Derek Johnson Muses

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Control: A Brief Thought

Control. The wold tells us we have a lot of it, and we can make ourselves believe that we have it. We really can. I always feel I have a lot of it when I’m staring down into my smart phone or my tablet. Control is the mythical beast of our culture, goading us up, all the while building a fall beneath the sand foundation it builds for us.

There is a paradox with control. We can only get so much of it, and yet the more we get, the less we have and the less it is worth. A man acts humble as a ruse to hide the fact that he really covets control and does not attempt great tasks because it means he will have to give up control over his immediate time and circle. He only denies he has control because he doesn’t want to admit he is limited.

People who succeed are judicious with control. They know when to give it up, and when to use to enforce their will beyond their immediate reach. They know when to ask for help. They know that, by giving others control (or the illusion of such), they gain long term trust and loyalty. Control is only any good when it can cause yield without causing dissent, which may be the greatest of all arts.

Personally, I don’t believe we have as much control as we like to believe we do. Our talents and skill levels are set. Our past experiences, stone. What happens to us, forget it. Our attitudes, well that is something. Who we associate with, that can help. But man’s little control is just further evidence of the Divine.

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Why go to Easter Vigil and Long Communion Lines

If you are good Lutheran, you will have been to church three times in four days by the time Easter is up, so why would it hurt if you went four times in four days? I get it: you’re physically spent, and you literally can’t go to church again. But if you live in Seward, here’s the benefit of coming to Easter Vigil at St. John: you will get to watch yours truly play with fire!

Okay, that’s a really lousy reason compared to hearing about God’s grace and reason. But it is ironic that the two major festivals in the church, Christmas (celebration of the Incarnate Word) and Easter (Celebration of Christ’s victory), are both marked by service the night before that involve candles. One is the height of all celebration, the other is an afterthought.

Pastor Will Weedon does a lot better job of explaining Easter Vigil in this podcast, but let me state this from my experience: the service is a lot of readings (not unlike Christmas day), and focuses on how the story of the Bible has culminated in the event we celebrate on Easter, Christ’s resurrection, the promised and testified to hope. If you’re home, going to bed early for 6:30 sunrise service, I understand. But you are missing out.

It’ll look just like this.

Lutherans seem talk about communion a lot, but in one of two ways: one, there are those who talk about what a joy it is to receive Christ’s body and blood, and two, how long it takes. I haven’t met a lot of Lutherans who will talk about both.

Let me just say this, since Easter is tomorrow and you’re probably going to find yourself in a long line: give thanks that it takes so long to go up for communion. You get to sing more hymns, and more time to ponder the mystery of the sacrament. And if you’re church has a lot of old people who sit in front like mine does, it’s going to take them a long time to get up there. I’m on the ushering committee at St. John, I know how long it takes.

I’m guessing there are certain congregations in the LCMS that discontinued weekly communion because it just took so long and so many volunteer hours, which I get. But while it’s up to an individual congregation to decide how often they communion, just remember: you are receiving a gift from God, with your brothers and sisters, for your eternal salvation. Do you really want to complain about how long it takes to set the table and do the dishes?

Let me share from my own personal experience. Since I usher at St. John’s, there are Sundays I don’t get to read the prayer in the front of the hymnal before I go up to take communion. Sometimes, I do feel rushed, since I communion at the end and have to tell Pastor who needs to receive communion in the pew (which is a significant responsibility). I don’t always take communion with the best mindset, but I’m there, and my receiving depends on what God does for me, not what I’m thinking at the time.

So this Sunday, when you’re in a long line headed to an assist who is standing outside the altar, just remember: you’re able to have slice of heaven this because Jesus gave up his God-head and rose from the dead. Even if you’re groggy, you’re getting Christ’s body and blood.

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