Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ashes, Water & Symbolism

As an English teacher, I'm constantly talking about symbols and authorial intent.
  • Why does that stupid raven keep quoting, "Nevermore"?
  • Why did F. Scott Fitzgerald create Dr. T.J. Eckleburg in The Great Gatsby?
  • Willa Cather, why so much description about a single plough?
Here is an insightful explanation by Rev. William Cwirla on why his church doesn't do the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday.  Read the quote and then read Rev. Cwirla's entire explanation.

"I suppose if we wanted to get the symbolism right, we would be smudging our own faces, and not just with a little stylish dab. And then you’d come and stand before me and I would stick my hand in the baptismal font and wipe away all that grime and dirt “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And if you stop and think about it, we did precisely that earlier in the evening. You confessed your sin and death, having stared into the mirror of the Law. And then you stood before me as Christ’s called and ordained representative, and I absolved you, which means that Christ Himself wiped away the stain of your sin and death."

"He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.  This a trustworthy saying." -Titus 3: 5-8

Forever cleansed.  Forever saved.  Forever His. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cutting the devil's throat

Debate is fascinating. Using just the right amount of pathos, logos and an ever-ready counterargument are essential but so is timing. I waited until just the right moment to remind my brother that whatever was rumbling around in the closet was sure to get him first since he slept in the bottom bunk. Just like Novacaine, it worked every time.

Luther notes the power of well-executed debating strategies against the devil in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians in his discussion of chapter 1 verse 4:

“Let us equip ourselves against the accusations of Satan with this and similar passages of Holy Scripture. If he says, ‘Thou shalt be damned,’ you tell him: ‘No, for I fly to Christ who gave Himself for my sins. In accusing me of being a damnable sinner, you are cutting your own throat, Satan. You are reminding me of God's fatherly goodness toward me, that He so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. In calling me a sinner, Satan, you really comfort me above measure.’ With such heavenly cunning we are to meet the devil's craft and put from us the memory of sin.”
- Translated by Theodore Graebner

Friday, February 3, 2012