Hi everybody in Sabbath land. We've just arrived home, put the kid to bed and now I'm in my basement working on the sermon for tonight - any ideas on what I should preach? He he. I'm looking forward to preaching on Malachi 1; I chose the passage because we're celebrating communion tonight and the ancient fathers believed that Malachi 1:11 was actually a prophecy, not just of Christ, but of the sacrament of communion.
Malachi 1:11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.
I can't have as much confidence as they had in this interpretation, but I do believe that one powerful application of this passage lies in our celebrating the Lord's supper, as it reminds us that we can bring to God only our paschal lamb, Jesus Christ. But you'll have to listen in for the rest of the sermon. Keith Mathison: There is no reason to deny...that this prophecy is fulfilled to some extent in the observance of the Lord's Supper by the new covenant church. (Given for You)
Here is a really cool program that makes the great reformed confessions searchable and accessible. Download it, use it, get in touch with the past, and other good things.
In the spirit of confessionalism, here is some of the Larger Catechism's guidance on preparing for and taking the Lord's Supper.
Q171: How are they that receive the sacrament of the Lord's supper to prepare themselves before they come unto it?
A171: They that receive the sacrament of the Lord's supper are, before they come, to prepare themselves thereunto, by examining themselves of their being in Christ, of their sins and wants;of the truth and measure of their knowledge, faith, repentance; love to God and the brethren, charity to all men, forgiving those that have done them wrong; of their desires after Christ, and of their new obedience; and by renewing the exercise of these graces, by serious meditation, and fervent prayer.
Q174: What is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lord's supper in the time of the administration of it?
A174: It is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lord's supper, that, during the time of the administration of it, with all holy reverence and attention they wait upon God in that ordinance,diligently observe the sacramental elements and actions, heedfully discern the Lord's body, and affectionately meditate on his death and sufferings, and thereby stir up themselves to a vigorous exercise of their graces; in judging themselves, and sorrowing for sin; in earnest hungering and thirsting after Christ, feeding on him by faith, receiving of his fulness,trusting in his merits, rejoicing in his love, giving thanks for his grace; in renewing of their covenant with God, and love to all the saints.
Q175: What is the duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord's supper?
A175: The duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord's supper, is seriously to consider how they have behaved themselves therein, and with what success; if they find quickening and comfort, to bless God for it, beg the continuance of it, watch against relapses, fulfil their vows, and encourage themselves to a frequent attendance on that ordinance: but if they find no present benefit, more exactly to review their preparation to, and carriage at, the sacrament; in both which, if they can approve themselves to God and their own consciences, they are to wait for the fruit of it in due time: but, if they see they have failed in either, they are to be humbled, and to attend upon it afterwards with more care and diligence.
Thursday night was our latest session meeting; we spent the majority of time interviewing people for church membership (a total of 8 adults and 4 to-be-baptized covenant kids). It was, as the most senior pastor remarked, "Magnificent." A wonderful testimony to the powerful and varied grace of God. Eight individuals brought to faith through the powerful working of God.
What struck me is how God used other people in these saints' lives. Some had grown up in covenant homes, never knowing a day without repentance and faith in Christ; others God pulled out of the miriest mire, answering desperate prayers of their families; some marked their conversions to the power of God's Word preached. We laughed and cried and rejoiced in the God that works.
I'm pretty stoked about a fun, new book we got about architecture, The Story of Architecture, by J. Glancey. Although he falls into some polished postmodern rewriting of history (speaking far too highly of the achievements of Islam without admitting the violence of their conquest, being far to quick to denounce the "bloody crusades" of the church), the book is remarkable for succinct overviews of architectural periods, filled by great photographs.
On Gothic architecture: Gothic architecture is one of the glories of European civilization, an attempt to lift our everyday life up to the heavens, to touch the face of God, in the highest stone vaults, towers, and steeples that contemporary technology allowed...High above the naves of these shiplike structures, and often well out of the range of the human eye, we find expertly carved angels, demons, fronds, and finials, the work of individual craftsmen for whom nothing was to be hidden and nothing was too good for the all-seeing eye of the heavenly father.
I don't feel capable of giving well-laid arguments for church architecture one way or the other - but I love the passion with which craftsmen labored on Gothic cathedrals, sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God was watching and that He was passionately interested in their life's work. This is part of the fount of human worth, not just being made in the image of God, but being in the eye and passion of God. In their haste to escape the burden of God's authority, the world has also released its right to the greatest source of joy and righteous pride in their life's work: that God cares.
My friend Josh Gillespie has a new blog here.
His wife, Catherine, has a slightly older blog. Josh and I are both blessed the knowledge of what it means to have wives much smarter and attractive than us. Read this post from Catherine's blog and you'll see why.