Monday, February 28, 2005

Sermon - Lent 3 - Ephesians 5:8-14

Lent 3 – February 27th, 2005
Ephesians 5:8-14

Text: (Ephesians 5:8-14, NIV) For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

I. Introduction –

“Let there be light” – the first words spoken by our Lord, as recorded in the creation account of Genesis. And what an important creation light is. Where would we be without light? Very simply: in the dark.
Today’s readings carry a common thread – a focus on blindness versus sight, and light versus darkness.

In particular we look at the Epistle reading from Ephesians, to see how Paul uses this thing called light to show God’s goodness and mercy in Jesus Christ. We will see at least three ways in which the metaphor of light sheds light on our understanding of Jesus, the Light of the World.

II. What You Were, What You Are

First, Light is descriptive of you and me – us believers!
Sometimes scripture speaks of us being in the light, or seeing the light, or walking in the light. But here Paul says the believer IS light. And that before we were light we WERE darkness. It’s a strong metaphor. And it evokes that universal association of light with all that is good, and darkness with all that is evil.

Why are children (and some adults) afraid of the dark? Why do we speak ominously about “things that go bump in the night”? Something in us seems to associate the bad, the evil, with darkness. Even non-Christians “get” this.

But how clearly do we see that we are born AS darkness. Like the man born blind in our Gospel reading, only not physical but spiritual blindness. Are we blind, or do we see our own sinfulness. Are we spiritually blind, like the Pharisees, to how deep and sore our rebellion against God goes.

Paul says that we were not just once under darkness, or in some shadow. He doesn’t say we were kind of dim, or just not so bright. He doesn’t say we were illumination-challenged. We were darkness. Implying that our whole nature was corrupt, violent, evil, selfish, tainted, tarnished, broken, and devoid of any hint of goodness or light whatsoever. This is what sin looks like. And it is not pretty.

But that is a past tense statement. “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord”. Not in ourselves, but in the Lord, everything changes. We go from dark to light, from bad to good, from wicked to holy, from having nothing to having everything, from poor to rich, from death to life, from hell to heaven, from sin to righteousness… and we could go on… But the point is the strong contrast between where we were on our own, and where God has brought us through Christ our Lord. It’s as different as night and day, darkness and light.

III. Light That Exposes, Light That Blinds

Paul talks about the deeds of darkness. Those shameful things that are done in secret, in the dark. Evil that is done in darkness, perhaps because the doer knows it is sinful, and doesn’t want to be exposed. Maybe that’s why it seems more evil is done in the dark of night – robberies, murders, prostitution, drugs. Maybe the cover of darkness gives some a sense that their deeds will be hidden (though it also seems people are becoming more bold about sinning in the light of day). But no amount of darkness can hide sin from the all-knowing righteous judges. He knows what we do in secret. He knows even our sinful thoughts. And He does not turn a blind eye to such things.

Paul says to expose such deeds of darkness, and to bring light to bear upon them. But does that mean we are to run around pointing out the secret sins of others? Well, sometimes a sin must be called a sin. But my sense here is now that Paul means exposing the sins of our own life. Just as Jesus would warn us about the log in our own eye before we inspect our neighbor’s for specks. So too, the idea here seems to be light shed on our own lives first – and that light is the light of God’s word.

It’s a light that exposes our sins – the light of His law. No more are they hidden, when we understand the true depth of what God expects from us according to his law – perfection – we have no wiggle room left. There is no dark corner into which we can retreat with our sins. They are exposed. We are exposed. And our need for forgiveness becomes crystal clear.

Of course, sometimes, that same light is so bright, it brings blindness. As a child, I was always warned not to look right at the sun, or directly into a bright light – that I could go blind. Of course, what does that make you want to try and do? So I did it… and temporarily, at least, you can’t see. Or in the middle of the night, if suddenly someone were to flip on the bedroom light – your eyes would squint as they try to adjust, maybe you wouldn’t see so well at first.

When the light of God’s law is shined on sinners, it is sometimes the same. Here, the Pharisees in our Gospel reading were blinded by the light of Christ. So full of themselves, so convinced of their self-righteousness, they were blind to the real sin. Their eyes were completely adjusted to the darkness. And when the light of the law was shined upon them, it only blinded them more.

IV. Light That Awakens From Death

But there is another function of light that cannot be forgotten. When light comes, particularly the light of dawn, that light awakens! The ancient Christian hymn that Paul quotes here says it well:

"Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

The Christian, who was once darkness, has been made light, and a child of light, and a light to the world. We are reflective of the true Light of the World, Jesus Christ, Light of Light, our bright Morning Star, and Sun of Righteousness. He makes us part of His light by destroying sin, death, the devil – yes, all the forces of darkness.

He entered the darkest depths of the shadow of death, as He suffered on the cross for us. Even the Sun itself stopped shining, as the true light of Creation was being snuffed out. And what darkness of the soul, when God turned his back on His only Son – “My God, why have you forsaken me?”. And the thud of the stone which sealed his grave brought a darkness which many found hopeless, as his lifeless body was left there to decay.

BUT THEN THE LIGHT DAWNED! As Easter sunshine filled the sky, the Light of the World returned in full radiance! Ultimate darkness was chased away forever when Christ rose from the dead. The forces of darkness were dispersed – to be seen no more. Light and Life won the day!

And His rising is our rising. Because He conquered death, we need not fear it. Because He won the victory, we will not be defeated. And because He is the True Light, we are partakers of that light – a light which shines on our dark world, our darkened souls, and awakens us to a new life of holiness and righteousness forever. In Christ, a new day has dawned for the sinner under the shadow of death. When he shines on us, we awaken, and live!

He shines on us when the dawn of faith breaks in at Holy Baptism. He shines on us as we receive his body and blood for forgiveness. He shines on us as we read and hear and learn and pray on sing of His Holy Word of Scripture – and as we gather with other Christians to do so. Through Word and Sacrament he shines on us, sheds light on our souls, and continually chases away the darkness with His True Light.

And such light is everlasting. It does not fade away. So when we die, and darkness overtakes us, we yet dwell in light. And one day the darkness of even the grave will be swallowed up in the bright beams of the resurrection of all faithful Christians. Then, dwelling in His Holy City forever, we will need no light, nor lamp, nor sun – for Christ will be our light.

So today – Darkness and Light. The Darkness that we were (in sin), and the light that we are (in Christ). The Light that exposes, the Light that sometimes blinds. But for those of us who have seen, through the eyes of faith, the Light of Christ awakens us – even from death.

V. Conclusion

Paul uses the universal metaphors of light and darkness to shed light on faith in Christ. May we ever bask in the light shed by Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Hymn - "Grant, Lord Jesus, Those in Blindness"

"Grant, Lord Jesus, Those in Blindness"
Tune: Der am Kreuz
(LW #95 "Grant, Lord Jesus, that my Healing")

Grant, Lord Jesus, those in blindness
Born into this world of sin
Grant to them Your loving-kindness
Cleanse them of the guilt within
Let the blood of Jesus be
Healing balm that we may see
Washed by Word and Water Holy
Gaze upon our True Light only

To the man born blind and begging
Messianic mercy shown
Spit and dust, balm of Your making
Medicine this world unknown
When the mud You had applied
Washed with water from his eyes
Sight would come and then believing
Eyes of faith would soon be seeing

When the Pharisees heard of it
Put the once-blind man to test
He then called You, Lord, a prophet
With true insight he was blessed
So blind were those Pharisees
Their own sin they could not see
Could not see their souls' damnation
Or in You God's free salvation

Grant us, Jesus, when in blindness
Groping, fumbling, lost in sin
Grant to us Your loving-kindness
Light from Heaven breaking in
Shine light on our failing eyes
Open them to see the prize
By Your Spirit grant us vision,
Faith and blessing for Your mission.

© Thomas E. Chryst, 2005

Sermon - Lent 2 - John 4:5-42

Lent 2 – February 20th, 2005
John 4:5-42
“More than Small-Talk”

I. Introduction –

Smalltalk – commenting on the weather, inquiring about the wife and kids, “how ‘bout them Packers” and such. There have even been books written on the fine art of small-talk. But it’s something most of us do without thinking. But then, sometimes small talk gets bigger.

Most of us have also had a conversation or two, which we might call pretty “deep”. Maybe it was a late night heart-to-heart, or a long car-ride somewhere. Maybe it started with something common enough, but ended up with ultimate questions like, “where is my life going?” “what is really important here?” “what’s the meaning of it all?”

Oh the turns and twists of conversation… as John walks us through Jesus’ dialogue with the Samaritan woman. As we reflect on this important conversation, we might ask what Jesus is also saying to us, this morning.

II. From Water to Living Water

I suppose you could say, it started out with small-talk. Jesus, the true human that he was – hungry – had sent his disciples to get food. Tired, he sat down to rest, and thirsty, he asked the woman who had come to the well for a simple drink of water. It was an everyday situation, or so it seemed.

What caught the woman off guard is not that a stranger would talk to her, but that he was a man. Men didn’t usually acknowledge women, and especially for a Jewish man to make small talk with a Samaritan woman – well, let’s just say this was a bit of an odd couple. Jews and Samaritans, Men and Women – people who didn’t usually speak at all. But Jesus was full of surprises that day.

Just as intentionally as he opens this unexpected conversation, he directs its course. First asking her for water, he gets her attention by tapping a subject deeper than the well. He offered her “living water”. What did he mean by “living water” – well, simply, quenching the thirst of the soul. He himself, the Savior, is that water – the forgiveness he brings, and the life he gives – the spirit he sends – everything, all of it, is the living water of which Jesus spoke. She didn’t understand it, how could she, but she was intrigued. After all, coming to this well everyday was hard work, and not being thirsty anymore sure sounded good to her.

Jesus intrigues us with the Gospel too. He offers us something. Maybe we don’t understand it at first so well either. But we know we are thirsty, that we have a need. We want to hear more about this “living water” too. But rather than explain it, Jesus applies it. He begins to give her the living water – that is, exactly what she needs. He changes the topic. He goes from the tame topic of water to the uncomfortable topic of sin…

III. From Water to Sins

“Go get your husband”. “I have no husband”. “No, you had 5 husbands – but the man you are living with isn’t your husband is he?” Jesus cuts to the chase, cuts through the veil of polite conversation, and gently but firmly and directly points the woman to her sin. He is to give her the living water, but the first part of this is to lead her to see the need, to remind her of the real thirst – for forgiveness.

When our weekly conversation with Jesus called worship begins, we too are reminded of our sin. The liturgy points us to our own sins just as surely as Jesus exposed the woman at the well. Our sins are many and varied, thought, word, deed, sins done, and sins by leaving things undone.

Perhaps we are beset by a certain sin, a glaring weakness or problem in our life. Perhaps we are caught in a sexual sin – perhaps even the same sin as this Samaritan woman – living in sin with someone who is not our spouse. The sin of fornication.

Whatever our sin, it may seem there is no real way out. Perhaps we make excuses for our sin, or take comfort in the fact that society endorses it. Perhaps we console ourselves with the old argument, “Yeah, but look how much worse the other sinners are…” Maybe we just don’t think it’s such a big deal.

But Jesus would beg to differ. Jesus does not overlook sin, he comes to address it. He calls the sinner to repentance, and applies the forgiveness won by his blood.

Whatever our sin is, it is never comfortable to speak of. Though some don’t even like our very general corporate confession made in worship – not wanting to admit to even being a sinner – most of us have no problem doing so. But if anyone were to ever point to a particular sin, might our reaction be a different story? Might we get defensive? Might we shift the blame, or make excuses? Or might we, like the woman at the well, seek to change the subject?

IV. From “Where” to “Whom”

Now, she wants to talk about worship. “I see you are a prophet!” Let’s argue religion. Now the woman too breaks one of the cardinal rules of polite conversation and brings up religion. Some have suggested she was avoiding talking about her sin. Perhaps. Others have said this is a tacit confession, that yes, Jesus, you are right about my sin. Now let’s talk about how I can be cleansed. What sacrifices do I need to make, to whom, and where – to get this all taken care of. Let’s talk religion.

Whatever the woman’s reason for turning the topic to places of worship, she had certainly opened another can of worms. For Jews and Samaritans disagreed deeply over religion. Jews worshipped God at the temple, where He had promised to dwell. Samaritans set up their own temple, their own places of worship, and thus made for themselves a new religion, really.

The Samaritan religion used only the first 5 books of the Old Testament. Is it any wonder that Jesus said, “you Samaritans worship what you do not know”? But more than just scold her for faulty religion, Jesus moves beyond the Samaritan/Jewish distinction, and announces a new era of religion where worship is not bound to geographical place. Worship in Spirit and Truth – will be coming, and HAS NOW ARRIVED in the Messiah, He, himself, Jesus Christ.

All this sounds good to the woman, and she makes a sort of confession of her faith. She looked forward to the coming Messiah, who would explain it all.

Jesus responds, “I who speak to you am He”, and by doing so, he “opens the floodgates of living waters” The woman comes to faith, and even testifies to her entire town, inviting them to come and hear this man of amazing words. But more amazing than the small-talk, even more amazing than the prophetic wisdom, was the announcement of God’s grace and mercy in the arrival of the long awaited Messiah, who had arrived on the scene with his gift of Living Water.

Jesus takes the question of true religion, right worship, and how to deal with sin –
And he again changes the subject. Now instead of where, or how, or even what – the real question is WHO? And Jesus makes it clear – He is the answer. He is the way, the only way to the Father. He is the Truth, by which we receive the Spirit and know the Father. And He is the Life – the Living, Life-giving Water that he offers is His very self – crucified for the woman at the well, and for the Samaritans, and for the Jews, and for all people, and for you and me. HE is the life that conquered death by rising to life again – and better than a fountain of youth, his resurrection guarantees eternal life for all who believe.

As we, the people of God, gather once again this day around the well of His grace in Jesus Christ, we cherish again the Living Water. We acknowledge the gifts given in the Baptismal waters, in the Holy Meal of his own Body and Blood, and in the very Word of Truth we are blessed to hear. More than mere small-talk, the words of Christ are powerful, precious, eternal, and true. They point out sin, they forgive sin, and they bring life and faith. We, who have heard these words today, confess with the ancient Samaritans of Sychar, “have heard for ourselves… that this man really is the Savior of the world!”

V. Conclusion

As Jesus dialogues with the woman at the well, He offers more than small-talk. As the conversation runs its course, Jesus in turn offers the gift, points to sin, and again to His mercy. Jesus makes a believer out of her!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Hymn - "Jesus Came to Jacob's Well"

"Jesus Came to Jacob's Well"
Tune: Liebster Jesu
(LW 226 "Dearest Jesus, We are Here")

Jesus came to Jacob's well
Thirst had brought Him, water seeking
Resting there for just a spell
Still He did not stop from speaking
Though He asked for water from her
He came yet with more to offer

Strange to her that He would speak
He a man from yonder Jew'ry
Why would converse so He seek?
Still His words convicted truly
How He spoke of water living,
Water soon He would be giving.

Jesus knew her, knew her sin
That she was not married rightly
Jesus showed, to her chagrin
God does not take sinning lightly
Yet, now, with her conscience shaken
Thirst for grace He had awakened.

Then the flood of mercy came
To the well upon the mountain
Living water, in His name
He the source, and he the fountain
He the Christ, bestowing favor
He declared himself the Savior.

Lord grant us who also thirst
Living water, welling in us
By your word, a fountain burst
Cleanse, relieve, refresh and fill us
For in our baptismal waters
We are your own sons and daughters

© Thomas E. Chryst, 2005.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Sermon - Lent 1 - Matthew 4:1-11

Lent 1, February 13th, 2005
Matthew 4:1-11
“The Word Can Fell Him”

I. Introduction –
The Season of Lent has begun. And as if someone has dimmed the liturgical lights, the mood of our worship, the tone of our services now changes. Lent is a time of reflection, penitence, sobriety, and meditation – especially on the more serious aspects of our faith. Lent sets its sites on the cross, and the suffering and death of Christ. In Lent, we “hold our breath” in a way, singing no Alleluias, reserving them until our celebration of Easter joy.

As we begin our 40 day pilgrimage to Calvary’s cross, our journey begins by recalling Christ’s 40 days in the wilderness. There, while fasting, Jesus was hounded by the Devil. Perhaps a familiar event to many of us, but worth reflection, as this event in Christ’s life reminds us not only of the reality of evil and the Devil, but also that Christ has defeated the enemy on our behalf!

II. Devilish Deeds
The Devil is real. Though even many Christians have come to doubt the existence of this, our great spiritual foe. Still, scripture makes it clear – the Devil is real. And he is a real problem. Of the 3 sources of evil – the Devil, the sinful World, and our own sinful self… it is not always clear which is at work. Perhaps because we are so sinful in our own right, the Devil doesn’t have to work so hard to cause us grief. Nonetheless, the agenda of the evil 3 is the same – and the Devil, whether personally involved or not, gleefully approves of sin and evil ruling the lives of people.

Satan means “accuser”. He points out our sin, accuses our consciences, tries to make us doubt God’s love and forgiveness.

The word “devil” means “slanderer”. He is called the “Father of Lies” and has been telling them since the first lie to Eve, “you will surely not die”. He is also the master of half-truths, or lies filled with enough truth to make them even more potent. He is a powerful opponent.

He is against us. He wants to harm us. It’s the ultimate case of “misery loves company”. He would make us suffer here on earth, as he did to Job, taking away all our possessions, relationships, our health, even life itself.
But the real harm the Devil means us is spiritual Harm. Just like our first parents, Adam and Eve, whom he successfully coaxed from innocence into sin – the Devil is still up to his old tricks. He would see us fall into sin, he would see us fall away from our faith. And because our nature is corrupt already – we don’t stand much of a chance against the Devil’s temptations. Our sinful self, our Old Adam, is even less able to cope with Satan’s wicked agenda than the original Adam was. And like the first man and woman, we too stand under the curse for breaking the law of God and casting our lot in with the Evil One. But there is another One – there is the Holy One. He is the Second Adam, who comes once again face the ancient foe. He is the Son of Man – Jesus Christ. And this time, the result will be different.

III. The Great Contest
As we mentioned, Jesus is led by the Spirit to fast in the wilderness. Thus, we see, the occasion of his meeting with Satan is by God’s design. There is nothing accidental here. Very intentionally, Jesus faces the Devil, squares off against our enemy – as his public ministry on our behalf is now begun. His first action then, for us, is to bring Satan to his knees, beating him at his own game- and doing what we could never do for ourselves.

Temptation 1 – Satan attacks Jesus at a point of vulnerability – as he so often does to us. “Aren’t you hungry? Turn the stones into bread. Break your fast Jesus – live for your stomach. Away with all this suffering – you deserve to be happy.” Satan attacks us and our many hungers – twisting and tempting us to sin. Not Just physical food, but physical pleasures, fast cars, fine clothes, fun toys, big houses – whatever our hunger – Satan is there tempting us to think first of ourselves. But Jesus will do no such thing. He shows Satan the true priority, and real need, the real hunger – is for the word of God. For God’s word alone brings life – more than a mere physical life (though in Christ we have a resurrection too). But we gain, through the Word, the life that Adam and Eve lost when they did “Eat and Sin”. Jesus reverses this. He withstands the temptation – on our behalf.

Temptation 2 – Satan now tries to use scripture against Jesus – just as he twisted God’s own command to Adam and Eve. Indeed, they did become like God, knowing good and evil. But that was not the whole truth. Likewise here, in urging Jesus to Jump from the temple, Satan seeks to test God’s promise that the angels would tend to Jesus. But Jesus counters correctly, reminding Satan that God is not to be tested.

The Devil would love us to put God to the test – and to twist God’s words around in our hears for his own purposes. And sometimes he succeeds. But his arrogance meets its match in Jesus. And now a second time he is defeated.

Temptation 3 –
Luther says that in the first temptation Satan showed himself as a black devil, in the second as a white devil. But, in the third, he displays himself as a divine, majestic devil, who comes right out as though he were God himself. He drops his mask and appears as the prince and ruler of this world.

His statement is based on a lie. He is not the owner of the world and its kingdoms. He is a usurper. He has arrogantly caused the world to be sinful. He works through sinful men and thus gives the appearance of owning all.

But God owns all. And God gives unconditionally. And God’s gifts are followed by worship. Satan owns nothing. He gives conditionally. He expects to be worshiped before he gives. It is total perversion. Jesus puts Satan back in his place with a basic reminder of this simple truth. Only God is God.

IV. The Word Triumphant
There is much here to learn – lessons about temptation, and the ways the Devil uses to assail us. There is instruction on how to defeat temptation, by turning to God’s word. It’s also worth noting that Jesus does eventually attain all that Satan promised: daily sustenance, the protection of the angels, and “all authority in heaven and on earth”, given to His human nature. But it was according to the Father's will, done in perfect obedience. But there’s more:

This wilderness temptation is but the opening salvo in the battle for the souls of mankind. And Jesus wins the day! He will continue to heal, teach, and cast out demons and devils for another 3 years. All the while, Satan will be on the run.

Jesus wins every time. Jesus will always defeat the Devil. There really is no contest. He defeated him here in the wilderness. And he would defeat him more fully at the cross.

In the wilderness, Jesus defeated Satan by the power of God’s Word in scripture. And Jesus, the Living Word of God, defeats Satan, finally, by his own suffering, death, and resurrection.

A favorite hymn of mine (Awake My Heart With Gladness) puts it this way:

The foe in triumph shouted
When Christ lay in the tomb
But lo, he now is routed!
His boast turned into gloom.

And Luther says it too, and we sing it in “A Mighty Fortress”.

Though devils all the world should fill
All eager to devour us
We tremble not, we fear no ill,
They shall not overpower us
This world’s prince may still
Scowl fierce as he will
He can harm us none
He’s judged, the deed is done.
One little word can fell him.

The little word that fells the devil is the Word of God, particularly, his Word of Gospel. It announces the victory that is ours in Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh. It assures us that we are on the winning team.

In this season of Lent, let us ponder the seriousness of sin, the gravity of evil, and the reality of Satan and his work in our world, our lives. But don’t forget the one who defeated Satan for us – there in the wilderness, and finally at the cross and the empty tomb. The Living Word of God, Jesus Christ – the Word which casts out the Devil, and grants us a stake in His eternal victory.

V. Conclusion
The Devil is real, and wants to harm us spiritually. But Jesus defeated the Devil in the wilderness, and later at the cross. As Luther’s hymn reminds us, “one little word can fell him.”

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Jesus Loves Me - Calvinist Version

A pastor friend of mine sent this to me. Just a little jest at Calvinism's expense:

Jesus Loves Me
A Calvanist Rendition

Jesus loves me! This I know
For Election tells me so
Sovereign God loves me so well,
Too bad He wants you in hell!

Yes, Jesus loves me
Maybe He loves me
I hope He loves me
I guess I’ll never know!

Jesus loves me! I can sin
While the Spirit stays within
Christ has triumphed, this is true
Died for me but not for you


Jesus loves me! Who is He?
Sovereign God is all I see
From eternity to damn
Am I Jesus’ little lamb?


Jesus loves me! So they say
I’ll find out on Judgment Day
Every man is all depraved…
Holy Cow! I hope I’m saved!


Jesus drove me to despair
I can’t find Him anywhere
Guess I’ll pray to someone new
Tell me, what would Buddha do?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

The Lady

Here is a photo I took at Mound Cemetery recently.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Hymn - "Lord Jesus, By the Spirit Led"

"Lord Jesus, By the Spirit Led"
Tune: "Nun freut euch"
(LW 387 "Dear Christians One and All Rejoice")

Lord Jesus by the Spirit led
From Jordan to Judean wild.
While fasting, praying, You were met
By Satan and his devil'ish guile.
A contest like no other one-
The Tempter versus God's own Son-
Our ancient foe assailed You!

"If you are Son of God indeed
Command these stones to become bread,
Your hungry body so to feed."
But Jesus turned to him and said,
"Man does not live by bread alone,
I will not so command the stone,
God's Word is all that's needed."

Then from the Temple's highest height
The Serpent tempted him anew,
"I dare You jump and take Your flight
The angels will protect You."
Once more Christ's answer was the best:
"You shall not put the Lord to test,
For thus it has been written."

The final challenge he would bring
"If You would only worship me...
O'er this world I will make You king."
But Jesus would not bend the knee!
"Be gone!" our Lord sent him away,
And pointed to the words which say
The Lord alone is worshipped.

Lord Jesus as we journey here
A pilgrimage to Calvary
Remind us of Your contest there
A vic'try for us, so that we
May see You raised up on the cross
And Satan meet his final loss
Your blood his kingdom con'quering!

© Thomas E. Chryst, 2005

Light on the Lingo?

The following is a piece I wrote for "Higher Things" Magazine.
It appears in the Winter 2004 issue.
Their website is:

Light on the Lingo?

Bling-Bling – \BLING BLING\ noun - def. 1. jewelry such as silver, platinum, or diamonds, gold. 2. extremely expensive style of clothes, cars, general life-style; something “flashy”.

Not a “church word”, but fun to say.

Have you noticed certain words are used in certain circles? The words you use with your parents are different than you might use with your friends. And those words are not the same you would use with your baby brother.
The same is true for church. Many of the words we use in church aren’t used a lot outside of Sunday morning, but don’t let that scare you off! Here’s a handy Lutheran Lexicon for the “terminologically challenged”.

Absolution - Forgiveness. Offered by the pastor “in the stead…” (in the place of) “and by the command…” of Jesus.

Confession - 1) Admitting your sins 2) Declaring your beliefs
3) The set of beliefs that you hold true (your “confession”)
“The Confessions” refers to those historical documents which state our Lutheran beliefs – found in the Book of Concord

Evangelical - Having to do with the Gospel.
Sometimes abbreviated “Ev.” in the names of our churches.
The Greek word literally means “good (ev) message (angel)”

Incarnation - Coming “in the flesh”, literally. Jesus came as a human.
He was “incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary”.

Introit - From the Latin “Entrance”. The Psalm chanted as the pastor approaches (enters) the altar (chancel).

Justification - The idea that through Christ, God makes you just, or “right”.
We think of this as a one-time declaration of God.

Lectionary - The system of scripture readings chosen for the church year.

Liturgy - The form of public worship. Origins of this word indicate a public giving-out of “goodies”. The Pastor distributes the gifts of God (Word & Sacrament) in the liturgy.

- How God delivers His "bling-bling" (His Word) to the world through His pastors ("blingers"?)

Reconciliation - Restoring the relationship between God and sinners. Like a husband and wife who are separated and get back together.

Salutary - Helpful and health-ful.

Salvation - How God saves or salvages the sinner – making us new.
Like restoring an old car to its original condition.

Sanctification - The process by which the Holy Spirit makes you holy.
An ongoing work in the life of the Christian. Spiritual growth.

Stewardship - Managing one’s bling-bling (or all your “stuff”) in a godly way. Realizing it doesn’t belong to you in the first place.

Transfiguration - Changing appearance. This refers to a specific event in Jesus life when he got all bright and shiny (bling-bling?). Celebrated at the end of the season of Epiphany.

If you’re a real word-hound you can find more definitions online with the always-helpful “Christian Cyclopedia”:

Rev. Tom Chryst is Associate Pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Racine, Wisconsin.