The Royal Wedding sermon thoughts…

No, I did not watch more than a few snippets of the ceremonies on the web… but, no doubt, it was quite the grand and fabulous event! I won’t argue with the Bishop of London when he said that is was a joyous day to celebrate. I can think of a whole lot worse things to celebrate!

Anyway, since I am burdened with the obtuse vocation of being a pastor I find that I could not help myself from tearing things apart and examining every little jot and tittle in the liturgy and the wedding sermon this morning, trying to determine the meaning behind it all… Of course this is what makes me so loathsome to my children and wife (and perhaps you as well!) After watching a movie with my family I am always caught muttering all kinds of nonsense attempting to deconstruct the meaning of the dialogue and extrapolate the movie’s impact on culture, the church and our faith. “Just ENJOY the movie, for heaven’s sake” they yell at me.

Sigh…

So, I did find the text for the sermon this morning and here are a couple comments. And yes, after reading it through I am further confirmed to be 1)  a glad conservative Lutheran, and 2) praying every day for the coming of the Lord and Judgment Day, that He would save us from ourselves!

Firstly: I must say that there was the beautiful reading from Romans 12: 1-2, 9-18 (although, it also must be said that it is a rather “safe” reading with no mention of Jesus Christ.) Unfortunately, in his sermon, the Bishop quotes St. Catherine of Siena and Chaucer, but not once does he speak of a scripture verse – or even reference one.

Now let’s get down to the text of the sermon itself.  (Although without a mention of scripture, it could hardly be called a sermon.)

One sentence near the beginning is quite glorious if understood correctly:
In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.

I do love that imagery!

Now with the token complement out of the way, lets get on with it!  A few sentences down there is this quote which gives the first reference to Jesus Christ:

William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that he gave himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. And in the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each another.

So is that all? It was only a week ago we observed His death and five days ago we celebrated His resurrection and the defeat of sin, death and the devil, and the opening up the gates of heaven for all believers! And this general reference to God giving himself “to us” in Jesus Christ is all the world gets of the “Gospel”? And then you just don’t know quite WHAT to make of the words “Spirit of this generous God…” It sounds like “Spirit” is used as in the phrase “spirit of Christmas”. But then why is it capitalized like a proper name? This presiding Bishop of the worldwide Anglican church is speaking language that is very foreign to the Bible and to the orthodox church!

Bishop of London continues:
A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed.

Wow!!!! That is very official sounding and mysterious… I can’t say it is “wrong”, per se. But… it sure leaves me rather…. speechless!!!!

A further quote a bit down starts to sound like it was delivered by some kind of president or prime minister, not pastor:

We stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril. Human beings are confronting the question of how to use wisely a power that has been given to us through the discoveries of the last century.
We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another.

You get toward the end and you are saying “yes, yes, yes!”  An increase in loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another… and then!!!!…… you could SWEAR that somehow the printer must have run out of ink! There HAS TO BE mention of the increase in love for GOD!!!! But no!!! Heaven help us!

The Bishop of London concludes in this way:
And I pray that God will bless you in the way of life that you have chosen, that way which is expressed in the prayer that you have composed together in preparation for this day: God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage. In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy. Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.

You just can’t help but ask: What is this “Spirit of Jesus”? How come the prayer was not concluded with “in the name of Jesus”, as is scriptural? Is the real answer that there just is no honoring of the truth of Jesus’ name anymore? No honoring it even in the cathedral at the wedding of the individual who might one day inherit the throne and be the titular head of the Anglican Church? In the end the “Spirit of Jesus” is not in reference to the Son of God or the Holy Spirit, but actually simply just a concept and/or understanding of the life of Jesus. How sad indeed!

But, hey! Good News! In the next few moments after the sermon, the Archbishop seals the wedding with the pronouncement in a very official tone “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost!” So, do they finally get it right? Or are His words all just a tradition with actually no meaning at all? Is it spoken in Biblical truth and Godly integrity? Or are two billion people around the world witness to blasphemy of a very high order?

Dear Editor: On Christian Education

This morning we hear that more Catholic schools are closing. As part of the staff of The Lutheran Academy, a small Christian school in North Scranton, my observation is that we have completely forgotten the higher aims of the Christian education that built both our Western Civilization and this nation. We have let the base values of secular society take over and doom our children to its slavery. We must ask ourselves what the purpose of education is. Who today can name a purpose for sending their children to school beyond getting them a job and “making it” through life with enough toys to make them “happy”? The Christian Church has historically been the great driving force in education. It’s goals have been Godly Wisdom, Eloquence, and Virtue. It has gloried in the study of the Arts and the Sciences because in them we see God’s beautiful handiwork and grow to appreciate Him. And it has believed that the purpose of education is that we might grow in God-given abilities – to humbly serve God by serving Mankind for good. For the sake of Christ, our children, and our nation, it is time for all Christian parents, churches, teachers, and school administrators to sacrificially and diligently work together and recapture the essence of Christian education. No doubt good public schools are necessary and very important to support. But we have a great jewel in our Christian schools – and a vision that goes so far beyond what a public school can offer. We dare not neglect the Christian education of our children.

Hopefully you will find this in the Letters section of the Scranton Times soon.

The Brains Have Fallen Out

Today’s Dear Abby describes to a T the modern parenting philosophy, which, most unfortunately, is destroying the true Christian faith in our country. Some people count this as a blessing of course. But however they might view it, it is an example of a world view that is completely untenable. Here is a sample of one of today’s letters:

OPEN MINDS ARE USEFUL WHEN DISCUSSING GOD WITH KIDS

DEAR ABBY: I would like to respond to “Agnostic Dad in South Carolina” (Feb. 16), who wondered about how to answer the inevitable “Is there a God?” question his children will ask. My parents had strong but differing Christian faiths. They compromised when bringing us up, and we went to the church nearest our home (another denomination). Further, when we were teens, they allowed us to “sample” other religious traditions to determine what would suit us best.

I became agnostic, and like “Dad in S.C.,” was unsure what to tell my son. My husband and I do not belong to any organized religion and didn’t take him to church as a youngster. Instead, we introduced stories from the Bible at bedtime, and allowed him to attend his friends’ churches when he asked to. More important, we showed him that all people are to be valued and that differences are to be respected.

Please note that in the view of this parent, religion is all about “what would suit us best….” What world view is this? It is the view that individuals are the centers of their own universe. It is the complete polar opposite of the view of the scripture. It is the opposite of the only common sense world view that, in fact, God is the center of the universe. The questions of religion have nothing to do with “what suits us best.” The quest to know God is the quest for truth outside of our own foolish opinions.

Of course I can’t really expect that an agnostic would raise her child as a Christian, but I guess I am frustrated that this attitude is not simply the standard line of agnostics, but almost everyone – even those who are “Christian”! The quest for the truth of God has been completely usurped by the dictate that “differences [in people’s religions] are to be respected.” From a couple of the other letters in today’s Dear Abby, it is perfectly plain that it really does not matter in the least if our children grow up Christians or not! As long as their minds are open and their brains have fallen out we are very happy!

What people are so oblivious to is that “religion” is the foundation of a child’s “world view”. A Christian’s faith matters. It matters because Christianity is based on the fact of Jesus Christ. It matters because it is true! It shapes our everyday life, our values and morals. But MOST OF ALL, a relationship with Jesus Christ MATTERS BECAUSE IT GIVES US A SURE HOPE AND SALVATION.

As Christians we need to be thrilled to share the blessed faith in Jesus Christ with our children. His meritorious work on the cross to win for us eternal life is the most precious truth that we can nurture in them as parents. May God so powerfully help us to make it the centerpiece of everything that we are and do as a parent.