Mother Hubbard's Cupboard

A look into the mind of one of the most random, crazy people in all the land.

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Location: East Peoria, Illinois, United States

A Lutheran seminarian eagerly awaiting the return of Our Lord. Soli Deo Gloria!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Connecting to God With All the Senses

March 3rd - Old Testament: Job 34:10-33
New Testament: The Holy Gospel According to St. John 11:17-37
Psalms: Morning - 119:73-80
Evening - 121; 6

March 4th - Old Testament: Job 36:1-21
New Testament: The Holy Gospel According to St. John 11:38-57
Psalms: Morning - 34
Evening - 25; 91

"I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die." - John 11:25-26 ESV

The title is somewhat ridiculous isn't it? We are connected to God through faith! Alas, such a simple answer, so complicated and wonderful a topic. We are connected through Word and Sacrament, yet what is that Word? The Word is the proclomation of the forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus. So how is this Word transmitted to us? Ah, now there's the interesting part!

Very often in the West we tend to think of the Word simply as the Bible...but alas, while the Sacred Scriptures can convey that grace of forgiveness, this is not necessarily always the case. If one reads the Scriptures with the eye of "what must I do," then you will see only law, and will ultimately be condemned. If you know what to look for, or you happen to read a blatant section of Gospel, then the story is different. We treasure and guard the Scriptures because they are a testimony of salvation through Christ that God has given to the church. Such a blessing is worthy of study, daily reading, and is the source for our dogma and preachment. This Word of forgiveness however has different means that may transmit the message of forgiveness....ways that make use of more than just our ability to read. These are:

1. The preaching of the law and Gospel (aural) - That which the priest proclaims in the service to the congregation based upon the readings of the day or the festival of the day.
2. The music & hymns which worship the Triune God and focus upon the Godman Jesus (aural and vocal).
3. The incense which reminds us of the sweetness of salvation and the promise of our prayers ascending to God - a thanks is due to Fr. Beane, whose story of the dead rat catalyzed this thought somewhat (olfactory).
4. The symbolism of the architecture and geometry of the church - this includes the shape of the traditional sanctuary as a cross with the altar at the head with the dome at the top for the incense to rise to God and return to us in answered prayer (visual and olfactory).
5. The icons and statuary of the church (visual) - these rich and full images can convey the Gospel and point us to those who have gone before us, to even the smallest child as well as remind the oldest Christian what the Gospel is about.....that St. Luther himself used a crucifix and an image of the Theotokos in his daily devotions speaks volumes of this form of transmission of the Word that is sadly lacking in many of our Lutheran churches.
6. Liturgical action and words (visual, physical, responsive, vocal) - Responding to God by praying the Psalms or another action as a church is the congregation's ultimate confession of unity and community. To cross one's self or bow, to genuflect and follow the processional cross, etc. is a way of reminding ourselves that our life in Christ is total and that we are to become living sacrifices to God as we are made into the image and likeness of His Son. The Christian life is one of worship and is therefore not a spectator sport! Making the sign of the cross as is suggested in the Small Catechism (a matter of adiaphora pushed by Luther!)'s not just for Roman Catholics anymore ;-).
Finally there are the Sacraments: 1. Holy Absolution (aural) - the speaking of the Words, "you are forgiven," with the faith that while the priest is saying these words, Christ is speaking directly to you.
2. Holy Baptism (touch, aural) - Burried with Chist and risen to life! A rite that is done once but a sacrament that lasts and is returned to until the day you join the Church Triumphant!
3. The Holy Eucharist (taste, touch) - "Take eat, this is My body which is given for you....take drink, this is My blood shed for you." You don't get a higher connection to the Gospel than union with Christ Himself!

I point this out here because at times, many Lutherans and Lutheran churches to some extent or another, neglect all of these things. Many times it is because they are too Roman Catholic looking, yet in reality what is being done is that ways of communicating the Gospel are rejected. Now, it is not that these need be at every service, but one should begin to emphasize these in the lives of Christians so that they are surrounded and immersed in the message of Christ....I know I need more than just a ten minute devotion daily to remain in the Word....I can see the crucifix in my room every time I get up from my desk. If I'm reading and my screensaver comes on, I see icons of Christ, the Theotokos, and the saints. If I am driving to school or work, I listen to my ipod which has classes from the Seminary or programs from Issues Etc., WOTMR, and Ancient Faith Radio. The more I see simply a cross or hear someone talk about God, the more I realize how much MORE I need it. In times of boredom or if I don't need to use too much brainpower at work I can silently pray the Jesus Prayer, Lord's Prayer, or Hail Mary and instantly realize that I am a part of God's family in Christ who never leaves me and who draws me closer to Him.

Quick News: What I find utterly amazing is how God works through my fears of public speaking to allow me to talk to many people about Christ. I have shared the Gospel with at least three people at school, two of whom were already Christians, the third an agnostic/atheist. For some reason they are open to it, and I am glad for that. Pray for them.

Secondly, my friend Pat has bought quite a bit of pricey computer, audio, and video equipment with a vision of an online radio and blog ministry (that's what "Average Joes with Bibles" is). We'll basically be an evangelism/doctrinal discussion/apologetics ministry....I'm there as the "Lutheran/tradition guy"....probably to keep the Catholic bashing at acceptable levels :-D.

Also, I meet Fr. Braaten on Monday at University Lutheran in Champaign...I don't know exactly what we'll be talking about....but the Sem. days are coming!...yay.


Blogger Rev. Richard A. Heinz said...

In regards to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, I always like to point out that this is the one Gift in which we experience Jesus with ALL FIVE senses!

We HEAR His words, "Given and shed for you!"

We SEE the host and cup, and the pastor.

We SMELL the fragrance rising from the cup.

We TOUCH His Body and Blood with our lips and tongue.

We "TASTE and see that the Lord is good!"

Fr. Rich Heinz, SSP

10:57 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Ah, you are correct!

2:01 PM  

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