January 9th, 2022 – Baptism of Our Lord
UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF: Jan 10th – Jan 17th
Monday.……………….. The Cappadocians (Basil, Gregory & Gregory of Nyssa)
5:30PM Church Undecorating
Monday.……………….. Pastor’s Circuit Meeting
Wednesday……………. 2:30 PM Confirmation
Thursday………………. 10:00 AM Bible Study
Sunday: …………………. 10:00am Worship
11:00am Bible Study
The three men grouped under “The Cappadocians” (central to eastern Turkey today) were two brothers (Basil and Gregory of Nyssa) and their cousin Gregory (sometimes specified as of Nazianzus). They were born around 330 AD and worked roughly through 390 AD. The fruits of their work are roughly what we say in the Nicene Creed. That creed was put together in 325 at the council of Nicea but took its final form in 381 at the council of Constantinople. Gregory ended up as the Patriarch of Constantinople and through the preaching and teaching of these three the church affirmed the Nicene understanding of the Trinity contrary to the Arian heresy which subordinated Christ to a creation and not “being of one substance with the Father.” This was no sure thing, as “the smart set” at the time including an Emperor were all Arian. It is worth mentioning that Saints such as The Cappadocians don’t just come from nowhere. Their maternal grandfather was a martyr and their understanding as a Christian family stretches back into the churches Paul founded. God typically works through means, like a faithful family to form souls.
PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION
When the kids were younger there was a music group called Butterflyfish. They had a couple of albums and lots of catchy songs that communicated the gospel in a childlike way. I say childlike, not childish or simplistic or some other term, because it is not about dumbing things down. In fact that is exactly what you can’t do. Children aren’t dumb. They can tell better than most adults when they are being condescended to or rolled. (The TV series “The Chosen,” something of an evangelical world sensation, interestingly has Jesus “working out” things like The Lord’s Prayer, The Beatitudes and his announcement of himself which is the gospel in a couple of weeks with a group of children before he has even started his public ministry.) Childlike is much tougher and Butterflyfish was good at it.
One of my favorite songs from those albums was “Great and Small.” Call it childlike law and gospel. “Deep down here inside my pocket is a little piece of paper/I take it out and read it when I’m feeling out of shaper/to keep my fears at bay/it says you are great/deep down in my other pocket there’s another piece of paper/take it out and read it when I’m getting into shaper/when I’m walking tall/it says you are small…” When you ponder creation, if you think of yourself as anything but a speck, you’ve missed something. But when you ponder God himself, who made himself manifest in a manger, who did not refrain from sharing our humanity, that speck becomes part of the Godhead because you are part of the body of Christ sanctified in Him. Great and small. Small in the face of the law whether that is the natural law of the universe or the revealed law of Moses. Great in the face of your creator worthy of adoption into the royal household.
Ephesians 3:1-12 was the epistle reading for Epiphany and it has for my money the best “great and small” line of the entire bible. Ephesians 3:8-12 is one long sentence. The diagram of it takes a full page. But it is verse 10 that staggers me. “So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. (Eph. 3:10 ESV)” The basic sentence is up in verse 8, “Grace has been given”. But why has grace been given? So that everyone can see (v9), everyone can have the Epiphany. What is the means of everyone seeing? The church (v10). Who is the ultimate audience of the church? When looking at the full sweep of history of the church in this world, who is God trying to show forth to? “The rulers and authorities in the heavenly places (v10).” The powers that be. The ones God set in place at the start (v9). The ones that we feel so small against are to look at us and receive the manifold wisdom of God. And that wisdom is that God’s plan has always been grace given.
That grace can make us feel small because what if it is withdrawn? The tower of Babel always read to me like that post flood story of “there is no way we are depending upon His grace.” Even if their project was doomed they were going to try without Him. Likewise Satan himself, at least according to Milton, was not willing to humbly accept grace. It hurt his pride. But that grace is never withdrawn and never will be. Even in the flood God preserved the family of Noah, 8 souls in all. And He has taken out deserved baptism standing in the place of sinners, while we receive His, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. “He, though heavenly high and holy, deigns to dwell with you most lowly (LSB 636).” Great and small.
- Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story”
- Confirmation: Creed, Article 1, part 2
- Life Application Fellowship (LAF): This Thursday (1/13), maybe?
- Sunday Morning: We are back.
- Catechism Moment: In hibernation