Thursday, May 16, 2013
How often don’t we encounter words on a menu that warn us: No Substitutions. We like our freedom of choice. We like being able to adapt and adjust things to suit us. We bristle at the idea that there are no substitutions, no choices or changes allowed. So it comes as no surprise that want a God who honors our choices. That is what makes the commandments so onerous – no substitutions, choices, or changes. It is what it says. Ours is not a God of choices but of consequences.
When we pray “Come, Lord Jesus” we receive not only the Lord and His promises but the Spirit who comes in the name of the Lord, who gives us faith to trust in what He promises. When we pray for the Spirit, the Spirit teaches us to seek and pray “Come, Lord Jesus.” God offers us not faces and choices of access, but salvation through His Son and the Spirit who imparts knowledge and trust in Jesus Christ.
So when we pray, we are not praying for our options but for the Lord, for His gifts, and for His will. Every pray we pray in the Name of Jesus is a prayer that prays “Thy will be done.” We do not give God options and choices. What the cross has taught us and the Spirit has led us to believe is that no substitutions is a good thing. That God’s will is not something to be feared, but good, gracious, and loving. To pray is to pray for the will of God to be done in us, among us, and through us. This is how the Spirit teaches us to pray and this is what it means to pray in Jesus’ name. Not choices but confidence in God’s gracious will.
The Spirit and the Church cry out, “Come, Lord Jesus!” It is the prayer of the faithful in times of courage and in times of weakness, in times of great expectation and in times of great fear. Faith has confidence in God’s good and gracious will. When we pray in Jesus’ name, it is this good and gracious will for which we pray. The Spirit who teaches us to pray this way, teaches us that His will is good and gracious.
Those who hear the Word of the Lord and by the Spirit believe that Word, do not approach God in fear of His will but precisely because we have confidence in His prudential and gracious will. We cry to God not for options we can chose but because God has chosen to give us His Son and to give us His Kingdom and we are confident He gives us all things in Christ. As hungry cry out for food and thirsty for water, so do the prayers of God’s people cry out for one thing. God’s gracious will.
That will has consequences for us and our lives. The holiness that we were clothed with in baptism becomes our delight. The new way of the Kingdom becomes our joyful path. The yesterdays that once consumed us give way to the tomorrow we did not know we had. The work of the Spirit is to teach us Christ, teach us confidence in Christ, and lead us to joy in Christ. Christ comes with the Spirit who gives us faith.
Christ cannot be born again in flesh and blood as He was in Bethlehem. But He is born in bread and wine of the Holy Communion, in the water of baptism, and in the living voice of His Word. Christ does not repeat what He has done on the cross but He comes to repeatedly bestow on us and in us the gifts He won by His death and resurrection.
He comes not to transform today into heaven but to lead us through this day to the eternal life and heavenly glory He has prepared for us. He keeps us in His grace so that we are holy and blameless, fully ready and prepared for Him when He comes again in His glory. And we encounter Him and His grace, His gifts and His Spirit, in the Word and Sacraments. Just like we do not eat once or breath in once but continually are nourished with food and continually breath in air, so do we as God’s people continually pray “Come, Lord Jesus” and continually receive and rejoice in Lord who comes to us in the means of grace.
The Spirit whom Christ sends is not some new and different God but the Spirit of Christ and of His resurrection. The Spirit does not give us new revelation or different revelation but reveals Christ to us. He opens our hearts to receive the Christ who shows us the Father and imparts to us the Kingdom of God in the Word and Sacraments. That is why we wait upon the Lord. We have confidence in God’s good and gracious will. The cross has shown us what it means for Him to love us, the resurrection has proven to us we have a future worthy of our trust, and so in life and in death our hope and comfort is the same – God’s gracious and saving will.
As a child I learned to pray at meals “Come, Lord Jesus be our guest...” Maybe you did also. But the prayer can be misunderstood. We do not pray for the Lord to be our guests subject to our terms. We acknowledge that we are always His guests. He is the Giver. We receive from His goodness. That is enough. We live in confidence of this and so we are not afraid to pray, not afraid of what His answer will be, and not afraid of the future. So the Church and all Christians cry out, Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!