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Posts by Al Collver
More Reflections on Christ the King
[Shared as a devotion with the LCMS Board of Directors, November 22, 1963.]
Where were you 50 years ago this past weekend? Do you remember? Anyone old enough will remember the assassination of President John Kennedy November 22, 1963. Personally, being in 5th grade at the time, I remember coming in from recess to see all the girls in my class crying and the boys in stunned silence.
It was one of the shared experiences of our generation. It marked for many the death of the care-free 50s and the beginning spasm of the 60s. It was when many my age first realized the world is broken. Two other people died that same day, November 22, 1963, as well: C.S. Lewis, beloved Christian writer and Aldus Huxley, author of Brave New World. These two could not have had more different explanations of the world’s brokenness: Lewis, whose writings explained the Christian faith for many, and Huxley, who rejected God because God got in the way of what he wanted to do.
If you were God, how would you go about redeeming a broken world? How would you respond to a world of sinners? Who want to go their own way even if it leads to death? How would you save people from a culture that often sees death as a solution, even celebrates it?
If God can do anything He wants, why doesn’t He just, with a wave of the hand, put an end to all the evil in the world? All the sin and death with a snap of the finger? But if we are honest with ourselves, we also have to admit that, if He did, that would also put an end to me, to you.
Yes, God can do anything. “He does all that He pleases” the Psalm says (115:3). But one thing God will not do is go against His nature, His own person. God is just and cannot abide sin. God is love, pure love, and hates nothing He has made. And the mystery of both, God’s justice and God’s love, come together and are revealed in Christ, on His cross.
For Christ is King, from the cross. Read Luke chapter 23 to see it in full, in what He says and what He does. They nail Him up, but He says, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Of course, in their not knowing, they mock Him. Pontius Pilate, in his not knowing, ridicules Him and mocks the whole Jewish nation he has been sent to rule, with his inscription, “This Is the King of the Jews!” (Luke 23:38). The people and the soldiers do the same: “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” (Luke 23:37).
But amazingly, one of the criminals was led to see through the mocking all the way to the truth, to catch a glimpse of the real nature of Jesus’ kingdom, “Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom,” your rule (Luke 23:42).
Here is the true King, the one in whom “all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19). Here is where Jesus rules, from the cross. Here is the mystery of God’s love revealed, and God’s justice satisfied, here in Christ the King, on the cross.
Here is God’s true response to the evil of sin, to the brokenness of suffering and death. He comes! He comes into our flesh. He comes to take it all into Himself, for us.
No, this is not some sort of divine child abuse, as some would have it, but this is the deepest love of all, as the beloved Lenten hymn, “O Dearest Jesus” will show it:
What punishment so strange is suffered yonder
The Shepherd dies for sheep who loved to wander,
The Master pays the debt His servants owe Him,
Who would not know Him.
The sinless Son of God must die in sadness,
The sinful child of man may live in gladness,
Man forfeited his life, and is acquitted,
God is committed. (LSB 439, st. 4-5)
So here is our King. King Jesus from the cross, who has reconciled to Himself all things – even me, even you! – making peace by the blood of His cross (Colossians 1:20). For when we, like the thief on the cross next to Jesus, recognize our desperate need for Him, we also say, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom,” your rule. And He promises, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Today, you are mine, and I forgive you, He says. I have suffered your suffering and died your death. I will heal your brokenness, for I am the “first born from the dead” (Colossians 1:18), for you. I have you now. You are with Me, He says, and I am your King.
+ Herbert Mueller
LCMS First Vice President
Reflections on Christ the King
The Sunday before Thanksgiving is the last Sunday of the Church Year, also called Christ the King Sunday. One of the Scriptures for this Sunday is from the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Colossians:
13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:13-20 ESV).
This passage is like a wide angle view, in which the camera takes in the widest possible view, to see the whole picture, that Christ is King of ALL. All things.
This is Christology of the highest order.
He is the image (the word is icon) of the invisible God. He makes the invisible visible. As Jesus once told Philip, “whoever has seen Me, has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
This is what it means when Martin Luther wrote in his hymn:
With might of ours can naught be done,
Soon were our loss effected,
But for us fights the Valiant One,
Whom God Himself elected,
Ask ye who is this,
Jesus Christ it is, of Sabbaoth Lord,
and there’s none other God.
He holds the field forever. (LSB 656 st. 2)
“There’s none other God!” You will find God in no other place, but here – in the crucified Christ, also raised from the dead. Jesus Christ makes God visible. And there is no other.
He is the first born of creation. He is the one who is first, before all creation. So, as John says, “All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3).
In Him all things hold together – literally, all things stand with Him. Without Him nothing can continue to exist.
Scientists exploring the nature of the universe tell us now that they think 89% of the universe is so called “dark matter.” Without this “dark matter,” present theories don’t work, and everything flies apart at a fundamental level. However this theory works out (whether we have understood it or not), in Christ we have the real reason all things hold together. He takes care of it!
He is the Head of His body, the Church, giving life and direction to all who believe.
He is the first born from the dead. There is a whole crowd of people who are going to rise from the dead at the last day, and Christ is there, at the head of the pack. He’s the One who has already done it, and the One who will bring us all with Him.
All this so that in all things He might be pre-eminent. This is the motto of one of our Concordia Universities, Concordia, Ann Arbor (now a campus of Concordia Wisconsin): that in all things Christ might be pre-eminent, might have first place. Not that WE put Him in first place, but that we recognize He IS in first place.
No one can rival Him. No one else has gone across the great divide called death, and come back.
“For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19). Everything it takes to be God is right there, in Jesus, who is fully human and fully God. He reconciles to Himself all things, making peace by the blood of His cross.
But this whole wonderful picture, this high Christology, all means nothing – except that He does it ALL for me, for YOU.
That by all Jesus has done, the FATHER has rescued us from the dominion – the authority – of darkness, and transferred us into the kingdom, brought us under the rule, of His beloved Son.
Christ is King of all, but the important thing is that He is MY King, YOUR King. That WE are under HIS rule. That HE forgives our sins. That in HIM we have peace, and we are reconciled to the Father.
Right here, right now – YES!
As the Catechism says: “All so that I may be His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead and lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.” (LSB 322)
Under His rule, we go forward to serve Him!
+ Herb Mueller
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the International Lutheran Council (ILC) to Hold Informal International Dialogue
Vatican City, Rome, 18 November 2013 – The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the International Lutheran Council (ILC), an organization for the purpose of encouraging, strengthening, and promoting confessional Lutheran theology, met to discuss the possibility of extending local and regional informal discussions into an
informal ecumenical dialogue process on the international level. The meeting between the PCPCU and the ILC primarily occurred after several informal discussions between some ILC members and Roman Catholic organizations resulted in positive outcomes, especially those held between the Lutheran Theological Seminary Oberursel (http://www.lthh-oberursel.de) of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK) (www.selk.de) and the Johann-Adam-Möhler Institute for Ecumenism (http://www.moehlerinstitut.de/) in Paderborn, Germany. Other informal discussions that contributed to the meeting between the PCPCU and the ILC included those held between The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (http://www.lcms.org) and the Archdiocese of Saint Louis and the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, and those between Lutheran Church Canada (LCC) (www.lutheranchurch.ca) and representatives of the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops.
Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Dicastery, and MonsignoreDr. Matthias Türk represented the PCPCU. Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt, Chairman, Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, Executive Sectary, Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee, Vice-chairman, and Prof. Dr. Werner Klän, Lutheran Theological Seminary Oberursel, represented the ILC.
The discussion had three primary points: A Presentation of the International Lutheran Council (ILC) including its history and priorities, Ecumenical Relations between ILC members and the Roman Catholic Church, and Future Ecumenical Goals.
After a productive discussion, it was proposed that the local and regional informal discussions may be extended to an informal international dialogue process between the ILC and the Roman Catholic Church. These international series of consultations would be delegated to the ILC executive committee and to the Johann-Adam-Möhler Institute for Ecumenism. The goals of these discussions would be to define more unity between the churches represented by the ILC and the Roman Catholic Church and to offer a deeper understanding of the work already accomplished by the Lutheran – Roman Catholic dialogue on the international and regional level.
Cardinal Koch and Bishop Voigt expressed gratitude for the meeting and looked forward to a deepening of relationships between member churches of the ILC and the Roman Catholic Church.
The ILC and the Johann-Adam-Möhler Institute for Ecumenism after an organizational meeting, propose to hold two meetings a year for the next three years with the results of these discussions to be presented to the PCPCU.
About the International Lutheran Council
The ILC is a worldwide association of established confessional Lutheran church bodies, consisting of 34 member churches, which proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the basis of an unconditional commitment to the Holy Scriptures as the inspired and infallible Word of God and to the Lutheran Confessions contained in the Book of Concord as the true and faithful exposition of the Word of God. (http://www.ilc-online.org)
About the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
The Pontifical Council is entrusted with the promotion of Christian Unity. It carries out this task in liaison with the various departments of the Roman Curia and through ecumenical relationships and theological dialogues with the other Christian Churches and ecclesial Communities on the world wide level. (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/)
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
After spending time in Wittenberg, Germany, there was opportunity to visit the headquarters of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK) in Hannover. SELK is a partner church with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) and also a member of the International Lutheran Council (ILC).
Bishop Voigt presented me with Preußische Union, lutherisches Bekenntnis und Prägungen, (Prussian Union, Lutheran Confession and Mould), which is the history of the independent Lutheran Church in Germany. It also is a part of the Missouri Synod’s history, as it tells the story of Walther’s allies in Germany. This common history is part of the bond that connects the LCMS and SELK together as sisters.
Bishop Voigt also shared his book, Lutherisch Abendmahl feiern (Celebrating the Lord’s Supper as Lutheran). The book is framed around the theme: Prayers and reflections in preparation for the Holy Communion (Gebete und Betrachtungen zur Vorbereitung auf das heilige Abendmahl). Among the “reflections” provided by the book:
1. What I’ve always wanted to know about the Lord’s Supper. (Was ich schon immer mal vom Abendmahl wissen wollte). This section included questions such as “How long does the body and blood of Christ remain in the bread and wine?”, “Do Lutherans believe in the change [of the elements from bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ]?”, “Can a person adore / venerate the body and blood of Christ?” and so forth.
2. Christ in me — Reflections concerning Christ being with me (Christus in mir – Betrachtung über den mitgehenden Christus).
The booklet is very helpful and might be translated for use among ILC members.
- Posted by Dr Albert Collver on 17 November 2013 using BlogPress from my iPhone
Rev. Martin Junge, the General Secretary of LWF
Rev. Dr. Nicholas Tai, Dean of Lutheran Theological Seminary, Hong Kong
OKR Norbert Denecke, LWF German National Committee
Rev. Dr. Kaisamari Hintikka, LWF Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Relations
Rev. Dr. Carlos Bock, the Director of LWF Department for Mission and Development
Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt, ILC Chairman
Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, ILC Executive Secretary
President Rev. James Cerdeñola
President Rev. Gijsbertus van Hattem
Both the LWF and ILC are honoring the commitment they made for the executive committees of each organization to meet with one another as agreed in the memorandum of understanding from 3 March 2005.
Both the LWF and ILC thanked one another and appreciated the frank conversation and transparency shown in the discussion. Both agreed that the conversation was valuable and looks forward to the next opportunity to gather. A desire was expressed to meet annually. The LWF will host the next meeting in Geneva on January 14, 2015.
The Old Latin School was built 18 years after Martin Luther’s death. The book How Wittenberg Looked when Luther Lived describes the Old Latin School: “Eighteen years after Luther’s death the situation changed insofar as under Mayor Heilinger, the father-in-law of Luther’s son Martin, a new boys’ school was built in the northwestern corner of the church square, thus replacing the old ossuary. It still exists today as the old high school (now Wattrodt’s print shop), not, however, after having undergone many changes. – After this building was finished, the old girls’ school was torn down and moved to the former boys’ school which was called girls’ school from then on. This caused some confusion among researchers who were unaware of this change.”
The top photo shows the exposed wood beam from the Old Latin School. The historic records note that Bible verses and sections of the Small Catechism were written on the beams and exterior walls of the school. The lower photo shows what the reconstruction might look like. This photo is near Luther’s house, the old Augustinian Monastery.
We also visited the Luther Garden near the Castle Church, which is under reconstruction.
- Posted by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver on 14 November 2013 using BlogPress from my iPhone