in General

SELC Newsletter #236

Peace to you, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Now as the Church entered the time of Lent, we would like to bring to your attention a part of the sermon that Pastor Pavel Zayakin said during the Ash Wednesday service in the parish of Saint Luke in Abakan.

 Where your treasure is [Matt. 6:21], brothers and sisters?  Or, is this question incorrect?  Because everyone has his own treasure, in a bank account or under a mattress; for some of us their treasure is children or a work, or a dream…  <…>

And sometimes people dream together.  Isn’t it much easier to achieve anything together?  Do you remember how we were forced to build the “best society on earth”, so that at least if we did not reach it, our children do it… It was the same dream as an earlier one to build a “tower whose top is in the heavens” [Gen. 11:4].  The socialism and the Tower of Babel were the most vivid collective dreams, but both had the bad end.  And you know why, don’t you?  Because there was no God within these collective dreams.  Or, let say more precisely, there were humans who tried to take His place.  It was similar to the first “collective dream” near the Tree of knowledge of good and evil, “You will not surely die… you will be like God” [Gen. 3:4].

So much blood was poured n the name of these collective dreams, and it still flows like water.  All because this is a greatest temptation to force people to follow your idea, your ideology.  May be, not everyone “will be like God” according to this ideology, just whose who are closer to a dictator ruler.  And all others are just a “building material” to be consumed for the next “tower of Babel.”

If you know history, you remember that humans have always tried to climb up to the Heavens, and the Babel tower was only one of such attempts. And it is still today, after the centuries of pyramids, ziggurats and mausoleums humans are working hard to build new ideological “skyscrapers.”  <…>

But none of our aspirations and efforts to reach the Heavens by ourselves will be successful.  All our towers will turn into ashes sooner or later, like our bodies will turn into dust.  We can not “breath the breath of life” [Gen. 2:7] in our towers, all our attempts will be buried in history: Roman Empire, Byzantium, “Moscow, the Third Rome”, communism, the Third Reich[], the “Russian world”…

All our human attempts, which yesterday seemed to be the last step up to Heavens, will turn into the cold ruins in museum of humankind.

The answer is that we are only dust and ashes. And all plans will fall, and our dreams will be crashed.  Because there is only one way to reach the Heavens, the one that begins with repentance, in the humble confession that by nature we all are only “dust and ashes.”

In the beginning the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground [Gen. 2:7]. And we are still alive today only because He continues to “breath His breath of life” into us.  Only His breath is able to give us eternal life. <…>

Every year, these ashes touch our foreheads. “For you are the dust, and into dust you shall return” as we say at a funerals.  But every year God gives us a chance. Because the ashes that touch us have salvific form of the cross.  This is because Christ came to save us, to fix us, to change our dreams, to crush our towers.  And to elevate us to His heavens where our treasure is.  Amen.

We wish you blessed time of Lent!

Please pray for the Lutheran clergy and laity in Siberia.

“Faith and hope”
Please see attached photos.

The Altar is a Table

From The Conduct of the Services, Arthur Carl Piepkorn, edited by Charles McClean, 57-59: In his German Mass of 1526 Martin Luther wrote: “In the true mass, however, of real Christians, the altar should not remain where it is, and the priest should always face the people as Christ undoubtedly did at the Last Supper.”[70] The practice to which Luther here alludes was common in Christian antiquity![71] The celebration of the Eucharist facing the people should not, however, be regarded as a kind of liturgical “orthodoxy.” The celebration in the so-called eastward position—the celebrant turning his back to the people so that he faces the (liturgical) east—also has a venerable history.