10 February 2018

Homily on James 1

Chapel 2.8.18


Let us pray. Blessed Lord, since You have caused all holy Scripture to be written for our learning, grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of Your holy Word we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life which You have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Psalm 1

Reading – James 1:19–25

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.


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

You can’t help but wonder if James had heard Jesus deliver the Sermon on the Mount. It seems to lurk in the background a lot in his epistle. Jesus had spoken of those who hear his words and do them. He called them like wise men who build their house on a rock. Winds, storms, rain lashed it, but it stood. It stood through it all. It lasted. And the contrast, please note, is not with those who don’t hear his words. The contrast is exactly the one James makes: those who hear the words of Jesus but do not do what they hear. Just info. Just data stored in the memory or not, at least it passes through the mind for a while. Jesus says that hearing but not doing results in houses that come crashing down when the storms come; they’ve been built on sand. So this is a word NOT to those who never bother to darken the door of the church and hear the word, but to those who are always sitting in pews listening. It’s aimed at you. At me. 

Striking, then, that the first thing our reading today wants us to do is to be quick to listen and conversely slow to speak. Two ears. One mouth. There’s a reason. And the warning against the rush to anger which is the rush to judgment. Our getting angry, all worked up, never produces the righteousness that God is after, either in us or in others. So if we are to “do” the Word we hear there, we’ll slow down. We’ll pray God as we do in Evening Prayer: “Set a watch before my mouth, O Lord, and guard the door of my lips.” Instead of being hasty with our mouths, we’ll stop and consider. Think how often in Proverbs God warns us against haste in our talking! Maybe James also remembered hearing Jesus say that for every idle word we utter we will have to give an account. 

Our words, our anger, they can’t do much. But God’s words are different. They can do a lot. So James urges you to be done with all filthiness and rampant wickedness and in its place receive with meekness the implanted Word and he tells you that this Word is able to save, to heal your souls. It CAN produce the righteousness God requires. Implanted. Coming from the outside in. Someone putting it there. So many ways it can happen. You here listening. Opening your Bible at home. One way I love to receive the implanted word is to listen to the Scriptures on audible come prelent or Lent each year. From start to finish, the words pour in and wash over you. I listen not just because it’s absolutely fascinating (it certainly can be!) or boring (if I hear about the long lob of the liver one more time in Leviticus, really?!), but because God’s made this promise about His Word. It can save me. It can save my soul. Yours too. It’s the actor and the doer first. And you only come to act after you have let it come to live inside me and do its job of giving you faith and trust. It plants divine life in you like a seed.That’s what it means to save you and heal you: to cause faith to grow up in you that you have been loved in Christ with a love that is vast and immeasurable. Through what you hear, by the Spirit’s might, you then hold tight to your Jesus. 

But, as He would say: “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not DO what I say?” So imagine a conversation with my son back when he was a teen and planted in front of the computer playing games. “David, take out the trash.” And he says: “Got it, Dad. You want me to take out the trash!” And a half hour later, I notice David hasn’t moved and the trash is still sitting there. I say: “David, take OUT the trash.” If he were to pull the very sinful move Lutherans are prone to, he’d reply: “Ah, Dad. You’re right. I’m a dog. You told me to do it and I haven’t done it. I’m sorry.” Meanwhile, his eyes would be fixed on his computer game and he’d keep playing. “DAVID! TAKE out the trash now.” Finally, I might get through to him. You see, he was hearing, but he wasn’t doing. God wants you to do both. Hear and in the strength of what you hear, to do.

To have Jesus as your Lord is to let His Word shape and impel actions. Faith does that. Is affects how you live. Glues together what you hear with what you do. Example If I know that Jesus tells me “judge not and you will not be judged, condemn not and you will not be condemned”, and I dismiss His words with a “oh, well, everyone judges; you have to”, what good does that do? If I know that Jesus wants me to forgive those who hate me, to pray for them and bless them, and instead all I do is harbor grudges and anger in my heart, what good does that knowledge, that hearing, actually do?

James says when we hear, but don’t do, we’re like people with alzheimer’s glancing in a mirror and then immediately forgets what we saw, maybe even who we are. He contrasts it with the person who stares steadily into what he calls the perfect law of liberty, the finished law of freedom, and I’d argue that is JESUS, and that transforms the person from forgetful hearer to a doer who acts. 

So here’s my challenge to you as we prepare to enter this Lent. It’s a challenge to myself as well. What if we weren’t David. What if we gave up the excuses. What if we listened and took to heart everything Jesus says to us in His Word. And what if instead of treating that as mere information, we received it as marching orders from Him to whom we bow the knee as our Lord? What if we began to do what we hear. To stop talking about prayer and instead to pray. To stop talking about love, and instead love. To stop making excuses about fasting or giving, and instead to fast and to give. 

What if? I’ll tell what what if: we will end up being blessed. Blessed in our doing. Venturing out on the words of Jesus you won’t come out the losers. He ventured everything and trusted His Father and He is no loser. He triumphed from garden to cross to empty tomb. He triumphed because He heard and He obeyed. “Sacrifice and burnt offering you have not desired, but you have given me an open ear...  Lo, it is written of me in the book, I have come to do Thy will, O God.” That perfect keeping of the Father’s will He accomplished, that is your perfect righteousness AND it is also His standing invitation for you to join Him in His life. A life where you HEAR, receive the implanted word, and in its light DO. You will be blessed with Jesus. 

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

Hymn: #577 Almighty God, Your Word is Cast


Let us pray for the whole Church of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs.

For meekness to receive the implanted Word that is able to save our souls, let us pray to the Lord.
For grace to do the Word that we have heard, let us pray to the Lord.
For hearts that long to gaze into the perfect law of liberty, let us pray to the Lord.
For forgiveness for every time we have treated God’s Word as information and not as the instructions and promises of our King, let us pray to the Lord.
For all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit, especially for Norman, Susan, Roger, Ruth, Allan, Jan and those we name in our hearts this day…., let us pray to the Lord.
For all who serve as military chaplains, and especially Joseph Watson, that they may sow the comfort of the precious Word into the hearts of our armed forces, let us pray to the Lord.
For every good and perfect gift which comes down from the Father of lights, who never changes, let us ask in the words that Christ Himself taught us, saying:

Our Father…


06 February 2018

A Prayer for Lent

As we prepare to enter the fast....

Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal Word of the Father,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, the Word through whom all things were made,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, foretold by the prophets in signs and words,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, in the fullness of time conceived by the Holy Spirit,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Holy Virgin,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, hymned by the angels,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, adored by the shepherds,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, worshipped by the Magi,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, held by St. Simeon,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, praised by St. Anna,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, obedient to your parents,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to a sinner's baptism,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, fasting in the wilderness,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, driving out demons,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, cleansing the lepers,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, giving sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, teaching the precepts of the kingdom,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, raising the dead,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, walking on water and changing water into wine,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, praised by the little children,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, riding into Your city as the sacrifice appointed,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, giving your body and blood to be eaten and drunk,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, praying in the garden,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, bound and mocked,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, stripped and beaten,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, innocently condemned to death,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, opening Your hands upon the cross to embrace the world,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, knowing the loneliness of our exile and our sin,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, trampling down death by death,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, pouring forth water and blood to save the world,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, sanctifying our graves by lying in a tomb,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, harrowing hell and releasing the prisoners,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, rising in victory over death and corruption,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, appearing to the disciples in the broken bread,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, ascending in triumph,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, seated at the right hand of the Father,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, High Priest who ever lives to intercede for us,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, coming on the clouds of glory to renew all things,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, dread Judge at the Last Day,
have mercy on me, a sinner.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Pure Gold

Enjoy this goodie from Dr. Stephenson!

18 January 2018

Confession of St. Peter Chapel

Confession of St. Peter 2018


Salutation and collect:

Heavenly Father, You revealed to the apostle Peter the blessed truth that Your Son Jesus is the Christ. Strengthen us by the proclamation of this truth that we too may joyfully confess that there is salvation in no one else; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Hymn: “At the Name of Jesus” 512

Gospel: Mark 8:27—9:1

27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” 9 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”


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

So what kind of a Christ do you think he was expecting? Well, you know. The same kind you want. The fixer. The one who will address all the pressing issues that tug at your heart and occupy your mind. Oh, your list might not be the same as St. Peter’s, but that’s the point of a messiah, isn’t it? That he fixes things for us. And Jesus tells Peter and us: that’s just Satan talking. Ouch. So what kind of a Messiah IS he then?

He tells us. Not the kind who comes to fix your list; the kind who comes to fix you. Because it’s not all that stuff that’s the problem. It’s you. You have a wound in your heart. And you keep projecting the pain out toward all the “problems” you think HE or someone needs to solve. So He comes not to fix any of them, but to fix you. To love Peter, to love you. To love with a love that will go to the end.

He’ll so identify with you as to lift all your burdens, all your heart aches, all your shattered dreams and fears and rebellions and all the nasty thoughts and words and deeds of our lives; all your wounds. He lifts them all from you and owns them as his. He came to do that. Because that’s what love does. It identifies with another and does so without judgment, in compassion. And so the cross.

This He came to do for you and for me. So Messiah isn’t the problem fixer. Messiah, Christ, is Lover. The one who loves you all the way into the darkest corners where you have fled. He lays down His life for you. And whether or not you welcome that and rejoice in it, or resent it and attempt to send him packing, doesn’t change His love for you one little bit. That’s the whole point of the cross. Love all the way. Love to the very end. We call it forgiveness.

And so from His cross to yours. Because He invites you to walk this path. Not to be others’ fixers, but their lovers. To lift their sorrows and heartaches as your own. To carry them in your heart and to go on loving. Even when. Especially when they reject that love. When they betray you. When they hate you. That’s a cross, my friends, when you love and go on loving in the face of rejection and hatred. And instead of those things overcoming and embittering you and destroying you, you go right on in compassion and mercy. “Take up your cross and follow me” is His invite into such love.

“You are the Christ” is the right answer to who He is. But that’s not the Fixer man. It’s the Lover man. And to be His is to be given over to such love and even to welcome the pain it will inevitably bring, in the confidence of resurrection. His and yours. Resurrection is where Love wins. Really wins forever. When we see the kingdom come with its power!

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


Let us pray. Almighty and most merciful God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give You thanks for all Your goodness and tender mercies, especially for the gift of Your dear Son and for the revelation of Your will and grace. Implant Your Word in us that, with good and honest hearts, we may keep it and bring forth the fruits of faith.

We humbly implore You to rule and govern Your Church throughout the world. Bless all those who proclaim Your truth that we may be preserved in the pure doctrine of Your saving Word and that faith in You may be strengthened, love toward others increased, and Your kingdom extended. Send forth laborers into Your harvest, and sustain those whom You have sent, particularly Pr. Eric and Johanna Stinnett, serving in Ethiopia, that the Word of reconciliation may be proclaimed to all people and the Gospel preached in all the world.

Grant health and prosperity to all who are in authority, especially to the president and congress of the United States, the governor and legislature of Missouri, and to all who make, administer and judge our laws. Grant them grace to rule according to Your good pleasure for the maintenance of righteousness and the hindrance and punishment of wickedness, that we may lead quiet and peaceful lives in all godliness and honesty.

According to Your good pleasure, turn the hearts of our enemies and adversaries that they may cease their hostilities and walk with us in meekness and peace.

Comfort, O God, with Your Holy Spirit, all who are in trouble, want, sickness, anguish of labor, peril of death, or any other adversity, particularly Your servants Susan, Roger, Ruth, Allen and Jan. Grant courage and steadfastness especially to those who suffer for Your name’s sake that they may receive and accept their afflictions as the manifestation of Your fatherly will.

Although we have deserved Your righteous wrath and punishment, yet, we ask You, O most merciful Father, not to remember the sins of our youth and our many transgressions. Out of Your unspeakable goodness and mercy defend us from all harm and danger to body and soul. Preserve us from false doctrine, from war and bloodshed, from plague and pestilence, from all calamity by fire and water, from hail and tempest, from failure of harvest and from famine, from anguish of heart and despair of Your mercy, and from an evil death. In every time of trouble show Yourself a very present help, the Savior of all men, especially those who believe.

As we are strangers and pilgrims on earth, help us by true faith and a godly life to prepare for the world to come, doing the work You have given us to do while it is day, before the night comes when no one can work. And then when our last hour comes, support us by Your power, and receive us into Your heavenly Kingdom; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Lord, remember us in Your kingdom and teach us to pray… Our Father

The Lord bless you and keep you…

14 January 2018


Can really be a quite stupid game, but I must confess that embarrassing as it is to BARELY lose, it is far more embarrassing getting whitewashed. Happy to report that the men did NOT get whitewashed. The ladies...well. Modesty forbids me saying more.

11 January 2018

Today’s Homily

Chapel 1.11.18

In the name of the Father…

Let us pray. Lord Jesus Christ, be present now. Our hearts in true devotion bow. Your Spirit send with grace divine. And let Your truth within us shine. Amen.

Psalm 67

Reading: Isaiah 42:1-7

Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
  I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
 2  He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
 3  a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
 4  He will not grow faint or be discouraged
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.
 5  Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
 6  “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
  I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
 7  to open the eyes that are blind,
  to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.

Hymn: 399


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

Don’t run by it too fast. “Behold.” When God tells you to behold, He is saying, woah! Slow down. Stop. Focus. Set aside all the the busy running hither and thither and the scattered thoughts of your minds and hearts with all the stuff you think is so important and which any slight reflection reveals is absolutely not. He is urging you to actually see someone who is before us, someone who is a little more than important. He is inviting you into awe at something you would totally miss if He didn’t point it out to us, summoning to just stop and look. To see.

Behold, my servant, whom I uphold. Behold, my chosen in whom my soul delights. I have put my Spirit on Him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.

And so John stood in the water and witnessed the miracle. The Son, the Servant, Yahweh’s own. There before him. And Yahweh revealing Himself as Father to this one: THIS is my Son, the beloved, in whom I am tickled pink. Delighted. Overjoyed. He’s the joy of my heart. Look at Him! See Him! I have put my Spirit on Him. He will bring forth mishpat to the nations.

We hear justice, we run to Aristotle without even realizing it. Not the equal due. Not giving each what they deserve. But the setting right of what has gone wrong. And what’s gone wrong is our lives filled with fear and judgment and shame; our not living in love. Behold, the Man and His mission. He’d say it himself: God did not send me into this world to condemn it, but to save it. I haven’t come to condemn you, but to save you. Mishpat to the nations isn’t giving the nations their comeuppins. Mishpat is setting right what is wrong by pouring out the Spirit, who resides on and in Him and flows through Him to bring love back again. Spirit. Love. They run together. God has poured His love into our hearts by the Spirit He has given us. And love just isn’t about comeuppins.

Behold the servant, the delight of His Father, filled with the Spirit, headed to the cross to hand over that Spirit to the world.  Behold Him as He sets to work and be in awe. He is not noisy or threatening. He doesn’t cry aloud or lift up his voice or make it heard in the street. There is about Him a quietness, a gentleness. A bruised reed, he will not break. A faintly burning wick he will not quench. This is the justice He brings. A tender and a healing hand. Not to condemn you, but to save you. Not to destroy you, but to heal you. And He continues His patient work all the way to the end: to the cross. Do you see and hear His silence before Pilate? He is faithfully “bringing forth” justice. Birthing it in the pains of His passion. The setting right of what has gone so utterly wrong. Mark remninded us of one for all and all for one. On the cross it was all against one, but that one was for us all. Faithfully and without fainting or being discouraged He walks the path, love “to the end” to the fulfilment, till He establishes this justice and the ends of the earth, the coastlands, wait for His instruction.

And to Him the Father speaks, the Father who created the heavens and the earth, the Father who gives breath to the people on it, the Spirit to those who walk on it, for in Him we live and move and have our being, He says: “I am Yahweh. I have called you in righteousness. You, my beloved Son. I will take you by the hand and keep you. I will give you as a covenant for the people and a light for the nations. To open blind eyes, to bring prisoners out from the gloomy dungeon and the darkness.”

This is the mission of your Jesus, and the comfort from the Father in which He accomplished it all. He lived His life in the hand of His Father and in His Father’s delighting in Him, and so He knew that His whole being was a gift that His Father would give as an unbreakable promise to the people, as a light for the gentiles. He is the gift that would open the eyes that were blind and bring the prisoners out of the gloom and darkness. Eyes that were blind to the Father’s heart of love for you. Prisoners trapped in a darkness and gloom whereby you judged others nonstop and judged yourself hardest of all except for the judgment that you judged God with. Gloomy darkness indeed. The darkness of imagining that God hates you and is in fact your enemy because if he gave you your just reward, you are headed straight to hell and you know it. Into that darkness, a light shines and it breaks the shackles and it sets free.

In the gift of the Son you see the truth for the first time. You see what really is. In His gentle touch. In His kind words to you: Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden. I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you. Learn from me. I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. THAT rest is the mishpat He came to bring to the nations, to the peoples, to you and to me.

In these Epiphany days, it is our duty and delight to invite one and all to join us in stopping the hurrying and the distractions and to behold for a bit the glory of God in the face of Christ, His Servant, our blessed hope and joy. Behold. My servant. Behold. A bruised reed he does not break. Behold He won’t stop until He brings it to pass. Behold, God is love. Behold, God loves you. Behold, how He loves you. Behold, Jesus.

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


Living God, eternal Father in heaven, we give You thanks for the multitude of Your tender mercies and Your loving-kindness, which have been from of old. We bless You for creating us for everlasting life, redeeming us in Your Son, Jesus Christ, from all sin and destruction, and calling us by Your Spirit to the knowledge of Your glory. O Lord, we are not worthy of the least of all the mercies and truth which You daily show us. It is of Your mercy that we are consumed, because Your compassions do not fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Give us day by day an increasing sense of Your bountiful goodness so that drawn in love to You we may surrender and consecrate to You our own selves and all that we possess, to the glory of Your holy name. And as no unclean person shall stand in Your sight, blot out our transgressions by the merits of Jesus Christ, the Righteous, and grant us Your grace that we may not deceive ourselves and excuse our sin, but confess them and be cleansed of them. Lord, in Your mercy, R.

Do not allow Your Word to return to You empty. Instruct both young and old in the truths of Your Gospel. Enlighten and sanctify all ministers of Your Word. Cause all hearers to receive that Word not only in the ears but in their hearts. Surround Your whole Christian Church with Your unending mercy. Stretch forth Your right hand and Your holy arm to prevent the evil one from disturbing Your children by his wicked plans. Lord, in Your mercy, R.

Look with favor on all civil rulers and those under their authority, that they may faithfully discharge their duties according to Your will. Direct  by Your Holy Spirit all who are invested with authority in our national and state governments, that they may truly and impartially administer justice, for the punishment of wickedness and for the maintenance of righteousness and order. Grant us peace, our daily bread, and deliver us from evil all our days. Lord, in Your mercy, R.

Have mercy on those still living in the darkness of unbelief, and bring them to know Your dear Son. You did not create man for vanity, so send faithful laborers into Your harvest and sustain those whom You have sent, particularly Pr. Tim Rosenthal, serving as chaplain in the armed forces, that they may proclaim Your truth with boldness. Lord, in Your mercy, R.

Remember in mercy, Kezia and all women with child. Grant them increasing happiness in their blessings. Lord, in Your mercy, R.

O faithful Father, we commend to Your care all Your children throughout the world who cry to You in suffering or illness, injury or injustice, especially Your servants Susan, Roger Ruth, Allan and Jan. When You decide to try us in the furnace of affliction, comfort us anew, that we may behold Your glory and praise You. Lord, in Your mercy, R.

O Lord, we beg You, hear our prayer, and do not let our petition fail, for the sake of the perfect redemption and powerful intercession of Jesus Christ, our Lord, who also taught us to pray:

Our Father

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

06 January 2018

The Epiphany Proclamation

Pastor, following ancient practice, read this to us tonight after the Holy Gospel and before the Nicene Creed:

Epiphany Announcement, A+D 2018
After the Reading of the Gospel, the Pastor of the parish makes the following announcement.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The glory of the LORD has shone upon us, and shall ever manifest itself among us until the day of His return. Through the rhythms and changes of time let us call to mind and live the mysteries of salvation.

The center of the whole liturgical year is the Paschal Triduum of the Lord, crucified, buried and risen, which will culminate in the solemn Vigil of Easter, during the holy night that will end with the dawn of the first day of April. Every Sunday, as in a weekly Easter, Christ's Holy Church around the world makes present that great and saving deed by which Christ has forever conquered sin and death.

From Easter there comes forth and are reckoned all the days we keep holy: Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten spring, the fourteenth day of February; the Ascension of the Lord, the tenth day of May; and Pentecost, the twentieth day of May; the first Sunday of Advent, the second day of December.

Likewise in the feasts of Mary, of the Apostles, of all the Saints, and in the commemoration of the faithful departed, the pilgrim Church on earth proclaims the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.

To Christ who was, who is, and who is to come, the Lord of time and history, be endless praise forever and ever!
C: Amen.

A Few Thoughts on the Epiphany Collect

I think the old Service Book and Hymnal did a better job than The Lutheran Hymnal or any of our modern books in getting the point of the traditional Latin collect for the day:

Deus qui hodierna die unigenitum tuum gentibus stella duce revelasti, concede propitius ut qui iam te ex fide cognouimus, usque ad conteplandam speciem tuae celsitudinis perducamur.

O God, who on this day by the leading of a star didst reveal thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles: Mercifully grant that we, who know thee now by faith, may be brought to contemplate the beauty of thy Majesty. SBH

Rather than “brought” though I think the sense of the perducamur, as Reed notes, is “may be led on,” evoking the leading of the wisemen by the star.

TLH had “grant us the fruition of Thy glorious godhead.” I remember as a vicar asking pastor what that even meant and he confessed that he wasn’t sure. LSB asks “to enjoy in heaven the fullness of Your divine presence.” I think this loses somewhat the reference to the beatific vision and replaces it with a generic heaven and “presence.” It seems to me that we are impoverished in our thinking if we put that contemplation merely in heaven. It’s true that now we see through a glass darkly, but see we still do. As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “And we all, beholding with unveiled face, the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” This praying to be led into the contemplation of the beauty of the Lord’s majesty, His highness, is the perfect way to enter the season of Epiphany when in one manifestation after another, we will behold the beauty of the Lord in His merciful and tender kindness to mankind; a beauty whose splendor grows and shines most brightly on the darkness of Calvary, as pastor reminded us this evening.

“One thing have I desired of the Lord; that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.” Psalm 27

Blessed Epiphany, one and all! The Light shines!

31 December 2017

On the seventh day of Christmas...

...the folks at St. Paul were treated to another outstanding sermon by one of our outstanding pastors. Thanks to Pr. Gleason for letting me post this!

Sermon for the First Sunday after Christmas Luke 2:25-40

There is a certain cartoon printed each year at this time. It depicts the present year as a tired, old man trudging to the end of his course where he greets the new year pictured as an impish baby, usually with a top hat. It’s a somber moment as well as a light one. It’s an end and a beginning, a consummation as well as hope for tomorrow. That image is not unlike today’s Gospel—the meeting of the very old and very young, an end and a beginning, the fulfillment of a long-awaited hope. The Gospel lesson reminds us that our life in Christ is a journey from a new birth to a good death.
Certainly that was how Simeon and Anna looked upon the Christ Child. The scene is the temple in Jerusalem when Jesus was only 40 days old. Joseph and Mary had come to perform two Old Testament rites—purification (which was for women after giving birth), and the sacrifice required for all firstborn sons. To this family, the old man named Simeon walked, asking to hold the baby. What a touching scene that followed—the aged man cradling the newborn in his frail arms.
But there’s more to the picture. To the parents amazement, the old fellow broke forth in a song. It was a heartfelt hymn of thanks for this Child. Simeon was overcome with joy because his eyes beheld God’s “salvation,” that is, the Christ Child cradled in his arms.
Then there was the other old figure, an 84 year old widow named Anna. Like most widows of that day, Anna was quite poor. She depended on the alms and generosity of the temple for her livelihood. She came by at that moment and heard Simeon’s song. She, too, hurried to see the child. Why all the fuss? What excited these two aged saints? It’s really quite simple.
The hope and prospect of meeting this babe had been the focus of their entire lives. Simeon is described simply as a pious, God-fearing man. He was one of the few left who had read, understood, and believed the Old Testament promises concerning the Messiah. That day marked the zenith of his aged life. In some wondrous way, the Holy Spirit told him he would see the Messiah before his death. And then the Spirit moved him that day to go to the temple at the right moment. There he saw the glorious fulfillment of his hopes. Likewise, the elderly prophetess, Anna, was numbered with those still looking for “the redemption of Jerusalem.”
Now it had all come true. Simeon and Anna were old, yes, but their future beamed brightly. God had kept His holy Word; now this aged pair stood on death’s door fearless and confident. Simeon and Anna had as much joy as anyone could hope for—and more. I wonder how many people today, at the end of the year, only a few days after Christmas, can say that. 
The mood of these post-Christmas days is usually a bit depressing for many people. Many are blue simply because Christmas is over. Vacation is brief and soon will end. Christmas toys may be found already broken. Some gifts came as disappointments and were promptly returned. A lot of folks are already taking down their decorations. Another Christmas has come and gone, and for most people that means farewell to the joy of the season.
The reason for all this is because so many people celebrate Christmas only like a birthday party. Birthdays come once a year, a time for brief happiness—tempered by the fact we are another year older. There’s no real lasting significance, though, to the average birthday celebration. And year after year people treat Christmas like a once-a-year festival where, for a while, the past is forgotten and the future ignored. The big attractions are the presents to be opened and the feast to be devoured. Oh, many are touched by the quaint, old “legend” about a cuddly baby laid in a manger, but less than a week later the thrill is gone and the baby forgotten. The only interest and prospect now is the bottle of champagne to be opened at the New Year’s Eve bash. Let’s face it, many people treat God and His Son with little more than sweet affection and passing interest at Christmas. Afterwards they pack them away just like the figures in a nativity scene.
But, Christmas is not the story of innocent sweetness that has no bearing on “real life.” When you get right down to it, Christmas is a matter of life and death. Even in the midst of all his joy, Simeon realized this all too keenly. He prophesied that that baby would split the world, separating the people of God from all the rest, including the pretenders. Surely when King Herod sent his troops to slaughter the babes of Bethlehem, Simeon’s words were painfully evident. He also said Mary’s own heart would be pierced with sorrow over her Son and His mission. One wonders as she watched Jesus die on Good Friday, if Simeon’s words came painfully back to Mary’s mind.
It is joyful to sing a song of Christmas, to hold a candle in church on Christmas Eve, to exchange gifts, and to eat the feast. But, if that’s the only place Christmas has in your year, you’ve missed the point! We who are gathered here today apparently understand that; we are here to keep celebrating Christmas. What remains for us is to learn anew the lesson of Simeon and Anna.
The Nativity of our Lord is a matter of life and death—of new life in Him and a good death in Him. Simeon teaches us how vital it is to build life on Christ, the Rock of our Salvation. When our life’s foundation is built on Him, no storm or sorrow can rob us of our true joy. The Bible speaks of Christ as a Rock that will either save or destroy us. His death on Good Friday and His resurrection on Easter Sunday will either cause life for all who trust in Him and His promises, or they will cause the death of those who reject Him and His Word of life. To keep Him as a tiny babe with no real claim on life is a sure way to get crushed—a sure way of making every Christmas a disappointment. How sad! For Jesus was born in Bethelehem and died on Calvary to save us from our sins, paying the enormous debt of sin we all owed God. He came, not to condemn us, not to disappoint us; He came that we might have life in all its abundance.
With Simeon, we must learn that having Christ brings true peace. His words are a fitting confession for us, too: “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace.” It’s not that we’re planning on dying soon—God willing. Rather, we mean “Here, O Lord, is my whole life. You gave it. You saved it. Now free me to be Your servant—free me from spiritual shallowness and guilt, and from past and future fears.”
And, from Anna, we learn the lasting joy of rendering service to God, of living in God’s temple and worshiping regularly. Here we feast on the Bread of Life—His Word and Sacrament. From them we receive the grace to join Anna in living the devout life, of telling and showing others, perhaps especially our children, that Jesus is for every day of the year. With her, we daily look for the redemption that is ours in Christ.
Well, soon that top-hatted, sashed baby boy named “2018” will crawl into our lives. Once again, it will be the passing away of the old and the beginning of the new, the consummation of one year and the hope of another. My prayer for all of us is that we, like Simeon and Anna, greet the future with the joy and hope of Christmas fixed firmly in our hearts. And, with that joy, to love and live with abandon for God, for surely our new birth in Christ will carry us to a good death in Christ!