30 April 2009


Yes, irritated. Today was our Spring SID Pastoral Conference. Among the things that I found irritating:

The Synod's CCM has apparently declared our SID convention resolution declining to participate into that money pit "Fan into Flame" as null and void.

The District Pastoral Conference did without opposition adopt a resolution telling Faith Lutheran Church of St. Louis, which has crossed the Mississippi River and planted TWO satellites in Southern Illinois, that we are deeply offended that they have done this without consultation or collaboration with our pastors, parishes, and laity. Now, the SID Pastoral Conference speaking with united voice telling Faith congregation that they're acting in a most unchurchly manner didn't irritate me - that was great! What irritated me was finding out WHERE Faith got the funding for this invasion of the Southern Illinois District and planting a "satellite" right in Edwardsville. You guessed it! Your Synod ABLAZE funds at work. They got a $50,000 grant to pull this off. Best of all? A friend of my son's mentioned to him that he really needs to try this new church. Why? "It's totally unlike a Lutheran Church, dude." RIGHT. I say, let them plant away, but they shouldn't be getting a dime from Synod for this.

And do you appreciate the irony? Here the President's appointees on the CCM chastise SID for NOT participating in a funding program that gives money to a "Lutheran" church in Missouri to plant "satellites" on this side of the river that folks don't even recognize as Lutheran! Gotta love it.

You know, irritated is, after all, probably a tad mild to describe the emotion of the moment.

29 April 2009

The Body of Christ

Tonight a stranger showed up at St. Paul's - never met Eleanor before - but we soon realized she wasn't a stranger. She was a dear sister, one who shared our faith. She communed with us tonight, studied the Scriptures with us, and prayed Compline with us. She's from a sister parish on the other side of the river, and it's a long story what brought her out our way tonight. But it was just so neat to see and realize: another member of Christ's holy body, and one who shares our Lutheran confession of the holy faith, and though we'd never seen her before, and might not see her again, God gave us the joy of meeting one of our Baptismal siblings, a member of His forever family. I think she felt the same way, for she seemed right at home - which she should be. How many are the untold treasures of the body of Christ! There's something truly beautiful about that.

All the days

In Your book were written every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them. Psalm 139:16

I thought about this passage as I visited with Bev's family in the hospital, and again when I heard that Rolene continued to fare poorly. He knows our days before ever we come into this world, and we leave this age, this life, at His appointment. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord!

There's comfort there for those who will take it. We don't know what today or tomorrow will bring, but we can know this: our lives are in the hands of Him who formed us, redeemed us, and has promised us the joy of a bright eternity in His Father's house. We can walk out to meet what awaits us unafraid and at peace. May that peace be with Bev, with Rolene, with all who love them, and with all whose earthly pilgrimage wends to an end.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The renewal consists in this: that the Holy Spirit enlightens us, sanctifies us, works a new motivation in our understanding, will, and heart. With His power He stifles the old man within us, crucifies the flesh with its lusts; and, contrariwise, puts on us the new man.... The rebirth is performed once and is immediately completed, but the renewal extends itself throughout an entire lifetime, and will first be totally completed in eternal life. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *Scholia Pietatis* p. 185

Patristic Quote of the Day

Thus the Saviour urges us to practise ever the love that transcends the Law as the root of all true and perfect devotion to God; well knowing that so, assuredly, and not otherwise, we shall be most highly approved in the sight of God, and by tracing out the Divine beauty of the love by Him implanted in us we shall attain to the enjoyment of great and perfect blessings. - St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily on John 13

28 April 2009

Day's Wrap

A busy day - full from start to finish. I'm tired and heading to bed. Tomorrow promises to be almost as busy, and then Thursday is full day at Camp Wartburg for our Spring Pastoral Conference. Looking forward to that and to seeing the brethren (and maybe a godchild or two!).

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is the same with the joy of faith. Without the birth pains of true repentance, faith does not come into the world. -- C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant it!* p. 389

Patristic Quote of the Day

For you will rejoice when you see a new child born into the world, incorruptible and beyond the reach of death. Plainly He alludes to Himself here. He tells them that the joy of heart that they will have in Him cannot be taken away from them or lost. For, as Paul says, or rather as the Very Truth Itself implies, having died once for all, He dieth no more. -- St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily on John 16

27 April 2009

A Personal Matter

I've had a number of people ask me if I'm sick, if I'm eating, if I'm TRYING to lose weight. Just to clear up:

I don't believe I'm sick (certainly don't feel sick).
I eat three meals a day and as much as I want at each meal, plus an apple each afternoon (for example, today I ate one of Cindi's low-carb cinnabons for breakfast with a sausage patty and cheese; for lunch a 5-alarm burger sans bun on a house salad at Red Robin; for dinner two slices of low-carb pizza, another cinnabon for dessert and a huge handful of almonds).
I still eat Atkins because I simply feel better eating that way.
I am not trying to lose weight, but I am exercising very intensely three times a week (the lady at the Y refers to my "maniac workouts"), and the result has been, I think, a significant loss of body fat (which means veins sticking out everywhere - kind of icky, I agree) and with that the loss of weight. This a.m. was 142, but I'm betting body fat is something under 10%.

So, no, I don't think I'm checking out from the earthly race at the present time or any time soon (though that is in God's hands, not mine), and I'm not starving myself or any such thing. So, those of you who keep asking me about this, stop worrying! :)

Not So Mere

Every once in a while, you will encounter a person trying to tell you that Lutherans teach that people MERELY are imputed righteous and that God forgives their sin but leaves them still in it. This ALWAYS gets my dander up, because our Symbols are very clear in expressing our teaching on this point, and that is NOT it. Rather, we teach the following:

Ap IV:78 We understand justification as the making of a righteous person out of an unrighteous one, or that a person is regenerated.

Ap IV:115 115 Nor, indeed, is this faith an idle knowledge, neither can it coexist with mortal sin.

Ap IV: 142 Likewise, the faith of which we speak exists in repentance. I mean that faith is conceived in the terrors of conscience, which feels God’s wrath against our sins and seeks forgiveness of sins, seeks to be freed from sin. In such terrors and other troubles, this faith ought to grow and be strengthened. 143 Therefore, it cannot exist in people who live by the flesh, who are delighted by their own lusts and obey them.

SA III:iii:40 In Christians, this repentance continues until death. For through one’s entire life, repentance contends with the sin remaining in the flesh. Paul testifies that he wars with the law in his members (Romans 7:14–25) not by his own powers, but by the gift of the Holy Spirit that follows the forgiveness of sins [Romans 8:1–17]. This gift daily cleanses and sweeps out the remaining sins and works to make a person truly pure and holy.

SA III:iii:44 The Holy Spirit does not permit sin to have dominion, to gain the upper hand so it can be carried out, but represses and restrains it from doing what it wants [Psalm 51:11; Romans 6:14]. If sin does what it wants, the Holy Spirit and faith are not present. 45 For St. John says, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning … and he cannot keep on sinning” [1 John 3:9]. And yet it is also true when St. John says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” [1:8].

FC SD 1:14 Fifth, this hereditary evil is so great and horrible that, only for the sake of the Lord Christ, can it be covered and forgiven before God in those baptized and believing. Furthermore, human nature, which is perverted and corrupted by original sin, must and can be healed only by the regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit [Titus 3:5]. However, this healing is only begun in this life. It will not be perfect until the life to come [Ephesians 4:12–13].

FC SD 1:39 Here pious Christian hearts justly ought to consider God’s unspeakable goodness. God does not immediately cast from Himself this corrupt, perverted, sinful material into hellfire. No, He forms and makes the present human nature from it (which is sadly corrupted by sin) in order that He may cleanse it from all sin, sanctify, and save it by His dear Son.

FC SD 1:45 Third, in the article of Sanctification Scripture testifies that God cleanses, washes, and sanctifies mankind from sin [1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 John 1:7] and that Christ saves His people from their sins [Matthew 1:21]. Sin, therefore, cannot be a person himself. For God receives a person into grace for Christ’s sake. But God remains hostile to sin eternally.

FC SD 2:70 This is certainly true: in genuine conversion a change, new emotion, and movement in the intellect, will, and heart must take place. The heart must perceive sin, dread God’s wrath, turn from sin, see and accept the promise of grace in Christ, have good spiritual thoughts, have a Christian purpose and diligence, and fight against the flesh. Where none of these happen or are present, there is no true conversion.

So no more MERE, please. As Dr. Luther never tired of explaining this, there is grace (God's gracious pardon and the imputation of the righteousness of Christ) and the GIFT that is in grace (the Holy Spirit). The two always come together and cannot be separated, though they are always distinguished. Our righteousness before the throne of God will remain always the Divine-Human Person and finished work of the Redeemer and never the incipient righteousness that the Holy Spirit has begun and continues - really and truly - working within us.

A Displacement?

I have wondered for years if there is a displacement involved in the Collects for Easter. You see, this past Sunday we celebrated Good Shepherd (Misericordias Domini) and the collect asked that God's people, rescued from the danger of eternal death, be given "perpetual gladness and eternal joys." But this coming Sunday is Jubilate - and joy rings through the readings indeed, culminating in our Lord's words in the Gospel: "and your joy no one will take from you." And yet the collect is rather out of tune, asking that all who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ's church be given faithfulness "to avoid whatever is contrary to their confession." Anyone know the scoop on this? Was the collect (which in the Gelasian Sacramentary is attached to the first Sunday outside the Easter Octave) ever attached to Jubilate rather than Misericordias Domini?

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Where else is there a Shepherd who feeds His little lambs with His own flesh and blood? -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *Schola Pietatis* p. 105

Patristic Quote of the Day

They will be self-condemned therefore, He says, who refuse to hear Him and do not accept the saving faith. For He that came to illumine, came not in order to judge, but to save. He therefore that disobeys and thereby subjects himself to the greatest miseries, let him blame himself as justly punished. - St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily on John 12

The Rain

"Thou visitest the earth and waterest it; Thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water."

And with Aufdemberge's music ringing in my ears, I drove through a drenching April rain this afternoon to commune Ruth over in Greenville. Such beauty - the lush green of Spring and the sound of the rain. The creeks were beginning to churn with the extra water in the flats before you approach Greenville itself.

Ruth looked kind of down and I mentioned that to her, after we'd had devotion and communion. And she smiled a sad, but peaceful, smile and said: "I am most of the time - except when I think about Jesus. We can't get better than what He gives us." Our meditation had been on the imperishable inheritance kept for us in heaven. I held her hand and smiled. She spoke the truth of all truths - and it can cheer up a person even stuck in a nursing home with a body that no longer behaves itself.

As I drove home in the rain, through the lush green foliage, the image of Ruth sitting in her wheel chair and her face as she shared that with me stayed. And the rain kept pouring.

25 April 2009

Spring Pics from St. Paul's

Lilacs by office door
In front of church
Nature's first green is gold...
Looking up to the front entrance

Oh my!

Cindi made some lo-carb cinnabon. Snarf!

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

For God gives us our natural life so that we through it should contemplate the spiritual and eternal life. And without such spiritual life, natural life is to be regarded more as death than a life. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *Scholia Pietatis* p. 45

Patristic Quote of the Day

For of the believer he says that he shall have everlasting life, of the unbeliever, the word hath a different significance. For he does not say that he shall not have life: for he shall be raised by the common law of the resurrection; but he says that he shall not see life, that is, he shall not so much as arrive at the bare sight of the life of the saints, he shall not touch their blessedness, he shall remain untasting of their life passed in bliss. -- St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily on John 3

Day of St. Mark

Today our Synod commemorates St. Mark, the Evangelist. From the *Treasury* (p. 1291):

St. Mark was the author of the second Gospel, which he composed, according to some Early Church Fathers, when the Christians in Rome asked him to write down the preaching of the apostle Peter. Mark, also known as John Mark, was originally from Jerusalem, where the house of his mother Mary was the center of the early Jerusalem Church (Acts 12:12)...Tradition says that Mark was instrumental in founding the Church in Alexandria, becoming its first bishop, and also that he suffered a martyr's death.

Almighty God, You have enriched Your Church with the proclamation of the Gospel through the evangelist Mark. Grant that we may firmly believe these glad tidings and daily walk according to Your Word; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. (Collect, LSB)

For Mark, O Lord, we praise You,
The weak by grace made strong,
Whose labors and whose Gospel
Enrich our triumph song.
May we, in all our weakness,
Reflect Your servant life
And follow in Your footsteps,
Enduring cross and strife. (LSB 518:15)

And not only did Cindi run a 5-K today

...but she won third place in her age and gender group (aka: the old ladies!). Wow!!! My wife, the jock!

24 April 2009

I Was One Proud Daddy Tonight

as I watched Bekah sing and act and steal the show (which is what Ado Annie is supposed to do). She was GREAT! Here are some pics - maybe more later:

Bekah, Dustin Shimkus (Ali Hakim) and Andrew Carnes (Brandon Russell)

Bekah and David Shimkus (Will Parker)



Today's the first day that in my cardio I burned 900+ calories in my 50 minutes of cardio. My goal is to get up to 1,000 without increasing my time.

23 April 2009

Some Quasimodogeniti Poetry

that my internet acquaintance and friend, Pr. Harvey Mozolak, has written and given me permission to share:

Easter 2
John 20. 19-31

Harvey S. Mozolak

a door is an entrance
and barred protection
he was both
as he stood among them
his hands and side
had taken wounds
their guarding grace
the scars now locks
that kept them free
in the joy of greeting
his words breathed
peace and sending
the hands they handle on the latch
his feet the threshold to the new
supporting through the blessing
lintels of his limbs and heart
to share and touch
beyond the wind sprung

Easter 2

didymal verse
Harvey S. Mozolak

seen and believed

hands that could only clasp the cold
piercing of death's hold
the feet that failed finally
to lift the lungs to breath
the side that opened
to allow the point of hate
to rip the heart to sate
in water and blood
touch Thomas

and did he touch?

the cross a hammer
the resurrection its claw
cleft upon the coffin
Thomas' fingers
a curved questioning fulcrum

Easter 2

Harvey S. Mozolak

was the wound smooth and well-healed
in heaven's perfection
polished under pressure
like a jewel for millennia
yet only worn a week

or crusted with caked blood
crowning the scar
in a mounted remembrance
of the coarse made plain

or still tender without pain
places where the earth's suffering
entered God?

the peace of knowing him
identifying the living body
by the scars of death
probes Thomas
and notches a hold

Easter 2

Harvey S. Mozolak

they hid from the cross
ran in fear from the grave
now in terror they lock the door
set a scar to bar being wounded
with a peace
that can be touched

even the walls bleed belief
joy joists earth to heaven
at the crucifix nailed in sight

Easter 2
John 20. 19-31

trembling soul
Harvey S. Mozolak

did Thomas touch?
he was offered
a clinical probe
a psychological crutch
a spiritual splint
for his own scars
and impaled hope
or did he hug
and embrace
the rising belief
that beat
from his heart
to his finger tips?

Homily for Misericordias Domini - Third Sunday of Easter

[Ezekiel 34:11-16 / 1 Peter 2:21-25 / John 10:11-16]

Today’s readings certainly contain one of the most powerful and loved images of the Lord Jesus: that of the Good Shepherd. But it is not in drawing parallels between how shepherds take care of their flocks and how Jesus takes care of His church that we find the Good News in today’s Gospel reading. Rather, the Good News is found precisely in that thing which marks Jesus off as unique among the shepherds of the world, that marks Him as alone having the title “Good.” Did you catch it in the reading? Jesus said: “The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

Now shepherds are, of course, duty bound to do all sorts of things for their flocks. They have to water them, they have to feed them, they have to provide them with some sense of security and safety from marauding canines. But what no earthly shepherd is obliged to do is to give his life for the flock. Rather, with us it’s the other way around. The flock gives their life so that the shepherd can eat and live.

Not so with Jesus. Jesus doesn’t talk about doing any of the typical shepherd tasks in our reading. He speaks only of laying down his life, of knowing his sheep, of calling and gathering a single flock together.

The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Why? Jesus answers simply: “Because he owns them.” They are his. Marked as his own. But they are his in a way that is beyond the mere notion of property, of good investment. No, for who would die, who would give their life so that an investment might go on living? No one. Jesus doesn’t view his flock as so much wealth. After all, his flock has nothing about it that enriches Him! Rather, He cares about His sheep so much because He loves them. That, to Jesus, is the same thing as saying that He owns them. The Sheep belong to Him precisely so that they can be loved and given life. Jesus, as is His way, turns the whole thing upside down, sets it on its head.

Over against the Good Shepherd, He sets the hired hand, who watches out for the flock only so far as it doesn’t endanger him. If danger comes along, the hireling is out of there! He’s not about to risk life or limb for some sheep that he doesn’t even own. No way. “He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” Again, Jesus equates caring for the sheep with owning them. Two sides of the same coin.

And from that care there flows knowledge. “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me.” Think of what that means! You get a hint when you recall the opposite: what it means to have Jesus Christ say to you on the Last Day: “I never knew you.” When Jesus says that He knows His sheep He means more, though, than just that He has some mental of knowledge of who truly believes and who is only playing at believing, who is a hypocrite. No, Jesus compares His knowledge of the sheep to the way that His Father knows Him and He knows the Father. That is a full, complete knowing and sharing.

Jesus knows His sheep because He knows us in the stark reality of our sinfulness. He doesn’t pretend otherwise. He knows you, my friend. Knows you inside and out. Knows you better than you could even begin to know yourself. He knows you even in the depth of your sin, because He himself knew that depth on His cross. And He came to lay down His life for you. Not only because He knew you, but that you might come to know Him.

“And My own know me.” To know Him as the One who lays an absolute claim on your life, who says that you are His, that you belong to Him. To know Him as the One who not only owns you, not only knows you through and through in all your failure, your sin, your despair and struggles, but the One who loves you. The depth of His love was in the depth of His knowing was in the death of Your sin and mine on Him: the cross. There is the measure of measureless love. There we come to know Him for who He really is. Not just a good Shepherd, but THE Good Shepherd. The One who gives His life for the sheep. “As the Father knows me, even so I know the Father and I lay down my life for the sheep.” All of this, of course, is His gift to you in the waters of Holy Baptism - in which you were marked with the sign of the cross, named as belonging to the Crucified forever. There you get to know Him as your Good Shepherd indeed.

But Jesus will not leave you enjoying all of that alone. He goes on to say: “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. So there will be one flock, one Shepherd.”

Oh, no! The others! In the early Church, the “others” were the Gentiles. Nation after nation. Jesus is always in the business of gathering in the others. And notice who does the verbs. He does. “I must bring them also!” Jesus is the bringer, the gatherer of His flock. But have you ever taken a look, I mean an honest, hard look at the flock that Jesus gathers to Himself from around this world. There are people in that flock that are not like us. There are people in that flock that not only are not like us, but that left to ourselves, we couldn’t even like. And yet Jesus is the one who keeps on bringing them in.

And how is it all going to hold together? How is it possible for there to really be only one flock and only one Shepherd? How? Listen again: “And they will listen to My voice; and there will be one flock, one Shepherd.” The Word of God will be the unity of the Church on earth. In the Word of God, in the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, His sheep can be one flock. In the voice that announces that He is the Good Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep, who knows the sheep through and through, who unites the sheep. All division of Christendom will come to an end, when everything else falls away which wants to be heard next to this one voice and to demand attention. Only then and in that way can we know the one flock under one Shepherd.

Under the One Shepherd in all the world who gives His life for the sheep, who knows the sheep and whose sheep know Him. His voice alone alone can unite the human family and cause us to be one again. His voice, His voice alone, let us hear and heed. And to Him be the glory with His all-holy Father and His life-giving Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages! Amen.

Not to be missed

is the interesting reading from Exodus which is indicated, but not contained, in the Treasury today. Note the repeated "as it has been shown you on the mountain, so it shall be made." Note the closer into the holy of holies the preponderance of gold and how as you move outward, silver, and finally bronze. Note the repeated use of color: blue, scarlet, purple. Note the bells that tinkle on Aaron's robe as he moves. Note Aaron carrying the children of Israel on his shoulders and on his heart as "regular remembrance before the Lord." Note the vestments "for glory and for beauty." Note the careful following of the Lord's prescriptions and the repeated: "so that he does not die." Note the whatever touches the altar becomes holy. The perpetual lambs - one each morning, one each evening. And the incense - morning and evening to the Lord. And the holy oil. Good stuff there, and much that Hebrews helps unpack. And much to tie into what I wrote earlier about liturgy as LIFE.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The preaching of the Resurrection is accordingly the focal point of all preaching that may rightly be called evangelical. The whole work of Jesus and faith in Him are in vain without the Resurrection. -- Blessed Wilhelm Loehe, *Aphorisms* p. 24

Patristic Quote of the Day

I die (He says) for all, that I may quicken all by Myself, and I made My Flesh a Ransom for the flesh of all. For death shall die in My Death, and with Me shall rise again (He says) the fallen nature of man. For for this became I like to you, Man (that is) and of the seed of Abraham, that I might be made like in all things unto My brethren. The blessed Paul himself also, well understanding what Christ just now said to us says, Forasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same, that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. For no otherwise was it possible that he that hath the power of death should be destroyed, and death itself also, had not Christ given Himself for us, a Ransom, One for all, for He was in behalf of all. -- St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily on John 6

22 April 2009

I have always loved

an Irish accent (one of the reasons I so love the High Kings, I think). In Garfield, where I vicared, we had a little food joint down around the corner from the church that was run by two ladies from Ireland. I could sit and listen to them talk all day! They also made some of the best burgers I've ever tasted - they insisted the key to a good burger is never to use frozen meat - only fresh. But that's beside the point. What I didn't realize was that one of the keys to mimicking their sweet Irish accent is that the focal point of the speech is in front of the mouth - not even behind the teeth, like so much of American English or British English, but literally out in front of the mouth itself. Try it! It's amazing how well it works! (And no, I never noticed that there IS a focal point to where different languages or accents are spoken - but there obviously is!).

Enjoy these pics

from the Triduum this year at Riga Cathedral. Yes, Lutherans swinging incense, washing feet, lining up to venerate the cross. I want to move!!! :)

Lutheran Riga Cathedral

Ah, the joy...

...walking home from Compline in the gloaming with the wondrous smell of lilacs borne on the spring breeze of evening. What a world!

Joy to the Heart

Joy to the Heart on Issues

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In his time St. Paul was slandered as a man who had no love for his people, and yet he it was who as a morning star of Zion lifted up light and sun over all the Gentiles. -- Blessed Wilhelm Loehe, *Aphorisms* p. 16

Patristic Quote of the Day

Accordingly, the father of sin used to put us in Hades like sheep, delivering us over to death as our shepherd, according to what is said in the Psalms: but the really Good Shepherd died for our sakes, that He might take us out of the dark pit of death and prepare to enfold us among the companies of heaven, and give unto us mansions above, even with the Father, instead of dens situate in the depths of the abyss or the recesses of the sea. Wherefore also He somewhere says to us: Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. -- St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily on John 10

Tis that time...

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

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

[And I am not a fan of Lincoln, to say the least, but Whitman's words ALWAYS come to mind when the lilacs are in full bloom...]

21 April 2009

Last Thought for the Night...

...have you ever contemplated that the first act of the resurrected Lord was apparently to make His bed? John 20:6,7. Gives new meaning to "our God is...a God of order" eh?

Sunday's Bible Study: On Liturgical Colors

Blame Gary Mueth. It was his suggestion! But a good one: a review of the colors used in the Church year and WHY they are used for different times. Just as Joseph of old (a prime type of Christ our Lord) had a coat of many colors, so does the Church celebrate our Lord's life as a coat of many colors too!

Although St. Paul’s doesn’t have gold paraments (the term for the hangings upon the altar, pulpit, and lectern) or vestments (the pastor’s stole and chasuble), this color is used ONLY for Easter and its week. Why gold? Gold is the color of riches and glory - and we confess that by His resurrection Christ has earned for us a treasure that is even greater than gold or silver: an inheritance! See 1 Peter 1:3-5. Gold is a theme that runs through the description of our heavenly inheritance in Revelation (see 1: 13; 4:4; 5:8; 8:3; 21:18; 21:21)

White is upon the altar throughout the season of Easter and at Christmastime and on All Saints. It is also used on days commemorating saints who did not die martyr’s deaths (such as St. John, the Apostle and Evangelist). White symbolizes perfection, celebration, divinity, joy. Check out the white that shows up in these passages: Mark 9:2,3; John 20:12; Revelation 7:13,14.

Purple and Scarlet
Purple and scarlet are the ancient color of royalty. They’ve become in the Church colors associated with our Lord’s Passion, and hence, with the season of Lent: Matthew 27:27-29; Mark 15:16-17. If a Church has scarlet, it is used for Palm Sunday through Holy Thursday. Purple is used for the remainder of Lent.

Red, the color of blood (Revelation 6:7) and of fire, is used in the Church whenever she celebrates the days of martyrs (who shed their blood for Christ) or on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended in tongues as of fire and on “churchy” occasions: dedication of church or ordination. Red reminds us of Tertullian's famous saying: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."

Blue is the color of the sky, our eternal hope. Thus it is especially associated with Advent, with Christ’s coming to bring us to our home in heaven. See Exodus 24:10. In the church’s art, the color blue is also closely associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary, and thus the tie in to Advent is also obvious.

Green is the most widely used color of the Church year, it’s “ordinary color” if you will. Green signfies growth and we stay green and fruitful as we live our lives by the streams of God’s Word and Sacraments: Psalm 1:1-3; Jeremiah 17:7-8; John 15:5; Rev. 22:1-2

Black is the color of darkness, of death, of ashes, of sorrow and grief. It is used on Days of Penitence and Prayer in the Church and can be used on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Esther 4:1; Daniel 9:3; Micah 3:6; Matthew 27:45.

Conclusion: Through her creative use of color, the Church seeks to raise our hearts and minds to the wonderful things that our God has done for us in Jesus Christ; to call us to repentance; to keep us mindful of the Word of God that keeps us in saving faith; to help us together proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light!

Shamelessly hijacked...

...from my friend, -C. A poem by that famous Lutheran writer, John Updike:

Seven Stanzas at Easter
by John Updike

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

Commemoration of St. Anselm

Today our Synod commemorates St. Anselm of Canterbury. The Treasury offers a beautiful meditation for the day (p. 1290) from his pen, of which I offer a snippet:

"Therefore God's restoring man is more wonderful than his creating man, inasmuch as it is done for the sinner contrary to what he deserves; while the action of creation was not for the sinner and was not in opposition to what man deserved."

My friend, Dr. Matthew Phillips (Concordia University, NE) did an issues show on the good saint:

Issues, Etc.

For Your servant, Anselm, O Christ God, glory to You!

An Apologia for the Historic Liturgy

That I support the use of the historic liturgy should come as no surprise to the readers of this blog. But why? Is it because I am drawn to the music? to the pageantry? to the "style"? That I enjoy the swinging of thuribles the way that another person enjoys the back beat of a rock song? No, no, no, no.

You see, I am simply convinced that LIFE is liturgical. God created us and placed humanity into this world to be the priest of His creation, to receive from Him His good gifts and to offer up a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. He created us to live in the joy of His presence, to find LIFE in communion with Him. The historic liturgy testifies to this Biblical vision of reality.

"It is indeed meet, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, Your only Son...and so with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying: Holy, holy, holy...Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!"

These words confess that the liturgy is meant not to be a blip in time or confined to some Church building. They confess that all of our life, when that life is found in Jesus Christ, is to be doxology. St. Paul put it like this: "That we might BE to the praise of His glory" (Eph 1:12). And this fills the Scriptures! Think of it:

Genesis is filled with liturgy from the get go: inside Eden where God walked and talked with men; outside Eden where the way of sacrifice begins and the theme of priest and sacrifice begin to ring through! From Cain and Abel to Melchizedek to the Sacrifice of Isaac. When the Lord was about to bring His people out of Egypt, He told Moses that the sign of being brought out was that "you shall serve God on this mountain." (Ex 3:12). When Pharaoh is ready to release the people, but not their property, Moses gives a most peculiar answer - and we must believe he spoke the utter truth: "You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God. Our livestock also must go with us, not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must take of them to serve the Lord our God, and we do not know with what we must serve the Lord until we arrive there." (Ex 10:25,26) And when they arrive at the holy mountain, God explains His purpose to Moses: "Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all people, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you shall speak to the people of Israel." (Ex. 19:5,6) And so the Psalmist could sing: "Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to Your holy name and glory in your praise!" (Psalm 106:47)

Being a priestly people was fraught with difficulty. For due to the fall, it was entirely possibly for the cultic to come unglued from the spiritual reality of the heart. God through His prophets everywhere decries this: "This people draws near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men." (Isaiah 29:13) Despite the carefully given instructions and the warning that circumcision must be of the heart and not only in the flesh - that is, that inner and outer self should not come disconnected, yet the old covenant hobbled along only able to point toward the true liturgical life, and being itself but a most imperfect sign of it. It clearly taught that all is gift of the Lord, that He has claim over all things, that the wage sin pays is death, that the gift God would give is life, that thanksgiving is what we were made for.

Consider especially the way that Eden is described in Isaiah 51:3: "For the Lord comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song." So where Zion, there a taste of Eden restored, there joy (always the byproduct of the Lord's presence - see Psalm 16:11), there thanksgiving and there the voice of song. Get that and you'll understand then what the Lord is up to in establishing His Church in this fallen world (amid the waste places and the wilderness and the desert). He's planting here on our fallen soil a colony of Eden, a piece of the age to come, where the thanksgiving is perpetual, where the songs never end.

And so in the vision of the NT, as all that was imperfect in the Old Covenant and its worship is brought to completion and filled to the brim and then overflowing by Christ our Lord, we see that His whole life is liturgy, is praise, is thanksgiving, is communion with the Father, is offering of sacrifice that never comes unglued outer from the inner, that is whole and complete and perfect. He is PRIEST. Dr. Luther once said of this: "Priest is a strong and lovely word. There is no lovelier or sweeter name on earth. It is much better to hear that Christ is called 'Priest' than Lord, or any other name. Priesthood is a spiritual power which means no other than that the priest steps forth, and takes all the iniquities of the people upon Himself as His very own. He intercedes with God for them and receives from Him the Word with which He can comfort and help the people.... By being priest He makes God our Father and Himself our Lord... He offered Himself once for all, so that He is both Priest and Sacrifice, and the Altar is the Cross. No more precious sacrifice could He offer to God than that He gave Himself to be slain and consumed in the fire of love. That is the true sacrifice." (Exposition of Genesis 14, Day by Day, p. 151)

Christ offers the perfect liturgy, receiving all as gift, offering all in thanksgiving to the Father. Because of the fall, we imagine vainly that life is something we have to cling to to possess; Christ flat out tells us that's a lie. That it is in the pouring out of life that one receives a life that never can be taken from you. The One who is consumed as an offering in the fire of divine love is given a life that can never ever end!

And this is the life that He has baptized us into - His own indestructible life. This is the life that He has poured down our throats in the Eucharist - His own indestructible life. And so it is and must be the shape of our lives in this world: sacrifices! For we have no other life than HIS, and His life is constantly a life for others, a life given away and so eternal.

So note the sacrificial, liturgical language of the New Testament writers! It's everywhere. Here are but a few: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, THAT YOU MAY PROCLAIM THE EXCELLENCIES OF HIM who called you out of darkness, into His marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9 "To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His own blood and MADE US A KINGDOM, PRIESTS TO SERVE HIS GOD AND FATHER, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever." Rev. 1:5,6 "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." Romans 12:1 "Because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:15,16 "So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Cor. 10:31 "For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who for their sake died and was raised." 2 Cor. 5:14,15 "For we are the temple of the living God, as God said... Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God." 2 Cor. 6:16-7:1 "Walk in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Eph 5:2 "Let there be no filthiness or foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving." Eph 5:4 "Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus." Eph 5:20 "Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering on the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all." Phil. 2:17 "Put to death what is earthly in you." (that is, sacrifice it!) Col. 3:5 "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving." Col. 4:2 "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances." 1 Thes. 5:16-17 "I desire then that in every place men should pray, lifting up holy hands." 1 Tim 2:8 "Everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer." 1 Tim 4:4,5 "We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat....Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." Hebrews 13:10-16

Oh, so many, many more. But does it begin to come clear? LIFE was meant to be liturgy and because we fell from that perpetual thanksgiving and joy of God's presence, our Lord came, and He came to be Priest and Sacrifice, to atone for sin, and to open up the way for us to find LIFE again - and that life, as His life, will be liturgical. Where all is gift from a God who loves and where the praise and thanksgiving redound to Him for the gifts received and where we are privileged to suffer and offer our sufferings under His own as praise to the Father of lights. Liturgy is LIFE and Life is Liturgy. This the Church's historic liturgy witnesses to us with great faithfulness - for life is all about praise of God, listening to God's Word, confessing the faith to others, offering prayers of intercession and gifts of love - thus carrying the burdens of others - and receiving from His nail-scarred hands the gifts of His body, His blood, His forgiveness, His life, communion with Him and in Him with all the saints and angels. Do you see? It's not merely the Church service I've described; it's LIFE, life as God meant it to be and as He is restoring it to be in His Church.

And then there are the glimpses we get of the heavenly worship - Hebrews 12 and Revelation - and it all is very familiar. The throng of all peoples gathered with angels and archangels around the throne of the Lamb and acclaiming the blood that has purchased them for God, falling down before Him, giving glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Spirit forever and ever! The white robes, the golden censors, the prayers of the saints, the martyrs and angels. It's where all of life is headed: a world of endless doxology, communion, and joy in the Lamb.

Pardon the length of the post, but I wanted to put it out there for consideration. And I'll close with the responsory for Easter:

Sing to the Lord and bless His name! Proclaim His salvation from day to day!
Give to the Lord glory and strength! Give Him the honor due His name. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that sleep!
Give to the Lord glory and strength! Give Him the honor due His name. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit!
Give to the Lord glory and strength! Give Him the honor due His name. Alleluia! Alleluia!


Most pastors have themselves no conception of their office and hence lack all basis and confidence for their public activity. They exercise their office as though they had no right to do so, fainthearted, intimidated by every Tom, Dick, or Harry. What a wretched pity!

And Loehe wrote that WHEN??? Wow!

You know...

...it's only quarter after noon, and I have 54 emails in the inbox that arrived TODAY. There's something wrong with this whole crazy way of communicating!!! But I'd much rather have 54 emails than 54 phone calls. :)

Patristic Quote of the Day

For the blessed Moses also let down the line of instruction, that is, by the letter of the Law; but this was fishing on the left side, the commandment of Christ unto us being on the right. For incomparably greater, then, and far exceeding in honour and glory the commandments of the Law, is the teaching of Christ; for the reality greatly surpasses the type, and the Master the servant, and the grace of the Spirit, which justifies, surpasses the letter, which condemneth. Christ's teaching, therefore, is placed on the right, the right hand signifying to us its superiority over the Law and the prophets. -- St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily on John 21

David's Latest

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Not until the letters of Paul, the great apostle to the world and to the Gentiles, do we see the clear continuation of that holy doctrine of the Lord Jesus which is set before us in John 15-17. What is here pictured in the image of the Vine and explained in unspeakably beautiful and profound discourses returns in Paul in the image of the temple and the body of Christ. The body, as it is joined and knit together by every joint from the Head; the temple, as it is built and raised up to God's glory upon Christ the cornerstone and upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets; the one, holy, universal, apostolic Church stands before Paul's eyes in a brilliance that fills with joy and amazement all who think the apostle's thoughts after him as they read his words. Here is a kingdom and a building not of this world, elevated beyond all human conceptions, surely constructed, certain of consummation amid all storms, worthy of our patience, sacrifice, and ardor. -- Blessed Wilhelm Loehe, *Aphorisms* p. 13

20 April 2009

Video: Confirmation 2009

More Video: Palm Sunday Entrance

19 Reasons

why I like Monday mornings:

From Brotherhood Prayer Book

Hymn for Eastertide

HT Pastor Beisel

Today is Risen!

[from the Heirs of the Reformation CD, this is a powerful and beautiful piece! The Alleluias on the recording are endlessly jubilant - a setting by Lutheran composer Melchior Vulpius.]

Today is risen Christ the Lord; Alleluia!
He doth for all men hope afford. Alleluia!

The pangs of death He did endure, Alleluia!
And gave to mortal men a cure. Alleluia!

"Go, bring His disciples word: Alleluia!
Today is risen Christ the Lord!" Alleluia!

Now let us in these Easter days, Alleluia!
To Triune God bring joyful praise. Alleluia!

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Today, however, we see Him triumphant while Satan writhes, powerless, his head crushed beneath the feet of the almighty Victor. For the sake of our sin, having once wrestled with death and having been swallowed up as death's prey with open vengeance, He is now clothed with a glorious body, and the sting of death has been broken. -- C .F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* pp. 366, 367

Patristic Quote of the Day

Blessed, therefore, shall be the lot of every man that believeth through the voice of the holy Apostles, which were eye-witnesses of Christ's actions, and ministers of the Word, as Luke says. To them must we hearken if we are enamoured of life eternal, and cherish in our hearts the desire to abide in the mansions above. -- St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily on John 20

19 April 2009

Final Thought for the Evening

from this morning's Psalm... have you ever pondered the force of the singular in Psalm 33:20,21:

Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in Him,
because we trust in His holy name.

A single soul, a single heart. Ours. Behold, the body of Christ!

Vacation Over!

In between family fun time today I got a jump on this coming week's activities. Bulletin has already been drawn up and sent to Joanie together with the Bible study for Wednesday evening (we'll be studying several of the great Easter hymns during the Easter season - this week is Starke's fine "All the Earth" - see below). Week's activities are mapped out (it's a full one!), concluding this coming weekend with Oklahoma! at Metro - Bekah plays the part of Ado Annie. We've had children in Metro's musicals for the last SEVEN years, but this is the very last time. This has been a year of lasts for us. So, deep breath, set the alarm and off we go!

Our DADDY ain't he precious!?

This is what he does with his spare time.

~Bekah and Lauren
his *fav* daughters


Like newborn infants, Alleluia!
long for the pure spiritual milk of the Word. Alleluia!
Sing aloud to God our strength,
Shout for joy to the God of Jacob...

Almighty God, grant that we who have celebrated the Lord's resurrection may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God...

Alleluia! He has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee. Alleluia!
Eight days later Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Alleluia!

[A Homily from Yesteryear]

Did you catch the pattern? Sunday. Disciples gathered. Doors shut. Jesus. The sight of His wounds in a living bopdy. Overflowing joy. Commissioning to carry forgiveness out into the world.

But Thomas missed the gathering. Maybe he was golfing. Maybe he was finshing. Maybe he was moping. Maybe his siesta lasted a bit longer than usual. We’re not told why he wasn’t there, and there’s a reason for that.

Because it doesn’t matter WHY he wasn’t there. The only thing that matters is that he missed out. And look at what happened because he missed out on the gathering where Jesus came to his disciples behind the closed doors to bring them joy flowing from the wounds and the Spirit breath of His words and the commission! Thomas refuses to believe.

Thomas in his unbelief lays down his conditions. He’s got to see with his own eyes those wounds and touch them. Then he’ll see about believing.

And the Lord could have appeared to Thomas on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday or Friday or Saturday. Any of them would have done. But the Lord didn’t. He let Thomas stew in his unbelief for a solid week. And then look at what happened. Deja vu!

Sunday. Disciples gathered. Doors shut. Jesus. The sight of His wounds. Overflowing joy. This time the truant was present and the presence of Jesus in the midst of the gathered disciples brings Thomas from unbelief to full-blast confession: “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus responds to that. Thomas had been brought to faith by seeing. By seeing the wounds in hands and side He came to confess that His Lord and His God had been raised from the dead just as He had promised He would be. But Jesus is setting a pattern now and he is thinking of more than Thomas on that night. He is thinking of you. And so he says to Thomas: “You believe because you have seen. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

But if it will not be the seeing of Jesus that brings to faith, then what? The Gospel holds the answer. It’s all about what happens on the First Day of the week, which is also the 8th day, the day beyond all our sevens - one of which carries us to death. On the First and 8th Day, a miracle. The disciples of Jesus gather. And into their midst comes the Risen One. He comes with His wounds, His Spirit, His breath, AND His Words. “These have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”

In the gathering of His people together, the miracle happens again and again. Even though there is more Jesus than can ever be fit into a book, nevertheless He has given His people a book around which to gather. A book where the breath of Jesus that is the Spirit of God still blows to call from unbelief to faith. A book that is opened and read. Words. Concrete words. Words about Jesus. Jesus’ own words. The Spirit breathed them all. They all come from and are all about Jesus. And we read them and when we do, it is not just a matter of remembering Jesus. No. We confess that Jesus is with us in His Words. That’s why we stand. That’s why we shout out: “Alleluia!” in greeting to the One who comes to us in His words. The One who had promised: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My words and My Father will love Him and We will come to Him and make Our home with him.” (Jn 14:23)

But the One who comes to us in His words is the One who comes to us showing the wounds and speaking peace and bringing joy. And so when the words of Jesus are spoken over bread and wine, then we have what the words of Jesus say: This is my body, given for you. This is my blood, shed for you. Thomas was invited to touch and believe. You are invited to believe and taste. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Body and blood correspond to the wounds, for you only get body and blood separated from one another when there is a wound. So it is His death that is proclaimed every time we gather together and He feeds us with His body and His blood. You can’t see it from where you sit, but a reminder of it is upon the altar cloth. Five little crosses. Two on each end and one in the middle. What are they there for? To be pretty? Hardly! They are there by way of confession that what is placed upon this altar cloth is what resulted from five piercings: two in the hands, two in the feet, and one in the side. They are there to confess that on the altar is the very body and blood which hung upon the cross for you. That that is what is given you to eat and to drink and with the sight and taste of the wounds comes the word of peace (“the peace of the Lord be with you always”) and then the joy.

When? On the Lord’s Day. When Jesus comes into the midst of His gathered disciples and speaks His peace and brings the joy of sins forgiveness. But the joy isn’t to end here.

The disciples go out and announce - as they did to Thomas - “We have seen the Lord!” So we are sent out from this gathering where Jesus has come to be with us, where we have known Him in His Words and in His Wounds, His body and blood. We are sent forth to tell people like Thomas who are left in the sadness of thinking that death is the end of the road, that there is one who went farther. We are sent to tell people like Thomas who think that their sins are still hung around their own neck, that there is one who lifted the burden from them to give them peace and joy. We are sent to tell one and all. And not just that there is such a one and such a forgiveness and such an eternal life. But sent to tell WHERE He can be found and where faith is given and forgiveness and joy and peace. To tell them about the secret of the 8th and first day when Jesus still comes to be with us when we gather together in His name, around His words, and His wounds. Amen.

All the Earth With Joy Is Sounding

All the earth with joy is sounding:
Christ has risen from the dead!
He, the greater Jonah bounding
From the grave, His three-day bed,
Wins the prize:
Death's demise -
Songs of triumph fill the skies!

Christ, the devil's might unwinding,
Leaves behind His borrowed tomb,
Stronger He, the strong man binding,
Takes, disarms his house of doom:
In the rout
Casting out
Pow'rs of darkness, sin, and doubt.

Jesus, author of salvation,
Shared in our humanity;
Crowned with radiant exaltation,
Now He shares His victory!
From His face
Shines the grace
Meant for all our fallen race!

Praise the Lord, His reign commences,
Reign of life and liberty -
Paschal Lamb, for our offenses,
Slain and raised to set us free!
Bow before
Christ, the Lord of Life adore!
- Pr. Stephen Starke, LSB 462

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In virtue of this a Christian is called a new creature of God, which He Himself alone makes, above and besides all other creatures and works, yet in such a way that in this temporal life there is made but a beginning, and He works daily at it until it is perfected, when it will be a godly creature, pure and bright like the sun, without any sin and frailty, and all on fire with godly love. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Sermons from the Year 1536 (Day by Day, p. 177)

Patristic Quote of the Day

21 Then said He to them again, Peace be unto you: as the living Father sent Me, even so send I you.

Hereby our Lord Jesus Christ ordained the disciples to be guides and teachers of the world, and to be ministers of His Divine mysteries, and also bade them, for the time was now come, like lights to illuminate and enlighten, not merely the country of Judaea, according to the limit of the commandment of the Law, which extended from Dan even unto Beersheba, according to the Scripture, but rather also all under the sun, and men scattered throughout all lands, wheresoever they dwelt. The saying of Paul, therefore, is true: No man taketh the honour unto himself, but he that is called of God. For our Lord Jesus Christ called into His most glorious apostleship, before all others, His own disciples, and firmly fixed the whole earth, which was well-nigh tottering and in the act of falling, pointing out, as God, men to be props thereof who were well able to support it. Therefore, also, He thus spake by the mouth of the Psalmist, concerning the earth and the Apostles: I have fixed the pillars of it; for the blessed disciples were as the pillars and ground of the truth, whom also He says that He sent forth, even as the Father had sent Him; showing at the same time the dignity of their apostle-ship, and the incomparable honour of the power vouchsafed unto them, and also in all likelihood suggesting the method of life the Apostles were to follow. For if He thought it meet that He should send forth His own disciples, even as the Father had sent Him, was it not necessary for those who were destined to imitate His mission to ascertain what the Father sent forth the Son for to do? In divers ways, then, expounding unto us the character of His own mission, He said in one place: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance; and again: They that are whole have no need of a physician; but they that are sick: and again, in another place: For I am come down from heaven, not to do Mine own Will, but the Will of Him That sent Me; and yet once more: For God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through Him. Summing up, therefore, in a few words the character of their mission, He says that He sent them even as the Father had sent Him, that they might know thereby that they were bound to call sinners to repentance, and to minister to those who were in evil plight, whether of body or soul, and in all their dealings upon earth, not in any wise to follow their own will, but the Will of Him That sent them, and to save the world by their teaching, so far as was possible. And in truth we shall find the holy disciples eager to show the utmost zeal in performing all these things; and it is not difficult for any one to satisfy himself of this, who has once turned his attention to the Acts of the Apostles, and the words of the holy Paul.

--St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily on John 20

One of the Joys

of LSB is going from parish to parish and finding it in rich use. Today we worshipped at Messiah Lutheran in Lebanon. We were richly fed in both sermon and Sacrament. And we got to sing all sorts of Easter hymns again: "O Sons and Daughters," "Jesus Christ, My Sure Defense," "Christ is Arisen! Alleluia!" and "I know that My Redeemer Lives." Pastor Holle gave a wonderful homily that tied all three readings together. My favorite line: "And the blood, on the cross, and in the cup." The liturgy was Divine Service 1.

O Sons and Daughters

Here's the Hymn of the Day for Quasimodogeniti (today) as our choir presented it as preservice music on Easter. In LSB it is provided with two tunes, but I think this one has become my favorite:

18 April 2009


We headed out this afternoon and bought Bekah her graduation gift - a new MacBook. She's been kinda down with those senior blues (and it doesn't help that her best buddy this year is an exchange student from Germany and preparing to head back home!). It took me most of the afternoon to get it up and going - with transferring all her stuff from her old computer and updating software. She's set, though, God willing for college and maybe beyond.

Cleaned my office a bit this evening as well, in preparation for returning to work. Been a nice and relaxing vacation - and I got to do a bunch of geeky stuff that I normally don't have time to and that was rather a nice diversion.

Tonight the Eastern Churches celebrate Pascha - I wish all our Eastern brothers and sisters much joy in the Pascha. "He who saved the three young men in the furnace became incarnate and suffered as a mortal man; by His sufferings He clothed what was mortal in the robe of immortality. He alone is blessed and most glorious, the God of our Fathers! Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tomb bestowing life."

Tomorrow we shall have the joy of Quasimodogeniti. We'll be heading down to Lebanon for the Divine Service at Messiah Lutheran Church and will have the joy of hearing a sermon on absolution and Thomas and the gift of the Supper. Looking forward to it! Then cards with Dave and Jo in the afternoon. And that will be the wrap of my week off.

The Sun is JUST Peeping

over the trees across the road and my wife is out for a run - on a Saturday morning. I think she needs some counseling, don't you? :)

If you are a Wodehouse fan...

...this site is priceless:

Random Wodehouse Quotes

You can hit refresh and enjoy one laugh after the other. My favorite this a.m. was:

The fascination of shooting as a sport depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

As far as possible we should observe the same rites and ceremonies, just as all Christians have the same baptism and the same sacrament [of the altar] and no one has received a special one of his own from God. -- Blessed Martin Luther, *The German Mass*

Patristic Quote of the Day

For no one will show us such a reading as this in the holy and Divine Scriptures; and in no wise is that to be received as truth which is not told in the Divinely-inspired Scriptures. -- St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John 8:44

Short night

Cindi and I were awaken by the sounds of an accident on the highway at 4 this morning. No idea what happened, but suspect a fellow with too much to drink crossed the interstate. One vehicle was air-borne for a time, because it landed on the grass by the frontage road but the barricade is still in place and undamaged. Thanks be to God all the people involved are alive and walking, but that one fellow who apparently caused it was quite obviously unsteady on his feet and not making much sense. We've had some terrible accidents right in front of the Church over the years, almost invariably dealing with traffic coming from the north. I've wondered if folks don't look over at the Church as it suddenly looms up (it's blocked from view by an overpass until you're almost upon it) and if that could possibly be a contributing factor.

17 April 2009

You know...

...sometimes the menfolk are astonishing in their graciousness when it comes to letting their wives win a hand or two of pinochle. All in the calling of marriage; self-sacrifice and what-not, eh Randy?

Great Day

Cindi and I enjoyed Lamberts a great deal - and we even ate three of those evil rolls a piece. I had a fabulous slab of country ham; Cindi had the fried chicken. Then off to Charleston Missouri to tour their Dogwood and Azalea festival - and was the town ever blooming beautifully. A couple pics:

16 April 2009

The Assisting Minister

In LSB, the rubrics permit the use of an assisting minister in the Divine Service. This person may be either ordained or lay (Altar Book, p. x). A quick look through the Divine Service reveals the follow actions may be performed by an Assisting Minister:

Intoning of Kyrie Litany (DS 1,2,4)
Intoning of Gloria or This is the Feast (DS 1,2)
Reading of the OT (First) and Epistle
Preparation of the Altar for the Sacrament
Bidding the Prayer of the Church
Assisting in Distribution
Praying the Post-Communion Thanksgiving
The Benedicamus

Actions which may not be performed by other than the Pastor are:
Intoning of Gloria (DS 3)
Salutation and Praying the Collect
Reading of the Holy Gospel
Conclusion of the Prayer of the Church
Preface through Pax Domini (obviously including the Consecration)
Leading the Distribution and dismissing the communicants

The liturgy is indeed first and foremost Gottesdienst - God's gracious service to us. Within this gracious service, though, the Church has experienced a richness in her response to God's gifts and in how she administered them to the people. Each has his "liturgy" to perform: the cantor or choir in leading Introit, Gradual, and Alleluia Verse; the people in singing their hymns, in singing the chants of the Ordinary, in offering thanks for the Word read, in listening to the sermon, in joining in the prayers; the musicians in supporting the music in various ways; everyone in receiving the Blessed Eucharist. The role of the Assisting Minister permits yet another way that the Church's experience of the Divine Service can be enriched, basically providing for the restoration of the ancient diaconal ministry.

"But now bring me a musician"...

...And when the musician played, the hand of the Lord came upon him." 2 Kings 3:15

Luther Gem

If you touch My flesh, you are not touching simple flesh and blood; you are eating and drinking flesh and blood which makes you divine. - Luther on John 6:52

Is there anything

more joyfully wonderful than the music of the Paschal feast? LSB features not only the usual fare, but I'm especially impressed by three newer texts.

The first is a Pelz setting of a three-stanza Franzmann text on the epistle for Easter Divine Service (1 Cor. 5), "Our Paschal Lamb that Sets Us Free," LSB #473 - note especially the musical painting on the allelluias that follow: "let alleluias leap!"

The second is Dudley-Smith's "Long before the World is Waking" (LSB 485) - set to a fabulously sturdy German tune (All Saints) - and giving the whole encounter in John 21 in vivid detail: Charcoal embers, brightly burning, bread and fish upon them laid; Jesus stands at day's returning, in His risen life arrayed...

The final is a Stuempfle text set to the old American tune Jefferson: "Who Are You Who Walk in Sorrow" (LSB 476). This text pulls you into the account of the Emmaus disciples: "Nameless mourners, we will join you, we, who also mourn our dead; We have stood by graves unyielding, Eaten death's bare, bitter bread." And then the great surprise of who walks with us: "Who are You? Our hearts are opened In the breaking of the bread - Christ the victim, Christ the victor Living, risen from the dead!"

Paschal joy continues to call forth new music for the Church to delight in singing to the Risen Lord! Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Another Neglected Rubric for Palm/Passion Sunday

I don't think I mentioned before rubric #2: The procession may begin from outside the church building, from the narthex, of from the back of the nave. (Altar Book, page 501) Hand in hand with the above rubric is this one (p. 502): If the procession begins outside the nave, the congregation gathers around the processional cross.

Worshipping as we do right next to a loud and busy highway does not lend itself practically to beginning outdoors, either for Vigil or for Palm Sunday. Don't ask me how I know this! But if you have a quieter setting AND the weather is cooperating, there is something absolutely wonderful about having the people gather outside for the initial liturgy on Palm Sunday and then entering the Church building singing "All glory, laud, and honor!" as they wave their palms in honor of the King.

Patristic Quote of the Day

[Note: I've been hunting this down for a long time. Migne published it in DIATRlBA AD OPUS IMPERFECTUM IN MATTHAEUM, QUOD CHRYSOSTOMI NOMINE CIRCUMFERTUR. Thus it was attributed to St. John Chrysostom commenting on Matthew 24 (flee to the hills), but no one knows if it is from his hand. I find the exegesis in the larger passage to be a tad more Alexandrian than he was wont to employ. In any case, it is found in PG volume 56, page 908, 909 and apparently exists only in the Latin. Chemnitz knew the citation and included in it in his Examination of the Council of Trent I:156. Big thanks to Robert Smith of the Fort Wayne seminary for sending me a PDF of the citation.]

Because in this period in which heresy has taken possession of the churches there can be no proof of true Christianity nor any other refuge for Christians who want to know the truth of the faith except the divine Scriptures. Earlier we showed in many ways which is the church of Christ, and which heathenism. But now there is for those who want to know which is the true church of Christ no way to know it except only through the Scriptures. -- attributed St. John Chrysostom, Homily 49 on Matthew 24

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Thus the life of God in the parish implies that the parish will take prayer seriously. Family prayers in the families of the parish will provide both the extension of and the basis for corporate worship in the greater family of the parish. This may require not only diligent instruction, but also careful demonstration.... Daily matins and vespers at hours convenient to the potential worshippers can become the occasion for programmatic intercessions for those desiring such prayers, for those with anniversaries of baptism, birth, marriage, or bereavement falling on these days, with private Absolution and Holy Communion available for those who desire it. The parochial services of Holy Communion will reverse the present trend away from the general use of corporate intercession toward a more consistent and meaningful use of it. -- A. C. Piepkorn, *The Church* p. 135

15 April 2009

A Peculiarity

of the Historic propers for the Easter season is that the Gradual disappears and the Alleluia is doubled - which means we get to sing the three-fold (or if you're using the Celtic alleluia, the four-fold) alleluia three times instead of just twice. Sweet!

Silly Day Dream

Lutherans, at peace on the area of worship because they are committed to using their own Gospel-drenched liturgy (with suitable minor variations in local use), gathering weekly around the wondrous Table of God's Word and Sacrament, concentrating their joint efforts on catechesis, on outreach, on mercy as they serve their neighbors, and on fostering lives of personal repentance and prayer.

You know the saying - some folks looks at things as they are and ask why? Others dream of how they might be and ask why not? Count me in the latter camp today.

Some MUST Read

from Kantor Magness:


HT: Pr. Hall

A Friday Getaway

We're planning a trip down to Sikeston, Missouri for lunch at Lambert's Cafe (can you go there and NOT eat the thrown rolls???) on Friday and then do some touring around Charleston (their Azalea/Dogwood festival is in full swing) and back home for an evening of cards with Randy and Rachel, at which the men will no doubt continue their winning streak (at least we most devoutly hope so).

Songs of Joy!

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

Our life was purchased by His loss; Alleluia!
He died our death upon the cross. Alleluia!

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

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

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

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

[A Slovak Easter Hymn, LSB 484]

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Far from being a sort of featherbed in which the Christian can lie down and take his ease, the Christian hope is a springboard to action, hurling the Christian into even greater concern for his fellow Christians and for others. Hope for the future, for death and beyond, fits the Christian even better for this life, for love for his neighbor, and for the task of taking the Gospel to all people, so that they too may be brought to salvation. -- Henry Hamann, *On Being a Christian* p. 81

Patristic Quote of the Day

From my mother's womb I began to grieve Thee, and utterly have I disregarded Thy grace, for I have neglected my soul. -- St. Ephraim, the Syrian *A Spiritual Psalter* #10

14 April 2009

The Before Bed Hymn

Lord Jesus, since You love me,
Now spread Your wings above me
And shield me from alarm.
Though Satan would devour me,
Let angel guards sing o'er me:
This child of God shall meet no harm.
LSB 880:4

Now the Queen

Now the queen of seasons, bright
With the day of splendor,
With the royal feasts of feasts,
Comes its joy to render;
Comes to gladden faithful hearts
Which with true affection
Welcome in unwearied strain
Jesus' resurrection!

For today among His own
Christ appeared, bestowing
His deep peace, which evermore
Passes human knowing.
Neither could the gates of death
Nor the tomb's dark portal
Nor the watchers nor the seal
Hold Him as a mortal.

Alleluia! Now we cry
To our King immortal,
Who, triumphant, burst the bars
Of the tomb's dark portal.
Come, you faithful, raise the strain
Of triumphant gladness!
God has brought His Israel
Into joy from sadness.

St. John of Damascus,
LSB 487:3=5


...why I didn't upgrade to Quicktime Pro a LONG time ago.

Last One - Easter, Introit through Collect

Easter - Offering Gathered, Music, Prayer of the Church

Easter - Homily, Part 2

Easter Day - Homily Part 1

Easter Day - Readings and Intervening Chants

Sorry the Video and Audio

aren't in sync. Not sure how Youtube messed that up. I've got a few more I'll post shortly, God willing.

Easter Day - Conclusion of LIturgy

Easter Day - Distribution Music

Easter Day - Preface to Agnus

From Easter Day - Entrance

Patristic Quote of the Day

The reason why the One who completely fills the universe asks for food, why the Bread eats, is not be He hungers for food, but because He always hungers for the love of His own people. -- St. Peter Chrysologus, Homily 78 on John 21

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Thus it is with the general absolution that God announced to the whole world by the resurrection of Christ. All of this is of no help to the poor world if it remains in unbelief. God has already given to each of us the forgiveness of sins, but He will not force any of us to accept it. We must accept it in order for it to be beneficial to us, and we do that only through faith. The resurrected Christ did not offer a single word of condemnation against His disciple's sins - not against Peter's denial and not against the flight of all the others. The only thing He chastised in them was their unbelief. - C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 349

More Photos Heisted from Meaghan

13 April 2009

One of the Many

great photos that Meaghan shot today of Bekah and Lauren:

The Easter Season - The Great Fifty Days

from Treasury, p. 189

The Easter season is a fifty day-long season of joy extending from Easter to Pentecost. During this time, the Church celebrates the end of Christ's struggles and proclaims His victory over death and the reception of the benefits of His life, death and resurrection as gracious gifts of love and mercy for all who believe in Him. This is the Church's great season of joy! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

12 April 2009

A Week of Vacation

Blogging may be spotty; answering emails will not be a priority; be patient and God willing (and I remember) I'll get back to you!

A blessed Easter week to all Western blog readers, and a blessed Holy Week to my Orthodox friends!

Music of the Feast

I mentioned the distribution hymns earlier, but how much of our joy of the day is carried by the hymnody! We also sang this morning:

Joy to the Heart (Matins and Divine Service)
Awake My Heart with Gladness (Matins)
Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands (Divine Service)
Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds (Divine Service)

and the St. Paul quartet sang for us "Christians to the Paschal Victim" at Divine Service and in preservice the Adult Choir sang a joyous setting of "O Sons and Daughters of the King."

The music of Pascha cannot be topped. Period.


I'm wiped and I'm sure so are the good folks who put on the breakfast this morning and sang in the choirs and played the organ and trumpet and rang the bells and beat the drums and recorded the liturgies. It was a joyful feast day indeed. At the Divine Service we sang our way through FIVE distribution hymns:

I know that My Redeemer Lives (8 stanzas - with choir, trumpet and organ)
Jesus Christ is Risen Today (4 stanzas - with bells and organ)
At the Lamb's High Feast (8 stanzas)
Christ has Arisen (5 stanzas)
The Day of Resurrection (4 stanzas)

And STILL they lined up for the Sacrament! Glory to Jesus Christ!

We departed Church in the bright sunlight and with the bell ringing out the joy of the resurrection (thanks, Ron!). Christ indeed from death is risen! Alleluia!

Christos Anesti!

Christ is risen, and you, Hell, are overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the Angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one remains in the grave!
For Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.
--from the Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom, *Treasury* p. 185