Categories
Enjoying the Process

A Masterclass in Complementarianism

I grew up with my dad listening to Country music most of the hours he was awake. He always played it in the car, he always played it while he worked, and he worked at home in a room that had no door.

It turns out that my third oldest kid loves the genre. When she was a baby, sometimes the only thing that could consistently get her to stop crying was playing Country for her. Even now she prefers our local Classic Country station.

One morning driving to school we heard “Go Rest High on That Mountain” by Vince Gill. Not only did the song drum up some memories for me, it also strummed some intangible strings. I played it later for the rest of the family, and came across this version by Home Free, a group my second oldest really enjoys. That led us to this live performance with Vince Gill and Patty Loveless at the funeral for George Jones.

The song, and the situation, might make your cheeks a little wet. But if you can watch it a couple times, you might be impressed with how Patty Loveless watches the lead and supports the lead and is strong for the lead. She never steals the stage from Vince Gill, while also standing right there with him. It’s a good showing, and perhaps a great illustration.

Categories
Enjoying the Process

Like the Mermaid

It was early in December, probably a decade ago. The invites to seasonal parties and get-togethers and functions seemed to be popping up faster than bubbles in sparkling wassail. It is a busy time for a lot of people, Christians seem to plan even more festivities (and they do have good reason), and the expectation is that a pastor will make an appearance at all of them. I was mentioning this calendar burden to my family around the dinner table one evening, and, as I recall, my attitude about it all was, mmm…, less enthusiastic.

My wife made a comment to me that not only was and is true, it has proven itself very helpful. She said, “Look, Sean, you are not the captain of the ship, you are like the mermaid on the front of it. Your job is to be out front and get wet first.”

Perfect.

Because our church believes and really tries to practice the plurality of elders/pastors, I am not The Pastor, I am a pastor. It turns out that much of my role involves being in front and opening my mouth. But this is not an indicator of importance, it is my assignment. Referring to the position as the mermaid position serves well to poke at the preciousness and pretentiousness of so many pastors, myself included.

I’m sure that some seminary professor somewhere would disapprove of the analogy. I mean, it’s not biblical. Another pastor might argue that it makes light of a high calling; certainly it is a critical responsibility for which we will give account to God. And yet, maybe some of us would be a greater blessing to the “ship” if we took ourselves a little less seriously and earnestly looked to the Chief Shepherd, the Head of the Body, as the actual Captain.

Anyway, I’ve been using the imagery since then. A couple summers ago my in-laws commissioned one of our favorite local artists to paint a pic of me as mermaid. There’s a number of details that make it fun, such me holding a battering ram (which we talk about for sake of our Sunday morning assembly of worship), and a couple raggants, which is the mascot of our school. We’ve yet to find the perfect spot to hang it in our house, but now you know the story when you come and visit.

Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

Parents Picturing Parents

I was reminded again this past week that we usually need more reminders more than we need new information. We also usually need cheeseburgers more than we need a new special from some cooking artiste.

I’m going to begin a series of exhortations related to the work of fathers and mothers. I haven’t mapped out how many subjects to cover, or how many times I want to touch the electric fence. But there are many lambs in the flock, and sometimes they get a little jumpy.

One of my strategic twists on the subject is to remind us that we are not raising children, we are raising parents. We are dealing with people who will one day have their own people, and who, at some point down the road, will be responsible for us. Our time as “the boss” is short. You can have your kids do something because you say so, and it’s not always possible for them to understand everything at a given moment, but eventually they need to know. Who else is supposed to tell them? Did you think they wouldn’t need to be told?

Think about a list of qualities you’d love to see someday when you visit your children’s children, say, when you’re having sabbath dinner around their table. What characteristics would you want to see? I think that isn’t merely a subjective or preference question, at least not at the top. It can be answered.

Before I give you what I think numero uno should be, I’ll at least ask, whatever is on your list, are you currently showing them what it looks like?

And as for what should be first on everyone’s list: you want these future parents to trust the Lord, to love Him with all they are and have, to live by faith. You want your kids to be Christians, living from faith to faith. So again, are you? Are you trusting the Lord in front of your kids? Are you trusting the Lord for your kids?

Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

What is a Christian?

Sometimes I think that we should never pay attention to things posted on the internet <irony>This is being posted on the internet</irony>. A couple weeks ago I followed a thread about how the terminology of “identity in Christ” is unhelpful, worldly—psychological and self-centered, and wrong. And I mean, I guess I can imagine someone using that terminology with no clue about identity and no reference to Christ. I can also imagine a lot of ways to abuse a lot of good things.

Identity refers to the characteristics determining what a thing is, or who a person is. For example, a “woman” is a female who is post-puberty. A woman is an adult human with two X chromosomes. A woman is the kind of human who can get pregnant and give birth. One woman and one man in covenant make a marriage. I am not a biologist, but I do have a Bible. And eyes.

As Christians, there are characteristics that determine who we are. Among an abundance of characteristics given in God’s Word, Christians are those who have been baptized into Christ Jesus, so that means we were baptized into His death, buried with Him, and “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).

Stated differently,

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 ESV)

It should be as obvious that you are a Christian as it is that you are a woman, or a man. Your baptism is a sign, and so is your communion at the Lord’s Supper. “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:54 ESV). What is a Christian? A person who identifies with, and has their identity in, Jesus Christ.

Categories
Bring Them Up

On a Mission from God

Or, Virgil’s Legendary Guide to the West

The following are my notes from the 2022 Raggant Fiction Festival. Audio and video are here.


The Rented Mule Epic

On almost any 21st Century list of epics, Virgil’s Aeneid is the rented mule. You need it to carry the burden of Western Civilization through a fairly gnarly section on the world timeline, but it’s not the epic you care about. You don’t treat it like a pet, you beat it, freely, like a rented mule.

Could we have been such chronological snobs to have a festival about monumental myths that have shaped western man and left out Virgil? Not unless we also wanted to leave out Dante, who consciously patterned his Divine Comedy after Virgil and, even more significantly, turned Virgil himself into a character to guide the pilgrim Dante through the Inferno and Purgatorio. We’d also have to ignore how culture itself went west from Athens to Rome, leaving unanswered the shift from Spartans to Caesars, skimming over the world into which the Logos took on flesh, and in which, to some extent, we still live. Like it or not, we are sons of Aeneas.

We could no more ignore Virgil’s myth than we could Thomas Jefferson while staring at Mt. Rushmore.

I will admit, I didn’t like it. When we decided on the epic theme for this Fiction Festival, the one thing I knew is that I did not want to talk about the Aeneid. Bleh; boring. I offered to buckle up with a number of other options, Dante or Milton or Beowulf or perhaps even Spenser. But Providence had other purposes, and I could do no other. If Aeneas is a reluctant hero, I was at least reluctant to start my journey with him (though I am not a hero). Knowing my calling, it was my duty to love this epic in front of you so that you might appreciate it more.

Duty Is a Four Letter Word

I said it was my duty to battle my previous boredom with this book. The zeitgeist, or common cultural and moral climate, of the 21st century is to dismiss duty. We don’t think about our duties, we deny that things are our duties. We like to think we are our own people, supposedly equal and equally allowed to do whatever we want. Modern man doesn’t have anyone else to answer to but himself; if there is a God, then He is irrelevant.

This is one of the reasons why the Aeneid doesn’t resonate the way it used to. Duty to family, and duty to the (appropriate) gods, is what drives the plot of the poem. Aeneas, at least initially, doesn’t want to leave Troy (even though it’s in flames), and then he doesn’t want to leave Dido (even though she is a hot mess), and doesn’t really even seem up to making the final kill. It’s only as Aeneas realizes and remembers and takes up his responsibilities that he can establish a civilization. He is on a mission from God (in his case, Jupiter, the “Almighty Father” and “chief power of the world,” along with the Fates).

If stories are profitable to get our loyalties tied up in the right places, and they are, and if stories are good for stimulating our affections for something bigger than ourselves, and they are, then hopefully it will become obvious why the Aeneid has shaped, and might become useful again for, Christians in the tossed and troubled days of Western Civilization.

Mythic Material

Have you read the poem? Do you know the story? Are you familiar with Virgil and his pre-Christ context?

Virgil, full name Publius Vergilius Maro, was born in 70 BC and lived until 19 BC in Italy. He was well known from two other collections of pastoral poems, the Ecologues (37 BC) and the Georgics (29 BC). He was more than a pop artist, but yet also that, like the Robertus Dylanus of his day.

Virgil lived in a politically volatile time. Caesar Augustus was taking Rome from a Republic to an Empire, and in doing so killed off some high-profile enemies. Whether or not Rome was looking for an identity, it at least was looking for some solidarity. Virgil’s story was a way to give the Romans an origin story that they could hold to, patriotically, and come to unity and peace (under Caesar’s rule).

The original #MAGA: Make Augustus Great Again. Rome had to be great, dang it. Show us why. Invent it if you need to.

Virgil worked on the Aeneid for over ten years, plodding along some days producing only two or three lines. He also wanted it burned. Legend has it that on his deathbed he pleaded with his friends to destroy it, but they didn’t, and Augustus ordered it to be published.

The poem is just under 10k lines. It is written in Latin, in dactylic hexameter, just as Homer’s epics, though Homer wrote in Greek. (For what it’s worth, a few months ago Mr. Callender and I were talking and he said that we really needed a Latin expert to talk about the Aeneid. Here I am talking about the Aeneid; I am not a Latin expert. But, I did make it through a few hours of an online course that works through the Aeneid in Latin, and…I really enjoyed it. Turns out, the original is a lot more fun and colorful. I re-read Fitzgerald in English, and, meh; it’s the recommended Omnibus version, and often recommended online. But, yeah, the Latin itself magna gloria est).

Arma virumque cano is the first line. It’s providential, and amusing, because when I (reluctantly) agreed to teach Maggie Latin when we were homeschooling, this is the second little phrase that Latin for Children Primer A has the students memorize. What I had no clue about then, is that even in these first words, Virgil is giving a shout out to Homer. The Arma, arms or weapons, look to the second six books of twelve in the Aeneid, but they also reflect the Iliad, Homer’s story of war. The virum is the man, yes, Aeneas, but also Odysseus in the Odyssey. The first six books of the Aeneid are similar sailing struggles. Even cano, I sing, connects with Homer’s song.

The main character is Aeneas. The story is called Aeneid, and not The because there is no definite article in Latin. That said, this is definitely definite; this is the Aeneid above all. Aeneas is in the Iliad, a super small role. Aeneas and Odysseus lived at the same time, and, it’s possible that they are stuck on Mediterranean seas around the same time. On the biblical timeline, this is probably just a bit before David becomes king in Israel.

Virgil writes almost a thousand years later, with the foreshadowing and prophecy making Rome’s power appear fated.

The poem sets up the hero, Aeneas, and the antagonist, which is mostly the goddess Juno (Jupiter’s wife), but it includes the Greeks and the Carthiginians and the inhabitants of Italy.

Aeneas not only admits that he is weak, he is also defeated. We find Aeneas as Troy is ransacked by the Greeks. Aeneas loses his city, his wife, and has to carry his father out of the burning wreckage to escape in ships (the subject of numerous works of art). They set sail, and Juno stirs up Aeolus to send winds against them to destroy the fleet, but Neptune doesn’t take kindly to others messing with his surf. Some ships are lost, others make port in Carthage, where Aeneas and Dido, the queen, fall in love and get married, of a sort, a relationship consummated but not covenanted.

Aeneas carries his father, Anchises, out of Troy

But the gods remind Aeneas that he has to keep going; Jupiter sends a messenger. Aeneas is called, by duty, to get to Italy and plant a people who would become Rome.

Dido is humiliated and enraged and kills herself, lighting herself on fire in a big pyre. (She’s found in Dante’s second level of hell in the Inferno).

Aeneas and his men make port at another stop, and here Aeneas is shown the door to the underworld where he goes, and sees not only Dido (awkward), but also his dad (Anchises), who reiterates that Aeneas must keep going to found a great people.

By the time Aeneas comes back from the realm of the dead at the end of Book VI, he is ready for his responsibility. His ships sail up the coast to the mouth of the Tiber River, he greets the current king, Latinus, who promises his daughter to Aeneas. That makes Turnus angry, a local prince, and the second half of the poem, Books VII-XII, are all about the various battle scenes. Finally, and abruptly, Aeneas faces Turnus in single-combat, and kills him.

Number One on the Romans Times

Though Virgil didn’t even want the thing published, the Aeneid became a bestseller almost immediately. How many people in Rome could read? How many scribes were making handwritten copies? Hard to say. Even Augustus probably didn’t read the whole thing. But it resonated with the Romans.

And why wouldn’t it? This was a story about their awesomeness. It gave them an origin story for their civilization that was Jupiter’s own desire, with the blessing of most of the gods, and the inevitability of the Fates. Remus and Romulus were descendants of Aeneas, and how could the Empire not be great? They had Virgil’s 20/20 hindsight and artistic flair to help them embrace their greatness.

Like Dido, Without Dying

When it comes to shaping Western man, the Aenied didn’t stop in first century Rome. Many men have loved Aeneas.

For fun, many medievals played Sortes Vergilianae, flipping open a Virgil book to a random page, blindly pointing at a sentence, and taking that as a prophecy (e.g., Hadrian, Charles I, others). This is also known as bibliomancy, “foretelling the future by interpreting a randomly chosen passage from a book, especially the Bible” (New Oxford American Dictionary).

Augustine couldn’t stop referencing it. In his Confessions he refers to reading Virgil again and again as a young student, and early after his conversion struggled with how it benefitted him compared to eternal things. Years later, he loved to point out how wrong Virgil was in The City of God, with some 44 interactions just with the Aeneid, probably because so many people were familiar with it. Even if Augustine loved to beat it like a rented mule, he still didn’t want to kill it.

Christians throughout the medieval period had a much more sympathetic, and appreciative take on the Aeneid. Maybe it was because they could take it as a good story more than a tool of the Caesar.

Dante certainly kept Virgil in the game. Dante gave Virgil as good a place as any pre-Christian could get. Though Virgil wasn’t welcome in Paradise because he didn’t believe in Christ, he went as far as he could with the light he had. Virgil is the poetic example and the philosophical expert. Virgil had already guided Aeneas through the underworld as an author, now Virgil could be used by an author to guide some more. Virgil was legendary.

Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin regularly quoted Virgil. Translating Latin passages on sight was a standard entrance requirement at many colleges. (source)

In C. S. Lewis’ list of books that affected him the most, G. K. Chesterton’s book The Everlasting Man was number two (after a book by George MacDonald). In The Everlasting Man Chesterton argues that Virgil’s world, as represented in the Aeneid, was the largest possible world into which the Christ would come. Chesterton wrote:

Virgil had the best news to tell as well as the best words to tell it in. His world might be sad; but it was the largest world one could live in before the coming of Christianity. (The Victorian Age in Literature (source))

the popularisation of the Trojan origin by Virgil has a vital relation to all those elements that have made men say that Virgil was almost a Christian. It is almost as if two great tools or toys of the same timber, the divine and the human, had been in the hands of Providence; and the only thing comparable to the Wooden Cross of Calvary was the Wooden Horse of Troy. (Everlasting Man, Location 2366)

It turns out, on Lewis’ top ten list, the Aeneid itself was number three. He loved it. He identified in various ways with the reluctancy of Aeneas, but knew that he had a duty to do. Lewis wrote a 180+ page introduction to Paradise Lost and included numerous reflections on the Aeneid. He even translated about a third of the poem himself, and we should wish that he had finished, because it is an attempt to get rhythm into the lines.

“Of arms and the exile I must sing, of yore / Guided by fate from Troy to the Lavinian shore.”

Vital Destiny

Lewis probably lived in one of the last generations that, as a group, sensed duty. Those who lived through, and especially those who fought during, the World Wars had more of a mind about their obligations. That said, Lewis even more was upset by the modern mindset, was consciously devoted to being an old Western man.

We have such little sense of duty, and this is mostly because we have such little sense of God.

Mrs. Bowers shared a great essay with the speakers creatively titled, “The Epic”, published in 1914. I learned a lot from reading it.

Lascelles Abercrombie (who was awarded a professorship at the University of Leeds instead of Tolkien in 1922) distinguishes between “Heroic” epic, what could also be called “Primary” or “Authentic” or even “Primitive” epic, compared to “Literary” or “Secondary” or even “Artificial” epic. Lewis, in his Preface to Paradise Lost spends multiple chapters on this distinction (Chapter 6 – “Virgil and the Subject of Secondary Epic”).

Homer, and Beowulf and the Song of Roland, for example, are Heroic, where “vehement private individuality freely and greatly assert(ed) itself.” It’s as if the men were too great not be sung; the greatness of the story demanded poetic expression. Milton, and certainly Virgil, are intentionally, self-consciously writing. They used poetic expression to make a story great.

But Abercrombie asserts that the “gods” were not really things that men believed in, they were more cultural and verbal leftovers. “Virgil is more decorous; but can we imagine Virgil praying, or anybody praying, to the gods of the Aeneid?” The “supernatural machinery” must ride the line between fanciful and functional, but there is no actual faith required.

I couldn’t disagree with that more. Aeneas did not leave Troy or leave Dido or fight Turnus except that he was convinced that that is what the gods wanted him to do. “I sail for Italy not of my own free will” (IV.499). He was on a mission from god. The Aeneid is not just the telling of events, but the telling of “vital destiny” (Abercrombie), and destiny is determined outside of ourselves.

Almost every reader who reads any background knows that Aeneas is known for his piety. There is no piety without a god/gods to be dutiful to. We don’t get epics without deity.

  • sic volvere Parcas “thus the Fates will roll out” history (line 22)
  • Aeneas first speech: “God will grant us an end”
  • Jupiter told Venus that her son will found imperium sine fine, “rule without end.”
  • “Aeneas came as one ordained, / Brought by palpable will of the unseen” (XI.318)
  • In the end, Vicit iter durum pietas, “piety has conquered the hard road”

Aeneas could barely hold himself together. He complains of his inabilities for the majority of the story. He was set up to suffer, and suffer big time. It was only divine assurance, prophecy, repeated, that sent him forward.

This is why it resonates not just with Romans, but with believers in the true God, maker of heaven and earth. God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility (courage and endurance) may be difficult to understand together, but no God leaves us with “man’s sovereignty” and that is an anti-epic. Scientific formulas (without a God who created science) have not made men more courages than men who had least had supernatural categories such as the Fates.

Read negatively, our protagonist is a weak and whiny little boy who ends up becoming the worst possible version of himself as an authoritarian tyrant. Read positively, our protagonist is a broken man who against all odds becomes strong and overcomes great suffering to establish a greater society. Read atheistically, there is no hero and no story and no West because there is no God.

Conclusion

So Virgil’s legend is legendary, and it gives us a guide, limited as it is.

“It was Virgil who taught Christian Europe the shape of history, the cost of empire, the primacy of duty, the transience of fame, the inevitability of death, the pain of letting go, and the burden of adopting new strategies.” (Louis Markos, C. S. Lewis’s List, 49)

Virgil’s poem is heavy with the weight of history, prophecy, and glory. Men want to know where they’ve come from and what they should do. They want to know how to be great. And they cannot do this unless they know their mission from God.

Categories
Bring Them Up

What We Need to Work On

I heard George Grant give a workshop talk at the 2017 ACCS National Conference called “Tools for the Toolbox.” I could not find a link to it anywhere, BUT he reworked/focused his material and gave it as a plenary talk at the 2018 conference under the title “Lifelong Learning: Following in the Footsteps of Isaac Watts.”

Grant works through 10 principles in Watts’ book, On the Improvement of the Mind (which according to Grant is a follow-up to Watts’ Logic textbook, ha).

It’s a talk about learning as repentance, about remembering that we do not remember as we should, that we have not read or learned all we need to, and that we should identify areas where we’re ignorant/weak, then set goals and a schedule, and get to work growing and getting stronger.

Grant nails this flush between the 19:30 and 20:30 minute marks. He does not elaborate on it as much as I thought he did in the workshop talk, but, whatever. Rather than (only/primarily?) focus on maximizing our strengths, as most of the current productivity content counsels, it’s “healthy to take a broad estimate of everything we’re not, everything that we can’t, everything that we won’t.” That way we know what we need to work on.

This strategy is good for making progress as disciples, and it is also appropriate for the education/enculturation of every student. Teachers aren’t good teachers because they can see what a student is already good at, teachers are also trying to turn a student’s “can’t”s into “can”s. That teachers should be motivated examples of this, not just motivated enforcers of it, seems more than appropriate.

Related, here’s a great story (that my swim-loving wife shared with me) about a young man who keeps choosing to jump into the deep end to get better. “If I couldn’t handle not being good at something, then how could I consider myself a successful person?”

Categories
The End of Many Books

The Aeneid

by Virgil

This is the third time I’ve read Virgil’s epic. I had to look up my previous reviews to see what I said, probably about how much I didn’t like it. This reading was different, not because I found a different translation, but because I had a different motivation. I’m giving a talk about it in a couple days, and preparing for the talk pushed me to pay attention to it more closely.

I don’t think I enjoyed it more, or liked it more, but I definitely do appreciate it more. In God’s prophecies and purposes (and I do mean the true God, not the so-called gods Virgil references), the river of Western civilization flowed to and through and from Rome, and the Aeneid provides the city’s origin story, which did seem to bring about a sort of peace within the Empire among those for whom Virgil’s poem provided good patriotic feels.

You definitely should read this at some point. It would be even better if you could read some of it in Latin, which, as it turns out, is actually much more colorful. You could also check out this (new to me) translation by C. S. Lewis, though he only finished a little more than two of the twelve total books in the story. And last, you could check back in a few days when I post the notes from my talk.


2018, March 28 – Read the whole epic thing this time around for our Tenebras class. The gods do not agree, Turnus is mad, and watch out for Camilla.

2013 – Read much of this poem, but not all, this time through with the Omnibus class. Shows the power of story, and the power of art to tell a story, for providing purpose to a people’s culture.

3 of 5 stars

Categories
Every Thumb's Width

Killing Is Not a Constitutional Right

For a number of years I have talked about making Marysville a destination. I’ve thought about it in terms of being the kind of people with a gravity that could be an encouragement, and maybe even a sort of mini-haven, to Christians in an otherwise leftist (political/moral) state. In fact, ours is already one of the few sane cities on the I-5 corridor, which goes up and down the furthest left (geographical) part of WA State if you’re looking at a map.

Our legislature and governor are trying to make WA a destination for different reasons. They’ve put forward a bill to invite more abortions.

Here’s the news article, including this quote from the governor:

“We know this bill is necessary because this is a perilous time for the ability of people to have the freedom of choice that they have enjoyed for decades. To the citizens of Idaho, if Idaho will not stand up for your constitutional rights, we will.”

But killing is not a constitutional right.

If you do click through and read the article, note that immediately following the governor’s quote, our state is also abandoning words like “woman” and “mother” for “pregnant individual.”

We are lost. And while it isn’t surprising, it is sinful, depraved, evil, and worth doing something about.

If you faint in the day of adversity,
your strength is small.
Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?
(Proverbs 24:10–12, ESV)

Categories
The End of Many Books

On the Church

by Abraham Kuyper

Many years ago I heard John Piper say that one of his seminary teachers had encouraged each student to choose a theologian and make that theologian his, as in, “consider the outcome of [his] way of life, and imitate [his] faith” (Hebrews 13:7). While I’ve appreciated almost all of Piper’s biographies on different men, Jonathan Edwards was obviously Piper’s choice.

I am a different man (Christian, husband, father, shepherd) because of God’s use of Edwards in my life; affections for the win. I also am abundantly thankful for John Calvin, and even named my only son after him. But when I really got down to making a choice, I decided to try to read all the things I could by Abraham Kuyper. Most days I try to pick up and plod through five minutes of whatever is my current Kuyper.

On the Church is one of the twelve volumes in his Collected Works in Public Theology. It’s a collection of various writings on the subject, and I had actually read some of the entries before (for example, Rooted and Grounded, which is fantastic, is its own booklet). It was really interesting to read Kuyper’s almost giddy enthusiasm for the state of the (Calvinistic) church in the United States, free from State encroachments and entanglements. This is, if it ever was as great as Kuyper describes, no longer the case.

Kuyper loved the Church/churches, pastored a few churches, started a new denomination of churches, and constantly worked to edify the churches whatever hat he was wearing at the moment. More than that, Kuyper loved the Head of the Church, and consistently points to Him.

Jesus Christ himself can be established as the binding agent of the fellowship of the church. He in fact must be the lively center of the whole organism of the church; he is like the hub of the wheel, by whose rotations and circular motions the entire effort of the church receives its impulse and is moved. He is that splendid sun, whose shining radiance glitteringly illuminates the whole church body, by whose glowing heat the heart of the whole church is warmed and inflamed.

4 of 5 stars

Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

Before We Mess It Up

The only sure way to never mess up communion would be to never have communion. There’s an old pastor’s joke that relates to this. When a young man says he wants to get hired to pastor a church where there aren’t any problems, he’s exhorted that if he finds such a church, he shouldn’t go there, because he will be the problem. But here we are, limitations and weaknesses and unfinished parts and all, and here is where we’re instructed to eat bread and drink wine together in the Lord’s name.

Unlike with manna, we don’t go out on Sunday mornings and find the elements sent from heaven like dew on the ground. We have a rotation of servants who bake the bread, we have a rotation of teams who prepare the containers, we have a guy who supplies all the wine. Last Sunday our baker accidentally used sugar instead of salt in the bread. We’ve also had days when grape juice inadvertently went in the wine trays and vice surprisa when people drank their cup. Occasionally a baker forgets it’s her day, has to run back home and miss the beginning of the service to be a servant and provide for the Supper.

We’ve got people who have to walk up stairs, we’ve got spills of wine on the carpet or fabric, we’ve got all sorts of things that might make you wonder why we don’t just have a moment of silence instead. “Let us remember Jesus, quickly and quietly, before we mess it up.”

But that would really be messing it up. Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). Before us is “the cup of blessing” and the bread is a “participation in the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:16). We eat and drink, and deal with inconveniences and accidents, by faith, in the Lord Jesus Christ.