Dr. Wade Johnston
Dr. Wade Johnston has degrees from Martin Luther College, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Central Michigan University, and Erasmus University Rotterdam. He serves as assistant professor of theology at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and served for ten years in parish ministry in Saginaw, Michigan.
The Epiphany, the twelfth day of Christmas, or the Gentile Christmas as many have called it, is a festival rich in meaning. Many of our Christmas celebrations actually sprung from this day. We light Christmas lights and put stars on trees as a reminder of the light of the star that the Magi followed.
When we think of Advent, we probably don’t think about whether or not we have a free will in spiritual matters. Actually, most Christians really don’t wrestle with that question at all, whatever the season of the church year.
One of my favorite bands is Band of Horses. They are not a Christian band. I don’t think they’re Christian at all. To be honest, it doesn’t determine whether I appreciate their music or not. Non-Christians can write some great music. Christians have produced some duds. The opposite is also true. There’s one song from Band of Horses that especially sticks out to me—well, there’s more than one, but this one came to mind most recently. It’s called “Compliments.”
Galatia was a region, not a city. Paul knew the congregations there well. Galatians is one of the earliest epistles, or letters. It shows something, then, that already in this, one of the earliest epistles, Paul begins with a furious defense of the Gospel.
When we think of the doctrine of justification by grace through faith in Christ alone, the book of James isn’t the first to come to mind. James is no Galatians or Romans when it comes to that. But James does have something to teach us. James holds up a mirror, and we do well not to look away.
Perhaps no letter in the New Testament is clearer on Law and Gospel than Galatians. Paul is determined to knock any pretension and work-righteousness out of his beloved Galatians, recently disturbed by new preachers who pointed them back to the Old Testament Laws and ceremonies that Christ had put behind them.
The Christian church year is rife with days set aside to commemorate the saints, but All Saints Day, celebrated on the first of November, heaps them together. On this day, the church remembers all the saints who have gone before us.
Most of us know the satisfaction of crossing something off the to-do list. We look back on a neatly mown lawn, freshly folded laundry, finally filed paperwork, or some other completed task and contentedly sigh. It’s done. We’ve done it. Now we can rest or move on to the next thing.
Someone once called patience “the beggar’s virtue.” A beggar waits. He waits and waits until some kind soul comes along. Sure, he can try to look pathetic and come up with creative lines to win compassion, but, ultimately, his fate lies with the philanthropist, the kind soul who takes note of his need.
The tax collector entered the temple a sinner in the eyes of all but went home justified (Luke 18:14). Zacchaeus the outcast was called to climb down from a tree and host the most Holy God in his ill-gotten home (Luke 19:5).