31 August 2009

Patristic Quote of the Day

Brothers, we say this not to cause despair, but to show how great the heavenly precept is when contrasted with the earthly impossibility of carrying it out, and how it can be implemented not by human effort but only by divine grace, with Christ Himself as the Source, since He says: "Those things that are impossible for human beings are possible for God." -- St. Peter Chrysologus, Homily on Loving One's Enemies

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

If prayer in the last analysis is nothing but the manifestation of the life and activity of the new man God has created within us, who will not be restricted in his activity, so fasting (understood as self-discipline in the widest sense of the word) is the exercise that is continually demanded by the presence of the old man, whose activities still continue even in those who are in a state of justification and sanctification. The neglect of such necessary efforts means the denial of the presence of the ungodly opposition that still clings to us. It would be a veiling of the true situation and a presumptuous deception, an unallowable anticipation of the final perfection of the parousia, an attempt to be what we are not, and a refusal to admit being what we are. Köberle, *Quest for Holiness* p. 184

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The true Samaritan came to us; He took on a true human nature, was beaten and wounded so that, in His divine and human nature, He can cure us by His healing remedy. He soothes our wounds with the oil of the holy Gospel; and, because of our remaining sins, He uses the bitter wine of the cross. He carries us upon His shoulders, leads us into the haven of the Church, and lets us be cared for and attended. And whatever is used by His servants to heal men's souls He will richly reward upon His return. May eternal praise and glory be to our faithful Physician! -- Johann Gerhard, Homily for Trinity XIII (Postilla, p. 148)

30 August 2009

A Few More...

So Meaghan, Lauren, and Bekah did a photo shoot...

don't ask me HOW David got in there! Meaghan is one INCREDIBLE photographer.

29 August 2009

Ah, Joy Abouding...

After Divine Service tonight, I came home to a house-full. Lauren and Dean, David and Meaghan, Bekah and Forrest, Dave and Jo, Cindi and I - we all sat down to liverpool and had a great game. Dean was the winner tonight, though Bekah won the last hand (as she so often does). I love it when the table is full and Grandma and Opa and all my children and their friends are home. MAKES MY DAY, IT DOES! Thanks be to God, Grandma is 200% improved in the last couple days!!!

The Martyrdom of St. John, the Baptist

Today our Synod commemorates the beheading of St. John the Baptist. From the Treasury:

"From the perspective of the world, it was an ignominious end to John the Baptist's life. Yet it was in fact a noble participation in the Cross of Christ, which was John's greatest glory of all... He was the last of the Old Testament prophets and also the herald of the New Testament... And in the footsteps of the prophets who had gone before him - in anticipation of Christ whose way he prepared - this servant of the Lord manifested the cross by the witness of his death." (p. 670)

The writing for the day was from Dr. Luther: "He allows his prophets and apostles to be expelled and murdered... He allows HIs Christians to suffer want, trouble, and misfortune in the world. He acts as He did in the days of His flesh, when John the Baptist had to lose his head for the sake of a desperate harlot, while He, the Savior and Helper, said nothing about it, departed thence in a ship and withdrew into the solitude of the wilderness... Hence the prophet Isaiah correctly says of God: 'Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself...' For in the kingdom of faith God wants to be small, but in the future kingdom of sight He will not be small but great. Then He will show that He saw the misery of His people and heard their crying and had a will that inclined to help them..."

In today's collect we pray: "You gave Your servant John the Baptist to be the forerunner of Your Son, Jesus Christ, both in his preaching of repentance and in his innocent death. Grant that we...may daily repent of our sins, patiently suffer for the sake of the truth, and fearlessly bear witness to His victory over death..."

Patristic Quote of the Day

For we shall see by going through wise reasonings, and confirmed thereto by words out of the Divine Scripture, that not for Himself did Christ receive the Spirit, but rather for us in Himself, for all good things flow through Him into us too. For since our forefather Adam being turned aside by deceit into disobedience and sin, did not preserve the grace of the Spirit, and thus in him the whole nature lost at last the God-given good, needs did God the Word Who knows not turning, become Man, in order that by receiving as Man He might preserve the Good permanently to our nature. -- St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily on John 7

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

“Take and eat, this is my body.” This word is the whole gospel. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Adoration of the Sacrament, 1523

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

But for the soul that through faith has grown into communion with all true believers on earth, heaven will also be opened in spirit, and he will through faith attain participation in the Communio sanctorum, in the great and blessed multitude of the perfected witnesses, who in song and prayer unite with the pilgrims on earth in adoration and praise before the throne of God. Köberle, *Quest* pp. 178, 179

28 August 2009

Commemoration of Saint Augustine of Hippo, Pastor and Theologian

Today our Synod commemorates St. Augustine, no doubt the single most influential Church Father on the whole of the Western Church. From Synod's website and the Treasury:

Augustine was one of the greatest of the Latin church fathers and a significant influence in the formation of Western Christianity, including Lutheranism. Born in A.D. 354 in North Africa, Augustine's early life was distinguished by exceptional advancement as a teacher of rhetoric. In his book Confessions he describes his life before his conversion to Christianity, when he was drawn into the moral laxity of the day and fathered an illegitimate son. Through the devotion of his sainted mother Monica and the preaching of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (339–97), Augustine was converted to the Christian faith. During the great Pelagian controversies of the 5th century, Augustine emphasized the unilateral grace of God in the salvation of mankind. Bishop and theologian at Hippo in North Africa from A.D. 395 until his death in 430, Augustine was a man of great intelligence, a fierce defender of the orthodox faith, and a prolific writer. In addition to the book Confessions, Augustine's book City of God had a great impact upon the church throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Today's writing from the Treasury, from one of his anti-Donatist works is quite choice. He defines "come out from among them, and touch no unclean thing" - "It means not consenting to them in will and not sparing them in word. I say this of Jeremiah, of Isaiah, of Daniel, and Ezekiel, and the rest of the prophets, who did not retire from the wicked people, lest they shoul desert the good who were mingled with that people." (Treasury, p. 666)

The prayer for today asks: "Give us strength to follow the example of Your servant Augustine of Hippo, so that knowing You we may truly love You and loving You we may fully serve You - for to serve You is perfect freedom." (Treasury, p. 666)

P.S. Yesterday, we commemorated St. Monica, although Treasury had the grace to blush and note that "On some Church Year calendars, Monica is remembered on May 4." Um, YEAH. Like the day she died?

Patristic Quote of the Day

And since the fact that we are called to an eternal inheritance, that we might be fellow-heirs with Christ and attain to the adoption of sons, is not of our deserts, but of God's grace; we put this very same grace in the beginning of our prayer, when we say Our Father. -- St. Augustine, On the Sermon on the Mount, II, par. 15

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Whoever does not pray at determined times does not pray at undetermined ones. - Claus Harms, cited in *Quest* p. 175

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Intercession is the strongest weapon of the Holy Ghost against egotism. Köberle, *Quest* p. 178

27 August 2009

The Hidden Inner Life

One of the blessings of reading Köberle - aside from the penetrating insights into Scripture - was his taking full cognizance of the hidden inner life of the Lutheran Church by not ignoring her hymns and her prayer books. Anyone who thinks they "get" Lutherans from the outside, by merely observing the contours of her doctrine as delineated in the Book of Concord, miss out on the deepest joys of the faith as they are expressed in her songs and her prayers to the Triune God. As I read him, I kept thinking: he took that from Starck! He took that from Gerhardt!

Just One More Teasing Taste...

Köberle writes: "The chief object in prayer remains the petition for the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Starck teaches us to pray:

Give me Your Holy Spirit that I may consecrate my limbs to Your service and my understanding to growing in Your knowledge. O my God, grant me strength and ability to increase in the inner self, that I may be sound in faith, fervent in spirit, patient in trouble, devout in prayer, sincere in my love to You and my fellow human beings, Christ-like in my conversation, rejoicing in hope and confident in death. Sanctify me. Bless me. Let Your good Spirit lead me into the land of uprightness!

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When the Sorrows of Life Weigh

there is nothing like the Church's Christmas music to lift the spirits!


that was the most amazing book I've read in a LONG time. Thank you beyond words for sharing it! Now I need to go back and re-read it to get whatever I missed on the first time through.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Only one who approves the Platonic duality of body and soul will call the external attitudes [in praying] like standing, kneeling, folding the hands, closing the eyes, mere worthless unimportant devises of liturgists, for when any one has once recognized the impossibility of such an "animistic" separation his body will assume an appropriate attitude. Either the entire man in his spiritual-corporeal unity is present before God in prayer or he is not there at all. -- Adolf Köberle, *Quest* p. 175

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Everything that God makes he creates for life. He created things that they might be, and he called into being things that didn’t exist, as if they did [Rom. 4:17]. This means that life belongs to God’s purpose. But death has been introduced into the world through the devil’s envy, and on this account the devil is called the author of death. For what else does Satan do than seduce from true religion, provoke sedition, cause wars, pestilence, etc., and bring about every evil? -- Blessed Martin Luther, Table Talk 1379 (1532)

Patristic Quote of the Day

"He will come again in glory to judge both the living and the dead"...It may also be understood thus: The living, the just; the dead, the unjust. For He judges both, rendering unto each his own. To the just He will say in the judgment, Come, you blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For this prepare yourselves, for these things hope, for this live, and so live, for this believe, for this be baptized, that it may be said to you, Come ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. To them on the left hand, what? Go into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Thus will they be judged by Christ, the quick and the dead. -- St. Augustine, Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed

26 August 2009

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

All those who have been mighty in prayer have realized that a true conversation with God can take place only when His Spirit has first touched the heart. That aid did not prevent them, however, from giving many practical suggestions and statements concerning the right exercise of prayer, both in connection with its form and its content. A return to these directions and their living revival is, in the face of the terrible prayerlessness and helplessness of the present day, one of the most important tasks that theology must undertake for the people of our time. -- Adolf Köberle, *Quest* p. 174

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

That works don’t merit life, grace, and salvation is clear from this, that works are not spiritual birth but are fruits of this birth. We are not made sons, heirs, righteous, saints, Christians by means of works, but we do good works once we have been made, born, created such. So it’s necessary to have life, salvation, and grace before works, just as a tree doesn’t deserve to become a tree on account of its fruit but a tree is by nature fitted to bear fruit. Because we’re born, created, generated righteous by the Word of grace, we’re not fashioned, prepared, or put together as such by means of the law or works. Works merit something else than life, grace, or salvation—namely, praise, glory, favor, and certain extraordinary things—just as a tree deserves to be loved, cultivated, praised, and honored by others on account of its fruit. Urge the birth and substance of the Christian and you will at the same time extinguish the merits of works insofar as grace and salvation from sin, death, and the devil are concerned. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Table Talk #5570a from 1543

Patristic Quote of the Day

But those who love the Word of salvation, and unroll the divine Scripture as a treasure, and carefully search out the things therein concealed, find the life-giving knowledge which leads them on to every virtuous pursuit, and makes them perfect in the knowledge of the doctrines of truth. -- St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily LXXIII on St. Luke

Yet Another Teasing Taste

Here is the prayer of Parents for their children. I absolutely love this prayer, especially the way it faces a parent's greatest fears with the comfort and confidence of the Word:


Lord, almighty God, Father of mercies, among other gifts of Your grace You have given me my children, and for such a blessing I heartily praise and magnify You. Yet I regard these children of mine as precious pledges, and know that You have entrusted them to me and will require them at my hand. I regard them as souls that Jesus has purchased with His holy blood, the Holy Spirit has sanctified in Holy Baptism, and You have adopted as Your own children. I am, then, concerned lest any of them be lost through my own fault. You tell me and all parents: Take care of this child; if it is missed, your soul shall answer for its soul.

And so, O Father of all grace, I come to You and in heartfelt prayer commend to you my children. I will do what I can: I will bring them up for Your honor, admonish them, correct them, instruct them, and pray for them. But, O Lord, in all my efforts You must perform the most important part. Immediately after their natural birth I placed them into the arms of Your mercy in Holy Baptism. Behold, I now do the same in my prayer. Bless my children. Attend them at their going out and their coming in. Keep them in Your holy fear, that they may never burden their conscience with sins, nor offend You, nor worst of all, fall from Your grace. Give them believing, humble, obedient and godly hearts, that, like the child Jesus, they may increase in stature, wisdom, and favor with God and men. Imprint on their hearts the image of Jesus in order that they may always keep, until their blessed end, a gracious God and an unstained conscience.

Let my children be devout at their prayers, well-grounded in their Christian faith, steadfast and zealous in worship, chaste in their living, godly in their conversation, so that by their words and actions they may give offense to no one and thus bring upon themselves a fearful judgment. Preserve them from temptations and evil company. By Your Holy Spirit keep them constantly in mind of Your most holy presence, so that they remember that You are with them at home and away, in their room, by day and by night, in company with others and when they are alone. Let Your holy angel be with them when they go out and when they come in. Let Your angel guard them when they travel, pursuing their business, or journeying to foreign lands. Give them Your holy angels as their companions, as You did to young Tobit. By their aid rescue them from dangers, as You did with Lot. Let them, like Jacob, live under the angels’ watchful care.

But if it should please You to make my children a cross to me, either by their sickness, or death, or any other calamity that I might have to see them suffer, grant me patience in such affliction, and remind me that nothing happens without Your divine direction, that my children were Yours before they were mine, and that You have sovereign power to take them again to Yourself. But if it is Your design by the suffering, misfortune, and death of my children to draw me to You, in order that I may recognize also in them that Your visible gifts are perishable, to stir me up to love You alone, the true and perfect Good, keep me while traveling this thorny path in firm confidence and hope in Your almighty power, which can end and mend all things, even the crosses of my children.

Impart Your blessing to them also in their temporal affairs. Care for them, provide for them, give them food and clothing, and deal with them as their mighty heavenly Father. Be their Helper in dangers and calamities, their Physician in sickness, and their Counselor whenever they are in need of good advice. Give to my children a pious soul, a healthy body, and a sound mind, and let them live in Your sight, in order that they may at all times honor and praise You. Implant in their hearts true godliness and continue Your blessing on them that I may have comfort and joy in them.

O God, hear my prayer, and remember that they are Your children as well as mine. Therefore be pleased to hear my supplication on their behalf at the throne of Your grace. Preserve me, O God, from being brought into shame by my children, either during my lifetime or after my death. On the last day let me stand at Your right hand with all my children and say to the praise of Your holy name: “Behold, here I am, my God, and the children which You have given to me; I have lost none of them.” Yes, my God, grant me Your divine favor to this end, that none of my children may be lost, but that they may all enter with me, and I with them, into Your glory.

Shine in our hearts, O Spirit, precious light;
Teach us Jesus Christ to know aright
That we may abide in the Lord who bought us,
Till to our true home He has brought us.
Lord, have mercy!
--LSB 768:4

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More Joys from Starck

Here is the meditation and prayer during the day for Wednesday:

Believing Christians Pray God to Wean Them from the World.


Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Rom. 12:2

When believing Christians reflect that the love of the world, like a weed, grows spontaneously in the soul, while the fear and love of God, like a beautiful and fragrant plant, must be planted in the heart and diligently and constantly tended, they will understand with what concern and anxiety they are expected to guard their hearts. According, they should (1) be aware that the world is both inside and outside of them. Inside them there is the world in the form of evil lusts, wiles, desires, and thoughts of their heart. Outside them there is the world in the form of the examples, enticements, and temptations of evil people. (2) All these evils true Christians must resist: the lusts and the thoughts arising in them, by prayer and supplication; the allurements of the world, by avoiding its society, habits, customs, and mode of living. (3) Now, since it is not in their own power to do this, they must fervently pray God for help and assistance.

(4) This separation of the world must not be effected by locking themselves away, shutting themselves in, and refusing to speak to or associate with anyone. It must consist in refusing to join the children of this age in their sins, declining to imitate their works and deeds. For if we were to have absolutely nothing to do with the children of this age, we would have to, as Paul indicates, go out of this world entirely. We are to be in the world, as Joseph was in Egypt, as Lot was in Sodom, as Daniel and his companions were in Babylon. All these did not practice the wicked ways of the people and cities where they lived. (5) This separation from the world is not to be effected merely for show and for a few days, when we are about to go to confession and to the Lord's Supper, but we are to be constantly engaged in this work. The world must be turned out of our hearts every day, and every day Jesus must enter our hearts.


Merciful God, Lover of mankind, how great is Your loving-kindness toward us! You patiently bear with our many faults and weaknesses. You do not punish us as our sins deserve. You have opened my eyes by Your Word, so that I now know myself and sadly have seen how depraved my heart really is. I feel the world both inside and outside me. I find the world inside me: the evil desires of my heart, my sinful inclinations and promptings to evil. I find the world outside me: evil people who would entice and mislead me by their sinful examples and temptations. O Lord, my heart, which is evil by nature, takes greater delight and pleasure in these things than in Your holy Word. Woe is me, that I have such a long time, so often, and to such a degree allowed myself to be enticed and drawn away by this age! I am ashamed to lift up my eyes to Your presence when I think of the follies of my youthful years. Alas! I have served the world better than You, O my God! I have tried more to please the world than You. I have clung to the world more than to You. With these things I have offended You, have wounded my conscience, and aroused Your anger.

Behold, my God, I return and repent in dust and ashes. O my God, remove the love of the world from me so that You and You alone may possess and rule my heart. Let Your Holy Spirit sanctify me completely and drive all worldliness from me. Make me consider the sad end of the children of this age so that I cling to You and not to the world, that I obey You and not the world. Draw me back when I am about to run and sin with the world again. Keep me always in Your fear, and remind me constantly that You have created me for Your service, and that I should daily put on the new self created in God's likeness in true righteousness and holiness. Cause the world to become more and more distasteful to me. Let me with ever-growing relish strive after holiness, the fear of God, and the joys of heaven. Grant that I may constantly despise the lust of the world, which passes away. Grant me to run from the lusts and joys of this world, because after one has drained them, there follows nothing but anxiety, unrest, an evil conscience and the destruction of the soul. Pluck from my heart whatever is still remaining in it of the world, and plant Your holy fear within me, so that I may carefully avoid all that is evil out of love for You.

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
And make our hearts Your place of rest;
Come with Your grace and heav'nly aid,
And fill the hearts which You have made.

To You, the Counselor, we cry,
To You the gift of God Most High:
The fount of life, the fire of love,
The soul's anointing from above.
--LSB 498:1,2

25 August 2009

Tuesday Evening Prayer

[from CPH's upcoming republication of Starck's Prayer Book]:


The Lord is on my side; I will not fear; what can anyone do to me? Thus, O gracious and loving God, I may speak to You in this evening hour. I give You humble thanks that You have allowed me to complete this day under Your fatherly protection, Your loving care, Your gracious guidance, and Your abundant blessing. Lord, Your goodness is great and Your mercy is without limit. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desires of all who fear Him. He will hear their cry and save them.

But, my God, how swiftly the day has passed! Like an arrow shot from the bow, so swiftly do our years fly. And so, make me to know my end and the measure of my days so that I may remember always how frail I am. Behold, You have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before You. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. And so I enter into judgment with myself and inquire: My soul, how have you spent this day? Have you thought about anything good? Has God remained united with you, or have you driven Him from you by deliberate and intentional sins? My mouth, what have you spoken today? Have you spoken what is honest, chaste, and good? Have you spread abroad God's praises? Or have you overflowed with lewdness and foolish talk? Where have you gone, my feet? What acts have you performed and committed, my hands? What have you listened to, my ears? What have you looked at, my eyes? What has been your desire, study and aim today, my heart?

O my God, if I am to answer all these questions, how shall I stand? O Lord, with the passing of this day remove my transgressions. O Jesus, blot out my sins with Your holy blood. O Holy Spirit, assure me of the forgiveness of all my sins before I fall asleep. When I am thus acquitted of my guilt, O Blessed Trinity, I shall calmly go to sleep, and tomorrow I shall be more careful to avoid all that may grieve You.

My Father, let Your love cover me and all that is mine. My Jesus, in Your wounds I rest in peace and safety. O Holy Spirit, before I fall asleep, breathe in my heart the last sigh with which I commend my spirit into the hands of God.

I, a sinner, come to Thee
With a penitent confession.
Savior, mercy show to me;
Grant for all my sins remission.
Let these words my soul relieve:
Jesus sinners doth receive.
-- LSB 609:4

Dr. Phillips alerted me...

...to the fact that Issues, Etc. had hijacked and reviewed Sunday's sermon. If you'd like to hear it with Pr. Wilken's commentary, you can tune in here:


Lectio Divina

Two sons of David; two temples. One of stone; one of living stones, of people.

Why is it wrong to say that the Church is invisible? For the same reason it is wrong to say it is visible!

We can only see part of it. The part where we are. The other living stones to whom our lives are connected. We can partially glimpse down the structure to see where the Lord has joined other living stones and we can see that vast foundation of the Apostles and Prophets with Our Lord being the cornerstone. We can't glimpse up and out and all around. Not yet. [And it is rather silly to imagine that the wall as I know it is the whole of the building! No, the building will finally consist of all those in whom the Holy Spirit has wrought the saving faith that connected them to the Lord Jesus and who persevered in that gift by God's grace to the end.] But for the duration of this age, our vision is always rather limited.

That's okay. When comes the Last Day, we shall see the New Jerusalem for the first time in her wholeness and fullness - with such glory as never dared to dream or imagine! Until then, THE Son of David is busy at work building His temple, a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. Just to be a living stone and part of it - that is glory beyond words.

"The Lord has sanctified us in the true faith! O come, let us worship Him!"

Conscience May Not Overrule the Word of God

Statement of the president of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in response to certain actions of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
August 24, 2009

The two largest Lutheran church bodies in the United States are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) with 4.8 million members and The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod (LCMS) with 2.4 million members.

On Friday, Aug. 21, the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to open the ministry of the ELCA to gay and lesbian pastors and other professional workers living in "committed relationships." In an earlier action, the assembly approved a resolution that commits the ELCA "to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support, and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships."

The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod has repeatedly affirmed as its own position the historical understanding of the Christian church that the Bible condemns homosexual behavior as "intrinsically sinful." It is therefore contrary to the will of the Creator and constitutes sin against the commandments of God (Lev. 18:22, 24,20:13; 1 Cor. 6:9-20; 1 Tim 1:9-10; and Rom. 1:26, 27).

Addressing the ELCA assembly on Saturday, Aug. 22, I responded to their aforementioned actions, stating: "The decisions by this assembly to grant non-celibate homosexual ministers the privilege of serving as rostered leaders in the ELCA and the affirmation of same-gender unions as pleasing to God will undoubtedly cause additional stress and disharmony within the ELCA. It will also negatively affect the relationships between our two church bodies. The current division between our churches threatens to become a chasm. This grieves my heart and the hearts of all in the ELCA, the LCMS, and other Christian church bodies throughout the world who do not see these decisions as compatible with the Word of God, or in agreement with the consensus of 2,000 years of Christian theological affirmation regarding what Scripture teaches about human sexuality. Simply stated, this matter is fundamentally related to significant differences in how we [our two church bodies] understand the authority of Holy Scripture and the interpretation of God's revealed and infallible Word."

Doctrinal decisions adopted already in 2001 led the LCMS, in sincere humility and love, to declare that we could no longer consider the ELCA "to be an orthodox Lutheran church body" (2001 Res 3-21A). Sadly, the decisions of this past week to ignore biblical teaching on human sexuality have reinforced that conclusion. We respect the desire to follow conscience in moral decision making, but conscience may not overrule the Word of God.

We recognize that many brothers and sisters within the ELCA, both clergy and lay, are committed to remaining faithful to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, are committed to the authority of Holy Scripture, and strongly oppose these actions. To them we offer our assurance of loving encouragement together with our willingness to provide appropriate support in their efforts to remain faithful to the Word of God and the historic teachings of the Lutheran church and all other Christian churches for the past 2,000 years.

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

"Transforming lives through Christ's love ... in time ... for eternity ..." John 3:16-17

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

I should especially like to see the rural monasteries and those that have been endowed stay to take care of noble persons and poor ministers. Nor have I proposed anything else from the beginning. From such monasteries suitable men can then be chosen for the church, the state, and economic life.-- Blessed Martin Luther, Table Talk 4031 (1538)

Patristic Quote of the Day

Why, then, must it be with fear and trembling, and not rather with security, since God is working; except it be because there so quickly steals over our human soul, by reason of our will (without which we can do nothing well), the inclination to esteem simply as our own accomplishment whatever good we do? -- St. Augustine, On Nature and Grace, ch. 31

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

If faith is an actus passivus, something that God does to me and effects in me, that does not exclude my personal participation and my willingness to be used as an instrument, but rather includes both, then unbelief is an actio rebellis, a conscious, intention, and responsible decision against God, a fixed decision not to permit myself to be judged or saved by Him. As men we have the sad possibility of a freedom to do evil. The freedom to do good must be given to us... The "I will" comes from God; the "I will not" from man's own free choice. Acceptance is not earned through merit but is a gift; perdition is not the result of fate but of sin. -- Adolf Köberle, *Quest* p. 143 [Jason, you're right. He really starts cooking in chapter V.]

24 August 2009

Festival of St. Bartholomew

Treasury notes that St. Bartholomew (also known as Nathanael in John's Gospel) was one of the first of the 12 disciples of our Lord, originally from Cana in Galilee. Philip invited him to meet the Lord and his initial skepticism over Jesus (being from Nazareth) gave place to his bold confession: You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel! According to early Church tradition, St. Bartholomew preached the Gospel in Armenia and was finally martyred by being flayed alive.

In today's collect we beg God: "grant that Your Church may love what he believed and preach what He taught."

All praise for him whose candor
Through all his doubt You saw
When Philip at the fig tree
Disclosed You in the law.
Discern beneath our surface,
O Lord, what we can be,
That by Your truth made guileless,
Your glory we may see.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The divine wisdom is not merely an intensified human understanding. The two actually vary in an inverse ratio so that the one nullifies the other (1 Cor. 1:18 seq.). -- Adolf Köberle, *Quest* p. 126

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

With joy he opens his Bible, for in it he finds light, power, comfort, and peace. With joy he enters into the house of God, for there his soul delights in the glorious worship of the Lord. He joins in the congregational hymns and prayers, and the use of the Holy Supper gives him a festive day. Oh, how blessed is the one who knows he stands in the true faith and, for this reason, he stands with God in grace! He already has heaven on earth, despite its thousandfold trouble. -- C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 660

Patristic Quote of the Day

For he [St. Paul] seeks not his own interests, but those of his children whom he has begotten in Christ by the Gospel. This is the aim of all his spiritual authority, in everything to neglect his own in comparison with the advantage of others. -- St. Gregory Nazianzus (Treasury, p. 653)

23 August 2009

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We must acknowledge, worship, and invoke God in the way that He reveals Himself in His Word, and we dare not listen to the shrewd arguments of human reason contrary to this revelation given in the Word.-- Johann Gerhard, On the Trinity, par. 167

Patristic Quote of the Day

For the Apostles themselves came in not by wisdom, but by faith, and surpassed the heathen wise men in wisdom and loftiness, and that so much the more, as to raise disputings is less than to receive by faith the things of God. For this transcends all human understanding. -- St. John Chrysostom, on 1 Cor. 1

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

For the Logos is not identical with our reason; He is the speech of the Holy Ghost that circumscribes our thinking and reveals its uncertainty, so that we learn at last to look for help outside ourselves. To sum up the results of our discussion so far, we can say that the activity of the Holy Ghost is manifested when the man who has been touched by Him in his entire personality ceases to make any claim on God and gives Him all the glory. -- Adolf Köberle, *Quest for Holiness* p. 117.

Am Enjoying

the Köberle, but has anyone ever thought of offering a condensed version stripped of all the interaction with totally outdated German philosophy??? Hurray for Walther in realizing that some of the developments post-enlightenment are just not WORTH dealing with. I notice that both Köberle and Bayer deal with Kant and company only to write them off. Why not just IGNORE?

What's Sad

About so many of the folks who are mobilizing within the ELCA is that they do not see or believe that there is an intimate connection between the process whereby the Word of God was set aside as normative on the matter of Women's Ordination and the manner in which it can be set aside on norming human sexuality. The root of the problem is deeper than "fixing" what the Church Wide Assembly has enacted; the same bitter root will bear its evil fruit further down the road if it is not addressed. And so many are inoculated against hearing our witness on this by having been taught that we just "fundamentalists" in our approach to the Sacred Scripture. I pray that the current crisis may lead our brothers and sisters in the ELCA to look deeper than the symptom to the underlying cause. "But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My Word." Isaiah 66:2

Homily for Trinity 11

Two men went to Church to pray. One a Missouri Synod Lutheran and the other an ELCA Lutheran. The Missouri Synod Lutheran stood and prayed thus with himself: “I thank you God that you made a Missouri Synod Lutheran and not one of those crazy ELCA Lutherans with their faithless rejection of Your Word; with their treatment of sin as virtue; with their ecumenical agreements with those who deny the real presence of Christ's body and blood in the Lord's Supper.” The ELCA Lutheran, however, standing far off, did not even dare to raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” This man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Unless you’ve had your head in the sand for the last few days, you can't have missed the headlines about what “the Lutherans” are up to now. Yes, at the ELCA’s churchwide assembly that concluded yesterday in Minneapolis, our fellow Lutherans have announced that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered relationships are a-okay with them; that their pastors may be in such relationships without prejudice; that the church needs a liturgy for divorce; that they are in full communion fellowship now with those who say that the bread and wine in the Eucharist are most certainly NOT Christ’s body and blood, given and shed for the forgiveness of sins. Like one death knell after the next, the decisions boomed out this week, effectively setting aside God’s Word (which many faithful pastors and laity spoke with clarity on the floor of the assembly only to have that Word rejected).

And newspapers and TV reporters, being rather ill-informed about the Christian faith in general and the Lutheran Church in particular, plaster the name “Lutheran” across these changes in the ELCA. The Lutherans have done this, they announce! The Lutherans are getting with it and joining the Episcopal Church in being culturally relevant!

And here we sit. I confess that I WANTED to put up on our Church sign this week: “We’re not THOSE Lutherans!” But God in His grace has given us our Lord’s words about the Pharisee and the Tax-collector to keep us from the pride that would look down on our brothers and sisters in their suffering.

You see, it is a small step from condemning the ELCA’s condemnable actions to priding ourselves that we in the Missouri Synod, for all our problems, at least are not LIKE THEM. But that IS what the Pharisee did, isn’t it? He thanked God that HE took God’s Word seriously and let that Word shape his life: he wasn’t like other men. And there you see the problem, you see where his gaze was directed. He was busy comparing himself to others, and the result was that he ended up puffed up about himself. Compared to THEM, he was a rather decent chap. God was lucky to have such a one on His side, and he didn’t mind reminding God of that in prayer.

Whenever the standard is THEM – whoever them may be – we will way too often land ourselves in the folly of the Pharisee, pridefully exalting ourselves. But here the tax-collector is the man with the penetrating insight. For he does not fall into the easy trap of comparing himself to other people – where there’s always somebody at hand who makes you good. No, he will not lift his eyes because there is only One whose standard counts. And His standard is gold and never changes, never devalues, always the same: total and complete love, love without any self-interest in it, love that does the good not to win a reward or to curry favor, but simply because the good is what it desires to do.

Against that gold standard of the Law of the God of Israel – love your God with your all; love your neighbor as yourself – the tax-collector had to hang his head in shame. He was a failure at it. Down to the depths of his being. He knew that he had nothing good inside of him that was untouched by pride and evil. He knew that if he finally had any standing with God it depended entirely upon God not on himself. So his plea: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

Jesus says that the one who utters such a prayer goes to his home justified, that is, with the prayer granted. Mercy given. Sins covered. Declared righteous in the eyes of the Only One who matters.

Jesus can say this because He is the answer to every prayer for mercy. He came and did in our flesh what we could never do. He lived that perfect gold standard of unfailing love that the Law demands. He loved His Father above all and His neighbor as Himself even to the point of carrying all His neighbor’s sin to death on His cross at the Father’s bidding, becoming that sin and its curse, letting the judgment against all our pride, our ridiculous self-delusion and self-interest come crashing down upon Him. He bore it all so that as the Crucified One who was raised from the dead, He might bring a whole new world into existence. A world that hangs solely on mercy, on God giving what we DON’T deserve and handing it out to sinners so that they might indeed, go to their home, their heavenly home, justified, mercied, forgiven, declared righteous because Christ’s perfect righteousness has been given to them. That's the gift borne in the water of Baptism; sealed in your ears by the words of Absolution; and put into your mouth by the Body and Blood that bore your sin and are your righteousness.

When we remember that, there can be no Pharisee prayer, thanking God we’re not ELCA Lutherans. Rather, as fellow sinners, we join the many ELCA Lutherans who will be praying this Sunday and for many days to come: O God, have mercy on us for we have failed You! Even as we condemn without hesitation what their Chuchwide Assembly has done, we let them know that we, too, are condemned sinners who live only from the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, and we’ll join them in pleading with God for the mercy that none of us deserve but from which all of us can live. And live forever! Amen.

22 August 2009

You can read...

...our Synodical President's fine words to the Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA here.

21 August 2009

Lutheran Church Canada speaks

A statement from Lutheran Church–Canada

Ordination of Homosexuals in the Lutheran Church

AUGUST 21, 2009 - In Minneapolis this afternoon, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America adopted a resolution to allow for the ordination of those in committed, monogamous, same-sex relationships. The vote was 559 in favour, 451 against. The following statement was prepared at the request of President Robert Bugbee of Lutheran Church–Canada by Dr. Edward Kettner, professor at Concordia Lutheran Seminary, Edmonton.

As the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) at its current convention has approved the ordination of people in “committed same-sex relationships,” it needs to be noted that the ELCA does not represent all Lutherans in the United States or North America. In its actions the ELCA is going against, not just the history of the Christian Church and against the practices of the covenant religion of Israel as expressed in the Old Testament (First Testament), but against the Bible, which the Christian Church has always recognized as the very Word of God itself. The traditional Christian understanding continues to be held by The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) in the United States and by Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) in Canada, as well as by a number of smaller conservative bodies in both countries.


For more than two hundred years much of Christendom has come to reject the previously universal recognition of the Bible as the Word of God written. By using methods of scriptural interpretation which see the Bible as a human book, a record of human response to the idea of God, rather than as God’s declaration of Himself, His nature, and His activities to the world, parts of the church on earth now look at Scripture with what is called a “hermeneutic [biblical interpretation] of suspicion” rather than the traditional hermeneutic of trust.

Under this new method of interpretation, words which previously were seen as the authoritative Word of God revealed through His apostles and prophets are now viewed as words composed by men seeking to maintain their power over others. In this understanding, the words of Scripture regarding marriage, which declare it to be the union of man and woman, and ideally one man and one woman in a lifelong union, are replaced by a preference for talking about “intimacy,” and commitment between two people that may not always include marriage in the traditional sense, or even, in recent years, a relationship between a male and a female.

Behind this change lurks an understanding of “freedom” which is in fact license, which flies against God’s clear word in Genesis 1 and 2 and restated by Christ in Matthew 19:3-6. Since a pastor is one who is to have a good reputation among Christians and before the world, for the church to ordain people who clearly flout the Word of God in their actions throws both the Word of God and the office of the Holy Ministry into contempt, and gives the rest of the world an excuse to continue in its sin.

LCC and Homosexuality

Lutheran Church–Canada desires to reach out with the Gospel to everyone, including the homosexual, to provide real healing of the person, so that their lives may begin to reflect the holiness God desires of all of His people. Those who may have such inclinations and who struggle against them are welcome in our churches, will receive forgiveness of their sins, and may serve in the office of ministry. Those who flout the clear Word of God, refuse to call sin what it is, and who seek to justify their behaviour, disqualify themselves from the office and indeed put their eternal salvation in jeopardy.

We recognize that our view is decidedly counter-cultural, but we know that we must continue to maintain the clear teaching of the Scriptures. We regret the decision of the ELCA, which, even by its own admission in its resolutions at this convention, goes against everything the Scriptures clearly teach and which the church has confirmed over the last 2000 years and even before.

More information:
Ian Adnams
Director of Communications
Lutheran Church–Canada
204-895-3433 ext 2224

There are no words...

...to express the sadness of what has transpired in Minneapolis. My dear friend, Pr. John Fleischmann, speaks for me too:

With Deepest Regret

That the Church of Krauth, of Jacobs, of Tappert and Reed should so end. Lord, have mercy!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

From the Manger to the Cross His life is a holy protest against the fashion of the world as He finds it. -- Adolf Köberle, *Quest* p. 86

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

A mightier Samson brings down with his nod the pillars of the prison within which he had been placed, but unlike Samson, rises unharmed from the ruins, while the prisoners escape. -- Jacobs, *Elements* p. 100

Patristic Quote of the Day

Now to open the book is to overcome death for man. -- Victorinus, Commentary on Revelation 5:2,3

20 August 2009

You just might be...

...at a pastor's house when, in the middle of a card game, kids spontaneously start singing the Phos Hilaron.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

On the one side are the unhistorical religions of salvation, whose founders are only significant as mystagogues and which, on that account, are tolerant and animated by a moral pragmatism and optimism. On the other side the Gospel, whose founder not only obligates us to His teaching us also the historical facts of His Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection; Who makes His demands unconditionally; Who dashes us to the ground by the way in which He unmasks the supposed holiness of man, but Who also bestows perfect communion with God, through His pardon-bringing presence, to those who accept Him in faith. -- Adolf Köberle, *Quest for Holiness* p. 54

19 August 2009

Homily for Tonight

Tonight we observed St. Mary's Day, which actually fell last Saturday:

She sang:

“From this day all generations will call me blessed.”

That is, not just cousin Elizabeth with her “blessed are you among women, blessed is the fruit of your womb, blessed she who has believed”, but all people will join in blessing the Mother of God.

How are you doing at blessing Mary? Lutherans are in little danger of falling into the excesses that have characterized her veneration across the centuries, but we’ve certainly fallen into the ditch on the other side. We’ve pretended she’s just like us.

Um, no. An angel pops in one day and tells you that you’re to become the Mother of God, and you believe it? No, she’s not like us that way at all. But there is hope that we might become like her. That when our God speaks to us His promises - no matter how wild and crazy they might seem, how impossible of fulfilment - we might come to be like Mary and bow meekly before the Words of God and say: “Let it be to me according to Your Word; what You say goes, Lord!”

For then the miracle that took place in her will also take place in us. The Word she heard engendered in her the Eternal Word of the Father, she became great with child, eternal life himself moved into her personally and filled her body with Himself. And through her He gave Himself to the world. From her He received the flesh and blood which He would offer as the sacrifice for the sins of a world gone wrong. For you and for me. From her He received the flesh and blood that was raised in incorruption on Easter and which the angels and saints forever adore in the unity of the Godhead.

When we become like Mary, when we by the grace of the Holy Spirit speak our “yes” to the promises of God and hold them tight, then into us comes Mary’s Son with all His divine life. And as He lives in us and we come to live in Him, He draws us into His sacrificial way of living so that we might come to be servants of one another as He has served us, and we do so in the joy and certainty that He has given us forgiveness for all our sins and the promise of the resurrection to a life that never ends. He gives us His body and blood that such outrageous, outlandish promises might be fulfilled in us.

And so we learn to call Mary blessed together with Elizabeth and all the Church. Blessed in the fruit of her womb. Blessed among women in alone being the Mother of the Son of God. Blessed above all in her faith and trust in God’s Word. And we pray God, though she is not much like us, that He would make us more like her, His blessed promise believing Mother, that He would increase our faith in all that He promises so that we might come finally to the joys of heaven and share with the most holy Virgin and all the angels and saints the blessedness that never ends. Amen.

So David's design

for the Totally Texty hair products will be featured on the side of one of Miley Cyrus' buses. (Yes, Cindi and the kids had to remind me who she was so I could understand why this is a big deal.)

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Torn from the heights of dominion and growth and life, and cast down into the lowliness of decline and submission and mortality, man can only stammer, 'Forgive us our trespasses.' Whether he will receive an answer to his prayer is a matter quite beyond his own control. -- Adolf Köberle, *The Quest for Holiness* (p. 28)

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Therefore, in those things which concern the soul's salvation, nothing must be taught and received but the Word of God alone. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Exposition of John XVI (Day by Day, p. 308)

Patristic Quote of the Day

And the Holy Spirit, according to the Holy Scriptures, is neither of the Father alone, nor of the Son alone, but of both; and so intimates to us a mutual love, wherewith the Father and the Son reciprocally love one another. -- St. Augustine, On the Holy Trinity, Book XV, chapter 9

Nice Quote

"Christ, as the representative of all of sinful humanity, lifted up on the cross the weight of the sins of all people. Then, the sinless Son of God, as the Apostle Paul says, became a curse. He collected on Himself all the thunderbolts of divine justice against a sinful humanity, and beneath the weight of sin that seperates man from God, He saw Himself abandoned. He sighed and said: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"--"Drops From The Living Water" Metropolitan Bishop Augustinos Kantiotes of Florina Greece, page 113.

[Sent to me by a friend who is an Orthodox layman.]

School Starts!

TSP opened its doors yesterday for a new academic year. During Matins, we installed our new teacher (Miss Christina Warnier). Here's a pic that Jen sent me (thanks, Jen!), taken on the steps of the Church:

Trinity-St. Paul Lutheran School, 2009-2010

18 August 2009

Father Curtis Hits Another One...

... out of the ballpark: Gottesdiesnt Online.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The pardon which faith receives is something entire, perfect, rounded out, complete, which neither requires nor is capable of enlargement. On the other hand, the new creation which faith experiences through its communion with Christ always remains a fragmentary and progressive work. In a theological treatment the complete and incomplete should not be confused, though their inseparableness is connection with the one Christ who bestows both, still remains. -- Adolf Köberle, *The Quest for Holiness* p. ix. (Which is my THANK YOU to Jason - yes, you have succeeded in wrecking my work week with an appetizing feast!)

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Direct my plans and purposes according to Your will. Kindle in me the flame of divine love, that this day I may show my faith by my works, abide in sincere love toward You and toward my neighbor, and reach the evening unharmed in conscience. -- Starck's Prayer for Tuesday Morning

Patristic Quote of the Day

We have, however, the catholic faith in the Creed, known to the faithful and committed to memory, contained in a form of expression as concise as has been rendered admissible by the circumstances of the case; the purpose of which [compilation] was, that individuals who are but beginners and sucklings among those who have been born again in Christ, and who have not yet been strengthened by most diligent and spiritual handling and understanding of the divine Scriptures, should be furnished with a summary, expressed in few words, of those matters of necessary belief which were subsequently to be explained to them in many words, as they made progress and rose to [the height of] divine doctrine, on the assured and steadfast basis of humility and charity.--St. Augustine on the Creed, Faith and the Creed, par. 1

17 August 2009

Something I've Puzzled Over...

...in his little treatise *On the Holy Spirit,* St. Basil the Great provides a list (one would suppose, hardly exhaustive; more indicative) of unwritten (that is, extra-Biblical) traditions which he believes that the Church holds as coming down from the Apostles. Among the items is this:

"Have any saints left for us in writing the words to be used in the invocation over the Eucharistic bread and the cup of blessing? As everyone knows, we are not content in the liturgy to recite the words recorded by St. Paul or the Gospels, but we add other words both before and after, words of great importance for this mystery. We have received these words from unwritten tradition." (par. 66)

It almost sounds as though St. Basil were saying that the very words of the anaphora were something handed on from the Apostles. What leaves me puzzling over that is the well known fact that St. Justin, writing in the second century, expressly declares that the words of the anaphora were extemporized:

"Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given..." (First Apology, Par. 67)

Granted, there was a general pattern which St. Justin describes:

"There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen." (First Apology, Par. 65)

So a Trinitarian prayer "at considerable length" but offered "according to his ability." Thus, we would suppose it was not the text of the anaphora which was in some way sacrosanct and held to be apostolic, but I think the only way to interpret St. Justin's description is to recognize that there was a pattern of praying that was regarded as apostolic. And this fits with the fact that St. Basil the Great took in hand to compose such an anaphora - in fact, we have two recensions of his version of this prayer that he describes as coming down from the apostles. And that's just his! We have numerous anaphorae from those early years, many markedly different from each other in detail, but every last one of them, I believe, may be accurately described as praise to the Father for the gift of the Savior and of the holy sacrifice that is His Body and Blood, and quite often prayer for the Holy Spirit to hallow the gifts and grant a worthy reception of them.

Fast forward to the time of the Reformation. Rome cried "foul" when the Lutherans removed the Roman canon from their liturgy, though still leaving praise to the Father and prayers for worthy reception. I find it fascinating how Chemnitz responded to this in his monumental Examen:

"One certain form for these prayers, with fixed words, to which all churches were bound under peril of mortal sin was not prescribed, but there was freedom to use any form so long as it agreed with the faith.... Thus the Greeks had one form for such prayers in the church Dionysius, another in the church of Basil, and yet another in the church of Chrysostom. Among the Latins Ambrose had one form, Isidor another, Gregory still another. And yet when Augustine wanted to lay a question before Gregory, because one custom at Mass was held in the Roman church, another in the Gallican churches, Gregory did not want all churches bound to his form of prayers, but answered: 'In whatsoever church you find what is able to please God more, choose it diligently.' Therefore that they want to compel the churches to recite the papalist canon as something necessary, as though the consecration and Communion could not be done without this canon, is done outside of and contrary to the opinion of antiquity. And our churches are unjustly condemned because in the celebration of the Lord's Supper they, as did the ancients, freely use prayer formulas which are in harmony with the faith and because they accord with the nature of our times and make for the edification of the church, in which nevertheless the essential things are comprehended which were customary in the prayers of the ancients." (II:514,515)

I think Chemnitz reads the history correctly: St. Basil was not implying that there was an apostolic origin to the text of the prayers offered at the Eucharist, but to their pattern, which accords with our faith in being Trinitarian. I'd be quite curious if others have worked through this and have thoughts of their own to offer in this regard?

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

No offering that we could bring could possibly reconcile us to Thee, our God. All that we can plead is the work of Thy Son, His perfect obedience in all that He did and all that He suffered, His body nailed to the cross for us, His blood poured out for the forgiveness of our sins. -- A. C. Piepkorn, *The Church* p. 241

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Church is strong as it confesses clearly, plainly and unwaveringly the whole Word of God; it is weak as it places its reliance upon any other means than this for conquering the world. --Henry E. Jacobs, *Elements* p. 221

Patristic Quote of the Day

However, if a person is interested in the question, let him know, that, even if the expressions are not in so many words in the Scriptures, yet, as was said before, they contain the sense of the Scriptures, and expressing it, they convey it to those who have their hearing unimpaired for religious doctrine. -- St. Athanasius, defending the use of non-scriptural language that is filled with scriptural meaning in De Decretis.

Commemoration of Johann Gerhard, Theologian

Today our Synod commemorates the beloved theologian and pastor Johann Gerhard. From the Treasury and Synod's website:

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

He is one of my favorite theologians. I have ten of his works that I keep within hand's reach to consult. I confess that I find his sermons and devotional writings to be better than his "scientific" theological works, though he does better than most in always bringing those too down to the living out of the life that is ours in Christ. To find a favorite citation from him is about impossible - too many to choose from - but here is one among many favorites:

Where faith is, there Christ is; where Christ is, there is a holy life, namely true humility, true gentleness, true love. (Sacred Meditation XII)

16 August 2009

Starck's Prayer Book...

...in modestly updated language! Coming soon (by Reformation) from Concordia Publishing House, and modified by yours truly. All you Authorized Version types, don't bother buying. Stick to Dau; it will make you happier. But for the rest of you who appreciate more contemporary English and the hymns of our Lutheran Service Book, this will be a great addition to your essential Lutheran library. Here's just a teasing taste of what you'll find for Sunday evening:


Lord, abide with me; for it is towards evening and the day is now far spent. O living and almighty God, Your works are past finding out and the goodness You show our human race is beyond all telling! I will tell of Your grace and truth, of Your love and mercy; for You have me shown me in the day now past much kindness in body and soul. You have fed my soul with the bread of life. You have let me drink from the living fountain. Your Word has been sweeter than honey to my mouth. Let Your Word always be a light on way all my days, that I may order my walk according to it; then I will not stumble or fall from Your grace.

You have also been my Deliverer, my Comforter. In temporal matters, You have allowed to live in good health until this evening. I am not worthy of all the mercies Your love has showered on me. Come to my side, O Protector, now that my weary limbs lie down to rest. Guard me and embrace me in Your sheltering arms. Let me always be a light in the Lord, and let me never have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Grant that Your Word that I have heard and learned may in the future spring up within me as a holy seed. Grant that its fruits may be perceived in my life, by godliness, by fear of You, by being dead to the world and dedicated to You alone. Be my Protection and my Shade against the heat of affliction and the fiery darts of Satan. The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Turn from me and my family fires, floods, and every misfortune, and let all who are in sorrow, sickness, or on the point of death enjoy Your rich grace. Then our mouth will be filled with Your praise at the break of day, and we will tell of Your goodness, which You have shown us in body and soul.

If I have not heard Your Word with the zeal I ought to have had, forgive me, and do not on that account withdraw Your grace from me. During the coming week, cause me to be entirely renewed. Give me new love and desire for You, and new eagerness to serve and obey You. Grant that I may avoid and flee the sins that I have committed during the past week, in order that everyone will see that I have not heard Your Word in vain. Help me to ponder diligently that I have an immortal soul, in order that I may be more concerned about my soul than my body. O my God, I am turning my eyes to Your resting-place; in doing so I remember my grave, where I shall rest until on the Last Day You raise me up with joy to the life that never ends. Go, then, my body, into your chamber and rest; but you, O my soul, enter into the wounds of Jesus.


O Christ, who art the light and day,
Thou drivest night and gloom away;
O Light of Light, whose Word doth show
The light of heav’n to us below.

All-holy Lord, in humble prayer
We ask tonight Thy watchful care.
O grant us calm repose in Thee,
A quiet night from perils free.

Our sleep be pure from sinful stain;
Let not the tempter vantage gain
Or our unguarded flesh surprise
And make us guilty in Thine eyes.

Asleep though wearied eyes may be,
Still keep the heart awake to Thee;
Let Thy right hand outstretched above
Guard those who serve the Lord they love.
LSB 882:1-4


Cookout and some Liverpool with Jo and Dave, Bekah and David. LEW, you and Dean should come up too!

Tomorrow, back to work! I'm eager for it too. Isn't it odd how 1 week's vacation isn't enough and 2 week's is too much? Maybe 10 days is the perfect amount.


she totally cracked us up as we're leaving Cracker Barrel this morning. She's always telling me she needs a new car, and so I told her that her car fitted her personality exactly. "Why? Because it's broken and confused?" she fired back. All three of us roared with laughter.

We also had a discussion over breakfast about whether our family was "normal." Go figure. David assured us we are NOT normal; but we all agreed that even though we're not normal, we rather much love being with each other. I mean, how many kids these days LIKE spending time together in the evening, playing cards with mom and dad and grandma and opa? Or how many kids enjoy talking with their parents and visiting together? So, we're a bit weird (nose piercings - Mom and Bekah; ear piercings - Dad, Mom, Bekah and Lauren; lip piercing - Bekah; and dyed PINK hair - Mom and Lauren and Bekah), but we think we're also mega blessed to have each other. Thanks be to God for family!


she didn't stop there! She also went and got THIS:


My Bekah

15 August 2009

It really is...

...the perfect evening prayer:

After marking yourself with the sign of the holy cross at the invocation, confess the Creed, and pray the Our Father, then say:

I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

[Evening Prayers from the Small Catechism]

A Fine Preachment

upon Trinity X by Pastor William Gleason. We were privileged to hear this tonight at St. Paul's (yes, we went to Church at St. Paul's while on vacation!). He also commemorated St. Mary's day in both the introduction to the service and in the prayer of the church.

Sermon for Trinity X 
Luke 19:41-48

What a gloomy picture the Holy Spirit paints in our Gospel lesson. It’s almost like He is raining on our parade. Indeed, it was a parade. Our lesson falls at the end of the Palm Sunday parade. Jesus was riding victoriously into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey, amid shouts of “Hosanna,” as people strewed palm branches before His way. What joy and celebration they saw that day.

And then we hear Jesus crying over Jerusalem. He tells about a Jerusalem besieged, conquered and torn down stone by stone—and all the people with it. The next thing you know, Jesus is in the temple raising Cain with the sellers and traders, kicking them out. We end up with the chief priests and the scribes conspiring to destroy our Lord. What a sad and depressing Scripture lesson we hear today.

The same might be said of the Old Testament reading. The year was 628 B.C. Jeremiah was the Lord’s prophet sent to a faithless people. Proud in their own accomplishments, they turned away from God and His Word to follow their own evil desires. Chief amongst them was a religious hypocrisy that brought them to the temple regularly to worship, but when they left it was to live like the heathen—and not very good heathens, at that. They worshiped the Baals, the false gods of the nations; they stole from each other; they lied to one another; they shacked up with their neighbor’s wife; they murdered—the list goes on. Then they’re back to the temple to offer their cheap sacrifices, pay lip service to God, and think they have given God His due. They thought: we have the temple and the priests (not that the priests were any better, preaching lies to the people and living just as abominably as them). They figured they had all their religious ducks in a row. “We’re saved,” they said. Now…back to the Baals, the cheating, lying, and fighting…back to their sin.

God would have been just and holy to wipe off from the face of the earth all those lying priests and faithless people. Instead, He sent Jeremiah. He was the young prophet whom God sent “to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” (v. 1:10) To a rebellious people who spurned His Word, God, in His mercy, sent a preacher to speak His word. Jeremiah condemned their sin and impenitence; he told them about their dismal future of destruction and exile if they didn’t change their hearts and ways. He also suffered their scorn, their attacks against him, and (according to tradition) death at their hands.

In spite of God’s word of repentance and trust, the people remained stubborn and impenitent. So God sent another instrument of His mercy: not a prophet, but a potentate. Nebuchadnezzar was the Babylonian tyrant whom God sent to drag the Jews, bound in chains, into exile. Nebuchadnezzar also tore down the temple and stole all its furnishings. God’s word proved true.

They remained in exile for nearly 70 years. In that time they learned humility and gained a renewed faith in God. They longed to be back in the land that God gave them, and to the temple where He once dwelt. Finally God answered their prayers for mercy, and brought them back. Those Jews that returned were much more zealous to stay loyal to God’s Law, to the teachings of the rabbis, and to keep themselves uncorrupted by and separated from the Samaritans and Gentiles in the land.

This was the Jerusalem that Jesus wept over. Jerusalem in 33 A.D. was a city full of religious turmoil and strife. For the Jews, this turmoil included falling again into a false trust in the temple and their own self-righteousness. St. Paul called it a “zeal for God,” but a zeal that stemmed from ignorance of God and His righteousness. Jesus spoke similarly when He lamented over Jerusalem, that City of Peace, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” The Jews once again rejected God’s word; but this time they exchanged it for something that appeared noble and decent. In Jeremiah’s day, the Jews had lapsed into a degenerate form of libertinism. In Jesus day, they had lapsed into a self-righteous perfectionism. They believed that if you followed the commandments as best as you could, sacrificed regularly in the temple, and obeyed the rabbis, you were righteous before God. You were saved. And, as before, the temple of God stood there as proof of their trust.

So, when in our Gospel Jesus foretold of the temple’s destruction, He was pointing to God’s righteous judgment on His faithless people. When Jesus cleansed the temple, He was pointing to God’s holy and righteous demands for His Church. And when the chief priests and scribes conspired to destroy Jesus, the Holy Spirit was pointing to God’s final judgment against sin and His perfect righteousness for His people.

What about the Church today? How do we respond to the Word of God? Certainly we see examples that run the gamut between the same moral libertinism and spiritual perfectionism heard in our lessons. Like the Church in Jeremiah’s day, you will find people today who claim to be Christian, come to church fairly regularly, but have no qualms in breaking God’s commandments most flagrantly. From an unrelenting and idolatrous pursuit of money and wealth, to trashing His Name and despising His Word, many seem to find it easy to justify their lack of fear, love and trust in God. And from gross disrespect for parents and authority, to hatred of life shown in the nodding approval of abortion and euthanasia, to the nearly demonic abandon in satisfying every sexual lust and adultery, on through the rest of the commandments, you can find it done either in the name of, or in disregard of, Christianity.

The other extreme is also found among Christians, that is, a spiritual perfectionism. Similar to the Jews in Jesus’ day, many Christians trust their strict obedience to the Law to save them. We’re not only talking about the Ten Commandments here, but also every human law that priests or politicians can come up with. This self-righteous and very serious piety says you will love God and your neighbor because Jesus said so. If you don’t, you will just go to hell, and that settles it. This modern Phariseeism often puts human laws, whether from church or state, on par or above God’s law. And, once again, the Christian voice for such impossible and impractical obedience is often the loudest.

The words of our Lord Jesus easily apply to the Church today, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” But if they are hidden from us, it is only because we want to live by sight and not by faith. We want to fix our eyes on the creation, rather than trust the Creator. And if God hides His mercy from our eyes, then it is for the express and loving purpose that we know Him by faith alone. So, with faith, let us ask God to reveal His mercy in His word.

That mercy is revealed most fully in today’s lessons in the temple of God. The temple was the place where God manifested Himself to His people. He wrapped Himself up in that building, with all its furnishings and ceremonies. And although He was the invisible God, He showed Himself to His people in the High Priest who sacrificed the Paschal lamb for the forgiveness of sins. In fact, He was in all the sacrifices where blood was spilled to establish peace with God. He was there in the Ark of the Covenant that kept the tablets of the commandments, the living almond branch of Aaron, and the miraculous bread from heaven. And even when the temple was destroyed, God was revealing His mercy. Not only because He removed the object of their idolatry, but more so because in God’s wisdom and love He showed how the true Temple of God must be destroyed to establish a full and everlasting peace between God and men.

Which brings us to the glad tidings in our Gospel lesson, for indeed, it is rich in joy and peace. It begins with the opening words, “When Jesus drew near.” What mercy and grace we find here, as God’s only Son approached a city full of fears and doubts and troubles. He did not abandon His children, even though they didn’t recognize Him, but scorned and rejected Him. And in that approach, He wept for our souls, knowing that His entrance into Jerusalem would end up at the cross, suffering the wrath of God for our sins.

The destruction of the temple, which He foretold, signified a New Testament with Gods people. The old temple was cleared away to make way for the new, the Temple of God in the person of Christ. This true Temple would also be destroyed, on the cross, but it would rise again three days later, victorious over death and hell’s destruction, never to be destroyed again.

And when Jesus drove out the traders and sellers, He signified the cleansing of His Church. He created a people who would cease robbing God of His place of reverence and honor, but be devoted to Him in prayer and worship.
So also Jesus taught daily in the temple, showing us the grace of the Holy Spirit who brings the word of Christ and His forgiveness into the lives of His people every day. They are words upon which we hang for strength and hope, even in the face of God’s enemies who are powerless to bring any harm to Christ and His Church. We are a spiritual Temple built upon that invincible Stone laid in Zion, in Whom, if anyone believes, he will never be ashamed.

In that faith, we stand firm against all the gloom and doom that fills our lives. God’s mercy and grace are here, hidden from the world, but precious to Christ’s redeemed people—we who walk by faith and not by sight.
We find God’s joy hidden in our sorrows, as He uses them to draw us closer to Him to find the comfort He alone can give. His love is hidden in His chastisement for our sins, as He lets the consequences of our sins wake us up to our disobedience and lack of faith. His providence is hidden in the history of the Church. There He shows both judgment and restoration as the Church fights against sin, heresy, and apostasy—to which many have succumbed—but from which the Lord restores, reforms, and keeps His Church true.

And to do that, God hides Himself in His Church promising to abide with her forever. He is hidden in the Gospel proclaimed; in the sin-cleansing waters of Holy Baptism; and in the voice of the pastor preaching Good News and forgiveness in Christ’s Name. He is hidden in the Holy Sacrament in which the Incarnate Son of God gives into our mouths the very Body and Blood that bore our sins into death, and which now is risen from the grave, ascended on high, and fills all things. He is hidden in our liturgy in which the whole history of our salvation in Christ is presented to us in Word and Sacrament, hymnody and prayer, allowing us to worship God in Spirit and truth, in beauty and harmony.

And finally, God is hidden in His people who do not see their liberty in Christ as a license to sin, but as freedom from Satan’s tyranny. They are a people whose works of love flow from hearts cleansed of all malice and filled with the Holy Spirit and His gifts.

Oh, what joy and gladness we find in the Word of God today. And what joy shall fill our hearts as we taste the Lord’s mercy in the feast of love He sets before us. Let us close with a verse from the wonderful communion hymn by Johann Frank, “Soul, Adorn Yourself with Gladness.” Let it be not only our song, but our prayer, our hope, and our devotion.

Soul, adorn yourself with gladness,
Leave the gloomy haunts of sadness;
Come into the daylight's splendor,
There with joy your praises render
Bless the One whose grace unbounded
This amazing banquet founded.
He, though heav’nly, high, and holy,
Deigns to dwell with you most lowly. Amen

Good Reading

Over at Gottesdienst Online from my neighbor and friend, Fr. Heath Curtis.

from Hymn of the Day

for St. Mary, Mother of our Lord:

O Higher than the Cherubim,
More glorious than the Seraphim,
Lead their praises, alleluia!
Thou, Bearer of the Eternal Word,
Most gracious, magnify the Lord!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia!

LSB 670:2

from the Litany

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
We implore You to hear us.

Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
Have mercy.

Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
Have mercy.

Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
Grant us Your peace.

O Christ,
Hear us.

O Lord,
Have mercy.

O Christ,
Have mercy.

O Lord,
Have mercy. Amen.

Our Father...

O Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Do not reward us according to our iniquities.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, You desire not the death of a sinner, but rather that we turn from our evil ways and live. Graciously spare us those punishments which we by our sins have deserved, and grant us always to serve You in holiness and pureness of living; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

From Today's Appointed Psalm

For the Lord has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place; This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. --Psalm 132, appointed for the Day of St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord, Treasury, p. 623

Another Noontime Prayer

from Responsive Prayer 1, Treasury p. 49:

Gracious Jesus, our Lord and our God, at this hour You bore our sins in Your own body on the tree so that we, being dead to sin, might live unto righteousness. Have mercy upon us now and at the hour of our death, and grant to us, Your servants, with all others who devoutly remember Your blessed passion, a holy and peaceful life in this world and through Your grace eternal glory in the life to come, where, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, You live and reign, one God, now and forever. Amen

Wise Words

from Pastor David Jay Webber:

Upcoming ELCA Convention

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The function of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Sacred Scriptures in the history of salvation, and in the faith and worship of the Church, is to point to her Son. The noblest picture that can be painted of her is with her Child in her arms. -- A. C. Piepkorn, *The Church* p. 328

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

O that blessed city of God, into which so many children, virgins, and martyrs have been received, where we will see for eternity apostles, prophets, patriarchs, and all the righteous who have believed in Christ, from Adam up to the last Christian on earth! We will see choirs of angels, and the most blessed mother herself who is the noblest member of the mystical body, finally the only source of eternal joy for angels and humans, Jesus Christ the king of glory, and God who is all in all. By reverently recalling such things, faith in our glorious resurrection and future life will surely be inflamed, nurtured, and confirmed in us. -- Urbanus Rhegius, Confessor at Smalcald, Superintendent of Lüneburg. (Preaching the Reformation, pp. 95, 97

Patristic Quote of the Day

The Word, which is God, took on flesh from Mary, not however in order that the Virgin might be adored, neither that he might make her God. Let Mary be held in honor, but let the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be worshiped; let no one worship Mary. This mystery is due God, not to women, neither to man. Nor does such a doxology belong to the angels. Let those things be erased which have been wrongly written in the heart of those who have been deceived. Let the lust of the idol be extinguished from the eyes. Let the creature return again to the Master. Let Eve with Adam return to honor God alone. Let no one be led by the voice of the serpent. Let him abide by the command of God. -- St. Epiphanius of Salamis, Panarion 3.2.7 (cited by Chemnitz in Examen III:468)

Festival of St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord

Today our Synod celebrates the Festival of St. Mary, the Mother of Our Lord. Yes, I wished too that it had been called St. Mary, Mother of God. No question that's what we teach ("therefore she is truly the Mother of God and yet has remained a virgin" SD VIII:24), but the terminology of St. Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:43), is what won the day when LSB was prepared.

Today's collect gets right to the heart of what we celebrate today:

...You chose Mary to be the mother of Your only Son. Grant that we, who are redeemed by His blood, may share with her in the glory of Your eternal kingdom...

As Luther said (in what I quoted yesterday), God in his Word hasn't revealed the mystery of how she was taken to heaven (though the curious absence of relics of St. Mary may speak volumes all by itself), and it is enough for us to know that St. Mary, with all believers, lives in her Son forevermore. And thus today our prayer is that the God who has exalted her and given her triumph over death may do the same for us and bring us to share with her in the glory of His eternal kingdom.

In her body she made an earthly home for the Eternal Word, that through the body and blood He assumed from her He might make an eternal home for her and all her race. "'Arise, O Lord, into Your rest, You, and the ark of Your sanctuary.' For the holy Virgin is truly an ark, made with gold within and without, who has received the whole treasury of the Holy of Holies." (St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, Treasury, p. 1287)

"My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is His name!"

Indeed, we hear her voice ringing through the Introit today, summoning all her children: "O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together!" Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen!

14 August 2009

Since we've moved here...

...we've had so many wonderful changes. We now have a great bike path that connects Edwardsville and beyond to Staunton and runs less than a mile from our home. Hamel opened its own grocery store (and it sports a logo made by our own David). St. Paul's has opened a top-notch daycare and preschool in Hamel. Edwardsville positively bloomed: Starbucks, Kohls, Dierberg's, Office Depot, Old Navy, you name it. It's there. And great eating joints abound (still awaiting that Red Lobster, though). Edwardsville opened a second campus for their Y that is out of this world wonderful. And today the state connected Edwardsville directly to interstate 55 with the opening of Governor's Parkway leading from the interstate through the heart of "new" Edwardsville and ending at the campus of SIUE. Sweet indeed.

Still on the list of "would be nice":

A decent restaurant in Hamel (no, Weezie's doesn't count - yuck!)
A stoplight in Hamel (to prevent the wrecks by folks who don't see the stop sign!)
A Walmart Supercenter in Hamel (okay, okay, a fellow can dream, can't he?)