29 February 2012

A blessed remembrance

Sent to me by my dear friend, Pr. Jerry Gernander.

MARTYROLOGY: SIR PATRICK HAMILTON
Lutheran Martyr, February 29, 1528

On February 29, 1528, bystanders watched as a promising young professor, Sir Patrick Hamilton, was taken, bound, to a place in sight of his university, the prestigious St. Andrews University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Here he was to be burned at the stake as a “Lutheran heretic.” In a brief trial he had refused to deny the Lutheran doctrine which he had taught in his lectures and published.

He was only 24 years old, and a relative of the King of Scotland. He had come home from Wittenberg, where his teachers were Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon. During his trial, in response to his Roman Catholic inquisitor, he said: “I believe not that there is anything that may purge the souls of men but the blood of Christ Jesus, which ransom stands only by repentance of sins, and faith in the blood of Jesus.” When threatened with death unless he denied “the Lutheran heresy,” Sir Patrick said: “I will not deny it. I will rather be content that my body burn in this fire for confession of my faith in Christ than my soul should burn in the fire of hell for denying [it].”

He prayed for mercy upon his enemies, and for courage. The flames were lit and he was tied to the stake. He spoke words of comfort to weeping bystanders (including his wife and his little daughter). While his enemies were shouting at him, he replied calmly: “You come forward and testify the truth of your religion by putting your little finger into this fire in which I am burning with my whole body.”

Patrick’s family members became Lutheran. His brother and sister both were banished from Scotland for their Lutheran faith. In his sister’s trial, she said: “Work here, work there, what is all this working? I know perfectly well that no works can save me but the works of Christ!” Even one of his opponents, Alexander Alane, became a Lutheran after witnessing the brave martyrdom of Sir Patrick Hamilton.

The memory of saints and martyrs such as Sir Patrick Hamilton “is set before us that we may follow their faith and good works” (Augsburg Confession, Article 21).

28 February 2012

I've had

a number of folks inquire if the blog will be continued.  Rest assured it will.  In the coming months, posting may be a bit less regular than usual - so many things on the burner at the moment - but posting will continue as time allows.  Thanks to all for the kind words, the prayers, and the good wishes.  If I haven't responded to each one, know that I appreciate each email received, but there have been so many of late that there's no way I can keep up with it and still do all the work that needs to get done here.  Be patient, I beg you, and trust that things will return to a semblance of normality sometime in the next several months.

27 February 2012

Some intensely comforting words...

...from a fellow pastor:  I commend them to you.  I needed to read that today.  Thank you, Pr. Baxter.

26 February 2012

This morning and last night

I announced to St. Paul's that I decided to accept the call to serve as Director of Worship and the Chaplain at the International Center.  I will serve here till after Easter.  Thank you to everyone who wrote with counsel and to all who have prayed for us.  What a roller coaster ride - and I think it's all just really beginning.  I'm glad we sang a nine-fold Kyie today - I think that's a good start, but I'll need a LOT more.

24 February 2012

If you like conspiracy theories...

...and, be honest, who doesn't?...read this. HT: Cindi

23 February 2012

Ash Wednesday Homily

“Ring around the rosy, pocket full of poesy, ashes, ashes, we all fall down.”

I dare say there’s likely not a soul here who didn’t chant that as a youngster.  And the words are true:  ashes, ashes, we all fall down.  You will fall down, sooner or later - if our Lord does not return first - you will go back to the dust from whence the Lord took us at the get-go.  Death is simply the fact of our existence here that we can try to ignore, hide from, and play games with - but in the end, it’s no game and there’s no hiding.  It tracks you down and squeezes the last bit of life from you.  And then your breathless clay returns to the dust, the life in it burned to ashes.

So this day.  Ash Wednesday.  I love that we read the Gospel from Matthew 6.  Don’t disfigure your faces to show folks you’re fasting - and don’t let your piety be outward stuff.  Not showing off in either prayer or in giving or in fasting.  Let it be secret, hidden, inner and real.  Not a performance for others to admire how religious you are.  And then we dare to go around smearing foreheads with ashes and wandering out in public.  What gives with that?

With the liturgy, you always need to listen to get the action.  The Word of God that goes with the ashes is the one from Genesis 3.  Words from the Lord of life who shaped us, gave us life, set us in the paradise of plenty, and bid us feast with Him on His gifts.  Words from the Lord who had spoken a word of warning about one fruit:  “The day you eat it, you shall surely die.”  Words that God spoke to frightened Adam and Eve on the saddest day of human history:  “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Remember.  And as the sound of the clods strike the coffin, we hear the words:  “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”  Remember.

O people loved by God!  The ashes of this day do not say the first thing about fasting.  Who knows if you are or not?  And it’s no one’s business but your own.  But they DO preach.  They DO proclaim.  They SHOUT OUT:  DEAD MAN WALKING.  They proclaim the reality we try to hide from but cannot escape:  “I’m dying.”  And not so subtly they announce:  “And you are too.”  Headed for the grave we are, both of us.

Now, if that is all this day were about, it would be a pretty sad and hopeless day.  But it’s not all.  Oh, no.  For those ashes go on in the shape of a cross.  The cross of Him whose love for you was so great, so unbelievably huge, that He - the Immortal One, Only begotten of the Father from eternity - was willing to become dust for you, born of the holy virgin.  And to become dust so that He could lift from your shoulders and heart the burden of the sin that brings you down to death.  He chose to carry it Himself.  All of it.  Every last bit of it.  Entirely answered for by Him on Calvary’s tree as His very own.  Think of it!  You are free because HE owned your idolatry, cursing, disregarding of God’s word, dishonoring of your parents and other authorities, every hateful word and deed that has left others cut and bleeding, all your sexual sins, your laziness and stealing, your hatefilled and hateful, lying words, your never being content with God’s gifts and always looking for happiness in what He never gave you - yeah, all that ugliness that the Big Ten show as the content of your life.  HE owned it.  To death.  It has no hold on you.  Not now.  Not anymore.  You’ve been set free.  By His blood.  By His death.  By His passion.  Fear not!

So you can go down to your own grave in the confidence of His cross.  And better than any smear of ashes on your head proclaiming your mortality is the immortal body and blood of His Eucharist.  He puts into you the dust of dust body that was on that Tree, the blood that stained Calvary’s hill, now forever beyond the grave, and with it He promises:  your sins are gone, child, and life unending is and will be yours.  I gave myself for you to give myself TO you.  My unending life is yours even thought the grave close over your head and your body lies in dust and ashes.  Death won’t be able to hold you - after all:  your sins are answered for entirely.  Death has no right to you.  Not now.  Not anymore.  You are mine and I will remember you, I will never forget you.  Do not fear.

Lent starts then as the Lord’s gift of a return.  A return to Him, to His embrace and love.  You heard it in Joel - “Return to the Lord your God for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love...the Lord had pity on His people.”  You heard it in Second Peter - that the Lord has given us His precious and very great promises so that we can become - of all things! - partakers of His divine nature.  Through these promises He gives us escape from the corruption of this world through its sinful desires.

Ashes, ashes we all fall down is true, but it is not the whole truth.  People loved by God, as this Lent begins, let us face our mortality in the confidence of a different song:  

There is nothing worth comparing to this life-long comfort sure;
Open eyed my grave is staring; even there I’ll sleep secure.
Though my flesh awaits its raising, still my soul continues praising:
I am baptized into Christ, I’m a child of paradise.  

A blessed Lent!  Amen.

21 February 2012

A Different Take on Fasting...

...HT to Dan Engel for the link:

Fasting

Po-Ta-To

as Samwise would say.  I love them.  They don't love me.  Almost no food I eat can get me sick so fast.  Ask my family.  On second thought, don't even go there.

The cool thing is that SWEET POTATOES do not do the same thing - at all!  And you can fry them up and put salt on them to your heart's content (I love kosher salt on them!).  One of my favorite extras for breakfast has become sweet tater hash browns with onions.  Good stuff!  And if you're ever eating at 54th Street Grill and order their sweet tater fries...oh, my!  Even Master Samwise wouldn't be able to find fault with those puppies (yes, Rebekah C, you can add them to my puppy list).

Lenten Greetings from President Harrison

A bit longer than usual, but watch it through.  You'll be blessed indeed!

20 February 2012

Treasury Reminder

Tomorrow we come to the last readings for this year in the "Time of Christmas" section.  We'll leave Job to his miserable comforters and our Lord at the feast of tabernacles in John's Gospel.  Come Ash Wednesday, we begin again with Genesis 1 and Mark 1 and the Treasury enters "The Time of Easter" on page 24 (and we're in it until page 352 - on Trinity Sunday).  Ladies and Gentlemen, on your mark, set your ribbons, PRAY!

Fine Segment

from local channel on our very own Concordia Publishing House.

18 February 2012

Some Liturgical Correlatives

Liturgy, as Gospel gift, comes without compulsion or it doesn't come as itself at all.

Liturgy is better prayed than argued.

Liturgy cannot be explained from the outside - you have to live in its house to understand why it is loved.

Liturgy manifests in a short period of time what the royal priesthood of the Baptized is called to live at all times and in all places (or said another way, the inside of this house is bigger than all the world outside, because all the world outside is already inside).

Liturgy is not primarily about text but ordered action and the action is not primarily ours but God's (only ours in the "bounce back").

Liturgy at its heart is simply the prayed confession of the Church, so what confession is being prayed gives the goods on exactly whose liturgy it is.

Homily from Matins

this a.m.at the Southern Illinois District Convention. Text was Revelation 2:8-11:


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

Constancy.  Robert Frost once wrote:  “And when at times the mob is swayed to carry praise or blame too far, we may choose something like a star to stay our minds on and be staid.”  In Revelation, the stars are in the hands of Jesus, seven of them, a mystery, they are “the angels of the seven churches” - that is, their pastors, His messengers.  A comfort for the pastors to know that they are in His hands.

But these stars are simply not worth staying your mind on.  You heard Bishop Weber yesterday warn us “trust not in princes they are but mortal.”  Sometimes you will hear the well-intentioned but utterly misguided say that the problem with us in Synod is that we don’t trust each other.  Oh, what nonsense.  Love one another, forgive one another, explain one another's actions in the kindest way - yes, yes, and yes.  But TRUST one another?  Show me that in the Bible!  Send whoever says that to you to memorize Jeremiah 17:5:  “This is what the Lord says:  Cursed is he who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength.”  I don’t care if the man is Harrison or Scharr or Mueller.  Cursed is the man who trusts in THEM.  Stars they may get to be in the hands of Jesus, but don’t trust in them.

Better than any star in the hand of Jesus is the mighty word that comes from His lips.  Oh, people loved by God - THAT is what you can utterly hang upon, it is constant to you and it will give you constancy.  And not just in prayer, but in life itself!  The words of Jesus, the words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.  The words of the One who did the cross and who burst open the grave.  His are words you can cling to, or rather His are words that cling to YOU.

His words to Smyrna was that he knew their trouble, their poverty (even though they were really were rich in Him!), and the slander of those who spoke against them.  Nothing there that He hasn’t seen with His bright eyes and noted.  He says it to you too:  He knows your trouble, your poverty, and the slander that is spoken against you.  And to it all He says:  “Do not fear.”  He tells them that hard times are coming - the devil about to test some and some tossed into prison.  Yet He says:  “ten days.”  That is, it has limit that He has fixed.  And on the other side of the trouble, the poverty, the slander - they will find Him.  “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.”

He doesn’t speak that as a condition, but as a fact.  Not IF you are faithful to death, THEN I’ll give you the crown of life.  Rather, I will give you the crown of life so be faithful unto death!  Which is His way of saying:  I’ve got forgiveness bigger than all your sin; I’ve got life for you bigger than all your death.  You’ve got nothing to fear.  I was faithful to death - utterly constant - precisely to crown you with my own divine life.  The one who conquers doesn’t need to fear the second death at all - hell can’t hurt you - not when give ear to the Spirit’s words that he speaks to the Churches and let those words dwell in you.

One thinks of St. Polycarp, whom our Synod commemorates on February 23 - pastor at Smyrna and who was martyred for Christ about Christ about 155 - he would have been a young man when John wrote those words down and sent them off to Polycarp’s church.  He was urged to deny his Lord, and he refused:  “Eighty and six years have I served Him and He has done me no wrong.  How can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”  To the fire he went singing the praises of Him whose word had kept him in faith even to death.  “Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly set in the heaven!  Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.”  Those words will see you through all the way - just as they saw blessed Polycarp through.

Better far than any star - including the stars in the hands of Jesus, His pastors or even his martyrs like Polycarp - better far are His words of promise to you.  These and these alone you can trust. They hold.  And they will hold you.  Constant.  Safe.  Through life.  Through trials.  Through death itself.  They will bring you through to the life that never ends.  And for that Te Deum laudamus. Te Dominum confitemur!

17 February 2012

Thoughts on a failed resolution

My parish had sent up a sort of trial balloon at the District Convention.  it more or less made it through floor committee.  It was to encourage the parishes of our District and of our Synod to use for our services and rites one of the Synod's hymnbooks/agendas: TLH, LW, LSB and even All God's People Sing, Hymnal Supplement '98, and Worship Supplement.  It specifically wasn't speaking of hymns or other attendant music - it spoke to the services and rites.

It was fascinating to HEAR how people perceived the resolution.  Some apparently thought we were saying that uniformity in man-made ceremonies were necessary, and persuaded the convention to include the words of AC VII - as though any of us really denied them or thought that the unity of the church hung upon observance of man-made ceremonies and rites!

Others fixated on the use of the word "exclusive use" as though the Synod Constitution had never said that a condition of Synodical membership is the exclusive use of doctrinally pure Agenda and Hymnbooks.

Some noted that this WAS the language of the constitution but that it really had been ignored (and apparently rightly ignored) for a long time.

Some rightly noted that the liturgy was gift and could not be compelled by any law.  Others noted that though the language was "encourage" the clear intent was to use it as a club.

One very sane man pointed out that the Lutheran Symbols had a LOT more to say on this subject than the single snippet from AC VII and that if we heard the Symbols all the way out, they actually sounded rather in harmony with what the resolution was proposing.

Sigh.  So much fear, so much reading into and failing to put the best construction.  What if the resolution meant no more than it said:  that we should encourage each other toward what our constitution itself says that we aim at?  What if it never was about coercion or manipulation but about encouraging each other toward the faithful use of faithful resources?

I hesitated to speak on it since it DID come from us and thus it was our own words that had the attention of the convention, but how utterly disheartening to see them misconstrued in this manner.  The Synod is and remains ADVISORY to the member congregations.  It CAN advise.  It CANNOT legislate.  But when it cannot encourage for fear that it is in fact thereby legislating, we have something seriously broken in our relationships.  No, you'll never hear me say that the problem is we don't trust each other.  Jeremiah 17:5 is in my Bible.  The problem with us isn't' that we don't trust each other; it's that we do not trust our Lord's words - at least we don't trust them to deliver what they promise without a boost from us.

And sooner or later someone really needs to do the hard work of assessing what it means to "submit to one another" in the Lord and how that isn't in conflict with, but is the expression of, perfect Christian freedom.  I know, I know.  Luther already did that hard work.  But no one reads him anymore... Sadness.

Or even Walther (this is for you, Petersen):

“We are not insisting that there be uniformity in perception or feeling or taste among all believing Christians-neither dare anyone demand that all be minded as he. Nevertheless, it remains true that the Lutheran liturgy distinguishes Lutheran worship from the worship of other churches to such an extent that the houses of worship of the latter look like lecture halls in which the hearers are merely addressed or instructed, while our churches are in truth houses of prayer in which Christians serve the great God publicly before the world.

“Uniformity of ceremonies (perhaps according to the Saxon Church order published by the Synod, which is the simplest among the many Lutheran church orders) would be highly desirable because of its usefulness. A poor slave of the pope finds one and same form of service, no matter where he goes, by which he at once recognizes his church.

“With us it is different. Whoever comes from Germany without a true understanding of the doctrine often has to look for his church for a long time, and many have already been lost to our church because of this search. How different it would be if the entire Lutheran church had a uniform form of worship! This would, of course, first of all yield only an external advantage, however, one which is by no means unimportant. Has not many a Lutheran already kept his distance from the sects because he saw at the Lord's Supper they broke the bread instead of distributing wafers?

“The objection: "What would be the use of uniformity of ceremonies?" was answered with the counter question, "What is the use of a flag on the battlefield? Even though a soldier cannot defeat the enemy with it, he nevertheless sees by the flag where he belongs. We ought not to refuse to walk in the footsteps of our fathers. They were so far removed from being ashamed of the good ceremonies that they publicly confess in the passage quoted: "It is not true that we do away with all such external ornaments.""

16 February 2012

President Harrison's Opening Statement

on the panel this a.m. in Congress:


“Mr. Chairman, it’s a pleasure to be here. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is a body of some 6,200 congregations and 2.3 million members across the U.S. We don’t distribute voters’ lists. We don’t have a Washington office. We are studiously non-partisan, so much so that we’re often criticized for being quietistic.

“I’d rather not be here, frankly. Our task is to proclaim, in the words of the blessed apostle St. John, the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all our sin. And we care for the needy. We haven’t the slightest intent to Christianize the government. Martin Luther famously quipped one time, ‘I’d rather have a smart Turk than a stupid Christian governing me.’

“We confess that there are two realms, the church and the state. They shouldn’t be mixed – the church is governed by the Word of God, the state by natural law and reason, the Constitution. We have 1,000 grade schools and high schools, 1,300 early childhood centers, 10 colleges and universities. We are a machine which produces good citizens for this country, and at tremendous personal cost.

“We have the nation’s only historic black Lutheran college in Concordia, Selma. Many of our people [who are alive today] walked with Dr. King 50 years ago on the march from Selma to Montgomery. We put up the first million dollars and have continued to provide finance for the Nehemiah Project in New York as it has continued over the years, to provide home ownership for thousands of families, many of them headed by single women. Our agency in New Orleans, Camp Restore, rebuilt over 4,000 homes after Katrina, through the blood, sweat and tears of our volunteers. Our Lutheran Malaria Initiative, barely begun, has touched the lives of 1.6 million people in East Africa, especially those affected by disease, women and children. And this is just the tip, the very tip, of the charitable iceberg.

“I’m here to express our deepest distress over the HHS provisions. We are religiously opposed to supporting abortion-causing drugs. That is, in part, why we maintain our own health plan. While we are grandfathered under the very narrow provisions of the HHS policy, we are deeply concerned that our consciences may soon be martyred by a few strokes on the keyboard as this administration moves us all into a single-payer … system. Our direct experience in the Hosanna-Tabor case with one of our congregations gives us no comfort that this administration will be concerned to guard our free-exercise rights.

“We self-insure 50,000 people. We do it well. Our workers make an average of $43,000 a year, 17,000 teachers make much less, on average. Our health plan was preparing to take significant cost-saving measures, to be passed on to our workers, just as this health-care legislation was passed. We elected not to make those changes, incur great cost, lest we fall out of the narrow provisions required under the grandfather clause. While we are opposed in principle, not to all forms of birth control, but only abortion-causing drugs, we stand with our friends in the Catholic Church and all others, Christians and non-Christians, under the free exercise and conscience provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

“Religious people determine what violates their consciences, not the federal government. The conscience is a sacred thing. Our church exists because overzealous governments in northern Europe made decisions which trampled the religious convictions of our forebearers. I have ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War. I have ancestors who were on the Lewis and Clark expedition. I have ancestors who served in the War of 1812, who fought for the North in the Civil War – my 88-year-old father-in-law has recounted to me, in tears many times, the horrors of the Battle of the Bulge. In fact, Bud Day, the most highly decorated veteran alive, is a member of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

“We fought for a free conscience in this country, and we won’t give it up without a fight. To paraphrase Martin Luther, the heart and conscience has room only for God, not for God and the federal government. The bed is too narrow, the blanket is too short. We must obey God rather than men, and we will. Please get the federal government, Mr. Chairman, out of our consciences. Thank you.”

Very, very proud

of our Synodical President for his witness before Congress this a.m.  It's wonderful to see Baptists, a Roman Catholic, a Jew, and a Lutheran pastor speak unanimously to the government about this huge overstep on its part.  Beautiful.

14 February 2012

A Fascinating Post

On the dangers of microwaving food - from a kid's science experiment:

Click here.

Note:  Snopes says this is false...but read the discussion anyway!

13 February 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

There is an inescapable universal solidarity in sin which obliges us to acknowledge that, through the disasters that befall some, God issues a call to repentance to all, bidding us turn from the idolatry of transitory goods to Himself; our Eternal Good, who is alone worthy of worship. -- Dr. John R. Stephenson, Eschatology, pp. 66, 67.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Here the question is: Why did Abraham's servant have to put his hand under his master's thigh when he swore this oath?  I will give you simple answer:  the servant had to reach for and swear by the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ, who was to come from Abraham's thigh according to the flesh; just as men today swear by putting their hand on a crucifix, which is an image of Jesus Christ. --Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, p. 132,133.

Patristic Quote of the Day

See how Job, too, confesses his sins, and says how sure he is that there is none righteous before the Lord.  He is also sure of this, that 'if we say we have no sin...the truth is not in us.'  While, therefore, God bestows on him His high testimony of righteousness, according to the standard of human conduct, Job himself took his measure from that rule of righteousness, which, as well as he can, he beholds in God.  Knowing this is true, he goes on to say, 'How will a mortal be just before the Lord?' - St. Augustine, On the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins, 2.14/

12 February 2012

Call

My dear blog readers,

This past week, I received a call from The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod to serve as Synod's Director of Worship and Chaplain of the Synod’s International Center.  I beg your prayers for me, my family, and my beloved St. Paul’s as I consider this call.    

11 February 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The article of faith expressing the parousia has been included in all three catholic creeds and cannot be doubted by any serious Christian. -- Dr. John R. Stephenson, Eschatology, p. 63.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Such is life in this world, ever wavering between gloom and gladness. -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, p. 131.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Give what You command, and command what You will. -- St. Augustine, Confessions 10.29

09 February 2012

A Thought

I've been hammering home at St. Paul's of late:  the Lord doesn't want you to be happy; He wants you to be holy.  "For this is the will of God, your sanctification."  Last night Judy asked:  does He want us to be both?  I thought about it and replied:  He wants us to be holy so that we may be truly blessed; and blessedness is even better than happiness.  I'd stand by that:  blessedness doesn't ride on the ups and downs of our emotions.  It rises above them.  And since God often uses adversity and trials to give us growth in holiness (yes, holiness is given you whole and entire in your Baptism, but I refer to growing up into the salvation that is yours), there are times of sadness that come our way on this path toward the fuller inner appropriation of that holiness which results in blessedness.  Anywho, the big point is that our deceitful hearts way too often tell us that "God wants us to be happy" and take that to mean:  "God can't mean that I shouldn't engage in this sin - because I am finding happiness in doing so!"  Wrong.  Just wrong.

08 February 2012

Thinking more about the quote from Stephenson

The commemoration of the faithful departed has always been near and dear to my heart.  There is something so beautiful, so joyous about recognizing that drawing near to our Lord in His Eucharist we draw near to all who are "in Him" - and whether they are breathing or not is utterly irrelevant to whether they are LIVING or not.  "The dead do not praise the Lord; the living, the living praise the Lord." Psalm 115:17

And that brings me to mention a resource that is way too often overlooked.  If you pull out your Lutheran Service Book Agenda, pages 151-153, you will find Resources for the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed.  The first rubric notes that these propers may be used on the anniversary of a person's death, for a memorial service or at other appropriate times.  Also that they do not replace a Sunday or Feast day's propers.

I think some of these resources are worth copying out.  Here's the collect:

Almighty God, in whose glorious presence live all who depart in the Lord, we give You hearty thanks for You lovingkindness to all Your servants who have finished their course in faith and now rest from their labors.  We humbly implore Your mercy that we, together with all who have departed in the saving faith, may have our perfect consummation in both body and soul in Your eternal and everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ...

During the Prayer of the Church, the following is offered:

In joyful expectation of the resurrection to life eternal, we remember before the Lord our departed family and friends who have gone before us in the faith and all those who are in our hearts and minds today.

After the names are read, then this prayer:

Almighty God, we remember with thanksgiving those who have loved and served You in Your Church on earth and who now rest from their labors.  Keep us in fellowship with all Your saints, and bring us at last to the joy of Your heavenly kingdom, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The proper preface is as follows:

It is truly good, right, and salutary, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, in whom the hope of the blessed resurrection shines forth so that those who mourn may be consoled with the promise of eternal life.  In You, O Lord, life is transformed and not taken away so that this earthly body is prepared for an eternal home in heaven.  Therefore with angels and archangels...

Would that we utilized the resources here a bit more in comforting the mourning!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Liturgical commemoration of the faithful departed will wish to express the real bond of love uniting the church militant with the church triumphant, while being careful to avoid the impression of trying to pray souls across the impassible divide placed by Almighty God between salvation and perdition.  -- Dr. John R. Stephenson, Eschatology, p. 58.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Abraham rejoiced when he heard that God had given his brother children.  Today, as a result of miserly greed and shameful unbelief, the world is saddened by such a thing.  People do not believe that God Himself nourishes the children whom He has given, yet experience shows that poor orphans often accomplish the greatest things in the world, as proved in the story of Esther.  "Behold, children are a gift of God and the fruit of the womb is a reward."  Oh, dear God, help all parents to receive their children as gifts from You, and thus be all the more diligent to raise them to the glory of Your name. -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, p. 123,124.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Though the wicked come, as it is written, to an awful death, nevertheless for the present the godly seem a laughingstock, while the goodness of God and the great treasuries of what is in store for each of them hereafter are hidden. -- St. Gregory Nazianzus, Orations 21.17

07 February 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The peculiarly Roman Catholic conception of purgatory stands or falls with the supposition that justified sinners are released from the guilt but not from the penalty of sin.  Such an idea is scarcely reconcilable with the intensive perfection of Christ's vicarious sacrifice upon the cross. -- Dr. John R. Stephenson, Eschatology, p. 56.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Your burial in the land of Canaan is my treasure, Your resurrection is my joy.  You warmed my once-cold bed so that now I need not fear death.  You sanctified my grave as a chamber for sleep.  You christened it as an abode of angels.  In Your tomb in Jerusalem You buried my sins.  You obtained for me the joyful resurrection of my body and the blessed joy of body and soul in life everlasting.  -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, pp. 129, 130.

Patristic Quote of the Day

[regarding the miracle at Cana] The mode of action baffles sight and sense, but the power of God is manifest in the result achieved. -- St. Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 3:5

04 February 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Once our Lord had tasted death for all men and gone through His resurrection and ascension to prepare a place for us, there could take place what had been felicitously described as a christological transformation of the belief in Sheol, whose gloominess was forever dispelled when the glorified Jesus Himself reconstituted the paradise of the blessed. -- Dr. John R. Stephenson, Eschatology, p. 50.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Now when Abraham's woe could grow no worse, it ceased.  Likewise, when God lets us fall into the greatest adversity, He then shows us love and favor in the most comforting way... It was not God's intent that the child should die, but that the bloody death and deep obedience of Jesus Christ should be depicted in this work. -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, p. 89.

Patristic Quote of the Day

This word beginning fixes the moment of creation; you can assign a date to an event that is definitely stated to have a beginning.  But this fisherman of mine (St. John), unlettered and unread, is untrammeled by time and undaunted by its immensity; he pierces beyond the beginning. For his 'was' has no limit of time and no commencement; the uncreated Word was in the beginning. -- St. Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 2:13

03 February 2012

I HAVE BEEN DYING TO ANNOUNCE THIS

since Christmas time, when THIS greeted us on Christmas Eve:















Yes, that means that Dean and Lauren are expecting a little one - due in August - and that means that Cindi and I are GRANDPARENTS.  Thanks be to God!

01 February 2012

Benedictus qui venit