What Crawls Underneath

Colette, the early twentieth century French author, wrote in her book Cheri (which, by the way, I don’t necessarily suggest you read): “A door slamming makes one jump, but it doesn’t make one afraid. What one fears is the serpent that crawls underneath it.”

Now, even though I wouldn’t endorse Colette’s volume, I do appreciate the intention of the words, and here’s why. In a simple way, they’re meant to relay that there are plenty of things that startle us in this life, things that cannot necessarily harm us. But we also know that sometimes there are things behind the door that can. What’s often most terrifying are those things that get through the door even as we press ourselves against it trying to keep them out—things like illness, broken relationships, and so many other things that do indeed happen outside of our control.

I’m starting to think that the image of the snake slithering under the door is becoming the more common of the terrors we face in this life. So much in our lives and world seem to be spinning furiously beyond our ability to keep up, and as a result, we feel like we’re hanging on. But with that, I want to tell you what Pastor Heckert tells me when I get to feeling that way—when I feel like I have too much to do and not enough time or energy to accomplish it all. (And by the way, I know when I get to feeling like this because I begin adding to my prayers a request for a cloning device so I can be in multiple places at once, as well as a teleportation device so that my clones can swiftly zip to these places and get their assigned tasks completed).

First, he reminds me that I don’t have to keep up. God is in control. This always reminds me of what Pope John Paul was once quoted as saying: “It’s your church, Lord. I’m going to bed.” Second, he reminds me that even as I may think I’m losing grip on Christ and His promises, the Lord is holding onto me with both hands—and His grip is the strongest. And lastly, he reminds me that quite often it’s those times when I have absolutely no control over the situation that I learn to trust Christ more intently. And he’s absolutely right. It’s during those times when it seems like the situation couldn’t get any more hopeless—that there doesn’t seem to be a way out—that we see the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in all its glory as the ultimate deliverance from the terrors of this world. With this Gospel beaming in and through us, all terrible things behind the door—even the things that get through—have no footing for snatching us from the One who loves us enough to die in our place. In this, there’s always hope.

Take this Gospel message into yourself today. Savor it. It gives life, and it’s yours as one baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus.

All Saints’ Day is Your Day

“Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say” (1 Corinthians 10:14).

Saint Paul wrote those words to the Corinthian church just as he was about to begin explaining the doctrine of Altar Fellowship, which when you really get down to the nuts and bolts of it, is all about the significance of what is happening in Holy Worship, namely, the Lord’s Supper.

I started this first announcement this way because Paul’s words just felt right. I want to urge you to flee from idolatrous things. You are sensible people. Judge for yourselves what I am communicating to you right now. Flee from idolatry. This is very short statement, easily understood by any and every Christian receiving this note.

This Sunday the holy church is celebrating All Saints’ Day. If you have plans to be somewhere else, or to do something else – change your plansThis time, instead of rearranging your schedule to accommodate idolatry, change your schedule to accommodate the forgiveness of sins delivered through Word and Sacrament. Skip those things that would conflict with chasing after that which gives to you all that Christ has won by virtue of His life, death, and resurrection for your forgiveness.

 

Go to church. Take a look in the mirror and recognize that you need to be there, not only because of your idolatrous tendencies—which is evidenced by your excuses and absence—but also because you belong there by virtue of your Baptism into the fellowship of Saints.

Know this—you won’t be alone in feeling a little uneasy if you’ve been away for a while and then suddenly reemerge. In fact, think of it this way. In the Confession at the beginning of the Divine Service, we drop to our knees as a whole congregation. We bow our heads. We close our eyes. We confess that all of us are members of the fellowship of sinful man in our thoughts, words, and deed; by the things we’ve done and the things we’ve left undone. We confess this together, and with that, I can affirm for you as a fellow sinner that there are plenty of reasons for everyone in the room to feel uneasy. You most certainly won’t be alone.

But know this, too – after all of the penitent voices speaking in solemn sadness go quiet, you will hear a solitary voice, and as its tones roll from the mouth of your pastor, as a called and ordained servant of the Word, it is to be for you as the Lord’s own voice announcing to you that you need not fear. You need not be uneasy. You need not be afraid. Through repentance and faith in the mercy of Christ, you belong with your Savior, Jesus. He loves you, forgives you, and lifts you to your feet to sing as much in the Introit appointed for the day: “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me. For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me.”

So, stop making excusesStop skipping church. Hear this Gospel imperative to repent and believe in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin. Be moved to come and get from Christ what He has won for you – which is also the only thing that will sustain you in a world seeking to impose itself upon you.

In faith, you are a Saint. This Sunday is your Sunday—All Saints’ Day. Join your fellow believers. Be with your Redeemer!