Occasional clarifications from our Pastor on the passages we here and sometimes don't hear on Sunday morning.
In the mind of many the Psalms are the work of David; a shepherd, a poet-singer and prophet. We remember him as a slayer of giants, a companion King Saul, a lover and a warrior, but by all means David is a man whose heart was solidly in God’s camp. Many of the Psalms can be attributed to David, but not all. Psalm 18 is unusual in that David gives us the circumstances that inspired its writing. It is a psalm of thanksgiving, for God had rescued him from the hands of his enemies and from the former king, Saul.
A small number of psalms have these brief introductions. You might notice that they have no verse numbers. Most commentaries are silent about these instructions, leaving us to wonder whether they are part of the biblical text, or just the work of a later editor.
John 3 1-17
From the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus, it is obvious that that the old man had a problem with Jesus’ choice of words. To be “born again” would require nothing less than a miracle. And since the whole thing is impossible, the expression is a silly one. Or is it?
We know that Jesus used the expression in a spiritual sense. It is perhaps better rendered in English as “born from above” as most of your Bibles indicate in the notes.
Nicodemus will figure that out shortly, and we know he did by his participation in Jesus’ Passion. However, consider that spiritual birth, birth “from above” also requires a miracle, the miracle of the Holy Spirit and faith. Faith is not a reasonable thing, it requires “a leap” into the darkness; faith trusts that God is there to catch you. And by faith we know that Jesus is God.
“Born again” is an awkward expression, and with the question “are you saved?” they have become part of the stock vocabulary of modern evangelicalism. You can judge for yourselves how useful they are. What matters most is that we give a clear and unambiguous witness to the truths of Jesus Christ; he calls us sinners into a new and living relationship with God—calls us through the Gospel. In the life of Jesus we find ours!
The Lutheran Church in her Confessions acknowledges the three ecumenical creeds of the Western Church; the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian. What you need to know about the latter can be found printed in red on page 319 of the Service Book. By adopting these creeds our Lutheran fathers wanted the emperor, the pope, and anyone else who cared, to understand that they believed nothing new; they were not heretics.
In practice the Apostles’ Creed is our baptismal creed. It may certainly be recited as part of your daily devotions, as Luther’s Catechism suggests. Its brevity makes it suitable for use in the summer months. The Nicene Creed penned at the great Council seems to have the weight of imperial law behind it. Early on it was taken into the Mass where it has remained. The Athanasian Creed is recited by Lutherans on Trinity Sunday, because…