It was on this day, June 19th in 1623, that Blaise Pascal was born in France, south of Paris in Clermont-Auvergne. A mathematician, philosopher, and general man of letters, he is best known for his last work, published posthumously as the Pensees (French for “Thoughts”) mostly in aphoristic form.
Jesus has taken away sin and death, and through the cross, God's furious anger is taken away. God's Word of Law hurled God's furious anger at us, but the Gospel frees us to believe that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Holy Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday after Pentecost in the church calendar, turns many Christians into mini detectives. Magnifying glasses in hand, they twist themselves into knots trying to unravel and explain the mystery of the triune God without wandering into heresy.
Today, as I begin writing this, it’s Mother’s Day, and what a joyous day it is. This day is particularly special because as I look at my wife’s belly, I see the hope of new life. She’s due in a few, short weeks to give birth to our firstborn, a baby girl. This whole process has been wonderful to watch.
If you google “do I have to go to” it will auto-predict the most popular questions. The first two are “do I have to go to college” and “do I have to go to church?” It seems my life is essentially one, long exercise in answering one of these two questions.
The temple curtain is torn in two. The earth shakes. The rock splits. The tomb opens. The dead get up and go home. All signs that Jesus' death is no small thing. At the same time, John writes, "one of the soldiers stabbed Jesus' side with his spear, and blood and water immediately came out" (John 19:34).
This past Sunday, we Christians celebrate the Feast of Pentecost and reflect on the work of the Holy Spirit summarized in the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed. Every time we as believers confess our faith in the words of that creed, we declare that we believe in the “communion of saints.”
We read throughout Scripture about how at various times and in multiple ways, God scatters and then gathers His people. After the scattering from the Garden of Eden, time after time, God gathered His people around Him and His promises.
The following is an excerpt from “A Year of Grace: Collected Sermons of Advent through Pentecost” written by Bo Giertz and translated by Bror Erickson (1517 Publishing, 2019).
In 1523, papist patience had worn thin within the Holy Roman Empire, and persecution of those holding the pejorative name of Lutheran began in earnest. Although God's hand managed to protect Luther from the flames, he had to endure the sad news as many of his followers throughout the empire lost postings as pastors, were imprisoned or exiled, or were burned at the stake.
Down is bad, up is good. These aren’t willy-nilly choices. Our bodies lead our linguistics. We associate “down” with sickness, collapsing in exhaustion, and dying, while “up” is iconic of vivacity, standing strong, health. Our positive and negative experiences are mapped onto the metaphorical language we use.
In the world, if we don't betray our spouse, it's because we've settled for good enough. Pizza delivery is faster than first responders. People fear terrorists more than God. Worshipping God interferes with our schedule, even at the best of times.