Posts Tagged ‘Trinity Church Myrtle Beach’

Preached 2.08.09

“All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.” –Blaise Paschal Pensees VII.1.425

Paschal’s quote from Pensees is useful for the fact that it reminds us of something that every inch of our current era strains to help us forget, namely, that you and I are desiring creatures.  What do we desire?  Essentially we desire, Paschal says, to be happy.  Our hearts desire our happiness, our minds conceive of what might make us happy, and our bodies strain to achieve this end.  It is out of a desiring heart, that our mind say “going to the mall today will make me happy,” so our bodies strain to the mall.  It is out of the desiring heart that our mind says “watching House tonight will make me happy,” so my body strains to watch House, even if I’m tired or have other responsibilities.  We are desiring creatures and we always do what we desire and what satisfies us in the end. 

Why do we behave this way?  Well, we behave this way in short because we believe that there is something out there that will eventually satisfy our desire.  Of course the comeback is, just because I think there is something out there, doesn’t mean it exists.  I could imagine a pristine island in the South Pacific that has a sign on the beach that says “reserved for Rob Sturdy” and it doesn’t mean it exists.  But, on the other hand, a baby who is newly born, who desires food desires the food because he was made to consume it.  So, while it doesn’t necessarily prove it, I think it is a strong argument that a desire to be in heaven after we die, to have communion with God, to have a transcendent purpose in life, is a reasonably strong argument that such things exist. (more…)

This was sung by our choir last night at an evensong.  I was struck by the intense desire to “depart and be with Christ” (Phil 1.23) and found myself wondering what Bach was going through to give him such deep insight into the emptiness of worldly pleasure contrasted with the exceeding majesty of Christ.  Read the whole thing as a devotional excercise.  Perhaps if the recording equipment worked out well then I will post our choir singing it.  As for now, you’ll just have to read it.  It is deeply moving. 

 

Come, sweet hour of death,

when my spirit

feeds on honey

from the lion’s mouth;

make my departure sweet,

do not delay,

last night

so that I may kiss my savior

 

World, your pleasure is a burden

I hate your sweetness as if it were a poison,

your joyful light

is my star of ill omen

and where your roses are gathered

there are thorns beyond counting

to cause my soul anguish

Pale death is for me the glow of dawn

with which arises for me the sun

of glory and heavenly delight.

Therefore I truly sigh from the bottom of my heart

only for the final hour of death. 

I desire to pasture soon with Christ,

I desire to depart from this world

 

My longing

is to embrace the saviour

and soon to be with Christ.

although as mortal ashes and earth

I may be crushed by death,

the pure light of my soul will

Then be resplendent like the angels.

 

The decisions already made,

World, goodnight!

and if I can only gain consolation

by dying soon in Jesus’ arms,

He is my sweet sleep.

The cool tomb will cover me with roses

until Jesus awakens me,

until he leads his sheep

to the sweet pastures of life

so death does not separate me from him!

Therefore dawn, sweet day of death,

therefore sound, stroke of the last hour!

 

If it is the will of my God

I wish that the burden of my body

may this day fill the earth

and that my spirit, the body’s guest,

may be clothed in immortality

in the sweet joy of heaven.

Jesus, come take me from here!

May this be my last word.

 

The body indeed in the earth

will be eaten by worms,

but it will be awakened,

transfigured in beauty through Christ

it will shine like the sun

and live without anguish

in the joy and delight of heaven.

What harm then can death do to me?

David and Steph return to Myrtle Beach tommorow without me 😦 .  I’m going to miss them a lot.  So we spent a really fun last afternoon together.  Watch the video to see tiny David and the great beast!

“To inspire all people through the power of the Gospel to become living members of the Body of Christ…”

The Revelation to John

Dec 1:  Eternal power at work in the world   (Rev 1.4-8)

 

 Is John’s Revelation applicable to us?  After all, it is addressed to seven churches in Asia, NOT to Trinity Church, Myrtle Beach!  And surely there were more churches present in Asia besides those seven.  Is John not concerned with them?  The key to answering these questions comes from the number.  In Judaism the number seven had special significance because of the Sabbath (the seventh day), the sabbatical year (Exod 23.10-11), and the Year of Jubilee (the year of release after seven sabbatical years; cf. Lev 25.8-17, 29-31).[1]  The number seven is also significant in the New Testament.  For example, Matthew’s Gospel begins with what is seemingly are rather inane genealogy.  But it is nothing of the sort!  Rather, using seven sets of seven ancestors, Matthew shows that in the person of Jesus God has brought the perfect servant, prophet, priest, and King (Matt 1.1-17)!  By perfect, we mean in the classic Greek sense the point at which nothing can be added nor taken away. 

 

So what does this have to do with seven churches?  While there are some compelling points to be made from history about the representative functions of the actual seven churches listed in the Apocalypse (and these are no doubt equally true), the transcendent meaning of the seven churches is that this Revelation is written to the one, true church present in all times, in all ages, and in all of Christ’s people.  The number seven indicates that this letter is to the complete church, the church from which nothing and no one may be added nor taken away.  So the letter is to the actual seven churches of the late 90’s A.D. as well as to Trinity Church, Myrtle Beach and all the faithful churches in Christ Jesus that were, that are, and that will be. 

 

Knowing that this letter is addressed to us, we then move to pay particular attention to what is being said.  Last week we spoke of how Jesus reveals the Father to the world.  We also spoke on how the purpose of this book is to unveil the spiritual realities at work that shape and affect the material world we live in.  While the book goes on to give much detail in regard to this, for now, in the form of a doxology we have an awe inspiring revelation of the immense powers at work behind the curtain of the spiritual world. (more…)

“To inspire all people, through the power of the Gospel, to become living members of the body of Christ”

New Testament Class:  Religion and Morality

On Nov 4 through Nov 25, 2001, 1,507 adults were polled for a study called “For Goodness’ Sake:  Why So Many Americans Want Religion to Play a Greater Role in American Life.”[1]  The study revealed some interesting things about American’s views on religion and morality.  For example, most Americans want religion to play a larger role in American society.  Of the respondents who wanted religion to have more influence, 76 percent said it did not matter which religion it was. But 58 percent said it was not necessary to believe in God to have good values.[2]  So what can we deduce from this?  First off, we might say that Americans believe it is good to believe.  It doesn’t necessarily matter what you believe in, just that you believe in something.  Secondly, we might say that Americans believe that religion (doesn’t matter which one) is good for moral development.

In an interview of Barak Obama, shortly after he clinched the Democratic nomination for the senate seat (which of course he eventually one), he described his thoughts on religion and their subsequent impact on morality.  He says: “So, I’m rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there’s an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived.”[3]

Obama encapsulates many of the underlying cultural assumptions about religion that are popular in America today.  Like the people in the survey, he is religious but believes there is nothing about one religion that gives it an advantage over any other (in terms of teleology).  Secondly, religion acts as a kind of mechanism for revealing transcendent truths that are not owned by religion but discovered through it, using it as if it were a vehicle.  I bring this up so that we could examine these a bit, both their validity as well as how much sway we give them in our heart because we are, after all, to some extent, products of our environment. 

 

Tonight I want to address these assumptions through the lens of the New Testament.  Seeing what it has to say about the interconnected issues of religion and morality. (more…)