Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Advent Midweek III


Advent Midweek III: Brothers Dwelling in Unity
December 19, 2012
Text: Psalm 133

            We’ve talked about the nuclear family in our midweek Advent series, and we’ve talked about the family of God that is the Holy Christian Church.  Psalm 133 is about the family of God, the Church.  We’re a family here in this congregation.  We’re family with all Christians of all times and all places, with countless people we haven’t even met.  This Psalm is another one of those songs of ascents that the pilgrims would sing on their climb up to the Holy City for Passover or one of the feasts.  It was a confession that all those headed to the Temple for the holy sacrifice, to receive the gifts of God in the Passover meal, these were family.  Our Communion with one another around the Lord’s Table is an intimate relationship.  It makes us one, even as it bestows on us the forgiveness of sins and power for a Christian life of love toward one another.  That’s why we call the Holy Christian Church the Communion of Saints.  Communion means “one with,” “united with.”  Each of us is one with each other.  We’re a family. 
            Well, like any family, we have our share of dysfunction.  We’re all sinners, and we sin against one another.  We’ve been known to argue.  We’ve been known to gossip.  We’ve been known to say mean things to each other and foster bitterness in our hearts.  There have been times we’ve absented ourselves from the family gathering for selfish or superficial reasons.  We may not say it out loud, but everyone acknowledges in their heart the empty place at the Table when you’re not here.  What do we do with the dysfunction, the sin in the Christian family?  Just like in our families at home, we repent.  We confess it to God.  We confess to one another.  We apologize to those we have hurt.  God forgives us all our sins on account of the blood and death of His Son, Jesus Christ.  So we, too, forgive one another and restore the unity.  For this is good and pleasant.  How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters in Christ dwell in unity (Ps. 133:1).  “Agreement in spirit, doctrine, and practice is objectively ‘good’ ‘to achieve and inwardly ‘pleasant’ to experience” (The Lutheran Study Bible [St. Louis: Concordia, 2009] p. 978).  Such unity is the gift of God to His Church, and it grows out of His Word, out of our Baptism (which is our birth into the family), and out of our gathering around His Table for the family meal of our Lord’s true Body and Blood.
            King David describes this unity as precious oil on the head of the priest (v. 2), running down on his beard and the collar of his robes.  Oil was used for anointing prophets, priests, and kings.  Here the reference is to priestly ordination, and it symbolizes the anointing of the Holy Spirit whereby the man in the priesthood is set apart for holy service.  Jesus Christ is our High Priest, anointed with the Holy Spirit at His Baptism in the Jordan River, the Priest who offers the once for all sacrifice, Himself, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  And in our Baptism into Christ He anoints us with that same Holy Spirit to be His priests in the world, redeemed by His sacrifice, given to sacrifice ourselves in love for the sake of the neighbor.  In our common priestly anointing, we are united, a family, with God as our Father and Jesus Christ as our Brother. 
            Again, King David describes this unity as the dew of Hermon (v. 3), a high mountain in the Northern part of Israel, the source of the Jordan River, bringing water and refreshment to the dry land.  Or, he says, it is like the dew that falls on the mountains of Zion, Jerusalem, the Holy City, the place of the Temple, the Holy Christian Church.  The Church brings refreshment to a sin-parched and dying world by the preaching of the Gospel.  It all flows from Zion, from a mountain just outside the city, Mount Calvary, where our Lord was crucified.  There, from that place, the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore (v. 3).
            Now, we’ve been talking about the perfect family Christmas.  Hopefully it has become apparent that the perfect family Christmas can only be that which is covered by the blood of Jesus Christ, who was crucified on Calvary for the forgiveness of all our sins, from whom flows the blessing, life forevermore.  The perfect family Christmas is that in which all that is imperfect and dysfunctional in our lives, our families, our Church… all that is sin… is forgiven.  The perfect family Christmas is that in which we gather with our families as the Family of God around His family Table where our Lord Jesus places His true Body and Blood into our mouths for our forgiveness.  Sinners never dwell in unity, unless their sin is removed from them and nailed to the cross.  Here, in His Word and Sacrament, sins forgiven, our Lord gives His people the gift of the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3).  How good and pleasant it is.  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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