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What Is Reformation Day? (via Stephen Nichols at Ligonier)

Some parts of the Christian church will recognise the Reformation tomorrow.
The legacy of the Reformation is more than the simple theological distinctive of justification by faith; without its impact the western church would be unrecognisable in its worship, ministry, and mission.
From an article by Stephen Nichols.

What is Reformation Day? It is the day the light of the gospel broke forth out of darkness. It was the day that began the Protestant Reformation. It was a day that led to Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and may other Reformers helping the church find its way back to God’s Word as the only authority for faith and life and leading the church back to the glorious doctrines of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It kindled the fires of missionary endeavors, it led to hymn writing and congregational singing, and it led to the centrality of the sermon and preaching for the people of God. It is the celebration of a theological, ecclesiastical, and cultural transformation.

Read the whole post here.


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Christ Is Risen (2019)

In a garden, just at dawn 
Near the grave of human violence 
The most precious Word of Life 
Cleared His throat and ended silence 
For the good of us all

And He’s here when we call Him 
Bringing health, love, and laughter 
To life now and ever after 
For the good of us all 

(John Bell)


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The Quiet Of Easter versus Performance Almighty

It interests me watching modern evangelicalism struggle more and more about what to do with Easter.
Good Friday was a spiritual pause, a pause that lasted until the acknowledgment of resurrection on Sunday morning.
Now any thought of pause seems something to be avoided and Good Friday seems to be identical to Easter Sunday.
How can you pause and rest in God when the focus is on the productivity of your own response to grace.
We can never allow the weekend that focuses on resting in the work of God to become the primary example of a never-ending striving to perfection.
From David Zahl.

Faith that more often than not begins with an admission of losing and need morphs into a hectic competition for spiritual justification, in which we baptize our busyness with religious language. Before we know it, God has ceased to be a good shepherd and turned into the Taskmaster-in-the-Sky, or worse, another name for the persecutor within. “I just couldn’t keep it up anymore!” is the refrain I’ve heard from many a refugee from performancist churches.
If there’s a difference today, it has to do with the vanishing of outlets where the pressure of perfection might be vented. It’s easier to develop a sense of enoughness, for example, when your pool of peers is in the hundreds rather than the millions, when the primary venues of comparison close shop at 5:00 p.m. Similarly, it’s a lot harder to recover from a youthful indiscretion when the internet has made the record of your adolescence permanent and searchable.
Capital-R Religion once provided a space to come clean and maybe even be absolved of shortcoming and guilt. Church wasn’t busy. If anything, it was boring and full of silence, a respite from the noise of daily demand, a local repository of peace and forgiveness. The good ones at least.

Source


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The Coming King And The Dead Man Riding (via Simon Camilleri)

A matter of perspective: the crowd thought they saw a king coming in triumph, when what they saw a a king coming in sacrifice; and yet in the sacrifice was the triumph they needed.
Which is helpful to remember as we prepare for Easter – Jesus is the Saviour we need, not the one our desires demand.
From Simon Camilleri at Gospel Coalition Australia.

…the crowds were right! They were right to praise Jesus as king – for that is who he is. They were right to say “Hosanna!” which means “Lord, save us” – for that is what he came to do. They were right to expect that he had come to Jerusalem to establish God’s kingdom and reconcile people to God. They were simply wrong in how they expected he would do it.
The story finishes with the disciples being confused: “His disciples did not understand these things at first.” And I don’t blame them. Jesus was the king, but he came to Jerusalem on a donkey. Jesus was supposed to be the Messiah, but he talked about dying. How did it all fit together?
Well, it then tells us: “but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.” It’s only after Jesus was glorified in his death and resurrection (John 12:23 & 17:1) that the disciples remembered the Old Testament prophecies like the one from Zechariah and saw how the puzzle pieces all fit together.
Fortunately, we live in the time after Jesus has been glorified. And every Easter we can remember the great work on the cross he did to die for sinners like you and me.

source


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Set Our Hearts Ablaze by Liturgical Folk

Continuing the tracks from Lent, an album Liturgical Folk, based on the Collect (focused prayer) for the Fourth Sunday in Lent from the Book of Common Prayer.
“Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”


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Delight In The Lord (feat. Josh Garrels) by Liturgical Folk

A song from Liturgical Folk, with vocals by Josh Garrels, based on the Collect (focused prayer) for the Third Sunday in Lent from the Book of Common Prayer.
“Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”


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The Need For Both The Cross And The Resurrection At The Same Time

These words were written with the season of Lent in mind, but they could easily be true of Good Friday as parts of Protestantism observe it.

Each year we spend forty days pretending Jesus is going to die; we go hungry and grow—despite ourselves—angry; we prepare for what is going to take place. But it has, dammit, it has taken place. Christ has died and redeemed us and has risen from the dead. We are new and alive. Love should be our concern now (read St. Paul) and instead we mope around and bewail our sins, which have killed our Savior. Well I have more to bewail than anybody, of that I am certain, but I’m tired of bewailing and I’m tired of going hungry and growing angry, and I’m tired of pretending Christ is going to die. I am forgiven my sins and the bridegroom is among us.

The focus on resurrection is similar, though,

On the other hand, there is the current tendency to concentrate only on Easter, only on the risen Christ. We are saved. We are good. This is the Worship tendency;…

Christians need both. At once. All the time.

The relation must be made between the absurdities of existence and the coherence of Christianity, between Lent and Christ suffering in our contemporaries, between Easter and Christ showing us our ultimate triumph. Lent and Easter are not merely personal experiences. They reassert the divine economy of salvation. It is criminal, therefore, to reduce Lent to self-reproach and Easter to self-complacency.

Mockingbird.