|THE PARISH REGISTER
St. Andrews-Cheney Memorial Church
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
St. Matthew 5:6 (RSV)
|During Lent the Church has
historically emphasized self denial and fasting. Why? It
has to do with these words of Christ taken from the
Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. Christ pronounced
a special blessing on those who hunger and thirst, not
for physical sustenance, but for righteousness. A
practice like fasting is designed to remind us that we
have a spiritual self which needs nourishment.
What is this righteousness for which we should be hungering and thirsting? Simply put, righteousness is being "right" and most especially to be right with God. How may a person be right with God?
In our theology there are two meanings attached to the word righteousness. First, there is legal righteousness. Second, there is moral righteousness.
Legal righteousness relates to what the Bible calls justification. While here on earth Jesus accomplished all righteousness, i.e., He did all that is necessary for a person to be accepted by God. St. Paul wrote, "For Christ is the end of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified." (Romans 10:4) When we believe in Jesus Christ, His righteousness is imputed or given to us. We are declared to be righteous because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We are set free from the law's condemnation by God the righteous judge who now looks upon the believing sinner as one who is completely righteous.
This is a judicial or legal righteousness. We are justified not because of any good within us, nor because of any change that has taken place within us. We are justified solely because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, having been clothed with His perfect righteousness.
The work of justification or the imputation of righteousness is a complete work. A Christian is not partially righteous. This is so because Christ's righteousness is now our righteousness.
The second type of righteousness relates to what the Bible calls sanctification. This moral righteousness does not have reference to our legal standing before God, but to our actual moral condition. However, moral righteousness cannot be had unless we are first legally righteous, i.e., we cannot be sanctified until we have first been justified.
The process of becoming morally righteous begins at the moment we are justified as the Holy Spirit enters our life and begins turning us away from sin and turning us toward goodness. Moral righteousness ultimately means becoming like Jesus Christ in every way. It is the restoration of the image of God. This process will not be complete until we reach that heavenly shore.
St. Paul encouraged Timothy to make moral righteousness his aim in life. The apostle wrote, "But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness." (I Timothy 6:11) Notice that this verse is divided into two halves. There is a negative half, "shun all this" and a positive half, "aim at...." We should continually forsake sin and pursue Christlikeness.
This is righteousness. It is both legal and moral. Legal righteousness is complete at justification. Moral righteousness, however, is a life long pursuit.
Jesus pronounced a blessing on those who hunger and thirst for righteousness both legal and moral.
The words Jesus used are very intense words. He was not talking about having an appetite. Our Lord was referring to an overpowering hunger and thirst. He envisioned a person out in the desert who is in the grip of starvation and thirst and knows that if his thirst is not quenched and his hunger satisfied that he will die. Such is the intensity of Christ's words.
William Barclay points out something that is quite unusual about the grammatical structure of Christ's words, something that does not come through in any English translation. In Greek the verbs "hunger" and "thirst" are almost always followed by the genitive case. This structure indicates that the person wants a drink from the pitcher, but not the whole pitcher and he wants a piece of bread, but not the entire loaf. Instead of using the genitive case, which was customary, Christ used the accusative case. When the verbs "hunger and "thirst" are used with the accusative case it means that the person wants the whole pitcher to quench his thirst and the whole loaf to satisfy his hunger.
Jesus blesses the person who hungers and thirsts for righteousness in this way. He doesn't want a drink of righteousness or a slice of righteousness - he wants it all. Such a one will not be satisfied with the crumbs of self-righteousness moralizing, or the mere doing of a few good works.
A person who is that hungry and thirsty is going to live a different sort of life; just as a person who is walking across a desert is going to react differently to food and drink than do other people. This person's hunger and thirst will dominate his thoughts, his movements, and his values. Things that cannot satisfy his craving will become unimportant and will be discarded. Even the greatest treasures of this world will be meaningless to him.
How great is the number of those of whom Christ spoke? This question may be answered by asking, why is it that so many aren't interested in sitting under the Word, pray very little, and read the Bible but occasionally? Why is it that the church services seem so long and so boring, but the movie or ball game seem so short and so exciting? Why is it that instead of preaching the Word, many churches have turned to various forms of entertainment to hold their congregations? The answer is clear; few people hunger and thirst for righteousness in the way Christ spoke. Bread and water may not be the most exciting fare, but to one famishing in the desert such plain nourishment is very exciting indeed, because they truly hunger and thirst.
Christ Jesus pronounced a blessing on those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and issued a promise, "they shall be satisfied." During this Lenten season let us honestly ask ourselves, "Am I the type of person Christ was talking about?" If we are not then may we become such for the Lord will satisfy our hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Frank M. Levi
The annual Christmas Eve Service of Carols and Candles was well attended this year. We thank all of those who brought refreshments for the reception which followed the service.
St. Andrew's Preschool officially opened on Monday, January 6, 1997. We thank the Lord, for this opportunity to extend the ministry of the church. Do pray for the preschool that it will be a means of outreach to the community.
The Lenten Season begins on Ash Wednesday, February 12, 1997. As has been our tradition, we will meet on each of the Wednesday nights of Lent. We will have dinner at 6:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall. A sign-up sheet will be posted in the Narthex. Following dinner we will gather in the chapel to worship our Lord. The service will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Verle A. Deuter, age 82, passed away on September 17, 1996 following a lengthy illness. Verle was a gracious lady and a member of this parish for many years. She is survived by two sons and one daughter. Verle was the sister-in-law of Mrs. Olive Denning.
Gene Dyckman passed away suddenly on December 22, 1996. Gene was a former Vestryman and had served as church custodian for several years. Our sympathies are extended to his wife Lois and his son Gary.
William Higginbotham passed away on January 2, 1997 after a lengthy illness. Bill had served as a Vestryman for several years. He is survived by his wife Evelyn, to whom our sympathies are extended.
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