“We set forth two worlds, as it were, one of them heavenly and the other earthly. Into these we place these two kinds of righteousness, which are distinct and separated from each other. The righteousness of the Law is earthly and deals with earthly things; by it we perform good works. But as the earth does not bring forth fruit unless it has first been watered and made fruitful from above – for the earth cannot judge, renew, rule, and fructify the earth, so that it may do what the Lord has commanded – so also by the righteousness of the Law we do nothing even when we do much; we do not fulfill the Law even when we fulfill it. Without any merit or work of our own, we must first be justified by Christian righteousness, which has nothing to do with the righteousness of the Law or with earthly and active righteousness. But this righteousness is heavenly and passive. We do not have it of ourselves; we receive it from heaven. We do not perform it; we accept it by faith, through which we ascend beyond all laws and words. “As, therefore, we have borne the image of the earthly Adam,” as Paul says, “let us bear the image of the heavenly one” (1 Cor. 15:49), who is a new man in a new world, where there is no Law, no sin, no conscience, no death, but perfect joy, righteousness, grace, peace, life, salvation, and glory.”
It’s heard a lot around youth events or at confirmations and graduations. “You are the future of the Church,” the youth are told. Observers say, “this is the future of the church,” or “I’m no longer worried about the future of the church.” Add to that the trend of having High School worship services, where the high school youth go to one service and everyone else goes to another, and the impression is given that they aren’t really the Church at all, they are their own separate community.
That’s simply not true. The youth aren’t the future of the church and they aren’t a separate church.
They are the Church.
Because Christ has died for them. They have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection. They need the same Jesus as adults. They need to receive the same forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation as their parents. They need to be rescued from sin, death and the devil just like everyone else!
The youth of the church are intelligent. Talk with them and see that they have probably thought through things more deeply or more analytically then their adult counterparts. The church’s youth can apply Law and Gospel to things many people haven’t even considered. They know that they don’t know everything yet. So they hunger for more knowledge, more hymnody, more baptism, more Lord’s Supper, more Jesus!
Youth are the Church, but they aren’t the only ones. Their parents and grandparents are the church. The 80 and 90+ year old homebound members are the Church. The young children who escape their parents and their pews on Sunday morning are the Church. Even the infant who makes a joyful noise by screaming and squealing during pastor’s sermon is the Church.
The Church is composed of the young and old alike who receive the gifts of the Lord in Word and Sacrament. The future of the Church rests not in the hands of a portion of the Church, but in the death and resurrection of Christ.
10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
– Jeremiah 29
“If you don’t do so already, make a habit of the ‘praises’. I use them much (in Latin): the Gloria Patri, the Gloria in Excelsis, the Laudate Dominum; the Laudete Pueri Dominum (of which I am specially fond), one of the Sunday psalms; and the Magnificat; also the Litany of Loretto (with the prayer Sub tuum praesidium). If you have these by heart you never need words for joy. It is also a good and admirable thing to know by heart the Canon of the Mass, for you can say this in your heart if ever hard circumstance keeps you for hearing Mass.”
-Tolkien, J. R. R. Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. #54. To Christopher Tolkien. 8 January 1944
***Spoiler Alert: This post contains spoilers of A Song of Fire and Ice: A Game of Thrones and Season 1 of the Game of Thrones HBO series.***
“She asked herself what gods she kept these days, and could not find an answer…
…The gods must have their due… even cruel gods who would take Ned from her, and her lord father as well.”
– George R.R. Martin. A Game of Thrones
Catelyn Stark is grief-stricken. She has just come from speaking with her bedridden father who is very near death. She received news that her husband was labeled a traitor to the crown and beheaded for his crimes. Her eldest daughter is stuck at the capital pledged to be married to the very person who gave the order to behead her husband. Of her youngest daughter, who was also at the capital, there has been no word.
Things have not been well in the life of Lady Stark for a long time now. Early on in the story, her middle son was thrown from a tower and an assassin was sent to complete the task where the fall had failed. As a result of his fall, he will not have use of legs for the rest of his days.
To make matters worse, her oldest son (only fifteen years old) has taken his place, as Lord of Winterfell, commanding his Father’s bannermen as they go to war against the family who sits upon the Iron Throne. Her brother and her uncle also ride with her son and could be killed at any moment in battle.
No, it doesn’t take much to understand why Catelyn thinks that the old gods of her husband or the new gods of her own House are cruel gods.
We look at the news and things going on in our own lives and come to the same conclusions. When explosions and gunshots go off, when flooding and earthquakes invade our towns and those of our families, when serious injury, illness, and death strike our families or others who are close to us, we wonder “where is God?” If he’s seeing, causing or allowing all of this evil to happen, he must be an unabashedly cruel god.
The response to these questions and concerns is found in something that neither the old or new gods of Westeros have. It’s found in Jesus.
Peace, rest, and salvation in the midst of all this suffering and death is found only in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for you. That same death and resurrection that you have been baptized into. In Christ, death has been defeated!
The evils of this world continue. The death of Eddard Stark screams to Catelyn that the roaring lion of House Lannister reigns supreme and only cruel gods would let it. The bombings in Boston and the explosion in Texas, the sickness and death in our own lives try to convince us that the devil continues to prowl around like a roaring lion always devouring.
The difference is that the devil has been defeated. In Christ, the one true, merciful God has conquered sin, death and the devil and grants you forgiveness and salvation and gives you His peace.
It was 2006 and I was a Junior in High School. I was nerdier than I am now (or maybe just in different ways). Facebook had opened from only college students to high school students too! But still no old people posting cat pictures and linking their blog post for the day 4… 5.. or 6 times in 12 hours. Facebook was cool! Forums were cool too!
The Higher Things Forums are really what brought me into the organization. My sister and now brother-in-law said that I should sign up for an account. So I did, and started reading all sorts of threads. Threads on just about everything from peep and olive wars to sports and what the heck “Angelomorphic Christology” meant. It was great! I met new Lutherans from all over the world and am now good friends with many of them.
I don’t remember exactly what the context was but I ended up cornering the then Internet Services Executive, Pr. Borghardt, and making fun of him for not being very “Sith-y.” In response, he sent me a private message and gave me a Higher Things blog.
Higher Things blogs were hosted on the HT website and used Stan Lemon’s own BlogSCL software. The first title of my blog was “Libertatum” where I pretended to have profound theological thoughts but more often than not it was profound things that I heard other people say that completely blew my mind. I think there was one other title in there and then “Monk of Mequon.” I took that from one of my sister’s friends after he had moved from Mequon. It came from my regular praying of Compline late at night in the Prayer and Mediation Chapel at Concordia University-Wisconsin. I was living in the Augsburg dorm which was very monk cell-like. Now, living in a suburb of Milwaukee, the name has changed slightly.
So, what does this have to do with anything? Well, as of my last post you may have noticed that the blog looks very different. The URL is now jonathankohlmeier.wordpress.com and the blog is hosted on WordPress. You won’t find a link to my blog on the HT website anymore. BlogSCL has been retired.
What does this mean for the Higher Things blogs? Well they’ve been moved over to WordPress and have become independent. This change means I don’t feel as pressured to tie my posts into Lutheran Theology or to be geared toward high schoolers. You’ll see some nerdy computer posts like the last one. Probably some posts on my hobbies (photography, pipe-smoking, etc.). And I’m sure you’ll continue to see many theology themed posts. After all, the title of the blog is still “Monk of Milwaukee.”
I’m thinking that I will probably try to consolidate some of my internet activity too. Instead of Tumblr posts which are usually quotes from what I’m reading I’ll just post those here too.
So, here we go!