Christmas 1 C

While I'm guessing many of us will be on vacation or not preaching this Sunday, there are some interesting issues that cite some of the texts.

Colossians 3:12-17

Verse 13 is cited in  Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 4: Justification (AP 4.241) in a significant section of this lengthy article tackling head-on one of the issues raised by the Confutation. How do we make sense of love and dissension in the church? 

Verse 14 is cited in Confutation several places, so it comes back up, still in this article several times, sometimes by editorial footnote, and sometimes in the main text (AP 4.225, n. 170; 4.231; 4.335, n. 218) . But it's still the same issue. The first encounter (AP 4.154, n. 170) in an editor's footnote points us to the heart of the issue as raised up in the Confutation: How do we read 1 Corinthians 13:13 in light of Colossians 3:14?

The Confutation read this scripture interpreting scripture moment as an argument for perfectionism--that once we are in Christ, we love perfectly. Melanchthon responds, "There is no reason to think that Paul has attributed either justification or perfection before God to the works of the second table of the law rather than to the first" (AP 4.231).

Melanchthon then goes on to show that dissensions arise in the church due to abuse of power by those given authority within the church and the laity judging those in authority too harshly.  Therefore Melanchthon argues that Lutherans read 1 Corinthians 13:13 in light of Colossians 3:14 as raising up the question of how we relate to each other when we disagree. He then includes Colossians 3:13 to expand on this interpretation: "...as Paul's statement in Colossians [3:13], namely, that if any dissensions flare up, they should be extinguished and settled by fairness and kindness on our part. Dissensions, [Paul] says, grow by means of hatred, as we often see that the greatest tragedies arise from the most trifling offenses" (AP 4.241). 

The final citation of verse 14 (AP 4.168n218) is another Confutation citation provided in editor's footnote. Here we return to the traditional argument of faith and works when it comes to being justified before God. This should be well known ground by now. 

Luke 2:41-52

The entire passage is cited en bloc in the Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 8: The Person of Christ (SD 8.25), which notes that this passage among others provides evidence of the uniquely "personal union" of the divine and human natures in Jesus. This reading points to the truth of Jesus being fully human and fully divine at the same time from his conception in Mary's womb to his death, thus raising humanity in his resurrection.

Verse 52, it should be no surprise, is cited in the Formual of Concord, Epitome Article 8: The Person of Christ, Affirmative Thesis 11 (Ep 8.16). This single verse serves as a call out for the reality of Jesus' human nature, that he grew and matured like everyone else, but during the time of his incarnation he revealed the divine majesty when he chose, an aspect of the "personal union" unique to Jesus--fully God and fully human.

TheoThru

If you do happen to be preaching this week, these two points of following the second table and Jesus unique existence that still was fully human is probably worth pointing out. Not many people will want to look to dissension within the church on the Sunday after Christmas, but given teenager Jesus and the Colossians reading, it might be worth it.

  • How do we make sense of dissension within the church? 
  • What do we do with the fact that Jesus was a teenager? 
  • Why does it matter that we follow the second table of the Commandments, especially regarding those with whom we disagree?