Unsung Saints 2020 Lent

Holy Saturday

Hebrews 4:1-16

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,

“As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”

although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said,

“They shall not enter my rest.”

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

Josie Marie, Treasured Family Member and Faithful Friend

There are those Christians, greatly unaware of how the Gnostic heresy dwells in their minds and closes their hearts to the mystery of the Incarnation of God’s Son, who confidently assert that animals do not and cannot go to heaven. Why? Well, their speciously pious logic assumes that animals do not have souls and, therefore, cannot be saved. I have heard such sentiments so many times that I marvel how otherwise devout Christians who study God’s Word have never greatly considered the lavish banquet of biblical eschatology (a word about the last things). How did they get there? Revivalist theology is historically and biblically suspect. It is a theology built on saving souls, as if Christianity were a disembodied Greek idea.

On the sixth day of creation in Genesis 1, first the beasts were made and then the man and woman were created in God’s image and given lordship (stewardship) over all that God had made. On the seventh day, God rested and declared His whole creation to be very good (in Hebrew, “tov meod”). In Genesis 2, Adam gave names to the animals, but none were able to share his life. The woman was made from man and for man to be His helper (a word used elsewhere in the OT only of God). They were gardeners until they rebelled and lost Paradise. After their ugly rebellion, all creation was broken. When God destroyed and recreated, one male and one female of each animal were brought into the ark to repopulate the earth after the flood. In Isaiah’s vision of paradise restored, the animals are safe with each other and the little child. Our Lord was born among animals. During the Lord Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness, He was with the wild animals. At the end of Revelation, the Lord Jesus promises to make a new heaven and a new earth. Only a Gnostic with a dismal view of creation can possibly believe the animals aren’t in the new creation.

Josie Marie was born in Ontario, Canada, on the Feast of the Epiphany in 2003. Laura and I had been married just over six months when I went on my next to last mission trip to Honduras. When I called home, Laura said she had found a papillon on the internet. Was I in agreement that she get the dog? I was. When I pulled into the garage upon my return and opened the door, this tiny little fur ball barked in dismay. In amazement, Laura said that was the first bark she had heard in the three days since Josie arrived in a crate by air. When she saw that Laura loved me, she decided she would love me, too. I became the playmate. I remember her dashing across our large, fenced backyard in chase after a squeaky ball that resembled a crab. I came to understand she was the smartest dog I had ever known. On bike rides, she would be in a little harness on Laura’s chest. I would look over to see her pedaling thin air with front paws.

Josie grew to full size and was spayed according to the purchase agreement. She was a registered dog sired by a champion but was not sold for breeding purposes. When we flew to Wilmington to interview, Josie flew with us. When we flew back to house hunt, she flew with us. On every trip by car or by air she went everywhere with us as our first (and we hoped) but not our last child. The first Christmas at Kure Beach, Laura set out our creche on the fireplace hearth. Josie saw the baby Jesus in the manger and picked Him up with her mouth. Now, that was a sermon: The dog that wanted to have Jesus so badly.

She was Laura’s comfort in the lonely hours and her dear companion during the months of our trying to get pregnant. In her seventeen years with us, Josie was only separated from her Mama for the three days in the hospital when Clare was born. No dog ever welcomed home a Mama and baby more joyously than she. When the baby cried, she fetched us: “Hey! You brought this child into the world. Now, take care of her!” She loved that baby, suffered through the toddler years, worried over her in sickness, and refused to give up on care for her Mama and baby until her body could not go one minute more. We miss you, Josie!

Thank you, Father, for Josie, and all our dearest pet friends, whom you have created to take care of us and to fill our lives with love. What joy it will be to see them on the rising-up day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Put forty-six pennies, nickels, or dimes in a bowl or box today to help to buy farm animals to help the global poor to make a sustainable living.

Pastor Samuel D. Zumwalt, STS
St Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Wilmington, NC

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.