If we make our sins look small, we make Christ look small. That would be the same thing as saying: He is capable of forgiving small sins, but not big ones.—C. F. W. Walther, Proper Distinction
26 August 2016
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.Observe, the expression is not we had, but
we have.—St. Augustine, On Man's Perfection in Righteousness, Chapter 21
25 August 2016
24 August 2016
And every man that has this hope towards Him purifies himself, even as He is pure,— purifies himself, not indeed by himself alone, but by believing in Him, and calling on Him who sanctifies His saints; which sanctification, when perfected at last (for it is at present only advancing and growing day by day), shall take away from us for ever all the remains of our infirmity.—St. Augustine, On Perfection in Righteousness, Par. 18
23 August 2016
As long as a person thinks he is right he is going to be incomprehensibly proud and presumptuous. He is going to hate God, despise His grace and mercy, and ignore the promises in Christ. The Gospel of the free forgiveness of sins through Christ will never appeal to the self-righteous.
This monster of self-righteousness, this stiff-necked beast, needs a big axe. And that is what the Law is, a big axe. Accordingly, the proper use and function of the Law is to threaten until the conscience is scared stiff.—Martin Luther, Homily for Trinity XIII (Epistle), Church Postils.
22 August 2016
21 August 2016
LORD, let me know mine end, and the number of my days; * that I may be certified how long I have to live.
An interior dialog ensues in which Lord Peter expresses a very modern thought: "Certify me no such thing!" And why not? Better not to see the monster creeping up to devour you; better not to know how close he is standing to you, your spouse, your parents, your child, your neighbor, your friend. The thought is that if you knew how close he was to you, it would spoil all enjoyment of life itself. That's what Lord Peter was thinking and it's quite the way folks operate these days.
Cindi noted a picture she had from a happy event in our lives not too long ago. In the picture were two dear people who have since died. Would it be better to enjoy the happy moment, blissfully oblivious of the beast stalking you? Is that the only real way to enjoy life?
The Scriptures think differently, and therefore so does the Church. No, we may not know the moment that the monster will begin munching us down, but the Scriptures and the Church are quite certain that we do very well NOT to ignore the reality of the end that awaits. We do well to actually ponder it. For then we can stare the monster in the eye each and every day that we live. And far from impoverishing the days we have here on pilgrimage, it actually sets those days utterly free, fills them with laughter and joy!
To pray with the Church in the Litany "from a sudden and evil death: Good Lord, deliver us!" is to pray with the Psalm: "let me know mine end, and the number of my days." For, of course, when you know your end to be "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" it is the promise THAT end that fuels the fight against the monster. It is true, "I had fainted; unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." But since I HAVE believed that, I can turn to face the snarling beast.
I can stare him in the face and say: I know not the day you will make your move, but I know that when you've finished with me and think I am done, you will have to taste the same bitter defeat you tasted in Palestine so long ago. For He lives and He has promised me that my end is not to be turned by you into worm food. My end is to sit with Him in His Father's house as His beloved brother, and to feast in joy forevermore. Yes, He will raise this flesh which you, foul beast, will devour but which you will not and cannot hold. It has partaken of the medicine of immortality, into it has gone the undying Body and Blood of the Savior who defeated you long ago. I am baptized into Him. His life is my life! His blood covers all my sins! Come when you will, do what you must, but YOU are not my end. No, "I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord" (Psalm 118, Luther's only motet).
With all due respect to Lord Peter, he missed Cranmer's true genius, for he mistook what is "mine end" and the wondrous marvel of my days being without end. So comforted, you can stare the monster down and sing it a cheerful round or two of the song of victory every single day; it's all practice for the moment when you hear your song blend with angels, archangels and the whole company of heaven. The Church's hymnody is ammo for that fight!
We got home by 10:10 or so, and began fixing lunch. Small crowd today: Opa, and the David Weedon family, Cindi and I. Still, we sat down to a scruptious brunch and Lydia ate an entire container of blueberries nearly on her own!
I'm definitely game for trying to make a habit of the bike trip to church, but Cindi is still to be convinced. Apparently there would be difficulties with clothes, hair, women-type things that the male of the species just doesn't think about so much (though we surely appreciate the final result!).
18 August 2016
And after the initial investment of paying for the materials and stuff for the square foot garden box, the next years the garden has ended up saving us a bit. It's fun and helps you realize up close and personal that food really is a gift of God: "You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing." True, dat.
The man advocates a radical idea: living on less than you make. As in a LOT less. As in, you can't buy happiness and should stop trying. Lots of good wisdom in there, as I remember our Lord's beautiful saying: "A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
So true. Anyway, off on my bike this morning (Cindi was working) and I headed up the road, stopping to do pushups till I met my quota and then just enjoying the sun, the clouds, the birds, the train, the children with their mom, the trees, the gardens, the swamp, the cardinal, the groundhog, not so much the skunk (the smell crept up on me as I was doing a set of pushups; form went out the window and I hurried to finish the set and get on the bike and out of the vicinity!). I think it was probably just shy of a 20 mile ride, up to Staunton and back and then around town.
One of our friends used to ride his bike daily between Staunton and East St. Louis where he was principal for the local Lutheran school. I'm still in awe of that.
A trip over the river? Someday, maybe. But for now, I think I'll stick to pedaling around the village or one of the neighboring towns and count a trip up to Staunton and back from Hamel a decent run. And I have definitely decided no trips in the car to the post-office or our local grocery. I'm even thinking about trying to get in the habit of just biking the 15 minutes up to the church.
|Text to Cindi at work: Staunton. Yeah, you can hate me...|