31 July 2011

No question that my 2007 MacBook

has been the best computer I've ever owned.  I still love it, and it's going strong.  BUT it was not even a year old when THIS began to happen:

No, that's not white out spilled on my keyboard.  It's the letters of the keyboard whited out - I assume by acid or something in my fingers?  Is this what excess coffee consumption does to a keyboard?  But why four characters in the left hand, but only a single one in the right (n)?  I don't look when I type so it's a minor annoyance only - just makes my computer look a little funny - but has anyone else had this trouble?  It seems parallel to a problem I had with my old iBook - the letters would literally disappear from the keyboard altogether.  I know I type hard, but really?  Any other odd balls out there that this has happened to?  I've not encountered any.

College or Kindergarten?

30 July 2011

Just so's you know...

...son by grace, Dean, can PREACH.  Great job tonight.  Looking forward to folks hearing him tomorrow!

I *think* we have most everything

ready for David's party tomorrow.  The lad has graduated from SIUE with his BFA in Graphic Design.  If any of you want to hire him, just let me know!

Anywho, house cleaned. Beer and water ready for chilling.  Cake picked up.  Low-carb cake in the oven.  Fridge stuffed to overflowing with goodies:  fresh veggies and dip, crab dip, sliced ham, hard salami, cheeses galore, summer sausage, and I don't remember what all else.  The party is at the Parsonage from 1-4.  If you're in shouting distance, stop on by, check out some of David's art projects, and sit for a spell.

One of the understated pleasures of life

is perusing a good cookbook.  I confess that I've had several favorites across the years, but the one that I've found to be absolutely splendid for low carb eating is this one.  Dana is simply a gifted writer, whose descriptions have us laughing, and marking recipe after recipe as a "must try."  I'm going to make up some of her cinnamon raisin bread today, I think.  And her almond cookies...well, let's just not even go there.  Snarf.

Dr. Grime Reflects

on LSB, five years in here.  I must say that I agree with him - it's been a remarkably easy transition.  Some of the newer stuff has already become "old favorites" (life without God's Own Child?  I don't think so).  But he's so right about the fact that any parish is destined to UNDERUSE the hymnal due to our love of the familiar.  There's a lot there and the more we gently explore, the bigger will grow our "old favorites" category.

28 July 2011

Speaking of the Congregation in her Prayers...

...perhaps the petitions for the government that appear in the Prayers of the Church would be good for us to use as tempers flare in DC:

Behold all who are in authority over us.  Supply them with Your blessing that they may be inclined to Your will and walk according to Your commandments.  (General Intercession)

Grant heath and prosperity to all who are in authority, especially to the president and congress of the United States, the governor and legislature of this state/commonwealth, and to all who make, administer, and judge our laws.  Grant them grace to rule according to Your good pleasure for the maintenance of righteousness and the hindrance and punishment of wickedness, that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty. (General Prayer 1)

Bestow Your grace on all nations of the earth.  Bless especially our country, its inhabitants and all who are in authority.  Let Your glory dwell in our land that mercy and truth, righteousness and peace may abound in all places.  (General Prayer 2)

Preserve our nation in justice and honor that we may lead a peaceable life with integrity.  Grant health and favor to all who bear office in our land, especially the President and Congress of the United States, the governor and legislature of this state/commonwealth, and to all who make, administer, and judge our laws.  Help them to serve this people according to Your holy will.  (Prayer of the Church - Responsive)

For the government and all who have been set into positions of leadership that they may use the authority entrusted to them honorably and for the good of the people, let us pray to the Lord:  Lord, have mercy.  (Prayer of the Church - Ektene)

For the president, for all public servants, for the government and those who protect us, that they may be upheld and strengthened in every good deed, let us pray to the Lord:  Lord, have mercy.  (Evening Prayer)

For this nation, for our cities and communities, and for the common welfare of us all, let us pray to the Lord:  Lord, have mercy.  (Prayer and Preaching)

O merciful Father in heaven, because You hold in Your hand all the might of man and because You have ordained, for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do well, all the powers that exist in all the nations of the world, we humbly pray You graciously to regard Your servants, the President of the United States, the Congress of the United States; our Governor; and all who make, administer, and judge our laws, that all who receive the swords as Your ministers may bear it according to Your Word; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. (Bidding Prayer)

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We learn to pray regularly by attending church regularly and joining the congregation in its prayers.  This simple truth needs to be reaffirmed in our day.  -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 179

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Those whom the call has gathered into the assembly of the church are in two species.  Some the Holy Spirit inwardly regenerates, renews, endows with true faith, illumines, sanctifies and engrafts onto Christ.  For this reason, they become true, living members of the church.  Some, on the other hand, belong only to the outward association that consists of the profession of faith and the use of the Sacraments.  -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *On the Church* p. 70.

Patristic Quote of the Dayt

And so the human race was lying under a just condemnation, and all men were the children of wrath. Of which wrath it is written: "All our days are passed away in Your wrath; we spend our years as a tale that is told." Of which wrath also Job says: "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble." Of which wrath also the Lord Jesus says: "He that believes in the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him." He does not say it will come, but it "abides on him." For every man is born with it; wherefore the apostle says: "We were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." -- St. Augustine, Enchiridion 33

27 July 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Generally speaking, prayer moves from complexity to increasing simplicity. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 178.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Therefore we should say that in the external assembly  of the church there are many non saints or hypocrites.  We should note, too, that the those non saints mingled with the assembly of the church agree with it in the profession of doctrine and use the same Sacraments. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Church, p. 71.

Patristic Quote of the Dayt

The net of faith now holds us like fish, good and bad ones all mixed together, but the shore indicates what the net of the church was drawing up. -- St. Gregory the Great, Homily 11 (cited in On the Church, p. 72.)

26 July 2011

De Tempore

In his wonderful presentation to the Deaconesses in Seward, Dr. Herl unpacked a few things that shaped Lutheran spirituality in the 16th century, and one of those was a strong sense of "de tempore" - that is, that the Church has a daily, weekly, and yearly way of moving through time and celebrating in time the great sacrifice of praise to the Triune God for His wonderful acts.

First, the daily:  morning and evening are times for prayer of the individual or household.  As we wake and greet the sun and remember the women meeting the Risen One at first light; and as we lay down to rest (or at the evening meal), and remember our own death and Christ's rest in the tomb, and how in the evening the people would throng about Him for healing, so we pray for those in need.  These are times for the reading of God's Word, the offering of intercessions, the singing of praises.

Second, the weekly:  Saturday afternoon there was Vespers with an opportunity for Confession (generally, all who would commune the next day came to Confession - the pastor had an exact count of his communicants that way.  "Announcing" for communion was a remnant of this).  Sunday early morning, the choir boys would sing Matins in the Church and an early sermon might be preached for the benefit of any domestics would had to have the meal ready by the time the family arrived home from the Divine Service.  Divine Service itself could be a monster of a liturgy - it could last up to three hours.  Not that everyone attended the whole thing, but the devout often did.  Think Praetorius' Mass for Christmas Day and you get a flavor of the richness of the Divine Service in those days.  Then a second Vespers would close out the Sunday, often with Catechism instruction attached in some way.  Additionally, Wednesday and Friday were regarded as days of penitence, when fasting and praying of the Litany was especially appropriate.

Third, the yearly: and here is where de tempore really comes into its own.  There is too much Jesus, too much new life in the Spirit, too many joys as children of the heavenly Father, to squeeze it all into a single Sunday.  So the Church of those days (as the Church had for centuries) delighted to string out across the year the various Feasts and Festivals like jewels.  Some, like the Easter Cycle, were closely tied to the weekly cycle; some, like Christmas or Annunciation or Apostles' Days were fixed on certain dates and could fall anytime during the week.  Each feast or festival arrived with its own joy, its own gifts for the faithful.

Lutheran spirituality was literally shaped in that joyous living out of time.  "Oh, it's Good Shepherd Sunday!"  "Oh, today's 'Wake, Awake, Sunday'" - you see, the hymnody and music that we inherited and that we continued to write came to fill our churches and mark the various feasts and festivals, and it would be greeted as an old friend when it showed up again on the given feast day.  Think of how we delight to welcome All Saints with "For All the Saints"; Reformation with "A Mighty Fortress" and you get the idea.

The de tempore spilled over into our prayers books.  Starck's is a perfect example.  Check out how there are weekly prayers (Morning, day, night) and immediately following it are the prayers for the festivals and such.  Luther's House-Postils came to great use in the homes on a Sunday evening, too, or other feast day, when Luther's sermon might be shared.  They were into sanctifying the DAY, not just an hour!

It's a great treasure of our Church, and a much underutilized aspect of Lutheran spirituality.  The more comfortable we grow with De Tempore, the more we realize the wisdom of the Church teaching us to sanctify time by welcoming each hour, each day, each feast or festival during the year, as a special gift of Christ!  We mark the passing of time in this world (that is passing away) with the praise of Him whose Appearing will bring in a new heavens and new earth - Him whose praise endures forever.

P.S.  And if you want to move into this rhythm in a ridiculously easy way, pick up your PrayNow app or your Treasury of Daily Prayer from CPH.  It makes the Church Year observance be very simple for your home devotional life.

Chemnitz on the Big Beef

What's the big beef between Rome and the Lutherans on justification?  Chemnitz disposes of several myths - the Lutherans do not teach that believers have only forgiveness in Christ and not renewal by the Spirit; the Lutherans do not teach that people saved by faith are free to do whatever they want; we certainly teach that faith is bound to produce love and all good works and that a faith that doesn't is just a sham.  So, what's the big beef, then?  Here are his sublime words:

For this is the chief question, this is the issue, the point of controversy, the krinomenon:  namely, what that is on account of which God receives sinful man into grace; what must and can be set over against the judgment of God, that we may not be condemned according to the strict sentence of the Law; what faith must apprehend and bring forward, on what it must rely, when it wants to deal with God, that it may receive the remission of sins; what intervenes, on account of which God is rendered appeased and propitious to the sinner who has merited wrath and eternal damnation; what the conscience should set up as the thing on account of which the adoption may be bestowed on us, on which confidence can be safely reposed that we shall be accepted to life eternal, etc.; whether it is the satisfaction, obedience, and merit of the Son of God, the Mediator, or, indeed, the renewal that has been begun in us, the love, and other virtues in us.  Here is the point at issue in the controversy. 

This is what is at stake in the sola fide.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

When we use His Word to pray, we pray by the Spirit. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 172.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Just as Jesus Christ, who is Head of the Church, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, so the holy Church, which is His Body, is filled with the same Holy Spirit that she may have life. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *The Church* p. 50,51.

Patristic Quote of the Dayt

For where the Church is, there is the also the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is also the church and all grace, and the Spirit is truth. -- St. Irenaeus, Ad. Haer.

25 July 2011

Cindi's song from Sunday...

Cindi and Carlo let loose some Handel on us.  She sang at all three weekend services.  This was from the 7:45 service on Sunday a.m.

Perhaps it was in honor of the Day of St. James, the Elder

that Dr. Carver set to work on this.  What a great service he is providing in putting these old Lutheran (corrected) texts to English and the Gregorian to modern notation.  Enjoy!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Prayer, then, is a gift of the Triune God.  When we pray, we engage the three Persons of the Holy Trinity.  We pray to the Father; we pray together with the Son; and we pray by the power of the Holy Spirit.  What we do when we pray depends entirely on what the Son gives us in His Word and what the Spirit does with us through our faith in Christ.  Our ability to pray does not come from us, but from faith in Jesus Christ and His Word, faith that receives the gift of prayer. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 167.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

She [the Church] is called "holy" because the Holy Spirit sanctifies the believers in this assembly by applying to them through faith the holiness of Christ, by working an inner renewal and holiness in their hearts, and by stirring up in them a desire for perfect holiness. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *On the Church* p. 50.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The Body of Christ, [is] gathered from many members as from many grains, ground by the millstone of the Law and the Gospel, moistened with the water of Baptism, fastened together by the Holy Spirit. -- Venerable Bede - Leviticus (cited in On the Church), p. 49.

24 July 2011

Homily for Trinity 5

[Trinity 5:  1 Kings 19:11-21 / 1 Cor. 1:18-25 / Luke 5:1-11]

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

What a bunch of hooey.  That's all those who are perishing think when they hear the Word of the Cross - the message about Christ our Lord triumphantly owning yours and this world's sin and bearing it to death on Calvary so that He might give you and all the world the gift of forgiveness and bestow upon all who trust Him a life that never ends, resurrection, immortality, adoption as children of God, and a place in the Father's house forever.  They can't but think it's a bunch of hooey.  Nonsense.  You'd have to be a fool to believe that one man's death - and such an ugly death at that - could do that.

So in our Epistle, St. Paul tells us the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing.  But though they make think its hooey and and a pile of nonsense, for us who are being saved (note the BEING!), it is in fact the power of God.  God has His net.  His net by which He gathers up His elect children and brings them home to Himself.  That net never changes - it's always the Word of the Cross, the preaching of Christ crucified, the good news of what the God Man accomplished when He was carpentered up to the wood of the Cross and then smashed through the gates of death and the grave.

God's works and ways cannot BUT look strange to us - for His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways.  And that holds not only for those who are perishing, but also for you who are being saved.

You too struggle to make sense of what He's up to.
Take old Elijah in our first reading.  He'd had a glorious moment of triumph there on Mount Carmel.  Remember how he had taunted the worshippers of Baal as they sought to coax their fake god to deliver fire from heaven and absolutely nothing happened in response.  Remember how Elijah then called upon the living God, the God of Israel, and the fire fell from heaven and consumed the sacrifice.  How all the people had fallen on their faces and confessed that the Lord, Yahweh, He is God!  Remember how Elijah had prayed for the drought to end and how God sent rain in abundance and how in the strength of God he'd run before Ahab's chariot in the downpour.  But then when Jezebel sends word that she's planning on killing him - that his life is now forfeit - he panics.  He feels like his ministry has been for nothing.  He runs away and hides and finally comes to the mount of God.  And there when God asks what he's up to, what does he say?  "I've tried to serve you with zeal.  And it's been a waste.  I'm the only faithful one left and now they want to kill me."  God's ways are not our ways.  Doesn't make much sense to Elijah.  Doesn't make much sense to us.

God tells Elijah:  I've got a lot more people than you know about.  7000 no less who have not worshipped Baal, and you're work isn't over.  Off you go to anoint a new king for Syria, and a new king for Israel, and to meet the man who will be your successor in office - Elisha - whom you have to train up.  You're not done.  And I'm still God and still in control.  Now get moving.
God's ways not our ways.  His thoughts not our thoughts.  And so to the Gospel reading where Israel's God, come down in human flesh and blood, born of Mary, does an absolutely crazy thing.  After absconding with Peter's boat and turning it into a pulpit, when Peter and his companions had just finishing cleaning and stowing their nets after that fruitless night of toil out on the lake, Jesus tells them:  Okay, lads.  Let's hit the lake again.  The deep over there.  Let down your nets for a catch.

You can see the fishermen looking at each other.  What does this landlubber rabbi know of fishing?  Peter tries to explain:  "Master, we toiled all night.  We took nothing.  Don't know where the fish are, but they're not here."  Unspoken were the words:  "And you've taken over our boat, and we're tired and we just want to go home and get some sleep."  But the look in Jesus' eye must have shut up Peter for he finally concedes:  "Nevertheless, at your word we will let down the nets."  Again, I suspect he and the others were relishing the moment they could turn to Jesus and say:  "See, we told you so.  No fish."  But you know that's not how it turned out.

And then what?  Fish everywhere.  Glistening, flopping.  The Lord of the sea had commanded his creatures to fill the nets, to swamp them, to tear those newly mended nets under the sheer weight of the gift given.  "Good things that surpass all understanding" is how we put it in the Collect today.

Peter is floored.  He falls to his knees, begs the Lord of the Sea (and earth and sky and heaven) to go away:  "I am a sinful man, O Lord."  But the Lord had no intention of going away without him.  He does something even more nutsy than telling the fishermen to drop their nets into the sea for a catch.  He tells him:  "From now on you'll be catching men.  Don't be afraid."  He decides to take a bunch of fisherfolk and use THEM to cast the Gospel net that will haul in folks for the kingdom of God!  He takes Peter and Andrew, James and John, and as they follow Him He begins to put into their hands the net they will use to gather in God's elect children:  the saving Gospel that they were about to witness and whose witnesses they would be from one end of the earth to the other.  The Gospel that is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes it!

No, God's ways don't make a lick of sense to our fallen reason, but that's fine.  He has good things for us that surpass all understanding; promises that exceed all we can desire.  And He has the craziest way of forking them over to us:  a message of a man nailed to a tree for our forgiveness; a message of a man risen from the dead as the guarantee of our resurrection; places where He meets us to deliver all that and more:  a water where sins are left behind and you are wrapped in a holiness not of your own creation, but that is truly yours for you to grow up into all your days and through all eternity; a table where He feeds into His own His body and blood as the foretaste of the feast to come; hands laid on that wipe out sins - and suddenly you're inside the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and the Father's arms are wrapped around you in welcome; words in a book that go on giving faith, capturing hearts with a gospel net and hauling them into the Kingdom.  

The world will never NOT think that this is just a bunch of hooey and that we're deluded and deceived.  You know that you are not the ones who are deceived.  You are the ones who by the Spirit's gift can acclaim the marvelous wisdom and power of God - for His foolishness is wiser than our smarts; His weakness is greater than our power - and to Him alone be all the glory, honor, and worship, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and to the ages of ages!  Amen.

Dr. Piepkorn noted

someplace that the collects in the Trinity season tend to have a strong anti-Pelagian and anti-semi-Pelagian bent.  I was thinking how beautifully that showed itself in today's collect, truly one of the greatest of them all:

O God, You have prepared for those who love You good things that surpass all understanding.

Well, fat lot of good that does a people who know that they do not love God the way He ought be loved!  But wait....

Pour into our hearts such love toward You, that we, loving You above all things, may obtain Your promises that exceed all that we can desire.

Ah, so if we are to obtain those good things God has prepared for those who love Him, then HE must POUR INTO OUR HEARTS that love - because we sure as shootin' cannot manufacture it on our own - and what is that but Christ Himself given into us by the Holy Spirit?  The Savior's perfect and unfailing love for His Father reached to us to share in our as very own, and thus we arrive at those unspeakable promises of His which give to us way, way beyond our desiring.

23 July 2011

I confess to being

a bit of a DS III snob.  Hard to beat the old Common Service.  But every once in a while we throw in Divine Service IV (and even rarer, DS V), and I hate to admit it: I like it..  Cindi just admitted as much too.  DS IV a beautiful liturgy.  I look forward to it each time we use it.  The old Petri 1531 Preface (more or less); the Kyrie that combines the best of East/West with the Christe elision smack in the middle of each response; the excellent Nunc Dimittis.  It makes for a fine liturgy and we've quite a few people who look forward to it when it rolls around.

Totally sold

on preaching from the iPad.  Did it first at Higher Things, then for Imogene's funeral, and again tonight.  Much easier to read (I set it to BIG point in the type) and backlight makes it absolutely irrelevant whether the light in the room is adequate for reading or not. A swipe of the finger is much easier than turning a page and much less conspicuous.  I should have been doing this for months already...


A big thanks to John and Karen Klinger for hosting a Mexican fiesta last evening.  John worked as a bartender in school, and he makes some fabulous mixed drinks.  Carlo, the Gleasons, Cindi and I were treated to Margaritas, Watermelon cocktails, the best Sangria we've ever had, and that's just the drinks!!!  Karen's work in the kitchen equalled John's with the mixer.  We feasted on numerous salsas, enchiladas, fresh guacamole and a mushroom and beef dish.  The Klingers outdid themselves and we all had a great time (all except for when I spilled my drink on Cindy G., but she was most gracious - as always!).

Cin made

this for lunch.  It is one of our all-time favorites.  If you crave a Big Mac, low-carbers, you will not even believe how exactly this meal fits the bill.  Oh, and after lunch, Cindi initiated me on her wii doing a fitness program.  Wow!  That totally wore me out.  I'm sweating like a pig (wait, DO pigs sweat?  I don't even know).  But I think I worked that Big Mac in a bowl off and then some.

Neglected Rubric again...

In Divine Service, Setting Four, there is the option of using a repeated Kyrie as a response to a number of bids.  We also find this rubric:

An assisting minister may offer the bids from the lectern. (Altar Book, p. 256)

On things Apple...

...this week I installed the new OS, Lion, and the cat purrs!  A few weeks ago I asked about a decent calendar app, and the way Apple has fixed iCal totally meets the bill.  I spent a few hours this week inputting data into that for St. Paul's calendar, Trinity-St. Paul's calendar and for my own person stuff.  What a snap!  And the print out is beautiful and 100 times an improvement over Google's calendar.  YEAH!

22 July 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Jesus also teaches us to pray by sending needy people to make demands on us. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 164.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Just as the sheepfold holds all the sheep - young and old, healthy and sick - so the church is the gathering of Christians, among whom some are strong in the faith, some weak, some innocent in faith and life, others stained with sin and error.  Just as wolves and other ravenous animals surround and lay siege to the sheepfold, so the church lives in the mist of wolves - tyrants, heretics, etc. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *On the Church* p. 46.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The church sails, equipped with the rudder of faith, on her happy course through the sea of this world with God as her pilot and the angels as her oarsmen.  She carries a crew of all the saints.  Amidships stands the saving mast of the cross on which are rigged the sails of evangelical faith.  As the Holy Spirit blows, she is sailed to the harbor of paradise and to the security of eternal rest. -- attrib. St. John Chrysostom (in *On the Church* p. 46).

21 July 2011

I don't think it ever hit me before...

...until the Treasury hammered it home today:  the import of Acts 16:14.  Reminds me of something Curtis said lately...

Talking to a friend today...

...about how the Lutheran Confession will NEVER be mainstream America - we can hang that up.  Our doctrine of original sin and our rejection of freedom of the will in the unbeliever already signs our death warrant.  Add to that our belief in the Sacraments - you know, like Baptism actually saving and the Eucharist being Christ's true body and blood for our forgiveness, and the word of our pastor absolving us from all sin, and well, most Americans will simply think we're nuts.  Our clinging to the liturgy (in confidence that God's Word bears fruit), our hymns filled with doctrinal content, our insistence that words actually convey meaning (thanks, Pr. Speckhard) and that we walk our Christian pilgrimage both as saints (wholly absolved and perfect in Christ) and as sinners (struggling against hereditary sin until our last breath), all these mark us as "strangers in an alien land."  That's NOT a bad thing.  It's only a bad thing for those whose hearts are set on capturing America for our Church.  I suspect we'll always be a minority here, but as long as we are true to our Confession of the faith, that's hardly a problem.  The Lord will indeed draw His children and we'll happily continue to bear a witness that is neither welcomed nor appreciated.

Mollie does it again

and I'd encourage you to read her words here on the matter of the Press's hysteria over former Lutheran, Michele Bachman.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

He joins Himself to us so that we join Him in prayer and borrow everything from Him.  He swaps places with us so that we can be where He is before God the Father. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 163.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The house of Rahab is a type of the church.  You see, just as all the citizens of Jericho were struck down with the edge of the sword, and only those who had been taken into Rahab's house were saved, so the Jericho of this world is subject to eternal destruction, but those who have come into the church will be saved from that destruction. -- Johann Gerhard, On the Church, p. 43.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The symbol of the scarlet cord [that Rahab let down] presents a sign of the blood of Christ through which the old fornicators and wicked men of all nations are saved, receiving the forgiveness of their sins and sinning no more. - St. Justin Martyr, Dialog with Tryph. (cited in On the Church, p. 43)

20 July 2011

On Sanctification and Weeding

In a discussion on another forum, I offered a critique of the Lutheran Book of Worship's confession of sin: "We are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves." Can and ought a Christian make such a confession? There is no question that we continue to sin - and 1 John 1 simply nails that: "If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves." But the question is the "bondage to sin" language for those who have been baptized into Christ. The discussion wound around to original sin and its ongoing reality in the life of the Christian. Here's the analogy that I offered:

The ongoing effects of original sin in our lives are like weeds popping up in a garden. You KNOW that they are going to keep popping up, and that every day you'll need to be out there pulling them up lest they take over. A Christian doesn't despair over the fact that they keep popping up - that sinful impulses continue to arise. A Christian knows that "nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh." A Christian realizes that he has to work diligently at putting to death these weeds lest they take serious root and spread over the whole garden. So the Christian cheerfully weeds his garden, knowing that the ongoing presence of these sinful impulses has been forgiven in Christ and that they will not be finally irradiated from his life until death and resurrection, when the light of Christ's presence will irradiate them for good and the root of sin that keeps sending out these shoots will be finally done in for good.

But if one is bondage to the weeds, that seems to me, that one is saying that one welcomes them or at least that one does not resist them: that they are allowed fully to take over the garden again. When that happens faith and the Holy Spirit are driven out, for the Holy Spirit will not remain where sin is allowed to do as it wishes. SA III, III, 44,45

19 July 2011

Neglected rubric #whatever one more time

Additional collects may be prayed, beginning with the COLLECT OF THE DAY (or from the previous Sunday when there is a feast day), followed by other collects, and concluding with the COLLECT FOR PEACE.  In choosing other collects, the liturgist will be mindful of what has already been prayed in the Litany.  LSB Altar Book, p. 346.

That is, the litany in Evening Prayer has just prayed for almost every conceivable need.  Hence, the "may" of this rubric, which permits, but certainly does not require, the addition of other collects prior to praying the Collect for Peace.  My suggestion is that if one is "mindful of what has already been prayed in the litany" one will not avail himself of the opportunity to ask again what has already been petitioned; I'd just always close with the Collect for Peace and call it done.  If by chance the litany DID forget a specific petition, the Lord's Prayer that follows will certainly cover it!

Pr. Peters had a post

this morning on the place (or not) of hymnody in the Mass (Roman vs. Lutheran).  It is absolutely true that for Lutherans, there is no final or real preference between chant and hymnody.  They flow back and forth.  A Lutheran Mass in the early days after the Reformation might have the Gloria chanted in Latin or Decius' paraphrase "All Glory be to God on high" sung in German.  They were completely at home with either chant or hymn.  The Latin Sanctus might be solemnly chanted or Luther's soaring setting of "Isaiah, Mighty Seer."  They were pretty much interchangeable in the minds of the framers of the Church Orders.

And it is one of the strengths of LSB that it is not weak on either.  True, there are tons of hymns, but we also find chants among them.  The Victimae Paschali is tucked in beside "Christ is Arisen" - and there the chant and the hymn join in a vigorous resurrection dance together.  The O Antiphons are pointed for chanting and printed opposite the hymn based on them:  "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" - perfect for using both.  Divine Service III features some Anglican chant and some German and some based on old Gregorian (the Kyrie or Agnus, for example), but also offers opportunity for numerous hymns.  The Psalms (and Introits and Graduals and Verses) may all be chanted in the simple modern chant settings popularized among Lutherans in LBW and later books.  The pastors here frequently chant the collects, preface and proper prefaces (the prefaces retain their traditional Gregorian tones).  Anywho, it is a virtual banquet of music, in all sorts of genres and from all eras of the Church's life.

What IS missing that figured huge in Lutheran musical history is the music performed by the choir and orchestra each week.  Our choir "anthems" are a pale reflection of the richness to which Lutheran congregations in years past were treated on a regular basis (at least in the cities).  Just check out this or this or this.

Still, when Roman Catholic visitors have commented on the services of St. Paul's, they frequently mention "all that music."  I haven't a clue about what the average Roman Mass in the area offers, but apparently it does not come close to offering the musical richness that our typical liturgy offers.  The full treasure house of the Church's hymns AND chant - just one of the many, many joys of being a Lutheran Christian.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The one thing that He [our Lord] emphasized about prayer, repeatedly and forcefully, was the importance of faith in Him and His Word rather than self-confidence and the presumption of spiritual expertise.  Jesus taught that God-pleasing prayer depended entirely on Him rather than the person at prayer. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 161,2.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The building of the church must be accommodated to the prescription of the heavenly Architect and to the norm of His Word and not to the determinations and contrivances of men. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *On the Church* p. 43.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Inasmuch as God commanded him, I say, to make an ark, in which he might be rescued from the destruction of the flood, along with his family, i.e., his wife, sons, and daughters-in-law, and along with the animals who, in obedience to God's command, came to him into the ark: this is certainly a figure of the city of God sojourning in this world; that is to say, of the church, which is rescued by the wood on which hung the Mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus. -- St. Augustine, City of God, Book XV, Chapter 26.

18 July 2011

So Cindi and Lauren

head out to shop and run errands, and they leave Dudly behind, locked in the kitchen.  He decided he didn't like being left behind...

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

All the praying [our Lord] did during His three years of ministry was just a prelude to His great work of intercession after His resurrection and ascension.  Since the risen Lord Jesus is now our high priest in the heavenly sanctuary, He continues His work of prayer.  He no longer intercedes for a few people at a time, as He once did here on earth; He intercedes in heaven itself with God the Father for the whole human family.  Yet, amazingly, He is also present with us here on earth.  In the Church, our Lord joins us and includes us in His intercession.  -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 159.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

"Let us do good to all men," to heathen, Jews, the thankful, the unthankful, friends, enemies, neighbors, strangers....Nevertheless, Paul gives precedence to those who are of the household of faith, because we have been bound to them with a closer tie, inasmuch as they are from the same household of Christ, and have one faith, one Baptism, one hope, one Lord, and everything the same. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Treasury for July 18.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Carnal concupiscence is remitted, indeed, in baptism; not so that it is put out of existence, but so that it is not to be imputed for sin.  -- St. Augustine, On Marriage and Concupiscence, Chapter 28.

17 July 2011

A nice Sunday

Yesterday was a bit crazy with the funeral in the morning, hospital calls in the afternoon, and then the birthday party for Dave and David in the evening.  It was delightful, though, having all the family home for the night!  Today, after service, Lauren and Dean, Cindi and I sat down for a late breakfast, and then snoozed, and swam in the pool.  I was going to write "chilling" but that seems wrong given how hot it is!  We're shortly to have supper and then I imagine some pinochle.  Life has been so much on fast-forward for so long, that this feels heavenly.

16 July 2011

It was great

catching up with friends from all over at the Conference.  I got to enjoy breakfast one day with Mary Schultz and Fritz Baue.  I was in awe at what Mary puts in a cup of coffee:

Funeral Homily for Imogene Kroeger

Sharon, family and friends of Imogene Kroeger,

It seems so wrong to begin that way. I should be saying, Tom and Sandy, family and friends. To bury your children is enough to quench the joy of many a mortal soul and leave them utterly sad for all their days. But not Jean - not because she didn't love them - heavens! You know how much she did. But she was a woman well acquainted with hardship and pain. It was woven into the fabric of her life from the time her mother was taken from her in that tragic car accident, to the difficult years of being taken in by a a family that raised her with food and shelter, but not a lot of affection and love. From the difficulties of living through multiple moves and multiple tornadoes to the hardships of Ed's many sicknesses and long sufferings. Yes, Jean had a tale of woe that could equal Job's. And yet.

And yet was there ever such a joy-filled, loving and hopeful woman? And how on earth did she come to be that way? Our readings hold the answer.

You see, she wasn't only like Job in having to bury her children, she was like Job in the hope of resurrection. She didn't face death alone - not hers, not Ed's, not Tom or Sandy's. She faced death with her Redeemer, her Jesus. She rejoiced that He had borne all her sins - and theirs! - to death on the cross, that He had left them buried behind in the tomb, that He had risen from the dead - and would never, ever die again. And she knew that He had promised to raise all the dead and to give to all who die trusting in Him a crown of everlasting life. In fact, that was her confirmation verse (Ed's too): "Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of everlasting life." Faithful unto death she was. She could stand at graveside after graveside, with tears in eyes, and yet know peace and victory in her heart. She knew that HER Redeemer lived and that He would stand again on this earth and even after her flesh had been destroyed, yet she would see God. With her own eyes. And she knew that same promise held for all baptized believers.

And so, like Paul in our second reading, she rejoiced in the love of this Jesus she had come to know. She knew that that there was absolutely nothing in this world that had power to separate her from the love that the heavenly Father had given her in her Jesus. And she wanted everyone to know that love. You know how she kept after you if you stopped going to church - she wasn't content with that. Not one little bit. And it wasn't because church was something that was a drudgery to be borne and you should step up to the plate and do your duty. Heavens, no! For Jean, it was because the joy she had in her Lord's love was something she just could not even begin to imagine living without and she couldn't imagine a one of you living without it either. It was the source of her peace, her comfort, her joy - she'd listen to the promises of His Word and treasure them up in her heart, she'd come to the table of Jesus and He would feed into her His body and blood, just as He had since she was confirmed all those years ago, and she'd taste the peace of sins forgiven, be renewed in the hope of death destroyed, be filled with an unshakable hope, wrapped in a love that sustained her whole life.

You see, she knew she had a home. When you've lost your home at such an early age and then more than once after that, having a home you cannot lose becomes a huge thing. So today's Gospel reading - Jesus going ahead to build a home where there are no more good byes, where His children are gathered around the family table and enjoy the feast forever. She knew His cross and resurrection had done that: build a home where she knew she'd find her Ed, her beloved Nelly, her Tom and her Sandy and so many of her family and friends. When I first came to St. Paul's she and Ed were busy at work strengthening that hope in folks who needed it the most: they went out to the nursing homes every week, gathered the folks together, read them my sermon (I think she felt she had to do that), and then also some poems or pieces she found particularly meaningful (and I think she REALLY like doing that). They'd sing together and she'd try to stir up in them the hope that filled her own life: the sadnesses aren't forever! You have a Lord who has prepared a place for you! He will raise you from the dead just as He was raised! Don't be sad, don't despair, don't give up. We have a Redeemer who lives! That's what Jean sought to impart to them - her own unquenchable hope and joy.

And all that life of love with her Lord - well, you know how it took a poor miserable sinner (as she freely confessed herself to be) and transformed her into a person who delighted to lavish hospitality and kindness. After Ed became homebound here, I used to bring them communion. Jean said: "Come here last." I was a bit perplexed. What could she mean? So I came last, and lo and behold, after we finished communion and our devotion, she asked: "Have you ever had a whiskey slush?" I hadn't, but it became a treasured part of our visits: sitting with them after communion over a glass of whiskey slush and laughing and talking and getting to really know one another. Yeah, I could tell you stories about you grandchildren that I learned as we looked at pictures together and enjoyed glimpses of both past and present. It was amazing. She'd done a beautiful crocheted piece with Kroeger in it. I admired it on one of those visits and then that Christmas what should she give me but a crocheted Weedon - and it was after working with her hands cost her dearly - arthritis and all. I'll not forget the countless kindnesses and love that marked her. She was truly an icon of what the grace of God in Christ can do when it grabs hold of a person and immerses them in the hope of eternal life, the joy of forgiveness of all sins, and simply imparts to them a share in God's own kindness and love. The sufferings and sorrows only serve to polish the jewel - they can't destroy it!

So dear friends, rejoice this day! Her faith was absolutely right. And she was right to be joy filled even when her heart was breaking and her eyes brimming over with tears - you can be too. For the Lord who claimed her as His own in Baptism, fed her with His own body and blood, he will raise her from the dead, even as He keeps her soul now in His own safe-keeping till that joyous day, and to Him be glory with His Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Imogene Lucille Kroeger, age 91 of Ivanhoe, TX, died Sunday, July 10, 2011, at her residence.
She was born on Friday, September 05, 1919, in Edwardsville, IL, the daughter of  Jonah Blaine and Laura Palmer (nee Manning) Haynes.
On Sunday, March 24, 1940, she married Edward Karl Kroeger who passed away on April 27, 2000.
She was a member of Saint James Lutheran Church - Allens Chapel, TX. She was a former member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Hamel, IL; a former member of the Ladies Aid at the church; a former member St. Pauls Golden Agers; a former member VFW Auxiliary Post 1241, Staunton, IL.
Imogene was born in Edwardsville, IL; she later was a cashier at various super-markets in Illinois, California and Kentucky for 28 years.  Before her husband passed away they did volunteer work at Hitz and Hampton Homes of Alhambra, IL for 8 years. She moved to Texas in 2001 to be closer to her son and daugther in-law.
Survivors include:
Daughter In-law - Sherron Fay Kroeger, Ivanhoe, TX
Son In-law - Robert L. Stine, Flora, IL
Grandchild - Penny Lee Bauer
Grandchild - Dell Ray Kroeger
Grandchild - Donde Kray Kroeger
Grandchild - Galen Lee Stine
Grandchild - Donald Ray Henson
Eleven Great Grandchildren
Four Great Great Grandchildren
She was preceded in death by:
Father - Jonah Blaine Haynes
Mother - Laura Palmer Haynes (nee Manning)
Husband - Edward Karl Kroeger (died 4/27/2000)
Daughter - Sandra Kay Stine (died 3/11/2010)
Son - Thomas Lane Kroeger (died 3/13/2006)
Brother - George Wesley Haynes
Brother - Edmund Calvin Haynes
Brother - Albert Elsworth Haynes
Sister - Mary Jane Kohler
Sister - Thelma Irene Haynes
Sister - Nellie Mae Blankenship
Sister - Minnie Wieduwilt
Sister - Lillie Belle Pratt
Sister - Maragret Marie Prior
Sister - Cynthia Hope Dalton

15 July 2011

Home from Higher Things: Coram Deo (Bloomington)

It was a great week, and an exhausting one.  I can't even begin to imagine how the staff do it who attend all three conferences!!!  I was honored to serve as chaplain for this conference, and it was great having a bunch of St. Paul youth there (Hannah, Erin, Elizabeth, Caleb, Sarah, Johanna and Veronica).   We had over 1200 at this conference.  They gathered for Eucharist on Tuesday and Friday, and then generally Matins, Vespers (afternoon service), and Evening Prayer each day, with Compline prayed together in the dorms.  Here's my homily from this morning's Matins on Isaiah 42:7-9 and 1 Peter 2:1-12:

Homily for Friday Matins

Your mommy told you:  Be nice and share.  And you didn't like it one little bit.  It gave you pain as a little one to see someone else having joy with what you thought was yours.  They shouldn't have that joy.  That joy is YOURS alone.  And so you demanded your own back and pouted in the corner if you didn't get it.  Original sin.

How unlike us in our "that's mine; you fork it back over.  NOW" is our Jesus.  With Him the joy is in sharing what's His.  You heard in today's readings.

In Isaiah, the Lord who creates everything is the Giver.  "who gives breath to the people on the earth and spirit to those who walk in it."  He created us in order to share with us what was His - Life.  And we blew it.  Big time.  We rejected that life and ended up then prisoners in a dungeon.  Nasty place, dungeons.  Dark.  Stinky.  Deadends.  But the Lord who delighted to give you breath and bring you earthly life isn't going to leave you sitting in the dungeon.  His love for you is bigger than that.  He wants to share more with you than mere earthly life (even though that is also a good gift He gives).  So He gives Jesus, His Son, to be a Servant to His people, One who will be light for the gentiles who live in darkness.  One who will open eyes that are blinded and bring the prisoners out of those nasty dungeon chambers - out into the light.

In the old days, that was Baptism's name:  the enlightenment.  It's the moment when Jesus forks over to you everything that is His.  On His cross, He took everything that was yours - all your sin, all your death - and He owned as His.  Stood before the Father, Coram Deo, the biggest sinner in the world:  from Adam forward.  He owned it all and paid for it all.  He shared what was yours.  There was a cup of divine wrath, brimming to the full, and that was what you chose every time you sin.  Eternal death.  He took that cup from His Father's hand that was rightfully yours to drink, and down the hatch it went.  Every last bit.  Till He handed it back to the Father with His "It's finished."  But if you think salvation stops there - some sort of get out of hell free card - you have a surprise coming.  It wasn't only that He took what's yours and drained that wrath, it was all so that He could fork over to you what is His.  A chalice of overflowing blessing.

So in 1 Peter 2 - out goes the stuff He bore for you (all the malice, the fraud, the pretend religion and the refusal to share and delight in your neighbor).  That's old stuff.  Dead.  Left behind.  He feeds you with a word - pure spiritual milk - and by it your get to grow up into salvation.

If only we had time to explore that a bit.  You see, He's given you the whole salvation.  It's all yours.  And it doesn't grow in you - you grow up into it.  There's always more gift.  He's given you everything that's His - even after one or two eternities, you'll still be finding more joy and gift than you can even begin to imagine.  He's got no limits on His giving - and everything that's His is yours.  "Taste and see that the Lord is good."

So He's a living stone (oh, he was rejected by men - stupid is as stupid does), but in the sight of God - coram Deo - chosen and precious!  What's His is yours - true for Him, true for you!  "You like living stones are being built (you don't build yourself - He does the work!) up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood (He a priest, you a priest!) to offer spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Only in Jesus does God accept the sacrifice, but in Him, the Father delights in what you offer - and the only thing you have left to offer (since He took care of the sin sacrifice) is to stand before God, coram Deo, and belt out the joyous praise - and then to go out and be of service to your neighbor.

Poor world - doesn't have a clue what it's here for.  Thinks it's all about "he who dies with the most toys wins."  So heaping up more and more.  More pleasure, more stuff.  That's life.  Yawn.  Or worse - thinking its all about doing enough so that God will be nice to you on the day of judgment.  Fat chance with that one.

You know better.  You know what you're here for:  you've been created by God and into you He has breathed life.  People who used to live in a dungeon, but who were liberated, cannot but sing praises and glorify the One who burst open the door, broke the chains and brought them out as a totally free gift - not only freeing them from jail, but brought them to His house - said:  "Make yourself at home.  My daddy, your daddy.  My feast, your feast.  My stuff, your stuff.  All yours.  All free.  Just because.  I LIKE to share!  It's what floats my boat."

And when we think about it all, we can't help but stand before Him and say:  "We praise you, O God, we acknowledge You to be the Lord."  So enough yaking.  On your feet, people loved by God, and let's do what He died and rose again to share with us:  the joy of singing praise to Father, to Son, and to Holy Spirit - now and to the ages of ages.  Amen.

10 July 2011

Been thinking about Wilma all day...

...for this is her birthday.  Oh, what a piece of work she was.  I miss her dearly.  Rest in peace, Wilma!

Speaking of Dr. Collver,

I see he has posted yesterday's catechetical session, recorded on his iPhone (what a nifty devise) up on the Witness, Mercy, Life Together site.  Thought you might enjoy:

09 July 2011

Dr. Collver today

gave me a copy of the fine little booklet (think Bible Study on steroids) he recently authored, Witness, Mercy, Life Together.  In just spending a few minutes perusing it, let me tell you that I am quite excited to lead our Adult Bible Class through this fine work!  Quite aside from leading us deeply into the Word of God (all the uses of martyria, diakonia, and koinonia are given in the opening pages), insights tumble out here and there on page after page.  Did you know that the Lutheran Church in Madagascar receives THREE offerings in their Divine Service?  One for mission; one for mercy; one for the support of the local congregation's life together.  Did you know that "confession" is used in three senses in the NT?  Did you ever think of witness so succinctly as this:  "confession is the content of witness"?  Lots of gems here!  Imagine how beneficial to the Church to structure her work and existence on all levels around the three emphases:  WITNESS, MERCY, and LIFE TOGETHER.  What a way to kick off the new academic year in September!


Well, that's what she blames it on.  The fog, she calls it.  So we're making breakfast together.  I'm taking care of preparing the eggs, she's tending to the sausage.  After a while I notice that the sausage is looking rather the same.  And sure enough:  the burner is not on.  I tell her:  "It helps to turn the burner on sometimes."  We laugh.  After we finish eating I walk by the stove and feel heat.  I look down:  sure enough.  The burner is still on and the pan is smoking.  "It also helps to turn the burner off."  And I add:  "By the way, I am so going to blog on this (it makes a much more pleasant topic than that stupid card game)."

08 July 2011

Thank God for our Police

I got a lecture today.  And I deserved it.  You see, we have a law in Illinois that you cannot use your cellphone in a construction zone.  Well, I waited till I was past one and then dialed up an old friend (who's headed for Germany this weekend).  We were having a nice chat and I never even registered that we'd passed into the next zone - partly because the actual construction was a ways up the road.  Well the police man saw it in my hand, pulled me over, and proceeded to YELL at me.  "I respect the collar, BUT..." and he was totally, absolutely right.  And I agreed with him on every point.  When he was done and I had been thoroughly chastised, he bid me good day and let me go on my way.  No ticket, no warning, just a sound verbal thrashing.  And I thought as I drove away - God bless them for trying to keep our roads safe and yelling at us when we're being idiots.  May the Lord protect them (and construction workers).  And folks, let's agree to put the phones away and concentrate on the traffic in those zones.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Son of God became a man to fulfill the whole Law of God.  By His human life on earth He made up for our failure to keep the first two commandments of the Decalogue by living and and suffering as a man of prayer.  -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 157

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The two breasts with which the Church nurses the faithful are the two Testaments. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *On the Church* p. 27.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Just as two parents, Adam and Eve, produced us for death, so also two parents, Christ and the Church, produce us for life.  --St. Augustine, Sermon 109 [cited in Gerhard's On the Church, p. 27]

Email Received from Lauren and Dean's dog (Dudly) today:

Dear Grammy and Granddaddy,

I killed it:

Aren't you proud?



On Pancakes and Such

My mom was the master pancake maker (though we always called them patty-cakes), so I grew up thinking that breakfast equalled pancakes and meat of some sort, and often egg.  Daddy was partial to buckwheat pancakes (and I like them a great deal also), but when one eats low-carb, is there really a satisfactory pancake?  YES!  Thank you, Dana Carpender!  From her great cookbook:

Mix together:
2 eggs
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup whey protein powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt

We also add in some cinnamon.  Don't know the measure on that - just toss some in and the batter darkens up a bit.

Grease your iron skillet over medium heat and cook away.  The pancakes are ready to flip when the bubbles form, pop, *and don't fill in again.*  Makes enough pancakes for two people to enjoy.

I made these for breakfast this morning - we have them quite often - and I thought:  what a winner!  I'd have loved to have made some for mom to see if they'd have passed muster.  I'm thinking, they would.

07 July 2011

As you might have guessed

from my Old Lutheran quotes - I recently picked up Gerhard's Locus:  On the Church.  This is part of a series that CPH is providing for us of Gerhard's magisterial Loci Theologici, but I must say that in my reading so far in this massive volume (over 700 pages of text!), it is the best so far BY FAR.  I particularly delight to find that there's hardly an angle on the questions that arise that Gerhard hasn't anticipated and offered answers for (yes, he'd considered that communio santorum might be neuter, not masculine, for example!).  The volume is well, well worth its rather pricey tag.  I have the feeling it will keep me occupied well into the fall.  Oh, and here's a gem from Chemnitz that Gerhard cites that Chemnitz threw out on a text I'll be preaching on next week at the Higher Things conference in Bloomington - it's from Chemnitz:

This is a beautiful and pleasant picture.  The blessed city of Jerusalem in heaven is built of living stones.  By nature those stones are unpolished.  They are polished, however, by various poundings and pressures and crosses in this world.  Then each is fitted and arranged into its individual place by the hands of the craftsman.  The cornerstone and foundation is Christ Himself, whom the heavenly Father has sent, so that the stones, which would die by themselves, are placed upon Him and receive life and breath, and so that He stands as a firm foundation for the church against the very gates of hell.  Also, because He is the cornerstone, He joins the walls together firmly by His embrace so that the building can never fall apart nor develop cracks.

Not forgotten...

...though she's been gone for so long.  Happy birthday, Mildred Hume Mastin Weedon!  You were not a good mom - you were a great one.  

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Through prayer we work and reign with Christ here on earth. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 155.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Christ does not discover His beloved bride but creates her, because He died for us when we were still enemies.  He did not find her beautiful, He makes her beautiful; He does not find her rich, He makes her rich. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, The Church, p. 26.

Patristic Quote of the Day

This renewal, therefore, of our life is a kind of transition from death to life which is made first by faith, so that we rejoice in hope and are patient in tribulation, while still our outward man perishes, but the inward man is renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16 -- St. Augustine, Letter 55

I think this

makes it official.  What an honor and a joy to serve the Deaconesses in this capacity!

A bit about

a fun activity I've been blessed to participate in this week - 3 chief parts down; 3 chief parts to go!

Check it out here.

06 July 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Psalms keep our meditation wholesome and fruitful by connecting it to the experience of suffering, the practice of prayer, hopeful waiting, and participation in congregational worship.  -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 144.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Out of His boundless goodness, our God the most kind revealed, from the secret abyss of His divine counsels, the doctrine of the Gospel to men who had already fallen into sin and eternal destruction.  He also repeated the doctrine of the Law, still known in some way by nature, by His solemn promulgation on Mount Sinai.  These things He has done to this end:  that through the preaching of the Law and Gospel He might gather the church to Himself out of a ruined human race, destined to the eternal fires of hell, that such a church might rightly acknowledge, worship, and praise Him in this life and in eternal life, and that He might snatch it out of the jaws of sin, death, devil, and hell, and lift it up to share in His eternal happiness and glory.  -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Church, p. 3.

Patristic Quote of the Day

As to those other things which we hold on the authority, not of Scripture, but of tradition, and which are observed throughout the whole world, it may be understood that they are held as approved and instituted either by the apostles themselves, or by plenary Councils, whose authority in the Church is most useful, e.g. the annual commemoration, by special solemnities, of the Lord's passion, resurrection, and ascension, and of the descent of the Holy Spirit from heaven, and whatever else is in like manner observed by the whole Church wherever it has been established. -- St. Augustine, Letter 54

05 July 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Psalm 77 takes us with its speaker through our troubles.  As we meditate on it and apply it to our situation, it encourages us to see the hidden presence of our Lord and Savior with us in our darkness.  We meditate on our trouble in the light of God's promises and on God's promises in the light of our troubles, in order to see His light in our darkness. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 140.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Christ is the Savior not only with regard to the point from which and with respect to goods deprived, as the one who has saved us or freed us from our sins, from the wrath of God, from the accusation of the Law, from death, from judgment, and from eternal damnation... But He is also the Savior with regard to the point to which and with respect to positive goods, because He brought perfect righteousness, the grace of God, grace, life, and eternal salvation. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *On Christ* p. 6.

Patristic Quote of the Day

I desire you therefore, in the first place, to hold fast this as the fundamental principle in the present discussion, that our Lord Jesus Christ has appointed to us a light yoke and an easy burden, as He declares in the Gospel: Matthew 11:30 in accordance with which He has bound His people under the new dispensation together in fellowship by sacraments, which are in number very few, in observance most easy, and in significance most excellent, as baptism solemnized in the name of the Trinity, the communion of His body and blood, and such other things as are prescribed in the canonical Scriptures, with the exception of those enactments which were a yoke of bondage to God's ancient people, suited to their state of heart and to the times of the prophets, and which are found in the five books of Moses. -- St. Augustine, Letter 54 to Januarius

04 July 2011

Happy birthday, Oldest Brother!

Butch (Stuart Seldon) Weedon is 66 years young today.  Sadly, we've not seen each other since our family reunion six years ago - he and his family live out in Montana (and Idaho).  One of these years, God willing, we'll get together again.  Butch has devoted much of his adult life to the science of fire fighting (and in his spare time to trekking through Glacier, hunting, and fishing).


Some July days I'm almost willing to bet that the corn grows up an inch or two in the time it takes me to take Lucy for her 2 mile walk.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Most tellingly, some of the Psalms get us to face our hidden or unhidden anger against God for His apparent neglect (e.g., 42), rejection (e.g. 13), and abandonment of us to our enemies and the darkness within us (e.g., 22). -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 137.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

All of Scripture is nothing but a continuous witness of Christ. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On Christ, p. 3.

Patristic Quote of the Day

A Spanish bishop named Carterius, old in years and in the priesthood has married two wives, one before he was baptized, and, she having died, another since he has passed through the laver; and you are of opinion that he has violated the precept of the apostle, who in his list of episcopal qualifications commands that a bishop shall be “the husband of one wife.” I am surprised that you have pilloried an individual when the whole world is filled with persons ordained in similar circumstances; I do not mean presbyters or clergy of lower rank, but speak only of bishops of whom if I were to enumerate them all one by one I should gather a sufficient number to surpass the crowd which attended the synod of Ariminum. -- Jerome, Letter LXIX (HT: Pr. Curtis - 4th century witness to the marriage also of bishops, let alone presbyters...how, um, Apostolic - 1 Cor. 9:5 - and Lutheran - AC XXIII!)


Now that IS making me feel a bit old.  I remember very well the great celebration in Washington DC on the Bicentennial.  I didn't brave the crowds at the Mall that day, but I believe I recall my brother Joe and Peggy heading down there, and I think maybe Sis and Jimmy too.  I was 15 years old at the time, and commemorations of the Revolution were all over the place.  Mom collected a set of dishes (that we still have) that had various events and places from those years depicted on them:  Monticello and Mount Vernon, Independence Hall, Paul Revere, an so on.  It was white and blue ironstone.  I think mom and daddy and I ended up watching the fireworks on our TV (yes, in black and white - daddy didn't believe that colored TVs were up to snuff).  Anywho, that the big celebration was actually 35 years ago amazes me.

03 July 2011

More Schütz...

...now THIS is a Nunc Dimittis!  My kind of "praise music," don't you know?

Nummies for the Fourth

Cin and I just got ready much of the food for the fourth.  This year we'll be doing sloppy joes (with Steve's beef and Cindi's fabulous made from scratch sauce), coleslaw, fresh cantaloup, deviled eggs, crab dip with pork rinds or veggies, and blackberry cobbler for dessert.  I'm getting hungry again just thinking about it.  And then there's the matter of cards again.  Ah, may it be like last time.  That was just felt so very right, you know what I mean?

The Collect for Peace

There are a handful of collects that we Lutherans use repeatedly in the liturgy - and I find that the more I use them, the more I treasure them..  The Collect for Peace is a case in point.  We pray it near the conclusion of Vespers (or Evening Prayer).  It asks such an astonishing thing.  It begins with the gifts God gives us:

O God, from whom come all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works...

Any holy desires we have arise not from us, but from Him.  As St. Paul could say:  "I know that in me, that in my flesh, no good thing dwells."  Similarly with any good counsel we are given or any just work we are blessed to perform:  all these come from God, the giver of all good things.  Since He has given us such blessings already, we ask for some more:

Give to us, your servants, that peace which the world cannot give...

Echoes of the great Farewell Discourse in John's Gospel.  "Peace I leave you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you."  The world cannot give the sort of peace that only God can give: above all, the peace of sin forgiven, the peace of shame removed, the peace of death destroyed - transformed in Christ into a gateway to life.  And why do we long for such a gift?

That our hearts may be set to obey Your commandments...

A heart that knows the peace of forgiveness, the freedom from shame, the destruction of death, that is a heart that can truly desire a genuine obedience to God - and we know that such obedience can't arise from inside us.  Our hearts are too fickle, turning this way and that.  We ask the Lord for His peace so that our hearts may be SET, firmly fixed, toward obedience by His grace.  But the true gem is about to come:

And also that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may live in peace and quietness...

Ah, did you catch that?  Not being defended FROM our enemies!  Rather, being defended from the FEAR of them.  I picture the monks praying this, not sure what would come to their door in the night - maybe a Viking invader, ready to pillage and burn.  Terrorists come in every century.  But the collect recognizes that the problem is not the terrorist - for the most he can do is destroy the body!  The problem is that we, who have been given in Christ forgiveness of all sins and a life that death simply is powerless to strip away from us, should actually be afraid of them!  With what "peace and quietness" the child of God can meet every horror that comes down the pike, when he or she remembers this.  So we ask it as a special boon from God:  preserve us from being afraid of our enemies, that we may live in peace and in quietness - not disturbed or addled in spirit, but calm, joyful, trusting the final goodness of our great God and Savior.

Through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

And so the prayer ends where all prayer ends:  begged of the Father on account of His Son who is our Lord and whom with the Father and the Spirit we confess to live and reign forever.  In Jesus, we can be confident of receiving the good gifts we ask of His Father.

Is that not a splendid and joyous collect?  No wonder we delight to pray it at each evening liturgy.

A Joy Today

to have the Leisticos join us for Divine Service and lunch, and then a bit of pool time.  My, how the children are growing up!  And our god-daughter, Sophia, is amazingly adventurous.

L-R: Emma, Timothy, Jim, Jonathan, Sophia, Laura, Erin

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Hebrew verb that is used for meditation in Psalm 1 indicates that it is a verbal activity. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 134.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Nothing is more blessed than to use these gifts in service to others and to give them away.  You have made me Your partner in this happy matter of giving gifts by granting to me a greater share of earthly possessions. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Meditations on Divine Mercy, p. 82.

Patristic Quote of the Day

In regard to these and all other variable observances which may be met anywhere, one is at liberty to comply with them or not as he chooses; and there is no better rule for the wise and serious Christian in this matter, than to conform to the practice which he finds prevailing in the Church to which it may be his lot to come. For such a custom, if it is clearly not contrary to the faith nor to sound morality, is to be held as a thing indifferent, and ought to be observed for the sake of fellowship with those among whom we live. -- St. Augustine to Januarius, Letter 54.

02 July 2011

The Feast of the Visitation

Today is the Feast of the Visitation (which LSB ranks as a "principal feast of Christ") for those of you in the Synod who use the One-Year series (back on May 31 for the Three Year folk).  From the Treasury:

John the Baptizer and Jesus, the two great figures of salvation history, now come together in the visit to Elizabeth by the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:39-45), both of whom conceived their children under miraculous circumstances.  Thus John is brought into the presence of Jesus while they are still in their mothers' wombs.  This presence of the Lord causes a response by the child John as he leaps in Elizabeth's womb.  John's response to the presence of Jesus, the Messiah, foreshadows John's own role as forerunner.  Already now, a new creation is beginning, and a baby sill in the womb hails the new creation's inception.  Foreshadowed in John's leap are the miracles of Jesus, who will cause all creation to leap at His presence:  "The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them."  The incarnate presence of the Messiah also evokes a response from Elizabeth, who proclaimed Mary's blessedness.  Mary's Magnificat provides the theological significance of this meeting as Mary sums up her place in salvation history.  Mary's song is a hymn to God for His gracious gifts to the least in this world, whom He has lifted up out of lowliness solely because of His grace and mercy.

Almighty God, You chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of Your Son and made known through her Your gracious regard of the lowly and despised.  Grant that we may receive Your Word in humility and faith, and so be made one with Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Here is Lutheran composer Heinrich Schütz's famous Magnificat - he is one of my favorite composers of all time and this is probably my favorite piece that he has done.  Yes, it's in Latin - that's how Lutheran Vespers was sung in many places for centuries after the Reformation:

A software question...

...what do any of you pastors or church secretaries out there use to create your monthly calendars?  I've been using the Google calendar, but it has very poor print quality.  Is there anything out there that you think does a great job on your parish's monthly calendars?

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

In its present form, the Book of Psalms has been designed to teach people how to meditate.  It is the biblical manual on meditation.  -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 133.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Christ's flesh is life-giving food which banishes all sin's poison, which has poisoned human nature since the fall of our first parents. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Postilla II:33.

Patristic Quote of the Day

What are these means whereby He binds? The sacraments of this present life, whereby in the mean time we obtain our comfort: and all the words we speak to you, words which sound and pass away, all that is done in the Church in this present time, are the means whereby He binds up our bruises. -- St. Augustine on Psalm 147

01 July 2011

Ah, now this is how...

...it is supposed to be - summer, I mean.  Cin and I got up and off to the Y a little after six for our workout, breakfasted at Cracker Barrel (I really love their country ham), got home and practiced a bit on the piano, then headed out to play the funeral for Ray (Shorty) Weiler (may the Lord grant the Weilers His peace!).  After lunch, Cindi and I finished picking up some yard debris (she'd been chopping while I was away!), and then spent a nice long time in the pool.  Bekah surprised us with a visit and joined us in the pool for a while..  I had had enough sun, so came inside, put on one of my favorite Christmas albums (that time of the year - well, truthfully, I listen to Christmas music year round, just love it!), read a bit in an old Ellis Peter's novel, and took a nap.  Dave and Jo are coming for dinner shortly, and we're having some fish that Julian and Cathy dropped by the other day (thanks ever so much, Julian!), and then we'll close the day with cards.  And I should certainly be the winner this time.  THAT would make the perfect ending to the day, as I'm sure you'll all agree.  Actually, the old rule applies:  as long as JO doesn't win, I'm good with it.  (Love you, Jo!).