter — shows three fairly indistinguishable figures sitting at table over a challis. Their position at table, which is round, invites the church to look and see that there is a place for her at table. The battles have been won. Creation, salvation, sanctification, resurrection, are all in that cup that is shared between the three figures and her who invited to take her place at the table with them in holy community: the church. Without her, this picture is incomplete. But God is not content with lose ends so a place is indeed left there for her.

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