Business In The Front
This weekend we sang the following songs:
- It Is Finished by Dustin Kensrue (New!)
- Dear Refuge of My Wear Soul by Trinity Grace Church
- Forgiven Forever by Glenn Packiam
- You Make Me Brave by Bethel Music
Here’s a playlist of the tunes we sang. If you like ’em why don’t you go ahead and buy ’em? Yeah, let’s keep these incredibly talented artists and writers able to write and produce great music for the church to sing God’s praises.
Party In The Back
As it goes it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Wrong season, maybe? But the director of “Nightmare Before Christmas” finally admitted that it’s a Halloween movie and not a Christmas movie, and we can all eat as much processed sugar as cheaply as we want on November 1st! Pretty wonderful to me.
Anyways as we sang “It Is Finished” it got me thinking about the upcoming holiday.
I realize Christians are divided on Halloween but for me the holiday season starts on October 31st and goes through the end of Epiphany on January 26th. Though, before starting, I want to say that I’m not trying to muddle the occult with Christianity. I realize that the reality of God determines the reality of demons and Satan which are certainly to be feared, fought, and ultimately to be defeated by Christ – the Warrior of God. Bear all that in mind while reading.
Okay, let’s chat Halloween.
“It Is Finished” opens up with these words: “There’s no deed that can redeem us/there’s no rite nor magic word” and while were singing it got me thinking about how it’s easy to invoke the Power of God in the same attitude that magic would invoke another, more sinister power.
There’s a tendancy for the Hocus Pocus of Halloween to sneak it’s creepy little head into the life of the Christian. I find myself thinking that “if I pray X, then Y will happen.” If I say the Lord’s Prayer, while fasting, facing towards Jerusalem, and annoint my head with oil then I’ll be able to harness the power of the Spirit and create a change in the material world. Or, more subtly, if I commit to living my Christian Values then I’ll be blessed. Hocus Pocus religion is just another way of talking about the Law. But the Law is unable to produce what it demands; as we sang, “there’s no rite, nor magic word/ only by the works of Jesus can salvation be secured.”
But October 31st isn’t just Halloween it’s also the anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg. It’ll be 498 years this Saturday since the Reformation, in some sense, was kicked off.
Luther wrote his theses in response to the church selling indulgences, the idea that salvation can be secured by works of the Law over and above grace alone, and that continuing Christian maturity is a life of constant works to maintain eternal security. For the church of Luther’s day this manifested with the buying and selling of indulgences and other spiritual disciplines dictated by the church and in our day with behavior modification. But as the Apostle Paul says (here and just about everywhere else he writes):
“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2.19-20
Christianity is not a to-do list to accomplish, a supernatural experience that changes the natural material world, a transaction between buyer and seller. Christianity is a weary and dried out sinner sick of wandering in a spiritual desert jumping in the fountain of living water and drinking deeply. Christianity is a starving beggar putting down the empty calories of self and feasting at the table of a king. We sang: “There’s no sacrifice to offer/ there’s no penance to complete/ freely drink of living water/ without money come and feast.”
If we were able to produce righteousness by obeying the Law then Christ would have died for nothing. But as he hung on the cross he cried out, “It is finished!” and completed the Law, having lived it perfectly. When we eat at his table and are baptized in his living water we, by faith, are joined into his life, death and ressurection. As we sang, we can “go bravely into battle, knowing he has won the war.” So we can live a life of obedience and righteousness in the confidence that Jesus is already victorious over sin and death, in the confidence that we no longer live but Christ lives in us.
(Did you notice the “Worship Leader, Piano Player Uniform”?)