Saturday, December 13, 2014

Going to Church "All the Time"

During certain bits of the church year, we have daily services.  Even though I cook supper and vacuum and go to work on those days, even though we're in the Divine Service for only an hour or two each day, during the rest of the year it seems like those are seasons when we have church "all the time." 

And when people become ill or elderly, and when they can make it to church only once every month or so, they look back on those years when they attended church weekly as "when I could be at church all the time." 

Sometimes I think the book of Revelation paints heaven as one long never-ending church service.  But maybe "all the time" doesn't mean that we never do anything else.

A Divorce for Mary and Joseph

Should he divorce her?
Or should he go through with the marriage?

I heard it again!  Many people think that Joseph was trying to decide whether to divorce Mary or stick with her.

No.  From his point of view, she had been unfaithful to him.  She was carrying another man's baby.  She obviously wanted to be with that other guy.  He could let her marry the baby's father, let her go, divorce her. 

His choice wasn't so much between marriage and divorce.  His choice was more between a quiet, legal divorce or calling her out for her adultery, having her stoned.  Being a just man, a man who believed in mercy, a man who offered forgiveness, he did not want her killed for her adulterous affair.  He would spare her life, even if it meant that his own character would be besmirched as one who didn't wait long enough after the wedding ceremony for the coming-together night. 

The angel came to Joseph in a dream. 

Two thousand years earlier, another Joseph dreamed.  That Joseph had an experience where an accusation of adultery was made against an innocent person.  Both the angel and the Bible story corroborated Mary's story.  That's when StayingMarried became an option for Joseph.

Friday, December 12, 2014

But Didn't They Ask the Same Question?

Zachariah to Gabriel: "How shall I know this?  For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years."

Mary to Gabriel:  "How can this be, since I do not know a man?"

Every year, the same question comes up.  How come Zechariah gets in trouble for saying the same thing Mary said?  It's often been said that Zechariah's question came from unbelief and doubt, whereas Mary responded in faith.  But where did we get that idea, anyway?

Well, the story does tell us, point-blank --
The faith of the heart.  Luke 1:20 tells us that Zechariah "did not believe."  Verse 38 says that Mary responded in faith: "according to your word."

More about the difference --
Zachariah was in the temple, confessing sins and praying for the Messiah.  An angel comes from the Lord and announces that the Lord has heard Zechariah's prayer.  Even though he was right smackdab in the middle of praying for the things the angel announced, still Zachariah said "no" when he heard the message.
According to church tradition, Mary was going about her daily chores when the angel came to her. 

Also, notice there is a difference in the questions --
Zachariah asks, "How shall I know?" while Mary asks, "How can this be?"  Those may sound like the same question to us.  But the answer to Zechariah's question is, "Uh, excuse me.  I'm an angel.  I've been sent by the Lord.  And I just TOLD you, for pity's sake.  And what I told you was from the prophet Malachi.  That's how you shall know.  And besides, good golly, don't you remember the stories in the Scriptures where an old man and a barren woman had a baby?  This has happened before, you know."

Mary on the other hand doesn't ask how to know.  She asks how this can be.  She needs to "test the spirits" (1 John 4:1).  "You're going to have a baby."  "But I haven't known a man."  The angel proceeds to explain that the child will be conceived by the Holy Spirit.  And Mary concludes that this angel speaks in harmony with Isaiah's prophecy. 
Furthermore, Mary leaves Nazareth and heads to Elizabeth's place.  And what does she find?  Elizabeth is pregnant.  Just as the angel said.  Hmmm -- this sounds like a pretty reliable messenger.  She hangs around three more months.  Baby arrives.  Hmmm -- it's a boy.  Just as Gabriel had told her.  This angel agrees with scripture, and what he says comes to pass. 

So let's have no more of this, "But they said the same thing.  Why is one punished for it and the other is not?"

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How's My Faith-Walk Coming Along?

In the story of the Emmaus disciples (Luke 24), the disciples are listening to Jesus preach to them all that the Old Testament taught about the Messiah.  When He blessed and broke and gave them the bread, they realized this fellow was Jesus.  And He disappeared from sight.  Then they said, "Whoa.  Hey!  Yeah.  Our heart burned within us as He taught us!"  And they skeedaddled back to Jerusalem to tell the others.  

Did you notice?  When they were listening to Jesus, their eyes and ears and minds and hearts were captivated by HIM.  They weren't evaluating their feelings.  They weren't thinking about their faith.  They paid no attention whatsoever to their response to His preaching ...

because all they cared about was Him.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Report on Hair Length

7 months ... and it is no longer "boy hair"