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All Depends on Our Possessing

LORD OF LIFE LUTHERAN CHURCH
Music Notes
8 November, 2015

“All Depends On Our Possessing” This hymn references today’s Gospel lesson, in which the giving of the rich, who give out of abundance, Jesus compares to the giving of the widow, who offers her gift out of her poverty. In a similar way, in Matthew 22, the Canaanite woman cries out to Jesus, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” Finally, in response to her pleas and litany of faith, Jesus grants her request. This faith, given to the Canaanite woman and to the widow by God, is the same faith that we possess, for in the words of stanza one:

All depends on our possessing God’s abundant grace and blessing, though all earthly wealth depart. They who trust with faith unshaken by their God are not forsaken and will keep a dauntless heart.

Our faith, given to us by the Holy Spirit, will indeed be tested. We are constantly confronted with “science” telling us that we are a product of chance, our world presupposes any number of worldviews have equal validity, and even our own “Christian” society interposes all manner of ephemera—Sunday morning sports games, Wednesday evening activities—that slowly will attempt to separate us from the love of Christ.

He who to this day has fed me and to many joys has led me is and ever shall be mine. He who ever gently schools me, He who daily guides and rules me will remain my help divine.

In the Beatitudes which we read in Matthew 6 last week, Jesus exhorts us to “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Even in Plano in the midst of recent draughts, one can still hear birds singing playfully, particularly in the morning. This past summer we worried about our lawns, our home’s foundation, our electricity and reliability of our air conditioning unit, yet the birds worry about nothing and are fully provisioned by God the Father! Yet, we know that:

Many spend their lives in fretting over trifles and in getting things that have no solid ground. I shall strive to win a treasure that will bring me lasting pleasure and that now is seldom found.

Earlier in Matthew 6 Jesus warns, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If one’s priorities are such that they preclude participation in Word and Sacrament worship, as well as general participation in the life of the congregation, those priorities will eventually lead one astray. How much better it would be for us to store up treasures in heaven!

When with sorrow I am stricken, hope anew my heart will quicken; all my longing shall be stilled to His loving kindness tender soul and body I surrender, for on God alone I build.

Distractions from God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as well as concerns and sorrows of this life will constantly seek to lead us astray from Word and Sacrament. Yet, in the words of Colossians 3: 1-4: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Our sadness, as well as our success, is only temporary and fleeting, as profoundly devastating as any human loss always seems at the time.

Well He knows what best to grant me all the longing hopes that haunt me, joy and sorrow, have their day. I shall doubt His wisdom never as God wills, so be it ever; I commit to Him my way.

The Canaanite woman had the faith to implore Christ’s healing upon her daughter, the consistency of such faith being an awareness, acknowledgment and worship of Christ as the Ruler of the Universe. Our faith in Christ is supplied by the Holy Spirit, as Paul writes in Romans 8: 38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers. . . will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

If my days on earth He lengthen, God my weary soul will strengthen; all my trust in Him I place. Earthly wealth is not abiding like a stream away is gliding safe I anchor in His grace.

In the words of the Psalmist who speaks of God’s immutability, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90: 1-2) We moderns must deal with many concerns—Moslems trying to take over the world, secular governments attempting to stomp out any last remnants of Christian orthodoxy and tradition, and even well-meaning church bureaucrats urging us to change our ways and adopt the customs, practices, music, speech, and art of the pop culture! As legitimate as all these concerns may be, God the Holy Trinity stands beyond them. Intricately connected with and concerned about them He is, certainly, but God’s sovereignty is not challenged simply because some wish to challenge Him. As our “safe anchor” and our ever-present help in time of need, we needn’t fear the many trifles of the world but rather approach it with the faith of the Canaanite woman.

 

Posted by Benjamin Kolodziej with

For All the Saints

 

“For All the Saints.”  This hymn, written by William How in 1864, encompasses the theme of All Saints Day, always 1 November.  All Saints is a celebration in which we recall the true unity of the Church, characterized by Paul in I Cor. 2 as “. . . those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  One’s eternal membership in the Church is secured by the fulfillment of the command to “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2: 38-39.)  The Church, then, is comprised of people either past, present, or future, who profess Christ and who are baptized and as a result are vessels of the Holy Spirit.  (There are arguably exceptions to the command to “be baptized,” as the story of the thief on the cross will attest, but that is beyond the scope of this essay.)  The Church is Lord of Life congregation, and it is also the other faithful, confessional churches throughout the world, or, as Luke writes in Acts, the Church extends to “all who are far off.”

            Christian orthodoxy has always characterized the two-fold nature of the Church;  it is both “visible” and “invisible.”  Obviously, the visible Church is comprised of those who attend Word and Sacrament worship, and it is manifest in our church buildings and in our various “ministries.”  Yet, as stated previously, the Church extends far beyond that both geographically and in time.  And, not everyone who is an outward member of the Church is truly a member of the true, invisible Church, as we read in Matt. 7: 21, “Not everyone who says to me [Jesus], ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven.” 

            The easy commercialism of modern society encourages a type of rugged individualism suggested by advertisements which proclaim, “You deserve it,” “Just do it,” etc.  The Church, often harmfully influenced by society, tends also to think with a similar theological myopia.  We may become so concerned with our own tasks and busy-ness (which we may call “ministry”) and “our” successes and failures that we lose the perspective of the Church Universal comprised of “All the saints who from their labors rest, all who by faith before the world confessed. . .” (stanza 1)  In the words of Jesus, we are the “branches,” Christ is the “vine.”  (John 15: 5)  Today we pause to remember the other “branches,” separated from us by geography and/or time, but part of the Church nonetheless.  We remember, in the words of stanza 2, that Christ only “. . . was their rock, their fortress, and their might, [He] their captain in the well-fought fight.”  This common doctrine and faith echoes Eph. 2: 20:  “You are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.” 

            All Saints Day generally, and this hymn specifically, 1) encourage us in our daily life and 2) remind us of the vast scope of the Church Universal.  We are encouraged that we, too, will eventually conclude the “race” which is our earthly struggle to achieve, through Christ, the “crown of gold;” we also remember that the Church and its concerns is not limited simply to the four walls of our church building or even our Christian home.

 

Posted by Benjamin Kolodziej with

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