24 April 2016

Cantate!

It is one of my favorite Sundays (just like all the rest!). The collect of the day is so beautiful:

O God, who makest the minds of the faithful to be of one will, grant unto Thy people that they may love what Thou commandest and desire that which Thou dost promise, that among the manifold changes of this world our hearts may there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ, our Lord...

Isn't that glorious? Yes, amid the "manifold changes" (so many of which are toward, well, insanity!), there is a place where true joys are to be found! That place is the embrace of the Father which Christ has brought and accomplished for us. As we live therein, we find the joy of true freedom, loving what God commands (that is, love!), and trusting what He promises (that is, life!). And it is precisely THIS which fuels the church's joyful song.

Oh, sing unto the Lord a new song: for He hath done marvelous things!

20 April 2016

A collection of various posts that I recently shared on FB; reflections on *Called to Love*

The enemy reserves a special hatred for children and for mothers. That is because he knows that this is how and where salvation comes and that if we discover the joy of the child, all his strategems fail. Children are perilous to his aims; as they are crucial to God's.

You know, I never really thought about "treating someone as an object" and so "using" them. It's all that's left if I do not receive the person as a gift, seeing their dignity as a child of God, seeing them not merely as His handiwork, but as the objects of His love that He has entrusted to me in that moment out of love for me also. To let their worth to God become their worth to me.

In today's epistle (Jubilate, historic) we were exhorted to abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against the soul. The "soul" here stands in for the whole being alive with God's life, and thus to abstain from everything which wars against our dignity as the children of God. Always the passions of the flesh urge us to use others as things, as an instrument, a tool for our own pleasure. God summons us to receive them as gifts from His loving hands. The passions war against the soul precisely because they damage our own dignity by us becoming exactly what we treat others as: mere objects, instead of precious gifts. You are more than your itches. You are a beloved child of the heavenly Father.

It ends in resurrection because Love cannot and will not be defeated. Not by your sin. Not by your death. And Love doesn't settle for some piece of you. Love embraces and thus saves the lot!

Freedom doesn't mean getting to do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it. That doesn't lead to freedom but to slavery to your own urges. Freedom means being a beloved child of the heavenly Father. Freedom means you have a home and a love that you never lose.

If concupiscence is using others as an object, then we can understand that at its deepest level the First Commandment tells us that we must not treat God as an object that we put among our other objects; but precisely as a Person [actually a community of Persons!] whom we cannot possess, but can only receive and rejoice in.

Sin in its essence is flight from communion with God into solitariness where we lose not only God, but losing Him lose ourselves and others. That the Lord Jesus bears the sin of all upon His cross means that He enters the solitariness (Eli, Eli..) to fill it from within with that from which we sought to flee. He does this that there might be nowhere and no condition in which we find ourselves, where the loving embrace of God in Christ does not reach out to hold us. This is forgiveness.

Or, said another way, sin in its essence is not merely the breaking of a rule but a fleeing from our dear Father, from Love Himself. But precisely at the point where all our flight from Him in all its terror meets, we encounter the gift of His love, bigger and more awesome than we ever dared dream, in His crucified Son. A surprising gift beyond anything we could ever conceive! And this Love (i.e., the Holy Spirit) lifts us up and carries us home, wanted, cleansed, forgiven, shining in a donated holiness.

The certainty which the Gospel offers you is that you are loved by the heavenly Father in the gift of His Son with a love that never changes or stops or ceases, and which is beyond all measure; which is a lot more and better than a ticket *to* heaven. It is the gift of heaven itself.

Heaven is the home that Christ has opened, revealed, and given to us in the heart of the Father. To say "heaven is my home" is to say "God is my Father, Christ is my brother."

19 April 2016

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

For here in all three articles God has revealed Himself and opened the deepest abyss of His fatherly heart and His pure, inexpressible love. He has created for us this very reason, that He might redeem and sanctify us. In addition to giving and imparting to us everything in heaven and upon earth, He has even given to us His Son and the Holy Spirit, who brings us to Himself.—Martin Luther, Large Catechism II:64

Patristic Quote of the Day

If therefore by unlikeness we recede from God, by likeness we approach unto God. What likeness? That after which we were created, which by sinning we had corrupted in ourselves, which we have received again through the remission of sins, which is renewed in us in the mind within, that it may be engraved a second time as if on coin, that is, the image of our God upon our soul, and that we may return to His treasures.—St. Augustine, Exposition of Psalm 95

16 April 2016

Is this not

the most eloquent meditation upon Psalm 104's great truth (and it's a crying shame that TLH and LSB gutted the whole first article context of this rejoicing!).

  1. I will sing my Maker’s praises
    And in Him most joyful be,
    For in all things I see traces
    Of His tender love to me.
    Nothing else than love could move Him
    With such sweet and tender care
    Evermore to raise and bear
    All who try to serve and love Him.
    All things else have but their day,
    God’s great love abides for aye.
  2. As an eagle spreadeth over
    Her young brood her shelt’ring wings,
    So the arm of God did cover
    Me against affliction’s stings.
    He who life and being gave me,
    Even in my mother’s womb,
    From the cradle to the tomb
    He shall ever guard and save me.
    All things else have but their day,
    God’s great love abides for aye.
  3. Yea, so dear did He esteem me
    That His Son He loved so well
    He hath given to redeem me
    From the quenchless flames of hell.
    O Thou Spring of boundless blessing,
    How could e’er my feeble mind
    Of Thy depth the bottom find
    Though my efforts were unceasing?
    All things else have but their day,
    God’s great love abides for aye.
  4. God His Spirit to instruct me
    In His holy Word hath giv’n,
    That He safely may conduct me
    Through this weary world to heav’n.
    He my heart’s dark chamber filleth
    With the clear pure light of faith,
    Which destroys the pow’r of death,
    Yea, e’en hell itself it stilleth.
    All things else have but their day,
    God’s great love abides for aye.
  5. All that for my soul is needful
    He with loving care provides,
    Nor of that is He unheedful
    Which my body needs besides.
    When my strength cannot avail me,
    When my pow’rs can do no more,
    Doth my God His strength outpour;
    In my need He doth not fail me.
    All things else have but their day,
    God’s great love abides for aye.
  6. All the hosts of earth and heaven,
    Wheresoe’er I turn mine eye,
    For my benefit are given,
    That they may my need supply.
    All that’s living, all that’s growing,
    On the heights or in the woods,
    In the vales or in the floods,
    God is for my good bestowing.
    All things else have but their day,
    God’s great love abides for aye.
  7. When I sleep, He still is near me,
    O’er me rests His guardian eye;
    And new gifts and blessings cheer me
    When the morning streaks the sky.
    Were it not for God’s protection,
    Had His countenance not been
    Here my guide, I had not seen
    E’er the end of my affliction.
    All things else have but their day,
    God’s great love abides for aye.
  8. Ah! how often doth the devil
    Cause some great calamity!
    But my life from all such evil
    Till this moment has been free.
    For the angel whom God sendeth
    Wardeth off each threat’ning hurt,
    Ev’ry evil doth avert
    That mine enemy intendeth.
    All things else have but their day,
    God’s great love abides for aye.
  9. As a father never turneth
    Wholly from a wayward child,
    For the prodigal still yearneth,
    Longing to be reconciled,
    So my many sins and errors
    Find a tender, pard’ning God,
    Chast’ning frailty with His rod,
    Not, in vengeance, with His terrors.
    All things else have but their day,
    God’s great love abides for aye.
  10. All His strokes and scourges truly
    For the moment grievous prove,
    And yet, when I weigh them duly,
    Are but tokens of His love:
    Proofs that He is watching o’er me,
    And by crosses to His fold,
    From the world that fain would hold
    Soul and body, would restore me.
    All things else have but their day,
    God’s great love abides for aye.
  11. On this thought I dwell with pleasure;
    For it granteth joy and peace.
    Christ’s cross hath its time and measure,
    And at last will wholly cease.
    When the winter disappeareth,
    Lovely summer comes again;
    Joy is giv’n for woe and pain
    Who His cross in patience beareth.
    All things else have but their day,
    God’s great love abides for aye.
  12. Since, then, neither change nor coldness
    In my Father’s love can be,
    Lo! I lift my hands with boldness,
    As Thy child I come to Thee.
    Grant me grace, O God, I pray Thee,
    That I may with all my might,
    All my lifetime, day and night,
    Love and trust Thee and obey Thee
    And when I’ve had but my day,
    Praise and love my God for aye.

15 April 2016

Back home...

...at last. We had a beautiful day driving out to NC and a beautiful day driving back home. Oddly, we noted lots of trees breaking out with red leaves. I assume some kind of oak? Today was spent getting back into our normal routine. Breakfast and coffee, Treasury prayed together (goodness, was that welcome!), lots of yard work and walks. Brought out the deck stuff (chairs, cushions, umbrella, chimes, and feeders). Waiting to see our first humming birds! Flox are doing beautifully as are the lilacs. I always remember the Whitman poem about Lincoln on this day. 


31 March 2016

31 years

and yet the grief hit today like a sucker punch, and then it kept pounding and growing worse. So much so that I literally got sick at work. Joe Field, you were and are very much loved. Miss you, bro, more than words could ever begin to tell. 

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Wherever the Word of the Gospel is, there is the remission of sins. Therefore, Christ redeemed us once with a single work, but He did not pass out redemption with a single means. He gave it out through the medium of washing in Baptism, through the medium of eating in the Sacrament of the Altar, through the media of comforting the brethren, of reading in the Book, that the fruit of His passion might be spread everywhere.—Luther on 1 Timothy 2

Patristic Quote of the Day

And what means ransom? God was about to punish them, but He forbore to do it. They were about to perish, but in their stead He gave His own Son, and sent us as heralds to proclaim the Cross. These things are sufficient to attract all, and to demonstrate the love of Christ.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Timothy 2