Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Four Generations

Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways... The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel. (Psalm 128:1-6 KJV)

What an incredible priviledge that my son Joshua will grow up with both his grandparents' and great-grandparents' input in his life. And we live so close, they get to see him everyday! How lucky can one guy be?!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Creation Speaks

Then they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and they begged Him to put His hand on him. And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue. Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly. - Mark 7:32-35

Here comes the decisive word, "Open Up!" The turning point from the old to the new world, from the fallen to the redeemed world, from unfaith to belief is concentrated in this word... The ear and the mouth open up right when Jesus speaks; locked doors open up; chains release their hold. In this way the Word is an active, efficacious Word.
The Word of Jesus Christ that re-creates takes place in such a way that all creatures begin to speak at the same time; the world that has been closed to me up to this point becomes in a new way an address from God. "It is preached here, so that we are enabled to hear sheep. Sheep, cows, trees when they blossom, say, 'Ephphatha'... All creatures call to you! Therefore: Go ahead, open you ears!"
- Excerpt "Martin Luther's Theology" by Oswald Bayer

Creation speaks, and listens too!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Best Broccoli Ever

When we visited Joe's family this past summer, my sister-in-law Paula shared this recipe for parmesan roasted broccoli with me. I made it for my family and even my younger brother and sisters were asking for second helpings. I knew that if they asked for more veggies the recipe must be a hit!

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Place on a baking sheet.

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and salt. Toss to coat.

Peel and thinly slice several cloves of fresh garlic and scatter on broccoli.

Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and shredded parmesan cheese.

Serve hot & enjoy!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Infant Baptism

On Sunday our son Joshua was baptized. We are so blessed that "our Lord Jesus has of His goodness called this child to holy grace and blessing, and to the fountain of baptism."

It was also very special to me that Joshua's uncle, Pastor Williams read the baptismal liturgy and that he was baptized by his great-grandfather, Pastor O'Connor. What an incredible privilege!

Why baptise infants? The Bible teaches that infants are born sinful and like everyone else, desperately need forgiveness. (Psalm 51:5, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.")

This past week I've been thinking about Matthew 18 in a baptismal context. "Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." When Jesus spoke these words he was not referring to age or ignorance but to the defining characteristic of a baby. Babies are unable to do anything for themselves. They can't take care of themselves. They are are totally needy and completely dependent on something outside them self. That's how we are. We can only receive from God. Simply believe and receive. Trusting God to do what we cannot do for ourselves.

But infants can't make a decision? Without faith there is no baptism. When an infant is asked, "Do you wish to be baptized?" the infant answers through the mouth of his sponsors, "Yes"... Faith in which one stands in for another. Just as in the healing miracle recorded in Mark 2; according to which a lame man is brought to Jesus by his friends and Jesus forgave him his sins "when he saw their (his friends') faith"! For faith always comes to me by other people who stand in on my behalf and make intercession. (Oswald Bayer,  Martin Luther's Theology)
How can baptism do such great things? It is certainly not water that does these things but the Word of God which is in and with the water; for without the Word of God the water by itself is simply water and no baptism; but with the Word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life. (Martin Luther, Small Catechism)

Preaching is baptism. The preacher is the one who, in service to the church, strikes the rock and brings forth water in dry places. The promise of baptism call to us, "Come forth, be washed, and you shall be odd". Through baptism we are given a radical, peculiar, distinctive identity and vocation. (William Willimon, Peculiar SpeechBaptism is not just a one time thing. It's once begun and ever continued; daily. Through the washing water of God's Word we are baptized each day.
Joshua's sponsors, Daniel & Joan Scamman