30 April 2008

The Wrong Way to Teach Homiletics

is to begin with the assumption that one must master the text. You know, the pastor, the "expert", equipped with all sorts of dictionaries and grammars has a go at the text. Then he takes the info from the text he's mastered and is given various techniques to knock it into shape and impart it to the "non-experts" - the laity! I don't think I'm being unfair as I reflect back on my own seminary training - that's what they attempted to teach us to do.

And it's all wrong. It goes wrong from the get go. The task of the preacher is not to master the text, not to interpret it, not to exegete it. Rather, the task of the preacher is to hear God addressing him through that text, interpreting him, exegeting him. The text and the God who speaks through it, is the Master. God would shape through that text the mind of Christ in those He addresses. And a big help in that is the whole community of those whom God has addressed - the Church who has heard Him speak through this text through the ages.

That God speaks a shattering word of law to humble pride of heart to save us (the Akathist of Thanksgiving) and that God speaks a sustaining, refreshing word of Gospel to impart and strengthen trust. Both together and neither alone - either by itself is formula for disaster for then God hasn't been heard all the way through.

And the beauty of this is that the preacher doesn't come to the pulpit as the resident expert, but as one among many whom God has addressed, and his whole task is to let others HEAR the address that he has heard: the God who humbles and who imparts trust to save us. The God revealed in the Cross of Christ as so for us that the spiritual attacks that come in their diversity and ferocity cannot shake that anchor that holds firm within the veil.

St. Philip and St. James

Their day is tomorrow, but with the observance of the Ascension of our Lord, we observed their feast today. I am always struck by that Gospel reading from John 14 - "He who has seen me has seen the Father." Philip had heard our Lord jaw on about the Father for too long - he wanted to SEE the Father. "Show us the Father and it is enough." And our Lord's jaw-dropping answer. "Have you been with me so long, Philip, and you still do not understand?"

We can look for the Father, for God, in all sorts of places. But they all end in despair or terror. The one place we can look for the Father and really see Him, see into His own heart, is in the Son. We can look at the Cross and really SEE the Father.

"But God beheld my wretched state
Before the world's foundation,
And mindful of His mercies great
He planned my soul's salvation.
He turned to me a Father's heart;
He did not choose the easy part,
But gave His dearest treasure."

To look upon the Son in His sacrifice of love is to see into the very heart of God the Father, and thus we get on our knees before the Cross. For what we see astounds and silences us. We have been loved, really and truly loved from before the ages began, in His Son - the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. That's the good news that Sts. James and Philip went forth preaching - that's the good news that they gave their lives in witness to.

How well did St. Hippolytus say that our Lord is "the visible of the Father." And what is visible is pure love. Glory to Him forever!

What a Joy

to spend some time with Lutheran hymnody. Tonight we began that four-part series that CPH sells and that was based on the Good Shepherd Institute. Very solid stuff. And the beauty of seeing the faith set forth in such clarity in Luther's great hymns! It makes me think that I need to ATTEND one of these institutes just for the joy of the singing.

Josh Hits It Out of the Ballpark - AGAIN

Different Kind of Religion

Patristic Quote of the Day

Our fathers thought that they should welcome the gift of evening lifght with something better than silence, so they gave thanks as soon as it appeared. We cannot say who composed these words of thanksgiving at the lighting of the lamps, but the people use these ancient words, and no one accuses them of blaspheming for sing: "We praise Father, Son, and God's Holy Spirit." -- St. Basil the Great *On the Holy Spirit* par. 73

[Note, his reference is to the song we still sing in Evening Prayer: "Joyous Light of Glory" or in Greek Phos Hilaron. It runs like this:

Joyous Light of glory
Of the immortal Father,
Heavenly, holy, blessed Jesus Christ.
We have come to the setting of the sun
And we look to the evening light.
We sing to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
You are worthy of being praised with pure voices forever,
O Son of God, O Giver of life,
The universe proclaims Your glory.]

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Harmony in the Church cannot last unless pastors and churches mutually overlook and pardon many things. -- Apology of the Augsburg Confession, V:122

29 April 2008

A Few Pics from Metro's Choir and Band Tour

Let's see. In the above you get to see Bekah and Robyn thinking the water is a tad cold! Cindi hanging with foster-sister Cindy and with our friend Gail - we all used to hang together when WE were in high school in MD - good friends! Abbey, Robyn, and Bekah on the bus. And last but not least, Cheryl, Cindi and friends at a meal together.

And lifting up His hands...

...He blessed them.

Have you ever followed the hands of Jesus?

See them as Mary first held him, and his tiny hand wrapped around a finger as He nursed in the warmth of her embrace.

See his hands as he reaches out to touch the grizzled beard of Simeon in the temple.

See his hands as He learns to plane the wood and help Joseph in the carpenter shop, hands growing calloused even as a youth.

See his hands as he opens the Torah and reads from it, a finger tracing along with the words.

See his hands as they fold when John puts Him beneath the waters of Jordan.

See his hands as they crack in the dryness of the wilderness, his whole self parched and weary.

See his hands as he touches the leper and the leprosy flees at his words: "I will; be clean!"

See his hands as he takes up the loaves and the fish and blesses his Father for his goodness.

See his hands as he touches the head of the woman he saved from stoning and says: "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."

See his hands as he pats the donkey's head, riding into his holy city.

See his hands as he takes a whip and turns it on those who would sell what God gives freely.

See his hands as they take a towel in hand and he stoops to wash dirty feet and dry them, one by one.

See his hands as he takes bread into them, blesses and breaks and gives his body.

See his hands as they enclose around the cup, and he offers the sacrifice of thanksgiving, his own blood.

See his hands, outstretched in the garden, and trembling receives the cup that the Father gives.

See his hands as he touches Malchus and restores his severed ear.

See his hands, at his side, not raised to defend Himself, against the blows, the spit, the venom.

See his hands spread out against the wood, split open with the nails, determined to do this for you and for your forgiveness.

See his hands writhing in agony as the sky darkens and he is left alone with the burden of all your sin.

See his hands, lifeless and torn, touched by His mother as he his lifeless body rests in her loving embrace.

See his hands, folded across his chest, laid in a tomb, at rest, in repose.

See his hands, scars still there, yet alive again, never to die again, reaching out to the disciples, giving them peace, calling them to life.

See his hands, handling the fish for an early morning breakfast beside Galilee.

See his hands, raised in blessing as he lifts our human nature to the very throne of heaven.

See his hands, wounded and yet living, and pleading for all ages for mercy, a sweet smelling savor to the Father.

His hands.

"I have graven you on my hands," he says.

And to be held by those hands? What more could a person ever ask for or desire?

And lifting up his hands, he blessed them, and for your blessing hands, we bless You, O Lord!

Hey, You know What

the Eucharist is? It's the anti-rejection medicine that God prescribes for you after the heart-transplant that He performed on you in Holy Baptism.

A New 95?


SID Board of Directors Weighs In

The Board of Directors

The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
1333 S. Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-7295

Dear Friends in Christ Jesus on the Board of Directors of Synod and the Board for Communication Services:

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

We, the Board of Directors of the Southern Illinois District of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, wish to go on record in expressing our disappointment over the cancellation of Issues, Etc. This radio program has been a great blessing to the pastors and people of the Southern Illinois District and has reached people around the globe with the good news of Jesus Christ. Even though Issues could be controversial at times, it addressed the important issues facing the church today and excelled in defending the truth of the Christian faith. Those interested in apologetics and in a careful, thorough treatment of God’s Word have lost a valuable resource.

Furthermore, official explanations for the show’s cancellation have not answered many of the concerns expressed by the pastors and people of our district. Sadly, the cancellation of Issues has left many with the impression that certain voices in the church are being silenced. These impressions will persist without a full disclosure of the reasons for the show’s cancellation.

We also wish to express our concern over the hasty terminations of Rev. Todd Wilken and Mr. Jeffrey Schwarz, both of which belong to congregations in our district. From our vantage point, Rev. Wilken did an exemplary job as host of Issues and Mr. Schwarz an exemplary job as producer. These faithful servants of Christ were dismissed without any prior notification or expressions of appreciation. Secular businesses may operate this way, but we expect more compassion and brotherly concern among the people of God.

Therefore, we, the Board of Directors of the Southern Illinois District, respectfully request that you and the Board of Communication Services revisit your decision to terminate Issues, Etc., restore the program, and reinstate both Rev. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz to their positions. We also request a full disclosure of the reasons why this show was cancelled. Too many concerns have been raised to keep your proceedings and rationale for termination a private matter. We urge that this issue be approached openly and in a spirit of love, asking the Holy Spirit to guide us and work among us as we fix our eyes and message on Jesus.

Respectfully in Christ,

Rev. Antonin Troup, District Secretary
Rev. Herbert Mueller, District President, SID

[This letter was adopted in the regular meeting of the Southern Illinois District Board of Directors on April 26, 2008.]

28 April 2008

So Nice...

...to have Cindi and Bekah back home. Sadly, David had to work tonight, but Dave joined us and we had a great dinner (that I slaved over, I'll have you know - thank heavens for the deli at our beloved DK's!!!). We had two roasted chickens, fresh grapes, asparagus, cheddar cheese extra sharp, mashed potatoes and salad. Now NEXT week we'll have to plan a really big family dinner one night, because Jo will be home too - we haven't seen her for a whole month! Dave's heading out to MD this week to visit a while and drive her home. Can anyone say "Liverpool"?

Old Lutheran AND Patristic Quote

Elijah left Elisha his mantel. Chrysostom compares this to the fact that Christ has left behind for us His body and blood in the Lord's Supper. -- Johann Gerhard, Second Homily for Ascension Day [In the midst of an introductory section that compares and contrasts the account of Elijah and his "ascension" with our Lord's]

See the Lord Ascends

1 See, the Lord ascends in triumph;
Conqu’ring King in royal state,
Riding on the clouds, His chariot,
To His heav’nly palace gate.
Hark! The choirs of angel voices
Joyful alleluias sing,
And the portals high are lifted
To receive their heav’nly King.

2 Who is this that comes in glory
With the trump of jubilee?
Lord of battles, God of armies,
He has gained the victory.
He who on the cross did suffer,
He who from the grave arose,
He has vanquished sin and Satan;
He by death has crushed His foes.

3 While He lifts His hands in blessing,
He is parted from His friends;
While their eager eyes behold Him,
He upon the clouds ascends.
He who walked with God and pleased Him,
Preaching truth and doom to come,
He, our Enoch, is translated
To His everlasting home.

4 Now our heav’nly Aaron enters
With His blood within the veil;
Joshua now is come to Canaan,
And the kings before Him quail.
Now He plants the tribes of Israel
In their promised resting place;
Now our great Elijah offers
Double portion of His grace.

5 He has raised our human nature
On the clouds to God’s right hand;
There we sit in heav’nly places,
There with Him in glory stand.
Jesus reigns, adored by angels;
Man with God is on the throne.
By our mighty Lord’s ascension
We by faith behold our own.
LSB 494

And they keep coming...

To Request the Restoration of "Issues, Etc." on KFUO AM, the Disclosure of Board for Communication Documents Related to Its Cancellation, and an Independent Audit of KFUO:

Whereas, members of Iowa District East have voiced their confusion and frustration at the handling of the "Issues, Etc." cancellation and firing of its host and producer; and

Whereas, "Issues, Etc." has been a blessing to many people - Lutherans, other Christians, and the unchurched - listeners in the KFUO broadcast area, listeners of stations across the country which carry this program in syndication, and thousands of listeners from around the world who download audio files of the show on the Internet; and

Whereas, "Issues, Etc." has been a valuable resource for pastors and congregations, keeping us abreast of current issues at the intersection of theology and American society, and helping us to respond to these issues in a truly biblical, evangelical, and Lutheran way, indeed serving as a model LCMS outreach effort; and

Whereas KFUO recently cancelled "Issues, Etc.", pulled it from and subsequently restored it to the KFUO web site, and dismissed its on-air host, Todd Wilken, and its program director, Jeff Schwarz, for widely-disputed reasons; and

Whereas, over 7,000 Christians from around the world and across denominational lines, including soldiers serving in Iraq, have signed an online petition requesting KFUO to reinstate "Issues, Etc." with its host (www.petitiononline.com/Issues/petition); and

Whereas, resolutions attesting to the faithfulness and value of the "Issues, Etc." program have recently been passed in Central Illinois, Southern Illinois, South Wisconsin, and South Dakota Districts, and quite a number of LCMS seminary professors, pastors, and district officials, and laity have signed the aforementioned petition; therefore be it

Resolved, That the Board of Directors of the Iowa District East of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, requests that the Board for Communication Services and KFUO AM publicly apologize to the dismissed staff and their listeners and strive toward a mutually agreeable arrangement under which Rev. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz may continue their exemplary production and airing of this program, and reinstate "Issues, Etc." to its previous broadcast times as soon as possible; and be it also

Resolved, That the Board of Directors of Iowa District East of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod requests, for the sake of trust and unity, that Mr. David Strand and the Board for Communication Services make public all internal documents and memos concerning this cancellation, and, in addition, allow for a complete, independent, and publicly documented audit of KFUO finances, including directly comparable financial performance of all of the station's programs.

Passed by IDE BOD April 22, 2008

Some Gerhard on the Ascension

Ah, in what anguish I saw Thee upon Mount Calvary, and now in what glory I behold Thee upon Mount Olivet! There Thou didst suffer alone; here Thou art attended by a vast multitude of the angelic hosts; there Thou didst ascend to the cross, here Thou dost ascend in a cloud to heaven; there Thou was crucified between two thieves, here Thou dost exult among angelic choirs; there Thou was nailed to the cross as a condemned criminal, here, free from all condemnation, Thou art the deliverer of those condemned to eternal death; there Thou didst bleed and die, here Thou dost rejoice and triumph!

Patristic Quote of the Day

I beseech Thee, O Christ, light of truth, born of the blessed Father, being His image and the radiance of His hypostasis, Who sittest at the right hand of His majesty, Who art my life and the priase and joy of those who love Thee: save me, a sinner, in Thy kingdom and reward me not according to my deeds, but save me according to Thy grace and have compassion on me according to Thy kindness, for Thou art blessed and glorified unto all ages. - St. Ephraim, the Syrian *A Spiritual Psalter* #129

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Ubi est verbum, ibi est ecclesia - Martin Luther (WA 39 / II:176)

27 April 2008

Preparing for Ascension...

...from the liturgy and hymns of the day:

The Venerable Bede (who died on Ascension day) singing: "A hymn of glory let us sing, New songs throughout the world shall ring..." [And we've been singing it ever since.]

"Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? Alleluia. This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven. Alleluia" [Introit]

"...so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him." [Collect, resting largely on Colossians 3:1-4]

"...and a cloud took Him from their sight..." [Epistle; The moving of the paschal candle]

"God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of the trumpet..." [Alleluia Verse]

"...and lifting up His hands, He blessed them." [Alternate Gospel]

"Up through endless ranks of angels, songs of triumph..." [Hymn of the Day]

"...so that rejoicing in His resurrection from the dead and His ascension into heaven, we may joyfully await His coming in glory to share with us the great and promised Feast." [Prayer of the Church]

"...was taken up into heaven that He might make us partakers of His divine life." [Proper Preface]

"Grant us faithfully to eat and drink this Holy Supper, trusting our reigning Savior Jesus, who, though unseen in His ascended glory, is here present to save by His body and blood." [Prayer of Thanksgiving]

"Be now our joy on earth, O Lord, And be our future great reward..." [Bede's Hymn again]

Very Much Enjoying

Oswald Bayer's *Theology The Lutheran Way* - I am supposed to be writing a review of it for CPR, but at the moment I am finding myself simply and utterly intrigued by his description of Luther's approach to theology and thus far, I haven't found a single thing to disagree with. Dr. Nagel told me to keep my eyes open and I might, but so far it's been absolutely beautiful and refreshing. Dr. Bayer is someone who approaches Luther's work, holding together in absolute unity his dependence on prayer and on meditating on the word (which for him meant speaking it out loud!) and on spiritual attack (the triad: oratio, meditatio, tentatio) to arrive at a life of receptivity, where God is the great giver and worker of all. Anyway, I'm only 60 pages or so into it, but I would highly recommend the work.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Theology is infinite wisdom because it can never be fully learned. Martin Luther [WA 40/III:63,17f]

26 April 2008

Patristic Quote of the Day

Let us therefore not think highly of ourselves, even if we see ourselves greatly distinguished for our virtues; rather let us offer up the praise of our thanksgivings unto Christ Who redeems us, and Who also it is that grants us even the desire to be able to act rightly. -- St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 144 on St. Luke

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The 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 holy ministry instituted by Christ and the genuine congregation instituted by Him, everything that makes of what Christ has instituted a place for exercising our own lust for power, whether clerical or congregational. The office of the ministry is not lord over the congregation (2 Cor. 1:24); the congregation is not lord over the office of the ministry (Gal. 1). Both are under Him who alone is Lord; in Him they are one. - Hermann Sasse, *We Confess: The Church* p. 83

What a Ding Dong!

I just realized that I left the Ascension Day Service out of the bulletin AND off the calendar. HELLO, WEEDON? ANYONE IN THERE????

Members of St. Paul: we WILL hold our usual Ascension Day Divine Service this Thursday at 7:15 p.m. - that's May 1st. Anyone in the parish who reads this, please let other folks know. I'll make the announcement at the services this weekend.

Homily for Rogate - 2008

[Numbers 21:4-9 / 1 Timothy 2:1-6 / John 16:23-30]

Rogate, the name of this Sunday, means “pray!” or “ask!” Comes right out of the Gospel reading where our Lord says: “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full!” But how often is this gracious invitation unheeded? And why? Why is it that people have such a hard time praying?

When Adam and Eve heard in the garden the sound of the Lord God coming, they turned tail and ran away. They tried to hide. You know why. Same reason you like to try to hide from Him. Fear that He is coming to get you, to punish you, to pay you out what you deserve, or, what I suspect many fear nowadays, to take away your fun, to deprive you of doing what you want to do. When the real God comes on the scene, then the play acting that WE are calling the shots is all over. And who wants that game to end? So better just to avoid him. To stay away. Not to pray.

But a people who do not pray, who refuse to live in communion with God, who instead pretend that they are on their own and pursue their own way, doing their own thing – such a people soon come to grief. For the world itself that was created to be nothing but communion with God betrays them at every hand and death dogs their every step. Death, the final end to the foolish games we play, is where there is no more running and hiding. When death comes you will talk to Him, whether you like or not. No evading the moment of standing naked and alone before His throne with all of your life an open book.

And there’s nothing like the fear of death to turn people to God. Think of today’s first reading. The grumbling about the way God was leading them. “We have no food; and we hate this worthless food” – the miraculous manna from heaven! God decided it was time to give them something to really complain about. The fiery serpents invaded the camp and they began to die. And in their terror, they turn to Moses, and ask him to pray for them. To stand before the Lord and ask for what they didn’t deserve – for mercy. Moses does so and God answers. The snake on the stick, raised up for any who will humble themselves to look up and see a picture of God’s coming redemption. And those who did miraculously lived.

Because you see, no matter what that old fiery serpent whispers in your ear about how much God is against you, about how He only wants to deprive you of life, to destroy you, to take from you all your freedom, all your fun – the snake on the pole shows that its all a lie. And that the One you’ve been running from, hiding from, not talking to, pretending He wasn’t there even as He kept you alive – and He’s the One who loves you.

St. Paul put it like this in today’s beautiful epistle: Prayer of all sorts “is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” And what is that truth? “For there is one God and there is one mediator (go-between) between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” Jesus as the ransom, Jesus the one prefigured by the snake on the pole, Jesus nailed to the tree as your ransom – that’s the testimony. That’s the truth of God. That’s how much He’s not against you, not out to destroy you, not out to take away from you anything but that which would deal you death – eternal death. And He took that away from you by taking it into Himself. That’s how much He loves you.

Our Lord knows that this residual fear is what spoils our prayer, leads us to run the other way when we sense that presence. To fight against it, rather than to rest in it, and to speak to Him whose presence surrounds us wherever we go. And so He says on the night before He was nailed to the tree and lifted up as our ransom: “The Father Himself loves you, because you have loved me and believed that I cam from God.”

Do you get that? Do you let those words sink in? The Father Himself loves you. You don’t have to run away from Him. When you look to the Cross, when You see that Your Father loved you so much as to give His most precious treasure to forgive your sins, to blot out the accusations of the Law that were against you, to impart to you His own life as a free gift – then the running stops. The hiding stops. The ignoring of God stops. Looking at the Cross is what heals our fears.

We don’t have to wait until the game of hide and seek is over and we stand before the judgment seat. We can stand before the cross itself right now and see the judgment. And the judgment is that God loves us with a love that is unfathomable, unshakeable, and that His desire for us from the beginning has always only been that we share in His eternal love, that we receive from Him the gift of a love that never ends. We can look at the cross and see the judgment of God against all sin – the eternal death that we choose for ourselves when we run from Him and try to find life in the stuff of the creation. It’s all there. All borne. All answered for. All forgiven. And life is being reached us there. Life from the cross – His body and blood, here for you. The forgiveness of sins. The embrace of the Holy One which He gives not to destroy you, but to heal you forever.

Beneath the cross as our true “tree of life” we see that God has never been against us – no matter how it seemed, no matter what fears Satan planted in our heart. For from before this creation, the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. At the heart of God has always stood the Cross – and He created us knowing that He would so redeem us to display for all the ages the glory and marvel of His love.

Stop the running, my friends. Stop living your days avoiding Him. Let your days be wrapped in prayer. For the One to whom you speak and ask for every good, is the One whose heart was opened for all the world to see on Golgotha, the One who gave His Son into death that you, the eternal object of His love, might have a life that does not end. Speak to Him! Come to Him in the name of His beloved Son, your eyes fixed upon His cross, and know that in the name of this Mediator and by the power of His Spirit every promise of God to you is “yes and Amen!” In Him you have nothing to fear.

25 April 2008

Oh, and don't miss

the good thoughts of Pr. Brown on the topic either:

Both Sides

AND for more on the 8th Commandment

PLEASE get thee to Cwirla:

8th Commandment

Study, imbibe, and enjoy!

Petersen on the FOURTH Use of the Law

click here. ROTLLOL - or am I crying? Hard to figure out WHAT to do these days.

From Pastor David Oberdieck's Blog...

...on the Wittenberg Trail:

New information has come out about the Issues Etc controversy. You will recall that Rev Strand, the Executive Director for the Board for Communication services gave two reasons for cancelling Issues Etc: 1. low listenership and 2. the cost of Issues Etc not covered by donations to the program.

Later the truth came out that there were a tremendous amount of MP3 downloads of Issues Etc.. The 4th quarter of 2007 had over 450,000 MP3 downloads alone!

Then we learned that before 2001 KFUO FM/AM combined were, for the most part, self-sustaining. But in 2001, the General Administrative costs of KFUO jumped from over $70k to over $300K a year. The 70K represented the costs that KFUO actually owed Synod. The 300K represented the load placed on them so that the International Center could cover all their costs. That load was spread over all synodical offices including KFUO.

With regard to funds, we also found out the bequests given to KFUO now had to be given through the Lutheran Foundation. This meant that out of a bequest of $100,000 only about 70K would actually be given to KFUO. Would you want to donate to an organization only to have this much of your gift eaten up by the fundraising organization? This is a big red flag.

Now we know that the Synod is anticipating a very significant shortfall in her unrestricted funds. To deal with the financial crisis all boards have been asked to make cut backs so that the Synod can rise above the problem. It was this crisis that offered the impetus to cut Issues Etc.

Why in the world would Synod hold this as a secret? Why didn't they let the members of the Synod and her churches know that this was the financial reason Issues Etc was cut? The issue wasn't so much Issues Etc. The problem has been the synodical headquarters!

Issues Etc. was a wonderful Gospel outreach. It was well worth the money. Let's see what else the Synod cuts out. Do we dare believe we might be saving on all the paper we get about Ablaze!? We need to see greater transparency from the International Center.

Good Friday/ Pascha

Today our brothers and sisters in Orthodoxy are celebrating Good Friday and tomorrow night they will celebrate Pascha. Last year we got to celebrate together - this year we are a month apart. To all my Orthodox friends: May the Lord who triumphed upon the tree, trampling down death by His death, bring to you the unquenchable joy of His resurrection!

24 April 2008

One More Reason...

...to love Pastor Cwirla:

4th Commandment Catechesis

New Post by Mollie



If you haven't seen it, you should. You won't be disappointed. Kudos for a great movie that actually challenges some THOUGHT. Hurray!

Prayer for Our Day

The haughty spirits, Lord, restrain
Who o'er Thy Church with might would reign
And always set forth something new
Designed to change Thy doctrine true.

And since the cause and glory, Lord,
Are Thine, not ours, to us afford
Thy help and strength and constancy.
With all our hearts we trust in Thee.

TLH #292, 6,7

Oh, the General Has a Way, Doesn't He?

click here

Excellent Thoughts from Pr. Hall

on "breaking the 8th commandment" - which nowadays is interpreted as being critical of any decision made by a Synodocrat from the Purple Politburo (aka the Violet Vatican).

8th Commandment

Some Thought-provoking Reading...

Changing the LCMS

My Great Sadness

Is to hear that there was no dissenting votes on the COP. I wonder how those DPs will face their pastors who spoke in various pastoral conferences either unanimously or overwhelmingly asking for the situation to be reversed? I think it leads to a whole new level of questioning: "Why?" And these same people marvel that trust is so broken among us? It's not that hard to figure out, folks. Not hard at all. And for that matter, WHERE does Scripture ever counsel us to "trust" other people? I'd like to see that passage. For good reason Scripture urges us to "trust not in princes (incuding the princes of the church)."

Go, Asburry!


Our Synodical President's Statement

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Greetings in the Name of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world and Lord of the universe, through whom alone we receive forgiveness of sin, life, and salvation!

A decision to discontinue “Issues, Etc.” on KFUO AM Radio was made March 18, 2008, Tuesday of Holy Week, for fiscal reasons described in statements issued after the decision became public. At the April 21, 2008, meeting of the Council of Presidents (COP) of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, financial details precipitating this decision were discussed in executive session by Mr. David Strand, Executive Director of the LCMS Board for Communication Services (BCS), with specific fiscal information provided by the Vice-President-Finance—Treasurer of the Synod, Dr. Thomas Kuchta. The decision was made solely by Mr. Strand after consultation with the chairman of the BCS, Mr. Dennis Clauss, with whom I subsequently spoke over the phone regarding this matter. KFUO Radio is a ministry under the umbrella of the Board for Communication Services.

Prior to its implementation, Mr. Strand also informed me as president of the Synod of his decision. I regret that I did not counsel Mr. Strand to postpone implementation of the decision until sometime other than Holy Week. It is obvious that the timing and process connected with the discontinuation of the program have contributed to the disappointment expressed by listeners and supporters of “Issues, Etc.” in and beyond the Synod. Human Resources policies, compliance with applicable employment regulations, the process of implementation of reduction in force, accompanying severance and outplacement considerations, etc., do not allow the sharing of details about this matter. I am deeply saddened by the anxiety, worry, and consternation experienced in the Synod by those directly and indirectly affected by the decision.

Some have interpreted the decision to discontinue “Issues, Etc.” as being theological or political in nature or purpose. Such interpretations have no basis in fact.

As president of the Synod, I respectfully request and pastorally encourage all in the Synod to be patient and charitable regarding this matter, putting the best construction on actions and decisions connected therewith. I pray for the day when the financial resources of our Synod do not necessitate the reduction in force of radio personnel, the return of missionaries from the foreign mission field, or any other such difficult and painful decisions. And I pray for peace and harmony in our beloved Synod.

Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, President
The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

“Transforming lives through Christ’s love … in time … for eternity …”
John 3:16-17

[I find this incredibly disappointing too - financial resources lead to axing Issues, Etc., while funds flow to Jefferson Hill's Church with its messages from Satan on billboards? Um, that dog don't hunt! Thoughts?]

From COP

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

We, the members of the Council of Presidents of The Lutheran Church—
Missouri Synod, greet you in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ, who is the Savior of the whole world.

We are fully aware of pain in our Synod over the discontinuation of
the KFUO Radio program “Issues, Etc.” When one member of the Body of
Christ hurts—for whatever reason—we all hurt. We are very concerned
about how this pain has affected the church as it carries Christ’s
gifts to the world. Only the devil would rejoice over this disruption!

We encourage the whole church prayerfully to reflect and ponder on a
few matters. We realize that in our understanding and application of
the 4th commandment, this matter is not the responsibility of the
Council of Presidents. The Synod has given the authority for oversight
and implementation of KFUO and its programming decisions to the Board
for Communication Services (BCS). We must regard with Christian
charity and trust the judgment of our duly elected brothers and
sisters in Christ on the BCS, along with its Executive Director, Mr.
David Strand.

We regret the timing of this decision, which was implemented during
Holy Week, one of the most important times of the church year. In
response to the concern that the manner in which this decision was
implemented lacked Christian compassion, it is important to note our
belief that such was not the case. These matters are also addressed in
the statement on this topic by the President of our Synod, attached
hereto, which we commend to you.

The manner in which the church addresses, discusses, and resolves
disagreements is as important as the disagreement itself. In this
regard, the 8th commandment’s focus on upholding the reputation of
brothers and sisters in Christ is most important. We are all the
baptized of Christ, washed in His blood, and we possess His image of
blamelessness. Where there have been communications that have violated
the integrity of a brother or sister in Christ, Christ calls us to
repentance. Here, too, the devil would delight in divisiveness
resulting from matters such as this. Let us walk with integrity,
honesty, and humility, giving glory to Jesus Christ, “bearing with one
another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each
other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must
forgive” (Colossians 3:13).

Jesus Christ is the Lord of the church. As this church goes forward in
reaching unbelievers with the precious Gospel of our Lord, let us be
“eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of
peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

The peace of the Lord be with you all!

Council of Presidents
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
Adopted April 22, 2008, without dissenting vote

[Your comments, folks? I have mine, but I don't trust myself to write them at the moment...]

23 April 2008

Baching it!

Bekah and Cindi are on their way to Florida for Metro's spring tour - band and choir. That leaves David and me here alone. I HOPE that we'll keep some semblance of order in the house for the ladies to return to. So far this evening, this much is very true: two men alone in the house make for a very quiet experience. We're thinking about going out to dinner and a movie tomorrow with Opa. He's baching it too.

St. Mark's Day

Will be observed on the 25th, but we transferred its observance to this evening at the Divine Service. Tonight's homily remarked upon the change in Paul - from Mark not joining him and Barnabas on their next missionary journey, no how, now way; to "get Mark and bring him to me, because he is useful to me for the ministry" from St. Paul's final letter. I suspect the change was not in Mark, but in Paul.

Paul, always the whole hogger (Nagelism) and so intolerant of anyone who was less whole hogger than he. And yet Paul changed. I doubt Mark changed that much. But Paul changed. I think living longer with the Crucified and Risen Lord who is the Forgiveness of all sins literally changed the man.

And just as he knew as he faced his own death that he had no righteousness whatsoever but that Man who kept the Law perfectly for him and in his place, so he came to realize that that righteousness is the only righteousness ANYONE ever has. Did a kindness, a tenderness begin to burst through the zeal of the former Pharisee of the Pharisees? Did he, as his own life was on the point of being poured out as an offering to God, reach out in love toward those he had once judged harshly since, after all, they lived from the very same fount of Forgiveness he lived from?

I believe that the extra time with our Lord changed Paul. And I believe it can change us too. And that's a big point of the Eucharist, where He who is our Righteousness, our Forgiveness, gives to us His own self in His body and blood and reminds us that this is our whole Righteousness, and as also for every other member of His body, no matter how much they may disappoint or frustrate us. We all live together only from His mercy who was on the Cross for our sins, whose blood was shed for our forgiveness, and who lives to intercede for us.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For then, when He arose from the dead, He gave commandment that the mystery should be revealed to all the inhabitants of the earth, setting before every man justification by faith, and the cleansing efficacy of holy baptism. For He said, "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth: Go ye, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and teaching them to observe all those things which I have commanded you. And lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." For Christ is with us and in us by the Holy Ghost, and dwells in the souls of us all: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion and honour with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen. -- St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 49 on Luke

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We may separate in our thoughts the Orders of Creation and Redemption, but they could not be separated in God's thought. The world was created, in order that, in Redemption, it might be the theatre for the display of God's love. -- H. E. Jacobs, *Elements of Religion* pp. 64, 65

22 April 2008

Might Have Been Vs. Is

C. S. Lewis, I think in Perelandra, makes the observation that the fruit you're eating is always the best fruit. He points out by this the propensity we have to find fault with what is, because it's not what might have been. If you really had wanted an orange, and someone gave you an apple, then the apple is not enjoyed because it is constantly being compared to the orange that it is not; whereas, if you just enjoy the apple as an apple, then you give praise and thanks to God.

And so there's LSB. I have to confess when it comes to our Synod's new hymnal, I'm rather in Lewis mode of "the fruit you're eating is always the best fruit." Yes, one can critique the LSB for what it isn't, and where it could be better, and so on. But the marvel of the thing to me is what it actually is: a beautiful and wonderful prayer and song book. We've been living with it now for, what?, a year and a half? I think we'll have had it for two years this coming August. And the more I move into it, the more I love it.

The sturdy Lutheran chorales are there; wonderful new hymns are there; the daily office is a breeze to pray from it; the stately Divine Services show both reverence and awe before the gift of the Savior's body and blood; and there's private confession, the litany, numerous collects, the Catechism, and prayers in the front of the hymnal, and on and on.

I think that when folks just look at what IS when it comes to LSB, the response can only be Deo gratias! A hymnal that is simple to use, stuffed with goodies, and a harmonious blend of the past and the present that will be useful for the future for years to come. It's a darned sweet book - and I'm thankful to be a pastor in the LCMS who gets to use it!

A Morning Storm

It was delightful. Dark as dusk, and then the rain came and poured down. I stood at the door of the front porch for a while just watching it as it watered the earth. I opened all the blinds in my office to watch it as poured.

I don't know why I like morning storms more than the usual afternoon thunder-bumpers, but they always remind me of such rains from childhood and of the Aufdemberge choir piece we sang at Bronxville: "Thou visitest the earth and waterest it; thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God which is full of water."

Who doesn't remember going out and puddle jumping after a beautiful and warm spring rain? Out back the birds are still at the feeders, rain or no rain. Four yellow finches on their feeder and some sparrows and wrens on theirs. No doubt celebrating Goldberry's washing day.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Just as the devil poured out his venom of sin on the tree of knowledge and corrupted human nature once it had tasted it, so when he wished to devour the flesh of the Master he was himself destroyed by the power of the Divinity within it. -- St. Maximos the Confessor, First Century on Various Texts, #11

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

A Symbol is in its primary thrust liturgical. - A.C. Piepkorn, *The Sacred Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions* p. 94

21 April 2008

Update on Wilken/Schwarz Fund

Our counters counted tonight, and I believe that with tonight's total, the account here at St. Paul's has received a tad more than $34,000 since its inception. That's not counting whatever was given through the Paypal Account on Wittenberg Trail, which has raised $14,000. Thus, a total of $48,000. God bless you all for your generosity! Funds have literally come in from all over - not just the United States, but Australia, Japan, Austria, and Canada.

From the Tranoscius

One doesn't vicar with the Slovaks without learning a bit of their own vibrant traditions, and the crown jewel of Slovak Lutheran liturgy is the collection of hymns known as the Tranoscius, from the author of so many: Juraj Tranovsky. LSB features a few of these wonderful pieces, and I've just become acquainted with LSB 484, translated by Jaroslav Vajda and first making its appearance in English in the LBW:

Makes songs of joy to Christ, our head: Alleluia!
He lives again who once was dead: Alleluia!

Our life was purchase by His loss: Alleluia!
He died our death upon the cross: Alleluia!

O death, where is your deadly sting: Alleluia!
Assumed by our triumphant King: Alleluia!

And where your victory, O grave: Alleluia!
When one like Christ has come to save?: Alleluia!

Behold, the tyrants one and all: Alleluia!
Before our mighty Savior fall! Alleluia!

For this be praised the Son who rose, Alleluia!
The Father, and the Holy Ghost! Alleluia!

I remember old Joe Veliber telling me how they would leave Church in the mountains of Slovakia singing the final hymn, and as folks climbed the mountain sides you could hear families singing away as they wended home after service. I'll just BET that this Easter hymn was one they were belting out to each other. What a joyous little text and melody!

Bekah's Latest

Who doesn't love Lucy? Here's Bekah's painting of one of her all-time favorite stars (mine too)!

Patristic Quote of the Day

Help me, O Master of all, defend the infirmity of my soul, that I might be delivered from sinful corruption and freed from the bonds of the passions. May malice not torment me and may the hostile demon not take me captive, but may the kingdom of Thy divine and venerable Spirit come upon me, and cause the corrupt passions which now possess and reign in me to withdraw from me. For Thou art a God of mercy, compassion and love for mankind. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #34

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Every Christian should pray for himself, and for others, but especially for the needs of Christendom. For there are two things that sustain Christendom: God's Word and the prayers of Christians. Just as the Christian Church is sustained through God's Word and the ministry, so it is also sustained through the prayer of every individual Christian. -Blessed Martin Luther, Homily for Rogate (1534) HP II:109

20 April 2008

Pr. Klem Preus - Interesting Thoughts

Consensus News
Vol. 1 No. 3

On the Firing of a Pastor

The firing of Jeff Schwarz and Rev. Todd Wilken as producer and host of the popular Issues Etc. radio program has provoked a series of accusations and counter accusations throughout the synod. Mollie Hemingway, with no little support from the facts themselves, has asserted in a Wall Street Journal article that the move was theologically or politically motivated. President Kieschnick and other synodical officials have maintained that the show was canceled and the firings took place for programmatic and financial reasons, an assertion argued heatedly in the various blogs and websites in cyberspace. Lost in all the hullabaloo is a deeply troubling theological issue. The reasons and motives of those involved notwithstanding, it is quite apparent that a pastor with a divine call has been deposed without cause or due process.

Let's review our doctrine and practice. The Lutheran church has always asserted the scriptural truth that God appoints pastors. In the case of the apostles God did this directly either by Christ speaking to them or, as in the case of Paul, through a vision. God still calls pastors today, but ever since apostolic times He has done so through the church. So Paul can arrange for the appointment of pastors by the church in Acts 14 (v.23) and later he can tell the pastors in Ephesus to "guard the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers" (Acts 20:28). The church calls and God calls. God calls pastors through the church.

Typically, the congregations of the Missouri Synod have carefully guarded their right to call and appoint their own pastors. At the same time we all know that the pastor, though called by the church, is truly called by God no less than St. Peter or St. Paul. Additionally the collection of churches we call synod has at times seen fit to call men as pastors who teach the word and administer the sacraments on behalf of more than a single congregation. So, collectively the church through various boards or commissions calls men to be seminary teachers, military chaplains, campus pastors, missionaries and other teachers of the church.

Rev. Todd Wilken enjoyed such a call. He was extended a divine call by the Board for Communication Services of the Missouri Synod back in 2000. Since then his pulpit has been his microphone and his growing congregation has been the thousands of people who have come to know Christ or have grown in their faith and understanding through the ministry of Issues Etc. as through the airwaves and internet Rev. Wilken spoke in the stead and by the command of Christ. He is the most noble of missionaries.

An important practice of our churches is drawn from our understanding of the divinity of the call. Just as God is the one to call a pastor through the church, so only God, through the church, can depose a pastor. God ends a ministry often by extending another call to the pastor, or by taking a pastor home to heaven. In some cases an unfaithful pastor is deposed by God but only for very specific reasons; either the pastor is demonstrably guilty of false doctrine or of scandalous life. The congregation then becomes God's instrument in deposal just as the congregation was God's instrument in the initial call. But you cannot simply fire the pastor. His call is from God. You must demonstrate to the church that he is guilty of false doctrine or immoral life and only then can the church function as God's agent and depose a pastor.

Our theologians have something to say about this. C. F. W. Walther quotes Martin Luther extensively in his, Church and Ministry. Luther wrote in reaction to the deposal of a called servant of the word and described those who did so as "moved by the evil spirit . . . and robbers of the church," since they "deposed" a pastor "though he was never accused before any judge or convicted of any wrong, and since they undertook this by their own authority and malice." (Walther, Church and Ministry [St. Louis: CPH 1987) 225] Martin Chemnitz, primary author of the Formula of Concord concurs: "Just as there is a lawful method for calling someone into the ministry of the church, so also there is a lawful method for removing someone . . . In our churches many also do not understand this matter correctly. For just as when one hires a servant he has the power to dismiss when he wishes, so some think that they have authority also to dismiss a preacher though they have no just cause . . . There are two reasons for which God removes an unfaithful minister from their office: (1) because of doctrine when thy teach error . . . (2) because of life, when they act in such a way that the name of the Lord is blasphemed . . . When someone must be removed from the ministry, it is necessary that the church can show with certainty that this is the judgment and this is the will of God." [Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, translated by J.A.O. Preus (St. Louis, CPH 1989) vol. II 703]

The reason for which our fathers in the faith were so adamant in their protection of the pastoral office should be obvious. Pastors often find themselves having to speak against the prevailing doctrines or sins of the culture which may be the beliefs and sins of many people in the church itself. These pastors must, like the prophets and apostles of scripture, be given the security to speak even when such speech may be unpopular. A pastor who is constantly worried about his job security or who is concerned about pleasing people may balk at pleasing God.

Thankfully, no one ever accused Rev Wilken of being afraid to broach controversial topics. Thankfully, Christians were able to listen to his guests as they courageously affirmed the faith in the face of a culture which often disdains the name of Jesus. And anyone who listened knew that Rev. Wilken often spoke almost as much as the guests. But it was always God's Word which he spoke. And hungry souls were fed.

Yet, despite his call from God to teach the church through the ministry of Issues etc., and despite his faithfulness in his ministry, Rev. Wilken was fired the Tuesday before Easter. He was not accused of any false doctrine. He was not accused of any scandalous behavior. He was not given any warning ahead of time that would indicate that God wanted him gone. He was given no opportunity to defend the gospel he had proclaimed for eight years. He was simply removed without cause and without due process.

Many were dismayed so see their main source of Christian nourishment cut off like when your favorite restaurant burns down. Equally disturbing is that the leadership of the LCMS seems to be working with a different understanding of the office of the ministry than is taught by the Bible and our Lutheran fathers.

Rev. Klemet Preus
Glory of Christ Lutheran Church
Plymouth, MN

Editorial Policy

In the first edition of our new newsletter, we stated our editorial policy and the reasons behind our decision to publish our articles unsigned. We received some negative feedback about this, and requests for change. While we stand by our reasons and decision, we also do not want our message ignored by those who will not read an unsigned article. The message is too important! Therefore we have decided that we will allow our writers to sign their articles, while at the same time trying to defend those who face very real and punitive retribution for speaking out.

To regularly receive this newsletter from Consensus please click here and give us the email address you would like to receive it at.

If for any reason you would not like to receive any further mail of this kind, send an email with your email address in the body of the message to: remove@consensuslutheran.net

Consensus | P.O. Box 162 | Mascoutah | IL | 62258

19 April 2008

Oh, and speaking of Cantate

is there a more wonderful collect than the appointed prayer for this Sunday? Every time I pray it, I think I need to pray this EVERY day. It's so exactly bang on and asks of God such a great gift. I'll give it in the OLD form, so as not to disturb copyright enthusiasts:

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 what 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, Thy Son, our Lord...

Fix our hearts where true joys are found, O You who makes the minds of the faithful of a single will! Make us love whatever You command and long for whatever You promise! Thus is the triumph of Christ our Lord our certain and unchanging anchor that holds us fast amid a world of uncertainty.

What a prayer!


What joy in the singing tonight at the Divine Service. Cantate - the Sunday of the Church's Song - is a priceless day in the historic lectionary. The Hymn of the Day (Hauptlied) is "Dear Christians One and All Rejoice!" This great hymn of Luther, with its sweeping Christus Victor motifs, summarizes the Christian faith in succinct images and captures the joy of the Church in its sturdy melody (also from Dr. Luther).

When anyone asks: "What do Lutherans believe?" I know of no better place to point them than to this rimed creed:

LSB 556 Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice

1 Dear Christians, one and all, rejoice,
With exultation springing,
And with united heart and voice
And holy rapture singing,
Proclaim the wonders God has done,
How His right arm the vict’ry won.
What price our ransom cost Him!

2 Fast bound in Satan’s chains I lay;
Death brooded darkly o’er me.
Sin was my torment night and day;
In sin my mother bore me.
But daily deeper still I fell;
My life became a living hell,
So firmly sin possessed me.

3 My own good works all came to naught,
No grace or merit gaining;
Free will against God’s judgment fought,
Dead to all good remaining.
My fears increased till sheer despair
Left only death to be my share;
The pangs of hell I suffered.

4 But God had seen my wretched state
Before the world’s foundation,
And mindful of His mercies great,
He planned for my salvation.
He turned to me a father’s heart;
He did not choose the easy part
But gave His dearest treasure.

5 God said to His beloved Son:
“It’s time to have compassion.
Then go, bright jewel of My crown,
And bring to all salvation.
From sin and sorrow set them free;
Slay bitter death for them that they
May live with You forever.”

6 The Son obeyed His Father’s will,
Was born of virgin mother;
And God’s good pleasure to fulfill,
He came to be my brother.
His royal pow’r disguised He bore;
A servant’s form, like mine, He wore
To lead the devil captive.

7 To me He said: “Stay close to Me,
I am your rock and castle.
Your ransom I Myself will be;
For you I strive and wrestle.
For I am yours, and you are Mine,
And where I am you may remain;
The foe shall not divide us.

8 “Though he will shed My precious blood,
Me of My life bereaving,
All this I suffer for your good;
Be steadfast and believing.
Life will from death the vict’ry win;
My innocence shall bear your sin,
And you are blest forever.

9 “Now to My Father I depart,
From earth to heav’n ascending,
And, heavn’ly wisdom to impart,
The Holy Spirit sending;
In trouble He will comfort you
And teach you always to be true
And into truth shall guide you.

10 “What I on earth have done and taught
Guide all your life and teaching;
So shall the kingdom’s work be wrought
And honored in your preaching.
But watch lest foes with base alloy
The heav’nly treasure should destroy;
This final word I leave you.”

Text and Music: Public domain

Text of the Bishop of Rome's Address

at the Ecumenical Prayer Gathering in New York at St. Joseph's parish. I think the Bishop of Rome has some valuable words that are well worth pondering. At this service, Bishop Benke, President of the Atlantic District of the LCMS brought greetings. Key insight: "Dear friends, the Kerygma has lost none of its internal dynamism" and the brilliant phrase "diachronic koinonia" (most imperiled in the LCMS today) Amen! Here you go:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

My heart abounds with gratitude to Almighty God - “the Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph 4:6) - for this blessed opportunity to gather with you this evening in prayer. I thank Bishop Dennis Sullivan for his cordial welcome, and I warmly greet all those in attendance representing Christian communities throughout the United States. May the peace of our Lord and Savior be with you all!

Through you, I express my sincere appreciation for the invaluable work of all those engaged in ecumenism: the National Council of Churches, Christian Churches Together, the Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and many others. The contribution of Christians in the United States to the ecumenical movement is felt throughout the world. I encourage all of you to persevere, always relying on the grace of the risen Christ whom we strive to serve by bringing about “the obedience of faith for the sake of his name” (Rom 1:5).

We have just listened to the scriptural passage in which Paul - a “prisoner for the Lord” - delivers his ardent appeal to the members of the Christian community at Ephesus. “I beg you,” he writes, “to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called … eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:1-3). Then, after his impassioned litany of unity, Paul reminds his hearers that Jesus, having ascended into heaven, has bestowed upon men and women all the gifts necessary for building up the Body of Christ (cf. Eph 4:11-13).

Paul’s exhortation resounds with no less vigor today. His words instill in us the confidence that the Lord will never abandon us in our quest for unity. They also call us to live in a way that bears witness to the “one heart and mind” (Acts 4:32), which has always been the distinguishing trait of Christian koinonia (cf. Acts 2:42), and the force drawing others to join the community of believers so that they too might come to share in the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8; cf. Acts 2:47; 5:14).

Globalization has humanity poised between two poles. On the one hand, there is a growing sense of interconnectedness and interdependency between peoples even when - geographically and culturally speaking - they are far apart. This new situation offers the potential for enhancing a sense of global solidarity and shared responsibility for the well-being of mankind. On the other hand, we cannot deny that the rapid changes occurring in our world also present some disturbing signs of fragmentation and a retreat into individualism. The expanding use of electronic communications has in some cases paradoxically resulted in greater isolation. Many people - including the young - are seeking therefore more authentic forms of community. Also of grave concern is the spread of a secularist ideology that undermines or even rejects transcendent truth. The very possibility of divine revelation, and therefore of Christian faith, is often placed into question by cultural trends widely present in academia, the mass media and public debate. For these reasons, a faithful witness to the Gospel is as urgent as ever. Christians are challenged to give a clear account of the hope that they hold (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).

Too often those who are not Christians, as they observe the splintering of Christian communities, are understandably confused about the Gospel message itself. Fundamental Christian beliefs and practices are sometimes changed within communities by so-called “prophetic actions” that are based on a hermeneutic not always consonant with the datum of Scripture and Tradition. Communities consequently give up the attempt to act as a unified body, choosing instead to function according to the idea of “local options”. Somewhere in this process the need for diachronic koinonia - communion with the Church in every age - is lost, just at the time when the world is losing its bearings and needs a persuasive common witness to the saving power of the Gospel (cf. Rom 1:18-23).

Faced with these difficulties, we must first recall that the unity of the Church flows from the perfect oneness of the Trinitarian God. In John’s Gospel, we are told that Jesus prayed to his Father that his disciples might be one, “just as you are in me and I am in you” (Jn 17:21). This passage reflects the unwavering conviction of the early Christian community that its unity was both caused by, and is reflective of, the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This, in turn, suggests that the internal cohesion of believers was based on the sound integrity of their doctrinal confession (cf. 1 Tim 1:3-11). Throughout the New Testament, we find that the Apostles were repeatedly called to give an account for their faith to both Gentiles (cf. Acts 17:16-34) and Jews (cf. Acts 4:5-22; 5:27-42). The core of their argument was always the historical fact of Jesus’s bodily resurrection from the tomb (Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30). The ultimate effectiveness of their preaching did not depend on “lofty words” or “human wisdom” (1 Cor 2:13), but rather on the work of the Spirit (Eph 3:5) who confirmed the authoritative witness of the Apostles (cf. 1 Cor 15:1-11). The nucleus of Paul’s preaching and that of the early Church was none other than Jesus Christ, and “him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). But this proclamation had to be guaranteed by the purity of normative doctrine expressed in creedal formulae - symbola - which articulated the essence of the Christian faith and constituted the foundation for the unity of the baptized (cf. 1 Cor 15:3-5; Gal 1:6-9; Unitatis Redintegratio, 2).

My dear friends, the power of the kerygma has lost none of its internal dynamism. Yet we must ask ourselves whether its full force has not been attenuated by a relativistic approach to Christian doctrine similar to that found in secular ideologies, which, in alleging that science alone is “objective”, relegate religion entirely to the subjective sphere of individual feeling. Scientific discoveries, and their application through human ingenuity, undoubtedly offer new possibilities for the betterment of humankind. This does not mean, however, that the “knowable” is limited to the empirically verifiable, nor religion restricted to the shifting realm of “personal experience”.

For Christians to accept this faulty line of reasoning would lead to the notion that there is little need to emphasize objective truth in the presentation of the Christian faith, for one need but follow his or her own conscience and choose a community that best suits his or her individual tastes. The result is seen in the continual proliferation of communities which often eschew institutional structures and minimize the importance of doctrinal content for Christian living.

Even within the ecumenical movement, Christians may be reluctant to assert the role of doctrine for fear that it would only exacerbate rather than heal the wounds of division. Yet a clear, convincing testimony to the salvation wrought for us in Christ Jesus has to be based upon the notion of normative apostolic teaching: a teaching which indeed underlies the inspired word of God and sustains the sacramental life of Christians today.

Only by “holding fast” to sound teaching (2 Thess 2:15; cf. Rev 2:12-29) will we be able to respond to the challenges that confront us in an evolving world. Only in this way will we give unambiguous testimony to the truth of the Gospel and its moral teaching. This is the message which the world is waiting to hear from us. Like the early Christians, we have a responsibility to give transparent witness to the “reasons for our hope”, so that the eyes of all men and women of goodwill may be opened to see that God has shown us his face (cf. 2 Cor 3:12-18) and granted us access to his divine life through Jesus Christ. He alone is our hope! God has revealed his love for all peoples through the mystery of his Son’s passion and death, and has called us to proclaim that he is indeed risen, has taken his place at the right hand of the Father, and “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead” (Nicene Creed).

May the word of God we have heard this evening inflame our hearts with hope on the path to unity (cf. Lk 24:32). May this prayer service exemplify the centrality of prayer in the ecumenical movement (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio, 8); for without it, ecumenical structures, institutions and programs would be deprived of their heart and soul. Let us give thanks to Almighty God for the progress that has been made through the work of his Spirit, as we acknowledge with gratitude the personal sacrifices made by so many present and by those who have gone before us.

By following in their footsteps, and by placing our trust in God alone, I am confident that - to borrow the words of Father Paul Wattson - we will achieve the “oneness of hope, oneness of faith, and oneness of love” that alone will convince the world that Jesus Christ is the one sent by the Father for the salvation of all.

I thank you all.

Early Lutheran Admission to the Eucharist

Sigh. I hate getting older. I found the following HIGHLIGHTED in my edition of the Triglotta, and I, for the life of me, don't remember having read it before.

Johannes Bugenhagen, pastor to Blessed Martin Luther, worked hard at introducing the Reformation in many territories. Bente reports that in his preface to the Danish edition of Luther's Small Catechism in 1538, Bugenhagen wrote: "After this confession is made, also the little children of about eight years or less should be admitted to the table of Him who says, 'Suffer the little children to come unto Me.'" (Concordia Triglotta, p. 82)

Sehr interessant, nicht wahr?

Also of interest are Chemnitz' instructions in the Wölfenbüttel Church Order that have confirmations take place yearly, performed by the superintendent (not the local pastor) in his yearly visitation of the parish - a Lutheran left-over of the old Roman practice of only a bishop confirming.

Wilken Back on KFUO!

No, not with Issues, Etc. But he'll be on air tomorrow because he's preaching at Peace Lutheran and their 8:00 service is currently broadcast over KFUO.

Will he talk about Issues? No way! You'll discover Pr. Wilken talking about what he always talks about: Jesus Christ, Crucified and Risen, for poor sinners, delivering forgiveness, life, and Himself to us in His holy sacraments.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Blessed is He Whose good will brought Him to His mother's womb and bosom, to be born and reared! Blessed is He Who partook of death and thus granted life to mankind. Blessed is He Who made our flesh a dwelling place for His mysterious being. Blessed is He Who declared to us His mysteries in our own tongue. - St. Ephraim the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #118

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

While man is helpless to deliver himself, or to prepare himself for divine grace, or even to respond to this grace as it approaches him, and thus his acceptance of divine grace comes from new powers which grace has brought, nevertheless, the freedom of the will is preserved in man's ability to resist God's grace. All man's help must thus come from God; all his ruin comes from himself. -- H.E. Jacobs, *Elements of Religion* p. 67

More from STL Post

Symptom of Larger Ills

18 April 2008


There's just no other word for it. That's what Scott and I were tonight: Magnanimous. We let Cindi and Crystal win a couple hands of pinochle in honor of their birthdays. And they even THOUGHT it was their own doing. Shhh! Don't let them in on it. Them just thinking that they won by their own efforts is reward enough for Scott and me.

Interesting Bit from Mollie

Here is a rather curious exchange between our intrepid reporter and the Missouri District President. Another question I'd like answers to is why he permits a congregation in his district to plant a "satellite site" in the Southern Illinois District?

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Arise! If we want to serve God, let us not only hear His Word but also act by the faith that is active in love. Let us not suppose that we have already served God merely by going to church, partaking of Holy Communion, confessing our sins, and returning to our home where we speak pious words on our knees. Let us practice love for our neighbor. Let us visit the orphans and widows, armed with a mouthful of comfort and a hand full of works of love. Let us clothe the naked, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, receive the needy into our home, visit the sick, and help those in distress, including the oppressed Church of Christ. - C.F.W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 428

Patristic Quote of the Day

The Lord is an omniscient giver of gifts. He considers what would benefit the supplicant; and when the Lord sees that a man is asking for something harmful or even merely useless, the Lord does not answer his prayer and refuses him that which he thought good. The Lord hears every prayer, and he whose prayer is not answered receives from the Lord the same saving gift as he whose prayer is answered. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #133

Well, for the SECOND time in my life...

...I blissfully slept through an earthquake. Cindi woke up, David woke up, don't know about Bekah. But I heard nothing. Absolutely nothing. Felt nothing. Snored away. Found out about it this morning when Cindi woke me up (we're headed out for breakfast). What about the rest of you guys around St. Louis? Did you wake up for the big event?

17 April 2008

Day's End

Hospital call in south county early this a.m. for Kathy, who came through with flying colors. Sang Matins in the van on the way down . How much of an idiot must a person look like who is singing and praying as they drive down the highway! Home late for a bite of lunch, and then taking the Sacrament to Carl and Rich and visiting a bit with each. Emails piled up in the meantime to read and write. A pretty day beckoning for a walk - so Cindi and I walked down to Ray and Arline's and home again. A quick and easy dinner (hotdogs! I love them, wrapped in Provolone. Don't worry - I supplemented them with some healthy fried mozzarella sticks!). Enjoying some coffee out back at the picnic table, smelling the flowers, and pulling some old growth from last year. Cindi off to choir. Shutting the office door and praying Vespers and BOC reading for the day, and then finally getting to Sunday's sermon. Bible study for Adult class is going to have to wait for Saturday. The rest of the evening belongs to Anne Rice's *The Road to Cana* (thanks, Darcy!).

Homily for Cantate 2008

[Isaiah 12:1-6 / James 1:16-21 / John 16:5-15]

Beginning with today, the season of Easter begins to tilt wildly toward its fulfillment on the Day of Pentecost. You’ll never get Easter until you see that all that your Lord did for you by His suffering, dying, rising and ascending to the Father was accomplished so that the Holy Spirit could come to you and establish in you a beachhead of the Age that is to come. Pentecost, the coming of the Spirit, is the grand culmination of the plan of God in what we call the Age of Grace, which is the time when God keeps colonizing for His unending future smack dab in the middle of an Age tottering toward its own dead end.

Please don’t think I’m feeding you theological mumbo-jumbo today. Get this and you will be filled with joy! You will see what God is up to in this world and in your life!

In our first reading, Isaiah foretells of a time when the people of God will be recognized by their song of joy. “Sing praises to the Lord for He has done gloriously! Let this be made known in all the earth. Shout and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” Here’s the secret of the Church’s joy: God dwells in her midst. The Holy Spirit, sent from the Father, comes to bring to her the life of the age to come, and so she lives in this world, in this age, which the apostle says “is coming to an end” a life of praise and worship because her life in Christ cannot and does not come to an end. He’s burst right through death! He’s reigning at the Father’s right hand, and He will come again in glory to bring in the triumph of Love. The Church LIVES from His victory right here and now already and so she sings, as she dishes out the waters of salvation to all who thirst for a life that is so much more than just the dead-ends of this age. She sings the songs of Zion – where the thanksgiving goes on forever. By her song, she summons the world to share her trust in the Lord Jesus, and so “not to be afraid” – even though the earth trembles and totters, or our lives feel shaken to the core. She reminds us that this world that comes to an end is not our home, and our home never shakes or totters – it is eternal, kept for us in the heavens.

In our Epistle, James reminds us that every good and perfect gift comes down to us, comes from the Father of lights, who never changes – an inexhaustible fountain of good! He’s the one who gave us a new birth through the word of His truth. New birth, because the old birth only lands you in death. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." But the new birth, "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit," it brings you beyond death to the life that never ends. He wants us then to be a kind of firstfruits of His creation. He wants to show off in us what the future of this age will really be. That’s why the apostle exhorts us to be different from the world. The world is quick to speak, quick to anger, slow to listen. The world always thinks it's right and don’t bother it with the facts. Also the world that lives in us. James reminds us that that’s not the way of God at all. The future that is coming is rather quick to listen, but slow to speak and certainly slow to anger. Human anger simply can’t produce the righteousness of the age to come, where love is all. So James says that we are to put away all of that naughtiness – all of our hasty anger and nasty words and vicious thoughts – and he tells us how that can be: “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” Quick to listen to others, yes, but above all, quick to listen to God and to His Word and what He says! Let that word dwell in you, listen to it, and learn from it about the sort of life God would prepare us for: a life where only love rules, and where human anger has been stilled; and the nasty words silenced for good. The Word can do it, it can give us a share in God’s future, if we let it. And that’s how it saves us. Not a one time saving, but an ongoing renewal of the life that is REAL life.

And then onto the Gospel reading, where Jesus tells his disciples that He has so much more He wants to say to them, but that they can’t bear it at the moment. No big deal. He points to the culmination: “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak,” and here are the big words “and He will declare to you the things that are to come.”

What does that mean? I used to hear that and think the Spirit would let them on the secrets of how this age would come to an end. Prophesies about the destruction of the world and such.

How wrong I was! He declares “the things that are to come.” He shows you and gives you a share in even, in the goodies of the final Age, the Age that is to come, when Love is triumphant over all, when Life has vanquished death, when earthly sorrow has given way to heavenly joy, when the sufferings of this life have been swallowed up by the blessedness of our welcome home to the Father’s house.

And that is how the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus. He take the things that belong to Jesus – the life that is His forever beyond the grave, the love that no hatred could destroy, the forgiveness that wiped out the sins of the entire world in fell swoop on a Good Friday afternoon so long ago – and all of this He declares to you. He shows it to you as being yours.

Do you get it? The Holy Spirit comes to you today to wake you up from settling down in this dead-end age as though it were the real thing. He comes to enlighten your understand and to stir up your thirst for the Age that is coming, so that you do NOT settle for your life as it is, as it has been. He comes to make you ACHE for your life as it SHALL be.

His Church exists then to continually give you the taste of that, to give you the gift of dying to all that is dead and dying in this world – all its anger and rage and temper and bitterness and biting and devouring – all that characterizes the fallenness of this world. And His Church exists to let you leave it all behind in the Baptismal water and rise with Christ to a brand new life – a life of love so strong that death will never be able to hold it.

In His Eucharist, THIS is the life the Holy Spirit reaches you. The life of the future – and that’s why we confess that it is truly right to give thanks always and everywhere to God our Father through Jesus our Lord - crucified, risen, and returning. That’s age to come talk, but it’s the life that’s reached us in the Body and Blood that were on the Tree for us, and that were raised from the dead for us, and that plead for us constantly before the Father’s throne – the Body and Blood that call us to live in utter forgiveness, in love, in thanksgiving always and everywhere and for all things – for we sing our songs to Him who has given us the life of the age to come by the gift of His Son and by the sending of His Spirit – to whom be glory now and ever and unto that ages of ages – our true home forever. Amen.

It Kind of Leaves One Speechless, No?

Concordia Portland Prof

Patristic Quote of the Day

What shall I do with my sins? I do not know. My mind cannot imagine what I might use to wash and cleanse myself. If I took it into my head to wash with water, the then seas and the rivers would not be sufficient to cleanse me. Yet if I wash myself with the blood and water that flowed from the rib of the Son of God, then will I be cleansed, and compassion will be showered on me. -- St. Ephrem the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #140

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In assuming our common humanity He united Himself with all of humankind, so that there are no human limits to the identification of the Christ of the Eucharist with the one world of human beings. He is linked inseparably with every person, without reference to any person's intelligence, health, sophistication, learning, experience, age, race, color, culture or epoch. -- A.C. Piepkorn, *The Church* p. 190

Odd, what?

Then and Now

16 April 2008

And my last for the evening...

Whitman's elegy in memory of Lincoln:

WHEN lilacs last in the door-yard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d—and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

O ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you bring;
Lilac blooming perennial, and drooping star in the west, 5
And thought of him I love.

Oh, and Thinking of Spring Poetry...

what about this amazing piece by e.e. cummings:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of allnothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Spring Memories

So what ARE your favorite Spring memories? I think one that stands out for me was sometime in high school after I learned to drive. I remember on one spring evening driving down Connecticut Avenue into the District (probably headed to T.A.G.) and the sunlight filtering through the new leaves that arched the Avenue as I drove my father's brand-spanking-new Chrysler New Yorker. It was beautiful and I can see it like it was yesterday, but it must have been 31 years ago or so. What memories stand out for you?

I drove around

a bit today, and looking at Spring FINALLY arriving around us, I just have to offer this:

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

-- Robert Frost

From the Big State of Texas

Issues, Etc. Honored

Patristic Quote of the Day

Thou hast taken upon Thyself the common debt of all in order to pay it back to Thy Father - pay back also, O guiltless Lord, those sins with which our freedom has indebted us. Thou hast redeemed us from the curse of the law by Thy precious blood. Deliver also those redeemed by Thy blood from harsh justice! - St. Ephrem the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #102

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

It both important and comforting for the Christian to remember in the days of trial and tribulation, he is on a journey. For then he will understand that misfortunes are to be expected, and that the sad street on which he is traveling will finally lead to the heavenly homeland. - C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 403

Kelly's At It Again - Hilarious!

The Best Theological Analysis I've Read

yet on what lies before us in the Missouri Synod. God bless you, Pastor Harju, for sharing such wisdom:

Unity Ablaze

15 April 2008


I keep suggesting to Cindi that after X our lives will return to normal. She laughs and tells me that my picture of normal doesn't match reality. I suspect she's probably right - she usually is.

I remember the long days with the kids in NC - Church was the center of our lives, but Church was mostly just a single service on Sunday morning and then Evening Prayer on Sunday evening, and once a month a potluck. Now it seems as if life is "run, run, run." Always there is more to do than gets finished in a day. Always there is guilt over the tasks that were pushed aside. Always there is the feeling that just give it a few days and life will go back to "normal."

One thing I know: if I let the events of the day crowd out praying the Office, I am always the weaker for it, and ill-equipped to meet the challenges that keep coming. Whatever comes in a day, however hectic "normal" is right now, there are certain boundaries that cannot be transgressed without damage to the soul. Time for prayer. Time for the Word. Time for reading. Time for family.

And beyond time, beyond all times, the Gift from eternity that came down into our rush-rush to give us a share in His eternal peace: the Holy Eucharist. Here is THE haven, the place of peace, the normal beyond all normals. Here is praise and thanksgiving to the Lamb. Here is the Lamb in His sacrifice of love. Here is a gift that I could never earn or deserve, and yet which God reaches me in His unfathomable love. No matter what is going on, when the cry rings out: Sursum corda! there is a call to leave all else behind and soak in the peaceful joy of eternity where we will need no lamp nor sun, for Christ will be our all.

Pastor Gallas Gives Us

Another Video

Cwirla's the Man

click here

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

By His resurrection Christ won the victory over law, sin, flesh, world, devil, death, hell, and every evil. And this His victory He donated unto us. These many tyrants and enemies of ours may accuse and frighten us, but they dare not condemn us, for Christ, whom God the Father has raised from the dead is our righteousness and our victory. - Luther's Second Galatians Commentary (truly his greatest commentary of all!), 1:1-3

Patristic Quote of the Day

For not only would their salvation be easily brought about, but it was also God's greatest glory to display His love toward man. Why then are you afraid of drawing nigh, since you have no works demanded of you? Why are you bickering and quarrelsome, when grace is before you, and why keep putting me the Law forward to no purpose whatsoever? For you will not be saved by that, and will mar this gift also; since if you pertinaciously insist on being saved by it, you do away with this grace of God. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Romans 11

14 April 2008

1/3 of 1%

Here is a St. Louis Reporter's words about David Strand's words on the petition:

"He pointed out that the 7,000 signatures make up one-third of 1 percent of the church body." Are you feeling the love yet? GRR!

Which is, being interpreted, I suppose: Hey, 7000, you guys are small beans and don't count.

What God has to say about 7,000 can be read in 1 Kings 19:18.

Hmm. What does this mean?

You can read the whole story here:

click here

Collect for Easter V: Cantate

It begins with such a profound statement:

"O God, You make the minds of the faithful to be of one will."

First thing that confesses is that IF the people of God truly have one will, it's not their doing, but God's. He is the One is causes His people many minds to become a single mind.

Second, what is this one will? Is it not this: THY will be done!? If there is one thing that God's people desire it is for His gracious, perfect and holy will to be done; not their wills, not their plans, not their hopes and schemes and ambitions, but solely God's good and gracious will: that people might be freed from their idolatry and look to Christ and Him alone for every good gift and know Him as their loving Savior by the Spirit's power.

How we need this prayer! And so we ask:

"Grant that we may love what You have commanded and desire what You promise."

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The intimate Christological link between the first article of the creed and the second and third articles of the creed is something that the Western Christian community has had difficulty phasing into its theology and sometimes has conveniently forgotten. - A.C. Piepkorn, *The Church* p. 194

CID Pastors Weigh In!

Proposed Resolution for the CID Pastors’ Conference

WHEREAS, the "Issues, Etc." radio program on KFUO-AM, St. Louis, has been a great blessing to many of the pastors and laity of the Central Illinois District; and

WHEREAS, pastors and people are at a loss to understand the decision to cancel a show that winsomely engaged the culture and offered a distinctly Lutheran perspective on the issues of the day; and

WHEREAS, the LCMS has embarked on a mission "to reach at least 100 million people worldwide with the Good News of Jesus by 2017"; and

WHEREAS, Issues, Etc. was a popular and effective tool for reaching people with the Good News of Jesus; and

WHEREAS, official explanations for the show's cancellation have not satisfied or answered the concerns of many; and

WHEREAS, there is extensive public support for the continuation of Issues, Etc.; and

WHEREAS, we wish to demonstrate pastoral concern for Rev. Todd Wilken, the show's host and Mr. Jeffrey Schwarz, the show's producer;

Therefore be it:

RESOLVED, that the Pastoral Conference of the Central Illinois District gathered in solemn assembly at Springfield, Illinois this fourteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord 2008, give thanks and praise to God for the ministry of Issues, Etc. and the hard work of Pastor Wilken and Mr. Schwarz, and be it finally

RESOLVED, that the Pastoral Conference of the Central Illinois District officially petitions the Board of Communications Services to revisit the decision by its Executive Director, David Strand, to cancel Issues, Etc. and also petitions the Board to reinstate both Pastor Wilken and Mr. Schwarz to their positions, and restore the ministry of Issues, Etc.

Respectfully Submitted,
The pastors of the Lincoln Circuit


First Pics from IC Today

Thanks to Diane!

You know, someone made a GREAT comment to me today (and I can't remember who it was!): it takes a LOT to get a bunch of LUTHERANS to get together holding signs. I mean, if those who know us well stop to think about it - Lutherans tend to be the most "un-get-work-up-able" folks around! Amazing....

More Pics

And More Pics

Patristic Quote of the Day

When, then, Pilate was parading before Him his official power, and, in his folly, alleging that he could wholly determine His fate according to his mere will and pleasure, He very appropriately meets him with a declaration of His own power and might, and stops him short, as it were, as he was vaunting himself with vain and empty boasting against the glory of God. For, in truth, it were no small calamity that any should suppose that Christ could be dragged, against His Will, to suffer insult; and that the malice of the Jews vanquished Him, Who was truly God, and proclaimed Sovereign of the universe by the holy and inspired writings. He has, therefore, removed this stumblingblock from our path, and cuts up, as it were, such an error by the roots, by the words: Except it were given thee from above. And when He says, that power was given to Pilate from above, He does not mean that God the Father inflicted crucifixion upon His own Son, against His Will; but that the Only-begotten Himself gave Himself to suffer for us, and that the Father suffered the fulfilment of the mystery in Him. It is, then, plainly the consent and approval of the Father that is here said to have been given, and the pleasure of the Son is also clearly signified. -- St. Cyril of Alexandria, Book 12 (on John 19)