Comfort and Joy...during Lent?

Comfort and Joy

That phrase is usually sung during the Advent and Christmas Season. The season we are in is Lent and that is to be a time to reflect, remember, repent and return to the Lord. So, why do I title this blog post Comfort and Joy? This past week has been filled with lessons, from the Dorcas Ladies Group LCMS study title “Joy:full Lutheran” to the Ladies Bible Study at Faith Lutheran’s study for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, lessons that brought me comfort and joy.

In the one lesson, the writer spoke of struggling with recognizing they are a “poor, miserable sinner”, as the Confession in our Liturgy puts in, while in the other lesson it was a struggle to find the balance of justification and sanctification. This struggle ended with an element of “pride in what we have done or an element of doubt that we have done enough.” Both of these I could relate to.

In the one lesson, the writer struggled with their sins and not wanting to remember them weekly, as is the start of the Divine Service each week for Lutherans, and only wanting the “glory” and joyous or happy sentiments. Rather than focusing on the Cross, the sins Christ took upon Himself for the world, a world of sinners, some want to move past that to some type of happy-clappy Christianity or glory. Lutherans call this a Theology of Glory; heaven here below. Often, in more evangelical and especially Pentecostal and Charismatic styled churches the focus is on all the blessings (usually physical, monetary etc) and power to be experienced here below.

However, the Theology of the Cross (Lutherans tend to be the ones which teach this distinctive) means that we are a people who remember that we are still dust and slog through this sinful world battling our sinful selves, the world and the devil. The battle comes when the two theologies clash. Those who hold to the first will challenge Christians engaged in trials and battles saying they don’t have enough faith to get through. Those who understand we live in a sin-fallen and sad world, though their citizenship is truly in Heaven, recognize that Glory awaits us, but for now we are Ecclesia sub Cruces (The Church under the Cross).*

This week a little more of that Theology of Glory began to be erased in my own understanding of the life of the Christian. You see, the Christian life is not all polka dots and rainbows. Oh, there are times of true joy and happiness for sure; a child being baptized, a wandering Christian coming home to the fold, a bout with illness cured, a friend becoming a member of the LCMS. All of those are joyful times and we should celebrate them. But, for the most part, a Christian deals with tough times; Theology of the Cross.

Okay, so I titled this Comfort and Joy and I might have gotten some of you readers a bit depressed. Let me get this back on track.