15 August 2017

A Repeat from Yesteryear upon the Day of St. Mary



A Dormition Meditation

I remember when the angel came and told me, and my heart burst with joy and terror.

I remember when I came to the door of Zecharias' house and Elizabeth knew my secret and my heart melted and my eyes burned with tears and my mouth prophesied.

I remember when I felt your movement first inside my body, and I realized that I was the living ark of the living God.

I remember when first I saw your face, and touched your hands, and looked into my Joseph's eyes.

I remember when they came creeping in to see you, to worship you, the shepherds of the night, and told me songs of angels and glory in the highest and peace on earth. 

I remember when we brought you to the temple and the old man took you in his arms and blessed God, ready to die, and told me of pain yet to come.

I remember when they came from the East and bowed before you as I held you and gave their gifts - the gold, the incense and the myrrh, while the star's light shone upon us.

I remember when he woke me and we fled into the night ahead of the terror of Herod's sword.

I remember when we came home at last, and people looked and talked, but you were all our joy.

I remember when you stayed behind, when you left us, and we found you in the temple and my heart rose up in fear realizing that you chose to abide in the place of sacrifice and death.

I remember when you spoke to me in roughness and yet made the water into wine.

I remember when we came to make you take your rest and you taught me that all these in need were dear to you as your own family.

I remember when they took you, tortured you, and crucified you; and before my eyes rose up the old man in the temple – his words haunted me still – and a sword ran me through as I watched you dying.

I remember when you looked on me and the beloved one and gave us to each other for all our days. 

I remember when the light died in your eyes and my heart sank beyond tears and words.

I remember after the empty days when they came and told me that you lived again, and joy flooded my heart, and I knew then what I had always known - your every promise was true.

I remember when we prayed together after you had gone into heaven and the Spirit came in wind and flame.

I remember how they went and told the news to all the world. And I welcomed each new believer as my beloved child, a brother of my Son, the King of all.

I remember it all now as I die, as I lay my head down in death. 

My Son, I am not afraid. I go to you, to you who have conquered death, to you who are the Forgiveness of all sins. Receive me, child. Receive me. 

I remember. I remember. I remember.

12 August 2017

Saturday morning jaunt

Cindi sold some stuff on FB marketplace, so we had to wait for the person to come and pick up her item, but then we hit the trail together. Went down to Edwardsville, called Bekah to see if we could stop in. She was at Sacred Grounds enjoying a bit of breakfast so we headed over and got ourselves a cup of joe and visited with that GREEN haired girl briefly. Then we headed back up to Hamel. An altogether enjoyable 20 mile round trip.

11 August 2017

Thought for the day

The liturgy is the house that the Church has built (and still is building) for her children to live in and shelter under the Word of God.

10 August 2017

Miscommunication

A quiet morning. Did my walk and pushups, but then spent quite a bit of time reading on the deck with some french press at hand (thank you, Matt Bowers). When Cindi got back from work, we took another walk, during which Cindi announced she was going to head for the pool in a few minutes. We got in the house and hadn't sat down for long before Bekah showed up and wanted Cindi to do some more Konmari with her during her lunch break.  They retreated to the basement. I figured they'd be at it for a while, so headed out on my bike and did a quick 2 miles around town. When I got back, Bekah's car was gone. I went and got into my bathing suit to join Cindi in the pool. Only she wasn't in the pool. Odd, I thought. But I enjoyed it for a while by myself. Then I thought: "I wonder if her car is here." Yup. I went downstairs and all was dark. I looked in the garage again and noticed that HER bike was gone. Ah, I thought. She's gone on a ride. I went back and began vacuuming the pool. I let it run a long time and finally came in. She's still not back. I figure, SHE must have gone to Edwardsville (like I did on Tuesday), but she didn't invite me to go with her. That's weird. And it left me a little irritated.

I start to mow the lawn, and notice halfway through that her bike's back. When I finish we find out that she thought that *I* had taken off for Edwardsville without saying a word and was a little irritated about that; she rode down to catch up or meet me on the way. A few sprinkles, but no downpours, and she went all the way to Chapman before turning back. Of course, she never did catch up with me because I was home. 

Here we were, both a little irritated with each other, and once the whole story was known, we could only laugh. My fault for not telling her where I went while she and Bekah were working.

So, after dinner we DID get a joint bike ride in. Rode around town and up to Green Hedge and back. 

August

Is kind of a Herberts month. Lauren and Dean were married on August 4th, TEN YEARS AGO. Wow. And Sawyer was born on August 8th, FIVE YEARS AGO. And of course, Lauren turns THIRTY tomorrow, August 11th (which was also Lynn's birthday). Can we really have been parents for thirty years and inlaws for ten and grandparents for five? It scarcely seems possible. Why, just yesterday Cindi was sitting in the trunk of her car outside Wheaton High School singing "Bo Jangles" to me, right?

08 August 2017

Now that’s what I’m talking about...

...drop dead gorgeous day. Sky the blue you usually only see in June or October. Temperature in low 80’s. Did my walk and workout this morning. But sit inside on such a day? No way. Pulled out the bike and rode to Edwardsville and turned around and came home. An 18+ mile round trip that saw a lizard scurry across the bike path (near you, Crystal Wagner), lots of birds, only three other bikers and a family walking in town with their pooch. In other words, just lots of beautiful green trees and undergrowth and bird song and a blue sky overhead. Lots of peace.

07 August 2017

Through a happy conjuncture

I got to teach on the first three chief parts today after we studied Matthew 10 in Bible Class at St. Paul's on Sunday. Has it ever bothered you in the explanation to the first article, when we teach our little ones: "He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil"? How can we teach our children such lies? Ah, but is it not like what our Lord told the 12 as He sent them out to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He was quite blunt with them: "Behold I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent of doves. Beware of men...they will flog you in their synagogues and drag you before governors and kings... Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name's sake." (Matt 10:16ff).

Nevertheless, NEVERTHELESS, "So have no fear of them.... Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." (Matt. 10:26ff.)

Have no fear of them. Think of the men he addressed. They would go on with the single exception of St. John to be martyred for the good news they spread. And yet I believe everyone of them would have echoed the promise in Luther's Catechism: "He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil." You see, it's the perspective of the END. This is what Jesus invited the disciples into. Being wise as serpents and innocent as doves meant that they were to live from under an eschatological perspective. In the END, not a hair from their head would perish. They could not fall to those who hated them apart from the Father, and if they fell in the presence of the Father, what was there to fear? He would indeed raise them up. They will not be forgotten.

Your Father's got you covered, Jesus seems to be saying, so don't be afraid of them. They can't do one thing to you apart from Him who will in the end vindicate you with resurrection, raising you into the glory that was prepared for you before the world's foundations were laid. In that confidence, we teach our children that their Father will indeed defend them against all danger and guard and protect them from every evil. On the Last Day they will see and understand and rejoice. So, no, not a lie. Not at all.

O little flock, fear not the foe
Who madly seeks your overthrow;
Dread not his rage and power.
And though your courage sometimes faints
His seeming triumph o'er God's saints
Lasts but a little hour.

Be of good cheer; your cause belongs
To Him who can avenge your wrongs;
Leave it to Him, our Lord.
Though hidden yet from mortal eyes,
His Gideon shall for you arise,
Uphold you and His Word.

As true as God's own Word is true,
Not earth and hell's satanic crew
Against us shall prevail.
Their might? A joke, a mere facade!
God is with us and we with God—
Our vict'ry cannot fail.

Amen, Lord Jesus, grant our prayer;
Great Captain, now Thine arm make bare.
Fight for us once again!
So shall Thy saints and martyrs raise
A mighty chorus to Thy praise
Forevermore. Amen.
LSB 666

Thy martyrs. They raise a mighty chorus. They have not lost. They have won. They were not hurt and found Satan's might indeed to be that mere facade. So shall you.

06 August 2017

Just another

Ho hum Sunday at St. Paul's... NOT!!! 

Bach's Auf meinen lieben Gott for Prelude... the lovely Divine Service 3 reverently sung and prayed... during the offering, J. Walther's Ich sterbe t├Ąglich... postlude Erhalt uns Herr by D. Buxtehude... and then this STUNNING homily by Pr. Gleason:

Sermon for Trinity 8 2017
Matthew 7:15-23 • Rev. William Gleason
God's word to us this Sunday is filled with serious warnings. "Do not listen to self-proclaimed prophets," He cautions. "God's wrath and anger will go forth because of them." "Watch out for ravenous wolves who will not spare you," He warns. "Beware!" of all these deceivers. I think alarms and air horns should have gone off before each reading to wake us all up to our Lord's great concern in this matter of false teachings.
Not that such a clamor would affect most people in this sleeping world. It would be like car alarms going off in a parking lot. Who listens or cares about those anymore? We just keeping moving on, ignoring the noise. That's pretty much the way people hear God's word today. It's just more annoying prattle to put up with.
Besides, they'd ask, what's the big deal? If somebody has a new religion or way of life, who cares? Maybe it's a better way. Isn't "diversity our strength," including religious diversity? [No!] Besides, who are you Christians to say what religion or philosophy is true or false?
Of course, it isn't we poor sinners who make that judgment, but the Author of the one, true religion: Christ, our Lord. And what is the big deal our Lord is concerned about? Well, He tells us through His prophet Jeremiah, "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes." Let the gravity of those words sink in. The problem with false prophets, of any stripe, is the futile hope they proffer in their words.
Doesn't that address so precisely the dreams of people throughout the ages, but maybe especially 21st century people? The desire for some kind of hope? Hope for such simple things as prosperity, or employment, or better health. Hope for loftier things, too, like freedom and world peace. Why, our last U.S. president campaigned on that one desire: HOPE.
There is certainly nothing wrong with hope. In 1 Corinthians 13, hope is listed as one of the abiding virtues of Christian life along with faith and love. St. Paul wrote that "hope does not put us to shame" (Rom. 5:5) and that we ought to "rejoice in hope" (Rom. 12:12). Hope is a vital part of our Christian religion.
The very serious problem God warns us about are vain hopes, and the words men use to fill our hearts with such hollow dreams. You've heard it many times. "This product guarantees you cleaner bathrooms, whiter teeth, slimmer figures, happier children, and guilt-free desserts." "If you will only believe, and support this healing ministry with a small donation of $1000, you can be well again." "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan."
Those examples are ones that most people won't fall for, at least not all of the time. The empty promises of hucksters, faith-healers, and politicians are usually easily seen. The more difficult to identify, and the most tempting, are promises made by self-proclaimed prophets. Their words appeal to the soul's desire for God, and for justification of its mortal, desperate existence. The human soul seeks the divine. The human heart desires the eternal things are out of its reach. And the prophet that dangles before the eyes of longing, spiritually hungry people is sure to find someone to listen…and who will get caught up in his false dreams. Just like a wolf that skulks around the edge of the sheep fold waiting for a wandering lamb to come its way.
This is what Jeremiah, Paul, and our dear Lord Jesus are warning us about: vain hopes. And not just hopes that only disappoint us in this world, like fad diets and lottery tickets, which only rob us of our pride and a few bucks. God wants us to beware of the vain hopes that rob us of our soul and eternal life with Him.
The motive and the manner of these prophets are described clearly in our lessons. Paul warned against men "speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them." Jeremiah was stronger in his admonition. The false prophets not only filled people with "vain hopes," their lies were to make people "forget [God's] name by their dreams…even as their fathers forgot [His] name for Baal." And Jesus pointed out how deceptively convincing are these prophets; they will say, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?" In other words, they will sound and look like pious, godly men; but, inwardly, they are ravenous wolves drawing people away from God's sheepfold.
And if the motive and manner of these liars doesn't cause you to fear, then the result of their preaching should: God's anger, wrath, and eternal rejection of these "workers of lawlessness" and those who follow them.
So, what is the difference between the vain hopes of the false prophets and the true hope that St. Paul wrote about? Very simply, it is the living hope we have in Christ Jesus, our incarnate, crucified, resurrected and ever-living Lord, God and Savior. Our gracious, heavenly Father who created us is also the merciful, loving Father who redeemed us through His Son.
What God knows, and the false prophets don't, is that man cannot redeem himself, no more than he can create himself. The hopeless vanity of man-made dreams and promises stems from our utter inability to justify ourselves and our actions before God. Man's desire for the divine, his hunger for a holiness alien to him, cannot and will not be satisfied by human works. And to hold out the hope that men and women can and may do so is, indeed, vain. It is, as the Spirit said through Jeremiah, wicked.
Furthermore, the anger and wrath that is the just reward of all sin and lawlessness is not part of the false prophet's preaching. Quite the contrary. The sanguine message of the phony prophet is as Jeremiah wrote: "They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, 'It shall be well with you'; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, 'No disaster shall come upon you.'" And, of course, that is exactly what the self-justifying sinner wants to hear.
God's anger and wrath must and will be "burst upon the head of the wicked." But, that word of the Lord condemns every sinner that ever lived, lives now, and ever will be born. How can any man, woman, or child ever find hope to escape the "whirling tempest" of God's just wrath?
Well, our only hope is found in what both Jeremiah and Paul called the "council of God." Jeremiah foretold, "The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly." What are the "intents of [God's] heart" that we will understand in the "latter days"? It is, as Paul said, the "word of His grace." It is the "council of God" by which the Holy Spirit gathers God's Church, "which He obtained with His own blood." The "council of God" is the Gospel of forgiveness of sins through the blood of Jesus Christ.
The opening words from the book of Hebrews say, "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son." These are the "latter days" that Jeremiah referred to. And God's Son is the one that makes us understand the "intents of [God's] heart."
God's intent was to turn His anger toward His Son. To "burst upon His head" all of God's wrath toward the wicked. Jesus, the holy, pure, and innocent One became for us the most wicked and lawless One by taking on the sin of the whole world. He "was made sin" for our sake. And by this inscrutable wisdom of God, He redeemed His fallen creation. Only through the atoning death of God's Son, did God obtain His Church with His own blood. This is the message that gives true hope and eternal life. The cross of Christ is the "healthy tree" that bears the "good fruit" of forgiveness of sins, freedom from death, and the hope of salvation.
And, on the Last Day, Christ will judge the living and the dead. And, for those who "despise the word of the Lord," it will definitely not be well with you. And "everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart," great disaster will definitely come upon you. But for those who "do the will of [Jesus'] Father," there will be an eternal kingdom to enter in and be welcomed. And the will of the heavenly Father is simply this: to believe on His Son, whom He sent to atone for all of our sins, and to hear and abide in His word. Amen.
... so yeah, we are major blessed in both musician and pastors. Together they served us up some rich and wonderful fare this day. Thank you, kind Father!

A Psalm 128:6 Moment