30 November 2010

With the Divine Service for St. Andrew's Day past...

...tomorrow night's Evening Prayer service looms large.  I cannot tell you how dearly beloved this service is.  From the opening service of light with its ancient Phos Hilaron (Joyous Light), to the Psalms and readings, the Magnificat and the beautiful sung litany - it all breathes a spirit of peace.  You spend time in the evening together as the family of God singing, listening, praying, and you walk away joyful and content.  It's hard to describe but simply the experience of so many.

In peace, let us pray to the Lord... for the peace from above and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord... for the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of the Church of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord... Give to Your servants that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey Your commandments and also that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may live in peace and quietness... Before the ending of the day, Creator of the world we pray, Thy grace and peace to us allow, And be our guard and keeper now...

Homily upon St. Andrew's Day - 2010

[John 1:35-42a]


A God who is everywhere is as useless to you as a God who is nowhere.  What you need, and need desperately, is a God who is somewhere.  A located God, coming to you in grace and mercy.

“We have found the Messiah” St. Andrew tells his brother, St. Peter.  “He brought him to Jesus.”

Finding Him and bringing someone else to Him only happens when you know where He is.  Andrew didn’t have any doubts about that.  St. John the Baptist had pointed Him out:  “Behold, the Lamb of God!”  And so Andrew and another disciple had followed John’s pointing finger to the – to all outward appearances anyway - unremarkable Man, and began literally walking behind him, going where He was going.  “What are you seeking?” He asks them.

He asks us much the same.  What are you looking for?  For indeed, He will be a bit of a disappointment to you if you’re looking for anything else other than the presence of God in human flesh and blood.  He’s not the quick fix or easy answer to the problems that you tend to obsess upon.  Rather, He challenges your thinking that those things are so big and important.  I think it’s great that Andrew doesn’t ask for anything more than this:  “Where are you staying?”  Where are you located?  Where can we find you?

“Come and see!” He invites and off they go to find where He was staying, where He was located.  They spend the day there, listening to Him speak, but most of all:  simply being with Him.  And something clicked for them in that.  They realized in a way that they likely never had imagined that life itself was different now.  Just spending time with Him and listening to Him – being in His presence – it changes you and it discloses to you exactly what life itself is made for.  For that’s it!  We were made to be in His presence.

This is what was lost in our first parents.  This walking with God in the garden in the cool of the day and conversing with Him and just being with Him.  And behind all the intense longings of this world, this is the hidden longing.  “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our souls are restless until we rest in You.” – St. Augustine.

And that restlessness leads us into all kinds of sorrow, all kinds of mischief.  We do some mega stupid things to try to quiet it and sometimes when stupid doesn’t work, we try stupider.  But they’re all doomed to fail.  Every last one.  That ache inside?  It is only quenched by one thing:  the One for whose companionship you were made.

How well did old David confess this!  “In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  Or even more explicitly:  “Whom have I in heaven but Thee, and there is none upon the earth that I desire besides Thee.  My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever.”

And not to know where this One is located so that you can be with Him – that is agony indeed.  And so when you find Him and spend time with Him, suddenly Your heart swells with a joy that cannot be kept to yourself.  This is not just what YOU were made for; this is what EVERYONE was made for.  Hence Andrew’s immediate confession to his brother:  “We have found the Messiah” and he brought him to Jesus.

Oh, people loved by God, if our confession of the Christ has grown weak, might it be that we have forgotten where He may be found?  If we follow John’s finger to the Lamb of God, where do we arrive but at this altar.  “O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us, grant us Thy peace.”  Here we kneel down and experience the most intimate communion imaginable.  The Son of God, the very One Andrew followed, He comes to you here with His body and His blood – the body and the blood that He assumed for your sake from the Virgin’s womb, the body and blood that He offered on Calvary’s tree to free you from condemnation, the body and blood that were raised in glory and exalted to the right hand of the Father – this He comes to give you and He puts it right into your mouth with His promise:  “for you, for the forgiveness of sins.”  And so He bodies and bloods you to Himself.  "Because I live, you will live also." One body with Him.

How can we not, then, with Saint Andrew, walk away from this house where Jesus is staying and go into the world and announce to our families, to our friends, to our neighbors, to our parents and our children, that we have found the Messiah?  He is not long ago and far away.  He is here and present, continuing to teach us in His words and to impart Himself to us in His body and blood.

We too can “bring them to Jesus” for we know now where He is, and we know that this is what life itself was meant to be:  communion with the Son and the Father in the Holy Spirit.  God bringing us not that which solves the pressing issues that WE think we face, but God simply in unfathomable love giving us Himself that we might have the joy we were created for in the first place.

Which is to say, knowing where He has located Himself in grace, let us leave this place, crying out with David, Andrew, and all the saints:  “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is everyone who takes refuge in Him.”





Now HERE'S a Blog

to put in your blog-reader for regular perusing:  Witness, Mercy, Life Together.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We do not apprehend.  We are apprehended.  We are apprehended as His creatures, and He takes hold of us with the media of our creatureliness, humanity, water, bread, wine, and words.  Our rescue does not undo the Creation.  Men, body and soul and our kin of creation, are redeemed.  Our consummation is in being what God designed us to be. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, CTM 1956, p. 703.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

O Lord Jesus, You bear the most desirable fruit.  You bring us the forgiveness of sins, the hope of the resurrection of our body, and the life everlasting.  You bring consolation in prayer, refreshment in cross, strength in the face of spiritual attacks, joy in the face of death. -- Valerius Herberger, On the Great Works of God, p. 149.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For, those even whom He was threatening to cast out, He threatened not in order to cast them out, but in order that through such fear, He might draw them into it [the Kingdom] by His words. And if not even hereby were they profited, theirs is the whole blame, as also of all who are in the like distemper. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 26 on Matthew

A Most Interesting Work

My dear brother and colleague, Pr. Heath Curtis, has published a book that will indeed be of great service to Lutheran pastors and parishes that celebrate weekday Eucharists:  Daily Divine Service Book.  Using the Common Service as his baseline, Pr. Curtis has ransacked the Loehe Calendar and conflated this with the LSB Calendar to provide an absolutely chocked full sanctoral cycle, using traditional Western appointed readings and propers for every single day of the year.  The book is designed to be complete in itself:  all the propers (including the readings) are provided in the Authorized Version.  The best way to conceive of this book is to think of it as the Missal that accompanies The Brotherhood Prayer Book as Breviary.  For more information, check right here.  I will eagerly await the version that includes the traditional musical chants!

29 November 2010

That time again...

...Ye Olde Blog has crossed the 750,000 visitors since we started counting (unfortunately, well into the blog's life).  So this is YOUR chance.  Introduce yourself to me and the other readers and tell us a bit about yourself.  Don't be bashful!

Tonight's rehearsal...

...revealed that this lad has a number of sticky points to go over before dress rehearsal on Thursday.  Still, it promises to be a very good concert.  I LOVE singing with the parts all intermingled - especially because that means I get to sit next to my daughter!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Ours is not to explain, but to worship. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, CTM, Sept. 1956, No. 9, p. 701.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

So because of our sins we poor souls had no Paradise, nor a tree of life, nor a tree of knowledge of good and evil.  But the Lord Jesus went through great pains to win back Paradise for us.  He had Himself lifted up on a tree, that by His bloody death we might have a tree of life.  He had His Gospel proclaimed throughout the world, that we might have a true knowledge of good and evil.  For when we hear, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life", we have knowledge of the good.  But when we hear, "whoever does not believe is condemned already", we have knowledge of the evil.  And this is the sum and substance of the whole Gospel.  -- Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God, p. 147.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For neither did he say, If Thou request it of God, nor, If Thou pray, but, If You will, You can make me clean. Nor did he say, Lord, cleanse me, but leaves all to Him, and makes his recovery depend on Him, and testifies that all the authority is His. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 25 on Matthew

28 November 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

There is no other Christ for us than the Christ of Scripture. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, CTM September 1956, No. 9

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

One single drop of Your blood shed on the cross outweighs all my sin.  -- Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God, p. 140.

Patristic Quote of the Day

And why marvel if He has bestowed gifts on men that have believed on Him, though without life suitable to their faith, when even on those who have fallen from both these, He is unquestionably found working? -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 24 on Matthew

Sometimes I'm just stupid

Hey, watch it.  I said, "sometimes."  For years - since I was a child really - I've suffered from migraines.  Yes, toss your cookies headaches that need darkness, no sound, and no smells.  Well, a friend the other month happened to mention some medicine she was on for them.  So I asked my doctor about it.  He was a bit surprised that I hadn't ever said anything before.  Well, I figured that's just how life was, you know?  A lot of folks live daily with lots worse.   Doc shook his head and wrote the prescription. So I got it and have taken it twice now.  Both times, a miracle as far as I'm concerned!  Last time was this morning.  It started in as usual - almost invariably in the very early morning (3 or so) - and I thought:  great.  Church and a migraine.  Not a good combo.  But I took the medicine and voila!  Within an hour, the migraine is gone.  Just gone.  I'm absolutely amazed.  How long has this stuff been out there and I didn't know about it???  It's called Maxalt - and it is one first article gift that this laddie is most thankful for!  If you're a migraine sufferer I hope you check it out and that it works as well for you as it does for me.

Oops!

OOPS. St. Paul Members: last names A-L are supposed to bring refreshments for after this week's Advent Service. Wasn't in the bulletin, so spread the word!!!

Reminder: St. Andrew's Day Divine Service

For those who can make it (spread the word!), this coming Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. we celebrate the day of St. Andrew, the Apostle.  This festival is always very dear to my heart, for it was at the Lutheran Church of St. Andrew where I was baptized, confirmed, married, and ordained!  Remind anyone you see who might like to attend.

All praise, O Lord, for Andrew,
The first to welcome You,
Whose witness to his brother
Named You Messiah true.
May we, with hearts kept open,
To You throughout the year,
Confess to friend and neighbor
Your advent ever near.
LSB 517:5

Almighty God, by Your grace the apostle Andrew obeyed the call of Your Son to be a disciple.  Grant us also to follow the same Lord Jesus Christ in heart and life, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

From today's Hymn of the Day

Here a Maid was found with Child,
Yet remained a Virgin mild.
In her womb this truth was shown:
God was there upon His throne.
LSB 332:3

- St. Ambrose of Milan

27 November 2010

And so with the setting of the sun, Advent commences...

...and St. Paul's is already beautifully decorated (thanks, Christmas committee) for the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany seasons.



One of the neat things about

this time of the year is that the sun's azimuth is low enough that all morning long, the light shines into the living room.  The hours of light aren't nearly as many, but ironically we end up with more sunlight in the house (at least in the a.m.) than any other time of the year.

26 November 2010

Courtesy of Meaghan...

...a couple or so Thanksgiving Pics:

The whole crew:  Lauren, Dean, Bekah, Cindi, William, Meaghan, David, (seated) Jo, Dave

Cindi and I
Dave and Jo


David and Meaghan

Just so's you know...

Jo and Dave joined us for dinner tonight and for our usual Friday evening of cards.  Let's see.  We played three rounds.  Cindi won first.  I won second.  Dave won third.  Now, who DID'NT win at all?  Ah, it was a perfect evening...

Awwwww!

Carla Fast made Lucy this candy corn crocheted halloween costume.  It's a little early for next year, but that Carla is so on the ball that she thinks 11 months out!

A Recent Interview

on the hymn Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven on Issues, Etc.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The primary task is to preach Christ and Him crucified.  In doing this we are of course preaching nothing else but Scripture.  We do not, however, first strive to bring men to the point of acknowledging Scripture and then from this go on to point to Christ.  Our preaching points to Christ, and when He is acknowledged, then have Christ and Scripture achieved their single purpose.   -- Dr. Norman Nagel, CTM, Sept. 1956, No 9

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Accordingly, just as the Lord Jesus rested here on the seventh day after having completed all His tasks for Friday, so after the rest between God and man had been disturbed by sin, the Lord Jesus rested again in the tomb, and by His resting won back that rest that man had before the fall, restoring everything that had been lost by the deceit of the evil one. -- Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God, p. 129.

Patristic Quote of the Day

And if it be an evil not to see one's own sins, it is a twofold and threefold evil to be even sitting in judgment on others. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 23 on Matthew

25 November 2010

Whew!

Well, it was a joyous Thanksgiving feast.  After singing Matins at Church, we came home and finished getting ready.  Meaghan was kind enough to take some family pictures for us.  As the last set of dishes were cooking, we did our annual Advent/Christmas carol fest.  Lots of fun.  Eleven of us ended up eating together - we were happy to welcome Tim and Megan to the table.  After dessert, Tim and Megan, Lauren and Dean headed out.  I think the day will wrap up with some Liverpool between David, Meaghan, Dave, Jo, Cindi and me.  Kitchen is still rather a disaster - waiting for the dishwasher to empty out again.

P.S.  And the Lord even gave us snow showers this afternoon as we were finishing up eating.  How perfect is THAT?

Thanksgiving Pics


24 November 2010

Well, finished up

the sausage-mushroom stuffing (ready to slip in the oven tomorrow), the garlic mashed turnips (just a reheat in microwave needed), scads of rolls ready to go into the oven shortly, chocolate low-carb cheesecake finished, pumpkin and apple pies baked, five onion gratin is in process and the lo-carb rolls are next on the list. I think that's all we do for today.  We've been working in the kitchen since just half past noon, and the house is filled with competing delicious odors of all sorts.  AND this evening Randy and I intend to teach Cindi and Rachel how to really play pinochle - as they wait for their daughter to return from Mankato.

Addendum:  at the conclusion of the day's baking the net result is

1 - cheesecake
1 - apple pie with crumb topping
1 - chocolate pie
1 - pumpkin pie
1- low-carb blackberry cobbler
1 - regular blackberry crisp
45 - made from scratch rolls (10 a low carb experiment, the others white as the driven snow)
1 - sausage-mushroom stuffing
1 - five onion gratin
1 - cheese ball
1 - cookie sheet full of buttered pecans
1 - dish of garlic mashed turnips
1 - pot full of 5 lbs of potatoes awaiting cooking tomorrow

Tomorrow Lauren is bringing the sweet potato soufflĂ©.  Jo might be bringing another pie.  20 lb Turkey will start brining in the a.m. and Cindi will do the quick cook method on it again.  We figure somewhere between 11 and 14 of us will sit down to dinner tomorrow shortly after noon and see what we can do about demolishing the feast...

23 November 2010

Prayer That Didn't Make It

into LSB, but really should have.  It was used in the "non-communion" ending of the Divine Service in LW.  We use this often at Matins:


O Lord our God, You have commanded the light to shine out of darkness, and You have again brought us to Your house of prayer to praise Your goodness and ask for Your gifts.  Accept now in Your endless mercy the sacrifice of our worship and thanksgiving, and grant us those requests that will be wholesome for us.  Make us children of the light and of the day and heirs of Your everlasting inheritance.  Remember, O Lord, according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Your whole Church, all who join with us in prayer, all our brothers and sisters wherever they may be in Your vast kingdom who stand in need of Your help and comfort.  Pour out upon them the riches of Your mercy, so that we, redeemed in soul and body and steadfast in faith, may ever praise Your wonderful and holy name; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and always and through all ages of ages.

It is based on a prayer from Orthros, I believe, and simply makes a wonderful prayer for the gathered people of God to pray in the morning.

So What Thanksgiving Hymns

will you all be singing tomorrow evening or on Thanksgiving Day?  Here at St. Paul's Matins on Thursday morning will open with "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come."  The Office Hymn for Matins will be "We Praise You, O God, our Redeemer Creator."  The Canticle will be the lovely Starke Te Deum:  "We Praise You and Acknowledge You."  Our final hymn will be "Now Thank We."  Additionally, the Choir will sing "O Christ the Same" and the Bells will play "With Thankful Hearts."  Carlo will treat us to the Grave and Adagio Movements from Felix Mendelssohn-Barthodly Sonata II, and with Nicolaus Jacques Lemmen's Fanfare.  I'm so very much looking forward to the service!

A Homily upon Thanksgiving

In the Liturgy of the Holy Supper these words come trumpeting forth every Sunday:  

Pastor:  Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.  
People:  It is meet and right so to do.
Pastor:   It is indeed meet, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  

Thus we confess that thanksgiving to God is not to be the activity of one day a year, but is to fill every day and every moment of our lives, everywhere.  There is never a time, there is never a place, where thanksgiving is inappropriate or out of order.  Rather, it is always inappropriate and out of order NOT to be thanking God.  This is true for everyone of you today.  No matter the hardships of your life.  No matter the pain in your heart.  No matter the sufferings you may be going through.  You have been given a reason to thank God for all eternity.  You!  Do you realize that?  And do you know why?  Because to you and for you He has given the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. 

That is what St. Paul was rejoicing about in our second reading this morning.  He was writing to Pastor Timothy about the worship service.  And the Lord’s Apostle tells Timothy that when God’s people come together there are to be supplications and prayers, intercession, and giving of thanks.  That’s because in worship we stand before God - before Him of whom the Psalmist said:  “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; be thankful to Him and bless His name.”  And this thanksgiving goes for all people, including our rulers.  Why?  Because God our Savior desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

WOW!  That is true for each one of you.  You have cause for endless thanksgiving today because the heart of God has been revealed to you!  And you are in His heart.  You He loves.  And for you He desires nothing less than salvation and knowledge of the truth.  

Salvation:  which simply means that you might share His joy through endless ages at His Feast.  Today you gather with family and friends.  There will be food and joy and laughter and stories and smells that delight the nose and sights that delight the eyes and maybe even music and singing.  It will all be wonderful.  But wonderful as it will be, it is only an impoverished picture of the Feast of Salvation that God has prepared for you.  The joys and delights of today will come to an end and pass into memory.  Treasured memory, to be sure.  But memory nonetheless.  And there are those with whom we used to feast who we will miss at our tables this year.  And so amidst all the joy there is emptiness in our hearts - an aching and longing for the real thing.  But the Feast that God has prepared for you in His Kingdom does not fade into a mere memory.  It goes on forever and there will be gathered at that Feast all who have believed in the Savior.  All His own.  All the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.  Gathered together at the Father’s table, home forever.  He has gone ahead to prepare our place, so He assures us.  Now, is that not cause for endless thanksgiving, my friends?  That’s salvation:  having a spot reserved for you at the Father’s Table and sitting down to it forever with all His people!

He wants all to be saved, yes, and to come to a knowledge of the truth:  that you might know the truth about yourself and this world and most of all about God.  The truth about ourselves and the world is not so pleasant.  The truth is that we and all of fallen humanity snatch at the good gifts of God and take them without so much as a “thankyou” in your heart let alone on our lips.  Nothing shows us our fallen-ness in this world more than the fact that we are such a thankless lot.  The truth about ourselves and about our world is that we are rude beyond imagining and experts at griping and complaining.  Ever since our first parents reached out their hands and took what God had not given - in fact, the only thing in all the world that He had not given -- we have been blind to the gifts He does give.  So blind that we need to set aside a day once a year to remind ourselves of how foolishly rude we are for the 364 days of the year.  

So much for the truth about us.  The truth about God, though, is that His giving doesn’t cease just because we’re rude.  Just because we forget to thank Him.  No, He makes His rain fall on the just and the unjust alike.  He gives daily bread to everyone - even to the thankless.  His giving is simply prodigal - out of all proportion!  And that is because He is love.  He is love and love gives and gives without counting the cost or weighing the possible returns.  And the greatest gift your God ever gave or could give was His Son.  Jesus, the eternal Son of the Father, was born into human flesh and blood so that you might be restored to a life of fellowship with God, a life of thanksgiving, a life of endlessly receiving God’s gifts with praise and thanks to Him.  To give you that life that is really life, He suffered and died on His cross, for your thanklessness and all your sin.  And in His resurrection, when He destroyed forever the power of thankless existence, of death, He won for you the gift of eternal life.  That wondrous gift He gives you in your Baptism.  “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”  Saved from thankless living, which is really just another word for death.  Saved for thanksgiving, which is really just another word for God's paradise, His kingdom.  Saved to know the truth!

So you.  Wherever you find yourself today.  In whatever disappointments or heartbreaks you’ve suffered.  In whatever sorrow or grief.  In whatever joy and gladness - know that in the gift of your Savior Jesus Christ you have cause for thanksgiving to God.  If don’t feel particularly thankful today, spend some time before the manger and look at the little baby who made the universe, then journey to the cross, and look at that young man suffering under the weight of your sin and the world’s, then travel to the empty tomb and hear His angels announce His victory - His victory for you.  Lift your eyes to the skies and ponder His ascension and how He prepares a place for you and will come again to take you fully to Himself.  And as you make that journey you will know the joy St. Paul was experiencing when he wrote:

What shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things?  

How shall He not indeed!  Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift!  O give thanks to the Lord for He is good!  And His mercy endureth forever.  It is indeed meet, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, O Lord, holy Father, Almighty, everlasting God through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  May such thankfulness live in your hearts today as you feast together and every day of your life - people loved by God.  Amen.


New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Nothing is more repugnant to reason than the satisfactio vicaria.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, CTM June 1955, p. 415

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

You did not position us facing the earth like mindless livestock, but upright, facing heaven.  For livestock are only created to eat the mast and serve man's needs.  We, on the other hand, were not made merely to gaze on this world's good but to set our heart and mind on heaven and to pay attention to You.  -- Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God, p. 120

Patristic Quote of the Day

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.  By evil here He means, not wickedness, far from it, but affliction, and trouble, and calamities; much as in another place also He says, Is there evil in a city, which the Lord has not done? nor any thing like these, but the scourges which are borne from above. And again, I, says He, make peace, and create evils: Isaiah 45:7 For neither in this place does He speak of wickedness, but of famines, and pestilences, things accounted evil by most men: the generality being wont to call these things evil.  -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 22 on Matthew

Commemoration of St. Clement of Rome

Today our Synod commemorates St. Clement of Rome.  From Synod's website and the Treasury:


Clement (ca. A.D. 35–100) is remembered for having established the pattern of apostolic authority that governed the Christian Church during the first and second centuries. He also insisted on keeping Christ at the center of the Church's worship and outreach. In a letter to the Christians at Corinth, he emphasized the centrality of Jesus' death and resurrection: “Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ, realizing how precious it is to His Father, since it was poured out for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to the whole world” (1 Clement 6:31). Prior to suffering a martyr's death by drowning, he displayed a steadfast, Christ-like love for God's redeemed people, serving as an inspiration to future generations to continue to build the Church on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, with Christ as the one and only cornerstone.

Almighty God, Your servant Clement of Rome called the Church in Corinth to repentance and faith to unite them in Christian love.  Grant that Your Church may be anchored in Your truth by the presence of the Holy Spirit and kept blameless in Your service until the coming of our Lord Jesus, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.  (Treasury, p. 944)

22 November 2010

Each Advent

I am so thankful for the fine work that went into Lutheran Service Book.  So many fine Advent carols to sing, so many Christmas carols.  I just love this time of the year for the joy that bursts forth in Christ's Church in song.  This coming Sunday the hymn of the day will be:  Savior of the Nations.  The school children have been working on mastering it for several weeks and I look forward to their voices leading the congregation this Sunday as we sing together St. Ambrose's ancient song of the incarnation.

So Andy

decided that sections needed to be mixed up tonight.  After break, then, the Weedons sat:  David (bass), Bekah (alto), Cindi (soprano), Lauren (alto), William (bass).  Andy noticed we were sitting all together and called us the Von Trapp family singers.  What unspeakable joy, though, to sing together with the Chorale under such a fine conductor.  I'm very much looking forward to the concern on December 3 at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Collinsville.  Hope anyone in the area can make the concert:  7 p.m.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

To save His creatures, the Son of God became a creature and took for His gracious purpose the most common things of the creature world.  Men could not move toward God.  God came all the way to man.... He exposed Himself to the contempt of men.  His body was flogged by soldiers and is given into the mouth of unbelievers.  Of all imaginable gods, such a God is the most obnoxious to men who would have a part in earning their salvation, who would take some steps at least toward God.  Yet if God be gracious, if we are saved by grace alone, then His "no" to every effort of man is categorical.... No supposed movement of man to God could be part of salvation.  Salvation is alone in God coming all the way to man, all the way into creatureliness, all the way into things.  Such is His coming in the incarnation and the Lord's Supper.  Thus alone He comes, and thus the gracious ways of God to man are one. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, CTM 1953, p. 648.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Behold, what a noble creature man was before the fall!  For by sin everything was ruined, defiled, and darkened.  Nevertheless, there are some vestiges of this treasure in man remaining, and yet it is only in part, in pieces and scraps.  But in order that we might regain this former perfection, the Lord Jesus, the exact image of God the Father, offered up His own blood.  In this life, however, we have only the beginning.  In heaven, the image of God will shine and shimmer in us perfectly without any blemish. -- Valerius Herberger, On the Great Works of God, p. 115.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Is not the soul more than meat, and the body more than the raiment?  He therefore that has given the greater, how shall He not give the less? He that has fashioned the flesh that is fed, how shall He not bestow the food? -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 21 on Matthew

21 November 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Burning through all his [Luther's] theology is a life-and-death concern for the certainty of salvation, a salvation that is ours in the actuality of God coming to man in things.  Therefore not symbols, but signs.  As surely as the fullness of the Godhead was in Jesus of Nazareth bodily, so surely is the body and blood of Christ in the bread and wine. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, CTM 1953, p. 647.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

That predator of man, eternal death, once sat on his throne and tyrannized mankind.  What did You do?  You armed Yourself in the suit of our flesh and blood, took on the form of a servant, encountered the jaws of death, died and were buried.  Then You entered the belly of the earth, descended into the kingdom of hell, and pierced a hole in it so that neither death nor hell could keep any believer captive.  Now there is nothing condemnable in those who believe in You.  For this benefit, be blessed and adored henceforth and forevermore.  -- Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God, p. 112.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Nothing so trains men to be fond of riches, as the fondness for glory. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 20 on Matthew

Two Beautiful Things

my parishioners have related to me today. In the comments under "Can It Really Be" below, Scotty Miller said:

"There is something very comforting about evening services...maybe it's because I always associate evenings with family and home. The only thing more comforting than your own home... is God's House in the evening."

And at the end of Catechesis today, Jeff Schwarz commented on a thought that occurs to him as he assists in distributing the Sacrament, and he sees our very oldest members come, at times, nearly crawling to the table, and holding tight to their Jesus and he thinks of the countless snares Satan has laid for them in their lives, and yet here they are toward the end of life itself, still holding fast, unmoved, clinging to their Savior. Take that, Satan! Our Lord triumphs in them!

How can a pastor's heart not be filled to joy with two such comforting and beautiful thoughts!

Cindi and I

taught David and Meaghan how to play pinochle.... David and I don't like either one of them!

20 November 2010

From Tonight's/Tomorrow's Liturgy

The Bridegroom soon will call us,
"Come to the wedding feast,"
May slumber not befall us
Nor watchfulness decrease.
May all our lamps be burning
With oil enough and more
That we, with Him returning,
May find an open door.

There shall we see in glory
Our dear Redeemer's face;
The long-awaited story
Of heavenly joy takes place.
The patriarchs shall meet us,
The prophet's holy band,
Apostles, martyrs greet us
In that celestial land.

There God shall from all evil
Forever make us free
From sin and from the devil,
From all adversity,
From sickness, pain, and sadness,
From troubles, cares, and fears,
And grant us heavenly gladness
To wipe away our tears.

In that fair home shall never
Be silent music's voice;
With hearts and lips forever
We shall in God rejoice,
While angel hosts are raising
With saints from great to least
A mighty hymn for praising
The Giver of the feast!
LSB 514

Can it really be

that Last Sunday of the Church Year again?  Wow.  Tempus fugit big time!  Advent will be here a week from today - at sunset on Saturday.  I know it's a truism, but I can't get over the increase in the feeling of the speed of time.  Like we're rushing towards the waterfall, ever swifter does the stream flow.  Against the hurry the Church bids us slow down and enter an eternal rest, a peaceful and calm moving stream that counters the rapid flow of life in this fallen age.  His kairos breaking into and transforming our chronos. As Advent begins, take time, people loved by God, for the Advent services of Christ's Church.  They are an oasis of calm in the midst of a world of hurry, hurry.  They bid us slow down, greet the evening light, sing Psalms and hymns, hear the Words of God, and ponder their meaning, sing with the Blessed Virgin her song, and then lift up our intercessions to the throne of grace, and go forth into this world having touched for a while the Peace that is at this universe's center:  the very love of God whose love for us brought Him to the Virgin's womb, the manger, the cross, the tomb, and the Father's right hand.

A Homily for Last Sunday

Five foolish and five wise - and the only thing that separates the two in Jesus' story is that the wise had extra flasks of oil and the foolish did not.  A costly mistake.  The foolish lose out on the Wedding feast they had been waiting for.  "The door was shut."  And when the come late, asking for admittance, all they hear is:  "I do not know you."  So what does the extra oil stand for?  What is Jesus tell us that the wise have and the foolish lack?

We could speculate on all kinds of things, but better than guessing is to go to the Scriptures and chase down "oil."  Images begin to coalesce. 

Noah putting forth his hand from the ark and taking in the dove, with an olive branch in its mouth - sign that the judgment had passed and that it was safe to leave the ark.  Olive branch, olive oil.  Water and a dove.

The anointing of Saul - oil poured by old Samuel upon the young man's head and the Spirit suddenly coming on him in power and he prophesying, so that they asked:  "Is Saul also among the prophets?" 

Isaiah uttering the prophesy:  "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor." 

And all the images uniting as Jesus stands in the water, and the Spirit descends "like a dove" "anointing" him.  Thus He enters His office as Christ! When we speak of our Lord as the "Christ" we are calling Him the Anointed One, and confessing that the Spirit of God rests on Him.

From start to finish the Bible unites Spirit and oil together; so much so that the verb used of pouring out oil is also the verb used of pouring out the Spirit:  "anoint!"

So the five wise virgins were those who kept by them the supply of oil, that is the supply of the Spirit?  What does that mean in practical terms?

We know that in Baptism God richly pours out His Spirit on His people:  "Be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit - the promise is for you and your children."  Acts 2.  But the sad fact is that our lives are very much  jars of clay, cracked pots.  The Spirit poured in only once, drains out.  He must be constantly and freshly poured into us if the lamp of faith is to keep burning bright in our lives. Thus Paul writes:  "Be [being] filled with the Spirit!" Eph. 5:18

But where is He being poured out?  Where are the extra flasks filled with the oil of the Spirit we'll need for our faith to burn brightly until the Day of Christ's return?

In the Church!  The full flasks are simply the means of grace - the Word and the Sacraments of Jesus.  To live our lives near them, constantly being replenished by them, letting the Spirit be poured into us - that is to be a wise virgin. 

To say:  "O, I'm a Christian" and then wander away from them, not to give a listen to Jesus' words, not to come often to hear His absolution, not to eat often of His body and blood, is to live foolishly indeed.  For what was once poured in, drains out through the cracks of our lamp, drains out through our sin.  That's to live in the danger of being caught out empty on the Last Day! 

So when the Lord says:  "What I say to you, I say to all, watch!"  He is urging us to camp out by the spiritual flasks of the Church.

The flasks of the Church are truly full to overflowing, for they are supplied from the Lord Jesus Himself, who fills them to the brim with His Spirit and His life.  This is the life He came from heaven to give us.  This is the life He brought into our flesh and blood when He assumed it from Mary's womb.  This is the life He died on the cross to pour out into us - the gift of forgiveness, the Life of the Trinity, the Joy that is the Holy Spirit, the Peace and the Love that the Spirit brings with Him because that's who He is.  All of these located for us richly in the flasks of the means of grace. 

But no one else can camp out at the means of grace for you - no one else can receive the Spirit for you, and so no one can believe for you.  So the wise cannot give their flasks to the foolish - impossible.  Each must have their own.  So it's not a matter of your mother being in church or your sister or your father or your brother.  It's a matter of YOU being where the flasks are full and letting the overflow keep your lamp of faith burning bright.

Thus the only way to be prepared for that day is to make a habit of truly listening to His Words, to make a habit of hearing the absolution and trusting it, to make a habit of coming to His altar and letting Him give His body and blood into you for the forgiveness of all your sins; this is how you "watch."  This is how you can have the certainty Paul spoke in our second reading (1 Thes. 5:1-111) that "God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we might live  with Him."  Thus you'll be a people prepared and ready for whenever your Lord shall return and with joy, your lamp of faith will burn brightly in the night as you greet him and enter with Him into the feast of joy that never ends.  To Him be the glory forever!  Amen.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Behind transubstantiation there is a balking at the conjunction of God and thing.  The thing must surely be absorbed, transmuted if there is to be an operation of God.  Such thinking is of a piece with Docetism and its kindred heresies... If God was born into creation as Mary's baby, we cannot say that it was no true baby, that it merely had the accidents of a baby.  Similarly it cannot be said that bread and wine must lose their essence if God is to impart Himself in them.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, CTM 1953, p. 637.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The sun begins the day and ends it, and yet exists before the day and endures after it.  O Lord Jesus, You began our salvation in Paradise and carried it through the high noon of the scorching cross, and You shall end it on the Last Day, in the evening of the world, and on the day of the restoration of all things You shall summon us to gladness.  You are before all ages from eternity, and You endure forever. -- Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God, p. 86.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Let us not then make our prayer by the gesture of our body, nor by the loudness of our voice, but by the earnestness of our mind: neither with noise and clamor and for display, so as even to disturb those that are near us, but with all modesty, and with contrition in the mind, and with inward tears. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 19 on Matthew

This weather has

been unbelievable.  Here it is:  November 20th.  I was able to do a five mile run in shorts and hoodie.  LOVE IT!  I hope we have a sprinkling of such days throughout the upcoming winter.

19 November 2010

Dana Carpenter's

low-carb Oatmeal cookies... SNARF.  Her book is well worth the cost for any low-carber wanting some tempting tasties.  I was dismayed at first reading the cookie recipe, though, for she calls for coconut oil.  I thought:  don't want to buy something like that that we use only for one recipe.  But the ever resourceful Cindi pulled a whole container out of her crafts room:  she uses it to make her soap, of all things.  The cookies are definitely a huge success and destined to become a Weedon staple - and no, they don't taste a bit like soap!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

God has His honor in the opposite of what men call honor.  Men gauge their honor by the number of men that they have serving them; God has His honor in that He became the humble, suffering Servant of all men.  The deeper the humiliation, the higher the honor. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, CTM September 1953, p. 628.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

When you go for a walk in your garden, say:  On these little flowers the name of my glorious King Jesus Christ is written.  They are all the masterpieces of His hand.  -- Valerius Herberger, On the Great Works of God, p. 79

Patristic Quote of the Day

Having seen God become man, and descend so far, and suffer so much for your sake, do you still inquire and doubt, how it is possible to forgive your fellow-servants their injuriousness? Do you not hear Him on the cross, saying, Forgive them, for they know not what they do? Luke 23:34 Do you not hear Paul, when he says, He who is gone up on high, and is sitting on the right hand intercedes for us? Romans 8:34 Do you see not that even after the cross, and after He had been received up, He sent the apostles unto the Jews that had slain Him, to bring them His ten thousand blessings, and this, though they were to suffer ten thousand terrors at their hands? -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 18 on Matthew

18 November 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

His words come to us from outside ourselves.  They are what God gives us to hold on to Him by.  There are times when there is nothing else to hold on to, that He has hold of us by.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 366.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

But since we lost the right to heaven through sin, You gave Your every drop of blood so that we might have new hope.  -- Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God, p. 70.

Patristic Quote of the Day

When therefore you are beginning to correct this, though you should transgress your law a first, a second, a third, a twentieth time, do not despair, but rise up again, and resume the same diligence, and you will surely prevail. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 17 on Matthew

17 November 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

It isn't so important whether your pastor is some dashing Gregory Peck type or a bit of an old dodderer.  The seeds are the same, and that is what matters most.  The words are the Lord's; He grows them.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 366.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Should I fall into depression, and a pitch-black night descend upon my heart, I will say:  O Lord Jesus, blessed Light, now I have need of Your brightness.  Let the rays of Your comforting light fall upon my heart, and I will be healed.  -- Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God, p. 65

Patristic Quote of the Day

For to this end were all things done: to this end even God became man, and took order for all those works, that He might set us at one. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 16 on Matthew

16 November 2010

Ah, if you want...

...bookfolds on the Mac, the solution is Open Office.  And that's free!

We Forgive Them

"We forgive them. We’re not afraid. They gave us blood and we give them forgiveness."  Wonderful post over at First Things on the situation of the martyrs for Christ in Iraq:  here.

A cup of Darjeeling

on an overcast and gloomy November afternoon - just what the doctor ordered!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The vestments help us forget the man who is in them and focus on the words the Lord is speaking to us by His use of the mouth that He has put there.  The Lord puts His seeds into your soil.  With His words He is sowing into you what those words say and convey with their potential fruit.  Thus to be receiving into us, from outside ourselves, His words with what they say and bestow, that is one of the glories of our liturgy and Lutheran heritage.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 366.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

O Jesus Christ, in the light of Your comfort, we can see how the heavenly Father's heart burns with love for us poor sinners.  -- Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God, p. 62.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For since the law was laboring at this, to make man righteous, but had not power, He came and brought in the way of righteousness by faith, and so established that which the law desired: and what the law could not by letters, this He accomplished by faith. On this account He says, I am not come to destroy the law. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 16 on Matthew

15 November 2010

Sunday early service

brought the great joy of being the Lord's instrument for the baptizing of  Jamie Rose - bringing her out of death into life, planting her into the Redeemer in whom there is forgiveness and the fullness of the Holy Spirit.  Her father wrote a lovely hymn for the occasion too.  Here are a few pics that the proud parents were kind enough to send my way this evening taken after she was born anew in living water.  She's a beautiful young lady!



New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The heroic strength of Jesus is shown most gloriously in the martyr's death, but that same cheerful strength and Christlike quality can also be a part of such things as drying the dishes or doing your math homework.  Everything you do should be something different because you are God's child. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 362.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

His begetting from the Father is incomprehensible, for He was carried within the heart, not under the heart, as Mary carried Him in His incarnation.  He is a part of the heavenly Father's heart, of the same substance, of the same power and glory.  And just as know how our neighbor feels about us through his words, so we know what God the Father thinks of us through Christ. -- Valerius Herberger, On the Great Works of God, p. 54.

Patristic Quote of the Day

But mark, I pray you, the lovingkindness of God, in that He promises to bestow on us a reward, even for those good things which we ask of Him. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 19 on Matthew

14 November 2010

A Melancholy Sausage Supper

Oh, the feast was joyous - no two ways about it.  But I couldn't help but see the folks who are no longer with us, whom the Lord has gathered home or who have grown too feeble to assist any longer.  Oh, there were many new hands at work, and things went swimmingly, but I was struck by how things have changed since I've been here.  20 years almost.  It's a long time. I especially missed Dorothy at the sausage station, filling up platters and listening to her cheerful banter.  It was wonderful to see Jennifer and Amy there, but I can't count the times I thought "where's Dorothy?" only to remind myself she's been gathered home.  And I could multiply the names quite easily.  And seeing folks only once a year (Sausage Supper is the only time we do catch up with many friends in the community, sadly), I was struck by how we all have aged.  Folks that I remember so hale and hearty, leaning now on walkers or suffering various maladies.  Sigh.  Such is life in this fallen world. How would we ever make it through the heart-ache without the comfort of the Holy Spirit, the promises of our Lord, and the certainty of the Father's love?  O Blessed Trinity, in all the changes of our lives, Your unchanging love is our rock and refuge!  Glory to You!  Glory to You forever!

13 November 2010

Homily for Trinity 24 (2010)

[Isaiah 51:9-16 / Col. 1:9-14 / Matt 9:18-26]

“I am He who comforts you,” says the Lord in today’s Old Testament reading. Is there a better understanding of Him than that? He is the Lord whose delight is not to terrorize, but to console, to whisper tenderly to His afflicted: “I am the Lord your God…you are my people.”

We need that consolation, but especially when the domain of darkness seems about to engulf us, when we are afraid and panic. Nothing brings that fear to life in us like confronting ongoing suffering in our own lives or the death of those we love. In today’s Gospel Jesus shows Himself the God who comforts in both situations.

The ruler’s little girl has died. He is terrified and there is only one place he can turn, for there are rumors throughout the land of the miraculous powers at work in this prophet from Nazareth. He bows in the dust before Jesus and confesses: “come lay Your hand on her and she will live.” And off Jesus goes with him. Not a word of rebuke like we heard a few weeks ago when the Nobleman’s son lay dying, and Jesus sent him off with only a promise. This time He goes along.

And there is an important lesson: the Lord doesn’t deal with us all the same. He who is our Great Physician, He knows what is best for the final healing of our fearful hearts. To one He gives no more than a promise and sends him on his way; to another He Himself comes in great compassion. He deals with you as the person you are and not as some impersonal somebody. And that’s a comfort all by itself.

But before they could go very far, a chronic sufferer, a woman suffering a discharge of blood for twelve years, sneaks up in the crowd and touches his clothes. She believed in His great mercy and in His great power and so she told herself that she had only to touch the hem of his garment and she would be made well.

Though the crowd is around Him, this touch was different. He stops and turns and looks right at her. “Take heart, daughter. I am the Lord who comforts you. Your faith has made you well” and He’d no sooner said it, than her body was whole again.

Many bump up against the Lord in His holy Meal, they touch His body and blood in the same way that the crowds did, and they walk away unchanged by it. But when you come to Him in faith as this woman did, when you lay Your hand on His garment, on the bread that is His body and the wine that is His blood, and receive them trusting in Him, He gives you the same gift: salvation, being made whole and well. The life that is in Him then flows out into you. A life that is rich in comfort, a comfort that is more enduring than all the pain and suffering you will have to undergo in this life. A comfort that sets your heart at peace – for it is the comfort of sins forgiven, death destroyed, eternal life bestowed.

And when they arrive at the ruler’s house and the flutes and the crowds are making a commotion, bewailing the child, Jesus speaks what is perhaps His greatest word of comfort of all: “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.”

They laugh him to scorn. He’s obviously a mad man. The child is dead. But here you must learn to see death the right way round. For to us it IS death, it cuts a person off from the living. But that is not how death is to God. To Him, it is no more than a little sleep. And Jesus shows this by going and reaching out and literally pulling that girl out from death’s cruel jaws and handing her back to her parents. The place, of course, goes ballistic. Who ever heard of such a thing? A man to whom death itself is but a little sleep?

And did He not thereby foreshadow what would happen? The woman with the flow of blood, 12 years long, did it not evoke Israel of the 12 tribes with the countless streams of blood from the sacrifices offered day in and day out, sacrifices that could never finally do the job. They could only point toward another sacrifice that would do it. And so Jesus, like the little girl, after His suffering upon Calvary for your sins, went into death itself, slept for a little while – the three days – until He was awakened come Easter morn. Alive then and never to die again, He is very clear that He is only the first-fruits, the beginning of the harvest of human being. That what happened to Him shall happen to all. The dead who sleep will be raised to live forever.

When Paul prays that the Colossians may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual understanding and insight, he is pleading that God would open our minds and hearts to trust in His chosen path and plan for us. That after suffering and dying, our bodies shall lie in the grave for a while, until the glorious moment of our Lord’s Appearing. Then we shall be raised. If we remember this, every trial, every tribulation and hardship along the way, well, they simply lose all power to crush us. We cannot be crushed by such things when we have an everlasting hope, when we have been qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in light, since He has delivered us in Baptism [as we saw this morning with Jamie Rose] from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins.

Think of it, people loved by God, what can crush you when you hold to this anchor? What can possibly destroy you? Into you has gone a life that has already defeated death –death will not hold you. Into you has gone a forgiveness that has already wiped out the sins of the world – sin cannot keep you captive. Do not be afraid. It is the Lord who comforts you. And when that glorious moment arrives when your Lord is unveiled in His glory and raises the dead, then shall come to pass the prophesy we heard from Isaiah: “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Any wonder the early Church never stopped praying then: Maranatha! Our Lord, come! Amen.

Sausage Supper Tomorrow!

We're ready for you all - now you come over and don't let us down!  We'll be serving from noon till 6 p.m.  I'm waiting tables in the early shift from 12 to 3.  Sausage, sauerkraut, cranberry sauce, applesauce, green beans, gravy, and more pies to choose from than you can even begin to imagine.  See you all there!!!

Lookee what the Fed Ex Man

brought to my door this afternoon:
















This is a companion volume to Treasury with meditations on the New Testament readings for each day of the year.  CPH just got them in!  Hope folks find it to be a blessing indeed.  It was certainly a joy to write a part of this.

A huge thanks to Pastor Scot Kinnaman for inviting me to write with the others on this project - and for his devoted work on Treasury and its supplements.

You can order here.

11 November 2010

Narnia's COMING!

Can't wait!!!  December 10th!

In Memoriam

On this Veteran's day I cannot but think of my dad.  He was a WWII vet, serving in Europe.  He came up through Italy and Austria into Germany.  He used to talk about the sights he saw - the great amphitheater (Stausburg, I think?).  He loved to watch any WWII movie.  He never talked about what it was like to be in combat though.  He drew a veil over that part of his life and didn't openly speak of it until near his death, and then to my sister-in-law and not to his sons or daughter or wife.  He was one of the countless crowd that served in that war and came home to try to make a "normal" life again.  But I am certain that the war marked him.  His silence was always heavy with memories, and with loss, with bloodstains and tears.

My brothers all served - or tried to.  Butch joined the Coast Guard and shipped off to Alaska for years.  Joe joined the Marines, but in boot camp they discovered a hole in the bone in his leg and would not let him serve.  He was bitterly disappointed.  Maupin did serve in Vietnam.  He came back a different man.  It has marked his life.

On this day when our nation sets time aside to remember all our vets, a very inadequate thank you from a man who has only known peace, and who has seen up close the weight that rests on your shoulders that we might live free.  God bless you, Vets, every one!


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Just as there is no meaning, strength, or life in lungs without air, in a heart without blood, in a car without an engine, so there is no meaning, strength, or life in us without God.  We were made to work from God, to be powered by Him.  What is the sense of a light bulb without electricity?  What is the sense of you without God? -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 360

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Oh, how beautiful Your redeemed in heaven will be, for it was for us You shed Your blood, not for the stars.  We too are Your creatures, not less than the stars, and yet You have loved us a thousand times more than the stars; in this I take comfort.  Though diseases may waste me and wither me, yet eternal bliss will make everything beautiful and rosy again.  Then I shall shine like the stars, yea, like the angels! -- Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God, p. 42.

Patristic Quote of the Day

See how He has set the highest pinnacle on our good deeds. For this is why He teaches not only to endure a blow, but to offer the right cheek also; not only to add the cloak to the coat, but to travel also two miles with him who compels you to go one; in order that you might receive with all facility that which is much more than these. But what, one may say, is more than these? Not even to count as an enemy him who is doing these things: or rather even somewhat else more than this. For He said not, do not hate, but love; He said not, do not injure, but do good. And if any one should examine accurately, he will see that even to these things somewhat is added, much greater than they are. For neither did He simply command to love, but to pray. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 18 on Matthew

10 November 2010

What a great joy...

...this morning for Pr. Curtis and myself to visit for a wee bit with the famous Dr. John Stephenson.  I only regret that we had so very little time.    His works are simply stellar - his dogmatics on eschatology (in the way of the law and the gospel, micro and macro) and the Lord's Supper, and lately his translation of Loehe's Aphorisms on the Ministry which has not garnered the attention it deserves.  And he has finger on so many aspects of the Church's current struggles around the world.  I still hope some day to plan a conference down this way that has him as the featured speaker on the topic of the intersection of eschatology and the Eucharist.  Wouldn't that be wonderful?  I'm such a lousy planner for such things.  Sigh.  I'm definitely inspired to add it to my to do list, though.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

An honest consideration of ourselves will show that we are not what we are meant to be. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 359.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Ah, my God!  If You cared for me before even a speck of myself or my ancestors existed, how much more will You care for me now since You have given me body and soul, and since Jesus has shed His blood for me and carried my flesh and blood to the right hand of God and seated Himself next to Your heart? -- Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God, p. 39

Patristic Quote of the Day

This place is a spiritual school. Wherefore also there is but one thing aimed at, duly to perform the things that have been spoken, and to show forth our obedience by our works. For then only shall we have obtained all. Since as things are, to say the truth, we have fairly given up in despair. For I have not ceased giving these admonitions either to those whom I meet in private, or in discourse with you all in common. Yet I see no advantage at all gained, but you are still clinging to the former rude beginnings, which thing is enough to fill the teacher with weariness.--St. John Chrysostom, Homily 17 on Matthew

09 November 2010

Breakfast Conversation

As Cindi, David and I ate breakfast this morning, the discussion was music.  Which is kind of expected since the entire family is singing in the Collinsville Chorale Christmas concert this year.  David and I are basses; Lauren and Bekah are singing alto; and of course Cindi is belting out the soprano notes. Of all the things we do together, this is one of my all time favorites:  singing!  I said that it was downright relaxing - this time together in the evenings making music, and Cindi disagreed.  She hit on the perfect analogy.  It's like exercise:  it requires intense concentration and thought, but when it's done, you realize how enjoyable and exhilarating it has been - and what a huge stress reliever. It keeps one sane. Among my favorite pieces this time round are the selections from Messiah (though the simplifications result in some unexpected changes in bass line that I keep stumbling over), Climb to the Top of the Highest Mountain, a new setting and tune to Away in Manger that is mind-blowingly beautiful, and What Is This Light?  Climb to the Top of the Highest Mountain has been a favorite since we first encountered it at the Boar's Head Festival.  Here's St. Olaf's rendition:

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Son of God had drawn near us, nearer He could not come, and this He did to draw us to God.  He came down to earth so we might go to heaven. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 358.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

How handsomely heaven and earth sparkle!  And these are only His everyday garments which He grants us to see Him wearing in this life.  What beauty, then, will enlighten our heart in eternal life when He will dress all things in their Sunday-clothes and make a new heaven and earth! -- Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God, p. 38.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For since the law was laboring at this, to make man righteous, but had not power, He came and brought in the way of righteousness by faith, and so established that which the law desired: and what the law could not by letters, this He accomplished by faith. On this account He says, I am not come to destroy the law. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 16 on Matthew

08 November 2010

Day's Wrap

Matins; breakfast; opening devotions at school and then NT Catechesis on Acts 9 for 7-8 and then for 5-6; daycare/preschool chapel (practicing Christmas music!); sent a corrected bulletin for Divine Service tomorrow to Joanie; lunch with Cindi; run in the sun (5 miles to Hamel and back, with a little extra to fill out the five miles); sermon for tomorrow's Winkel; did some practice with the boys' basketball team - running only - they wiped me out!; dinner; communion to Jo (before her surgery tomorrow); practice with the Collinsville Chorale - great selection of Christmas music and Andy's a hoot and half.

Homily for Trinity 23 (2010)

[Proverbs 8:11-22 / Philippians 3:17-21 / Matthew 22:15-22]


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

I never liked fractions in school.  Wretched things.  I’m happy to report from today’s Gospel reading that our God is no fan of fractions either.  Fractions run with us trying to see how much control we can keep for ourselves, and we do so out of fear.  So the question to our Lord, the trap, about whether one ought pay taxes to Caesar.  It’s a fraction question.  How much does Caesar get? 

Our Lord does the oddest thing when he asks for the coin.  On it, of course, an image and an inscription.  A picture and a name.  Whose? He asks.  They think He’s demented.  Caesar’s of course.

Of course.  So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God give back what is God’s. 

Youch.  For there’s the rub.  We are rather like the coin, aren’t we?  Made in God’s image and He has put His name on us as His very own.  But we must confess that in our lives, the image is quite damaged, so much so that at times it would be quite hard to gauge what God is like by looking at us.  Vindictive.  Angry.  Short-tempered.  Always at work trying to preserve for ourselves our part of the fraction of life and trying to increase it – the part that we’re the Caesar of.  Or that we like to think we are. 

And there He stands.  The very image of God in human flesh and blood.  Or as St. Irenaeus put it:  the visible of the Father.  Look at Him and you see God straight the way He truly is. Here for once was a human being who didn’t run the fractions.  He didn’t say that the Lord got some piece of Him and His neighbor got another piece of Him, and this part He had to keep back for Himself, for His own sanity, you know.  No.  He gave the lot to God and He gave the lot to His neighbor.  No fractions.  Wholly offered.  Here was a human who never once said “no” to the will of the Father – even if He did have His “let me think that through one more time” moment in the garden of Gethsemane.  In the end, it was a whole life, wholly offered from conception to birth, from youth to adulthood, from life to death.  Not pieces, but the whole.  And so the perfect image of God.

For God doesn’t do fractions.  That’s why there had to be a new covenant.  Under the old, recall as Krauth so marvelously pointed out, the Lord got His piece of the offering (sacrifice) and you got your piece (sacrament) and so it was all partim, partim.  Piecemeal.  Not whole.  But the characteristic of the new covenant is that the lot is given to God and the lot is given to you.  Whole.  Indivisible.

So the Eucharist.  He doesn’t play fractions there.  It’s not like Fielding gets a toe and Walther an ounce of blood.  Rather, in a mysterious way, as our Lord wholly gave Himself to the Father throughout His life and most especially on the Cross, so here in the Eucharist He wholly gives Himself to you, body and blood, humanity, divinity, the whole to each and so a perfect, finished salvation made your own.

And so He would enliven you from your fractioned way of living into His wholeness.  It is quite similar to what happened with the loaves and the fish.  Recall that starts with some hard fractions - five divided by twelve.  A bit a bread in each disciples hand.  They had to learn a lesson with it:  if in fear of not having enough for themselves, they held onto their fraction, what would they have at the end of the day?  Only that measly little 5 divided by 12 piece of loaf.  But because they dared to step out at the Lord’s bidding into the divine economy what did they end up with?  Each got a basket full.  Nonsense to our reason.  You can’t divide and end up with that.  You can’t give it all away and have more left over than you started with.  It’s mathematical nonsense.  But that is what happened: they gave it all away.  And to give it all away in the divine economy is never to turn up the loser, but always to find out that with the Lord there is more than you could ever dare dream. The only way to turn up the loser in the divine economy is to try to keep your little fraction for yourself.  Recall the unfortunate man who tried to safeguard his fraction, his one talent, by burying it in the napkin.  

The martyrs got that.  They realized that if their whole lives were given up, they still had more life dished back at them than they’d ever be able to use in an eternity.  The Lord’s own self-offering, whole and complete, answered by resurrection shows the way it goes with God. 

But meanwhile we live in a fallen world, a fractioned world, and so it is piecemeal with us.  But it is piecemeal growing towards wholeness.  The Large Catechism works the fractions to completeness when it says that living out your Baptism results in:  “anger, hate, envy, unchastity, stinginess, laziness, arrogance, yes unbelief” all must daily “decrease” and in contrast the growth within of the gifts of God so that the longer we live the more “gentle, patient, meek” we become.  On this sliding scale the old Adam garbage finally is unfractioned by reaching a zero:  “daily decreases until he finally perishes” and then all that’s left is the image of God stuff.  Whole, entire.  A life that is nothing but love.

If you are the coin, the Lord is at work polishing you and clearing off the crud and retracing the image.  So that when people look at you they begin to see ever more clearly something of the God who gives all and holds nothing back so that His people can find life with Him in His way of being – total pouring out of self resulting in a life that is more than any fraction we might try to hold on for ourselves. 

Satan loves for you to dwell on the fractions of your life.  He likes you to exaggerate the new self and to diminish the
old Adam.  With our Lord, it’s totally different.  He invites us to look to Him to see what we shall be when the work He has begun in us is finally brought to completion on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, the day the coin is completely restored and shines with the luster and glory of the image He has retraced upon it, when our lives are given back to God not in any piece or fraction, but whole; the day when God will be all in all, and to Him alone will be the glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the Ages of Ages.  Amen.

An Outstanding Observation by Dr. Steven Hein

on the topic of our Lutheran schools:

The only competition that exists between your school and the public school system in your area is for the hearts and minds of your baptized children. And if your public schools are good ones, so much greater the competition. The Christian education offered in your school should not be seen as simply the educational answer for your families over against poor or mediocre public schools. It is especially the answer over against the really good public schools. No education is innocent of an attitude toward man and his purposes. All government-run education is required by law to teach all subjects where meaning, purpose, and value are formed by the absence of God and His revelation. It is in the really effective and competent public schools, even those called classical academies, that students effectively learn to understand the world and how to live in it without God. How can we convince our people that the goal of our education for their children is to keep them spiritually alive in the midst of a world and culture that is seeking to re-educate the verities of the faith into which they were baptized out of them, permanently?

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Saving faith is not just knowing the right words to claim credit for.  It is a gift of God; more exactly, it is our receiving and living the gift.  The gift is, first, the forgiveness of our sin and life as the children of God for Jesus' sake.  This is the big gift, and it brings us to accepting it.  Faith is nothing apart from the gift it receives, but the receiving the gift, it is, in Luther's words, "a living, energetic, active, mighty thing this faith.  It does not ask whether good works have to be done, but before the question is put it has already done them and is forever doing them.  Faith is a living, daring confidence in the grace of God." -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 356.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Now God the Father was (as Basil says) the initiator, predicator, and instigator of the creation of heaven and earth, while the Lord Jesus was the craftsman of creation, and the Holy Spirit was the finisher, polisher, and preparer, and made everything beautiful and pleasant to look at.  Thus all three persons were active in this work. -- Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God, p. 37.

Patristic Quote of the Day

[On the first beatitude] But why said he not, the humble, but rather the poor? Because this is more than that. For He means here them who are awestruck, and tremble at the commandments of God. Whom also by His prophet Isaiah God earnestly accepting said, To whom will I look, but to him who is meek and quiet, and trembles at My words?  -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 15 on Matthew

07 November 2010

And for us

a bonus joy today of having Steve and Bonnie Foxx and their little Anna and Mary join us for worship and then for dinner.  A fellow Polycarpian at the table just made this All Saints Sunday be that much more joyous!

Joyous All Saints Sunday

from the beauty of "For All the Saints" with trumpet and tympani to the supreme comfort of the Beatitudes, from the sweeping vision of "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones" to the joy of kneeling side by side to receive what all the saints have ever received:  the body and blood of the Savior with His pardon and His peace.  And no one captured the All Saints connection to the altar quite so superbly as the sainted pastor Berthold von Schenk:

"Our human nature needs more than the assurance that some day and in some way we shall again meet our loved ones 'in heaven.'  That is all gloriously true.  But how does that help us now?

When we, then, view death in the light of the Communion of Saints and of Holy Communion, there is no helpless bereavement.  My loved one has just left me and has gone on a long journey.  But I am in touch with her.  I know that there is a place where we can meet.  It is at the altar.  How it thrills me when I hear the words of the Liturgy, 'Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven,' for I know that she is there with that company of Heaven, the Communion of Saints, with the Lord.  The nearer I come to my Lord in Holy Communion, the nearer I come to the saints, to my own loved ones.  I am a member of the Body of Christ, I am a living cell in that spiritual organism, partaking of the life of the other cells, and sharing in the Body of Christ Himself.

There is nothing fanciful or unreal about this.  Indeed, it is the most real thing in my life.  Of course I miss my loved one.  I should miss her if she took a long holiday trip.  But now, since she is what some people call dead, she is closer to me than ever.  Of course, I miss her physical presence bitterly.  I miss her voice and the sound of approaching footsteps.  But I have not lost her.  And when my sense of loss becomes too great, I can always go to our meeting place at the Altar where I receive the Body and Blood of my Lord that preserves my body and soul just as it has preserved her unto everlasting life.  Do learn to love the Altar as the meeting place with your beloved who have passed within the veil.  Here again the Sacrament is the heart of our religion.  The Blessed Sacrament links us not merely to Bethlehem and Calvary, but to the whole world beyond the grave as well, for at the Altar the infinite is shrined in the finite; Heaven stoops down to earth; and the seen and the unseen meet.

Oh, God, the King of Saints, we praise and magnify Thy Holy Name for all Thy servants who have finished their course in Thy faith and fear, for the Blessed Virgin Mary, for the Holy Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, and Martyrs, for all Thy other righteous servants; and we beseech Thee that, encouraged by their example, strengthened by their fellowship, we may attain unto everlasting life, through the merits of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.  (The Presence, pp. 131, 132)

06 November 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Each fulfillment stretches and points beyond itself to a larger fulfillment until our pictures and language burst trying to express them.  You don't know half of what God has in mind for you.  It is probably more than you want right now.... But God has kept some of His promises to you, and each fulfillment stretches you for more.  When you can't take any more, you will burst and get the lot. Amen. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, pp. 354.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

When all kinds of cross and trouble oppress me and poverty gnaws at me, when my heart cries nothing but blood and my heartache throbs without ceasing, then I will say, "Why are you downcast, my heart?  If in the beginning you count your troubles, you will find no comfort.  Think of Jesus in the beginning.  Put Him before everything.  See how He sanctified and hallowed your grief by His own misery and hardship.  See how He won eternal salvation which you can confidently expect after this present poverty."  Then my misery will be filled with such sweetness that I will have patience and be able to forget my grief. -- Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God, p. 33.