Let Nothing Keep You Away
It is amazing that people who study secondary and tertiary sources about theology can absent themselves from the primary source of theology—Jesus Christ. Eager to read what someone else has pontificated, they deny themselves the Sacrament of the Altar where our Lord offers His people forgiveness of sins, life and salvation as they make erroneous assumptions about what they observe or believe that others believe, teach or confess. People can be caught in the same heresy as they believe that they can “read their Bibles at home” because they “believe in God” and “pray every day” on their own without being part of the gathering of the faithful where our Lord’s Word is proclaimed. People consult astrologers, popular stars, the internet and other often unreliable sources when they seek reconciliation and peace instead of hearing the words of absolution that are delivered in the stead and by the command of Christ. The enemy delights in these circumstances because he is keeping people away from the forgiveness of sins that brings life and salvation to people that the Holy Spirit brings to us through the Means of Grace.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. The love of God in Christ Jesus knows no bounds. Christ’s death on the cross was for all sin. His resurrection from the dead brings a new day for all, a new day of eternal life for those who receive His gifts by faith. Why would we let anything keep us away from receiving those gifts? Why would we travel without charging your phone first? Why would we scuba dive without an oxygen tank? Why would we ride a roller coaster without being strapped into our seats? Why would we trudge through the snow without a winter coat? Why would we live life without partaking regularly of the gifts of God whenever they are offered? After all, we are not promised even later today. We need the viaticum—the food for the journey—to keep us sustained and nourished in the one true faith.
As Pentecost gives us opportunity to celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples so that they could proclaim Christ crucified for our sin, raised for our new life, ascended and returning in glory, we celebrate the goodness of God together in an imperfect community gathered around the perfect Christ. The Holy Spirit was sent to the disciples who were gathered together (Acts 2). Our Lord continues to reveal Himself to us in the gathering of the faithful through the Word of God.
St. Gregory the Great (540-604) addressed this issue in this way: See that the pleasures of the flesh, the anxiety of carefulness, the fever of ambition do not hold us back from the great supper of the Lord, but also let us touch obliquely as it were with our minds those honourable things which we do in the world, so that the earthly things which delight us may so serve our body that they hinder our heart as little as possible. (Homily 36 quoted in For All the Saints, volume III, Delhi: ALPB, 1995)
As “God’s People Pray” together, nothing should separate us from the gathering of the faithful. Dr. Martin Luther addressed it like this in his “Treatise on Good Works” (1520): The common prayer is precious and the most powerful, and it is for its sake that we come together. For this reason also the Church is called a House of Prayer, because in it we are a congregation with one accord to consider our need and the needs of all men, present them before God, and call upon Him for mercy. But this must be done with heart-felt emotion and sincerity, so that we feel in our hearts the needs of all men, and that we pray with true sympathy for them, in true faith and confidence. Where such prayers are not made in the mass, it is better to omit the mass. For what sense is there in our coming together into a House of Prayer, which coming together shows that we should make common prayer and petition for the entire congregation, if we scatter these prayers and so distribute them that everyone prays only for himself, and no one has regard for the other, nor concerns himself for another’s need? How can that prayer be of help, good, acceptable and a common prayer, or a work of the Holy Day and of the assembled congregation, which they make their own petty prayers, one for this, the other for that, and have nothing but self-seeking selfish prayers, which God hates? (quoted in For All the Saints, volume III, Delhi: ALPB, 1995)
Do not succumb to the temptations of the flesh and cut yourself off from the grace of God offered freely to us in Christ Jesus. You may not like how God comes to you and the context and contours of His blessings, but do not let the Enemy succeed in cutting you off from the Vine, lest you as a branch wither and die. Nothing should keep you away from the gifts of God because nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7). Christ has joined us to Himself in Holy Baptism, uniting us with Him in His death for our sin and His resurrection for our new life, making us the Body of Christ. Let nothing separate you from Christ. Let nothing keep you from the Body of Christ…at the Altar or around the Altar.
Peace and hope in Christ Jesus alone,
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A Brief History
By the mercy of Almighty God, Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Bronx, New York, was founded in 1928.
Members of St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Yonkers who lived in the Wakefield section of the Bronx in...
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Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church
4360 Rev. Theodore Wittrock Crossing
(Boyd and Barnes Avenues)
The Bronx, NY 10466-1804
Phone: 718.324.1288 - Fax: 718.324.2056
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