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Gene Vieth posted this incredible poem by John Updike.  Thought I would share:

Seven Stanzas at Easter

by John Updike

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that — pierced — died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

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In regards to OB1-K’s post on Wednesday about the “I am Legend”-type virus attacking the PA contributors, I thought I would republish these thoughts that I wrote about the 2007 movie on my facebook page a little more than a year ago.  Hopefully this will garner some discussion:

If you haven’t seen the newly released movie “I am Legend”, stop reading now, grab a friend, and go see it.

But if you have seen it, please feel free to continue reading.

I’ve found that no matter how many times I watch a movie, there is always something new that I’ll catch while watching it again. This was again true for me last week in my second viewing of the aforementioned movie.

Rather than rehashing the plot (which you should already know if you followed my instructions above…), I will get right to the point:

Whether it was intentional by the film makers or not, one can see profound Christian symbolism in the climax of this movie.

Observation 1:

Near the end of the movie we find Will Smith’s character (Robert Neville) and two other uninfected survivors (Anna and Ethan) locked behind the glass doors of his laboratory during the “Night Seekers” final attack. As the mutated humans tried to break down the glass with the goal of devouring the three people, Neville attempted to explain to them (the attacking mutants) that he had found a cure for their virus that would return them to full health.

In this sense, Neville–who really did have in his possession a cure for the infected people–is the Christ figure. He seeks to save the lost (those infected with the KV virus), but rather than accept him for the “savior” that he was, the mutated humans still sought to destroy him. Jesus came with the cure for all of mankind’s sin and the desire that no one be lost, but He was rejected and crucified by the very ones He came to save. Just as the virally infected mutants in the movie could not comprehend the life-giving cure that was right in front of them, neither could the Jewish priests or Roman authorities in 1st Century Palestine comprehend the life-giving cure that was Christ. Neville’s realization that the mutants did not understand their irrational actions is reminiscent of Christ’s prayer for the people crucifying Him in Luke 23: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Both the mutants and the 1st Century Romans and Jews sought to destroy the very one who could save them.

As the movie ends without knowing how the cure is given to the infected people, one may assume that, given the mutants irrational and self-destructive behavior, the vaccine would not have been distributed on a “voluntary basis”. This is a reflection of how, left to our own reasoning and choice, we as sinful humans could not and would not “choose Christ”. It is Christ who instead chooses us; Christ who sanctifies us; Christ who makes us His own. The mutants couldn’t choose to be healed and neither can we.

Observation 2:

It was evident to the three uninfected survivors, that the glass protecting them was about to break due to the mutants forceful blows. After he realized that one of his vaccinations was effective on the “test patient”, Neville filled a test tube with her blood and gave it to Anna and Ethan to pass on to other survivors. But in order for them to survive and escape with the vaccine, it was necessary to kill the attacking mutants who would stop at nothing to get to them. So after hiding Anna and Ethan, Neville took a grenade and blew it up when the mutants broke through.

In order to save Anna, Ethan, and the virus’ cure, Neville gave up his own life. If he had not done so, the mutants surely would have killed all three of them, and the cure would have been lost. Without Neville’s vaccine there was no hope for curing the rest of those who had been infected by the virus.

Scripture says that all of mankind is dead in sin. In Romans, St. Paul wrote that the wages of sin is death. If the punishment for our sins is death and eternal separation from God, what hope do we have?

We have the hope that is God’s own Son, Jesus Christ.

All of humanity is lost and condemned in its sins, but Christ came and lived the perfect life we could not live and suffered the punishment of death that we deserved so that we may be saved. As Neville died to defend the cure for all the sick mutants, Jesus died to give the cure to all humans sick with sin: “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Observation 3:

The cure for the mutants’ sickness—the KV virus—was in the blood of Robert Neville’s test patient.

The cure for mankind’s sickness—sin—is in the blood of God’s crucified and risen Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

What a wonderful parallel! In both instances the saving power for those who are “lost” is found in blood. The blood of the test patient had the power to restore all the mutants to their full human form. The blood of Christ has the power to redeem us from sin, death, and the devil—and it does!

As I noted earlier, it isn’t disclosed how the vaccine contained in the test patient’s blood would be distributed to the infected mutants. However, we do know how the cure found in the life-giving blood of Christ is distributed: the Sacraments of the Church.

We put on Christ and are washed by His blood in the water and Word of Holy Baptism.

We receive forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation when we eat and drink the body and blood of Christ in, with, and under the bread and wine of Holy Communion.

+ + +

“I am Legend” is a good movie to watch. The plot is unique, the storyline is exciting, and there is a happy ending. But in the end, “Legend”, is just another movie that was made to entertain us. In the big picture, it has no redeeming value; it will not provide comfort nor assurance in anything—it is just a movie.

But the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so much more than a movie. In His Gospel we have the comfort of God’s grace and the assurance of His mercy. All of our sins ever committed—past, present, and future—have been forgiven and forgotten. The blood of Christ has paid for our sins in full and we have no punishment to fear. Through Christ’s death and resurrection there is no barrier between us and the God who made us.

If you have seen or will see the movie “I am Legend”, think about the Christian symbolism that is in it. And during this Christmas season, think about the reason why Jesus came to be born into this world:

“an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.’” Matthew 1:21-22

Man, I was starting to think Planet Augsburg had been attacked by some sort of viral cancer that turned everyone into bloodsucking vampires who did not like to blog – I saw “I am Legend” a few days ago.

Good to see everyone up and at ’em.

This website purports to predict whether you are a man or a woman based on a brief slice of your web browser history. For the record, I am 89% Male and 11% Female. Whew!

This coming weekend I will be the best man in a childhood friend’s wedding.  The service will take place in a United Methodist Church (the bride is Methodist; my friend the groom is a Campbellite/non-denom Christian).  I was informed at the tux fitting that it would also be a Communion service as well.  Both the bride and the groom know my confessional approach and stance of close Communion, so they were understanding when I told them that I could not partake. 

Here’s the dilemma:

Like any devote Lutheran, I love the Divine Service–particularly the heart and center of it: Holy Communion.  I always encourage other Lutherans I know to attend the Divine Service and go to the Lord’s Supper.  (The reason for this, I’m sure, is obvious to all of us here, for each of us knows the great gifts we receive when we eat the Body and Blood of our Lord in this heavenly feast.) 

When I found out that it would be a Communion service, my first reaction was “That’s great to hear!”, even though I knew that I would not be partaking.  The simple reason for my joy was that the Lord’s Supper is one of the best things a Christian can receive. 

I wanted to hear the opinions of everyone who lives here on Planet Augsburg and those who visit: is it really is a good thing that Communion is being offered at my friend’s wedding?  

Here are my reasons for asking: 

1. Given that the elements are Welch’s grapejuice and leavened bread, is it really the Body and Blood that the communicants will receive?

2. Given that the United Methodist Church does not confess the real presence of our Lord in the Supper, does this nullify what would be the consecration (because a Methodist minister who says “this is my body” really means “this represents my body”, therefore changing the meaning {though not the pronunciation} of our Lord’s words)?

I struggle personally with what line to walk.  Part of me wants to say “don’t go to the table–this is a heterdox church that peverts God’s word!”  On the other hand, if it really is the Supper, is it not right that I encourage Christians to partake? 

Any and all thoughts on the matter will be most appreciated!

This is an outstanding story.

Lomong was in church praying that morning in 1991 when the soldiers rushed in and his nightmare began.

“They wanted all the kids to go out with them,” he recalled. “They grabbed me from my family. They put us in a truck, about 50 of us, and we just drove. We didn’t know where we were going.”

They were going to the soldiers’ camp where in time the youngsters, like so many other “lost boys of Sudan,” would be transformed into the child soldiers who were so prevalent in Sudan’s brutal civil war.

Next week, he will compete in China for the United States Olympic Track Team.

God bless America.

This is a great editorial in the WSJ:

A cry for help goes out from a city beleaguered by violence and fear: A beam of light flashed into the night sky, the dark symbol of a bat projected onto the surface of the racing clouds . . .

Oh, wait a minute. That’s not a bat, actually. In fact, when you trace the outline with your finger, it looks kind of like . . . a “W.”

There seems to me no question that the Batman film “The Dark Knight,” currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.

And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society — in which people sometimes make the wrong choices — and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, I believe history will judge George W. Bush kindly, and more fairly than he is currently being judged. For better (I believe) or for worse (many others attest), he has kept us safe since 9/11. On September 12th, 2001, no one imagined that was even remotely possible.

P.S.,

He also has Bruce Wayne’s spending habits.

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