29 April 2006

Proud Pappa

I just have to tell you how proud I am of David and Bekah for their work in the play. One of our members sat beside me at intermission and asked if I hadn't done drama as a teenager. I told her: No way. I was way too frightened to get up on stage and act. She was surprised. But it's true: in high school I don't think you could have dragged me onto the stage with a team of horses. My wife is another story!

But watching David and Bekah up on stage tonight, I was filled with great joy. I'm so thankful they go to a Lutheran High School that encourages them to stretch the bounds of what they think possible. When they gave David a gift tonight for being a senior (all the seniors got gifts who were in the play) they introduced him as: David Weedon, our amazing Tevye. And he really was amazing.

Next year I hope that Bekah seeks a more active role. She seemed quite comfortable with what she did in this play, but I know she's afraid of memorizing lots of lines (David is a natural at memory, and both Lauren and Bekah have to work at it a bit more). Lauren pulled it off and simply SHOCKED us in Little Shop of Horrors. I know Bekah can too, and I hope she really goes for it next year.

There's a sentimental song they play on KEZK: "I hope you dance." Sentimental, but it is the way I feel for my kids: "I hope you dance!" I love you Lauren, David, and Bekah. Dance, sing, act! Have a blast, you three wonderful kids! - Your Crazy Pappa

Homily for Good Shepherd Sunday

When Christ announces that He is the Good Shepherd and the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep, he is teaching us that He is the only One to whom his disciples can look for help and protection against sin, death, and the devil. He calls these things that would devour and scatter his little flock “the wolf.” And He teaches that He alone can help the sheep because the sheep are His; they belong to Him.

He contrasts Himself with the hired-hands. According to Dr. Luther, do not mistake these to be false preachers and pastors, but the hired hands are all who came before our Lord’s incarnation. Yes, even Moses and all the prophets. You see, they were servants of the Lord’s sheep, but they did not own the flock. And no matter how much they preached and taught, neither Moses nor the prophets had the wherewithall to stop the wolf from devouring and scattering the flock.

So because this was the situation, the Son of God himself took on our flesh and blood from the Blessed Virgin Mary to fulfill the prophecy of Ezekiel: “I myself will seek out my sheep.” Thus He came among us as one of us, He who had created us in the beginning - “for all things were made through Him and without Him was not anything made that was made.” He thus came to those who were His own by virtue of their creation, and even though we had fallen into sin and become the prey of the devil, sin, and death, He came to redeem us, to buy us back, to lay down His life for us, so that He might not merely be our Creator, but also our divine Redeemer, our Savior, our Shepherd. Thus He “did not cease to do all things until He had brought us up to heaven and bestowed on us His kingdom to come.” But all this is only in Him.

Whoever hopes to survive the onslaught of the devil, our own sinfulness, and death, has no other help or hope. In the end, either the Good Shepherd or the wolf will have you.

So hear the voice of your Shepherd, people loved by God! He comes to you not to take from you, but to give to you. He laid down His perfect life in place of your forfeited and imperfect life. He says to the Wolf - “You cannot have that one. You must have me instead.” And so He gives His life into death to destroy your death. And so He places His sinless soul over you to protect you from the terrifying teeth of the wolf.

Thus when the wolf comes howling at you and tries to frighten and alarm you, you must not listen to what it says. Rather, you listen to the voice of your Good Shepherd, the One who laid down his life for you. The One who waged war with that Wolf and won long ago. It is the voice of Your Shepherd who speaks to calm you: “Do not let the sin you struggle with or the thought of your death or the devil’s accusations frighten you. I have forgiven all your sins by my death; I have destroyed death’s power over you by My rising; and I descended into hell and took the keys of hell and death that Satan could never again have any right or claim on you. You are mine, my very own. Mine because I made you and doubly mine because I redeemed you. Did I not wash you in the baptismal water and mark you with my cross as my own dear possession forevermore. You are my sheep and I am your Good Shepherd. And so every need of yours I can and I will provide for. Only trust me.”

This is the voice of the Good Shepherd that the sheep hear. And they soon learn to know when it is His voice they are hearing, and they learn to flee from anyone who comes to them speaking something else. Any voice that invites them to fear the wolf, to run from God in panic over sin and guilt, or from fear of death or the devil. No, they know that any voice urging such things is NOT the voice of their Shepherd.

And where does our Good Shepherd’s lovely voice ring out more clearly, more sweetly for you, than at the Table He prepares for you in the presence of your enemies? “For this Sacrament is the Gospel.” What sin can accuse the one who trusts and receives the Blood of Christ? That is the blood that atoned for the sin of the world! Our Good Shepherd spilled it in your place. Given to you it marks you as His, blood-bought and paid for. What death can attack the one who trusts and receives the Body of Christ? This is one Body that Death will never forget. Death took hold of that body once but could not hold onto it; rather death was shattered by it. When that body enters you, death groans that it has lost another!

“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep....I have other sheep not of this fold, them also I must bring and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock and one Shepherd.”

And that’s where you and I come in, so that all He first said to the Apostles applies to us. We are the other sheep He was speaking of, Gentiles not of the fold of Israel originally, but led into the joys and privileges of Jesus’ flock by hearing the Voice of our Shepherd and following where He leads. And herein is the true and only unity of the Christian Church - that we are all but little sheep who hear and know the voice of our Shepherd, and that we have no other Shepherd but Him alone, our Good Shepherd, the One who laid down His life for us. “For you were straying like sheep, but have now been returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls, even Jesus Christ.” In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Funeral Homily for Albert Brandt

It was in the year 1915 on St. Valentine's Day that your godly parents, Alberta, picked up their child, Albert, and carried him to the old Saint Paul’s, where Pastor Hansen reached out his hands and marked him with the sign of the cross: “Nimm hin das Zeichen des heiligen Kreuzes, beide an der Stirn + und an der Brust +.” Then a few moments later Pastor Hansen’s hands poured water three times over that little one’s head: Albert, Ich taufe dich im Namen des Vaters und des Sohns und des Heiligen Geistes. Amen. Then Pastor Hansen’s hands were laid upon Albert’s head with this prayer: “Der almächtiger Gott und Vater unsers Herrn Jesu Christi, der dich wiedergeboren hat durch das Wasser und den Heiligen Geist, und hat dir all deine Sünde vergeben, der stärke dich mit seiner Gnade zum ewigen Leben. Amen!” The Almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has birthed you anew through water and the Holy Spirit and forgiven you all your sins, strengthen you with grace to eternal life.

That prayer was made 91 years ago. It was answered this past Wednesday. The God who had given to Albert the new birth, forgiven him his every sin and strengthened him with grace each day of his life, finally took Albert to eternal life.

For this is the conviction of the Christian Church: that to die in the Lord is not to die but to begin to live. We know that Christ’s own death has destroyed death! We know that He has flung wide open the Kingdom of heaven to all believers! And we know and rejoice today that Albert was indeed a believer in Jesus Christ.

“I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord” cried the Psalmist, and if ever there were a person who made those words their own, it was Albert Brandt. When were the doors of this house open and he was not here? It next to never happened. When there was a service, Albert was here. An hour early even. I can still see him sitting right over there, praying and meditating, waiting for the service to begin. “Sing unto the Lord a new song for He has done marvelous things!” cried the Psalmist, and those words too Albert made his own. Singing in the choir until just two years ago – climbing those stairs from the basement, in order to “make a joyful noise” to the Lord.

Why? Why would a man devote so much energy, so much love to the Church? Because Albert knew that here, here in the Church he found “heaven on earth.” Several years back he had given a song to Cindi and asked her to sing it for his funeral. You heard it a few minutes ago. The song celebrates that the soul cannot find a place of rest here in this world – it will only find such rest in heaven, in the arms of Jesus. But Albert knew that he didn’t have to wait till he died to taste the joys of heaven. Now way! He knew that the love of Jesus surrounded him throughout his life, and most of all that love touched him right here in this room.

He knew that this was no ordinary place. This is the place where Jesus comes to His people to give them rest. At this altar times beyond count, Albert received into his mouth the very Body and Blood of the Savior. Here he listened to His Savior’s sweet promises. Here his soul drank deeply of the heavenly rest that Jesus brings into this world.

Anyone who knew him, knew that Albert was a man of who tasted that rest. His soul was at peace. His mind was inquisitive and he was always reading and pondering and learning. But there was nothing frantic about his learning. He was quintessentially a man at peace – and that was because he knew the heavenly peace of sins forgiven, death destroyed, and the certainty of eternal life with His Savior and all the saints. He knew that His Savior had prepared a great banquet to celebrate death’s overthow and that He was a welcome guest at that banquet. Peace and kindness, then, marked his presence.

The stories he could tell! He knew and remembered the history of this place like none other. The anniversary committee is planning on having his words be read at the anniversary banquet of the congregation this coming fall. They give a glimpse not just into a vanished past but into a great soul, a giant among men who never suspected he was anything other than a simple Christian. And that’s what made him so great.

Was he a sinner too? Well, of course! He knew that about himself and freely confessed as much every time he received Christ’s body and blood. A poor sinner who knew that His only hope was in His Savior who called him to Himself to give him rest. “Take my yoke upon you, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls.”

Such rest Albert did enjoy all the days of his earthly pilgrimage, but all of that was only a teasing taste of the rest he entered on Wednesday. Then indeed came true the words that Cindi sang: “How blessed the rest with Jesus in the light! Death, sin, and sorrow are not known there. The sound of harps and their beautiful music welcome the soul with sweetest sound: Rest, rest, rest, rest, heavenly rest, in the Palace of our Mediator, I promise you.”

Ruh, himmlische Ruh. Albert has entered this rest and we may all look forward to it through our Baptism into Him trampled down death by death and bestows life to those in the tombs. Amen!

Albert E. Brandt, age 91, of Worden, died at 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday, April 26, 2006, at Community Memorial Hospital in Staunton.

He was born on Jan. 27, 1915, in Hamel, the daughter of the late Ernst and Mary Flachsbart Brandt.

He is survived by a sister: Alberta Suhre and husband, Otto of Granite City.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a sister: Rhoda Brandt; and a brother: Julius Brandt.

Mr. Brandt lived on the family farm. He attended St. Paul Lutheran School. After completing school, he took over the family farm and farmed his entire life. His memberships included St. Paul Lutheran Church, where he was a member of the choir; a charter member of the Alhambra Mens Community Club; the Southwestern Electric Board; the Madison County Farm Bureau; and a member of the Soil Conservation Board.

Patristic Quote for the Day

Thou, who desirest the salvation of the sons of men, have compassion on this soul that has withdrawn from Thee. Accept her, O Lord, with Thy usual mercy. At the righteous judgment, may Thy compassion shelter me, who am sinful, and deliver me from torment. Thou, who forgivest sins and freely grantest mercy, forgive me the sins of my soul at Thy righteous judgment! - St. Ephrem the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #100

Book Recommendation

As I've read blogs, listened to radio shows, and read papers dealing with how the Orthodox teach about salvation, I have at times felt myself completely befuddled. I couldn't even recognize what was being described AS Orthodoxy!

A little book (but not little in price for its size!) that a friend recommended to me the other day I have found to be outstanding: "How Are We Saved? The Understanding of Salvation in the Orthodox Tradition" by His Grace Kallistos Ware.

It is written in a simple format and offers a fine summary of the Orthodox approach to salvation. I especially appreciated the section where he quotes another bishop who spoke of the relationship between justification and sanctification in terms of "saved from" and "saved for." It's worth the read, no matter what one's confessional persuasion. Another choice moment is when he quotes Luther, but notes that most Lutherans would disagree with Luther on the point he was citing (the famous: this life is not holiness but growth in holiness...).

28 April 2006

Oh, and in case you are wondering...

...what it looks like out the backdoor, one of the kids (I think David) took this pic the other day:


Tonight Metro East Lutheran High School's drama department put on Fiddler on the Roof. It was fabulous. But I am no doubt prejudiced: both David and Bekah were in it, and David played Tevye. He was super! And Bekah was too! Not to mention Robyn and Tara and the list goes on and on! Some pics. Oh, and David? He's the tall one.

27 April 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

To Thee, O Victor pierced by nails on the cross Who calleth out ot sinners saying: come, receive forgiveness freely - to Thee I unrelentingly pray, O my Savior: turn Thine eyes away from my lawlessness, and by Thy sufferings heal my sores that i may glorify Thy kindness. - St. Ephrem the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #8

26 April 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

I bow down to Thee, O Master; I bless Thee, O Good One; I beseech Thee, O Holy One; I fall down before Thee, O Lover of Mankind; and I glorify Thee, O Christ, for Thou, O Only-begotten Master of all, O Only Sinless One, wast, for the sake of me, an unworthy sinner, given up to the death of the cross in order to free the soul of a sinner from the bondage of sin.

And how shall I repay Thee, O Master?

Glory to Thee, O Lover of Mankind!
Glory to Thee, O Merciful One!
Glory to Thee, O Longsuffering One!
Glory to Thee, Who forgivest every fall into sin!

--St. Ephrem the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #2

25 April 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

Effects comprise all created things in heaven and earth, while the causes that have brought them into being are the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. It is therefore clear that there can be no exact resemblance between the two. - St. Maximos the Confessor, Fifth Century on Various Texts, par. 67 (aka "farewell to analogia entis?")

24 April 2006

AC XIV Thoughts

[The following thoughts were shared with a friend a few months ago; I post them in full here as a fuller explanation of my thoughts on the subject as it was introduced by my friend David Juhl on his blog Uneasy Priest. They might provide some further good discussion.]

Such a short little article to cause so much trouble over the years! And at the heart of the controversy is the even littler Latin phrase: rite vocatus. “Our Churches teach that no one is to preach, teach or administer the Sacraments *nisi rite vocatus*” - without being called by rite, or regularly called, or orderly called.

The Augsburg Confession is very bold in its insistence: “As can be seen, there is nothing that varies from the Scriptures, or from the Church universal, or from the Church of Rome, as known from its writers.” (Conclusion of first half of the AC) “In doctrine and ceremonies we have received nothing contrary to Scriptures or the Church universal.” (Conclusion of the second half of the Augsburg Confession).

I would contend, however, that precisely at the point of AC XIV Melanchthon KNEW that something needed to be introduced that was new in both doctrine and in ceremony. But he was betting the farm that his opponent, Johann Eck, would NOT notice what he had done. And so what Melanchthon did was to scrounge up a term from canon law that might be a tad ambiguous – rite voctaus – and hope that Eck wouldn’t notice that the term was being used in a novel manner.

Fat chance. Eck was a careful student of the Lutheran movement and watched it with growing alarm. He did not let AC XIV slip by without telling commentary:

“When in the fourteenth article, they confess that no one ought to administer in the Church the Word of God and the sacraments unless he be rightly called, it ought to be understood that he is rightly called who is called in accordance with the form of law and the ecclesiastical ordinances and decrees hitherto observed everywhere in the Christian world, and not according to a Jerobitic (cf. 1 Kings 12:20) call, or a tumult or any other irregular intrusion of the people. Aaron was not thus called. Therefore, in this sense the Confession is received; nevertheless, they should be admonished to persevere therein, and to admit in their realms no one either as a pastor or as a preacher unless he be rightly called.” (Reu’s *A Collection of Sources for the Augsburg Confession*, p. 357)

Eck seems to have had in mind some of Luther's writings and deeds on the subject. See especially Babylonian Captivity (AE 36:116) and the fact that in 1525 Luther himself ordained Georg Rörer. [Notes: While it is certainly true (as Piepkorn has amply demonstrated) that there were exceptions to the rule of bishops only ordaining here and there in the medieval West, it appears that this practice was limited to the conditions obtaining in the mission field or to the privelege granted by certain popes for abbots in presbyteral orders to ordain to diaconate or presbyterate within their monasteries; but that a university professor should undertake this task was in all points a novelty that would have troubled Eck and other traditionalists among the "old believers".]

This means quite simply that Melanchthon’s bluff did not work. He was called to explain what he had apparently hoped to avoid: detailing what he meant by “rite vocatus.” If the meaning was not the old canonical meaning – priestly ordination in apostolic succession – then what DID it mean?

The Apology is not terribly helpful in answering that. It more or less admits the bluff, with a “well we WANTED to, but you guys were too mean to allow it!” But nowhere in this article does Melanchthon actually provide a positive definition of the term. I suspect he hadn’t worked one out yet. What could “rite vocatus” mean if not employed of “canonical ordination” (Ap XIV:24)?

After searching in vain through the Apology for an answer, a number of years later a possible answer emerged in the much-neglected Tractatus. The answer Melanchthon had been searching for was implied in his reading of St. Jerome, who pointed out that priests and bishops in Scripture hold the same rank (Tractatus 61-64) – an argument that Jerome no doubt relished, being himself a presbyter and never elevated to the Episcopal throne unlike the other three “doctors” of the Western Church. Melanchthon then made the argument that the distinction between bishop and presbyter was a matter of discipline rather than doctrine, and therefore not strictly speaking
something that could be considered divinely mandated. Thus, “it is clear that ordination administered by a pastor in his own church is valid by divine law. Therefore, when the regular bishops become enemies of the Church or are unwilling to administer ordination, the churches retain their own right to ordain their own ministers.” (Tractatus 65, 66) And in summary: “From this it is clear that the Church retains the right to elect and ordain ministers. Therefore, when the bishops are heretics or refuse to administer ordination, the churches are by divine right compelled to ordain pastors and ministers for themselves by having their pastors do it (Latin: adhibitis sui pastoribus).” (Tractatus 72)

The Churches are authorized here to do what the bishops are unwilling to do, and the Churches do so by using their own priests to get the job done. Thus, in this first “positive” definition of rite vocatus, we may define this as a case of presbyteral succession in case of necessity.

But the phrase rendered “by having their pastors do it” is soon lost from the Tractatus and does not even make it into the 1580 or 1584 Book of Concord (this is why it is absent in the Triglotta). The loss of this phrase meant that the Symbols, while mandating the rule “nisi rite vocatus” (without a call according to rite) never then
define what this phrase means. Each successive generation of Lutherans have squabbled over it – and it has been defined in accordance with the whims of each. All Lutherans agree that no one should preach, teach or administer the Word and Sacraments “nisi rite vocatus” but no group of Lutherans can come to agreement on what that
“rite vocatus” consists of!

To some it is a term for ordination (albeit, a non-canonical presbyteral ordination). To some it means that the congregation asks an elder to administer the Sacrament on a Sunday when the pastor is on vacation.
Each side may legitimately argue from Lutheran tradition – for it has come to mean all that and more! Just listen to the current Synodical president talk about it. He admitted in the 2006 convention of the Southern Illinois Convention that the seminary faculties can’t agree on its meaning! And of course they cannot. It HAS no definitive
meaning in the BOC of 1580 except this: it doesn’t mean what it always HAD meant, canonical ordination.

Thus the AC XIV is somewhat of a question mark behind the claim that the Lutherans did not introduce anything "new" in doctrine or in ceremonies. Here is something NEW – and it is new both in doctrine and in ceremony. The sad story of the Lutheran inability to speak with clarity about the Office of the Ministry is the result.

[Addendum: An area that I find fascinating and would like to explore further is the comment by Piepkorn that where the Symbols do not allege any support from the Word of God, it is questionable whether one is bound by what they teach. He uses as prime example the affirmation of the perpetual Virginity of the Holy Theotokos. But also note that the Symbols nowhere allege any Scriptural support for what is found in AC XIV! Does this explain the reason, perhaps, that growing sectors of Missouri feel free to dispense with it entirely?]

Patristic Quote for the Day

But it is not only the martyrs who share in his passion by their glorious courage!
The same is true, by faith, of all who are born again in Baptism.
That is why are are to celebrate the Lord's paschal sacrifice with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
The leaven of our former malice is thrown out, and a new creature is filled and inebriated with the Lord himself.
For the effect of our sharing in the body and blood of Christ is to change us into what we received.
As we have died with him, and have been buried and raised to life with him, so we bear him within us, both in body and in spirit, in everything we do.
--Pope St. Leo the Great, Paschal Homily

Patristic Quote for the Day

All the achievements of the saints were clearly gifts of grace from God. None of the saints had the least thing other than the goodness granted to him by the Lord God according to the measure of his gratitude and love. And what he acquired he acquired only so far as he surrendered himself to the Lord who bestowed it. - St. Maximos the Confessor, Third Century of Various Texts, par. 29

23 April 2006

Father Arseny, A Cloud of Witnesses

"Sometimes this was a positive influence, but it also happened that being too intellectual got in the way of knowing God, of believing in him, of loving others; it got in the way of a spiritual understanding of the world and of the human soul. You could see this during the talks led by Father Arseny, you could see it in the questions that were asked and even in the heated debates. Some people lived their faith not with their soul and heart, but by rationally weighing it against the bulk of knoweldge that they had acquired. Questions and arguments continued after the talks had come to a close while people were leaving to go home. But the longer the community continued, the fewer the arguments we had. They were replaced by mutual understanding and love for each other." (p.203)

Patristic Quote for the Day

In that dreadful place of night where He had tarried for three long days, He retained inviolate the splendor of His majesty and shone with the glory of His eternal nature. Light was not overcome by darkness, but darkness was overcome by Light. Let us therefore rejoice, dearly beloved, and be glad in the Lord; for today the Light of salvation is given to us by the Lord according to which the psalmist has written: the Lord is God, and has illumined us. - St. John Chrysostom, A Paschal Homily [Note: the Paschal Gospel in the Eastern rite is John 1:1-18]

22 April 2006

A fine homily

Here's a link to a fine homily by Father James Shadid from St. George's Cathedral in Wichita, KS. I found it quite comforting. You might too (sermon starts in about 1/2 way - first there is chanting of epistle, alleluia, prokeimenon and Gospel).


A Homily for Quasimodogeniti (preached in 2005)

Did you catch the pattern? Sunday. Disciples gathered. Doors shut. Jesus. The sight of His wounds in a living body. Overflowing joy. A commission to carry forgiveness out into the world.

But Thomas missed the gathering. Maybe he was golfing. Maybe he was finshing. Maybe he was moping. Maybe his siesta lasted a bit longer than usual. We’re not told why he wasn’t there, and there’s a reason for that.

Because it doesn’t matter WHY he wasn’t there. The only thing that matters is that he missed out. And look at what happened because he missed out on that special gathering: Thomas refuses to believe.

Thomas in his unbelief lays down his conditions. He’s got to see with his own eyes those wounds and touch them. Then he’ll see about believing.

And the Lord could have appeared to Thomas by himself on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday or Friday or Saturday. Any of them would have done. But the Lord didn’t. He let Thomas stew in his unbelief for a solid week. And then look at what happened. Deja vu!

Sunday. Disciples gathered. Doors shut. Jesus. The sight of His wounds. Overflowing joy. This time the truant was present and the presence of Jesus in the midst of the gathered disciples brings Thomas from unbelief to full-blast confession: “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus responds to that. Thomas had been brought to faith by seeing. By seeing the wounds in hands and side, he came to confess that his Lord and his God had been raised from the dead just as He had promised He would be. But Jesus is setting a pattern now and he is thinking of more than Thomas on that night. He is thinking of you. And so he says to Thomas: “You believe because you have seen. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

But if it isn’t the seeing that brings to faith, then what? The Gospel holds the answer. It’s all about what happens on the First Day of the week, which is also the 8th day, the day beyond all our sevens - one of which will carry us to death. On the First and 8th Day, a miracle. The disciples of Jesus gather. And into their midst comes the Risen One. He comes with His wounds, His Spirit, His breath, AND His Words. “These have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”

As His people gather, the miracle happens again and again. Even though there is more Jesus than can ever be fit into a book, nevertheless He has given His people a book around which to gather. A book where the breath of Jesus that IS the Spirit of God still blows and calls from unbelief to faith. A book that is opened and read.

Words. Concrete words. Words about Jesus. Jesus’ own words. The Spirit breathed them all. They all come from and are all about Jesus. We read them, and when we do, it is not just a matter of remembering our Lord. No. We confess that Jesus is with us in His Words. He still speaks to us! That’s why we stand. That’s why we sing out: “Alleluia!” in greeting to the One who comes to us in His words. The One who has promised: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My words and My Father will love Him and We will come to Him and make Our home with him.” (Jn 14:23)

But the One who comes to us in His words is the One who comes to show the wounds and speak peace and bring joy. And so when the words of Jesus are spoken over bread and wine, then we have what those words promise: This is my body, given for you. This is my blood, shed for you. For the forgiveness of sin. Thomas was invited to touch and believe. You are invited to taste and believe. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Body and blood correspond to the wounds, for you only get body and blood separated from one another when there is a wound. So it is His death that is proclaimed every time we gather at this holy Table and the Resurrected One feeds us with His body and His blood. You can’t see it from where you sit, but a reminder of it is upon the altar cloth. Five little crosses. Two on each end and one in the middle. What are they there for? To be pretty? Hardly! They are there by way of confession that what is placed upon this altar cloth is that which resulted from five piercings: two in the hands, two in the feet, and one in the side. They are there to confess that on this altar is the very body and blood which hung upon the cross for you. That that is what is given you to eat and to drink. And with the sight and taste of the wounds comes the word of peace (“the peace of the Lord be with you always”) and then the joy.

When? On the Lord’s Day. When Jesus comes into the midst of His gathered disciples and speaks His peace and brings the joy of sins forgiveness and calls from unbelief to faith. But the joy isn’t to end here.

The disciples go out and announce - as they did to Thomas - “We have seen the Lord!” So we are sent out from this gathering where Jesus has come to be with us, where we have known Him in His Words and in His Wounds, His body and blood. We are sent forth to tell people like Thomas who are left in the sadness of thinking that death is the end of the road, that there is One who went farther. We are sent to tell people like Thomas who think that their sins still hang around their own neck, that there is one who lifted that burden and carried it Himself long ago to give them peace and joy. We are sent to tell one and all. And not just that there is such a One and such a forgiveness and such an eternal life. But sent to tell WHERE He can be found and where faith is given and forgiveness and joy and peace. To tell them about the secret of the 8th and first day, the Lord's Day when our Savior Jesus still comes to be with us as we gather together in His name, around His words, and His wounds. Amen.

Patristic Quote for the Day

The purifying Spirit came upon a virgin
within whom the Word was formed into a man,
the total price of redemption for the total mortal man.
And, seeing as God has no admixture of flesh,
while soul and mind stand, as it were, in middle ground,
the flesh, then, is both God's housemate and his icon:
God's nature mingles with what is akin to it,
and from there has communion also with the flesh.
Thus, both what deifies and what is deified are the one same God.

- St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Against Apollinarius

21 April 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

From dirt to mud, then back to dust again.
For earth is reunited again with earth,
and in earthly swaddling clothes is swaddled,
and dirt once more flies forward like the dust
which the violent twisting of the wind
lifts up on high, then throws back down.
And so it is with our much-swirling life
which the heady winds of wickedness
raise up on high, to spurious acclaim.
But again the dirt drops down, and stays below,
until the Creator's Word accords
the things conjoining their necessary parting.
But now there peers out, as if from some depth,
the dirt, made spiritual by the divine image,
and cries aloud in earthly tragedies,
and weeps for this life, which seems to be a joke.

--St. Gregory Nazianzus, Concerning Human Life

19 April 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

Paul cried with all exactness of truth, "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection." Well has he said, "planted together." For since the true vine was planted in this place, we also by partaking in the baptism of death, have been planted together with him. - St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis.

18 April 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

My point is that such has been God's custom right from the start, to turn whatever plots the Devil contrives against us back onto that demon's head and to set things in place for our salvation. Consider! The Devil expelled humankind from Paradise, and God opened up heaven to them. He drove them from governing on earth, and God gave them the Kingdom of heaven, and set our nature firmly on the royal throne. In this way He always gives more abundant blessings than the Devil attempts to strip away. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on St. Romanus, par. 9

16 April 2006

Pascha at the Weedons...

More Easter Joys...

Matins is just ahead - we will gather to pray this joyful liturgy at 6:30. Following that we recess for breakfast (yes, before Mass - see we are NOT legalists!). Then the Easter Eucharist itself. This is the high point of the Church's worship. It is the fountain of joy from which each Sunday of the year is filled. The Preface today expresses the joy perfectly:

It is truly good, right, and salutary
that we should at all times and in all places
give thanks to You,
holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God.
And most especially are we bound to praise You on this day
for the glorious resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ,
the very Paschal Lamb,
who was sacrificed for us and bore the sins of the world.
By His dying, He has destroyed death,
and by His rising He has restored to us everlasting life.
Therefore, with Mary Magdalene, Peter and John,
and all the witnesses of the resurrection,
with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven,
we laud and magnify Your glorious name,
evermore praising You and saying:

15 April 2006


Christos anesti!

Alithos anesti! Alleluia!

A most blessed and joyous Pascha to you all!!!

At Vigil we were blessed to baptize an adult and to confirm three others. As always the Vigil Service is one of the most joyous of the year. As it moves from darkness to light, as the singing becomes ever louder, as the joy of HEARING of Christ's resurrection moves to the joy of RECEIVING the Risen One who will never die again in His body and blood - the very pledge of forgiveness and resurrection - the joy of the people of God overflows and the Alleluias that begin now will NEVER die away!!!

Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom


Are there any who are devout lovers of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Are there any who are grateful servants?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He destroyed Hell when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
"You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it was mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it was destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.

Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

An Easter Homily

“And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

So ends the Holy Gospel for the high feast of Easter. If ever there were an ending to the story that is all wrong, that is it. Fear shutting up the mouths of those who have the best news that could ever be uttered on the face of the earth. Fear locking fast the lips of those whose words could set free a despairing world to sing for joy.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Bad news spreads like wildfire, but the good news struggles to overcome the reluctant fear of the messengers. Why? What is that the women were afraid of? Afraid that they were losing their minds. Afraid that they would be laughed at? Afraid that they wouldn’t say it just right? What?

The text doesn’t even give us a hint. There might be a purpose in that. You see, it does not matter one whit what ties the tongue, what matters is simply that the tongue is tied. The message unspoken. The joy unshared.

My friends, we must see this in perspective. We must understand the setting. God made a world filled with life and love and joy. We changed all that. We made of God’s world a place of sadness, a place of death. We turned this home God gave us into a great cosmic cemetery. That is rock bottom reality. Death is. It devours the people of this world one by one and it enjoys the fear that its advent brings. It chews on little children and old men, on young people “in their prime” and on the middle aged. It is a hideous and hateful reality. Death is. And death devours us long before we actually expire. We die a thousand deaths for the loss of those we love, for the loss of our homes, our families, our friends. Death devours. Death is.

BUT! Enter Jesus of Nazareth. Enter the Man who does something about death. Enter the Man who was born of the Virgin Mother and sent into this world by God the Father to actually slay death. To undo its damage. To change it forever. To make it something it was not before. When Jesus is through with Death, you can’t even recognize it as the same thing. Jesus make death a passover, a passage into endless life. It was to overcome death and destroy its power that He came.

And you know how He did it. He did it by offering Himself up to death. Death took Him. On the cross, Death took Him. Devoured Him. Munched on Him till He was just a corpse. Never had Death eaten such a deadly meal. But the Lord Jesus was not just any man. He was at one and the same time true God and true man. Death tried to swallow down Life itself. Death tried to digest in its stinking gullet the very Author of Life. In the picture language of the early Church, Death began to feel quite sick on Holy Saturday and then on Easter morning Death itself keeled over, a gaping hole in its stomach from which the Prince of Life emerged alive again, never to die again, shining with His endless life and calling His people to follow Him into death and then out of it again. You see, He has really made of death a passage. It is not the End. It is not the final word. Life is the final word: “the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.”

All of that the angel communicated to the spice-bearing women inside of the tomb. Mirth bubbled up from within him. He laughed as he spoke. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “Never be afraid again! You are looking for Jesus. Here in a tomb. Not the place, my friends. Why do you seek the Living among the dead? Why do you seek the Incorrupt among corruption? The Crucified One is not to be found among the dead, for He is risen. Living. He goes before you to Galilee, and you’ll see Him there just as He promised. Now run and tell Peter and the disciples!”

But what happened? “They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Thanks be to God, we know that that was not quite the end of the story. Mary Magdalene at least overcame her fear and finally went to tell Peter and John and the disciples. Jesus Himself appeared to them and charged them with telling everyone the good news of His resurrection and what it means. And what He told them, He tells us all. He sends us everyone out into a world where sadness reigns, where death terrifies, where despair is endemnic. He says: “Go and tell them that I have risen and that Death has been destroyed! Tell them to trust me and so have eternal life.”

But, “they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Too often that’s the story today also. Who’s the last person you told about Jesus’ victory over death? When’s the last time the joy that Christ’s resurrection brings to your heart so shown on your face that people said: “What are you so happy about? What’s up with you?” When’s the last time you shared with a relative or a friend what it means that Jesus has risen from the dead and they don’t need to fret over sin or death? When? And why not? “For they were afraid.”

Such a silly thing that fear is. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen if you shared the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection? Well, the early Church soon found out that the worst that could happen to the sharer of the Gospel is that the messenger be killed. And when the early church thought about that, they laughed. Right. No problem. What a glorious way to die. To say to the world: “See, we are not afraid of death. Look! We go into it with confidence. We know that there is a hole in its side and our Lord will bring us through that hole to life everlasting.” Thus even by the way the early martyrs met death they preached powerfully about the resurrection. Their very dying was a proclamation: “Don’t be afraid of this Death anymore! Christ is risen! Believe in Him and be free!”

Now, I think I would be quite safe to say that the probability of any of you being killed for witnessing to Jesus is rather slim, at least as things stand now. So what else are we afraid of? Why don’t we shout our joy? Fear of what others may think of us? Fear of not getting it “just right”? Set aside all such fears today! We have good news that is too great to keep to ourselves.

So today, as the joy of the resurrection of Jesus fills our hearts, today as we know that our Passover has been sacrificed for us and so death must leave us unharmed, today as we sing the glories of His resurrection, as we keep the feast and eat His immortal body and drink His incorruptible blood, let His joyful presence overcome all fear so that we leave this place today so filled with His love and bringing to a sad and despairing world the most joyful news it could ever hear: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tomb, bestowing life.” Amen.

Patristic Quote for the Day

"The soul, having obtained union with the Word, descended into hell; but using its divine power and efficacy, it said to the ones in bondage, 'Go forth!'" - St. Cyril of Alexandria (De Recta Fide ad Theodosium, MPG, 76:1166a. Note that this passage from Cyril is included in the Catalog of Testimonies, appended to the Book of Concord)

14 April 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

[Addressing the Cross:]

We do not acknowledge you because of the cruelty that godless and foolish men prepared you to effect upon the most gentle Lord, but because of the wisdom and goodness of Him who of His own free will took you up.

For they could not have done anything unless His wisdom had permitted it, and He could not suffer except that in his mercy He willed it.

They chose you that they might carry out their evil deeds; He chose you that He might fulfill the work of His goodness.

They that by you they might hand over the Righteous to death; He that through you He might save sinners from death.

They that they might kill Life; He that He might destroy death.

They that they might condemn the Savior; He that He might save the condemned.

They that they might bring death to the Living; He to bring life to the dead.

They acted foolishly and cruelly; He wisely and mercifully.

Therefore, O Cross to be wondered at, we do not value you because of the intention of their cruel folly, but according to the working of mercy and wisdom.

- St. Anselm of Canterbury, *Prayer to the Holy Cross*

13 April 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

On this holy day when the Western Church celebrates the Institution of the Eucharist, some wise words from St. Cyril of Jerusalem:

Therefore with fullest assurance let us partake of the body and blood of Christ: for in the figure of the bread is given thee His body and in the figure of the wine His blood; that thou, by partaking of the body and blood of Christ, mightest be made of the same body and blood with Him. For thus we come to bear Christ in us, because His body and blood are diffused through our members; thus it is that, according to the blessed Peter, we become partakers of the divine nature... Contemplate therefore the bread and wine not as bare elements, for they are, according to the Lord's declaration, the body and blood of Christ; for though sense suggests this to thee, let faith establish thee. Judge not the matter from taste, but from faith be fully assured without misgiving, that thou hast been vouchsafed the body and blood of Christ. - On the Eucharistic Food, par. 3, 6 - St. Cyril of Jerusalem

12 April 2006

Happy Birthday, Dear Cindi!

On this very day, the lovely Cindi turns 46. Unbelievable. We've been friends for over 34 years, and married for almost 24 years. She remains the light of my life, my joy and dearest friend. And God forgive me for all the trouble I've given her over the years, but her love has remained to me a true ikon of God's unfathomable grace. Cynthia Lauren, I am proud to say in this very public spot, I love you!

Liturgical Quote for the Day

Antiphon 15 of the Holy Thursday Passion Gospels Service:

Today is suspended upon the Tree, He who suspended the land upon waters.
Today is suspended upon the Tree, He who suspended the land upon waters.
Today is suspended upon the Tree, He who suspended the land upon waters.

A crown of thorns crowns Him, who is the King of the angels.
He is wrapped in the purple robe of mockery, who wraps the heavens with clouds.
He received smitings, who freed Adam in the Jordan.
He was tranfixed with nails, Who is the Son of the Virgin.

We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
Show us also Thy glorious resurrection!

11 April 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

What earthly joy remains untouched by grief?
What glory stands forever on the earth?
Frail shadows - all, delusive dreams;
Which death will one day sweep away.
But in the light of Your countenance, O Christ,
And in the enjoyment of Your beauty,
Give rest to those whom You have chosen and taken
For You are the Lover of mankind.

--St. John of Damascus, Friday Evening Aposticha Verse

10 April 2006

Father Arseny, the Second Volume

I've only begun, but what a beautiful thought already in the first chapter. Father Arseny is listening to a discussion on which was more important: faith in God or love for the neighbor. He, of course, proceeds to show their inseparability. He then adds this curious thought:

...if a man does good deeds, loves people, perhaps even gives his life for others but does not love God, does not believe in God, then, in spite of his goodness he is spiritually dead because he does not want to know God. I happen to have met such people. They may be good, warm-hearted, ready to give away their last piece of bread, but they are indifferent to God, not accepting of Him - they may even be God's enemies. And, you know, in spite of all their 'goodness' I could see something missing in their behavior, their character, their outlook on life: *they had made a religion out of their own goodness, and for them that had replaced God.*

Patristic Quote for the Day

Let us glorify and worship Jesus, the Word of God, Who, according to His love, came to save us by His cross and is coming again to resurrect Adam's children in the great day when His majesty shall shine forth. Grieve not, ye mortals, over your corruption. Christ the King shall shine forth from on high; He who is omnipotent shall beckon and thus raise the dead from their graves, and clothe them with glory in His kingdom. - St. Ephrem the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #149

08 April 2006


Today was a busy day, and after service tonight, I ended up taking Bekah and David out to McDonald's (Cindi had to bowl). But I told them before we went that we weren't ordering a bunch of food. Each of us got:

A cheeseburger
A small fries
A small shake

That's it. They protested at first, but we ate slowly and talked. And you know what? We walked away satisfied, just not stuffed. And I remembered that this is how much we ALWAYS used to eat at McDonald's back in the old days when I was a youngster. And it was sufficient.

I was reminded of the words of St. John Cassian: "They (the holy fathers) have not given us one single rule for fasting or a single standard and measure for eating, because not everyone has the same strength; age, illness, or delicacy of body create differences. But they have given us all a single goal: avoid over-eating and filling of our bellies." (On the Eight Vices)

I've decided that this is the way to go: forget the supersizing of everything under the sun! I hope I can convince the family that a little treat with thankfulness to God and walking away from the table without the belly-ache is most definitely worth it. : )

More Genus Maiestaticum...

...another important thought on the Genus Maiestaticum is that it is not possible to teach this if there is not an ontological distinction between the attributes (energies) and essence of God. For it is the attributes of the divine nature which are communicated to the human nature, NOT the divinity itself. Thanks to Father Gregory Hogg for pointing this out to me a while ago. To go back to the iron and fire analogy that the Fathers loved so much and which Chemnitz relies upon quite heavily: the heat of the fire is what communicates the properties of the fire to the iron, but the heat that is communicated is an energy of the fire and not the fire itself. All of which leads one to cry out: Glory to Your condescension, O Lover of Man!

Confirmation at St. Paul's

Tomorrow the following young people will be examined publicly, confess their faith in the Savior who named them His own in Holy Baptism, and receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (truly their baptismal birthright, but that is a matter for another day...):

07 April 2006

Weird Thought for the Day

What is the genus maiestaticum? Theosis in action!

In Christ our Lord, it is the confession that because of the personal union, the divine nature communicated its energies to the human nature, truly divinizing it, without the human nature becoming itself the divine nature. The iron placed in the fire takes on the attributes of fire without ever essentially ceasing to be iron.

So too with the Christian, a similar thing happens, though not through personal union but through mystical union which is accomplished via faith. The God-Man Christ communicates to us His divine energies, thus divinizing us without those properties of His divine nature ever becoming essential characteristics of the human nature.

How far does such divinization reach? Luther in Great Galatians:

"The one who has faith is a completely divine man, a son of God, the inheritor of the universe. He is the victor over the world sin, death, and the devil. Hence he cannot be praised enough... Therefore the Abraham who has faith fills heaven and earth; thus every Christian fills heaven and earth by his faith." (LW 26:247,248)

The implications of the above for the intercession of the saints is significant, it seems to me, for whom it is true that "they know" even as they have been known.

Patristic Quote for the Day

When I say Paul, I don't mean just him, but also Peter and James and John and their whole company. For just as in a single lyre the strings are different, but they make a single harmonious sound, so too in the company of the Apostles the persons were different but the teaching was one and the same, since there was also a single artist, the Holy Spirit, who was setting their souls in motion. - St. John Chrysostom, *Homily on the Holy Martyr Ignatius of Antioch* par. 4.

06 April 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

"And they learnt from the enthusiasm and experience of that noble man [St. Ignatius of Antioch], that it was not death toward which he ran, but a migration and translation, and ascent to heaven." - St. John Chrysostom, upon the Martyrdom of the Holy Martyr Ignatius (par. 13)

05 April 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

God, who yearns for the salvation of all men and hungers after their deification, withers their self-conceit like the unfruitful fig tree (Matt 21:19-21). - St. Maximos, *First Century of Various Texts* Par. 74

04 April 2006


My SIL tagged me for these questions:

1. How many Bibles in your home? 30 (not counting the ones I use most often IN my iBook!)
2. What rooms are they in? The study, every bedroom, the family room.
3. What translations do you have? The Septuagint (hey, it's a translation!), NIV, NKJV, ESV, KJV, Philips, Good News, Spanish, German, AAT, New American, NASB, Jerusalem
4. Do you have a preference? My new 1611 KJV with Apocrpypha and funky spelling, saints days calendar, and other goodies.
5. Nominate an interesting verse.

How about 2 verses? Wisdome of Solomon II:23,24

For God created man to bee immortall, and made him to be an image of his owne eternitie. Neueverthelesse through enuie of the deuil came death into the world and they that doe holde of his side doe finde it.

Who to tag?
Petersen http://www.redeemer-fortwayne.org/blog.php
Fenton http://conversiaddominum.blogspot.com/
My buddy Sal (only person I know who gives me a run for my money in the hyper category!) http://lutherlebensstil.blogspot.com/
Chris Orr http://orrologion.blogspot.com

Okay, so this was too juicy not to share...

So I'm reading on in St. Augustine, and he talks about the fall. About how as a consequence of Adam's sin, humanity is handed over to the devil. How does Scripture teach this handing over to the devil? Because God told the serpent: On your belly you shall go and *dust you shall eat.* Then he turns to the man and says: And you, sir, ARE dust! Do you think Adam looked at the serpent a little differently as it licked its chops? Is to that too cool or what?

Oh, and we have to see and rejoice that the Eternal Word of the Father became DUST so that swallowing him down unjustly the serpent might choke and death itself be undone! St. Augustine dwells extensively on the injustice of Satan taking Christ down in death as the cause of death's destruction and the end of Satan's reign over us.

Another Patristic quote for the Day

My friend, Mark Shane, alerted me to this passage in Augustine's *Of the Trinity* Book XIII which I had not seen before (or if I had, it had not registered). He also provided a number of patristic citations that run the reconciliation in the other direction, but those seem to refer to it in passing; this treats the matter in depth:


15. But what is meant by "justified in His blood?" What power is there in this blood, I beseech you, that they who believe should be justified in it? And what is meant by "being reconciled by the death of His Son?" Was it indeed so, that when God the Father was wroth with us, He saw the death of His Son for us, and was appeased towards us? Was then His Son already so far appeased towards us, that He even deigned to die for us; while the Father was still so far wroth, that except His Son died for us, He would not be appeased? And what, then, is that which the same teacher of the Gentiles himself says in another place: "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all; how has He not with Him also freely given us all things?" Pray, unless the Father had been already appeased, would He have delivered up His own Son, not sparing Him for us? Does not this opinion seem to be as it were contrary to that? In the one, the Son dies for us, and the Father is reconciled to us by His death; in the other, as though the Father first loved us, He Himself on our account does not spare the Son, He Himself for us delivers Him up to death. But I see that the Father loved us also before, not only before the Son died for us, but before He created the world; the apostle himself being witness, who says, "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world." Nor was the Son delivered up for us as it were unwillingly, the Father Himself not sparing Him; for it is said also concerning Him, "Who loved me, and delivered up Himself for me." Therefore together both the Father and the Son, and the Spirit of both, work all things equally and harmoniously; yet we are justified in the blood of Christ, and we are reconciled to God by the death of His Son.

Patristic Quote for the Day

God made us so that we might become 'partakers of the divine nature' (2 Pet 1:4) and sharers in His eternity, and so that we might come to be like Him (cf. 1 John 3:2) through deification by grace. It is through deification that all things are reconstituted and achieve permanence; and it is for its sake that what is not is brought into being and given existence. - St. Maximos the Confessor, *First Century of Various Texts* par. 42

03 April 2006

Real Leadership

That's a book title by Dean Williams, prof at Harvard. In the book he makes this observation:

As individuals and in groups, people tend to shy away from addressing tough, complex, painful problems that are caused, perpetuated or protected by their own values, habits, and priorities. Rather than look at the reality of the predicament they are in, they often distort what they see, put the problems outside of themselves, scapegoat others, and create distractions - all as a way of distancing themselves from responsibility for the real issue. (pp. 10,11)

Indeed, it's always easier to look out the window than in the mirror...

Patristic Quote for the Day

In His love for man, God became man that He might unite human nature to Himself and stop it from acting evilly towards itself, or rather from being at strife and divided against itself, and having no rest because of the instability of its will and purpose. – St. Maximos the Great, *First Century of Various Texts* par. 47

02 April 2006

Surprise Gifts!

So, Cindi and I were over at Matt and Sandy's playing pinochle (and they agree that PASSING makes for a much more exciting game - something that Randy and Rachel understand but that Cindi, Crys, Scott, Dave, Sharon, Richard, Peggy, Stu and Jenn have not figured out yet!!), when there was a ring on the doorbell and who should come walzing in? Lauren Elizabeth! She and Dean snuck home again from Seward. So we got to spend the weekend with her. What a joy! We miss her a great deal. It's just hard to get used to her not basically living with us anymore. So when I looked out at the first row today at early service and saw Anna, Lauren, Cindi, David, Bekah and Shawn, well, it MADE my weekend. And the icing on the cake was Bo at the late service! : ) Cindi drove Lauren back to Collinsville just a little bit ago so she and Dean could begin the journey back to Seward.

01 April 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

Do you see God's wisdom, how the greatest of evils, the ultimate disaster for us, which the Devil introduced (I mean death), how this changed into our honor and glory, because it led the athletes towards the prizes of martyrdom? So what? Should we give thanks to the Devil for death? Heaven forbid! For this isn't the outcome of his intent, but the gift of God's wisdom. He (the devil) introduced it so that it would destroy, and so that, when he brought it down to earth, he might cut off all hope of salvation; but Christ took it and converted it and, through it, led us back up to heaven. - St. John Chrysostom, *Homily on the Holy Martyrs* par. 2