22 April 2021

Gerhard and Walther

A person must not only just look at food and drink but must also receive and partake of it if it is to be of benefit to him, so also we must not only know the Word of the Gospel about Christ and give approval to it. Instead, we must by true faith seize and take unto ourselves Christ as our soul’s spiritual food and drink. Through faith we can put on Christ, so that His righteousness becomes our cloak and decoration by which we are able to stand before God and please Him.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:205. 

Fellowship between orthodox and heterodox produces the following result: the orthodox become more indifferent to the errors of the heterodox, and the heterodox become more indifferent to the truth of the orthodox. Error triumphs and the truth is lost.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 383.

Patristic Quote of the Day

There comes a heathen and says, “I wish to become a Christian, but I know not whom to join: there is much fighting and faction among you, much confusion: which doctrine am I to choose?” How shall we answer him? “Each of you” (says he) “asserts, ‘I speak the truth.’” No doubt: this is in our favor. For if we told you to be persuaded by arguments, you might well be perplexed: but if we bid you believe the Scriptures, and these are simple and true, the decision is easy for you. If any agree with the Scriptures, he is the Christian; if any fight against them, he is far from this rule.—St. John Chrysostom, (Homily 33 in Acts of the Apostles [NPNF1,11:210-11; PG 60.243-44])

Catechesis: the Eucharist

Therefore, our faith in this article regarding the true presence of Christ’s body and blood in the Holy Supper is built upon the truth and omnipotence of the trustworthy and omnipotent God, our Lord Jesus Christ.—FC SD VII:106

21 April 2021

At the Mass this morning...

...Pastor used the LSB updated version of what used to be the General Prayer in TLH, p. 5 (i.e., the one from the Common Service). This prayer praises God “especially that Thou hast preserved unto us in their purity Thy saving Word and the sacred ordinances of Thy house.” But in the new version, that is changed to “Your saving Word and the holy sacraments.” It kind of arrested my attention this morning with a question:

Is it right to hear “the sacred ordinances of Thy house” as being “the holy sacraments”? Certainly, it is true that that is how the Reformed speak of what we call the Sacraments, and maybe it was resistance to that Reformed lingo that led to the change. But today, as Pastor prayed, it occurred to me that the term wasn’t being used by the Reformed, but by Lutherans, and in our ears it would almost certainly have had a broader application. 

We praise You, Lord, for preserving for us Your saving Word and the sacred ordinances of your house: certainly Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist, but also the private or corporate Absolution, Holy Ordination, Holy Matrimony, Confirmation, and even the liturgies attending the burial of Christians, not to mention Matins and Vespers and the catechism liturgy. Maybe the stuff that the Book of Common Prayer calls “sacramentals.”

Are these not ALL sacred ordinances of God’s house, purified from all non-Scriptural or Gospel obscuring elements? I think limiting the term “ordinances” in Lutheran use to what we’d strictly call sacraments, while no doubt well-intentioned, was a mistake. 

Yes, that’s the odd sort of thought that passes through the brain for a minute during prayer, before I am recalled to the duty of actually attending to the intercession, so that I can speak faith’s “amen” at the conclusion. 

An LW Blog Post...

for St. Anselm’s Commemoration here.

Gerhard and Walther

An upright, repentant person must first of all look to God and, as a result, have remorse and sorrow that with his sin he has offended this most high Good. Also, he must not look at his outward sins, but also at his inward turning away and corruption of his heart and regret it.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:190.

Those who want to belong to the invisible Church have the holy duty to separate themselves from all who falsify God’s Word and obstinately remain in their errors.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 380.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell you these things, give not absolute credence, unless you receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures.— St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures, IV:17, in NPNF, Volume VII, p. 23.)

Catechesis: the Eucharist

[Luther is commenting upon the second, incomprehensible and spiritual mode of Christ’s presence] He employed this mode of presence when he left the closed grave and came through closed doors, in the bread and wine in the Supper, and, as people believe, when he was born of his mother.—FC SD VII:100

20 April 2021

Just something very unsettling...

...about looking out my study’s window on April 20th and watching the snow fall. And it reminds me a snowy April day 36 years ago when we buried my brother. I can still see his girls shivering in the cold beside their father’s grave, wearing their white easter dresses.

Gerhard and Walther

If an earnest disapproval and hatred against sin is to arise in the heart of a person, God the Holy Spirit has to work that in him.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:189.

Wherever God’s Word is still valued and reverenced, Christ has His believers, even if false teachers pervert and falsify it. Christ is not a poor king who reigns only in one city, province, or country. Wherever in all the world the Word of His grace sounds, there He makes subjects for Himself and establishes the holy kingdom of His Church in defiance of the gates of hell.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 379.

Patristic Quote of the Day

We are not entitled to such license, I mean that of affirming what we please; we make the Holy Scriptures the rule and the measure of every tenet; we necessarily fix our eyes upon that, and approve that alone which may be made to harmonize with the intention of those writings.— St. Gregory of Nyssa (On the Soul and the Resurrection NPNF II, V:439)

Catechesis: the Eucharist

Indeed, in the administration of the Holy Supper the Words of Institution are to be clearly and plainly spoken or sung publicly in the congregation, and in no case to be omitted.... But this “blessing” or the recitation of the Words of Institution of Christ by itself does not make a valid sacrament if the entire action of the Supper, as Christ administered it, is not observed (as, for example, when the consecrated bread is not distributed, received, and eaten, but is locked up, made into a sacrifice, or carried around in procession). On the contrary, Christ’s command, “Do this,” must be observed without division or confusion.—FC SD VII:79, 83

19 April 2021

Gerhard and Walther

Repentance is not a work of one’s own natural human power. Rather, it is a gracious work of God the Holy Spirit—as is proven by many passages of Scripture.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:173.

One thing is necessary to belong to the one flock that saved. A person must listen to the voice of Christ and recognize Him as the only Shepherd of his soul, accepting Him and remaining with Him.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 376.

Catechesis: the Eucharist

True and worthy communicants, on the other hand, are those timid, perturbed Christians, weak in faith, who are heartily terrified because of their many and great sins, who consider themselves unworthy of this noble treasure and the benefits of Christ because of their great impurity, and who perceive their weakness in faith, deplore it, and heartily wish that they might serve God with a stronger and more cheerful faith and a purer obedience.—FC SD VII:69 

Patristic Quote of the Day

For when of ourselves we seek the things which are above us, nothing is more foolish, nothing weaker than we are. In such case, a tongue well whetted we may have; but stability of doctrine we cannot have. Rather, reasonings, being alone, are like the webs of spider.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 5 on 1 Corinthians

18 April 2021

JUST what the Dr. ordered!

Today our parish had a picnic. Our Christian Life board served up some sloppy joes and cupcakes. People brought chairs and we enjoyed some beautiful 60° weather. It was so, so very good to see so many folks again! I’m your typical introvert and usually plan as rapid an escape from a group situation as possible and without being too rude. Not today. Mary said: “I’m surprised you’re still here.” I told her shows how deprived I’ve been, how much even I have missed the company of this bunch of saints that God has joined together into a family in this place. And not just the old faces, either. Our parish has welcomed 30+ folks in the past year, so there’s a bunch of new people to get to know right alongside lots of old faces to visit with, and in general, just a humungous joy in simply “being together.” 


...A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye!
—Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky...

These two lovely ladies...

...celebrated their birthdays together again, and this time on Crys’ birthday. Together they total 117!!! Scott and I have taken the ladies out on the occasion for donkey years now. And I’m happy to report that after a lovely dinner, the gentlemen soundly thrashed them at pinochle. It was a fine birthday present indeed. 😎

It is beyond doubt...

...one of my all time favorite collects of the entire year. The collect for this Sunday, Good Shepherd Sunday, Misericordias Domini:

God, who by the humiliation of Thy Son didst raise up the fallen world, grant unto Thy faithful ones perpetual gladness, and those whom Thou hast delivered from the danger of everlasting death do Thou make partakers of eternal joys; though Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord...

What a bold thing to ask of God: perpetual gladness and eternal joys! And yet these are what He is eager to give to us. Neither of those is “happiness” (so dependent upon “happenings”) but both are rooted far deeper: they flow from the Cross of Christ and what it has won for us. And that gives you reason to be perpetually glad and to hasten often to made a partaker of the eternal joys that flow from His presence.

“In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16 (Conserva Me, Domine)

What a beautiful Misericordias Domini Sunday!

David’s Tree: Tempus fugit!

David planted this little fir in the parsonage flower bed when he was a wee thing. I think maybe second or third grade? It had grown so much from that little stick in a few year’s time, that we got this pic of him (8th grade???) with his tree. We had a circuit pastors luncheon out in Pastor’s backyard, last week and I noticed the tree. So this morning, I took an updated picture of a much older and taller David next to his much, much taller tree. (P.S. He and Kantor also blessed us in Church this a.m. with “Sheep May Safely Graze.”)

16 April 2021

When lilacs last

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.
Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love....

Sing on, sing on you gray-brown bird,
Sing from the swamps, the recesses, pour your chant from the bushes,
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines.
Sing on dearest brother, warble your reedy song,
Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe.
O liquid and free and tender!
O wild and loose to my soul—O wondrous singer!
You only I hear—yet the star holds me, (but will soon depart,)
Yet the lilac with mastering odor holds me....

Walt Whitman

Gerhard and Walther

Likewise, the fall of Eve did not just merely consist of an outward bite from the apple, but rather the inward turning away of the heart from God and His command.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:171.

The sin of living for oneself is both the most common and the most hidden sin. By nature, all people live for themselves, but none recognizes that he is stuck in this sin and what a great abomination it is.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 369

Patristic Quote of the Day

Regarding the things I say, I should supply even the proofs, so I will not seem to rely on my own opinions, but rather, prove them with Scripture, so that the matter will remain certain and steadfast.— St. John Chrysostom (Homily 8 On Repentance and the Church, p. 118, vol. 96 TFOTC)

Catechesis: the Eucharist

The other kind of eating is oral and sacramental, when all who eat and drink the consecrated bread and wine in the Supper receive and partake of the true, essential body and blood of Christ orally. Believers receive it as a certain pledge and assurance that their sins are truly forgiven and that Christ dwells in them with his powers. Unbelievers receive it, too, but in their case as judgment and condemnation.—FC SD VII:63

15 April 2021

Gerhard and Walther

An unrepentant person robs himself of the merit and power of Christ’s suffering and death. For where there is no true repentance, there Christ’s blood and death can not be efficacious for eternal life.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:166

But as St. Paul says in today’s text, the death of Christ is viewed by God as if all had died themselves. His death was substitutionary, a death in the place of, and instead of, all people. This death atones for and cancels their sins. It is like a payment of a debt, for when one person pays for all, no one remains a debtor.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, pp. 367, 368.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Concerning the hearers: that those hearers who are instructed in the Scriptures should examine what is said by the teachers, receiving what is in conformity with the Scriptures and rejecting what is opposed to them; and that those who persist in teaching such doctrines should be strictly avoided.—St. Basil the Great, The Morals

Catechesis: the Eucharist

So, there is a twofold eating of Christ’s flesh. First, there is a spiritual kind of eating, Christ treats above all in John 6. This occurs in no other way than with the Spirit and faith in the proclamation of and meditation on the gospel, as well as in the Supper. It is in and of itself useful, salutary, and necessary for all Christians at all times for their salvation. Without this spiritual reception, even the sacramental or oral eating in the Supper is not only not salutary, but also harmful and damning.—FC SD VII:61.

14 April 2021

Work Flow

It’s a term I learned from the corporate world, but it’s accurate. There’s a flow to work. How it normally is processed. My normal workflow includes:

Every week day: Blogging (weekends are bonus); exercising (these days, 1000 pushups a week with 100 pull ups, and some HIIT on Saturdays).

Mondays: Record Issues Show; write 1 podcast for The Word Endures.
Tuesday: Write two podcasts for The Word Endures; send off three podcast scripts; write up following week’s promo
Wednesday: Record three podcasts for The Word Endures; write one podcast for The Word Endures
Thursday: Write two podcasts for The Word Endures. Send off three podcast scripts.
Friday: Record three podcasts for The Word Endures; write script for next Issues show.
Saturday: (generally) assist at the Saturday liturgy
Sunday: (generally) assist at the early liturgy. 

Rinse and repeat! In general, this gives me six podcasts per week plus one Issues’ show. Sometimes there are additional things, such as articles for Issues Etc. Journal or prepping for sermons or various public speaking engagements, or videos to do when introducing a new Biblical book. Still, all in all, that is the work flow of my typical week. Across the weeks it allows a build up in shows (very gradually), that permits vacations and such, here and there, throughout the year. I always have grand dreams of building up to a month’s worth of podcasts; but it has never happened. Usually just enough are recorded to cover the next absence. Sigh. Maybe by Christmas?

Gerhard and Walther

Truly repentant people must humbly and completely leave it to God, if, when, and in what manner He might avert and mitigate temporal misfortunes.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:164.

For the sake of our sins, He once sighed, groaned, and struggled as One who had been conquered by the poisonous sting of the hellish snake in His heel. Today, however, we see Him triumphant while Satan writhes, powerless, his head crushed under the foot of the almighty Victor. For the sake of our sins, having once wrestled with death and having been swallowed up as death’s prey with open vengeance, He is now clothed with a glorious body and the sting of death has been broken.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, pp. 366, 367.

Patristic Quote of the Day

There is nothing worse than that man should measure and judge of divine things by human reasonings.—St. John Chrysostom, Hom 1 on 2 Tim

Catechesis: the Eucharist

He [St. Paul in 1 Cor. 10] was discouraging and warning those who ate from the sacrifices to the idols and who practiced fellowship with heathen worship of the devil and at the same time went to the table of the Lord and shared Christ’s body and blood. He warned them so that they would not receive his body and blood to their judgment and damnation.—FC SD VII:57

13 April 2021

What a Month Can Do

So yours truly had a blood draw a month ago. It was spectacularly BAD. My PA was definitely recommending a statin. I suggested, though, we wait a month and redo because those numbers were so out of line with what they usually are. I hadn’t been strictly fasted, because I’d enjoyed a cup or two of buttered coffee in the morning. This time, no buttered coffee till I got back from the blood draw, and the fast was about 16 hours long. Check this out. It is amazing:

March 2021:

Total: 495

HDL: 80

Trig: 189

LDL: 415 (Non HDL)

April 2021:

Total: 237

HDL: 99

Trig: 63

LDL: 138

Triglyceride swing of over 120. In one month! I’d be willing to bet in a few hours. Given the outstanding Triglyceride/HDL ratio, THIS month and the horrific figure last month, my suggestion, folks, is not to have COFFEE before you go get your tests done, particularly not unfiltered coffee (which is what we usually drink). 

Gerhard and Walther

Thus a person should not view his works as being for his own glory or benefit. Rather, they are to be viewed as being to God’s glory and for the benefit of the neighbor.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:143.

No preacher has the authority to deny absolution to a repentant Christian; instead, it is his duty to speak it to the Christian as his appointed servant.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 364. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

When God the Father commanded the holy apostles from the cloud overhead, saying, “Listen to Him,” Moses was far away. Elijah was no longer near. Christ was there alone. It was Christ, therefore, that God commanded them to obey. For Christ is the end of the Law and the Prophets.—St. Cyril of Alexandria, Sermon LI on St. Luke

Catechesis: the Eucharist

Here, in the institution of his last will and testament and this enduring covenant and agreement, he did not use flowery language but rather the most appropriate, simple, unambiguous, and plain words.... Moreover, so that there can be absolutely no misunderstanding, he explained this more clearly with the word, “given for you, poured out for you.”—FC SD VII:50.

12 April 2021

Gerhard and Walther

Whoever does not hear the Word of God, partake of the holy Sacrament, does not diligently pray, does not fight against the lusts of the flesh, shall not be able to obtain true godliness.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:142. 

The apostles expressly attributed to themselves the power to forgive sins, and they employed this power with explicit words.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 359.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Synods and Conventions I salute from afar, since I have experienced that most of them (to speak moderately) are but sorry affairs.—St. Gregory of Nazianzus (who presided over the second ecumenical council!!!), Letter 124. 

Catechesis: the Eucharist

He [our Lord Jesus] spoke these words deliberately and carefully at his Last Supper, as he began his bitter suffering and death for our sins, in that last, sad hour. Thereby he instituted this most holy sacrament, which is to be used until the end of the world with great reverence and in all obedience. It is to be a continual memorial of his bitter suffering and death and of all his benefits, a seal of the New Testament, a comfort for all troubled hearts, and a continual bond and union of Christ’s people with Christ their head and among themselves.—FC SD VII:44.