31 July 2012

The Crucifix

all cleaned up!  It just becomes ever more beautiful and will shortly again be gracing the Chapel:


New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Canonical law is important for the following works: it restrains the Adamic nature which is always climbing up to God to rearrange and reorder him, and to get its hands on the brothers and sisters to rearrange them. Canonical law is authority to protect us from each other. Our wickedness is such that we will abuse each other at the slightest opportunity.—Dr. Kenneth Korby, The Pastoral Office and the Priesthood of Believers, Lord Jesus Christ, Will You Not Stay? p. 358.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

You see, the Word—both audible and visible—is the soul of that mystical Body, the church.  Church discipline is its strength. The care, preservation, and propagation of both of these have been committed to the minister of the church; and the legitimate administration of both of these pertains to the conversion and salvation of human beings—Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Ministry, p. 261.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For he knows that all Scripture is one perfect and harmonized instrument of God, which from different sounds gives forth one saving voice to those willing to learn.  It stops and restrains every working of an evil spirit, just as the music of David laid to rest the evil spirit in Saul, which was also choking him. —Origen, From the Second Book of the Commentary on Matthew, 2.

An Interesting Proposition

Would it be Lutheran to teach that when we have been justified by faith, we are to keep the Law and in fact, by the Spirit, to grow in fulfilling the Law more and more?  It seems that the Lutheran Church certainly thought so.  See Apology V:3.  How on earth can the anti-growth-in-sanctification folks dispense with such clear testimonies?

Last Evening

I decided to pull out a volume of poetry.  I'd not read some in way too long.  I noted in front that it was a volume I'd given my mom back in 1980, and that I'd quoted part of this line from Whittier's Snow-Bound:

Who hath not learned, in hours of faith,
The truth to flesh and sense unknown,
That Life is ever lord of Death,
And Love can never lose its own.

The solid hope of the faith rings throughout the piece.  I think of it as the poetic version of Currier and Ives.  It gives a painting of an America that had, even by Whittier's day, become only memory.  But his sketches of those folks known and loved and remembered from long ago - the older I get, the more of a chord it strikes.

So, I really hope to make that a habit:  pull out the poetry book and read some before bed every evening.

30 July 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The evangelical catholic church is the true catholic church.  She does not follow the perversion of Rome which fails to distinguish properly between the two ways that God addresses and rules humanity and his church.  Nor does the evangelical catholic church fall into the schismatic divorce of these two words from each other.  Neither does the evangelical catholic church allow the confusion of these two words with each other as do those of the traditions that are neither evangelical nor Roman Catholic.  Preaching and teaching the pure gospel calls for the distinction from the law, which causes one to observe, that the two confessions represented by Rom and Geneva are like the foxes of Samson. Their heads point in different directions.  But where the fire is, their tails are tied together. —Dr. Kenneth Korby, The Pastoral Office and the Priesthood of Believers, Lord Jesus Christ, Will You Not Stay?, p. 357.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Just as the calling of ministers belongs to the entire church, so also their removal belongs to the entire church. — Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Ministry, p. 252.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Where affliction is, true salvation is also there. —St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Ephesians, 8.

29 July 2012

HT Fr. Zip:

So, papa, how do you like that new iPad I got you for your birthday?

If you were keeping track...

...this year WE moved in mid April; we moved Bekah back in at the end of April; we moved David and Meaghan to Highland at the end of May; and today we moved Lauren and Dean's stuff into pods, moving them partially into Grandma and Opa's basement, as they await the birth of Baby Herberts, and then prepare for the final move to North Carolina.  It was truly the year of the move.  Am I going crazy yet?  Yes, I am.

Rather Good Primal Article

that Mark's Daily Apple linked to: here.

28 July 2012

Lingel - Elsea Wedding Homily

[Readings: Genesis 2:7, 18-24;  1 John 4:7-19]
He gave names. That was how the man exercised the dominion that the Lord God had given him. He could look at a the hopping thing and say: You sir, are a kangaroo. It’s how he rejoiced in the kangaroo as the unique gift it was from God. But among all the wondrous kangaroos and cockatoos, dogs and hogs, rats and cats and bats - among them all, wondrous gifts that they are - there was nothing the man could call Ishah - nothing that came from Ish. No true companion of his heart and soul, no fellow being like unto him and yet different from him, who could rejoice with him in all the good gifts of the Lord.

And because there wasn’t one and the man was helpless to do anything about it, God did the whole thing. Put the man to sleep and performed a miracle. From him, from his very being, brought forth a being and “brought her to the man.” God does the action. He creates the companion for the man and he gives her to him. And what does man do? He names!

At last! Bone of bones! At last! Flesh of my flesh! At last I’ve been waiting for you my whole life. At last! You know what I’ll call her, God? I’ll call her Ishah, because she came out of Ish. Woman for she came out of man. Or as the geneticists would say XX because she got her XX’s from the XY. Woman.

Moses adds - and that’s why a man leaves his father and mother and holds fast to his wife and they become one flesh.

But hasn’t it ever struck two that that’s NOT the way it actually works in hardly any culture across the face of the world? Rather than the man leaving, it’s usually the woman that leaves. If you’re like most folks, Amilia will be taking Chris’s last name and joining his family and not vice-versa. So why would Moses say that?

Could it be that he was pointing ahead to that mystery behind what is happening with you two today? For there was one who came from His Father and then on His cross left His mother in order to fall asleep and for His side to be opened and from it a new creature to arise to be His spouse, His beloved Bride.

And in Him, St. John makes clear, and only in Him do we finally see what love is. Love isn’t the stuff we work up towards God. Love is this: the Father sends His Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Not that we love God, but that He loves us so much as to give His Son to be the wiping out of our sins. He comes among us as the New Adam looking for His Eve, His Church, His Ishah. Taken out of Ish. And so we see the love that God has for us and the call to live in that love.

And we desperately needed the New Adam and his new bride, since the first Ish and the first Ishah totally got it all gummed up. Instead of living in the joy of God’s giving, they decided to do some taking to themselves, as you will recall, and from that taking to self they plunged themselves and you and me and all the people in their pretty clothes into the judgment of God. As helpless as Adam was to make himself his Eve; so helpless were we all to be able to step back into the life that God made us for and which Adam and Eve tossed out the window. But what we couldn’t do, God did. As little cooperation needed from us as from Adam. Just lie there and let God do His giving and suddenly there is new life to rejoice in.

And so we come to the miracle of marriage which unfolds before our eyes today. Here too, it’s not about striving. But about receiving. God has a gift for you, Christopher, that you did nothing to earn, create, achieve. And He’s giving you that gift just like He gave you the gift of His Son - just because. Because He loves you and wants you to have a companion with whom to walk through the journey of this world toward His kingdom. Name her your Ishah. Name her your own. And never forget that she’s a treasure from the King of Kings to you and He will demand an accounting for how you honor and serve her.

And you, Amilia, just as little as Eve had anything to do with being brought to life, so you’ve been given not only the joy of eternal life in Your Jesus, but now Jesus increases your joy with the gift of a husband. Sheet gift for you to receive and treasure and love and honor and serve all the days He will give you. He is your Ish, your man. Hold to him as the Church holds to Jesus and receives from Him love beyond all her imagining.

Names given mean gifts rejoiced in. Today you two will name each other my husband, my wife. And it’s a way of confessing that God in His love for you has give you each other and bound two together as one. And because you both still carry within you the old Adam and old Eve, who are always think their way is better and makes more sense than God’s, no matter how many times the evidence shows the contrary - stupid is as stupid does - you will find that you must live your lives within the communion of the New Adam and His New Eve, His Church.

Here there is forgiveness bigger than all the sin you can do to each other, here there is a hope and a future that shines with a light no death can dim. You’ve been loved with a perfect love and that perfect love of His for you is what will cast out all the fears the years may bring. And you will find that your love for each other will only grow as you live in Him, for you will grow in love because together bask in the love with which He first loved you. He has named you His own. He has delighted in receiving you as gift from His Father whom it is His unending joy to serve and to honor. In that love of His you will live forever, and when the time comes to an end to your earthly pilgrimage and you cease to walk together as husband and wife, you will have the joy of going on living as brother and sister of the New Adam to whom be glory with His Father and the Holy Spirit now and ever and to the ages of ages! Amen.

Home

Being rather an introvert by nature, home has always been where I prefer being more than any place in the world. That hasn't changed with the move to our new (to us) home back in April. In fact, the preference for home has grown more intense now that I no longer work from my home. I treasure every moment that I get to spend here - from the early morning breakfasts on the deck, sipping our coffee, watching the humming birds dance and the robins nest, to a lazy Saturday afternoon when the sun drenches the dining area and living room (they flow together), to the quiet evenings with some Bach playing softly on the surround-sound (I'd never had that before!) as we enjoy a glass or two of Pinot Noir to the flicker of candles on the piano and the old bench we're using as a coffee table. But most of all, most of all, I treasure the times when the children are home for a meal and the house is filled again with their raucous laughter and the conversations grow louder and louder, and the cards get pulled out.

I'm especially eager for starting new memories of holidays here. A home doesn't quite properly seem a home until there are memories in it of Thanksgiving turkeys, Christmas hymn sings, and New Year Eve parties.

I've heard tell that smell is one of the most evocative senses for nostalgia. I know that has been true for me with the smell of a wood fire. I get one whiff on a cold and gray day, and images float before my mind of the old kitchen at Grandma Bess' or Aunt Emma's - cornbread baking in the oven and coffee sitting on the stove, and somehow the warmth in the house (which was more than the fire in the wood stove, but that seems closely akin to it) had the promise beating back the encroaching chill. This house has a real fire-place and even though if you step outside it feels like you're IN a roaring fire, I am still eagerly anticipating the day I come home and there's a fire in the hearth with that wondrous smell that says "home" to my nose and memory like nothing else.


Funeral Music

Can be tricky.  I mean, the family may have their heart set on some pieces that simply do not serve the Church's mandate to proclaim the resurrection and the comfort and joy of Christ's victory over the grave. They want the "familiar" but then that really sets a challenge before pastors when their wishes ask for pieces not in our hymnal (my former parish had a policy that no hymns not in the hymnal would be sung at weddings and funerals - it's kind of limiting, but it helps the pastor to be able to say: "Oh, I'm sorry. We can only do what's in the hymnal - that's our congregation's practice. Can we look at some of these?") or for pieces that simply have nothing to do with the hope and joy of resurrection.


My pastoral practice for good or ill in the past was always to insist that the first hymn HAD to be a hymn of the resurrection. It connects with the lighted paschal candle and the pall as a sign of our baptismal sharing in Christ's righteousness and victory. I'd have several suggestions available to choose from. I'd encourage the hymn before the sermon to be a favorite of the person who had died. If they had two strong favorites, maybe include another one right after the sermon.  


But leaving the Church, the procession out headed to the grave? This is the time for the Church's huge "You have not won, Death!  You have not won at all!" to be proclaimed.  There are a handful of hymns in our hymnal that do the job, but I've come to believe that the absolute best piece at that moment is:  "God's Own Child."  


"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." 


When people leave church singing THAT, they can virtually DANCE to the grave in the joy that is the unique experience of the Christian faith. Such funerals then witness as no other service of the Church does (because of the larger number of unchurched who end up showing up for funerals) of the Life that has been given the deceased, a life that is way stronger than the death that seems (but only seems!) to have triumphed. We know it is not so and sing our joy in the face of death.  


Pastors, whatever you do when it comes to addressing the problem of hymns in the funeral, work to make sure that every funeral that comes along witnesses in song the joy of the resurrection itself - that the flesh that lies in that coffin dead and decaying will rise incorruptible and shining in glory!

27 July 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The predicates of Christ are the predicates of the church. — Dr. Kenneth Korby, The Pastoral Office and the Priesthood of Believers, Lord Jesus Christ, Will You Not Stay? p. 355.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Investiture differs from ordination because ordination occurs just once, but investiture is repeated as often as anyone who has been ordained to the ministry is called to another church or to another grade of office in the same church. — Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Ministry, p. 246.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For your sake He suffered death, that you might die to your sins.  His face endured spitting, that you might not shrink from scorn.  He drank vinegar and gall, that you might be set apart from wrath.  He received stripes in His body, that you might not fear suffering. — St. Ephraim the Syrian (cited in Today's Treasury).

26 July 2012

A Wonderful Consecration

of a Church in Lithuania.  Read about it here.  Most heartening!

25 July 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is in his body that Jesus offers the sacrifice. It is in his body that we draw near to God. The temple in which we now worship God is the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. The very body, born of Mary, crucified for us and raised from the dead is fed to us. We are created into his mystical body, joined to Christ the Head. In him and in this mystical body we worship God. —Dr. Kenneth Korby, "The Pastoral Office and the Priesthood of Believers" Lord Jesus Christ, Will You Not Stay? p. 354.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

A bishop performs ordination not in his name but in the name of the church. You see, just as the right of calling belongs to the entire church, so ordination —which is the declaration and testifying of the call —is performed in the name of the church.  The presbytery lay on their hands, but the church adds its prayers. —Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Ministry, p. 227.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Is there a human being who does not sin in his heart, who does not have a bad thought, who is not guilty of harboring doubts, who does not incur blame through fear? Moses doubts, Aaron goes astray, Peter denies: so who is righteous? —St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 91, par. 3.

24 July 2012

Wow

7:13 p.m. and the heat is still over 100.  Cindi and I went for a walk and as we strolled along we conversed over how we never in our whole lives remember such a summer as this.  I remember hearing mom talk about a summer back in the 1930's that was so hot that they actually put the dishes into the spring to cool them off before serving dinner on them.  I try to imagine what this would be like without air conditioning, knowing full well that there are folks out there without it - God have mercy on them!

But the intense heat simply moves my desires fast forwards toward the fall and the winter.  Did God make us so? Always reaching ahead?  Often enjoying, but never quite content with, what is?  Maybe so.  Always an elusive something out there, beckoning us on, enticing us forward.  After all these years you'd think it would simply be given up as a silly game.  Yet somehow it seems to me to grow more serious, more intense as the years move ever more rapidly forward - like a river gathering momentum as it rushes toward the falls you can sense, but not see, up ahead.

For truly He made us for Himself, and "our souls are restless until they rest in Thee."  Behind all the seasonal discontent, our souls themselves may be sighing, groaning beyond words, for that final beauty which is crisper than the autumn day with that deep October blue sky; shimmering more brightly than the moonlight over the virgin drifts of snow; more fragrant than the sweet apple blossoms in the Springtime; and more intense than the kiss of the sun this July.  The beauty of the Day without Evening in the Kingdom of our Father!

Maybe, just maybe, behind the temporal longings rings the sighing cry of the holy church:  Maranatha!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

This King [Jesus] is the High Priest over the priestly community.  He rules by laying His righteousness on that priestly people.  When He, this priest over all, prays, there is answer, for His God's answer to their prayers. -- Dr. Kenneth Korby, The Pastoral Office and the Priesthood of Believers, Lord Jesus Christ, Will You Not Stay? p. 351.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

God's calling is so effectual that through it things begin to exist that did not previously.  Rom. 4:17: "God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they are." Thus through God's calling ministers are equipped with the gifts necessary for rightly taking on the duties of the office committed to them. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Ministry, p. 72.

Patristic Quote of the Day

There have been in the whole duration of the world two conspicuous changes of people's lives, which are also called two testaments, on account of the wider fame of the matter; two earthquakes, the one from idols to the Law, and the other from the Law to the Gospel.  And we are taught in the Gospel of a third earthquake, namely, from this earth to that which cannot be shaken or moved.  -- St. Gregory Nazianzus, Theological Orations 32.25

23 July 2012

A Catch Up Day

Since I worked on Saturday, I took today off.  What a relaxing and enjoyable day! Made breakfast for Cin and Bekah; watered the garden and plants; prayed Matins; cut grass (which is an interesting exercise in frustration given that everything except for the weeds is dead!); went for a half hour walk with Cindi when she got home; enjoyed a lunch of leftovers; cleaned up a bit in bedroom, kitchen and living room; made coffee for tomorrow a.m.; participated in my beloved and frustrating ALPB; consumed part of a pot of coffee and refilled the french press twice; enjoyed some Irish Breakfast tea in the afternoon and am now sipping some Pinot Noir; listened to a pile of Christmas music; salivating over dinner (scallops over cauliflower rice!) that is beginning to send enticing odors through the house.  I wonder if another game of cards is in the offing for the evening?  Surely MY turn to win.  Hope springs eternal.

Thanks, Jen!


22 July 2012

Scattered Thoughts

Watching Ethan, Peyton, and Morgan with Ryton sing:  "O God for Jesus' sake I pray / Your peace may bless my dying day" had me choked up this a.m.... Happy to hear that Jen is doing better and Mia also and Larry - thanks be to God!... Dave won three games this afternoon and drat it all, Jo won one also this evening... What is it about a cleaned up house that I so love? Cindi worked on kitchen and I vacuumed in the living room, hall, and bedroom... Still running through Christmas in my mind and trying to figure out how to set up house (yes, Cindi also thinks I'm nuts)... Taking tomorrow off since I worked  Saturday and looking forward to it... Pondering Pr. Curtis' sermon on St. Mary Magdalene today... Cathy continues to be a remarkably good indoor cat... Cindi made a great dinner tonight of spaghetti (served over spaghetti squash), broccoli with pastured butter, salad with tomatoes from our garden and also cucumber from the same and was a joy to sit down for the same with Bekah, Jo and Dave... Coffee made for tomorrow and breakfast planned (my turn to cook since I'm off - most days Cindi is up and fixing breakfast for us)... Humming birds finally are feeding in the back yard and they are hoot to watch... Cool that Paul Soulek uses "hoot and half" - makes me smile... Hoping that the Osburns stop in on trip to or from her parents in Missouri... Bed is beckoning...

21 July 2012

Petition to Add to Prayer of the Church

this Sunday:


           Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, look in Your kindness and mercy on all those who have been affected by the shootings in Aurora, Colorado.  Grant healing to those who remain hospitalized, comfort to those who mourn their dead, peace to those who have been traumatized, and wisdom to all who deal with the aftermath.  You who know firsthand the pain and sorrows that fallen humanity can inflict upon itself and yet triumphed over all hatred by Your unfailing love, let that love hold and transform all who have been devastated in this latest horror.  Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer!

A Wonderful Visit

Paul Soulek and I were privileged to visit with Pr. Jonathan Schroeder of Faith Lutheran Church just outside Peachtree City, in Georgia in preparation for an upcoming conference. 

Pr. Schroeder's church is simply gorgeous.  It totally achieves a blending of classic church architecture with meeting modern needs.  You walk into the nave and you know you are in the presence of Christ the King, whose image adorns the stained glass above the altar.  The floor of the sanctuary is flagstone and the outside walls of stone also.  A tall bell tower forms the entry way.  A large gathering space pushes the bounds of "Narthex" and communicates right away:  "Glad you're here with us!  Glad together we can go into the house of the Lord!" 

It was exciting to hear from Pr. Schroeder about how liturgical worship done excellently and with integrity has been appealing to the folks in the community and how many who had had no church background at all (bonafide heathen!) had been brought into the Church's sphere of influence through a growing preschool and then brought into the Church itself through patient catechesis and the worship life of the parish.  They now are approaching 500 baptized and still growing.

Pr. Schroeder shared much of this as we feasted on freshly smoked sockeye salmon and downed a fabulously dark German beer or two under a massive oak towards the back of the large property.  I picked up a Bible study that Pr. Schoeder had done on the Supper - it was outstanding in its clarity AND its depth. 

So fancy that:  right  in the heart of Georgia, a WELS parish took root and grew by being intentionally Lutheran.  How sweet is that, I ask you?  I'm glad we'll be visiting the parish again in the near future!


18 July 2012

A Homily by Dr. Dien Taylor

which he preached for us today at the International Center Chapel on Psalm 85:8-13:

In the Name + of Jesus.

The folly of a “Facebook world” has people listening to the voices of others before decisions get made.  
If people want to stay at a hotel, they not only look up the hotel but then look at what others say about it.  
If they want to get a car, they get the opinions of everyone else first. 

Although helpful, it can be paradigmatic of how we have been exiled, hearkening to the many disparaging voices of an ever-confused world.  
Their voices have no authority.  
They keep us crying hopelessly around Babylon’s sad waters reminiscing only about good ol’ days that were not actually all that good.  
In rebellion with God and in disobedience to His Word, we have listened to the voice of the slithering serpent like our parents in Paradise instead of taking our cues from the One who has made us to be in perfect communion with Him.  
We heard it this past weekend.
We seek the opinions of jealous mothers after we dance and gladly ask for the heads of prophets on a platter.  
We imprison those whose words we wish to silence, hoping to mute their prophetic cry so that we can keep improper relationships in tact.  
We care more about the people we invite to our parties and what they think instead of fulfilling our family vocations as the Lord intended.
It is the folly of a “Facebook world,” the “save face” world, where our identity is wrapped up in the opinions of the popular press.

But our Lord has called us to a different life by the power of the Holy Spirit—He has reached out to us in Christ Jesus to save us from a pitiful existence that seeks counsel from the wicked and instead gives us the chance as His sheep to hear our Shepherd’s saving voice.

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak.  He is speaking peace to His people as the perfect righteous Son of God hung on the cross for our sin and rose from the dead to save us, forgiving us our sin and giving us new life as His strong Word bespeaks us righteous.

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak.  He is speaking peace to His people at the waters of the baptismal font where He connects us with the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, putting us to death so that we may rise with Him.

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak.  He is speaking peace to His people from the pulpit as His Holy Word is read and proclaimed, as Law and Gospel are properly distinguished, as sin is condemned and hope and comfort are offered in Jesus Christ. 

This is the text message that is worth reading, hearing and sharing.

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak.  He is speaking peace to His people as His called and ordained servant speaks to repentant sinners the word of freedom, release and forgiveness that cleanses us from all unrighteousness.  
“I am forgiven in Christ Jesus.” 
Now that’s a “tweet” that’s worth “tweeting!”

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak.  He is speaking peace to His people as His Spirit leads us to the Altar where the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthens us and keeps us in His grace.  

At the altar where steadfast love and faithfulness meet and where righteousness and peace kiss each other, where faithfulness springs up from the ground and righteousness looks down from the sky, Christ Himself speaks and gives us what is good so that our land yields its true increase.  

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak.  He is speaking peace to His people as the saints encourage each other, in mutual consolation, comforting one another with the comfort that we ourselves have received from God.

With hundreds of channels and voices clamoring in the invisible airwaves, our Lord invites us to tune into the station of our salvation—to hear what the Lord God has to speak. 

Let us not return to our folly—it leads not to life but to death.  
The opinions of losers never got anyone anywhere anyway.  
The “dearest friend to me” Christ Jesus has befriended us.  
Let us listen to Him this day.

Let us hear what God the Lord will speak as His righteousness goes before us and leads us to the Day of His return when the world will hear Him speak, fall on their faces and cry out what we are privileged to cry out today: “Alleluia!  Salvation and Glory and Honor belong to our God and to the Lamb.”  
For on that day, God the Lord will speak peace to His holy ones forever.

Let the Church cry out with the Psalmist in these last days and proclaim with faith: Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people, His saints.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.


Soli Deo Gloria

Psalm 85:8-13
The International Center
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
The Rev. Dr. Dien Ashley Taylor

17 July 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We honor our ancestors when we give heed to that Word which they so fearfully carried and so faithfully taught.  Our honor to them is do our task of listening faithfully, trusting boldly, loving lavishly, and passing on diligently what we have heard. By that Word of God we are slain and vivified before God; we are guided and sustained; we are corrected and rebuked. —Dr. Kenneth Korby, The Pastoral Office and the Priesthood of Believers, Lord Jesus Christ, Will You Not Stay?, p. 347.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

For it is human freedom when laws are changed without effecting any change in men, but is Christian freedom when men are changed without changing the Law. —Blessed Martin Luther, AE 27:325

Patristic Quote of the Day

You no longer have your faith from Christ nor hope for grace for yourselves by His suffering and resurrection, if you believe that justification comes from the Law. — Marius Victorinus, Epistle to the Galatians 2.5.4

16 July 2012

The fading sunlight on the wall...

...Aunt Fanny's desk in the entry hallway... Grandma Bess's bench serving as a coffee table of sorts before my couch... Nana's table and sideboard in the dining area... Jugs from the barn, found after granddaddy died... Grandma Mastin's teapot... Candlestick on my mantel that sat on the organ in the living room of the old house for years beyond count... Anne E. (Bullard) Pemberton's books upon the mantel too (and now for how many years upon years lying lonely behind Richardsville Methodist Church)... Memories swirl and the realization of how fast time speeds by, and the challenge:  can I help my children know and love people they've never known?  Can I help them treasure memories they've not shared in?  I love my Aunt Annie, though she died long before I was born.  My mom brought her to life for me.  She literally lived from her wise sayings.  Same with Cousin A.  But have I done the same to my children?  Do they know their grandfather who died long before they were born? Or their grandmother who is at most a memory from pictures when they were little?  I think of it much now as Lauren and Dean and the baby prepare to remove to North Carolina.  The thought of the parting weighs heavier by the day.  I try not to think of it too much.  Yet it's always there.  Joy for them, and yet grief and sadness for the fewness of the days we will have together henceforth.  Such is life, and yet it is life in a fallen world.  For in the world as it was meant to be, there were no goodbyes.  I am so thankful for the gift of prayer - by it even those far away are held near and dear each day.  And it is not bordered by death for we speak to Him in Whom death itself is abolished.  Memories swirl... and I hope for making of memories yet to come.  And the light on the wall has all but disappeared.

Look who

stopped in at the International Center today.  Ashley, Margaret, and Paul - members of St. Paul's in Norlina/Ridgeway NC, where Dean is pastor-elect.  Here they are in President Harrison's office.  Paul perceptively noted that President Harrison's spinning book case (with hidden humidor) was rather like something you'd find in Monticello. 


Now that was sweet

Here's a photo journal of sorts by Diane Meyer - on the topic of Dean.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

How shall we think about those who are our fathers and mothers in the faith in light of the commandment of God, "Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother that it may go well with thee and thou mayest live long on the earth"? At this point I am not referring to our physiological parents, but to those who are ecclesiastical fathers, and to the church, that Jerusalem from above, who is our mother. If we do not honor father and mother, we have the sure, unerring, and hard Word of God that it will not go well with us. — Dr. Kenneth Korby, The Pastoral Office and the Priesthood of Believers, Lord Jesus Christ, Will You Not Stay? p. 344.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

[St. Paul] points out that he left Titus in Crete for this purpose — "to establish presbyters in every city" (Titus 1:5), which he later calls "bishops" (v. 7).  Therefore according to the nomenclature of the apostles, the same one who is a presbyter is correctly called a "bishop." —Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Ministry, p. 38.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Now citizens are begotten to the earthly city by nature weakened by sin, but to the heavenly city by grace freeing nature from sin. —St. Augustine, City of God, 15.2

15 July 2012

Put

Today Dean Zachary Herberts, my beloved son-in-law, was PUT into the Office of the Holy Ministry with prayer and the laying on of hands.  The instrument through whom he was put was Southern Illinois District President, Timothy Scharr.  But the one who did the putting was the Lord of the Church - the ordination liturgy makes that abundantly clear.

And the council of presbyters gathered around President Scharr and surrounded Dean with their own laying on of hands and then all together laying on hands at the Our Father.

The congregation added, if not exactly their axios, still an affirmation to the same intent.  They dared to speak for the whole Church in receiving Dean as one God has put into the office.

It was a service of great joy - and we were very blessed indeed to have in the congregation Paul, Ashley and Margaret from the calling congregation, St. Paul's, in Norlina/Ridegway, NC.  Dr. Meyer offered, instead of an outright sermon, a prayer to God for Dean that we got to overhear.  It was a clever way to approach the preaching and best of all reminded us constantly of Him in whose presence we were gathered and who was the true Ordinator today. "God makes pastors" - as Luther said so well.

So blessings to you, Pastor Herberts!  May the Lord of the Church have great use of you in delivering His gifts to His people and bringing to them His own everlasting joy and eternal life.

14 July 2012

A Vivaldi Treat

Cindi and Melissa reprised this Vivaldi "Laudamus Te" (they had sung it at David and Meaghan's wedding) at St. Paul's this past Sunday during the Distribution of the Holy Eucharist.

13 July 2012

Tempus Fugit

and all that.  But honestly!  Tonight we celebrate a couple days  early two special birthdays:  Dave DeVries, my father-in-law, turns 75.  David Weedon, my son, turns 24.  They share the same birthday:  July 15.  Together they total 99 years. And neither seems possible.

I remember Dave as a younger man - dark haired, thin, always friendly and quite the singer and actor.  He was just shy of 40 when he took me and a whole parcel full of young ones down to Florida for Jesus 77 - we were packed into the black caddy and I still remember the night we spent in Georgia, where Spring had come early and we sat talking into the night.  I also remember a trip to Ocean City - a day's dash.  Only the car broke down, and Dave was having intense back pain.  He got it fixed, though, and I stayed with him as the girls went on to the beach and had their day in the sun.  He taught me the importance that day of being servant - and all without saying a word about it.  Just by the way he behaved.  He did what needed doing and all without a word of complaint - he wasn't the least bit grim, just cheerful (and this while being in constant pain)!

I remember David as the chunky little one with the raspy voice and the startling bright mind.  The things he'd come up with!  Like it was yesterday, I remember picking him up from preschool and riding up to Hardee's in Staunton.  I said:  "David, your door's open."  His response at 4?  "No, papa.  The word is 'ajar.'  When the door is open it's 'ajar.'"  That's my son.

Anyway, I've been hugely blessed by both my Davids. They continue to inspire me and I thank God for both of them.

An Outstanding Homily

by my good friend, Pr. Jeff Hemmer, which he preached for us in Chapel yesterday at the International Center upon 2 Corinthians 12:1-10.  Enjoy.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Pastoral authority is located in the holy gospel of the forgiveness of sins freely for Christ's sake. You have no other authority, for Christ has no other authority in reordering sinners into salvation. —Dr. Kenneth Korby, The Pastoral Office and the Priesthood of Believers, Lord Jesus Christ, Will You Not Stay? p. 344.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Although Holy Scripture nowhere specifically calls ministers of the church "priests," we nevertheless admit that this word can be attributed specifically and in a sound sense to ministers of the church, and was so attributed by the ancients.  Just as Paul says that was "in the priestly service of the Gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 15:16), so also ministers of the church can be called "priests" not only in the general sense according to which all the devout are called priests but also in a specific respect, namely, inasmuch as they make a sacrifice by the preaching of the Gospel and offer to God "a pure offering" (Mal. 1:11); also inasmuch as they consecrate themselves in particular to God, have a specific concern for the poor, and pour out prayers for their own needs and for the needs of the church. —Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Ministry, p. 23.

Patristic Quote of the Day

[St. Paul] shows  that each of us ought to declare such great thanks to Christ as if Christ had come for him alone. For God would not have withheld this gift even from one person. He has the same love for every individual as for the whole world. —St. John Chyrsostom, Commentary on Galatians 2:20

12 July 2012

One of the treats

of this time of year is Cindi and I enjoying our coffee (and sometimes our breakfast) out on the deck in the morning.  The birds singing and flying all about.  The noise of the traffic muted in that odd early morning way.  The sun just beginning to creep over the horizon, bathing all things in that golden glow.  We chat a bit, sip a bit, look around a bit.  And then all too soon, it's quarter after and I'm off to the International Center.  I wonder if we'll do it when the sun isn't quite up yet?  The days are fast approaching when I'll be leaving in the dark and before long, I suppose, arriving in the dark. 

11 July 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Hallowing the work of vocation in home and market place is the work of the priestly people in sacrifices offered. In some ways it begins with the simple question, "Why work?" Some will say, "I have to pay the bills. That is why I work." Others will say, "I am in debt. I must work." When the members of the priesthood and the pastor shepherding them begin to think like that, they become worldly. —Dr. Kenneth Korby, The Pastoral Office and the Priesthood of Believers, Lord Jesus Christ, Will You Not Stay?, p. 342.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

God hath given Himself wholly to thee; do thou give thyself wholly to thy neighbor. The best life on earth is that which is wholly spent in serving others. — Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XXVIII.

Patristic Quote of the Day

But the apostle says, "If righteousness were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose" (Gal. 2:21).  What the apostle says of the law, we say of nature to these men. "If righteousness were through nature, then Christ died for no purpose." - St. Augustine, Sermons and Selected Letters, 81.9

10 July 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Have we become Protestant monks with church programs as our monastic orders? Is it so that the work we do on evangelism calls or serving on church boards or committees or committing ourselves to some program that calls us to leave our spouse or children to do some service, are often conceived of as the proper sacred work for Christians to do?  All else is secular, worldly and may, in the famous words of one, "serve only to pay the bills."  -- Dr. Kenneth Korby, The Pastoral Office and the Priesthood of Believers, Lord Jesus Christ, Will You Not Stay? p. 341.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Let mercy always be manifest in thy disposition of mind; kindness in thy countenance, humility in thy manner, modesty in thy intercourse with others, and patience in thy tribulations. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditations XXVIII

Patristic Quote of the Day

And by this His work what does the Lord suggest and commend to our hearts but that no one should presume upon his own righteousness nor distrust God's mercy, which shines out more preeminently then, when the sinner is made holy and the downcast lifted up. For the measure of the heavenly gifts does not rest upon the quality of our deeds, nor in this world, in which all life is a trail (Job 7:1), is each rewarded according to his deserving, for if the Lord were to take count of a man's iniquities, no one could stand before His judgment. - Pope St. Leo the Great, Sermon on the Anniversary of His Ordination, 2.

09 July 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Priests in the priesthood are people who talk to God about their neighbors.  That is prayer.  ––Dr. Kenneth Korby, The Pastoral Office and the Priesthood of Believers, Lord Jesus Christ, Will You Not Stay? p. 341.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We are either making progress or losing ground in the way of the Lord; examine thy life daily, therefore, to see whether thou art advancing in the pursuit of godliness or retrograding.––Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XXVIII

Patristic Quote of the Day

In fact, the Law of Moses was not unjust.  Rather, it was difficult and able to justify only those who had followed the entire Law perfectly.  Therefore, it was clearly incapable of setting people straight, because the one who had fallen into a single crime was made guilty of all (James 2:10).  Thus the Law was not able to justify.  And since the Law itself was incapable of justifying anyone, its inability to correct made people incapable of being justified by the commands of the Law. ––Ammonius, Catena on the Acts of the Apostles 13.39.

08 July 2012

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In the battle of flesh and spirit, in which true Christians stand, they not only overcome sins, they carry off all kinds of precious virtues as their loot of their combat. The longer they battle, the more universal, comforting, and untiring their love becomes. Their joy becomes purer, their peace becomes firmer, their patience becomes stronger, their kindness becomes more sincere, their goodness becomes richer, their faith and faithfulness become more constant, their gentleness becomes more unconquerable and their self-control becomes more immaculate. In short, the end of the true battle of the flesh and spirit is an advance in sanctification. This resulting sanctification is as far from perfect as the victory of the spirit over the flesh is complete. Indeed, every Christian must confess, with Paul, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect” (Phil. 3:12). Nevertheless, where that battle truly exists, a fighter must be able to add truthfully, as Paul does, “I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Phil. 3:12). Oh may God grant that we all become and remain true fighters against the flesh and sin. May Jesus Christ, our eternal Prince of victory, help us all for the sake of His battle with death.”––C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It, p. 717

Dean's Ordination NEXT Week

If you're in the area at all, please join us for Christ's putting into the Office of the Holy Ministry of Dean Zachary Herberts (my beloved son-in-law), 4 p.m., July 15 at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Collinsville, Illinois.  Dean is pastor-elect of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Ridgeway/Norlina NC.  LCMS (and TAALC) clergy are invited to participate in the laying on of hands (red stoles).  Dr. Dale Meyer, former speaker of the Lutheran Hour and current president of Concordia Seminary, will be the preacher.  Suggest that clergy show up no later than 3:15.

07 July 2012

Hey, don't take MY word for Primal...

...take HIS!  Go, Fr. Hollywood!

06 July 2012

The Holy Evangelists

in stained glass at the International Center:








05 July 2012

Prayer of the Church

preceding the German Litany - Magdeburg Book, 1613 (p. 279):

Take from us, dear Lord, our sins and transgressions, so that we may come before Your eyes with pure hearts and humility. 

Have mercy, have mercy, have mercy, dear Lord, upon Your people, which You, O Christ, have redeemed with Your own blood. 

Hear, hear, hear Lord God, our prayer. 

Christ our Redeemer, pray for us to Your dear Father. 

[The book prescribes this prayer and the German litany to be prayed at the Divine Service on  Thursday after Trinity IV between the appointed Epistle and the Gospel reading]

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We are suffering confusion to a great extent because of the loss of our common spiritual and theological language.  The language of pastoral theology and the care of souls is predominantly the language of the personality and social sciences.  We are becoming poorer and poorer.  Similarly, much of the language of piety has been taken over by the language of baptistified charismatics.  The language of the catechism, of hymnody, of the liturgy, and of Bible translations is in such flux that fewer and fewer learn it by heart. -- Dr. Kenneth Korby, The Pastoral Office and the Priesthood of Believers, Lord Jesus Christ, Will You Not Stay? p. 334.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

When the preaching of the Word is taken away, the people are stripped of the true and saving knowledge of God; they become rebellious and disobedient to God their Creator; they are idle and cease to be eager for good works; and they "are scattered like sheep not having a shepherd" (Mark 6:34). –– Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Ministry I:6.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The common sufferings of the Church call for common prayers. –– Severus of Antioch, Catena on the Acts of the Apostles 12.5

04 July 2012

Life at the IC...some thoughts

Well, it's been two full months since I began my duties as Director of Worship and Chaplain of the International Center. Time for some reflections, I suppose.

* I thought I'd dry up and die not celebrating the Sacrament each week; I've blessedly discovered that receiving the Sacrament is by far the better part.  I'm happy to receive Eucharist each week, though I did enjoy celebrating the Eucharist at the Deaconess Conference.  Hope Lutheran sponsored it, but Pr. Asburry kindly let me preside.

* I think I'm preaching and teaching even more than I did at St. Paul's - between leading National Mission weekly devotions, chapel services (both at 1333 and at LCEF), interviews on Issues Etc., and being Catechist for the Missionary Orientation.

* The chapel is rather a peaceful haven in the midst of a building that is frequently all too rush-rush (though very careful and cautious in output).

* The art that fills the IC is really amazing - and I think my favorite is probably the stained glass of the O Antiphons (hidden away on the fourth floor!).

* I only have the drowning sensation occasionally anymore - this is a good thing.  Rachel Asburry has been remarkable in her patience and her gentle tutelage and the Synod has not the first clue how much she has done since the last convention to keep things up and running in the area of worship (Let Us Pray; Lectionary Summaries; and much more).

* I still get to do hospital calls, deal with the indigent, answer theological questions of all sorts, and have constant surprises each day.

* I enjoy the drive - it's a guaranteed time of solitude each day and I usually spend it in prayer or in listening to music (lately have been revisiting CPH's fine set on Luther's music).  BUT I enjoy the drive a lot more when I get in early (I try to arrive at or before 7) and can get out of the building before rush hour starts in earnest.

* For a while I brought my lunch and ate at my desk, but I've found that just skipping lunch generally works well.  I might bring along a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit and call it done.

* It's been hard to find the time to actually exercise.  I've just started using the fitness center at the IC and plan on using that gym to "lift heavy things" a couple times a week.  I do a lot of up and down the stairs, though, and never take the elevator.

* I like it when President Harrison is around the building - he has the gift of just putting a smile on folks' face.  Such a tall and solidly built fellow, and yet with the softest of voices.  I miss a lot of what he says because I just can't hear him, but I love it when he preaches for us.  He has the gift of giving us Jesus consistently.

* I am still not sure of the "culture clash" between Weedon's "let's get it done yesterday" and the IC's more cautious and careful approach.  That's been interesting.

* There are LOTS of really great folk serving there and it's a joy to actually work beside and with them.

And that's about all for the moment.  Oh, and do I miss St. Paul's?  Is God a Jew?  Of course!

She just appeared

as cats are wont to do around the parsonage.  It was many years ago, the fall of 1999.  The kids fed her.  We told them in no uncertain terms:  this cat is one we're not expending any money on.  She's an outside cat.  No shots.  No vet visits.  You get the idea. 

But then, of course, she became pregnant.  Kittens!  Ack.  And before we turned around, pregnant again.  MORE kittens!  So we relented to get her fixed.  We kept outside with her one of her daughters - she disappeared though earlier this year.  We have coyotes prowling near the parsonage... Enough said.  But still Cathy persisted.  And Bekah had an absolute fit at the thought of us leaving her behind.  We did leave her up there till we got back from Mexico and Elizabeth faithfully tended her.  But at last we brought her into the new house.  We were in dread of what an outside animal would do.  She was so old - no chance of really declawing her.  How would it work out?

Well, the wretch took over like she was the queen of the place.  She learned to use her litter box amazingly quickly.  She isn't the least bit bothered by the dog (they were both sleeping on the couch a while ago), and will even try to eat the dog's food (at which Lucy begins baying).  She doesn't seem to have an overwhelming desire to be outside, though she wants to go out when we are out on the deck.  She has been respectful of the furniture - not the first sign of clawing.

She's blind in one eye, her teeth are missing on one side, and her pretty calico coat is looking rather tattered.   Yet now she seems utterly content.  Just like it was meant to be.  Sigh. 

Ah, the Fourth!

Now this is how a day off should begin: woke with the sun, grabbed a quick cup of java, then Cindi and I were off for about 1/2 hour bike ride to the berry patch - we picked a pile of 'em - and then rode back home. Had a breakfast of uncured bacon, farm-fresh eggs, and our favorite paleo pancakes (dripping in kerry gold butter), topped off with some of the fresh picked berries. And we blessedly have zero to do in front of us for the rest of the day... Love it!

03 July 2012

One of the joys

of having the missionary orientation last week and this has been closing each day in the IC Chapel, chanting Evening Prayer together. The chapel has a quite different feel in the late afternoon light. We gather in silence and the peace just begins seeping in after all the rush of the day - the candles flickering on either side of the altar, all the brighter for the fading light in the sky. Our pianists (Pr. Vieker and Pr. Ahlman) have done a superior job of conveying the actual spirit of this beautiful liturgy. From Phos Hilaron to Psalm 141, from Magnificat to the Great Litany (Ektenia), from the chanting of psalms to the singing of the evening hymns - all together conspire to drive anxiety and fear from the heart and to fill it with the peaceful joy and the joyful peace that flow from the presence of the Blessed Trinity.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Episcopal oversight is not the same as celestial bishops, peering down at us through a large glass as they fly from city to city and meeting to meeting.  -- Ken Korby, The Pastoral Office and the Priesthood of Believers in Lord Jesus Christ, Will You Not Stay? p. 333.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

God also wanted the propagation of the human race and the begetting and rearing of children to happen through marriage or the economic order for this purpose, so that the boundaries of the church might spread further and that from this nursery the seedlings of paradise and trees of righteousness might be transplanted into the pleasure garden of heaven. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Ecclesiastical Ministry, p. 5.

Patristic Quote of the Day

He was called "anointed," that is, the Christ, to indicate that the Holy Spirit rested upon Him spiritually and not after the manner of men.  This was so that the Holy Spirit might abide in us though He had been driven from us in the beginning by Adam's fall.  Therefore the only-begotten Word of God made flesh was called Christ.  --St. Cyril of Alexandria, The Twelve Anathematisms of St. Cyril Against Nestorius VII.

02 July 2012

Resources for the Daily Lectionary

The LSB daily lectionary (pp. 299-304) is at the heart of a number of devotional resources that CPH has put together. Of course, my beloved Treasury of Daily Prayer provides the readings for each day (plus something from the Psalms and a writing for each day from someone significant in Church history). But if your Treasury is well worn, and you are looking for some further resources, check out the three volumes that are shown below Treasury. Most recently published is A Year in the Old Testament with outstanding devotions on the Old Testament reading for each day from Pr. Jeffrey Pulse of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. A group of pastors worked on A Year in the New Testament.  Finally, Synodical Fifth Vice President, Pr. Scott Murray, compiled and introduced A Year with the Church Fathers. Taken altogether, these three volumes make a wonderful way to dig into the Word of God we read together each day and continue to grow in.  I cannot recommend all four highly enough.  You'll be blessed!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

A Lutheran would see the analogy between the Mother of God and the Church as nowhere better typified than in the use of the Magnificat as the vespers canticle.  In this place the Magnificat has become more than a memorial; the words that the Gospel attributes to our Lord's mother have been wholly appropriated as the prayer of His bride. ––Blessed Arthur Carl Piepkorn, The Church, p. 321.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The beloved Virgin adorns herself beautifully by not becoming proud of the honor that she has of being the mother of God, to give birth to the Son of God. –– Blessed Martin Luther, Homily for Visitation (HP III:342)

Patristic Quote of the Day

The Lord Jesus Himself proclaims: "This is My body." Before the blessing of the heavenly words, it is spoken of as bread; after the consecration, the body is proclaimed. So, too, with the blood. And you say, "Amen," that is, "It is true." -- St. Ambrose of Milan, On the Mysteries IX:54

Feast of the Visitation

Lutheran Service Book lists the Visitation as one of the "principal feasts of Christ."  Like the Transfiguration, it falls differently depending upon the lectionary system one uses:  in the three year cycle, it is observed on May 31; in the one year cycle, it is observed today.  We recognized it in Chapel today at the International Center.  It is a relatively late-comer to the feast days, but by the time of the Reformation it was rather set on July 2 and continued to be observed in most Lutheran Church Orders.  Luther has a fine homily on the feast in his House Postils (III:341ff.).  Here's an excerpt:

For us, indeed, it is an occasion to thank God for the glorious revelation which occurred on this day, that Elisabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit; and although till now she knows nothing about Christ and his conception, she here declares and openly confesses that Mary is in truth the mother of her Lord and God.  And John leaps in his mother's womb in witness to his Lord, while Mary sings her beautiful song of praise, the Magnificat, showing most excellently the profundity of her understanding.  We still repeat it after her.  It expresses the reason for us to celebrate, to learn it, and thank God for it.  The purpose for the pope's celebration is to invoke Mary; but our purpose is to praise and thank God in accordance with the example of the beloved Virgin, so that we celebrate just as she did.

On this day, we pray in our churches: 

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