Monday, April 21, 2008

Pastor Harju (again)

Pastor Benjamin Harju has a wonderfully pastoral post entitled Unity Ablaze! In it he discusses union versus unity in the LCMS. Pastor Weedon already pointed out Pastor Harju's post, but it was too good to pass up. Here are several quotes:

"If we in the LCMS no longer have unity, then it is because we have not turned away from everything in us, everything in the world, everything we know and hold dear, and turned to Christ empty, sinful, pathetic, weak, and needy. The path to unity in the LCMS must begin with each one of us. I don't mean to say that we start with ourselves and work to Christ, but that in the face of Christ's reaching out to us we come to the total abandonment of everything we are and have so that Christ may be our Head and Leader, rather than start with dialogues, small group meetings, and convocations. If we begin with these latter things we will only push headlong into the frightful things St. Paul warns St. Timothy about in 1 Timothy 6:4."

"Where we abandon everything in us to the waters of our Baptism, which is Christ's death, and wait in empty silence for God to raise, feed, and guide us, there we will pass over from the lonely individualism of sin and death into the unity of the communion of saints that abides in righteousness and life. This self-abandonment is impossible, unless Christ Himself is present to step in and become all in all."

"If this repentance truly describes us, then we will not find ourselves proposing things to God, but only receiving from Him, for one who has abandoned everything in himself and the world has nothing left to propose. If this is our condition, then we will not propose new worship to ignite the emotions or to be more relevant to man's world (for this turns the "self" into a contender for co-Shepherd and co-Counselor). Instead we will receive from God what the Scriptures say and do (which means that is what we will say and do), and thus God would bring us into His new world. If we were to abide in this self-abandonment, then we would not constantly ask, "Does Scripture force me to do this or that?", but rather we would say, "How much of what God shows and gives in the Scriptures can we keep and live and abide in?". Remember, the law requires against our nature, the gospel resurrects our nature into that which follows along willingly. (In regards to worship, I have some thoughts on that here.) We all are at different places, subjectively speaking, when it comes to humility and faith before God (repentance). We should be gentle with one another in all this, even as God is gentle with us in Christ. This is the way of unity. Unity must first be received from God and in God before it can be given or "achieved" between Christians, much less in the LCMS as a whole."

"The cross is not locked up in the sacraments in order to transform our lives in the world into glory. Rather the cross is imparted through the sacramental life of the Church so that we may take up our cross and follow where our Good Shepherd leads."

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