31 January 2011


Jerusalem, O city fair and high,
Your tow'rs I yearn to see;
My longing heart to you would gladly fly,
It will not stay with me.
Elijah's chariot take me
Above the lower skies,
To heaven's bliss awake me,
Released from earthly ties.

O happy day, O yet far happier hour,
When will you to come at last,
When by my gracious Father's love and pow'r
I see that portal vast?
From heaven's shining regions
To greet me gladly come
Your blessed angel legions
To bid me welcome home.

The patriarchs' and prophets' noble train,
With all Christ's follow'rs true,
Who washed their robes and cleansed sin's guilty stain,
Sing praises ever new!
I see them shine forever,
Resplendent as the sun,
In light diminished never,
Their glorious freedom won.

Unnumbered choirs before the shining throne
Their joyful anthems raise
Till heaven's arches echo with the tone
Of that great hymn of praise.
And all its host rejoices,
And all its blessed throng
Unite their myriad voices
In one eternal song.

LSB 674

So, if the power goes out...

...and stays out for days like it did back in 2006, guess what?  We'll STILL have Church on Sunday.  We'll gather and pray and sing and hear God's Word and receive the Eucharist.  We won't need heat or electricity.  The Church was here before the days of electricity; the Church will be here if we have days without electricity.  One of the utterly cool things about worshipping with the traditional liturgy:  all accompaniment is icing, not cake!  [Er.... someone needs to come up with an Atkins friends version of that.  All accompaniment is bun, not burger?]

Pr. Petersen celebrates 15 years...

...see this fine post by Pr. Curtis upon the joyful event, and the beautiful paraments and vestments that DK Brunner and Son prepared for the occasion.  Pr. Petersen has been and continues to be a huge blessing to so many people - may the Lord of the Church continue to have much joyous use of him in the years to come!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Faith receives from the Lord; love gives to the neighbor. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, CTM Vol. 61, No. 4, p. 298.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Just as He earned life for us by His death, so He restored heavenly riches to us by His poverty. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On Christ, p. 316.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Whence it is shown, that there is no ordinary reward for them that are rich, and are able to practise self command. Wherefore also He affirmed it to be a work of God, that He might show that great grace is needed for him who is to achieve this. At least, when the disciples were troubled, He said, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 63 on St. Matthew

30 January 2011


That is, prayer.  When I have opportunity to pass through the nave of St. Paul's, I find it nearly impossible to do so without stopping for a while and praying.

The room itself calls for it - you can almost sense the generations of prayers raised in the building.  They have hallowed it through the years.  I still remember one year running into John Carter (then our President) praying in the Church, and he telling me about a big decision he was making, and couldn't do so without kneeling in prayer for a while before his Lord.

Even though I may be the only one in the building, there is the joyous conviction that I am actually not alone at all.  The images of our Lord, the statue and crucifix proclaim that He is near to all who call upon Him.  The images of St. Paul, of the holy evangelists Sts. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, proclaim the hosts of witnesses that have worshipped and adored the Lamb and found life eternal in His blood.  Then there are the faces of so many who have now vanished and yet seem so close there:  Charlie, David, Dorothy, Gustav, Marianne, Carl, Albert, Marlene... so many more.  Their presence is palpable in the Church, much more so than at the cemetery where their bodies sleep.  Here we still join their spirits in the praise of Him whose blood has blotted out our sin, destroyed our death, opened wide for us a Kingdom.

So yes, the room seems to coax me toward prayer.  There are times I just sit in it and let the peace seep in.  Outside life rattles by at a pace as fast and crazy as the cars and semis racing up and down Interstate 55, but inside...  Inside there is a hidden treasure, a peace and stillness.  An invitation to come apart for a little while and pray.

Remembering back...

...wondering if it will be like it was back then:  days without heat.

Boy, oh, boy do I sure hope they're wrong about the ice...

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

There is no two-level church with clergy above and laity below, or laity above (who hires and fires) and clergy below, or two churches, one visible and the other invisible.  There are no levels - only where our Lord has put himself there for us (dir da) to give out his saving gifts as he has ordained the Means of Grace to do, and put the Predigtamt there for the giving out of his gifts surely located in the Means of Grace. -- Dr. Norman Nagel,  CTM Vol. 61, No. 4, pp. 286.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

When Christ lives and dwells in someone's heart, He is not idle but effectual through love and other excises of piety. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On Christ, p. 297.

Patristic Quote of the Day

But when He says, that they made themselves eunuchs, He means not the excision of the members, far from it, but the putting away of wicked thoughts. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 61 on St. Matthew

29 January 2011

A Homily upon Epiphany 4

“Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”

Well, let’s see: the wind is howling, lightning is flashing, the waves are crashing over the boat, the boat is beginning to sink, we’re faced with death and drowning - and you happen to be asleep and oblivious to all this. How’s that for reasons to be fearful - no matter what size our faith is?

The astonishing thing is that Jesus just doesn’t "get" the life of fear that we understand so perfectly. Who here today has the least trouble identifying with the disciples and what they were going through? Who here today is puzzled by their behavior? Fear is something we understand all too well. We know what it is to be afraid. Afraid of losing a family a member, afraid of the uncertainties of the future, afraid of a relationship breaking up, afraid of losing friends, afraid of suffering, afraid of another’s anger, afraid of losing control, afraid of gaining control, afraid of responsibility, afraid of getting hurt again, afraid of disap- pointing those who depend on us, afraid of change, afraid that things will never change, afraid that we’ve done something too awful for God or others to forgive, afraid that people will hate us if they really knew the evil we hide inside.

And so, yes, to us Jesus asks the question - and asks it as the winds howl and the waves crash and beat against the boat and our life feels like its going down - why are you fearful, O you of little faith?

If we ponder together that seemingly ridiculous question, a whole new world opens up to us: the world in which our Lord lived and which He came to open up for us, so that we could live in it too. It would not be going too far to describe it as a life de- void of being afraid. Which is not quite the same as a life without fear.

For there is always the fear of Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom. But the fear of the Lord is not the same thing as being afraid. The fear of the Lord is at the end of the Gospel reading today, not the beginning: The fear of the Lord leads them to marvel, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” And it is precisely the fear of the Lord which releases from being afraid. As a wise man once said (Apocrypha) : “Fear the Lord, and then you need fear nothing else.”

A life without being afraid? A life where there is no terror in the dark, where every circumstance and person is met with confi- dence and joy, where suffering is not feared and death is not dreaded and remorse does not paralyze and peace reigns over all? Such a life belongs to Jesus and He lived it out fully. He was never afraid, for He could out with the Psalmist: “The Lord is my Light and my Salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” He cried that prayer with every ounce of His being and so in Him there was no fear, and He summons us with our little faith to enter into that life with Him and live - really live.

For what is there to be afraid of when Jesus is with you in your boat? When He is with you in your life? Does death terrify you? But He is the Resurrection and the Life, He is the Death of death. He is death’s worst nightmare come into human flesh. Death cannot hold you when He who died and rose again calls you from the grave. Death will have to release you and you will arise in your body - He has made death like a little slumber, like the nap He took on the boat.

Do your sins terrify you? But He is the Pardon for all your sins, nailed to Calvary’s cross, wiping out the handwriting that was against you entirely. His angels have tossed from heaven the evil one who would accuse you, the baptized.

Do you fear the loss of friends and family? But any who are in Him are never lost, for those who die in Him still live! And He has promised a desired reunion in heaven.

Are you afraid that you won’t have enough, that you’ll suffer hunger or poverty? But He promises you daily bread and even better, He freely gives you a food that that supplies your deepest and enduring need: His body and His blood imparting to you the pardon of sin, the promise of your resurrection, and the gift of life with Him forever.

Are you afraid that He may have suffering in mind for you and your loved ones? Don’t worry. He does! He promises that suffer- ing awaits. How could it not? If we are walking the path of love with Him, this world which rejects that love will see that we suf- fer. But He also promises that through every hardship He will bring you nothing but blessing, because He works all things to- gether for the good of those who love Him.

You see, the One in the boat who asks: “Why are you fearful?” has literally taken away from us every reason to be afraid of anything in this creation. Anything at all. He manifests the entirety of life and creation itself as a gift of love from a heavenly Father, and the measure of that love is that He gave His Son into the flesh that you might never fear, ever again.

Ah, but in our weakness, we still do fear. The Church knows this. In her wisdom, she teaches us to pray. There is a prayer that has come down to us from the dark days when Viking raiders could show up at night to plunder house and home - stealing, raping, murdering, doing all kinds of evil. The Collect for Peace. In it, the Church asks God for a most precious gift: “and that we, be- ing defended by thee from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness.” Did you catch that? The Church does not ask God to deliver her from her earthly enemies, but from the fear of them. The problem was never the Vikings or any terrorist or terror ever since. The problem is always with our being afraid of them, as though they had some power over us to separate us from the love of God in Christ! No way.

To belong to Christ, to have the Crucified and Risen One present in your life, in the boat with you, means learning to live without fear - except for the joyful fear of bowing before Him and confessing Him to be the Almighty God in our flesh and blood. Indeed, “the wind and waves still know His voice who ruled them when on earth below.” Amen.


I really and sincerely hope that the weather man does not know what he is talking about.  GOOD GRIEF!!!!

Neglected Rubric #whatever again

4.  The paschal candle is lighted for all baptisms.  It remains lighted for the entire service or office.  The paschal candle is ordinarily placed next to the font for all baptisms.  [LSB Altar Book, p. 366]

Good Words from our Beloved Synodical President

Ignored again.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

What Dr. Luther says against the Roman priests is not to get rid of them in order to put "the priesthood of all believers" in their place.  That would be to replace one piece of popery with another.  What was wrong with popery was not that it was popery, but that it infringed the one and only atoning sacrifice for sin done by Christ alone, and so done once, for all, sure, complete.  To suggest something other or more is rob Christ of having done it all.  This is confessed and defended by a satis est.  Not Christ plus something more, but Christ and what he alone has done and delivers in the preaching of the Gospel and the holy Sacraments according to the Gospel.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, CTM Vol. 61, No. 4, pp. 281,2.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

As Christ's humanity after the union does not subsist apart and separately but in the Word by whom it was assumed, so also it cannot and should not be worshipped apart and separately either with latria or with hyperdulia.  For this reason the Council of Ephesus (anathema 8) and the Fifth Council (collat. 8, canon 9) agree that it is the Nestorian heresy to "worship together" and "glorify together" the Word with the flesh, because from this the dissolution of the person follows. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On Christ, p. 260.

Patristic Quote of the Day

What then says Christ, the good God, who is loving towards man? I say not unto you, until seven times, but, until seventy times seven, not setting a number here, but what is infinite and perpetual and forever. For even as ten thousand times signifies often, so here too. For by saying, The barren has borne seven, 1 Samuel 2:5 the Scripture means many. So that He has not limited the forgiveness by a number, but has declared that it is to be perpetual and forever. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 61 on St. Matthew

David's Animation

David submitted a hand-drawn animation to the Undergraduate Art Exhibit at SIUE (show is Jan. 31 from 5-7), along with two posters.  All three were accepted.  Here's the animation - it took him many, many hours.  More than 700 drawings form this puppy.

27 January 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The old sacrifices in which the victim was killed are now done and finished in Christ's once for all sacrifice.  No more such shedding of blood; now the sacrifices do not die but are offered alive to live sacrificially.  This is the way sacrifices are now arranged, sacrifices in the secondary sense, by priests in the secondary sense, for the one and only priest in the primary sense has done the all availing sacrifice in the primary sense.  Lose the primary priest and the secondary are also lost.  Yet, because of the primary priest there are secondary priests.  The worst thing that can happen, then, is infringement of the primary priest.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, CTM Vol. 61, No. 4, p. 281.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

For as soon as Christ says, "This is my Body," his body is present through the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit.  If the Word is not there, it is mere bread; but as soon as the words are added they bring with them that of which they speak. -- Blessed Martin Luther, AE 36:341

Patristic Quote of the Day

But here He is devising another mode. For not him that gave the pain, does He now call upon, but him that was pained He brings to this one. For because this who has done the wrong would not easily come to make excuse, out of shame, and confusion of face, He draws that other to him, and not merely so, but in such way as also to correct what has been done. And He says not, Accuse, nor Charge him, nor Demand satisfaction, and an account, but, Tell him of his fault, says He. -- St. John Chrysostom (whose Commemoration we celebrate this very day), Homily 60.

A blessed afternoon...

...bringing the Blessed Sacrament to the homebound.  I was happy that all (even our most forgetful) tended to be in rather good shape today and said the prayers right along with me.  The drive out to Greenville passes through some very pretty country, especially all covered in snow.

26 January 2011

Neglected Rubric #whatever...

The following occurs in every Divine Service:

At the conclusion of the DISTRIBUTION or during the POST-COMMUNION CANTICLE, the remaining consecrated elements are set in order on the altar and covered with a veil.

What I find interesting about this rubric is that it runs contrary to Luther's own counsel about consuming the remaining elements at the end of the Distribution.  This is the final rubric of the service dealing with the consecrated elements!  It is not unreasonable to assume that they'd be removed from the altar, but there is no rubric that they be.  In our own parish practice, whatever has not been used for distribution is consumed by pastor(s) and elder(s) following the Divine Service in the sacristy, after the elements are removed to that room.  Perhaps when the Desk Edition appears (it will appear, surely?), we'll have more information in regards to this particular rubric.

25 January 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

By His priestly sacrifice we are priested not to offer sacrifices for our sins - He has done that - but to offer ourselves, no longer forfeited to death by our sins, but alive by the forgiveness that delivers us from the dominion of sin, death, the devil and the Law.  We are living sacrifices whose lives are poured out in sacrifice to Him where He has put Himself to receive the sacrifice of our lives, that is our neighbor in his need. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, CTM Vol. 61, No. 4, p. 280.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We must distinguish between the communication and the plenary use of the things communicated.  The communication of the divine attributes occurred at the first moment of the incarnation... The full use of the communicated properties did not follow until Christ's glorious exaltation, because in the days of His flesh, Christ did not always exert the glorious and divine majesty communicated to Him according to the flesh through the personal union, but He only sent out some rays of it.  From this the distinction between the states of emptying and exaltation is born. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On Christ, pp. 275, 276.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For evil is nothing else than disobedience to God. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 59 on St. Matthew

Conversion of St. Paul - A Homily from Yesteryear (and used again today)

Fraud.  That's what he was convinced the whole thing was:  one massive deadly, dangerous fraud.  It's not that he denied the resurrection of the dead; oh, no.  He'd go to the bat for that.  But what he specifically denied was that this Jesus of Nazareth had been raised from the dead and then glorified at God's right hand.  Nonsense and downright evil, that's what he thought.  He was neither the first nor the last to think so.  And so he worked with might and main to stamp out the fraud by arresting and destroying those who persisted in perpetrating it upon his own people.  

Until.  Until that moment we heard about in our first reading.  The light from heaven flashing around him, the glory knocking him to the ground. Utterly bewildered, he met the Fraud face to face.  “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”  “Who are you, Lord?”  “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  But rise and enter the city and you will be told what to do.”

In that moment everything, but everything crumbled for Saul.  All that he was certain of became uncertain and one thing became more certain than life itself:  the story about Jesus wasn't a fraud at all.  He had seen Him with his own eyes in the bright light, had heard His voice, had discovered in that moment the truth beyond all truths:  Jesus, the man who was murdered, crucified for the crime of claiming to be God's Son, had in fact been raised from the dead.  And not just raised, but raised in glory and incorruption.  

As he sat, blinded by the vision, his whole world left in shambles, he must have gone over it a thousand times.  He'd had it all wrong.  These followers of Jesus had it  right.  This Jesus' claims were, then, all true.  The entirety of the Scriptures of the Prophets then were about HIM and about how anyone, anyone at all, can receive forgiveness of sins through faith in His name.  

But, but, but, he'd want to argue with himself, but all the buts died before the reality of what had happened to him on the road outside Damascus.  And as if that wasn't enough, another vision.  A man named Ananias entering, laying hands on him, giving him his sight back.  And then the knock at the door.  Reluctant Ananias who knew exactly what Paul had come to Damascus to do embodying the very spirit of Jesus as he calls him “brother” Saul, lays on hands, baptizes, and gives a new life.  “You are his chosen instrument, Saul.  He told me.  You will carry His name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.  He told me.  He will show you how much you must suffer for the sake of His name, but be heartened my brother!  He HAS triumphed over death, and He is the forgiveness of all your sin.”

And so it began.  Yet he had need of more schooling, more time to grapple with what it all meant.  More time to run through the Scriptures he had long since committed to memory and to see how they were all about this Jesus who revealed Himself to him and who made him an apostle.  So off to Arabia and then back to Damascus and at last up to Jerusalem to meet his fellow apostles.

Paul, as he would come to be called, saw his whole life then as a grace.  That God's mercy and love in Christ would be big enough to reach out and pluck up someone like HIM and use HIM to be an apostle!  Who but the Risen Lord would have come up with such a brilliant and grace-filled notion? The chief opponent sent out to “preach the faith he once tried to destroy” and everyone glorifying God because of the turn-around everyone could see in the Apostle Paul.  His whole life turned upside down by the revelation that the Crucified One lived and lived in unspeakable glory, ruling over all things for the well being of His people and calling one and all to share in the life He came to bring – even those who hate and persecute His own.

In today's Gospel, our Lord speaks of how the Apostles cannot lose with Him.  Oh, they may leave “houses, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, children, lands” for His sake.  But they can't lose them.  Instead with Him they receive these a hundredfold and they inherit a life that is eternal.  He speaks there of the Church and the blessings we have already in each other as family of God.  But to the Apostles he speaks specifically of 12 thrones.  That produces a bit of a conundrum for, of course, Judas departed the number of the twelve, vacated his throne and chose rather the things of this world, and the despair and death they bring.  But whose then was that throne?  

Jesus told the Apostles to wait in Jerusalem until they received the promised Holy Spirit.  Before the day of Pentecost arrived, though, Peter leads the others in replacing Judas with Matthias.  For many years the Church has wondered about this – no ill reflection upon Matthias, mind you, but has wondered if the 12th throne did not belong ultimately to the last of the Apostles, to St. Paul himself, hand-picked by the Risen Lord and appointed to be His chosen instrument.  And here truly, the last has been made first.  

Think, my friends, of the use to which our Lord put St. Paul.  Not only that which St. Luke chronicles in the Book of Acts.  But above all, the use of St. Paul to write the bulk of the New Testament itself.  And is not this how the Apostles DO sit on thrones still, judging the Israel of God?  Their witness to the Risen Christ, what we call the New Testament, is the irreplaceable foundation upon which the Church rests.  Their words settle matters among us to this day.  Peter and Paul are not long ago and far away.  Their witness, inspired by the Spirit of God, is as close to us today as it ever was.  They still speak, and their witness, their words, still bring people to faith in what they saw and experienced:  the Crucified Lord risen in triumph over death, the Forgiveness of Sins appearing before them as their eternal justification.
No, it was no fraud.  This Saul learned on the road to Damascus.  And this the great Saint and Apostle Paul proclaimed and proclaims throughout the length and breadth of the entire world:  “Jesus is the Son of God!”  

On this feast of his conversion, we join in his confession even as we kneel before the same Crucified and Risen One and receive from His living hands the gift of His own body and blood, promising us the same forgiveness that embraced and converted Paul.  May it transform us as well that we, too, may be joyful witnesses to the life that never ends, the life that is God's free gift to all in Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory, honor and dominion with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

24 January 2011

Another Neglected Rubric

The presiding minister may conduct the Confession and Absolution from outside the chancel.

All of our Divine Services contain this as the first rubric of the service.  What does it mean?  It means that the Confession and Absolution are not actually part of the Divine Service itself, but are preparatory to it.  The Divine Service proper starts during the Introit/Psalm/Entrance Hymn when:

The presiding minister and his assistants may enter the chancel.

In the overwhelming majority of the old Lutheran liturgies, THIS is when the Divine Service begins:  the Introit!  This movement confesses that NOW we have entered the most holy place through the blood of our Lord (which has secured our absolution).  At St. Paul's the confession and absolution take place outside the great arch.  The move toward the altar itself and the confession that we have no entered into the holy of holies before God, takes place during the Introit. Traditionally in the old Mass this is also when the altar is venerated and censed.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Jesus Christ is the priest before God, he offers up the sacrifice of himself for our sake, in our place.  He alone does that, and only his doing it makes it sure and unfractionably complete.  As priest he does it for us, and in our place, before God.  It counts for us; nothing may be added as necessary to what He has done.  To suggest such a something deflects from him and denies that he alone, completely and surely, is our only Savior. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, CTM Vol. 61, No. 4, p. 280.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Because after His ascent Christ sat down at the right hand of God, being present everywhere and ruling powerfully, therefore He was able to be present with the apostles everywhere and to work with them as they preached the Gospel, by virtue and power of His sitting at the infinite right hand of God... Thus the fruit of the Lord's ascension is the establishment and preservation of the ministry.  -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On Christ, p. 246.

Patristic Quote of the Day

MATT. XVII. 22, 23. "And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of Man shall be betrayed into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him, and the third day He shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry."...And yet if they were ignorant, how were they sorry? Because they were not altogether ignorant; that He was to die they knew, continually hearing it, but what this death might be, and that there would be a speedy release from it, and that it would work innumerable blessings, as yet they knew not clearly; nor what this resurrection might be: but they understood it not, wherefore they grieved; for indeed they clung very earnestly to their Master. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 58 on St. Matthew

23 January 2011

For it is good...

Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant and a song of praise is fitting. - from the Laudate Psalm: 147:1

I think the human race divides over this:  whether it is good to sing praises to God and whether songs of praise are fitting; or whether it is one colossal waste of time.

In the Church, we have come to the conviction that it is not only good, not only fitting, it is actually what we were created for and in which we become fully the creatures God made us to be.  Homo adorans alone is fully man.  To stand coram Deo and extoll His gifts - this is the greatest joy that a human being can know and in doing so, one becomes the human creature God Himself created rather than in the stingy silence that refuses to acknowledge gift and Giver in musical strains - the image of how we were corrupted by Satan.

A Triad of Divine Services

This week will find the St. Paul's family celebrating the joys of:

St. Timothy (Monday, January 24) - 6 p.m. Divine Service
Conversion of St. Paul (Tuesday, January 25) - 6 p.m. Divine Service
St. Titus (Wednesday, January 26) - 6 p.m. Divine Service

If you can join us for these festival days, please do!

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

Neglected Rubric

Altar Book, p. xx:

"Any psalm can be sung to any tone.  It is best, however, that the tone, which can range from cheerful and bright to somber and austere, be appropriate to the text."

My interpretation of this rubric:

More towards cheerful and bright - A-F. I, J
More towards somber and austere - G-H, K

I'd also add that to me the simplest tones are these:

A, D, E, G, H, and I.

P.S.  It would have been a great service if LSB had noted which Psalms end up having an even number of divisions, so that the double-Psalm tones could gain wider currency.  I have noted where they occur in Treasury; that doesn't help for Introits and such.

22 January 2011

Divine Service

was a joy tonight.  Pr. Gleason preached powerfully on our OT reading about Naaman and used it to unfold for us the nature of faith taking God as His Word, even when it seems silly to fallen, human reason.  The Lord is always far wiser than we are!  Carlo brought to God (and to us as a side benefit) his beautiful music - as usual.  And best of all, our Lord Jesus delivered into our mouths His body and blood for our forgiveness, life, and salvation.  We had as visitors tonight the reporter, Andy (and I assume his wife), who did the piece on St. Paul's back at the end of December for the Alton Telegraph.  He said:  "You all give the full load."  He appreciated the beauty of the chanting and the singing and such, but above all the beauty of the fullness of divine truth which every Divine Service rejoices to confess.  As he was leaving, Pastor Baker (THANK YOU!) gave me a copy of *Natural Law:  A Lutheran Reappraisal* which I've only begun to plough into, but have found to be absolutely outstanding so far.  Folks still commented upon the beauty of Pr. Gleason's work on the stained glass.  Yes, a joyous Divine Service indeed - and tomorrow early we'll have the joy of the TSP children adding their gifts to our praise of the glorious Trinity as He gives to us His gifts!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The priestly people are priestly coram Deo.  Among them there are priests distinct from them, made so, consecrated by the Lord.  There is no individual priest who has not been made a priest by the Lord.  Priests are only from the Lord toward the Lord.  They are ordained according to His mandate and institution, and thereby they are given what they are there for, and that is what they do toward the Lord on behalf of His people.  They do toward His people only what the Lord does with them, as His instruments for the Means of Grace which make, restore, and keep them as His people, holy people, priestly kingdom, which, because it is priestly, is never individual or lateral. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, CTM,  Vol. 61, No. 4, p. 279.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

So, then, we are sinners in ourselves; we are righteous in Christ.  We are weak in ourselves; we are strong in Christ.  We are needy in ourselves; we are rich in Christ.  "As having nothing, yet possessing all things." --Blessed Johann Gerhard, On Christ, p. 188.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For the Scriptures speak of two advents of Christ, both this that is past, and that which is to come; and declaring these Paul said, The grace of God, that brings salvation, has appeared, teaching us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, and righteously, and godly. Behold the one, hear how he declares the other also; for having said these things, he added, Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 57 on St. Matthew

21 January 2011

The Uncertain Moment

A fellow who works out at the gym often the same time I do, but who is rather private and never seems interested in chat (I'm actually the same way:  there to work out and on a schedule; not to socialize) gave me pause.  Today after I finished up, showered, and was out in the lobby waiting for Cindi, I noticed when he came out because he stopped nearly beside me.  I was busy reading email, and glanced up to see him doing the same thing.  He ended up sitting down across from me and appeared to read and re-read his message.  I thought with a shock:  he looks like he's about to cry.  He heaved a sigh or two as though holding it in.  He never looked up.  I tried to make eye contact - I figure if he did, I'd ask if he were okay; it would be an invitation of sorts to speak of the sorrow.  But he never did.  Eyes averted, he finally he got up and slowly walked out of the Y. And I was so torn.  Is he the sort that would have hated that someone noticed?  That he was obvious in his grief over whatever news that message brought him?  Or would he have appreciated and been comforted that a stranger noticed and spoke to him about it?  Or was I having a flight of fancy and simply filling in details out of my own imagination? I didn't and I don't know.  I usually err on the side of privacy (that's my application of the old "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" - for I am, despite this blog, an intensely private person), but in reflection I think it was the wrong thing.  I'm going to ask him next time I see him how he's doing and mention that I wanted to ask him last time, but also wanted to respect his privacy.


So, we're driving home from a nice shared lunch at Red Lobster, and Cindi mentions she's trying a new pizza recipe for dinner tonight.  Pizza is my all time favorite (and yes, you can make some great low carb varieties), so I asked what's different with it.  "It has cauliflower for the crust."  "What?" I ask.  "Cauliflower for the crust."  "WHAT?"  "Cauliflower for the crust."  "I KNOW I didn't hear that right."  We both laughed and she said she's been eyeing it for over a year, but had the same reaction herself.  Finally time to try it.  The verdict:  It's good.  It's not as good as Linda Sue's Pizza (with a cheese crust to die for), but it's definitely good.  And a very fine way to eat cauliflower without even noticing it.  Okay, I admit:  I LIKE cauliflower if it is doused in enough cheese and butter.  But with this pizza you couldn't actually taste it at all - no cabbagy smell even.  Now, the so-called garlic bread sticks (also made of cauliflower) did indeed leave a little something to be desired.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

There are only priests if there are also those who are not priests.  If everyone is a priest, no one is a priest.  "Universal priesthood" is then a self-contradictory term. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, CTM 61:4, p. 278.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Just as divine and human things are predicated about Christ because of the personal union of the two natures in Christ, so also through the spiritual union of God and the faithful soul, and Christ and the Church, become one mystical thing, "one spirit" (1 Cor. 6:17), about which both human and divine things are predicated... Through this mystical exchange, Christ transfers our sins to Himself and grants His righteousness to us through faith.  This is not a bare and verbal predication, but a most effective and, so to speak, most real imputation. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On Christ, , p. 187.

Patristic Quote of the Day

"Hear ye Him." So that although He choose to be crucified, you are not to oppose Him. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily 56 on St. Matthew

Haircut Day!

I keep trying to talk her into cutting my hair each week, but Cindi insists that every other week is enough.

For years I was dissatisfied with the stupid stuff - I've got more cowlicks than you can shake a stick at.  In the front, in the back, everywhere! Stubborn hair that goes every which way.  FINALLY came across a hair cut I could live with - the way I've worn it now for years.  Very short.  Basically don't have to think about it at all and that's what I love about it.  Best of all is that Cindi cuts it - quite a savings over the years.

So why would I want it cut each week?

The alien invaders!  They're moving in and taking over and they add their own peculiarity:  in addition to not matching in color, they are coarse and stand straight out.  MOW THEM DOWN is my solution.  I see them standing at attention a week after a haircut.  Cindi insists they're just fine.  I like it when the suckers are simply plowed under...  So I'm feeling rather content this a.m., having swept up those puppies and deposited them in the trash - where they belong.  :)

19 January 2011

And a bit more even...

Commandment five commands us not to hurt or harm our neighbor in his body.  The thieves in the Good Samaritan parable come to mind.  They pounded on him and left him naked and half dead.  Threw him out as a piece of human garbage after they were done with what they could take from him.  We get that keeping of the commandment.  Bad idea.  Don't pound on people.

But Jesus pushes further with the behavior of the priest and the levite - both of whom cross to the other side of the road.  How many times have we walked that way with them?  And why?  Fear.  Is it a set up?  What will happen if I get involved?  *I* could get hurt.

Along comes the Good Samaritan.  He not only didn't hurt or harm us in our body, but He helped and supported us in every physical need.  Is there a physical need greater than release from death?  And He's come to provide that.  Did it hurt Him?  Sure did.  Cross and all that.  Yet thereby He pardons our sins (though we regard him as the enemy!) and He provides for our care and nurture in the Church and He grants us the healing that lands in resurrection along with Him.

This is the life He reaches us:  a life without fear!  What's to fear?  Our sins, forgiven by His blood.  Our death, destroy by His death.  Our eternal life, assured.  And His heart of compassion toward the man, woman, child in need - He reaches us as our own.

A bit more from today's Catechesis...

The fourth commandment confronts us with the word "authorities."  "We should fear and love God so that we do not despise our parents and other authorities."  Let us make no mistake about the contempt with which the old Adam in us despises every authority - and fears it!  For he sees it as his rival.  He wants to be THE authority:  "I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it."  Authority for him can only be viewed as a rival that needs to be destroyed.

And yet how far this darkness is from the Light of God's love!  Our loving God provides authorities in our lives to SERVE us, to BLESS us, indeed to FREE us.  The old Adam is convinced freedom is constituted in nothing interfering with him doing whatever he wants to do; and he is blind as a bat to the fact that such "freedom" has left him utterly enslaved to his own passions.  Free?  He's not free at all!  Our loving God provides authorities in our lives that we might discover that true freedom is not found in some vicious autonomy; it is found in SERVING.

When we come to see the authorities in our lives as masks of God Himself, in which He is at work to bless us, how transformed becomes our view of them!  And the call to honor them, serve and obey, love and cherish them takes on a whole new light.  We know Him who meets us in them.  His hands bear the scars of His service to us!

It should go without saying that since those in authority remain sinners, they sometimes forget that they are there to serve and bless and so it is entirely possible for them to fail in the task given and become little autocrats themselves.  Even then, the Catechism teaches us to honor the office, even if the person who holds it is less than honorable in their actions, to honor the office they hold and recognize what God intended it to be.

Certainly Scripture teaches a clear limit on authorities:  we must obey God rather than man.  Yet wherever we can obey without disobeying God, we will find the authority is a gift indeed!  Here God gives us the gift of an arena where the old Adam gets to be done to death and the new self learns to arise and live in joyous service, receiving blessing from the hands of God.

When we study Luke 2, we see what is perhaps the most amazing honoring of authority that ever occurred.  God in the flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ, the freest man who ever lived - indeed, the only true free one - submits Himself to his Mother and foster-father.  Could God teach us any more clearly how wrong we are in our fear of authority?  If GOD honors the authority thusly, how can we not?

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

AC XIV is understood correctly when it is understood as it was understood by those who wrote it, and as they acted according to what it confessed, and as is evidenced by the anthesis.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Logia VI:3 p. 29.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

What greater example of humility is there than that the Most High came down and assumed our mud into the unity of His person?  Thereby He confounds all our arrogance. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On Christ, p. 144.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For if upon a king's promising you to furnish your daily food out of his own stores, you would be of good hope for the future; much more, when God gives, and all things pour upon you as out of fountains, should you be freed from all anxiety. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 55 on St. Matthew

18 January 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Where God locates his name, there he is bound to be.  He cannot evacuate his name.  What and whom he puts his name on are his.  Where his name is, there is prayer welling out of it, inexhaustibly.  How inexhaustibly the history of the liturgy of Baptism shows abundantly. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Holy Baptism, p. 5.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Not that we offer the sacrament, but that by our praise, prayer, and sacrifice we move him and give him occasion to offer himself for us in heaven and ourselves with him.  -- Blessed Martin Luther, Treasury, p. 1129.

Patristic Quote of the Day

And I say unto you, You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church;  that is, on the faith of his confession.  -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 54 on St. Matthew

17 January 2011

Tomorrow: Confession of St. Peter

and that means Divine Service at St. Paul's at 6 p.m.  Join us if you can!

At the name of Jesus
Ev'ry knee shall bow,
Ev'ry tongue confess Him,
King of glory now.
'Tis the Father's pleasure
We should call Him Lord,
Who from the beginning
Was the mighty Word!
LSB 512:1

Reminder to St. Paul Members

During Epiphany it is appropriate to have your house blessed.  Our LSB Agenda has a beautiful rite for this, which I am happy to use.  I'm going to be blessing one tomorrow, and would be happy to bless yours.  Just let me know!

How Pr. Peters

broke the Eucharistic fast.  PRICELESS.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Faith has nothing to speak apart from what it is given.  What it is given is everything and always more.  It is impossible to add them up.  The opposite of this is paying attention to ourselves.  The opposite of faith is unbelief which refuses to receive every good from God.  A god from whom gifts are not received is an idol.  "It keeps account." -- Dr. Norman Nagel, CJ July 1992, p. 230.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

It was fitting that as the creating and shaping belong to Him [the Word], the re-creating and reshaping belong to Him, and that what had been corrupted in the work of God be reformed through Him. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On Christ, p. 98.

Patristic Quote of the Day

And besides, how shall I give the great signs, when the little are not believed? Little, I mean, as regards display, since in power these latter were much greater than the former. For what could be equal to remitting sins, and raising the dead, and driving away devils, and creating a body, and ordering all other things aright? -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 53 on St. Matthew

Pastor's Annual Report - 2010

The year 2010 was the 154th year that our Lord Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit gathered to His heavenly Father a community of Evangelical Lutheran Christians here in New Gehlenbeck.  It was in many ways an uneventful year in the parish, and yet the Lord’s quiet joys continued to gladden and comfort the hearts of His people as we journeyed with Him through this passing world toward the age that is to come.

January found us celebrating the joys of a very brief Epiphany – the Lord’s manifestation of His glory in human and flesh and blood – it was only two Sundays and the off to Transfiguration and preLent.  On the 10th – the Feast of our Lord’s Baptism - our joy overflowed as Melony Biver and Geoffrey Kleiboeker confessed their faith in Christ and received from their Savior His washing in the waters of Holy Baptism.  Marked as Christ’s own, their sins covered in the holy blood, they joined this family of faith and the Holy Christian Church. Later in the same month, we were all shocked to discover our beloved Dorothy Behrhorst had completed her baptism in the quiet of one night:  she went to bed on earth and woke up in heaven, opening her eyes to behold to the things which eye has no seen, nor ear heard, nor has entered into the heart of man – the glorious things which God has prepared for those who love him.   I can still hear her sisters, Laverne and Eileen, shaking their heads and saying:  “Oh, you know Dorothy!”  Always so filled to the brim with the joy of our Lord, Dorothy’s approach to life was a shining light to all who knew her – a rebuke to everyone of us who spend an inordinate amount of time grumbling about things.  Dorothy would say:  “Why not pray?”

By the middle of February the Lenten fast had arrived.  St. Paul’s hosted the funeral for one time member Harry Schlechte.  John and Lauri Cunningham renewed their marriage vows before the Lord’s altar, and we had joy of Quenton and Mariya Bartony’s wedding a week later on February 20th.  I spent much of the month writing and writing – finishing up two assignments for CPH:  devotions for the book A Year in the New Testament and study notes for the upcoming edition of The Apocrpypha.

March brought us the conclusion of Lent and we entered into Holy Week.  New scarlet paraments and vestments in loving memory of Alfred Wehrend were blessed and graced our worship for the first time on Palm Sunday,  That day we had the great joy of confirming four young people in the holy faith:  Cody Hellmann, Sean Micnheimer, Hannah Stroh and Brooke Webb.  They were examined at the early Matins service and then confessed their Savior and received His blessing and our prayer for their faithfulness throughout their lives and were welcomed to the Lord’s Altar, their baptismal birthright, at the late Divine Service.  

April arrived on Maundy Thursday as we gathered to celebrate the Institution of the Holy Eucharist.  Good Fridays services were as hauntingly beautiful as ever, calling us to stand in awe and wonder before the love of a God who would embrace the suffering and death of the cross to wipe out our sin and set us free from death’s power.  Holy Saturday the joys began to brim over.  Four adults were confirmed:  Melony Biver, Geoffrey Kleiboeker, Mark Massey, and David Openheimer.  We remembered our Baptism and celebrated the Eucharist, bringing the fast to its end. Bright and early on April 4th, with nature celebrating along with us, we gathered for Easter Matins and the Divine Service.  Our beloved Carlo’s comment on his first Easter experience with us was that he’d not experienced such an Easter playing anywhere else.  Truly, it is the overflowing fountain of our joy in Christ:  from the trumpets and timpani, to the singing bringing down the rafters, from the lilies gracing the sanctuary to the triumphal strains of “Joy to the Heart” and “Jesus Christ is Risen Today.”  New gold paraments and vestments given in loving memory of Carl Steinmann graced the sanctuary and proclaimed in art the triumph of our King.

As Easter joys rolled on into April and May, the church’s first Financial Peace University wrapped up and was a huge blessing to all who participated – thanks a bundle to Brent Buckner and Gary Mueth for leading the sessions.  TSP wrapped up another year and graduation was held at Trinity, Worden.  Ascension was celebrated on May 13th and after Pentecost on the 23rd, summer was well on its wa.

June came in and things quieted down a bit.  Stacey and Geoffrey made their vows before the Lord’s altar and received His blessing upon their marriage on the fifth of the month.  They chose a good day to get married:  Cindi and I were married that self same down some 28 years before! 

July brought a trip for youth group to Nashville Tennessee to attend the Higher Things conference, GIVEN.  I no sooner returned from that than Cindi and I were flying down to Houston for the Synodical Convention with much fear and trepidation.  The moment of Pr. Harrison’s election will remain one of the most vivid memories of the year and I suspect of my life, and especially his kind and gracious and healing words that he brought us.  He opened his mouth and Scripture came tumbling out.  We were blessed indeed.  Somewhere between Higher Things and the Convention, our sister Debbie Renken completed her earthly sojourn after a long and wearying battle with cancer, which never seemed to sap her spirit – even when tired and worn, she was still cheerful and, well, just like Debbie always was.  Her body was laid to rest in the sure and certain hope of resurrection to eternal life, Pastor Gleason kindly officiating in my absence.  Vacation Bible School once again offered a chance to bring the good news of Jesus to the children of our community.  At the end of the month, Drayvin Lee Michael Bartony had his sins wiped out and was united to his Savior’s death and resurrection at Anderson hospital.  

August found TSP gearing up again, but before school started we were saddened to lose Marlene Brunnworth; her funeral was celebrated the same day as opening chapel.  Of course, we thought we had lost her years before, but the Lord gave her to us for a bit longer and we are grateful for each of those years.  Her quick smile and laugh, her words of encouragement, her cheer – they are sorely missed.  The little angel that greets you as you walk into the basement of the church was given by a number of her dear friends as memorial.  “With the angels and archangels and all the host of heaven…”  As the years go on, we realize that we know more and more of that host.  I also spent a bit of time in August working up north with a Peace in the Parish project for Zion Litchfield.

September brought joys abounding as so many, many pastors and laity gathered for the installation of the new Synodical President.  His grace, Archbishop Obare of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya preached, the Eucharist was celebrated, and the Chapel of Sts. Timothy and Titus was packed to the gills – and St. Paul’s had a decent sized delegation there.  Our own John Klinger provided Carillon music for the occasion.  At our September Voters assembly we removed a number of folks from the rolls that we’ve lost track of or that have joined other churches.  On the 17th of the month, I provided a grave side service for Carol Jeannie Blase.  The end of the month found me running up to Concordia University—Chicago, having been elected at the Synodical Convention to the University’s Board of Regents.  And as the Cunningham family was enlarged so graciously this year, it was with joy abounding that September 26th not only found the TSP family gathered at St. Paul’s for worship, but having the added joy of seeing Carter and Callie Cunningham cleansed and claimed in Holy Baptism by their loving Lord.

October was wonderfully beautiful – perfect fall weather on the warm side.  Amid the changing leaves and the bright blue sky, Jesus our beautiful Savior, reached out and marked Luke Thomas Bright as His very own little brother, making him an heir of all His own inheritance.  We closed the month with a triumphant Reformation Service, thanking the Lord for preserving to His Church the gospel of the sinner’s free justification.  

As November arrived we celebrated All Saints and remembered our newly departed brother and sisters.  Truly did old Urbanus Rhegius capture it when he wrote:  “They are not gone; but gone ahead.”  So as we sang:  “We feebly struggle; they in glory shine; yet all are one in Thee for all are Thine!”  Sausage Supper arrived on the second Sunday, and Jesus was again busy in building His Church.  He took the lovely Jamie Rose Schkade under His wing, named His own holy name upon her, and filled her with His Spirit.  Thanksgiving brought a full church and loud singing of Matins.  And then Advent was upon us, and the baptismal waters flowed yet again.  On Saturday, November 27th, Austin Leonard and Joseph Leonard were snatched from the evil one, marked as Christ’s own, filled with His divine life in Holy Baptism.  Sometime in November, Vice-President Mueller called to ask me to lead a series of Catechetical services at our Synod’s International Center each Wednesday from January to June of 2011.  The kicker was the catechization had to be completed in all of about 10 minutes each week!

December was definitely winter.  Snow and more snow – and seemingly always on a Sunday.  Yet our joy in the Lord’s Advent and Nativity waxed great.  The Christmas committee worked their usual magic and transformed the inside of St. Paul’s.  December 11th saw the final baptism of the year:  Allison Rose Haarmann, washed in the Triune name, anointed by the Spirit, aglow with the light of Christ.  The ladies gathered for their annual Christmas party despite the horrid weather; but the Daycare/Preschool’s Christmas program had to be postponed till later in that week.  But when it did finally happen, the nave was filled to the brim, and the children did a wonderful job presenting the message:  Love came down at Christmas.  In the week before Christmas, the beautiful image of St. Paul was placed in the sanctuary on the south wall in loving memory of Glenn Schumacher.  St. Paul holds a pen and a scroll upon which his Apostolic symbol is attached:  the sword and the book – “Spiritus gladius” – the sword of the Spirit, from Ephesians 6, which is the Word of God.  Christmas Eve and more snow of course.  It was perfect.  Just enough.  Not too much.  The children of the Sunday School presented us with the story of Christmas at the evening service; the first Divine Service of Christmas Day began at 11 and wrapped up after midnight; and we gathered yet again in the morning for the joyous Christ-Mass, the Feast of our Lord’s Nativity in the flesh, with bells, choir, organ:  our joy be all with music crowned; our voices gladly blending!  

And so the civil year came to its conclusion a month after the Church’s year had wrapped up.  Through all the changes, all the joys and all the sorrows, our faithful Lord continued to serve us His mercy, His forgiveness, His love both lavishly and freely.  He truly shepherds His people with tenderness from this passing age into the bright light and shining joys of that Age to come where with the Father and the Holy Spirit, He ever reigns in majesty and glory.  To the blessed Trinity be all the glory forever and ever!  Amen.

At the end of 2010, the baptized membership of St. Paul’s stood at 718.  The communicant membership at 570.  The average attendance was 311 per week (thank you, Louis Hellmann for calculating that for me!) which means that approximately 43% of our members are in attendance in Divine Service a given week 

Respectfully submitted,

William C. Weedon, the 14th Pastor of St. Paul’s, in the 19th year of the current pastorate

16 January 2011

The Kindness of a Friend

When I came to St. Paul's, I was a young man - only in my 30's.  Now that I've passed the 50 year old mark, there are times I don't move as freely as I did in the past.  Kenny noticed that it was a bit of a chore when distributing the Sacrament for me to step up repeatedly onto the main floor of the chancel from the floor of the nave.  I have to do this on the lectern side, because there's a very tight squeeze with the lectern and this allows the assistant to distribute our Lord's blood without me getting in the way.  So Kenny asked if I would like to have a step there.  I thought it over for all of a second and said:  "yes!" I wasn't sure how it would look though, for the floor is carpeted on both levels.  Well, Kenny - creative soul that he is - made it and painted it the exact color of the carpet.  I didn't even notice he'd put it in, till I went to climb up and found out I didn't have to.  I could STEP up.  WHEW!  My knees were quite appreciative.  So like Kenny to notice a little something like that - and to provide a solution so swiftly.  Thanks!

15 January 2011

Homily upon Epiphany 2

In John's Gospel there are no spare parts.  Everything has full meaning.  Nowhere is that clearer than in today's Gospel.  The wedding in Cana is not just another miracle story - another demonstration of the Lord Jesus' power over creation.  John's telling of it invests it with far greater meaning.

Consider:  A wedding - the celebration of two lives being joined in one.  And where such a union is being celebrated, there is joy and singing and gladness.  Mary shows up at Cana.  Jesus and his disciples are there too.  Jesus speaks of "his hour" and says "it's not yet."  At Cana there is water and wine.  At Cana Jesus displays His glory.  At Cana Jesus does what John calls His "first of signs."

The first of the "signs"?  That leads us to aks what they were signs of?  If this is the first, then what's the final sign and the greatest?  And when does this hour of Jesus finally arrive?  Where's do we meet Mary in John's Gospel? In fact, where are the only two places in John's Gospel where Mary shows up?  Do we ever meet anything like water and wine again? And where is there next a wedding?  Where and when and how does Jesus show His glory?

All these questions point from the story we just heard to the nineteenth chapter of John's Gospel.  It's the nineteenth chapter which permeates the story of Cana's wedding feast and fills it to the brim with meaning.

So, what do we find in chapter 19?  We find Jesus, bruised and battered, hanging on a cross, and dying.  And what was that dying all about?  Consider:  There, in chapter 19, when Jesus is hanging on the cross, we meet Mary again.  And Jesus leaves her.  Gives her into the keeping of the beloved Disciple.  But when is it that Scripture says a man leaves his mother?  Why, when he's getting married!  "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh."  Is Calvary about a wedding, after all?  Is Calvary a marriage?

Before you throw the idea as absurd, think!  What did God do in Eden the first time round when he introduced the whole idea of marriage? Isn't it rather like what he's doing on Calvary?  Then, the man was cast into a deep sleep and from his side was taken that from which his bride was made.  So, it is as Jesus enters the sleep of death, that from his side flow water and blood and from that water and blood God fashions a Bride for His Son - the Church.  The Church that is born again in water and nourished by her Bridegroom's blood in the Sacrament.  Wedding feast supreme.

"Woman," he calls Mary at Cana.  "Woman" he called Mary there on Calvary.  "My hour has not yet come" he said in Cana.  "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified" he said of Calvary.  "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to myself."  This he said signifying by what death He would die. (John 12:32,33).

In Cana, Jesus takes the Jewish jars of purification and filled them to the brim with good wine.  At Calvary, Jesus takes all the Old Testament pictures and types of the salvation of God and fills them to the full with His own suffering and death.  And does it all to win a Bride for himself, the Church.  Does it all to become one flesh with us so that all that is His might become ours even as all that is ours becomes His - there on Calvary.  Ours the sin, the death, the darkness, the judgment.  His the love, the light, the life, the glory.

And the glory that Jesus manifests at Cana is a hidden glory, the same kind of glory that shines from the cross.  It is the glory of a God who is determined to go to the uttermost lengths because of His great love for His bride.  It is the glory of love that no human hatred can destroy, that even death cannot wipe out.  A love that ends in resurrection.  That too is in Cana, for the first thing are told about Cana is that it  happened "on the third day."  Resurrection!

And so the Church has always celebrated the Eucharist as the wedding feast of Christ.  For in the Eucharist the heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, comes to His bride, the church, and unites Himself to her, so that she might live from His life.  Here He who took our own flesh from Mary in order to carry our sins to death, places into our mouths that very flesh and blood in order to bind us to Him as "one flesh" - so that as He is risen, we will be raised.  So that as He lives in the Father's glory, we will come to live in the Father's glory.  All our sins, His.  All His life, ours.

How well the hymn-writer Jaroslav Vajda understood this!  Listen:

Now the silence, Now the peace, Now the empty hands uplifted
Now the kneeling, Now the plea, Now the Father's arms in welcome
Now the hearing, Now the pow'r, Now the vessel brimmed for pouring
Now the body, Now the blood, Now the joyful celebration
Now the wedding Now the songs Now the heart forgiven, leaping
Now the Spirit's visitation, Now the Son's Epiphany, Now the Father's blessing.
Now Now Now.

From Cana to Calvary, from Calvary to Hamel.  Jesus' wedding feast!  Amen.

And the big hoot

was how many folks turned around with a quizzical look on their faces tonight when I invited them to attend to the windows - THEY HADN'T NOTICED.  They fit so very, very well.  Perfect!!!

More on the Windows

- and I hope Pr. Gleason feels free to chime in.

The vision of the Trinity is clear from inside the Church looking out; it is muddy from outside the Church looking in.  And that exactly mirrors the joyous truth that we come to know the Trinity from inside the Church, singing His praises, receiving His gifts, listening to Him speak to us.

The Holy Father door has a theme of gold, the theme of heaven.  First we see the Creator's hand:  "I believe in God the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth."  Then we see the triangle with the tetragrammaton in it:  the Hebrew for YHWH and Moses and the burning bush swing to mind:  "This is my name for all generations."  He is who He is; He causes to be what He causes to be.

The Holy Son doors have a theme of red, blood red.  On either side is the Alpha and the Omega (crafted to match that upon St. Paul's altar).  They are shining gold as well, confessing the eternity of the Son.  The center shows the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world, waving His banner, victorious in His sacrifice of love, and then giving that self-sacrifice to us in the Holy Eucharist - His true body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins.

The Holy Spirit door has a theme of blue - the color of both sky and water - and we think of the Spirit hovering over the waters at creation and over the Jordan at our Lord's baptism.  The Baptism is itself evoked with the sign of the Spirit as dove descending, again with gold work to confess His divinity.  The work of the Spirit is confessed with the boat:  the Church as the mighty ark of God that brings to salvation, a new world, an unquenchable hope amid the storm and trouble of this life.

From start to finish, the doors proclaim the mystery of the One who has revealed Himself to us:  one God in three Persons, to whom be the glory and praise forever and ever!  Amen!

To the Glory of God and

in loving memory of Albert Ernst, the windows in the doors between the Narthex and the Nave, crafted by Pr. William Gleason:

Here's a before pic:  

In My Mother's Womb

In my mother's womb You knew me,
Though to human eye unknown.
Yours the hand that fashioned, shaped me.
Gave me father, mother, home.

In the water You received me;
Named me as Your own dear child.
Washed away my sin forever
As upon my life You smiled.

In Your holy Word You taught me,
Showed me there the way to live:
Every breath and every moment
I receive as gifts You give.

At Your table well You feed me,
Where I taste eternal joy.
Fed and nourished by Your presence
All my days Your praise employ.

When at last from earth You call me
And I stand before Your throne,
By Your own grace then receive me
As a child You've made Your own.

And while I on earth must wonder,
Help me every day to see
All of life as precious to You,
Let it precious be to me.

Father, Source of all things living!
Jesus, Life of everthing!
Spirit, Gift of Life eternal!
Three in One, Your praise I sing!

14 January 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Gifts are best extolled as gifts when what is unique to each is extolled.  The Scriptures are intent to tell us what was unique in the Last Supper, not what it had in common with other meals and Passovers that were going on at the time.  Only at the Lord's Last Supper did he give his body and blood to be eaten and drunk. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Lutheran Forum, Vol. 25, No. 2, p. 28.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

According to His human nature, Christ lacked a human personality not because of the failure of something that pertains to the perfection of human nature but rather because of the addition of the most excellent personality or personal subsistence of the Word. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On Christ, p. 91.

Patristic Quote of the Day

But mark thou, I pray you, how when the apostles had failed, and had not succeeded, this woman [the Canaanite woman] had success. So great a thing is assiduity in prayer. Yea, He had even rather be solicited by us, guilty as we are, for those who belong to us, than by others in our behalf. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 52 on St. Matthew.

13 January 2011

'Twas one of those

run, run, run days.  But lots of joy along the way:  lunch with Fritz Baue at the Vietnamese place MUCH recommended (watch for info on his new album - WOW!); hearing the soothing voice of Dr. Stuckwisch also highly recommended; and talking to the Goosey sis, definitely a joy; and listening to Ray joke and carry on, a great joy as well; celebrating Jo's 71st with a feast by Cindi - stupendous.  But am wiped and headed to pillow time - after all, tomorrow is another day.  Gym workout will likely be finished before the sun rises...

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

In America the Galesburg Rule became a sort of banner for the apostolic and catholic and Lutheran confession of the Lord's Supper and what went with it:  closed communion.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Lutheran Forum, Vol. 25, No. 2, p. 28.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Sin does not belong to the actual nature of man but is its depraved accident, and the poison that adheres intimately to our flesh. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On Christ, p. 89.

Patristic Quote of the Day

And we draw near unto Him for deliverance from hell, for remission of sins, for escape from those in tolerable punishments, for attaining to the Heavens, and to the good things that are there. Let us, I say, fall down before Him both in body and in mind, that He may raise us up when we are down; let us converse with all gentleness and meekness. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 51 on St. Matthew

Some of Glenn's Family

present when we blessed the image of St. Paul.  Glen's grandson, Rob, (standing next to Laverne) looks remarkably like his grandfather!

12 January 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

In the Didache we see those to whom the Eucharist was open and those to whom it was closed.  There is no evidence that it was ever otherwise from the beginning. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Lutheran Forum, Vol. 25, No. 2, May 1991 (p. 27).

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Our salvation has been set in His (our Lord's) hands more firmly and more securely than the heavens and the earth that those hands created.  We have been written down on those hands from eternity, and from them no one can snatch us or our salvation. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On Christ, p. 79.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For what purpose does He go up into the mountain? To teach us, that loneliness and retirement is good, when we are to pray to God. With this view, you see, He is continually withdrawing into the wilderness, and there often spends the whole night in prayer, teaching us earnestly to seek such quietness in our prayers, as the time and place may confer. For the wilderness is the mother of quiet; it is a calm and a harbor, delivering us from all turmoils. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 50 on St. Matthew

11 January 2011

A Meditation on the Glory of the Children of God

O how gracious, kind, and merciful You are, O eternal and mighty God!  Not only did You create man in great glory, but when we had fallen, You did once more promise great glory to all who will accept Your grace and obey the promptings of Your Holy Spirit by faith and a holy life.  For such regenerate and sanctified souls may comfort themselves with the reflection that they possess great glory here in time:  sonship with God, the righteousness of Christ, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, peace with You, Your favor, grace, and love to which they may always claim a fearless access by prayer, and from which they can obtain help and mercy in their troubles.

To this glory a still greater glory will be added after this life.  When the soul departs from the body, it is promised admission to the vision of Your countenance, the fellowship of Your saints, and abundance of heavenly joy.  This glory will also be shared by the body after the resurrection, in which it will be transfigured and shine like the sun.

O my God, grant me grace always to have this glory before my eyes, and to consider that while dying, I really begin to live, that in death my misery, but not my life, shall have an end, and that I shall then pass from unrest to rest, from tribulation to joy, from anguish to supreme delight, from sadness and this valley of sorrow to consolation.  -- Starck's Prayer Book, p. 150.

Antiphonal Joy

The Savior, 
renewing the old man, 
comes to Baptism, 
that by water 
He might recover 
the nature which was corrupted, 
wrapping us 
in an incorruptible garment.

--sung before and after Psalm 93

[trans. Matt Carver]

The Forerunner John
exults with the Jordan.
When I baptized the Lord,
The orb of the world exulted,
Remission was made for our sins,
He sanctified the water.
With all things we cry out:
Have mercy on us!

--sung before and after the Benedictus

[Both from the Magdeburg Cathedral Book of 1613]

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The holy ones are the saints, the ones the Lord has made His own, the baptized.  They are holy with a received holiness, those upon whom the light of His grace has shined, the faithful who say "Amen" to the gifts given them.  What cannot be said "Amen" to in this way has no place in the liturgy, "in church." -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Lutheran Forum, Vol. 25, No. 2 (May, 1991), p. 26.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Christ wanted to deposit, in a manner of speaking, all His goods and the fullness of the treasures He acquired into His assumed human nature, according to which He is our brother and kinsman, so that it might be passed on to us and come down to us from the divine nature through the human nature. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On Christ, p. 41.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For although the place be desert, yet He that feeds the world is here. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 49 on St. Matthew

10 January 2011

Back to Normal - Sort Of

At St. Paul's, we follow the pattern we find in LSB that the Sundays after Epiphany revert to green (pre-Lent too, but that's another story).  The Christmas decorations were up until after services Sunday morning, but when I went to teach Catechism then were all down.  It is really hard to describe the change this brings to the nave.  Our parishioners comment on it every single year.  Hopefully this year the sense of barrenness will be a little alleviated as the windows in the doors between the narthex and the nave (hand-crafted by Pr. Gleason and offered to God's glory and in loving memory of Albert Ernst) go in and are blessed on the Second Sunday after the Epiphany.  The three sets of doors will proclaim the God we worship:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Yes, I'm sure we'll get some pictures up by the week's end.

A Schkade Treat

Last week, my good friend and parishioner, Jonathan Schkade brought by a copy of his latest work, published by our own CPH: Icky Sticky, Hairy Scary Bible Stories - 60 Poems for kids, illustrated by Tuesday Mourning.  If you have a young un around, you'll want this fabulously fun book to read to them.  If you have grandkids, makes a great gift!  Check it out here.

As the cover says:  "The truly weird part?  These stories are all from the Bible, God's own Word.... Best of all - all Bible stories show that God loves us and is willing to sink down into the disgusting muck with us to lift us up and set us free."  Amen and amen!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

"The holy things for the holy ones."  Thus the deacon calls to the faithful, who are invited to receive the body and blood of our Lord.  They are invited, others are not; closed communion.  A line is drawn:  inside is the joy of the gifts, the holy things, the body and blood of our Lord; outside is the Law, aiming at repentance. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Lutheran Forum, May, 1991, p. 26.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Through the sin of Adam we were separated from God.  Therefore Christ united a human nature to Himself personally, that in and through it He might bring us back into communion with God. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On Christ, p. 41.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Your house, instead of a theatre, will become to you a church, and the devil will be put to flight, and Christ will enter, and the choir of the angels. For where Christ is, there are the angels too, and where Christ and the angels are, there is Heaven, there is a light more cheerful than this of the sun. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 48 on St. Matthew

09 January 2011

Baptism of Our Lord

was a great joy last night and this morning.  The Bells of St. Paul and Pat on piano played a beautiful setting of Dix.  We got to baptize August Paul into the holy faith and bless the new image of St. Paul that graces the nave.  Came home and ate breakfast - Cindi made bacon and sausage and eggs, and we had all the kids home, except for Dean.  Then Lauren, Cindi and I helped move Bekah to her new apartment on campus.  It already feels entirely too quiet around here!  Came home, changed the paraments back to green, taught Catechesis and afterwards prepared bulletin for next Sunday to ship to Carlo and Joanie.  I *think* that means the rest of the evening is free - provided the phone does ring! And I could use a quiet evening after last night:  sometime after 3 a.m. we were awakened by a loud thunk and we looked out the window only to see headlights heading STRAIGHT toward the house.  Fortunately, the driver stopped just shy of the clothes line (a matter of feet from our and Bekah's bedrooms).  They got themselves together and drove off.  We went out to examine the damage this morning - half of a bush is gone and there are tracks through the whole yard and the ditch.  It was not a peaceful way to be awakened for Sunday - and, of course, we had trouble getting back to sleep...until just before the alarm went off!

06 January 2011

Tis with a bit of sadness

we bid farewell today to Isaiah.  We've had joy of his prophesies since November 27th.  Tomorrow we move into Ezekiel for several weeks and into Romans for the NT readings (bidding farewell to the opening chapters of Matthew and Luke).  It never ceases to amaze me how much of the Gospel Isaiah offers:  the Incarnation and Virgin Birth; the ministry of the Baptist and the Baptism of our Lord; His sacrifice as the sinless Lamb, bearing our sins; His shining victory and the renewal of all things.  I'm so thankful to Treasury for taking us through this round each year.  So many gifts to welcome and rejoice in as they come day by day!

On General Prayer 2

- it's found in the LSB Altar Book, p. 441, or in the old TLH, p. 23,24.  First, its provenance.  It appeared in the Common Service Book and Reed believes it to have been written by Seiss based perhaps on some German antecedents.  Second, its concise and beautiful content.  It thanks the Almighty and Eternal God for his innumerable blessings, counting chief among them the preservation of His saving Word and the sacraments.  It intercedes for the Church and for her mission and asks for strength for all Christians to set their hopes fully on the grace revealed in Christ and for strength to fight the good fight of faith and in the end receive the crown of eternal life.  The Lord's blessing on the nations and our country and the education of our young is sought.  His gracious defense from all sorts of perils is asked, and in a most beautiful phrase his mercy for those in need:  "Be the God and Father of the lonely and forsaken, the helper of the sick and needy, the comforter of the distressed and those who sorrow."  Individual needs may be listed.  Then a prayer for acceptance of our very selves and of the gifts we have brought and presented as our humble service.  A prayer for the Holy Spirit to be given to all who approach the Lord's Table so that all communicants receive in sincere repentance, firm faith and to their abundant blessing.  Finally, since we are strangers and pilgrims on earth, a petition that we might by a true faith and godly life prepare for the world to come and a final plea that when our last hour comes God would support us by His might and receive us to His heavenly kingdom through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  It's all there, so rich, so full, so beautiful.  I'd encourage our pastors to use it often.  The people of God will thank you for it.

Homily upon the Baptism of our Lord (2011)

The key, of course, is that He didn’t need any of it. St. John the Baptist totally got that and so was utterly befuddled when our Lord presented himself at the water’s edge. It didn’t make sense. Heaven had never been closed to Him, why it was His home! The Father had ever delighted in Him and loved Him as His only Son since long before the ages came to be. The Spirit rested upon Him, indeed, proceeded from Him before ever this world stood. So why is He there? Why does He bid St. John to pour over Him the water? Why does He stand as a sinner when He is the only Sinless One?

Our Lord supplies the answer Himself: “to fulfill all righteousness.” You see, if He didn’t need a blame thing that happened there in the Jordan’s flood that day, WE needed it, desperately needed it all.

Since the moment our first parents disobeyed the words of God, and were ushered out of the garden, with the Cherubim and their flaming swords turning every which way, we’ve been a people in exile from the home that God had planned and intended for us – the joy of living in His presence and delighting in freely receiving His gracious gifts. An exiled people we are one and all, and the longer we live in this world, the more that truth comes home to us. No matter how much we try to settle down here and pretend that this is where the action is, the homesickness grows ever stronger. This world – a wondrous world in so many ways; a damaged and broken world in even more ways – this world itself preaches to us that this is not our final, lasting home. There is another. But we can’t get to it; we can’t make it home on our own. The door is shut to us. And the way is barred with angelic swords.

And even more, it’s not just that we’ve lost a place. We lost the relationship we were meant to have. We’ve lost our Father, at least, we’ve lost His good pleasure in us. For He is holy and He does not and will not ever delight in the sinfulness that we have embraced, that we still embrace, that we clothe ourselves in. It remains eternally under His curse. He cannot look at any human being who clings to sin and defies His word and will, and proclaim that person beloved and His delight. Such can only grieve His heart and provoke His wrath.  And that leaves us fearing when we hear Him walking our way in the cool of the day.

And of course, the Holy Spirit cannot and will not and does not make His home in those who live in this rebellious state – this pride and arrogance that dares to set a puny human will against the commandments of the Lord God.

Aye, we needed what Christ received there that day. We needed it desperately, more than we could even dream or imagine. We need to be restored to our true home, to become beloved children who are the delight of their heavenly Father, and to filled with the Holy Spirit – all this is what we were made for. And in our fallen state, it was something not one of us could ever attain.

And so He came. Both into our flesh and then into Baptism’s waters. Pr. Petersen put it so bluntly: Baptism didn’t make Him clean; it made Him dirty. He steps into the water so that everything that is His can be given us in the water, and He does so promising that everything that is ours He will carry. Make no mistake about it, people loved by God: when He stepped into that water, He was embracing His cross and all that attended it. He was proclaiming that He would share our horrid lot fully in order to impart to us an utterly undeserved participation in HIS blessed lot. It was the great switcheroo of God.

Because He took all that is yours upon Himself, He really does reach you all that is His in Baptism. And please note the present tense. I didn’t say: “He reached you.” I said: “He does reach you.” For Baptism though it happens only once in a person’s life doesn’t give its gifts only once. The Word in the Water goes on giving. We don’t repeat it because it’s action never ceases once it has begun! Note how the Small Catechism put that so profoundly:

What benefits does Baptism give? (Present tense) It works (present tense) forgiveness of sins, rescues (present tense) from death and the devil, and gives (present tense) eternal salvation to all who believe (present tense), as the Words and promises of God declare (present tense).

When August Paul is baptized, then, or when are baptized, no matter how long ago it was, it’s not an over and done with deal. It’s a fountain that keeps flowing, a gift that never ceases to give, a promise from God that goes on holding you as His through every moment of your life right up to and even through death itself. You see, baptism isn’t done with you until you’re safe on the other side of death and raised in your body to partake of Christ’s resurrection life. Baptism embraces the whole of you and your life.

That means the gifts that our Lord put for you in the water are always there for you: that open heaven, that delight and joy of the heavenly Father in YOU as His beloved child, the gift of the Holy Spirit. There’s more life there for you in your baptism than you’ll ever be able to use up in an eternity.

And what if you’ve been a prodigal son or daughter? What if you’ve wandered far from the home that Baptism gives and moved into some squalid and filthy places of this world? What if you’ve disdained the gift of the heavenly Father’s favor and love and chosen friendship with this passing world? What if you’ve done like David and by your ongoing intentional and unrepentant sin driven forth the Holy Spirit so that you’re not even sure if you believe anymore? What then?

Oh, people loved by God, if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. His promise to you in Baptism stands as long as the day of grace stands. As often as you come back to Him in repentance, you will find Him standing with open arms to embrace and enfold you and renew in you once more all that He first promised and delivered when your baptism began and before you abandoned it. Do you see how great is His grace and mercy toward you in this holy washing, this blessed flood, this divine water?

So rejoice in the bright joy of this Feast, people of God! All your sin and death, your Jesus has borne and though He suffered and died, it did not conquer Him; He conquered them, and He lives forevermore. And risen from the dead He commanded the Baptism you have received: in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit! He commands it so that all that is His may most certainly be delivered to you as yours: an open heaven, the Father’s delight and joy in you, and the unspeakably precious gift of the Holy Spirit.

As His fellow baptized, made His sisters and brothers, wrapped in His righteousness, filled with His Spirit, the very delight of His Father, come and taste your inheritance today – the very body and blood of your Jesus, the joy of forgiveness, a participation in His divine and unending life, the pledge of your eternal salvation. It is the way your Lord says to you: "welcome home, fellow-heir!" And to Him with His Father and His all-holy Spirit be the glory now and to the ages of ages. Amen.