54. Prayer before the sermon. Evangelische Lutherischer Gebets-Schatz. Concordia: St. Louis, 1881. (p. 44)
Dear God, through Your beloved Son You have said that those who hear Your Word are blessed. How much more fitting it would be for us to bless You, praise, thank and laud You unceasingly, O eternal and merciful Father, with glad hearts, that You show Yourself so friendly—indeed, so like a father—to us poor little worms, that You speak to us about the greatest and highest of subjects—eternal life. Nevertheless, You don’t stop there, enticing and wooing us to hear Your Word through Your Son. He says: “Blessed are they who hear the Word of God and keep it.” As if You couldn’t get by without our ears—we, who are dust and ashes! Many thousand times more do we need Your Word. O, how unspeakably great is Your goodness and patience! On the other hand, woe! Woe! over the ingratitude and colorblindness of those who not only don’t want to hear Your Word, but even stubbornly despise, persecute, and blaspheme it. Amen. Martin Luther (1483-1546)
- Looks like Luther got one thing right after all, I mean, besides the beer (unsettledchristianity.com)
- Can Christians Talk To Dead Loved Ones? Pray for them? (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
President Bush’s theory was that if we made the Middle East safe for democracy, Arabs would get a taste of iphones and unmarried sex and the other glories of Western Civilization and would no longer be attracted to guys who fly airplanes into skyscrapers.
The idea had the merit of being idealistic and invoking America’s better angels. In response to the tragedy of September 11th, we were going to export freedom; help oppressed people in the Middle East exercise their inalienable rights with which they were endowed by their Creator.
Unfortunately the idea ran aground on the usual reef that ideas inspired by Christian charity often do in the political realm. Government and diplomacy have the task of restraining evil, not creating utopia or anything approaching it. The Church preaches grace to evil men, but it does so knowing that crucifixion will follow. Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world.
But the U.S. government is of this world. If it wants to protect the innocent and provide safety for its citizens, it has to have clear eyes. It has to understand that sometimes an evil, secularist tyrant does a better job of keeping order and restraining murder of the weak than a popular government that reflects the will of the majority.
Exporting democracy, as President Bush wanted to do, really isn’t consistent with the genius of the American revolution. It has more in common with the fanaticism of the French and Russian revolutions and the bleary-eyed idealism of Woodrow Wilson, who dragged us into a war we didn’t need to be in in the name of democracy. And the foolish idealism that brought us into that conflict ultimately was responsible for the truly monstrous evil that was able to assume control of a shattered and humiliated Germany in the 1930′s.
When Barack Obama ran for president the first time, I was under the impression that he wanted to put an end to the naïve idealism that led us into two wars in the Middle East, which were not perceived as wars of liberation but instead crusades and attempts at colonization. But now Obama seems to be not backing away from Bush’s vision, but instead advancing it, just as he has furthered the Bush policy of spying on American citizens.
He’s been inching toward intervention in Syria for months, and now has decided to put his weight behind toppling al-Assad.
Of course, Assad is a bad guy, just like Saddam was. But when Saddam was in power, a large Christian minority could live in Iraq without their blood being spattered on the walls of their churches by suicide bombers on a near daily basis. At this point nearly all the Christians in Iraq, who have lived there for approaching 2000 years, have fled.
The same thing, of course, has been happening in Syria. Two orthodox bishops were kidnapped in the past few months. The story below of a Syrian Christian being fed to dogs was published in December. Just as in Egypt, al-Qaeda-esque jihadis have quickly taken over the rebellion which we were told would lead to something like western democracy.
Now we’re sending them guns. When they don’t want us there, we’re imperialists. That’s why the soldier was hacked to pieces with meat cleavers in London. When they can’t win without us, we’re heartless and have no concern for human rights. Even after the decision was made to send weapons to the rebels I read headlines saying the rebels complain that it isn’t enough–we need to send them missiles, apparently. Maybe nerve gas?
And the US government assures us that it can make sure that none of the weapons I paid forget into the hands of the same slavering would-be martyrs who killed thousands in New York and got us involved in these wars in the first place. None of the weapons I paid for will get into the hands of the “freedom fighters” who feed Syrian Christians to the dogs.
Sure, Uncle Sam. I’m sure you’ll be able to do that. You couldn’t stop the Boston bombing, even with advance notice about the perpetrators, because you were trying to convince us (and yourself?) that the real terrorist threat was from the Tea Party types and Focus on the Family. Because Uncle Sam doesn’t know what every drooling idiot in America can tell you (unless they went to college). If there’s a terror attack, a Muslim probably did it.
Now you put guns in their hands so that they can slaughter Christians in Syria and force them out of the country in the name of making the Middle East safe for democracy.
Syria rebels ‘beheaded a Christian and fed him to the dogs’ as fears grow over Islamist atrocities
By Nick Fagge
PUBLISHED: 19:41 EST, 30 December 2012 | UPDATED: 04:50 EST, 31 December 2012
Syrian rebels beheaded a Christian man and fed his body to dogs, according to a nun who says the West is ignoring atrocities committed by Islamic extremists.
The nun said taxi driver Andrei Arbashe, 38, was kidnapped after his brother was heard complaining that fighters against the ruling regime behaved like bandits.
She said his headless corpse was found by the side of the road, surrounded by hungry dogs. He had recently married and was soon to be a father.
Wilder Park, Elmhurst, Illinois
St. Matthew 19:4-6, Genesis 2, Psalm 127
June 15, 2013
“It is God’s deed”
Dear Tina and Kyle,
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early, and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil, for He gives to His beloved sleep. Psalm 127:1-3
You are not building your house today. You are not marrying yourselves today.
Today God is doing something. Today God is bestowing a gift.
God is uniting you, Tina and Kyle, in one flesh. They are no longer two but one flesh. So what God has put together, let not man separate.
When God gave the first man the first woman, it wasn’t the man’s idea. It was God who said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” God did not say, “Go out and find yourself a companion.” After Adam came to realize there was no suitable helper for him, God did the work of making and forming the woman, His wife. Even today in this fallen world men still have to admit that woman was a very good gift of God.
Most men and women spend a lot of time and energy trying to be united in one flesh to someone else, with or without marriage.
It would be a whole lot easier if He would just give us the right person.
And today that’s what God is doing. He is giving you to each other and making you one flesh.
He gives you to each other and makes you one flesh through His Word. For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. As God did with Adam and Eve, so He is doing with you.
After He did the first marriage, we are told that this would be an ongoing way of life. A man would leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two would be one flesh.
In a moment, when you acknowledge the estate of matrimony that God ordained and give your consent and vows to one another, God will, according to His Word, make you one flesh till death parts you.
Before now you loved each other and felt that you were meant for each other, but you had not yet been given to each other by God. But from this point it will not be your own choices and emotions that are the basis of your union. Your marriage will be created by God’s Word. A man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will be one flesh.
Which means from this day forward, for better or worse, richer or poorer, no matter how you feel, when you look at your spouse you will be looking at the man or woman with whom God made you one flesh.
Since it wasn’t your doing, it won’t be yours to undo either.
That means that although you have to live out your calling to one another, to love one another, it doesn’t depend on you. God has done it. He said you are one flesh in His Word.
He has made you one flesh for your blessing. That is true just as much in your faults and sins, in the unhappy times of marriage as in the joyful ones.
God knows better than us what kind of husband or wife we need. He knows how to make your wife or your husbands’ faults into a blessing for you.
You are put together as a gift, to comfort one another, to love and delight in one another, to know and be known in soul and body, to be vessels through which God creates life when it pleases Him.
But even when your spouse is making you uncomfortable, remember that God gave you this person and made you one flesh. And He did that because He loves you too, because He knows also what pain is necessary for you to keep your sinful nature on a leash.
Adam and Eve didn’t have that, but they gave it to their kids. And that nature is always out to destroy or throw away every good gift God gives us. He gives us the gift of a wife or a husband out of love toward us, with perfect wisdom, and so often when things become difficult we begin to wonder whether God gave us this person after all, to doubt whether or not he or she was a good gift, to doubt whether God really means to do good for us at all.
God who gives you to one another today and who makes you one flesh today desires nothing but the highest good for you today. And that is not because He is unaware of your sins and that you deserve punishment.
He has seen all of it and freely forgiven it, paying for its forgiveness with the death of His Son, who is the bridegroom of the church. Out of love He died to cleanse the sins of His bride and make her radiant and beautiful in His sight.
Just as He says you are one flesh today, the two of you, He also says that you who were born in sin are righteous and bear your sins no more. And it is so.
In your baptism He says you are His radiant bride, all sin covered by the white wedding garment of your heavenly bridegroom’s righteousness.
That was His doing, even though you were still a sinner and many times lived as if nothing had changed for you. Yet what He said was and is so.
So with your marriage today. You are one flesh. You might not always feel like it or look like it.
You are a gift to one another. It will not always look like it or feel like it.
But God has given you to one another. And since God is the God who loved you so as to give His Son to the death of the cross for you, you can be assured that He knows how to give good gifts when He gives a spouse.
He has promised this, and He will do it. But today we call on Him to do as He has promised and to bless your marriage. Since the Lord has promised to build your house, you have a good foundation and the promise that the master builder will complete what he has started.
Don’t depend on your own love or your own work. Do that you are called to do—love one another. But above all, remember God’s promise to make you one flesh and bless you through one another. Call on Him to fulfill it and believe that He will never fail to keep His Word.
The peace of God, which surpasses understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
St. Peter Lutheran Church
St. Luke 15:1-10
June 16, 2013
“More joy over one sinner”
Look at this guy. He’s soft on sin. He’s not showing proper honor for God’s holy law. That’s what the pious people were saying, the really strict zealots and the experts who could quote chapter and verse from the Bible.
The law God gave to Israel was from a holy God. You weren’t free to pick and choose which parts you’d follow.
And the law wasn’t about forgiveness. It did provide for atonement for sin. But there were sins that the law would not forgive. For instance if you slept with your neighbor’s wife, or you lay with a man as one lies with a woman, or if you practiced witchcraft or communicated with the dead, or led other Israelites to worship an idol. There was no forgiveness provided by the law for these things—just death.
And if you had leprosy or some other contagious skin disease, you were cut off. You could not live with the community of Israel, because God is holy, and what is unclean can’t be in His presence. “But I didn’t choose to have leprosy!” we’d protest today. That didn’t matter. You were still unclean. When you got rid of your leprosy, a sacrifice could be offered and you’d be accepted again. But until then you were out.
God is holy. What is unclean can’t be in His presence.
Now the grumbling is that Jesus is having fellowship with those who are unclean. They are either sinners for which the law provides no sacrifice which will make them clean again, or else they are sinners who have not yet separated themselves enough from their sin.
Most of us are quick to write off the Pharisees and scribes here as just being self-righteous. But first you should understand where they’re right.
Sin needs to be punished in this world. By nature the only thing that keeps people from doing evil is that they don’t want to pay the price for it.
One hundred or so years ago people seldom got divorced. Why? Was it because they loved God and loved their spouses so much? No. It was because the law made it very hard to get a divorce. It was because if you got a divorce people would view you with suspicion. It was because generally speaking if you were the guilty party in a divorce not permitted by God’s word (you divorced your spouse for a reason besides adultery, or abandonment, or your life being endangered by the spouse), you would come under church discipline. You would be suspended from going to communion, or even excommunicated, where the church would exercise the binding key of the law in accordance with John 20: If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.
And what happened when divorce became socially acceptable, and when the law changed to permit no-fault divorce? Now half of marriages end in divorce. And God says in the book of Malachi that He hates divorce.
So, the threat of punishment in earthly things is necessary and good, because without it people let themselves go.
So why was Jesus eating with people who had sinned publicly and grievously?
Jesus is not playing down God’s holiness. God is indeed holy. Nothing impure can ever enter His presence.
And yet God and His court, the holy angels and the saints, have a different set of priorities than the devil and his court, the demons and the unbelieving.
The devil rejoices in destruction and death. The true God rejoices when what is dead is raised to life again, when the damned are forgiven, when the lost are found.
That is heaven’s highest joy. There is more rejoicing in heaven when one sinner becomes repentant than over the children of God who don’t go astray.
God is love, says the Scripture. Love, God’s love, has this character: when it sees someone in need, even if it’s their own fault, it spares no pains to help that person. Love puts all of itself into the service of the one who is in need.
This is not how you are by nature, is it? If someone you have treated well turns their back on you, curses you, and then goes off and gets in trouble, what’s your first inclination? To say, “I’m going to give up my comfort, my happiness, my wealth, and my good name, to go help that person? I’m going to sacrifice what I have to bring them back and restore them to what they were before?”
No, that’s not what comes naturally to you. Even if you say, “I’m supposed to love my enemies,” your heart is not eager and joyful and zealous to go seek the lost sheep.
But for heaven, that’s how it is. There is nothing more important than that. Everything else gets interrupted so that there can be rejoicing over the lost sheep that is found.
That’s because God looks at those who belong to Him as treasured possessions. A woman sweeps the house to find her one coin because it is valuable. A shepherd who loses a sheep leaves the 99 and goes after the one, because if it is his sheep, he not only cares about it, but it is his livelihood.
If you drop a one hundred dollar bill, you grieve over it. You say, “How could I be so stupid and irresponsible as to lose a hundred dollars!” And if you find it, you’re overcome with relief and joy.
That is how God looks at His baptized children who go astray. That’s how it is for Him when someone wanders away from Christ and gets lost and becomes prey to the devil and eternal death.
Now when someone falls into open, unrepentant sin, they are giving public testimony that they have wandered away from Christ. If they are living in adultery or fornication, if they despise preaching and God’s Word, these are all open sins.
Now how does God the Father deal with those who are in those sins? He spares no pains and goes with anxiety and love to find the lost sheep.
And that is how His law commands us to love our neighbor. When we see our brothers and sisters in the church fall away, we must hate their sin and not excuse it, but we are commanded to love them as we love ourselves, and do for them as we would want done for us, which is to go seek them and reclaim them.
If we see a city or a nation or our family members abandoning Christ and His church, we should hate their sins, and not excuse them. But our hearts should burn with compassion for them so that we cannot rest, cannot stop praying, and lovingly seeking their salvation, until they are back home feasting in the Father’s house on His saving Gospel.
But our hearts are not eager to do this. Sometimes we know we should and we want to, but we are slow because we are afraid and we care more about being good people than about the lost sheep.
Other times, we just have no desire to do it. “They just hate God. It’s their problem.” Or, “Ah, God understands. It doesn’t matter.”
Secretly our flesh rejoices in the falls and the sins of others because it makes us look better.
But all of that which is in our hearts is transgression of God’s holy law. It is uncleanness that cannot enter His presence.
Our lack of love—our hatred, to put it a different way—makes us unclean. The lack of love in our hearts is not cause for us to be thrown out of the visible church on earth, just like it was not enough for the Pharisees to be cut off. That lovelessness is in the hearts of true Christians as well as hypocrites.
But it is enough that it cannot stand in God’s presence. It must be forgiven, and cleansed, and taken away.
And this is too much. You can quit committing adultery or stealing (although it may be hard). But no one can eradicate lovelessness from their hearts.
The repentant sinner over whom heaven rejoices is not the person who cleans up his act, but the one who believes in Jesus Christ.
Who believes God receives and forgives and cleanses Him apart from the law.
That is what it is to go from being lost to being found. Not moral improvement, but a new creation.
Thus Jesus comes and proclaims to us crushed by the law: “Your sins are forgiven.”
He has fellowship with us, not by tolerating our sins, but by taking away our sins apart from the law, by grace alone.
Atoning for them with His blood on the cross, and bestowing the forgiveness of sins in His word and sacrament.
If you are a lost sinner with no hope of cleaning yourself up, rejoice!
If you are a Pharisee who wants to trust your own righteousness, rejoice!
Jesus receives you at His table, and the Father rejoices over you.
Then He teaches us to rejoice in what gives Him joy—not finding money or getting things for ourselves, but rejoicing in the sheep being reclaimed.
This is what gives our savior and the holy angels joy, and this is the joy he is working in us. It is true and lasting joy.
The peace of God, which passes understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
- Jesus’ Rib. Baccalaureate Sermon 2013 (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
An interesting reflection on the failure of theologies of glory reflected in Game of Thrones. “No, Lord, this will never happen to you!” Peter said it to Jesus. How could the Righteous One be killed as a curse? And we keep thinking the same way. If we’re good, things will go well for us in the end.
And in Game of Thrones, like the real world, that doesn’t happen. Everyone’s rooting for Ned Stark, and then suddenly he gets his head cut off.
Who has spoken and it came to pass unless the Lord has commanded it?
Is it not from the mouth of the most High that good and bad come?
Why should a living man complain,
a man, about the punishment of his sins?
Let us test and examine our ways,
and return to the Lord!
For God does not afflict the godly; He permits the devil to do this, as we see in the case of Job, whose children are killed by fire and his cattle by storms, not because God was angry with him, but because Satan was.
Therefore when a plague and other misfortunes assail us, we, too, should say that these are the works of Satan, that Satan is raging and is angry, but that God is merciful and is kindly disposed toward us because we believe in His Son.
And in this manner the saintly martyrs overcame death and all dangers; for they were sure that God was kind to them. But they concluded that their tortures and afflictions were due to magic and the devil, and were permitted by God for the purpose of testing their faith. Therefore they even rejoiced in their adversities and scoffed at Satan. We should do the same thing; but we are very frequently overcome by weakness, as the examples even of great saints prove. For Paul, too, is filled with fears and regains his courage when he sees the brethren (Acts 28:15). Such fear is not felt by the ungodly, for they are sure of God’s favor. Accordingly, even though some adversity befalls them, they smugly attribute this to Satan.
…these truths should be carefully impressed and taught, lest we yield to the flesh when we are tried or to our reason when we disregard the Word. For it is not God who torments you if you believe in Christ; it is the devil. He hates you and looks for opportunities to trouble you. But you will say: “I realize that I am a sinner. Therefore I am not a Christian. Therefore if any evil befalls me, it is sent by an angry God.” But this conclusion is false, for those who believe in the forgiveness of sins are Christians. Therefore if you believe in Christ, if you gladly hear His Word and receive it in faith, you are a true Christian, and your sins do not stand in the way. Hence if any misfortune befalls you, conclude boldly that it is from the devil and does not mean that God is unfriendly toward you, except insofar as He lets this happen as a trial, in order to put your faith to the test for your own good.
Learn from your own enemies and from the enemies of God that although the threats properly apply to them, they do not recognize this fact but appropriate, and comfort themselves with, the promises. You, too, must do this. For it is a disgrace for you to be ignorant of the true doctrine which you profess. You fear God and believe in God; therefore not the Law but the Gospel applies to you. But you forsake the Gospel and appropriate the Law, which concerns not you but the obdurate and the smug.
This is a spiritual weakness of which all the saints complain. Yet it is useful for repressing pride, in order that we may not put our trust in ourselves but may humble ourselves and learn to trust solely in the grace which God offers us in His Son. It is most certainly true that God is not angry with us; otherwise He would not give us the most excellent knowledge of His Son. Nor would He give us the Holy Spirit, whose first fruits we have received.
Luther, Genesis Lectures (19:14), AE 3: 264-265
Little Sable Point Lighthouse, Mears, Michigan
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
June 12, 2013
A More Excellent Way for Marriage
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ on this your wedding day.
“And now I will show you a more excellent way.”
The reading starts there, with “a more excellent way.” There are a lot of other ways to live in marriage, but what we get is not “the slightly less excellent way,” or the “better than most other people’s way”, or
“the way that seems best to us”, or
D K’s way, or
A McL’s way.
It is “the more excellent way.” Really it is the most excellent way.
The ‘more excellent way’ is the way of love.
God says love is the more excellent way to live in marriage and in every other station in life. He says love is, in fact, the only way that He accepts.
the most excellent way for marriage because it is God’s way. It is not only His way, but what He is. God is love (1 John). The Bible says, Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)
But who gets married without love, anyway? Most people who get married are “in love.”
But that is not the kind of love we’re talking about. The kind of love we are talking about, which is the “more excellent way” for marriage, is not found in very many marriages at all.
4 Love is patient and kind…
Love is patient and kind even when the other person totally and inexcusably fails us.
love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude.
Love does not leave socks laying around the house and think the sock fairy will pick them up. It does not envy, thinking: “My husband or wife should put me before the in-laws or work.”
It does not seek itself
it is not easily angered, it does not keep a record of wrongs.
Love doesn’t remember all the times our spouse failed us or disrespected us in the past.
] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, stands firm through all things.
Love does not give loved ones a pat on the back when they do what is wrong in God’s sight, even if it is okay in the eyes of other people.
Nor does it give up when instead of a series of sunny days, marriage appears to be one storm after another. It believes all things, hopes all things, stands fast through all things, seeing through the dark clouds (like those we see today) and always believing that in the end joy will win out over sorrow.
This kind of love is God’s love. This is God’s nature. God is love.
Anything we do without this love displeases God and is unacceptable to Him. Without this kind of love everything we do—whether in marriage or any other calling in life–is stained with selfishness. It’s really all about us.
That’s how most marriages operate, even though the fundamental selfishness is prettied up and hidden even from the people who do it. Sometimes it works for awhile too. But it is really empty.
Without this love our marriage may please us, but it displeases God.
And yet this kind of love, which is the more excellent way, goes against our nature. We love and give, but we always want a return on our love. And we can’t wait forever for the debt to be repaid.
But you do have this love, unless you push it away from yourself. Because this is how God has loved you.
He loved you selflessly. He put aside His anger, and didn’t keep a record of your wrongs. He was kind and patient. And He wants to show you unlimited patience and kindness throughout your lives.
God has loved you with this selfless love, and given this love to you so that it is your own. He gave it to you in His Son.
Greater love has no one than this, that a man lays down His life for His friends, Jesus said (John 15?). Unlike merely human husbands, Jesus not only talked, but did what He said. He gave up His life and was judged and condemned for us that we would live, even though our whole nature had been to seek ourselves. We didn’t love. We didn’t know God. We were enemies.
But now God has loved us and His love covers our past sins and our present sins and our future sins. He loved us in His Son. And in Jesus He gives to us this love which as long as we live covers up our faults and buries them.
And the love God gave you in flesh and blood—in Jesus—He caused it to touch you in your time and place when He baptized you. There you became radiant and beautiful, like your bride on her wedding day. Today she is more beautiful to you than any woman in the world because she is your wife, given to you by God. That is how your baptism makes you in the eyes of Jesus. It made you His own.
As we watch the sun set over Lake Michigan tonight through the rain and clouds we hoped would not come, we rejoice in God’s goodness and kindness. He has made it so that you are not alone. He joins you in marriage and makes you one flesh, as Adam and Eve were one flesh.
And even when His gifts do not shine in our eyes, like this rain, we can still rejoice. God our Father gives nothing to us that doesn’t end in our good. The rain falling is not the whether we want for your wedding, but without this rain there would be no life. Often God’s gifts are like this—not what we wished, not what shines in our eyes, but giving something better and more real than we wished for.
God gave you something greater by His Spirit, which all this water pictures. He washed away and covered and drowned all that we are by nature—our self-love, our sin inherited from Adam. He washed it in Baptism and covered us with Jesus—with His righteousness, with His blood shed to cleanse us of our sins. He united us with Him as a bride to her husband.
In Him, in your Baptism, the love of God is yours. It covers your sins, and it flows out of you. It may be just a little puddle, or seem that way. But baptized into Jesus, and believing that He loved you so as to take away your sins forever with His death, the little fountain of God’s love in you will grow until it empties into the ocean from which it came—which is God Himself. For God is love. And those who are born of God will find their rest in Him.
Let this most excellent way be the way of your marriage. Love one another, but first believe in His love for you.
Be renewed in Jesus’ love. Don’t try to get by on your own. Hear Him preach to you in church and in the Scriptures. Hear Him when He says: “This is my blood of the new testament, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” and receive the gift of His love, His body and blood.
As you are strengthened in His love, you will be strengthened to love one another—to be patient and kind, to put up with all things, believe all things, hope all things, stand firm in all things. Even in storms and darkness light will shine in the darkness for you.
You will begin to love one another as God loves, and God, who is love, will dwell in your marriage. This is the most excellent way, and it is the way on which Christ put you when He baptized you. Like this rain and this lake, there is life hidden in this water, regardless of how it appears. Only the life in your baptism “never comes to an end.” He who loved you will lead you in His most excellent way until the river empties into the see and you know the love of God not as in a mirror, darkly, but face to face.
The peace of God, which passes understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.