31 May 2010

Glad that I got

the run in and some time in the pool BEFORE it started raining.  Ick!  Hope it is only a passing shower.  We're planning on grilling out (i.e., Cindi and Dean are grilling and I'm eating) later in the day.  I'm eager to see whether that winning streak continues.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is the Christian conviction that God is for us in every way - in every way.  -- Henry Hamann, On Being a Christian, p. 26

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

For we see that all three Persons, the whole Godhead, turns Himself to us in order that we poor, wretched men should be helped against sin, death, and the devil, that we may be brought to justification, the Kingdom of God, and eternal life. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Day by Day, p. 227.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For as long as a priest's life is well-regulated in every particular point, their intrigues cannot hurt him.  But if he should overlook some small detail, as is likely for a human being across the devious ocean of this life, all the rest of his good deeds are of no avail to him to escape the words of his accusers.  That small offense casts a shadow over all the rest of his life.  Everyone wants to judge the priest, not as one clothed in flesh, not as one possessing a human nature, but as an angel, exempt from the frailties of others.  -- St. John Chrysostom, Six Books on the Priesthood, p. 86.

And so the long green season begins...

...and when it arrives, I always welcome it.  "He has made everything beautiful in its time." Ecc. 3:11  And so, yes, the return to "normal" in the Church Year is a beautiful thing to me.

Speaking of which:  Don't forget that the Treasury returns today to Civil Calendar (and will stay on it till next Ash Wednesday, which is extraordinarily late:  March 9.  That means, Jimbo, that you get your wish next year to finish Job's story, God willing).

30 May 2010


Why is it that the lad has to be taken to the airport at 4 tomorrow morning??? So much for "sleeping in" on Memorial Day. Well, I can at least console myself that TODAY Scott and I trounced on Cin and Crys at pincohle.  Not that I'm bragging or anything - you all know me better than that... ;)

Yes, that time again...

...ye olde blog has had over 1.25 million page views since I started keeping track of these things.  Every so often along the way I like to invite readers to introduce themselves.  Don't be shy, please.  I'll go first to show you how easy it is:

Hi, my name is William.  And I'm addicted to blogging, study of the liturgy, running, my wife's cooking, and Liverpool (maybe not in that order). I have three wonderful children by nature and one by grace. I live with the wondrous hound dog Lucy and with two cats and at least six raccoons. I'm a Lutheran pastor and can't imagine being anything else.

See how easy that was?  Now, who are you?

29 May 2010

"And this is the catholic faith..."

says the Athanasian Creed, "that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance."

The Athanasian Creed does not say that the catholic faith is that we submit to the Pope as Christ's vicar on earth; that we recognize the infallibility of the Bishop of Rome when he speaks ex cathedra, or any such thing.  It says the catholic faith is that we WORSHIP the Blessed Trinity without dividing the Divine Unity.

"That's too catholic" can only be greeted with "I sure hope so!"  You can't be "too" worshipping of the Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity, can you???

Triune God

Triune God, be Thou our stay:
O let us perish never!
Cleanse us from our sins we pray
And grant us life forever.
Keep us from the evil one;
Uphold our faith most holy,
And let us trust Thee solely,
With humble hearts and lowly.
Let us put God's armor on,
With all true Christians running
Our heav'nly race and shunning
The devil's wiles and cunning.
Amen, amen!  This be done;
So sing we, "Alleluia!"

--LSB 505

The Hymns for Holy Trinity

are the very best. I know I said that about Pentecost, but that was so last week. Yes, that means I've decided old Luther had it right:  the absolute best, most important and the very greatest treasure is...whatever gift of God I happen to be enjoying at the moment! And I just got back from the Divine Service for the Feast of the Holy Trinity, so deal with it.

Actually, in the historic one year cycle, you cannot miss that the day is really the Octave of Pentecost - that shows with both the Gospel reading (John 3) and the Hymn of the Day:  "Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest." Yet the later Trinity feast that came to be celebrated on the Octave reveals itself in the Introit, Collect, Gradual, Verse, the Athanasian Creed and Proper Preface, and above all in the hymns. We sang "Holy, holy, holy" and "Glory be to God the Father!" and tomorrow for distribution we'll sing "Holy God, We Praise Your Name" and "Come, Thou Almighty King." In addition, the Trinitarian nature of the liturgy itself stands out in sharp relief: from invocation, to Gloria Patri, to threefold Kyrie, to Gloria in Excelsis, to three-fold "holy" in the Sanctus, to the Benediction.

The whole service fairly shouts:  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.  And you realize that this is life, and this is what our lives are called to be about.  Venerable Bede dying with these as his final words - he totally, totally got it.

Another Glimpse Beyond Babel

Here is a Lutheran Divine Service in Germany.  What a beautiful Church!  This Divine Service was celebrating the Name of Jesus - New Year's.  And yes, that is incense.  Fancy that.  Note also the reverencing of the altar and how at the Gloria Patri, a profound bow until "as it was in the beginning..."  Yeah, all that ceremonial stuff is SOOOOOOO unLutheran..... NOT.

Babel Reversed

That's what Pr. Beane rejoiced in in this video.  I don't understand a word of Swedish.  Yet look and see:  it's home!  We recognize it right away and even hear the words of "Holy God" ringing through our own ears.  This is the beginning of a Lutheran Divine Service in Sweden in honor of St. John the Baptist's martyrdom (August 29).

My Crazy Friend

Pr. Fisk has a hilarious video here, asking for support for Pr. James May mission in Africa.  The new french hymnal is one that a friend asked me to write about some time back, but I've still not had opportunity to pick one up and check it out.  By all accounts it is a wonderful resource!  Do check out Pr. Fisk's video and if so inclined support Pr. May's work.

28 May 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The season of Pentecost is said to be about the Christian life. This doesn't mean we should expect a long list of rules of conduct. Christianity doesn't consist of first speaking about what Christ has done and then what we should do. We really can't do anything without Christ.  Speaking about the Christian way of life means also speaking about Christ and how He forms our lives, the Church, and the world.  -- Bishop Bo Giertz, To Live with Christ, p. 382.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Thus Christendom began with the word of the poor fishermen, and with the despised and disdained work of God, which is called Jesus of Nazareth, nailed to the cross. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Sermon for Pentecost, 1534, Day by Day, p. 221.

Patristic Quote of the Day

We follow true religion if we bear witness to the Son's power made manifest in everything He has fulfilled and accomplished, never separating His work from the Father's will. -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 18.

27 May 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Lord's Supper will always be the center of a Christian's life in the living Church.  -- Bishop Bo Giertz, To Live with Christ, p. 379.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Let us not become secure about our membership in the Christian Church. Instead, let us examine ourselves regarding our love for Christ and our adherence to His Word so when we fall, we may awaken again in true repentance and return to earnest love. -- C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 464

Patristic Quote of the Day

What makes us Christians?  "Our faith" everyone would answer. How are we saved? Obviously, through the regenerating grace of Baptism.  How else could we be? -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 26.


She came back to have another litter this year.  She's had them up in the garage rafters and soffits. She sneaks down to get the cat food and water, but is getting a bit more comfortable around us. She pokes her head out and talks to me from time to time. One day this week I saw five of the little ones cavorting on the beams across the garage. Don't know if there are any more than that or not.  But they sure do make for one stinky garage!  She looks plum worn out, though. Her tail isn't full and bushy, but almost looks like she's been in a fight or something. She comes out to the pond to get a drink in the evenings when its got water. The cats totally ignore the coons, but Lucy has a cow each time she sees one.  Far as I'm concerned, the coons are INFINITELY better than when the, um, polecat is munching on the cats' food!

Misusing Donatism

Sometimes one hears or reads that concerns raised about ministerial acts performed by those who are not in the Office of the Holy Ministry is latent (or blatant!) Donatism.  What too often seems to go unnoticed is that the Donatistic controversy centered around the question of whether the moral character of those IN the Office of the Holy Ministry could in fact nullify the sacraments they were called upon to serve - the Church, of course, denied that it could; what that controversy never addressed (and, I'd argue, never even conceived of) was the efficacy of any purported sacramental acts served by those who were not in the Office of the Holy Ministry at all.  A further total red herring in the discussion is arguing from what love must do in an emergency, a life and death situation, to what is done regularly and without emergency in the Church.  I think the Donatist whipping boy needs to be honestly set aside as we grapple with the implications of systemically ignoring the confession we make in AC XIV in our ecclesial life.

Another Must Read

from Fr. Heath Curtis:  Piety Matters.

26 May 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Saying that Jesus is God isn't supposed to confuse things.  It's supposed to make things clear and comprehensible for everyone.  It's to show us who God really is.  The Spirit does this when He glorifies Christ and allows us to understand that Jesus really is God's only begotten Son, the Lord.  -- Bishop Bo Giertz, To Live with Christ, p. 377.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

As soon as the Holy Ghost enters into the heart of an individual, he becomes smaller and more modest.  He no longer knows anything about himself in which he can boast, and he no longer despairs on account of his sins.  He is insignificant in his own eyes, but he recognizes how great is the love of God - the patience of the Father, the redemption of Christ, and the comfort of the Holy Ghost.  -- C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It! p. 460.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For creatures, holiness comes from without; for the Spirit, holiness fills His very nature.  He is not sanctified, but sanctifies.  -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 48.

25 May 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Spirit is with us as a living, giving Lord, a river of life from God Himself that perpetually flows to us and fills us up again.  That is why we constantly pray for the Holy Spirit's renewal, for the Spirit's visitation.  -- Bishop Bo Giertz, To Live with Christ, p. 372.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The gift of the Holy Spirit, God will refuse no one.  The Holy Spirit purifies the hearts of Christians from love of the world and sin, so that He, who is good and pure, may take up residence in them. -- Starck's Prayer Book, p. 102

Patristic Quote of the Day

If anything is unclear, do not hesitate diligently to seek an answer; you will add to your knowledge by asking questions while avoiding strife. -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 79

Crazy Days

Busier than a one-armed paper hanger and about as effective, I'm afraid.  I was up last night from about 3 to 5 - Matins that hour is getting to be a habit, but one I don't like.  By the end of today, I think I finally got back on track - mostly!  One of those weeks where everything was laid out and God had entirely different plans for the last two whole days.  Good to stop, breathe deeply and remember that it is all God's time in the first place. I am hoping, though, that tomorrow is a tad more "normal."  Still by the end of today, a couple of the home-bound communed, a confession heard, Matins and Vespers prayed, radio interview on St. Bede the Venerable (today is his heavenly birthday), devotion for Golden Agers, pericopal study written and run off for tomorrow, Bible study written and run off for tomorrow night, and correspondence brought up to date (mostly).  If I haven't gotten back to you, hang in there, I'll be trying in the near future!

23 May 2010

A Beautiful

hymn for the Feast of Pentecost - for Vespers.  Sung by Pr. Ben Mayes.

22 May 2010

Reminded by Myrtle

do take note that from Vespers tonight till Vespers next Saturday, the Invitatory, Antiphons and Responsory are on page 0-67:  Pentecost (and Its Octave).  Festivals that occur within this octave:

Monday - May 24:  Esther (p. 1298)
Tuesday - May 25 - Bede the Venerable, Theologian (p. 1299)

The Treasury returns to the civil calendar on May 31 (which the three-year lectionary observes as Visitation, but not the 1-year - we wait till July 2).

Does Any Feast

Have music that can best Pentecost?  I don't think so.  Carlo gave us Durufle's Veni Creator Spiritus variations as preservice tonight (and tomorrow). Glorious! But my favorite is Luther's hymn: "Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord!" A more stately, manly wedding of tune and text there is not in the entire corpus of Lutheran chorales.

Pool Up and Half-way Filled

YEAH!  Huge thanks to David, who figures out how it goes together each year (a detail man, I am not - but I did think to take photos of how the filtering/salt water system fit together last year, and that proved helpful).  We plan on running the water the rest of the night and hope that by morning the pool will be filled.  We've already salted the water, so God willing we'll start making chlorine soon.  Now, a nice stretch of mega sunny days with higher temps would be great (and the weatherman says that's what's on tap - ha!  I'll believe it when it actually happens).

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

When Christians celebrate holidays, they are not just memorial celebrations. Of course, we hear a message about something that happened in the past, but at the same time we are taking part in something that is happening in the here and now. What once happened has a purpose throughout time.  It applies to all people. It's something that happens again and again in our hearts and affects our lives. That's the way it is at Pentecost today. -- Bishop Bo Giertz, To Live with Christ, p. 371.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Therefore also in the same way, though our dear Lord Christ did not institute His Supper for the sake of seeing and worshipping, nevertheless it is not to be forbidden nor, in addition, to be considered idolatry, but much rather it is to be considered proper and correct.  -- Georg von Anhalt, Treasury, p. 326.

Patristic Quote of the Day

If baptism is the beginning of my life, and the day of regeneration is the first of days, it is obvious that the words spoken when I received the grace of adoption are more honorable than any spoken since....Through this confession I was made a child of God, I, who was His enemy for so long because of my sins.  May I pass from this life to the Lord with this confession on my lips. -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 26.

On Using Treasury

I've used it so many different ways since it came out.  Originally, I was using the 30 day Psalter and praying Matins and Vespers every day - or almost every day.  There were, of course, days that I missed one or the other.  Then some months back I started contenting myself with Matins, dropped the 30 day psalter and used the psalms printed and indicated for each day, and prayed it all in the a.m., but that has never seemed right to me.  I miss my daily Vespers, and many a morning I noticed myself simply rushing through the vast amount of material to cover and not savoring and heeding it as I ought.  So I've reverted back to Matins and Vespers, but without the 30 day Psalter, and it has worked very well.  I love the bracketing of the day with both chief daily prayer offices.

I divide it like this:

Matins:  the Psalm printed out for the day, hymn stanza, the first reading, the writing, the collect and then the prayer for the day of the week and collect for grace.

Vespers:  the second Psalm (indicated, but not printed out in the daily propers), hymn stanza, the second reading, the selection assigned from Book of Concord, the collect and my personal intercessions and collect for peace.

So how are the rest of you using your Treasury?  Its versatility has been a real blessing to many!

20 May 2010

Prayer of Thanksgiving on Pentecost

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

In these last days, You have poured out Your Holy Spirit on Your Church that Your sons and daughters might proclaim the wonders of Your salvation in Christ Jesus , our Lord.

Pour out Your Holy Spirit upon Your gathered people that, faithfully eating and drinking the body and blood of Your Son, we may go forth to proclaim Your salvation to the ends of the earth.

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

Divine Service Four, Altar Book p. 268

Pentecost Intercessions

Let us pray for the whole Church of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs.

For the whole Church, that illumined by the Holy Spirit all Christ's people may be filled with his righteousness, peace, and joy.  Lord, in Your mercy, R.

For our nation and all nations of the world, that in every place the people who delight in war may be scattered, and that prejudice and enmity give way to understanding and concern, and for all who serve in our armed forces.  Lord, in Your mercy, R.

For our parish and our Synod, that we might walk together in the Spirit, boldly proclaiming the hope that is ours in the Gospel.  Lord, in Your mercy, R.

For all who are sick and suffering, for the grieving and the dying, and especially for ... that by the Holy Spirit, life's difficult moments may be transformed into communion with the Son of God in his suffering.  Lord, in your mercy, R.

For all who come today to Christ’s Supper, that the Holy Spirit use the gift of the Savior’s body and blood to fill our hearts with peace and our lives with His love.  Lord, in Your mercy, R.

For the faithful who have gone before us, let us give our thanks and praise, and ask that the Holy Spirit may grant us us a share with them in the joys that have no end in the Kingdom of the Father.  Lord, in your mercy, R.

P:  All these things and whatever else You know that we need, grant to us, heavenly Father, for the sake of Him who died and rose again, and who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Come, Down

Come down, O Love divine;
Seek Thou this soul of mine,
And visit it with Thine own ardor glowing;
O Comforter, draw near;
Within my heart appear,
And kindle it, Thy holy flame bestowing.

O let it freely burn,
Till worldly passions turn
To dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
And let Thy glorious light
Shine ever on my sight,
And clothe me round, the while my path illuming.

Let holy charity
Mine outward vesture be
And lowliness become mine inward clothing -
True lowliness of heart,
Which takes the humbler part,
And o'er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

And so the yearning strong,
With which the soul will long,
Shall far outpass the pow'r of human telling;
No soul can guess His grace
Till it become the place
Wherein the Holy Spirit makes His dwelling.

Bianco de Siena, c. 1350-1434
LSB 501

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The great mystery is that Christ is with us and we are surrounded by His love, filled by His resurrected life, so that we can rest in God and possess a part of the world, where God is everything for everyone, that will come. -- Bishop Bo Giertz, To Live with Christ, p. 366.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Our entire life must be, as Luther expressed it, an eternal Lord's Prayer in which our principal desire is for God to deliver us from evil.-- C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 447

Patristic Quote of the Day

Even while we wait for the full enjoyment of the good things in store for us, by the Holy Spirit we are able to rejoice through faith in the promise of the graces to come. If the promise itself is so glorious, what must its fulfillment be like? -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 36.

19 May 2010


for all intents and purposes is upon us here at St. Paul's - what with preschool graduation last Friday and TSP graduation yesterday evening. The slower time actually means opportunity to do some planning and working ahead. I am intending (we'll see if I can get it done!) to draw up the Advent and Lenten midweek services and their homilies. That will enable me to enjoy those days when they actually arrive in the manner they should be kept - with prayer and fasting and and reflection, instead of anxious preparations. If it works out, I might try to write the festival sermons too. I'm also hoping to complete the Catechism Services so that they can be used year after year, and have the year's entire set of Cantor's parts finished (did 3 months worth earlier this week).

I will say that the installation of Boot Camp has made working with Builder even more of a joy - I don't know how I put up with Parallels sluggishness for so long! Joanie already has letter to Confirmand parents and schedule for next year's catechesis ready to mail. Big project at home is to get that danged pool up and running. Need some dry days, though!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We can never honestly say:  Lord I have done all that You have commanded. -- Bishop Bo Giertz, To Live with Christ, p. 364.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Where the Spirit of grace is, He quickens our hearts, so that we can, and may, and must begin to pray. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Day by Day, p. 217

Patristic Quote of the Day

We must be determined to acquire in this life all the qualities of the life to come. -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 35.

18 May 2010

TSP All Edumicated and Gradumiated

Tonight was kindergarten and 8th grade graduation at Trinity-St. Paul Lutheran School. Shelby and Conner gave the best speeches I've EVER heard from any graduates. It was a joy also to hear the children lead the congregation in singing Matins (yes, we sang Matins this evening - left me feeling down right Russian). Hard to believe that the school year is over! Hope that all the children have a great summer and looking forward to seeing the 1-8th grade back next year, with our new kindergartners.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

To believe means that Christ has come to us with His Spirit.  This Spirit is a powerful force who struggles constantly with the evil inside us, perpetually driving us to love and serve Christ.  This is the right way - and it's the only possible way - to live as God's children. -- Bishop Bo Giertz, To Live with Christ, p. 363

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The everlasting love of God was not content with having appointed the holy angels as our guardian keepers to be at our side, to surround us, and to accompany us on our ways; but the Holy Spirit was also to dwell in us, so that our body and soul might be truly kept and preserved from evil.  The Holy Spirit is the most necessary gift. -- Starck's Prayer Book, p. 102

Patristic Quote of the Day

Perceive these three:  the Lord who commands, the Word who creates, and the Spirit who strengthens.  What kind of strengthening is it?  Perfection in holiness, which expresses itself in an unyielding, unchangeable commitment to goodness.  Such holiness is impossible without the Spirit. -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 38.

Another Productive Day

Woke up at 1 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep, so ended up praying Matins at the REAL Matins hour!  Then this morning, contacted Autenrieb studios about the paintings and dropped in to leave contract, books returned to library, down to Barnes to visit August, home and lunch, then finished up those cantor sheets through the end of August, drew up schedule for choir/bells and shipped that off to Millie and Kristi to approve, finished sermon for this evening's TSP Graduation, put vestments and manuscript in car all ready to head over to Trinity.  And it's only 2:30!  SWEET!!!  Days like this make up for the "swimming through Molasses" days I had last week.

17 May 2010

The Holy Evangelists

Tonight the Voters of St. Paul's approved the Schumacher family request to commission original artwork of the four evangelists to hang on the front of the balcony in memory of Hilbert.  I am really looking forward to that project coming to completion.  Hib loved the gospel - it filled his heart with joy - and this way of honoring those four men through whom the Lord preserved for us His holy words is just perfect as a memorial to him.  The artist who created the paintings of our Lord on the front walls of St. Paul's will be creating these as well.  Those who sit towards the front of the Church will see the paintings as the holy Gospel is read in the midst of the congregation - and be reminded visually of these four saints through whom our Lord gave us such precious gifts.  And the whole congregation will view them as people return from the Sacrament.  Can't wait till they're done!


Barring a funeral (which may God graciously prevent!) the next liturgy to be celebrated in St. Paul's will be the Divine Service for Pentecost.  So today I took down the Easter banners and stowed them away until next year.  I put the red paraments upon the altar, pulpit, and lectern, and hung up our single Pentecost banner.  Pentecost will be the last Sunday on which our choir will sing till next Fall.  The Paschal Candle was snuffed out at Ascension, and on Exaudi it was returned to its usual home by the Baptismal font. The Church is readying for us a return to what Roman Christians call "ordinary time."

The Day of the Spirit is the border between the Semester Domini and the Semester Ecclesiae.  It belongs to both, I think.  It points in both directions.  We have stood to receive the Holy Eucharist all during the Paschal season, but on Pentecost we kneel again.  Yet, like all of Eastertide, there will be no gradual on Pentecost, and the alleluia will be doubled, but unlike Easter we will return to the "normal" alleluia and set aside the jubilant celtic alleluia till Easter returns again.   In numerous little ways like this, we prepare to go back to the way things usually are.  And yet, I hope we go back a changed people - a people in whom the Paschal joy is not quenched, but in whom it burns in the hidden heart.  It's not that the joy is less, it is that is more interior - deeper, abiding, and yet much less on display in the Church's liturgical life.  If Easter has given us a veritable foretaste of heaven on earth, Pentecost and following Sundays remind us that it was, after all, only a foretaste, and so the yearning remains for the fullness of what is yet to be.  Thus, we pray:

Come, Holy Spirit!  Fill the hearts of your faithful people and kindle in them the fire of Your divine love!

A New Pastor for St. Peter's, Campbell Hill

That's Pastor Kornacki in the center:

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

There are people who think it's obvious that we are all God's children.  They have never thought about how much separates us from God.  But when the Spirit convinces us of our sin, it's possible that our own conscience, which is the law's voice in our own heart, can pronounce such an irrevocable judgment on us for all our egoism and impurity that we no longer dare to believe that we can be God's children.  Only then can the Holy Spirit show us the truth, the great truth that Christ has died for sinners like us and that it's possible even for us to be God's beloved children.  He alone, the Spirit of childhood, can convince us of this. -- Bishop Bo Giertz, To Live with Christ, pp. 358,359.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is on God's Word alone that we will one day be judged, so it must now guide our faith and life.  If we allow it to light our path continually, we will not go astray.  And if we have strayed from the path out of weakness, this light will always bring us back. -- C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 440

Patristic Quote of the Day

And let no one divert this to the Virgin Mary; Mary was the temple of God, not the God of the temple. And therefore He alone is to be worshipped Who was working in His temple. -- St. Ambrose, On the Holy Spirit, Book III, par. 80.

At last!

A productive day, despite the icky weather.  Matins and breakfast.  Finished up Pentecost bulletin and shipped it to Joanie and Carlo.  Then had a strong run this a.m. - finished up six miles within an hour.  Met briefly with Evie about project we're proposing to Voters this evening. Lunch with Cin and Bekah. Drew up cantor sheets (with Introit, Gradual, Verse and the tones for each), and got those finished through June.  The goal is to finish these for the whole summer this week.  Still on the agenda is the homily for tomorrow evening for graduation - not sure that will get done today.  Maybe, but I'm taking a break for the moment!

16 May 2010

Whirlwind Day

After Divine Services, a couple brief meetings, off to lunch with Phil and Darlene (thanks again, guys!), home for a brief respite, and then down to Campbell Hill for the Installation of Pr. Alan Karnacki. I was blessed to serve as liturgist, and doubly blessed to hear Pr. Buetow deliver this homily. Wow! GREAT stuff - the best installation homily I've ever heard - bar none. A hearty welcome to Pr. Karnacki and Faith and their family to our little district, and a huge thanks be to God for pastors such as Pr. Buetow who preach such sweet and beautiful gospel!

13 May 2010

Tonight we gathered

for Ascension.  There were only 46 of us, but the singing was robust and joyful, and Carlo gave us some wonderful pieces.  The preservice Bach Prelude and Fugue (C Major) was probably my favorite.  We sang Divine Service 4, which is quite easy for a smaller crowd to sing.  Best of all to me was seeing the youngsters in church - kudos to the parents who brought their little ones to share the joy of this feast!  It was wonderful standing next to Gary at the end of the service and hearing him belt out the Bede Hymn:  "A Hymn of Glory."

I know that folks criticize DS 4, but having used it any number of times, the simple truth is that it works.  It works very well.  No, it's not DS 3, but it is a beautiful liturgy in its own right.  I can understand why it has "caught on" throughout the Synod.  I sure wouldn't want it as regular fare, but for these feasts that receive smaller attendance, it strikes me as a perfect fit.

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.  -- Adolf Koeberle, Quest, p. 117.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Then as Man, He commenced His almighty and omnipresent dominion over heaven and earth and all creatures. -- C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It! p. 430

Patristic Quote of the Day

He did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. -- St. Augustine, Homily on the Ascension of Our Lord. 

Hearing Dr. Nagel on Issues Today

is unbelievable joy!  THANK YOU, Dr. Nagel!  THANK YOU, Todd and Jeff and Craig!

In a conversation yesterday

a friend shared with me how much he hated going to voters meetings.  I think the typical attendance at the meetings attests to the fact that my friend is not alone in his feelings.  And yet I urged my friend to go and I'd urge all blog readers to go.  To go to the painful and sometimes long meetings.  It is one very tangible way that you can love your pastor.  Sometimes those meetings become the places where the folks with (what I'll call) the gift of negativity congregate in disproportionate numbers.  It's viewed as their place to kvetch.  And some REALLY excel at it.  And way too often it goes beyond kvetching.  How important, then, is the presence of persons who are there without "an agenda."  Just there because they love their Lord, appreciate the work their pastor does, and want to further their congregation's mission in the community and the world.  Those are the voices that are absent in too many parishes at these meetings.  So, please, no matter how much you despise the tedium of them, go.  Go, be a voice of calm and reason and encouragement to the pastor and other workers in your parish.  Your pastor will thank you.

Rerun - OP for Ascension

Now He was going home... In seven words the years of labor and sorrow end: "While they beheld, He was taken up."... There were no bells and banners on earth, but surely the trumpets on the other side sounded as they had never sounded before... Surely the chiming golden bells of heaven sang their welcome, and angel choirs intoned the song of the throne: "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength." ... On the anvils of God the nails had been forged into the scepter of a king... "He was taken up." ... The angel hosts sweep to either side, leaving the way clear to the Eternal Light that no longer blinds the eyes of us who stand gazing after Him... He leads a procession which comes from the ends of time and space, all the harvest of all the white fields the world has even known, the pilgrims of the night who come at last to the dawn of an everlasting day... "He was taken up." ... The Child of the manger, the praying heart on the starlit lanes of Galilee, the hunger in the wilderness, the weariness of the Sychar Well, the tears of the Garden and the Hill, the thirst of the Cross - all over now... The robes of the Transfiguration once momentary, now clothe Him forever, and angels and archangels sound the great doxology of His waiting Church: "Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever."...

An old story - perhaps too old for us to do more than glimpse its glory... And yet - we ought to remember it more clearly... It was the solemn moment in the story of God and man when the visible Christ became the invisible Christ... From that hour everything concerning Him became visible only to the eyes of faith... The final line of demarcation in the world - between those who believe and those who refuse to believe - was now clear... Men can say that all this is not true and use the mind of man to reject the mind of God, or they can know that God once walked among them and that they now have a Friend in heaven who knows all that earth and time and pain can do to man...

The Ascension did not take Jesus away... It brought heaven near... In the realm in which He now reigns time and space have no meaning... There is no up and down, no near and far, nor darkness, and no distance in the world of faith... He is as near as yesterday's prayer, today's joy, and tomorrow's sorrow... His homecoming has made heaven a home for us who still walk far from home... Wherefore stand we gazing into heaven?... Our momentary task is here, but through the slow dimming of the years we see the evening lights of home tended by the pierced hands of Him who has gone to prepare a place for us... Is there a better way to life - or die?... All that we have to do now is to believe and follow:

The lapping sea of death before his feet
Crept near; the wind was wild;
But he, who knew the One he came to meet,
Saw it and smiled.

Stepping without a hesitating word
Into the icy tide,
As if he saw the footprints of his Lord
Gleam at his side,

Borne up by Love that gave as he had given,
He crossed the midnight foam
And laid his hand upon the door of heaven
Like one returning home.
[The Pilgrim, pp. 14-16]

+ Quentin Wesselschmidt

From Concordia Seminary:
We have just received word that our beloved brother and colleague Quentin Wesselschmidt has been called to his eternal home. While specific funeral arrangements will be made this afternoon, the service will be held from the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus. Our prayers for comfort and our expressions of hope in our resurrected Savior go out to Susan and the grieving family.

Dale A. Meyer
Rest eternal grant him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him!

He was a wonderful teacher of the fathers.  I learned so much from him. 

12 May 2010

A good friend

just bade farewell tonight to her father.  He's been suffering from alzheimer's for a number of years.  The long good-bye.  I remember it so well - with my mom.  When they finally leave you realize that so much of them had already departed years before. What are we, after all, without our memories, our stories?  May God's peace be with Sheila and Ron, Megan and Nathan. And may the hope of full healing in the resurrection of all flesh comfort them each through the days ahead.  Our salvation hangs finally upon God merciful remembrance of us, not our ever-faulty remembrance of Him!

Just Wrapped Up

our Wednesday study of "Preaching the Resurrection" - how the Apostles proclaimed Christ in the Book of Acts. Next on the Agenda for Wednesday evenings?  Becky suggested James. That is such a good book, I think I'm taking her up on it.

Reminder all:  Ascension Day is tomorrow. Divine Service will be celebrated at 7:15 p.m. at St. Paul's.  Hope to see you there!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

I confess that I share the view of those that feel that world Lutheran ties are more important than American solidarity.  Quite apart from this, however, I have basic misgivings about the use of a three-year cycle of pericopes.  With the irregular attendance of many of our people at divine worship and with the general lack of preparation for the service on the part of many of the worshippers that do come, I feel that a three-year cycle or even a two-year cycle would mean that many of our people would in the end be less acquainted with the Sacred Scriptures than they are now.  -- A. C. Piepkorn, The Sacred Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, p. 13.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Therefore when the teaching about true chastity is to be offered, one must not hurl abusive missiles at marriage, but one must look most of all to this, that the divine prohibitions, threats, and examples of punishments against disorderly lusts are pressed home and inculcated with the strongest admonitions.  For this is a powerful remedy through the Spirit of purification, lest the heart be misled or oppressed by sloth or the mind rendered reprobate and lest the conscience be so hardened that it can no longer grieve. -- Blessed Martin Chemnitz, Examen III:19

Patristic Quote of the Day

He [the Holy Spirit] is called an advocate because He intervenes before the Father's justice on behalf of the wrongdoing of sinners. -- St. Gregory the Great, Cited in ACCS, IVb, 149.

11 May 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Prayer means entering an invisible world.  We live in a reality the rest of the world doesn't see. -- Bishop Bo Giertz, To Live with Christ, p. 349

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

On the other hand we have been repeatedly taught that we must not tempt God in prayer, that is, we must not fix a time, measure, goal, manner, or person, how, when, or by what means He shall answer us; but must humbly leave all this to Him who in His divine, incomprehensible wisdom will do all things well. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Day by Day, p. 205.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The fruit of righteousness and the tree of life is Christ.  He alone, as man, fulfilled all righteousness.  And with His own underived life He has brought forth the fruits of knowledge and virtue like a tree. - Hippolytus, ANF 5:173

10 May 2010

Last FPU Lesson

was, I think, one of the absolute best.  His take on why giving is important is simply bang on right:  we are made in the image of the Giver God. Reflecting on the whole experience, I cannot praise it highly enough.  It's simple, easy to understand, and very engendering of hope to those who have lived under the crushing burdens that come with debt. I would recommend it without reservation to any and everyone. Thanks to Pr. Asburry for nudging us toward it as a parish; to my elders for supporting it; to Brent and Gary for the huge investment of time and energy and for the super job in leading the class. Next time round, be sure and sign up, local folks. You'll be blest!

A Wonderfully Told Story

HT to Pr. Beane

Looking into a pastor's heart...


Mr. Hieronomymus Smith called the meeting of the voters of St. Chrysostom's to order... As the buzzing subsided, he looked into the corner where the pastor sat... This was not going to be easy... He cleared his throat:  "This meeting was called on account of the special request of some members who have something special to bring up... I give the floor to Mr. Barnabas Harmon." --

Somehow he was even more tired than usual this evening... The strong coffee Mother had given him just before he left the house seemed to have no effect... He closed his eyes for a moment... Thirty years now... The day when he had come to St. Chrysostom's... The crowds... The good wishes... The little wooden church over on Elm Street... A long time ago now... This parish house - he had paid for it with his blood... His heart had never been the same since that breakdown... The church next door... Something of him lay buried there... He had watched every stone go into it... Perhaps God had been really good to him... The dreams of his youth - some of them had come true... He had not failed his Lord... If he could only keep going a few more years... Some things still needed to be done at St. Chrysostom's... Not old yet, but tired... Better listen to Barnabas...

"We all know, Mr. Chairman, that things haven't been going so well here at St. Chrysostom's... Maybe it's nothing seriously, but only last week the Bowling League busted up again on account of some members do not like the way the pastor always comes around and asks them to come to church... Only a couple weeks ago one of the young men in the church - a fine, up-and-coming young fellow, Mr. Chairman - says to me that the young people are beginning to go over to St. Elijah's... It seems they have big dances over there, and their preacher, a young fellow from Styx College, is right in there with them... And so a couple of us got together, Mr. Chairman," -

If he could only keep his eyes open now... He peered over at Barnabas... The boy had really turned out better than he had expected... He remembered him in confirmation instructions, a good boy, only a little slower than the rest and always too sure that he was right... A little jealous, too, of others who had more than he... But he had prospered... Assistant Manager of the Feltman Shoe Company now... A little too fat for his age, but his well-made suit fitted him snugly... Perhaps he had better talk to Barney one of these days... Something worldly and smug about him... After all, Barney was one of his boys... His eyes closed again... What had Mother said before he left the house?... O yes, "if you get sleepy, pinch your wrists."... He smiled... That was Mother, always worrying...

"And so, Mr. Chairman, a couple of us got together at my house, nothing official of course, and sorta talked things over... We all know what our pastor has done for our church... I don't haveta go into that... But, Mr. Chairman, time marches on, as the poet says, and our pastor, it seems to us, is getting along in years... St. Chrysostom's is a big parish, and we got some very important people here" -

Important people... How his mind was wandering tonight... That word, "important"... There were some in St. Chrysostom's all right, but Barney wouldn't know that most of them lived down by the railroad tracks... Saints, some of them, like Mrs. Morton with her drunken husband and six children and her eyes bright with unshed tears... Saints down there... Perhaps he had been spending too much time there lately... He liked to sit in the broken rocker and listen to Grandpa Jepson... He was blind, but he saw more things than anybody else... Mother had scolded him for it... She was right, too... Of course, he had tried to find an excuse... Wasn't it true, he had asked Mother, that every evening there was a meeting, and if he went out in the afternoon to visit the members on the street where Barnabas had built his new house, he always ran into bridge or cocktail parties, and everybody was just embarrassed?... Yes, it was easier to go see Grandpa Jepson - and he had taken the easier way... That was bad... Mother was right... More visits on Grace Boulevard after this...

"And so, Mr. Chairman, we think the Church Board ought to see the Pension Board and ask them to put our pastor on the retired list... We have always paid our percentage, and they ought to be glad to help us out... What we need here is a young fellow with lotsa pep and salesmanship who can give a sermon with punch and arrange affairs with zip in them to draw the people in this here community... Of course, we don't want to be in a hurry about this... Let's take two or three months to look around... But, Mr. Chairman, something's gotta be done" --

So that was it... It had come now, and somehow it did not hurt as much as he thought it would... After all he was getting old... Over sixty... When you get old, things look different.. Barney wasn't important, not really... His soul was, but somebody else would have to see to that now... Perhaps Mother and he could live on the edge of town in one of the little bungalows the Government was renting so cheap... Then he could still go down to see Grandpa Jepson and Mrs. Morton and the redheaded Johnson body, who would make a great minister some day... But Mother... How would he ever be able to explain to her?... Mother was so practical... She would tell him right away that all they had was the furniture and that thousand-dollar insurance policy... Oh, well, that would be hers - and the way he felt tonight, soon enough... Too bad, though, to go this way... He looked around the room... Hardly a man there whose hand he had not touched at the altar on thirty-one confirmation days... He had baptized their children, seen their hopes crushed and rise again, stood with them as death swept over them... They looked a little uneasy now... Waiting for him to say something... He really should... Tell them they were doing the right thing... That he was getting old, that their way was no longer his... He would get up and tell them that and then go home to Mother... But that strange mist over his eyes... Almost as if they were covered with angel wings... That roaring in his ears... New sounds, not of earth...

He slumped forward in his chair... They caught him before he fell... There was a smile on his lips... Mother would have the insurance now, and perhaps God would let him sit near the door and wait for Grandpa Jepson...

--O. P. Kretzmann, The Pilgrim, pp. 51-54

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

You don't give up studying a language just because it's hard in the beginning. Learning to pray can be like learning a new language - the heart's language that speaks with God. -- Bishop Bo Giertz, To Live with Christ, p. 347.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

You must learn to pray and not to sit alone or lie about, hanging your head and shaking it, brooding over your thoughts, worrying about how you can escape and looking at nothing but yourself and your sad and painful condition.  -- Blessed Martin Luther, Day by Day, p. 204

Patristic Quote of the Day

Our fathers thought they should welcome the gift of evening light with something better than silence, so they gave thanks as soon as it appeared. We cannot say who composed these words of thanksgiving at the lighting of the lamps, but the people use these ancient words, and no one accuses them of blasphemy for singing "We praise Father, Son, and God's Holy Spirit."-- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 73.

09 May 2010

Liturgy of Ascension

God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.  God reigns over the nations. God sits on His holy throne (Introit)... Almighty God, as Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, ascended into the heavens, so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him (Collect)...  You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in Your train (Verse)...  Up through endless ranks of angels, cries of triumph in His ears, to His heavenly throne ascending, having vanquished all their fears, Christ looks down upon the faithful, leaving them in happy tears.  Death-destroying, life-restoring, proven equal to our need, now for us before the Father as our Brother intercede; Flesh that for our flesh was wounded, living for the wounded plead (Hymn of the Day - LSB 491)... It is truly good, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places gives thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who after His resurrection appeared openly to all His disciples and in their sight was taken up into heaven that He might make us partakers of His divine life. (Preface)...  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.  Having revealed Your glory in the face of Your only-begotten Son, who suffered, died, and rose for our salvation, You have exalted Him to the highest majesty at Your right hand, that He might graciously fill things.  Grant us faithfully to eat and drink this Holy Supper, trusting our reigning Savior Jesus, who though unseen in His ascended glory, is here present to save by His body and blood. (Prayer of Thanksgiving)... O risen Christ, ascended Lord, all praise to you let earth accord: Alleluia!  Alleluia!  You are, while endless ages run, with Father and with Spirit one.  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia! (Hymn of St. Bede the Venerable - LSB 493)

Service for the Ascension - Thursday evening at 7:15 p.m.

You are hereby notified

to IGNORE any smart comments from Cindi or the kids about dad's grilling abilities.  Besides, it wasn't THAT much of a hassle to thaw out another couple pounds of hamburger, was it?  I've been exiled from the grill for life... I'll stick to baking the desserts.

08 May 2010

Be Still

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on your side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to you God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; your best, your heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

LSB 752:1

I am rather excited

that next year, God willing, I will be privileged to preach the FULL Epiphany season - Easter falling as late as it does.  We'll get the wedding at Cana, the healing of the centurion's servant (from which one of our precommunion prayers derives), the stilling of the storm, and the weeds in the wheat.  SWEET!  I don't think it's occurred this way since I started using the historic one-year series.  It also means a relatively short Trinity season in 2011, with only 21 Sundays after Trinity.

The smell of fried chicken...

...ranks right up there with bacon, fresh brewed coffee, and baking bread.  Tummy is definitely letting me know that it likes what nose is smelling.  When's lunch????

07 May 2010


So, with the run today (5 miles), I've totaled 21 miles run this week, plus a 12 mile bike ride on Sunday.  Which means it took me all week to run and bike down to and across the Poplar Street Bridge!  This week I did mostly toe running, but Thursday I ran on the road and bike path and ran flat footed instead.  I enjoy mixing up the two ways of running - but it is the toe running that my calves sit up and protest over.  You know, if someone told me ten years ago that I'd be regularly running for an hour at a shot (or longer) and thinking nothing of it, I'd have laughed them off.  Life is funny that way - running is like asparagus.  I ended up absolutely loving it when I wouldn't dream of touching it as a youngster.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Since Jesus has reconciled everything, even our inadequate prayers can be brought forward as an offering and gift to God.  -- Bishop Bo Giertz, To Live with Christ, p. 341

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Now, then, since there is no permanent dwelling place for people here on earth, the godly direct their hearts to that place where they wish to live forever.  Yes, they are reminded everyday, when looking at their homes, their clothes, their possessions, and their relatives, that they must leave all these things behind them.  -- Starck's Prayer Book, p. 95.

Patristic Quote of the Day

We treat the profession of faith as the origin and mother of doxology.  -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 68

06 May 2010

More on the Numbers

from Pr. Curtis right here.  What think ye?

Homily upon Rogate

I remember thinking as a young teen-ager that prayer wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  I’d read the words of today’s Gospel, and given them whirl.  “Truly, truly, I say to you,” said Jesus “whatever you ask the Father in my name He will give it to you.”  So I tried it. 

You know,  I don’t even remember anymore the things that I asked for.  I do remember praying, though, for a number of things and always dutifully adding the words “in Jesus’ name I ask it” and closing with a firm “Amen!”   Do you know what?  I didn’t get what I asked for.  And even though I can’t remember all I asked for, I do remember the disappointment.  And I didn’t understand why.   

Jesus made this task of praying sound so incredibly simple.  Where did I mess up?  Well, one Scripture that haunted me was this:  “But let him ask in faith.”  James 1.  That really led me to wonder whether or not there was something wrong with my faith.  I asked and didn’t receive.  Maybe it was because I didn’t believe hard enough? And I read books written by people who taught just that.  If you name it and claim it and don’t get it, the fault is with your faith. 

As the years went on, I sort of set that problem on the back burner.  I knew that I believed in God and that Jesus was His Son and that He had saved me from my sins.  I delighted in being in church and singing his praises and receiving Holy Communion.  But my prayer life was lacking.  Prayer just didn’t seem to work for me and so I didn’t spend a lot of time on it.  And all the while I puzzled over this passage:  “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name He will give it to you.”  That “truly, truly” bothered me.  Jesus seemed to be quite certain of what He was promising. 

It was while I was at seminary that my beloved Dr. Nagel, to whom I and so many other pastors are indebted, opened up that passage to me in a way that I never saw it before.  I had always heard it as Jesus promising to give me any and everything under the sun that I wanted whenever I added the six syllables:  “In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”  Dr. Nagel said:  “His name is not a magical tag.  Jesus promises you whatever is in His name.  All that’s in His name, He says the Father will give you.” 

Picture it like this:  God has a big treasure chest and written around the outside of that chest are the letters J-E-S-U-S.  Everything inside of that chest is in the name of Jesus.  The Father promises you any and everything that He’s put into that chest.  It’s yours.  After all, Jesus said:  “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name He will give it to you.”   

So, the big question is:  what’s in the name of Jesus?  Because whatever is in that name is what the Father promises to give you!  How about this for starters:  In Jesus’ name you will find a Father’s love, overflowing joy, peace of heart and soul, forgiveness of sins, eternal life, a family of faith that shares your joys and sorrows, the gift of the Holy Spirit and faith - oh, and not to mention, all you need to support your pilgrimage through this world.  It’s all there for you in Jesus’ name.  You have only to ask the Father, and He’ll open the treasure chest and give it to you. 

Jesus says to His disciples:  “Until now you have asked for nothing in my name.  Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full...In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.”   

“In that day” refers to the time after the Lord Jesus had been nailed to the cross, buried, and then raised from the dead to forgive the sins of the world and to destroy death.  It refers to now, to the day of grace.  Jesus tells us that when we ask for whatever He has won for us by His suffering and dying and going to the Father, that He won’t have to ask the Father to give us those things.  No.  The treasure chest of Jesus’ name is stuffed full of goodies for everyone who loves Jesus and who believes that He is the one sent from God to be the Savior the world.  And it is the Father himself who invites us, urges us, commands us to come and ask for any and every blessing that His Son won for us.  For all the blessings and benefits that are “in His name.”  The Father Himself loves us and wants us to have them all.  He sent His Son for no other reason than that we might be given those priceless gifts. 

So, you see, when I was a teen-ager I was looking at prayer the wrong way round.  Instead of looking into the treasure-chest of Jesus’ name and asking the Father to give me the riches that are found there, I kept looking at the things of the world around me and asking for those.  Luther says when we do that it is as though a King were to command a poor beggar to ask for anything in His kingdom with the promise that he’d get it, and the beggar were content to ask for a measly cup of soup.  We’re just that way when we content ourselves with the truly little things of this passing world instead of the lasting joys of heaven.   

One last thought:  do you know the greatest way to regularly go the Father and ask for the treasures that Jesus died on the cross to give you?  It’s to take the Lord’s Prayer not just onto lips, but into your heart.  As you come before the Father praying that prayer, you ask for the big stuff: - and not just for you, but for you and for all Christians!  You ask for God’s holy name to shape your life, for His kingdom to invade you, for his holy will to be done to you and by you and in all the world, for daily bread and the grace to receive all the goods of this world in thanksgiving, for forgiveness of sins and the grace to forgive others, for help in times of trouble, and for a final rescue from the Evil One.  Those are some powerful big gifts to ask of God.  Who would ever have the nerve to ask Him for them if Jesus himself hadn’t taught us to pray like that, and to trust in the Father’s love?   

Today happens to be mothers’ day, a day when we thank God for all those who have that incredible call to serve as mothers.  When you’re a kid, moms are great to ask things of.  Oh, they may get impatient with you and tell you to be quiet, but they love you.  And kids know that.  That’s why they are so persistent in asking mom for this, that, and the other thing.  The love of a mother for her child is not unlike that of God the Father for his children. His love is unending and He delights in His children coming to Him and asking Him for good things, especially the good things He’s promised them - in the Name of Jesus.  Amen. 

A Prayer of the Church for Rogate Sunday

In peace, let us pray to the Lord, R.

For the whole Church, that Christ’s baptized people might grow in a life of prayer, daily and fervently calling upon the Blessed Trinity for mercy and help in every need, let us pray to the Lord.

For our government, all those who serve in offices of public trust, and for all in our armed forces, especially..., that God’s favor and blessing rest upon them, that through their service we might lead peaceful, quiet, and godly lives, let us pray to the Lord. 

For our Synod as we prepare to gather in convention this summer, that all our decisions and deliberations be guided by the Holy Spirit so that we may joyfully testify to Jesus Christ as the One who gave Himself as a ransom for all, let us pray to the Lord.

For our parish and every member of it, that we not be mere hearers of the Word, but doers, especially in the obeying our Lord’s command to pray, let us pray to the Lord.

For the hungry and the homeless, the widows and the orphans, the imprisoned and al who cry to the Lord for mercy in time of need, especially ..., that they may know the consolation of Christ’s love and experience His healing power, let us pray to the Lord. 

For all who mourn, especially..., that in the Savior’s resurrection victory they may know joy and peace, even in the midst of pain and loss, let us pray to the Lord.

For those who approach the Holy Eucharist today, that in the Savior’s body and blood they may taste His gracious welcome and love for sinners and be strengthened in their faith and witness, let us pray to the Lord.

For those who have departed this life in God’s faith and friendship, let us give thanks and praise to God, asking Him to bring us with them to share in the joyful Feast that never ends, let us pray to the Lord.

Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Beautiful Prayer from Bo Giertz

from today's reading:

My dear heavenly Father, You know that I am hesitant and filled with fear when I stand before You. How do I dare? You know me completely. And I think about the endless abyss between Your holy being and my human pettiness. Everything I received from You has been soiled and damaged. I am ashamed to show it, and yet You let me come before You. Because of Jesus, I can come to You as Your child. Although You know everything about me and have seen every sin, You let me come - with everything I am ashamed of, everything that hurts, everything that doesn't have to do with You. I now lay it all at Your feet and pray for Your mercy. You have stretched Your atonement over me like a shield of grace over my entire wretched life. Praise be to You for Your incomprehensible and inexhaustible mercifulness, in Jesus' name. Amen. --Bishop Bo Giertz, *To Live with Christ* p. 340.

Does anyone else

find it odd that no Lutheran calendar in our American service books (I have no idea about elsewhere) seems to commemorate on July 1 the martyrdom of Heinrich Voes and Johann Esch?  Especially given the wonderful piece that Dr. Luther wrote to commemorate their bold witness:  "A New Song Here Shall Be Begun"?  It strikes me as a most grievous omission.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

David slays his Goliath, but he is able to write Psalms to comfort believers only because of his colossal failings and weakness.  -- Matthew Harrison, A Little Book on Joy, p. 148.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

As little as a person can give bodily birth to himself, so little can he cause himself to be born again.  The beginning of every spiritual good, as well as its continuation and completion, is utterly beyond our power.  Everything good and perfect comes from God.  And for this reason, we must give Him all the glory! -- C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It! p. 419.

Patristic Quote of the Day

To describe His wonders is to give Him the fullest glorification possible.  The same is true for the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Only-begotten Son Himself; we are only able to glorify them by recounting their wonders to the best of our ability. -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 54.

05 May 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

True ecumenicalism involves a unity with the Spirit among individuals who are "sanctified in truth" (John 17:19).  It doesn't involve compromises with teachings and opinions that contain both truth and error. Neither can it involve organizing societies that are far from sanctified in the truth.  Real unity in Christ cannot be organized.  It is created by God when we become living members of His body.  However, nothing should stop Christ's members from serving one another with the kind of unity and love Christ expects.  -- Bishop Bo Giertz, To Live with Christ, p. 338.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The absence of original sin in Him is to be explained, not so much by a special sanctification of the nature in Mary, as by the fact that the personality in Christ is supplied by the divine and not by the human nature. The Holy One was the Son of God inhabiting a nature which personally united to Himself could not be other than holy. -- H.E. Jacobs, Elements of Religion, p. 94.

Patristic Quote of the Day

We learn that just as the Father is made visible in the Son, so also the Son is recognized in the Spirit... Light cannot be separated from what it makes visible, and it is impossible for you to recognize Christ, the Image of the invisible God, unless the Spirit enlightens you.  Once you see the Image, you cannot ignore the light; you see the Light and Image simultaneously.  It is fitting that when we see Christ, the Brighteness of God's glory, it is always through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit par. 97

I absolutely love

my office this time of year - with windows facing east and south, the light just pours in all day.  It's 6:30 and the sun is already way up and pouring in its cheering light.  With a lot of imagination, I can even pretend that the traffic on I-55 is breaking surf... well, okay, so I don't have THAT much imagination.  But it was a nice thought...

04 May 2010

So as part of my

new Cheetah! lifestyle (FPU joke), I "upgraded" my phone contract to get out of $30 per month data access fee that is built into the iPhone.  I still have my iPhone, but use it just as an iPod - leaving it in airplane mode.  But the new Samsung phone I got is fantastic.  I charged it last time on Wednesday night, and it JUST ran out of juice.  Now that's sweet - six days worth of use, a bit heavy use at times too.  So, better battery life, a very nice phone, and $30 per month less.  YES.  I confess that it is a relief not to have email following me around.  I could get that feature on this phone, but purposefully chose to block internet access so it's just a phone.  So now I only deal with email when I'm sitting in front of the computer and not when I'm trying to enjoy dinner out with my wife!

All Depends

Many spend their lives in fretting
Over trifles and in getting
Things that have no solid ground.
I will strive to win a treasure
That will bring me lasting pleasure
And that now is seldom found.

When with sorrow I am stricken,
Hope anew my heart will quicken;
All my longing shall be stilled.
To His loving-kindness tender
Soul and body I surrender,
For on God alone I build.

Well He knows what best to grant me;
All the longing hopes that haunt me,
Joy and sorrow, have their day.
I shall doubt His wisdom never;
As God wills, so be it ever;
I to Him commit my way.
LSB 732:3-5

When You're Not There

If I decided one Sunday just to skip Church that week, do you think anyone would notice? Ah, you say, but you're the pastor. Yes, they'd notice. I agree. They would. But it also makes a difference when YOU decide to skip Church this Sunday.

Each Sunday is a gathering of the family - and when a beloved family member doesn't show up for the family gathering and meal at Christmas or Easter or Thanksgiving, there's a hole, a gap, a pain that everyone feels. We're all the less for that person not being with us to revel in the celebration of that day. Their absence diminishes the joy of the family. So when you choose to skip on Sunday, when you don't come together with your church family to join in offering the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving and to receive the gifts your Lord has for you, it's not just you that miss out. Your extended family - the Church - misses out. They are diminished by your decision to absent yourself. The singing is that much quieter. The "amens" that much softer. The spot where you usually sit and stand reminds us all of your absence.

Surely old Neuhaus was dead right on this: Christian discipleship should begin with a very simple commitment that any given Lord's Day will find you in the assembly of God's people, singing His praise, offering your prayers, receiving His gifts. The only reasons for missing is because you're too sick to be present or because you're away travelling - and even in the later case, blessed are you if you find the family gathered in that location and join with them.

"Let us consider how to stir one another up to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Hebrews 10:25  "I was glad when they said to me:  Let us go to the house of the Lord!" Psalm 122:1

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Because of the confessional position of the Lutheran Church, there is no reason why Lutherans should not still be Lutheran. Espousing the catholic and apostolic faith with Christ as center and Scripture as source, Lutherans are part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Therefore, they do not have to ask whether they should be part of a church body with a name other than Lutheran. They do, of course, need to be concerned about the barriers that divide Christians from each other and must listen to other Christians for what the Holy Spirit may have to say through them. But they do not need to be concerned, as some other Christians have insisted they should be concerned, that they are somehow not the true church of Christ. -- A. C. Piepkorn, *The Sacred Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions* pp. 195, 196.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

There is only One out of all people who was perfectly righteous before God by His own work: the Man, Jesus Christ. He was not righteous for Himself, for He is God and does not require His own righteousness. He gives it away, gives it to all who desire it and will receive it. He gives it to all who believe in Him. -- C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 407

Patristic Quote of the Day

Goodness of will is a current in the stream of the divine essence, and thus is perceived to be the same in the Father and the Son. -- St. Basil the Great, *On the Holy Spirit* par. 21.

03 May 2010

First Song of Isaiah

by our Choir. This is from the early service on Cantate Sunday:

My sis just posted

to me on her Facebook that the whippoorwills were singing away there in Richardsville, Virginia. How I love to hear their nightly serenade. So many memories it brings back! I especially remember sitting on the porch at my grandparents and listening to that sad and sweet call that started as darkness began to fall and could go on long into the night. The nightly noises I hear at the moment are the semis rumbling up and down the interstate, running between St. Louis and Chicago. You can hear a recording of the much more pleasant song of the whippoorwill here. And yes, they do that for HOURS and HOURS!

Thoughts on the Corrective Function of the Symbols

My dear friend, Pr. Larry Peters, has written a fine piece you should read here. It raises a most interesting question in my mind about the extent to which a congregation or a Synod may honestly be considered "Lutheran." I would argue that when the documents comprising the Lutheran Symbols, the Christian Book of Concord, are no longer permitted to critique and challenge current teaching or practice; when instead our Church's Confession is relegated to the museum as an interesting artifact of what was once the case, then we have lost the right to the name "Lutheran." Whenever the Symbols are dismissed with "well, they can't mean THAT because we DO that and we're Lutherans after all," their corrective voice has been silenced and stilled. Well, not really. Rather ignored and shouted down. The voice of our fathers still rings out and it still challenges what we believe, teach, confess and practice. So are you and your congregation and your Synod ready to hear the living critique which the Symbols would offer? Then there might be hope for the Churches of the Augsburg Confession yet. If not, then shut out the lights, folks, and move on. Or, at least be honest and change the name on the door...

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Spirit of truth makes the impossible possible. -- Bishop Bo Giertz, *To Live with Christ* p. 331

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The devil is a scoundrel who furtively sneaks up behind us to see if he can somehow divert us from prayer. So we must prepare ourselves to oppose him and allow nothing to deter us. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Homily for Rogate (House Postils II, 106)

Patristic Quote of the Day

He raises up from the depth of sin those who have fallen from resurrection. He accomplishes all things by His powerful touch. He shepherds, He enlightens, He nourishes, He leads, He heals, He raises up. He calls all things from non-existence into being; once things are created He keeps them in existence. Thus God's blessings reach through the Son. -- St. Basil the Great, *On the Holy Spirit* par 19.

02 May 2010

In preparation for Rogate

Is it not very interesting that the Sunday when the Church reads St. James' famous words about being doers of the Word and not mere self-deceived hearers, that the command of our Lord in the Gospel reading is: ASK! (And it is, I believe, the only Sunday whose name derives from the Gospel reading). Rogate! ASK! says our Lord. DO IT! St. James chimes in with. Love it! I honestly believe that if we cannot begin with obedience in the matter of prayer, we will not make progress in any other area of our Christian walk - for progress depends on learning to depend on the Blessed Trinity and not on ourselves. In other words, prayer!

What is he saying up there?

A friend asked that the other day. He meant the communion prayers. So here they are and now you know. As the congregation sings the Agnus Dei, I use this adaptation (and shortened) version of the traditional prayers as I prepare to receive the Sacrament and then after receiving:

Lord, I am not worthy to receive You into myself; but speak only the word and Your servant shall be healed.

The very Body of Christ, given for me. Amen.

I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.

The very Blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of my sins. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, may this, Your most holy Body and precious Blood, which I, an unworthy sinner, have received, be to me for the forgiveness of all my sins, for strength in resisting temptations, for service in Your kingdom, and finally for the glories of life everlasting.

Glory to You, Lord Jesus Christ, my King and my God! Glory to You! Amen.