30 August 2008

Thanks, Jeff and Laura (Sarah, Kayla, and Cody!)

We had a great time with Jeff and Laura and family last night and today. Aside from enjoying conversation in their stunning backyard and artistically decorated home while devouring numerous tasty low-carb treats (remember, Laura, we want that salad recipe!), we enjoyed a walk along Naperville's River Walk; got to see some Scottish Games; some dogs doing amazing things with frisbees, and enjoyed lunch together at an Irish pub with outdoor seating. Completely relaxing and enjoyable.

And a special treat: on the way to and from we ate at Cracker Barrel - and at the one in Springfield, they had COUNTRY ham. YUM!!! Also filled up on sugar free candy from Russell Stover outlet in Lincoln. All in all a great road-trip. And Jeff and Laura, the guest room is ready and waiting whenever you happen to be passing this direction.

Thanks again!

28 August 2008


We drove 457 miles on 10.8 gallons of gas. 42 miles per gallon in that Civic! The tank holds 14.2, so we could easily have gone over 500 miles on one tank. Sweet. We also filled the tank on the SLOWEST fuel setting to get less vapor, more gas (tip from Dave!).

27 August 2008

Week of Vacation

Not sure how regular postings will be in the next week: I'll be on vacation. God willing this will include a road trip to visit friends, attending the baptism of one Elijah Joseph, and moving lots of stuff for Jo and Dave from the old house to the new house.

The Highlight of This Summer's

Adult Catechesis was tonight: getting to hold and kiss Brody Riechmann. Brody attended the first several classes in his mother's womb, but joined us for the final class all on his own. What sweet is that? We wanted Dustin to bring pictures, but Mandy brought the little item himself. Looking forward to the joyous day of his baptism into Christ!


we celebrated (a few days early) the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist. Here's the homily:

Two, maybe two and a half years. That’s it. That’s how long the ministry of St. John the Baptist was. Have you ever thought of that? A man who had been prepared by the Holy Spirit to get Israel ready to receive her Savior. The great Fore-runner, who would go before the Lord in the spirit of Elijah. The man whom Jesus called “the greatest born of woman.” He worked no miracles (that we know of). He lived an ascetical life, eating locusts and wild honey. He did not seek the company of others, but lived alone in the desert, until the time of his revealing to Israel. He never drank wine or strong drink. The Holy Spirit was upon him from before his birth. He never married, had no children. His whole life before his ministry was but a preparation for those two, two and a half years. And then they were over. He was jailed for speaking the truth, the truth of God’s Law that Herod did not want to hear, and he was martyred, as the Church celebrates on this day. Beheaded at the request of a conniving dancing girl and with the permission of a besotted king. His head shamefully paraded around on a platter. Thus did the greatest of those born of women meet his end.

Here was a life devoid of everything that we tend to think makes life worth living. Would any of you have wished to trade places with the “greatest born of woman”? Me either. St. Theresa once said: “O God, if this is how you treat you friends, I can see why you have so few of them.” And yet we would be totally mistaken to think of St. John’s life as a failure.

St. John was sent to be the fore-runner. He went ahead of the Lord. So he was born six months before our Lord was born. He began preaching and calling Israel to repentance and to a new life in Baptism before our Lord began His ministry, doing the same. In fact, our Lord began to preach and teach only after St. John had baptized him. And so are we surprised when the end of John’s life is unjust imprisonment and then shameful death? How could it be otherwise? He is, after all, the fore-runner. It was his unique calling to go ahead of where the Lord Himself would come. For our Lord too would be arrested unjustly for speaking the truth and He also would shamefully be put to death.

So St. John’s earthly pilgrimage ended and he was gathered together with the faithful of the Old Testament era. Did his task as Fore-runner then continue? Did he announce: “He’s here! He’s alive in our flesh and blood! The One promised to You, Father Adam and Mother Eve. The Seed promised to crush the Serpents’ dead. The One promised to you, Father Abraham. Your Off-spring come to bring blessing to all the families of the earth. Your descendent, King David, born to sit upon the throne of a kingdom that never ends with a life that never ends. I’ve seen Him! I’ve baptized Him! He is working his miracles now. And soon, oh, soon, He too will suffer and die and He will come to us and His coming will be the destruction of this death we share now and He will bring us out into LIFE! I’m the fore-runner. I’m telling you, He’s almost here.”

Our Lord met the same fate as St. John, His faithful fore-runner. But unlike St. John, death wasn’t imposed upon our Lord. No. He purposefully and willingly gave Himself into it. He freely chose to die in order that He might forever destroy the power of death itself. You see, death had a claim on St. John – greatest though he was. He was still a sinner, born of sinful parents, and had to do battle every day against his sinful flesh. Oh, he conquered by God’s grace in a mighty way! But he knew the truth. Do you remember what happened the day our Lord came to him to be baptized with a sinner’s baptism? How St. John protested and cried out: “No, but I need to be baptized by you!” John knew well that he needed the forgiveness and the life that only Jesus could give. So when death came, John knew that in a very real sense it was just his due, as it is your due and mine. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” says the Lord.

But then there is our Lord Jesus. And in Him there is no stain of sin, no blemish of impure desire. In Him there is only complete holiness and unbroken obedience to His heavenly Father. And so when He chooses to die, when He gives Himself into death, death has no claim upon him. “It was not possible that death should hold Him” is how St. Peter preached it. So on the third day the tomb is broken open and He is raised in a body incorruptible, never again to be touched by death.

And this victory over death He wins not for Himself. He didn’t need it. He wins it for us! He wins it for all and He delivers it to those who are baptized into Him! He delivers it to all who trust in His promises and receive His gifts! He seals it to us in His body and blood! And that is an immense comfort when one is struggling under the burdens of this life – burdens St. John was only too familiar with: injustice, sorrow, impending death.

Two and a half years is not a very long time for a man’s ministry. But, of course, St. John’s ministry did not come to an end merely because he died. Oh, no. His ministry has gone on for thousands of years now. His call of repentance continues to sound out in the Church, warning us to flee from the wrath to be revealed when Christ comes in glory. Advent each year the great Fore-runner steps before us and his voice trumpets a call to lives of radical repentance. And constantly in the Church, St. John’s finger ceaselessly points to the Lamb of God. Why, each time you come to the Lord’s table and your Crucified and Risen Lord places into your mouth the Body that destroyed your death and the Blood that answered for all your sin, you join St. John in his song: “O Christ, thou Lamb of God that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us, grant us peace.”

Death, you see, could not end the witness of St. John the Baptist because he witnesses forever to Him whom death could not destroy: Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whose Kingdom may God grant us all to attain through His grace and love toward mankind. Amen.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We reach the faith of a Father by the general drift of his statements, although seeming, or even real contradictions with that general drift are to be found in his writings. No man, perhaps, is perfectly self-consistent. - C. P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* p. 727

Patristic Quote of the Day

"But all things are of God." Nothing of ourselves. For remission of sins and adoption and unspeakable glory are given to us by Him. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 2 Corinthians 5

Monica, Mother of Augustine

Today our Synod remembers the marvelous Saint Monica, the women who took our Lord's promises about prayer with utmost seriousness and kept asking, seeking, knocking, and she obtained her petitions! From our Synod's website:

Monica, Faithful Mother
A native of North Africa, Monica (A.D. 333–387) was the devoted mother of Saint Augustine. Throughout her life she sought the spiritual welfare of her children, especially that of her brilliant son, Augustine. Widowed at a young age, she devoted herself to her family, praying many years for Augustine's conversion. When Augustine left North Africa to go to Italy, she followed him to Rome and then to Milan. There she had the joy of witnessing her son's conversion to the Christian faith. Weakened by her travels, Monica died at Ostia, Italy on the journey she had hoped would take her back to her native Africa. On some church year calendars, Monica is remembered on May 4.

26 August 2008

New Blogger!

Pastor Matt Harrison has actually started blogging. Look forward to some great gems!

You can find his blog here

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The interpretation which finds mere bread in the Institution finds logically mere man in the Institutor. -- C. P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* p. 786

Patristic Quote of the Day

For if we from life come into death, He also will from death lead us by the hand into life. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 2 Corinthians 4

Wilken Is Dorothy

....throwing some water on the witch's fire...


(Sorry about the exclamation point, Todd. Couldn't resist!!! Oops. Did it again!)

BEWARE: Griping Ahead

WHY? We're trying to read the first lesson in New Testament Catechesis. We read around the room, each child reading a verse and me interrupting and commenting and such. And one of our new students reads incorrectly. Or so I think. We all have the ESV. He has the ESV. But when we get to Acts 1:18 he reads that Judas "acquired" a field; my ESV and all the others have "bought." An odd word for a kid to come up with on his own. I look at his Bible - yes, it's ESV - AND IT HAS A DIFFERENT WORD there! This is the kind of thing that drives me absolutely BATTY. Adopt a text, fine. But then please LEAVE IT ALONE. How many other such little surprises await us this year? GRR.

Gripe mode off (maybe).

25 August 2008

It's Pastor Hall's FAULT!

I am toying again with joining the Y. First, why is this stupid? This is stupid because several years back I purchased a home gym so that I wouldn't have to go to the Y to exercise. It sits in my basement. My wife uses it; I next to never do. Almost from day 1. I had been exercising regularly, but when exercise invaded my house I lost all interest.

So what is it about the Y? I'm not a social person when I go there. I don't enjoy talking to others; I DISLIKE having my routine interrupted by someone wanting to chat. I like to get in, do my exercise, and get out. But somehow putting it OUTSIDE my house, I was enabled to get it done.

Sigh. I think I need to do it, because I'm not exercising regularly at home at all (except for cutting my grass with my reel mower). A year ago October the Dr. noticed and said: "You're not exercising anymore, are you?" Before I see him again, it would be great to get a regular exercise routine back.

Drat it all, Pastor Hall! WHY did you have to write about that???

Garden Ornament

Darlene gave this to me on Sunday. Isn't it fabulous? A little reel mower to put in the garden (well, by the front door)! She said it reminded her of her childhood - it reminds me of mine as well (though it was the NEIGHBOR who used the reel mower).

Patristic Quote of the Day

And what does this mean? In the Law, he that has sin is punished; here, he that has sins comes and is baptized and is made righteous, and being made righteous, he lives, being delivered from the death of sin. The Law, if it lay hold on a murderer, puts him to death; the Gospel, if it lay hold on a murderer, enlightens, and gives him life. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 2 Corinthians 3

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Reformation and Conservatism really involve each other. That which claims to be Reformatory, yet is not Conservative is Sectarian; that which claims to be Conservative, and is not Reformatory, is Stagnation and Corruption. True Catholicity is Conservatism, but Protestantism is Reformatory, and these two are complementary, not antagonistic. The Church problem is to attain a Protestant Catholicity or a Catholic Protestantism. This is the end and aim of the Conservative Reformation. -- C. P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* xl

24 August 2008

Patristic Quote of the Day

Woe is me, burdened with unprecedented sins! The number of my transgressions exceeds the number of grain of sand in the sea, and they afflict me like so many iron shackles, for I lack the boldness to gaze upon the heights of heaven. To whom shall I run, if not to Thee, O Lover of mankind? Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy and according to the multitude of Thy compassions, blot out mine iniquity. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #146

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The unity of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, as a portion of the Holy Christian Church, depends upon her abiding in one and the same faith, in confessing which she obtained her distinctive being and name, her political recognition, and her history. -- C. P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation*


My brother, Maupin, just called to let me know that he will receive Holy Baptism next Sunday. When we were in Richardsville in June, we had a discussion about the importance of Baptism and I encouraged him to receive this sacrament of rebirth. He actually LISTENED! SWEET!!! I am so thankful. He's been in my daily prayers for a long time. Alright, now, Butch. YOUR turn.

23 August 2008

How Good God Is!

It's only August 23rd, and yet the light is beginning markedly to wane. Tonight the sun was setting even as Church let out. It brings the thought of the long hours of winter darkness that await the Church in the northern hemisphere. How utterly blessed we are to look forward to celebrating in the midst of that darkness the joyous light of All Saints, the Feasts of St. Andrew and St. Thomas, and above all the Nativity of our Lord. Truly, into the darkness a great Light has shone!

The older I become, the more aware I am of the reality and depth of the darkness - and that is far from an external phenomenon - and the less I welcome it, save that it makes such a stunning foil to the Light that shines from our Savior:

From the manger new born light
Shines in glory through the night.
Darkness there no more resides;
In this light faith now abides. - LSB 332:7
(St. Ambrose through Blessed Martin Luther)

Homily upon St. Bartholomew's Day

[Proverbs 3:1-8 / 2 Cor. 4:7-10 / John 1:43-51]

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Those words from today’s Old Testament reading set up for us the opposition that frequently arises between our ways and the ways of the Lord. We have our notions of how He OUGHT to act; what He ought to do; how things should be. But He consistently blows us away with doing things in a way that appears downright silly to us. His ways, though, pan out in the end, and we’re left confessing that we’re not nearly so smart as we thought we were.

Along comes Philip with news to knock the sandals off a devout Jewish believer of the first century. “We’ve found Him!” he cries to his buddy Nathanael (also known as Bartholomew, whose festival we celebrate today). “He’s the One Moses and the Prophets wrote about. Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph!”

It was the “of Nazareth” that was the sticking point. To Nathanael, that made no sense whatsoever. As the Pharisees would point out later: No prophet arises from Galilee. Nathanael, using his mind, his reason, was thus skeptical of Philip’s news. “Nazareth?” he repeats. “Can anything good come from there?”

And here we see Philip being wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove. Does he argue with his friend? Does he attempt to reason with him and show him the fallaciousness of his argumentation? Nothing close! Instead, with (I suspect) a twinkle in his eye, Philip spoke three words that we need to take to heart: “Come and see.”

Come and see! That’s the constant invitation of the Christian Church when she encounters those who are skeptical of our Lord and His claims. We invite them to come with us to where the Lord may be found – here as we gather in His name, around His words, and His Holy Sacrament. We gather to Him, and we know the great task of evangelism isn’t persuading others to believe, but rather inviting them to come with us to meet Jesus of Nazareth and let HIM do the persuading.

How well does it work with Nathanael? As he comes trailing Philip, skeptical of what he will find, our Lord looks up and says of him: “Behold, an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” A man who simply calls things as he sees them, no pretense and hypocrisy. The sort that makes most folks uncomfortable, because he won’t engage in the polite lie.

But Nathanael is confounded by this. Confused. HOW did Jesus know this of him? How could He know what sort of person he was? Has someone been talking about him? “How do you know me?” he asks.

And well might those whom we invite to meet with Jesus here in the Divine Service proclaim the same. For how many times have WE had the experience, where the Word of God revealed to us things about ourselves that we weren’t even prepared to see or face, and we wondered: how does He know me so well? For He does know us. Inside and out. Behind all the pretenses and the pretentions; behind all the fears and the failures. He knows us. And even so, He welcomes us, just as He did Nathanael, Matthew, Mary Magdalene, and any other poor sinner who came to Him and sought His fellowship.

“How do you know me?” Nathanael had asked. Jesus answers: “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” From Nathanael’s response it is obvious that our Lord was nowhere in sight – nowhere where he COULD have seen him in the ordinary way. But He saw him nonetheless. Though we may introduce our friends to Jesus, Jesus never needs to be introduced to our friends. He sees them and knows them through and through long before we even thought of asking them to come meet Him. He’s waiting for them.

Nathanael is blown away: “Rabbi,” he cries. “You are the Son of God. You are the King of Israel!” Our Lord appears amused by that. “Because I said to you I saw you under the fig tree do you believe? You will see greater things than these. Amen, amen, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Some have opined that Nathanael was reading or meditating on that passage about Jacob and the vision of the ladder, so that Jesus’ words would be all the more astonishing. He is the link between earth and heaven, the eternal Son come down to earth precisely so that we can ascend in and with Him to the Father. Not under a fig tree, upon a tree nonetheless, He will hang between heaven and earth, uplifted on His Cross, pouring out His blood, so that all who shelter beneath that TREE in faith, receive forgiveness for all sins and rescue from death and the devil, and can come home with Him to the Father’s house.

Trust in the Lord Jesus with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. That’s what Nathanael did when he left behind his skepticism and came to faith and became an Apostle of the Lamb – he spent the rest of his earthly days inviting others as Philip had invited him to come and meet the Lord Jesus Christ, to know Him as Son of God and King who reigns from a cross. Not leaning on his own understanding, but strengthened by the promises of the Gospel he faced a horrific martyrdom – flayed alive according to Church tradition –yet he joyfully gave up his life trusting that in Jesus he had a life that was stronger than death, a forgiveness so complete and full that set his heart singing even as the knives dug in.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For if in truth the Word has been made flesh and we in very truth receive the Word made flesh as food from the Lord, are we not bound to believe that He abides in us naturally, Who, born as a man, has assumed the nature of our flesh now inseparable from Himself, and has conjoined the nature of His own flesh to the nature of the eternal Godhead in the sacrament by which His flesh is communicated to us? - Hilary, De Trinitatas VIII

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The identity of the Church's faith resembles not the sameness of a rock, but rather the living identity of a man. The babe and the adult are identical. They are the same being in different stages of maturity: that which constitutes the individual does not change. The child does not grow to adult maturity by any change in personal identity - but retaining that identity grows by its attraction to itself of that which is consonant with its own unchanged nature. Adult perfection is reached not by amputations and ingraftings, but by growth, in which the identifying energy conforms everything to its own nature. -- C. P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* p. 270

Choice Quote from Latest Gottesdiesnt

"The devil is far too cunning to limit himself to the bureaucracy of only one denomination." - Pr. Larry Beane

22 August 2008

Melancholy Musings as the Grass Clippings Fly

So as I was cutting the grass I was thinking about my Synod. This usually makes me sad (and not too unfrequently makes me angry). But today it was definitely sad. I thought about how the landscape has changed in my years of ministry and in my experience in the Lutheran Church. If there's ONE thing that stands out, surely everyone will agree it is the changes to our worship. There was a time when you really could just about bet on either p. 5 or 15, and if you had a certain kind of parish, maybe Matins. But Lutherans didn't obsess on liturgy; they just worshipped. They followed what was in the book (more or less - we've never been ones for liturgical straight-jackets).

And then enter the whole contemporary worship scene (which should really be called by what it is: the adoption of the liturgy of the Pentecostals and Charismatics). What has been the result?

Are our churches stronger in mission than they were when the liturgy was honored nearly across the board in our Synod? Do we send more or fewer missionaries? Are our people more united now than they were then? How about our support of Synod - stronger or weaker? Is our preaching better or worse? How about our catechesis? Our confessional commitment?

No, I'm NOT picturing some golden age that never existed. Anyone who knows the Synod knows the turbulence of the 20th century almost from the get-go. But where theologians squabbled (as they always have and I suspect they always will), our people were nurtured in a culture that did not oppose liturgy and mission; speaking to the culture and being faithful to our Confessions. It was rather taken for granted. Would that we could see those days again. The invasion of the Pentecostal liturgy has brought disruption and disillusionment to so many parishes; and folks who wouldn't "get on the band wagon" were invited to leave. And then when troubles grew worse, is it any wonder that folks who had become accustomed to that foreign liturgy simply go home - they head to where that liturgy is native. The non-denoms and Pentecostals will always do it better than any Lutheran imitating them can.

And then I thought how Krauth's insight about the progress of error in the church also holds for worship: first they asked only for toleration; then they demanded equality; and you know what the next step is. I fear it's coming.

As the mower was clipping away and the grass was flying up, I had a hankering for simply turning back the clock to a time when Lutherans worshipped as Lutherans and took such worship for granted. Yeah, I wish it was my members' grandfather's church. It's turning into MY grandfather's church - he was a Primitive Baptist - except that he actually cared about doctrine.

NOW you're talking!

Here's the WILKEN Plan. Sweet it is!

August 21, 2008

The Wilken Plan, by Pr. Todd Wilken

I offer the following, not as proposals or possibilities for consideration and discussion. The following proposals/possibilities are final. Take them or leave them.

They’re also not in any particular order (I didn’t have a fancy Task Force to help me).

I call it The Wilken Plan: 100 districts (4 non-geographical).

All district presidents part-time, elected by their districts to a single 2 year term.

District conventions every year, staggered with synodical convention, half a day, business only. Every congregation sends a pastor and a layman, each have one vote.

Synodical Convention every year, 2 days, business only. Every congregation sends a pastor and a layman, each have one vote.

1 year terms limits for the entire synodical Presidium, all of them, including the synodical president, part-time.

All boards and commissions elected by synodical convention to 2 year terms. Directors of all boards and commissions part-time, elected by synodical convention to a single 2 year term, staggered with the election of their board or commission.

CCM, and every other commission, advisory. Members elected by synodical convention and serve a single 2 year term.

Eliminate the CTCR, and start using the Seminary faculties in its place, stop wasting time answering settled questions.

Synodical bureaucracy reduced to only the odd numbered objectives in Article III.

Synodical budget to be determined by congregational support alone.

All elected offices, executive directors, etc. paid district scale (prorated of course, since they’re all part time).

Sell the International Center and other headquarter properties.

Move synodical headquarters to the basement of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Woonsocket, South Dakota.

Since we’re now living in the 21st century, all boards and commissions meet face-to-face only once a year in Woonsocket. All other meetings conducted by teleconference or video conference (of course this will put the Crowne Plaza in St. Louis and perhaps a few resorts in Palm Beach and Arizona out of business, but think of what it will do for the Woonsocket economy!)

Oh yes, and rename the synod. Choose from: “The Part-Time Synod” or “Your Grandfather’s Church.”

21 August 2008

Plans for the Day Off

Haircut (the grayer it gets, the more annoying it is; I like to keep it short!!!)... Visit Honda place to get second set of keys... Lunch with my beautiful wife at Red Lobster... Grass cutting, weather permitting (looking kind of doubtful)... Helping Dave and Jo move some more stuff... Liverpool, which *I* hope to win this time (sorry, Jo!)... And that's about it, God willing.

Wading through the Proposed Changes

As folks do so in the next several months and years, remember a fundamental insight of C. F. W. Walther (wish I could cite where he said it, but I'm relying on memory). It ran along these lines: the only thing that makes a large congregation great is the exact same thing that makes a small congregation great - the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. We should all ask ourselves how these proposals accord with our tradition of honoring the smallest of our parishes as in every respect the equal of our largest parishes, and thus cutting ourselves out of the equation and leaving all the glory to Him who alone is to be glorified, who with His Father and All-Holy Spirit lives and reigns forever!

In these last days of sore distress
Grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness
That we keep pure till life is spent
Your holy Word and Sacrament.

Restrain, O Lord, the human pride
That seeks to thrust Your truth aside
And with some man-made thoughts or things
Would dim the truth Your Spirit sings. LSB 585:2,5

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

So this clause "thy will be done" contains a very profitable admonition that, while we live in the flesh here on earth, we should begin to lift up our heads and our souls. We should begin to desire and think of our life in heaven with the blessed angels. We should labor to begin our conformity with them here on earth. -- Blessed Martin Chemnitz, *The Lord's Prayer*

Patristic Quote of the Day

Now his meaning is this: that which established us to become one body and regenerated us, is one Spirit: for not in one Spirit was one baptized, and another another. And not only is that which has baptized us one, but also that unto which He baptized us, i.e., for which He baptized us, is one. For we were baptized not that so many several bodies might be formed, but that we might all preserve one with another the perfect nature of one body: i.e., that we might all be one body, into the same were we baptized. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Cor. 12

20 August 2008

Yet Another Neglected Rubric

"The readings are introduced simply: 'A reading from _____, chapter ____."

So in Matins and Vespers in the Altar Book. Similarly in the Divine Services. How annoying it is to hear: "Our First reading for this day, the [name of Sunday or feast], comes from the X chapter of the Book of X, beginning at the X verse"! And yet even THAT is better than when the reader seeks to give a "context" to the reading. For Pete's sake! It's GOD'S word that has the power. Let's shut up and get around to it, already. Just telling the book and the chapter more than suffices. Give a brief silence and then plunge into the power of God's own speaking. Do not show your disbelief in the power of God's word by YOUR need to add words to His. Let His words suffice and trust them to do what they promise!

Back in the Saddle...

...so today included:

Teaching two sessions of OT Catechesis to the children of Trinity-St. Paul + Periocpal Study Group in Maryville (great crowd today and good study by Pr. Hemmer) and lunch with pastors and deaconess + hospital visit (so I could hold Elijah Joseph - Lauren informs me that I am his Grand Godfather!) + two shut-in communions + Divine Service + Bible Class on Song of Solomon 8 + Compline + Adult Instruction Class on Baptism and Confession. Not much time today for blogging or emailing, that's for sure.

Commemoration of Samuel, the Prophet

From our Synod's website:

Samuel, last of the Old Testament judges and first of the prophets (after Moses), lived during the 11th century B.C. The child of Elkanah, an Ephraimite, and his wife Hannah, Samuel was from early on consecrated by his parents for sacred service and trained in the house of the Lord at Shiloh by Eli the priest. Samuel's authority as a prophet was established by God (1 Sam. 3:20). He anointed Saul to be Israel's first king (10:1). Later, as a result of Saul's disobedience to God, Samuel repudiated Saul's leadership and then anointed David to be king in place of Saul (16:13). Samuel's loyalty to God, his spiritual insight, and his ability to inspire others made him one of Israel's great leaders.

A hymn that we sing in our Church was inspired by Samuel's words when the Lord called him:

Speak, O Lord, Your servant listens,
Let Your Word to me come near;
Newborn life and spirit give me
Let each promise still my fear.
Death's dread pow'r, its inward strife,
Wars against Your Word of life;
Fill me, Lord, with love's strong fervor
That I cling to You forever. LSBB 589:1

19 August 2008

Thoughts on When to Use What

The LSB offers five settings of the Divine Service.

LSB I and II stand closest to LW and LBW; though with some adaptations. They offer (though as an option) the fullest form of Eucharistia found in LSB. Of the two settings, it is my opinion (nothing more) that DS II is stronger in musical presentation. Though less well known in the midwest, it is a staple across swaths of the East coast and the West coast. It is worth learning. Compare the Agnus Dei in either rite and I think you'll see what I mean.

LSB III is essentially the common service (as found in TLH p. 15). Except for the Eucharistia, it offers the closest approximation to the Roman rite in the book; rather in the line and heritage of Luther's Formula Missae.

LSB IV might be described as an Americanische Messe - it follows Luther's precedent in using hymn tune paraphrases for the ordinary of the liturgy, but unlike the Deutsche Messe, anything that is not a hymn tune is spoken. This rite also offers an invariable preface and a changing Eucharistia depending on the season of the Church Year following the Sanctus.

LSB V is likely to be relegated to Reformation festivals - it IS mostly Luther's German Mass with a few felicitous changes; yet the heavy music of the Canticles make it unlikely to ever be a weekly service here in the States.

Should a parish use all the settings? I don't think it wise, myself. There is nothing wrong with a parish basically sticking to a single ordo. Still, if more than one order is used, I think there should be in each parish a chief setting that predominates. Frankly, the historic weight of LSB III commends itself in that regard; its sturdy music does not wear thin with frequent repetition. Thus, I'd recommend assigning DS III for all Sundays outside of Easter; either DS I or II for the weeks of Easter; DS IV for weekday services that are sung; and DS V for Reformation or Presentation of the Augsburg Confession and such.

The Year of Festivals!

Doing some worship planning it struck me how many festivals and feasts will fall on Sundays in the coming months:

Holy Cross Day, St. Matthew's Day, Holy Innocents, Confession of St. Peter, Conversion of St. Paul.

Then there are the days we usually transfer to Sundays: St. Michael and All Angels, Reformation, All Saints, and Epiphany.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

And so faith has in the use of the Eucharist a firm anchor of consolation, trust, and certainty concerning the forgiveness of sins. It also has an effectual remedy for raising up and supporting a feeble faith in the midst of sorrows and trials, against want of confidence, doubt, faintheartedness, and despair. Moreover, the Son of God testifies that in the true use of the Eucharist He grafts the believers into Himself as members that He may bear, sustain, guide, and quicken them, in order that they may be united with Him more and more and may be enabled to continue more firmly in Him and hold fast the benefits they have received. -- Blessed Martin Chemnitz, Examen II:239,240

Patristic Quote of the Day

"Be imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ." This is a rule of the most perfect Christianity, this is a landmark exactly laid down, this is the point that stands highest of all; viz. the seeking those things which are for the common profit: which also Paul himself declared, by adding, even as I also am of Christ. For nothing can so make a man an imitator of Christ as caring for his neighbors. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Corinthians 11

Bernard of Clairvaux, Theologian and Hymnwriter

Today we commemorate St. Bernard. From our Synod's website:

A leader in Christian Europe in the first half of the 11th century A.D., Bernard is honored in his native France and around the world. Born into a noble family in Burgundy in 1090, Bernard left the affluence of his heritage and entered the monastery of Citeaux at the age of 22. After two years he was sent to start a new monastic house at Clairvaux. His work there was blessed in many ways. The monastery at Clairvaux grew in mission and service, eventually establishing some 68 daughter houses. Bernard is remembered for his charity and political abilities, but especially for his preaching and hymn composition. The hymn texts “O Jesus, King Most Wonderful” and “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” are part of the heritage of the faith left by Saint Bernard.

Blessed Martin Chemnitz cites from the Life of Bernard, chapter 12:

When he appeared to be drawing his last breath, as his mental powers failed, he seemed to be presenting himself before the tribunal of his Lord. But there was present over against him Satan, assailing him with wicked accusations. But when he had had his say, the man of God also had to speak on his part. Undaunted and unperturbed, he said: 'I confess that I am not worthy and that I cannot obtain the kingdom of heaven through my own merits. However, my Lord is obtaining it with a twofold right, namely, through the inheritance of the Father and by the merit of His suffering; with the one He is content, and the other He gives to me; because of this gift, since He vindicates this to me by right, I am not disturbed.' By this word the enemy was routed. [Examen I:511]

And he is the man who has given us these wonderful words to sing:

Be Thou my consolation,
My shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy passion
When my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee,
Upon Thy cross shall dwell.
My heart by faith enfold Thee;
Who dieth thus, dies well.

18 August 2008

Must Read from John the Steadfast

Pastor Rossow offers some thoughts on the big shindig in St. Louis that begins today and runs through Wednesday. The long awaited proposals for restructuring will be discussed. Keep your eyes on this, folks, if you care about the future of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod:

Rossow's Thoughts

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The commandment to love the neighbor demands that a person must love his enemies and be ready to make the greatest sacrifice on behalf of them. In addition, it insists that a person must never tire of loving his neighbor. -- C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 689

Patristic Quote of the Day

There are therefore temptations which we are not able to bear. And what are these? All, so to speak. For the ability lies in God's gracious influence; a power which we draw down by our own will. Wherefore that you may know and see that not only those which exceed our power, but not even these which are common to man is it possible without assistance from God easily to bear, he added,

But will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

For, says he, not even those moderate temptations, as I was remarking, may we bear by our own power: but even in them we require aid from Him in our warfare that we may pass through them, and until we have passed, bear them. For He gives patience and brings on a speedy release; so that in this way also the temptation becomes bearable. This he covertly intimates, saying, will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it: and all things he refers to Him. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Cor. 10

17 August 2008

Summer's End

Bekah's already back to school. Lauren leaves tomorrow for Seward. David starts next week, and TSP responsibilities arrive this week for me. Summer - that school free zone - is over for us in these parts. Some aspects linger - our pool is still up (and we'll no doubt use it a few more times), and we'll certainly have some hot days yet. But it feels like a corner has been turned yet again. Before long the September Ember Days will be upon us, and then it will be St. Michael's, and then Reformation, and All Saints, and Thanksgiving and at last Advent and onto Christmas. The long and lazy days of summer for 2008 are largely in the past. Thanks be to God for days of respite and peace, for extended family time, for vacations and visits! Deep breath now. It all starts again!


I confess to being a pop culture ignoramus. Just doesn't interest me, and I've not bothered to engage it much. Two exceptions this weekend: I enjoyed the phenomenal run of gold for Phelps at the Olympics [most TV I've watched since Hillary dropped out], and I caved to pressure from my children to see The Dark Knight.

Phelps was beyond amazing. The Dark Knight, however, struck me as the sort of show that wanted to be profound and ended up being anything but. Not that Ledger didn't succeed in being a real nutcase; he did. But the whole I found to be rather boring. About halfway through I wondered when it would end; but it kept on screeching and exploding at us for quite a bit.

Still, it was good to see the Herberts, to see Lauren one more time (before she heads back to Seward), and to have taken a ride in the civic (on the way there) and to have driven the civic (on the way home).

My conclusion: confirmed in the general wisdom of my habitual ignoring of the pop culture.

Commemoration of Johann Gerhard, Theologian

Today we remember and give thanks to God for Blessed Johann Gerhard. From our Synod's website:

Johann Gerhard (1582–1637) was a great Lutheran theologian in the tradition of Martin Luther (1483–1546) and Martin Chemnitz (1522–86) and the most influential of the 17th-century dogmaticians. His monumental Loci Theologici (23 large volumes) is still considered by many to be a definitive statement of Lutheran orthodoxy. Gerhard was born in Quedlinburg, Germany. At the age of 15 he was stricken with a life-threatening illness. This experience, along with guidance from his pastor, Johann Arndt, marked a turning point in his life. He devoted the rest of his life to theology. He became a professor at the University of Jena and served many years as the Superintendent of Heldberg. Gerhard was a man of deep evangelical piety and love for Jesus. He wrote numerous books on exegesis, theology, devotional literature, history, and polemics. His sermons continue to be widely published and read.

From his *Sacred Meditations* (XI):

Draw me, O Lord Jesus, that I may possess in deed and in truth that which I look for with unwavering hope. Let me be with Thee, as Thy servants, I pray Thee, and let me behold Thy glory, which the Father has given Thee. Let me by and by dwell in that mansion which Thou hast gone to prepare for me in Thy Father's house. Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house, O Lord; they shall praise Thee forever and ever!

16 August 2008

Commemoration of Isaac

Today we commemorate St. Isaac. From our Synod's website:

Isaac, the long promised and awaited son of Abraham and Sarah, was born when his father was 100 and his mother 91. The announcement of his birth brought both joy and laughter to his aged parents (so the name “Isaac,” which means “laughter”). As a young man, Isaac accompanied his father to Mount Moriah, where Abraham, in obedience to God's command, prepared to sacrifice him as a burnt offering. But God intervened, sparing Isaac's life and providing a ram as a substitute offering (Gen. 22:1–14), and thus pointing to the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ for the sins of the world. Isaac was given in marriage to Rebekah (24:15), and they had twin sons, Esau and Jacob (25:19–26). In his old age Isaac, blind and feeble, wanted to give his blessing and chief inheritance to his favorite—and eldest—son, Esau. But through deception Rebekah had Jacob receive them instead, resulting in years of family enmity. Isaac died at the age of 180 and was buried by his sons, who by then had become reconciled, in the family burial cave of Machpelah (35:28–29).

Sing the Faith

I'm listening at the moment to the Small Catechism, and it's the best presentation I've heard of it. Kantor Phil Magness has set the text of the Small Catechism to music: "Sing the Faith: The Small Catechism Set to Music." Sweet children's voices sing the faith and just by listening to the CD repeatedly you will memorize the Small Catechism; the music will write it into your heart. I ordered the accompanying song book so we could begin working on it in our school. Kudos to Kantor and to CPH for such a useful and beautiful gift to the Church!

Vehicle Problem Solved - Deo Gratias!

Even before Bekah started back to school, we started running into some problems with everyone getting where they needed to be. So we solved the problem yesterday, and now we're the proud owners of a 2004 Honda Civic EX Sedan. So far, we're enjoying it a great deal, and the relief of not having to work around everyone's schedule will be a blessing indeed. Best of all: filled her up this a.m. for less than $40. She is supposed to go over 400 miles on that. We'll see! It's all black. I told Cindi we needed to paint a white tab on the front bumper. She didn't agree with me... Whoever of us has further to go on a given day will drive that one, and we'll keep the van for whoever has less costly runs to make. One BIG worry off our shoulders for now.

Patristic Quote of the Day

But He has spoken of these things as God's, not only because He brought them into being, but also because, when they were alienated, He won them again a second time, paying as the price, the blood of the Son. Mark how He brought the whole to completion in Christ, how He raised us up into heaven. You are members of Christ, says he, you are a temple of the Spirit." - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Corinthians 6

Good-bye to Katie

We got them the same time in 1994. We had no idea how old either of them were. Pumpkin was terrified when we brought him home - stayed under the bed and howled like no cat should! Katie, that lovely calico, though, was afraid of nothing. Out she got and started exploring. And over the years there'd be no place she couldn't get herself into. Who would end up trapped on the ceiling tiles above Lauren's room? Katie. Who would end up trapped above the bathroom's ceiling? Katie. When Delmar was at work fixing up our bathroom, who climbed the ladder and got into the attic? Katie. Who liked to sit on the top of the refrigerator, looking down on the rest of the world? Katie. And was she ever a lap cat! Her terms, though. SHE wanted to be the one who chose to sit in your lap and expected you to pet her.

After Lauren went off to school, she decided that she needed a warm body to sleep with and often spent the night on our bed, curled up at my feet. That is, when she and Pumpkin weren't romping at night, hissing at each other, and fighting.

When we had to put him down, she changed. She's not been the same since. Her last months were pretty miserable - we had to keep her confined due to litter problems, some sores that wouldn't heal on her legs, and one on her stomach that looked bad for a while. She had trouble jumping and walking. It was time, though very sad. Lauren and Cindi rode with me to the vet. Lauren held her all the way, but opted to stay in the car and not see her get the shot. Tears and yet relief. And the promise of the Lord is sweet: "Behold, I make all things new." Even still it felt like more than just Katie's passing; rather, the passing of an era in our family. Fourteen years she'd been with us. Now the only inside critter is Lucy. Well, that's not counting David and Bekah. :)

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

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

15 August 2008

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We remember that so doughty an adherent of the Augsburg Confession as Blessed John Brenz could say of the bodily taking up of the Virgin to Heaven: "About this let everyone think as he will." And that the great Lutheran hymn-writer and preacher of the late seventeenth century, Blessed Valerius Herberger, presents a careful justification of this theological opinion in a sermon in his *Evangelische Herzpostille*. It is when these pious opinions are elevated to the status of dogmas which must be believed under pain of eternal condemnation that we delcare this kind of constraint - rather than the opinions themselves - to be antichristian and diabolical. -- A. C. Piepkorn, *The Church* p. 330

Patristic Quote of the Day

It is festival, therefore, the whole time in which we live. For though he said, Let us keep the feast, not with a view to the presence of the Passover or of Pentecost did he say it; but as pointing out that the whole of time is a festival unto Christians, because of the excellency of the good things which have been given. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Corinthians 5

St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord

Today our Synod commemorates St. Mary, the Mother of Our Lord. The title of the feast recalls the words of St. Elizabeth in greeting the Virgin. She is truly Mother of Our Lord and thus in fact Mother of God, as our Symbols joyfully confess. This day commemorates her dormition, her falling asleep in death, and her going to her Son, who is the Victor over death.

By all Your saints in warfare,
For all Your saints at rest,
Your holy name, O Jesus,
Forevermore be blest!
For You have won the battle
That they may wear the crown;
And now they shine in glory
Reflected from Your throne.

We sing with joy of Mary,
Whose heart with awe was stirred
When, youthful and astonished,
She heard the angel's word.
Yet she her voice upraises
To magnify God's name,
As once for our salvation
Your mother she became. LSB 518:1,22

"Arise, O Lord; You and the ark of Your covenant!"

14 August 2008

Neglected Rubrics Yet Again

Altar Book, p. XX:

"The psalms are pointed for singing."

How EASY it is to sing the Psalms (or any portions thereof) with Lutheran Service Book! And yet - even in my own parish- one still can meet resistance with singing them. Nothing seems sillier, though, than speaking the words: "O sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord all the earth!"

Hello??? Does nothing strike one as odd with that?

LSB richly provides us with tones. There are 8 single tones (for psalms with odd numbered divisions) and 3 double tones (for psalms with even numbered divisions). It would not take long for a congregation to become familiar with all of them, and thus be comfortable singing the Psalter with a variety of tones. My personal favorites are A, E, G and H, and of the double tones I.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Wherever men may be born to God, and divinely nurtured, whether through the whole faith they confess, or in spite of parts of it, there is the Church visible in its widest sense. The Church visible, taking the term in its stricter sense, has its visible tokens, to wit, the official acceptance and confession of the Word in its totality, in its pure and true sense, and the use of the right Sacraments in their divine essentials. -- C. P. Krauth, *A Documentary History of the General Council* p. 370

Patristic Quote of the Day

For not to you belong these excellencies, but to the grace of God. Whether you name faith, it came of His calling; or whether it be the forgiveness of sins which you speak of, or spiritual gifts, or the word of teaching, or the miracles; you received all from thence. Now what have you, tell me, which you have not received, but hast rather achieved of your own self? You have nothing to say. Well: you have received; and does that make you high-minded? Nay, it ought to make you shrink back into yourself. For it is not yours, what has been given, but the giver's. What if you received it? you received it of him. And if you received of him, it was not thine which you received, and if you but received what was not your own, why are you exalted as if you had something of your own? Wherefore he added also, Now if you received it, why do you glory, as if you had not received it? -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Corinthians 4

Last Time

We have a tradition of taking pictures of our kids on their first day of school. We've done it since Lauren started kindergarten. Well, here's the last one. This is Bekah off to her first day of school in her senior year. How the years have fled!

13 August 2008


We miss you. Two Wednesdays and no Darcy. NOT the same!!! Hope you are doing well in Texas!

A Dormition Meditation

I remember when the angel came and told me, and my heart burst with joy and terror.

I remember when I came to the door of Zechariah’s house and Eliabeth knew my secret and my heart melted and my eyes burned with tears and my mouth prophesied.

I remember when I felt your movement first inside my body, and I realized that I was the living ark of the living God.

I remember when first I saw your face, and touched your hands, and looked into my Joseph’s eyes.

I remember when they came creeping in to see you, to worship you, the shepherds of the night, and told me songs of angels and glory in the highest and peace on earth.

I remember when we brought you to the temple and the old man took you in his arms and blessed God, ready to die, and told me of pain yet to come.

I remember when they came from the East and bowed before you as I held you and gave their gifts - the gold, the incense and the myrrh, while the star's light shone upon us.

I remember when he woke me and we fled into the night ahead of the terror of Herod’s sword.

I remember when we came home at last, and people looked and talked, but you were all our joy.

I remember when you stayed behind, when you left us, and we found you in the temple and my heart rose up in fear realizing that you chose to abide in the place of sacrifice and death.

I remember when you spoke to me in roughness and yet made the water into wine.

I remember when we came to make you take your rest and you taught me that all these in need were dear to you as your own family.

I remember when they took you, tortured you, and crucified you; and before my eyes rose up the old man in the temple – his words haunted me still – and a sword ran me through as I watched you dying.

I remember when you looked on me and the beloved one and gave us to each other for all our days.

I remember when the light died in your eyes and my heart sank beyond tears and words.

I remember after the empty days when they came and told me that you lived again, and joy flooded my heart, and I knew then what I had always known - your every promise was true.

I remember when we prayed together after you had gone into heaven and the Spirit came in wind and flame.

I remember how they went and told the news to all the world. And I welcomed each new believer as my beloved child, a brother of my Son, the King of all.

I remember it all now as I die, as I lay my head down in death.

My Son, I am not afraid. I go to you, to you who have conquered death, to you who are the Forgiveness of all sins. Receive me, child. Receive me.

I remember. I remember. I remember.

Isn't this altar beautiful?

These are from Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Brandon Mississippi where Pr. Rick Sawyer richly serves up the treasures of God's holy Word. This altar confesses what it's all about!

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The measure of each individual's responsibility is the measure of truth God has made possible to him.-- C. P. Krauth, *A Documentary History of the General Council* p. 373

Patristic Quote of the Day

For we have all things from Christ. Both existence itself we have through Him, and life, and breath, and light, and air, and earth. And if He were to exclude us from any one of these, we are lost and undone. For 1 Peter 2:11 we are sojourners and pilgrims. And all this about mine, and yours, is bare words only, and does not stand for things. For if thou do but say the house is yours, it is a word without a reality: since the very air, earth, matter, are the Creator's; and so are you too yourself, who hast framed it; and all other things also. But supposing the use to be yours, even this is uncertain, not on account of death alone, but also before death, because of the instability of things. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Corinthians 4

12 August 2008

Neglected Rubrics

Inspired by Pr. Christopher Hall, I would like to point out a neglected rubric in Holy Baptism, the Altar Book, p. 366. It's number 9:

"While making the sign of the cross during the blessing after Baptism, olive oil may be used to symbolize the sealing with the Holy Spirit for salvation (Eph. 1:13-14). This oil may be applied with the thumb."

This rubric restores for us LCMS and LCC Lutherans the ancient practice of the chrism (which was still present in Luther's 1523 Order and in the 1529 Order of Olavus Petri). Boo, hiss, though, on the word "symbolize" in the rubric. Far better to say that it manifests, that is, it reveals and confesses.

We use the chrism with each Baptism at St. Paul's precisely to manifest and confess that Baptism's gift is not only remission of sins but the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

There are Christians in denominations, but denominationalism is not Christianity. Men are Christians in spite of that which creates denominationalism, not in consequence of it. No concession to denominationalism can stand on New Testament grounds. -- C. P. Krauth, *Documentary History of the General Council* p. 366, 367

Patristic Quote of the Day

Upon this then let us build, and as a foundation let us cleave to it, as a branch to a vine; and let there be no interval between us and Christ. For if there be any interval, immediately we perish. For the branch by its adherence draws in the fatness, and the building stands because it is cemented together. Since, if it stand apart it perishes, having nothing whereon to support itself. Let us not then merely keep hold of Christ, but let us be cemented to Him, for if we stand apart, we perish. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Cor. 3

11 August 2008

The Drink

and they didn't even CARD her!


The surprise lilies are up and looking beautiful, and the new hibiscus that Cindi bought is also showing off its color. The old one I cut down has made a resurgence, and though it looks likely not to bloom this year, we're hoping for next.

Twenty One

That would be the age of my eldest, Mrs. Lauren Herberts as of about 11:00 this morning Though married for over a year now, she's not been able to order herself a strawberry daiquiri, so we're going out this evening to remedy that grievous wrong. I might even join in her drinking one at our Mexican fiesta (why DON'T they make them with splenda???). Happy birthday, LEW! We love you!!!

A few images from the years...

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

For as the Church is the mother of believers, as she is to bring forth children of whom God is the father, so she is to train up in the faith those who are born of her, is to nourish her infants with milk, her adult children with solid food, to confirm the doubting, to strengthen the sorrowing and tempted, to arouse men from the sleep of sin, to lead the secure to repentance, to bring back into the way of salvation those who have wandered, and to keep all men in that way. But for these duties she needs more than those parts of doctrine which are the only necessary ones for the simple, who have neither the mental strength nor intelligence to go further. She needs for her work the entire doctrine of Scripture, 'for perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.' --C. P. Krauth, A Documentary History of the General Council p. 365

Patristic Quote of the Day

And not even now persuade we by argumentation; but from the Divine Scriptures and from the miracles done at that time we produce the proof of what we say. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Corinthians 2

10 August 2008

St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

Today our Synod's churches commemorate St. Laurence. From the Synod's website:

Early in the third century A.D., Laurence, most likely born in Spain, made his way to Rome. There he was appointed chief of the seven deacons and was given the responsibility to manage church property and finances. The emperor at the time, who thought that the church had valuable things worth confiscating, ordered Laurence to produce the “treasures of the church.” Laurence brought before the emperor the poor whose lives had been touched by Christian charity. He was then jailed and eventually executed in the year 258 by being roasted on a gridiron. His martyrdom left a deep impression on the young church. Almost immediately, the date of His death, August 10, became a permanent fixture on the early commemorative calendar of the Church.

Stir up, O merciful Father, your people to true brotherly affection that we may gladly do good and serve our neighbor, as did your servant Saint Laurence when he emptied the treasury of the Church to help the poor; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is one of the greatest sins and calamities of the Church of our day that there is widespread an utter carelessness in regard to doctrine, or a fixed aversion to it; in some a contempt for it, in many an ignorance or an ignoring of it. Men sometimes array the Gospel against itself by urging they "want the Gospel," they "don't want doctrine;" as if there could be any real Gospel which is not doctrine, or any Gospel in its totality, which does not embrace all the doctrine of the Gospel. It is as if they said: "We want nourishment; we don't want food;" "We want warmth; not none of your fuel and clothes for us." - C. P. Krauth, *Documentary History of the General Council* p. 362

Patristic Quote of the Day

And to me it seems that he speaks to them in a lower tone even than to any others, in order to repress their pride. Thus, the expression, I determined to know nothing, was spoken in contradistinction to the wisdom which is without. For I came not weaving syllogisms nor sophisms, nor saying unto you anything else than Christ was crucified. They indeed have ten thousand things to say, and concerning ten thousand things they speak, winding out long courses of words, framing arguments and syllogisms, compounding sophisms without end. But I came unto you saying no other thing than Christ was crucified. and all of them I out-stripped: which is a sign such as no words can express of the power of Him whom I preach.--St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Cor. 2

09 August 2008

The Joy of TWO Baptisms

Tonight we had the joy of baptizing two young ones to Christ: Caden Leonard and his cousin Kylie Dyer. May the Lord grant these two to grow in the grace of Baptism and lead holy lives, honoring the Savior who bought them at the price of His own blood!


Just noticed the blog slipped unremarked across the 300,000 visitor list. Time to call for intros again. WHO are you who visit this blog? Will you introduce yourself (especially if you've not done so before) and tell us a wee bit about who you are and where you come from?

August and Summer Fading

You can feel it in the sunlight. It's fading. I spent some time today outside - doing yard work, bike riding with Bekah and an hour in the pool relaxing. But the strength of the sunlight is definitely dying. You can feel it. Sadness. Cindi told me the other day that she no longer welcomes winter. I'm with her. The summer sun does something for me that the autumn and winter no longer can. I guess that means I'm getting old. Give me sun and warmth and long days and pool and yard work. (Yes, I've really come to love the yard work with my reel mower and hand clippers).

More Krauth

On the nature of altar fellowship among Lutherans:

As the Word of God and the Confessions of the Church teach the inviolable sacredness and supremacy of truth, and the obligation of the utmost simplicity and directness in asserting and defending it, that RULE FOR THE ALTAR alone accords with both, which withholds from coming to our altars those who deny any part of the divine truth, those who are voluntarily ignorant of it, and who neither desire nor would permit us to teach it to them, who have never examined and do not mean to examine the grounds on which we rest our confession of it, who either know nothing and care nothing about it, or regard it as false, or look upon it as too ummportant even for contempt — those who are in, and intend to remain in, communions which owe their existence to a denial of the very truths which gave our Church her full distinctive being, and to the assertion of which our fathers witnessed by their Confession, their toils, their sacrifices, and, when need was, by their blood, — those who, mistaking or abusing the name of Charity, and converting what they call Love into a foe to the truth, no longer a love by which faith works, but a love which works without faith against faith, those who sink the communion of our Lord's broken body and shed blood to the sphere of mere social courtesy. (p. 358 Documentary History of the General Council)

Patristic Quote of the Day

For the grace of God. Do you see how from every quarter he draws topics for correcting them? For where grace is, works are not; where works, it is no more grace. If therefore it be grace, why are you high-minded? Whence is it that you are puffed up? - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Corinthians 1

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

When a Church holds and professes the very truth of God in all its parts, and has the pure sacraments, no man has a right to leave it because of any human defects which may exist in its actual state. He must labor and pray to correct them; must apply the Church's own principles to remove her own evils; must reform within the Church. A man who remains within a particular Church is thereby pledged to its officially confessed faith, but not to anything beyond. If a Church has the pure Word and Sacraments it has the essential means of correcting its actual practical defects; and the forming of a new denomination, simply as an easier mode of securing any human ends, however important, is schism. - C. P. Krauth, Documentary History of the General Council, p. 357

07 August 2008

Another Neglected Rubric

From page xi of the Altar Book for Lutheran Service Book:

"The custom of processing to read the Holy Gospel in the midst of the congregation is commended for church festivals."

At St. Paul's, we recognize every Sunday celebration as a Church festival! We process the Holy Gospel into the midst of the congregation each weekend. Why? What does this bringing of the Gospel into our midst manifest? It shows us that Christ Himself is in the midst of our gathered assembly, continuing to speak the Word by which alone we live in Him. "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them." As in His incarnation He came among us to give us life, so in His enscriptured Word He still speaks to give us life. As we turn all toward the Gospel book in our midst and hear our Lord speak to us, we rejoice in how He keeps His promise to abide with us until the end of the age.

On Acolytes and Such

Twice in recent months, the question has been put to me about the wisdom of allowing the young ladies to serve as crucifers and acolytes and torchbearers together with the young men. It's one of those areas that I confess I haven't reflected on much. It was the practice of the parish I became a Lutheran and Christian in. It was the practice that was in place when I arrived as pastor at both Redeemer and St. Paul's. That doesn't make it right, of course. But it has sort of been a "machts nichts" sort of issue to me.

Some people are troubled that the practice opens the door to women's ordination somehow. I must confess that I don't follow that line of thinking. These young women and men are all catechized that our Rule of Faith, the Sacred Scriptures, prohibit any woman and also some men from serving in the Office of the Holy Ministry. I'm certainly willing to learn or be taught better. Does anyone have any thoughts on this particular question that they'd be willing to share? What has your experience been? What do you think it should be? Why?

Patristic Quote of the Day

He, moreover, who says that any man, after he has received remission of sins, has ever lived in this body, or still is living, so righteously as to have no sin at all, he contradicts the Apostle John, who declares that If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8 Observe, the expression is not we had, but we have. --St. Augustine, On Man's Perfection in Righteousness

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Inadequate views of the the person and work of Christ; false views of election and reprobation; of the means of grace, the Word and Sacraments; the mode and subjects of Baptism; the nature of the validity and efficacy of the ministry, - all are in conflict, covertly it may be, but really, with the true doctrine of Justification by Faith. Romanism and Ritualism directly assail it; Rationalism destroys it; Fanaticism, sometimes with an affectation of zealotry for it, confounds justification by faith with justification by sensation, and leads the penitent to rest, not in the old, eternal promise, but on a new personal revelation. No Church holds the doctrine of Justification by Faith in that consistent integrity and harmonious relation within itself and with all other doctrines, in which it is held and confessed in the Lutheran Church. -- C. P. Krauth, *Free Lutheran Diet* p. 48

Homily for Trinity 12

[Isaiah 29:17-24 / 2 Cor. 3:4-11 / Mark 7:31-37]

Today's Gospel reading started with some geographical information. We tend to let that slip by as unimportant. That would be a mistake today. You see, it's important to know that Jesus was heading into the Decapolis, the area of the Ten Cities on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee - largely, non-Jewish territory in those days. But even there the people had heard about Jesus! We might ask: how? Mark told you the answer back in chapter five.

Do you remember the healing of the Gadarene demoniac? The man who lived in the tombs and from whom Jesus had driven the demons that entered the swine and drowned? At the end of that story, the man begged Jesus to let him get in the boat and cross over with him, but Jesus said: "No. Return to your home and make known to everyone what great things God has done for you." This man returned and proclaimed – guess where? – throughout the Decapolis the great things Jesus had done for him.

Consequently, because this man had shared with others the good news of Jesus, His power over demons, His love for all and His healing power, when Jesus again comes into that region, immediately some folks pick up this deaf mute and bring him to Jesus for Jesus to lay his hands on him and heal him.

But Jesus doesn't do the laying on of hands. Instead he communicates with this deaf man in the only way that the deaf could understand - through signs. He pokes his fingers in his ears (which being translated is: "I'm going to open your ears"). He spits and touches his tongue (which being translated is: "I'm going to heal your tongue" - spit was regarded as healing in those days). And then He sighs and looks up to heaven (which being translated is: "I'm going to pray for you."). And then, and then, Jesus does what only Jesus can do. He speaks the Word: EPHPHATHA! Open up!

And just as God in the beginning said: "Let there be…" and immediately there was, so when God in the flesh, Jesus the Son of God, says: "Open up!" immediately the man can hear and can speak.

The crowds go ballistic! "Wow! Never seen anything like this! Do you believe it! This guy does everything well. I mean, he makes the deaf hear and the dumb to speak! Wait till I tell Aunt Josephine! Wait till I tell Uncle Zechariah!"

Meanwhile, Jesus is asking them not to tell. Why on earth would he do that? Probably to avoid the crowds that had so pressed him in Galilee before he left, making it almost impossible for him to teach or move around simply because He was drowning in a sea of people who needed healing. And great as healing is, much as He delighted to bear our infirmities and heal our diseases, it wasn't the only thing Jesus needed to get done. The teaching was just as important, and in many ways even more important.

But if he told them, then, to keep silent; that is not what he tells us today, is it? Just the opposite. You see, we've all tasted something of what the deaf-mute knew. By nature our ears are simply deaf to the "words of the book" as our Old Testament reading put it. We couldn't hear the voice of God, and we didn't want to. Our tongues were tied too. Tied to bitterness and complaining, griping and grousing. But someone loved us enough to bring us to Jesus, to place us before him and beg him to heal. And heal He did! He opened our ears to hear the Word. He freed our tongues from their dominion to Satan and set them free to sing the praises of God: "O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise!"

For many of us that happened when our parents picked us up as little children, carried us to the waters of Baptism, where Jesus first spoke His mighty ephphatha over our lives, and so we've never known a life not lived in the presence of the Redeemer - in the joy of His healing love that works on us to constantly open our ears and train our tongues to praise. But for some of us it happened later - when others shared the good news of a Savior with us, and then led us to the water, walked with us to the Son of God, prayed for us and rejoiced with us when Jesus opened us up by His Word and Sacraments. Whether it happened to us as babes or as adults or at any stage in between, we’ve encountered Jesus and His word – that ministry of righteousness we heard about in our second reading – it brought to us a glory that is permanent and does not fade away and our lives were changed.

But if we've all been where the deaf-mute was, that's not where Jesus wants us to stay. Rather, He wants us to become like those men who brought the deaf-mute to Jesus. He wants us to go out and tell others about a Savior who has already taken away the sins of the world by His death on the cross, whose sacrifice has been accepted by His Father who showed this when He raised Him from the dead. A Savior who has a bath that washes sin and guilt, who has a table laden with food that imparts eternal life, who has a Book whose words burn in our hearts and fill us with the joy of the Spirit of God. He wants us to call others, to invite them, to bring them to our Savior, and to pray for them that Jesus would open up their ears to hear and believe His words and so open their lips to join us in singing the praises of God. As the Psalmist put it in today’s gradual: I will bless the Lord at all times! His praise shall continually be in my mouth! My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad!

But DO note that our Lord does not send you out to open deaf ears or loose bound tongues. Oh, no - what a burden that would be! He sends you out to invite and bring others to Him, to where He is, to where He speaks His Words and goes on doing His "ephphatha" job. It's a simple matter of inviting others to gather with you where Jesus has surely promised to be and to speak His Words and to do His miracle of healing and new life - freeing up ears for hearing God's Word and tongues for singing His praise.

That's what the people in today's Gospel reading did, wasn't it? They just brought their friend who was suffering and in need to Jesus and Jesus took of the rest. That's what He summons each of us to be about. And that's not a job that any one of us can give away to some committee. It's a joy He wouldn't deprive one of us of! Think today of the people you know who are deaf to God's Word. Consider whom you can invite to come with you to Jesus, to sit with you in this assembly, to hear your Lord Jesus speak and do His mighty miracle of healing deaf ears and setting their tongues free to join you in the praise of the Triune God to whom be glory, now and ever and to the ages of ages! Amen.

06 August 2008

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

But perfect peace and perfect purity never can go together on earth: I came not to bring peace, but a sword. Peace with God, peace with our own conscience - these we may have; but peace with Satan, peace with heresy, peace with persistent ignorance, error, and unreasonableness, we can never have - and these will rise as long as man is man. -- C. P. Krauth, *Free Lutheran Diet* p. 42

Patristic Quote of the Day

Marvel not that I am to be lifted up that you may be saved, for this seems good to the Father, and He has so loved you as to give His Son for slaves, and ungrateful slaves. Yet a man would not do this even for a friend, nor readily even for a righteous man; as Paul has declared when he said, Scarcely for a righteous man will one die. Romans 5:7 Now he spoke at greater length, as speaking to believers, but here Christ speaks concisely, because His discourse was directed to Nicodemus, but still in a more significant manner, for each word had much significance. For by the expression, so loved, and that other, God the world, He shows the great strength of His love. Large and infinite was the interval between the two. He, the immortal, who is without beginning, the Infinite Majesty, they but dust and ashes, full of ten thousand sins, who, ungrateful, have at all times offended Him; and these He loved. Again, the words which He added after these are alike significant, when He says, that He gave His Only-begotten Son, not a servant, not an Angel, not an Archangel. And yet no one would show such anxiety for his own child, as God did for His ungrateful servants. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on John 3

A Running Day

Not THAT kind of running. Cindi, Jo, and I accompanied Dave to his first doctor's appointment after surgery, and then over to SLU for some therapy. We lunched at Olympia (Cwirla, eat your heart out - we enjoyed saganaki and other good stuff!). Then a couple more errands before heading home. Just time to work on a sermon for CPH, and then it was Divine Service, Bible Class on Song of Songs (we went too long to pray Compline tonight), and Adult Instruction. Again, an excellent class with outstanding questions and discussions. Home in time to do a wee bit of blogging and then heading for bed. Where did the day go? Amazing how the hours can fly.

Couple Interesting Must Reads

First, Cwirla. This is a great post on the nature of what is quite inaccurately called contemporary worship.

Second, Wilken. Please read not just Pr. Wilken's initial comments, but also the discussion that follows, especially the comments of one Gene (and his friend Martin Luther!). THIS is a quite honest and open rejection of Lutheranism. THAT folks is where this stuff is headed.

05 August 2008

This 'n' That

Well, tonight we played Liverpool and Cindi won AGAIN. Our last night playing with Aunt Sandy for a while. She'll be heading back to Maryland tomorrow. Dave and Jo will be moving shortly into another house in Hamel - they've enjoyed Leroy's family home, but the stairs are a bit of a killer for them. We're looking forward to having all that they need on ONE floor (washing, kitchen, and so on). Should be moving within the next couple weeks or so - Sandy will have an entire apartment in the basement that she'll no doubt set up sometime this fall.

Patristic Quote of the Day

“And whatsoever you do,” he says, “in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” For if we thus do, there will be nothing polluted, nothing unclean, wherever Christ is called on. If thou eat, if thou drink, if thou marry, if thou travel, do all in the Name of God, that is, calling Him to aid you: in everything first praying to Him, so take hold of your business. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Colossians 3

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

When the Lutheran Church acts in the spirit of the current denominationalism she abandons her own spirit... No seeming success could compensate our Church for the forsaking of the principles which gave her being, for the loss of internal peace, for the destruction of her proper dignity, for the sack of self-respect which would follow it. The Lutheran Church can never have real moral dignity, real self-respect, a real claim on the reverence and loyalty of her children, while she allows the fear of the denominations around her, or her desire of their approval, in any respect to shape her principles or control her actions... We have among us a sort of charity that not only does not begin at home, but never gets there. It is soaring and gasping for the Unity of Lutherans with all the rest of the world, but not with each other. It can forgive all the sects for assailing the truth, but has no mercy for the Lutherans who defend it. -- C. P. Krauth, Free Lutheran Diet, pp. 66, 67

04 August 2008

When I Am Old

- provided God allows me to linger on this earth - and sitting in some home somewhere, I hope my children will never keep truth from me. I hope that no misguided desire to spare me suffering will lead them to let me live in what they might foolishly conceive as blissful ignorance. Suffering is part of this life. Bad news is all too frequent. And no one knows this like the elderly themselves. They've lived through so many tears and heartaches!

When I am old and gray, I pray my children will remember that the sorrows of this age CANNOT crush the one who has faith in Him who died for our sin and rose from the dead in an incorruptible body to be our very life. Bad news there is a plenty in our world, and it comes crashing in huge waves the older we get, it seems. But there is no bad news that is stronger than the Gospel, and there is no suffering we will be called to go through that cannot be sanctified by the blessed fellowship of our Savior's cross. More than conquerors, we, through Him who loves us!

Funeral Homily for Louis Schlechte

Louis was exactly two weeks and one day old when Fred and Minnie Schlechte picked him up and marched him to St. Paul’s and placed him in the hands of old Pastor Hansen at the Baptismal font. There water poured over his little head with the words: “Ich taufe dich im Namen des Vaters und des Sohns und des Heiligen Geistes. Amen.” That July 8th in 1917 was in many ways the most important day in Louis Schlechte’s life. It was the day he entered the family of God via gracious adoption, the day his sins were forgiven, and eternal life made his destiny.

Such a little one to need forgiveness, some might think. But Louis knew it wasn’t just the sin he inherited from his parents, but all his sins that were drowned and left behind in that water. He knew that there he was clothed with the white garment of Christ’s own righteousness.

This he learned through his years of faithfully attending services here, through his time at St. Paul’s school, through his own study and reading of God’s holy Word. Never far from his chair were the Scriptures. And even after he and Ella could not longer get out very well on their own, they’d sit side by side on Sunday morning and listen to the Word proclaimed in the Church Services and Bible Study broadcast each week over KFUO.

Louis had a temper and he knew he was a sinful man. At times it got the best of him. He could be sharp with his tongue and you know he was death on anyone he thought was being lazy. No time for laziness in his world! A sinner he confessed himself to be, through and through, but a sinner who lived his life in the hope of the resurrection.

Just like we heard from that first reading. Job’s great confidence that even after his body was worm-fodder, he’d still stand again on this earth and see with his own eyes his Redeemer. So sure was Louis of this, that he once upbraided St. Paul for saying that he hoped to attain to the resurrection of the dead. “He didn’t ought to have said that. There’s no hoping about it. It will happen.”

It was in such faith that he mourned the death of your mother, knowing that though she was not a Lutheran, yet she believed and clung to the word of God for hope. He knew she died a Christian and was always so thankful that the pastor was there to minister to her in her last days. He spoke of it to me often. And it was in such faith that he muddled through the death of your brother – you know how that aged him. Thanks be to God that Ella was there by his side, and had walked that same sad path with her own daughter many years before. What comfort each to the other as they reminded themselves that this life is put a pilgrimage and that home lies ahead for us all – a home that our Savior has made certain for us.

When we’re bumping right up against the death of a loved one, we can be impatient like Martha in today’s Gospel and remind our Lord of his sins of omission: “If you had been here, he would not have died!” she cried. Remember the Lord’s response: “Your brother will rise again.” She knew that he would rise sometime, but Jesus meant more. That’s why He went onto say: “I AM the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who believes in me shall never die.” How Louis clung to that wonderful promise! It allowed him to go on through many a disappointment and heartache in life.

A poor miserable sinner he freely confessed himself to be, but a sinner who was blessed to have such a Savior. One whose death had answered for all his sin and whose Life meant that all poor sinners who trust in Him will never die. That was the faith into which Louis was baptized and which he grew up into all his days.

Last Thursday I prayed with him the commendation of the dying and told him to put himself into God’s hands, the God who had forgiven his every sin and who promised to destroy death forever. He said: “Huh?” and I repeated myself a lot louder. He smiled at that, and closed his eyes. Saturday morning in the wee hours the Lord called and his child – baptized into His divine life some 91 years earlier – ended his earthly pilgrimage, but his true life was just beginning, and for that we give all glory and honor to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever! Amen.

Louis Wilhelm Schlechte was born in rural Worden on June 23, 1917 the son of the late Fred and Minnie Schlechte.
On September 11, 1940 he married Ann Lenger, who passed away on November 4, 1969. A child of their marriage, Gary Schlechte, also has passed away, together with two of his brothers Clarence and Edwin.
He married Ella Henschen on May 8, 1976, and she survives. Also surviving are two daughters: Louann Hopper and husband John of Prairietown and Debbie and husband Brian Banovz of Neoga, Illinois; one daughter-in-law, Diane Schlechte of North Carolina; 7 grandchildren: Derek Brandon, Brent Schlechte, Nathan Schlechte, Zach Hopper, Caitlin Hopper, Kelly Bryant & Kurtist Braynt; three great grandchildren: Louis Brandon, Connor Schlechte, and Kember Bryant.

A brother, Harry Schlechte and several nieces and nephews also survive.

Louis was a self-employed farmer and truck driver and a life long member of St. Paul’s. Please stand for the prayers.

A Woman Pastor Leading a District Youth Gathering

...in the LCMS? Yup. Down Texas way. And she doesn't even believe in baptismal regeneration or the real presence! Here's the scoop from Pr. Larry Bean:

click here

Perhaps it's time to contact the District President of the Texas District, Ken Hennings, and give him your thoughts on having this speaker address the LCMS youth in his district:


You might want to give your thoughts also to your District President and to the President of Synod.

Fellow frogs, the temp in the water is rising a bit, eh?

Pr. Wilken and Jeff

on Why?

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

An age of darkness is a creedless age; corruption in doctrine works best when it is unfettered by an explicit statement of that doctrine. - C. P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* p. 215

Patristic Quote of the Day

Mark also the considerateness of Paul. Seeing that reading is toilsome, and its irksomeness great, he led them not to histories, but to psalms, that you might at once delight your soul with singing, and gently beguile your labors.--St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Colossians 3

Oh bother!

Now there's a choice. You can read the BOC in the schedule in the Concordia, which gets you through the entire BOC but reading only on week days, or you can read the BOC in the schedule in the Treasury of Daily Prayer, which gets you through the entire BOC with somewhat shorter readings, but doing so every day. I think, having done the Concordia schedule for a while, I'll give the TDP schedule a whirl and see how it goes.

03 August 2008

A Homiletical Study for Trinity 12

Oremus. Almighty God, it is only by Your gift of grace that we come into Your presence and offer true and faithful service. Grant that our worship on earth may always be pleasing to You, and in the life to come give us the fulfillment of what You have promised; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Liturgical Notes:

In the historical series, the Day of St. Laurence dominates the selections read at Mass for the weeks surrounding it; this influence continues in today's readings and propers. The cycle around St. Laurence focuses on "practical aspects of Christian faith and life as manifested in works of love and service." (Reed, p. 532). "The psalmist's prayer in this Introit (Make haste, O God, to deliver me!) almost seems an anticipation of his martyrdom." (Reed, p. 533) The "true and faithful service" which St. Laurence and all God's faithful render is indicated in the Gospel which tells of the service of those who "brought" a poor sufferer to Christ, asked His help and then spread the news of what He had done.

The Readings:
Isaiah 29:17-24 - A clear tie-in to the Gospel, for the prophet foretells a time "in not yet a very little while" when "the deaf shall hear the Words of the book." An interesting phrase, is it not? The great tragedy of deafness was that it cut you off from hearing the words of God's book! And when Jacob sees the great things that God will do in that day - the healing of the deaf, the blind, the rescue of the poor and humble, then "they will hallow my name!" They will tell abroad the wonders of God.

Psalm 34 - Here we stand with the poor man in today's Gospel reading and we sing with him: "I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth, I sought the Lord and he heard me and delivered me from all my fears."

Romans 10:9-16 - In order that people might come to believe with the heart and confess with the mouth, God sends forth those who preach the Gospel of peace.

Textual Considerations:
(Mark 7:31-37)
31 Again, departing from the region of Tyre and Sidon, He came through the midst of the region of Decapolis to the Sea of Galilee.
(Mark 7:31)
31 kai palin exelywn ek twn oriwn turou kai sidwnov hlyen prov thn yalassan thv galilaiav ana meson twn oriwn dekapolewv

Last time we were in Decapolis it was back in chapter five for the healing of the Gadarene demoniac (only one of them in Mark). And that episode ended with Jesus telling the man he had freed from demon-possession to "Go home to your friends and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had come compassion on you." (Mark 5:19) The man then left and "began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled." (Mark 5:20). Thus in this primarily Gentile territory, Jesus' fame was spread as one who could do great things and who had compassion on those in need. A perfect explanation, then, to the next verse:

32 Then they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and they begged Him to put His hand on him.
(Mark 7:32)
32 kai ferousin autw kwfon moggilalon kai parakalousin auton ina epiyh autw thn ceira

ferousin can have the simple meaning of "they bring", but the first translation that comes to my mind is "they carry." Either way the stress here is on the action of the friends of this afflicted man, who is literally tongue-tied and deaf. This verse also gives us help in understanding the noun "paraclete" by the verb: "they begged him" does not perhaps catch the full nuance: they were acting as his advocate - he who could not speak for himself. They step in to help him by bringing him to the Lord and asking the Lord to lay his hand upon him.

Not by accident Luther's Church Postil sees here a marvelous parallel to the act of infant Baptism, where the Church takes those who are incapable of coming to the Lord on their own, carries them to him, presents them to him and begs him to lay his hand upon them so that they might become his own.

In Mark's context it might also have been taken as a paradigm for the catechumenate - where those who had heard of the Lord and had come to trust in His power to heal, lovingly bring and present to him others who have not yet heard or experienced his healing power, that he might set them free and that they might also join in the telling of his praises.

33 And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue.
(Mark 7:33)
33 kai apolabomenov auton apo tou oclou kat idian ebalen touv daktulouv autou eiv ta wta autou kai ptusav hqato thv glwsshv autou

Many commentators have speculated about this unusual procedure, for Christ usual heals by a mere touch or by the Word. Why the more elaborate procedure this time? I may be mistaken (Lee?), but I hear in ebalen a rather forceful word, stronger than "put" it almost seems to connote to me "thurst." One possible explanation for the different modus operandi is that our Lord wished to communicate to the deaf man what he was going to do.

What is striking to me is that here the Lord is using MEANS to accomplish His healing/saving purpose. Touch and spit (water). Is it going too far to see a Baptismal reference here? It seems the early Church did - and even Luther's Baptismal rite of 1523 retained the spitting and the ephatha rite.

34 Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”
(Mark 7:34)
34 kai anableqav eiv ton ouranon estenaxen kai legei autw effaya o estin dianoicyhti

estenaxen is not used elsewhere in the Gospels for our Lord, but it is the word that Paul uses to describe the groaning of the Christian, as he waits for the Consummation of all things in Christ: Romans 8:23 / 2 Cor. 5:2,4. In a way that is exactly what this groan of Jesus is for: for the fulfillment and ultimate healing of all things. Of that healing, this man becomes a sign and a promise.

Likewise, this passage shows the fundamental ailment of the human race: we are not "open" to the Word of the Lord to hear it or to speak it, unless the Lord Jesus uses His finger (the Holy Spirit - Luke 11:20 - "if I by the finger of God drive out demons…" and its parallel Matt 12:28 "if I by the Spirit of God drive out demons…") to blast away our deafness and to open our mouths to speak His praise.

35 Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly.
(Mark 7:35)
35 kai euyewv dihnoicyhsan autou ai akoai kai eluyh o desmov thv glwsshv autou kai elalei orywv

Here is Mark's favorite "straightway / immediately." It is interesting that what finally opens the deaf man's ears and heals his tongue is not the spit or the ear treatment, but the actual Word of Jesus. A reminder that the Word is the power behind all the "signs" - Baptism and Eucharist.

Notice that his speaking was "orthos" - plain, perhaps. But "rightly" might be more at it. So what he spoke was "straight" with the Lord. His healing results in orthodoxy!

36 Then He commanded them that they should tell no one; but the more He commanded them, the more widely they proclaimed it.
(Mark 7:36)
36 kai diesteilato autoiv ina mhdeni eipwsin oson de autov autoiv diestelleto mallon perissoteron ekhrusson

The contrast with the healing of the Gadarene demoniac is pronounced. Here the messianic secret is in full swing; there is it tossed. What gives, since it is the same territory? What results next in the Gospel is "in those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat…." Was he trying to head this off? Especially the way in which our sinful flesh has a tendency to go for the healing and not the teaching?

37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
(Mark 7:37)
37 kai uperperisswv exeplhssonto legontev kalwv panta pepoihken kai touv kwfouv poiei akouein kai touv alalouv lalein

Echoes of Genesis: and it was good, and it was very good. Tov maod. In the flesh of the man Jesus we meet the Creator who is alone is able to restore His creation from the ravages to which sin and death had subjected it and to make it whole again. What He did for this man was but a sign of what He would do for all creation. This is good news that cannot not be told.


Goal: That the hearers be moved to bring to Jesus their friends and family who yet are deaf and dumb to the Word of God.
Malady: Still having ears that are closed and mouths that are bound shut when they were meant to be open to listen and open to speak and declare and sing our Savior's praise!
Means: Our Lord on his cross enters into our desolate loneliness and cut-off-ness from the Father, where he neither hears nor can speak the praises of God, but cries out in his anguish the sorrow of His aloneness: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" There he shattered our isolation by filling it with Himself, and so bringing us to God.
SLOG: The Word of Jesus in its sacramental fullness - the touch of His body and blood, the "spit" of His Baptism, and the speaking of His absolution to break through our deaf ears and to free our tongues to sing His praises, inviting and bringing others to join us in the worship of our Triune God by bestowing upon His forgiveness and pardon.