Saturday, April 27, 2013

Glory To God Is Job One For The Church

Father Dale Matson

If you examine the Book of Common Prayer Lectionary readings for the fifth Sunday of Easter, there is a common theme that emerges. The reading from Acts, states, “Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord.” (Acts 13:48) The entire Psalm (145) is a song of praise unto almighty God. Our New Testament reading from Revelations states in part, "Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, "Amen! Alleluia!" Then a voice came from the throne, saying, "Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!” (Revelation 19:1, 4-5) Finally, our Gospel passage states in part, “Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately.’” (John 13:31-32)

It seems like the church today has become so human centered that it is has forgotten our priorities; our obligation to God. The first line of our Lord’s Prayer is, “Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.” The first commandment is, “You shall have no other gods before me.” The first line of the Apostle’s Creed is. “I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.”

Do you remember the phrase in the old Ford commercial? “At Ford, quality is job one.” What is job one for the church? Yes, I know that the church has a social ministry. We have a duty to serve Christ in others, to feed the poor, visit those in hospitals and prisons. This is the social gospel but the social gospel is only a part of the Gospel that has been entrusted to us. There are “churches” that reject evangelism, the uniqueness and deity of Christ and are really universalist organizations. Unfortunately many of these Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Still refer to themselves as Christian churches when they are Christian in name only.  A social gospel is easy. Lots of folks outside the church are involved in the social gospel. Even the United Nations and Bill Gates are involved in the social gospel. Some liberal churches have rich endowments and can keep the back doors open for the soup kitchens even when there are less and less folks coming in through the front doors. A social gospel emphasis is what I would call mission drift. What did Peter say when he was asked for money by a beggar? “Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”  If quality is job one for Ford, what is job one for Christians?

One of our promises in our baptismal covenant is to serve Christ in others. “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? People I will, with God’s help.”  If we are saved, why do we need to serve? It is because loving others through service gives glory to God. Job one for the church and Christians is to glorify God. Let me repeat that. Job one for the church is to glorify God. You say to me, “but father Dale, my friend Jesus did it all for me. I’m saved by the blood of the Lamb Jesus Christ. He has reconciled me to the Father, cleansed me from all sin. In believing in Him, I also have eternal life. I don’t need to do anything. That would be salvation by works and we don’t believe in that. OK then, what is our proper response to God?

In Luther’s explanation of the first line of the Apostles creed, he said this. “I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them; in addition thereto, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and homestead, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and preserves me from all evil; and all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him.” (From Luther’s small catechism)

We sing the doxology as communion begins, Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise him, all creatures here below; Praise him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The word liturgy itself means the work of God’s people. We say in part in the Eucharistic prayer, “Let us give thanks unto our Lord God. People It is meet and right so to do. the Celebrant proceeds It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee, O Lord, holy Father, almighty, everlasting God. Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name; evermore praising thee, and saying, Celebrant and People Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts: Heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High. Thank God for our liturgy. The focus on God has remained the same for 2,000 years even when sermons have so often wandered from the truth during this same period. There is no mission drift or creep in the liturgy. The liturgy is benchmark Gospel.

Our proper response to God is to thank and praise serve and obey. It is to love God first and then love neighbor. Think about the phrase we use in Holy Eucharist Rite I. (BCP) “And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee.” This is taken directly from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Is Paul exaggerating here? He quotes the Psalms (44:22) when he claims, “As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Romans 8:36) My brothers and sisters, this is not about us. This is not about our glory. This is about God’s glory.

We live in such a narcissistic age where people tweet what they had for lunch. Is it really earth shaking news that Justin Bieber tweeted and then deleted a photograph of Selena Gomez and him? We have gone from the frenzy of Sesame Street to the disjointed videos of MTV to the impulsivity of Twitter. This is not just narcissism. It is mass induced Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is outrageous when a Boston Red Sox player can address the nation using the “F” word and be given a pass because of the emotion of the moment over the Boston Marathon bombings. This will set a yet lower standard for civility. How much profanity is in the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln?  In that battle alone about the same amount of Americans died as in the entire Viet Nam War. Lincoln’s last line states, “…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom— and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  The “under God” part has been removed from the other four versions. This version is inscribed at the Lincoln memorial.

Make no mistake. Our government is as concerned about fundamentalist Christians as it is about Islamic Jihadists. When the bombings occurred during the Boston Marathons, there was immediate speculation by our leadership that the bombing was a response to income tax day. (  The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) identified the Family Research Council as a “hate group” due to their traditional marriage views. (

On that terrible day in Boston, my heart sank knowing that many of the runners stories were like me. Boston is not really about elite world class runners. The Boston Marathon is mainly about people like me who pushed themselves to their absolute limits in a qualifying marathon just to be an ordinary Boston finisher. I thought about my finish times at Boston and I would have been at the finish line about the time of the explosions.

Christians respond to God with thanks and praise, service and obedience. Christians give God glory with good works not evil acts. Our lives lived well; a race well run is our testimony to others. We do not kill people so that our God will be glorified. We are called to love our enemies and pray for them. The world is coming to a place where it sees a moral equivalence to militant Islam and fundamental Christianity.

In 2006 a man named Charles Roberts entered a one room schoolhouse in an Amish Community and took ten girls hostage. He killed five girls and wounded five others before killing himself. During interviews conducted later it became apparent that all of the girls knew that Charles Roberts was going to shoot them. Some conversed among themselves throughout the ordeal. Shortly before Roberts opened fire, two sisters, Marian and Barbara Fisher, 13 and 11, requested that they be shot first that the others might be spared. Barbara was wounded, while her older sister was killed. Before the day was out, leaders of the Amish community went to the Robert’s home to offer forgiveness to the Roberts family. That is a fundamental Christian response to evil. Marian and Barbara Fischer and the leaders gave glory to God.

In 2011 Anders Behring Breivik was identified as the suspect in the bombing and shooting related deaths of over ninety people. The New York Times was quick to quote the Norwegian police who referred to him as a right-wing fundamentalist Christian. I am saddened that anyone would consider a radicalized murderer to be a Christian. This was not a Christian act nor was it the act of a Christian. No person who has the Holy Spirit dwelling inside could commit such a barbarous act against innocent individuals.This was not the act of a fundamentalist Christian. It was the act of a radicalized man filled with fear, motivated by hate and empowered by Satan the murderer. As our Lord told us, “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matt. 7:16). And what are the fruits whereby we may know a Christian? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23a).

Jesus the Christ came to live as one of us His mighty works including His rising from the dead revealed and glorified the Father and destroyed the works of the Devil. He allowed Himself to be sacrificed so we could have an abundant and eternal life. He is not just our savior and our Lord. He is our true self as Christians. Does the way you conduct your life give glory to God? That is our job one.  To God be the glory, Amen.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

To The Materialist: That’s Not All There Is

Fr. Dale Matson

* "But the ungodly by their words and deeds summoned death; considering him a friend, they pined away and made a covenant with him, because they are fit to belong to his company. For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves, ‘Short and sorrowful is our life, and there is no remedy when a life comes to its end, and no one has been known to return from Hades. For we were born by mere chance, and hereafter we shall be as though we had never been, for the breath in our nostrils is smoke, and reason is a spark kindled by the beating of our hearts; when it is extinguished, the body will turn to ashes, and the spirit will dissolve like empty air. Our name will be forgotten in time, and no one will remember our works; our life will pass away like the traces of a cloud, and be scattered like mist that is chased by the rays of the sun and overcome by its heat. For our allotted time is the passing of a shadow, and there is no return from our death, because it is sealed up and no one turns back. ‘Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist, and make use of the creation to the full as in youth. Let us take our fill of costly wine and perfumes, and let no flower of spring pass us by. Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither. Let none of us fail to share in our revelry; everywhere let us leave signs of enjoyment, because this is our portion, and this our lot." (Wisdom 1:16-2:9)

This reminds me of a portion of a 1969 Peggy Lee song , Is That All There Is?

“When I was 12 years old, my father took me to a circus, the greatest show on earth. There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears.
And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads.
And so I sat there watching the marvelous spectacle.
I had the feeling that something was missing.
I don't know what, but when it was over,
I said to myself, "is that all there is to a circus?

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

I know what you must be saying to yourselves,
if that's the way she feels about it why doesn't she just end it all?
Oh, no, not me. I'm in no hurry for that final disappointment,
for I know just as well as I'm standing here talking to you,
when that final moment comes and I'm breathing my lst breath, I'll be saying to myself

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

But here is the problem for the materialist. It is not all there is.

"But they did not know the secret purposes of God, nor hoped for the wages of holiness, nor discerned the prize for blameless souls; for God created us for incorruption, and made us in the image of his own eternity, but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it." (Wisdom 2:22-24)

“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:54) 

* Monday Easter IV daily office lectionary reading

Friday, April 19, 2013

The New Normal: Why We Cling To Religion and Guns

Fr. Dale Matson

“It’s a terrible situation in Boston. And, unfortunately … one gets the sense that this is more reflective of the ‘new normal,’ if you will,” he explained. “So much of society is changing so rapidly. [There is now a] ‘New normal’ when it comes to public security in a post-9/11 world. Where these random acts of violence, which at one time were implausible, now seem all-too-frequent.” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo 04/19/13

I generally agree with Governor Cuomo. However, I would differ with him in that these acts of terrorism are not random, they are directed against soft targets and intended to have high visibility results. The chosen location (near the finish line) for the bombings had lots of cameras and the timing was when a large bloc of the runners would be coming through the area. Like 9/11, there is an important symbolism in the targeting of venues representing the American way of life like Patriot Day. We all know there will be more terrorist acts in the future. Those who live in big cities with fragile grids and high density populations are especially vulnerable.

As most Americans including me watched the events in Boston and the suburbs tragically unfold, there was a gnawing uncertainty about possible further terrorist acts, how many were involved and would the individuals be apprehended? To put it simply, America stood still for four days and held its breath while grieving for the dead and injured. I especially wondered how many of those in Boston and Watertown in ‘lock down’ had loaded guns at the ready in their homes. How many were praying for comfort and deliverance from this situation where millions of individuals were taken hostage by the uncertainty and threat?

This reminded me of the comment candidate Obama made in 2008 to a private audience in San Francisco about folks in Pennsylvania. “And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." I believe folks in Pennsylvania were praying and clinging to their guns this week. They were not bitter. They were realistic. In the end, we are all responsible for our own safety. “Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. has a message for residents in his jurisdiction: You can't rely on him anymore. You need to arm yourself”.   The police in many smaller communities are a long distance phone call away. The lengthy response time dictates self-defense.

In the response to the Colorado and Sandy Hook massacres, there were those who advocated more than just increased gun regulation. There were those who argued against more than banning all semiautomatic weapons. There were those who advocated for elimination of the 2nd amendment. Many of these same individuals would never consider banning the 1st amendment where toxic levels of pornography and violence are protected and disseminated via the mass media.
What happened in Washington this past week was new gun legislation being voted down. Progressives saw this as an outrage. How could this be? Hadn't the president, some big city mayors and governors made a case for ‘reasonable’ gun legislation? The answer could be, because many of us cling to our guns and our religion. We see them both under attack. We are the old normal.        

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tragedy At The Boston Marathon: An Emeritus Runner’s Story

Fr. Dale Matson

Running is the last of the true amateur sports. It is a transformative experience for untold thousands of people including me. I was about 42 when I began walking a mile a day. I had been killing myself with cigarettes, alcohol and obesity. My first mile took 18.5 minutes and I thought I would have a heart attack.  I was middle aged and embarrassed to see myself as I passed by store security monitors. I bought the most cushioned shoes I could find to dampen the jarring of each footstep on asphalt.  For most marathoners, a marathon was not the original plan. The initial goal for me was to stop killing myself with self-destructive behavior. It began with walking a mile, then more miles. Then it was jogging a mile. Twenty years of cigarettes needed to be expelled from my lungs. Food became fuel and I thought how great it would be if I could run for an entire hour. Then my goal was to run for three miles under nine minutes per mile. I entered 5K and then 10K races. I finished in last place in my age group in my first 10K.

Then it occurred to me that a marathon was possible. I began training for a marathon using Jeff Galloway’s running book. I had gained running friends and lost weight. In 1991, a friend who trained with me and I drove up to Merrill Wisconsin for the American Odyssey Marathon. It was a hilly course and I had not trained on hills. By the thirteenth mile, I was walking as much as running. People yelled out to me as they passed by asking if I wanted a ride. One mile from the finish line, a thunderstorm came up and washed the finish line away. I went into a bar to ask where the finish line was and they said I had crossed it. I was the last finisher.

I could barely get out of my car when I arrived home. My wife of 21 years said upon greeting me, “Why do you do this to yourself?” It was such a proud moment for me and she could not take it away. We were divorced two years later. I moved to California and my new running group sustained me as I adjusted to a new job and a new life.

I continued to lose weight and finally got back to my high school weight. The Fresno running group made me faster. There were injuries along the way and solitary running until I healed. In 1994 I ran the California International Marathon. At 17 miles, I was at an 8:01 mile pace. As a 50 year old, I had to be at 8 minutes per mile to qualify for the Boston Marathon. At that point I decided that it was worth the risk. It was now or never. I finished in 3:29.  I ran Boston in the centennial year (1996), and again in 2001 and 2004. At Boston I was only ordinary as a runner.

Today, on this terrible day, I thought about the thousands of runners who were diverted from the course after the explosions and did not cross the finish line. My heart sank knowing that most of their stories were like mine. Boston is not really about elite world class runners. The Boston Marathon is about people like me who push themselves to their absolute limits just to be an ordinary Boston finisher. All other marathons are only qualifiers for Boston.

This story is for those residents and runners in Boston today. I know your story is similar. May God comfort those who mourn and give resolve to those who will do what it takes to finish on Boylston Street next year. While the horror of this year will not be forgotten, the eternal story of the Boston Marathon will always be triumph over suffering.        

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Third Time’s The Charm

Fr. Dale Matson

            As I read Sunday’s Gospel lesson for Easter III, I came to a new awareness of the post resurrection appearances of Christ. This was now the third time He had shown himself to the disciples following His resurrection. On the two previous occasions about a week apart, they were in a locked room and He simply passed through the door. The disciples had been gathering behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jews.  When Jesus appeared to them in the room, He told them to be at peace.  St. Luke noted in his account that the disciples were terrified because they thought they were seeing a ghost.  Jesus ate a fish to show them He was not a ghost. He showed them His wounds and breathed the Holy Spirit on them.  After breathing on them He commissioned them as he had commissioned Peter following Peter’s confession.   Yet even after all of this, where were they one week later?  They were still meeting behind locked doors.  They were still afraid.  And they were still not sure who this man in their midst was. 
            In His third appearance to the disciples (John 21:1-14), they were still not proclaiming the message. It was back to business as usual. They went fishing. They had been fishing all night not far from shore, (less than 100 yards) and not doing very well. Once again they were not sure who it was until He gave them another miraculous sign. Jesus already had fish and bread on hand and a fire to cook them on. It was another multiplication miracle. It was an abundance of fish, some of which were later added to the meal. John recognized Jesus but Peter, being Peter and full of zeal, jumped out of the boat to great Him. At this point all the disciples were almost certain that it was Jesus so they refrained from asking Him who He was. “Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.”
            What element is common to these post resurrection accounts? When did Clopas and his associate finally recognize the resurrected Jesus along the road to Emmaus? It was after He had revealed Himself in the Word and in the breaking of bread. How are all these stories connected? The reality of His humanity is in table fellowship. It is in the breaking of the bread and the passing of the cup. The miracle is not that God arose from the dead. The miracle is that a man rose from the dead. In so doing, mortal flesh took on immortality.  He summons us to sup with Him often. It is first an act of obedience and second an act of faith. He tells us to do it until He returns. It is in this table fellowship that He reveals Himself. He is in our midst. He is among us. He is in us and we are in Him. He is in the bread and He is in the wine set before us. Reveal yourself to us Lord. Amen

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Right Stuff and Holy Orders: Problems and Suggestions For The Future

Fr. Dale Matson

As the vocations officer for the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, I wrote an article in 2010 called “The Right Stuff and Holy Orders”

In the article, I stated, “An important consideration in the discernment process, is the call of God to the individual and the confirmation of this within the parish.” The diocesan commission on ministry is gathered by the bishop to also assist the individual in discernment. It is really a sorting process that determines what order of ministry God is calling an individual into. Are they called to remain in the lay order? Are they called to the vocational diaconate or the priesthood via the transitional diaconate? Hopefully the candidate and commission agree with what constitutes the call of God. Hopefully, if someone is not called by God to holy orders, they will self-select out sooner rather than later. Hopefully, those on the commission will be seen as advocates and not obstacles.

Of course the process can be frustrating for the aspirant/postulant/candidate and perhaps the imperfect and labor intensive process is an additional test of the genuineness of the call. It reminds me of the dementia assessments I performed at the Medical College of Wisconsin. If the person could endure the assessment process itself, it was the best indicator that they were healthy.
The discernment process is not intended as a hazing or a series of hoops and hurdles but often that is the impression of those in the discernment process. In my experiences with candidates, there have been some disappointments because of the sorting/discernment.

For example, there are individuals who have served faithfully as ministers in Protestant churches who wish to be ordained as a priest. This may be because of an elderly priest needing help in an Anglican parish or a paid position that has become available to a clergyperson with no church. I do not think either of these reasons is sufficient in and of itself to signal a call from God as a priest. What is missing even in the “Examination” (BCP 531) of a priest is a sufficient understanding of the apostolic, sacrificial and sacerdotal aspect of the priesthood. I believe Donald Cozzens The Changing Face Of The Priesthood (2,000) overemphasizes the role of “Tender of the Word” at the expense of the traditional Alter Christus aspect of the priest. If an individual is not drawn by God to the Altar, they may be a great preacher or deacon but they are not a priest. What follows are thoughts and suggestions for the future.

There is another option in the discernment process that may be considered but it requires a ‘letting go’ of traditional sorting. There are those young men who are not meant by God for the priesthood who have a call to serve. They need a profession and a vocation. They cannot be non-stipendiary vocational deacons. They must make a living for their families and need to serve God. There are many young men in this situation. They have leadership skills and a necessary faith. For those young men, another option is service in another denomination as a pastor. It is only right that we as Anglicans be willing to give them up for the good of the universal church. It is also important that we examine why the “rector” model of priest is somehow the litmus test for priest. For example, don’t we have chaplain priests? It would also be useful to reexamine the training model for priests. I question the necessity for most priests to be prepared in a brick and mortar setting. What about a mentorship/apprenticeship model that would not require the huge expenditure of resources and time, only to discern that the commission and candidate lost the degrees of freedom to decide correctly, along the way.

There is a certain irony in the selection process. Sometimes young men are only too willing to hear the voice of God in others urging them forward when their own hearts don’t have the same ears to hear. Sometimes the urging of the church is as self-serving and subjective as the self-appointed postulant that does not understand why the church is not behind his aspirations.          

Monday, April 8, 2013

Save Me Lord: A Contemporary Prayer Of Petition

Fr. Dale Matson

Save me from the chaos of this world. Save me from the fears of distant wars and local crime. Save me from the fear of infirmity and bodily harm.  Save me from the fear and anxiety that continually cause me to withdraw, that limit my movements and involvement in good works and make me dishonest. Save me from the prison of self and fear of death. Save me from self-abuse, self-destruction and mistreatment of others. Save me from my own thoughts that are so critical and corrosive that my joints ache. Save me from self-indulgence and pleasure seeking. Save me from the root of bitterness continually filling me with its toxic anger, sarcasm, cynicism, mistrust and a heart unwilling to reconcile with others. Save me from self-rightousness, pride and condescension toward others. Save me from dismissing others from my mind. Save me from numbing my mind with drugs and distractions. Save me for Yourself Lord Jesus. Save me for Your name sake. Amen

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Collect For Easter II

Fr. Dale Matson

As I read our Collect for Easter II, I thought how wonderfully it was written. The Collect expresses so well the Season of Easter. There is a bit of a problem however. What do these well-crafted phrases mean? I thought they were intended by Thomas Cranmer to be in the vernacular. I must admit that even as a priest the phrases required me to reflect further.  I would like to unpack what is stated so compactly in the Collect.

The Collect For Easter II

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery hast established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

What does this mean? What is the “Paschal Mystery”? The Paschal Mystery is a central feature of the Christian faith.  The Paschal Mystery cannot be understood simply by looking up the two words Paschal and Mystery. Paschal has to do with Passover. In Egypt, the blood of sacrificial lambs was put on the door frames of the homes of the Israelites so that the Angel of Death would Passover that house. The Jews escaped death by the blood of the lambs.

Christ is our Paschal Lamb. He was slain for our sake. His blood is the blood of the new covenant and saves us from original sin, our sins we commit and eternal death. His death on the cross destroyed death forever for those who call upon His name.

The other word in Paschal Mystery is “Mystery”. What does this phrase mean? Think of the word Mystery as an eternal hidden plan of God. His plan from the beginning was to send His only Son Jesus the Christ to be born and live as one of us, to die and be buried, to arise from the dead, and to ascend to heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand to intercede for us. "As in Adam all die, so in Christ, shall all be made alive." (1st Corinthians 15:22)

Maybe you haven’t realized it but you state the mystery of faith every time we celebrate Holy Eucharist. In the great thanksgiving, the priest says, “Therefore we proclaim the Mystery of faith.”  And you respond with, “Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ will come again.” That simply stated is the mystery of faith. The Paschal Mystery is the plan of salvation from the very beginning hidden from the world and centering on the Person, life and work of Jesus the Christ.

What about this phrase?  “God, who in the Paschal mystery hast established the new covenant of reconciliation…” Without faith in the person and work of Christ, there is no reconciliation between God and humans. Christ’s work is complete and finished. He has paid our debt to God and suffered our penalty. By faith in Him, we appropriate His righteousness and are made right with God. Repentance is a part of reconciliation. Let me state quite clearly that there can be no reconciliation without repentance. God does not forgive an unrepentant sinner. How many sins are you continually committing and just flat out don’t intend to stop. There is no will to stop. You have committed them so often that your conscience has been dulled to the behavior. You have committed your sin so often that as C.S. Lewis would say, “You are becoming your sin.” You say to me, “I know I am forgiven but I just can’t seem to stop.” You can’t stop because you don’t really want to stop. It’s not can’t stop; it’s won’t stop. An alcoholic friend of mine once said to me, “I have the will power but I don’t have the won’t power.” Reconciliation requires recognition of sin and being sorry for your sin. It requires change in how you do business.
“Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith.” What does this statement mean? Our baptism is our second birth. We were born into this world from our mothers. It was a physical birth. Through baptism, we are born spiritually into the body of Christ, the church. We physically grow outside our mother’s bodies after birth. We spiritually grow inside Christ’s body the church. In the first case, we are born out of our mothers and in the second case we are born into our spiritual mother the church, the body of Christ of which Christ is the head.

May we show forth in our life what we profess in our faith. This one is easy to translate. May we walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Jesus is more than just a slogan on your car bumper. As Savior and Lord, He is our way of life and life itself. This Easter Season, tell others of the hope you have within you. Your hope has a name and His name is above all other names, Jesus Christ.