14 July 2024

Another Making the Case in the Books…

…and if you weren’t there, why not? It was a great conference. I told Jeff I think it’s the perfect length: just part of the day Friday and all day Saturday. Outstanding speakers, joyous yet reverent liturgical worship (Compline, Matins, and Divine Service), and our hymn sing on Saturday afternoon. And I was given the most moving gift at the conference from the Ukrainian Lutheran bishop, Vyacheslav Horpynchuk (who due to the war was unable to be present with us): a copy of their service book, damaged by a Russian soldiers tossing a hand grenade into their facility when they saw the word Lutheran on it. I will treasure that! It was awesome to serve with Chaplain Simeon Raddatz and what was icing on the cake was being able to WEAR a chasuble and stole that belonged to my old friend Karl Bachman (that are now Simeon’s). See you there next year, folks! You don’t want to miss it!









11 July 2024

I THINK…

…I’ve finally got everything ready for the worship at Making the Case 2024. Hope to see some of you up in River Forest! And in case you haven’t been following along, check out the great stuff happening at the Synod’s Institute on Liturgy, Preaching and Church Music happening in Seward, right here

01 July 2024

So Cindi and I were talking just the other day…

…about how great the extra daylight is in the summer. We woke up about half an hour before sunrise today. I got the bacon ready to toss in the oven and made us a cup each of crio-brew. We enjoyed that before we headed out for our “sunrise walk.” Absolutely gorgeous today. So crisp, in fact, I had to put on my flannel shirt. We walked up to Old Route 66, turned around and headed home. Time then for a cup of Irish Breakfast as we did our personal prayers and Bible reading (Matins with that Southwell Litany—oof!—Book of Concord on the Mass and then 1 Samuel 28-31 and Deut. 32:1-4). I finished up and set the table outside on the deck and that’s where we enjoyed a chuck-eye (split), eggs, and bacon. Then we did our post-prandial stroll and chatted a bit. Came back in and prayed Treasury (with yet another cuppa). Did my internet puzzles and workout. Went for another walk on my own, listening to music. Then home to make my cup of coffee and prepare for the workday. A leisurely and peaceful way to kick off the day. Thank you, Lord, for such a beautiful day on July 1 (Eve of Visitation). 

27 June 2024

Great Quote from Book of Concord

It can easily be judged that if the churches observed ceremonies correctly, their dignity would be maintained and reverence and piety would increase among the people.—AC, Part Two Intro (6)



25 June 2024

Verna Langendorf Thoughts

The day we pulled into St. Paul’s from North Carolina was July 15, 1992.  Easy to remember, because it was my son’s fourth birthday (he got a football that year—which, if you know him or me is really funny. Neither of us had the first clue what to do with it!). We had been in St. Paul’s parsonage many times as students. Mrs. Dressler loved to invite the students over after service. She’d have some cold beers ready for the gents and some iced tea for Cindi. But this time we looked at the house in a different way: it was destined to be our home (and though we didn’t know it then, it would end up being our home for nearly 20 years). We got out, stretched, and made our way inside. 

And there she was. Verna, you see, was not completely satisfied with what the trustees had done to get the place ready for the new pastor. She thought it needed more cleaning. Even though there was a funeral going on in the Church (for Mae Isenberg), she opted to work on cleaning up the parsonage a bit more before we arrived. I remember she was embarrassed because she was dusty and dirty from her labors that day, but that smile. I will never forget that smile. She welcomed us back to St. Paul’s with such warmth and then promptly cleared out so we could unload the little bit of stuff we had.

By the time we came back to St. Paul, she no longer sang in the choir. “I can’t sing anymore.” I remember both her and Norma (Toots) saying that. But they told me that when they were younger, they loved to do the dishes after dinner, because how else do you do them but standing at the sink and singing their favorite hymns? Verna was always in Bible Class and she and Leroy next to never missed a regular service. They’d be there New Year’s and Ascension and well, just about any time the bell was being rung!

I can see her laboring in the kitchen before sausage supper. She fried up the bacon that flavored the green beans. She shared with me at the last sausage supper how in the old days they had to dress up to serve the sausage supper: dresses and heels even! I think she was very glad that we’re a bit more relaxed these days.

And she was famous for her meticulous care of her front yard. She was still out there with her push mower not too many weeks ago.  

She always was faithful not just at the early service (7:45 is going to have a BIG hole in it!), but at Bible Class. She rarely raised her hand to add in a comment, but you could tell from her alert eyes that she was totally engaged in whatever we were studying. She loved the Word of God, even as she loved the hymns of the Church.

Today we buried her. Pastor Gleason kindly asked me to assist in the liturgy. I think she’d pretty much picked out the readings herself (just like I’d encouraged folks to do years ago). Isaiah 40, Romans 8 and Matthew 6 (from which her confirmation verse was taken). The hymns were “A Mighty Fortress”, “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” and “For All the Saints.” Pastor delivered a beautiful and comforting homily. The school children sang “I am Jesus’ Little Lamb” and “God Will Wipe Away All Tears”. There were trumpets and Austin treated us on the Violin. The family had asked Cindi to sing “Eagle’s Wings” which she did. I am always amazed at all the music that Kantor manages to pull off for us—and I was so thankful she did it today for Verna. 

As we got into the lead car to head down to the cemetery for the committal, Cliff (funeral director) jokingly asked: “So what? You have to pass a music test to join your church?” He said that of course they did funerals at tons of churches but none of them sing like St. Paul’s. It’s true! And the singing was particularly joyous today. We were thankful to God for the gift of Verna, and for the eternal life that He has promised her (and Ron too, very much in our thoughts and hearts today). Her only sibling still on the pilgrimage, Frieda, made it to the service and to the graveside. She joined the many, many folks who gathered to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving for the gift Verna was to her beloved husband, to her children and grandchildren, to all her family and to her family of faith at St. Paul’s. The church was quite full.

We’ll miss you, Verna. Big time. 

22 June 2024

Daily Office

I remember the day I picked up this little volume as a student at Concordia College in Bronxville. My Anglican friend, Duncan, and I disagreed on whether or not there existed a Lutheran breviary. He insisted that he had seen one, but I never had. So I went hunting at the “Coop” (where you could buy candy bars, soda, and also theology!). And lo and behold! Duncan was right and I was wrong. It was with great delight that I purchased this little volume and have used it off and on over the years ever since. That was in the fall of 1980! 

What I originally thought was a bug in the layout, turned out to be a feature. I mean that it assigns, but one Psalm for Matins and another for Vespers on a given week (it does have the minor festivals included). And that it didn’t include the full readings, instead it follows the German custom of providing a “Spruchvers” from the table of readings provided in The Lutheran Hymnal. 

Since I’ve been doing my daily Bible reading for a few months by following the old Lutheran Worship schedule (thank you, Pr. Kevin Martin!), I’ve learned to content myself with praying from The Daily Office exactly as it is printed. So I repeat the same Psalms morning and evening for a week (if there are no festivals) and just use the single verse. And wow! It works. It works very, very well. 

One of the amazing features of the work is the provision of a variety of litanies. During Pentecost week there was a Litany to the Holy Spirit. This past week has provided a litany for the mission of the Church. As I indicated in a prior post, CPH has wisely in my opinion re-released this classic Lutheran breviary and it can be ordered here. It really is great work for any who desire a simple way to join in the church’s tradition of the canonical hours. It also provides in an appendix for the office at Prime, Terce, Sext, None and Compline as well as an Iternarium before travel. 

Cindi and I continue to pray together from the Treasury, but as Pr. David Petersen noted years ago, that’s kind of a “single office” book. This return to the old classic has been a refreshing change. It just makes praying Matins and Vespers each day so very simple. 

21 June 2024

Don’t Mess with the Ladies

In traditional Western art, you will notice that it is the Blessed Virgin whose foot stomps the serpent’s head. This is due to the Vulgate rendition of Gen. 3:15: SHE will crush your head. The Woman will crush the serpent’s head? Hmm. Well, see Treasury p. 40, where Luther’s Babylonian Captivity supplies the writing for the day: “In this word of promise Adam, together with his descendants, was carried as it were in God’s bosom, and by faith in it he was preserved, waiting patiently for the woman who should bruise the serpent’s head as God had promised.” But then also think about this:

You read in Judges the story of Jael and Sisera, and there is no way that Gen. 3 does not come to mind.

Judges 5:23-27 (ESV) 23 “Curse Meroz, says the angel of the LORD, curse its inhabitants thoroughly, because they did not come to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty. 24 “Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, of tent-dwelling women most blessed. 25 He asked for water and she gave him milk; she brought him curds in a noble’s bowl. 26 She sent her hand to the tent peg and her right hand to the workmen’s mallet; she struck Sisera; she crushed his head; she shattered and pierced his temple. 27 Between her feet he sank, he fell, he lay still; between her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell--dead.

Says the angel of the Lord! That is, the words “Most blessed of women be Jael” are words from an angel! She proved to be the unlikely instrument through whom God wrought a great salvation in Israel, as the angel made this clear in the song, and she did so by crushing the enemy’s head.

Then, of course, there’s another text along similar lines. This one from the Apocrypha. A woman again, this time Judith, triumphs over the enemy by…removing his head! (You noting a pattern?) As she carries General Holoferenes’ head back to Uzziah, the old man says to her: “O daughter, you are blessed by the Most High above all women on earth!” (Judith 13:18) A woman again became the unlikely instrument through whom God wrought a great salvation.

NOW you go to Luke 1:28 (reading with the Majority Text), and another Angel, Gabriel, announces to Mary that she is “blessed among women” and later Elizabeth will declare the same (Luke 1:42). That should make Satan VERY nervous about the state of his head!

With this declaration, and the connection to the Judith and Jael, you can see why Western art pictures the Blessed Virgin stomping on the serpent’s head and crushing it. Of course, she does in very different way from her two predecessors among womanly blessedness with their bloody violence; Mary simply does it by speaking her fiat to God and then by giving birth to her Son, giving birth to the One Human that Satan never could and never would get his claws into. 

If you ever want to understand Satan’s hatred of women and children, it takes its origin right here. He knows through whom he was defeated. A mother and her Child.

20 June 2024

An unobserved anniversary

The day was June 15 back in 2004. That was the day I began this blog. So the old thing has been around for 20 years! I almost killed it off a time or two, but I didn’t have the heart. It still provides a place for me to share my writings on this or that in a most simple way. Belated happy birthday, ye olde Blog!

A Beautiful Our Father Reflection…

…from my friend and poet, Pr. Harvey Mozolak:

Our “Our Father” prayer is a prayer spread out in eternity, a merciful map surveyed and read by the Father who in the Son is the truthful, living Way--  

Jesus’ tongue heard before it is voiced, understood in today’s need for bread and hungers even unappreciated, it is spoken by saints long dead and baptized infants too young to know words and even from the lips of those not yet conceived. 

We offer it for all of the holy catholic and apostolic Church of all time and places as the kingdom bought in forgiveness. 

Christendom’s pilgrims in their long line from Eden barred to Eden released in the resurrection is blessed from earth to heaven in the hallowing of the Lord God’s name. 

Temptation, trial and evil are routed in the procession of the Spirit’s deep, groaning power anthemed as an unending Amen in glory.

19 June 2024

And…

…the men won both games. About time!