May 15th, 2022 – 5th Sunday of Easter
UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF: May 16th – May 22nd
Monday……………….. . 6:00PM LAF
Wednesday……………. 7:00 PM Church Council
Thursday………………. 10:00 AM Bible Study
Friday: …………………. 5:00 PM Confirmation
Saturday………………. Constantine & Helena
Sunday: …………………. 10:00 AM Worship
11:15 AM Bible Study
In a supposedly post-Constantinian age it might seem strange seeing Constantine and his mother Helena show up on the list of commemorations. There are plenty of educated despisers of various words like Ceasaro-Papism or Dan Brown conspiracy theorists around the Council of Nicea. There are even many sincere advocates of a church purified of secular power. But I think they miss the general good of a Christian ruler. It is part of the Small Catechism in fact. What is meant by daily bread includes “…devout and faithful rulers, good government…”. The Edict of Milan in 314 ended the on and off persecution of the church. After Constantine won the battle of the Milvian Bridge under the sign of the “Chi-Rho” which He had seen in a vision, it was no longer a crime to be a Christian.
Helena, Constantine’s mother, had become a Christian much earlier, and after his victories they were responsible for many fine things. She built the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. The same one you might catch on Easter broadcasts. They also erected what is known as Old Saint Peters which stood over the tombs of Peter and Paul until the building of the present Basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome. Those are the big works, but Imperial favor helped in many ways throughout the empire. It was also Constantine who called the bishops to Nicea to make a clear statement about the Arian Controversy – what we know as the Nicene Creed.
We live in a “Two Kingdom’s World”. Christ rules the gospel directly, but the kingdom of the law is ruled by the crooked timber of humanity. It is worth remembering those rulers who attempted to honor Christ as Lord and the good that they can accomplish.
PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION
The largest chunk of the book of Revelation, roughly chapters 6 through 20, are the three cycles of seven: seals, trumpets and bowls. Each cycle has at least one “close-up”. The seal close-up is of the eternal election in Chapter 7. The trumpets has two. There is a close-up of the two witnesses in chapter 10 who represent simply the testimony of the prophets and the apostles which continue for the entire time. If you are Lutheran you are tempted to say Law and Gospel, but that might be a little too far. The trumpets also has an overview of church history from the incarnation to the end in chapters 12-14. So you’ve had a close-up on pre-history, the eternal election. You’ve had a close-up on the great span of history and the work of the church in that great span. In the bowls section you get a close-up of the end, the fall of the beasts, the prostitute, Babylon everything meant to symbolize the devil, the world and our sinful nature. Christ has triumphed and reigns during the entire time which ends in the final defeat of Satan. The purpose of the apocalyptic is to reveal to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. And what is revealed in all the cycles is that God is in control. He knows who are his, and he saves them. Whatever the enemies are doing, they can’t harm God’s elect.
But all of that is tough to preach on. It is written for study and meditation. I think that is why the lectionary just skips to the end, to Revelation 21. Our epistle reading has 4 things to remind us of said clearly. 1) Our hope is a new heaven and a new earth. This heaven – taken as space and the sky – and this earth are warn out, and God brings to completion his work of re-creation which was started on Easter morning with the resurrection of Jesus. 2) In this new heaven and new earth no longer will the highest heaven – the abode of God – be separate from the heavens and the earth. “The dwelling place of God is with man.” 3) The dwelling of God with man is not to inspire fear or judgment. Those things have been put behind when Satan and all of his were cast to the lake of ire. The dwelling place of God is with man that he may wipe away every tear and death shall be no more. The former things have passed away. Behold, God does a new thing, he makes all things new. 4) And this salvation is placed in familial terms. “The one who conquers…he will be my son.” Not a slave or servant or a serf, but a son of the Household of God.
Each one of those things restores something that was originally lost: the goodness of creation not just its existence, the communion with God in the flesh, seeing God without fear, and a true fellowship with all. There are lots of ways we try and create those things here, but they always end up rushing the not yet or slipping out of our grasp. We have them instead by faith, because God has promised them, and He keeps his promises. He is faithful to his covenant which He calls His steadfast love.
- Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story” – The Exodus – the Plagues
- Confirmation: Lord’s Prayer – Conclusion
- Life Application Fellowship (LAF): May 16th, 6PM, Zoom
- Sunday Morning: Going to continue with the Psalms for a Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
- Catechism Moment: Continuing with the Lord’s Prayer