31 October 2007

New Bishops for Lutheran Latvia

His Grace, Archbishop Vanags (the youngest looking archbishop!) with several assisting bishops consecrates two new bishops for the Lutheran Church in Latvia. My own Synod, the LCMS, is in full fellowship with the Latvian Church.



"Before the ending of the day..." Tonight Rebekah joined us for Compline. She'd never attended the service before (how on earth did that happen?), and she was very taken with the beauty of it. I wouldn't be surprised if she showed up again! Mary said on the way out that she would like to end every day like that. I know what she means. It astonishes me no end how it just wipes all the fretting and worrying of the day away in one clean sweep. "...and be our Guard and Keeper now."

Just in CASE

anyone out there wanted to see even MORE wedding pics from Lauren and Dean's wedding, you can! These are from Pastor David Ritoch, who was our professional photographer that day:

More Wedding Pics!

A Tale of Two Englishmen

I believe it was John Henry Newman who said that to discover history is to cease to be a Protestant.

What is utterly ironic is that at roughly the same time, it was Cardinal Manning (likewise an Englishman) who insisted that we must overcome history by dogma.

Newman believed that history was all on the side of the Roman Church; Manning knew it wasn't.  I bring it up because Josh over at Cruising Down the Coast of High Barabee has raised an interesting point about the study of the fathers.  The beauty of being a Lutheran and reading them is that one doesn't have to front load them with infallibility or assume that they MUST mean exactly what one's Church at the moment insists that they always DID mean.  We can actually hear what they say!  We are free to hear them because we happen to agree with Thomas Aquinas - some words from the Summa I posted back in June, but they're worth repeating:

Nevertheless, sacred doctrine makes use of these authorities as extrinsic and probable arguments; but properly uses the authority of the canonical Scriptures as an incontrovertible proof, and the authority of the doctors of the Church as one that may properly be used, yet merely as probable. For our faith rests upon the revelation made to the apostles and prophets who wrote the canonical books, and not on the revelations (if any such there are) made to other doctors. Hence Augustine says (Epis. ad Hieron. xix, 1): "Only those books of Scripture which are called canonical have I learned to hold in such honor as to believe their authors have not erred in any way in writing them. But other authors I so read as not to deem everything in their works to be true, merely on account of their having so thought and written, whatever may have been their holiness and learning."--Summa Theologia, Part 1, Question 1, Article 8


This morning we anticipated All Saints during the chapel.  We sang:  "Ye Watchers" and I really preached upon that hymn, so that the children (and adults) might realize the great assembly we join with in our worship.  We call to the angels - all 12 choirs - and to the Blessed Mother and the Patriarchs and Prophets and the Apostles and the Martyrs and all the saints, to join in the endless song. Or more accurately, to permit us to join with them in praising Father, Son, and Spirit.  Hebrews 12 is one powerful passage of Scripture! Each time I hear the children sing Matins it cheers my heart.  They sing it so well!  "Blessed be God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:  Oh, come, let us worship Him!"

After chapel I hit the road: visited some shutins to bring them the life-giving Body and Blood of the Savior, dropped by the hospital, attended pericopal study, went to lunch, and then came home.  I ran down to the Church basement to visit briefly with our Quilters (yes, we still have a cadre of ladies who do as their mothers and grandmothers and greatgrandmothers did and who quilt here at Church each week).

Then when I came home, Lucy looked sad and so I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk.  That always perks her right up and she runs to the door.  I put her on the big leash and she went chasing all kinds of scents in the ditches.  We walked about a mile.  So, dear Doctor, see, I AM getting some exercise!  

Still ahead is our Old Testament Catechesis and then Compline.  Oh, and dinner!  Cindi's got a crockpot of chili on and the smell has filled the house and keeps the tummy grumbling.  I'll try to settle it with another cup of java.  :)

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We can speak for hours about the Cross, but we shall never know what the Cross of Christ is, until we have become Cross-bearers, until we have learned to lay down our life for others, until we are crucified with Christ.  The Cross-bearers are not those who make an easy thing of their religion.  -- von Schenk, *The Presence* p. 81

Patristic Quote for the Day

When a man has fallen it is not possible for him to be raised by human power, nor can human evil be destroyed by human righteousness.  The commission of sin involves injury to God Himself, for it says, "you dishonor God by breaking the law" (Rom 2:223).  There is need of virtue greater than is found in man to be able to cancel the indictment.  -- St. Nicholas Cabasilas, *The Life in Christ* p. 117

30 October 2007


For resources on learning Gregorian chant and to hear Pastor Benjamin Mayes chant the whole Psalter and the Canticles, please check out:

Lutheran Prayer Brotherhood

I was recently asked why I pray the daily office. My answer?

It provides a disciplined and orderly method for praying, for study of the Scripture, and for offering a sacrifice of praise to God. It has the very best antecedents in Lutheranism and the undivided church. And most of all, I just can't imagine another way to live! It's integral to what I, as a pastor, as one serving in the office of the holy ministry, am called to do.

Pastor Mayes' contribution toward the praying of the Office is a great treasure for our whole Church. Check it out!

David said...

...since I showed his artwork halfway finished, I should show the final product. So here it is (hanging in the basement and NOT on my chair! :)

A Hallowed Space

It hangs in the air. You can sense it upon entering the building. Something happens here that doesn't happen everywhere (though it should and it shall). Here is a place of prayer, of sacrifice and praise, of thanksgiving and song, and above all, of the gifts that call all that forth. Every time I enter the nave of St. Paul's it hits me. Silences me. Calls me to stop being trivial and to lift up the heart to God. It's just after five, and time to go over to pray Vespers. There is a remarkable peace that comes from praying in such a hallowed space - the prayers of previous generations swirl around you and you know in a way that defies explanation that you are not alone.

Favorite Season

Have you ever been asked? I never know what to answer. I really love them all. Each in turn. I love the fading afternoon light in the Fall, and the splash of yellow and red against the deep blue of an October sky. Last Sunday as I walked to Church for services, the cows next door were lowing. I thought: "How cool is that!" I love the wind and rain and bare trees of November and the snow and ice that (sometimes) visit us in December and January. Well, I like the ice provided it doesn't take away the electricity! To walk outside to Church on a frosty night and to see my breath and the pulsating stars in the deep sky - beautiful. I especially love it when we have snow at Christmas (who doesn't?). And then with the gradual growth of the light, the trees waking up and stretching their fingers and the first flowers and buds of Spring. Who could not love Spring? Well, I imagine those who suffer from allergies. And then the warm days, the roasting days, the days of floating in the pool or in the ocean, drinking in the the sunlight. Then the grass-hoppers and the katydids. It's all a wonderful round, and when you think of how few times we really get to experience each in a life-time, I am determined to savour each as it comes.

And as if all that were not enough, within the dance of the outside world comes the dance of the Church. To move from Reformation to All Saints and the month of the dead, to sing the hymns of Advent and look forward to Feast of Christmas and the bright shining joy that is Epiphany. To move to the somberness of Lent and the call to struggle against the flesh (again!) and to experience it as sheer liberation. To sit in the silence and darkness before the Cross, before the Love of all loves manifested to us. To ring the rafters with Easter alleluias. And then to celebrate His Ascension and the coming of the Spirit - the beginning of an eternal Springtime. The summer festivals of Trinity, Sts. Peter and Paul, and St. Laurence and the falling alseep of the Blessed Virgin. It all rings round and round, dancing around the seasons' change and bringing us closer with each step of the dance to the glorious moment when we will see with our eyes what we have believed in our hearts.

Seasons. In my life, if things go as they often do, I'm on the threshold of Autumn. The Church's cycle prepares me daily to walk into the Autumn and bleak Winter months without needless hankering for Spring and Summer. I know they'll come again.


Alfred received the Sacrament today!!!  It's been a few months since we've managed it, but today he smiled, prayed much of the Lord's Prayer, said "Amen" at the appropriate spots and opened his mouth to receive his Savior's body and blood.  It is always such a joy when he is able to receive! Clara said he looks so sweet when he smiles (and he does).  I told her that's what she fell for all those years ago.  She laughed.

Some shutins were rather down (I wonder how much is due to the disappearing light) and some seemed as chipper as ever.  We watched a squirrel for a while outside of Ella's room absolutely pigging out on the bird feeder just the other side of her window. Really cute, and he could care less that we were there watching him. He was interested in only one thing:  eating ALL that food!!! Ella turns 83 tomorrow; I told her she was just a child.  :)

It was a blessing to see them all - well, almost all.  Two more to visit tomorrow! All these folks with so many reasons to be down, and yet leaning hard on the presence of their Lord, the One who comes to them in His body and blood to strengthen and sustain their faith until He sees fit to bring them home.

Patristic Quote of the Day

But if the life to come were to admit those who lack the faculties and senses necessary for it, it would avail nothing for their happiness, but they would be dead and miserable living in that blessed and immortal world.  -- St. Nicholas Cabasilas, *The Life in Christ* p. 43 [with echoes of *The Last Battle* ringing in and the dwarfs who would not be "taken in."]

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Christ died for the sins of the world.  The Resurrection, then, was the Absolution for the world, the liberation of the world from the bondage of sin, the emancipation of a sin-enslaved humanity.  The Resurrection is our Absolution, our triumph, as Paul writes:  "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." - von Schenk, *The Presence* pp. 98,99

29 October 2007

Never Ceases to Amaze Me

...the time and effort members of the parish pour into various aspects of our ministry that they totally believe in.  I was at our Daycare meeting tonight.  The dedication of the board blows me away.  They are not only ready to meet for long hours each month, but to do so much to make the outreach to the children of our community a priority in their lives.  Thank God for all of them - especially for our chair, Bonnie.  And thanks be to God for Terri, our director.  What an opportunity to reach these young lives and touch them with a love that can truly transform them.  Glory to God in the highest!

A Cover that Says It All

Pastor Asburry sent me this photo of his copy of The Presence that arrived today. Yup. The artist definitely understood what the book was preaching!

Patristic Quote of the Day

The life in Christ originates in this life and arises from it.  It is perfected, however, in the life to come, when we shall have reached that last day.  It cannot attain perfection in men's souls in this life, nor even in that which is to come without already having begun here.  -- St. Nicholas Cabasilas, *The Life in Christ* p. 43

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

This is the one thing we must ever seek in Bethlehem - that Bethlehem begets in us that divine love - a selfless, supernatural love, which is the Bethlehem love, a love which alone can ease the heartache of the world.  When we fail in our relationships with our fellowmen, either at home or in business, it is because our love is tainted with self-interest.  But it is only the divine love which can make us irresistible.  And this love alone can save society. - Von Schenk, *The Presence* p. 47

28 October 2007


Bekah played in the Wind Ensemble for Lutheran High's Fall Concert today.  They were really great!  I think my favorite piece that the Wind Ensemble did was "Be Thou My Vision" - there's one part where the clarinets were cruising past the legal speed limit!  It was a lot of fun.  It also used the weird sound of an Irish war drum.  The setting was by Larry Clark.

The choir marched in singing "Praise the Lord" - a traditional Cameroon processional.  They sang it in French and it is really a great piece.  They sang it when Lauren was first in choir there.  They also sang "You Raise Me Up" coupled with "Be Still My Soul" - very effective.  The Old Irish Blessing wrapped up the concert today.  

Congrats to all the St. Paul kids involved:  Robyn, Rebecca, and my own Rebekah.  You all did a GREAT job, together with all your fellow musicians!

It Happens In Clumps

There are many times that I can go through a month or more and not have a single hospital visit, and then everything happens all at once.  Just found out about two more situations today that will be need to be attended to (after Catechism Service).  It is downright odd how struggles and misfortunes seem to come to our parish in clumps.  Lord, have mercy on all those who are hospitalized or going through difficult times and comfort them with the peace that comes from You alone!  Amen!!!

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The whole sacrifice of Calvary is focused to a point at the Altar.  It is brought home and made a reality as I kneel to receive the true Body and Blood given and shed for me.  Then it was offered on the Cross, now, in heaven triumphant - through the bread and wine.  Here I truly touch Calvary, which is now being pleaded by my High Priest.  Here I find the secret whereby I can touch my God, the secret whereby divine love can also be born in me and thus radiate through me into the lives of my fellow-men. - Berthold von Schenk, *The Presence* p. 91

Patristic Quote of the Day

This is the Body that was slain upon the cross and underwent the preliminaries of the slaying by suffering fear and agony and flowing with sweat, by being betrayed, arrested, and enduring lawless judges.  In its "testimony under Pontius Pilate it made the good confession," as Paul says; it paid the penalty of death for this confession, and that upon the cross.  It received lashes upon the back, nails in the hands and feet, the lance in the side; it suffered pain by being scourged, and torment by being nailed.  The Blood springing out of the wounds darkened the sun and shook the earth; it hallowed the air and washed the whole world clean from the filth of sin. - St. Nicholas Cabasilas, *The Life in Christ* p. 120

Walk About Zion

As the choir was singing the Gradual this morning, I think I understood the words of Psalm 48 for the first time.  "Walk about Zion, go around her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels."  The Lord wants us to explore His Zion, His holy Church, to know her nooks and crannies.  He wants us to enjoy and revel in this mighty fortress He has provided for His people to live in.  And what are her towers?  Her ramparts?  Her citadels?  Are they not the mighty teachers He has continually graced His Church with, who keep us from all "false teaching and evil living" and summon us to find in Christ alone our life, our hope?  Today we explored a wee bit of that Church as we remembered and thanked God for the towering witness of the Reformers. But we remember that they stand not alone.  They stand with many others through the years.  We need to know them, to explore their stories, to learn them well that we "tell the next generation that this God, our God forever and ever!"  They all steadfastly point to one Lord and witness to Him with their very lives.  We explore Zion's spacious palaces and especially her defenses that we might the more safely and joyfully witness to the next generation the great deeds of the Lord in preserving for us a Church, a place of refuge in this world.  Glory to Him forever!


John Behnke's "Festival Gloria" is a keeper!  And the whole of the liturgy of Divine Service, Setting Five, is a worthy and wonderful way to praise the goodness of God in our Lord Jesus Christ and to receive from Him His life-giving gifts.  It brought a smile to my face today when Rebekah said to me after the liturgy:  "That was really neat.  Are we going to use that setting again?"  

26 October 2007

School of Thought?


Here's an irritation: when folks outside Lutheranism reduce our faith to a "school of thought." It is NOT a school of thought. It is made up of real pastors, teachers, and parishes that are infinitely more than "a way of thinking." It is true that she is recognized by her Confession of the Christian faith, preeminently the Augsburg Confession and the Small Catechism. That means:
  • You can't tell a Lutheran by polity - Lutheran's can live with just about any kind of polity. 
  • You can't tell a Lutheran by liturgy - there's precious little distinctive about that, and Lutherans use their treasure of liturgy in varying degrees, and sadly some leave it mostly shelved.
  • You CAN tell a Lutheran by confession of the faith - and therefore by the altar he or she is joined to. 
But if anyone thinks that the Confession of the Christian faith is "a school of thought" - well, they've not understood the first thing about the nature of Christian confession. It's not a "well, you know I think like this and you think like that." It's a solemn confession made in view of the day of judgment, a resounding "we believe, teach, and confess" about the life that has been given us in Christ, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and lived from the Gospel preached and the Sacraments of Jesus used according to His divine institution.  It's not an opinion to us; its our life!

Living with an Artist...

...is a royal pain in the behind. I mean, this is a fabulous charcoal that David has started on. But it's been SITTING in MY chair in the living room for the last three days. It's about to find itself on his bed!!! Grr!

P.S. David informs me that I do not know how to count. The drawing was placed on my chair Wednesday evening. Well, that's Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday it's been in my chair. Three days. See? And don't argue with me. I have Scripture on my side on this one when it uses three days to refer to the time of our Lord's burial.

As the Light Fades

One of the things I love, and have always loved, is to be outside at night, seeing the light that comes from houses lit and warm and dinners prepared and waiting. But in my family there is a slight disagreement on this.

Rebakah feels that if the curtains are not drawn in the dining room, she's on display. So first thing she does in the evening is shut them tight. I remember walking the streets and being cheered by the light from windows and families sitting down together - the aroma of dinners of all sorts drifting on the cold air. So I never think about the open window. I rather think others might be cheered by the light! Besides, the only folks who will look in are people attending a sports event at the school.

One other little problem in my paradise of fading light. Cindi's S.A.D. So she has a light bulb she puts in one of the living room lamps. It doesn't glow that warm yellow glow that I associate with lamps on in the evening. It is supposed to imitate daylight. But from outside - to me at any rate - the thing just looks GREEN. And the fact that it is not the same color as the light from the matching lamp drives me batty.

Oh, well, with green light bulbs and shut curtains, it is still a wonderful cozy feeling to gather in the dark and share a meal and enjoy each other's companionship. "We have come to the setting of the sun and we look to the evening light..."

Calling Christine!

Christine (of Cleveland), would you email me. I have a message that was sent to me for you, and I would like to forward it on, but lack your email. My email is in the profile. Thanks!

Ah, the Running Around Day

Top of the day is Chapel at Metro East Lutheran High School, where Bekah attends.

The cleaners (green and white paraments need to be picked up) and the library need visits. And then there's Cindi's planner that she left at Walmart in Collinsville - we've got to go get that. And we couldn't just go to Walmart without GOING to Walmart, could we? And since we'll be in Collinsville, I think that spells GREEK food, eh? Did she say something about Aldi's? And then home for a wee bit?

Tonight we're headed out someplace with Matt and Sandy. Not sure where. We'll likely end up playing cards of some sort, though, after dinner. Tomorrow Mark, Melanie and Grace will be dropping by in the afternoon - yeah! We've never laid eyes on Grace in the flesh, so we're looking forward to that. Mark was my second vicar, and now serves as Pastor in the Central Illinois District.

So, we're off!

25 October 2007

Homily for the Festival of the Reformation

[Revelation 14:6-7 / Romans 3:19-28 / Matthew 11:12-19]
In the artwork of the Reformation, when they drew that angel flying directly overhead with an eternal Gospel to proclaim, well, that angel had a face you’d recognize. The folks in those days thought that Revelation 14, our first reading, pointed directly to the events they were experiencing. The angel bore the face of Luther for them, for his was indeed a loud voice that called for all those who dwell on the earth to “fear God and give Him glory…and worship Him who made” all things.

"Eternal" Gospel suggests that the good news was from the very creation of the world hidden in God and that when the appointed time came, God revealed to all people His hidden heart, and He revealed this heart in His Son.

Today’s second reading gets at this glorious good news. First the bad news: God speaks a word of law that shuts the mouths of sinners. When the Law of God thunders, no room for your or my pitiful excuses. The Law demands one thing of us and one thing only: love. And it demands it whole and entire and unbroken – running through our being from start to finish, in all our words, our thoughts, our actions.

Then the Gospel comes after the Law has shut up our mouths and silenced our excuses; after the law has condemned our lovelessness and made us face our helplessness to fix it. The Gospel comes apart from law, apart from anything you do. Through it, God unveils for you a righteousness that is perfect, flawless, holy. A righteousness that is unending love itself. And that righteousness has a name: Jesus Christ. And God reaches Him to you and says: “Take Him, He is all yours.”

God reaches this gift to all and He wants all to receive it. “There is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – that’s the Law; and are justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” That’s the Gospel.

This redemption, says St. Paul, this Jesus, God put forward, He gave Him, to be the propitiation by His blood to be received by faith. Faith clings to the blood of the Lamb of God, shed to cover the sins of the world – yours, mine, everyone’s – and so we see the unfathomable love of our God for us.

He had passed over former sins. It looked like folks had got away with murder – literally. But then He reveals, that not one sin was left unpunished in His Son. All were answered for in the Man hanging dead upon the tree, His blood spills down and wipes out mankind’s sin. So that God is both just – He punishes sin – and He is the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus – He credits Christ’s perfect love to all who cling to the blood of their Lamb, their Jesus, for dear life.

Boasting then? No room for it in any Christian’s life. It’s all God’s work, all God’s gift. Room then only to fear God and give Him glory, as the Angel flying directly overhead said in today’s first reading. There’s the everlasting Gospel. It’s more solid than anything you’ll ever encounter in this world. You can build an eternity on it – your eternity. Trust Him! You won’t go wrong. And that’s how God justifies you – apart from your doings, apart from works of the law. He justifies you by giving you Jesus and you hold to Him through the gift of faith.

Another name for holding to Jesus through the gift of faith is “the kingdom of heaven.” We heard about that kingdom in today’s mysterious Gospel.

Our Lord declares quite matter of factly that from the days of John the Baptist, the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence. John came announcing some great good news. The Messiah was soon to follow. The Forgiver of all sin was upon the earth. But this news wasn’t welcomed by all. It was opposed by many, by folks who were quite happy with their lives the way they were and didn’t see the need for this meddlesome man preaching repentance, calling them to turn from all that they thought was so important and to embrace the Coming One.

Violence began with John and his arrest and you know how his story ended up. His head on the platter. Violence wouldn’t end with John. It would go on. Our Lord’s own gift of love and pardon would be given to the world precisely as His Kingship was being rejected, mocked even. He would be crucified for being exactly who He said He was, for telling the truth, and inviting all people to turn from what is not life to the God who alone IS life.

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear” says the Lord. The Word that He invites us to hear is the Gospel Word, the Word about the Lord who comes eating and drink, befriending tax-collectors and sinners. Inviting them and all people to find in fellowship with Him, in union with Him, the very purpose for which they were created. Such union is His gift. Nothing that we could ever earn, deserve, merit. We had no ladders high enough to climb to heaven where He was, so in His unfathomable love, He climbed down to where we are. And that’s where He goes on meeting us even today. Where we live. No accident then, that He comes to you in the stuff of this world. He doesn’t ask you for flights of spiritual fancy to soar up into the heavens. Heaven comes all the way down to you. Just like at Bethlehem, the Divine Love was born and wrapped in human flesh. Just like at Calvary, the Divine Love suffered and covered the sins of the world with His bright red blood. So today He comes to you in the stuff of creation – the same Divine Love, the same Lord Jesus, now risen from the dead and glorified. In water, in bread, in wine, in the words of sinful people spoken to each other. He comes and the One who comes is always the same. The Propitiation, the One who is the blotting out of all sin, the Eternal Son of the Father come into the flesh and then back from the dead to bring you to union with God.

That eternal Gospel – that the One who once came for you now comes also to you to live in you and fill you with a life that death cannot destroy, a pardon stronger than all your sin – that’s the Gospel that the angel in Revelation was shouting about. And Martin Luther would take us to task for wondering about the face of the angel. He’d say: “His face? What does that matter! Rather, LISTEN to what he says. Listen to the eternal Gospel given him to speak, rejoice in the Jesus to which He points you. The Jesus who is your Propitiation, your At-one-ment with God.” For that gift, free, unmerited, undeserved and ours by faith, we cry out with saints and angels: All glory be to God on high! Amen.

Patristic Quote of the Day

According through these sacred Mysteries (the Sacraments) as through windows the Sun of Righteousness enters this dark world.  --St. Nicholas Cabasilas, *The Life in Christ* p. 50

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Another Von Schenk:

"Our greatest problem is our sin, perhaps the little sins, respectable sins, these sad betrayals of our Lord in our daily life.  How they defeat us! To struggle against them is not the solution. We have tried this. Here again, we must surrender to Christ in faith, and then we have the certainty. Of myself I cannot do it, but for me to live is Christ; Christ in me, and I can do all things through Him - and in that moment we live the victorious life." - *The Presence* p. 163

24 October 2007

Did Korby know this man?

He preaches like Korby:

It was a sad loss to the church, a grave mistake, when a few stupid people pushed the saints out of the picture. It was a sad mistake when they took them out of the life of the church, but it was even a greater mistake to place them into the niche of supernatural people. What has the church substituted for saints and their glorious triumphant lives? Perhaps respectability, which is not holiness. It usually only means that you have not been found out. And that is exactly what we too often have in our churches - deadly, cold, stiff, starchy respectability, people who have lived sheltered lives, with no need, no poverty. The reason why some of them have not been bad is because they did not have much of an opportunity to be bad, and perhaps no courage to step out of their routine. And that is what a lot of people call religion.  Respectability can never be genuine religion.  Because it has often been substituted for true sanctity, it has not infrequently taken the life out of the Church.

In place of that smug, cold, soulless respectability we must put the passionate love, first for Jesus, and then for sinners for Jesus' sake.  We must have a reckless, supernatural, sacrificial love, supernatural in its vision; supernatural in its power to transform our lives; supernatural in its power to heal the souls of men. Let us get off that pedestal of respectability and fall on our knees and learn to be saints!

No wonder that we have lost our savor.  And if the salt has lost its savor, wherewith shall the church be salted?  We need saints.  If it helps to have their statues around, let us have them.  We have pictures of our loved ones in our homes.  Why not the saints?  Thus being reminded of them we can realize that men and women, of flesh and blood, have actually lived and have been saints.  And then we shall begin to believe once more that what men and women have been and have done for Christ, men and women can be, and can do, today.  We can bring the saints to earth again when we realize that the glory, which they now have, began here on earth; their supernatural love began while they lived on earth as men and women.  

"Who are these arrayed in white?"  The answer is given by John:  "These are the saints who have come forth out of great tribulation."  The one essential condition in the life of every saint which made it possible for life in heaven to begin on earth was the one thing which we seek so madly to avoid, the one universal fact which faces every single soul on earth - suffering.  These are the saints.  Not a few angel-faced, spineless people.  They were human, of flesh and blood.  Very human at times, beaten, wounded, scarred, for saints always bear the stigmata of their Lord.  When they were persecuted, what did they do?  They returned love, invincible, divine love, purified of self, and in union with their crucified Lord they received their foretaste of heaven.  This is the mystery of the Cross.  These saints got their divine love on Calvary.  That is where you and I must get it.
(*The Presence* pp. 124, 125)


(This stuff is fabulous!)

What does love do? Love always gives itself. When love meet self, what happens? Love just keeps on being love. That's all. Love cannot be cruel, nor hate, nor attack. All that love, divine love, can do when it meets its foe is to bare its arms and go straight to the Cross. Suffering is love's only weapon.  (*The Presence* p. 71)

On the third day He rose again and thereby showed that divine love triumphs over self.  From that time on it was possible also for men who love to triumph.  The sins of men were expiated on Calvary.  But Calvary which unites men with God also draws them up to divine love, so that it now becomes their love.  This love, the divine love, the Calvary love, is the only love worthwhile.  
From all this we draw a mighty conclusion. Why is it that we so often fail our fellowmen? Why is it that we fail in our witnessing, in our mission work? It is because we lack the one thing which will save the world - divine love - Calvary love. It does not radiate through us.

It is not our human love that the world needs. This is what the world has been trying to tell us church people for a long time. But we will not agree. We place the blame for our failure everywhere but the right place, and then we keep on trying to foist our human love, tainted with self-interest, on the world, to which it says, "We don't want it; we don't trust it. We can be just as good, if not better, outside the church."

Why is it that the early Christians showed such power? It was because Calvary love, the divine love, radiated in their message and in their lives. That love was irresistible. The fascinating story of the martyrs fertilized the acres of the Church. That love alone will build the kingdom of God on earth. That love is the only missionary policy for us to follow. The pure Calvary love will draw men up. It is the only love which achieves a final victory. It is the only love which has an Easter. any other love leaves just ashes. (*The Presence* p. 72)

The Presence

64 pages in.  Some things that raise the eyebrow, but overwhelmingly my response is WOW!  This man gets it.  Gets it a way that blows me away:

So we must learn to know what our true destiny in life is.  How is it that we so often miss this great fundamental lesson, which is so basic on almost every page of the Gospels? Take that story of the poor lad who left his home. His greatest wrong was not that he wanted to enjoy wine, women and song, nor that he asked his father for the inheritance, but that he wanted to be independent of his father.  

The great problem which we face in the world is not the problem of sin committed. That problem was solved on Calvary. The baffling problem of the prophet is that man still wants to be independent of God. This was the big mistake of our first parents in Paradise. They wanted to be like God. They wanted to be like God. They wanted a place where they could be absolutely independent. Man still loses Paradise because of his God-almightiness.  


What is your destiny? Labor will say "Shorter hours, better living conditions, increased wages."  The industrialist will answer, "Greater industry." The capitalist, "Money." How many will say, "My destiny is to be One with God?"

So.... I am thinking you all are going to be hearing a LOT more from Von Schenk in the days to come.  :)

Another Old Lutheran Quote for the Day

There is little love for the Holy Communion among the Pharisees who thank God that they are not as other men.  On the other hand, a deep love for the Sacrament is found among the publicans who have surrendered their sins, their pride, their knowledge, and their prejudices at the Cross and cry, "Kyrie Eleison!" - Von Schenk, *The Presence* p. 24

Patristic Quote of the Day

Christ takes on the appearance of each of the poor and assimilates Himself to all of them so that no one who believes in Him will be arrogant toward his fellow being.  -- St. Symeon, the New Theologian *Practical and Theological Texts* #114

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Like the planets go round the sun, so the congregation in its services, full of loveliness and dignity, moves about her Lord.  In holy childlike innocence, which only a childlike innocent heart rightly understands, the host of redeemed sanctified children of God moves in worship about the universal Father and the Lamb, and the Spirit of the Lord of Lords leads them.  The spiritual joy and heavenly delight which such enjoy in their participation in the Liturgy, cannot be described; it impresses even those who are less devout, and the pure confession has no lovelier form, no more attractive manner, than when it is engaged in adoration and praise. -- Wilhelm Löhe, *Three Books* pp. 196, 197

23 October 2007


The litany is a great prayer to remember to pray as we continue to watch the situation develop in CA.  It's found on LSB p. 288, 289.

On Fires

In working on Starck, there's a whole series of prayers regarding those who are in danger from conflagrations. I remember when I started working on them wondering how on earth people in this day and age would be able to relate to these. And then I remembered that there are still wild fires that occur from time to time. And now, these terrible fire storms out West. One of my flock has a sister and her family who were driven from their home by them, and it sounds as if the home were lost. So many thousands affected in the same way. Lord, have mercy! Starck's prayers are more pertinent than we realize - they shine every time the illusion breaks that we have things under our control. May Christ sustain His people in California through these difficult times.

Two Updates

First, I had never noticed that on the profile industry was set to "Accountant." Goodness! Can't get much further from the Gospel than that! No offense, Craig.  ;)

Second, the pic was rather old and my friend, Jack, had written to ask for an updated one, so I thought, oh, well, put that same one up on the blog. It makes me smile when I see it, because it was taken during my daughter's wedding. So it reminds me of a very happy and joyful day. It's not nearly so pious as it looks. The goal that day was to avoid eye contact with Lauren so I wouldn't start crying (like I almost did at the rehearsal). It worked!  

Von Schenk again

This time, via Asburry (he has a great sermon up on his blog that he delivered yesterday at Matins for the Missouri District Pastoral Conference):

"At the Altar is the cresset where we get our fire of the Calvary Love. How this love is needed! We have lost much of it. We have to invent all kinds of methods to attract the people. We must advertise, we must entertain. Why? Because the Church has lost its way to the Altar it has also lost its way into the heart of the world. For the pure love of Calvary alone can save the world. It is that love for which the world is aching. But we must first recapture it ourselves.

Let us find the reality of Calvary, of love, by the way of the Altar. There we can again touch the wounds of Christ; and by touching the wounds of Christ, we shall touch the wounds of the world
” (The Presence, 91).

Patristic Quote of the Day

The more a man descends into the depths of humility and condemns himself as one not worthy of salvation, the more he mourns and sheds streams of tears.  The more he mourns and sheds tears, the more spiritual joy flows into his heart, and with it flows increasing hope which gives him the most complete certainty of salvation.  -- St. Symeon, the New Theologian, *Practical and Theological Precepts* #73

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Pious prayer offered in faith is familiar conversation with God. It is a salutary remedy to all the difficulties of life. It is the key to heaven and the door to paradise. It shows us how much we depend on God, and it is a ladder of ascension to God. It is a shield for our defense and a faithful messenger of the ambassador. It is refreshment in the heat of misfortune; it is medicine during illness. It is a winch, drawing us to heaven, and a vessel that draws water from the font of divine kindness. It is a sword against the devil and a defense against all misfortune. It is a wind that blows away evil and brings earthly benefits. It is a nurse that nurtures virtue and conquers faults. It is a great fortification for the soul and gives free access to God. It is a spiritual feast and a heavenly delicacy. It is a consolation for the dejected and a delight for the holy. It grants knowledge of the secret things of God and acquires His gifts. It upholds the world and rescues people. It is a joy for the heart and a jubilation for the mind. It follows God's gift of grace, and it leads ahead into glory. It is a garden of happiness and a tree full of delights.  It calms the conscience and increases our thankfulness. It sends demons running and draws angels close. It is a soothing remedy for the misfortunes of this life and the sweet smell of the sacrifice of thanksgiving. It is a foretaste of the life to come and sweetens the bitterness of death. - Johann Gerhard, *Meditations on Divine Mercy* pp. 21, 22

22 October 2007

Thanks be to God

...for the gift of song, the joy of worship.

...for His body and blood and the forgiveness of all sin.

...for the family of the baptized, united by an unseen bond into the one family of God.

...for the gift of loving and caring.

...for joys shared and sorrows carried together to the throne of grace.

...for animals who teach us so much about kindness and love.

...for opportunities to share the good news.

...for those who hate us and those who love us.

...for bright shining witnesses to God's grace like Fr. Arseny.

...for the joys of friendship.

...for the gift of daily bread.

...for the joys of teaching children.

...for the privilege of administering the means of grace.

...for all things!

Around the Great Bell...

...in Saint Paul's tower are inscribed the words:

Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr!

Those are the first words of the hymn that most often stood in for the Gloria in Excelsis in the old Lutheran service.  It's with great joy that we'll sing that hymn as the Gloria this coming Sunday.  The LSB does not indicate who is responsible for updating the words, but kudos to whomever did it.  I love this new translation:

All glory be to God on high
And thanks for all His favor;
No harm can touch or terrify
A child of God forever.
God shows His good and gracious will
And grants His peace, the world to fill -
All strife at last has ended.

We praise and laud and worship You;
We give You thanks forever,
O Father, for Your rule is true
And just and changes never.
With boundless pow'r, Your mighty reign
Fulfills whatever You ordain.
Lord, grant us ev'ry blessing!

O Jesus Christ, the only Son
Begotten of the Father,
Your saving death has made us one
With God and with each other.
O Lamb of God, to You on high
In our distress we sinners cry,
Have mercy on us, amen!

O Holy Spirit, our delight,
And source of consolation,
Protect us from the devil's might
Through Jesus, our salvation,
Who by His death upon a tree
Has rescued us from misery:
To this we hold forever.  

This text strikes me as much nearer to the German, and it really captures the jubilation which inspired the tune.  Both text and tune were written by Nicholas Decius in the 16th century.

Nice Treat

So, as David was getting ready to head out to the university today, he said to me:  "You should meet me for lunch; I'm going to the Chinese Buffet."  Being a terrible sinner, my first thought - which I blurted out - was:  "You just want me to pay for your lunch." He got a look on his face and said:  "No, that hadn't occurred to me, but since you bring it up...." Rats. Turns out, he just wanted to have lunch with his dad. Now I think that's a wonderful thing. We had lunch together, drank a whole pot of hot tea, and enjoyed a few minutes of each other's company. He's a good laddie, and Cindi and I thank the Lord for him and for my daughters and son-in-law. You have to love your family, whether you like them or not. But what unspeakable joy it is when you LIKE them too! Then spending time together isn't ever a chore, a "have-to" - it comes across as sheer gift, a "get-to."  

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

If we stand up for the doctrine of the sinner's justification sola gratia, sola fide, it is not the dogmatic idiosyncrasy of a denomination which is at stake, but the article of which "nothing can be yielded or surrendered, even if heaven and earth and all things sink to ruin." Not only the church of our Confession, but the whole church of Christ, lives by this article. Hence we cannot possibly render a better service to the whole Christian church on earth, or even to the Christians of other communions who do not understand us today, than by preaching this doctrine in all purity and clarity. - Hermann Sasse, *Here We Stand* p. 29

Patristic Quote of the Day

And he well said, "a righteousness of mine own," not that which I gained by labor and toil, but that which I found from grace. If then he who was so excellent is saved by grace, much more are you. For since it was likely they would say that the righteousness which comes from toil is the greater, he shows that it is dung in comparison with the other. For otherwise I, who was so excellent in it, would not have cast it away, and run to the other. But what is that other? That which is from the faith of God, i.e. it too is given by God. This is the righteousness of God; this is altogether a gift. And the gifts of God far exceed those worthless good deeds, which are due to our own diligence. --St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Philippians 3

In Honor of the Reformation

This classic text by Johann Heermann (commemorated in our Synod on October 26):

If Your beloved Son, O God,
Had not to earth descended
And in our mortal flesh and blood
And not sin's power ended,
Then this poor, wretched soul of mine
In hell eternally would pine
Because of my transgression.

But now I find sweet peace and rest;
Despair no more reigns o'er me.
No more am I by sin oppressed,
For Christ has borne sin for me.
Upon the cross for me He died
That, reconciled, I might abide
With You, my God, forever.

I trust in Him with all my heart;
Now all my sorrow ceases.
His words abiding peace impart;
His blood from sin releases.
Free grace through Him I now obtain;
He washes me from ev'ry stain,
And pure I stand before Him.

All righteousness by works is vain;
The Law brings condemnation.
True righteousness by faith I gain;
Christ's work is my salvation.
His death, that perfect sacrifice,
Has paid the all-sufficient price;
In Him my hope is anchored.

My guilt, O Father, You have laid
On Christ Your Son, my Savior.
Lord Jesus, You my debt have paid
And gained for me God's favor.
O Holy Spirit, Fount of grace,
The good in me to You I trace;
In faith and hope preserve me.
LSB 568:1-5

21 October 2007

Looking forward to the Reformation Festival

this year. This coming weekend, we'll observe Divine Service, Setting Five, for the first time at St. Paul's. This setting is based on the classic "Chorale Mass" that characterized worship in the rural churches of Saxony after the Reformation. In outline, the ordo runs as follows:

Confession and Absolution
Entrance Hymn: "A Mighty Fortress"
Kyrie, God Father (sung by Cindi Weedon)
Gloria in Excelsis: "All Glory be to God on High" (festival setting by St. Paul's choir, bells, timpani and trumpet, together with congregation)
Salutation and Collect
First Reading
Second Reading
Hymn of the Day: "If Your Beloved Son, O God"
Holy Gospel
"We All Believe" - Chorale setting of the Creed
Prayer of the Church
Preface (invariable)
Our Father
Words of Our Lord
Sanctus: "Isaiah, Mighty Seer"
Pax Domini
Agnus Dei - "O Christ, Thou Lamb of God"
Distribution with hymns
Post-Communion Hymn: "O Lord, We Praise Thee"
Post-Communion Collect
Benedicamus and Benediction
Hymn: "Lord, Keep Us Steadfast"

You know...

...I'll be glad when the time change happens. Right now, it is growing dark right through the middle of our Catechism Service, and there is no comparison between the light we can give off electronically and the light that shines in the windows from the setting sun. It simply grows glum in the nave and folks get sleepy with it - shoot, *I* get sleepy with it. In a couple weeks, though, it will just BE dark when we get there. And then it won't seem so bad, I don't think. It's the dying of the light that's awkward right now. Next year I would really like to see about moving the experience up in the afternoon. We'll have to see what schedules will allow.

As to how the experience is going, I continue to be impressed with it. I love that it doesn't just include time for study, but also for Scripture reading, singing, prayer, reciting of Catechism, and the intergenerational nature makes for a wonderful challenge. Tonight was our seventh week. In my old practice we'd have only one week more of catechesis for the adults, but I shudder to think of how rushed that is, how little time it gives folks to live with the stories that shape and form our faith.

Must Reading for Reformation

I don't know how it happened, but I had not read Dr. Nagel's sermon for Reformation in *Selected Sermons of Norman Nagel* before. 307-313. Very worth the read. So many of the themes he hammered home over the years join together to sing the Gospel in that homily. Heartily recommend it as a suitable meditation upon the Reformation - the God whom you cannot escape!

20 October 2007

The Amazing Bekah Boo

An Honor Long Since Past

I was reading some in Sasse today, and came across this passage. I think it is very sad that we can no longer make such a claim:

Despite its decided rejection of false teachings which prevail in other churches, our church has never denied the presence of the church of Christ in the established churches of England and Scotland, in Holland and Switzerland, in Spain and Italy, in Greece and Russia. It has not tried, therefore, to conduct missions for the Lutheran confessional church in these countries, just as it has avoided the "evanglicalization" of Catholic territories in Germany. Let all those who accuse Lutheranism of intolerant confessionalism reflect on the fact that the Lutheran Church is one of the very few churches in Christendom which has never, under any circumstances, engaged in propaganda for itself or conducted missions among Christians of other persuasions. (Here We Stand, pp. 182, 183)

Ah, how unablaze can you get, I ask you? Yes to missions where Christ has not been named, but a refusal to attempt proselytizing Christians of other confessions to embrace Lutheranism.

"Our church knows that it can do no more than bear witness before Christendom, before all communions and denominations, to the understanding of the divine Word which has been vouchsafed it. What happens to this witness, whether it is heeded or not, does not lie in its power. Thus the two statements stand side by side: the Lutheran Church which is faithful to its confession is the true church of Jesus Christ, and the church of Christ is not limited to the church of the Lutheran Confession. The two statements are inseparably connected to the Lutheran doctrine of the church." (p. 183)

The whole of the book is worth attending to, but perhaps particularly Sasse's last chapter titled *The Lutheran Church and the Una Sancta.*

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The perfect righteousness of Christ is the glorious robe of His saints; let not him therefore who is clothed in this robe fear the least spot of sin. - Johann Gerhard, *Sacred Meditation* XVII

Patristic Quote of the Day

Now, notice here that my words are exact: the seed of a man, mortal and corruptible, begets and gives birth through a woman to sons who are mortal and corruptible; the immortal and incorruptible Word of the immortal and incorruptible God, however, begets and gives birth to immortal and incorruptible children, after having been born of the virgin by the Holy Spirit. - St. Symeon the New Theologian, *On the Mystical Life* pp. 59-60

Weekend Stuff

Lauren showed up yesterday in the a.m. We ended up visiting for a while, then she headed to Metro to spend some time with her sister and to catch up with her former teachers. Jo, Cindi and I joined her for lunch at La Fonda's, and then a trip over to Office Depot to harass David for not having his phone on him. Then in the evening we built a fire, roasted hotdogs, and made smores (no, I didn't have any) - Dean and Lauren, David, Bekah, Jo, Dave, Cindi and I. The wind was blowing like crazy yesterday and the fire had a hard time of it! Then we played some cards in the middle of which Cindi and I went to a wedding rehearsal. Dean was definitely NOT the winner of the second game. And neither was Jo. It amazes me how often Bekah manages to go out on the last hand. She's going to have to teach me her trick one of these days.

Today has been a quiet day so far. Cindi and Lauren went for a bike ride and to check out Jo and Dave's set up for the Craft Fair at our local grocery. Wedding for Tom and Darlene is coming up at 1 and then the reception, then confession at 5 and the Eucharist at 6. We'll close off the day by joining Tim and Lynn and the kids for dinner at Bully's.

Tomorrow just the usual round: Divine Services and Bible Study and Catechism Service. Yup, just our Lord with His forgiveness and His body and blood and His life-giving Spirit and His words that sustain us in faith and give us a hope beyond all the joys of this life. What a life we live, people loved by God! Our God blesses us with all the little things and all the big things along the way too. How joyous it is to be His guest in this world, and to know that He has prepared for us a home - a home without any goodbyes ever again. Glory to Him forever!

19 October 2007

A New Outfit

Bekah bought this for her buddy today. I happen to think it looks smashing, but Lucy can't understand why she can't just shake it off!

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Symbols must be used and they must be taught so that they bring about a uniformity of conviction, that they create a climate of opinion which neither acts as a restraint upon conscientious and reverent inquiry nor encourages an irresponsible nose-thumbing iconoclasm which holds confessional loyalty up to ridicule or which regards it as a reflection upon the adequacy of the Sacred Scriptures. -- Piepkorn, *The Sacred Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions* p. 96

Patristic Quote of the Day

Enter with a humbled heart into the house of God and you have entered with a gift. St. Augustine, *On the Psalms* Psalm 95

Good Read

Now here's a fellow I'd like to meet someday!


18 October 2007

A Von Schenk Joy

"They had three speakers: Gustave Wiegel of Woodstock, Rome's great theologian in America, Alexander Schmemann (whom I consider the most brilliant of all the theologians I have met) representing the Russian Orthodox Church, and I. Gustave Wiegel and I got into a little hassle. There was a question and answer period after the three lectures, and the question directed at me was: 'What is the Church?' I answered: 'According to St. Paul it is the Eucharistic community, under the direction of the ordained minister of the church, to manifest the total presence of Christ.' This was not original with me; St. Paul would agree with that definition, so would the ancient Church Fathers. But Wiegel protested, 'It is the Kahal Yisrael' ('Congregation of Israel'). Dr. Walther would have answered, 'It is the Missouri Synod, because they preach and teach pure doctrine.'" - *Lively Stones* pp. 117, 118

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

He is risen, not for Himself but for our sake, that His resurrection may be made ours, that we may also rise in Him, and not remain in death and the grave, but with Him may celebrate in the body an everlasting Easter. - Blessed Martin Luther, Sermons from the Year 1533.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For Christ is one, in whom every nation that believes, and every tongue that confesses, is gathered unto God. -- St. Ignatius of Antioch, to the Mangesians, Chapter 10

The Measure of Love

Our men's study group this morning studied the new obedience article in the Augsburg Confession. Doug asked a very good question about the measure of love. Has the Church ever offered guidance on this? We talked about the measure of love being precisely how we treat our enemies, the people who are most unkind to us and take advantage of us. Praying for them, speaking well of them, seeking God's blessing on their lives. And forgiving them as often as they ask - our Lord's famous seven times in a day. Such love is only possible for us in union with Christ, for He is that Love and His Spirit pours it into us. He is the one who loved His enemies, and prayed for those who drove the nails, and sought to bring the blessing of eternal life to our whole race. We are freed in Him to grow in that love day by day, and God continues to set before us wonderful opportunities to practice it. What is the measure of love? The man hanging upon the tree, bloodied and battered, and seeking only to draw all people to God. "We love, because He first loved us." Grant us, Lord, to grow in Your love, for we know that this alone is LIFE!

17 October 2007

At long last...

...rain. It was pouring when I returned from Maryville about half past noon. It has rained off and on during the day. What a grace of God: "Thou visitest the earth and waterest it, thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water." (Aufdemberge's setting, learned 25 years ago and more at Bronxville, ringing in my ears).

But even when it is welcome and the earth has been aching for it, thirsting for it, it brings the spirit down. And that despite the fact that I love to hear it pounding on the roof and spilling out of the gutters and hitting the windows. When Goldberry's washing day comes, it seems a perfect day for melancholy thoughts and sitting about, telling old stories and thinking of the past.

For me, the memory that always stirs is sometime in my childhood. Our little house at 2719 Munson Street in Wheaton, MD. My oldest brother (then high school drop out, now college professor!) had left for a stint in the Coast Guard, the other children were all at school, but I was too young to go to school. I remember it was mid morning and the back door open, off my parent's bedroom. I laid on the bed. The doves had been singing their mournful song, and then the rain came. In sheets. It fell and fell and you could hear its music. There was just that and the sound of the iron (an odd click every now again) as mom as banished the wrinkles from all our clothes at the ironing board next to the bed. I don't remember the time of the year, but I remember the sadness. It still comes when the rain falls like that. Silence and rainfall. And a sense of loss.

Boring Personal Stuff

Doctor's appointment yesterday. Told me blood pressure was too high and that I need to exercise. How rude. If I wanted to hear that, I'd just have to "listen" to the look my wife gives me all the time.

But the good news was the blood work. LDL - 59; HDL - 85; Total: 185. And this after eating low-carb Atkins diet for almost seven years. Kind of a myth-buster, eh? Now the triglycerides were high - 207 - and I suspect that's related to enjoying first article gifts too much and to that nasty thing the doctor said about exercise. Sigh. So I guess I need to get off the puter and go for a run. Aw, shucks, it's raining. Guess I'll have to WAIT a bit before that run! ;)

Ack! I've been tagged!

Lutheran Lucciola has tagged me for seven true things.  Hers were of personal nature and so I'll follow that lead and leave the deep truths for another day:

1.  Lucy is not only beautiful but a bandit, who will swipe any food left within reach (and she's not opposed to climbing on the table if there's no one to stop her and she can find a chair to give her a leg up).

2.  Cindi recently cut her hair, and it looks smashing.

3.  Lauren and Dean live too far away from both sets of parents.

4.  David Weedon has the gift of making people laugh - and I mean lots.

5.  Rebekah has discovered the joy of tennis - and an aptitude for it as well.

6.  Nothing brightens my day like a talk with my sis.

7.  There is too little music in most people's lives; mine too.

Now, who else to tag?  What about my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, and my dear friend Anastasia.  

Patristic Quote of the Day

[in honor of St. Ignatius of Antioch, who is commemorated with joy this day]:

They even absent themselves from the Eucharist and the public prayers, because they will not admit that the Eucharist is the self-same body of our Savior Jesus Christ which suffered for our sins and which the Father in His goodness raised up again.  Consequently, since they reject God's good gifts, they are doomed in their disputatiousness. - St. Ignatius of Antioch, Smyrneans 7

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

How strange!  Every day we ask and desire the saints to care for our necessities, and St. Paul teaches us (Rom xii.13) to distribute to theirs!  -- Blessed Martin Luther, Sermon for the Second Sunday after Epiphany, 1525


We're doing the happy dance (not a pretty sight, but rather vigorous!).  Lauren and Dean are headed home this weekend!!!

Dreaded thought:  what are people killing outside these days?  I wonder how much we'll see Dean!  Well, as I told him, as long as our modern Nimrod doesn't show ME what he hunted down, I'll be content.  

15 October 2007

Day Off

My usual day off is Friday.  But I've missed more than enough of those this year, so I am taking tomorrow off.  Have a number of personal matters that need attending to, and will likely neither blog nor work on anything related to church.  And I will enjoy it.  :)

God willing, will be back on Wednesday!

On the Complications of Reading Luther

Luther was an amazing man.  But you're not done with him when you've read his early stuff.  You're certainly not done with him when you've read his diatribes against Rome.  He had another battle to face and that was just as important:  his words of criticism against Zwingli and his ilk.  You're really not done with him until he's battled through on both fronts.  Then you get his mature thought, and it seems to hold fairly constant until his death.

So when you read him, note the dates.  Through till 1517-18, you've still got an essentially Roman Catholic Luther.  Move to the 1520-24 and you've got the anti-Romanist Luther.  It took the battles after 1524 to make Luther realize how much Rome itself served as bulwark against a rampant spiritualization of the Holy Sacraments.  By the time you to the Catechisms (1528 and beyond) you've got a Luther who has contended against both dangers, and presents a more balanced picture of his thought.  

This method of reading Luther is far from novel.  It is, in a sense, sanctioned in his intro to the collected Latin works.  He warns that the papal leaven was rife in him for many years.  

What is truly curious and delightful is when a thought expressed in the early years carries through all the intervening years.  I'd suggest THAT's a key point in Luther.  A much unexamined point in the great Reformer would be his take on the communion of saints, which remains essentially unchanged from the great document on the Eucharist in 1519 to his writings on John in 1528 to his writings on the Church in 1539.  It is a thought sadly missing in much of Lutheranism today.  


Whew!  At long last, the updating of Starck's classic book of prayer has been shipped off to CPH - a month and a half before it was due, no less.  Hopefully they'll be happy with it, and other folks will be blessed with those beautiful words that have filled my days for the last year.  Starck's Prayer Book gives the lie to the notion that Lutherans taught simply a legal fiction about justification, and that there was no concern for mystical union.  It also is replete with very rich prayer to each person of the Blessed Trinity, acknowledgment of the holy angels, and a powerful confession of human impotence and God's all supplying grace.  

The Can't Agree

over which one is the REAL mistress of the house:

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

It would also mean the end of the notion that what the Confessions say of church government is fulfilled by having a clever - alas, all too clever - central church bureaucracy running things not by the Word but by force.

All of this must pass away and will pass away, just as church government by princes as summi episcopi disappeared overnight.  But the holy ministry, preaching repentance and forgiveness, and the congregation of the faithful, who in faith are justified sinners - that will remain.  The future may involve forms which we today do not know about, but which the Lord of the church is preparing amid the thousandfold suffering of contemporary Christianity.  He is His body's Savior even when we see only dissolution. Still true are Luther's great words about God's way in history:  "By putting to death He makes alive."

This faith in what God is doing does not exclude our responsibility, but rather includes it.  This means renouncing everything that is destructive of the genuine ministry instituted by Christ and the genuine congregation instituted by Him, everything that makes of Christ has instituted a place for exercising our lust for power, whether clerical or congregational.  The office of the holy ministry is not lord over the congregation (2 Cor. 1:24); the congregation is not lord over the holy ministry (Gal. 1).  Both are under Him who alone is Lord; in Him they are one.  

--Hermann Sasse, *We Confess* vol. 3, pp. 82-83

Patristic Quote of the Day

There are four modes of reward:  either (1) evil for evil, as God will reward everlasting fire to the unrighteous, or (2) good for good, as He will reward an everlasting kingdom to the righteous, or (3) good for evil, as Christ by grace justifies the ungodly, or (4) evil for good, as Judas and the Jews persecuted Christ.  Of these four modes of reward, the first two belong to justice...the third to mercy...the fourth God does not know, for to none does He reward evil for good.  But that which I have placed third in order is in the first instance necessary, for unless God rewarded good for evil, there would be none to whom He could reward good for good.  -- St. Augustine, OPS (15), p. 562

The Tent Enlarges

That's Madison (oldest), Emma (middle) and Sean (the newborn). Children of my niece, Shannon and her husband John. Aren't they adorable?

Beagle Lovers!

Get thee to Rasburry's Res and enjoy some pics and writing on Porthos and Gimli. They are my two favorite beagles after Her Royal Highness Lucy. They are both FULL SIZED beagles, unlike our petite pup, so I'd say that if Pastor Asburry continues to lift them up like that off the floor, he could probably sell his bowflex. I mean, that's got to be GREAT exercise, and a whole lot more fun!

14 October 2007

Oh, and the real hoot!

Our pianist has other obligations and gets to the service as soon as she can, but we generally just start without her.  So we did today.  And we were already singing the Old Testament Canticle when she came in on the piano - and we were in the right key!  Talk about a miracle!!!  I can't believe that actually happened.

So I couldn't restrain myself...

...we ended up singing at Catechism Service "The Angel Gabriel" and "From East to West" and we read (but didn't sing, sadly) "Of the Father's Love Begotten."  Nothing like the hymns of the Church to teach the adoration due to the Child who is at once our brother and our Creator!  I left feeling like humming "it's beginning to SOUND a lot like Christmas!"  ;)

"The Kiosks of Peking...

...Fragrant of Oolong."

Well, not quite.  This charming article is about a tea that I MUCH prefer to Oolong:  Darjeeling.


Darjeeling - ah, I've loved the taste of it for years, though I haven't had some for a bit.  The article made me want to go pick some up.  It does make a very fine tea even in the bags you can buy at the grocery, but wouldn't it be delightful to taste it fresh off the mountain?

Joys Abounding

What joy today!  

Not only all the Gospel gifts of the Lord for His people that we live from, but also the Bells of St. Paul ringing at both early and late and the Children of Trinity-St. Paul singing at late. My favorite part of the whole service was hearing those young voices float down from the choir loft the second stanza of "Lord, Thee I Love."  I had told the older children that that was to be my funeral song and I wanted them to learn it well and sing it for me.  They did a super job!  And I thought the place really shook as we all sang:  "And then from death awaken me..."

Following the late Divine Service there was a Baptism - Tyler Lee Perry is now a Christian, an heir of the heavenly Kingdom!   He was a little angel - slept right through the whole thing! - and how like the grace of God that is, He does His mighty works for us and in us and we are rather oblivious and only later come to realize what He was up to while we were snoozing!

Right now I'm off to take the Sacrament to Paul at the home.  I had tried to bring it to him last week only to find the cruet empty of wine!  Grr.  ["I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear my trousers rolled..."  That is, IF I remember where I put them!  This getting old thing is for the birds.]

Still ahead this afternoon at 5 is the Catechism Service - the Apostles' Creed, the Second Article, the First Part:  the Incarnation. Christmas, or more precisely, Annunciation.  What can be greater joy than teaching on that?  Well, greater joy by far in SINGING all the hymns of the incarnation!  I did debate using "The Angel Gabriel" to teach the whole story.  I may yet.

13 October 2007

Ack! I Was Warned!

Pastor McCain told me that the reading guide in the first edition of the Concordia had some problems, but I've been cruising along and not noticing any. Until I looked toward the end of the year and counted the weeks and realized that I had more weeks in Concordia than the calendar has to finish out the year. THEN I saw the problem. There are TWO week 14s and TWO week 21s listed. So, if you've been faithfully reading your BOC according to its schedule and you have the first edition, and you plan to finish up by the year's end, realize that you will need need to DOUBLE UP several times.

Right now I'm in the Formula, SD on original sin - some really, really good stuff. This week we passed the infamous garlic juice! What I continue to find utterly neglected in typical Lutheran lingo is the language of our symbols regarding original sin as an infection and a disease, a "spiritual leprosy," and how the human nature itself is what God sets to work HEALING through Holy Baptism, a healing only begun in this life and not perfected until the life to come. If there are folks who think the sanitive lingo is sub-Lutheran, they are being sub-Confessional! It's part of the pattern of sound words our Symbols give us (from AC II to the FC I!).

12 October 2007


The Collinsville Chorale gave an outstanding performance tonight - and my wife and father-in-law had solos and did great jobs! In fact, my wife has convinced me: I'm going to join the chorale for the Christmas concert, which this year will be offered at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Collinsville. Sweet! I told Cindi today that I am personally starved for music. Playing for the Pastoral Conference reminded me of how much I miss it. And Christmas music is my all-time favorite, hands down, no contest. Can't wait to find out what we'll be singing!!!

One more

before I quit for the day (remember, Broadway tonight!):

Christ did not earn only gratia, "grace," for us, but also "donum", "the gift of the Holy Spirit," so that we might have not only forgiveness of, but also cessation of, sin.

(Martin Luther, *On the Councils and the Church*, AE 41:114)

He had a way with words...

...Luther, I mean. Here's snippet from *Wider Hanswurst* - truly one of his most outrageous writings in which he strews gems among the...well, you know:

This we say about doctrine, which must be pure and clean, namely, the dear, blessed, holy, and one word of God, without any addition. But life, which should daily direct, purify and sanctify itself according to doctrine is not yet entirely pure or holy, so long as this maggoty body of flesh and blood is alive. But as long as it is in the process of purification and sanctification, being continually healed by the Samaritan and no longer decaying in its own impurity, it is graciously excused, pardoned, and forgiven for the sake of the word, through which it is healed and purified; thus it must be called pure. This is why the holy Christian church is not a whore or unholy, because it continues to hold to and remain with the word (which is its holiness) without blemish and with strength. "You are already made clean (says Christ in John 15) by the word which I have spoken to you," not on your own account.

An Interesting Interview

- hey, "interesting" is a very flexible word - with Fr. Robert Taft, S.J.:


HT to Dr. William Tighe.

Patristic Quote for the Day

The Word, which is God, took on flesh from Mary, not however in order that the Virgin might be adored, neither that he might make her God. Let Mary be held in honor, but let the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be worshiped; let no one worship Mary. This mystery is due God, not to women, neither to man. Nor does such a doxology belong to the angels. Let those things be erased which have been wrongly written in the heart of those who have been deceived. Let the lust of the idol be extinguished from the eyes. Let the creature return again to the Master. Let Eve with Adam return to honor God alone. Let no one be led by the voice of the serpent. Let him abide by the command of God. ... Although Mary is holy and to be honored, nevertheless she is not meant to be adored. - Epiphanios of Salamis, Panarion 3.2:7

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

More Urbanus Rhegius, Confessor at Smalcald, on the Saints:

We should call upon Christ our only redeemer, bishop, mediator, and intercessor in heaven with the Father, and flee to him with confidence in every need as the mercy seat where God alone has arranged to be found in grace. For he himself says: "Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." All Scripture points us to Christ, who alone brings us to the Father. He alone is our "merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God" in those things we have to bring before God.

Nowhere does Scripture teach that in our need we should flee to those who have died in the Lord, call upon them, or expect and seek help from them. Scripture does teach, however, that one should otherwise honor the saints as elect members of Christ and our faithful brothers and sisters, that is, we should speak of them with respect, praise God in them and them in God, who showed such abundant grace to them and exalted them to such glory. Let us find proof of such grace every day, so that we learn through these examples to expect the same grace and help from our faithful God and so that we are moved to ask God earnestly to give us poor sinners who still struggle with the flesh the same faith, hope, and love enjoyed by the beloved saints while here on earth. In this way we may be able through Christ to overcome our own sinful flesh, the world, and the evil spirit and join the beloved saints. This is certainly also their heart-felt desire, for they love us and rejoice at our devotion and our salvation. *Preaching the Reformation* p. 107

How Cool is the Net?

If you've ever wanted to worship at St. Paul's, you can at least watch and sing along. Here's last Sunday's liturgy from the early service, recorded for us by Adam Roe, aka The Wittenberg Catholic. Thanks for doing this, Adam!

Divine Service for Trinity 18

That's Divine Service III from LSB with Entrance Hymn #803, of the Day #694, Distribution Hymns (after anthem) #617 and 919, and Recessional #805.

P.S. My computer struggles a bit with the video. Best way to view it is to start it, and make sure it is running, then stop it. Go away and make coffee, read a book, feed the cat, walk the dog, get your coffee, come back and push go. That should get you about five minutes worth. When it starts to stutter, do the same thing. ;) You can also grab the sliding bar and move it to any point in the liturgy. For example, the Preface and following are about minute 39. You can move it ahead till that appears and then click the button for it to go again.

11 October 2007

Rhegius on the Saints

Whoever does not honor them, therefore, disparages Christ who is in them and belittles the grace of God through which they have turned out so well. I ask you, what does it say about a person's attitude toward the holy church if that person does not honor our fellow members who are already at peace with Christ and have been made certain of eternal salvation? Christ said: "The angels of God rejoice over one sinner who repents." Certainly, therefore, our brothers and sisters, the saints, ardently desire the hastening of our repentance and salvation. And since the angels pray for us [Zech. 1:12], it is very likely that the saints also pray for us. Their love for us has not diminished but increased. That does not mean, however, that we should invoke the saints, just as we do not call upon angels but only upon Christ our God.

We should nevertheless honor the saints as the early church honored them by respectfully celebrating their memory. It gave thanks to God for setting them free, for the grace given to them, for their blessedness, and for the excellent gifts which God through the saints poured out on the church. Is it not true that God through Augustine, not to mention others, stirs up the Church to comprehend the epistles of Paul, when that saint seeks so ardently in the Scriptures and then, armed with the teaching of Paul, so powerfully refutes and confounds the Pelagians?

Are not saints the brightest mirrors of divine grace in which we see what the grace of God can do?? ... Their examples make us want to imitate them, so that we pray to God for a similar faith and to imitate the virtues of the saints as befits our own calling. Consequently, our faith in Christ is strenthened, our charity is set aflame, and our hope of eternal life is confirmed. We do not believe the saints are gone, but rather gone ahead to the life of the age to come.

We take with utmost seriousness the article of Creed: "I believe in the holy catholic church, the communion of saints." For it is no small consolation for a devoted heart to remember that those who like us fought sin in this mortal flesh have now been liberated and taken to safety. We will certainly follow them, for we are their brothers and sisters, "citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone." [Eph 2:19-20] O that blessed city of God, into which so many children, virgins, and martyrs have been received, where we will see for eternity apostles, prophets, patriarchs and all the righteous who have believed in Christ, from Adam up to the last Christian on earth! We will see choirs of angels and the most blessed mother herself who is the the noblest member of the mystical body, finally the only true source of eternal joy for angels and humans, Jesus Christ the king of glory, and God who is all in all.

[Urbanus Rhegius, Confessor at Smalcald: Preaching the Reformation, pp. 93-97]

Broadway in Illinois?

You betcha! My dear wife Cindi and my father-in-law will be singing with the Collinsville Chorale as they treat us to 100 Years of Broadway. Both Cindi and Dave are veterans of many musicals and they've had a blast learning the music, and each has some solo work, I believe. A teasing taste of your favorite musicals awaits you. If you're in the area, come and listen. You won't regret it! Promise!!! Concert will be this Friday (yes, that's tomorrow) at the Collinsville High School Fine Arts Center. "Give my regards to Broadway!"

Invocation of the Saints

When the Reformation rejected the practice of invocation (which established itself in the Church by the end of the 4th century and lasted to the Reformation and persists yet in those jurisdictions in communion with Rome or Constantinople), was the Communion of Saints thereby rejected? This is the contention. For all intents and purposes, without a liturgical expression of the communion of saints (meaning, in other words, the invocation) the doctrine itself disappeared, evaporated from the Church's consciousness. Is this true?

Speaking personally, my understanding of the Communion of Saints was shaped quite markedly by the celebrations of All Saints that occurred in my home parish the week following Reformation. It was shaped by singing "For All the Saints" and "Ye Watchers." It was shaped by praying the collect for All Saints. Then it grew over the years. I also learned to sing "By All Your Saints" and "Sing with All the Saints in Glory." The weekly pounding into my head of "the communion of saints" and "therefore WITH angels and archangels and ALL the company of heaven..." was not without effect. Then there was the realization that the Our Father was the prayer of the whole Church with especially the Church Triumphant joining ceaselessly in petitions 1-3 and the Doxology, and the Church Militant praying as part of her pilgrimage to home petitions 4-7. There was standing week after week before the altar at Compline and confessing: "I confess to almighty God before the whole company of heaven..." There was the sanctoral calendar - and the thanking of God for each saint upon the day assigned.

No, I don't buy it. At least MY experience in the Lutheran Church has not been devoid of the Communion of Saints. It rather taught me that this is wherein I live and travel. And it did this *without* teaching me to pray to the saints. The Symbols taught me that the saints pray with me and for me. The Symbols taught me that I don't need to resort to the uncertainty of asking them to speak to God on my behalf, since I could rejoice that they were already speaking to God for the whole of His pilgrim Church and eagerly waiting for the day of our consummation in bliss with them. Above all, my experience in the Church has taught me to love them as the beloved of the Lord and comforted me that I also with them am one beloved the Lord. Part of the family of God.

So, sorry. I don't buy it at all that the experience of the communion of saints is the right and sole possession of Rome or Constantinople:

The patriarchs' and prophets' noble train,
With all Christ's foll'wers true,
Who washed their robes and cleansed sin's guilty stain,
Sing praises ever new!
I see them shine forever,
Resplendent as the sun,
In light diminished never,
Their glorious freedom won.

Unnumbered choirs before the shining throne
Their joyful anthems raise
Till heaven's arches echo with the tone
Of that great hymn of praise.
And all its host rejoices,
And all its blessed throng
Unite their myriad voice
In one eternal song.
LSB 674:3,4

Homily for Trinity 19

[Genesis 28:10-17 / Ephesians 4:22-28 / Matthew 9:1-8]

Let’s face reality. If you were the paralytic and your friends had brought to Jesus, and He sees you, smiles at you, and says to you: “Child, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven,” you’d be totally disappointed.

Why? Because you didn’t come to Jesus get your sins forgiven. You came to get your life fixed, because it was broken. For the paralytic it was his body that wouldn’t work right. Maybe you’ve got one of those too. But there are other things. People come to Jesus, to His Church, still today because they want Him to fix something. Maybe it’s a lousy marriage. Maybe it’s an addiction. Maybe it’s a rotten job situation – an unreasonable boss, dishonest employees, you name it. Maybe it’s wild and rebellious kids or maybe its parents who just don’t seem to really love and care about you. Or maybe like the people who carried this man, you’ve come to Jesus about someone you care about. Someone who means the world to you and you just want Jesus to heal them. Whatever it is, lots of folks come to Jesus looking for a quick fix.

And when you come to Him and He says: “Child, be of good cheer! Your sins are forgiven.” You, like the paralytic and his buddies, can scarcely hide the disappointment on your face. “That’s it?” you think. “That’s all I get from Him? Why did I bother coming in the first place.”

You see, it’s not only the scribes who grumble at Jesus’ words. They thought he was blaspheming – and they thought that because they suspected that his words didn’t mean anything. Jesus was talking as though He were God and talk, as we all know, is cheap.

So Jesus puts the question to them and to us: “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven?’ Or to say ‘Rise and walk.’”

Which do you think is easier to say? Words are cheap, right? Action is priceless. You too think that the fix for whatever problem is eating at you right now is the harder thing for the Lord to take care of, and you suspect that maybe He’s just disguising His impotence to really help you by telling you over and over again: “Child, be of good cheer! Your sins are forgiven.”

What use is a Church that only talks about forgiveness? You want a Church and a Jesus that will FIX the stuff that’s gone haywire! A Church and Jesus that has some relevance to your life right now. That’s what you need, so you think.

“Which is easier?” You know, as true God in human flesh, it was absolutely no big deal for Jesus to heal that young man. He could have done it with a word, a thought, a gesture. He’d done it for many others before. Think of it: He’s the One who created all things, including you. He keeps the stars in their courses. He holds the atoms together. He makes the sun shine and the rain fall. Doing a little fix up job on your body is no sweat to Him.

But forgiveness, now. You might think that’s nothing. He knows how wrong you are. You stop and think for one moment what forgiveness cost Him. He didn’t need to take on flesh and blood to heal paralytics. Through His prophets He’d long before healed the sick and even raised the dead. He didn’t become a human being so that He could give lessons in God’s goodness and love toward the human race, so that He could spend forever fixing whatever issues we bring to Him. That’s why when He so often did His miracles, His acts of kindness and love, He would say: “Keep it to yourself. Not a word.” Never worked, but He kept trying. You see, He didn’t want to be known as the “fixer-upper” guy – the one you ran to when your life begins to wildly tilt and your world turns upside down.

He’s got bigger fish to fry. And those fish are your sins. He came into the flesh to do the harder thing. To take into Himself the entire burden and load of your sin. To carry it in His body to the Cross and there to endure the righteous judgment of the All-Holy One against all human sin. His cross was all about His answering for your every sin. Having lived for you the perfect life, He proceeded to die in YOUR place, the death that was your due under the holy law of God. And He does it all so that He can speak a word of forgiveness to you – a word that is drenched in His own blood, signed, sealed and delivered by His own death.

Which is easier? To heal the fellow, He just spoke His word: “Get up.” And up he got. But to speak the word of forgiveness to him, to you, and to me, He would go to Golgotha. His forgiveness is anchored in His death – never forget the price it cost Him to give it to you.

But that still leaves you wondering why that’s the biggy that He’s always offering to you. Forgiveness? Great. Wonderful. Amen. But what about what needs fixing in my life, Lord? What about that?

Well, stop and get a tad of perspective. If He heals you now, you’re still going to die one day and stand before His judgment seat. If He heals your marriage, you’re still going to die one day and stand before His judgment seat. If He fixes your job, you’re still going to die one day and stand before His judgment seat. If He fixes every last complaint you’ve got about how your life is going and did it right away, you’re still going to die one day and stand before His judgment seat. And that day may be today for you, for me, for any of those you love. There’s no promise about that. But there is a warning that those who have not availed themselves of His forgiveness here on earth will not have the chance to avail themselves of it after this life is over. You see, no matter what you think the big problem in your life is, nothing comes close to the problem you have with sin. And you do not want to leave this world with your sin on your back. You want to leave this world with Christ’s forgiveness poured over you, in you, through you. A new creature!

And so He’s waiting eagerly to do it. He pours it over you in the water of Baptism. He feeds it constantly into you with the promises of His holy Word. He seals it to you every time you come to this altar in faith, trusting that you do indeed receive here exactly what He promises: His body, His blood, His forgiveness for all your sin. His life poured into you.

The Church, folks, is all about giving out forgiveness – His forgiveness. And so it’s not about all those penultimate issues in your life; it’s about the real and finally and only one: how do you stand before God?

Wrapped up in His forgiveness, you can face whatever comes your way with confidence, because you know the end of the story. The same Christ who has said to you: "Child, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven" is He who will stand again on the earth, and He will call you by name from your grave and say: “Child, rise, pick up your bed and come home.” The forgiven have a home, a life in Christ that never ends. And when you know how to die the blessed death, you are set free to live the blessed life of forgiveness – even in the midst of all the broken things that need fixing. He'll take care of them one and all in their own time, but first things first and chief things chief. To Christ alone, the Forgiver of all our sin, be all the glory with His holy Father and unoriginate Spirit, now and ever unto the ages of ages! Amen.