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Christ healing the blind

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Christ Healing the BlindArtist:Dom√©nikos Theotok√≥poulosDate: ca. 1570The disciples ask Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”How many of you, when things go south in the life of someone close to you, wonder what that person did to make God angry? How many of you, when things go south in your own life, turn your eyes to heaven and ask God, “Why am I being punished?” This is how people thought in Jesus’ day. In our day, it is a conclusion that we often jump to very quickly, as well. If someone suffers a tragic accident or lingers in an illness, then God must be punishing them for some specific sin, right?We jump to this kind of conclusion because we want to have an answer for suffering. If any of you have spent any time with a suffering friend, you know how difficult it is to remain in their presence without trying to figure out the reason for their suffering. You know how excruciating it is to sit with your friend, who is in pain. You empathize wit…

Worship Helps for Lent 4

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Grunewald’s Painting – “the Crucifixion”Painted in the year 1515
Long before Mel Gibson brought the horror and brutality of Christ’s passion to the movie screen in “The Passion of the Christ,” Matthias Grunewald brought the horror and brutality of Christ’s passion to his altarpiece.
In order to understand “The Crucifixion” by Grunewald, you must first understand the background of this unique work of art.
“The Crucifixion,” which is part of the Isenheim Altarpiece was commissioned by the Antonites. The Antonites were a hospital order of medieval monks that devoted themselves to the care of people in the tiny hamlet of Isenheim. In the 1500s, that care consisted primarily of treating patients who were afflicted with a terrible skin disease called “St. Anthony’s fire,” or ergotism, which was caused by rye fungus. This disease caused serious convulsive symptoms including painful seizures and spasms, as well as visible and painful pustules and open wounds.
The Antonites would construct tempo…

Who sinned?

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John 9:1-7,13-17,34-39 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3 "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." 6 Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. 7 "Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. …  13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man's eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. "He put mud on my eyes…

Worship Help for Lent 3

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Behold the Lamb of GodJonathan Mayer (2010)
John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and declared to his disciples, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Just before we participate in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb in the Lord’s Supper, we sing, “O Christ, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us” (Agnus Dei in the Service of Word and Sacrament).
We sing about the Lamb. We hear about the Lamb. We taste the Lamb. We often see images of the Lamb in our churches … but not quite like the image that Jonathan Mayer has created.
Jonathan is a young, Lutheran artist whose art is filled with both symbolism and realism. You can check out Jonathan’s artwork at his website, Scapegoat Studio or on Facebook.
I asked Jonathan for his inspiration for creating his Behold the Lamb of God painting. He mentioned to me that Behold the Lamb of God did not come to him with a flash of inspiration. Rather, it came about in small steps with a lot of time and ef…

The unseen battle for your soul

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Matthew 4:1-11 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. 2After he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The Tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.” 4But Jesus answered, “It is written: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.” 5Then the Devil took him into the holy city. He placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6and he said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you. And they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” 7Jesus said to him, “Again, it is written: You shall not test the Lord your God.” 8Again the Devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9He said to him, “I will give you all of these things, if you will bow down and worship me.” 10…