12 October 2017

Today’s Chapel


Invocation

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

Psalm 51

Reading:

A reading from St. Matthew, the 15th chapter.

10 And he called the people to him and said to them, "Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person." 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" 13 He answered, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit." 15 But Peter said to him, "Explain the parable to us." 16 And he said, "Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone." 

This is the Word of the Lord. R.  

Homily

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

Out of the heart. There's the rub. Your heart is your "wanter," in the Bible way of thinking. It's the seat of your desires, the originator of what you want. And it's where the problem arises. You got a heart problem. Me too. And Jesus is at pains to show the Pharisees and us that while we can control a lot of outward stuff, modify this or that behavior, learn to deal with this or that handicap, triumph over this or that bad habit, if there's one thing we cannot get a handle on or actually ever control or govern, it's what we want. 

So what is it that we want? Jesus looked into our wanters and what he saw wasn't very pretty. Out of our wanters came evil thoughts of all sorts, and murder, and adulteries and sexual immorality and stealing and false witness and slander. If you boil them all down they amount to this: I want what I want when I want it and I really don't care about you and what you might want; you just need to get out of my way, let me use you as I see fit and then you go by-bye. 

I remember getting into a discussion with my brother-in-law about Genesis 6 years ago. He thought it HAD to be an exaggeration, that the Lord looked at the wickedness of man and saw "that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Seriously? Only evil? Every intention? Continually? And I remember telling him I know. It seems so over the top, but I think he meant it. That we really are that evil in our hearts, and part of our evil we just can't believe we're as bad as He says we are. I want what I want and I can't fix wanting what I want.  

And God deals with us by what's in our hearts, by what we want. You can't see what I want, although sometimes you might get an idea of what's in it by what we say, what comes out of mouth. And then its usually pretty ugly. But God? You don't need to open your mouth. It's the most terrifying collect in the liturgy: "O almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid." Yeah, He reads your wanter like a book and that's where He wants to deal with us. Jesus tells us that no prettying up the outside, no washing hands, no cleaning the outside of the cup, can begin to address this hideous corruption in the center of our being. I want what I want and I can't fix that. And it's evil. 

He doesn't let his disciples in on the evil of the human heart to leave them in despair. He is the one talking after all. He is the one who has a true human heart just like us, and yet His heart was 100% aligned with the will of His Father. How did the Psalmist put it? "In the volume of the book it is written of me, I have come to do your will, O God." A human being who willed from His conception to His death the will of His Father. It wasn't a cake walk. Remember Gethsemane. Remember the struggle to receive the cup from the Father's hand. But remember the triumph of His human wanter: "Not my will, but thine be done!" And what was that will of the Father? But that a heart-remedy should be provided for all us hopeless wanters, who are so evil and corrupted we can't even believe we're as bad we are (though, if we took the time to ask the people we live with, they'd probably give us a brand new insight). And so to remedy your heart problem and mine, He walks away from the garden and hands himself over to suffering and death. He could have willed it to end at any moment, but He did not. He rested in His Father's will all the way, even until His body hung dead on the tree and Roman lance ran through His side and opened His sacred heart so that healing streams of blood and water could gush out; blood and water, Eucharist and Baptism, the Spirit's power carrying to you the gift to you of a new heart. A new wanter. His wanter within.

Ezekiel foretold what would happen but not how: I will sprinkle clean water on you and you shall be clean from all your uncleanesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 

Only we know that the way He choses to do this in us is not simply all at once yanking out the old heart and inserting the new, but we have as Christians this absolutely bizarre condition of two wanters battling inside of us. Through your Baptism into Jesus, you have the heart of Jesus within you that prays: "Thy will be done, Father! Thy will be done. Teach me to love, to not regard any person as an object for my manipulation and use, but as gifts from your loving hand to be honored and treasured and help me to trust Your merciful love in all things" and it desires that with its whole heart. And you have that old wanter still kicking, and I do mean kicking and screaming and protesting, "No, not that! What I want be done; I want what I want! I, I, I!"

St. Paul's agony in Romans 7: "The good that I want to do I don't do and the evil I don't want to do I end up doing. Oh, who will deliver me from this body of death?" or Galatians, the flesh battles against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh and these two are opposed to each other to keep you from doing the things you want to do (on either side!).

In summary, to be a Christian is to be a mess. Two wanters in a death battle. But there is also this: God alone can do the surgery. God alone can take out the old wanter and He is in the process of doing it. He started the surgery with that sprinkling of clean water in your baptism but He only completes it when your baptism is done, when that old wanter dies with your flesh dying and then IT does not come back alive with you again. Ever. It will be gone. Your Baptism gives you into this life of conflicted wanters, but it also promises you that this is God's surgery and He's the one doing it and He we who began this good work in you will bring it to completion on the day of Jesus Christ.

Until then you wait. You wait and you deal with the mess. You can't fix your wanter. This you confess. But He can and this you also confess. He can give you a new heart and He has. And He is. And He will. And you will finally live with that heart beating in you wholly. Then you can sing "Lord thee I love with all my heart" and it won't be a lie. And so to be a Christian at all is to pray without ceasing for the sacred heart of Jesus to be formed in you. For God to create in you a clean heart and to renew you with His free Spirit. Amen.

Hymn: "Create in Me" #956

Collects

Of the Day: Lord, we implore You, grant Your people grace to withstand the temptations of the devil and with pure hearts and minds to follow You, the only God; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Almighty and most merciful God, comfort with Your Holy Spirit all who are in trouble, want, sickness, anguish of labor, peril of death, or any other adversity, especially those who are in suffering for the sake of Your name and Your truth. We commit into Your hands those we have been asked to remember before You: Al, Amy, Allen and Jan, Grant that they may receive and acknowledge their afflictions as the manifestation of Your fatherly will; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Most heartily do we ask You, kind Father, to rule and govern Your holy catholic church, with all its pastors and ministers, that we may be preserved in the pure doctrine of Your saving Word by which faith toward You may be strengthened, love increased in us toward all people, and Your kingdom extended. Send forth laborers into Your harvest and sustain those whom You have sent, especially remembering today Pr. Gary and Steph Schulte serving in Burkina Faso. Grant that Your word of reconciliation may be proclaimed to all people and the Gospel preached in all the world; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Taught by our Lord and trusting His promises we are bold to pray: Our Father

Benediction

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

11 October 2017

What we don’t preach on

Is perhaps even more fascinating than what we do. Today's reading was Ephesians 4:1-6. The homily dwelt on the "is"ness of the gifts. Which is right on and solid. The one Church is every bit as much gift as the one Baptism (and yet we SEE many Baptisms). But what captured my mind in the reading was its ending: "one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."

And I thought: "Weedon, you have NEVER in your whole life preached on that." And right behind that was the thought: "And I don't remember ever hearing anyone else preach on it either." By now I was rather naughty and my mind drifted from the sermon to the text. What does it mean that it all flowed toward this one God and Father of all. He had just prayed: "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named...." Every family, all. There isn't a human being you meet who doesn't have this Father as his or her father, whether they know it or not. He is the Source from which all that IS has it's ISNESS, without Him being confined by that ISNESS. And He is over all. 

Look at all the uproar in the world and your heart begins to melt and you tremble at the thought of what's coming. And then you stop and remember: Behind it all, there is Father. And the Father is over all, He's working through it all, and in it all. There's not a bit of it that He's lost track of, that's gotten out of hand. Not. A. Bit.

Peace, people loved by God. Peace that flows from the Father who is over all, in all and through all. Whenever you meet a human being, you meet one He created and called to be His child. That's the reason the Son was given into the flesh and why He gave us the one Baptism and the one hope of our calling. That's why there IS a church in this world. 

One Father. Christ's Father made your Father. And He is over all. And He arranges all things, even to enlightening your eyes to see. See what can never be seen in this fallen age but by faith. "Be still and know that I am God." Words from your Father. 

It’s on sale!


What is it? That wonderful work Matthew Carver did to put the readings assigned to the Daily Offices at the Lutheran Magdeburg Cathedral from the early 17th century into a single volume. Click the link: Sts. Maurice and Catherine DAILY LECTIONARY

05 October 2017

A Bit Crazy

That's how life been of late. Let's see: visit to Idaho for Zion's 100th and to see my brother + home for Oliver's birth + flew to NC to drive Lauren and kids and cat back to IL, about a 15 hour trip + Herberts with us for the week and so David's family, Bekah and Andy for much of it, most night's 16 sitting down to dinner + Birthday party for Annabelle and Lydia on Saturday + Choir on Sunday AND Oliver's Baptism AND his party at our house + Dean and boys left for WI on Tuesday + Lauren, girls, and Cindi on Wednesday + Thursday finished sermon for Dean's Installation; Bekah made her daddy a belated birthday breakfast which he enjoyed with her and Andy in between finishing up presentation for Gottesdienst + Tomorrow off to see Stephanie in Springfield and then on up to Wisconsin + Saturday preach Dean's Installations + Sunday attend early service in Gilman Wisconsin and then off to Kewanee IL for Vespers and Oktoberfest + Gottesdienst conference on Monday and Tuesday and then HOME, God willing, for about a week and a half. Bilbo was right. The road goes ever on and on. Whew!

Homily from Today’s Chapel

Brief Service of the Word:


Invocation


Psalm 16 (sung antiphonally)


Reading: Hebrews 12:4–11

4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? 

  "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, 

nor be weary when reproved by him. 

 6  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, 

and chastises every son whom he receives." 

7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 


Homily:


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


He had been in church every Sunday he possibly could. He delighted in Bible Class and actively participated. The family he had grown up in was pious and still to this day his sisters talk about the joy of singing hymns together as they wash the dishes and put them away after meals. He was blessed with three children and numerous grandchildren and a godly wife. And then one day, when attending his granddaughter's volleyball game, he stood up only to fall down. His leg broke. And broke because a cancer had eaten all the way through the bone. I was his pastor and with him when the news came. It took him a while to process it, and he didn't say it to me but to his wife: "I guess God doesn't love me anymore."


When she shared this with me, my heart sank and I wanted to wallop him upside the head with a Bible. How could he think that? After all the sermons and Bible Classes, how? What would HE tell a coworker or a friend who said such nonsense to him? 


But you know, that IS the struggle. It's one thing to know the love of God in theory, that is when the times are good. It's another thing to believe it and hold fast to it when the discipline touches you, your body, your life, your loved ones. 


It was a dark moment for him, but he came out, as Luther would say, kissing the rod. Yes, his body was, short of a miracle, not going to recover this time. But he found peace: he was "subject to the Father of spirits" and so he lived and dies and yet lives still. He triumphed in submission, and spent his final days actively witnessing his hope to the staff in the home where he was being treated.


God, of course, is not terribly interested in your happiness. In fact, not interested in it at all, and neither should you be. The God who, you tell yourself, wants you to be happy, that is just an idol of your own making. The real God wants you to be holy. Or more accurately, to share His holiness. And this doesn't come from giving you nothing but sunny days and balmy skies and smooth sailing in your relationships and in your health and in your pocketbook or portfolio. It comes when He takes the rod in hand, treating you as His sons and daughters, whom He loves entirely too much to leave as slaves to hedonism, to pleasure. God is NOT against pleasure. He is against you settling for the teasing tastes that He sends to lead you to something more. The more is Him: "In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures forevermore." And you know who is at His right hand. He is the Joy and He is the Pleasures forevermore. The whole point of the discipline, then, is to train you to find in Jesus all your joy, all your pleasure, and to find Him to be enough. And this is not something that is apparent when you are living the life of Job pre God's and Job's crap match. 


So He sends the sorrows. Not because He hates you. Because He loves you. Because He wants you to share in His holiness, because He wants you to find in Jesus and in His love for you absolutely everything that you truly need for time and for eternity. 


Don't beat yourself up when you have doubts about His love when the trials come. The point of the trials is to expose the doubts, to send you running into the Savior's arms and to have you hear His Spirit's testimony in your hearts: "You are mine, child. I love you. I died for you. I forgive you every sin. I will raise you from the dead. I have your every need covered. Really and truly. Don't be afraid. Hush now. Just rest here in my arms."


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


Hymn: All Depends on Our Possessing 732


Prayers:


O Lord, we pray that Your grace may always go before and follow after us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


Father of spirits, we ask for the suffering the grace of submission to Your will that they may know in the hardships Your love and so live. We especially commend to You Al, Amy, Allan, Jan, together with all the suffering and the grieving through the recent tragedies. Grant to each the comfort and restoration that is according to Your will, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. 


Gracious Giver of Life, it is Your will that none perish but that all be saved and come to know the truth of Your love. Hear our prayers for Pr. Jonathan Clausing and his family as he serves in Kenya, that they be strengthened in sharing the good news and provided with their daily bread; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


Taught by our Lord and trusting His promises we are bold 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.

02 October 2017

And yes, this being the 2nd of the Month

The Psalter for daily prayer this morning included

From Psalm 10:

He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent, his eyes stealthily watch for the helpless; he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket... The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might. He says in his heart, "God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it." Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand, and forget not the afflicted.

From Psalm 11:

For behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; if the foundations are destroyed what can the righteous do? The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test, the children of man. The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.

From Psalm 12

On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man.

Oh, Christians! Let us take up our Psalters again and pray. We will find in the Songs of David the very words we need for when our own words fail.

01 October 2017

In convertendo

"He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."

I remember five years ago this August driving Lauren, Sawyer, and Cindi to the airport, coming home and watching the light fade on the wall. Great sadness. A stage in life's journey was over (having all my children close at hand). Now my daughter and her little family (hey, it was little at the time!) would be 14 hours away by car. And as I was driving Lauren and the four kids (plus that wretched cat) back to Illinois for a period of transition as they prepare to head up to Wisconsin as Dean assumes the pastorate of two parishes (this time only 8 hours away), I thought: I'm living Psalm 126. I went out weeping that August day, carrying precious seed for sowing, but I'm rejoicing in bringing the sheaves home with me. And since that day, three grandchildren here in Illinois, and the engagement of youngest daughter, Rebekah, with her upcoming marriage in May to Andy. The precious seeds, planted, are flourishing and for that all glory be to God on high!

Grandparent joy

Our seven...for a hurried pic. Think herding cats...

All of Oliver's grandparents: Karen and Larry, Cindi and I. We had all his living great grandparents too, and he has FIVE of them. But somehow missed that picture. UGH.

The Baptism of Oliver James Weedon

Receive the sign of the holy cross...
I baptize you into the name of the Father...
The almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given You the new birth of water and the Spirit, strengthen you with His grace to life everlasting (anointing)


Receive this burning light to show that you have received Christ who is the Light of the world.

29 September 2017

Joy of St. Michael’s


Today, Trinity Lutheran Church in Millstadt, IL sponsored a Eucharist at the International Center for the employees (a number of whom attend Trinity!) and we were blessed to have Trinity's pastor, Pastor Ill, serve as celebrant, assisted by Pr. Jonathan Fisk. You can hear Pr. Ill's homily here as well as the chapel choir's rendition of the Sanctus, Isaiah, Mighty Seer under the direction of Kantor Henry Gerike.

A couple of Meaghan’s beautiful pics

And this is my collection of grandchildren at the moment: Annabelle, Lydia, Felicity, Henry, Flynn, Sawyer and Oliver.