30 April 2010

Seminary or Not?

An interesting article by my neighbor and friend, Pastor Heath Curtis. Give it a read and chime in. Provocative, as usual.

29 April 2010

Praise You

The glorious company of the apostles praise You. The goodly fellowship of prophets praise You. The noble army of martyrs praise You. The holy church throughout all the world does acknowledge You: The Father of an infinite majesty; Your adorable, true, and only Son; Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.

--from the Te Deum at Matins (LSB 223)

A Beautiful Day

for finishing up the home-bound communions and sick calls. Got to do a bit more than 2 hours worth of driving under that bright blue sky and in the warm sunshine. The solitude in the car and the beauty of nature and the joy of bringing the undying Body and Blood of the Savior to those who need it most, well, it makes for a most joy-filled day. Glory to You, O Lord! Glory to You!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

This life, which flows from Him to us, is also full of joy, the great joy of living in a world whose innermost nature is mercifulness, forgiveness, and love. It's the joy of knowing that Christ has made it possible for even the greatest sinner and the most miserable wretch to be God's child. It's the joy of knowing that there is nothing that can separate us from God when we trust in Jesus and stay with Him. -- Bishop Bo Giertz, *To Live with Christ* p. 327

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Pride is a scorching wind drying up the fountains of divine grace in the heart; beware then of lifting up thyself with pride, lest thou deprive thyself of the influences of God's grace. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XXXIV

Patristic Quote of the Day

Lord God, give us peace - for you have granted us all things - the peace of quiet, the peace of the Sabbath which has no evening. -- St. Augustine, *Confessions* XIII, 35

28 April 2010

These Wednesday Evenings

find us studying together how the Apostles preached the resurrection in the book of Acts. I love doing these studies. So much to learn about preaching. The importance of stating clearly the events of the Kerygma, but above all driving to the point of it all: forgiveness of sins. Amazing how Peter does this in Acts 2 and 10 and Paul in Acts 13. I'm convinced you don't have a decent sermon if you short either side. Tonight was Acts 13 and I was struck how the Holy Spirit taught two truths in the end:

YOU judge YOURSELF unworthy of eternal life, when you reject the Gospel.


All those who were appointed to eternal life believed the Gospel.

On the last statement, I wonder sometimes if we hear it correctly. The emphasis, I would think, is upon believing the Gospel discloses one to be an heir of the life that does not end.

Afterward, some of us gathered in the chancel to pray Compline and to ask the Lord's blessings on the end of the day - I always think of Compline as a practice run of my funeral. What joy and peace come to us through those wondrous psalms, hymn, and prayers.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The communion of saints was a fact long before it became a doctrine. -- Berthold von Schenk, *The Presence* p. 129.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Holy joy is the picture of God, while worldly sorrow is the picture of Satan and the exact opposite of faith. -- C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 394.

Patristic Quote of the Day

We rely on the true mercy of God; you, on your own false virtue. -- St. Augustine (Contra Julian, p. 173)

27 April 2010

Kinda Surreal

to attend Vicarage Assignment Vespers at the Seminary today. Lots of memories. Dean and Lauren are staying put - Our Redeemer in Overland, Missouri. Lauren already is part-time secretary/part-time teacher in the school there. Pr. Russ Wise, who serves there, was at one time vicar in Dean's parent's church, Holy Cross, Collinsville.

The service itself was...interesting.

Winning the prize for odd: floating streamers that accompanied the processional cross. Think very Valpo-y and you get the idea. So out of place that one scarcely could decide between snorts of outrage or guffaws at the silliness thereof. Sorry, Concordia Seminary and with all due respect to my friend, the Reverend Dean of the Chapel, but that is just dumb.

Winning the prize for sad: the complete absence of the Gospel being proclaimed to the gathered vicars-to-be and deaconess intern and the congregation. Here is the root source of the problems of the LCMS, folks. It's a preaching crisis.

Winning the prize for worst piece of music: Alabare, sung at the pace of dirge. Really, if you're going to use a piece of music from another culture, at least learn a bit about TEMPO! I've heard folks butcher "Listen!" in just the same way. Grr.

Okay, venting off.

The choir was outstanding on the Psalm, Prof. Utech did a beautiful job in reading the lesson, and the prayers were reverently offered by President Meyer.

I think about those goofy streamers, though, and just shake my head... The image of cheerleaders with pom-poms keeps surfacing...

26 April 2010

Oh, and scrounging

around in the innards of my computer and dumping junk files has resulted in amazing savings. I went from having 7 gigs free (yikes!) to having more than 80 gigs free. I feel like my MacBook just got a new lease on life!

Hey, I won!

Soundbite of the week for Issues, Etc. You can check it out here.

Okay, Lesson #11

of Financial Peace University has been my favorite...so far. It recalled to mind a conversation from many, many years ago with Mel. I remember telling him that I absolutely LOVED being a pastor and couldn't imagine for a second doing anything else. He told me that I was blessed; and that most people actually hated what they do. I remember being so shocked. Surely not, I said. He laughed and said: "Pastor, you've got a lot to learn on that. It's true. Most people hate what they do." Mel may well have been right, but I think Ramsey hits the nail on the head when he stresses that a person doing what he or she is passionate about is the key to contentment in work and to intensity at work. I love what I do because I do what I love.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Christian life is journey. We constantly get to see more. We learn to better understand things. We are led deeper into the mystery of God. The Christian doesn't have to know everything from the beginning. -- Bishop Bo Giertz, *To Live with Christ* p. 320

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We must, therefore, constantly learn, preach, and exhort about this message of salvation, though it cannot at once enter the hearts of men - that is impossible. But day after day, year after year, the Gospel may the more and more be grasped to the limit of our comprehension here on earth. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Homily on the Ascension (Church Postil III:219)

Patristic Quote of the Day

He [St. Ambrose] said that none is acquitted of sin but one whose every sin is forgiven in baptism. -- St. Augustine, Contra Julian, Book II, Chapter 9

Pastor McCain drew my attention

this morning to Matt Carver's latest offering over at Hymnoglypt. The hymn O starker Gott celebrates the saints of God (mostly Old Testament, with a few New Testament ones). Most interesting is the stanza on the blessed Virgin:

32. MARIA allein,
ein Jungfrau rein,
empfing geistlich,
gebar leiblich
Christum auf Erdreich,
Gottes Sohn ganz heilig,
durch den wir selig
dem alle Ding mächtig
sie bleibt Jungfrau und Mutter Gottes ewig.

Matt rendered it as follows:

32. MARY, pure virgin, was by grace alone
Chosen to give birth to God’s Son
In womb so lowly,
Jesus Christ most holy,
Who alone could save—
To Him her flesh she gave,
Remaining ever virgin, God’s true Mother.

So the Lutherans of the 16th century sang about this particular saint. I cannot praise highly enough Matt's work in translating for us. Explore his site and feast on the goodies!


This morning (after Matins, teaching, and preschool chapel), I headed down to the Y and did my run. I managed to do six miles in an hour. Yeah! Since timing is always a bit limited, pushing the miles per hour upward (instead of just adding miles by time) gives me a whole new set of goals. I wonder if I can do 7 miles per hour by the end of summer? I think I might have to try and find out.

24 April 2010


Today's assignment was to clean and straighten the office - and so I did. MUCH better. Also cleaned up the computer and dumped a boatload of unneeded files and programs. And you'll never guess what I found in all the cleaning? Yes, one of David's missing cell phones. Will wonders never cease!

22 April 2010

Also for this coming Sunday

In Thee is gladness
Amid all sadness,
Jesus, sunshine of my heart.
By Thee are given
The gifts of heaven,
Thou the true Redeemer art.
Our souls Thou wakest,
Our bonds Thou breakest,
Who trusts Thee surely
Has built securely
He stands forever:
Our hearts are pining
To see Thy shining,
Dying or living
To Thee are cleaving;
Naught can us sever:

Since He is ours,
We fear no powers,
Not of earth nor sin nor death.
He sees and blesses
In worst distresses;
He can change them with a breath.
Wherefore the story
Tell of His glory
With hearts and voices;
All heav'n rejoices
In Him forever: Alleluia!
We shout for gladness,
Triumph o'er sadness,
Love Him and praise Him
And still shall raise Him
Glad hymns forever: Alleluia!

LSB 818

Even though I don't claim it

as mine, Lauren keeps insisting that Bilbo (the cat) is our darling grandchild - a more ornery and loudly obnoxious and demanding beast you will never meet (Bilbo, I mean, not Lauren; well, usually). Apparently he is rather talented (one IS supposed to brag on grandchildren, no?) for he left this note upon our refrigerator:

Now, Anastasia, you mustn't fret. It's all a joke. Bilbo has been declawed and lives inside... :)

Homily for Jubilate (2010)

[Isaiah 40:25-31; 1 John 3:1-3; John 16:16-22]

I usually don’t talk about my family in sermons - much to your and their relief, I’m sure - but today’s Gospel always vividly brings a memory to mind that I have come to treasure. My wife, when she makes up her mind to do something, is quite adamant. Child number one, Lauren, was delivered by emergency c-section - an occult prolapsed umbilical cord was the problem. And child number two, David, was also delivered by c-section. Now, Lauren was 9.5 and David 9.15. And after David, Cindi and her sister began studying and researching and she became convinced, absolutely convinced, that she had not needed the c-sections. She determined to have number 3 - that would be Bekah - naturally no matter what. Instead of the regular doctor, she saw a midwife nurse and had a coach. She did it too. She naturally delivered all 11 lbs 10 oz of that child. Told you she was adamant - which is the nice word for stubborn.

But before she delivered, I’ll never forget her telling the midwife with tears that she didn’t think she could take it anymore - the pain was so great. The midwife told her: “But you’re already taking it. Hang on, it won’t be long now.” And she did. She hung on and made it through and proudly delivered our little elephant.

And so the great word of comfort from today’s Gospel. Jesus tells the disciples flat out that pain is ahead of them - pain like a woman in childbirth. That’s BAD pain. But it doesn’t go on interminably. It has an end. It lasts for “a little while” and on the other side of the pain is joy! “Your sorrow will be turned to joy!” He told them “I will see you again and your heart will rejoice and your joy no one will take from you.”

He meant, of course, that He’d see them on Easter - on the other side of the agony of the cross and death and burial. And you remember how John carefully records of that encounter on Easter Eve: “and they were glad when they saw the Lord.”

But the Church has found in our Lord’s words a different application - for we also live in the time of the little while of not seeing the Lord. We’re people who walk by faith, not sight. John could remind us of this in today’s Epistle: The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we ARE God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.”

Baptism has already given you the gift of being a child of God - even if you don’t look much like one - just hang on. The full unveiling of who YOU are doesn’t happen until the full unveiling of who HE is! That is, His glorious appearing when we will be transfigured and made like Him!

And so we live in the “little while” between His ascension and His glorious appearing; between our Baptism and our being changed and raised from the dead. And in the middle of this while, the pains can be big.

Israel certainly knew that kind of pain as they waited for the promises of God to come to fulfillment. Isaiah records the people’s complaint: “My way is hidden from the Lord; and my right is disregarded by my God.” So in the little while God’s people often feel abandoned, helpless, crying in pain. And sometimes they say: “I just can’t take it anymore.”

Isaiah pointed to a wondrous “aha” about our God. He does not faint or grow weary and His understanding - His plan for working out all things to bring blessing to His people - is unsearchable. That means, you’ll not wrap your mind around it, no matter how hard you try.

But this you can count on: “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength.” Get that? He uses the little while, when you think you’ve had it and are done and can’t possibly go on, to fill you with HIS power and HIS strength. This is exactly what St. Paul experienced when God told Him: “My grace is sufficient for you; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

It’s at the moment of greatest weakness, right in the midst of the little while, when you think: I can’t do this, I can’t go on, I can’t possibly endure this; that you discover this wondrous secret: “They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

You see, because you’re waiting for the Lord, you know that there’s an end to the pain of the little while. You know that on the other side of the suffering, there WILL be the unspeakable joy of seeing Him and Him seeing you as He pulls you from death to life. And when He does, oh, the laughter! The laughter, the joy, and the mirth. It will fill your heart and set you singing for an eternity.

A little while. And to get you through, He gives you what’s already gotten through. He gives you His body and blood. He gives you the body and blood that knew the sorrow of the cross, the anguish of abandonment, the full weight of your sin and mine, the terrors of wrath. But even more the body and blood that came out ALIVE - never to die again. The Risen Body and Blood of Him who is the Forgiveness of sins and the Destruction of death. And as He feeds that precious food into you, He whispers: Hang on, child. It’s just a little while. And then I will see you and you will see me and your sorrows will be turned into joy.

O people loved by God, there is no one to whom we can compare the Holy One who loves us so and who has prepared for us such a rich salvation!

St. John tells us that everyone who has this hope purifies himself as He, the Lord, is pure. That is, since you know the future outcome - since you know that the Crucified and Risen Lord will stand again on this earth and when He does He will call you from the grave to His side as a beloved and forgiven sister or brother, a coheir of all that is His, and you know that His nail-scared hand will reach out to touch you and wipe away all the tears, that hope give you the freedom from fixating overmuch on this life of pilgrimage, this journey toward that future of God, so that when the sorrows come - as come they will - you will be able to face them each confident though in tears, as we say one to another: “Hang on, now. It won’t be long. It has an end. Come, Lord Jesus!” Amen.

You know...

...I'm convinced that no one ever offered a better insight into the Church's penchant for chanting than J. R. R. Tolkein in The Lord of the Rings, when the hobbits are in the house of Bombadil:

"The guests suddenly became aware that they were singing merrily, as if it was easier and more natural than talking."

Song is the native tongue of heaven; speaking is so of the earth.

Easter Prayer of Thanksgiving - DS 4

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, king of all creation, for You have had mercy on us and given Your only-begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. By His death, He has redeemed us from bondage to sin and death, and by His resurrection, He has delivered us into new life in Him.

Grant us to keep the Feast in sincerity and truth, faithfully eating His body given into death and drinking His life's blood poured out for our salvation until we pass through death to the promised land of eternal life.

Hear us as we pray in His name and as He has taught us: Our Father...

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

For him [Walther] a Lutheran church by definition was a church that taught - and practiced - in accordance with the Lutheran confession, the Lutheran Symbols. -- A. C. Piepkorn, *The Sacred Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions* p. 166

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Our ability to write or speak eloquently about it [the Kingdom of God] is not sufficient; rather must our lives and our deeds testify to the truth, as we demonstrate our love and bestow our works of kindness on friend and foe. -- Blessed Martin Luther [from today's *Treasury* reading]

Patristic Quote of the Day

Hope in the mercy of God is forever and ever. For those very works of justice do not suffice to merit perfect blessedness, unless the mercy of God even in this will to do justice does not impute the faults of human changes and movements. Hence, this saying of the Prophet: "Thy mercy is better than lives." -- St. Hilary of Poitiers on Psalm 51

21 April 2010

A Most Ignored Matter

If anyone studies the rubrics of LSB, it is surely striking that not one single service - not any Divine Service or a single one of the Daily Prayer liturgies or Service of Prayer and Preaching - calls for a final hymn. The benediction in every case ends the liturgy. And yet.... I've never attended, worshipped, or served at any place where that was the case. Invariably there is a closing hymn. St. Paul's ALWAYS has a closing hymn for the Divine Services at least; St. Andrew always had a closing hymn; Redeemer always had a closing hymn. What about the rest of you?

From This Coming Sunday's

Hymn of the Day:

True God, He first
From death has burst
Forth into life, all subduing.
His enemy
Doth vanquished lie;
His death has been
Death's undoing.
"And yours shall be
Like victory
O'er death and grave"
Saith He, who gave
His life for us, life renewing.

LSB 483:2

There are no two ways about it...

...teaching on how the resurrection is preached in the book of Acts and then praying Compline together is the perfect way to wrap up a day. Early morning tomorrow. Cindi is heading for Chicago with Andy and his "ladies" to do some singing and catch a show. I wonder what Bekah and David will fix me for dinner tomorrow night... HA!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

What Christian in his right mind would shy away from frequent eating of the life-giving food and drink of our Savior's body and blood? -- John Stephenson, *The Lord's Supper* p. 148

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

So in the action of the Eucharist the minister acts as an ambassador in the place of Christ, who is Himself there present, and through the ministers pronounces these words: "This is my body; this do, etc." and for this reason His Word is efficacious. Therefore it is not a man, the minister, who by his consecration and blessing makes bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, but Christ Himself, by means of His word, is present in this action, and by means of the Word of His institution, which is spoken through the mouth of the minister, He brings it about that the bread is His body and the cup His blood. -- Blessed Martin Chemnitz, *Examen* II:229

Patristic Quote of the Day

For our heart is not in our power, nor are our thoughts which, unexpectedly darkened, confuse our mind and soul, and draw them elsewhere than we intend. -- St. Augustine, Contra Julian II:8

20 April 2010

Issues Etc.

Today my good friend Pr. Jim Leistico did an interview for Issues on superstitions; and Pr. Petersen spoke of the joys of Private Absolution. I got to do a hymn study on "The King of Love" and Jeff and Craig were kind enough to put up a link to this past Sunday's homily. You can find it all here under Tuesday, April 20, 1010.

Managed to sneak in

an bit more than an hour's bike ride this noon. Not as much fun as riding with Cindi, but went up to DeCamp Junction and back home. The wind was contrary on the way up and at my back mostly for the way back. And I *think* I saw a red winged black bird on the way home. I've not seen any others this year yet. It was sitting in a tree in the swamp the bike trail passes through. I always think it odd how Spring seems to come LAST to the swamp. Still it showed all the signs. I keep hoping to see the heron there again, but he's not showed up.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Here [in Christ] we can get to know the Father's heart. -- Bishop Bo Giertz, *To Live With Christ* p. 309

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Later, when the "little while" has passed and triumphed, then one feels what Christ says: "Your sorrow shall be turned into joy." Then the true joy of the heart commences and the soul sing an eternal Hallelujah and Christ is Arisen - a joy which will in the life beyond be perfect, without a defect and without an end. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Church Postil III:108

Patristic Quote of the Day

Truly, the holy and truthful man [he was referring to St. Ambrose] has distinguished the justification of this life, which takes place through the laver of regeneration, from its perfection, when our bodies also are renewed by immortality. -- St. Augustine, Contra Julian II:8

The Notion

that everything in the Divine Service should be utterly clear, transparent, and understandable to the unbelieving and uncatechized person who happens upon it, is absolutely and totally destructive of the faith itself. Illumination comes THROUGH the Spirit's use of the Word; not TO it. What part of "and the darkness did not comprehend it" is incomprehensible to these liturgical innovators???

19 April 2010

Let me say again...

...how impressed I've been by Financial Peace University. I have never understood money. Ever. Never had any real interest in doing so. FPU has changed my outlook on so many things; I think I'm beginning to understand. A huge thanks to Brent and to Gary for leading the class. I know I've learned tons, and it's been fun and interesting.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

They will never perish. Nothing can grab them out of His hand. The Lord has given His life so they will be able to live. He gave it freely of His own will. His death was not a tragedy, not a victory for violence and injustice. He had the strength to overpower His enemies, but He chose to give His life for them instead. -- Bishop Bo Giertz, *To Live with Christ* p. 307

[Let me add that I cannot recommend this book highly enough for someone who is new to the faith and desiring a grounding in it that is deep and yet accessible]

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Therefore when your trials come, you must not immediately think how you are to be delivered out of them. God will help you in due time. Only wait. It is only for a little while, he will not delay long. -- Luther's homily for Third Sunday after Easter, Church Postil, III:77

Patristic Quote of the Day

The Father is the beginning [principium] of the whole divinity. -- St. Augustine, NPNF 1 3:85

18 April 2010

Today we sang...

...one of my all-time favorite hymns. It was the second distribution hymn:

Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendor,
First begotten from the dead,
You alone our strong defender,
You lift up Your people's head.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Jesus, true and living bread!
Jesus, true and living bread!

Though the lowliest forms now veil You
As of old in Bethlehem,
Here as there Your angels hail You
Root and flow'r of Jesse's stem.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
We in worship join with them!
We in worship join with them!

Paschal Lamb, Your offering finished
Once for all when You were slain,
In its fullness undiminished
Shall forevermore remain.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Cleansing souls from every stain,
Cleansing souls from every stain.

Life-imparting heavenly Manna,
Stricken Rock with streaming side,
Heaven and earth with loud hosanna
Worship You, the Lamb who died.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Ris'n, ascended, glorified,
Ris'n, ascended, glorified.

Quiet Afternoon

A pleasant Sunday afternoon for reading. Lauren's here doing laundry (David and Bekah at work), and Dave and Jo are coming up for the yummy dinner Cindi prepared - two sorts of lasagna, green beans sautéed, some biscuits. I've gotten the fire pit prepared with some of last year's Christmas tree for kindling - we figured the cool evening would be perfect to enjoy a bit of outside time.

The afternoon reading time has been spent with *The Shack.* Jim gave me his copy to read. It's got some horrific confusion on the Trinity; some truly bad theology here and there; still also some insights. At times I'm wondering if Anastasia ghosted the insightful parts of it - except I know she'd not have misspoken so on the Holy Trinity. I fear for those who read such a work and carry away the Christology presented in it as truth. It also strikes me as utterly and typically Protestant that the man is dealt with by God ALONE and not saved in and through the Body of Christ, the Church (about which more than one unkind thing is said). Still, I'm glad I'm reading it. I can understand something of its appeal and popularity.

17 April 2010

Miscericordias Domini - Good Shepherd Sunday 2010

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

There’s a lot of thinking out there that the Lord only has time for those who, more or less, have their act together. That God loves you when you are lovable. Against such a notion comes this glorious Sunday with its readings. Miscericordias Domini - the Loving-kindness of the Lord. That’s its name in Latin, but we usually just call it “Good Shepherd Sunday.”

The Lord Jesus lets us know that that’s who He is. “I am the Good Shepherd.” So in today’s Gospel reading. But in saying that He lay claim to be the one speaking in the Old Testament reading from Ezekiel: “I myself” - that is Yahweh, the Lord God of Israel - “I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak.”

The sheep that are so torn up and damaged that one might wonder what they were - the Good Shepherd welcomes and tends them all. The ones that have lost their way, straying into the byways of sin and all its sorrows. The ones that have injured themselves, inflicted damaged on their own persons and those around them. The ones who are just plumb worn out and don’t know if they can go on. The Lord is in the business of gathering them together and making them lie down while He tends them.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!” - that is the cry of your Lord’s heart to you. You see He knows you. He knows you in your sin. The lies you’ve told. The gossip you’ve passed on with glee. The hatred you’ve harbored. The bitter words you’ve let flow from your heart through your lips to sting and hurt the people you were supposed to love. The betrayal of the promises you made your spouse and children. The distrust that overwhelms your heart at times when you wonder if there really even is a God who can bring good out of this mess. The misuse of your body, treating it as though it were yours to do with as you please, forgetting that you were bought with a price. The stinginess of your heart that judges your brother and hypocritically holds him to a standard that you know you do not keep yourself. Oh, yes. He knows you inside and out. Me too. In all the things I’ve ever done, thought, or said - and the countless good I have failed to do.

But that’s the miracle of grace we celebrate this Sunday. He who knows us inside and out, didn’t come among us to destroy us. For some utterly unfathomable reason that we’ll never understand and will marvel at for all eternity, He loves us. He came to heal us. He came to set right the things broken. He came to bind up the wounds and heal them. He came above all, to protect us from the wolf.

You see, to Him the wolf is personal. To the hired hand, his own life is more valuable than the sheep. He runs at the first sign of the trouble on four legs with a bush tail and howl. Why? Jesus puts it so simply: “he doesn’t own the sheep.”

To Him, you are valuable. Don’t go scrounging around inside yourself to discover what it is that He finds valuable. You can’t find it that way. Your value comes from the outside in: you have value because He values you; He doesn’t value you because you have intrinsic value. You’re His. No matter how damaged you are, not matter how beaten up and bruised and wandering. Now matter how worn out and tired. You’re His. He made you His own in the font of living water, plopped His name on you and said: “Mine. Mine forever.”

So the wolf coming after you is very personal business to Him. And He has no intention of allowing you to end up as a lupine snack. So He interposes His own life. “The Good Shepherd lays down His LIFE for the sheep.”

“Here, little wolfie! Come over here and eat me! Let them go free!” Of course, the little wolfie has no intention of letting anyone go free, but he freely gobbles down the snack offered. Bait. Poison. You know the story. The wolf couldn’t keep that Good Shepherd in his stinking gullet. The Good Shepherd burst right through. Raised from the dead on the third day. Leaving a hole behind in the wolf’s belly that will never ever heal or mend. And so when the wolf comes after you, you can go cheerfully down its stinking throat without a thought of fear - for you know that your Good Shepherd has already travelled this way, has gone down into the valley of shadow of death, and come up again, and He will bring you with Him. When all is darkness, and it closes around you - you needn’t fear. His voice rings out: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me will live though he die and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Death had no right to Him because He had no sin; but it took Him; and so Death forfeited its right to hold you forever.

Tending the wounds of your sins, giving you rich pasture in His word, refreshing you at His table with His own body and blood - the table set in the very presence of your enemies as the sign and seal of your triumph over them - you begin to see how Good your Shepherd truly is. Good beyond all deserving, good beyond anything we could even imagine.

In all of this gift, St. Peter tells us, our Lord has left us also an example - so that we might follow in His steps. The pattern He set is clear: trust in the Father who loves you and who will vindicate you and then you have no need to extract vengeance and such on your own. Rather, like the Lord, when He suffered, He did not threaten, when mocked and reviled He did not revile in return. He bore our sins in His body on the tree so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

No, He’s not the God and Lord of those who have their act together. Those who imagine they do are, in fact, not His proper clientele and the only ones He really ever chews out - so serious is their self-deception that He would rouse them from. He’s the God and Lord of the sick, injured, and weak, the straying and foolish ones. He will not turn you away. He died to release you from sin’s power. He rose to proclaim to you that death itself would never be the end of you. He invites you to come to Him today at His table and be refreshed and then leave this place to follow His example - to die to your sin and to live in the righteousness that is His gift to you, forgiving and loving those who mistreat you and cause you suffering as you yourself have been forgiven and loved by Him, by Jesus, your Good Shepherd. Amen.

15 April 2010

You must check out

these wonderful pics of the ordination of Pr. Paul Nus at Pr. Lehmann's blog.


Or, as one very wise brother put it at another such ordination, "welcome to the martyrdom!"

I must confess that, as I looked at the picture of all the pastors together, I thought: "Look at all those red necks!" :)

This April

has been beautiful beyond belief. The lilacs (there you go, Lauren) are in full bloom and sweetly perfuming the air. The irises are preparing to unfurl (and I still think they are the most elegant of flowers), and blooms are everywhere. Add the warm, warm days we've been having and it's hard to believe that we were shivering here not a terribly long time ago. It's crazy weather, but I LOVE it!

Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
(That slepen al the nyght with open eye)
So priketh hem Nature in hir corages
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Lord Jesus did not institute some abstraction called "ministry" and declare it a matter of indifference by whom this activity is exercised. On the contrary, ministry arose as He called ministers and laid specific mandates upon them; indeed, ministry does not exist apart from ministers. -- John Stephenson, *The Lord's Supper* p. 85

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

He knows us to be such sheep as are weak, sick and broken. That is: it does not make any difference in His regard for them that they are weak and sickly; He does not reject them on that account; but He pities and heals them, even though they be so diseased that the whole world conclude they are not His sheep. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Homily for Good Shepherd Sunday (Church Postil III:30)

Patristic Quote of the Day

We do not what we would, but what we hate, that we perform. Sin works many things in us. Very often, pleasures revive and rise up against us though we resist them. We must struggle against the flesh. Paul struggled against it, and at last he said: "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and making me prisoner to the law of sin." Are you stronger than Paul? Have no confidence in the sedulous flesh and do not entrust yourself to it, since the Apostle exclaims: "For I know that in me, that is, my flesh, no good dwells, because to wish is within my power, but I do not find the strength to accomplish what is good. For I do not the good that I wish, but the evil that I do not wish, that I perform. Now if I do what I do not wish, it is no longer I who do it,but the sin that dwells in me." -- St. Ambrose (De Paradiso) cited by St. Augustine in Contra Julian II, Chapter 5 [Note Ambrose clearly applies Romans 7 to the Christian's CURRENT state; not to a state prior to Baptism]

14 April 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

However the term is explained, communio must be taken in a dynamic rather than a static sense. It is a sharing, a taking part with other Christians, in the holy things that make them one, rather than being a mere abstract being in association with other individuals. -- A. C. Piepkorn, *The Church* p. 25.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Let us, therefore, ever be wise and learn to know Christ well, and to know that in His kingdom there are only weak and sickly people, and that it is nothing but a hospital where the sick and infirm, who need care, are gathered. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Church Postil III:26

Patristic Quote of the Day

In consequence, those five arguments of yours by which you particularly terrify men will not be able to trouble others or you, if you believe Ambrose, Cyprian, Gregory, and other holy and famous Catholic doctors, nay even yourselves, also, that the law of sin which dwells in the members of man, warring against the law of the mind, the law by which the flesh lusts against the spirit, forces even upon baptized saints the necessity of fighting: and against what, if not evil? -not a subtance, but the fault of a substance, which by the grace of God regenerating us is not imputed to us, which by the grace of God aiding us is to be bridled, and which by the grace of God rewarding us is to be healed. -- St. Augustine, Contra Julian, Book II

13 April 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The case of the church is parallel to that of the individual Christian. When we look at one another, each sees the other person in his unaesthetic twentieth-century garb, with annoying mannerisms and wrinkling skin, trifocal spectacles, balding pate, hoarse voice, and the symptoms and syndromes of the ailments he describes. This person will be completely different in the resurrection, so completely different that our experience furnishes no basis, according to the Scriptures, for imagining, what he will be - or what even in this moment he really is in the sight of the heavenly Father, who, as he looks upon that person, sees him "in Christ." -- A. C. Piepkorn, *The Church* p. 49

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Christ, in His Supper, offers us His most holy body and blood, so that engrafted by this communion as branches in Him who is the true Vine, we might draw thence, new, good, and spiritual sap. Thus we are also joined most closely by this communion with other Christians as members of the one body of Christ, so that mutual love toward the neighbor is kindled, increased, and preserved in us. -- Blessed Martin Chemnitz, *Enchiridion* 129

Patristic Quote of the Day

This is the reason infants are baptized, not only that they may enjoy the good of the kingdom of Christ, but also that they may be delivered from the evil of the kingdom of death. And this cannot be done except through Him who 'in His flesh condemned sin, which He did not experience in His birth and crucified in His death; that in our flesh there might be justification through grace.'" -- St. Augustine citing St. Ambrose in Contra Julian, Book II

12 April 2010

A Few Passages

on the liturgical heritage of Lutheran Christians - the formation of which in these gray and latter days is never an easy task. May these few lines be of some help!

The Lutheran Confessions on Various Matters of Worship:

Our churches are falsely accused of abolishing the Mass. The Mass is held among us and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved… Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV:1,2

Because the Mass is for the purpose of giving the Sacrament, we have Communion every holy day, and if anyone desires the Sacrament, we also offer it on other days, when it is given to all who ask for it. Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV:34

We answer that it is lawful for bishops, or pastors, to make ordinances so that things will be done orderly in the church, but not to make satisfaction for sin… It is proper that the churches keep such ordinances for the sake of love and tranquility, to avoid giving offense to another, so that all things be done in the churches in order, and without confusion. Augsburg Confession XXVIII:53-55.

However, it is pleasing to us that, for the sake of peace, universal ceremonies are kept. We also willingly keep the order of the Mass in the churches, the Lord’s Day, and other more famous festival days. With a very grateful mind we include the beneficial and ancient ordinances, especially since they contain a certain discipline. Apology to the Augsburg Confession, Article VII/VIII:33

Masses are celebrated among us every Lord’s Day and on other festivals. The Sacrament is offered to those who wish to use it, after they have been examined and absolved. And the usual public ceremonies are observed, the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments, and other such things. Apology to the Augsburg Confession, XXIV:1

Nothing in 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 to the Augsburg Confession, XV:51

Luther on the Elevation (lifting up the body and blood of the Lord):

We do not want to abolish the elevation, but retain it because it...signifies that Christ has commanded us to remember Him. For just as the sacrament is bodily elevated, and yet Christ's body and blood are not seen in it, so he is also remembered and elevated by the word of the sermon and is confessed and adored in the reception of the Sacrament. In each case, He is apprehended only by faith; for we cannot see how Christ gives His body and blood for us and even now daily shows and offers it before God to obtain grace for us. -- Blessed Martin Luther, *The German Mass* AE 53:82

Luther on Genuflecting during the Creed:

And when the congregation came to the words “from the Virgin Mary, and was made man,” everyone genuflected and removed his hat. It would still be proper and appropriate to kneel at the words “and was made man,” to sing them with long notes as formerly, to listen with happy hearts to the message that the Divine Majesty abased Himself and became like us poor bags of worms, and to thank God for the ineffable mercy and compassion reflected in the incarnation of the Deity. [Luther on John 1:14]

Luther on Kissing the Bible:

It [kneeling before the Sacrament] is a matter of freedom, just as one is at liberty to kiss the Bible or not. -- Table Talk 344

Luther on what was spilled:

[In 1542, in Wittenberg] a woman wanted to go to the Lord’s Supper, and then as she was about to kneel on the bench before the altar and drink, she made a misstep and jostled the chalice of the Lord violently with her mouth, so that some of the Blood of Christ was spilled from it onto her lined jacket and coat and onto the rail of the bench on which she was kneeling. So then when the reverend Doctor Luther, who was standing at a bench opposite, saw this, he quickly ran to the altar (as did also the reverend Doctor Bugenhagen), and together with the curate, with all reverence licked up [the Blood of Christ from the rail] and helped wipe off this spilled Blood of Christ from the woman’s coat, and so on, as well as they could. And Doctor Luther took this catastrophe so seriously that he groaned over it and said, “O, God, help!” and his eyes were full of water. (Johann Hachenburg, quoted in Peters, p. 191)

The Lutheran Confessions on Adoration of the Sacrament:

However, no one - unless he is an Arian heretic - can and will deny that Christ Himself, true God and man, is truly and essentially present in the Supper. Christ should be adored in spirit and in truth in the true use of the Sacrament, as He is in all other places, especially where His congregation is assembled. (FC VII:15)

Walther (Synod’s first President) on Chanting:

It is a pity and dreadful cowardice when a person sacrifices the good ancient church customs to please the deluded American denominations just so they won't accuse us of being Roman Catholic! Indeed! Am I to be afraid of a Methodist, who perverts the saving Word, or be ashamed in the matter of my good cause, and not rather rejoice that they can tell by our ceremonies that I do not belong to them?

It is too bad that such entirely different ceremonies prevail in our Synod, and that no liturgy at all has yet been introduced in many congregations. The prejudice especially against the responsive chanting of pastor and congregations is of course still very great with many people -- this does not, however, alter the fact that it is very foolish. The pious church father Augustine said, "Qui cantat, bis orat--he who sings prays twice."

This finds its application also in the matter of the liturgy. Why should congregations or individuals in the congregation want to retain their prejudices? How foolish that would be! For first of all it is clear from the words of St. Paul (1 Cor. 14:16) that the congregations of his time had a similar custom. It has been the custom in the Lutheran Church for 250 years. It creates a solemn impression on the Christian mind when one is reminded by the solemnity of the divine service that one is in the house of God, in childlike love to their heavenly Father, also give expression to their joy in such a lovely manner.

Whenever the divine service once again follows the old Evangelical-Lutheran agendas (or church books), it seems that many raise a great cry that it is "Roman Catholic": "Roman Catholic" when the pastor chants "The Lord be with you" and the congregation responds by chanting "and with thy spirit"; "Roman Catholic" when the pastor chants the collect and the blessing and the people respond with a chanted "Amen." Even the simplest Christian can respond to this outcry: "Prove to me that this chanting is contrary to the Word of God, then I too will call it `Roman Catholic' and have nothing more to do with it. However, you cannot prove this to me."

If you insist upon calling every element in the divine service "Romish" that has been used by the Roman Catholic Church, it must follow that the reading of the Epistle and Gospel is also "Romish." Indeed, it is mischief to sing or preach in church, for the Roman Church has done this also . . .Those who cry out should remember that the Roman Catholic Church possesses every beautiful song of the old orthodox church. The chants and antiphons and responses were brought into the church long before the false teachings of Rome crept in. This Christian Church since the beginning, even in the Old Testament, has derived great joy from chanting... For more than 1700 years orthodox Christians have participated joyfully in the divine service. Should we, today, carry on by saying that such joyful participation is "Roman Catholic"? God forbid! Therefore, as we continue to hold and to restore our wonderful divine services in places where they have been forgotten, let us boldly confess that our worship forms do not tie us with the modern sects or with the church of Rome; rather, they join us to the one, holy Christian Church that is as old as the world and is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.”

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Finally, how confident the Holy Supper makes us with respect to the corruption of our body! The Holy Supper is a true new tree of life. The first Christians were well acquainted with all of this. For this reason they called the Holy Supper the viaticum of dying Christians. In the persecutions they partook of it daily. They often spent great sums of money to procure permission to bring the Holy Sacrament to those who were to die a martyr's death [as they waited] in prison. -- from a sermon by C. F. W. Walther, cited in *The Lord's Supper* by Dr. John R. Stephenson, p. 204.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We do not want to abolish the elevation, but retain it because it...signifies that Christ has commanded us to remember Him. For just as the sacrament is bodily elevated, and yet Christ's body and blood are not seen in it, so he is also remembered and elevated by the word of the sermon and is confessed and adored in the reception of the Sacrament. In each case, He is apprehended only by faith; for we cannot see how Christ gives His body and blood for us and even now daily shows and offers it before God to obtain grace for us. -- Blessed Martin Luther, *The German Mass* AE 53:82

Patristic Quote of the Day

"The one who sings praise, not only praises, but also praises joyfully; the one who sings praise, not only sings, but also loves Him for whom he sings. In the praise by one who confesses the Divine Being, praise actually is a public profession; and in the song of the lover is affection for the Beloved." - St. Augustine, Homily 336

A Very Worthy Cause

Please consider helping Natalie! Here's a pic of that little sweet-heart playing the piano with me from last year:

10 April 2010

A Liturgical Oddity of the Great 50 Days

is that the Gradual disappears and the Alleluia is doubled in the historic (one year) series from Quasimodo through Pentecost. You have been warned. :)

Pastor Gleason's Homily

Sermon for Easter II - John 20:19-31 • Rev. William Gleason

He is risen! He is risen, indeed.

We are truly blessed to greet one another with such confidence. When Thomas first heard that wonderful proclamation, his response was a more incredulous, “Has He indeed?” He would not believe his fellow disciples who said, “We have seen the Lord.” Of course, these were the same disciples who dismissed as crazy the report of the women who were stunned by joy at seeing the living Christ. By the end of His forty day sojourn amongst His disciples, Jesus had appeared to over 500 followers showing His self visibly and tangibly to them so that they may believe. Still, as Matthew tells us, at Jesus’ Ascension there were many who doubted.

The disciples’ disbelief was simply the spiritual blindness of sin. It is the same darkness that shrouded the minds of our first parents when they turned from the light of God’s truth and embraced the shadowy gloom of Satan’s lies. Ever since then, all of Adam’s children have been blind from birth. We are spiritually blind to the reality of God’s true divinity, and also blind to the reality of our true humanity. The only remedy for this blindness is to enter again into the Light which is the Light of Christ’s Word. In that Light, we see by faith the grace and love of our Creator who redeemed us from Satan’s curse, and we see the true life that He has in store for us.

Like many biblical stories, there are many pictures, icons and statues depicting Doubting Thomas; but the one I find most remarkable is the one painted by the 16th century artist Caravaggio. In it, Thomas is portrayed in a most animated, almost humorous, pose of skepticism: he is bent over so he can peer closely into the side of Jesus, his left hand perched doggedly on his hip, and his eyes are opened wide in order to scrutinize every bit of this wound. His right wrist is held by Christ, as He draws Thomas’s hand, his index finger extended, right into the hole that is in Jesus’ flesh. Two other disciples stand watching, mouths gaping open, as if they are more astonished by a shameless act of touching, than by the miraculous appearance of the crucified Christ.

But here is where Caravaggio has captured most vividly an essential element of this scene. Unlike many other pictures where Thomas is barely touching the body of Christ, this artist has Thomas’s finger stuck right into the side of Jesus, so much so that the Savior’s skin is pushed up by Thomas’s knuckle. Seeing this graphic illustration, I, too, find myself scandalized by this impetuous invasion of Jesus’ body. But that’s it! It’s Jesus’ body—His real, flesh and blood, living body. I can empathize with those men and women who simply could not believe what they were seeing. Or, perhaps, to put it more accurately, could only believe what they could see.

Which gets to the heart of this Gospel: the source and the surety of our faith. Jesus asked Thomas: “Have you believed because you have seen Me?” Before we can address the answer to that question, let us understand clearly what Jesus was asking. He asked Thomas, “Have you believed…?” Believed what? We see that from Thomas’s response to Jesus: “My Lord and my God!” Thomas made a very bold confession of faith in who Jesus is. This Man is the Lord; He is the Son of God, true God of true God. How can Thomas make such a claim? How can he believe such a confession?

Jesus asked him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me?” The answer is, of course, no. Thomas’s faith, and his confession of faith, did not come from his sight, or anything else in him. It is just as our Lord made it clear to Peter, who made the same confession about “the Christ, the Son of the Living God;” He said, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Peter’s faith and Thomas’s faith—just like the faith of the other disciples, and all who have seen Jesus, or those who haven’t—is born of God. That is why Jesus declared to Thomas the same blessedness of faith that Peter enjoyed, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

At this point, one might ask a simple and logical question: if seeing is not believing, if our faith is a gift from God, and if we walk by faith and not by sight, then why did Jesus appear to His disciples at all? Why all this fuss to show Thomas the reality of Jesus’ living body? Why walk and talk, eat and drink with the disciples on the way to Emmaus? Or on the shore of the Sea of Tiberius? Why show Himself to almost five hundred other disciples, but to no others?

It is because God is making a new Creation through His Son. He is calling forth by His Word a new Israel, not like the old whose bones dried up with their hope in the Law, but a new one raised up from the graves that once entombed their bodies, flesh and blood that is now filled with the Spirit of the Living God. He is creating a new Bride for His Son, who, like the first Eve, is born from a pierced side. Only this time, it not a rib that comes out, but water and blood; and from this water and blood, with the testimony of His Spirit, God creates His Church, a holy and blameless Bride to present to His Son.

But this new Creation is not yet finished. The old creation was finished on the sixth day, and God saw that it was very good. However, it was turned from good to bad by sin. It became so wicked that even a cataclysmic flood could not wash all the evil away. Neither could the blood of countless animals atone for all the sins of the people. Only the flood of water and blood that came from God’s Son, crucified at Calvary, could redeem His fallen creation. And on the cross the redemption of His creation was also finished. And it was very good. But this new Creation is not yet finished.

Our Lord is still working, still calling, still gathering His elect from all over the world. And the means of His working is the same as when He created the world, and when He redeemed the world: His Divine Word. The same Word of God that was in the beginning, by whom all things were made, also became flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Theotokos, the blessed Virgin who bore God. He came into this world to overcome the world. To take back from captivity His creation held in bondage to sin, and Satan, and the darkness of death. He came to dispel the darkness of sin and death by the Light of His Word. Just as in the beginning when He separated the light from the darkness, so also He calls His Church out of darkness into His marvelous Light that they may share in His victory over the world. And the disciples, so privileged to see the risen Lord, were to share in that victory and in the testimony of His victory.

The apostle John wrote in his first epistle: “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.” When Jesus appeared to the disciples, when He showed Himself to Thomas, they believed and were glad. But it was not their seeing that made them believe. Rather, the Word of God enlightened their minds that had been darkened by sin and unbelief. It was the Light of Christ who stood victoriously in their midst. The Truth of His Word overcame the darkness of the world and its lies that once shrouded their hearts and minds. And like the Caravaggio painting where Thomas is pointing us directly to the Author and Finisher of our faith, so this Gospel story points us to the One who is the Light and Truth.

Through the testimony of His Apostles, Christ continues to proclaim His victory over the world. When He showed Himself to them, He breathed on them His Holy Spirit and gave them the office and the authority that sets people free from the darkness of death: the Ministry of the forgiveness of sins. It is in forgiving sins that Christ imparts life and salvation. That forgiveness He dispenses by His Word and Spirit, by the preaching of His Gospel and Sacraments. The voice of Christ’s minister absolving sins is the voice of Christ absolving sins. The proclamation of the Gospel in the Church is the breath of the Spirit blowing through our land. The baptismal Font and the holy Chalice is where we find the flood of cleansing water and blood pouring forth from the side of Christ. And in the blessed Host the very body that Thomas once put his hand into, is now put into your hand and mouth so that you may believe and confess Christ as Lord and God. And when we sing after every Lord’s Supper, “Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation,” we are making the bold confession of all those who behold by faith the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

Victory over the world is victory over the lies of this world’s ruler, Satan. He was defeated when Christ overcame the world. But he is still in this world, and he still holds captive a host of lost souls who are gripped by his deceptions. We, too, are still in this world. And Satan is busy at his old tricks of luring us back into his control. The method is still the same: tempting us to sin and casting doubt about God’s word. It is not hard to see the devil at work when Christ has revealed to you the Truth of the Gospel, but don’t underestimate the devil’s power; he lurks around seeking someone to devour. Resist him. Hold fast to the Truth of Christ’s Word. Do not disbelieve, but believe and overcome the world with our most holy Faith. For Jesus is among us; His Word is proclaimed “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name.” Amen.


Quite aside from having one of the coolest names of a Sunday in the Church year, this week is also one of my all time favorites. I love the account with Thomas. Tonight Pr. Gleason gave us that with some comments on Caravaggio thrown in to boot - of which the greatest (in my opinion) was that as Christ took Thomas's hand to place it into His body, so He places His self-same risen body in our hand or mouth. YES.

Ah, Hamel

You just never know what you're going to see out on a bike ride. Today we saw at a neighboring farm, redcoats and patriots reenacting some battle from the Revolutionary war - cannon, flags, and all. As the men were preparing to engage in battle and giving the battle cry, I mentioned to Cin: "Men and their toys."

09 April 2010

I don't think I've mentioned

lately what a splendid game liverpool is. Such skill it takes to win! No, no. I wouldn't dream of bragging, and after all Cindi DID win the first game, but it is the second game that counts, as everyone knows. Sorry, Jo. Better luck next time...

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

So the Holy Supper is a sacrificial banquet, the miraculous impartation to Christendom under consecrated bread and wine of the sacrifice of Christ's body and blood, once offered, in which He now lives to make intercession for us. -- John R. Stephenson, *The Lord's Supper* p. 126

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

You arose in a glorified body. Your wounds and nail-prints are no longer bloody, nor did they cause you pain, but were radiant like the sun. Thus my body also will be transformed and glorified when You waken me from the dust. -- Starck's Prayer Book, p. 90

Patristic Quote of the Day

Do you now see, do you now understand, do you now return to your senses, and realize that in baptism there is remission of all sins, and in the baptized person there remains, as it were, a civil war of interior faults? -- St. Augustine, *Contra Julius* II:par.5

08 April 2010

'Nuff Said...

24 Hours Worth!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is as a baptized member of the Christian community that the individual Christian receives the Holy Communion, and it is precisely the sacrificial giving up of oneself for Christ and for the sake of His Bride the Church that our reception of the Holy Communion implies. We receive it not only so that God might strengthen us individually in faith toward Him, but also that He might increase our fervent love to one another. -- Arthur Carl Piepkorn, *The Church* p. 240

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

For us, however, [the message of the resurrection] is pure joy, because we hear that our greatest Treasure, over which we rejoice, is already in heaven above, and that only the most insignificant part remains behind; and that He will awaken this, too, and draw it after Him as easily as a person awakens from sleep. -- Blessed Martin Luther (AE 28:115)

Patristic Quote of the Day

He it is who has destroyed death and freely graced us all with incorruption through the promise of the resurrection, having raised His own body as its first-fruits. -- St. Athanasius *On the Incarnation* par 32

Someone who knows these

things better than I do, set up an internet poll for the convention delegates:


A couple caveats:

*PLEASE vote only if you are a voting delegate.
*PLEASE vote only ONCE.

That's way better than keeping track on a blog. Thanks, Josh!

07 April 2010

Ah, Compline!

It was like welcoming back a dear friend tonight.

From all the terrors of the night,
From evil dreams defend our sight,
Drive far away our wicked foe,
That stain of sin we may not know.

LSB 889:2

Here's a Bold Question:

Who is a delegate for the Synodical convention who is willing to state at this point that they have made up their mind to cast their vote for Matthew Harrison? Is there any way to find out how many of us there are out there BEFORE we hit the convention?

I'll start. I'm a delegate, and I'm voting for Harrison.


So the Net is Abuzz

with the discussion of the LCMS nominations for President. The incumbent received at total of 755. Matthew Harrison received 1,332. I do believe that we are in uncharted territory in the LCMS. I think that Al Barry had more nominations than incumbent Ralph Bohlmann the year that Bohlmann was voted out of office, but it was nothing near this sweeping (update: it was by 90 nominations). If you add the Mueller/Harrison votes together, it comes to 1835, throw in the Gard and Fickenscher votes and it's 1843. 1843 to 755. Amazing. Just amazing. Missouri, IT'S TIME!

I dearly love

the Gospel reading for this morning's Divine Service - John 21. And the Dudley-Smith hymn in LSB (485) totally captures it:

Christ is risen! Grief and sighing,
Sins and sorrows fall behind;
Fear and failure, doubt, denying,
Full and free forgiveness find.
All the soul's dark night is past,
Morning breaks in joy at last.

Morning breaks and Jesus meets us,
Feeds and comforts, pardons still;
As His faithful friends He greets us,
Partners of His work and will.
All our days on ev'ry shore,
Christ is ours forevermore!

06 April 2010

Just to note...

...great a blessing as our recording system is (go, Robert and Candy!), the video clips cannot begin to convey the sense of joy that permeated St. Paul's on Easter. Video goes only so far. Suffice it to say that the day was overflowing with paschal joy!

Final Hymn at Easter Eucharist

is "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today!" It is a pity that the mics don't really capture the loudness of the people's song. They were raising the rafters on this last piece.

Easter Joy - A Bell Piece

by the Bells of St. Paul as the Distribution of the Holy Eucharist commences.

The Great Thanksgiving

for the Easter feast. If Youtube does its usual, you'll note that the audio and the visual tracks are off a bit. Sorry about that, but I don't know how to fix it. It works fine on MY computer before uploading...

Now Glad of Heart

This beautiful Easter carol was sung by Amilia, Angel and Cindi as the offerings of the people were gathered and the table was prepared for the Eucharist. The setting is by Edgar Aufdemberge. Here are the words:

Now glad of heart be everyone,
The fight is fought, the day is won,
The Christ is on His throne. Alleluia...

Who on the rood (cross) was crucified,
Who rose again as at this tide
In glory to His Father's side. Alleluia...

Who baffled death and harrowed hell
And led the souls that loved Him well
All in the light of lights to dwell. Alleluia...

By faith, the shield of heart and mind,
Through love which conquers and is kind,
In hope that rides upon His winds. Alleluia...

To Him we lift our heart and voice
And in His paradise rejoice
With harp and pipe and happy noise. Alleluia...

Then rise, O Christian folk, with me
And carol forth the One in Three
Who was and is and is to be. Alleluia...

Easter Entrance Hymn

"Joy to the Heart!" It's a great piece. I apologize for the squeal the sound system gave at the conclusion - I think it was sound overload with the timps, bells, organ, trumpets, choir and congregation belting out all together.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

There is now nothing in all the world you can be more sure of than Jesus crucified for you, risen for you. --Norman Nagel, *Selected Sermons* p. 120

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Therefore, we should so preach Christ as the one who will reject nobody, however weak he may be, but will gladly receive and comfort and strengthen everybody; that we may always picture him to ourselves as a good shepherd. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Church Postils III:25

Patristic Quote of the Day

If He took a body to Himself at all, and made it His own in pursuance of His purpose, as we have shown that He did, what was the Lord to do with it, and what was ultimately to become of that body upon which the Word descended? Mortal and offered to death on behalf of all as it was, it could not but die; indeed, it was for this very purpose that the Savior had prepared it for Himself. But on the other hand it could not remain dead, because it had become the very temple of Life. It therefore died, as mortal but lived again because of the Life within it; and its resurrection is made known through its works. --St. Athanasius, *On the Incarnation* par. 31

Internet Monk, Rest in Peace!

Michael Spencer reposed in Christ yesterday. A prayer for him and his family, and for all who mourn from this man from whom we learned much. It is from Starck's:

O holy and righteous God, it has pleased You to call from this life Your servant Michael by temporal death. Let us learn from this death that we, too, must die and leave this world, in order that we may prepare for it in time by repentance, a living faith, and avoiding the sins and vanities of the world. Refresh the soul that has now departed with heavenly consolation and joy, and fulfill for it all the gracious promises that in Your Word You have made to those who believe in You. Grant to the body a soft and quiet rest in the earth until the Last Day, when You will reunite body and soul lead them into glory so that the entire person who served You here may be filled with heavenly joy there. Comfort all who are in grief over this death, and be and remain to the bereaved their father, provider, guardian, helper, and support. Do not forsake them and do not withdraw Your hand from them, but let them abundantly experience Your goodness, grace, love and help, until You will grant them also a happy and blessed end. Hear us for Your mercy's sake.

So what's an 80 degree

sunny morning in April for? For running! Ran to Hamel then from Hamel to Worden to Decamp and back to the Church. 15 miles or so, and took 3 hours. I think it would have taken a lot less IF the whole way back from Decamp I didn't have a steady wind in my face - 20-25 mph. Chipping away at that golden 26.2.

05 April 2010

God So Loved the World

The St. Paul's Quartet at the conclusion of Tenebrae.

My Savior Jesus

from the Tenebrae Vespers, Adult Choir:

Ave Verum from Maundy Thursday

at conclusion of the Distribution:

Paschal Joy

As Jean was leaving church yesterday, she said to me: "Let's do it all again next week, Pastor!" And in a sense we will, and in a sense we won't. The joy of Pascha fills every Sunday, for each Sunday we celebrate the Resurrection victory. Even more so, in the Great 50 Days (from Easter Day to Pentecost), the joy of the Resurrection literally shapes the Church's assemblies more intensely than at any other time of the year. And yet there is something that is utterly unique about the Day of Resurrection itself. Here is how one of our hymns describes it:

Now the queen of seasons bright
With the day of splendor
With the royal feast of feasts
Comes its joy to render,
Come to gladden faithful hearts
Which with true affection
Welcome with unwearied strain
Jesus' resurrection. 478:3

The Great 50 Days is the queen of seasons bright, but the day of splendor, the royal feast of feasts, that is Easter Day alone. I'm glad of the gold marking off the day (and its "after" days - Monday through Wednesday). It sets the Feast apart as utterly unique, irreplaceable, it's own day that is unlike any other in the Church's life. It makes us all witnesses to the resurrection as it imparts the paschal joy - the beginning of the renewal of creation itself released from bondage to decay. Each Feast or Festival of the Church shines with the light of Christ, but it is as if on this day the door to the Kingdom is wide open and the light of the unending 8th day pours out and transfigures us and the world around us.

Mighty victim
From the skies,
Hell's fierce pow'rs beneath You lie.
You have conquered in the fight.
You have brought us life and light.

Now no more
Can death appall.
Now no more
the grave enthrall.
You have brought us paradise,
And in You Your saints shall rise.

Easter triumph,
Easter joy,
This alone can sin destroy.
From sin's pow'r, Lord, set us free
Newborn souls in You to be.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is the essence of a pilgrim's life to begin by looking toward the end. -- O. P. Kretzmann, *The Pilgrim* p. 3

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Though in His own person by virtue of His resurrection He is in divine might and power Lord of heaven and earth, yet He rules His Church in a way to exercise and manifest the power of His resurrection in His poor, weak band by serving them with this power and might for their consolation and growth. -- Martin Luther, Sermon for Easter Monday (Church Postils II:289)

Patristic Quote of the Day

Death has become like a tyrant who has been completely conquered by the legitimate monarch; bound hand and foot as he now is, the passers-by jeer at him, hitting him and abusing him, no longer afraid of his cruelty and rage, because of the King who has conquered him. -- St. Athanasius, *On the Incarnation* par. 27

04 April 2010

Today's Treasury Writing

is the wondrous Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom. It is the sermon we use at Easter Vigil. Feast on the whole thing, but here is the soaring conclusion:

Christ is risen, and you [hell] are overthrown.
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen.
Christ is risen, and the Angels rejoice.
Christ is risen and life reigns.
Christ is risen and not one remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

Let Us Sing

Let us sing praise to Him with endless joy!
Death's fearful sting He has come to destroy!
Our sin forgiving, alleluia!
Jesus is living, alleluia!

Few More

Gold Paraments for Easter (and a few other pics)

Thank you to everyone...

...who contributed toward this morning's beautiful liturgy. To Kristi and Jonathan for the outstanding job with the choir this morning. To all the choir members whose joy made the music ring. To Patrick and his brother for the trumpets. To Sonya for the timpani. To Bob for conducting "Joy!" To Millie and the bells - not only for the anthems, but for all the assist on hymns. To Amilia, Angel and Cindi for the "Now Glad of Heart." To the Thrivent chapter and Youth Group for the wonderful breakfast. To Bob and Candy for recording. To the congregation for singing their hearts out. And, of course, to Carlo for the outstanding job on the organ. And most of all: THANK YOU to our Lord Jesus Christ for giving us the reason to sing in the first place. RISEN INDEED!!! Alleluia!

Homily for Easter (2010)

Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Oh, people loved by God, how do we even begin to express the joy of this feast? We heard old Job - a type of Christ because of the unjust suffering that Satan inflicted upon him - cry out with certainty of his vindication. “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself and not another. My heart faints within me!” Job KNEW that there is no way the God of justice and mercy would abandon him - even though he had to face down death. He knew that if his body fell to pieces in the grave, yet there was One who would call him from the grave, restore his flesh, and vindicate him. He knew this Redeemer lives.

And so our Lord was the ultimate innocent sufferer. Truly innocent, for there was no stain of sin in Him - not in His thoughts, His words, or His deeds. And yet He allowed Himself to suffer, to suffer horribly and then to die.

The women thought that was the end of Him. They loved Him, but the most they thought they could do was go and tend a body from which His soul had three days hence departed. The heavy rock they worried about moving that day felt as if it were resting on their chests. Death had cut them off from the one they loved and they didn’t believe, couldn’t even hope, for THAT rock to be moved.

The shock, the wonder, then at the rock being rolled away from the entrance of the tomb. And as they saw that it had moved, the rock on their hearts began to roll a bit too. And when they entered the tomb and saw the young man dressed in white, the rock on their chest was shaking indeed.

“Do not be alarmed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen. He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.”

The man in white and the alarm they felt alerted them to angelic presence. So people tend to respond in the presence of the holy ones, and almost always the first words out of an angel’s mouth are “don’t fear!” But this particular “don’t fear” is bigger. For IF what this angel says is true, then what on earth is there ever to fear again? If Christ is risen, raised in glory to a life that never ends, then DEATH is not the end of the story.

As old Jaroslav Pelikan lay dying, he is reported to have said: “If Christ is risen, then nothing else matters; if He is not risen, then nothing matters.”

If the Crucified One has been raised, then the sins of the world are absolved. How did you know that your sins were taken away in Israel on the Day of Atonement? You knew when the High Priest came back out still alive from offering the sacrifice behind the curtain in the holy of holies. You saw him and breathed a sigh of relief. Sacrifice accepted, sins gone. So with our Lord’s resurrection. “Put to death for our sins; raised for our justification” is how St. Paul once put it.
And if sins are forgiven, then what hold can death have? What right does death have to hold you, when you are sinless? In the sweet swap, your Lord took your place under divine wrath upon His cross- and He alone could endure and bear it, the horror of sin’s judgment and eternal death - and He did it so to give you His place under His Father’s favor in your baptism. You are sinless in Him. In Him, death has no claim on you. And so it cannot hold you; indeed, it will not.

But we’re jumping ahead. All of this was only confused jumble in the minds of the women that morning as the angel told them to check out and see the place their Lord had been laid, but where He would never lie again: in a tomb. Risen indeed.

Their mission was rather simple. Just go back and tell the disciples - and Peter - that He is going before them to Galilee and they’ll see Him there. It’s all just as He told them.

And so with the last word to the women, the Angel reminds them of that Jesus had explained this to them, told them exactly how it would be. And they run away, shaking for fear, astonished and amazed. We know at first they said nothing to anyone. Who would believe it anyway, they thought. Christ raised. Satan robbed. Death cheated. Sins wiped out. The resurrection, the renewal of creation itself has begun. Nothing to fear. Not now. Not ever again. Overload! The message itself scared them!

But it was the truth of that message and the Church’s Easter experience which became the bedrock of her very life. Her utter conviction that THIS man was righteous and did not deserve the sufferings and death He took; that His innocence is given to us; that His resurrection is the vindication of that innocence; that here is a life of true human flesh and blood that is forever beyond the grip of the grave, and He’s just the START of the whole thing. All who are connected to His life via that Spirit-wrought faith that holds tight to Him through His Words and promises - they already get to taste that unending life as their very own and they begin to live in this world as new creations themselves. Beyond fear, beyond judgment, beyond death.

So St. Paul can tell the Corinthians to purge the crud from their lives - to get rid of the leaven, as he calls it. The malice and the wickedness that characterize the OLD life. Why? Because they’re already a new lump in Christ. Joined to their sacrificed and raised Passover Lamb, they are called to live in an unending Easter festival in which the remnants of the old way - the way of selfishness, of fear, of distrust, of worldly sorrow - are diligently done to death and swept away as God’s people learn to live an Easter life in the certain joy of forgiveness and immortality.

Oh, people loved by God, Christ is risen just as He promised. And even today He comes to meet you with that risen life under the bread and wine that are His body and blood. He comes to nourish and nurture that resurrection life in you that you might be strengthened to live in the joy of His victory - a life unafraid, a life stronger than death, a life filled with the unshakable peace of sins forgiven, a life resting in the joyful love that the Blessed Trinity has shown you, a life that is even now a foretaste of the Feast that awaits.

Alleluia, Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

03 April 2010

Christos Anesti!

Alithos anesti!

The sun sinks lower...

...and the Great Vigil is less than an hour and a half away now. The house is filled with the smells of tasty treats of all kinds, some awaiting our return from Church tonight, some for tomorrow's feast. The afternoon has been a blessedly relaxed one. Have had the joy of four Luther sermons for Easter (and Easter Eve). Picked up the Gerhard, but I just couldn't connect with him this time round; and went back for more Luther. I especially laughed at how he read Mark's Gospel and then preached Matthew's and John's for the resurrection - the joy of being Christ's brothers. His homily on the epistle for Easter was outstanding as well. Starck's sets the tone for the joy of the Feast about to begin:

Rejoicing in my risen Redeemer, my soul says: the resurrection of Jesus is my own resurrection. Since the Head has risen, the members cannot remain in death. However, on the Last Day I will not simply rise like all others, but I will rise as a child of God, a joint-heir with Christ, by virtue of His merit and atonement. And so I do not fear the grave. I regard it as a chamber of rest where my Savior will let me sleep until He speaks and says: Arise, O dead, and appear before the judgment seat. Oh, the greatness of the glory my Savior has gained for me! Risen Jesus, how can I ever announce, glorify and praise Your goodness enough? Oh, the Love that bestows on me life and salvation! Now all injury caused by the fall of Adam has been superabundantly repaired. (pp. 89,90)

Luther Joy

For as by the resurrection He has taken everything with Himself, so that heaven and earth, sun and moon, and all creatures must both rise and become new, so he will also take us along. The same God who wakened Christ from the dead, will also quicken our mortal bodies and with us also all creatures, now subject to vanity and anxiously longing for our glorification, will be freed from the perishable existence and be glorified. -- Homily for Easter Eve, 1532

From the Great Vigil: This is the Night

Bless, we implore You, this new flame and those who keep this joyful Easter festival that, burning with desire for life with You, we may be found rightly prepared to share in the Feast of Light which has no end... May the light of Christ, who is risen in glory from the dead, scatter all the darkness of our hearts and minds... The light of Christ: Thanks be to God!... Rejoice now, all you heavenly choirs of angels; rejoice now all creation; sound forth, trumpet of salvation and proclaim the triumph of our King... know that the ancient darkness has been forever banished... let all this house of God ring out with rejoicing...This is the night when You brought our fathers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt and led them through the Red Sea on dry ground. This is the night when all who believe in Christ are delivered from bondage to sin and are restored to life and immortality. This is the night when Christ, the Life, arose from the dead. The seal of the grave is broken and the morning of the new creation breaks forth out of night. Oh, how wonderful and beyond all telling is Your mercy toward us, O God, that to redeem a slave You gave Your Son... That through this saving flood all sin in us, which has been inherited from Adam and which we ourselves have committed since, would be drowned and die. Grant that we be kept safe and secure in the holy ark of the Christian Church... The almighty God and Father of our Lord JEsus Christ, who has given you the new birth of water and of the Spirit and has forgiven you all your sins, strengthen you with His grace to life + everlasting... That we may daily die and rise with You in our Baptism and walk in the freedom of Your forgiveness... That we may set our minds on things above and not on earthly things, serving others as we have been served by You... That we may dwell with You forever in the creation as citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, together with all saints... Preserve in us the spirit of adoption which You have given so that, made alive in body and soul, we may serve You purely... Therefore with Mary Magdalene, Peter and John, and with all the witnesses of the resurrection, with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying: Holy, holy, holy!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We confess in the creed that He "descended into hell." He didn't go as others, as a helpless prisoner through a gate that would never open again. He descended into hell as the overlord of the dead. He broke through the gates. A revolution occurred on this day that changed the balance of power forever. The earthquakes that shook Jerusalem were a sign of this. The curtain in the temple that blocked the way into the Holy of Holies, to God Himself, where no one dared to go except for the high priest on the day of atonement, was torn from top to bottom. Now it was opened so we sinners could go straight to God's fatherly arms. Even the gates of death are open! --Bishop Bo Giertz, *To Live with Christ* p. 274

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

If, therefore, you are heavy-laden and feel your weakness, then go joyfully to the Sacrament and receive refreshment, comfort, and strength. -- Blessed Martin Luther, *Large Catechism* V:72

Patristic Quote of the Day

Sealed was the tomb in which they had entrusted You, that they might keep You dead, that is, safe, and virgin was the womb which no man knew. Virgin womb and sealed tomb, like trumpets, proclaimed Him in the ears of a deaf people. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, *Treasury* p. 180

02 April 2010


for all Lutheran Pastors: READ Luther's homily for Holy Saturday, the last in vol. 1 of the House Postils. Gold, pure gold.

And to have the Choir

sing so beautifully "My Savior Jesus" right after the homily! They sang it SOOOOOO well. Talk about music as proclamation. I just love celebrating Triduum with St. Paul's parish. I can't imagine being anywhere else during these three holy days. Now to ready things for the joy of Vigil!

The Final Word at Good Friday Tenebrae

Stainer's "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoso believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoso believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. God so loved the world. God so loved the world. God so loved the world" [Thank you, Carlo - for suggesting it - and the quartet]

Note to Self

Do not forget next year that the Altar Book prescribes (and Builder delivers) Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 on Good Friday for Chief Service while the One Year Lectionary delivers 2 Cor. 5!!! (You all help me remember, okay?)

Singing the Triumph of the Cross

O darkest woe!
Ye tears, forth flow!
Has earth so sad a wonder?
God the Father's Only Son
Now is buried yonder!

O sorrow dread!
Our God is dead,
Upon the cross extended.
There His love enlivened us
As His life was ended.

O child of woe:
Who struck the blow
That killed our gracious Master?
"It was I" thy conscience cries,
"I have wrought disaster."

Thy Bridegroom dead!
God's Lamb has bled
Upon Thy sin forever,
Pouring out His sinless self
In that vast endeavor.

Such innocence!
His countenance
A fount of faith undying!
Worlds on worlds cannot contain
Grief at Him here lying.

O Virgin's Son,
What Thou hast won
Is far beyond all telling:
How our God, detested, died,
Hell and devil felling.

O Jesus Christ,
Who sacrificed
Thy life for lifeless mortals,
Be my life in death and bring
Me to heaven's portals!

LSB 448