17 December 2017

Such a joyous Gaudete!

"...and lighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation..." Collect, Gaudete

Joys abounding. Bach's Was Frag Ich nach der Welt with John Thoelke on trumpet... "On Jordan's Bank"... Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice!... Comfort, comfort my people, says Your God... Stir up Your might and come to save us!... E'en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come... Do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light... And the dead are raised up and the poor have good news preached to them... "Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding"... Peace. He will speak peace to His people for the beautiful homily by Pr. Gleason... Gerhardt's "Love caused Your incarnation..." in Bach's setting, strings and organ and choir... "Comfort, Comfort Ye," "When All the World Was Cursed," "Arise, O Christian People"... The precious body and blood of Christ, our very peace with our Father... "O Savior, Rend the Heavens"... Walther's Freu dich sehr.

13 December 2017

A beautiful homily for St. Lucia’s day

By director of Campus Ministry and LCMS U, Marcus Zill:

IC CHAPEL (13 December 2017)

Commemoration of Lucia, Martyr

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
    that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the LORD's hand
    double for all her sins.

~ Isaiah 40:1-2

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

These days are the darkest times of the year. It is not an accident that St. Lucia, whose name derives from lux, light, is commemorated when the days are the shortest. Festivals of light became very popular in northern Europe during this time of the year, especially since today was once considered the shortest day of the year. Lucia, a 4th century saint of Christian light, became a natural choice for commemoration as popular art often depicts her with a crown of flickering candles adorning her head. (Pastor Weedon actually asked me to dress her part today, but I declined).

What is true according to the normal pattern of the seasons is also true when one considers the spiritual condition of these dark and latter days in which we live. It is certainly significant that the Christ was born when light is the least, when darkness is palpable.
There is not much that is known for certain about Lucia except that she was from Sicily (and not Scandinaia), that she devoted herself to the nurture and care of the poor, and she died in 304 A.D. as a Christian martyr under the persecution of the Roman Emperor Diocletion.

Several legends have grown up around Lucia, enough that we don’t have time to go into all of them, but when given the opportunity to renounce her Christian faith, Lucia is reported to have simply smiled and said, “I wish to please Christ.”

Two separate legends, though not verified, do state that Lucia’s eyes were gouged out. With or without her earthly eyes, Lucia, the young maiden of light, certainly fixed her eyes upon Jesus. The Lord Himself taught “the eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” (Matthew 6:22)

The Light of the world Himself has taught us also that “the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field.” (Matthew 13:44) Lucia’s lifeless murdered body was placed in a grave, hidden in a field as it were, hardly the stuff of treasure in the eyes of the world – just one more dead girl, one more executed Christian, one more candle snuffed out, one more person who would not obey the state, one more speed bump in a cruel Caesar’s quest to become like God.

And yet it is St. Lucia who now “in glory shines” while “we feebly struggle” and while the unbelieving Caesars of every time and place wail and gnash their teeth in the darkness. Evil may have claimed Lucia’s eyes, Satan may have spilled her lifeblood, but today she, who was sanctified by the very blood of Christ, sees God face to face!  And what’s more, the light of Christ shone in her good works and good confession, reflecting this holy light upon those of us who yet “dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.”

Darkness cannot diminish even one flickering candle even as a mighty Caesar cannot extinguish the witness of a young girl who confesses a king greater than he. Lucia’s eternal testimony, like that of many of the martyrs of her age, proclaimed to the world that we Christians have overcome death – by the death of Christ – and that through Christ, in Christ, by Christ, and yes even with Christ – we have eternal life.  We share in His light and we stand defiant against the darkness of the grave.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the light of the world, the light of life, the uncreated light who created light by means of His uncreated Word – shines among us, through us, and in us, dear friends.  Even when – and especially when – all we see around us with our failing eyes is the darkness of our sins, the inevitability of death, and the cruelty of this world’s Satanic tyranny – His Word remains a “lamp to our feet and a light to our path.”

Dear children of light, we do not cower in fear at these dark times. Rather, Holy Scripture which Isaiah reminds us remains forever, calls us to sobriety, that God-given ability to remain in complete control of our passions and thoughts without excess or confusion. The virtues of faith and love, those mighty breastplates of the Lord have not lost their strength and vitality. That virtue of hope grounded in the salvation promised to us in Christ Jesus remains as sturdy and sure a helmet as it did for Lucia and all the martyred saints who have gone before us.

The Light that illumined the heart and soul of a Sicilian maiden also shines within each of you, not by virtue of anything that is because of You, but by virtue of everything that is in Him. The powers of darkness thought they had blown out that light at Golgotha but they were wrong about Christ, and they can’t snuff out those who confess and bear witness to His light either.

Will you be called to speak your testimony before kings, magistrates, or those in high positions of authority? That is not for us to say. But like Lucia, if so, you shall not be put to shame either. On this St. Lucia’s day, be reminded, enlightened, and encouraged by “the God of peace who himself sanctifies you completely. And may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thess. 5:23)

Lucia is now comforted. Her warfare is ended, her inquity is pardoned and she has received from the Lord’s hand, double for all her sins.
As have each of you….
In the name of Jesus, the Light which darkness cannot overcome. Amen.

12 December 2017

10 December 2017

Populus Sion

It struck me as an excess of caution, but my son advised dear wife and me to stay home today from church just to make sure that we were not carrying any remnant of that nasty flu. We did so. Cindi’s still a bit weak, but doing much, much better. So we were exiled from our church family on the day of “Lo, He Comes.” Most sad. Still, we sat with our coffee and prayed Matins. That PrayNow app really is amazing for such an occasion. But then Cindi asked if those were the readings for Sunday and I explained that the daily lectionary goes its own unterrupted way. So, we also prayed the collect of the day, sang “The King Shall Come,” read the three readings from the Divine Service, sang “Lo, He Comes,” and then joined in the old general prayer from The Order of Morning Service (mostly known as p. 5). It wasn’t nearly as good as BEING in church, but we knew ourselves not to be alone, and that was quite a comfort. And a little bit of Lutheran Public Radio nicely rounded off the morning.

07 December 2017

Some delightful poetry

Thanks to dear friend Henry Gerike for this one:

Thanks to dear friend Rachel Bomberger for these:

04 December 2017

An Old Lutheran Quote

From Luther's Easter homily, 1540, in the Church Postils (VII:188, 189):
These passages, as is also stated elsewhere, teach that a Christian by faith lays hold upon the purity of Christ, for which reason he is also regarded pure and begins to make progress in purity; for faith brings the Holy Spirit, who works in man, enabling him to withstand and to subdue sin... Such, we must know, is the nature of Christ's office and dominion in his Church that though he really does instantaneously, through faith, confer upon us his purity, and by the Spirit transforms our hearts, yet the work of transformation and purification is not at once completed. Daily Christ works in us and purges us, to the end that we grow in purity daily. This work He carries on through the agency of the Word, admonishing, reproving, correcting and strengthening... Christ also uses crosses and afflictions in effecting this end.... The sins remaining in the saints after conversion are various evil inclinations, lusts, and desires natural to man and contrary to the law of God. The saints, as well as others, are conscious of these sins, but with this difference: they do not permit themselves to be overcome thereby so as to obey the sins, allowing them free reign; they do not yield to, but resist such sins, and, as Paul expresses it here, incessantly purge themselves therefrom. The sins of the saints, according to him, are the very ones which they purge out. Those who obey their lusts, however, do not do this, but give free reign to the flesh and sin against the protest of their own conscience...If you persist in that which is evil regardless of the voice of conscience, you cannot say, nor believe, that you have God's favor.

02 December 2017

Weedon Family News 2017

Here a maid was found with child,
Yet remained a virgin mild.
In her womb this truth was shown
God was there upon His throne. 
LSB 332:3

Here's wishing you all a blessed Advent-tide and Christmas! 

 2017 was a year full of blessings from heaven, some tears, and some overflowing joys.

Some of the joys...

Birth of Felicity Lynn Herberts, grandchild six, granddaughter three... Birth of Oliver James Weedon, grandchild seven, grandson four... Rebekah and Andy's engagement... Lauren and Dean's move to Sheldon/Gilman WI, bringing them only 8 hours away... Reformation in Honolulu and a week on Oahu with Van Ulfts and Klingers and visiting with friend, Karl Bachman... Watching the eclipse in good company and enjoying the traffic jam of the century in good company... Welcoming Kantor Jan Muth to St. Paul's as organist, choir director and bell choir director, and all things music for school... Institute on Liturgy, Preaching, and Church Music (a truly crazy and fun week with Sandy Bowers, Wagners, Thoelkes and Sharon Braasch)... Deb and Dee joining us for a joyous celebration of Dave’s 80th birthday... Bill's second book written and published (Thank, Praise, Serve and Obey, published by Concordia Publishing House)... Bill's trip to Idaho for congregational anniversary and to enjoy a wonderful visit with his oldest brother, Butch... Music, music, music: Cindi in Collinsville Chorale and St. Paul's Bells and loving her time with John Behnke at the Institute; and Cindi, Bill, and David in adult choir at St. Paul... Opa (Dave DeVries) fully retired and both shoulders DONE... Goddaughter's Lindsey's confirmation... Delightful week with Jim Krauser in town in August... Grandkids and kids all together for a wild and crazy visit... 

Some of the tears...

Lauren's battle with some chronic kidney stones... The farewell to the good folks at St. Paul's Norlina who have become very dear to our hearts and are like family to the Herberts... Beloved friend, Stephanie Van Ulft, diagnosed with aggressive thyroid cancer... Cindi breaking a toe and tearing meniscus while helping with the Herberts' move... 

Grandparents' obsession... 

Sawyer, our loud but shy introvert with an astounding imagination and sensitivity... Annabelle, our little mommy always looking out for her brothers and little sister and a gymnast with a flexibility that just doesn't seem possible... Lydia, our ever singing ballerina who throws out "whys" as fast as she whirls about, never misses a visual detail, and issues the near constant invitation: "play with me!"... Flynn, our wild and crazy daredevil and with a temper to match the reddish tint in his hair and a smile so sweet you can't really get angry with the imp... Henry, the most laid back, calm and self-entertained child ever, except when he spots food that he isn't being fed, because then he's insta-beast... Felicity, she likes apples and hugs and she smiles a heart-melting smile nearly nonstop... Oliver James awful young yet, but he has a bit of that red—like Flynn—and he's a child #3 too, so we'll see; right now he just coos his way into your heart.

We love and miss you all! Please remember our door is open and our guest room ready! 

Much love!

Bill and Cindi

Holy Advent

With the setting of the sun tonight, Advent will be upon us. It is a very short season for Western Christians this year. Just a smidge over three weeks, the shortest possible. What joy to welcome its arrival, though, with the wreath and the growing light and warmth, the many beautiful Advent carols, the extra services where we lighten the long and dark evenings with the Word and prayer, psalms and songs! 

The color of Advent is either blue (more modern, though based on older Swedish and Sarum precedents) or violet. Either way, it is good to remember that it is a season of penitence. John the Baptist figures large, with his constant warning and challenge to us not to settle down into the ways of this world, thus failing to be prepared to welcome God's surprise inbreaking, the joyous arrival of His Kingdom in the flesh of His Son and our Bridegroom. The collect we pray this week reminds us why we need Advent so very much: “rescue us from the threatening perils of our sins.” We have a hard time believing that our sins ARE threatening perils. Advent and St. John the Baptist remind us that they are. They always damage us and unchecked would utterly destroy us. Advent is a time of gracious intervention: God’s intervention. God’s breaking into our hell-bent, death-bent, self-bent lives and world with unfathomable mercy and grace.

Maybe this year in addition to lighting your Advent wreath and saying the prophecy table devotions (see below: Advent Table Devotions), consider adding the Advent litany to your prayers, at least on Wednesday and Friday (the two standing penitential days each week). We'll be using it daily in Chapel at the International Center:

Lord, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

Jesus, name called Wonderful; Jesus, our great Counselor; Jesus, true and mighty God; Jesus, Father of the age to come; Jesus, Prince of Peace:
We praise and bless Your holy name.

Jesus, Son of David; Jesus, Branch of Jesse; Jesus, Rose of Sharon; Jesus, Lily of the Valleys; Jesus, Bright and Morning Star.
Deliver us from our sins, we pray You.

Jesus, Scepter of Israel; Jesus, Light of the Gentiles; Jesus, Desire of all nations; Jesus, Sun of Righteousness; Jesus, Lawgiver, Priest, Judge and King:
Help us and bless us.

O Jesus hear us,
And prepare us for Your coming.

Gather Your ancient people, the Jews, to Yourself; Cause all the Gentiles to come to Your light and truth; Convert all leaders and rulers of nations to fall down before You and to desire Your beauty:
Hear our prayer, O Lord, and let our cry come unto You.

Help Your messengers to prepare the way before You in every land; Let all the nations fear You as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations; Endue Your ministers with righteousness and knowledge; Preserve all who put their trust in You; remember all who are afflicted or suffering in any way (especially…); and give peace to all Your people:
Hear our prayer, O Lord, and let our cry come unto You.

Prepare us for Your coming.
and save us from our sins.

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