Monday, June 30, 2008

Pauline Year

Did you know that we have begun the Pauline Year ?

Depending on your religious background and "church" affiliation; this may or may not be on your radar. However Pope Benedict XVI has made this "observation". Thus, the observation will go from June 28,2008 to June 29, 2009.

From records, this year is the 2,000 anniversary of Paul's birth; thus the observation to Paul seems obvious; right ?

For me, serving in a Lutheran church, there are a few connection. Some that I am aware of and some that I am not aware of. Thus, I am going to use this time to educate or reeducate myself and share some tidbits with you.

One of the things that makes me 'raise' an eyebrow is the following statement that the pope made:

Ecumenical dimensions are the focus of this celebration. ' The apostle to the Gentiles, who was especially committed to taking the good news to all peoples, left no stones unturned for unity and harmony among all Christians '

I highlighted unity and harmony for my benefit. The reason is simple that I know that this does not occur too much. We, as Christians, do not seem to like those words harmony or unity. Well, we like them, we just don't practice them. Well, we may practice them IF thee people that we are practicing it with has the same dogma, I mean doctrine as us and hold to the same beliefs and truths.

As a Lutheran, Paul matters greatly. The Lutheran belief system is ingrained from the passages of Paul. Here are some of the thoughts that matter deeply in regards to Paul:

Romans 5:8 - God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

This scripture was used as the backdrop in a paragraph out of the following document: THE JOINT DECLARATION OF THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION. It reads:

The foundation and presupposition of justification is the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ. Justification thus means that Christ himself is our righteousness, in which we share through the Holy Spirit in accord with the will of the Father. Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by god and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our heart while equipping and calling us to good works.

In case you do not know and are wondering, the above statement and declaration was from the Vatican and The World Federation.

One of the things that rings true to me about Paul and for those that I serve with is that faith is NOT static. Faith IS active. It can be summed up in the following short paragraphs:

Paul matters because faith in Jesus Christ isn't a static phenomenon but, on the contrary, quite dynamic. It's this "activity of faith" that puts into practice the grace given to the believer as a free and unmerited gift.

Paul can speak freely about progress (Phil. 1:25), sanctification (1 Thes. 4:3) and transformation (2 Corinthians 3:18) because he always understands these as the Spirit's power at work.

So, Lutherans, grab a hold of the year. Celebrate and Grow through Paul this year. Paul and Luther go hand in hand with the following:

The growth in new life isn't however, a private set of activities that take place only between the believer and Jesus. Supported and nurtured by the body of Christ, the church, all such activity of faith and acts of love, are intended to upbuild and encourage and console the entire community of faith (1 Corinthians 14:3).

Luther had it quite right: 'Good work do not make a good person, but a good person does good work.' Good works don't bring about healing. But once healing takes place the believer begins to be free to love the other with the same sacrificial love that characterizes God's self-donation through the suffering and death of Jesus.

Thus, in the year, I am going to focus some more time and study on Paul and allow his words to penetrate me, challenge me and then in return allow me to write on those challenges.

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