31 August 2010

To quote my friend Paul Whitmore...

...habemus Presidentum!

The Synod's website has been updated.

Praying for the Church with the Church

The Litany:

To rule and govern Your holy Christian Church; to preserve all pastors and ministers of Your Church in the true knowledge and understanding of Your wholesome Word and to sustain them in holy living; To put an end to all schisms and causes of offense; to bring into the way of truth all who have erred and are deceived; to beat down Satan under our feet; to send faithful laborers into Your harvest; and to accompany Your Word with Your grace and Spirit:  We implore You to hear us, good Lord!

The Bidding Prayer:

Let us pray for the whole Christian Church, that our Lord God would defend her against all the assaults and temptations of the adversary and keep her perpetually on the true foundation, Jesus Christ:  Almighty and everlasting God, since You have revealed Your glory to all nations in Jesus Christ and in the Word of His truth, keep, we ask You, in safety the works of Your mercy so that Your Church, spread throughout all nations, may be defended against the adversary and may serve You in truth faith and persevere in the confession of Your name; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

General Prayer I:

We humbly implore You to rule and govern Your Church throughout the world.  Bless all those who proclaim Your truth that we may be preserved in the pure doctrine of Your saving Word, and that faith in You may be strengthened, love toward others increased, and Your kingdom extended.  Send forth laborers into Your harvest, and sustain those whom You have sent that the Word of reconciliation may be proclaimed to all people and the Gospel preached in all the world.

General Prayer II:

We praise You especially for preserving for us Your saving Word and the holy Sacraments.  Grant and preserve to Your holy Church throughout the world purity of doctrine, and provide faithful pastors to preach Your Word with power.  Help all who hear the Word rightly to understand and truly to believe it.  Send laborers into Your harvest, and open the door of faith to those who do not know You.  In mercy, bring repentance to the enemies of Your Church, and grant them amendment of life.  Protect and defend Your Church in all tribulation and danger.  Strengthen us and all fellow Christians to set our hope fully on the grace revealed in Christ, and help us to fight the good fight of faith that in the end we may receive the salvation of our souls.

Prayer of the Church (responsive form):

Save and defend Your whole Church, purchased with the precious blood of Christ.  Strengthen Your faithful people through the Word and the holy Sacraments, making them perfect in love and in all good works, and establishing in them the faith once delivered to the saints.  Lord, in Your mercy:  Hear our prayer.

Prayer of the Church (Ektene form):

For the holy Christian Church throughout the world and for all who confess the name of Christ, that God would guard and defend us from the temptations of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, let us pray to the Lord:  Lord, have mercy.

Litany (Divine Service 4; Service of Prayer and Preaching):

For the holy Christian Church, here and scattered throughout the world, and for the proclamation of the Gospel, and the calling of all to faith, let us pray to the Lord:  Lord, have mercy.


Almighty God, You have knit Your chosen people together into one communion in the mystical body of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Give to Your whole Church in heaven and on earth Your light and Your peace.  Lord, in Your mercy, Hear our prayer.

[from Lutheran Service Book:  Altar Book]


how Satan is so adept at getting us all worked up, hot and bothered, over the things that finally don't matter; so that we stay cooly indifferent to the things that finally do.  "We are not ignorant of his devises."  Surely majoring in the minors is one such.  "Lord, help us to love what you command and desire what you promise!"


Today, August 31, marks the last day of President Kieschnick's service as President of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod.  Tomorrow, we can drop the "elect" from President-Elect Harrison's title as he officially becomes simply the President of the LCMS.  And what will the future bring?  God alone knows.

Here are some of my dreams, though, for my beloved Synod:

A more merciful Church - greater involvement in alleviating human suffering and bringing the love of Christ to bear in tangible ways in our local communities and throughout the world.

A more evangelical Church - no, not in THAT sense; in the true sense.  A Church where the Gospel rings out with its unquenchable joy and shapes all we say and do, and where the Gospel (not the Law!) moves our mission work.

A more liturgical Church - learning to live responsibly within our liturgical heritage in the way Krauth:  "possessing liturgical life without liturgical bondage."  A Church where the full and rich heritage of Lutheran hymnody rings out full-throated from our congregations.

A more prayerful Church - where the Daily Office, the Litany and such come into their own and shape our parishes as places of prayer.  If "my Father's house shall be called a house of prayer for all people" let us return our parishes from being fund-raising organizations to being prayer-raising communities.

A more giving Church - where we recover a lively sense of sacrifice, of sharing earthly goods from the charity that the Gospel has planted in our hearts.

A more gentle Church - where the 8th commandment is truly honored in our practice, above all in learning to explain our neighbor's actions in the kindest way and where we remember the wise words of the Apology that harmony in the Church cannot last unless pastors and churches mutually overlook many things.

A more peaceful Church - where the hope of the future that will surely be ours at our Lord's Appearing removes all hastiness and fear and gives us a calm and measured ability to evaluate the challenges before us.

A more educated Church - where a deep and abiding love for the Word of God leads to full Bible classes and devout reading of the Word in our homes.

It is said that over time, a parish takes on the characteristics of her pastor.  The above I find to be characteristics of our new President.  I hope that in time, the Synod will become like him in that way.  

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

To break any of the commandments you have to first break the First Commandment. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 256.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

For because the Church is universal, God has always raised up in various places those who have given a confession which is in agreement with the sound understanding of the true doctrine in order to strengthen coming generations.  Good minds are greatly strengthened when they see that the same expression of doctrine has sounded forth in the church in all ages, especially because the adversaries complain loudly that our teaching does not have the witness of the ancient church but is a recent fabrication.  -- Blessed Martin Chemnitz, Loci I:47

Patristic Quote of the Day

Let us glorify and worship Jesus, the Word of God, Who, according to His love, came to save us by His cross and is coming again to resurrect Adam's children in the great day when His majesty shall shine forth.  Grieve not, ye mortals, over your corruption.  Christ the King shall shine forth from on high; He who is omnipotent shall beckon and thus raise the dead from their graves, and clothe them with glory in His kingdom. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter, #149

After Giving This Long and Serious Thought...

...I have decided that English Breakfast Tea is actually to be preferred rather than Irish Breakfast Tea.  It's the difference between excellent and very good.

30 August 2010

This Sunday

we will wrap up our study of Proverbs, which has been a great joy.  I think our next study will be the Table of Duties from the Small Catechism.  Should prove interesting as well, I would think!

Next Session for Financial Peace University at St. Paul's

begins on Tuesday, September 21, and runs through Tuesday, December 14.  Having been through it once, I cannot recommend it highly enough.  Hope to see lots of you there!

You can register here.

Luther on Trinity XIV

He's really very good in the House Postil on this text.  Here's his wrap up paragraph on the Ten Lepers:

To sum it all up:  we will be good Christians, first of all, when we have a firm faith and trust in God's goodness; second, when we are grateful to God and our fellowmen; and third, when we patiently tolerate ingratitude as we keep on doing good to all people.  In any case, nine people will be ungrateful for every one who is grateful and thanks you for a good deed.  And it may well be that the one who thanks you and is grateful is the one of whom you least expected it, just like this Samaritan.  May our loving Lord God grant his grace that we remember this and keep growing in our sanctification.  Amen.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

God loves to pour it without calculation, equalization, or quantification.  Such bounty is hard to bear for shriveled sinners who won't be given to but insist on taking over and getting control.  Part of controlling is a measuring of quantities that is based on comparison of sizes.  Instead of receiving gifts from Him, I measure what I have as my own.  --Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 252.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

There are always two vices in ingratitude:  falsehood and dishonesty.  An ungrateful man is a liar because he attributes good deeds to himself.  He is dishonest because he does not repay the One from whom he has received the good deeds.  -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Postilla II:155.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Thee have I angered, yet to Thee do I run, according to Thy great capacity to forget evil-doing.  Thee have I offended, yet to Thee do I run, according to Thy great love for mankind, and I entreat and cry to Thee:  Turn Thy face from my sins and blot out all mine iniquities.  Create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter, #146

St. Paul's Calendar

29 August 2010

Must Confess

that having used the Treasury in a variety of ways over the last couple years, I have definitely decided that I am truly most at home using it the way I did at first.  Here's how:

Matins/Lauds:  Opening Versicles, Monthly Psalter (see chart on pages 1436-1437 - easiest is to write the divisions into the Psalter itself), Hymn stanza, OT reading, Responsory, Canticle (Te Deum on Sundays; Benedictus all other days), Kyrie, Our Father, Prayer of the Day, Prayer for the Day of the Week (pp. 1306-1309), Collect for Grace, Benedicamus, Benediction

Vespers:  Opening Versicles, Monthly Psalter (as above), Hymn stanza, NT reading, Responsory, Writing, Versicle and Magnificat, Kyrie, Our Father, Prayer of the Day, Intercessions for family and for those who have asked my prayers, Collect for Peace, Benedicamus, Benediction

The heart of this way of using the Treasury is the Monthly Psalter.  Truly, the more I use the Psalms, the more I have come to love them and find them to be the very best prayers we as the Church can ever offer.  As Bonhoeffer said, they're all expansions of the petitions of the Our Father.

Sunday's This and That

Matins, Bible Class and Divine Services are wrapped up, bulletin finished up and shipped off to Joanie for next Sunday, getting ready to meet with Zach to discuss the history of Lutheran liturgy from a musical perspective, Dave and Jo due over at around 3 for cards and dinner.  Yup, it's a winner of a day. And the triumph of St. John the Baptist, being Forerunner even in death, just makes the ordinary, mundane things of life that much sweeter.  St. John points to the one thing needful, and if you have HIM, the Lamb of God, then there's just joy over any little extras that you get to savor along the way.  John's life was like that.  It was free and joyful because HE was free and joyful being nothing but a testimony to His Lord. He didn't have to be a somebody.  He could grow less and less as Christ grew more and more.  And that's how he's the greatest of those born of women.  Did he say grace before he munched on the hoppers?  He could face the executioners sword without fear - he was free.  Death would never be the end of him.  You or me either.  So joy, overflowing joy in the big gifts and then joy also in the little ones that grace our way.  Even the hoppy kind!

28 August 2010

Look What My Father-in-law Made for St. Paul's!

A hand-crafted hearse for the Good Friday Tenebrae Vespers.  Unlike the traditional hearse of 15 candles, the LSB rite calls for extinguishing only seven, hence the number of candle slots in this one. You can use it with smaller candles, or remove the wooden insets and use larger candles.  Dave's workmanship is meticulous.  And it humbles me that he spent so many hours making this beautiful hearse for use in the liturgy at one service on one day of the entire year.  But that's exactly like my father-in-law.  Only the best for the Lord.  Thanks, Dave!  


Old Friends

What joy last night as we gathered around the table - there were eight of us - for a splendid dinner of macaroni salad (thanks, Jo!), sloppy joes, cole slaw, olives and cheese.  Lauren, of course, wouldn't eat any of that and made herself a bacon sandwich.  Silly child!  Donald, whom Cindi and I have been friends with since we were youngsters in 7th grade, joined us together with his Aunt Vera (who is, I think, the only Lutheran in his family).  We had lots of laughter and joyful memories.  It was good to see him again and do a bit of catch up.  He looks ever more Irish as the years pass, and his Boston accent is as thick as it was when we first conversed that day in gym class at Belt Junior High when his family moved to Wheaton.  I noticed he wore a cross.  I asked if he were Catholic.  He answered:  "Yeah.  Why?" and the rest was history!  Oh, and though Cindi and I knew each other from school, I still remember the day Donald came biking by and insisted I had to ride over with him to meet Cindi's mom who was just the coolest mom in the world - "Mama Jo" - and so Donald is the one who first introduced me to my future mother-in-law!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

You too?  Absurd, isn't it?  Let the Lord do His absurdity of loving you, little you, a speck on a speck of a universe, without cooking up your own absurdities.  And this Lord, who will bring you through death as His death, can be relied on to make the necessary arrangements for what we cannot calculate or even say or think.  We are given some happy hints, but the center, the heart of it all, we do know and rejoice in.  Next Sunday's epistle says, 'God has not destined you for wrath.'  If you want a day a wrath, you can have it if you insist.  Nobody gets whipped in. God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with Him.  Through Jesus, with Him, with the Lord always.  "Comfort one another with these words." -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 251.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In the judgment of all, the learned Augustine is given first place. -- Blessed Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici I:32

Patristic Quote of the Day

For while all vices manifest themselves in wrongdoing, pride lurks also in our good works, seeking to destroy even them. - The Rule of St. Augustine, 1.7

Commemoration of St. Augustine, Pastor and Theologian

From our Synod's website and the Treasury:

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

Prayer of the Day:  O Lord God, the Light of the minds that know You, the Life of the souls that love You, and the Strength of the hearts that serve You, give us strength to follow the example of Your servant St. Augustine of Hippo, so that knowing You we may truly love You and loving You we may fully serve You - to serve You is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ...

27 August 2010

Frisky Fisk Does It Again

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Happy harmony with the will of God can only be achieved in loss of self, for that is the way of love, and love is the way of God.  Jesus has shown us that way.  He prayed, "Not my will, but Thine, be done." -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 246.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Do like the birds - learn to believe, sing, be happy, and let your heavenly Father do the caring for you. -- Blessed Martin Luther, House Postils III:19.

Patristic Quote of the Day

I know that Thou canst do all things and that nothing is impossible for Thee.  Wait not for my corrupt will to exercise itself, for I lack ambition to correct myself.  -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter, #121.

Commemoration of St. Monica, Mother of St. Augustine

Yes, my dear friend and crusty old curmudgeon Dr.Terry Maher will give the whole story of how this is NOT the day to commemorate St. Monica historically.  Nevertheless, in the current service books of the Lutheran, Anglican and Roman communions, well, today is the day. It was moved in the 20th century to place her observance next door to that of her son, which follows tomorrow. So with that caveat, from our Synod's website and the Treasury:

A native of North Africa, Monica (A.D. 333–387) was the devoted mother of Saint Augustine. Throughout her life she sought the spiritual welfare of her children, especially that of her brilliant son, Augustine. Widowed at a young age, she devoted herself to her family, praying many years for Augustine's conversion. When Augustine left North Africa to go to Italy, she followed him to Rome and then to Milan. There she had the joy of witnessing her son's conversion to the Christian faith. Weakened by her travels, Monica died at Ostia, Italy on the journey she had hoped would take her back to her native Africa. On some church year calendars, Monica is remembered on May 4.

And so we pray: O Lord, You strengthened Your patient servant Monica through spiritual discipline to persevere in offering her love, her prayers, and her tears for the conversion of her husband and of Augustine, their son. Deepen our devotion to bring others, even our own family, to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and forever. (Treasury, p. 663).

26 August 2010

Intercessions upon the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers them from them all.  Let us pray for the Church of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs. 

For the baptized, that set free from sin’s bonds by the Holy Spirit, we may witness with joy to Him who is the Lamb of God and who has taken away this world’s sin.  Lord, in Your mercy, R.

For all who serve the Ministry of the Word, that God give them grace to speak that Word without fear of those who oppose it, witnessing to God’s Law and Gospel in all the world.  Lord, in Your mercy, R.

For our nation and its leaders and for David and all who serve in the armed forces, that they might be protected from evil and strengthened and upheld in every good deed.  Lord, in Your mercy, R.

For those who suffer persecution for confessing Christ, that the Holy Spirit strengthen them for a good witness and uphold them in their faith.  Lord, in Your mercy, R.

For all who cry to the Lord for healing and comfort, especially for ... that each might know the solace of Christ’s presence and healing according to His perfect will.  Lord, in Your mercy, R.

For all who come to the altar today, that in the Body and Blood of the Savior, they might taste the forgiving love of God, be set free from sin’s shackles, and know the peace that passes all understanding.  Lord, in Your mercy, R.

For St. John the Baptist and all the faithful departed, we lift our song of praise, and ask that we too may be faithful unto death that we may receive with them the crown of life and feast with Christ forevermore.  Lord, in Your mercy, R.

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

Homily upon the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist (2010)

[Rev. 6:9-11 / Rom. 6:1-5 / Mark 6:14-29]

It haunted him.  That grizzly sight of John’s head on the platter.  He’d never meant it to come to that.  Even after he had had John arrested and thrown into jail, he still would listen to him sometimes.  He was drawn by John’s words – they had a way of reaching deep into his soul.  He knew in a way that he couldn’t deny that John spoke truth.  And yet John’s words also scared him.  He didn’t want them to be true.  He didn’t want to think of a coming judgment.  He didn’t want to think of a God who knew the secrets of his heart and remembered everything he’d ever said, done, thought, felt.  Who would expose his entire life before His throne and render a verdict upon him.  But he listened because he couldn’t help himself.  And yet he still wanted to do what he wanted to do.  He wasn’t about to give up his new wife, though now that he had her, he wasn’t quite satisfied with her either.  Why else had he been so captivated by her daughter and that suggestive dance?  What a fool he’d been that night, to make such a stupid promise!  What a fool not to guess how Herodius would have her revenge on the prophet she hated!  He wasn’t thinking straight.  Too much partying.  He thought he’d do better someday.  But the someday never came.  He never seemed to think straight anymore.  

And suddenly all these rumors spreading around the countryside. Unheard of miracles worked by some prophet from Nazareth!  Some folks said the long awaited King of the Jews was at hand.  But his own guilty conscience gave him another answer:  You can’t escape.  It’s John.  John come back from the dead.  Come to confront you with your evil, your weakness, your sin, your cowardice and failing.  Just thinking about it he started to tremble.  As though that head on the platter with the open eyes, looked straight at him:  it was the look of pity from a free man gazing at a poor slave. 

For Herod was a slave, make no doubt about it.  He may have lived in a fine house.  He may have feasted royally day after day.  He may have stumbled from party to party and he took whatever he wanted.  And that’s how he showed his slavery.  He was a slave to his own appetites, his own desires.  He didn’t conquer them; they ruled his life.  And when he heard John preach, shackled and bound as he was, he knew he was in the presence of a free man.

John was no slave.  From the time he was a little six month old foetus in his mother’s womb, he was a free.  Already there the Holy Spirit had filled him and he had confessed by his leaping the presence of his Lord.  At his circumcision, his father Zachariah had said of him:  “You, my child, will be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His way; to give His people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.  Through the tender mercy of our God when the Day shall dawn upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”  John was a free man.  Filled with the Holy Spirit, he didn’t bother about what folks thought of him.  Good thing, too.  He was a little strange.  Clothed in camel’s hair, chomping on grasshoppers, and dipping his fingers in wild honey, he lived out in the wilderness.  A free man. 

He knew he had a task to do and he did it with zeal.  He called Israel to repentance – no two ways about it.  The Lord was near at hand, the kingdom was about to break in, and so lives had to change.  His message hit hard.  Folks came to him from all over.  “What shall we do?” they cried.  His message was one of mercy.  They all went into the water and came up new people.  Those who were wealthy, who had two tunics, were to share with those who had none.  Tax collectors were welcomed too – and they were told to stop thieving and take no more than their due.  Soldiers came, their swords red with blood, and they were welcomed as well.  Their sins washed away and he told them:  “Do not extort money from anyone by false accusation” and “be content with your wages.”  He welcomed everyone but the self-righteous.  Them he challenged:  “Bear fruits befitting repentance.  It’s not a show.  It’s not a game.  You need to turn from these sins that enslave you and let God set you free.  If you don’t, you will meet Him in a way you don’t want to.  His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he’ll clear his threshing floor and gathering the wheat into his barn.  But the chaff?  You know what he’ll do to the chaff?  Fire.  Unquenchable fire.  Repent while you can!”

But John wasn’t all law.  His call to repentance was to prepare the people to greet with joy another One.  His finger pointed to that One as He walked along.  “Look!” he cried.  “Look, one and all.  THAT’S the Lamb of God.  THAT’S the One who takes away the sin of the world.  He’s the reason I’ve come – to point Him out to you all.  He’s yours.  Your Lamb!”

John was so utterly free because he knew that he was unworthy, as he confessed when the Lord came to him for Baptism:  “I need to be baptized by you.”  He knew that he was a sinner in need of mercy and forgiveness.  But he knew also that the Lamb of God had come into the flesh to forgive his sin and that of the whole world, and to take on death and destroy it.  There is no man so free as the man who knows his sin is forgiven, his death is destroyed, and that he is beloved child of the heavenly Father.   Such a man is free to face the executioner’s sword – he lives by faith alone and so he lives still, even though he die.

John wanted everyone to know that freedom.  Even Herod.  But Herod declined the gift.  He chose to stay in the prison house of his sinful desires and refused the freedom that he was offered.  And all he had at the end were his regrets, his fears, his terrors. 

And you?  Which will it be for you?  Will you like Herod stay a prisoner of your own passions, enslaved and bound to your own desires?  Or will you receive from the same Holy Spirit who set John free, the gift of freedom?  Will you rejoice that Jesus is your Lamb, that His death on the cross is your righteousness, that His resurrected life is your very own and that nothing but nothing – not even peril or sword - will ever be able to separate you from His love? 

God is calling you today to freedom – to the freedom that John enjoyed, freedom from the long shadows of the sins that haunt you, freedom that the Spirit gives, that the Son won for you, that your heavenly Father summons you to enter.  Bid farewell to the ways of Herod, people loved by God.  There is forgiveness bigger than all sin.  Come, behold the Lamb of God, let Him put His undying body and blood into you as the promise that your sins are forgiven and that they have no power to hold you a slave anymore.  Come, feast with John the Baptist and all who live in Him, whom death has no power to destroy.  To Him, our Lamb, be the glory forever with the Father and the Holy Spirit unto the ages of ages!  Amen.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

To neglect your church, your prayer, your Bible study, your devotions, is to tell God that you have no desire to grow, to become more and more His child, that you are satisfied with being a weak and shaky Christian, and that you have had as much as you want from Him.  How perilously such a person is slipping away from God.  Everything that is not in accord with God's will is given over to death and the power of darkness.  But, my friends, if we cling to Christ and His Word, growing daily in the will of God, striving to bring our lives into harmony with that will, what strength is ours, what then can harm us?  When we are given over to the will of God, nothing can destroy, no more than God and His will can be destroyed.  The unshakeable strength of the will of God is in us, though the world turn upside down.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 245.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Christ and His mercy are not preached so that people should remain in their sins.  On the contrary, this is what Christian doctrine proclaims:  The prison should release you, not so that you may do whatever you desire, but so that you will sin no more. -- Blessed Martin Luther, cited in Law and Gospel, p. 464.

Patristic Quote of the Day

I am unworthy to ask forgiveness for myself, O Lord, for many times have I promised to repent and proved myself a liar by not fulfilling my promise.  Thou hast picked me up many times already, but every time I freely chose to fall again. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter, #120.

25 August 2010

A Bishop for the Mission in Finland

Note:  Bishop Obare, seen in this video presenting the cross, will be preacher at the installation of Pr. Harrison as the President of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod in the Chapel of Sts. Timothy and Titus on September 11.

Something that Makes Me Go: Hmm...

The Smalcald Articles confess that the Church cannot be better governed than if we all live under one Head, Christ, and have all the bishops equal in office - even if unequal in gifts - diligently joined in unity of doctrine, faith, sacraments, prayer, works of love and such. Lutherans, of course, by 1537 understand "bishop" to refer to the incumbent of the Office of the Holy Ministry who preaches the Gospel and presides over the Eucharist and administers the keys in a local community - the Shepherd of that place - as the very next sentence of the Smalcald Articles shows.  Read more on pastors as bishops here.

But what we Lutherans understand as applying to pastors, the Orthodox understand as applying to the men they call bishops, who are the chief shepherds not of a parish, but of a diocese. So it was with a bit of incredulity that I read this news out of Antioch.  To paraphrase Orwell, even though all bishops are equal, some bishops are apparently more equal than other bishops.  Metropolitan Philip has been confirmed in regarding *all* the bishops in his archdiocese as mere "auxiliary bishops" whom he has the authority to transfer at will.

Sounds like Rome!  I wonder if the non-Antiochian Orthodox will speak a fraternal word to their brothers regarding this decision, which seems (at least to this outside observer) to undercut the very structure of the Church in the Orthodox understanding of it as the universal communion of canonical bishops - each equal to the other - and their flocks.

The situation bears watching.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

This is the miracle of conversion by the gracious working of God the Holy Spirit.  He creates faith in us through the Gospel, that is, He brings us to our hold on Jesus.  Our coming to faith is not an act of our free will.  Yet it is not by compulsion; we may resist.  Our conversion is the miracle of creative love.  God's love in Christ awakens us to responding love.  Love cannot be compelled or directed.  Love begets love, and there is no greater love than the love of  God in Christ.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, pp. 243, 244.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

My Son has reconciled the world to Me.  I have accepted His sacrifice.  I am satisfied.  He paid your warrant, and I have set Him free.  Therefore, rejoice because you have nothing of which to be afraid. -- C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 421.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Praise be to the Judge who accepted condemnation for our sake! -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter, #118

24 August 2010

Lauren reports...

...she's having a little trouble practicing...

Missing David

Well, the laddie's been gone for a week and will not be back till next Wednesday.  He's jaunting across Germany with his godfather - am anxious to hear his impressions of the new Oberamergau ending.  I'm eager for his return.  House just hasn't seemed the same without him entertaining us, but hope he's having a good time.

Homily upon St. Bartholomew's Day

The second to last chapter of the Bible describes the heavenly Jerusalem, the final home and abode of God’s people.  St. John saw this City coming down out of heaven from God, shining with the very glory of God himself.  It was a walled city with 12 gates, three facing in each direction.  At each gate he saw an angel, and on each gate was written the name of one of Israel’s tribes.  But below each gate, serving as foundation stones for the city, were stones marked with twelve names:  the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

That means that eternally remembered and celebrated in heaven is the name of one Bartholomew, whom the Church of Jesus Christ commemorates on this day, the 24th of August.  Early church tradition tells us that of the 12 disciples, Bartholomew (also called Nathaniel) alone was of noble birth and that of the 12 he suffered the most horrendous death.  He had been preaching the Gospel for several years in Armenia, with great miracles accompanying his preaching.  God the Holy Spirit through Bartholomew’s work even granted repentance and faith to the King of Armenia.  In return for turning the King from his idols, the King’s brother had Bartholomew arrested and martyred.  He is reported to have been flayed alive and then either beheaded or crucified.  His symbol in the church is therefore three flaying knives, by which the church remembers how much this Apostle of the Lamb was called upon to suffer for the name of Jesus.

But we are a long way from the glory of Bartholomew’s martyrdom in today’s Gospel.  Bartholomew is, however, among those sitting at the table with Jesus .  It is Maundy Thursday.  Jesus had just given to them the bread with the words:  “This is My Body, which is given for you.  Do this to remember Me.”  He had just reached them the cup with the words:  “This cup is the new testament in my blood which is poured out for you.”  He had just told them that one of those sitting there with him at the table would betray him.  He was about to die, to offer His life as the very ransom that would set them all people free, winning forgiveness for a world, and what is on their minds?  What are they thinking about?  What are they discussing?  Themselves, of course. They are quarrelling among themselves about who’s the big cheese, which one is the greatest.

With great patience Jesus lets them know that in the Kingdom of God, things operate in reverse from the kingdoms of the world.  In the way things go in this world, kings and leaders and rulers call themselves “benefactors.”  They clearly regard themselves as the big cheeses and dole out their favors to those below them who serve them in ways they approve of.  Jesus nixes such an idea for any who belong to him.  “With you,” he says “it’s different.  The greatest among you should become like the youngest, and the one who leads should be like one who serves.”  He turns things topsy-turvy.

Then to make sure they really “get it” he goes at it from a different angle.  “Who is greater, the one who reclines to eat (remember, they ate lying down in those days) or the one who serves?”  Is it the one who eats the feast, or the one who serves the feast who is greater?  Clearly, Jesus says, in their way of thinking, it’s the one who reclines and is served!  That’s what they were all vying for – to be served.  But Jesus has other plans.  He says:  “But I am among you as one who serves.”

Get a handle on that one, folks.  That’s a live wire.  What does Jesus mean?  I am among you as one who serves?  Well, who had just taken bread, given thanks, and served it to them, saying:  “This is my body, which is given for you”?  Who had just taken the cup, gave thanks and served it to them saying:  “This cup is the new testament in My blood, poured out for you”?  “I am among you as one who serves.”  That, by the way, is why we call what goes on in this assembly each week “The Divine Service” – because Jesus, the Divine One, is STILL among us as the One who serves.  He is still the One who comes to serve us.  He serves us by wiping out our sin in the Holy Absolution!  He serves us by speaking to us His life-giving Words!  He serves us by reaching to us His body and blood, with the forgiveness and eternal life that go with them!  From start to finish, the worship “service” is not about US serving God, but about how our Lord Jesus continues to be among us to serve us!

Now listen to what His service to us results in:  “As My Father has appointed Me to be King, so I appoint you to eat and drink at My table in My kingdom and to sit on thrones and rule the twelve tribes of Israel.”

What table is it that He is referring to?  Well, open your eyes and see it.  See this table for what it is!  This table, this altar, is nothing less than Christ’s table where we eat and drink with Him in His kingdom!!!  Paul describes this for us in Ephesians 2.  Do you remember these words?  “And since we are in Christ Jesus, He raised us with Him and had us sit with Him in heaven to show in the coming ages the immeasurable riches of His grace by being kind to us in Christ Jesus.”  Did you catch that?  St. Paul says that God has had us sit with Christ in the heavenly places!!!  Past tense, not future.  It’s a reality the Ephesians had already experienced.  You too.  Every time you “sit” with Christ here at His table, you are at the heavenly Table of Christ’s Kingdom and there you reign with Him, Your servant King, and thus He lifts you up to be servant kings too!

After the resurrection, the twelve apostles scattered throughout the world to preach the Good News of how Jesus has served the whole human race by bearing our sins in His body and pouring out His blood in order that we might be forgiven and given a share in God’s own life.  And everywhere they went, they established in each locality a table.  A table where the Lord Jesus continued to be among His own to serve them, and where they knew that they tasted heaven on earth, where the incorruptible and unending life of  Risen Christ was imparted to their flesh and blood by His flesh and blood.  In that confidence, the apostles of the Lamb met their deaths.  Only John died naturally.  The rest died horribly, and none so horrible as St. Bartholomew, but because into Him went the Body and the Blood of the Lamb of God who had taken away the sins of the world, He is not among the dead.  He lives in Christ forevermore, together with all who feast at the Kingdom’s table in saving faith.

Praise be to God for this table that strengthens us to serve others by sharing the Good News of Jesus with them as did St. Bartholomew and which strengthens and keeps us in saving faith so that when we finally pass through death we will enter that City whose foundation stones contain the name of St. Bartholomew and so join with him and all the redeemed in singing the praises of Jesus Christ, our beloved Servant King, to whom be glory with the Father , together with the Holy Spirit, unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

Music DONE (well, almost!)

After that nice run and bike ride, managed to get the Cantor Sheets prepared through the end of the year (with introit, gradual, and verse with tones); finished Hymn planning through Pentecost of 2011. Did a Higher Things radio show (on the topic of St. Michael's And All Angels), ran off some copies, prayed Vespers, and prepared sanctuary for St. Bartholomew's Day service this evening.  After service, there's a musicians meeting for planning the year's musical offerings.  THEN the music will be mostly in hand for the upcoming year!

Squeezed in

a 12 mile bike ride and a 3 mile run this a.m.  Mostly sunny skies and not at all too hot.  Leaves are really drying out and some starting to fall, corn is mostly dried, beans haven't started to turn yet.  I saw a little snake on the path - they are graceful in their movements, no two ways about it.  So now I'm a tad behind, but I think it was worth it - amazing how it refreshes and rejuvenates you.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The One who was on the Cross for us will be our judge.  He is the Son of Man.  "When the Son of Man comes."  When is that?  The final judgment.  When we stand before God, then it will be clear how tenderly, how generously He has brought us on our way through those dark times when everything went wrong, and we and our lives seemed widowed, worthless, God delaying, His seeming not to care, will then be seen as part of His wanting our good, readying us for larger gifts, the wholeness and fullness of our good, our salvation. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 240.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

To say to a person, "You must take comfort in your Baptism," is the same as saying, "You must turn to Jesus Christ." -- C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 392.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Praise to Him who descended to us in human form!  Praise to the Invisible One who became visible for our sake!  Praise to the Eternal One Who tasted death for us!  Praise to the Mysterious One Whom no mind can comprehend, and Who through His grace made Himself manifest by taking on flesh! -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter, #118

23 August 2010

Reminder: St. Bartholomew's Day Divine Service

Tomorrow, Tuesday August 24th,  at 6 p.m. at St. Paul's, we'll celebrate a spoken Divine Service, commemorating St. Bartholomew, the Apostle.  Join us if you can!

From that day's liturgy:

I will speak of Your testimonies before kings, O Lord, and shall not be put to shame.  I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord forever; with my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations... Almighty God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, chose Bartholomew to be an apostle to preach the blessed Gospel.  Grant that Your Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught... Their voice has gone out to all the earth... But I am among you as one who serves... All praise for him whose candor Through all his doubt You saw When Philip at the fig tree Disclosed You in the Law.  Discern beneath our surface, O Lord, what we can be, That by Your truth made guileless, Your glory we may see... for You have mightily governed and protected Your holy Church, in which the blessed Apostles and Evangelists proclaimed Your divine and saving Gospel.  Therefore with Patriarchs and Prophets, Apostles and Evangelists, with Your servant Bartholomew, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Your glorious name...

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

When we catch ourselves fretting and fussing about little earthly things, we are to stop and have a proper look at those things and see clearly what their true value is and what God means them for.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 237.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

People who fail to recognize the horrible nature of sin decline to accept the sacrificial death of the Son of God for the reconciliation and redemption of this world of sinners.  They consider His death completely unnecessary and, therefore, regard the story of the Gospel as a miserable fable. -- C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 362.

Patristic Quote of the Day

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

I love a day like this:

Opening devotions for TSP
7-8 grade NT Catechesis
5-6 grade NT Catechesis
Hospital Call
Run and weights
Preparation for Musicians meeting
Hour in the pool
Bible Class for Sunday 

22 August 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Jesus' death, the ultimate horror of all history, for your sins.  If you can face that, then there is nothing you cannot face, nothing you have to shut out or pretend isn't there in all the hideous, twisted evil we can see about us.  There is no misery that goes deeper than the Cross.  The Crucified One is there and deeper down still.  Everything that would destroy us Jesus has faced, and it did not destroy Him nor does it destroy those who are His.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 231.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Every one of your sermons must be the products of heart-felt prayer. -- C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 330.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The mountains can be weighed, but Thy compassions are beyond measure. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #102

21 August 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

May we, in the meantime, devote ourselves to choir practice for heaven, rehearsing the melodies that have been given to us by God so we may be trained to take our places in the choir of heaven when our voices, with a joy now unutterable, will blend with the voices of the angels about the throne of Christ. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 228.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Gospel is not a book of the Law - or even a book of instruction - but a message of joy.  People cannot rejoice over it too soon, and whenever it enters their heart, their joy is a heavenly, divine joy. -- C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 323.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Thou hast taken upon Thyself the common debt of all in order to pay it back to Thy Father - pay back also, O guiltless Lord, those sins with which our freedom has indebted us.  Thou has redeemed us from the curse of the Law by Thy precious Blood.  Deliver also those redeemed by Thy blood from harsh justice.  -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #102.

19 August 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Reformation recovered Scripture's truth that there are not higher and lower ranks in God's family, but that we are all brothers and sisters together before God our Father.  This fellowship is one of the greatest things expressed in congregational singing.  When we as a congregation sing to the Lord, we do not sing as individuals, but the voice of each of us is blended into the one voice of God's family, giving glad answer to our Maker's message of love.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 226.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

When we preach the Law it is not to make people saints, but sinners. -- C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 325.

Patristic Quote of the Day

May Thy Cross, O Lord, which is the seal of the Church and protects her children from Satan and his warriors, be the comfort of Thy sheep, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy life-creating blood! -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter, #96.

18 August 2010

An Aspect of Spiritual Warfare

Satan drives many to despair when they discover that they do not have within themselves the strength (or even the desire) to fulfill God's will.  A hurt that was so bad and damaging, for example, that they do not have the inner resources on their own to forgive; let alone to want to forgive.  Yet they know they must forgive, and they cannot.

The key to defeating Satan when dealing with situations like this is to realize the devil WANTS your gaze to stay fixed on your own inadequacy or on God's immovable will, whereas God invites us to discover in HIM, in union with Him, the strength to do that which we are utterly incapable of on our own.  This is St. Paul's great comfort:  "My strength is made perfect in weakness."  He comes to us even in our weakness.  He unites Himself with us in all our helplessness.  He stands with us.  From Mary's womb to Calvary's tree, from Easter dawn to Ascension, from the descent of the Spirit to the glorious Appearing - He stands with us, and His gracious presence supplies us all that we lack in ourselves.  He joins Himself to us in our Baptism and He does this for us continually in Absolution and in the Holy Eucharist.  He teaches us to live from Him, to draw all strength from what He supplies.  And because our doing of God's will is even at its best, always in great weakness, even when He is pouring in to us His strength, He graciously covers even the defects in our good works with His abundant forgiveness.

Rather than mustering the interior resources to do God's will, we confess we utterly lack them in ourselves and turn to the Blessed Trinity and ASK from Him what we do not have in ourselves, and which it is His delight to bestow on us.  That is how we learn to live more and more from Christ - always receiving what He would give. Then we can say with Paul that though "I know that no good thing dwells in me, that is in my flesh" nevertheless "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."

This utterly defeats Satan's trick.  Self:  remember this.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

But before any of that, there is the repentance that James calls for to us proud Lutherans, who can go on and on about faith while knifing one another, who do big praying, talking mostly about ourselves as the Law-fluid gathers in our lungs.  They are most surely dead who are unaware that they are dead, that they are not breathing anymore.  You only notice your breathing when there is something wrong with it.  Kyrie eleison.  Amen.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 219.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Any person coming into contact with the fire of divine love starts to glow with love towards God and neighbor.  -- C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 323.

Patristic Quote of the Day

I know the extent of my guilt.  I know that if Thou dost punish me according to my sins, then my inheritance will be gehenna.  Then all hope will be lost.  My prayer will be silenced.  Have mercy on me therefore, and forgive me my debts....Have mercy on me, Thou who art kind-hearted to sinners! -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #91.

Ladies Aid Birthday Party

They decided to do a polka dot theme!  Enjoy:

17 August 2010

First Day of School - Trinity-St. Paul

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We go wrong when we play one thing off against another.  Because we can only do that in forgetfulness of the fact that both are gifts to us, and as gifts they run in the way of the Gospel, which does not come in the way of snippets, of fractions, or of levels.  You have faith?  How come?  The Lord forgave me all my sins.  I am baptized.  You have works?  How come?  The Lord gave them with His enlivening gifts.  So if someone says:  "I have works.  Look at what I have done.  God should be pleased with me," such a one you deliver into the hands of Paul.  If someone says, "I have faith.  I can say the Small Catechism forward and the books of the Bible backward," such a one you will deliver into the hands of James.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, pp. 218, 219.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Whenever a Church appears to be not a militant church but a church at ease, that is a false church.  You can rely on it.  -- C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 294.

Patristic Quote of the Day

May we maintain our faith with great confidence and perfect love.

May our life be pleasing to Thee and may we find compassion in Thee in the day of reckoning.

May we ceaselessly bring praise to Thee, O Lord, and to Thy Father, and to Thy Holy Spirit.

--St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter, #86

REMINDER: Special Wednesday Evening Bible Class

Our Wednesday evening Bible class, 7 p.m. August 18, will feature noted author and speaker Rev. Frederic W. Baue, pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church, Fairview Hights, Illinois. Rev. Baue holds a Ph.D. in English Literature, has written numerous books and articles, and is in demand as a public speaker. He will give an overview of his latest book, Creation: A Literary, Apologetic, and Doctrinal Approach.
Come and learn:
* How Darwin's use of language undermines his theory.
* Why theologians accept Darwin and reject the Bible.
* Why the Bible is right and Darwin is wrong.
* How the doctrine of Creation relates to many current issues.
Autographed copies will be available for purchase. Join us and bring a friend!

Dr. Baue is the author of that beloved hymn:  "What Is This Bread?"

Funeral Homily for Marlene Brunnworth

[Job 19:23-27, 2 Cor. 5:1-9, John 14:1-6]

Brum, Debbie, Lynn, Judy, Tim, Duane, family and friends of Marlene Brunnworth:  Herbert and Florence looked at their little baby – so beautiful and lively – and yet they knew already that what happened last Saturday would be Marlene Ann Meyer’s future, if the Lord Jesus did not appear in glory first.  They just didn’t know when.  And so, when she was still a wee thing, they rushed her to the font at Trinity Worden – just 3 weeks old – and there Pastor Kuethe at the Savior’s command poured water over her little head three times, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. He laid his hand upon her, praying that Almighty God who had given her the new birth of water and the Holy Spirit, and who had forgiven all her sins, would strengthen her with His grace to the life that never ends.  Today we celebrate that his prayer was answered. 

Though she would never remember it, the day of her baptism was the most important day in Marlene’s life.  On it, her Savior reached out to her, named her His very own child, marked her with His cross, forgave her all her sins, told Satan to keep his hands off her, made her His beloved sister and fellow-heir with Him of His own unending life.  Her parents knew there was no greater gift they could ever give to their child than to pick her up and put her in the Savior’s arms.  And that’s where she lived her life.

Before this very altar, not yet 14 years old, she confessed her faith in that Savior, and Pastor Deichmann had her kneel down and his hands were laid on her.  He spoke over young Marlene’s head:  “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”  John 14:6  Just a few short days later for the very first time she opened her mouth to receive the Savior’s body and blood.  It was the first time of what became her life-long habit of feasting with her Lord, reveling in His forgiveness, living in the joy of His presence. 

Not too many years after that, she once again knelt before this altar with you beside her, Brum, as you plighted your troth to one another, and together you began the adventure of your marriage – always under God’s blessing, praying the Lord’s Prayer, and seeking His will.  Together for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.  You walked the long road and you were blessed for it.

It was a road paved with joys:  the blessings of the children.  Sports games and rooting them on.  Time with family, time with friends, always time for cards and shopping and puttering around the yard.  The joy of lives lived together under the forgiveness of Jesus and bright with the hope of resurrection.

That was a hope that became very precious to you both the horrible year that Sharon died.  No parent is every prepared to bid farewell to a child.  But though the pain is not less, it is transfigured when you know that the child was also baptized into the Savior, marked as His possession for a life that would never end.  Each time you all walked into church, you could look up to the altar and see the vases at Jesus’ feet that you gave in memory of that precious life you were privileged to parent for those too few years.  And you’d remember that baptized into Christ, Sharon’s soul lives with him and praises him still, while her body awaits its joyful resurrection.

We talked about it once.  Marlene said something along the lines of it drives you crazy trying to figure out why, but then you stop trying to figure and you just accept God’s will and let it go.  And it becomes bearable, but it still hurts bad. 

Unspeakable though that sorrow was which she always carried near her heart, it had finally no power to destroy the joy that she found in life – for her joy was founded in the Lord and the good gifts He gave.  And so life went on and joys with it.  All you children married, the joys of grandchildren and the fun of being the perfect grandma and aunt and great aunt.

And then that horrible day.  Lynn [oops, learned it was Joanne, not Lynn who was with her!], I’m sure you’ll never forget it.  So sick, so suddenly, right there in the store and then to the hospital and the long waits began.  Unbelievably, she made it.  She made it through.  But she knew that her earthly tent was tattered as St. Paul says in the second reading.  “In this earthly tent, we groan, being burdened.” And yet “we are always of good courage.” That was her, wasn’t it?

Right before this last surgery, I reminded her that if the absolute worst happened:  if she didn’t make it through, she still won.  She had forgiveness of all her sins and her Savior had planted into her a life that death simply could not take away from her.  She acknowledged that with tears and we prayed.  She asked if it was okay to keep on praying the Lord’s Prayer – she said, I just keep praying it over and over again.  I assured her there was nothing better she could ever pray.  She went into that surgery praying:  “Thy will be done…deliver us from evil.”

And so the moment arrived in the darkness of Saturday morning.  She closed her eyes to this age and her soul was taken home – home to Jesus and so to Sharon, to Florence, to Harold, to all her beloved family and friends who had gone before – all baptized into the same Redeemer, all sinners whose sins had been washed away by the blood of the Lamb.  Home to that place in the Father’s house that her Lord had gone ahead to prepare for her, and promised to receive her to Himself. 

And now we prepare plant her body into the ground in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection.  We know that when that joyous moment arrives, our Redeemer will stand on this earth, and call her body from the grave with all his saints and give her a new tent.  One that doesn’t fray, doesn’t wear out, lasts forever.  And her laughter will ring out bright and clear – and her finger will wag as it was wont to do, and I’m sure she’ll have a mouthful to tell us all. Oh, Marlene, you are such a character.  You will be greatly missed here and we can’t wait to see you again.  Amen.

Marlene A. Brunnworth, 73, of Hamel, died Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010, at Anderson Hospital in Maryville.

She was born on Friday, Sept. 25, 1936, in Litchfield, the daughter of Herbert and Florence (nee Peters) Meyer.
On Sunday, Sept. 26, 1954, she married Adolph W. Brunnworth. He survives.

She grew up in the Hamel area. She graduated from Edwardsville High School in 1954. She had worked for 14 years at Ernst Heating and Cooling in Hamel, where she retired in 1999. She enjoyed reading and crafts. She also enjoyed playing cards. She raised flowers and liked to shop. Her children and grandchildren were her pride and joy. She was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hamel and the Ladies Aid of St. Paul Lutheran Church.

She is survived by her husband, Adolph W. Brunnworth, Hamel; three daughters, Debra S. (Edward) Kasten, Godfrey, Lynn M. (John) Poletti, Hamel, and Judy L. (James) DeVries, Staunton; a son, Timothy A. (Linda) Brunnworth, Hamel; a brother, Duane (LaVerne) Meyer, Edwardsville; nine grandchildren, Cory E. Kasten, Kansas City, Mo., Matthew R. Kasten, Godfrey, Allison M. Poletti, Hamel, Sara A. Poletti, Hamel, Jaclyn A. DeVries, Staunton, Jodyne A. DeVries, Staunton, Aaron W. Brunnworth, Rachel M. Brunnworth and Nicholas P. Brunnworth, all of Hamel.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Herbert W. and Florence C. (nee Peters) Meyer; and a daughter, Sharon A. Brunnworth, who died April 16, 1971.

16 August 2010

From Starck's

O my Lord and God, I know that You will faithfully keep Your promises and truths to me in heaven.  If Your Word is not my comfort, I will have to be lost in my distress.  But though my heart is filled with grief, Your consolations refresh my soul.  Your Holy Word places You before me as my mighty God, a loving Father, a strong helper, a gracious comforter, a sure deliverer.  In this I trust and take my comfort.  My heart is content and not dismayed as I wait for the Lord.  -- p. 189.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

When Lutherans slip from being Lutherans, they slip back into what they were just before, that is, Augustinians - sanctification in the way of the Law.  There are always two ways of going wrong, each way of going wrong and its opposite.  To do no more than contradict what is wrong is to make the same error in reverse.  Thus, "it is all works and faith has nothing to do with it" is contradicted by "it is all faith and works have nothing to do with it."  Neither James nor Paul say either of these.  Nor do they do fractions to a compromise: part faith, part works.  No.  It is all Jesus.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 218.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Modern preaching lacks the concept that the natural heart must be humbled. -- C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 289.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Thou didst establish on earth the holy Church in the image of the heavenly kingdom:  Thou didst built her with love, establish her with compassion, and Thou didst spiritually betroth Thyself to her and gain her by Thy suffering.  -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #86.

15 August 2010

I remember (a rerun of a meditation from 2008)

I remember when the angel came and told me, and my heart burst with joy and terror.

I remember when I came to the door of Zechariah’s house and Eliabeth knew my secret and my heart melted and my eyes burned with tears and my mouth prophesied.

I remember when I felt your movement first inside my body, and I realized that I was the living ark of the living God.

I remember when first I saw your face, and touched your hands, and looked into my Joseph’s eyes.

I remember when they came creeping in to see you, to worship you, the shepherds of the night, and told me songs of angels and glory in the highest and peace on earth. 

I remember when we brought you to the temple and the old man took you in his arms and blessed God, ready to die, and told me of pain yet to come.

I remember when they came from the East and bowed before you as I held you and gave their gifts - the gold, the incense and the myrrh, while the star's light shone upon us.

I remember when he woke me and we fled into the night ahead of the terror of Herod’s sword.

I remember when we came home at last, and people looked and talked, but you were all our joy.

I remember when you stayed behind, when you left us, and we found you in the temple and my heart rose up in fear realizing that you chose to abide in the place of sacrifice and death.

I remember when you spoke to me in roughness and yet made the water into wine.

I remember when we came to make you take your rest and you taught me that all these in need were dear to you as your own family.

I remember when they took you, tortured you, and crucified you; and before my eyes rose up the old man in the temple – his words haunted me still – and a sword ran me through as I watched you dying.

I remember when you looked on me and the beloved one and gave us to each other for all our days. 

I remember when the light died in your eyes and my heart sank beyond tears and words.

I remember after the empty days when they came and told me that you lived again, and joy flooded my heart, and I knew then what I had always known - your every promise was true.

I remember when we prayed together after you had gone into heaven and the Spirit came in wind and flame.

I remember how they went and told the news to all the world. And I welcomed each new believer as my beloved child, a brother of my Son, the King of all.

I remember it all now as I die, as I lay my head down in death. 

My Son, I am not afraid. I go to you, to you who have conquered death, to you who are the Forgiveness of all sins. Receive me, child. Receive me. 

I remember. I remember. I remember.

HT:  Pr. Shelley for reminding me of this piece; I'd long ago forgotten that I had written it!

Another Hymn

for the Day of St. Mary, sung by Pr. Mayes:  The God Whom Earth.

From Today's assigned Hymn of the Day:

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

LSB 670:2

A Point from Bible Class

We're working our way through Proverbs, and we've been discussing the light it sheds upon familial relations.  Today Proverbs 22:6 about "training up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."  I called it a promise, and Sharon raised the question about children who are trained up, but who turn away and never come back to faith.  It gave me the opportunity to describe my understanding of how these "wisdom" books operate:  they describe the usual, but in almost any instance, you can think of examples where it doesn't universally hold.  But the balance of the time, they do hold.  These are not so much like the divine promises upon which we stake our eternal salvation; these are promises about the way things usually can be counted on to work out in life, received with the acknowledgment that there are always exceptions to the rule - but these are exceptions; they do not negate the rule.  So, in this instance, on balance, children will turn back to the way they were trained up when they are old.  That's how I've thought of these promises, but I wondered if others had any insights on the topic.  If so, feel free to share!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Works are to faith as breathing is to the body. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 217.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

To say that faith is required for salvation is not to say that a person can produce faith himself. -- C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 289.

Patristic Quote of the Day

When Thou didst see, our Lord, that I had lost Thy glory, Thy love did not suffer it to be so.  Thou who descendest in Thy birth hast delivered me from Satan by Thy suffering and Thy death on the Cross. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #79.

14 August 2010

From the Liturgy of St. Mary

Most highly favored Lady, gloria!...I will bless the Lord at all times... O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together!... Grant that we, who are redeemed by His blood, may share with her in the glory of Your eternal kingdom... All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold.  In many-colored robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions following her... God sent forth His Son, born of a woman... All generations will call me blessed... in remembrance of His mercy... and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man... O higher than the Cherubim, More glorious than the Seraphim, Lead their praises, Alleluia!  Thou, bearer of the eternal Word, Most gracious, magnify the Lord... for by the Holy Spirit Your only-begotten Son was conceived in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary and brought forth in the substance of our human flesh that we might partake of His divine life... O that birth forever blessed, When the Virgin full of grace, By the Holy Ghost conceiving, Bore the Savior of our race, And that Babe, the world's Redeemer, First revealed His sacred face...