The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the category “Church Calendar”

A Man and an Art for All Seasons

by Sean Johnson

Christian kitsch

All great cultural produce (that is, art) is religiously motivated—the stylized mythologies of the Mediterranean, the architectural triumphs of Roman civic religion, the gothic style, the hagiographic painting and sculpture of the Renaissance, the scientific innovations motivated at various times by extreme love of God or extreme love of man, etc., etc., etc. In recent years, though, the Church has experienced what many would acknowledge as a crisis of art. The fruit of this historical circumstance has been, among other things, the hot mess of contemporary Christian music, Kinkadean depictions of crosses and cottages aglow with the radiation of sentimentality, and Kingsburyian baptized pulp fictions.

As a people we are still in a moment of uncertainty about how to regain the artistic potency of our forbears, and reinfuse our art with that intangible-but-unmistakable clarity and power—like lightning and cold steel—that truly biblical art cover art Malcolm Guite Englishhas always possessed. Read more…

That Your Joy May Be Full: Celebrating the Ascension of our Lord

By Uri Brito

The Church celebrates the Ascension of our Lord this Thursday. Since many Protestant churches find it difficult to gather parishioners for a Thursday service, many of them celebrate Ascension on Sunday.

The Ascension of Jesus is barely mentioned in the evangelical vocabulary. We make room for his birth, death, and resurrection, but we tend to put a period where God puts a comma.

If the resurrection was the beginning of Jesus’ enthronement, then the ascension is the establishment of his enthronement. The Ascension activates Christ’s victory in history. The Great Commission is only relevant because of the Ascension. Without the Ascension the call to baptize and disciple would be meaningless. It is on the basis of Jesus’ enthronement at the right-hand of the Father, that we image-bearers can de-throne rulers through the power and authority of our Great Ruler, Jesus Christ.

The Ascension then is a joyful event, because it is the genesis of the Church’s triumph over the world. Further, it defines us as a people of glory and power, not of weakness and shame. As Jesus is ascended, we too enter into his ascension glory (Col. 3:1) This glory exhorts us to embrace full joy. As Alexander Schmemann once wrote:

“The Church was victorious over the world through joy…and she will lose the world when she loses its joy… Of all accusations against Christians, the most terrible one was uttered by Nietzsche when he said that Christians had no joy.”[1]

But this joy is given to us by a bodily Lord.

We know that Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. He is ruling and reigning from his heavenly throne. He has given the Father the kingdom, and now he is preserving, progressing, and perfecting his kingdom. He is bringing all things under subjection.

We know that when he was raised from the dead, Jesus was raised bodily. But Gnostic thinking would have us assume that since Jesus is in heaven he longer needs a physical body. But the same Father who raised Jesus physically, also has his Son sitting beside him in a physical body.  As one author observed:

Jesus has gone before us in a way we may follow through the Holy Spirit whom he has sent, because the way is in his flesh, in his humanity.[1]

Our Lord is in his incarnation body at the right hand of the Father. This has all sorts of implications for us in worship. We are worshipping a God/Man; one who descended in human flesh and who ascended in human flesh. He is not a disembodied spirit. He is truly God and truly man.

As we consider and celebrate the Ascension of our blessed Lord, remember that you are worshiping the One who understands your needs, because he has a body just like you; he understands your joy because he has a body just like you.

[1] Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World. Paraphrased

[2] Gerrit Dawson, see http://apologus.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/ascension-and-jesus-humanity/

Uri Brito is a pastor and blogger. He treasures earthly life, but dwells in the heavenly places.

The New Kingdom Almanac: Alfred the Great, White Horse King

Alfred the Great, son of Æthelwulf of Wessex (West Saxons), vanquisher of the Danish warlord Guthrum, victor of the field of Ethandun, warrior king and royal servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was on this day, May 6 anno Domini 878, after having spent years studying the methods of the Viking raiders and engineering many advances in field and naval combat[1], that the Anglo-Saxon King Alfreda defeated the cruel Northmen of Scandinavia and preserved Christendom in Britannia, thus making the unification of that land possible for the first time since the occupation of the Roman Legions four centuries earlier [2].
White-Horse-of-Uffington

Read more…

What I Learned About Education from James K.A. Smith

I recently interviewed Calvin College professor of Philosophy and author, James K.A. Smith. Dr. Smith has written books such as Desiring the Kingdom, Imagining the Kingdom, the forthcoming Embodying the Kingdom, Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?, and more.

We primarily discussed his book, Desiring the Kingdom, and he made some points that I thought were worth revisiting.

First, when it comes to education, we are going to educate primarily based on our answer to the question, “What is man?” If we imagine humans to be consumers, our education will look similar to public education. If we imagine humans to be primarily thinkers, we will educate another way. But, if we imagine humans to be primarily worshipers, then our education will look another way.

Read more…

George of Lydda: Patron Saint of Civil Disobedience

Posted by Aaron W EleyGreater Coat_of_Arms_of_Georgia
On this day, the 23rd of April, Christians throughout many countries in the world will be observing Georgemas, more commonly referred to as the Feast of St. George of Lydda. George is remembered as the Patron Saint of England, Libya, Lebanon, and many others including being the object of devotion of the country of Georgia (whose flag bears the Jerusalem Cross)[1], Catalonia, Aragon and others. Indeed, St. George’s Day will be celebrated nationally in England and the City of London over which the familiar ‘red cross on a white field’ of the Flag of St. George, the standard emblem of the Crusades, will be flown.

St-George-Cross-England-Flag_4

George was born in AD 270, in what is now Eastern Turkey, to Grecian parents of the Christian faith [2]. His father was from Cappadocia in Asia Minor and his mother from Lydda [3], which was briefly renamed Georgiopolis before the Muslim Conquest of the Levant ended that city’s Roman Period in the 7th century.

La_Tomba_di_San_Giorgio

Tomb of St. George, Lydda

Georgios (Gr. ‘worker of the land’) was a Greek of noble birth. At the age of 14, George’s father died while serving as an officer in the Roman Army. A few years later, George also lost his mother [4]. Read more…

Party Beside the Empty Tomb!

Easter is gone, right? Actually Easter has just begun! The Easter Season lasts for 50 days. It is glorified in the PENT-ecost season. According to the Christian Calendar, Easter lasts until May 19th (Pentecost Sunday). But didn’t we spend ourselves bodily and spiritually this past Lord’s Day? If that’s the case, stir yourselves unto good works. The party has just begun!

We–who are liturgically minded–tend to carefully attend to the Lenten and Advent Calendar, but yet we forget that apart from the Resurrection Lent and Advent would not make any sense. After all, what are we expecting? A virgin birth to a son who would simply die at the age of 33? What are we expecting? A perpetually closed tomb? A sight for annual pilgrimages to Israel?

I am suggesting we need to stock up in our champagne bottles. Every Sunday meal needs to start with the popping of a champagne bottle. “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! POP! “Children, that’s the sound of victory!”

For every day of Easter, set aside a little gift for your little ones or your spouse. We set 100 Easter eggs aside for our two oldest children and let them open them up each day. Other traditions can be added, of course. We indulge in Easter hymnody and Psalmnody.  Easter is no time to get back to business as usual, it’s time to elevate the party spirit.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for these next 46 days:

First, for evening family readings, meditate specifically on the Resurrection account and the post-resurrection accounts. Digest every detail of the gospels, and also allow St. Paul to add his resurrection theology in I Corinthians 15.

Second, teach one another the art of hope. We live in a hopeless culture. We walk around with little enthusiasm for what God is doing in our midst. We also don’t believe that God is changing us and conforming us to the image of His son. We need to–especially in this season–to rejoice more with those who rejoice and encourage more those who weep with the hope granted to us in the Resurrection of our Messiah.

Third, invest in changing your community. Ask your pastor in what ways can you be more fruitful in your service to the congregation. Consider also your neighbors. Do you know them? If you do, how many have been in your homes for a meal or a drink, or simply to talk?

Fourth, play Easter music in your home and in the office. Here are some selections of great CDs or MP3’s.

Finally, avoid the introspective rituals that are so prevalent in our Christian culture. Do not allow doubts to overtake you. Think of your Triune baptism. Trust in Christ fervently. Allow the Covenant of Grace to shape your identity. The resurrection of Jesus was the confirmation that those in Christ are made for glory. Look to Jesus and serve Jesus by serving others. By doing so, you will not grow weary in doing well, and you will learn to party beside the empty tomb.

Christ is Risen!

Uri Brito is a pastor and a lover of good parties!

Jesus, Thief on Easter

Recently, I have seen two conflicting, yet equally helpful discussions of the use of the word “Easter” to celebrate Resurrection Sunday.

Dr. Tim LeCroy’s post argues that Easter, counter to common pronouncement, is not pagan in origin, but is a reference to the vernal equinox and the change of the sunlight in Spring, this change coming in the East. Tim also sees this as part of God’s design that the Lord should be raised at the vernal equinox, bringing the light to the world. This is more normal to the Bible than you might realize, since the Hebrew festivals are actually set according to things like moons and equinoxes…. Take a read of Tim’s work; it is high quality and worthy of a gander.

Doug Wilson’s CanonWired video takes the usual line of saying the name comes from a Germanic Fertility Goddess, and I don’t fault someone for thinking it is the same as everyone always says it is. (Tim provides good evidence to the contrary). Doug’s argument however, is that paganism is made void and we have seen the victory of Christ over this paganism. He cites Hosea 2.17. I like that Doug takes this approach, and while I favor Tim’s etymology, I know that Tim also values the reasoning that follows Doug’s initial assumption.

So I think both are helpful. And in the vein of etymology, and with the spirit of Doug’s acceptance of the word, Easter, I want to add the following note. Read more…

Bring Out Your Dead!

church graveyard, cemetery

How often do you see cemeteries? Do you know, off hand, where the closest one is? Do your children? It is a sad state of affairs when we can’t answer these questions with certainty and, if you’ll allow me to indulge in a few preliminary comments, I’ll tell you why.

One of the best ways to engage literature is to pick a work you want to be shaped by and to read it again and again. I was recently rereading G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy with that end in mind, and the following passage struck me:

“But if it comes to clear ideas and the intelligent meaning of things, then there is much more rational philosophical truth in the burial at the crossroads and the stake driven through the body…there is a meaning in burying the suicide apart.”
“….And then I remembered the stake and the crossroads, and the queer fact that Christianity had shown this weird harshness to the suicide. For Christianity had shown a wild encouragement of the martyr. Historic Christianity was accused, not entirely without reason, of carrying martyrdom and asceticism to a point, desolate and pessimistic. The early Christian martyrs talked of death with a horrible happiness. They blasphemed the beautiful duties of the body: they smelt the grave afar off like a field of flowers. All this has seemed to many the very poetry of pessimism. Yet there is the stake at the crossroads to show what Christianity thought of the pessimist.”

It struck me not because of the particular topic but of the more general implication. Regardless of your convictions about the burial of suicides, these remarks demonstrate something powerful, and something contemporary Protestantism (at least in my circles) has begun to forget—our treatment of the dead translates into a meaningful theological statement. Read more…

Holy Saturday (Blessed Sabbath)

The Passion Week provides vast theological emotions for the people of God. Palm Sunday commences with the entrance of a divine King riding on a donkey. He comes in ancient royal transportation. That royal procession concludes with a Crucified Messiah exalted on a tree.

The Church also celebrates Maundy Thursday as our Messiah’s commandment to love one another just as He loved us. We then proceed to sing of the anguish of that Good Friday as our blessed Lord is humiliated by soldiers and scolded by the unsavory words of the religious leaders of the day. As he walks to the Mount his pain testifies to Paul’s words that he suffered even to the point of death. But hidden in this glaringly distasteful mixture of blood, vinegar, and bruised flesh is the calmness of the day after our Lord’s crucifixion.

After fulfilling the great Davidic promise in Psalm 22, our Lord rests from his labors in the tomb. Whatever may have happened in those days prior to his resurrection, we know that Christ’s work was finished.

The Church calls this day Blessed Sabbath or more commonly Holy Saturday. On this day our Lord reposed (rested) from his accomplishments. Many throughout history also believe that Holy Saturday is a fulfillment of Moses’ words:

God blessed the seventh day. This is the blessed Sabbath. This is the day of rest, on which the only-begotten Son of God rested from all His works . . .(Gen. 2:2)

The Church links this day with the creation account. On day seven Yahweh rested and enjoyed the fruit of his creation. Jesus Christ also rested in the rest given to him by the Father and enjoyed the fruits of the New Creation he began to establish and would be brought to light on the next day.

As Alexander Schmemann observed:

Now Christ, the Son of God through whom all things were created, has come to restore man to communion with God. He thereby completes creation. All things are again as they should be. His mission is consummated. On the Blessed Sabbath He rests from all His works.

Holy Saturday is a day of rest for God’s people; a foretaste of the true Rest that comes in the Risen Christ. The calmness of Holy Saturday makes room for the explosion of Easter Sunday. On this day, we remember that that darkness of the grave and the resting of the Son was only temporary for when a New Creation bursts into the scene the risen Lord of glory cannot contain his joy, and so he gives it to us.

Maundy Thursday Homily

People of God, this is Maundy Thursday. The word “Maundy” is derived from the Latin mandatum which refers to the “commandment” that our Lord gave to His disciples“to love one another.”

This short section in John’s Gospel is right in between some gigantic events in the life of Jesus, but ultimately there is truth to the idea that this short narrative is perhaps one of the most important of Jesus’ discourses. Read more…

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