Devotion for December 22 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   10 comments

Above:  Torch Seller

The Church and the Future

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2017

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 43:1-24

Psalm 90 (Morning)

Psalms 80 and 72 (Evening)

Revelation 9:13-10:11

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Fear not, for I am with you….

–Isaiah 43:5a, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

The text from Revelation, for all its symbolic language, contains a simple message in several parts:

  1. God will destroy the Roman Empire.
  2. Yet many people will persist in their evil after the accomplishment of that fact.
  3. The church will survive its oppressors and thrive.  Love will last longer than evil.

This relates well to Isaiah 43, which picks up where the previous chapter ends.  The exiles are precious to God (verse 4), who will deliver them and destroy the Babylonians/Chaldeans.

The nascent church was small when John of Patmos wrote.  It has grown greatly over the succeeding centuries.  It has survived the first five centuries of its existence and arrived at a broad doctrinal consensus with regard to basic questions.  There is still no unanimity; there has never been such.  And the church is actually more united than appearances might seem; at least we agree on the table of contents of the New Testament, if not the Old Testament.  Furthermore, denominational lines are frequently superficial, so the number of denominations is not the best gauge to use.

These days the church is losing membership overall in Western cultures.  I wonder how much of this shrinkage is superficial, how much of it reflects actual attendance rates.  (Unfortunately, not all of it does.)  The fact that one attends church services regularly for a time and carries an affiliation does not necessarily mean that one is more than superficially Christian.  So, in many cases, dropping out of church is more of a formality than a reversion.  Whatever the details of of church demographics are, the message from Revelation 10:1-11 should comfort us:  There is a future for the church yet.  We Christians of these days stand on the shoulders of those who have preceded us.  Without transforming theologies and traditions into museum pieces, may we honor the past, cling to that which is eternal, and carry the torch into the future.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 3, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE TENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF EDWARD CASWALL, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD PERRONET, BRITISH METHODIST PREACHER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GENEVIEVE, PROPHET

THE FEAST OF GLADYS AYLWARD, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY TO CHINA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/the-church-and-the-future/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: