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Monday, April 17, 2006 

Looking For Miracles


Wouldn’t it be nice to see a miracle or two? I know I’ve thought that every now and then. I’ve thought to myself; self, wouldn’t it be nice if God did the whole writing on stone tablets or burning bush thingy? How about a pillar of fire? A couple jars of water turned to wine would be nice. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a miracle or two to help with those little moments of unbelief? Wouldn’t it be nice to actually see a real live miracle?

I’ve been accused, on more than one occasion, of being hard headed. And for the most part it’s true, really. My thick skull is the reason that for nearly twenty years I was a proud, card carrying atheist. If I couldn’t see it, then I wasn’t going to believe it. I wanted proof of everything. I wanted to see proof of everything. And everybody knows that miracles just don’t happen nowadays, that was just something that happened in Old Testament times. Sure Jesus and the apostles did a miracle or two some two thousand years ago. But that was then and this is now. Miracles are just something we teach kids in our Sunday school classes. Aren’t they?

Saturday at my church we observed the Great Easter Vigil. Here’s my vicar’s write up in the newsletter on the history of the ancient service: "At the conclusion of the Good Friday service, the congregation again exits silently, in order to gather anew outside of the church on Saturday at sunset, since sundown was considered the beginning of the next day in Jewish calendars. The participants congregate around a bonfire, and the Easter Vigil begins. The Christ candle is lit from the fire, and the light of Christ is distributed to all by individual candles. The congregants process into the darkened sanctuary, where they move into the Service of Readings, recounting God s gracious acts to save His people (The Flood, The Deliverance at the Red Sea, etc.). The Vigil continues in the Service of Baptism, the traditional time for baptisms in the early church. Adult converts would be instructed throughout the period of Lent and would be baptized along with their families at the Easter Vigil. This was done in a baptistery separate from the sanctuary. The newly baptized would then march into the sanctuary Easter morning joining the corporate Body of Christ in the celebration of the Lord s Supper, a practice mirrored in the Vigil liturgy, which concludes with the Easter Acclamation (Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!), along with the celebration of the Lord supper." We started observing the Great Easter Vigil three years ago and I believe it one of the most beautiful services of the Church year!

One of the things that made this particular service special was the baptism of Wesley Patton. His parents decided to follow the ancient tradition that many adult catechumens of early Church got to experience centuries ago. Through the ordinary element of water combined with extraordinary word and promise of our Lord, Wesley Patton was sealed with the mark of Christ and welcomed into the kingdom of all believers. To quote the Augsburg Confession IX: “that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God's grace.”

And my point is this: at the Great Easter Vigil I got to see several miracles. I was able to witness a child baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. By witnessing Wesley Patton's baptism, I saw a real live miracle. Through the eyes of faith, I witnessed an infant saint sealed with the cross of Christ forever. Later in the service I heard the words of Christ Himself that took the ordinary elements of bread and wine and made them into forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation for the faithful. By faith I saw real miracles Saturday night.

So, as it turns out, I see miracles happen all the time. Through the preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments, our Lord performs miracles wherever two or three are gathered in his name. I just wish that sometimes I always saw things as I should.

There was a time when it was understood that Baptism was how the Church grew Her numbers. Now it seems, we look to programs and website counters. Good post.

I found the first funeral service I played for, after receiving and realizing faith, to be witnessing a miracle as well.
It occurred to me, as we prepared for the funeral, that this dead and mourned man was the first person I had physically known--known as a *fellow* Christian--for whom I confidently believed he now sat with Christ in Heaven. Oh, I know there were others before him, but he was the first one I'd known in health, then watched turn sick, wither and die, but I suddenly didn't doubt it--Heaven and Christ's gift to us of it. And I've realized the triumph of death in Him ever since.
It's a privilege to 'play' that in a funeral service.

The Easter Vigil sounds beautiful, such a blessing to have a clergy and congregation that would support so historical and involved a service. I too had experianced that feeling of awe of watching a private baptism that was happening after regular service. To realize that this is a miracle taking place, an infant being sealed into the Kingdom of God. Good Post.

our tiny congregation gave up the Easter sunrise service years ago, and took up celebrating the vigil instead. many here in evangi-baptistland (the south) are still rankled; they practically stay away in droves. but it's a beautiful service and i commend my pastor for insisting on, and persisting in, lutheran practice in a very un-lutheran land.

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
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