Tag Archives: 1953

Advent through the centuries: the twentieth century, part III: 1945-1970

Sunday, December 22, 2013
The twentieth century of the Church.

And we’re almost up to the current day. As there are more days left before Christmas than there are centuries in church history, We’re going to alter slightly here. Today will be the mid-20th century, roughly 1945-1970. Tomorrow (the 23rd) will be roughly 1970-1999, and The 24th will be roughly 2000-2013.

Scripture:
John 9:1-7

A shoot will grow out of Jesse’s root stock,
a bud will sprout from his roots.
The Lord’s spirit will rest on him—
a spirit that gives extraordinary wisdom,
a spirit that provides the ability to execute plans,
a spirit that produces absolute loyalty to the Lord.
He will take delight in obeying the Lord.
He will not judge by mere appearances,
or make decisions on the basis of hearsay.
He will treat the poor fairly,
and make right decisions for the downtrodden of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and order the wicked to be executed.
Justice will be like a belt around his waist,
integrity will be like a belt around his hips.
A wolf will reside with a lamb,
and a leopard will lie down with a young goat;
an ox and a young lion will graze together,
as a small child leads them along.
A cow and a bear will graze together,
their young will lie down together.
A lion, like an ox, will eat straw.
A baby will play
over the hole of a snake;
over the nest of a serpent
an infant will put his hand.
They will no longer injure or destroy
on my entire royal mountain.
For there will be universal submission to the Lord’s sovereignty,
just as the waters completely cover the sea.

Reading:

Karl Barth, in Church Dogmatics,  IV/1, 186.

It is in full unity with Himself that He is also – and especially and above all – in Christ, that he becomes a creature, man, flesh, that He enters into our being in contradiction, that He takes upon Himself its consequences. If we think that this is impossible it is because our concept of God is too narrow, too arbitrary, too human – far too human. Who God is and what it is to be divine is something we have to learn where God has revealed Himself and His nature, the essence of the divine. And if He has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ as the God who does this, it is not for us to be wiser than He and to say that it is in contradiction with the divine essence. We have to be ready to be taught by Him that we have been too small and perverted in our thinking about Him within the framework of a false idea about God. It is not for us to speak of a contradiction and rift in the being of God, but to learn to correct our notions of the being of God, to constitute them in the light of the fact that He does this. We may believe that God can and must only be absolute in contrast to all that is relative, exalted in contrast to all that is lowly, active in contrast to all suffering, inviolable in contrast to all temptation, transcendent in contrast to all immanence, and therefore divine in contrast to everything human, in short that He can and must be the “Wholly Other.” But such beliefs are shown to be quite untenable, and corrupt and pagan, by the fact that God does in fact be and do this in Jesus Christ. We cannot make them the standard by which to measure what God can or cannot do, or the basis of the judgement that in doing this He brings Himself into self-contradiction. By doing this God proves to us that He can do it, that to do it is within His nature. And He Himself to be more great and rich and sovereign than we had ever imagined. And our ideas of His nature must be guided by this, and not vice versa.

Nativity, by Marc Chagall. 1950.
Nativity, by Marc Chagall. 1950.

Prayer:
From Martin Luther King Jr., 1953. 

Most Gracious and all wise God, Before whose face the generations nse and fall,
Thou in whom we live, and move, and have our being. We thank thee for all of
thy good and gracious gfts, for life and for health, for food and for raiment, for the
beauties of nature and the love of human nature. We come before thee painfully
aware of our inadequacies and shortcomings. We realize that we stand surrounded
with the mountains of love and we deliberately dwell in the valley of hate. We stand
amid the forces of truth and deliberately lie, We are forever offered the high road
and yet we choose to travel the low road. For these sins 0 God forgive. Break
the spell of that which blinds our minds & our hearts that we may see thee. 0
God in these turbulent day when fear and doubt are mounting high give us broad
visions, penetrating eyes, and power of endurance. Help us to work with renewed vigor
for a warless world, for a better distnbuhon of wealth, and for a brotherhood that
transcends race or color. In the name and spint of Jesus we pray, Amen.