Dying to Live

I’ve been reading again. Not that I’m not always reading something, it’s just that a book has grabbed my attention in a surprising way. I’m reading Dying to Live: the Power of Forgiveness by Harold L. Senkbeil.

I’m trying to decide if I like the title or not. Well, I like the title, but I’m not sure it fits. It’s a bit about dying, a lot about living. It’s got a ton of stuff on forgiveness (God’s forgiveness of us, rather than our of others). And of course, all that’s really powerful. So the words all fit. But I’m still not sure…

Above all, it’s a great big three-cheers for Word and Sacrament. Rarely has a book so thoroughly explored what it means to be a baptized child of God. Pastor Senkbeil drives home Holy Communion, too, and Absolution (the preached Word) gets its due, but the phrase “drenched in the waters of baptism” certainly describes this wonderful exposition on truly sanctified living focused on and by the truths of Holy Baptism.

Recommended for all the Lutherans who stumble across this post, all those who want to know more about Lutheranism, and all those who wish they were Lutheran but don’t know where to start.

An interesting bit of synchronicity ― the guest pastor on Wednesday night was preaching about the “hiddenness” of God’s important things: you know, stumbling blocks and folly and all. Anyway, he mentioned how the passers-by on Good Friday wouldn’t have noticed anything special going on. Maybe a little more crowded, but still, you’ve seen one crucifixion, you’ve pretty much seen them all. Something he said made me sit up and listen extra closely, and when I got home I checked the chapter I had just finished reading. Sure enough, he had either quoted Senkbeil or channeled him unknowingly.

Here’s the quote:
“They had seen it all before. There was a sordid routine to every execution under Roman rule: first the stripping, then the flogging, finally the nailing. In the end every crucifixion looked much the same.”

It was the word “sordid” that caught my attention. How many of us use that in daily discourse?

Here’s how Senkbeil finishes the section, and where the pastor’s sermon basically ended up, too. May we keep this in the forefront of our minds as we enter this most Holy of weeks.

“The jeering mob thought they had the last laugh: ‘He saved others,’ they shouted, ‘but he can’t save himself.’ But he didn’t come to save himself. He came to save us. This was his determined purpose: to give his life for the life of the world. ‘For the joy set before him,’ the Apostle reminds us, ‘he endured the cross, scorning its shame’ (Hebrews 12). Gladly he laid down his life. Willingly he bore our sin. Joyfully he embraced our shame. And that is the heart of the matter.”

Coffee-in-hand: Kenya AA (hot as a pistol)

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