31 January 2012

Wow

Words fail.  I think of our MASSIVE prayer list on Sundays. I think of all the folks with young children.  I think of members of my own family.  You ALL need to spend the 20 minutes or so it takes to see this video.



HT:  Mark's Daily Apple

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Lutheran fathers were well aware that immortality is not predicated univocally of God and man alike.  Thus they made appeal to 1 Tim. 6:16, where we read that God "alone has immortality"; the immortality of the soul is, by way of contrast, an endowment given to the creatures made in the divine image. -- Dr. John R. Stephenson, Eschatology, p. 49.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Our Lord Jesus has an unusual way of managing His Christians.  The greater His saint the greater the cross that saint must bear.  The more He loves a man, the more roughly He rakes him over the coals of anguish.  No one should become a Christian with the intent of having a good life in this world.  Abraham's case here clearly shows this. -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, p. 84.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Let us draw from the fountain of the perpetual garden and the purest waters springing into life eternal.  Here let us luxuriate; here let us revel without ever being satisfied, for the Scriptures possess inexhaustible grace. -- St. John of Damascus, An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 4.17

30 January 2012

Suggestion for the Ash Wednesday Liturgy

So, in the LW Agenda, after the address and opening litany for Ash Wednesday, the rubrics direct you to continue with the OT reading - in other words, the address and litany replace the entrance rite entirely.

Along comes LSB Altar Book, and now in addition to the address and opening litany, the rubrics specifically permit the distribution of ashes (either as the people enter or after the opening litany).  But then things get confusing:

"After all have received the ashes, the service continues with the Service of Confession and Absolution in the Divine Service, or with the rite of Corporate Confession and Absolution." (p. 486)  The rationale for the Confession and Absolution p. 483 with rubric 3:  "Ashes are a sign of mortality and death.  Therefore, the imposition of ashes should be followed by the rite of Confession and Absolution."

Absolutely nothing is said about anything else in the Entrance Rite.  The assumption seems to be that following Confession and Absolution for whichever Divine Service we'd continue with Introit, Kyrie, salutation and collect.

Yet we DO note in the rubrics for Corporate Confession and Absolution (p. 422, rubric 3):  "This rite may also replace the preparation rite of the Divine Service.  Following this rite, the service would continue at the Introit/Entrance Hymn or Salutation and Collect of the Day. *This is particularly appropriate in Lent, and is suggested in the order for Ash Wednesday.*"

Well, it's not suggested there no matter what the rubric says, but the fact that it is suggested HERE leads me to ask: doesn't it make sense if you insist on doing Confession and Absolution immediately after the Ashes, to move directly to salutation and collect?  Or even to the OT reading?  The litany has already covered the "Kyrie" if you will and it concludes with a collect.  And an "entrance" - either Introit or Entrance Hymn makes little sense so late in the service (I mean, in our place, it takes about 20 minutes before the opening litany and distribution of ashes if finished - let alone adding to it a Confession and Absolution!).

Perhaps also of import is the rubric on p. 410 (#4) that "the Litany may serve as an Entrance Rite in the Divine Service, replacing the Introit, Kyrie, and Hymn of Praise."  If that holds for "THE Litany" why not for the Ash Wednesday litany (as it once did in LW)?

I'd posted all the above over on ALPB and Pr. Zimmerman wrote me to inform me of his practice which makes the absolute most sense of out of the confusing rubrics.  Here's his practice:

Opening Hymn
Invocation
Opening Sentences
Lenten Address (from LSB Altar Book)
Salutation and Collect of the Day
OT 
Psalm
NT
Verse
Holy Gospel
Hymn of Day
Sermon
Service of Ashes:  The Litany, Blessing of Ashes, Imposition of Ashes, Declaration of Grace
Offering Received
Offertory
and then Service of the Sacrament as usual.

I like his immensely because it is clear, it simplifies the service, it gives you the opportunity to preach upon the practice before inviting folks up for the ashes, and it avoids the needless repetitions (Western liturgy does NOT like repetition in general!) of the Litany at the beginning and then the Prayer of the Church following the sermon.  It totally preserves the rubrics' concern that some form of declaration of grace be spoken after the ashes are distributed.  I think it's the best solution I've yet seen to the rather confusing rubrics in Lutheran Service Book on this matter.

One more matter of note - I also appreciate Pr. Mozolak's practice of reminding those who receive the ashes, not only that they are dust and to dust they shall return, but that they are Christ's and to Christ they shall return.  I'm not sure what to do with that yet, but I like it.  A lot.

Happy to report

that little Grant Jones, before he was even ONE HOUR OLD in the flesh born of flesh sort of way, was cooped into the Kingdom of God by Holy Baptism in the Spirit born of spirit sort of way.  Our newest and youngest member of St. Paul's!  Congrats to Craig and Maggie!

29 January 2012

Weekend's Wrap

Friday found Cindi and I headed off to Chicago for a Board of Regents meeting at Concordia University-Chicago (aka, River Forest!).  Cindi met up with Kim Sales (wife of another regent, Angel Jesus Sales) and had a great time visiting, shopping, and proselytizing for primal blueprint.  The regents meeting ran longer than usual and it was a dash home in order to make the Saturday service.  Cindi and Carlo had worked up a lovely Haydn "Benedictus qui venit" that was sung during Distribution at all the services this weekend.  After services on Sunday, we quickly prepared breakfast (sweet taters with onions, bacon, sausage, eggs, and left-over cranberry muffins) and then Dave and Jo joined us.  Dave was the big winner today at Liverpool - it made Jo's day as I'm sure you can imagine.  After Catechism Service, Cindi and I sat down to a quick meal of pickled herring, sliced avocado with salsa, dubliner cheese, and half a banana.  Then back to work trying to schedule the activities for this week (and sending out bulletin for next Sunday and such).  God willing, after teaching at TSP and leading our preschool Chapel, tomorrow I will finish communion to the homebound and baptize Craig and Maggie's newest at the hospital before the day's done.

26 January 2012

The Swedish Preface

from the Olavus Petri Order from 1531 forms the basis of the invariable Preface found in Divine Service 4.  It's ironic, in some ways, that the German-heritage LCMS would be the preserver of a text that the old Augustana Synod folk would immediately recognize.  I've very glad that we still have it.  BUT.

But I truly wish that we had left all of it intact.  If we had, we'd have a prayer like this:

It is truly good, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, O Lord, holy Father, almighty and everlasting God, for the countless blessings You so freely bestow upon us and all creation.  Above all, we give thanks for Your boundless love, that when we were in so bad a state that naught but death and eternal damnation awaited us, and no creature in heaven or on earth could help us, then You did send forth Your only-begotten Son, who is of the same divine nature as Yourself, and suffered Him to become flesh, being born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and did lay on Him our sin, giving Him into death that we might not die eternally....

Sad thing is, I think it's largely Maxwell's and my fault that those bolded goodies were lost, for the preface as it appears in LSB DS IV is clearly a slight revision of the proposed Eucharistia that Maxwell and I suggested (and which Quill chronicles in *The Impact of the Liturgical Movement on American Lutheranism* - see p. 209,210) - and in that Eucharistia the phrases bolded above were not included.  I don't know about you, but I think it a sad oops.  It would have been that much stronger a prayer had we not "downsized" it in our paper and subsequently had it not been downsized in the Hymnal.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Ratzinger makes a strong case for the thesis that the conception, found in the New Testament and the ancient Fathers, of the soul's post-mortem continuation in the paradisal intermediate state stands firmly in the tradition of intertestamental Judaism.  Any hypothesis of direct Christian borrowing from Platonic sources is thus superfluous. -- Dr. John R. Stephenson, Eschatology, p. 46.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In a garden You sweated blood, in a garden You were buried, and in a garden You rose again from the dead.  In the form of a gardener You appeared on Easter, for You were to restore everything that we ruined in the garden of Paradise by our first parents.  -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, p. 80.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Do not say, 'I cannot bear to come near those who hate me,' but say, 'I cannot bear to despise those who despise me.'  This is the language of Christ's disciple, as much as the other is the devil's.  This makes men honorable and glorious. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 27.

25 January 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

It has become fashionable to suppose that the admittedly Hellenistic notion of the immortality of the soul is completely devoid of support in Holy Scripture, being rather an anthropological error of the ancient Greeks at odds with the Hebraic conception of man. -- Dr. John R. Stephenson, Eschatology, p. 40.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

O Lord Jesus, help me not to be a useless clod of earth, but to live in such a way that the world may have some benefit from me.  -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, p. 79.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Do not tell me that this or that man is a runaway slave, or a robber or thief, or laden with countless faults, or that he is beggar and outcast, or of low value and worthy of no account.  Instead, consider that for his sake, Christ died.  This suffices you as a basis for your concern.  Consider what sort of person he must be, whom Christ valued at such a high price as not to have spared even His own blood. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Humility 5

24 January 2012

REMINDER: The Conversion of St. Paul

Tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. we will gather to celebrate the Conversion of St. Paul.  Truly one of the most stunning moments in the history of our faith, when the Lord Jesus knocked Saul of Tarsus off his high horse and began to forge for Himself the man who would become the great Apostle to the Gentiles and the writer of so very much of our beloved New Testament.  "This is a saying worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief."  Join us if you can!

On the devotional side of life...

...which is a favorite of mine, I had a friend lately write me to inquire about suggestions for his own devotions (which is a handy word for the discipline of daily time in the Scriptures and in prayer).  I wrote him back to commend once again the beloved Treasury, but to add on that there are now two companion volumes (and a third on the way) that even deepen its value.

I'm referring to *A Year in the New Testament* which provides a meditation upon each of the NT readings for the day according to the LSB Daily Lectionary; and *A Year in the Church Fathers* which provides a choice selection from a wide array of early Church fathers, connected to one of the readings for the day.  I've posted snippets from that volume since I purchased it.  A book on the OT readings is in the works, I know, but I'm not sure where matters stand on its appearing.

But even with just the resources at hand, that means you have THREE writings each day to help you ponder and contemplate the daily lectionary readings.  Add to this that with the PrayNow App, you don't have to lug your Treasury along with you - it fits in your iPad or iPhone or whatever.  I'd love to see CPH put in the option of selecting the "writing" for the day from the Treasury itself or from one of the newer *A Year...* books!

23 January 2012

LSB One-Year Peculiarities

As we prepare to go into pre-Lent (can it already be here?), a few changes liturgically to note:

Beginning with the Divine Service for Septuagesima, the plaintive Tract replaces the joyous Alleluia and Verse.
Beginning with Ash Wednesday, the Gloria in Excelsis (or any Hymn of Praise) is omitted from the Divine Service.
Beginning with Judica, the Gloria Patri is omitted from the Introit.

Note that the Gloria in Excelsis MAY be used on Holy Thursday, if the service does not begin with the Service of Corporate Confession and Absolution.

Now the usual discussion of the color mess.  First, remember that uniform use of the colors is relatively late.  Read through Stiller's work on Leipzig at the time of Bach and you'll readily see how different from our current expectations the color scheme in use at the time was!  But if we pay attention to the rubrics of our hymnal, then we have the following:

Pre-Lent - Green, with the Epiphany Preface continuing in use (see, Altar Book, pp. 862-865).
Ash Wednesday - Black or Violet with the Lenten Preface (see Altar Book, p. 867).
Invocabit through the week of Judica - Violet with the Lenten Preface (see Altar Book, pp. 868-875).
Palmarum through Holy Wednesday- Scarlet or violet with Holy Week Preface (see Altar Book, pp. 876-880).
Holy Thursday - White, scarlet or violet with Holy Week Preface (see Altar Book, p. 881).
Good Friday - Black (if paraments are used, but see note on p. 511  "the altar remains bare, having been stripped on Holy Thursday") with Holy Week Preface (see Altar Book, p. 883).
Easter Vigil- Easter Wednesday- White or gold with Easter preface (see Altar Book, p. 885-891).

Certainly there is variety in how parishes choose to follow these particular rubrics.  There are places that follow the one-time Roman custom of Pre-Lent being violet.  There are places that insist on the White for Maundy Thursday.  Here at St. Paul's our actual practice accords with the rubrics cited above, with these choices:  violet for Ash Wednesday; Scarlet from Palmarum through Holy Thursday; Bare for Good Friday; and Gold for the Easter feasts.  We do use the Corporate Confession option both to start and end Lent:  on Ash Wednesday and on Maundy Thursday.

It seems each year that these questions get discussed around the blogosphere, so that's a quick reference guide if you're looking for the actual rubrics of our current rite.  They're not divinely inspired; you may well disagree with the wisdom of some of the choices; but they are the guidance our Synod offers us, for what it's worth.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Thus pious meditation on death begins in the dimension of the Law, acknowledging the certainty of coming judgment (2 Cor. 5:10), and flowering in contrition.  That death can and must also be pondered and spoken of in the dimension of the Gospel results solely from the blessed fact that the eternal Son of God assumed our flesh and blood to taste death for everyone, to destroy the devil who has the power of death, and deliver His own from the fear of death (Heb. 2:9,14f).... From the vantage point of the Gospel, bodily death can be embraced with hope as destruction of the old man, consummation of baptism, and entrance into paradise. -- Dr. John R. Stephenson, Eschatology, p. 38.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Oh Lord Jesus, You also promised me faithfulness and love in my Baptism.  Do not disregard Your old pledge.  Let me know indeed that Your Word is true and certain.  Be with me in all that I do.  Be with me when I pray; help strengthen my prayer that it may be heard by Your Father.  Be with me when I suffer trouble and misery, and comfort me.  Be with me when the evil one distresses and attacks me, and protect me.  Do me good, that all my enemies, death, the devil, and hell, may see it.  Forgive me all my sins, that my enemies may be ashamed, and take me to heaven in spite of all their ranting and raving.  -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, p. 77.

Patristic Quote of the Day

We tell them (Montanists) that we not so much reject prophesy - for this is attested by the Passion of our Lord - as we refuse to receive prophets whose utterances fail to accord with the Scriptures old and new. -- St. Jerome, Letters, 41.2

22 January 2012

The entire lectionary debate

Or discussion or whatever you want to call it, comes down to whether you value diachronic unity above synchronic unity. While I have to disagree with those who discount the value of either, I confess my heart is aligned with diachronic, yet I sympathize deeply with the tug toward synchronic.

21 January 2012

Homily upon Epiphany 3

[2 Kings 5:1-15a / Romans 1:8-17 / Matthew 8:1-13]

They provide a study in contrasts:  Naaman and the Centurion.   Both military men.  Both men of power.  Men who were used to uttering commands and having them followed.  Men who battered down their enemies.  Men who were used to being in control.  In all of that, I suspect they were rather much like each other.  The contrast came when they bumped up against events beyond their control and were suddenly faced with being unable to help themselves, to fix the problem before them.

For Naaman it was leprosy.  Maybe his wife noticed the spot one day, or maybe he did.  But it progressed, grew, and this mighty, powerful man – rich in goods, high in favor of his King – he had to face the fact of his inability to fix what ailed him.  And even when the little servant girl pointed him in the right direction, and he heads off to Israel, you can still see a man wanting to be in control.  When the prophet gives him an incredible promise – just go dip in the Jordan seven times and your flesh will be restored and you will be clean – he marches off in a huff, pouting that the prophet wasn’t impressed by his large retinue and didn’t come and do wonders on the spot for such a mighty and important person.  It takes his servants arguing with him to even give the prophet’s words a try.  Don’t know about you, but I’m thinking he did it to humor them.  Maybe so he could say:  “See, I told you so.”  But of course, the Word of God in the mouth of Elisha was truth.  The man dipped himself seven times and he came out of the water clean, his flesh like a baby’s.  He’d met in that water the living God, the God of Israel for whom there is NO problem that’s too big, too hopeless.  Naaman became a believer that day and he confessed his faith to the Man of God, Elisha.  A man of power dragged into the kingdom fighting to the end, but finally overcome by grace.

And then there’s the Roman centurion.  His servant lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.  The man tells Jesus about it and when our Lord, in His compassion, states immediately that He will come and heal the poor man, behold the faith of the centurion.  “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word and my servant will be healed.  For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me.  They do what I tell them.”  Jesus stares in marvel at this powerful man who confesses that he’s not worthy.  He’s not out to impress Jesus with his fine house, his large retinue, his pomp and circumstance.  He knows that he’s unworthy of what he’s asking.  But it doesn’t stop him because of his faith – everything he’s ever heard about this Jesus of Nazareth persuaded him that He would care and that He had the power to heal when it was beyond any remedy.  “Only say the word and my servant will be healed.”

The man’s faith in Jesus was that Jesus’ word was mighty and strong and could give exactly what it promised.  Not empty air like so many of our promises; His word does exactly what it says.  Naaman found out by experience and confessed it was so; but the Centurion – his faith came before he experienced it.  Jesus praises that faith that marks the people of God in every age – the faith that lived in Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, the faith that makes any human being a child of Abraham, when you believe that the Word of God can call into being things that are not and make them be.  “Go, let it be done for you as you have believed.”  And his servant was healed at that very moment.

Your God is a God of promises.  A God who speaks His word and it is so.  Many, many times His word tells you things that seem silly to prideful human beings – folks like Naaman who think entirely too much of themselves and look down on what seems pure weakness – like the Jordan’s waters.

I mean think of it:  Your God tells you that the obedience and death of His Son IS your righteousness.  That in Baptism where His Word is joined to the water, He wraps you up in the holiness of Christ and so YOU stand before Him spotless and without sin.  That this good news, this gospel, is His power to save you, to save everyone who believes – whether Jews or Gentiles like Naaman and the Roman Centurion.  That this Gospel pulls the veil off the righteousness of God so that you can see that God considers ANYONE righteous who credits His Word as truth – “the righteous shall live by faith.”  Not just any faith, but the faith that God speaks truth to you, above all truth to you in Jesus, in whom all His promises are yeah and amen.  That His death is your life.  And His life will destroy your death.  Your sins His, His holiness yours.  He promises it to you.

He goes on speaking promises today.  He speaks His words over bread and wine and He causes them to be exactly what He says they are:  His body and His blood shed for you, on Golgotha for the forgiveness of all your sin, to give you a share in His own divine life.

Long, long has the Church put onto the lips of all her children coming to the Eucharist the words of the believing Centurion:  “Lord, I am not worthy for you to come under the roof of my soul, but only speak the word and your servant will be healed.”  

When you are up against the stuff you can’t control; when your powers are at their end, remember where to turn.  Remember who waits to heal you, to hold you, to embrace you and to set you free.  Men of power and pride may scoff at how He chooses to love you, but men of faith learn to bow in humility before the Crucified and Risen One and confess His apparent foolishness wiser than all our wisdom and His weak ways – water, bread, wine, words of promise, words of hope – His weak ways stronger than all our strength.  

And then we too are free to go – knowing it has been done for us even as we have believed.  To our almighty Lord Jesus with His Eternal Father and Life-giving Spirit be all glory and honor, now and to the ages of ages.  Amen.

19 January 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Since the supernaturally conceived manhood of the Second Adam was sinless, however, the death of the Son of God according to His human nature was a voluntary sacrifice, the crown of His humiliation, the ineffable proof of the love that did not shrink from becoming not only man but even a sinner. (John 10:18; 2 Cor. 5:21) -- Dr. John R. Stephenson, Eschatology, p. 36.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Learn well, dear heart:  what is proud, God lays low, but what is lowly He restores and raises again. -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, p. 75.

Patristic Quote of the Day

And as this judgment was due to both, Jacob learned from the case of Esau that the fact of the same punishment not falling upon him gave him no room to boast in any merit of his own, but only the riches of divine grace. -- St. Augustine, Enchiridion 98

18 January 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Doctrine, teaches Luther, is like a ring or a bell, which, when damaged at only one place, suffers utter ruin.  Orthodoxy in one article of faith presupposes and requires orthodoxy in all the rest.  -- Dr. John R. Stephenson, Eschatology, p. 35.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Oh Lord Jesus Christ, help me to guard myself from spiritual arrogance, nor to demand heaven of You as thought it were Your duty to give it, but only to look to Your gracious promise offered to me in the Gospel, to confide in it, to rely on it with a firm faith, and never to falter in any tribulation; that like righteous Isaac in his father's possession I too may thus, unhindered by any wicked spirit, peacefully possess Your heavenly inheritance, where I will praise, extol, thank and serve You forever.  Amen. -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, p. 74.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The Law was given that grace might be sought; grace was given that the Law might be fulfilled. -- St. Augustine, On the Spirit and the Letter, 1.34 (you all know where I read it by now...)

16 January 2012

Pastor's Annual Report - 2011

The year 2011 was the 155th year that the Lord Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit gathered together a family of Lutheran Christians at St. Paul’s, New Gehlenbeck. A community that delighted to sing praises to our heavenly Father and receive all the good gifts that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have to give to us (and through us!) as we share in their unending life.

In January of last year, Pr. Gleason completed the windows in the doors between the Narthex and the Nave of the Church. Looking outside in, sort of hard to tell what’s what. Looking from within the Church out, though, we see the door devoted to God the Father – gold trimmed and shining white. We see the doors devoted to God the Son, the Lamb of God, blood red and glowing. We see the door devoted to God the Holy Spirit, blue as the sky above from which the dove descended and as the waters over which He brings the church to new life – Baptism. Dave Heidbrink has been protesting since we took down the symbols of the Trinity on the front wall that our nave had removed all reference to the Trinity – and he was among the very first to note that this has now been more than remedied. Janet Engelke and several other folk noted how natural the new art was – looked like it had been here since the building was built. Truly, Pr. Gleason is a master craftsman. But mightier than he, is the Lord Himself who crafted Himself a home, an abode of the blessed Trinity, within little August Paul Schumacher on the very feast day of our Lord’s Baptism. Where the Baptismal waters flow, there the Blessed Trinity continues to build His Church and give life.

Though February was cold and bitter as usual, the frozen outside did not stop the living waters from flowing within the holy Church. At the beginning of the month, Lili Micnheimer was brought through the saving flood and at the end of month, so was Claire Sievers – both embraced by Triune love and marked as Christ’s own forever.

As we moved into Lent, we couldn’t move away from the joys of Baptism. Tiffany Pate (Ann Pipkin’s niece) was clothed in the righteousness of the Son of God and enlightened by His Spirit. As the weeks of Lent progressed we gathered for our beloved Evening Prayer at the midweeks and heard anew the story of our Lord’s Passion. Also during March, acting on counsel from our District President, Pr. Timothy Scharr, St. Paul’s voters extended a call to Pr. William Gleason as a part-time, associate pastor of the parish.

April was a crazy, busy month. We started out with Amy Cox and Scott Mayes wedding early on, followed the next day by two Baptisms: Lindsay Ray Autrey and Henry Hartley were plunged beneath the bracing stream and came up from it with their sins forever gone and sealed with the Holy Spirit. Just a week later, Bryce Goeckner followed them into the water, joining Jesus in His death and sharing in His resurrection. The middle of the month brought us a pile of confirmations. It was our joy to hear Sydney Anderson, Cyrus Bartony, Adam Behrhorst, Nicholas Brunnworth, Rachel Brunnworth, Jason Johnson, Chase Langendorf, Megan Pellock, Kelsey Piper, Melissa Pipkin, Emily and Justin Schwarz, and Lizzy Steinmann confess Him who had claimed them years before in Baptism and promise to be faithful to Him unto death by His grace. The Church was absolutely packed to the gills that day – and Confirmation only augmented our usual joys on Palm Sunday. Before holy week was over, we delighted to welcome Larry Ridens and Don Granda also to St. Paul’s altar. Joys abounding! Easter was the feast of joy that it always is to us – our beloved Pascha. From Matins and Easter breakfast (thank you, Thrivent folk!), to egg hunts and preservice music, and crowning it all: the Divine Service for the Resurrection. More joy than we could hold: “Now all the vault of heaven resounds in praise of love that still abounds! Christ has triumphed! He is risen!” Risen indeed. And more joy still to squeeze in as the very end of the month found all our little ones from the SPECLC telling the easter story in words and song to their parents and grandparents and neighbors. Also before the month was finished, our Lord Jesus claimed for His own yet another little Schwarz: Joseph Jeffrey by name. His little heart was cleansed by faith and became a dwelling place of the Blessed Trinity.

May began and ended with weddings. Early in the month Robyn Gerber and Mark Massey were united by their promises and God’s blessings before the altar. Robyn has long been like one of our own kids - in and out of the house from when they were little, and so thick with my girls that we've long told Bill and Cheryl we share them. Kindly, Bill didn't make us share the bill for the wedding... And at the end of the month, it seemed we had nearly all the Southern Illinois District present for the marriage of the daughter of Pr. Kettner (Christ Jacob), Karen Kettner, and the son, Bryan, of the former pastor from Carmi (Pr. James Kress). Much joy that day – I’ll never forget that Karen insisted, absolutely insisted, that we had to sing “Of the Father’s love begotten.” Pastor’s kids….what can I say? Early that month we also were blessed to have President Scharr with us for Pastor Gleason’s installation. And, of course, we closed out yet another year at Trinity-St. Paul with St. Paul’s hosting the graduation service in a liturgy of Evening Prayer.

With June came the first funerals of the year. We lost that month both Ruth Kelley – long time home-bound (I’d been taking her communion at home for 19 years!) and our jovial, loving Ray Blase. Ruth was a marvel in how her spirits had held so firm and strong for so very long, but toward the end, all she wanted was to go home. And the Lord in mercy granted that request. Ray, well, I can describe it no better than when he noted his disappointment at waking up one morning and still being here. He was filled with laughter and joy and ready to depart – he knew (as did Ruth) that his sins were forgiven, his death destroyed, and he wanted to be with his Savior until the joyous day of renewal of all things. In the midst of the funerals, though, new life flowed to little Regan Long as the Savior claimed him as his very own for time and for eternity. Also there was great joy during the month in the conduct of our annual VBS and the sharing of the story of Christ with all the little ones.

July brought word of Imogene Kroeger’s death – she had moved down to her son in Texas some years back (and he subsequently had passed before her). She was such a busy servant of Christ here when I first came as your pastor – she and Ed both. Her gravelly voice, quick laughter, and fascinating stories will stay with me all my days. I look forward to catching up in the Age to come! The very end of July brought us the Baptism of Clayton Dean Riechmann – yet another of the Lord’s lambs, gathered into his arms, in an embrace stronger than death itself.

August began with the end of Eunice Niles’ pilgrimage. I will miss our occasional outing for Mexican, her indomitable spirit (“You really need to get over this fear of heights and do the parasailing. Trust me on this.”). She may have been little, but she was spunky as they come. August saw a new school year begin. Also that month, you all pulled a fast one on me and surprised me with a special observance of the 25th anniversary of my ordination. I will NEVER forget my puzzlement on what on earth President Harrison was doing strolling down the aisle after the cross. What joy to have him with us that day and I am still in shock over the generosity of your kind gift to me.

Come September we were still singing the praises of the blessed Trinity and rejoicing to have the choir and bells back in on the action again – we always miss them during the summer months! That month, Jesus washed another little one in His healing streams – Phiona Huff was named His and the light of Christ shone upon her little life.

October brought our usual joys with LWML the first weekend – and we had the rare opportunity to see into Pastor Gleason’s work with glass. He even proved to Kurt Johnson that he COULD cut a piece of glass and not break it. It was fascinating indeed. At month’s end, we celebrated Reformation with Divine Service V, and I think it fair to say that the little choir that put that service together blew us away. Great joy in singing to the Blessed Trinity!

By November, of course, we had All Saints and the remembrance of the faithful departed, and the certain knowledge that it wouldn’t be long before another name were added. Arne Hellmann was in fast decline. Yet another of the Lord’s saints so ready to go, and I’ll never forget his uttering every word of Psalm 23 with me when he could barely get the words out. The word had gone deep in his heart and he held to it and it saw him through the valley of the shadow of death in the companionship of His great good shepherd. Sausage Supper was hot – as you recall – or at least not as cold as we tend to think it ought to be; Thanksgiving found a full church and more songs of joy.

By December we were well into Advent. And as John the Baptist began to appear in our liturgy and readings, Logan Richard Bucklew and then Adriana Lucia Bartony heeded the Baptist’s call and were plunged into new life in the saving waters Jamie Phipps (currently a catechumen) and Brian Goebel were united in holy marriage at the start of the month – Pr. Gleason mercifully filling in as stomach flu jailed me to the parsonage. The LWML and Ladies Aid celebrated their Christmas party. The children of SPECLC offered their Christmas program to a packed church; as did the Sunday School Children come Christmas Eve. Come Christmas Day we sang our joy with the angels and archangels over the Word becoming Flesh and dwelling among us.

All in all a busy year, a year filled with joys, touched by sorrows, but a year of grace for the Blessed Trinity never failed us once – constantly pouring His grace upon our parish family. We welcomed new members and saw old friends move away or move on, but through it all, we were blessed to remain St. Paul’s New Gehlenbeck, a community of evangelical Lutheran Christians meeting just north of Hamel, IL.

At the end of 2011, the baptized membership of St. Paul’s stood at 724. The communicant membership at 578. The average attendance was 331 per week (thank you, again, Louis Hellmann for calculating that for us!) which means that approximately 46% of our members were in attendance in a Divine Service in any given week.

Respectfully submitted by William Weedon, Pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in the 20th year of this pastorate.

14 January 2012

Very proud of David

for winning "best of the show" for that animation he did:

Check it out here.

Homily for Epiphany 2

[Exodus 33:12-23 / Ephesians 5:22-33 / John 2:1-11]

Moses asked the biggy:  “Please show me Your glory.”  He had been listening to God for a long time.  But he wanted to see this One who had been speaking, who promised that His presence would go with His people.  You understand where Moses is coming from.  You’d like to see that glory too.  You get a little weary of it all being words, words, words.  “Please show me Your glory.”

What an odd reply Moses receives from the Lord.  “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name, Yahweh, the Lord.  And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and will show mercy to whom I will show mercy.  But” He said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”

The problem, people loved by God, is not that God isn’t goodness, gracious, and merciful.  The problem is that we in our sinful state are not.  And His holiness is so beyond our ability to handle that it would wipe us out.  That’s not God’s will or plan for us – wiping us out, I mean – and so even a holy man like Moses, the great prophet, even he cannot endure so much as a glimpse at the very face of the One who speaks to him without it destroying him.  So he gets hidden in the cleft of the rock and covered by a merciful hand and when the Lord has passed by He took away His hand and Moses saw the backsides of God, not His face.  It would wipe you out too.  A holiness so full of goodness, grace, and mercy.

But this God of ours really didn’t give a “no” to Moses.  Moses got a wee glimpse to hold him through because the day WOULD come when Moses would see face to face the one who was speaking to him.  More on that in a bit.  But first, off to the Gospel reading.

There you DO meet the One who was speaking to Moses, but He has come among us, wrapping His glory up in human flesh and blood.  He looked, as Isaiah put it, an ordinary Joe.  He had no form or beauty that we should desire him.  He was Mary’s son, grown to manhood.  Joseph is out of the story now and most hold that he had died before our Lord even began His ministry.  Up to this point in John’s Gospel we’ve heard that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and John insists that he and the other disciples “saw His glory, glory as of the Only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  Yes, the God who spoke to Moses – that’s the One John insists we meet in the flesh of Jesus.  The Baptist had baptized Him, and witnessed to all that He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  He already collected a few disciples:  Peter and Andrew, James and John, Nathanial.  And so the stage is set for today’s Gospel – the very first “sign” – St. John’s peculiar word for our Lord’s miracles – that our Lord Jesus ever performed.

And notice how the portents clump together.  Third day.  Wedding.  Mary there.  “My hour.”  “Do whatever He tells you.” Water changed by His word, transformed, outstandingly awesome good stuff.  Not like my old Franzia in a box.  This was the stuff that made even Napa valley snobs sit up and take notice.  And so, St. John concludes:  “This first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory.  And His disciples believed in Him.”

Who but God could speak a word and cause plain, old ordinary water to become something extraordinary – wine of the best?  Only the Creator.  And so if at Christmas we celebrated that God had become man; here in Epiphany we celebrate that this Man shows Himself to be the true God.  He lets His glory show, shine into this world, and the disciples believe in Him.  That is, they believe that He is

The Only Son from heaven,
foretold by ancient seers,
by God the Father given,
in human form appears.
No sphere His light confining,
no star so brightly shining,
as He, our Morning Star.  [Hymn of the Day]
 
They see His glory, they believe.  And His glory doesn’t wipe them out.  They look on the face of God in the flesh – just as did His mother Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds, the Wise Men.  God had found a way to show His face to us without wiping us out at all.  Instead, He’d come to wipe out OUR enemies.

And all of this story in chapter 2 then finds its fulfillment in chapter 19.  Mary only shows up twice in John’s Gospel.  Here at the wedding and there at the foot of the cross.  And Jesus puts her into St. John’s keeping – for there is a time when a man leaves His father and mother and is joined to His wife and they become one flesh.  See the Bridegroom upon the Cross.  As Adam slept and from his side, God took what He needed to make a bride for him; so as the New Adam sleeps in death on His Cross, from His side flow the blood and water with which He will fashion for Himself a bride, His Church.  The blood of Eucharist.  The water of Holy Baptism.  His bride created and nourished from His body’s vital juices.  And this is THE hour of which He spoke.  The hour when the Son of Man is glorified.  Where the glory shines brighter than anywhere else.  For this is God’s glory – to give away His goodness, to share His grace, to impart His mercy.  By His blood shed and death, your Bridegroom has purchased and won YOU to be His own, to live under Him in His kingdom, and to serve Him in HIS VERY OWN everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness.  Look upon the face of the man hanging dead on the tree and you see the greatest glimpse of the glory of God.

No wonder, then, that Moses and Elijah at the Mount of Transfiguration, where the face of Jesus was shining brighter than the sun, and they shining in His light, weren’t talking about how cool His body looked; they were talking about the greater glory yet to come:  the Exodus that He would accomplish in Jerusalem.  His suffering and dying.  Moses and Elijah looking at the shining face of Jesus knew that the greatest glory would take place in darkness as the Lamb of God yielded His life for them, for us, for all, becoming our Heavenly Bridegroom.

So you can see why St. Paul speaks of marriage the way he does.  People always mishear him – as though he said nothing than husbands are the boss and wives are the doormats.  How far from what he pictures!  He turns to Jesus, the Bridegroom, and to the Church, the Bride, and he takes marriage into that.  So that husbands ARE crowned king of their familes – a servants crown of thorns pressed squarely down upon their heads.  So that wives ARE crowned queen of their families – receiving their husbands’ service and giving him their loyalty and their love.  Marriage is simply transformed – just like all of life is – when it is taken up into Jesus and seen the right way round.  In every marriage where husband and wife submit together to the heavenly Bridegroom, He will take the ordinary, the trials, the suffering and the hardships and transform them into something extraordinary.  He will make water into wine.  And husband and wives will see His glory – the glory that shone at Cana, that Moses saw on the Mount of Transfiguration, and that shines brightest of all at Mount Calvary.

Today in His Eucharist He comes to show you His glory – for here He will speak His Word and transform ordinary bread and wine into the bride-price that He offered that you might belong to Him forever.  Seeing His glory you too will believe in Him and give glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and to the ages of ages!  Amen.

13 January 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Christ and the Holy Spirit are unsurpassable divine Persons of infinite perfection, but the Christian's hold on Christ is apt to be shaky, and his communion with the Holy Spirit fitful and imperfect.  God's reign in His people on earth, while gloriously inaugurated in baptism, stands in constant danger of tragic termination through the the redeemed creature's falling from grace (1 Cor. 10:12).  The apostle's biting sarcasm is needed to rescue Christians from the presumptuous illusion of having already achieved perfect maturity in Christ (1 Cor. 4:8-13). -- Dr. John R. Stephenson, Eschatology, p. 29.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Isaac was born of the free princess Sarah who, unlike Hagar, knew no toil to speak of.  Likewise, all blessed children of God are born of God to everlasting freedom, and they do not boast of their glorious works and hard labor.  Rather, when we have done everything, we say, "we are unprofitable servants" [Luke 17:10]. -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, p. 73.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Whereas grace, which is entirely free, finds nothing in man to which merit is due... Assuredly, grace itself gives the merits.  It is not given to merit.  Consequently, it goes before even faith, from which all good works begin. -- St. Augustine, On Patience, 17.  A Year With the Church Fathers, p. 14.

12 January 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

While the assumed manhood of Jesus is to be lauded as the adorable paradigm of realized eschatology, Christians as the subjects of justification and sanctification are aptly to be regarded as the workplace for the inaugurated eschatology. -- Dr. John R. Stephenson, Eschatology, p. 29.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

O my dearest child Jesus, You are my Child of Joy for when I pray in Your name, I am heard.  You are my Child of Joy in every adversity for You fill my heart with joy so that I do not despair. -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God, III/IV, p. 64.

Patristic Quote of the Day

When, indeed, He [the Holy Spirit] by the Law shows to a man his weakness, it is in order that by faith he may flee for refuge to His mercy and be healed. -- St. Augustine, On the Spirit and the Letter 1.15, *A Year with the Church Fathers* p. 12.

10 January 2012

OH and THIS

also arrived today:





















"What is it?" you ask.  Well, you can read about it here.  Very eager to see how well it actually works!

Beef's in!

Off to Highland to pick up half a cow of deliciousness.  I wonder if it will FIT in the freezer or not...

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Sacred Scripture forthrightly indicates that the divine reign is only imperfectly realized here below in the members of Christ's mystical body. -- Dr. John R. Stephenson, *Eschatology* p. 27.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Such an exchange between heavenly joy and divine sorrow continues for the entire time of a Christian's life-span.  Christ bestows wine at times; at other times, water.  Finally someday the Lord Christ will bring His bride into eternal life.... At that time, all the water of tribulation and anxiety will cease, there shall no longer be suffering or pain, Rev. 21:4.  Instead, we shall be given to drink from the rich commodities of the house of God, Ps. 36:8. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard on the Epiphany 2 Gospel, *Postilla I:160*

Patristic Quote of the Day

People are in danger both from hoping and despairing, from contrary things, from contrary affections.

Who is deceived by hoping? He who says, 'God is good.  God is merciful.  Therefore let me do what I please and what I like.  Let me give the reins to my lusts and let me gratify the desires of my soul.  Why is this?  Because God is merciful.  God is good.  God is kind.' Such people are in danger by hope.

Those are in danger from despair who, having fallen into grievous sins, presuming that they can no more be pardoned upon repentance, and believing that they are without doubt, doomed to damnation, say to themselves, 'I am already destined to be damned.  Why not do what I please, with the disposition of gladiators destined for the sword?'  This is the reason desperate men are dangerous, having no longer anything to fear, they are to be feared most of all.

Despair kills the latter.  Hope kills the former.

--St. Augustine, Tractates on John 33:8 (*A Year with the Church Fathers* p. 11.

09 January 2012

For those interested in learning more...

...about Sisson's Primal Blueprint approach to food, exercise, play and well, enjoying life, you can get a very good overview from this set of links:



For those of you utterly uninterested in this stuff, just ignore!  :)  

P.S.  Remember as you read my earlier caveat about the evolutionary presuppositions... 

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Reformer [Luther] never permitted his impassioned protest against the Rome of his day to blind him to the ongoing presence of Christendom within that jurisdiction:  "We on our part confess that there is much that is Christian and good under the papacy; indeed everything that is Christian and good is to be found there and has come to us from this source.  For instance we confess that in the papal church there are the true Holy Scriptures, true Baptism, the true Sacrament of the Altar, the true Keys for the forgiveness of sins, the true Office of the Ministry, the true catechism in the form of the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Articles of the Creed" (Luther AE 36:16) -- Dr. John R. Stephenson, *Eschatology* p. 8.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We are certainly able to turn good to evil; in that we are masters.  But to turn evil to good is Your own skill.  May You demonstrate this to me whenever I have need of it. -- Blessed Valarius Herberger, *The Great Works of God* III/IV, p. 57.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Thus it is that in the same affliction the wicked detest God and blaspheme, while the good pray and praise. -- St. Augustine, City of God 1.9, *Through the Year with the Church Fathers* p. 10.

08 January 2012

Looking ahead...

...a friend noted that this year, the 25th of March falls on the Fifth Sunday in Lent.  Which has priority?

I'd draw attention to the rubric found on page 960 of Lutheran Service Book:  Altar Book:

It is appropriate to observe this feast day in all its fullness during Lent.  However, according to historical precedent, when the Annunciation falls during Holy Week or on Easter Day (or also on the Fifth Sunday in Lent in the one-year series), it should not be observed at those times but may be transferred to a weekday following the Second Sunday of Easter.  


Thus, acceding to our rite, it would be appropriate for those of you who follow the Three-Year lectionary to observe the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25 and simply omit the fifth Sunday in Lent.  However, since those parishes that follow the One-Year lectionary enter into Passion-tide on the fifth Sunday in Lent, it is NOT appropriate for Annunciation to replace the observance of Judica.  Thus, just as there is a difference between the lectionaries on the observance of Transfiguration, so there is also a difference this year on the priority of Annunciation.  Three-year folks may (and really ought*) to celebrate it; one year folks will have to wait till after Judica to celebrate it.

*See the footnote on p. xi of Lutheran Service Book:

The observances listed in boldface are principal feasts of Christ and are normally observed when they occur on a Sunday.  

New primal meal tonight...

...sort of.  We don't actually eat much in the evenings as a rule.  So Cindi and I cracked open a can of smoked oysters and ate them on some of our almond crackers.  First time I've eaten oysters - pretty good!  Next I have to try them raw on the half shell.

07 January 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

In recent centuries the apostasy foretold by Christ our Lord has found highly insidious expression in the bitter fruits of the European Enlightenment.  -- Dr. J. R. Stephenson, *Eschatology* p. 4.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Lot's daughter had clever and good intentions, yet it was still sin and shame.  Therefore, dear heart, learn to conduct your life not by good intentions but by God's directions and commands. -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, *The Great Works of God* III/IV, p. 54.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The cross is for our sake, being the work of unutterable love toward man and the sign of God's grace concerning us. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Romans, 2 [Yet another gem from *A Year with the Church Fathers* p. 8]

Have you ever thought

how weird it is that we Christians get together and sing?  I mean, humans used to do a lot of singing all over the place.  But it sure seems like in recent years just getting together to sing has dried up a bit in our culture.  Singing is something you LISTEN to (with your private ear buds solidly in place or with your ghetto blaster screaming from your car), but something folks seem increasingly uncomfortable doing.  I'm so glad that St. Paul's is a singing place - folks of all sorts there are not afraid to belt out music.  And as Christians we know the secret joy that is ours: belting out that music in praise of the Blessed Trinity and joining with angels and archangels and all heaven's hosts to sing to the Lamb.  Our Lutheran Church has an astonishingly rich heritage of music - of singing praises and proclaiming the great things our God has done to save us and sanctify us - may it grow ever stronger into the next generation!

05 January 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The signs of the end times listed by our Lord in the "little apocalypses" of the Synoptic gospels have known some measure of fulfillment in every age of Christendom, so that the fathers from the New Testament times onwards have confidently looked for the imminent consummation of all things at Christ's return in glory. -- Dr. John R. Stephenson, Eschatology, p. 3.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

When You [Lord Jesus] make a threat, it is time for one to believe, repent, and amend one's ways.  When You give comfort, one must trust confidently, be bold, and live and die on it.  -- Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, p. 51, 52.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Thus when he [Isaiah] says "Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways" he is signifying the exaltation of the lowly, the humiliation of the self-willed, and the hardness of the Law changed into the effortlessness of faith. It is no longer toils and labors, he says, but grace and the forgiveness of sins, affording a great capacity of salvation. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew 3, *A Year with the Church Fathers* p. 5.

03 January 2012

A Primal Diet Day?

We just had just great food today, I had to blog about it.  This a.m. with steaming hot coffee, we enjoyed a spinach omelet with cheese and onions.  Come lunch time, Cindi made some bison steaks and I fixed some cauliflower with a coconut-lime-almond butter sauce - we wrapped up with a handful of nuts and a square of 85% dark chocolate.  Bekah and David joined us for lunch, so we cut the bison steaks in half and they were more than enough.  But boy were they rare - and exceedingly tasty.  Another handful of nuts here or there during the day with several cups of hot tea.  Tonight's meal was left-over chili (a fabulous recipe - made with beef, bacon, carrots, and a bit of cocoa powder, of all things!) and some Lebanese cabbage salad (think more garlic and salt than any person has the right to enjoy) that she prepared this afternoon.  All told, it was absolutely delicious from start to finish.  Oh, and tonight will feature the mandatory glass of red wine.  I think Pinot Noir.  What a fun way to EAT!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

When Luther speaks of God he speaks in the spirit of John, "We have fellowship with God."...He spoke of the highest and deepest things so that children were able to understand.  Children are spontaneous.  They do not need a doctrine or a system to smoothen out the contrast of the things they have seen in life.  His Small Catechism shows his childlike faith and how spontaneously he lived and was able to express what he lived.  He reached his height in the explanation of the Second Article of the Apostles' Creed - "that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom." -- B. von Schenk, *The Presence* p. 156.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Grant me Your grace that I may be ready each and every moment to forsake all temporal things whenever it should please You and, bereft of what passes away, take comfort in the eternal riches.  -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, On the Great Works of God III/IV, p. 50.

Patristic Quote of the Day

When Christ came as an infant into the temple with His mother, then Simeon acknowledged in spirit that Christ was now born, concerning whom it had been before foretold to him; and when he had seen him, he knew that he should soon die.  Therefore, rejoicing concerning his now-approaching death and secure of his immediate summons, he received the child into his arms and blessed the Lord. -- St. Cyprian, On Mortality, 3.  (yup, from that same wonderful volume:  A Year with the Church Fathers).

02 January 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The true liturgical spirit has for its source the intimate union with Jesus Christ... Our Lord comes in the Mass not to be adored, but to offer Himself in union with us and to be our spiritual food. He comes 'not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and give His Life a ransom for many.' -- B. von Schenk, The Presence, p. 173.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Here it is evident that the world is never blinder than when its punishment is closest. -- Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God, III/IV, p. 39.

Patristic Quote of the Day

In adoring the birth of our Savior, we find we are celebrating the commencement of our own life. -- Pope St. Leo the Great, Sermon on the Nativity, 6.3 [cited from *A Year with the Church Fathers*, p. 2.]

Post Communion Prayer

Unlike in the Roman liturgy, in Lutheran liturgy the post-communion collect is an ordinary, not technically a proper. Yet, our Lutheran Service Book does provide three of them, and I think they work best when used seasonally. Here's my suggestion:

The regular collect, used the lion's share of the time, is Dr. Luther's from the German Mass: "We give thanks to You, almighty God..." This prayer is so beautiful, and it captures exactly what we beg from God through our use of the Holy Sacrament - after we thank Him for the refreshing gift - to be strengthened in our trust in Him and in our love (though I wish the brĂ¼nstige of the German came through better - BURNING love!) toward one another.

During the seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, we use "O God the Father, the fountain and source of all goodness..." This prayer specifically references "in loving-kindness [You] sent Your only-begotten Son into the flesh." The Father's covenant faithfulness and His tender mercies lead to the gift of the Son into our flesh and we remember that it is the enfleshed Son we have just received under the consecrated bread and His holy blood in the consecrated wine.

During the weeks of Easter, we use the prayer "Gracious God, our heavenly Father..." with its reference to the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom. A fitting reminder of the early church's joy in the great 50 days as a bit of heaven on earth itself - the 50 days being a foretaste of the Kingdom!

Thus, all three prayers become familiar across the year's worth of services and yet a subtle shading of the particular season also has a place. Anyone else out there use a similar schema?

01 January 2012

A Relatively Uncomplicated New Year's Day

After Divine Service today, Cindi, David, Meaghan and I sat down to a hurried breakfast (David was off to work at 11) of bacon, eggs, and almond toast.  In the p.m., Cindi and I prepared dinner - Dave, Jo, and Sandi joined us for some afternoon cards and then supper.  We had a big salad with home-made caesar dressing, baked fish (with lemon, mushrooms, shallots, onion, garlic, wine and butter) and some oven baked sweet taters.  Dessert was left overs from the party last evening.  A couple games of Liverpool.  The winner is irrelevant as I'm sure you all agree.  After Dave, Jo, and Sandi left, we had a quiet evening readying things for the morrow.  We plan on taking down tree (yes, sacrilege, I know - but it's rather tired), packing away Christmas ornaments here at the house, and returning to simple and normal.

Now Greet!

Now greet the swiftly changing year,
With joy and penitence sincere.
Rejoice! Rejoice! 
With thanks embrace another year of grace!

Remember now the Son of God 
And how He shed His infant blood.
Rejoice! Rejoice! 
With thanks embrace another year of grace!

This Jesus came to end sin’s war; 
This Name of names for us He bore.
Rejoice! Rejoice! 
With thanks embrace another year of grace!

His love abundant far exceeds 
The volume of a whole year’s needs
Rejoice! Rejoice! 
With thanks embrace another year of grace!

With Him as Lord to lead our way
In want and in prosperity,
What need we fear in earth or space
In this new year of grace!

"All glory be to God on high
And peace on earth!" the angels cry.
Rejoice! Rejoice! 
With thanks embrace another year of grace!

God, Father, Son, and Spirit, hear!
To all our pleas incline Your ear;
Upon our lives rich blessings trace
In this new year of grace.  
Lutheran Service Book, Hymn 896