30 June 2009

And a few more...

Celebrating the One Year Anniversary

of Issues, Etc. unfettered! What a great day for it too. Folks from Florida, Indiana, South Dakota, and lots of other places showed up to rejoice with Pr. Wilken and Jeff, including Congressman Shimkus. Oh, and best of all??? Chris Rosebrough fixed my iPhone so that Pirate Radio comes up on it. SWEET!!!

A few pics from the open house (we weren't able to stay for the dinner - got to go to bootcamp so Kevin can make us sweat):

It is a dangerous thing

to open Krauth when you have other work to do...

The Altar was the Table of the Lord, and the whole conception of sacrifice runs into this, that it is covenanting Supper between God and man.

The sacrifice, through the portion burnt, is received of God by the element of fire; the portion received is partken by men, is communicated to them, and received by them. The eating of one portion of the sacrifice, by the offerer, is as real a part of the whole sacred act as the burning of the other part is. Man offers to God: this is sacrifice. God gives back to man: this is sacrament. The oblation, or thing offered, supplies both sacrifice and sacrament, but with this difference, that under the Old Dispensation God received part and man received part; but under the New, God receives all and gives back all: Jesus Christ, in His own divine person, makes that complete which was narrowed under the Old Covenant by the necessary limitations of mere matter. (p. 591)

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

What makes the theologian a theologian is not experience as such, but the experience of scripture. The way I experience Scripture is that it interprets me and thus provides for its own interpretation. -- Oswald Bayer, *Theology the Lutheran Way* p. 63

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The firmest friend of the Word is the firmest friend of the Creed. First, the Rule of Faith, next the Faith of the Rule, and then the Confession of Faith. -- C. P. Krauth, *Conservative Reformation* p. 167

Patristic Quote of the Day

I assert, therefore, that the perseverance by which we persevere in Christ even to the end is the gift of God. - St. Augustine, Book Two on the Predestination of the Saints, Ch. 1

What Our Synod Needs

[the following posted by Fr. Larry Peters on the ALPB forum yesterday; I thought it extremely well said, and repost it here with his permission. He posted this at the exact time I wrote the piece below on the diaconate from an entirely different context of conversations - go figure. We channel each other so much it's spooky.]

What Missouri needs most of all is not a new program or a new structure or a new confession. What we need is enthusiastic confidence in our Confessions, a vibrant and Eucharistic liturgical life that values and uses the richness of the tradition and the very best of today, and a passionate concern for the life of the people gathered around the Word and Table of the Lord and for those not yet gathered there...

We do not need to make a fine strainer for the sake of purity but neither do we need the kind of freedom which plants Lutheran congregations that eschew the name, the identity, the catechetical life, and the Eucharist. We do not need to be missional to the exclusion of our identity and confession -- the mission of the Church flows naturally from taking serious who we are as the Church and what God has called us to be and to do in (but not of) the world.

We do not need to borrow from business models but we do need faithful and wise stewardship to maximize the use of all the resources God has entrusted to us. We do not need closed doors and secrecy but transparency and open conversation. We do not need to return to some golden age of Missouri nor do we need to redefine Missouri so that it bears no resemblance to its past. We need a renewed church -- renewed by her confession, renewed in her baptismal vocation, and renewed in her life nurtured and fed by the Gospel and the Sacraments.

We do not need more professional church workers (at any level) but faithful Pastors and lay leaders who will challenge and inspire the people in the pew. We do not need administrators but we do need real bishops who live and teach what they confess. We do not need to define the world today through the lens of a parochial confession like the Brief Statement but press our confessional identity to respond to modern challenges and changes with the same vitality and bold confidence which were once the hallmarks of our Lutheran identity.

We do not need a new name but we need to make the current name synonymous with good preaching and liturgy, with welcoming communities of faith, with congregations living in solid relationship and partnership, and with a sense that we have something to offer the world -- a life changing message of hope called the theology of the cross...

We need to re-examine old ideas (prior to 1847) and see how a revived diaconate may bless the Church today (a permanent diaconate which works in complimentary relationship with the Pastoral Office and not as some substitute for it. We need people who are as quick to enter the conversation and earnestly work for the kingdom as they are quick to sit on the sidelines and critique the work and conversation of others ...

And just maybe the ELCA needs exactly the same thing....

29 June 2009

Brief Thoughts on the Deacon

In the ancient Church the fullness of the office resided in the Bishop. He was responsible within the community for both the office of faith and the office of love. To assist him in the office of faith, there were the presbyters, his fellow pastors. With his blessing, they could preach, teach, and even celebrate the Eucharist. To assist him in the office of love, there were the deacons. They were charged with the care of the poor, those in prison, the needy, and providing for the clergy. Through both the office of faith and the office of love, the hope that is in Christ was imparted, strengthened, and manifested.

When the Reformation rightly noted that there was nothing in the office of faith that was not in common with the Bishop, and that this office of faith is primary, what was sadly overlooked (and lost long before the Reformation, truthfully, for bishops had long ceased to understand their connection to the community in terms of the office of faith serving out the Word or the office of love serving out charity) was the vital connection to the office of love. The Bishop was to hold both together in his person and to know himself responsible for both and thus to know that he couldn't do either by himself alone. The pastor in the Reformation tradition also knows he can't do both (just ask!), but he seems at a loss to know how to remedy the situation. There's a saying we love to use: "Faith alone saves; but the faith that saves is never alone. It is always accompanied by love." Think of that in regard to the office of faith and the office of love. It is true that the first is absolutely foundational and upon which the other is built; but the other is to be built upon it!

The diaconate is waiting for recovery among us. It is a fair question whether it CAN be recovered without the recovery of the bishop - the man who embodies the fullness of both offices - as well; I honestly don't know. But that we Reformation Christians have been guilty of neglecting the office of love is, I would think, beyond dispute. And I find it highly significant that in its liturgical expression the deacon in his office of love is the one who both gathers, presents and administers the offerings of the people and who bids their prayers. Love in action: in giving and in praying very visibly in the Sunday assembly, and out from the altar goes the service of love. We Reformation Christians need this office to return to its own place among us. Our communities suffer for its lack.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Of these three basic forms of life: the church, the household (including marriage and family), and the state, the church is the first. It is the basic order. It includes all people since all are addressed by God and are called to offer Him a free and thankful response. -- Oswald Bayer, *Theology the Lutheran Way* p. 86

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

So all who had gone astray might hear the blessed voice of the Gospel, Christ sent His apostles into the world to preach the good news. He also instituted the office of the ministry through which His voice would resound everywhere until the end of days. -- C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 521

Patristic Quote of the Day

This power of binding and of loosing seems to be given by the Lord to Peter alone ; but without the slightest doubt it is given to the other Apostles also. Christ Himself bears witness to this, for after the triumph of His Passion and Resurrection, He appeared to them, and breathing on them said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost : whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them ; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained." Nay, the same function is committed now, in the person of the bishops and priests, to the whole Church, so that after knowledge of the case of sinners it may take pity on those whom it sees to be humble and truly penitent, and absolve them from the fear of eternal death; while it marks as bound under everlasting punishments those whom it finds to be persistent in their sins. - St. Bede the Venerable, Homily on the Nativity [Heavenly Birthday] of Sts. Peter and Paul

Ah, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul...

...it always makes me think I should be at the Abby with Brother Cadfael since the great fair takes place during these days!

And what joy today in the publication of this ancient fresco of St. Paul, the oldest depiction of the saint known to date:

You can read a bit of the story here. HT: Father Hollywood.

The Hymn of the Day from the Treasury for today absolutely nails the Church's conviction:

O God, these two apostles
Reached life through martyrdom.

Neither St. Peter's crucifixion nor St. Paul's beheading ended their lives. Silly as it sounds to the world this is our conviction: that in Christ they'd been given a life that death could not rob them of. "And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die." St. Peter and St. Paul are not long gone from us. We worship with them every week as we gather with them before the throne of the Lamb and give to Him all glory for His gracious love for us!

28 June 2009

Christian Gerber

in his little book on the church ceremonies of the Lutheran Churches in Saxony observed even into the late 1700's the use of a bell during the Words of Institution - rung once at the words over the bread and then over the cup. Rome has, of course, continued this. This morning at the early service, the organist used a chime to ring out over the consecration. One of my elders asked if Dr. Coan had done that on his own; I said, no, it was my request. The elder observed: "Why haven't we always done that? That's great." I concur! It draws attention to the Sacrament's "for-you-ness." It's a way of saying: Look, there it is! The body given for you! The blood shed for you! Now come and feast with Him! My family experienced this at Immanuel Lutheran in Alexandria this summer and I was so blessed by it, that I wished to share it with St. Paul's parish. Now, if only the ushers would always remember to turn the chimes on (the switch is with the lights and gets neglected inexplicably at times, hence no chimes at late service today!).

On the Common Prefaces

LSB offers three of them. During the Trinity (Post-Pentecost) season, any of them may be used. The first is familiar from LW/LBW: "who on this day overcame death and the grave..." The second is probably my favorite, built out of phrases from the classic eucharistic prayer of St. Hippolytus (in the Novus Ordo Roman Rite, Eucharistic Prayer No.2 - note the phrases "created all things...born of the virgin Mary...to put an end to death... fulfilling Your will and gaining for You a holy people"). The third is largely a paraphrase of Philippians 2. Especially if you are using DS 3 which is rather shy on actual "giving thanks" the second and third options strike me as particularly fitting to use in the Green season.

Commemoration of St. Irenaeus

From the Treasury and Synod's Website:

June 28
Irenaeus of Lyons, Pastor

Irenaeus (ca. A.D. 130-200), believed to be a native of Smyrna (modern Izmir, Turkey), studied in Rome and later became pastor in Lyons, France. Around 177, while Irenaeus was away from Lyons, a fierce persecution of Christians led to the martyrdom of his bishop. Upon Irenaeus' return, he became bishop of Lyons. Among his most famous writings is a work condemning heresies, especially Gnosticism, which denied the goodness of creation. In opposition, Irenaeus confessed that God has redeemed his creation through the incarnation of the Son. Irenaeus also affirmed the teachings of the Scriptures handed down to and through him as being normative for the Church.

In the writing assigned to today (from his work against heresies):

"We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith."

Striking that what the Scriptures describe as the Church (1 Tim 3:15), St. Irenaeus describes as the role of the Gospel, enshrined in Scripture, within the Church!

"Almighty God, You upheld Your servant Irenaeus with strength to confess the truth against every blast of vain doctrine.... keep us steadfast in the true faith..."

For your servant St. Ireaneus, O Lord Jesus, and for his witness to You and Your Gospel, glory to You! Glory to You forever!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

In spiritual warfare we fight in the dark. None of us is an expert. We are all learners; we are disciples of Christ, who is the only expert. -- John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 219

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

If we wish to be God's children, we must do God's will in true repentance. - Blessed Johann Gerhard, Postilla II:45

Patristic Quote of the Day

Without the protection of faith good works cannot stand. -- St. Ambrose, On the Duties of the Clergy, Book II, Chapter 2


...and I'm still waiting for that easy living and can't say squat about whether the fish are the jumpin or the cotton is high, but certainly the corn in these parts is on its way up! It's great to meet pastors who drop in on an Sunday. Today Pr. Rick Serina from down Texas-way joined us for Divine Service and then for a bit of lunch at the parsonage. He's taking a course at the sem this summer. It was good to meet him in the flesh and have a few minutes to visit together. You all let me know that you're dropping in and we will definitely have you over for lunch if at all possible!!!

27 June 2009

Today's Lectio Divina

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. There the Eunuch was, all befuddled by what he was reading in the OT. "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And how richly has the Lord supplied the guidance to all for understanding the OT! He has given us not merely a saint like Philip to guide us along, but the writings of the Apostles and Evangelists which unfold for us the fullness of the OT as the book about our Lord, inspired by His Spirit, pointing to Him constantly. Loehe points this out in *Three Books*.

Also, is it not absolutely striking that when Philip begins from Isaiah 53 and preaches the Good News to this man, he must have driven everything he was teaching him toward how the Lord delivers that forgiveness and new life. For we're told that as soon as the Eunuch catches sight of water, he begs to share this Baptism! I'm reminded of the truth hidden in Mark 16: Preach the Gospel to the whole creation. And what is the Gospel? Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. Baptism IS the Gospel!!!

On the first reading today, surprise, surprise, the spies wash up in a brothel. The bigger surprise is how the word of God (even heard as rumors) has brought Rahab to faith and to confess Israel's God as the only legit contender in all the universe. Still, a conundrum of the day: how is it that Rahab's house, built into the wall of the city, didn't collapse with all the rest of the walls? If it alone didn't collapse, the scarlet thread almost seems a tad redundant!

Another Bike Ride

Cindi, Bekah, and I headed off right after noon to ride from St. Paul's to the bike trail, into Hamel, back up to Worden, and then back to the Church. That's just an 8 mile jaunt, and it felt great to be out in the sun - I don't think there was a cloud in the sky. Hot, but didn't feel as bad as the past several days. Maybe less humid. What a gift to the community that bike trail is! We got home and jumped into the pool for a bit to cool down. Nice to spend a few hours with Bekah - she's away all summer at Camp Wartburg.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is much more important that we pray [the Lord's Prayer] regularly than that we wait until we have enough time to pray it at length and in great detail with deep ardor and heartfelt devotion. Satan, quite commonly, uses our spiritual enthusiasm against us. He gets us to go on a prayer binge because he knows we will not be able to sustain it. Then, when we fail, he uses our failure to argue that praying is not for us. -- John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 180

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

One without love may seem to be holy, but it is only an appearance. - C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 517

Patristic Quote of the Day

For the Only-begotten, passing into each, so to be shared by each, sanctifies their soul and body by His flesh. He is all in all indivisibly and entirely. Because He is one, He is everywhere, but in no way divided. -- St. Cyril On John

Lectio Divina

a day late!

From yesterday's first reading, I was particularly struck by the Lord's instruction to Joshua:

This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth,
but you shall meditate on it day and night.

EXACTLY. From your MOUTH. By speaking it, muttering it, constantly giving voice to it, Joshua would perform his meditation upon it. Meditation isn't first in the heart (asking: what does this mean?); it's first in the mouth and then in the ear (what are you saying, Lord?). So when we read the Sacred Scriptures we do ourselves a disservice when we merely read them mentally; also in our private devotion let us take to heart the Lord's instruction and put His Words on our lips so that they may be in our ears. We will thus dwell in the Word!

Commemoration of St. Cyril of Alexandria

From the Treasury and our Synod's website:

Cyril of Alexandria, Pastor and Confessor

Cyril (ca. A.D. 376-444) became archbishop of Alexandria, Egypt, in 412. Throughout his career he defended a number of orthodox doctrines, among them the teaching that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is "rightly called and truly is the Mother of God"--Theotokos, "the God-bearer" (Formula of Concord, VIII, Ep VIII, 12). In 431 the Council of Ephesus affirmed this teaching that the Son of Mary is also true God. The writings of Cyril on the doctrines of the Trinity and the person of Christ reveal him to be one of the most able theologians of his time. Cyril's Christology influenced subsequent church councils and was a primary source for Lutheran confessional writings.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through St. Cyril's homilies on Luke and on John - both are available here. One of my favorite citations from St. Cyril is actually found in the Catalog of Testimonies appended to the Christian Book of Concord:

"The soul, having obtained union with the Word, descended into hell; but, using its divine power and efficacy, it said to the ones in bondage, 'Go forth!'" Concordia p. 271

Heavenly Father, Your servant Cyril steadfastly proclaimed Your Son, Jesus Christ, to be one person, fully God and fully man. By Your infinite mercy, keep us constant in faith and worship of Your Son... (Treasury, p. 469)

26 June 2009

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is enough for us just to be with Jesus and to enjoy His presence with us. -- John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 178

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Whoever has true love makes no distinctions among people and considers love to be a debt he daily pays to all of his brothers according to the flesh. He regards everyone as a creature of God, who loved that person so much as to give His Son to death on the cross. -- C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 513

Patristic Quote of the Day

For as He is the Shepherd, and the High Priest, and the Way and the Door, and everything at once to us, so again, He is shown to us as the Feast, and the Holy day, according to the blessed Apostle; 'Our Passover, Christ, is sacrificed 1 Corinthians 5:7.' - St. Athanaisus, Letter 14

Day Off

Sort of. Off to the Y and arrived by 6 - quick stop at Walmart and Starbucks on way home - VBS opening - and then my crazy wife and I decided it was a great day for a bike ride (at least it's not windy), so we rode 11.6 miles up to Decamp Junction and back, enjoying the sun (not so much the heat), and adding to the day's workout (Cindi had done Roger's Boot Camp earlier when I went to the Y to do my routine). Still ahead? Some time in the pool (which is working fabulously this summer - unbelievably low maintenance thanks to timer and to salt water system), a haircut, and the concert this evening at Collinsville High. Maybe some reading in that Michael Connelly novel I haven't had time to finish yet.

25 June 2009

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

By the practice of intercession we fulfill the Golden Rule. -- John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 201

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Whenever the tree of the Church has blossomed in faith, the fruits of brotherly love have appeared right away. -- C.F.W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 511

Patristic Quote of the Day

God created everything in six days. On the first day he fashioned light; on the second, the firmament of heaven; on the third, the land and the sea; on the fourth, the stars; on the fifth, the fish and the birds; on the sixth, the animals and the beasts of burden and finally the first man, Adam, in his image. - Isidore of Seville *Chronicon* 1

Soul Searching Words

in today's Writing from the Treasury. From the Augustana:

"In doctrine and ceremonies we have received nothing contrary to Scripture or the Church universal. It is clear that we have been very careful to make sure that no new ungodly doctrine creeps into our churches."

Note the "received." Gifts delivered in doctrine and ceremonies, received from those who went before, and the only things ruled out are what would be contrary to Scripture or what is contrary to the Church universal.

Can we possibly make this confession today with a straight face - this not being your grandfather's Synod and all? Do these words not invite us as Lutheran Christians to repentance for the way we have dishonored our parents in the faith by carelessly and thoughtlessly tossing what they were willing to DIE for in order to deliver into our hands?

Commemoration of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession

and a wonderful meditation upon this day by Pr. Alms:

By Faith Alone


24 June 2009

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The life and work of Jesus, from His Baptism to His death on the cross, was shaped by His practice of prayer. -- John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 75

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The sins of the whole world - yours, mine, everybody's, excluding no one - he [the Baptist] says, lie on this Lamb of God. Sins should no longer burden the world, terrify, condemn, or kill us, since they will be taken away from us and be made to lie upon the Lamb of God. That is true joy, that the beloved John brings such tidings into the world for the first time and points to Christ; he admonishes everyone to cling to Him and to expect such grace from Him. Never since the world began has there been such preaching. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Homily upon the Day of St. John the Baptist, House Postils 3:315

Patristic Quote of the Day

Christ is mercy and justice: for we have obtained mercy through Him, and been justified, having washed away the stains of wickedness through faith that is in Him. -- St. Cyril of Alexandria on Luke 1:72

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Today the Holy Church celebrates the Nativity of the Baptist. Whenever it rolls around, Bede's words come to mind:
It is significant that John's birth is recorded as having taken place when the days began to grow shorter, while the Lord was born as they grew longer. It was John himself who explained the meaning of this contrast when the crowd thought he was the Christ because of his great virtues, and the Lord was considered by some as only a prophet and not the Christ because of his lack of austerity. "He must increase," said John, "while I must decrease."

Divine Service tonight will celebrate this day which LSB denotes "a principle feast of our Lord." Join us! 6:15 p.m.

23 June 2009

Boot Camp, This and That

was REALLY challenging! I couldn't do the full number of pushups in the last round. A great workout. Someday I'm going to actually remember what all these exercises are too and how to do them...

Cindi was doing exercise of another kind. She was at the Collinsville Chorale's rehearsal - and will miss on Thursday too for the Chorale's dress rehearsal. Concert is on Friday (Bob and Dave and Lauren are singing in it too). AND David's in "Bye Bye Birdie" at SIUE several nights this week and weekend and has also got a part in their upcoming production of Willy Wonka.

This summer has been just insanely busy. Those long lazy days with nothing to do but reading and catching up on family time - where did they go???

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

When we use God's Word in our prayers, we speak the same Word that Christ brings to us from the Father to give us His Spirit. We speak the Word back to the Father through the Holy Spirit together with His Son. -- John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 174

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Since Christ is truly present in the bread, why should it not be handled and adored with the greatest reverence? -- Blessed Martin Luther, WA Tischreden V,308

Patristic Quote of the Day

Thou who forgivest sins and freely grantest mercy, forgive me the sins of my soul at the righteous judgment! May the prodigals, whom Thou didst gather together and bring to repentance, exalt Thee. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #100

Happy Birthday, Joseph Field!

Today would be my brother's sixtieth birthday. That is very hard to fathom. The pic is from when he decided to shave his head - see, it runs in the family! Only 35 when he died in a car wreck, Joseph has been one of the great missing pieces of my life. A sorrow that is never stilled, a hole that is never filled, an ache that never goes away. He was more than brother; he was a friend. Coincidentally, Joseph was born upon our Grandfather's birthday too - Granddaddy Chance was born 130 years ago today. Wow. Well, you are both remembered today, my loved ones. And you both are missed.

22 June 2009

Who's Gonna Be At Issue's Anniversary Bash?

I am! Hope to see some of you there too!!!

Here's the info:

You are invited to attend an open-house to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the return of Issues, Etc.

The open-house will be at the studios of Lutheran Public Radio beginning at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, June 30. Below is the address for Lutheran Public Radio.

1600 Golfview Drive
Suite 230
Collinsville, IL 62234

After the broadcast, we'll get together for some food, friendship and fun.

If you plan on attending, please send your RSVP to craig@issuesetc.org. Let us know how many people will be attending with you.

We hope to see you on June 30!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We resist the devil using the practice of intercessory prayer in the name of Jesus. We do, indeed, defend ourselves by praying for ourselves, yet it should not end there. We have a duty of spiritual care by prayer for those around us. -- John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 269.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

God did not create everything because He was forced to or because He wanted to be useful. He was motivated solely by His eternal love. - C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 506

Patristic Quote of the Day

Fear of God is the result of faith in God. - St. Maximos the Confessor, *First Century on Love* #2

Busy Day

Up by 5:30 to enjoy a pot of coffee and Matins, then to the Y for exercise. Back by 8:30 to run off last minute stuff for VBS. Did VBS opening for older kids and then visited a bit with the younger ones. Five shut-in calls before lunch. Then after lunch visited with four more folk. Cindi had planned a late birthday dinner for Dean, and so Dean, Lauren, Cindi, Dave and I sat down to bacon, eggs, pancakes (or toast). Cindi had baked an apple pie for Dean for dessert and she also served up some left over ice-cream from father's day. Then down to business: cards. I'm unbelievably frustrated to report that Dave, Lauren and I lost to Cindi first at Liverpool and then Lauren and I lost to her at 7's. AND Jo, Lauren insisted on sitting in Cindi's chair for Liverpool. Didn't help at all. We ALL think she really needs to get over herself... ;) We wondered if it were all Dean's fault, because he was a good lad and studied for classes rather than take a trouncing from Cindi. Tomorrow promises to be another full day. So soon to bed! soon to bed!


It was upon this day back in 1986 that I was ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry at the Lutheran Church of St. Andrew in Silver Spring, MD. There I had been also baptized, confirmed, and married. Pr. George Plvan delivered the homily. Pr. George Lobien conducted the liturgy. Pr. Richard Hinz was the ordinator. 23 years - seems both incredibly short and long. Odd how time does that, isn't it? But thanks be to God for the unspeakable privilege of serving in this Holy Office. May He continue to forgive my countless failures and sins, and still find some for use for me in serving His Holy Church. Glory to You, O Lord, for the noble calling, glory to You alone!

21 June 2009

Despite the Crazy Week...

...a rather relaxing Father's Day. Dave, David, Cindi and I feasted on spare-ribs and hotdogs (coated in barbecue sauce), salad of fresh greens and feta, creamed corn, green grapes and blueberries. Then home-made ice cream (both low-carb and regular varieties) and other sweets. We got in the pool for a little bit. And then I worked on some VBS planning (starts tomorrow - nothing like long range planning, Weedon!).

Oh, and for Father's Day, I received:

A Sherlock Holmes children's book
Some home-roasted coffee
Streamers (lavender and white????) for my bike
A seat for my bike without the horn on the saddle (yeah - don't ask!)
A bag to fix on my handlebars (carry water and what not)
Two promises for 20 minute back scratches - SWEET! (I'm collecting on one this evening)

And my wife, my dear, sweet, loving and kind wife, gave me a card that said on the outside how I always made her laugh... You open it and it adds: "usually behind your back while you're trying to fix something and cussing up a storm." Then it said: "Just kidding." But I'm getting the impression that she's NOT kidding.

Sigh. Ineptitude. It's the story of my life - but at least it provides others a bit of a laugh and that's a good thing, I think. I THINK. You can stop laughing now. I mean it! Double sigh.

20 June 2009

And a special treat!

Seeing and holding Nathaniel James, our godson, for a few minutes!

AND Nathaniel's big bro, Jonathan, helped us out by being crucifer!

Ordained! Richard Lee Rikli

19 June 2009

And the Winner Is...

...good grief, did you really need to wonder?

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

So when we meditate, we do not use our imagination to envisage an imaginary state of affairs, however pious it may be, but to see Him who is otherwise invisible (Hebrews 11:27) and ourselves in Him (1 John 3:2). -- John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 132

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is impossible to draw near to the great fire of the love of God in Christ without becoming warmed by it in fervent mutual love. Why do so few people love God? It is because they have not tasted in their heart the love He has for them. Had they done so, they would truly burn with love for God. -- C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 499

Patristic Quote of the Day

For they who transgress the Divine commandment of God the Father [to hear His Son], and thrust away from themselves the life-giving word of God our Saviour Christ, shall surely be cast down into most utter misery, and shall remain without any part in the life that comes from Him -- St. Cyril of Jerusalem [Homily on John 12]

An Ordination Homily for Richard Rikli

From today’s Gradual: “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.” In other words, not your own ideas and thoughts, but His. And His Words are not one, but two. There is His Word that kills and there is His Word that makes alive. So Paul in the second reading: “He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” There is Law and there is Gospel. Both precious, both God’s Word that He would put in your mouth, but not equal by any stretch. The Gospel word is the final and the proper Word that would come from God’s mouth and fill yours. The Word of life in His Son. And so onto the Gospel reading for today.

Jesus risen from the dead, in a body made incorruptible, never to die or fall apart again, the promise of the resurrection of all flesh, He is suddenly there on the evening of the First Day, that is the Lord’s Day, Sunday. He is there and His disciples are gathered. “Where two or three.” And appearing, He speaks peace: “Peace be with you.” And their hearts fill with joy. Then again: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

That is, as I came into the world not to speak my own words, but the words my Father gave me. Words that kill, to be sure, but above all words that give life, life everlasting to all who will believe them, even so I send you. I send you forth with my words which I have given to you. Words that are Spirit and life. Words that come from the very heart of the Father himself. Words that reveal what no one on earth would ever be able to figure out on their own, no, not able to guess in their wildest dreams. Words about Me, words that testify to the love that is the heart of the Father that moved Him to send Me, His Son, into the flesh and so into death, to destroy death, to forgive sins, to open the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You will speak these my words. That is your worth, your value, your service and ministry to Me. You will speak my words.

All that is in: As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.

But who is competent for this? And so: “He breathed on them and said: Receive the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit of whom He had said earlier: He will bring to your mind all that I have said. The Spirit who runs with the Words of Jesus, the Spirit is the life in His Words. That’s the Spirit He breathes on them. What about you? For you, it is the way of those who are sent mediately, not immediately, and so the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Paul reminded Pastor Timothy: “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophesy (that is, by words!) when the council of presbyters laid their hands upon you.” (1 Tim 4:14). And so with the laying on of hands, first of our District President, our bishop, then of his fellow presbyters and with words and with prayer, there is given you the gift of the Spirit for this work of the ministry that none of us is competent for on our own.

All that is in: And he breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit.

And this Spirit is given you not for your own glory, but for the competence to give out the gift above all gifts which the Words of Jesus bestow: the forgiveness of sins. “If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness, they are not forgiven.” That is NOT some juridical power that is laid on you here. That is rather the commission of Christ to speak His Gospel which does the forgiving when it is believed, but when it is rejected, retains sins. As our Lord said: “If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come into the world to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge: the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” Jn 12:46ff.

These Words Jesus would put upon your lips in all your dealings with the flock He entrusts to you: when you hear the confession of a broken sinner and absolve him, being nothing but the mouth of the Lord; when you must warn those who reject the Gospel, being nothing but the mouth of the Lord; when you stand at the sickbed or at the deathbed, and bring words of hope to the despairing and life to the dying, being nothing but the mouth of the Lord; when you stand in His pulpit and pray “O Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare Your praise” you are asking to be nothing but a mouth for the speaking of His words. His words are what do the forgiving and retaining job. Your task is but to give them voice.

All this is in: “If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness, they are not forgiven.”

Thus today He sends you through His holy Church to the most important task there is in this world: the task of being His mouth, to speak His words, to bring life to the dying world, to bring the gift of forgiveness of sins which is found nowhere else but in the Holy Church. That the Church may assure herself that you will be speaking HIS Words and none other, she asks of you the promise that you will speak those Words faithfully, not according to the understanding of Richard Rikli, but according to the understanding of the Holy Apostolic and Catholic Church. Thus, the pledge to speak those words in all your dealings with your people in accord with the Symbols of the Church – her Creeds, her Confessions. When you say “yes and I make them my own,” you are saying nothing less than that it will be God’s Words in your mouth and not your own wisdom and ideas.

And there you have it all: sent by the Lord, empowered by the Spirit through the laying on of hands, commissioned to speak faithfully that word which remits or retains sin – to be nothing less and nothing more than a mouth of the Lord. And so today the Church rejoices with great joy to cry out: “How beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who declares to Zion ‘Your God reigns.’” For today she receive from the Lord’s own hands yet another servant of the Gospel, yet another sent by Christ, standing in the long line of the apostles and prophets, and for that she shouts her alleluias to her gracious and ever-faithful God! Amen.

18 June 2009

You Heard It Here First...

...I just heard Cindi mutter as she attempted to get off the couch: "Oh, my gosh. I'm an old woman."

Bootcamp tonight. Kevin must have got her good! Me? I'm feeling fine. But of course, she is older than I am... And I'm not saying a word about how I might be groaning tomorrow a.m.!

Funeral Homily for Alfred Wehrend

Clara, Wesley, Shirley, Darrell, family and friends of Alfred Wehrend, is it our hold on God or His hold on us that saves us?

If it is our hold on Him then we’re in some major trouble if something happens to us like happened to Alfred. How can you hold onto God when you cannot remember Him? When your memory of Him and His words and promises has faded away by the horrid disease that devoured almost all your other beloved memories as well? When you have suffered in such a sad state for so many years, even at times utterly unaware of those people that you once knew and loved with all your heart?

Indeed, if it is our hold on God that saves us, we all have reason to tremble with fear. But people loved by God, the readings we heard today testify loudly and clearly that is that it is NOT our hold on God, but His blessed hold on us that is our saving hope! It is the Shepherd whose job it is to find the lost little lamb, to hold it tight, and bring it safely home.

Alfred was enfolded into His Shepherd’s loving grip when he was a little baby, only 15 days old. As Pastor Wihlborg poured the water over his head in St. John’s Lutheran Church of Drake, Missouri, saying “Ich taufe dich im Namen des Vaters und des Sohns und des Heiligen Geistes” and his parents answered “Amen!” the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, said to him: Alfred, little one, you are Mine. You belong to me. I will love you forever. I have graven your name on the palms of My hands. Nothing shall ever separate you from My love and My life. I will never, ever forget you. No one can snatch you out of My hands.

Confident in that love, Alfred grew in the faith, learning to trust the One who had made him His very own, who loved him so much as to carry all his sins to death on Calvary’s tree, and who rose for him on Easter morning, shattering the power of death to hold him. He stood before the altar of St. John’s Church and on Palm Sunday in the year 1928, he confessed Himself a sheep of the Good Shepherd. A few days later, on Maundy Thursday, Pastor Scheiderer placed into his mouth for the first time the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and the promise was renewed: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day.” Which again is to say: I’ve got hold you, Alfred. Don’t worry. I’ll not let you go.

As he grew in years, he constantly gave an ear to the voice of his Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. When times were hard and he went looking for work, and landed up at the Brunnworth farm, he soon found his way to Church. And what a blessing it was – although away from his home congregation, he found another home in New Gehlenbeck. And as Church should be, it was family to him. Whether tossing the ball with the Schumachers across the street or dating that fetching young Clara who caught his eye, he put down his roots here for the length of his days. Here he married, and here he and Clara brought you their children up to trust the same Good Shepherd and the same promises.

Repeatedly Alfred heard from Christ His unfailing promise: “I give them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand.” “I got hold of you, Alfred. Never fear. I’m not letting go. Not now, not ever.” To grow as a Christian is grow in the joyful certainty that you will live your life and die your death in the hands of Him who is stronger than all your sins, stronger than death, and whose strong hand will pull you through to life everlasting. It is to live your life toward that joyful moment Ezekiel foretold when God our Good Shepherd brings us into our own land –in unspeakable tenderness He reaches out His nail-scarred hands to wipe away the tears of our earthly sorrows.

For Alfred that moment came about this past Tuesday. Can you imagine what a joy it was for him? To see at last the One who had remained faithful to him through all these years? To be touched by the hands with the nail prints? To be gathered home by the angels with his beloved brothers and sisters and parents and to join the heavenly choir of saints and angels singing the praises of the Good Shepherd? To be healed and whole again in memories, and to know with the certain joy of the redeemed that soon is coming the day of resurrection and the restoration and healing of our bodies as well?

People greatly loved by God, this is our great Christian hope and confidence. Not our hold on God, but His secure hold on us, that is our anchor through whatever may happen in this life. It holds secure because it is attached to Jesus and there is nothing so certain in this life as a promise from Him.

How will it be at your end? Will it be like Alfred’s? Maybe. You know, it honestly doesn’t matter. What matters instead is that you are prepared for whatever end you face by learning even now to lean on the unshakable, unbreakable love God has for you in Jesus Christ your Shepherd. Then, whenever and however your end comes, you will be blessed to join with Alfred and all the saints who have gone before in the singing endlessly the praises Jesus Christ, the faithful Shepherd who laid down His life to gather His sheep into the arms of His mercy and bring them home, into the Day without evening, in the Kingdom of our Father. Amen.

Alfred Theodor Otto Wehrend, aged 95, fell asleep in Jesus Tuesday, June 16th, at the Alhambra Care Center. He was born September 20th 1913 to the late August and Christine Wehrend. On June 13, 1948 he married Clara Behrhorst at St. Paul’s Church. She survives. Also surviving is a son, Wesley (and wife Karen) of Lilburn, Georgia; son Darrell (and wife Annette) of Wheaton, Illinois; daughter Shirley (and husband, the Reverend Gordon) Besel of Rogers, Arkansas, and by eight grandchildren: Jayson, Kyle, Angie, Krista, Brian, Joshua, Jordan and Justin, and by a sister, Flora Tayloe of Owensville, Missouri. In addition to his father and mother, he was preceded in death by three sisters: Dorothea, Olga, and Alma, and four brothers: William, Martin, Oscar, and Harold. Alfred worked on a farm near Alhambra from 1937 to 1942. He then worked at Olin Corporation from 1943 til retirement in 1978. Alfred like to go for walks (especially early in the morning!) and pick up aluminium cans, garden, mow grass and was an avid cardinals fan. He was also active with Lutheran Braille workers as a volunteer and sang for many years in St. Paul’s choir. He and his wife enjoyed 61 years of marriage together. And she in these last years could be found most every afternoon, sitting faithfully by his bedside - being to him and all the workers there in Alhambra a shining image of the faithfulness of the Lord who never forget His beloved.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Our High Priest, Jesus, bridges the gap between God and us. He brings God the Father to us just as He brings us to God the Father. -- John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 63.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The bright aureole that enfolds her [the Blessed Virgin's] figure is only a reflection of His [her holy Son's] blazing and unearthly glory. -- A.C. Piepkorn, *The Church* p. 328

Patristic Quote of the Day

For that a deed of devilish deceit and envy was the transgression in Adam and the death that through it sprang upon him, the very nature of the thing will itself teach us, and the saying of the all-wise Solomon will make clear to us speaking on this wise, God made not death, but through envy of the devil came death into the world. -- St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily on John 8

Celebrating 50 Years with Mike and Kathy

God's richest blessings on them!

17 June 2009

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We, surprisingly, stand in for others [who do not know God] with Christ through our thanksgivings for the blessings that they have received from God. If they prosper and things go well for them, we do not envy them and begrudge their happiness. Instead, we act as if their blessings are ours. We use our access to God to thank Him on their behalf for His loving kindness and generosity to them because they are not yet in the position to do so themselves. This is an aspect of intercession that has received scant attention in recent times, but it was prominent in both Judaism and the Early Church. They believed that the Church was appointed to serve, together with the angels, as a single choir that voiced thanks and praise to God on behalf of the whole human race. -- John Kleinig *Grace Upon Grace* p. 211.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

[Used before, but I like it, so deal]

The life of God does not come from a new program, but through repentance, that is through contrition and faith. The life of God is not the result of moral instruction and moral life, but of God's gift of a new relationship with Him. -- A.C. Piepkorn, *The Church* p 133.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The greatest sickness of the soul, its ruin and perdition, is not to know God, who created all things for man and gave him the gifts of intellect and intelligence. --St. Anthony the Great, On the Character of Men and the Virtuous Life, par. 97

A Protest

Everywhere I go, I find them. I can't eat at a restaurant without them trying to entice my attention away from the other guests. Shoot, you find them in McDonalds, at Dairy Queen, you name it. In many a home they have come to replace all meaningful interaction between family members. I speak of the ubiquitous electronic SCREEN. And now the danged thing is asking for admittance in our churches and in too many has already found a home. Good gravy! Can we not be free from the screen for an hour of worship? I can promise you, one will go into the sanctuary of St. Paul's over my dead body (not that anyone is proposing putting one in there, mind you). But there has to be SOMEPLACE left on God's green earth where that wretched screen is not found! And you better not let me find you texting in church either!!!

16 June 2009

On the Poverty and Richness of a Single Net

The Lord has but one net by which He gathers His catch for eternal life: that net is the Gospel of Christ crucified and risen. And significantly, in Scripture the preaching of this Gospel is not merely how a person is brought to faith, but how they are kept and sustained in faith until the end. "For the Word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are BEING saved it is the power of God." 1 Cor. 1:18 "Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain." 1 Cor. 15:1,2

And so, as Pr. Bender perceptively pointed out some time ago, the very preaching of law and Gospel by which we are humbled and brought to faith in the first place is the exact same preaching by which we are kept humble and sustained in faith for the long haul.

So when the Mission Weenie from Corporate Headquarters tells you that what you're doing is FINE for "maintenance" but not at all good for "outreach," you might help him remember that God has only one net by which He catches men and scoops them up to life everlasting - which is communion with Him - and that net is the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. There IS no other power of God for salvation but that message alone. Where it is proclaimed, there sinners are saved and are being saved; where something else is subbed for it (snappy music or cozy togetherness or Starbucks in the Narthex or praise babes making eyes at the praise dudes) what you've done is to throw away the only saving net there is. Not wise. Not wise at all.

The Augsburg Confessors knew this and knew it well. Hence they realize that the Office of the Ministry exists for purpose of speaking and sacramentally enacting that Word by which alone fallen human being are brought alive in faith and sustained in communion with God. That's what Article V is all about - and implicit throughout the recognition that God has no other net He's placed in our hands to use.

+Alfred Wehrend

Asleep in Jesus this morning.

Alfred years ago mentioned to me that when folks were buried when he was a child, they always sang "Nun lasst uns den Leib" and he rattled it off auf Deutsch. In loving memory, then, of Alfred:

This body in the grave we lay
There to await that solemn day
When God Himself shall bid it rise
And mount triumphant to the skies.

And so to earth we now entrust
What came from dust and turns to dust
And from the dust shall rise that day
In glorious triumph o'er decay.

The soul forever lives with God
Who freely hath His grace bestowed
And through His Son redeemed it here
From ev'ry sin, from ev'ry fear.

All trials and all griefs are past,
A blessed end has come at last.
Christ's yoke was borne with ready will;
Who dieth thus is living still.
LSB 759:1-4

May God fulfill for Alfred's soul all the promises that He has made in His gracious Word and give to him a place of refreshment, joy and light, and keep His body safe in peaceful sleep until Christ's reappearing!

15 June 2009

Pool Has Been Up

and ready to use for a week now. I DID vacuum it yesterday (and it was, um, shall we say brisk?), but we've not been able to enjoy it much with this unseasonable weather. I don't think I recall such a wet and chilly June!

Little Pleasures

The Lord surrounds us with them, and too often we take them for granted - simply because they ARE little. I was reminded of one of my favorite little pleasures yesterday: the wonderful smell when you first open a new box of tea (English Breakfast, this time round). For the wee joys of enticing and comforting smells - Glory to You, Blessed Trinity, glory to You!


Builder did a bunch of updates yesterday - very nice. Of course, they may have been around for a while. I'd gone back to the earlier build because of bugs in the second edition (that had looked promising). But I guess somewhere along the lines those bugs were squashed. After the updates, it worked very well. Bulletin preparation time (for me) was cut in half once again - and it was already pretty quick. On my wish list:
  • Inclusion of the tones provided in DS for chanting introit and verse printed in the Accompaniment for the Liturgy
  • Pointing of the Verse of the Day
  • Option of including the Alleluias printed out for congregation, with the cantor/choir's Verse of the Day and then alleluias repeated.
  • Ability to insert a block of formatted text (our bulletin header) into the basic template of the Divine Service.
Other than those little things, I'm totally happy with it. It's come a long, long way - from good to great! In fact, I was so enthused, that I ended up working up the bulletins from now until August 16th and shipping them off to the long-suffering Joanie. I wonder what she will think when she opens her mail program tomorrow? :)

Luther, Master of Comfort

That's what occurred to me as I read through the House Postil homily for this coming Sunday. No question, he preaches the law: "In other words, they will burn forever in the fire of hell; they neither be comforted or strengthened." But note his Gospel riding hard on that law: "For there is no comfort, joy, life, salvation, righteousness, save alone in Christ.... Whoever truly believes in Christ has eternal life. Even though he still feels sin, death, and sorrow, he nonetheless possesses righteousness, life, comfort, and joy in heaven through Christ." "In Christ" is the key to so much...nay, to everything!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

As we take in the song of the Church, it becomes a devotional song in us, a song of the heart. The Holy Spirit uses that song to make music in our hearts to the Lord and to produce a sense of ongoing joy and grateful thanksgiving to God the Father in the name of Jesus. The public song of praise turns us into secret praise singers who carry over that song into our daily lives. -- John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 68

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Today, many people still believe as the rich man did. The Word of God, they are convinced, is not sufficient to convert and save. -- C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 486

Patristic Quote of the Day

May malice not torment me and may the hostile demon not take me captive, but may the kingdom of Thy divine and venerable Spirit come upon me, and cause the corrupt passions which now possess and reign in me to withdraw from me. For Thou art a God of mercy, compassion and love for mankind. -- St. Ephraim, the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #34

14 June 2009

Vacation Time Means

Visiting pastors! It was great to have Pr. Jon Olson and his family with us this morning - actually part of his family is USUALLY with us: his sister-in-law Amilia and Aunt Becky. The family was in town for a 30th anniversary celebration for Amilia's parents. That makes two weeks in a row we've had visiting pastors (who also happen to be internet friends) as guests, and it is one of the joys of this time of the year. So any of you all who are on vacation in the St. Louis area, be sure to stop in now, ya hear?!

Few More

Some Party Pics

13 June 2009

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We then abide in Christ's Word by meditating on it in such a way that it keeps on speaking to us and doing its work in us. -- John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 107

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

True freedom is to serve God and to imitate Him. It is wretched slavery to want to be free to do evil. -- Johann Gerhard, Loci vol. 2, p. 249

Patristic Quote of the Day

When all have known the Trinity, He is to some their illumination and to others their punishment. -- St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration "On Peace"


my name for Facebook. You can find me there at facebook.com/weedon. Did the same thing for my mac account years ago. I love simple URLs...

Lectio Divina

Three passages struck me in today's Proverbs reading:

Wealth gathered hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.

--One can't help but think of the speed with which so many lottery winners lose their windfall, and how often this happens to many others who pine after money. Meanwhile, there are those individuals who simply save a little at a time and go about life quite unconcerned, generous to a fault, and who end up leaving a boatload to some charity or other. Practical wisdom there in Proverbs, but it also goes deeper to the true riches in Christ. These are assimilated not in huge chunks, but in little bits, as we day by day seek to put into practice what we learn and so be transformed by it. We end up rich before we even realize it happened - rich in the life that is in God!

Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.

--And this is so because the Word, the instruction and commandment of the Lord, is the Holy Spirit's chosen instrument to shape within us the mind of Christ and to destroy within us the way of thinking of the old Adam.

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.

--And certainly living with the Sacred Scripture is to "walk with the wise" together with living with those in whom that Scripture has shaped the life of Christ! A gift of the Treasury itself is allowing us to walk with the wise - the writings of Sacred Scripture and the wisdom of those across the many centuries who have learned to live in and from the faith of Christ - and it does much to counteract the "companion of fools" that we make ourselves when we immerse ourselves in the "media" offerings of the day.

12 June 2009


I *think* we're about ready for Bekah's graduation party tomorrow. Chairs washed off; patio swept and cleaned; weeds and grass killed along the walk; food purchased and largely prepared; all kinds of goodies baked up; house cleaned; exhibits of Bekah's time at Metro readied to share. Now, if only the guest of honor would show up... She's late getting home from camp. And Lucy's been downright depressed without her Bekah Boo to love on.

On Depression

Here's a new book by Pr. Todd Peperkorn. I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression is actually a FREE download! I'm sure we'll all be blessed by it, knowing Pr. Peperkorn!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The illumination that we experience through meditation on God's Word does not just affect our thinking; it pervades the whole of us and heals all parts of us. -- John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 116

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Like Lazarus, it is better in this life to suffer sickness, deprivation, contempt, etc., and be consoled in the hereafter, than in this world to live in plenty without fear of God. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Homily for Trinity 1

Patristic Quote of the Day

In which humanity He was crucified and died for us, and rose from the dead, and was taken up into the heavens, having been created as the beginning of ways for us when on earth He showed us light out of darkness, salvation from error, life from the dead, an entrance into paradise... -- St. Athanasius, Treasury, p. 425

Commemoration of the First Council of Nicea

From our Synod's website:

The Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, A.D. 325

The first Council of Nicaea was convened in the early summer of 325 by the Roman Emperor Constantine at what is today Isnuk, Turkey. The emperor presided at the opening of the council. The council ruled against the Arians, who taught that Jesus was not the eternal Son of God but was created by the Father and was called Son of God because of his righteousness. The chief opponents of the Arians were Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, and his deacon, Athanasius. The council confessed the eternal divinity of Jesus and adopted the earliest version of the Nicene Creed, which in its entirety was adopted at the Council of Constantinople in 381.

The Writing by St. Athanasius today in Treasury is not to be missed!

11 June 2009

Homily for Trinity 1

[Genesis 15:1-6; 1 John 4:16-21; Luke 16:19-31]

“And Abraham believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” (Gen 15:6) When the Lord made the promise to him, Abram did not stumble in unbelief. He knew that God was not only powerful enough to carry through – even though Abram had not the first clue HOW He would do it – but that God was gracious, merciful to carry through and bring forth this Seed who would bring blessing to all nations. Such faith alone saves. But such faith is never alone.

John wrote: “This commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:21) Let no one comfort himself that he shares the faith of Abraham if he is without love toward the brother. Faith alone justifies; but the faith that justifies is never alone, it is always accompanied by the fruits of the faith, the works of love.

Did the Rich Man in the Gospel reading have faith? He surely thought of himself as having faith. Even in the torments of Hades he lays claim to being a child of Abraham, and Abraham owns him as his own, calls him, “Child.” But that his faith was a sham is revealed by this: that he could walk right by the poor beggar Lazarus, thrown at his gate like a piece of garbage and left there to rot, pitied only by the neighborhood dogs who sought to alleviate his suffering by licking his sores. What sort of faith is this – that a man has less pity than a dog? But he not only walked by – he feasted in Lazarus’ sight and poor Lazarus would gladly have joined the dogs to lick up the crumbs from under the table, but no one gave him a thing. And this rich man had faith?

It is entirely probable that the rich man rarely missed the opportunity to attend the Synagogue. He might even have had a special seat of honor – the rich and famous often did. But when it came time to read the words of Moses and the prophets aloud in the Synagogue, he listened but did not take them to heart. He did not let the words sink into him and reduce him to fear. He did not realize that God meant exactly what he said: “Cursed is he who does not continue in all that is written in the book of the law to do it.” To him it was either a form of entertainment, a nice break during the week, or maybe it was just a boring social obligation he had to fulfill. Whatever. He came and listened, without heeding. And so he was a man without the faith of Abraham, the faith which alone is reckoned for righteousness, the faith which is never alone, but always breaks forth into deeds of love for the neighbor.

How do I arrive at that? From this. That when the rich man in torment in Hades asks Abraham to send Lazarus back as a warning to his five living brothers, Abraham responds that they have Moses and the prophets and they need to hear them. The rich man dismisses such a thought. “No, father Abraham,” he pleads, “but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Even in hell, the unbelievers despise the Word, think little of it, and don’t accord it the power that it truly has.

Abraham, though, is no unbeliever. He knows the power of the promises of God, the might of God’s Word. That Word called him from unbelief to faith. That Word brought him from death to life. That Word gave him a child and through that child the promise of the One who would bring blessing to all. That Word sustained him all the days of his pilgrimage. That Word kept him humble before God and so he never trusted in his own deeds, but that Word made him fruitful in good works. As St. Peter Chrysologus put it: "And since he stayed under a tent, he did not allow any stranger to stay without a roof over his head, and as a guest himself he always received every guest. Exiled from his homeland and homeless himself, he was both a home and a homeland for all." This fruit of love the Word worked in him. And it was the same Word that brought him at last to a place of bliss and joy. It was not a Word to be despised. So he says: “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.”

Here we sit. Richer in the Word than they were. For God has given us the witness of Apostles and Evangelists to add to Moses and the Prophets. We have not merely the foretelling of the One who would bring blessing to all. We know His story! We know how He came to us who could not get to Him. We know how He shouldered the burden of our sin and carried it to death on the tree. We know how the Father raised Him from the dead and glorified His body with a life that never ends. We know that that sharing that life is what the Word of God is spoken to us for. We know He has a bath that robes us in glory. We know that He spreads a table where we may eat a food that yields eternal life. The riches are laid out every week.

But are there any here who are like the Rich Man? Any who merely hear and do not truly receive the Word that is spoken? Any who imagine they have faith when their hearts remain cold as stone to the needs of their neighbors? Know for certain that such faith is just fake faith. Not real. Useless on the day of judgment. Historical knowledge of Bible facts is not what God reckons to anyone as righteousness. Why, as James points out, even the devils believe like that!

What should a person do wonders if he is like the rich man and his brothers? Abraham points the way. He doesn’t tell you to get busy showing love in your life as though deeds of love are what brings faith alive. No. He tells you to listen to what the Word of God says. To take it to heart. For, says the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My Word.” (Is 66:2) Let the Word do its work. The Spirit is eager to give faith to all who will only listen. And such faith cannot help but break forth into deeds of love – for faith lays hold to in the Word and in the Word is God Himself, who is Love.

Let him move in and watch out! Love will just burst out! And so we pray, having received Him who is love in the Holy Eucharist, that this salutary gift of Christ’s own body and blood would strengthen us in faith toward God and in fervent love toward one another. In such faith we can indeed be confident of dying a blessed death and being welcomed to the Feast that never ends with Lazarus, Abraham, and all the saints in the Kingdom of the Father to whom with the Son and the Holy Spirit be all glory and honor unto the ages of ages. Amen.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Luther, therefore, does not envisage the spiritual life as a process of self-development, but as a process of reception from the Triune God. This process of reception turns proud, self-sufficient individuals into humble beggars before God. -- John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 16

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

You exalt us when You humble us.
You justify us when You show us to be sinners.
You lead us to heaven when You cast us into hell.
You give us victory when You allow us to be defeated.
You bestow life on us when You give us over to death.
You comfort us when You allow us to grieve.
You make us joyful when You allow us to weep and lament.
You make us strong when we suffer.
You make us wise when You make us fools.
You make us rich when You make us poor.
You make us masters when You allow us to serve.

Innumerable similar wonders are all contained in this one verse and for all of which Christians give thanks in these few words:

"I give thanks to You, for You have disciplined me severely and have become my salvation."

-- Blessed Martin Luther, Sermons for the Year 1532, Day by Day, p. 349

Patristic Quote of the Day

Abraham, brothers, was rich not for himself but for the poor person, and he was eager, not to amass wealth, but to give it away, and he exerted more and more energy in storing his resources in the lap of the poor person instead of in barns, as is abundantly clear from the whole course of his life....And since he stayed under a tent, he did not allow any stranger to stay without a roof over his head, and as a guest himself he always received every guest. Exiled from his homeland and homeless himself, he was both a home and a homeland for all. -- St. Peter Chrysologus on this coming Sunday's Gospel, Sermon 121, par. 4

10 June 2009

Thought from the Lutheran Symbols

[Note the following describes what Lutherans profess in their Symbols; your mileage in actual parish situations may vary - sadly]

We cheerfully hold the old traditions made in the Church for the sake of usefulness and peace. We interpret them in a more moderate way and reject the opinion that holds they justify...

Among us many use the Lord's Supper every Lord's Day. They do so after they have first been instructed, examined, and absolved. The children sing psalms in order that they may learn. The people also sing so that they may either learn or pray...

Among us the pastors and ministers of the churches are encouraged publicly to instruct and hear the youth. This ceremony produces the best fruit...

In our churches all the sermons are filled with topics such as these: repentance; the fear of God; faith in Christ, the righteousness of faith, the comfort of consciences by faith; the exercises of faith; prayer, what its nature should be, and that we should be fully confident that it is powerful, that it is heard; the cross; the authority of officials and all civil ordinances; the distinction between the kingdom of Christ, or the spiritual kingdom, and political affairs; marriage; the education and instruction of children; chastity; all the offices of love...

We teach about the putting to death of the flesh and the discipline of the body...

This effort at mortification should be constant, because it has God's permanent command...

We teach that freedom should be so controlled that the inexperienced may not be offended and, because of freedom's abuse, may not become more opposed to the true doctrine of the Gospel. Nothing in the customary rites should be changed without a reasonable cause. So to nurture unity, old customs that can be kept without sin or great inconvenience SHOULD BE KEPT."

Apology XV - Selected Passages

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

As we listen to God's Word and as we pray, we receive the Holy Spirit and so borrow power from Christ. When that happens, Satan and the powers of darkness are driven away from our consciences and our homes. He therefore does his best to either sabotage or end our daily devotions. That's why it is so difficult to sustain them. -- John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 266,267

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

How can a man confess that he is a sinner if he he cannot bear a word directed against his actions and plans, but immediately flies into a temper and swears that he is sincere and is doing good, and that it is wrong to oppose him and perverse to reject him? -- Blessed Martin Luther, Commentary on Romans (Day by Day, p. 281)

Patristic Quote of the Day

Blessed is He Who created us according to His loving-kindness, Who descended to save us by the cross, and Who is to come again to resurrect us in the great day of His coming. Vouchsafe to me also, O Good One, according to Thy goodness, to behold Thy compassion in the day of judgment, and to sing Thee praise together with the righteous unto the ages of ages. -- St. Ephraim, the Syrian *A Spiritual Psalter* #143

09 June 2009

A New Routine

Cin and I signed up for Kevin's "Boot-camp" this summer. Tuesday and Thursday evenings he busts our butt for an hour. What a hoot! So in addition to working out at the Y on MWF, I also get an hour's worth of exercise on T-Th. But that's NOTHING. Cindi also gets up at 6 and bikes down to Hamel to have Roger put her through a morning boot-camp on MWF AND she still exercises those days too. Crazy woman!

Seriously, though, I think we're really going to enjoy the two evenings out each week at Kevin's gym this summer. One thing I've learned, though: eat a light dinner before heading out to exercise!!! Four hotdogs for dinner did not set well with exercising!

On the Diff

and why the new one is far tastier.

The iPhone App Store

is a costly place to visit...

My Brother Maupin

has one righteous beard:


The light on the salt-water system, that is. Which means that it is making chlorine. Sweet! At least so far, this has been the easiest set up and getting running we've had. Of course, I'd have been lost without David telling me what to do. That made it far easier. He figured out the way to connect the hoses when they were two entirely different sizes; and how to put the pool together. Cindi and I just did as we were told!

On the Lord's Prayer

One of the most comforting "a-has" from Kleinig's work was that the prayer "forgive us our trespasses" is our Lord's own prayer. He has become so one with us, that He owns our sins as His own and stands with us to plead forgiveness. It reminds me of the beautiful passage from Giertz in the Treasury today about the dying knight: "The God who had come down into all this, he was very near. It was good to have such a God." He similarly invites us then to own each other's sins, and to pray for their forgiveness as for our own for it is the same. I am reminded that in the original form of the Jesus prayer, there is the definite article: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, THE sinner." As it is true that "In Adam we have all been one, one huge rebellious man" so it is true that "Thy strong love it sought us still and sent Thine only Son, that we might hear His shepherd's voice, and hearing Him, be one."

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Jesus teaches us how to pray by giving us the Lord's Prayer. This is His prayer, that He prays.... Jesus doesn't set us to work by ourselves with some instructions on the theory and practice of prayer, like some modern teacher of spirituality. Instead, He gets us to join in with Him as He prays to the heavenly Father. -- John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 162

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

He desires it, and it is His will, that you should pour out your trouble before Him, and not let it lie upon yourself, dragging it about with you and being chafed and tortured by it, so that in the end, you make two, or even ten or a hundred calamities out of one. He wills that you should be too weak to bear and overcome such trouble, in order that you may learn to find strength in Him, and that He may be praised through His strength in you. Behold, this is how Christians are made! -- Blessed Martin Luther, Exposition of Psalm 118 (Day by Day, p. 204)

Patristic Quote of the Day

Guide me in fear of Thee and give me tears of contrition. I have lifted up the mental eyes of my soul to Thee, O Lord. Cast me not away from Thy face, for blessed is Thy name unto the ages. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #123

08 June 2009

The Joy of Disappointments

My daughter and I experienced a bit of a disappointment lately - and it has been a blessing. In Divine Service 5, we pray: "Strengthen us by Your Spirit according to Your will, both in life and in death, in the midst of both good and evil things, that our own wills may be crucified daily and sacrificed to Your good and gracious will." So when something we hoped and dreamed for DIDN'T come to pass, it's not a time to complain or to fret. The Lord, who works all things together for the good of those who love Him, is eager to give us "more than we desire or deserve." [Collect: Trinity 11] We have our ideas and our plans and dreams. Let them all be shattered and broken! Let them fall to the ground and die! We learn with our Savior to say to the Father: "Thy will be done" and in union with Him we will have joy beyond anything we ourselves could ever choose or plan. What a way to live! And to die! Nothing can defeat the person whose prayer is "Thy will be done!"

That Horrid Word

"Catholic." Lutherans tend to be allergic to it, and none more than Lutheran converts from Rome! Yet the word itself which confronts most Lutherans on Trinity Sunday when the Athanasian Creed is confessed is actually defined in that Creed of the Church:

"And the catholic faith is this: that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in unity, neither confusing the Persons nor dividing the substance."

By this definition, Lutherans (and all other Trinitarian Christians) are CATHOLICS! And when we confess that Creed we confess that ONLY catholics are saved - for they alone are worshipping that God who alone is the true God, full of forgiveness, life, and salvation. He's the only one who CAN give eternal life.

And with that word comes an obligation - an obligation to set for the faith in its fullness. I am reminded of the remarkable words of Krauth:

"She should lead men, not to the least faith, the least holiness which makes salvation possible, but to the very highest - she should not encourage the religion whose root is a selfish fear of hell, a selfish craving of heaven, but she should plant that religion to which pure truth is dear for its own sake, which longs for the fullest illumination, which desires not the easy road, but the sure one." (Conservative Reformation, p. 191)

Such must be the aim of every Church which would be catholic, which would worship the One God in Three Persons and Three Persons in One God. It must of necessity lead people to the fullness that is in Christ Jesus - a faith not of minimals, but of maximals. A faith whose constitutive center is sharing in the divine life that was born of Mary, nailed to a tree for our sins and raised from the dead for our justification. To be catholic simply means not to settle for anything less than the fullness of Jesus Christ, through whom we give glory to His unoriginate Father in His all-Holy Spirit, now and unto the ages of ages!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Our prayer is part of our work in Christ's heavenly administration of His Father's realm. Through our union with Jesus we have access to the Father's presence and have become co-workers with Him... Through our prayers we work with Him in the administration of God's grace. -- John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 155, 156

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Whenever I have prayed earnestly about a matter which has concerned me very deeply, it has been richly answered and I have received more than I asked. Sometimes God has been slow in coming, but He has always come. -- Blessed Martin Luther, *Day by Day* p. 203

Patristic Quote of the Day

Who can withstand the Evil One, if Thy grace withdraws from him for even one minute, O Master? -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #113

07 June 2009

Words from Holy Trinity

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty!... Blessed be the Holy Trinity and the Undivided Unity; let us give glory to Him because He has shown His mercy to us!... You have given us grace to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity by the confession of a true faith and to worship the Unity in the power of the Divine Majesty. Keep us steadfast in this faith... Blessed are You, O Lord, who beholds the deep, and who dwells between the cherubim... Blessed are You, O God of our Fathers, and greatly to be praised and glorified forever... And the catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance... Praise we the Father and the Son And Holy Spirit with them One, And may the Son on us bestow The gifts that from the Spirit flow!... In the confession of the only true God, we worship the Trinity in person and Unity in substance of majesty coequal... Isaiah, mighty seer, in spirit soared and saw enthroned in majesty the Lord... Maker of all things, all Thy creatures praise Thee; All for Thy worship were and are created... Then the holy, holy, holy celebration jubilee Thine the splendor Thine the brightness only Thee, only Thee

The Joy of the Day

Today we got to celebrate the Festival of the Holy Trinity - joy beyond words! Not only did we get to sing some of my favorite hymns ("Come, Holy Ghost Creator Blest", "Isaiah, Mighty Seer," "Father, Most Holy," "Ye Watchers") and receive our Lord's holy Body and Blood, but I also got to see my dear friend Fr. David Meinzen; welcome Pr. Ries and his family join us for worship; and finally, solemnize the marriage of my beloved colleague and friend Pr. Larry Meinzen - the marriage followed immediately after the late service.

Let me tell you, you've not heard singing till you have a roomful of Meinzens and Sachtlebens joying in the Blessed Trinity together! Glorious!!!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Through our reception of Christ's most holy body and blood we become God-bearers; we become "little christs," theophanic people, the light of the world. -- John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 283

Patristic Quote of the Day

Thou, O Christ our Savior, hast become for me the path of life which leads to the Father. There is but one path, and it is my joy, and at the end of it is the heavenly Kingdom. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #7

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Consider this: even if everything else becomes doubtful and uncertain, your Baptism stands fast. It happened once, and God does not go back on His Word. There God has, so to speak, made Himself your captive. Only do not let Him go; do not let your hand of faith let go of His covenant of grace. HE cannot leave you. -- C. F. W. Walther, *Treasury*, p. 351

Wedding Homily for Pr. Larry Meinzen and Peggy Sacthleben

[Gen. 2:7, 18-24; Eph 5:1-4, 21-33; Mark 9:1-10]

No, it is not the case of the fellow of 27 years of marriage passing on wisdom to those who far exceed him in experience of that blessed state. Today is rather all about the Lord’s wisdom - and from Him we get an earful - and even those who know marriage inside and out are blessed to hear Him speak of it anew.

In the first reading, we hear the great “oops.” All through Genesis 1, like a mighty bell ringing, we had heard the refrain: “And it was good. And it was good. And it was TOV MAOD - exceptionally, overflowingly, wonderfully good.” But then the oops. In all the goodness of the good creation, the Good Creator sees something that is NOT good: aloneness. You both have known the pain of that since your spouses died. It is not good to be alone. And so God provided Adam his Eve, and so the God who provides you your spouses before gives His gifts anew. Today Larry gets his Peggy and Peggy, her Larry. Aloneness is not good; God doesn’t want you to be alone.

But it runs deeper than that, as you know. Our second reading lifted the whole of marriage up and took it into Christ and His church. Which is to say that what happens to you today is bigger than either of the two of you alone or together. Today there is an enactment of Christ and the Church in what you do. All that Christ is for His bride, He wants you to be for Peggy, Larry. All that the Church is for her Bridegroom, He wants you to be for Larry, Peggy. A week ago we witnessed my niece’s wedding, and the big thing were the crowns. As the priest explained: crowns of martyrdom. Marriage is the realm of martyrdom - and you both know it. It is the place for you each to die to the impulse of having your own way, and to rejoice in the love that seeks what is best for the other, what will bless their socks off. You’re heading into that martyrdom well aware of what it means from your previous marriages - and yet it will be different in this marriage. A different and new kind of dying to self for each of you - and a bit of martyrdom for your families too, who are not used to conceiving of you in marriage to each other. What a gift from the Lord! A bigger family and the joys roll on! Together you will draw each other and your families deeper into the ways of the Lord, who takes two and makes of them one.

And that’s the biggy in the Gospel for the day. The two become one flesh - that’s also in the Old Testament reading - but our Lord adds the zinger: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” We like to think of marriage as OUR joining together, but Jesus turns that on its head. Today HE is the one who binds two lives into one. HE sets His guard upon this marriage and tells His holy angels to guard and keep it well. Oneness, then, isn’t your achievement, but His gift. It comes when each receives the other from His hand - the hands with the nail scars that forever testify to how precious you are to Him, at what cost He purchased you to be His own. United in Him as sister and brother, you will also for a time be united in Him as husband and wife. For a time. Who knows how long? You say: “Til death us do part” because death has the power to part you as man and wife; but of course, since you are both in Christ, it has no power to part you as sister and brother in Him.

So, walk in love as Christ has loved us and given Himself for us a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God - and He who binds the two of you into one will bless and keep you all the days of your earthly pilgrimage until you are brought with His blessed Mother and all his saints and angels to celebrate with all the faithful the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end, to which may God grant us all to attain by His grace and love for mankind. Amen.