31 May 2006

Eine kleine Nachtmusic

I just got back from Bible study and Compline.

Compline. There is something so beautiful about standing in a darkening Church still smelling of incense (thanks, Vicar!) and singing those ancient Psalms to Gregorian tones, knowing that we're praying and singing as Western Christians have prayed at nightfall since the days of St. Benedict. Almost like Cadfael is praying right along with us! If he ever existed, he would have been. What Ben Mayes gave to the Church with his Brotherhood Prayer Book is a treasure indeed. I can't help but think it will be a tad different when LSB is in the pews and we use that for this service...

Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace. Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace...

Patristic Quote for the Day

We believe in the Holy Spirit, whom the divine voice proclaims as God to us, when it says: "That God is Spirit." We believe in the Holy Spirit, who is the fellow worker of the Father and the Son, as the prophet sings: "By the Word of the Lord were the heavens established, and by the Spirit of His mouth all their powers." Entirely God and the entire power of God is He who is shown to be the Creator of the heavenly powers. - St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 60, par. 13 "On the Creed"

30 May 2006

On Diet

My wife and I have been fans of Atkins ever since we used that diet to lose a whole person between us six years ago or so. But we let our diet slip this Easter - and one of the remarkable things is how SLUGGISH and icky we feel. Today we returned to Atkins in earnest and no joke: I'm already feeling better. I can't believe how much energy that way of eating gives. People sometimes worry about what Atkins does to the other measures of health besides weight. At least as far as Cindi and I are concerned, our doctors agree: Atkins works fabulously for us. All the indicators have been great the entire time we've been on the diet. To all the nay-sayers, I say: give Atkins a chance!

By the way, people sometimes wonder about snack food on Atkins. You know one of my favorites? You take a plate of pepperonis and microwave 2 minutes until crispy. Let cool a bit, and you've got some great pepperoni chips. Just perfect to wash down with you Mic Ultra! :)

Look who be gradiated

and all edumicated:

Where'd he ever get those big eyes from?

More pics here if interested:


Patristic Quote for the Day

See how he shows us that, just as Eve was taken from the flesh and bones of Adam and the two were one flesh, so also Christ gives Himself to us to the extent of communion of His flesh and bones. He showed them to His apostles, saying: "Handle Me and see, for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have." From the same flesh and bones He gives us to eat, and through this communion, makes us, too, one with Him. - St. Symeon the New Theologian, *First Ethical Discourse*

Crazy Time Comes to an End...

...or so I HOPE!

The end of the school year at both Metro East Lutheran High School and Trinity-St. Paul Lutheran School really made the last couple weeks insane - mix in some funerals, a son graduating from said MELHS, Cindi's parents visiting, an ordination and such and it was really wild. I attended or was part of 15 services from last Saturday to the end of services this Sunday.

This week promises to be slow, and I am SOOOO looking forward to that! I am waiting for one of those "June days" that my mom always to talk about, quoting this poem:

What is So Rare As a Day in June

AND what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, groping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers;
The flush of life may well be seen
Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The cowslip startles in meadows green,
The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
And there's never a leaf nor a blade too mean
To be some happy creature's palace;
The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,
And lets his illumined being o'errun
With the deluge of summer it receives;
His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings,
And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings;
He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest,
In the nice ear of Nature which song is the best?

Now is the high-tide of the year,
And whatever of life hath ebbed away
Comes flooding back with a ripply cheer,
Into every bare inlet and creek and bay;
Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it,
We are happy now because God wills it;
No matter how barren the past may have been,
'Tis enough for us now that the leaves are green;
We sit in the warm shade and feel right well
How the sap creeps up and the blossoms swell;
We may shut our eyes but we cannot help knowing
That skies are clear and grass is growing;
The breeze comes whispering in our ear,
That dandelions are blossoming near,
That maize has sprouted, that streams are flowing,
That the river is bluer than the sky,
That the robin is plastering his house hard by;
And if the breeze kept the good news back,
For our couriers we should not lack;
We could guess it all by yon heifer's lowing,
And hark! How clear bold chanticleer,
Warmed with the new wine of the year,
Tells all in his lusty crowing!

Joy comes, grief goes, we know not how;
Everything is happy now,
Everything is upward striving;
'Tis as easy now for the heart to be true
As for grass to be green or skies to be blue,
'Tis for the natural way of living:
Who knows whither the clouds have fled?
In the unscarred heaven they leave not wake,
And the eyes forget the tears they have shed,
The heart forgets its sorrow and ache;
The soul partakes the season's youth,
And the sulphurous rifts of passion and woe
Lie deep 'neath a silence pure and smooth,
Like burnt-out craters healed with snow.

James Russell Lowell

27 May 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

Via Gerhard's *Theological Commonplaces*:

Augustine, Marcarius, and Gregory call Scripture "the letters of invitation that God has transmitted to us through holy men that invite us to our eternal fatherland." (p. 48)

26 May 2006


Good news for all Gerhard lovers! CPH has published the first volume of the monumental *Theological Commonplaces*. Before addressing the content, just a note on the book itself: it's beautiful and it has nice wide margins for the notes you will no doubt want to be making.

Now as to the content, well, I've only just begun to dig in, but let Gerhard speak for himself:

"Theology takes its name from God: first, by reason of its principal effective cause, that it is a divinely revealed teaching; second, and indeed especially, by reason of its subect or object, that it makes men divine or 'partakers of the divine nature'." p. 27

"The subject of theology is Christ, a knowledge of whom no one can have scientifically. Rather, one must seek him out of divine revelation." p. 30

"Some slight remnants of the divine image survive." p. 34

"Supernatural theology, which rises from the light of grace, is acquired either through extraordinary means by God's immediate illumination and inspiration, as in the case of the prophets and apostles, or through ordinary means by prayer, meditation, temptation, etc." p. 34

[quoting Thomas approvingly] "Grace does not remove nature, but perfects it." p. 36

[quoting Augustine approvingly] "This is that very wisdom that we call devotion by which we worship the Father of lights, from whom comes every good and perfect gift. Furthermore, we worship him with a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving so that he who worships glories not in himself, but in him." p. 40

"Theology...is the teaching drawn from the Word of God that instruct man in true faith and pious living for eternal life." p. 42

Among the dogmaticians, Gerhard is truly second to none in his knowledge of the holy fathers, and this gives his theological work a grounding that is profoundly catholic; additionally, he has no use for a theology that does not issue in a life of faith and worship, and this gives his theological work a grounding that is profoundly practical.

In sum: tolle et lege!

25 May 2006

O. P. Kretzmann Joy on Ascension

Now He was going home... In seven words the years of labor and sorrow end: "While they beheld, He was taken up."... There were no bells and banners on earth, but surely all the trumpets on the other side sounded as they never sounded before... Surely the chiming golden bells of heaven sang their welcome, and angel choirs intoned the song of the throne: "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdomand strength."... On the anvils of God the nails had been forged into the scepter of a king... "He was taken up"... The angel hosts sweep to either side, leaving the way clear to the Eternal Light that no longer blinds the eyes of us who stand gazing after Him... He leads a procession which comes from the ends of time and space, all the harvest of all the white fields the world has ever known, the pilgrims of the night who come at last to the dawn of an everlasting day... "He was taken up." The Child of the manger, the praying heart on the starlit lanes of Galilee, the hunger in the wilderness, the weariness of the Sychar Well, the tears of the Garden and the Hill, the thirst of the Cross - all over now... The robes of the Transfiguration once momentary, now clothe Him forever, and angels and archangels sound the great doxology of the Waiting Church: "Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever."...

An old story - perhaps too old for us to do more than glimpse its glory... And yet - we ought to remember it more clearly... It was the solemn moment in the story of God and man when the visible Christ became the invisible Christ... From that hour everything concerning Him became visible only to the eyes of faith... The final line of demarcation in the world - between those who believe and those who refuse to believe - was now clear... Men can say that all this is not true and use the mind of man to reject the mind of God, or they can know that God once walked among them and that they now have a Friend in heaven who knows all that earth and time and pain can do to man...

The Ascension did not take Jesus away... It brought heaven near... In the realm in which He now reigns time and space have no meaning... There is no up and down, no near and far, no darkness, and no distance in the world of faith... He is as near as yesterday's prayer, today's joy, tomorrow's sorrow... His homecoming has made heaven a home for us who still walk far from home... Wherefore stand we gazing into heaven?... Our momentary task is here, but through the slow dimming of the years we see the evening lamps of home tended by the pierced hands of Him who has gone to prepare a place for us... Is there a better way to live - or die? ... All that we have to do now is believe and follow:

The lapping of the sea of death before his feet
Crept near; the wind was wild;
But he, who knew the One he came to meet,
Saw it and smiled.

Stepping without a hesitating word
Into the icy tide,
As if he saw the footprints of his Lord
Gleam at his side,

Borne up by Love that gave as he had given,
He crossed the midnight foam
And laid his hand upon the door of heaven
Like one returning home.

24 May 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

(Hope you're not tired of you know who yet...)

The Apostle continues: 'But thanks be to God that you were the slaves of sin.' Is he giving thanks as one who rejoices because man was the slave of sin? Far from it. He is giving thanks not because we were previously slaves of such a cruel master, but because we are slaves no longer. He expressly makes that point clear by his next words: 'but you have now obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine into which you have been delivered, and having been set free from sin, you have become the slaves of justice.' We have become obedient, brethren, through the gift of Him who calls us, not through our own will, for we were being held as captives by it.
- St. Peter Chrysologus, Homily 114 (On Romans 6:15-21)

23 May 2006

This guy is unbelievable!

So it is with the Law, brethren. In itself it was just and holy enough. But, while it demanded rigid self-control from fragile man, it more and more burdened him and proved his delinquency.

And why this, brethren? That through the grace and forgiveness of his Creator he might return to life - he who through his swelling pride and ignorance was being led into the debt and penalty of his ancestor, even when he was wickedly boasting about his innocence. So, an undetected disease was hiding within him. Through it the inmost parts of his bones and the blood coursing through his veins were tending to destroy his vital organs. He was generating a contagious infection in his interior members.

The Law came to reveal the sore and tell that a heavenly Physician was coming for his long-standing disease. The Law came to bring up to the skin, by means of the poultices of the commandments, that sore that was developing so fatally inside. The Law came to open up that long-standing ulcer by the knife of the commandments, and to effect a healthy draining of the long-gathered pus.

However, brethren, the Law could not by its own power either close up the wound or give perfect health to the patient. When the poor patient saw this and at length recognized his unfortunate state, he began to hasten to the Physician. He hoped that this great Physician's skill and grace would cure that sore which the Law had revealed and long aggravated. We say that the wound was aggravated because, after the lancing, brethren, foulness, stench, noisomeness, and distress were produced in the wound itself as a result of the incision. Through this care his pitiful appearance of weakness grows worse than it was when he was unaware of the danger.

So the Physician ccame, and by the mere assurance of His voice He aided the man who was tired of cures and wearied of his vexations. The centurion acknowledges this when he says: 'Say the word, adn my servant will be healed.' Consequently the prophetical statement was fulfilled: 'He sent his word and healed them.' That is why this follows: 'Where the offense has abounded, grace abounded yet more' - as if he were saying: 'Where the wound was opened wide, health has been poured in.'

Let no one, therefore, be ungrateful to the Law, because it lifted up and nursed man whom it found prostrate and sick. Hoping to restore him to health, it led him with healthful joy all the way to the Physician. So that, as the Apostle said: 'As sin has reigned unto death, so also grace may reign by justice to life everlasting through Jesus Christ our Lord.' Grace reigns unto life, sin unto death. Correct faith attributes to God, man's Creator, not death or destruction, but salvation. Let death be from man, let it be from sin, in order that life may be believed to have been created and restored only through Christ!

--Homily of St. Peter Chrysologus on Romans 5:15-21

Patristic Quote for the Day

However, man began to hear about the virtues, and he began to will them, but he did not attain them. He began to detect the vices, but to follow them; to hate the offenses, but to commit them; to stand aghast at the crimes, but to carry them out. Consequently, he slowly perceived that he was a captive slave, condemned to the evil of madness, and he began to cry out: 'Unhappy man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?' He received the reply: 'The grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ.'

After hearing that, he began to seek freedom through his Creator, salvation through forgiveness, and to hope for life through grace alone. For long he had failed to know where difficult innocence comes from, and arduous justice, and toilsome sanctity, and laborious virtue, and faith completely full of dangers. He had not known whence the offences get such great force, whence vices grow strong even while they are being pruned, why virtues fail even while they are being cultivated. The Law opened this up, and taught it, and showed with full light that in human hearts and human minds crimes rule through sin and virtues through God. It made evident that offences cannot be overcome until their source has been extinguished, that is, sin which Christ took away, as John testifies: 'Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.' - St. Peter Chrysologus, *Sermon 116 (On Rom 7:7-12)*

22 May 2006

Ascension Day Hymn

Up through endless ranks of angels,
Songs of triumph in his ears,
To His Father's throne ascending
Having vanquished all their fears:
Christ looks down upon the faithful,
Leaving them in happy tears.

Death destroying, Life restoring,
Proven equal to our need,
Now for us before the Father
As our Brother intercede.
Flesh that for our flesh was wounded,
Living for the wounded plead.

--Jaroslav Vajda, tune by Henry Gerike

Ascension Day Homily

Tonight, we meditate upon a single verse in our Gospel. These words: “So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”

When you hear, “sat down” what do you think of? Do you picture Jesus sitting up in heaven, twiddling his thumbs, and waiting patiently for His Father to give Him the signal that the time has come to return again in glory? What is He up to as He sits at the right hand of the Father?

First thing we need to clear up is this right hand business. The sacred writer is not giving you hints about heavenly geography, so that when you get to heaven you’ll know on which side of the Father to look to see the Lord Jesus. Right hand is bigger than that!

Recall the words of the Psalmist: “The right hand of the Lord does valiantly. The right hand of the Lord is exalted. The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.” Ps. 118:16

The right hand of the Lord in scripture is not a place, but a power! It is almighty power. And so to say that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God is to say that He has all power, that He rules and governs all things! Listen to how Paul said it in Ephesians: “He raised Christ from the dead and seated him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the age to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Eph 1:20-23

So, when we confess in the Creed that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father we confess that the human nature which He assumed from the womb of the Blessed Virgin, and in which He offered to God the sufficient ransom to release all people from the debt of sin and the power of death, that this human nature has now been exalted and raised above every height imaginable, given the exercise of all power in heaven and on earth. The One who bears in His hands the scars of the nails now rules over all!

So when I complain about the way things go in my life, when I gripe about the troubles of the world or of the Church, I am actually complaining about the way the Crucified and Risen One sees fit to govern, aren’t I? Puts a different perspective on life, doesn’t it? Me pitting my puny wisdom and ideas against the omnipotence and wisdom of Christ.

In the early days of the Church, this was not forgotten. Even as the persecutions raged and people died for the faith, they never forgot the One in charge. There’s a writing called the Martyrdom of St. Polycarp that comes down to us from those earliest days of the Church. It’s a fascinating little document, but where it really soars is at the end. Listen: “It was the second day of the first fortnight of Xanthicus, seven days before the calends of March, when our blessed Polycarp died his martyr’s death two hours after midday on the Greater Sabbath. The official responsible for his arrest was Herod; the High Priest was Philip of Tralles; and the proconsul was Statius Quadratus – BUT THE RULING MONARCH WAS JESUS CHRIST, WHO REIGNS FOREVER AND EVER. TO HIM BE ASCRIBED ALL GLORY, HONOR, MAJESTY, AND AN ETERNAL THRONE FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION.” (Martyrdom of Polycarp, par. 21)

What confidence and peace those early Christians had as they remembered and confessed who sits upon the throne of this universe! It can give the same confidence and peace to us.

But there’s even more to being seated at the right hand of God. Our Lord Jesus not only rules all things for the well-being of His holy Church! He also constantly intercedes for us before the Father. The writer to Hebrews put it this way: “Therefore He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them!” (Hebrews 7:25) For you, He prays. When you sin, He says to His Father, “Father, forgive. Look not upon the sin, but upon these scars that testify that I have answered for all their sin.” Thus He is our Mediator, the one who stands in the breach between us and God. His being Mediator did not cease when the work of the cross was done. He continues to be our Mediator by His unceasing intercession for us by which He saves us to the uttermost.

And yet there’s even more. Since the “right hand of God” is not to be thought of as a place, but as a power, the Ascension of our Lord does not remove Him from us, but brings Him closer to us. Oh, His visible presence is removed. But He is not removed. His promise stands forever: “Lo, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt 28 St. Leo the Great got the hang of it. He preached to his parish in Rome: “The visible presence of Christ has passed into His sacraments.” When you come to the altar today, you not only receive the Body and Blood that were offered in your place on Calvary’s tree for the forgiveness of your sin! You receive the Body and Blood of Him who sits at the right hand of the Father, ruling over all things. Thus Paul could rejoice that “He has raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2) The Sacrament lifts you that high!

How great then are the treasures contained in: “And sat down at the right hand of God.” Ruling every circumstance, and so peace displaces our complaining. Interceding constantly for us, and joy drives out our anxieties. Constantly with us in His sacraments, and so we are never alone, but always with Him who sits at the right hand of God. Jesus, our Mediator. Jesus, our King. Jesus, our Risen, Ascended, and Glorified Lord. To whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit be all glory and honor now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

A few more Chrysologus gems

"He ascended into heaven." He ascended to bring us there, not to bring himself back, since he never left heaven. (Sermon #58, par. 8)

"In the forgiveness of sins." Gain for yourself the pardon coming from faith, since he is his own worst enemy who does not believe that he is given what the very generous Bestower of mercy promises in all kindness. (Sermon #58, On the Creed, par. 13)

"The forgiveness of sins." How can one who believes that the kingdom of heaven is given him not believe that sins are forgiven him? Heaven receives the innocent, not the guilty. For we believe that all sins must be forgiven us, because unless we are holy we cannot possess what is holy. (Sermon #62A, On the Creed, par. 12)

Pharisee, admit your sin, so that you might be able to come to the table of Christ; so that you might have Christ as your Bread, and he the Bread might be broken in forgiveness for your sins; so that Christ might become your Cup to be poured out in remission of your offenses. Pharisee, eat with sinners so that you can eat with Christ. Acknowledge that you are a sinner, so that Christ might eat with you. (Sermon 30, on Matt 9:9ff., par. 4)

Brothers, let us be sinners by our own admission, so that with Christ's forgiveness we may be sinners no more. (Sermon 30, on Matt 9:9ff, par. 5)

Patristic Quote for the Day

"Do not fear!" (John 20:36)

Do not fear, Peter, on account of your denial; John, on account of having fled; all of you, on account of having deserted me, of forming judgments about me with every one of your thoughts devoid of faith, and of still not believing even though you see me. Do not fear, it is I, who have called you by means of grace, have chosen and pardoned you, have sustained you by my steadfast kindness, have supported you with my love, and out of goodness alone I now take you back, because when a father receives his son, and when affections recovers its own, neither one is able to see any faults.

--St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 81, par. 3

21 May 2006

More Ordination Pics


The Ordination of Karl Gregory into the Office of the Holy Ministry at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Hamel IL

Tears of Joy, Tears of Sorrow

It is going to be one of those up and down days.

This morning Paul Anthony Kostich received the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit. His mother had been confirmed at the Vigil of Easter. Then we had joy of the Holy Eucharist.

Later this afternoon at 3:00 former vicar Karl Wesley Gregory will be put into the Office of the Holy Ministry with the laying on of hands at St. Paul's. Karl will make a great pastor, I believe. He has the personality that obsesses to get all the little duckies in a row! He's more prepared than any person I've ever met. Axios!

Then word reached me just moments ago that God has taken home one of his saints - Leola Engelke.

Leola is mother of David Engelke whom we buried a few weeks ago. Charles, David, Leola, Sarah, Kathy - all delight in the gift of music. And Leola had not only the gift of music, she had an overflowing a gift of laughter. She would make folks smile and laugh. She was full of love and kindness and a real sweetness - her hospitality was legendary. She was just FUN!

She's been through a lot in the last few years. I told Charles I was beginning to think she would lick everything that came her way. But at last her heart has stopped beating. No matter. She LIVES. She lives because was baptized into Christ, fed with His body and blood, and His precious Gospel promises. And how the Word and Sacrament bore fruit in her life! God bless and keep you, Leola!

20 May 2006

Another Patristic quote for the Day

I'm too impatient. This one is such a joy; I just HAD to share it now:

Death, brothers, is the mistress of Despair, the mother of Unbelief, the sister of Corruption, the parent of hell, the wife of the devil, the queen of all evils, who is so insatiable and so deliberate in her attacks against the whole human race that she first sends ahead Despair to murmur and seduce on her behalf as follows. So Despair says: “O man, why are you wasting your time? Look, Death, your mistress is coming, and she is going to reduce your soul to nothing and consume your flesh with decay and your bones with aging, so as to make you, who did not exist before your birth, nonexistent after death. So, you who are about to die, do not delay to pay what you owe to the various stages in life before you die: spend your childhood in games, spend your adolescence in delights, spend your youth in pleasures, spend your old age with me, so that you will not image that you have no reason to have despaired of hope.”

After she sends her daughter Unbelief, who makes the following threats: “Are you thus disposing of your life as if you are not going to die, as if you will avoid death? O man, faith is deceiving you; you trust faith, which promises future blessings in order to take away present ones; and pledges that there are all sorts of unseen things after death, in order to remove the things that do exist before death. Who has come from there, or what wise person believes in things that have been promised for so long but never fulfilled? Oh, if only you would eat and drink! Eat and drink, for tomorrow you will die!”

Third, she directs Corruption, her sister in wickedness, with such fury that she assaults, lays hold of, and seizes what can be seen of human beings throughout their graves, and revealing her ultimate prisons she points out those who lie there bound and immobile, and in order to throw all the senses of the human being into turmoil with complete horror and complete fear, she oozes decay, she belches gore, she strews stenches, and she proclaims that she has supplied worms from herself as countless butchers to one human body.

Why should Christians not trust Despair or Unbelief? They are the way Death wages war; with these generals and with these tactics in a battle of this sort she captures, crushes and kills al those whom nature brings forth into the present life. She holds sway over kings, she conquers peoples, she routs nations. It has never been possible to bribe her with wealth, or to move her by entreaties, or to soften her by tears, or to conquer her by strength.

Brothers, how wrong those authors have been who have tried to write about the good of death. And what is so surprising about that? In this case the worldly-wise think that they are great and remarkable if they convince simple folks that the thing that is the greatest evil is the greatest good…. But these things, brothers, truth dispels, the Law banishes, faith attacks, the Apostle censures, and Christ blots out, who, while restoring the good that life is, discloses, condemns, and banishes the evil of death.

--St. Peter Chyrsologus, Sermon 118 pars. 3-6

[Corruption - anyone else think Shelob?]

Patristic Quote for the Day

He receives sinners (Luke 15:2). They do not say: "He assumes" them. What was it that he who receives had lost? Whoever finds what he lost pardons faults, turns wrath into joy, and transforms grief into grace. He receives sinners. God receives sinners, but God does not allow those whom he receives to remain sinners. The approach of the sinner does no harm to God. God sanctifies the sinner who draws near to him. O Pharisee, Christ does not receive sins when he receives sinners, because God is the recipient not of the offense, but of the human being. So the Pharisee should not have been looking at the condition the sinners were in when they arrived, but at their condition upon their return. A case in point, let them see that Paul, whom they had sent as a persecutor, returned thereafter as a preacher. - St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 168 par. 3

[Note: a nice exposition of the oft-heard, "The Lord loves you just the way you are; and He loves you entirely too much to leave you that way!"]

19 May 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

Both of them, it says, were righteous in the sight of God. Both righteous in the sight of God: and what about the passage that says: 'No living person can be counteded righteous in your sight?' Perhaps in the sight of human beings one may be thought to be righteous, since human beings, aware as they are of sins of the body, are equally unaware of vices of the mind. But in God's sight, before whom the secrets of the heart are laid bare, by whom hidden thoughts do not go unnoticed, who is judged innocent and righteous?

Is there a human being who does not sin in his heart, who does not have a bad thought, who is not guilty of harboring doubts, who does not incur blame through fear? Moses doubts, Aaron goes astray, Peter denies; so who is righteous? And were they both righteous in the sight of God? In the sight of God, yes, but by means of God. Both righteous in the sight of God, not by their effort but by grace.

Listen to the Apostle: They are justified gratuitously through the grace of Christ. And again: Not from ourselves; it is God's gift. Not from our works, lest anyone boast. Yet again: What do you have that you have not received? And if you have received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? Therefore this is more or less what the evangelist is saying: not that they did not have it, but that they received it; not that it was earned, but that it was bestowed. - St. Peter Chyrsologus, Sermon 91 par. 3 (On Luke 1:6)

18 May 2006

Another Patristic quote for the Day

The man who has a hundred sheep is Christ the Good Shepherd, the merciful Shepherd, who in the one sheep, that is, in Adama, had constituted the whole flock of the human race. He had set this sheep amid the delights of paradise, in a place of life-giving pasture. But that sheep forgot the voice of its Father while paying heed to the howling of wolves, and it lost the safety of the sheepfold, and was injured all over by deadly wounds. Therefore, Christ came into the world to look for it, and found it in a womb belonging to the Virgin. He came into the flesh of his Nativity; raising it onto the cross he placed it on the shoulders of his Passion, and rejoicing in the complete joy of the Resurrection, by means of the Ascension he bore it up and carried it off to his heavenly dwelling. - St. Peter Chrysologus, Homily 168, par. 6

Patristic Quote for the Day

The deed depends on the gift and not the gift on the deed; otherwise, grace would no longer be grace. Gifts precede every deed, even though the gifts may be increased by the deed that follows. - St. Gregory the Great (Dialog 1)

17 May 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

Christ takes on the appearance of each of the poor and assimilates Himself to all of them so that no one who believes in Him will be arrogant toward his fellow beings. On the contrary, he will look on his fellow beings and his neighbor as his God, regarding himself least of all in comparison just as much with his neighbor as with his Creator, and exhausting his all in his service, just as Christ our God poured out His blood for our salvation. - St. Symeon the New Theologian (Practical and Theologiccal Texts, #114)

16 May 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

“This Sacrifice was the Christ of God, from far distant times foretold as coming to men, to be sacrificed like a sheep for the whole human race. As Isaiah the prophet says of him: “As a sheep he was led to slaughter, and as a lamb dumb before her shearers.” And he adds: “He bears our sins and is pained for us; yet we accounted him to be in trouble, and in suffering and in affliction. But he was wounded on account of our sins, and he was made sick on account of our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripe we are healed. …And the Lord hath given him up for our iniquities …for he did no sin himself, nor was guile found in his mouth.'’ Jeremiah, another Hebrew prophet, speaks similarly in the person of Christ: “I was led as a lamb to the slaughter.” John Baptist sets the seal on their predictions at the appearance of our Saviour. For beholding Him, and pointing Him out to those present as the one foretold by the prophets, he cried: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.'’

“Since then according to the witness of the prophets the great and precious ransom has been found for Jews and Greeks alike, the propitiation for the whole world, the life given for the life of all men, the pure offering for every stain and sin, the Lamb of God, the holy sheep dear to God, the Lamb that was foretold, by Whose inspired and mystic teaching all we Gentiles have procured the forgiveness of our former sins, and such Jews as hope in Him are freed from the curse of Moses, daily celebrating His memorial, the remembrance of His Body and Blood, and are admitted to a greater sacrifice than that of the ancient law, we do not reckon it right to fall back upon the first beggarly elements, which are symbols and likenesses but do not contain the truth itself. And any Jews, of course, who have taken refuge in Christ, even if they attend no longer to the ordinances of Moses, but live according to the new covenant, are free from the curse ordained by Moses, for the Lamb of God has surely not only taken on Himself the sin of the world, but also the curse involved in the breach of the commandments of Moses as well. The Lamb of God is made thus both sin and curse—sin for the sinners in the world, and curse for those remaining in all the things written in Moses’ law. And so the Apostle says: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us”; and “Him that knew no sin, for our sakes he made sin.” For what is there that the Offering for the whole world could not effect, the Life given for the life of sinners, Who was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a lamb to the sacrifice, and all this for us and on our behalf? And this was why those ancient men of God, as they had not yet the reality, held fast to their symbols. (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, XIII)

15 May 2006


Have you ever followed our Lord’s hands? The Psalmist invites us to: “As the eyes of servants look to the hands of their master, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till He have mercy on us.” Ps. 123:2

Tiny hands, clinging to his mother’s finger as he nurses in the warmth of her embrace.
Dirty hands of a little child at play all day.
Calloused hands of a young man who knew how to shape wood and touched his work with loving satisfaction.
Hands raised tirelessly in prayer to His Father.
Hands that held the Torah and followed along as he read aloud in the Synagogue.
Hands that knew how to make and use a whip on those who sought to sell the gifts of God.
Hands that touched the leper as he said: “I do wish. Be clean!”
Hands that held and hugged little children and gave them both welcome and blessing.
Hands that reached out and grabbed Peter as he sank beneath the waves.
Hands that touched a young girl who had died and raised her to life again.
Hands that touched a bier holding a dead young man and stopped death right in its tracks.
Hands that broke the loaves and fed thousands.
Hands that plucked the heads of grain on the Sabbath and ate.
Hands that held the bread and broke it and gave it to His disciples on the night of His betrayal.
Hands that lifted up the cup and blessed His Father and gave His own His blood to drink.
Hands that refused to rise in self-defense.
Hands used only to bless and to bestow.
Hands that for all the good that they did and gave were pierced with nails.
Hands held lifelessly in His mother’s own hands beneath a bloody cross.
Hands that Thomas was offered to touch on the other side of the grave.
Hands that are raised in blessing over the disciples as Jesus ascends.
Hands that never cease to be lifted in prayer and in blessing for His people for all eternity.

“He’s got the whole world in His hands” sings the Negro spiritual. Indeed, He does. Redemption's story can be read out entirely by following His blessed hands.

Do This and You Will Live

Yesterday in Bible Class we studied the story of the Good Samaritan. One of the things I have become convinced of is that Jesus meant exactly what He said to the lawyer in the verses preceding that story. It was not just that our Lord was using the Law to crush the self-righteous pride out of the fellow (and us). He was doing that too. But there is more here. "Do this and you will live."

We mishear these words if hear our Lord saying: "Love like this and then you will be rewarded with eternal life." Love is not what you must do in order to GET eternal life. Rather, I believe our Lord is saying: love like this and that IS eternal life - that is the life of God Himself. "Do this, love like this, and you will live! You will share the life of God Himself." For surely our Lord IS the Good Samaritan in the parable, and He doesn't mean that "life" is something dangling out there after you get done loving, for you will never get done loving. Rather, life is precisely love itself.

"In Him was life and that life was the light of men." "God is love." They go hand in hand together. And that is why at the end of the story, our Lord invites that man and all of us: "Go and do likewise!" Not telling us how to earn the kingdom, for it is always and only gift. But telling us how to live the kingdom - that joyous "fervent love toward one another" that we pray for at the Eucharist.

Random Thoughts on the Passing of Pelikan

"The Strife is O'er, the Battle Done" - we often sing that at funerals. Especially when we see how it is true not just for our Lord, but for the person He has gathered home to Himself.

I wish I could have known Jaroslav Pelikan - just to have thanked him for all his work; I've relied on his scholarship for many years.

Anytime a person picks up a volume of Luther's Works (American Edition), you can't help but think of him. Anytime a person turns to "Tappert's" Book of Concord, one thinks of Pelikan (and Piepkorn!). Anytime I need a quick answer to something from the early centuries, where to look but his series on Church History? His *Riddle of Roman Catholicism* remains a classic, even after some of its points were mooted after the Second Vatican Council. His insight into the interplay of catholic substance and protestant principle in the Reformation remains a most helpful light to those seeking to understand the history of Lutheranism in particular and the Reformation in general.

A mind that absorbed and processed such a staggering amount of data - and all in service to Christ and His Bride! He was a great gift of God to the Church in these "gray and latter days." Rest in peace, Father in Christ! Rest in peace!

Patristic Quote for the Day

Mary came to the tomb. She came to the womb of the Resurrection, she came to the birth of Life, so that Christ, who had been brought forth from the womb of the flesh, would be born a second time from the tomb of faith; and so that the sealed tomb would render to eternal life him whom the sealed womb of the Virgin had brought forth into the present life. It is a characteristic of divinity to have left the Virgin intact after birth; it is a characteristic of divinity to have come out of the tomb with his body. (St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 75:3)

14 May 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

O man, receive faith, since it is given for free; believe in the resurrection, because he who promises it charges no price. (St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 118:10)

13 May 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

So too is it with God, who on account of the massive extent of the wound has applied a massive and strong dose of medicine; and he has bestowed grace not on sin, but on the human being; he has rained down the shower of his mercy not to multiply but to blot out offenses. ((St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 113:3)

12 May 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

Let no one boast about his merits, let no one boast about his works, because it is the peace of God that has re-established and restored life, which the first transgression had removed. (St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 110:5)

11 May 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

Therefore, since the sin of our first parent had doomed us by giving death the right to hold us under its sway, Christ, our heavenly and true Parent, by having removed our condemnation to death by means of his own death, justifies us by his Resurrection, so that it would not be the guilty, but their guilt, that would perish; and so that the punishment itself, that is, death, which had been ordered to strike down the guilty, would rightly fail and lose the power that was its trademark. (St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 110:4)

10 May 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

He was handed over for offenses, not so that this Life which was unable to die might be punished, but solely that the offenses which had banished us from life would be blotted out. (St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 110:3)

09 May 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

Recognize this, brothers: be glad, brothers, that after the triumph of Christ the prison of the saints has been broken open, and the netherworld no longer exercises any jurisdiction over the saints, since Christ penetrated all the way to the netherworld in order to free the just, not the unjust. Let us realize, brothers, how great a benefit Christ has provided, or rather, how without Christ no one possessed salvation, since, besides the wretched dissolution of their bodies, the souls, too, of the saints were being held in confinement in the underworld. - St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 123, par. 7 (On Lazarus and the Rich Man)

08 May 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

God did not order the sabbath, the new moons and the feasts to be honored because He wanted men to honor the days themselves; this would have been tantamount to decreeing by the Law that men should worship creation rather than the Creator, and should regard the days as holy in themselves and therefore to be venerated.

On the contrary, He indicated that he Himself was to be honored symbolically through these days. For He is the sabbath, as the soul's respose after its exertions in the flesh, and as the cessation of its sufferings in the cause of righteousness. He is the Passover, as the liberator of those held in the bitter slavery of sin. He is the Pentecost, as the origin and consummation of all created things, and as the principle through which all things by nature exist.

--St. Maximos the Great, Fifth Century of Various Texts, par. 46

07 May 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

Great indeed is the Baptism which is offered you. It is ransom to captives; the remission of offences; the death of sin; the regeneration of the soul; the garment of light; the holy seal indissoluble; the chariot to heaven; the luxury of paradise; a procuring of the kingdom; the gift of adoption. - St. Cyril of Jerusalem, *The Protocatechesis* par. 16

05 May 2006

Oh, and go figure

WHEN we get home (and the house had been completely locked up) there was dead bird in the kitchen with its head stuck under the stove. And it had obviously flown around a bit, if you take my drift. HOW on earth did that thing get in here??? [Please ignore any complaints from the wife about HER having to deal with it; I mean, it landed in the KITCHEN!]


So, Bekah, Cindi and I left bright and early on Thursday to pick Lauren up from Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska. It ended up being a bit more than an eight hour drive if you add in the lunch stop and breaks along the way. We packed Lauren up on Thursday night, enjoyed dinner in Lincoln with the kids and Dean, and then back to Joe and Jenny Herl's. Anna is still as cute as a button. Joe took me on a whirl-wind tour of the campus. We were up by six and finished packing Lauren's left-overs, when Dean (what a scholar and a gentleman!) showed up with a thermos of some fresh ground, fresh brewed coffee. It kept me going through St. Joe's. We got home by about four after 16 hours in the car in the last two days (more than that, truthfully).

David was trying to figure out how to put on his bow-tie for the prom. Here's a couple pics of the finished result (one with the lovely Misha):

Then a hospital call to Highland - I think that will turn out okay. Laverne, you're in our prayers.

So a crazy, crazy couple days! But for a while I've got all three kids home, and that makes for one happy papa.

03 May 2006

+In Memoriam David Engelke+

(to be delivered May 6, 2006)

Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is risen! R. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! And THAT makes all the difference. And David knew it, believed it, confessed it,and lived it.

When you first told me about David’s falling asleep in Jesus, Sarah, you said: God took dad to heaven yesterday. Right on! As Jesus promised in the Gospel reading we just heard: “I know my sheep and am known of my own, and I give them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand.”

Eternal life - the life that cannot be destroyed by death, the life that rose from the grave with Jesus in His incorruptible body on Easter morning - THAT life is what Jesus promises and delivers into his sheep.

It was a week ago Thursday that David received the Holy Eucharist for the last time in this world. Into his poor body, which had gone through so much, went the very Body and Blood of the Son of God - the Body that carried David’s sins, and yours and mine upon the Cross. The Blood that was shed for our forgiveness. The Body and Blood of Him who not only died for us but rose again on that first Easter, forever beyond the grasp of the grave. How David hungered for that food! He knew what it delivered to him, and how desperately he needed it. Indeed in that Eucharist David rejoiced to receive into Himself “Christ, the Solid Rock” and he knew that all other ground was just “sinking sand.”

Way too often we think of death only from our own perspective. The voice that we will never hear again as long as this age of the world lasts. The eyes that will never look at us again until the great day of Resurrection. But that is to miss out on a fundamental joy: Sarah, you said, God took Dad to heaven. You were so right! Ponder for a moment what that was like from God’s perspective. To be able to welcome home David, his beloved child. To show him the joys of heaven. To see him join in the singing and the music - and you know as well as I what joy that was for him! All of life was a dress rehearsal for the performance that then began and whose sweet melody never comes to an end. The music rises and goes on and on forever. And David was enveloped in that, welcomed into that, and how precious it was to the Blessed Trinity to see the look upon his face when that melody rang through and carried him home. “Precious in the sight of the Lord” says King David “is the death of His saints.” Now you know why it is so precious, why it is so holy a thing.

As awful and hideous and hateful as death is here in this world, when we look at from the other side where the Lord Jesus gathers His saints around the throne and into the music that never ends, well, you can see why joy itself tinges your very sorrow today.

The sorrow today is so real. You will miss him so much. We will too. His kindness, his curiosity, his firmness in the faith, his love of the Bible and his devotion to his family. But there is none of us who can begrudge him the rest he has entered. As Isaiah pictured it, he’s already at the great feast which God throws to celebrate the destruction of death itself.

Today David’s coffin is covered with the pall. I think David would have wanted that. And he would have wanted you all to know what it means. You see, when he was just a baby, not even a month old, his mother and father carried him to Jesus in the font of Baptism, and there Jesus put upon Him the robe of His righteousness. All David’s sins were covered, forgotten, gone from the sight of God. And God said to him: Kid, you’re mine forever. We shall never be separated again.

Which is all to say that David would not want this funeral homily to be about David. He’d say: “Tell them about Jesus, remind them of the cross, remind them of the gifts He gives in Baptism, and at the Table. Remind them to be faithful and remind them that I am praying for each of them until I have the joy of them joining me in this place, covered alike with the righteousness of the Son of God and singing the Song of praise to the Lamb. Remind them.” And so I hope I have.

David, we love you and we always will.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Patristic Quote for the Day

In honor of David Engelke - a blessed sleep in Christ, dearest brother!

Have no fear, then. Now that the common Savior of all has died on our behalf, we who believe in Christ no longer die, as men died aforetime, in fulfilment of the threat of the law. That condemnation has come to an end; and now that, by the grace of resurrection, corruption has been banished and done away, we are loosed from our mortal bodies in God's good time for each, so that we may obtain thereby a better resurrection. - St. Athanasios, *On the Incarnation of the Word of God* par. 21

01 May 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

So, since we are full of good cheer we sing over our corpses psalms that urge us to feel confident about death. "Commit, my soul, into your rest," it says, "because the Lord has been kind to you." (Ps. 114.7) Do you see that death is a kindness and a rest? For the person entering that resting rests from their labors, just as God did from his own affairs. - St. John Chrysostom, *Homily on Saints Bernike, Prosdoke, and Domnina* par. 10