31 August 2011

Surgery done

And all went well. She's resting at the moment. A bit of upset tummy, but other than that very good. Nurses keep commenting on how healthy she is. No prescription drugs at 51 must be pretty good! Thanks to everyone who prayed for her.

P.S. Her nurse, Ellen, is LCMS, married to a local DCE.

30 August 2011

Well, tomorrow is Cindi's surgery...

...you all keep her in your prayers.  Thanks in advance!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We also stand in for others with Christ by our intercessions on their behalf when they have sinned.  If they have done something wrong, we don't damn them, but we act as if their sins are ours.  We ask God to have mercy on them and give them the opportunity to come to repentance. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 210.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Just as the sun does not cease being visible even if it is not actually seen at times when clouds cover it - since its radiance later shines with very brilliant splendor - so the church does not cease being visible even if the true confessors are hidden in saves and secret places, because they will again come out into public when the madness of their persecutors cools and the darkness of heresy has ended. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *On the Church* p. 185.

Patristic Quote of the Day

"He who has seen me has seen the Father;" this does not mean that he has seen the image and form of the divine nature, since the divine nature is simple, not composed of various parts... It means that what the Son does for men He accomplishes by means of the Sonship He received from the Father. -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 21

29 August 2011

A Cross-Posting

from ALPB.  This seemed to have generated some response and a number of folks said it was helpful.  Figured I'd post it here as well:

I'm not sure it will clarify or not, but for what it's worth.  We in the LCMS do not accept denominationalism.  We do not believe in the branch theory of the Church.  We recognize that our practice of closed communion is exactly what would be appropriate for the entire visible Church on earth.  We believe that what we believe is precisely what every jurisdiction/communion SHOULD believe, because it is - we hold - nothing other than what the Scriptures teach.

In other words, we don't regard those who hold to a different Confession as just "another denomination."  We regard the other confessions to the extent they differ from ours to be falsifications of the truth.  As offensive and prideful as they may sound, it's not intended to be anything less than what (until very recent times) EVERYONE believed about their own confession.

So we act in our communion discipline *as if* we were the legitimate heir and successor to the Catholic Church of the West.  That's a self-understanding derived from our Lutheran Symbols.  We do not claim to be the only jurisdiction in this Catholic Church of the West, purified by the Gospel.  We recognize other particular churches around the globe in whom the same faith resides - from the churches of the Archbishop of Latvia, to the churches of the Archbishop of Kenya and the Bishop of Southern Africa and the President of the LCC, and a bunch of others.  Consequently the notion that our altars are closed to non Missourians is actually not at all accurate.  

In the corrupted state of the Church in which doctrine that we cannot but regard as false and dangerous is enshrined in the confessions of other jurisdictions, this leads invariably to acknowledging in them that while members of the Church Catholic may well reside in their midst (in fact, most certainly DO), nonetheless those Churches by the acceptance of various falsehoods alongside the truth of God, cannot be acknowledged as true sister churches on a par with our Synod.  Again, I know it sounds horrific to the ears of those who think denominationally, but if you think confessionally it makes perfect sense:  confessions can be entirely pure, somewhat corrupted, or totally destructive of the Christian faith.  We tend to put almost all the other confessions (Anglican, Reformed, Roman, Orthodox) as "somewhat corrupted."  Totally destructive would be something like a Mormon or JW confession.

So back to the assumption that an LCMS person holds the pure confession - that IS the assumption we would make, unless the person in question gives evidence that his participation at our altars is in fact a lie - that he disagrees with our Lutheran confession of the Christian faith as expressed in our Lutheran Symbols.

I've probably offended all my ELCA friends and many of my Missouri ones by the above, but I think it's clear that until we can get the differing ecclesiologies understood, there's no hope of anyone understanding our practice of responsible communion (my preferred term), which takes seriously into account the nature of one's public profession at a given altar (where, as Pr. Speckhard says, he or she is willing to accept correction).

28 August 2011

Reminder: Divine Service for the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

will be held tomorrow evening at St. Paul's at 6 p.m.  Join us if you can!


Tonight we travelled to St. Louis to enjoy another visit with Donald (an old friend of both Cindi and me from Jr. High), his sister Fran, and his aunt Vera (who just celebrated her 85th birthday - you'd never know it).  We had a wonderful time - McGurk's has been a favorite since Dean and Lauren introduced us to it a few years ago.

And here's High Kings for the Irish Pub song:

Drought and Punishment

One of my dear members had been using Starck's Prayer Book to pray for rain, and was surprised to find herself praying:  "We must indeed acknowledge before Your holy countenance that we have fully merited such hard punishments with our persistent disobedience toward Your commandments, with our base ingratitude toward Your many blessings, with our appalling misuse of the bounties You have showered on us.  Yes, we are forced to confess that You would do us no wrong at all if You would afflict us with even more grievous punishments for our many transgressions."  She asked me:  "Is that right?  That drought is punishment?"

Though we confess in the Confession that we deserve "temporal and eternal" punishment, it is common to think that with God there is no more punishment.  But the entire Scriptures bear witness against this.  No, our loving heavenly Father still visits temporal punishments upon individuals, peoples, nations.  I always point to the thief on the cross.  He had his sins forgiven - glory be to God! - and yet still he died for his crimes as a thief upon a cross.  God removed the eternal punishment, but not the temporal.

It remains one of the reason that "fear" means fear in the explanation to the commandments:  "we should fear and love God so that..."  Fear his temporal punishments.  He may indeed withdraw His blessings and let us live with the consequences of our deeds at times.

And yet.... Yet we must be clear on this:  in Luke 13, our Lord warns us against making the horrific conclusion when we see a tragedy that the people who suffer from it were "worse sinners."  His conclusion wasn't that "God doesn't do that."  His conclusion was:  "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."  So let us beware of ever looking at the suffering of others and declaring them worse sinners; rather, let us receive any and every chastisement from our beloved heavenly Father as a call and opportunity to repent, to turn.  It's never a message of repentance for "them" - it is always an invitation to repentance for "us."

Hence the prayer in Starck - where we perceive in a drought the call of God to repent, to turn, to remember that He alone is the source of the rain on which we depend, indeed that He is the Giver of every good gift.  And so it ends with great hope:

"O Lord our God, we hope in Your goodness!  Let us live before You and spread abroad Your praise.  Hear our prayer, and we shall be heartily thankful for Your mercy, and shall exalt Your name as long as we live, here in time and hereafter in eternity.  Hear us, dear Father in heaven; for You alone are our God.  Hear us according to Your faithfulness that never ends, according to which You have promised us comfort and help in every trouble.  Hear us for Your own sake."

You see, we believe that though we surely deserve such punishments and far, far worse, that God in His grace may well mitigate the temporal chastisement, and so we pray to Him with boldness.  One of the most neglected parts of our Symbols actually confesses:  "Afterward [after being clear on the free nature of justification that comes before works], even we concede that the punishments by which are chastised are soothed.  This happens by our prayers, by our good works, and finally by our entire repentance, according to 1 Cor. 11:31, 'But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.'" (Ap V:147).

27 August 2011

On the Church

reflecting with Gerhard:

The one Church may be regarded under different aspects:

1.  As invisible
a. insofar as she always encompasses the total number of elect, some of whom are already gathered into the heavenly Kingdom and some of whom have not yet been born, so that she will only "appear" at the Last Day;
b. insofar as human eyes cannot distinguish in the visible assemblies of the church those who are saints from the non-saints, but who will be finally separated on the Last Day.

2.  As visible
a.  insofar as the elect are invariably found in the assembly of the called and gathered.
b.  insofar as there are certainly times when the visible church is blessed with a pure doctrine, a faithful ministry, and godly divine worship, even in this age; but that this is not always the case.

Further, when dealing with the Church we may note the distinction between triumphant and militant; and when dealing with the militant between particular churches in specific places which are either pure or corrupted (though in corrupted churches God is also at work to save insofar as they retain enough of the Gospel to bestow faith and so unite poor sinners to the Blessed Trinity) as regards their teaching; yet it is possible for EVERY visible church to be corrupted, as will no doubt happen in the Great Apostasy foretold in Scripture.

And that's about as far as I've gotten in Gerhard.  More to come later...


forget that thought about Liverpool yesterday.  Jo and Cindi were both rather rude.  BUT it was still a great week.  Managed to get in 3 mile runs each day, so finished up this morning at 18 miles for the week.  Also got back into my BFL routine with weights, which also felt great (with a little bit of ouch).  Tomorrow am definitely NOT running or exercising - except for my lungs in singing the Divine Service and preaching.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

It seems that God gives us our enemies for just this purpose; He allows them attack us so that He can use us to pray for them and so secure His blessing for them.  When we do that, we most clearly remember our heavenly Father and copy His dear Son. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 207, 208.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We have not separated from the church catholic.  The Donatists said that the church had perished from the entire earth.  We say, on the contrary, that the church has always continued and will endure forever.  Consequently, we not only acknowledge that the church has been preserved under the papacy in earlier times, we also profess that the church is still being gathered to God by a loud voice in the middle of Rome.  The Donatists enclosed the church within the borders of Africa alone... But we believe and confess that the church is catholic and universal.  The Papists should see if they can free themselves completely from the error of the Donatists because they say that all catholics have disappeared from the world except those alone who have remained in the party of the bishop of Rome. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *The Church* p. 184.

Patristic Quote of the Day

He raises up from the depths of sin those who have fallen from resurrection.  He accomplishes all things by His powerful touch.  He shepherds, He enlightens, He nourishes, He leads, He heals, He raises up.  He calls all things from non-existence into being; once things are created, He keeps them in existence.  Thus God's blessings reach us through the Son. -- St. Basil the Great, *On the Holy Spirit* par. 19.

26 August 2011

Beautiful day...

...got in a 3 mile run, 10 mile bike ride, and 1 mile walk with the dog.  Also got to do some upper body weights and some reading.  Tonight will hopefully whoop up on folks at cards...hey, a fellow can hope, no?  Seriously, though, what a gorgeous day for late August near St. Louis!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

In intercession we don't just use our faith for others, we also show our love for them.  We give of ourselves spiritually to them. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 207.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The church of both the Old and New Testaments can cease to exist in this way, that corruptions increase, the public ministry is no longer pure so that in that place where there was a large and obvious church, no church appears any longer.  Thus the true church of God goes into hiding and is preserved in those who do not make up a visible and manifest assembly. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *On the Church* p. 152.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Thought and reflection are unable to penetrate the begetting of the Lord. -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 14

24 August 2011

Couple More Pics from 25th Anniversary

President Harrison

First Vice-President Mueller

The doctrine of the impersonality

of the human nature of Christ is one of the most vital and neglected pieces of our orthodox confession of the Savior.  Nothing like a conversation with a Nestorian heretic to demonstrate its ongoing relevance and how its denial lands you with TWO Christs, no matter how hard you fight it. Kyrie eleison!!!!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Most of all, this solidarity in prayer means that I am not alone, even when I pray by myself.  Luther says, "Never think that you are kneeling or standing alone, rather think that the whole of Christendom, all devout Christians, are standing there beside you and you are standing among them in a common united petition which God cannot disdain." -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 206.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In the same way, in the mystical body of Christ, which is the Church, these same two states may be observed.  One is of emptying or humiliation, when the force of persecutions, the cleverness of heretics, or the large number of growing scandals oppress the church.  The other is of  exaltation or glorification, when the church enjoys the peaceful administration of its holy things, when it shines with the splendor of an uncorrupted ministry, when it gleams publicly with the quiet exercise of pure divine worship.  In this state the church is visible, manifest, and glorious; in the other it is invisible, hidden, and shameful. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *On the Church* p. 146.

[Note that Gerhard does not at all deny that the Church may have this visible state in this age - he argues that it does have this at times!]

Patristic Quote of the Day

Hunting truth is no easy task; we must look everywhere for its tracks.  Learning truth is like learning a trade; apprentices grow in it little by little, provided they do not despise any opportunity to increase their knowledge.  -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 2.

23 August 2011

Sigh. Surgery for Cindi cancelled.

Insurance difficulties.  Grr.  But "the will of God is always best and shall be done forever."  Just hope the delay isn't TOO long, as she definitely is in pain and needs this surgery.  Prayers appreciated.

Pr. Harrison's Sermon

can be heard right here.  Thanks, Issues!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Our existence is therefore always convivial:  since we live with others, we find fulfillment by living for others.  Our solidarity with others determines the vicarious character of our intercession. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* pp. 205,6.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The sun shines with its bright light and is never extinguished, yet it can be hidden by clouds and fog.  In the same way, the church at times is overshadowed by a cloud of persecutions and heresies so that its external splendor is not apparent.  -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *On the Church* p. 141.

Patristic Quote of the Day

It is the Holy Spirit's teaching that is published in the canonical writings.  If councils decide anything against this, I consider them wicked. -- St. Jerome on Galatians 1 (cited in *The Church*)

Truly one of the greatest prayers...

...and I find myself needing to pray it so very often.  It is by Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow:

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace.  Help me in all  things to rely upon Your holy will. In every hour of the day reveal Your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me  to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and  with firm conviction that your will governs all.  In all my deeds and  words, guide my thoughts and feelings.  In unforseen events, let me not  forget that all are sent by You.  Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others.  Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring.  Direct my will, teach me to pray, and You yourself pray in me.   Glory to the Father, and to the Son , and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.   Amen

Opening Liturgy from Trinity 9 - Pr. Harrison as Celebrant

22 August 2011

Some pics from Millie

A Kruta creation, I might note... 

Brief Thoughts on Witnessing...

...that I shared on another forum:

What I have come to rejoice in is this:  our Lord did not command, "Go, fish for men!" He rather promised, "Follow me and I will make you a fisher of men."  He did not say:  "Go, witness!" He promises, "Stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high and you will be my witnesses...to the ends of the earth."  And He does make us so:  fishers and witnesses.  As we follow Him, as we seek to love Him and to love our neighbor, serving them and honoring them and opening our mouth whenever they ask us to account for the hope that is in us, the Lord actually has use of us in bringing others to faith.  But He solidly keeps His hands on the verbs for conversion.  Not only is it true that I cannot believe by myself; I cannot give faith to a single other person out there - no matter how clever I may be in my attempts.  But I can love them, serve them, rejoice in them, and whenever they ask an account - open my mouth to declare this great joy in which we live with our sins forgiven, our death destroyed, secure in the love of a Savior who loves them too and did all this for them as well.

Have you ever been in a conversation where you had the distinct impression that the other person asked a question of you, but really wasn't listening, wasn't interested, was only waiting to talk?  How frustrating that is?  And yet that's how we've made evangelism come off too often.  What a different critter it is when our witness to the Savior comes as a result of genuine inquiry.  And with no need to pressure the person - just to share with them the love that we have come to know and rejoice in and live from - and to assure them that it is for them as much as for us.  I see that as the Lord's keeping His gracious promise to us - to make us fishers, to make us witnesses.  Gift, not demand.  Promise, not burden.  Peace, not pressure. 

21 August 2011

To see some pics

from today, you can click here.  Thanks, Millie!

By the way...

...got to read even more Gerhard *On the Church* over vacation - wow.  He only gets better and better.  You will be getting "old Lutheran quotes of the day" for many, many days from that puppy (that's for you, Rebekah C.!).  You will LOVE them.  Promise.

Blown Away

So walking into Church this a.m., I certainly got a surprise.  The congregation had arranged a celebration of my 25th anniversary of ordination. As I am still off this Sunday, we came early and snuck into the balcony.  My first clue something odd was going on was when the opening procession began and Synodical President Harrison, vested in chasuble, strode down the aisle next to Pr. Gleason.  Huh?  We were blessed to have Pastor Harrison serve as preacher (as usual, law with power and gospel with overflowing joy) and celebrant at the Eucharist, and to do a question and answer during the Bible Class hour, and to join us for the pot-luck following the morning liturgies.  Also blessed to have former vicars show up for the potluck:  Pastor Brian Holle and Pastor Karl Gregory (Pastor Gregory also joined us for both services); Synodical First Vice-President Herbert Mueller and wife Faith worship at late service and stay for potluck; add in Pastor Todd Wilken and Pastor Kirk Clayton (with wife Lori, who used to teach in our school) and our godson Nathaniel along with his siblings AND Clarissa Braun; and all the dear members of St. Paul's who joined to celebrate the day - Robert Esch for a video walk down memory lane (including RUDE comments about how my hair is not the color it used to be!), and all the yummies the good folks at St. Paul's prepare for potlucks and it was a day that I will remember and treasure forever.  Thanks to all for the kind words, the gifts, and the whole shebang.  I suspect I owe a special thank you to the elders for organizing the affair and to Millie, to whom the potluck was entrusted.  God bless you all - we love you very, very much!

P.S.  Carlo also greatly blessed with Gigue Fugue as postlude.  I got to watch him "dance" through it twice!!!

20 August 2011

Random Florida Pics

Yes, Octopus with feta and peppers.  DELICIOUS!

09 August 2011

Blog Hiatus

No, I trust that I will not have fallen off the ends of the earth, but ye olde Blog will be on hiatus for a bit.  Not saying there will be no postings, but not promising any either.  Back serving up regular fare before the end of the month, God willing. Enjoy what's left of summer, all!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The sins of our fellow Christians, their failures and their mistakes, the conflicts and tensions in a Christian community, are all opportunities and occasions for intercession.  Let me put it quite directly:  When I fail as a pastor, I don't need your condemnation or indulgence.  What I need is your support, and you can give it best through your prayers. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 202 [Note: this section of the work was among its most profound - showing the link between the Golden Rule and prayer.  Outstanding stuff!]

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The gates of hell quite often prevail against particular churches, as experience teaches.  No force and power of Satan, however, can overthrow the church catholic. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *On the Church* p. 132.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Just as there is one Lord, one faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, so also there is one church, the multitude of all the elect in all places of the world and all times of the ages, subject to the one God and Father. -- The Venerable Bede on Songs 6 (cited in Gerhard's *On the Church* p. 129)

08 August 2011

Once again, that time.

The Page View meter has crossed 1,600,000 views.  Would you care to introduce yourselves, oh ye who visit this blog?  If you've done it before, feel free to do so again.  But especially if you are one of those people who come up to me and say:  "I enjoy your blog" but you've never unlurked yourself, put aside your Romulan cloaking devise and step out into the light!  Who be ye?

Oh, and this is how you

pray for the government.  From Luther's Verlieh uns, the second half - another Schütz gem.  Wow.

Give our rulers and all lawgivers
peace and good government,
that under them
we might lead a quiet and peaceful life
in all blessedness and honor.

Also hat Gott

The majestic John 3:16 set by Schütz.  Yes, this is the music of the Lutheran Church.  Awesome.  We sang this in tour choir at Concordia, Bronxville, but I don't think we QUITE sounded this good...

Upon the Cross - Gerhard

That head, before which the angelic spirits bow in reverential fear, is pierced with crowded thorns;

That face, beautiful above the sons of men, is defiled by the spit of the ungodly;

Those eyes, more luminous than the sun, darken in death;

Those ears, accustomed to the praises of the angelic hosts, are greeted with the insults and taunts of sinners;

That mouth, which spake as never man spake, and teaches the angels, is made to drink vinegar and the gall;

Those feet, at whose footstool the profoundest adoration is paid, are pierced with nails;

Those hands, which have stretched out the heavens, are extended upon the cross and fastened with spikes;

That body, the most sacred abode and habitation of the Godhead, is sourged and pierced with spear;

Nor did aught remain in it uninjured but His tongue, that He might pray for those who crucified Him.

He who rules in heaven with the Father is most shamefully abused upon the cross by sinners.

God suffers, God sheds His blood.

From the greatness of the price paid, judge of the greatness of thy peril; and from the cost of the remedy, judge the dreadfulness of thy disease.  Great indeed were thy wounds of sin, which could be healed only by the wounds of the living and life-giving flesh of the Son of God; desperate indeed was that disease which could be cured only by the death of the Physician Himself.  -- from Sacred Meditation II

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

When we pray for others and ourselves, we continue the work of Jesus.  It is, in fact, the most important work we will ever do.  -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 198.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We also distinguish between a particular church and the church catholic.  We do not deny that particular churches are visible.  But we assert that the church catholic is invisible, whether one takes the expression "church catholic" for the gathering of the saints or for the embrace of all particular churches... The church is called "invisible" because of faith and other internal gifts that the human eye cannot see.  Yet we also say that it is and is said to be visible because of the preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments, which do externally meet the eyes and ears. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *On the Church*, p. 130.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The church catholic is the elect whom God has foreknown, the sons of promise, the members of the body of Christ. -- Prosper, on Psalm 106 - cited by Gerhard in *On the Church* p. 127

06 August 2011

+Eunice Niles

Asleep in Jesus this a.m.  Rest eternal grant, her, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon her!

05 August 2011

Not alone, M. Not now. Not ever.

You are not alone, when you remember the horror - He is there.
His love has held you all the way.
His arm still holds you.
His hand, marked with the nails, has you tight in His grasp.
Do not be afraid.
Though you have tasted the bitterness of sorrow and defeat;
Though you have doubted that the future could be free of the past;
Though you have wondered if His love were but a delusive dream told to comfort sufferers;
Though you fear for the future and wonder what it will bring -
THIS it will bring:
His body for you, His blood shed for your forgiveness,
Placed into your mouth, the pledge that your sin in all its hideous awfulness
With my own
He has owned as His own and it has no power to separate you from His love.
This will be yours until the day when eyes are opened
And you see.  Really see.
Like for the first time.
Better than when you first wore your glasses and the leaves came clear.
Better than every fulfilled hope and joy of this age.
You will see.  And you will weep silently in His embrace.
And it will be better than all the pain, all the grief.
You will sing a resurrection song and every pain and sorrow
Will be transformed.
In His arms.
In His strong and never failing arms.
Peace, child, be still.
All is well.  All will be well
Amen and amen.
Sing with me?

If thou but trust in God to guide thee...

All Saints is a long way away...

...but we celebrated an anticipated All Saints at Higher Things at our closing liturgy (what better to close with?), so it's on my mind.  I suggested for that liturgy that the perfect Prayer of the Church for this feast is to use the Prayer of the Church given in the funeral liturgy.  It takes the most minor adaptations (readily apparent), and you have a prayer that literally falls right out of the readings for that joyous day - and leads us into God's presence to ask great and very good things and to offer our thanks and praise.  Pr. Hall used it that way in Bloomington.  Check it out and see if you agree that it is very fitting upon that day.  Some highlights:

Almighty God, You have knit Your chosen people together into one communion in the mystical body of Your Son, Jesus Christ, give to Your whole Church in heaven and on earth Your light and Your peace... Grant that all who have been baptized into Christ's death and resurrection may die to sin and rise to newness of life and so pass with Him from the gate of death and the grave to our joyful resurrection... Grant that all who have been been nourished by the holy body and blood of Your Son may be raised to immortality and incorruption to be seated with Him at Your heavenly banquet... Give to all who mourn comfort in their grief and a sure confidence in Your loving care, that casting all their sorrow on You, they may know the consolation of Your love...

And so much more!

P.S.  Remember that the Lutheran Service Book Agenda (p. 152) provides you a prayer to use in commemoration of the faithful departed, as many of our parishes observe All Saints.

I am definitely thinking

that that Jesuit Bellarmine did us a great favor in laying out his arguments, thus inviting Gerhard to respond in his dogmatics, above all in *On the Church.*  What pious and comforting words came out in response!  And he's not out to show Bellarmine in the wrong - for many, many times he simply agrees with him and cites his own words back to him, pointing out gently where he's contradicted himself, and inviting him to cling to what in his words were true.  But what mastery of the Sacred Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers, the Roman and the Calvinist theologians!  I am amazed as argument after argument I had wondered about myself is considered thoughtfully, weighed in the balance, and either accepted or rejected.  I had thought a few years back how not enough consideration is given to the eschatological weight of AC VII when it speaks of the Church as one assembly.  Gerhard was there centuries ahead of me.  He sees the fundamental visibility of the assembly appearing only at Judgement Day.  I'm only up to page 120 - many hundreds yet to go, and I'm already dreading when this joyful book will wend to its end.  How on earth this man was able to produce such work - but a single locus of his many volumed dogmatics - tend a flock with regular preaching, and find time for other masterful works is a miracle all by itself.  He makes me feel like a lazy lob.  And he's taught me the silliness of ridiculing the invisible vs. visible distinction with regard to the Church.  Excellent stuff, I cannot recommend it highly enough - especially to those troubled by Roman or Eastern apologetic attacks in the area of the Church.

A Friend on another board

noted some of the difficulty with correctly understanding the way the Confessions teach the distinction between mortal and venial sin.  He thought they gave the impression that any time sin breaks out into action or is indulged--any time one sins against conscience--it is a mortal sin.  I disagreed that that is what the Confessions were getting at.

Rather,  the Confessors certainly reckon with the fact that we live the Christian life in great weakness, are frequently overwhelmed in temptation, and succumb to it.  But the difference is in this:  does one get back up again?  Does one immediately cry to God for mercy, seek His grace, confess the sin, receive absolution and continue to fight against the sin - or does one simply sit back, conclude that "that's just the way I am and God will have to deal with it" and not bother with it anymore.

It's the difference between simply wanting to be set free from the consequence of one's sin and desiring to be set free from sin itself.  In the Private Absolution, the penitent concludes his confession with these words:  "I am sorry for all this.  I ask for grace.  I want to do better."

I have heard it said that in the monasteries of the east the monks will fall down and stand up, fall down and stand up, fall down and stand up.  If you ask them what they are doing, they will tell you:  practicing.

"The righteous fall seven times and rises again; but the wicked stumble in the day of calamity."  Proverbs 24:16  It is not the falling that is ultimately deadly; it is deciding that lying down in the sin is okay, the refusal to stand up again.

Few More Pics of Worship from Higher Things - Bloomington

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Only those who are really helpless can truly pray. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 183.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

You see, we are arguing here about the church catholic, which is the gathering of the saints and truly faithful.  No one is separated from her by excommunication without having first separated himself by impenitence and unbelief. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *On the Church* p. 97.

Patristic Quote of the Day

All things are clear and open that are in the divine Scriptures; the necessary things are all plain. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily 3 on 2 Thessalonians

04 August 2011

Somehow it all went to the dogs...

....dinner, I mean.  We're having Jo and Dave up, with their friend, Dorene; Lauren is joining us because she was getting her hair done today by the one and only Annetta, and lo and behold, she showed up with Dudley.  And then Bekah called and said she and Shawn were bringing HIS dog along as well, when they joined us.  That makes THREE dogs in the house.  Sigh.  I think that Revelation 22:15a will be the memory work for the evening:  "Outside are the dogs..."

Four Years Today...

...wow.  Happy anniversary, Dean and Lew!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Paul therefore urges us to use our worries as a God-given catalyst for daily thanksgiving and prayer.  That's how God's grace turns us into people who practice the art of daily prayer. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 181.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

As widely as that assembly of the baptized extends, so widely also extends the catholic church of the called.  -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *On the Church* p. 95.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Just as the hunter hides his traps, or an ambush of soldiers camouflages itself, so these questioners spew forth elaborately constructed inquiries, not really hoping to learn anything useful from them, because unless you agree with them and give them the answer they want, they imagine that they are fully entitled to stir up a raging controversy.  -- St. Basil the Great (On the Holy Spirit, par. 1)

A Baptismal Hymn

sung by Scott and Cindi this past Sunday:

I had approached this week...

...with a bit of fear and trepidation.  You see, Joanie is on vacation this week, and I was afraid the Copier knew it.  It ALWAYS seems to know when I'm on my own and decides to show me what an idiot I am.  But I don't think it realized she was gone this week.  I spoke nicely to it and it behaved itself - bulletins are finished, folded, stapled and in church and sermon copies are run off.  And the machine didn't hiccup one single time.  No one tell it Joanie isn't around, though.  I still have to run off Sunday's Bible Class...

03 August 2011

A Lutheran Extravaganza

in music can easily be yours!  Heirs of the Reformation, Evening and Morning, Hymns of Comfort and Peace, Martin Luther:  Hymns, Ballads, Chants Truth.  I love listening to these wonderful recordings that sing our faith down deep to the heart.  Thought you might enjoy them as well.  If you've not checked out this wonderful music, you should!

Delightful afternoon visit

with the Juhls - we don't get to see them often enough! Pr. Dave, Becky, Catherine, Matthew, and Christopher.

I always forget

how great Apology IV is.  Right now, if you're following the reading plan in the Treasury, we're in the middle of that tremendous and comforting article.  A few gems we've been treated to of late:

Likewise the faith of which we speak exists in repentance.  I mean that faith is conceive in the terrors of conscience, which feels God's wrath against our sins and seeks forgiveness of sins, seeks to be freed from sin.

Such faith does not remain in those who obey their desires, neither does it dwell with mortal sin.

For in this life we cannot satisfy the Law, because the sinful nature does not stop bringing forth evil inclination and desire, even though the Spirit in us resists them.

Faith alone looks upon the promise.  It knows that because of the promise, it is absolutely certain that God forgives, because Christ did not die in vain.

The woman came with the opinion that forgiveness of sins should be sought in Christ.  This worship is the highest worship of Christ.  She could think nothing greater about Christ.  To seek forgiveness of sins from Him was truly to acknowledge the Messiah.  To think of Christ this way, to worship Him this way, to embrace Him this way, is truly to believe.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Our daily troubles and needs, no matter how small or large, are meant to stimulate prayer. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 181

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We do urge a careful distinction between venial and mortal sins in our churches. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *On the Church* p. 80.

Patristic Quote of the Day

There is certainly no lack of nowadays of people who delight in asking endless questions just to have something to babble about, but it is difficult to find someone who loves truth in his soul, who seeks the truth as medicine for his ignorance.  --St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 1.

Commemoration of Sts. Joanna, Mary, and Salome, Myrrhbearers

Today our Synod commemorates the Myrrbearing women.  From the Treasury and our website:

Known in some traditions as “the faithful women,” the visit of these three persons and other women to the tomb of Jesus on the first Easter morning is noted in the Gospel records of Matthew (28:1), Mark (16:1), and Luke (24:10). Joanna was the wife of Cuza, a steward in Herod's household (Lk. 8:3). Mary, the mother of James (the son of Alphaeus), was another of the women who faithfully provided care for Jesus and His disciples from the time of His Galilean ministry through His burial after the crucifixion. Salome, the mother of the sons of Zebedee (Mt. 27:56), joined with the women both at the cross and in the bringing of the spices to the garden tomb. These “faithful women” have been honored in the church through the centuries as examples of humble and devoted service to the Lord.

Chemnitz wrote of them:  "But God exalts them by revealing to them the resurrection of His Son, which is an excellent article of our faith.  Indeed, He even sends them to the apostles to share the message of Christ's resurrection with them, so that they becomes, as the ancients say, like "apostles to the apostles."  (Treasury for Aug. 3)

Prayer:  Mighty God, Your crucified and buried Son did not remain in the tomb for long.  Give us joy in the tasks set before us, that we might carry out faithful acts of service as did Joanna, Mary, and Salome, offering to You the sweet perfume of our grateful hearts, so that we, too, may see the glory of Your resurrection and proclaim the Good News with unrestrained eagerness and fervor worked in us through our Lord Jesus Christ, who rose and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

02 August 2011

Living next door to the Church

is both a bane and a blessing - mostly a blessing.  The bane comes when you look out at 9:45 at night and SEE THE LIGHTS LEFT ON.  Come on, folks.  This is not the stuff of rocket science.  If you turn them on, TURN THEM OFF.  PLEASE.

Neglected Rubrics - Service of Prayer and Preaching

This order is primarily intended as a catechetical service, which could be used for new member classes, midweek Advent and Lenten services, school services, retreats, and conferences.  The service may be tailored to suit the needs of those in attendance. LSB-AB, p. 356

A responsive reading from the Small Catechism may follow.  Selections appropriate to the SERMON or CATECHETICAL INSTRUCTION may be selected. LSB-AB, p. 362.

One of Luther's catechism hymns or another hymn appropriate to the instruction may be selection.  LSB-AB, p. 362.

I am not a financial

sort of guy - numbers confuse me - but this recent "deal" really boggles my mind.  Let me get it straight:  we're spending more than we take in, so we're in serious debt.  So the solution is to increase the amount we can borrow and as long as we cut expenses over 10 years to actually match the amount of extra we're going borrow, we're all good???  Is that what they really just did, or am I stupidly missing something?  I think we need Dave Ramsey for president.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We learn to pray regularly, by ourselves or in our families, by beginning and ending each day with the Lord's Prayer.  That's our family prayer. Nothing could be simpler than that.  None of us could say we don't have enough time for this prayer. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 180.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We connect repentance and a zeal for good works with true faith by an unbreakable and perpetual link. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *On the Church* p. 81.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Now when God is said to be angry, we do not attribute to Him such a disturbed feeling as exists in the mind of an angry man; but we call His just displeasure against sin by the name "anger," a word transferred by analogy from human emotions. But our being reconciled to God through a Mediator, and receiving the Holy Spirit, so that we who were enemies are made sons ("For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God"): this is the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. – St. Augustine, Enchiridion 33

Kudos to District President Timothy Scharr

for visiting with me today, asking after my welfare and my ministry, sharing God's precious Word with me, and praying for me, my family and my parish.  Absolutely wonderful to see the task of visitation taken with the seriousness that it deserves.  What a blessing!

Worship at Higher Things - Bloomington

Note the disco ball on the ceiling.  We resisted the temptation to use it during the Divine Service...

Our Group at Higher Things

01 August 2011

Welcome to Pastor Bart Day

who is now officially installed as the head of Synod's Life Together (or, in the boring bureaucratic speak of the last convention:  Office of National Missions).  Read all about the event here.  May the Lord richly bless his service to the Church in this new position!  Neat to see things coming together from the mandated restructuring.  We were blessed to have the Day family with us in worship at St. Paul's a week ago.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We are moved to pray regularly by consistent attendance at the Divine Service.  There we receive the gift of prayer.  There we learn to pray together with Christ and the whole communion of saints. -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 180.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

By no means do we claim two churches: one, true and internal; the other, nominal and external.  Rather, we say that one and the same church, namely the whole assembly of the called, is considered in two ways: from within and from without - or with respect to the call and external association consisting in the profession of faith and use of the Sacraments, on the one hand, and with respect to interior regeneration and internal fellowship consisting in the bond of the Spirit. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, *On the Church* p. 79.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Now, as men were lying under this wrath by reason of their original sin, and as this original sin was the more heavy and deadly in proportion to the number and magnitude of the actual sins which were added to it, there was need for a Mediator, that is, for a reconciler, who, by the offering of one sacrifice, of which all the sacrifices of the law and the prophets were types, should take away this wrath. Wherefore the apostle says: "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." -- St. Augustine, Enchiridion 33

The Chains of St. Peter

Reading the propers for today in the Daily Divine Service Book, and the juxtaposition of the Epistle from Acts 12 and the Gospel from St. Matthew 16 stood out:  he to whom the keys of the Kingdom were entrusted could not be held in bondage by earthly shackles.  The collect similarly reminds us that the keys entrusted to Peter have freed us from the bonds of our sins:  "O God, who didst loose the Blessed Apostle Peter from his chains; and didst cause him to go forth unhurt: free us, we beseech Thee, from the bonds of our sins and in Thy mercy remove from us all evil..."