31 March 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We are not a sleeping giant. We are a raging, self-important mouse. -- Pr. David Petersen, Gottesdienst Online

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Take Christ out of the Scriptures and what will you have left in them? - Blessed Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will

Patristic Quote of the Day

God is both incarnate, wearing flesh borrowed from her, having become man, which He was not, and remaining God, which He was, in order to save the world.  -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #29

A Must Read

by Pr. Petersen over on Gottesdienst:  here.  I think he is absolutely right on.

30 March 2011

Chapel at the IC

--a blog post by Barb Below.

29 March 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The "apostolic church" is a poor church.  It has no marvelous new revelations, no knowledge of higher worlds, no possibility of proving its faith by reason.  It lives from the witness of a few men who were neither religious geniuses, nor ethical heros, nor religious thinkers.  The only authority for the unverifiable things they said was that Jesus Christ had sent them and that they were witnesses to His resurrection.  -- Hermann Sasse, *We Confess:  Jesus Christ* p. 99

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Son of God did not unite Himself with a human person, but with a human nature. -- Henry Eyster Jacobs, *Elements* p. 86.

Patristic Quote of the Day

To Thee, O Victor pierced by nails on the cross Who calleth out to sinners, saying:  come, receive forgiveness freely! - to Thee I unrelentingly pray, O my Savior:  turn Thine eyes away from my lawlessness, and by Thy sufferings heal my sores that I may glorify Thy kindness. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #8

26 March 2011

iPad2 Reflections

Love having the Treasury (PrayNow) and Lutheran Study Bible (Kindle) on the iPad... Angry Birds is quite addictive (to Cin and Dave - I'm not much of a game player)... Enjoyed NetFlicks tonight - gorgeous picture and decent sound... Rented TV show from iTunes (.99 a show) and that worked quite well... Web surfing is a bit of a mixed bag - some peculiarities that I don't like, but over all very good speed... Haven't tried face-time yet... Google earth on this thing is amazing - had a great view of Sissy's pool and followed the road back past the old house out to the road below the Church... All the card games and Shanghai and such are fabulous... In short, a very, very nice toy and occasional tool!

IE 24

Coming up next week.

25 March 2011

Well, if you're GOING to have snow in March...

...surely there cannot be a better day for it than the Feast of the Annunciation.  God's little reminder that Christmas is but nine months away!

"The angel Gabriel from heaven came, with wings as drifted snow, with eyes as flame..."

Joyous feast day, one and all!

REMINDER:  Divine Service for the Feast this evening at 6 p.m.

24 March 2011

Treasury Reminder

The propers for the Annunciation of Our Lord - tomorrow - are found on pages 1286 and 1287.  You won't want to miss them!

Hyacinths!

They're up in the garden.  I swear, that is the sweetest smelling flower in all the world.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The decline of the knowledge and study of patristics in the present generation of theologians threatens to become catastrophic for our theology unless it can somehow be checked.  A church without patristics becomes a sect. -- Hermann Sasse, *We Confess:  Jesus Christ* p. 95.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

No new personality, therefore, originated with the conception and birth of Jesus.  This distinguishes His birth from that of all other men.  Their birth means the existence of a person that before had no existence, or that had potential existence only, according to the principle of heredity.  But when Jesus was born, the Person was that of the Eternal Son of God.... The Person comes entirely from the divine nature. -- Henry Eyster Jacobs, *Elements* p. 85.

Patristic Quote of the Day

But when, on the other hand, our unrighteousness was fulfilled, and it was completely obvious that its wages - punishment and death - was to be expected, then, on the other hand, the time came during which God had decided at last to make clear His own benevolence and power (oh, the exceeding favor for humanity and love of God!).  He did not hate us or reject us nor hold a grudge, but He was longsuffering and patient, being merciful, he took up our sins Himself, He Himself gave His own Son as the redemption price for us, the Holy for the unholy, the Incorruptible for the corruptible, the Immortal for the mortal.  For what besides His righteousness could cover our sins?  In whom is it possible for us lawless and ungodly men to be justified except in the only Son of God? -- Epistle to Diognetus (cited in the Treasury today)

23 March 2011

So according to the Fed Ex website...

...my iPad cover will not be lonely by tomorrow afternoon.  I'm skeptical.  It's moved from Hong Kong to Anchorage.  Will it REALLY show up here tomorrow?  I'll let you know...

Outside the LCMS International Center This Morning

How glorious art Thou in the springtime, when every creature awakes to new life and joyfully sings Thy praises with a thousand tongues. Thou art the Source of Life, the Destroyer of Death. By the light of the moon, nightingales sing, and the valleys and hills lie like wedding garments, white as snow. All the earth is Thy promised bride awaiting her spotless husband. If the grass of the field is like this, how gloriously shall we be transfigured in the Second Coming after the Resurrection! How splendid our bodies, how spotless our souls!--Akathist of Thanksgiving

Brief Sketch of Catechesis this a.m.

On the third article.  TSP regularly has a fund-raiser in the fall in which the Magazine rep puts money in a circle on the floor and the children are given "sticky hands" and they are allowed for a set time to pick up the money with the sticky hand and whatever they can get in that time, they keep.  Sticky hand.  Meet the Holy Spirit!  He's the sticky hand of God!

The Father sends the Son, and the Son sends the Spirit, and the Spirit grabs hold of you and brings you to the Son, who will at the last day present you to the Father.

You, rather like the money, are not active in this process:  the Spirit works faith in you - it comes solely as gift, and you contribute to this faith not the least little thing.  Here is a key difference between Rome and the Lutherans.

What does the Holy Spirit use to grab hold of you and bring you to Jesus, which is just another way of saying:  to give you faith?  He uses the Gospel.  As we heard in the Scripture reading (John 16), the Spirit glorifies Jesus.  He does so by taking of Jesus' and declaring it to you.  That doesn't mean just telling you ABOUT what belongs to Jesus; that means He reveals what belongs to Jesus as YOURS.  All that the Lord Jesus has He wants to give to you.  His Father to be your Father.  His home to be your home.  His LIFE to be your life.  St. Paul said it so well in 1 Cor. 12:  "We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God that we may know the things freely given to us by God!"

A "spirit" that wants to talk to you about something other than Jesus, isn't the Spirit of God!  Remember how St. John could write:  "the testimony of Jesus IS the Spirit of prophesy!"

And spirit-wrought faith is not something He creates in you once and then He's done.  It is a gift He wishes to constantly give into you by that Gospel.  He drapes you in the promises as often as you hear the Gospel in Absolution or the Sacrament or remember your Baptism, and these promises constantly impart and strengthen and sustain faith.  Faith is never something we come up with on our own - it is not like He gets it going and then WE have to keep it going.  Rather, it comes always as His gracious gift through the Word.

So, yes, the Holy Spirit is the sticky hand of God - bringing you constantly to Jesus, as He glorifies Him and extols all that is YOURS in Him and so constantly pours into you and strengthens in you the gift of faith.  And there's always more of Jesus for you to receive, to believe, to marvel at and glorify.

"I believe that I cannot (note, not that I COULD not, but that I CANNOT) by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him, but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified AND KEPT ME in the true faith...."

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Whether a church is still a confessional church is not decided by the number of old confessional writings it still possesses but by its living proclamation in preach, instruction, and pastoral care.  -- Hermann Sasse, *We Confess:  Jesus Christ* p. 84.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Incarnation of the Son of God is the mystery of all mysteries, above and beyond all thought. -- Henry Eyster Jacobs, *Elements* p. 84.

Patristic Quote of the Day

He who seeks Thee finds all in Thee. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #4

22 March 2011

REMINDER: Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord

will be celebrated at St. Paul's this Friday at 6 p.m.

"Our churches teach that the Word, that is the Son of God, assumed the human nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary." AC III:1

From the Treasury:

For the holy Virgin is truly an ark, made with gold within and without, who has received the whole treasury of the Holy of Holies.  "Arise, O Lord, into Your rest."  Arise, O Lord, out of the bosom of the Father, in order that You may raise up the fallen race of the first man. -- St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (p. 1287)

O Lord, as we have known the incarnation of Your Son, Jesus Christ, by the message of the angel to the Virgin Mary, so by the message of His cross and passion bring us to the glory of His resurrection; through the same, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever!

Thinking about Oculi Gospel

My eyes are ever on the Lord as the Stronger One binds the Strong Man.

We can't take our eyes off of the astounding way He uses His almighty power to overcome!

For how does He bind the devil?  By allowing Himself to be bound!  Led hither and yon.  Stripped and spit upon.  Bound with nails to a tree.

And how does He take from Satan the armor in which he trusted?  By exposing Satan's lies about God by His passion and cross, by enduring the scorn and hatred, and yet loving and forgiving, pouring out His blood to blot out the sins of those who so misuse Him, despise Him, or ignore Him, and doing so without rancor and in firm trust in His Father who will raise Him from the dead.

How does He divide his spoil?  By giving Himself into death in exchange for every last one of us, by offering all a share in His unending life, His communion with the Father in the Spirit.

"He has purchased and won me, a lost and condemned person, not with gold or silver, but His holy precious blood and innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom...."

My eyes are ever on the Lord...

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Today we share the same Bible with the worst of the sects.  The true church is gathered not around Scripture, but around the rightly understood, the purely and correctly interpreted Bible.  It is the task of the church's confession to express the right understanding of Scripture which the Church has reached.  Thus pastors are helped to proclaim only the pure doctrine, and congregations are protected against the whims of the preacher and the misinterpretation of Scripture.  In this sense the church's confession is servant of the Word.  -- Hermann Sasse, *We Confess:  Jesus Christ* p. 84.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Every elect and regenerate man could, by his own will, be otherwise than he is, while it is alone by God's will that he is as he is. -- Henry Eyster Jacobs, *Elements* p. 71.

Patristic Quote of the Day

I glorify Thee, O Christ; for Thou, O Only-begotten Master of all, O Only Sinless One, wast, for the sake of me, an unworthy sinner, given up to death on a cross in order to free the soul of a sinner from the bondage of sin. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #2

One of Life's Small Pleasures

is opening a box of English Breakfast Tea for the first time and drinking in that delicious aroma.  For some reason, it always calls to my mind the smell of Aunt Emma's pantry - where tea featured prominently, I might add.

21 March 2011

Long, long day

Cindi and I were up and off to the Y before the sun rose.  Home for a power-shake and some coffee.  Matins.  Led devotions and taught at school (we did Palm Sunday and aftermath today).  Chapel at daycare/preschool (with practice for the Easter program).  Baked a loaf of whole-wheat no-knead bread that I had started yesterday.  Finished up services for Holy Saturday and Good Friday and shipped to Joanie.  Dinner (with a slice of that whole-wheat bread, bacon, eggs, cheese).  In the afternoon, sent Joanie the Catechism service for next Sunday and then worked on a bunch of Every Sunday Bulletin and got that shipped off to CPH.  Service for Maundy Thursday prepared.  Wedding bulletin readied for Cox/Mayes marriage.  Blogging.  Thinking about texts for Sunday. Supper. Church set up for Wednesday's service.  Voters assembly - at which we gave a call to Pr. William Gleason to serve as associate at St. Paul's.  Glass of wine to chill.  And now?  BED!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Lutherans know a church that does not merely happen from time to time by the miracle of the Holy Spirit coming to the words, but a church that endures through the millennia of history where the means of grace, the Word and the sacrament, have the work of the Holy Spirit alive in them.  This church has its own history, which faith reads in the administration of the means of grace.  If there is a history of the way of God's Word in the world, then there is also a history of the working of this Word.  -- Hermann Sasse, *We Confess:  Jesus Christ* p. 82.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

If no soul is saved except through God's purpose and work, according to this purpose, no soul is lost except by man's own preference for sin.  Every resistance of offered grace, every inability to respond to God's call, all apathy with respect to spiritual things, comes from man's own powers, and not from God's purposes. -- Henry Eyster Jacobs, *Elements* p. 71.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Blessed is he who loves repentance, which saves all sinners, and does not delight in sin, that he might not appear ungrateful before God our Savior. -- St. Ephraim, the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #1

20 March 2011

Reminiscere

Beautiful liturgy this morning - thanks, Zach - and proclamation of mercy - thanks, Pr. Gleason!  This afternoon we celebrate Bekah's 20th birthday (which actually falls tomorrow).  At Jimbo's prompting (on Facebook), I made up some of the no-knead bread.  Wow.  It really was simple and it looks delicious.  Cindi's working on talapia, scallops, Peggy's creamed corn, mushrooms, baked taters, salad, fruit platter, salad, black-berry cobbler and, um, hotdogs.  Don't ask...  Anywho, smelling mighty fine.  Dean and Lauren are in route and Jo and Dave due shortly.  Then we'll sit down to feast and thank God for 20 years of life for my youngest.  As of tomorrow, I am no longer father of a teen.  That feels really weird after all these years.

19 March 2011

From a Lenten Prayer - Starck's Prayer Book

Oh, how great is Your unspeakable mercy!  The Holy One bears my unholiness; the Perfect One, my wickedness; the Innocent One, my guilt. My sins were laid on You so that Your righteousness could be laid on me....

The Israelites were free from all guilt and punishment when in faith they brought a lamb for sacrifice before God and beheld the shedding of its warm blood.  So I, too, know that I have been pardon and reconciled to God, when I believe that You, O Jesus, the Lamb of God without spot or blemish, have been slain for me and have poured out Your heart's blood for me in abundance.  Your blood is the true sacrificial blood, the blood of reconciliation, the blood of purification, the blood of atonement.....

In the terror of my sins, I flee to Your wounds.  When my conscience fills me with fear, I will receive Your blood as my ransom.  Yes, in my dying hour I desire to know nothing but You, O Jesus.  Your holy name, O Jesus, shall be my last word.  Your bleeding image, my last thought.  Your last word from the cross, my last sigh in death.  With You I will say:  "Father, in Your hands, I commit my spirit."  In that last hour, Jesus, be my comfort, my joy, my consolation, my defense.  Amen.  (pp. 77-79)

Interesting Article

by Dr. Meilaender on the general nature of Lutheran catholicism:

http://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/01/the-catholic-i-am

HT to Pr. Tibbetts, who drew attention to it on ALPB Forum.

Lenten Spring at St. Paul's






New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Confession of faith not only unites us with those who today confess with us the true faith, but also with those who confessed it before us, and with those of coming generations who will confess it after us.  To the catholicity that is not limited by space (ubique) belongs the catholicity that is not limited by time (semper).  This finds expression in the fact that the Lutheran Confessions always emphasize most strongly that they are not proclaiming anything new, but the same old truth. -- Hermann Sasse, *We Confess:  Jesus Christ* p. 81.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Even then, while God was reconciled to all men in Christ, He was reconciled to none outside of Christ.  All were forgiven in Christ; none were forgiven outside of Christ.  -- H. E. Jacobs, *Elements*, p. 70.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Do you see His own proper power again? Do you see how those other things also were spoken for condescension? And not with those men only did He promise to be, but also with all that believe after them. For plainly the apostles were not to remain here unto the end of the world; but he speaks to the believers as to one body. For tell me not, says He, of the difficulty of the things: for I am with you, who make all things easy. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 90 on St. Matthew

The Oops

Today is the day of the Oops in the printed version of the Treasury.  Note that the OT reading as printed is NOT the OT reading that is indicated in lectionary or in the title for today's OT reading.  Whether or not you read the Genesis 14 passage, you do not want to miss the crucial passage in Genesis 15.  I've debated copying it and just leaving it in the Treasury at that point.  Note that this problem does not occur in the electronic version (PrayNow).

18 March 2011

Favorite piece from the Concert Tonight...

...was this one.  Here it is performed by another group:

17 March 2011

From a dear friend, Pr. Gernander

An interesting comment he left on Dr. Vieth's blog that pertains to this day:


My comment is not about a present-day missionary but in recognition of someone who shares St. Patrick’s Day. On this date in 1565, Alexander Alesius died — a great Scottish Lutheran confessor of the faith. Originally he was born Alexander Alane, and as a student at St. Andrew’s, he argued against those who were expounded the Reformation doctrines. But on February 29, 1528, he witnessed the heroic martyrdom of 24-year-old Patrick Hamilton, a member of Scottish royalty who had studied under Luther and Melanchthon. Alane himself had tried to persuade Hamilton of the truth of the papal doctrines and the error of the Reformation doctrines.

While burning at the stake, Hamilton said such things as “You come forward and testify the truth of your religion by putting your little finger into this fire in which I am burning with my whole body,” and when asked if he still held to his beliefs Hamilton raised three fingers of a half-burned hand, and held them up until he died.

Alexander Alane was so overcome by this witness, and by their prior conversations, that he was won over to the Reformation. He himself was imprisoned, then escaped to Germany in 1532 where he signed his name to the Augsburg Confession. Melanchthon gave him a new Latin surname, by which he became known forever afterward. He was excommunicated in 1534, but following Henry VIII’s break with Rome, between 1535 and 1539 he was active in London. He considered Anne Boleyn innocent of the crimes with which she was charged, and in later years communicated with Anne’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, about her mother’s final days. He carried on a disputation with the Roman Catholic bishop of London on the nature of the sacraments. Following the fall of Thomas Cranmer he was compelled to return to Germany, where he served first in a theological chair at the University of Frankfurt, and in his final years as twice-elected rector of the University of Leipzig.

I love the commemmoration of St. Patrick as much as anybody, but blessed be the memory and example of Alexander (Alane) Alesius, a great Lutheran confessor and the fruit of Patrick Hamilton’s martyrdom!

Pastor Jerry Gernander (ELS)
Princeton, Minnesota

Day's Wrap

Cin and I were off to hospital early this a.m. for a procedure that you are supposed to do when you turn 50 (let the reader understand - mine comes in a week and a half).  Before we headed out, though, Cin had thrown a corned beef into the crock pot along with some cabbage, onions, carrots, and turnips.  While at the hospital, I was able to finish up Sunday's Bible Study and catch up on some email.   When we got home, dinner was smelling mighty fine.  While Cindi rested, I set to work on some Irish Soda bread (a long tradition - since we came here - only Marianne always used to bring that and we'd supply the rest of the feast).  Bekah, Dave, and Jo joined us for our Irish meal - and Cin and I enjoyed some Irish Breakfast tea with dinner to boot.  Cin needed a nap this afternoon after that procedure, so she did that and I did upper body weights and then went for a 5 mile run down to Hamel - could not turn down a day as beautiful as this!  Yes, it left me behind in my work, but I'm pretty energized at the moment.  The day will close with Cindi's dress rehearsal for the Collinsville Chorale concert tomorrow evening, featuring spirituals - no matter what she was not about to skip that.   I'm bringing that work along - we'll see what gets done.  I tend to want to do nothing but listen to the music!

Just so's you know...

...I am now the proud owner of an iPad2 cover.  Ordered the same time as the iPad2.  THAT has yet to appear.

16 March 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Where in the Lutheran Confessions the ancient creeds are reaffirmed, there the Reformed confessions of faith set down the Biblical canon. -- Hermann Sasse, *We Confess:  Jesus Christ* p. 82.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

While man is helpless to deliver himself, or to prepare himself for divine grace, or even to respond to this grace as it approaches him, and thus his acceptance of God's grace comes from new powers which grace has brought, nevertheless, the freedom of the will is still preserved in man's ability to resist God's grace.  All man's help must come from God; all his ruin comes from himself. -- H. E. Jacobs, *Elements* p. 67.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Perchance some one of you would wish to be like them, to hold the feet of Jesus; ye can even now, and not His feet and His hands only, but even lay hold on that sacred head, receiving the awful mysteries with a pure conscience. But not here only, but also in that day you shall see Him, coming with that unspeakable glory, and the multitude of the angels, if you are disposed to be humane; and you shall hear not these words only, All hail! but also those others, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world.  -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 89 on St. Matthew

Exposing the Lie

The lie began in the Garden with the notion that God was somehow holding out on man, that He wasn't forking over all the goodies, but holding back from him.  This suspicion and fear, planted firmly in our first parents, has been successfully implanted in their progeny from generation to generation.  But once it was exposed for the lie it is:  by the Cross.  For there is no looking at the Cross and not seeing how it reveals the lie.

Hold back on you?  God does not hold back. Not anything good.  He not only pours out His blood to blot out your sin, He not only gives over His life so that you might live through it, He lifts you up to divine sonship in His Kingdom, He gives you the first-fruits of His Spirit, He promises you a place at His table and in His home, He provides you with a life that outlasts all suffering and death, and He raises your body to immortality and clothes it in divine glory.

And this He does for those who take and nail Him to a tree.  This He does for HIS ENEMIES.  "For if while we were still enemies, Christ died for us, how much more we will be saved from wrath by Him!" St. Paul could write.

Behold, then, the life-giving Cross!  Behold, then, the TRUTH, and see.  Your God holds nothing from you - He gives you His Son to bear your sin; He gives you His Spirit to renew your life, He gives you Himself wholly.

"For this purpose I came into the world, to bear witness to the truth" the Lord Jesus says to Pilate.   Glory to You, O Crucified and Risen One!  Glory to You forever!

A Collect for Ember Wednesday

Look down favorably, we beseech Thee, O Lord, upon the devotion of Thy people:  that they, whose bodies are mortified by abstinence, may, by the fruit of Thy grace, be refreshed in mind; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.  -- Daily Divine Service Book, p. 116.

15 March 2011

Downright Apocaplytic

That's how a dear friend described world events as he wrote to me today.  And it is so true.  There is a sense of being on edge.  I wrote back, this may be the real deal ("Come, Lord Jesus!") or it may be yet another one of those falling of civilizations that has littered the sad history of our race.  The odd thing is that we're seeing it all unfold before us because of our communications medium in a way that was never possible before.  But, indeed, earthquakes, dead fish, dead birds, so many dead in Japan, and no one knowing what's coming next...it all adds to the apocalyptic flavor of the present moment.  The sense of waiting for the next foot to fall.  What's next?

Our Scriptures know Apocalyptic writing, of course, but their overall thrust is actually eschatological.  That is, they fully grant and foretell that "this world" is "passing away."  But just as the great tectonic plates slip under one another and cause earthquakes, so slipping into this world that is passing away, there is the Advent of a Kingdom which will never end.  It is a Kingdom of joy, peace, and above all, love.  It is a Kingdom that appeared in our very flesh when our Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead.  In our Baptism, we were "transferred from the domain of darkness into the Kingdom of the Son He loves."  His Church is planted into this world to be the sign and promise and gift of that Kingdom's final triumph at the day of our Lord's return.

Meanwhile, His people, His body, is called to live in this world in the peace that the world cannot give, the peace He alone can give, that is the fruit of His Spirit dwelling in us.  And that peace is a peace that faces down apocalypses of whatever scale - big or small, tsunamis in our lives and in our world.  Terrifying nuclear accidents and you name it.  My friend, Fr. Heath Curtis, likes to use as a tag in his emails a saying from Dr. Luther:  "But with a man who belongs to an everlasting kingdom all is well and it is fitting that he should dance through life forevermore."  Luther could write that a scant two years before his death.  Things were looking pretty bad then too.  He thought the world couldn't last much longer, but here we are.  And we can still dance through life - for we do belong to an everlasting Kingdom, and so "all is well."

Even when everything seems to be coming apart at the seams.  Fear not, little flock, the Father has chosen to give you the Kingdom!

HT to Ryan

for an absolutely refreshing and delightful shake.  This is a meal-substitute and so great for Lent or any time of fasting.  To make one serving:

1 cup of almond milk
1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons of sugar-free, fat-free instant pudding - can use whatever flavor you like - chocolate is great!
Handful of ice.

Blend and voila!  You have a delicious, nutritious shake.  As a variation, you can also throw in there a tablespoon of low-fat cottage cheese.  That ups the protein even further.  Tasty, but don't take my word for it.  Try it!

Short Piece

for the Lutheran Witness.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The "we" speaking the confession can, then, be a larger or a smaller group.  It can include the whole Christian church - all Christians have made Peter's confession their own - or a larger or smaller part of the same.  But also in this case the confession, if it is a genuine churchy confession, is expressed with the conviction that truth is being stated which has validity for all Christendom. -- Hermann Sasse, *We Confess: Jesus Christ* p. 80.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Man was created in order that God might assume man's nature, cover all the faults and defects of that nature, pay the penalty for all the sins and bear all the sorrows of that nature, that man's nature, thus redeemed, might rise from its humiliation and mortality, to share eternally the blessedness and glory of God's own nature. -- H. E. Jacobs, *Elements* p. 65.

Patristic Quote of the Day

And for this reason, even after this He speaks, that they might learn that He was still alive, and that He Himself did this, and that they might become by this also more gentle, and He says,  Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? Matthew 27:46 that unto His last breath they might see that He honors His Father, and is no adversary of God. Wherefore also He uttered a certain cry from the prophet, even to His last hour bearing witness to the Old Testament, and not simply a cry from the prophet, but also in Hebrew, so as to be plain and intelligible to them, and by all things He shows how He is of one mind with Him that begot Him. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 88 on St. Matthew

14 March 2011

That's My Bro!

Butch at work again.

Reminder: Spring Ember Days

fall this week on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.  You can read more on the Ember Days in your Treasury of Daily Prayer, p. 21.  What?  You don't HAVE a copy of the Treasury?  Well, Lent is a great time to get one for you and each member of the family to encourage faithful and regular Bible reading, prayer, and meditation.  Cannot recommend it highly enough.  You can buy one here.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

As the Creed has grown out of the church's consensus, so it ever and again renews this consensus as it brings it home to each individual. -- Hermann Sasse, *We Confess:  Jesus Christ* p. 79.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The world was created in order that, in Redemption, it might become the theatre for the display of God's love.  -- H. E. Jacobs, *Elements* p. 65.

Patristic Quote of the Day

These things then let us read continually; for indeed great is the gain, great the advantage to be thence obtained. For when you see Him, both by gestures and by deeds, mocked and worshipped with so much derision, and beaten and suffering the utmost insults, though thou be very stone, you will become softer than any wax, and wilt cast out of your soul all haughtiness. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 87 on St. Matthew

13 March 2011

Totally made my day

not only to have the joy of Tiffany's Baptism today, but to see Lillian AND Verna at late service.  Isn't it odd how when health troubles take folks who are weekly present out of the church attendance, you feel a gaping hole in your gathered community?  So good to see them both back again. I had literally been awakened last evening thinking about Verna and deciding that I simply HAD to get in touch this week to see how things were going, and voila!  She was there.  Deo gratias!

12 March 2011

Reminder: Day Light Savings Time

begins tomorrow.  So tonight, before you go to bed, "spring" those clocks an hour forward so you want be wandering in at the end of the liturgy and realizing only then that, yes, that was today.

Homily for Invocabit 2011

In the very midst of life, death has surrounded.  So went a Medieval antiphon that Dr. Luther formed into a famous hymn:  In the midst of earthly life, snares of death surround us.  How we have been reminded of that these last several days as we stare in shock and horror at the sad images unfolding in Japan where we still have no idea how many have died or how many will yet die from this.  It has the advantage of making us see how petty and foolish our complaining about our troubles truly is.  It reminds us of the words of our Lord that there will be earthquakes in various places, and that there will be terror and fear for all who imagine that this world is their final and only home.  “Yet once more I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.”

And instead of letting this be a call for repentance, as every disaster truly is, we instead too often succumb to the deceits of the enemy as he whispers:  “And do you still believe that there is a God of love?  Do you still persist in that delusion?  Face it, IF there is a God, he is no loving being; for what loving being would possibly allow such horror to take place?”

It’s the same words he whispers in our ears when we face those personal trials too.  Would a God of love let you or someone you love get cancer?  Would a God of love allow your child to die?  Would a God of love take your parent from you?

And so on and on he persists.  Our Lord Himself knew something of it.  For He had come wet from His Baptism, hearing the promise of His Father that He was the beloved Son and that the Father delighted in Him.  And there, driven by the Spirit into the wilderness, he sat and wrestled.  Fasting and starving.  Satan comes at him with the lie:  “Some fine Son of God you are, sir.  It’s clear to all the world how much Your Father loves you.  Left you out here in the desert with stones to eat.  Look, you have to take care of yourself in this world, because there is no God you can rely on to take care of you.  Make these stones bread!”

Weary with his fasting, our Lord refused the lie.  The lie that Satan sold us on for ages.  “No.  For it is written, man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  Which is to say:  “I’m holding fast to His promises because He does not lie.  He has not lied to me.  What He promises is the only thing in this whole world that you CAN finally rely on.  He will not fail me.  I trust in Him and what He says.  That’s what gets a person through – not the food they stuff in their belly.”

It was a wondrous answer, but Satan persists.  “So You trust Him.  Beautiful.  But that can just be words you know.  Pious talk.  Show me.  Put your trust into action.  Here.  Jump down from the pinnacle of the temple and then I and everyone will know for certain that your trust is real and that you are who you imagine yourself to be:  God’s Son.”

Again, the Lord picks up the Word to fight the battle.  “No.  I’ll not do that.  It is written:  You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.  My faith is not something that I have to prove to you, to anyone, or to myself.  I hold to my Father’s Word and promises.  They do not fail.”

Finally, Satan unmasks the hunger of his heart.  Taking the Lord to the high mountain, showing him all the kingdoms of the world and all their glory – he promises “I’ll give them all to You if only You get on Your knees and worship me.”  Do you see what is at the heart of that temptation:  all that our Lord would win by His cross and Passion, Satan offers him without the suffering, without the crying, without the dying.  But the Lord will not walk that path.  His will be the kingdoms of this world – all their glory finally is His – and yet they will come to Him as King when they see Him nailed to the tree, raised up in suffering, and dying, pouring out His blood and His life so that they can have His forgiveness, His peace, and His unshakable eternal joy.  When they see that He suffers with them.

A God of love?  You want to know if God loves you?  Look once and for all at the heart of what this God has done.  WE brought sin into this world.  And so WE unleashed death and brought it into this creation.  It is OUR doing, OUR choice as we heard in the first reading.  Every sin of our lives is a choice for death and suffering.  Every one. And what does the God of love do about it?  He JOINS US in our suffering, taking flesh from the holy virgin.  He JOINS US in our grieving, in our dying.  He takes our sin from us and bears it in His own body to death.  He does so in order to transfigure suffering and death so that they are no longer the final destination to which we are headed, but the path through which with Him we will enter into the glory of the life that has no end.  He suffers, dies, and then rises from the dead to trample death underfoot and to give us the certainty and joy of a life that death cannot, will not, take from us.

In the midst of life, we are in death.  But there is a death in the midst of which was LIFE.  His death for you.  Baptized into that death, death is no longer the end game of your life.  It’s become only a passage through which He will bring you into that life that has no end.  

In His Supper He gives you the body and blood that were for you on Calvary, blotting out your sin, as His promise that He is the God who loves you, joins you in your suffering, and has defeated your death and that nothing – no earthquake, tsunami, nuclear accident, bus accident, terrorist attack or whatever the god of this world, the liar and murderer from the beginning, might throw your way – nothing, will be able to separate you from His love.  He has already given you the Life that proved mightier than the grave, and for that, at the beginning of this somber Lent, we give all glory to the Father, to the Son, and the Holy Spirit, even as join in praying His mercy upon all who suffer at this time – that in their suffering they might know the peace that His presence alone can bring.  Amen. 

In Media Vita Morte Sumus

In the very midst of life
Snares of death surround us;
Who shall help us in the strife
Lest the foe confound us?
Thou only, Lord, Thou only!
We mourn that we have greatly erred,
That our sins Thy wrath have stirred.
Holy and righteous God!
Holy and mighty God!
Holy and all-merciful Savior!
Eternal Lord God!
Save us lest we perish
In the bitter pangs of death.
Have mercy, O Lord!

In the midst of death's dark vale
Pow'rs of hell o'ertake us.
Who will help when they assail,
Who secure will make us?
Thou only, Lord, thou only!
Thy heart is moved with tenderness,
Pities us in our distress.
Holy and righteous God!
Holy and mighty God!
Holy and all-merciful Savior!
Eternal Lord God!
Save us from the terror
Of the fiery pit of hell.
Have mercy, O Lord!

In the midst of utter woe
When our sins oppress us,
Where shall we for refuge go,
Where for grace to bless us?
To Thee, Lord Jesus, only!
Thy precious blood was shed to win
Full atonement for our sin.
Holy and righteous God!
Holy and mighty God!
Holy and all-merciful Savior!
Eternal Lord God!
Lord, preserve and keep us
In the peace that faith can give.
Have mercy, O Lord!
LSB 755

11 March 2011

From President Harrison about the Tsunami and Quake

Dear brothers in Christ,

As you are well aware, a deadly tsunami struck the coast of Japan in the early hours this morning.  Hundreds of people have lost their lives and many more are missing. As the morning progressed, the lethal waves moved across the Pacific Ocean striking other land masses in their path.  While the full effect of the tsunami is not yet known, the losses are expected to be great.

We have been in touch with our missionaries and partner church leaders in the affected parts of the world. At this time, we have been assured that our missionaries in Japan and the presidents of the two Japanese Lutheran churches are safe. We will continue to closely monitor the aftermath of the storm, and our disaster response team is preparing to respond.  
 
We encourage you to visit the LCMS website, http://www.lcms.org, often for periodic news updates. Also, we will be posting links to worship resources later today that may be suitable for use this Sunday or at another appropriate time.

In closing, please join me in prayer for the victims of the tsunami and their families. I would suggest the Litany. And let us also during this Lenten season make use of the historic discipline of caring for the needy (Matt. 6:2-4).
God is our refuge and strength,    a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,     though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.  Psalm 46: 1-2
In His peace,

Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, President
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod


09 March 2011

Reminder: Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday Divine Service begins tonight at St. Paul's at 7:15.  There is no hymn-sing prior to this solemn Divine Service.  The service will provide opportunity for any who wish to receive ashes.  Our Lenten theme verse this year is Proverbs 28:13.  Following the Divine Service, members with last names beginning A-G will provide refreshments.  Remember, if you are fasting, you need feel no obligation to bring anything.

More on the Litany

Pr. McCain has posted a helpful guide on using this marvelous prayer here.  Our Synodical President invites us to join him in offering these petitions daily before the throne of God this Lent here:


Blessed Lent from VimeoLCMS on Vimeo.

Brief Homily for this Morning...

...There's always something of a tension with hearing the Ash Wednesday Gospel about not disfiguring our faces to show that we are fasting, and then lining up to receive the ashes, isn't there?  Sometimes folk think that's what the ashes for which this day is named are doing:  announcing, look at me, I'm fasting.  Wrong.

Oh, your Lord assumes you will fast, even as He assumes you will pray and you will give to the poor.  He did not say "if" but "when."  When you fast, when you pray, when you give.  And have you ever pondered how tightly they are related?  When you fast, you free up time that you don't have to spend on finding or fixing food.  And you can use that time for prayer.  And you free up funds that you are not using to pay for food.  So you can give that away to the poor.  Our Synodical President has invited us to join him in daily praying the Litany this Lent.  Why not make time for doing so by skipping your lunch, giving that money away, and take up in prayer the needs of all the world and bring them before God and ask for His mercy upon all?

But back to the disfiguring of the face.  The ashes of this day do not mark you as fasting, for who knows if you are?  The ashes have another genesis.  Genesis three, in fact.  You recall how when our first parents had fallen into sin, God spoke to the serpent and said:  "On your belly you shall go and dust you shall eat."  Then He turned to Adam and said:  "And you, sir, ARE dust."  Adam and Eve looked in horror at the serpent as he licked his chops and they began to run away.  And we've been running from death every since.  But it is a futile race.  The old serpent can take his time.  He knows we carry in ourselves the venom that will bring us down finally - sin itself.  For that is what sin is:  it is death in hiding; and that is what death is, it is sin made visible. (Reardon)  So the ashes on your head today announce to one and to all:  Dead man walking.  Sinful, dying creature here.

And yet the ashes are always placed on the forehead in the shape of a cross to remind us that as much as our dying is a bedrock reality from which we cannot escape, there is an even deeper reality.  There is One who became our dying dust, though no poison of sin coursed through His veins.  He took that dust through death and burial and then on to a glorious resurrection and a life that never ends.  His risen from the dead, glorified dust has become the source of our eternal salvation.

Yes, you are dying.  Dust to dust.  Me too.  All of us will walk that way unless the glorious Appearing of our Lord comes first, but we can face death down through faith in Him who shared our dusty nature to make us divine, who became a child of man to lift us to being children of God, destined for heavenly glory in Him.  So you will go down to the dust, but not just to it.  With and in Him, you will go through it and be raised from the dust, glorified, to live with Him forevermore.

A blessed Lent to you, one and all.  Amen.

08 March 2011

Okay, deep breath...

...tomorrow starts out with run at Y, then off to St. Louis early to do Ash Wednesday chapel for LCEF building at 8:30 and then the International Center at 10, back home for several confessions during the late morning and afternoon, and then Divine Service here tomorrow evening at 7:15, at which Seminarian (sort of!) John Klinger will assist (officially kicking off his work here).  Nothing like starting off Lent full steam ahead...hopefully by then tummy will have settled down from the carb assault it received today.  It's protesting mighty strongly at the moment.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Dogma is the doctrinal content of confession. -- Hermann Sasse, *We Confess:  Jesus Christ* p. 77.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Holy and happy as man was when created, there were within him possibilities for the infinite development of all that the divine image included. -- H. E. Jacobs, *Elements* p. 48.

Patristic Quote of the Day

They cried out His blood be on us, and on our children. Then at length when they had given sentence against themselves, he yielded that all should be done.

See here too their great madness. For passion and wicked desire are like this. They suffer not men to see anything of what is right. For be it that you curse yourselves; why do you draw down the curse upon your children also?

Nevertheless, the lover of man, though they acted with so much madness, both against themselves, and against their children, so far from confirming their sentence upon their children, confirmed it not even on them, but from the one and from the other received those that repented, and counts them worthy of good things beyond number.  --St. John Chrysostom, Homily 86 on St. Matthew

Great Video - HT to Schütz



One way we seek to distinguish ourselves at Trinity-St. Paul Lutheran School is through a classical approach to Christian education, and that means attention to Latin among other things.  I think we need to get this guy to teach for us!

Interesting question

in Bible Class last Sunday:  can a person who denies a specific part of the Creed still be regarded as a Christian?  I thought immediately of how the Methodists (at least, last time I checked) dropped "He descended into hell" from the Apostles' Creed, and I said:  Yes.  Yes, but...

And the but is this:  the Creeds hand over the faith as a whole body.  Can you still live, if you chop off your hand or your leg?  Yes, but living becomes that more difficult, and the danger of infection runs rife - zeroing in on the beating heart.  Can a person be healed and learn to get along without some piece of the Creed's confession of the faith?  Yes, but if they suggest then that hopping around on a single foot is actually all one needs, and a whole body isn't that important and they wish to stop chopping off our feet...well, you can see where I'm headed.  Luther famously said:  Lass das Sakrament ganz bleiben - let the Sacrament remain whole.  Same for the Creeds that express the faith of the Holy Church.  Let them remain whole.  They hand over to us the faith of our fathers to us not in pieces, but in whole.

It becomes a deadly game to play:  how much can I chop out and still remain alive?  Rather we should ask:  why settle for anything less than the fullness, the whole corpus of the faith, that the Creeds witness to and confess?

07 March 2011

Commemoration of Sts. Perpetua and Felicitas

Today our Synod rejoices to commemorate Sts. Perpetua and Felicitas, holy martyrs for Christ:

At the beginning of the third century, the Roman emperor Septimus Severus forbade conversions to Christianity. Among those disobeying that edict were Perpetua, a young noblewoman, and her maidservant Felicitas. Both were jailed at Carthage in North Africa along with three fellow Christians. During their imprisonment, Perpetua and Felicitas witnessed to their faith with such conviction that the officer in charge became a follower of Jesus. After making arrangements for the well-being of their children, Perpetua and Felicitas were executed on March 7, 203. Tradition holds that Perpetua showed mercy to her captors by falling on a sword because they could not bear to put her to death. The story of this martyrdom has been told ever since as an encouragement to persecuted Christians.

O God and Ruler over all our foes of body and soul, You strengthened Your servants Perpetua and Felicitas, giving them a confident and clear confession in the face of roaring beasts.  Grant that we who remember their faithful martyrdom may share in their blessed assurance of victory over all earthly and spiritual enemies and hold fast to the promise of everlasting life secured for us through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever!  (Treasury, p. 1268)

A noble army, men and boys,
The matron and the maid,
Around the Savior's throne rejoice,
In robes of light arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of heav'n,
Through peril, toil, and pain.
O God, to us may grace be giv'n
To follow in their train!
LSB 661:4

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We trust that the Lord of the Church, who awakens the dead, can also awaken churches that are dead or dying, just as He awakened our hearts to faith that were dead in sin. However, we declare it superstition to suppose that He will produce a miracle to do what he has entrusted to us, the servants of the church, and what we in our laziness and cowardice, in our love of ease, and in our fear of men again and again fail to do. -- Hermann Sasse, *We Confess:  Jesus Christ* p. 69.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

If the clear light that shines from the Scriptures fails to enlighten sufficiently men's minds, it is because an obstruction is placed before the influences of the Spirit, as they seek to enter man and communicate the saving knowledge of the Gospel.-- H. E. Jacobs, *Elements* p. 30.

Patristic Quote of the Day

This shows both His unutterable tenderness, and the inexcusable wickedness of those men, who had the heart to do such things to Him that was so mild and meek, and was charming them with such words, as were enough to change a lion into a lamb. For neither did He fail in any things of gentleness, nor they of insolence and cruelty, in what they did, in what they said. All which things the prophet Isaiah foretold, thus proclaiming beforehand, and by one word intimating all this insolence. For like as many were astonished at you, he says, so shall your form be held inglorious of men, and your glory of the sons of men. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 85 on St. Matthew

A Wonderful Invitation

from President Harrison to join him in daily praying the Litany during Lent.  I think it is a great idea.  Read more here.

06 March 2011

Homily upon Quinquagesima - 2011

It’s not that He wasn’t clear. He couldn’t have said it any more plainly. We’re headed up to Jerusalem. And all the sufferings and glory the prophets foretold will happen to me. I’ll be delivered to the Gentiles, flogged, killed, and yet on the third day I’ll rise from the dead. No mystery in His words – just plain statement of what was about to happen. And yet the evangelist is at pains to record: “But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what He said.” And we want to say, “huh? How could they miss it? How could He have said it more plainly?”

What kept the very plain words of Jesus from sinking into their heads was their own preconception, their own idea of how things were going to be. To them it was simple: they had seen in Jesus a power at work like no one they’d ever seen have power before. He spoke to winds, and they obeyed Him. He spoke to waves and they obeyed Him. He could turn water into wine and multiply a pitiful handful of food to feed a vast multitude. He could chase demons away with a word. They seen his touch heal the sick and even seen His voice restore the dead to life. So the trip to Jerusalem had to be a continual “up” didn’t it? They’s arrive for the final confrontation, He’d show His power, Pilate and his army would turn tail and run, the corrupt Jewish leaders would finally bow before Him, and He’d set up His kingdom and they’d sit on thrones beside Him. That’s what was in their heads. And so all this talk of being handed over to flogging, to death, and then to resurrection – it just didn’t fit with their notions and so they tossed it out as some mystery they just couldn’t understand. They thought his words had to have some deep or hidden meaning; not what they plainly said.

But the thing about our Lord is that He always means what He says and says what He means. His Words may not fit into our preconceived notions, but if we hang out with Him long enough we find out that they are always true, simply true. He speaks nothing but truth to us. This past week a bit of water splashed over the head of little Claire Sievers McCalla – and the Lord says to her: “Your sins are forgiven, little one. You are now clothed in my righteousness. You are now my sister and an heir of the Kingdom that I came to win for you and for all. You belong to me and no one can snatch you out of my strong hand.” And we want to say: “All of that with a splash of water and the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?” Doesn’t make sense to our normal way of thinking, does it? But the Lord’s words are always true words and what He says holds.

Or in a little bit when we do what He says and take the bread and wine and speak over them the Words He gave us and distribute them, announcing to one and all, that this is the Lord’s body and blood, for forgiveness. Makes not a bit of sense to our way of thinking. Just bread and wine surely. But the Lord Jesus says: “No, it is what I say it is. I speak the truth and never lie.”

Or when you are facing your death or the death of one you love, and you think of the dead body and how it returns to the dust, and the devil is whispering in your ear that the whole resurrection thing is just a pretty story to make death seem not quite so hideous and hopeless. But no, your Jesus says: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who lives and believes in me will never die.” And He means exactly what He says, no matter how foolish it sounds, no matter how we can’t fit it into our ways of thinking.

So we can have some sympathy with the disciples not getting His clear words. They’re just letting their human reason insist that He can’t mean exactly what He says; He must mean something else. They’d find out how wrong they were in the days that followed. But if they’re blind as bats to what’s right before them, someone who is blind actually sees.

The blind man hears that Jesus is passing by and he won’t shut up, no matter what the bystanders try. The blind beggar just gets louder and louder as he cries to the Son of David, to the Man named Yahweh saves, for mercy, shouting out a loud ∆Ihsouv ui˚e« Daui÷d, e˙le÷hso/n me. Jesus commands him to be brought and commands him to ask what he desires. “Kyrie, Lord, let me recover my sight.” And recover it he does. His blind eyes that already saw more than the disciples, now see wholly. And the first thing he sees is the face of the Man who is going up to Jerusalem to suffer, to be flogged, to be killed and to be raised. To wipe out his sins, the disciples’ sins, yours and mine too. He sees his Savior’s face and when Jesus turns away to head up the road, the formerly blind man can’t leave him. He follows right behind, giving glory to God.

“Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened” we heard in our OT reading. Then when? “Behold your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God He will come and save you.” The blind man seeing was sign that the time of God’s salvation was about to break upon the world. His vengeance on the enemies of the human race – on sin, on death, on hell, on the condemnation of the law that consigns the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve to eternal misery. It’s about to end. And the disciples didn’t get it because they thought in the ways of power. They liked the idea of vengeance and victory – they just couldn’t fathom them coming by way of suffering, death. You see, they hadn’t yet guessed at the mystery that Paul unpacked for us in the Epistle today. That the One who came among us to save us – He is love. Patient and kind, not envious or boastful, not insisting on His own way or irritable or resentful. But speaking truth and nothing but truth, He heads up the road to Jerusalem, to do the Father’s will, bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things with a love that has no end.

He turns on its head every idea we ever had about power. Almighty power is not routing the Romans but bearing their sins and the sins of all to death on a tree, almighty power is not in showing the Jewish leaders who’s the real boss, but pouring out His blood to blot out the sins of those who hate Him and ridicule Him. Almighty power is praying for forgiveness for your enemies and securing for the lost and fallen race of man an eternal redemption. Opening up the heart of God – love itself – to humanity that we might come to live again through and in it.

“Behold we are going up to Jerusalem.” Jesus is headed that way and He will allow nothing to deter Him from offering Himself in love as the sacrifice that ransoms this whole human race. We’ll follow His footsteps in the midweek Lenten services. And I promise you, that if you go on that journey with Jesus, He will open your eyes and you will see up close a love whose almighty power will fill your mouth with kyries and glorias. “We are going up to Jerusalem.” There is a joy in that journey, people loved by God. Let us go with Him, and His love with seize us, transform us, and free us. And then we will understand, and see, and we will glorify the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit now and to the ages of ages! Amen.

04 March 2011

Saddest Funeral - with a Surreal Moment

So, when I arrive for Noel's grave-side service, I meet Marty, the funeral director, who turns out to be a fellow Lutheran.  He's a most kind man.  Noel didn't have any decent clothes (Noel always wore a flannel shirt and sweat pants) to be buried in, so Marty had purchased some for him.  So he showed me the body and then we sat and waited.  No one showed.

About five minutes before the service is to begin, a car pulled up and a man and woman got out.  They were looking for the Noel Fritz funeral. She was a second cousin, she informs us.  The funeral director kindly asked if they'd like to view the body before we began.  They said they would and then the woman blurts out:  "But that's a man!"  Her cousin was a woman, it turns out.  Ah, "Noel" can be tricky.  I should have known because she pronounced it like the word for Christmas and not like "No-wel."  So even they weren't there for poor Noel. They were embarrassed and drove off, and I told the funeral director that Noel would have absolutely gotten a kick out of that!

Come 1:00 the funeral director and I began the burial liturgy and we prayed through it.  It was a comfort to have a fellow Lutheran Christian beside me making the responses without being prompted.  But I was so sad to think of how Noel's life ended and not a single person came to his burial who knew him except his pastor.  I've never, never experienced anything like that.  I know we had some members who knew him, and who would have been there, but one had recently had surgery and the other had out of town guests that where coming in the same time.

The funeral director told me that the nursing home staff said the only people to ever visit the poor man were the pastors from St. Paul's on the monthly communion calls and the members of the church who stopped in now and again.  I first got to meet Noel many years back.  Fred introduced me.  I was taking communion to Fred at a shelter care home not far from where Noel ended up being buried, when Fred said:  "Pastor, I have a friend here who used to be a Lutheran, and he's not been to church for years and he wants communion.  Can you talk to him?"  So I made my acquaintance with Noel and he became a member of our church, and since his family had owned the drug store Fritz' in Staunton, we had members who even knew him. For a number of years, he and Fred took communion together.  But then Fred moved to a different place, and Noel did as well.  And then both moved to still different places.  I thought as I drove away what an idiot I had been not to swing by and pick up Fred and bring him.  He probably doesn't even know, and I just didn't think about it - it all happened so fast, the funeral already set up and scheduled before they even found out he had a pastor!

Although Noel was never terribly chatty for me, Deaconess Sandy tells me that he talked to her for a good long time.  He did tell one of the members of our Christian Life Committee once:  "Oh, you're from St. Paul's.  I like that little boy pastor who comes by and brings me communion."  That little boy pastor.  He became my favorite parishioner then and there!  :)   I tried to bring him communion this last week, but I got there right as he had gone to the smoking room for his regular puff - he was a totally addicted smoker.  He said:  "I'm going to be be a while, Pastor."  That was his way of saying:  "Don't bother me; this is important."  So I bid him farewell and told him I'd catch him again later.  Well, the later on will have to be at the great Marriage Feast of the Lamb in His Kingdom, where Noel will be healed and whole, and the mental troubles that plagued his life will be forever gone.

Rest in peace, my friend.  At last, rest in peace.

03 March 2011

Looking forward to

my first visit here.  David and Meaghan have already been, but tonight David, Larry, and I will be sampling the brews.  I'm sure David will have another Dunkel Bier, but I'm listening to High Kings and thinking that an Irish brew of some sort is in my future.

Follow-up:  Enjoyed an Irish Ale (tasty, but not strong) and a Scottish Ale (tasty, and strong with some flavor I could not place, but enjoyed).  I think the Scottish won the night for me.

+Noel Fritz

Asleep in Jesus.  Graveside service tomorrow at Upper Alton Cemetery at 1 p.m.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We hear many Protestant voices complaining of Rome's unscriptural new dogmas.  However well intended or evidenced these may be, they cannot obscure the fact that the Roman Church has at last preserved the ancient Scriptural creedal heritage of the church, even if marred by later additions.  One may well ask what might have happened to this great heritage of the church if during the last 250 years the Church of Rome had not been the guardian, as she was in the days of Chalcedon, of the great dogmas of the ancient church, continually reminding the evangelical churches of what they have lost or are in process of losing. -- Hermann Sasse, *We Confess:  Jesus Christ* p. 67.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Furthermore, in prior history, in this very area (namely, the land of Moriah) Abraham was willing to offer up his son Isaac to God the Lord.  Since in this Isaac was a prototypical portrayal of Christ, so also Christ especially wanted to offer Himself up to God in the very same place.  Not to mention the fact that many of the fathers held the belief that even Adam lay buried at the very same place where Christ was crucified, Golgotha, Christ wanted to offer Himself up to God in this very place in order to show that He, as the second, heavenly Adam, wanted to once more win back for us what we had lost through the first Adam. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Homily on Quinquagesima, Postilla I:215.  [Note the skull of Adam in the icon depicting the Crucifixion, testifying to the same tradition Gerhard mentions]

Patristic Quote of the Day

And he adds a reason, saying, Think ye that I cannot pray to my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. Matthew 26:53-54 By these words He quenched their anger, indicating that to the Scriptures also, this seemed good. Wherefore there too He prayed, that they might take meekly what befell Him, when they had learned that this again is done according to God's will. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 84 on St. Matthew

02 March 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is even very probable that the deepest divergence between Lutheranism and Calvinism may be best understood as a reawakening in the Reformation of the old christological schools.  So the controversy between the Lutherans and the Reformed about the Lord's Supper became a struggle to understand Chalcedon.  The question of the presence of the true body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar leads to the question whether the human nature of Christ is so united with His divine nature that it partakes of its attributes.  -- Hermann Sasse, *We Confess:  Jesus Christ* p. 64.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

To pray and not to believe is to mock God.  But faith rests alone on this:  that God for the sake of Christ, His Son and our Lord, hears, shields, rescues, and saves.  -- Blessed Martin Luther, Sermon upon Quinquagesima, House Postils I:3111.

Patristic Quote of the Day

By saying then, If it be possible, let it pass from me, He showed His humanity; but by saying, Nevertheless not as I will, but as You will, He showed His virtue and self-command, teaching us even when nature pulls us back, to follow God. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 83 on St. Matthew

If you have enjoyed

the occasional poetry I've shared by Pr. Harvey Mozolak on this blog (and his comments here and there), you might be very glad to know that Pr. Mozolak has started a blog to share his poetry and other writings (and his sermons are very much poetry!).  Check it out here.

01 March 2011

Yeah, March!

Don't know about you, but I sure as shooting am glad that March is here.  Looking forward to the time change for Daylight Savings.  Looking forward to warmer days.  Looking forward to there being more light than darkness each 24 hours.  And also looking forward to observing Lent with the Passion Vespers and awesome hymns.  I'm hoping that the late Lent means we won't have anymore snowy Sundays or Wednesdays!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

This confession [the Nicene Creed], made by Christians of a dying world, became the confession of those new peoples and the confession of all succeeding generations of the church.  Is that not something much greater than all the "relevant" and "practical" resolutions and releases produced by church meetings in our day?  Where are all the pronouncements with which the ecumenical world conferences have accompanied the secular history of our day?  The world never even heard them, and the churches have long since forgotten them.  You will not even find them in the textbooks of church history.  The creed of that ancient synod, on the other hand, is prayed in thousands and thousands of churches every Sunday.  More martyrs have probably died for this creed in the 20th century than in all the foregoing centuries of church history combined.  -- Hermann Sasse, *We Confess:  Jesus Christ* p. 58.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Only see to it that you do not grow weary in prayer, for God does not grow weary of giving.  The more you persist in prayer, the better God likes it. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Homily for Quinquagesima, House Postils I:310.

Patristic Quote of the Day

And He gives thanks, to teach us how we ought to celebrate this sacrament, and to show that not unwillingly does He come to the passion, and to teach us whatever we may suffer to bear it thankfully, thence also suggesting good hopes. For if the type was a deliverance from such bondage, how much more will the truth set free the world, and will He be delivered up for the benefit of our race. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 82 on St. Matthew