30 April 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We now have the same status in the kingdom of God as both the prophets of old and the saints in glory.  We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who have gone before us, and as Lutherans, we must learn to be comfortable in their presence.  They are standing with us and their voices join our voices in one glorious liturgy.  This is what our liturgy means when it says we celebrate the Lord's Supper "with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven." -- Arthur Just, The Devotional Life of the Pastor, Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord, pp. 94,95.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Oh, dear faithful Lord Jesus, You were good to me even when I was under my mother's heart.  You touched me with Your hand of wonders when I entered the world.  You waited on me in childhood.  You cared for me in youth.  You blessed me as I grew older.  All that I have in, with, and around me comes from Your generous hand.  You will do me good forever and ever.  I am too small for all Your mercy and all Your faithfulness that You have shown me and will show me, but You are not too small to act honorably toward me.  Because You stooped down so low to me, You have all the more honor, and I have the more comfort as I worship You forever.  Amen. -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, p. 226.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The cross of Christ was the beginning of Satan's condemnation, the beginning of his death, the beginning of his destruction.  Therefore, also, he works in some that they should deny the cross, be ashamed of the Passion, call the death an appearance, mutilate and explain away the Virgin birth, and defame the human nature itself as being repulsive. -- Ignatius of Antioch, Philippians 4

Weekend Thoughts

Last weekend it felt more like I was on vacation.  This weekend was different.  Maybe the gloomy weather didn't help, but there was a "this is your new reality" aspect to it that was unsettling.  I think most unsettling is not knowing where "home" is regarding a parish.  I don't plan on making a decision on that anytime soon, so that unsettledness will likely only grow.  Still, it was wonderful to worship with the saints at Zion, Carpenter in a most reverent Divine Service, and to receive the gifts in both preaching and in the Sacrament.

Pr. Wilken told me that it took him some time when he first began the radio ministry to get used to actually relaxing on the weekends.  I can see what he meant.

Right now I'm rather itching to begin the new call and figure out how life will be with an entirely new routine and set of responsibilities.  So, despite being rather nervous about tomorrow (the first official day at Synod), I'm also relishing the thought of digging into the tasks that there await.  And I can't get Luther's sacristy prayer out of my mind for it, especially the last line:

Lord God, You have appointed me as a Bishop and Pastor in Your Church, but you see how unsuited I am to meet so great and difficult a task. If I had lacked Your help, I would have ruined everything long ago. Therefore, I call upon You: I wish to devote my mouth and my heart to you; I shall teach the people. I myself will learn and ponder diligently upon Your Word. Use me as Your instrument -- but do not forsake me, for if ever I should be on my own, I would easily wreck it all.

P.S.  And did I mention that tomorrow is CALL DAY?  Hmm?  Eager to find out where Dean, Lauren and my grandson will be serving and living!

27 April 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The ancient eucharistic prayers with their long recital of God's great acts of salvation in biblical and ecclesiastical history, proclaimed the presence of the whole church at the liturgy - past, present, and future.  The great witnesses of the faith are present in the assembly because Christ is present in the liturgy.  The story of the world is told most completely in the liturgy because Christ is present in worship according to His divine and human natures.  -- Dr. Arthur Just, The Devotional Life of the Pastor in Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord, p. 95.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Even though Jacob had the angel of God on his side, he was still afraid.  Even the holy children of God are not courageous adventurers at every passing moment, for they know that the devil is a knave and the world is false, and that often many an honorable man has truly had to sweat and swelter, even for a good cause.  We should take comfort in this whenever our timid hearts feel weak. -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, p. 223.

Patristic Quote of the Day

When Spring begins, the meadows bloom, the fields grow like waves, and the trees germinate their fruit.  So, too, in this very season God set Israel free from slavery to the Egyptians, and the archangel Gabriel brought the holy Virgin the Good News of her mysterious childbearing.  In this same season, the Lord Christ underwent His saving Passion.  Most fittingly, the Lord God of all ordered the tabernacle to be erected on the first day of the first month because it was the image of the entire world. -- Theodoret of Cyrus, Questions on Exodus, 72.

Well, today

Cindi and I finished up at the parsonage.  We're ready to turn in the keys.  That took us till noon.  Quick showers and then down to Edwardsville for lunch at 54th Street and then some more shopping.  I really think we're just about at the end of shopping for stuff for the house.  YEAH.  Piddly stuff today - dish drainer, sashes for curtains, duster and so on.  Garage is still full of stuff for yard sale and for David's impending move.  I don't guess we'll be able to park in it again till after those two events.  Tomorrow we'll help Lauren and Dean move some pieces up to Opa's garage, also in anticipation of yard sale.  This has been the two most exhausting weeks of "vacation" I've ever had - and I couldn't even begin to keep up with Cindi as she worked tirelessly through box after box in the basement!  But the point was to get in and get settled BEFORE the big change.  And we've pulled that off mostly, thanks be to God!  Now a deep breath and then off to haunts of Synodocat...

26 April 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We do not worship alone in this time and this place and this language.  We worship with every generation of the church in one unified liturgy where Jesus Christ and heaven itself are present in word and sacrament.  For liturgy to become associated with a particular place  in a particular time would seriously hinder the church's expression of the eschatological character of its worship.  In every age, liturgy bespeaks a story that is transcultural and trans-temporal.  The faithful tell a story in the liturgy which they did not invent but which they have made their own. - Arthur Just, The Devotional Life of the Pastor, in Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord, p. 95.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

When I turn my gaze to You upon the cross, I cannot count the witnesses of my comfort.  Your crown of thorns bears witness that I will be given the crown of glory.  Your opened side bears witness to You and to Your Father's genuine, heartfelt faithfulness.  Your five most holy wounds bear witness that I am a child of God.  Your death bears witness that I shall live.  Your tomb bears witness that in the grave I will but rest.  Your resurrection and ascension bear witness that I will pass from the grave to eternal joy.  O Lord Jesus, in You I have all that I need for life and death. -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, p. 220.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Because we could not enter, our sins fencing us out from the entrance, He comes forth to us.  And what does He come to accomplish?  Does He come forth to destroy the ground teeming with thorns?  Or to take vengeance on the farmer?  By no means!  He comes forth to till and tend it and to sow the godly Word.  Here by seed He means His doctrine; by soil, the souls of men; and by sower, Himself. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew 44.4.

25 April 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Church fellowship is a gift from God.  It is determined with reference to his gifts of the "holy things."  In God's provision of gifts he entrusts them to a good stewardship by his church and ministers.  It is in that stewardship that we respond gratefully to the giver God and to our neighbor.  We pray with the whole Church its Eastertide prayer.  O God, you make the minds of the faithful to be one will; therefore grant to your people that they may love what you command and desire what you promise. -- Dr. Ronald Feuerhahn, Church Fellowship in Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord, p. 70.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Surely the Lord is in this place where the Gospel is rightly preached and the Sacraments administered purely according to Your institution.  Holy is this place, O Lord Jesus, where men pray in Your name, die in Your name, and teach in Your name.  Holy is every heart that loves You. -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, p. 192.

Patristic Quote of the Day

It was not for the sake of His stomach that He who satisfies the hungry was a guest, but for the sake of the sinful woman's repentance He who justifies sinners became a guest.  -- St. Ephrem the Syrian, On Our Lord, 14 (Luke 7:36-50)

St. Mark, the Evangelist

Today the Church commemorates St. Mark, the holy Evangelist.  From the liturgy:

Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation.  It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to Your name, O Most High... Almighty God, You have enriched Your Church with the proclamation of the Gospel through the evangelist Mark.  Grant that we may firmly believe these glad tidings and daily walk according to Your Word... Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!... The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.  Alleluia!... 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; for You have mightily governed and protected Your holy Church, in which the blessed apostles and evangelists proclaimed Your divine and saving Gospel.  Therefore with patriarch and prophets, apostles and evangelists, with Your servant Mark, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Your glorious name...

Summary from the Treasury:

St. Mark was the author of the second Gospel, which he composed, according to some Early Church Fathers, when the Christians in Rome asked him to write down the preaching of the apostle Peter. ...Tradition says that Mark was instrumental in founding the Church in Alexandria, becoming its first bishop, and also that he suffered a martyr's death. (p. 1291)

Today's homily on 2 Timothy 4:

“Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.”  That bare mention at the end of 2 Timothy, which was at the end of Paul’s life, tells us that the story had a happy ending.

You remember the last mention Paul made of Mark, don’t you?  Barnabas had wanted to bring Mark along with them on their revisiting of the Churches and Paul put his foot down flat.  No way was he having John Mark accompany them again – cousin of Barnabas or not.  You remember why?  John Mark had gotten homesick during the first missionary journey and had left Paul and Barnabas.  To Paul, and his complete consecration to the mission of spreading the Gospel, this was a matter of gravity.  Perhaps he recalled the Lord’s words about the those who look back after putting their hand to the plow.

Barnabas, whose name is apt and means “son of encouragement”, was all for the second chance, but Paul was having none of it.  Their argument got so bad, recall, that they went separate ways.  Barnabas and Mark left Paul to do his own thing.

And yet, in today’s epistle, Paul instructs Timothy to bring to him Mark, Mark who is “useful to me for ministry.”

What happened?  We can only guess at the details, but we know with certainty why it transpired.  You cannot live in the love of Jesus Christ and harbor resentment.  You cannot live in the forgiveness of Christ and refuse to forgive.  It’s impossible.

No question that John Mark was wrong to turn back.  And I do not doubt that he confessed as much to Paul face to face.  But if Paul was going to go on living and serving this Lord of His who had knocked him off his horse on the Damascus road and turned him into the apostle of grace, then grace would have to have the final say in all his relationships too.  Forgiveness won over Paul’s heart.  How could it be any other way?

And forgiveness is a powerful force.  Mark may have turned back once upon a time and abandoned the mission, but in the forgiving love of His Savior he grew ever more bold.  It took courage to hang out with Peter those last months and to write down his story of Christ – what we call today the Gospel of Mark – as Peter was condemned and sentenced to death.  And it was with both courage and joy that Mark journeyed to Alexandria, and became the bishop of that city, only to be martyred for proclaiming to any and all the good news:  “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”  (Today’s Gospel)

Far from fleeing the mission, Mark ended his life a mighty witness to the Savior whose blood blotted out the sins of the world and whose resurrection busted a hole right through death.  The Church rejoices in his Gospel, his writing down of Peter’s witness.  And she rejoices that in Christ, those set at odds with each other - even those set at odds with each other doing the work of the Lord! - can lay aside their accusations and self-righteousness and rejoice together that we are all, after all, only fellow recipients of the mercy of the Crucified, Risen and Reigning Lord, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit be all glory and dominion, forever and ever!  Amen.

24 April 2012

New Lutheran Quote (okay, a bit more than a quote) of the Day

O God,
You have trodden
our iniquities underfoot
and have cast
all our sins
into the depth of the sea.
You have forgotten
as You have forgiven.
The rising sun is not darkened
by my dark yesterday;
my hot rebellion of yesteryear
has not dried
this year's compassionate rain
or parched the teeming earth
on which I walk.

Oh, still this guilty memory of mine,
this dark and unadmitted doubt of You,
this questioning of Your forgiveness
and Your forgetting.

Oh, do not let them rise again to torment me,
those harsh defacements of my fellowman,
those words that flew,
arrows fiery with my anger,
those proud and bitter clashes
of me against my neighbor,
those ragged neglects of simple duty.

Your Son's cross stands empty against the sky.
Your Son's grave is open wide.
Your angels have spoken.
And Your Son sits at Your right hand,
for me, for me.

Let me remember this;
let me forget.
--Martin Franzmann, Pray for Joy, pp. 23, 24.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

When You bless me, You, with Your heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit are with me.  When I pray, You hear me.  When I am in misery, You comfort me.  When I suffer trials, You protect me.  When I must die, You will save me.  If You are for me, who can be against me?  You are superior to every power in the world.  You bless me.  You keep me wherever I go; You are my faithful Companion and Guide.  You are my Keeper; You neither slumber nor sleep.  Who can do me harm?  You bless me.  You will not forsake me.  "Oh, do not forsake me, lest I forsake You," I say with the pious martyr Annas Burgius.  O Lord, Your blessing is my life.  Amen. -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, p. 189.

Patristic Quote of the Day

By remitting sins, He did indeed cure man, while He also manifestly showed who He was.  For if no one can forgive sins but God alone, since the Lord remitted sins and healed men, it is plain that He was Himself the Word of God made the Son of Man.  As man, He received from the Father the power to forgive sins.  As man, He suffered for us, so that in this way as God He might have mercy on us.  -- St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5:17.2

23 April 2012

A Few Pics

of the new digs.  Still got a LONG way to go (where IS that power cord and USB cable for the PRINTER?), but order is slowly but surely arising from the Tohu w' Bohu.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

O God, You have given Your people a future and a hope - hope fixed and grounded  in the resurrection of Your Son, who lives and reigns, who by His Spirit has given us a vision that can look beyond the gray breakers of our successive days and through the mists that obscure Your sun, out to the quiet shore of our unending home with You.  Oh, keep us in that hope, that vision.  Let us not lose it amid the clutter of the things that we possess, that threaten ever and again to possess us.  Teach us the loose hold on Your present gifts lest we lose the greater gifts that You hold in store.  -- Martin Franzmann, Pray for Joy, p. 16, 17.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Our God is a trustworthy God.  All his words have the force of an oath.  He does not forget His pledge of grace as men do, but keeps what He has spoken fresh in mind. -- Blessed Valerius Herberger, The Great Works of God III/IV, p. 188.

Patristic Quote of the Day

When Moses sees God's back, it is commonly understood to prefigure the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.  His 'back parts' are to be taken as His flesh, in which He was born of the Virgin, and died, and rose again. -- St. Augustine, On the Trinity, 2.

22 April 2012


...are, um, rather pink...

18 April 2012

Moving Day

And wouldn't you know it? Today ye olde blog passed one million visits. Wow. Time for meet and greet, don't you think? So visitors, tell us a bit about yourselves!

17 April 2012

So Cindi comments this morning

that it is surely one of the odd things about the Weedons that in the midst of a move, with all the craziness involved, we haven't eaten out or ordered fast food or any carry out.  Instead, we planned (you like that royal "we"?) ahead and figured out how to have a functional kitchen, even without the fridge and freezer.  So yesterday Bekah, David, Cindi and I sat down in the evening to a pot roast with carrots and onions, and a sweet potato (for Cindi and me) and a potato (for Bekah).  We've prepared breakfast several times - this morning was sausage and eggs.  Okay, okay.  Drop the royal "we."  It's CINDI that has taken care of all of that and done so without any hassle whatsoever.  Like it's the most natural thing in the world.  She's amazing, no two ways about it.

16 April 2012

Absolutely loving

how the new house floods with light in the afternoon and evening.  After we get some real furniture in the joint, I will post a few pics.  I did get the yard cut (and my in-laws' next-door).  Still to do tomorrow is weed-wacking.  It took longer than I thought it would, but I absolutely love my electric mower (a black and decker battery operated one). Other news...

Lucy still a bit tentative about the yard, but we are loving opening the deck door, ushering her outside, and letting her wander off to do her business without human accompaniment.

The fellow who lived here left his built in sound systems in the living room and family room.  Wow!  I've been greatly enjoying both.  My iPhone plugs right in and I'm hearing the music like I never heard it before.  The family room has an even better sound system for the movies and such - we watched Cool Runnings and Fried Green Tomatoes so fa.r  When the couch arrives for basement, I intend to do a marathon session on Lord of the Rings.

Cindi and I are having totally opposite reactions.  She HAD to be at the parsonage today to watch them take it down; I HAD NOT to be at the parsonage today to watch it be dismantled.  Mary came and sat with Cindi for a while - thank you, Mary!  I just tried not to think about it and cut grass instead.

Getting ready to go to Jo and Dave's for cards - hoping that Jo will let me win tonight.  About time, don't you think?

I have decided that moving is not for obsessive compulsive sorts.  I'm driving everyone crazy by wanting everything to already be in its place, but it doesn't have a place yet.  I've resigned myself to a mess on the kitchen counter for the time being - but I still start itching as soon as I look at it.  It needs to be PUT AWAY.  I think Bekah and I will be butting heads quite a bit because I simply can't stand to have stuff out of place, and she just doesn't care at the moment.  Grr.

And that's about it from here - oh, except we got to see Jamie for the first time across the yard over in the court.  She is so adorable!

Sweet discovery

Cindi and I had been planning to do some vegetable gardening this year, but with the move it was rather up for grabs if we'd be able to pull anything off.  So today I'm cutting the yard, and start cutting on the BACKSIDE of the fence (it's not set on the edge of the property), and what do I discover back there, eh?  A raised vegetable garden!  It's looking a tad neglected, but I'm sure we'll be able to whip it into shape and get some veggies in the ground this year.  But someone who knows plants might have to come over and tell us if there is anything but weeds growing up in there already.  I haven't the foggiest.  Hey, I'm just a BEGINNING gardner.

14 April 2012

Homily for Easter 2 (Last Homily as Pastor of St. Paul's)

People loved by God, for almost 20 years I have had the privilege of standing in this pulpit, preaching the Good News to you of sin’s forgiveness and death’s defeat – of proclaiming to you the gifts that are yours in your crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ.  I have done so as a sinner – as you well know - in the midst of sinners – as you also well know.  But sinners, though we are, we have a Lord who loves us and who does absolutely everything to make sure that we have what we need to remain in faith in Him till we die.  So let’s marvel yet again today at what the Lord provides, for He is the living Lord of life.

Ezekiel is brought to a massive bone heap.  The dry bones scattered from one end to the other of the valley.  They were people once.  They lived and breathed, they laughed and loved and played, they fought and died.  Now all that is left of them are these bones – dry and brittle.  Not yet turned to dust, but on the way.  And the big question put before the prophet by the Lord:  “Can these bones live?”  This question is at the heart of our faith.

Ezekiel’s safe answer is:  “O Lord God, you know.”  And the Lord does.  But He wants His prophet to know, His people to know, YOU to know.  And so the Word of the Lord in the prophet’s mouth is like a fast rewind and you see the decomposition of the bodies in reverse, but still just dead bodies – even if miraculously put back together.  And then, then the Spirit of life is called upon at the Lord’s command and suddenly everything changes.  They come to life, they breathe, they stand on their feet a vast army.  Death was no match for the Lord of life, for the power of His Word, for the working of His Spirit.  And the Lord wants all His people to know this, to never forget this:  “I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.  And I will put my Spirit with in you and you shall live.”

That’s His promise, but your Lord knows how you struggle to hold onto it in the face of death’s relentless march.  So Jesus appeared to the ten on that first Easter evening.  He appeared to them, He spoke peace to them, He showed them His hands and side.  They need to know that it was the same Lord who had been crucified, bearing the sins of the world to death in His own body, whose body now stood miraculously before them as they huddled in fear of their lives.  Peace, He said.  You do not need to be afraid of death – not ever again.  See, I have burst a way through and I have done so for you.  Peace.  See my body and the wounds.  Now, I’ve got a job for you.  Just as the Father sent me – gave me a message of love and mercy and hope to bring to a world snared in sin and teetering toward death, so I am sending you.  And then they were INSIDE Ezekiel’s vision.  Breath from the Risen One – incorruptible breath – not like our stinking breath, but breath like the freshest spring breeze – breath from His undying lips:  “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

With that gift of the Spirit they came to life like they’d never been alive before.  Joy seized them and they became downright giddy with holy joy.  The Forgiveness of their sins stood before them; the Defeater of Death right in their midst.  And so they were sent by that same Lord to bring others into that same joy.  This is the institution of the office of the holy ministry.  Jesus’ plan that forever in His Church there would be pastors sent out to forgive sins, to preach the resurrection, and to help God’s people battle their doubts and fears with His unshakeable good news.

Of course, it was still a hard message to wrap one’s mind around.  Thomas was just not able to do it.  He’d missed Church that week, been somewhere else, and so instead of the peace that Jesus wanted for him, he had doubts and fear.  He wanted to see too.  And more than see, for the eyes can be deceived, he wanted to touch.  Insisted on it even.  And aren’t we so glad that he did?  Because that opens our eyes to see even more what a merciful and kind Lord we have in Jesus.  He doesn’t rebuke Thomas just as He doesn’t chew you out when you’re struggling and fearing.  He waits the week so it’s the Sunday after Easter – today! – that He shows up again (He was starting a pattern there!), and then with great tenderness and love He speaks peace to them all again, and bids Thomas reach out and touch and erase all doubt.  Caravaggio’s painting will forever capture the moment for us.  The Lord pushing Thomas’s huge extended finger into the gaping hole.  All so that Thomas could have his fear, his doubt chased away.  He confesses:  “My Lord and my God!”  And then Jesus lifts His eyes from Thomas and sees you:  “You believe, Thomas because you have seen.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

But how did they come to believe?  Only because the Lord took thought to send out His Word, the Word that gives faith.  “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” So the Lord takes thought for the future, takes thought for you – entrusts the speaking of His Word to certain men who would entrust it to others and they to others yet and so on through all these long centuries.  That is how the victory that alone can overcome the world – our faith – gets passed on.  It’s how we are born anew to God and brought into His family and kept in His family.  It’s how the Lord has Himself a Church – a family of people crazy enough to believe that their sins have been covered by His blood and that the grave is NOT their final destiny, but that as He rose in His flesh so they too will rise in theirs on the day He appears in glory to make all things new.

Your Jesus sent me here for 20 years to share this joyful news with you, to celebrate it with you – sometimes with laughter, sometimes with tears, but always the same faith creating, faith sustaining Word.  Together we have rejoiced with saints and angels at the Table where the Risen One still presides, still bids us touch His body and chases away our fears.  Such a good Lord!  And He already knows who your next senior pastor will be.  He’s got it covered.  You just need to ask Him, and pray, and wait, and then rejoice to receive yet another one in the long line of those sent by Jesus to continually deliver forgiveness, life, and salvation to His people.  Thank you for all your kindness and love to me and to my family over these years, and I know you will have much love to share with the man who will end up standing here in this pulpit to give you even more of Jesus, to whom be glory with the Father and with His Holy and Life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages!  Amen.

Between Two Worlds

Or, well, at least two houses.  Right now we're not exactly in either, but the weight is tipping toward the new home.  Anywho, the thought that came to mind was that this is rather how we Christians live in this world.  The old "home" isn't quite home anymore, and though we like to spend all our time in the new, it's not quite possible to do so without reverting to the old again and again.  Back and forth.  But we know where we'll be ending up as Christians and that's a comfort for us:  He has prepared us a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens as St. Paul put it in 2 Cor. 5; or as our Lord says it:  "I go to prepare a place for you."  Here we have no lasting city, but we look for one to come.  Home.

11 April 2012


Oh, my.  Now things really start moving.  Today we do our walkthrough of the house; tomorrow we close, God willing.  Still to finish up here at St. Paul's are my final homily, a wedding on Saturday, some premarital counseling, a Baptism on Saturday, and the preschool's Easter Program.  Then, barring a funeral before the month's end, my days as pastor here are over. How odd that feels!  

Monday the movers arrive to start packing the parsonage and by Wednesday the move will be over and done.  Since work at the International Center doesn't start until May 1, I'll have a few days to decompress after this move and do some mental and emotional adjustment.  I plan on taking Lucy on lots of walks, throwing the ball to her in the fenced back yard and watching her run free (something she's only done very occasionally before).  Oh, and using my new electric lawnmower (battery powered).  Perfect for our small yard.  I'm eager to see how long it will take to actually mow.

It will be a blessing to just stroll across the yard to Dave and Jo's.  AND one of the things I will NOT MISS one little about life in the parsonage:  the non-ending roar of the traffic on the interstate.  The new house is far enough away that you really don't even notice the sound.  YEAH!!!  One thing I will miss a great deal?  Looking out the back and seeing miles of farmland and trees in the distance.  

Well, deep breath and off we plunge.

09 April 2012

Easter Homily - 2012

Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

They bought spices that they might go to anoint Him.  Shows you how much faith they had in Jesus’ words!  The women in their love of their Lord fare better than the apostles, but when they came face to face with the dead body of their Master, their faith failed too.  So that Easter morning, they were off to do a work they certainly didn’t need to do; they were out a great deal of money on a useless expense; and they were worried.  The stone before the tomb was very large.  How to move it?

“And looking up they saw that the stone had been rolled back.”  Ah, beloved!  Looking up takes care of so many of the worries.  Looking up they might even have begun to remember some of Jesus’ own words and realize the futility of their morning venture.  You try it too:  Look up today!  Forget the worries that eat at your heart and frazzle your nerves.  Forget the anxieties that steal away your peace.  God’s up to something today that literally wipes out all the worries and the but, but, but protests you might raise.  Look up!

And entering the tomb they saw a young man, sitting at the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed.

Whoever he was, he wasn’t what they expected.  Nothing this morning was turning out the way they expected.  And the unexpected was only going to grow:

“Do not be alarmed.  I know who you’re looking for.  Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified; nailed to the tree; taken down dead and carried right here!  Well, ladies, you are lookin in the wrong place.  He has risen.  He is not here.  See, this is the place where they laid Him.  But risen now.  Living again.  You really didn’t think that death could hold Him down, did you?  I mean, you knew Him!  You saw what His Word could do.  Well, now.  Off you go.  Go tell His disciples - oh, and Peter - that He is going ahead of you all to Galilee.  You’ll see Him there, just as He told you.”

“Just as He told you.”  Oh, people loved by God!  How many of the anxieties and worries of our lives would evaporate if we always simply looked up and remembered what our Lord told us?

Thinking back on Jesus’ words to them, we get a clue.  He didn’t tell them that life would bring them no sorrow.  In fact, He told them the exact opposite.  We’re headed up to Jerusalem.  It will be bad.  It will be ugly.  They’ll kill me.  You will run away.  BUT on the third day I will be raised.  “Just as He told you” the angel said, and so it was happening.  His Word always holds.  His promise comes true no matter what.  So give up arguing with Him and simply believe and rejoice in what He tells you.  You’ll find that every word of the Lord proves true.  The ladies did.

But, of course, wrapping your mind around the resurrection is no easy task.  Death is the certain thing we’re used to in this world.  We’re used to carrying each other to the grave.  We’re used to saying “goodbyes” that are forever in this age.  And now along comes word of one who really did die, whose corpse was laid in the tomb, and yet who lives.  Lives forever.  And still keeps His word:  “I’ll meet you in Galilee.”

The ladies run out trembling, astonishment seizing them, and at first anyway, not saying a word to anyone, because they were afraid.  And who would believe such a tale?

Oh, people loved by God, this tale is the bedrock, the very cornerstone of our faith.  The dead Jew lived again.  The man nailed to the tree proved to have a life stronger than death.  He burst right of its stinking gullet, filled with life - and not just for Him, He didn’t need it, but for you and me too.

Hence, “I’ll meet you in Galilee.”  That’s where He told them they’d find Him - for what good would it do to have word of resurrection, but no encounter with the Risen One?  Why, that would put you right there with old Job in the Old Testament reading today.  Knowing that resurrection was coming and that one day you’d see the Redeemer face to face, but that’s at the last.  What about now?

 If His Word then directed the ladies and the disciples toward Galilee, His Word today directs you to the Table.  For make no mistake about it:  there the Crucified One whose blood blots out your every sin; there the Risen One whose grip on you is stronger than death; there HE comes to YOU in His body and blood.  There He meets you.  It’s your Easter Galilee.  There He pours into you more life than you’ll ever need; more forgiveness than all the world’s sin; more joy than all the sorrows of this age; more peace than all the fretting of your life.  

He comes to you and says:  I am Christ, YOUR Passover Lamb.  I have been sacrificed for you!  So let us keep feast together, you and I!  Let us toss out the old leaven - the leaven of malice and evil, and enjoy the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth that I give you.  Truth.  The truth of MY words, my truth to you.  

People loved by God, lift up your eyes today!  Away from the worries and anxieties and the inability to wrap your mind around His ways.  Lift up your eyes today.  See not only an empty tomb, but a Table set for you in the presence of your enemies.  See a cup of life overflowing.  See your Lord reaching out His nailed scarred hand, now incorruptible, to welcome you to His Feast, to His Table, to His life.  

Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

Easter Greetings

from our beloved President:

What I love about Easter at St. Paul's?

HYMNS.  We not only had "Jesus Christ is Risen Today" as Entrance, not only had "Christ Jesus Lay" as Hymn of Day, not only had "Now All the Vault" as closing, but we got to sing SIX Distribution Hymns:

I know that My Redeemer Lives
Christ has arisen!  Alleluia!
At the Lamb's High Feast
Good Christian Friends Rejoice
The Day of Resurrection
He's Risen!  He's Risen!

Add in that the choir sang during Distribution "Glory to God in Highest Heaven!" and we STILL had more Sacrament to distribute than we had music to sing.  So Carlo improvised some on the organ as the Distribution concluded.  Great joy!  Service lasted about an hour and forty minutes, I believe.

P.S.  I should add in that at Matins we also got to sing "Awake My Soul."

08 April 2012

With our newest god-daughter...

...KYLEE, baptized into Christ this joyous Easter Feast:

Christos anesti!

Enjoy the sublime music of Pascha right here.

07 April 2012

Great Vigil of Easter

This evening at 8 p.m.  Join us if you can!

Easter Matins at 6:30 tomorrow morning.

Easter Divine Service at 9:00 tomorrow morning.

06 April 2012

A Great Silence and Stillness

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrows the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: "My Lord be with you all." Christ answered him: "And with your spirit." He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying, "Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light."

I am your God, who for your sake has become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on a cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by the cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

--An Ancient Homily, read at Matins of Holy Saturday

Homily for Good Friday Tenebrae

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.

Tonight we practice.  Tonight we rehearse going into the darkness.  No, this is not some funeral for Jesus.  His funeral was long ago and far away; but yours isn’t so far away, is it?  And so we practice.  For the darkness will surely come to you, to me, to each of us here if our Lord does not first return.  The darkness comes - the darkness of death - and it stretches forth its icy shadows long before it envelopes us wholly.

This is the darkness, the night that human beings let loose in this world.  Let us not forget it.  Death is our problem.  We invited it in.  And once we did, we were powerless to put it back out.  And the darkness gorged itself on our flesh.  It grew bigger and bigger, meaner and uglier, and our fear and hatred of it grew too.

And when the darkness of death begins chowing down on you, then another darkness answers from within.  The bitter  memories of sin.  Never forget that all sin is, is death in hiding and all death is, is sin made visible. (Reardon)  So when death begins laying its hands upon you, you realize that it is strangling the life out of you not merely from the outside, but from within.

Satan, who rules the darkness of this world, whispers then to you:  “Remember when you did this?  Remember when you failed to do that?  Remember when you wanted and ached for the other?  Remember?"  Satan whispers.  "Well, here is the fruit you get from the seeds you’ve sown.  Enjoy.    The death of the body?  Oh, it’s bad and it’s ugly but t’s not the worst.  There’s far worse to come.  You know you deserve it and with the last clear vision that is given to the dying, you know that worse that death is where you are headed.  You belong to me.”

Oh, yes.  The struggle of death.  Tonight we practice because there is only way to make it through that darkness and not succumb to its despair.  And that is when you walk through it with the Lord.  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow death I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”  No evil.  Not even the evil that you have done, embrace, welcomed, rejoiced in.  No evil.  Not when it is the Lord who is walking beside you through the darkness.

For one time and only one time in the whole history of our race, there was a death of one on and in whom sin had no hold - no hold whatsoever.  Death had no right to Him, yet as we celebrate this holy evening, He gave Himself up into death.  And He did it so that He could bring you out of it!

Do you see the brilliance, the unthinkable wisdom of God?  Into the darkness on this night, death swallowed down yet one more and thought that He was like all the others it had been eating.  Not so.  True human flesh indeed, yet hidden under the flesh of that One was a light that no darkness would ever be able to overcome.  Into the impenetrable darkness of that stinking pit He let loose a light, the light that was with the Father before time began, the light of an unbroken “yes” to the Father’s will, the light that had finished upon the cross this world's salvation.

Your Jesus goes into the darkness that you will have to go into.  And because you will go into the darkness with Him, you have nothing to fear from the devil and his lies.  As the darkness could not hold your Jesus, so it will not hold you.  As the darkness had no claim on Him, so by the innocent shedding of His blood, it has lost all claim on you.  His blood has covered all your sin forever.  You are HIS.

Tonight we practice going into the darkness; tonight we rehearse for our death.  And we do it as the people who tomorrow will practice coming out of the darkness and into the splendor of the Lord’s uncreated light.  Don’t be practicing the one without practicing the other, now! The Lord who walks with you into the valley of the shadow of death so that you need fear no evil, will walk out of it with you and show you the table He set before you in the presence of your enemies, He will anoint your head with oil, and He will give you a cup of joy that overflows.  More joys than you can even begin to imagine.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.  Tonight it’s just the first part we’re practicing, the falling asleep in faith in Him who is Forgiveness for all sin and so the Destruction of all death.  People loved by God, the darkness comes, but you do not need to be afraid.  Not anymore.  Let us arise and go into it, for we know who will meet us there and where He will lead us.  Amen.

Homily upon Maundy Thursday

Behold, the old is gone, the new has come.  All this is from God.

The old is the Jewish Passover - commemorated every year for a millennium and more in Jesus’ day - the night forever remembered when, sheltering beneath lamb’s blood, the first-born of the Israelites were “passed over” by the destroyer, spared from the death that visited Egypt’s firstborn.  Lamb’s blood turned away death exactly as the Word and promise of God had declared it would.  Might look silly.  Might seem foolish.  Doesn’t matter.  With the spilling of that blood and the painting of the doors, life was preserved and spared.

Our Lord was a good Jew.  He lived in the liturgy of His people.  He gathered with His own to celebrate Passover.  And it was in the context of that “old” that He began to make all things new.  He gave the “new.”  The old covenant - the covenant of the Law given through Moses - the covenant that insisted that cursed is everyone who does not abide in all the words of this law to do them - that covenant is brought to its end.  This evening we celebrate that a new covenant was being inaugurated, a new and far better promise being given.
Paul wrote of it in our epistle as it had been handed onto him from the Lord Jesus.  How the night of His betrayal, the Lord took bread, gave thanks - that is, made Eucharist - broke it and gave it to the disciples.  “This is my body which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”

And then again the cup after Supper:  “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this in remembrance of me.  For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim my death until I come.”

The new wine of the Eucharist poured into the old wineskin of the Passover, filled it up and burst it.  More grace and life and hope and joy and love there than the old feast could handle.  Once a year? Think again! Not this grace!  “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup.”  No yearly feast, this.  The new is bigger.  The new is more.

For here is not mere remembrance of deliverance from a disaster that struck your neighbor long ago.  Here is remembrance of a Deliverer who rescues you even now from every disaster that strikes you.  Hence the “uper umon” - the “for you all” - the “in the place of you all, for the benefit of you all.”

As the old Passover Lamb died so that others might live, so that night THE Passover Lamb, the Pasch Himself, He was going to His death so that you might live.  He would pour out His blood so that you might have the life that is in that blood and so NOT DIE eternally, but live in Him forevermore.

“All this is from God who reconciled us to Himself, not counting our sins against us.”  This Eucharist, this Feast of grace that fills and bursts and overflows the old Passover, this Feast is the feast of God not counting your sins against you, but giving His blood to blot them out every one, and to rescue you from death.

“Do this in remembrance of me” - yes, but remembering that He has promised that He will remember you.  He will never forget you.  He who would go to the suffering and death of Golgotha and through that to Resurrection and life unending - He will not forget you.  He wants you to remember that He has remembered YOU.  Has given His body for YOU.  Has shed His blood for YOU.  He wants you to remember that His love for you proved stronger than the grip of the grave and that He will raise your body from the dust and bring you into the glory that is His.  And so the Eucharist.

Why no Eucharist in tonight’s Gospel?  Surely odd.  Your Catechism gives you a hint:  “What is the Sacrament of the Altar?  It is the true Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus under the bread and wine instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.  Where is this written?  The holy evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, AND St. Paul write…”  Notice something wrong?  Where’s John???  In His gospel, Passover is shoved over a day.  Not tonight, but tomorrow.  Why on earth is that?

John’s Gospel is so filled with the new that the old is already burst and broken.  So the real Passover to John isn’t what happened the night of the betrayal.  It’s what happened when the Lamb of God offered Himself on the wood of the tree.  THERE’S the Passover, John is saying.

So in his account of this night, not a hint of passover, but instead the Lord Jesus on his hands and knees, humbly doing a task that none of his disciples were humble enough to do.  He’s washing their feet.  He’s serving them.  He was all about service.  And so there’s John’s commentary on what the Lord’s Supper is all about:  it’s all about Jesus going on serving you, touching you, washing you clean.  The dirt from off of you, onto Him.  The grime of your life, sullying the clean water and rags in which he is draped.  The Supper is about Him loving you that much.  And notice that He does this washing for Judas, just as for Peter and John and all the others.  There’s none whose sins Jesus wouldn’t wash away by the sacrifice He was preparing to offer.  He would be on the cross for all.

But it didn’t help Judas, and it won’t help anyone who doesn’t believe it.  So with the Supper.  Whoever comes to the table meets Jesus there in His true body and blood - but only those who come in the faith borne of repentance receive in that body and blood the forgiveness and love that Christ is offering with the body and blood.  Those who don’t believe, those who like Judas are determined to hold onto their sin and not let it be washed away, they receive the body and blood alright, but as Paul said in the Epistle they do so in an unworthy manner and so find that which the Lord intended to give life actually bringing judgment.  

The Lord doesn’t want that for you or for anyone.  He wants to meet you in His Eucharist so that He can go on being your servant by washing away your sins with the gift of the body and blood that were for you on Golgotha.  God didn’t send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but sadly, whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s only Son.  

Tonight the old meets the new.  The new bursts the bonds of the old.  Your old life, your old sins, your old habits and ways.  Tonight they meet their end.  Come to the Table and receive Him whose forgiveness is bigger than all the world’s transgression; whose pardon is mightier than all the chains that have held you down.  Come, He is waiting to pour forgiveness and life down your throat.  All this is from God who has reconciled you to Himself, not counting your sins against you.  Amen

04 April 2012

A Little Luther in advance

of Maundy Thursday - this from his homily for the same in the House Postils:

Many ancient fathers called it "Eucharist," a thanksgiving.  Under the papacy it came to be called a sacrifice, that is, to define it accurately, a divine service.  When I preach God's Word, I offer a sacrifice; when we pray for or give help to a needy neighbor, we are bringing sacrifice.  So also when I receive the Sacrament, I am offering a sacrifice, that is, I am doing God's will, I am confessing and giving thanks to God, who has given us this Sacrament, along with all the blessings of the kingdom of heaven, as He has commanded me.

It may well be called a sacrifice, not that the Sacrament itself is a sacrifice, but that the receiving or use of the Sacrament is to be called a sacrifice, not a sacrifice for sin but an offering of thanks and praise, where I confess that Christ died for my sin.  The pope has made the Sacrament into a sacrifice, and a sacrificial action whereby the entire world is reconciled with God.  Yet neither the Sacrament not its use is a work offering whereby God's grace and help can be merited or won.  But the use of the sacrament or the remembrance of Christ, as the Lord Himself calls it, is a thank offering wherein we acknowledge and give thanks to God for our redemption, justification, and salvation solely by grace through Christ's suffering, death, and shedding of blood.  Just as the preaching of the gospel is a sacrificium laudis, that is, a thank offering in which we praise and thank God for having given us the treasure of His Word, so also the reception of the Sacrament is a thank offering.  Hence, whosoever receives the Sacrament thereby shows that he is expressing gratitude to Christ for His suffering and grace.  (I:460 - preached in 1534)

A Blog Tradition: OP's Silent Wednesday

Holy week... The most important seven days in the history of man... Although the exact sequence of events is not always clear to us, we can discern, even now, the straight lines of divine order... Sunday: The garments in the dust - the Hosannahs as the prelude to the "Crucify."... Monday: Sermons with the urgent note of finality - the withered fig tree - Caesar's coin... Tuesday: The terrifying wrath of the Lamb over institutionalized and personal sin among the Scribes and Pharisees - the fire and color of His last sermon to the city and the world - the sureness of justice and the coming of judgment... Night and prayer in the light of the Easter moon on the Mount of Olives...

Wednesday is silent... If anything happened, the holy writers have drawn the veil... Everything that God could say before the Upper Room had been said... It was man's turn now... Perhaps there were quiet words in a corner of the Garden, both to His children who would flee and to His Father who would stay... Wednesday was His... The heart of that mad, crowded Holy Week was quiet... Tomorrow the soliders would come, and Friday there would be God's great signature in the sky... Thursday and Friday would belong to time and eternity, but Wednesday was of heaven alone...

Silent Wednesday... If our Lord needed it, how much more we whose life is the story of the Hosannah and the Crucify... Time for prayer, for adoration... Time to call the soul into the inner court and the Garden... In our crowded world we are lonely because we are never alone... No time to go where prayer is the only sound and God is the only light... We need more silent Wednesdays... In the glory of the Cross above our dust our silence can become purging and peace... God speaks most clearly to the heart that is silent before Him... [The Pilgrim, pp. 27, 28]

01 April 2012


about this.  KFUO has needed something like this for a long, long time.  Looking forward to tuning in!