Monday, February 25, 2008

When Abraham asked

I have stopped romanticizing Bible characters. Scripture shows them to be just like us but for the grace of God. In Genesis 15, Abraham wanted to be sure he would inherit the land promised by God...

6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for
righteousness. 7 Then He said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.” 8 And he said, “Lord GOD, how shall I know that I will inherit it?” 9 So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11 And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. 14 And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

We can notice that the deal was not as trivial as some may have portrayed the incident to be. Abraham believed God and then he followed with a question ---"hang on, Lord how do I know this to be true"? What about us, do we have questions for God?

It has been said by those who have gone before that in the Christian's lifetime, he/she will encounter the same question, he/she will encounter the doubting of his/her salvation - "Lord how do I know your promise of heaven is true"? Good for you if you have never entertained doubts since you first believed but some older Christians I have met have been honest enough to confess that they have wondered a few times.

So when that happens, does God do the same and asks us to bring a heifer? Do we have an heifer incident we can look into, wherein God solemnly swears to us his promise is true? Where does God make us look?

I think we do have something similar but it is not a heifer. It is simple bread and wine along with the words of Jesus at the Supper. Just as surely as I can touch, see and taste that bread and wine at the Lord's Supper, with the words - "this is my body broken for you" we are sure that his promise is true. Why? Because we did not invent this institution of the Lord's Supper, it was Jesus who instituted this. You hear the words, they are outside you and they come to you - a sinner broken by sin, it comes as a gift, not asked for, but initiated by God the same way he initiated his covenanat when Abraham wondered. It is one sided, you do nothing. You simply trust it. It is done to you, you do nothing, the same way Abraham fell asleeep. We note the heifer was not symbolic, it was an actual heifer, once alive, now slaughtered cut in two.

We have something better than the blood and flesh of a heifer, we got the very body and blood of Jesus - God's Son, Saviour. That is, if you believe it is not mere bread, and not mere wine. Because if you don't, then it stops short of being what Jesus says it is... the his body broken, blood spilled... for your sins. Selah

9 comments:

Steve Newell said...

How we view Holy Communion can give us some insight in how we view Christianity.

If we view Holy Communion as being the true body and blood on Christ in the bread and wine and we accept Christ's words that this is for the forgiveness of sin, then the focus is on Christ what Christ is doing for us when we receive the elements.

If we view that we receive that elements, all we receive is a piece of bread and a little wine (grape juice for many) and this is just a "memorial" meal, then focus is what we are doing since Christ has no part of this since.

L P Cruz said...

Yes Steve, it also serves no real purpose, if not view that way. So what? We simply eat mere bread for Jesus? And that is suppose to make Jesus happy?

As we grow in years in the Christian life, there might come an occassion when like Abraham, we too might ask "how do we know"?

God gave Abraham a concrete and literan covenant. Where could we find such a thing, except for the Supper?

It has become a blessing for me and a joy to come in expectation of it each divine service.

LPC

Past Elder said...

It was precisely at reading Luther's treatment of the Eucharist/Mass in Babylonian Captivity that it all turned around for me and I knew I would be "Lutheran" because here was stated cleanly and clearly what my former church body hemmed and hawed to say, the catholic and universal faith of Christ and his Church. Indeed, how one views Communion is indicative of how one views Christianity itself.

L P Cruz said...

Well with what turned around for me was the observation that in my Penty years it was being done like a chore. That got me thinking - and I got asking to myself, well why is this so lifeless and no excitement at all, the word that came to me was --listless.

I always say this to me folk at my Bible Study - the Lutherans look the same and sound the same as the RCs, but the Lutherans do not MEAN the same!

Now this is also what I would say to people who are enamoured with the Liturgy, cause if they think that is the real point of contact then I would say that the EO Liturgy of St Chrysostom is probably the oldest of all and they better swing that way i.e. become EO, if JBFA is not the issue.


LPC

Past Elder said...

Well, that is what liturgy is -- Word and Sacrament, God's divine service to us.

It's why other non Roman churches don't have liturgy -- they preach sanctification for justification, and do not believe in the real presence.

Liturgy is judged on no other basis that does it or does it not reveal the preaching of the Gospel, justification, and the pledge of our salvation, his testament to us, in the Sacrament.

So we retain the classic rites, East and West, pruned of their accretions that obscure justification and/or make of the Eucharist a work of ours rather than a pledge of his.

There is a Lutheran use of the liturgy of St John Chrysostom -- there is a link on my blog to a version of it used by the Ukrainian Lutheran Church, a real Lutheran body not in fellowship with the ELCA or the WLF.

As a side note, I'll say this for those who go EO -- at least Orthodoxy is what they get, whereas our Tiber swimmers do not get the Catholicism they think they have. Maybe that's why Pelikan went EO, in spite of close association with post-conciliar RC, including my alma mater, its ecumenical centre and some of my professors, who were among the forefront of what became Vatican II.

L P Cruz said...

P.E.

Ok now I know what you mean by the word liturgy.

I am not so sure what EO the trip to Constantinople would also get you.

Also I saw some comments by Isabella and I am a bit impressed with the level headed approach she is on to, considering she is no longer Lutheran as she said.

Now Shuetzy said that he asked Pelikan why not Rome, I do not know what answer he got from Pelikan to that question.

I suspect you are right, since RCC has shifted from its so called tradition, who is more reliable compared to it than EO?

Hmmm, I hope Jeff is also listening.

LPC

Doorman-Priest said...

"Just like us"

Oh no. I don't want to father children when I'm 90.

But then again.....

The Scylding said...

It seems I posted my comment on this post at the previous post. Sorry!

L P Cruz said...

DP,

You do not know what is important to you not until you lose it.

Scylds,

no worries bro.

LPC