31 July 2006

Seussical the Musical

"A person's a person, no matter how small." Last night we went to Belleville to watch David and Anna in Seussical. What a GREAT show! If you love Seuss, you'll be enchanted by this weaving together of Horton Hatches the Egg, Horton Hears a Who, How the Grench, and a smattering of Green Eggs and Ham. What a hoot! Last chance to see it tonight: Ever And Anon park in Belleville, IL at 7 p.m. David was the tall Wickersham Bro (he makes a fine monkey...biting my tongue), and Anna was Maisy the lazy bird (in stunning red! Yow!!!!). Kudos also to Horton and Jo-Jo. The whole cast put on a performance to be proud of.

30 July 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

"Since then we are to discourse of the things of God, let us assume that God has full knowledge of Himself, and bow with humble reverence to His words. For He Whom we can only know through His own utterances is the fitting witness concerning Himself." St. Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, Book I:18

29 July 2006

Two parts of the AC that have not been sufficiently pondered

AC XV:1 Our churches teach that ceremonies *ought to be observed*
that may be observed without sin. Also ceremonies and other
practices that are profitable for tranquility [Note: one has only to think
of the disruption in congregations that have forsaken the historic
liturgy!] and good order in the Church (in particular holy days,
festivals, and the like) *ought to be observed.*

AC XXVIII:53-55 We answer that it is lawful for bishops, or pastors,
to make ordinances so that all things be done orderly in the
Church... It is proper for the churches to keep such ordinances for
the sake of love and tranquility, to avoid giving offense to another,
so that all things be done in the churches in order and without

28 July 2006

Piepkorn Goodie

"[The parish's] unity is not predicated upon uniformity, but upon community. This is the thrust of all the images that the New Testament employs - a marriage, a building, a household, a body. Its unity is not dissolved by the number or diversity of parishes. Each parish is a finished picture of the whole Church. Each fully represents the purpose of the whole. The whole church is in every part." - *The Life of God in the Life of the Parish* - from *The Church* p. 112.

Patristic Quote for the Day

The pastoral principle: variability. All persons are not to be treated in the same way. We do not simply say this is virtue and this is vice uncontextually. For one spiritual remedy may prove dangerous in some cases and wholesome in other cases. The right medicine must be applied for the right occasion as the temper of the patient allows and as the time and circumstance and disposition of the individual indicate. This, of course, is the most difficult aspect of pastoral wisdom, to know how to distinguish which counsel is needed in which situation with a precise judgment so as to administer appropriate remedies for different temperaments. Only actual experience and practice are the basis for skillfully applying this art. - St. Gregory Nazianzus, Oration II:33

27 July 2006


Fr. Juhl, I hate these things, but I must confess that this one is at least sort of interesting to me, for I love books.

1. One book that changed your life:
*For the Life of the World* - Alexander Schmemann

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
*The Lord of the Rings* - usually once a year.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
You mean I have to choose between the Bible and the Hymnal???? I refuse. And that desert island had better have a nice piano or organ.

4. One book that made you laugh:
*My Man Jeeves* (thanks to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law for introducing me to Wodenhouse!)

5. One book that made you cry:
I don't think I've ever read a book that made me cry. Stiff upper lip and all...

6. One book that you wish had been written:
The Complete Collected Liturgies (in modern musical notation) of 16th and 17th Century Lutheranism, translated into English

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
*DaVinci Code*

8. One book you’re currently reading:
Volume 1 of Gerhard's Loci Theologici.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
Will several do? The rest of Michael O'Brien's corpus, having enjoyed greatly his *Father Elijah* Oh, and whatever Michael Connelly comes out with next.

10. Tag others.
Fr. Fenton, Pr. McCain, David Weedon, Deb Dillon, Salvatore, Ben Jonson, Fr. Eckardt, Pr. Fouts

The Life of God in the Life of the Parish

That's the title of an outstanding essay by Piepkorn in the volume *The Church: Selected Writings of A.C. Piepkorn.* Pr. Alms wrote a fine piece on his blog that reminded me of these words from Piepkorn's essay:

"The life of God in the parish implies an end of commericialism in the financial affairs of the parish. If we cook, it will be for the hungry; if we sew, it will be for the needy; if we collect clothes, it will be for the ill-clad; if we eat, it will be for the joy of being together as children of God and not to raise funds for Him who is the Creator and Owner of the world's wealth. The kingdom of God is not buying one another's pies, but in being faithful stewards of the gifts with which God has bountifully endowed even the poorest. The problem of parish finance is not getting into people's purses, but getting God into people's hearts." - A.C. Piepkorn, *The Life of God in the Life of the Parish* - in THE CHURCH p. 117, 118

The whole essay is very worth the read. He posits at the start: "In short, the parish derives its significance from the fact that it is the arena in which God establishes contact with man. It is a symbol of the divine primacy and the divine initiative in our transformation from sinners to saints." (p. 109)

And he offers his definition of church: "The Christian people in the parish, those who are gathered by and around the Sacred Ministry of the Word of God and of His Holy Sacraments together with those who exercise the Sacred Ministry of the Word of God and the Holy Sacraments according to their vocation are the church. This statement is true without qualification, even though it exhibits a certain ambivalence. While such a community in any given place is of necessity only a part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, quantitatively considered, in that place such a community IS the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, qualitatively considered, and everything that can be said qualitatively about the one, holy catholic and apostolic church can be said about such a community." (p. 109)

Can you tell Korby studied with this man?

25 July 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

If we are sheep, we conquer; if we are wolves, we are overcome. So long as we continue to behave as sheep, we are victorious. Even if ten thousand wolves surround us, we conquer and are victorious. But the moment we become wolves, we are conquered, for we lose the help of the Shepherd. He is the Shepherd of sheep, not wolves. If He leaves you and goes away, it is because you do not allow Him to show His power.

These are His words: Do not be troubled that I send you out in the midst of wolves and tell you to be like sheep and like doves. I could have done just the opposite, and not allowed you to suffer any hurt. I could have prevented you being the victims of wolves and made you fiercer than lions. But I chose a better way. My way makes you more glorious and proclaims my power. These were his words to Paul: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." That is the way I made you. When He says, "I send you out as sheep," He implies: "Do not despair, for I know very well that in this way you will be invincible against all your enemies." - St. John Chrysostom, Homily 13

St. James, the Elder

Today the holy Church commemorates St. James, brother of St. John, and son of Zebedee. We were blessed to commemorate St. James with new red paraments (Pr. Curtis' mother is the best thing going when it comes to paraments) and Vespers and the Divine Service:

By All Your Saints in Warfare

By all Your saints in warfare,
For all Your saints at rest,
Your holy name, O Jesus,
Forevermore be blest!
For You have won the battle
That they might wear the crown;
And now they shine in glory
Reflected from Your throne!

For him, O Lord, we praise You,
Who fell to Herod’s sword.
He drank Your cup of suff’ring
And thus fulfilled Your word.
Lord, curb our vain impatience
For glory and for gain,
And nerve us for such suff’rings
As glorify Your name.

Then let us praise the Father
And worship God the Son
And sing to God the Spirit,
Eternal Three in One,
Till all the ransomed number
Fall down before the throne,
Ascribing pow’r and glory
And praise to God alone.

Acts 11:27-12:5 / Romans 8:28-39 / Mark 10:35-45

O gracious God, Your servant and apostle James was the first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the name of Jesus Christ. Pour out upon the leaders of Your Church the spirit of self-denying service that they may forsake all false and passing allurements and follow Christ alone; who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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, for You have mightily governed and protected Your holy Church, in which the blessed apostles and evangelists proclaimed Your divine and saving Gospel. Therefore with patriarchs and prophets, apostles and evangelists, with Your servant James and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying: "Holy, holy, holy..."


Fr. Fenton laments adiaphoronism on his blog. His comments reminded me of an interesting tidbit I came across in an old CTQ (62:2:140):
Bugenhagen, who prepared this rite, takes a much stricter line on liturgical non-deviation than Luther did: "this is an order, and is to be followed as closely as the old order was!"
This in regards to the Liturgy for Brunswick in 1528. Luther's orders were neither of them actually put into Church Law at the time of the Reformation, though they greatly influenced those that were. But each territory did promulgate a liturgical order that was "to be followed as closely as the old order was" - and thus the myth of Lutherans of the 16th century all doing their own thing parish by parish is false.

24 July 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

Although the Son is like the Father in essence, yet that which is begotten is not like the unbegotten, nor is that which proceeds. These properties which are contemplated in the divine nature are distinguished from what they share with one another. But the divinity is one in the three persons, as the veneration is one; and because of the idenity of nature the veneration is not at all made unequal by the difference in properties. - St. Theodore the Studite, On the Holy Icons, D, 7

23 July 2006

Too cool!

If you haven't check it out, do!


Pastor Randy Asburry is a star!!! I want him to sign my copy of LSB. : )

Patristic Quote for the Day

Following is a fascinating tid-bit from St. Gregory the Great. He was being accused by a brother bishop of having introduced some "Greek" practices into the Roman Church's rite. And so he offers these curious words about the Our Father in the Eucharistic rite:

But the Lord's Prayer we say immediately after the prayer for this reason, that it was the custom of the apostles to consecrate the host of oblation to that same prayer only. And it seemed to me very unsuitable that we should say over the oblation a prayer which a scholastic had composed, and should not say the very prayer which our Redeemer composed over His body and blood. But also the Lord's Prayer among the Greeks is said by all the people, but with us by the priest alone.
---Gregory the Great (Book 9, Letter 12, to John, Bishop of Syracuse):

[Here are the editor's comments from NPNF:

8 This whole passage in the original is;-"Orationem vero Dominicam idcirco mox post precem dicimus, quia mos apostolorum fuit or ad ipsam solummodo orationem oblatlonis hostiam consecarent Et valde mihi inconveniens visum est ut precem quam scholasticus composuerat super oblationem diceremus, et ipsam traditionem (Qy. for orationnem?) quam Redemptor noster composuit super ejus corpus et sanguinem non diceremus."... As to what is said by S. Gregory of the custom of the Apostles, the most Obvious meaning of which is, that they used no prayer of consecratIon but the Lord's Prayer, we have no means of ascertaining whence he derived this tradition, or what the value of it might be. It does not, of course, imply that the words of institution were not said over the elements by the Apostles, but only that they used no other prayer for the purpose of consecration. Ways have been suggested, though not satisfactory, for evading the apparent meaning of the statement.]

Addendum: Father Fritz Eckardt has a discussion of the practice of the pastor alone saying the Our Father, the very custom which Gregory here witnesses to as the practice of the Roman rite. It was standard at one time in Lutheran practice.

See http://gottesblog.blogspot.com

22 July 2006

A Grace-filled Remembering?

Two passages:

"Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known." Luke 12:2

"For I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will remember no more." Jeremiah 31:34

I don't think I'll ever forget Korby, speaking on the first one, saying: "You might as well go to private confession and reveal the sin; it will be revealed on the last day." But this is deeply troubling to those who are inclined to remember Jeremiah 31:34 and similar passages. How, if their sins are remembered no more, if they are cast behind God's back and into the depths of the sea, how will it be that all things will be revealed?

I think the answer is a glorious and grace-filled one: when the sins of his elect are revealed on the last day, it will not be to accuse them, to shame them, to condemn them. It will be to glorify His lavish grace! Much in the spirit of St. Paul who could boast: "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might disply His perfect patience as an example for those who were to believe in Him for eternal life." (1 Tim. 1:15,16) So when our sins are revealed it will not be blacken us, but to invite angels and archangels and all people to rejoice that it was indeed *a lost* coin that was found and made God's own: "So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places." (Eph. 3:10) Glory to Jesus Christ forever!

Saint Mary Magdalene

The real one, not the DaVinci code nonsense.

The Church has never forgotten her. She is celebrated with her own Festival on this day:

Collect: Almighty God, Your Son Jesus Christ restored Mary Magdalene to health and called her to be the first witness of His resurrection. Heal us from all our infirmities and call us to know You in the power of Your Son's unending life; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Readings: Proverbs 31:10-31 / Acts 13:26-31 / John 20:1-2, 10-18

Preface: 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 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 again 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: Holy, holy, holy...


I've been blessed in my vicars, no two ways about it. Each has been a delight to watch and to HEAR as they grow in their preaching. In each of them, there comes a sermon when they cross a boundary. It's hard to describe, but suddenly it is not a student learning to preach (and even doing well) but a giving of the gift that is so decisive I want to stand up and shout "Amen!" Vicar Lehmann's sermon did that tonight. He didn't read it; he preached it. And there's a difference, but don't ask me what it is. I just know it when I hear it.

Sniff, snuffle...

...after 10 years, we are saying farewell to the Riklis. Richard is off to the Seminary to study for the Office of the Holy Ministry. We'll miss them much - but since they're just moving to Collinsville for the time being, we are hoping to see them often! In the pic, we've decided that we have the Beverly Hillbillies all over again, only Pop forgot his gun...

21 July 2006

Crazy Day!

The storm that did so much damage in St. Louis on the 19th, skirted the area around the Church. We had wind and a few limbs down from trees. Not much else. Precious little rain. Hamel was harder hit (two miles to the south). Thursday basically seemed a normal day until about 6:30 p.m., when we lost power. Cindi, Lauren, and Jo headed to the Gerber's in Staunton to do some laundy before Lauren's trip to Colorado. David was at his practice in Belleville for Suessical, the Musical. Bekah had gone to a friend's house for the night. As the darkness grew, Dave and I sat in the living room and talked. The power came on about 6 in the morning, and it lasted for a few hours. We'd headed on errands and for lunch, when the second storm approached. Power was lost at home at 10 a.m. - we just got it back on about 8:30 p.m. We were eating in the Mexican restaurant in Collinsville when the storm struck. Power was lost. And we sheltered in the dark restaurant until it was mostly over. The trip back up the interstate was interesting. Trees and limbs blown into the road. A tractor trailer on its side. Powerlines down with the poles snapped in two. A wild and crazy ride. We are all fine, but we pray for the folks in the hardest hit areas. At one point over 1/2 million folks in the area were without electricty and it was stifling (though not as bad as it had been). Now the window are open, a breeze is blowing in, and all seems well. For now.

20 July 2006

The Prophet Elijah

Today the Holy Church commemorates Elijah, the Prophet:

The prophet Elijah, whose name means, "My God is Yahweh [the Lord]," prophesied in the northern kingdom of Israel, mostly during the reign of Ahab (874-853 B.C.). Ahab, under the influence of his pagan wife Jezebel, had encouraged the worship of Baal throughout his kingdom, even as Jezebel sought to get rid of the worship of Yahweh. Elijah was called by God to denounce this idolatry and to call the people of Israel back to the worship Yahweh as the only true God (as he did in 1 Kgs 18:20-40). Elijah was a rugged and imposing figure, living in the wilderness and dressing in a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt (2 Kgs 1:8). He was a prophet mighty in word and deed. Many miracles were done through Elijah, including the raising of the dead (1 Kgs 17:17-24), and the effecting of a long drought in Israel (1 Kgs 17:1). At the end of his ministry, he was taken up into heaven as Elisha, his successor, looked on (2 Kgs 2:11). Later on the prophet Malachi proclaimed that Elijah would return before the coming of the Messiah (Mal 4:5-6), a prophecy that was fulfilled in the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist (Mt 11:14). (LSB)

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.
Jesus Christ the same, Yesterday, today, and forever.

O almighty God, who has called us to faith in Thee, and hast compassed us about with so great a cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good examples of Thy saints, and especially of Thy servant Elijah, may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at length, through Thy mercy, we may with them attain to Thine eternal joy; through Him who is the author and finisher of our faith, Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. (Brotherhood Prayer Book - Commemoration of a Holy Man)

Patristic Quote for the Day

How blessed, how marvelous are the gifts of God, my friends! Some of them, indeed, already lie within our comprehension - the life that knows no death, the shining splendor of righteousness, the truth that is frank and full, the faith that is perfect assurance, the holiness of chastity - but what of the things prepared for those who wait? Who but the Creator and Father of eternity, the Most Holy Himself, knows the greatness and beauty of these? - St. Clement of Rome, First Epistle, par. 35

Catechumenate and Book of Concord

The big task of evangelism is at heart a very simple invitation: “Come to the waters!” It is an invitation that will be authentic as it arises from hearts that have discovered where God supplies living waters and quenches spiritual thirst; hearts that want others to taste the sweet waters of Word and Sacrament with them. It’s not a matter of having all the answers; it’s not even a matter of “getting the doctrine straight.” It is a simple matter of saying: “Here is where I have found spiritual refreshment; you come too!”

Here are some quotes from the Book of Concord with Import for the Catechumenate. What would the task of mission look like in our parishes if we ordered our outreach along the lines suggested in the following?

“So that we may obtain this faith, the ministry of teaching the gospel and administering the sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and the sacraments as through instruments the Holy Spirit is given, who effects faith where and when it pleases God in those who hear the Gospel, that is to say, in those who believe that God, not on account of our own merits but on account of Christ, justifies those who believe that we are received into grace on account of Christ. Gal. 3:14b: ‘So that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.’ They condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Spirit comes to human beings without the Word through their own preparations.” AC V

“Places, times, persons, and the entire outward order of worship have therefore been instituted and appointed in order that the Word of God may exert its power publicly.” Large Catechism, I:94

“On the other hand, when we seriously ponder the Word, hear it, and put it to use, such is its power that it never departs without fruit. It always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devotion, and it constantly creates clean hearts and minds. For this Word is not idle or dead, but effective and living.” Large Catechism, 1:101

“Therefore in his immeasurable goodness and mercy God provides for the public proclamation of his divine eternal law and of the wondrous counsel of our redemption, the holy gospel of his eternal Son, our only Savior Jesus Christ, which alone can save. By means of this proclamation he gathers an everlasting church from humankind, and he effects in human hearts true repentance and knowledge of sin and true faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. God wants to call human beings to eternal salvation, to draw them to himself, to convert them, to give them new birth and to sanctify them through these means, and in no other way than through his holy Word (which people hear proclaimed and read) and through the sacraments (which they use according to the Word). SD II:50

“All who want to be saved should listen to this proclamation. For the proclamation and the hearing of God’s Word are the Holy Spirit’s tools, in, with, and through which he wills to work effectively and convert people to God and within whom he wants to effect both the desire for and the completion of their salvation.” SD II:52

“A person who has not yet been converted to God and been reborn can hear and read this Word externally, for in such external matters, as stated above, people have a free will to a certain extent even after the fall, so that they can go to church and listen or not listen to the sermon. Through these means (the preaching and hearing of his Word), God goes about his work and breaks our hearts and draws people, that they recognize their sins and God’s wrath through the preaching of the law and feel real terror, regret and sorrow in their hearts. Through the preaching of the holy gospel of the gracious forgiveness of sins in Christ and through meditating upon it, a spark of faith is ignited in them, and they accept the forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake and receive the comfort of the promise of the gospel. In this way the Holy Spirit, who effects all of this, is sent into their hearts.” SD II:53,54

“Because the natural powers of the human beings cannot do anything or help in anyway (1 Cor. 2:4-12; 2 Cor. 3:4-12), God comes to us first, out of his immeasurable goodness and mercy. He causes his holy gospel to be preached, through which the Holy Spirit desires to effect and to accomplish this conversion and renewal in us. Through the proclamation of his Word and meditation upon us he ignites faith and other God-pleasing virtues in us so that they are the gifts and the activities of the Holy Spirit alone.” SD II:71

“The Father wills that all people should hear this proclamation and come to Christ. And Christ will never thrust them away from himself, as it is written, ‘Anyone who comes to me I will never drive away [John 6:37]’ That we may come to Christ, the Holy Spirit creates faith through the hearing of the Word, as the Apostle testifies when he says, ‘So faith comes from hearing God’s Word’ [Rom 10:17] when it is proclaimed purely and clearly.” SD XI:68,69

“According to his normal arrangement, the Father draws people by the power of his Holy Spirit through the hearing of the divine Word, as with a net, through which the elect are snatched out of the jaws of the devil. For this reason every poor sinner should act in such a way as to hear the Word diligently and not doubt that the Father is drawing people to himself. For the Holy Spirit wills to be present with his power in the Word and to work through it. This is the drawing of the Father. The reason why not all who hear the Word believe it (and thus receive the greater damnation) is not that God has not allowed them to be saved. Instead, it is their own fault, for they heard the Word not so that they might learn from it but only to despise, revile, and ridicule it; and they resisted the Holy Spirit, who wanted to work in them through the Word, as happened at Christ’s time with the Pharisees and their adherents [Matt 23:26-36; Luke 11:37-54; John 7:48; 8:13; 9:16, 41; 12:42]” SD XI:76-78

19 July 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

The end of all things is near. From now onwards, then, we must bear ourselves with humility, and tremble at God's patience for fear it should turn into a judgment upon us. Let us either flee from His future wrath, or else embrace His present grace; no matter which, so long as we are found in Jesus Christ with our true life before us. Apart from Him, nothing else should have any value in your eyes; but in Him even these chains I wear are a collar of spiritual pearls to me, in which I hope to rise again through the help of your intercessions. - St. Ignatius of Antioch, *To the Ephesians* par. 11

18 July 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day - for Stagiare

Humility, too, and a complete absence of self-assertion were common to you all; you preferred to offer submission rather than to extort it, and giving was dearer to your hearts than receiving. Asking no more than what Christ had provided for your journey through life, you paid careful heed to His words, treasured them in your hearts, and kept His sufferings constantly before your eyes. The reward was a deep and shining peace, a quenchless ardor for well-doing, and a rich outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon you all. Clement of Rome, First Epistle, par. 2

Random Thoughts on the Church

With the celebration of Dr. Korby's personal Pascha, his completion of the passage from this age to the age to come, fulfilling his Baptism into Christ, I have been listening again to his series on the Private Confession and Absolution. This led to some ruminations on the Church. I throw them out for discussion. Just musings...

Going with Korby's big "it's the wrong sensorium" - you exchange visible/invisible (and is the stress on the "visible" church just the opposite error of the stress on the "invisible"?) for audible/aural. His whole insistence that the question is one of authority: does the Word preached and sacramentally enacted have the authority to keep the Church one, holy, catholic, and apostolic?

The "what about bishops" question perhaps misses the boat: a bishop is not there to be seen. He is there to be HEARD. And if he is worth being heard, he is delivering precisely what the presbyters are to be delivering. So there can be no essential difference because both are only worth what they deliver: the Word as it is proclaimed in Law and Gospel and sacramentally enacted. And both can betray the Church by not delivering the Word.

Now, the great joy of bishops originally is that they were put in place to see that such betrayal did not happen. That's their value as a separate office. When before the Reformation, they ceased to do this, instead becoming instruments to suppress the Word that alone creates and sustains the Church, then it was no question that they were not to be heeded. But the office of oversight was not a bad thing just because it could be abused. It was a good thing, even a great thing, when it fulfills its calling in the service of the Word. "The church cannot be better governed..." as Luther puts it in the Smalcald Articles.

There is only one Church. The Church created by the Word of God proclaimed and sacramentally given. That Church is the only Church the Symbols know. They don't know Roman Catholic Church or Lutheran Church or Anglican Church. They know Christ's Church. And they insist that this Church is kept one, holy, catholic, and apostolic not by obedience to the Roman see (because every institution can betray the Word, and the Roman see had), but by the Word itself.

The institutions of the Church (all of them) will either exist in the service of that Word of Christ being proclaimed, His gifts being delivered, thus rescuing people from the chains of idolatry and bringing them into the worship of the one true God; or the institutions of the Church will exist to thwart that Word, to keep it from being proclaimed. And this is where Satan aims his attacks upon the Church!

Each institution in the Church is capable of this betrayal. The ministry (in all its grades) is capable and has done so at various times. The parishes (in whatever location or jurisdiction) are capable and have done so at various times. All supporting structures have done so - and they so do precisely when they begin to exist *for themselves* instead of for the sake of that creating, sustaining Word of God.

When the ministry exists for itself instead of for the proclamation of the Word, we have clericalism.
When the parish exists for itself instead of for the proclamation of the Word, we have congregationalism.
When the liturgy exists for itself instead of for the proclamation of the Word, we have ritualism.
When the publishing house exists for itself instead for the proclamation of the Word, we have consumerism.

Back to Korby's assertion: It's the question of authority. Is the proclaimed and sacramentally enacted Word sufficient to sustain the Church's unity, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity? Or do we need some backups. In looking for backups, have we fallen into the self-same trap as those who look to church growth gimmickry? The Word cannot be trusted to do the job?

That then sheds whole new light on our task, if it is so. The task is then not to argue for the *position* that the Word can do the job. The urgent task is to SPEAK the Word that alone creates and sustains, that kills and raises from the dead, that breaks the chains of idolatry and bestows the gift of koinonia with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
"Preach you the Word and plant it home..."

Another Great Korby Quote

Fr. John Frahm shared this one with me:

"As human beings learn to talk by listening to others around them, so liturgical prayer must be learned by listening to the company of the family of God among whom we live" (Kenneth Korby, "Prayer: Pre-Reformation to the Present," in John Gallen, ed., Christians at Prayer [Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1977], 115).

17 July 2006

Chief Article

I had coffee with a friend the other morning, and he related a conversation he had had with a mutual friend. Rather, an argument. It was about the chief, the central article of the Christian faith. My friend had said: It's the incarnation. Our mutual friend had maintained: It's justification.

I've thought about this a bit since that day. I have enormous sympathies with either direction, because I do not think you can at all ultimately separate the two.

First, for any who would pooh-pooh justification, remember that our Lord sent our the Apostles "that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations." (Luke 24:47) Further, the Jesus that the Apostles witness as raised from the dead is the one to whom "all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name." (Acts 10:43) So Peter preached. And Paul's preaching agrees with Peter's. He announced in Antioch: "Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man, forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:38) And when Paul speaks of forgiveness in the Epistles, twice he defines it by apposition: "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Eph. 1:7) and "in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Col. 1:14).

Second, for any would pooh-pooh the incarnation, remember that it is precisely our Lord's incarnation that is announced by the angels as "good news of great joy for all people." (Luke 2) That Paul can speak of the purpose of our Lord's forgiveness as "a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth." There the ultimate honor goes to Incarnation where in the flesh of Christ earthly things and heavenly things are joined as one.

So which is it? Which is the chief article? Yes! Jesus Christ, incarnate, crucified, dead, risen, ascended, glorified, forgiving sinners and calling all from idolatry and into the worship of the true God by the Gospel message - an embassy of pardon that invites to union with God through Christ. The Who and the What. They belong together, not played off against each other. The one presupposes the other and neither makes sense if it is made "the biggy" against the other.

It's as though one had to CHOOSE which was more important: Christmas or Triduum/Easter! No thank you, I'll take them both and see them as two vital parts of one all-encompassing Mystery.


16 July 2006

Dinner Joys

Just to let you all know: I got to hold one of my three precious godchildren tonight. Maria Johanna (named for the myrrh-bearing women) Braun. We also had the added treat of eating dinner with Dr. Maxwell, Ed and Karon Wolfe (and Ed had some amazingly beautiful hand-crafted wooden pens to show off), Pastor Allen Braun and Laura and the rest of the Braun brood: Clarissa, Katherine, Samuel and Christina. Oh, and my own lovely wife, and David and Bekah. I am not sure Applebee's was ready for this, but they got it anyway. Thirteen of us arrived for dinner and an evening of catch up. Joys abounding!

Patristic Quote for the Day

"Let a man's diction be beggarly and his verbal composition simple and artless, but let him not be inexpert in the knowledge and careful statement of doctrine." - St. John Chrysostom, On the Priesthood IV.6

On Your Knees!

At the words "came down from heaven" and rising again before "suffered under Pontius Pilate," it was customary for centuries in the Western Church for everyone to kneel. I still do it because I'm an old fuddy-duddy. Luther had some great words on this, and they're juicy. And notice his assumption that the Creed was sung! Consider:

"The following tale is told about a coarse and brutal lout. While the words 'And was made man' were being sung in church, he remained standing, neither genuflecting nor removing his hat. He showed no reverence, but just stood there like a clod. All the others dropped to their knees when the Nicene Creed was prayed and chanted devoutly. Then the devil stepped up to him and hit him so hard it made his head spin. He cursed him gruesomely and said: 'May hell consume you, you boorish ass! If God had become an angel like me and the congregation sang: "God was made an angel" would bend not only my knees but my whole body to the ground! Yes, I would crawl ten ells down into the ground. And you vile human creature, you stand there like a stick or a stone. You hear that God did not become an angel but a man like you, and you just stand there like a stick of wood!' Whether this story is true or not, it is nevertheless in accordance with the faith (Rom 12:6)." (Sermons on the Gospel of St. John AE 22:105)

15 July 2006

An Intercession

In peace, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For the gift of divine peace and of pardon, with all our heart and with all our mind, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For the holy Christian Church, here and scattered throughout the world, and for the proclamation of the Gospel and the calling of all to faith, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For this nation, for our cities and communities, and for the common welfare of us all, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For seasonable weather and for the fruitfulness of the earth, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For those who labor, for those whose work is difficult or dangerous, and for all who travel, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For all those in need, for the hungry and homeless, for the widowed and orphaned, and for all those in prison, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For the sick and dying and for all who care for them, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

For... let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

Finally for these and for all our needs of body and soul, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

[From *The Lutheran Service Book*, Service of Prayer and Preaching, #859]

Patristic Quote for the Day

God loved the race of men. It was for their sakes He made the world; it was to them that He gave dominion over everything in it. On them He bestowed reason and understanding, and they alone received permission to lift up their eyes to Him. He formed them in His own image; He sent His only-begotten Son to them; He promised them the Kingdom of heaven, and to those who have loved Him He will surely give it. Once you have grasped these truths, think how your joy with overflow, and what love you will feel for Him who loved you so! - Epistle to Diognetus, par. 10.

AND today's another special birthday...

My beloved father-in-law turns 69. Dave has been both a friend and mentor for countless years. My own father died when I was 19, so for most of my life, Dave has been my dad. I hope that one day I will be as kind, as gentle and loving as he. He's an amazing man. Long before I was even dating my wife, Dave took me on camping trips with the family (and let me sleep in the back seat of the car rather than in a tent - kind man!), trips to the beach with them (beyond count the memories from "The Purple Pad"), and retreats at "The Farm."

What can I tell you about this man?

Let's see:

First, Dave's a giant. 6'7" tall - and not skinny - just think a regular sized person blown up in size a time or two!
Second, he's a singer - used to sing in choirs all the time!
Third, he's an actor - used to act in musicals!
Fourth, he used to race motor bikes - how did that huge body fit on those little bikes???
Fifth, he still loves races - can you say NASCAR?
Sixth, he can make cars go - great to have a mechanic with you on vacation!
Seventh, he can make a friend of anyone - he talks to strangers with an ease that I envy!
Eighth, he can fix about anything you throw his way - we LOVE to have him visit because this is, well, not a talent of mine!
Ninth, he knows how to garden - and he knows the names of all those flowers!
Tenth, he needs his icecream - he's a fanatic about it (what flavor? YES...)!

And best of all? Dave and Jo are thinking seriously about moving to our neighborhood. I'm tickled pink at the thought of having them so nearby. Dave, I love you! You're the best! (P.S. - Yes, David our son is named for David his grandfather - and also my dad - being born on his grandfather David's birthday - sorry St. Vlad...)

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, mein Sohn!

Today David is 18. Wow! You can figure it out: the boy was born on the Feast of the Baptistm of Vladimir of Kiev. The 1000th annivesary of that event, to be exact. I was all set to name him Vladimir, but I was overruled.

David, when he was little, was one motor mouth. He talked in bed before he got up in the morning; he talked all day; he talked when it was time to go to bed at night. He didn't need you to pay attention because he had this little trick of looking AWAY from you and still talking. He talked with clarity before his older sister and used to act as her interpreter. (When her birthday rolls around I'll have to tell you all about her multi-use words!)

He was my secret weapon in getting rid of children's sermons at St. Paul's. I asked a question one day and he started answering and he went on and on and on. I turned to the congregation and said: "And THAT'S why we're not doing children sermons anymore." I have never done another one, and had no complaints either.

One day we were walking home from the library and he was chattering away: "Who is that man up there, pappa?" I was getting irritated with all the talking and said rather sharply: "I don't know, David. How am I supposed to know?" He said, "Well, he may be a friend!" Out of the mouth of babes.

I used to pick him up after preschool and we'd go to Hardees for a treat. You know, thinking that FOOD would keep him quiet. Fat chance. He had and has no problem talking with food in his mouth. We get into the car on the way home and I say: "Honey, you need to shut your door; it's open." He piped up without hesitation: "No, pappa. In a car, when the door is open the word is ajar. The door is ajar." He was always surprising with little goodies like that.

Well, the talking has grown far, far less. But he still is quite open and freely shares with us. I love that. I love that the kids talk to us about their sorrows and their joys. He's still affectionate (he always hated to be put down; had to carry him all the time!), and he's grown to be quite a young man indeed. Much taller than his dad. Much broader than his dad. He's got his black belt in Tae Kwon Do, so his dad has only tickling left as a weapon to use against him - and he's usually helpless when it comes to tickling. He loves Macs (go, dude! - he hates it when I say "dude"). He has a lovely young lady that he hangs with (and who needs to come visit us!). Today, we'll be celebrating his birthday with a man-sized feast at Red Lobster (yea, he eats like a horse, no two ways about it; he's planning on lobster, crab legs, shrimp and scallops). He's quite a man. His mother and I are very proud of him.

14 July 2006

Matins in the Dark

I have these silly nights. I just am not tired and can't sleep. Tonight was one of them. What I have taken to doing when they occur is praying some of the Church's prayer offices during these hours. Tonight it was Compline, Matins, and then the Litany. Matins in the dark - there is something about it that fills a heart with peace. Knowing that you are joining the Church in looking for the coming of the Lord, praying for it, and welcoming it. Truly "the night is ending and the day is at hand!" "A light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death" indeed!

13 July 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

After this the priest cries aloud, LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS. For truly ought we in that most awful hour to have our heart on high with God, and not below, thinking of earth and earthly things. The priest then in effect bids all in that hour abandon all worldly thoughts, our household cares, and to have their heart in heaven with the mericful God. - St. Cyril of Jerusalem, *Mystagogical Catechesis* V:4

Let all mortal flesh keep silence
And with fear and trembling stand.
*Ponder nothing earthly minded*
for with blessing in His hand,
Christ, our God, to earth descending
Comes our homage to demand. - LSB (based on the Liturgy of St. James)

The Korby Gems Come Tumbling Out...

....a la Petersen, a la Fast...

Petersen said: A prophet. Indeed!


"Sinful men become idolatrous over bread and wine. They anchor their hearts to bread and to its security; they crave it for reasons of fear or greed, lust or hate. Men fight over bread, its production and distribution and control. Men make it the grand end of all their being (either pleasure or power) and men are heart-broken, full of anxiety, when the bread of their life is threatened. It was around food (given for use under the Word of God) that Satan organized his first attack on man in order to get man to use food under the word of Satan and thus frustrate God's purposes for man. The Second Adam in the wilderness was confronted by the deceiver with the same simple yet fate-full choice. And so are you!

You don't have to be trained in the art of anxiety---how to worry successfully. Just doing what comes naturally will soon feed you on an ample diet of anxiety. But even beyond the worry and anxiety, you don't need training in how to become an effective grumbler. You can (by nature) murmur quite skillfully about everything from your wife to your preacher, from your professor to your roomate......Or have you found it necessary to take a course on greed? Who has had to teach you the art of discontent?......If a man feeds himself on his greed and discontent, this is finally what he becomes -- greed. We become what we "eat" -- and I am not speaking only of groceries. Aye! We become what we eat. Jesus says to us. Take eat; take drink. In the mystery of His own Person, in the power of His own Act of Love, He shapes us by feeding us on Himself. He not ony feeds us on His Body; He builds us into His Body!"

Thanks, Pr. Petersen!

A Beautiful Tribute

12 July 2006

Truly Priceless

People don't like praying the Morning or Evening Suffrages. So the Commission on Worship years ago changed the name to Responsive Prayer I and II. Maybe they had a point...


Patristic Quote for the Day

For while all vices manifest themselves in wrongdoing, pride lurks also in our good works, seeking to destroy even them. - St. Augustine, *The Rule* 1.7

God's hatred for pride is so strong that he would rather see humility in evil deeds than pride in good deeds. - St. Augustine, *Sermon on Psalm 93* par. 15

11 July 2006


Fr. Fenton just passed on the word that Dr. Kenneth Korby entered the Church Triumphant this morning.

Patristic Quote for the Day

But if you are left speechless, hearing how a Son and one who's not Son share one Godhead, as though being swayed two ways, by two good arguments, God himself, I trust, shall come forth next to give a reason. From the one first father sprang a wife and Seth, she a half-slice, he a second child by marriage bonds, one not by birth, the other by birth, but both being equally human. Remembring these, don't you belittle any within the Godhead, putting this one above, this one below. One is the nature, immeasurable, uncreated, a-temporal, free, and co-venerable, one God in three refulgencies, making the world go round. By these I am awakened, another new young man, when in the font death gets buried, and I come racing back to life. - St. Gregory of Nazianzus, *On God and Man* Poem 1.1.3

You know...

when other people brag on my son, I don't have to. : )

10 July 2006

It's Official

St. Paul's voters tonight, among other things, approved the switch to and purchase of the Lutheran Service Book. We hope that the books will be in place prior to the congregation's anniversary service on October 1st. A very kind and generous donor offered to fund up to 1/2 or $4000 for the books.

Homily for Trinity 5

Through Isaiah, the Lord said: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is 55:8,9) But not only are the Lord’s thoughts different from ours, but to us they appear nonsense. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God” and why not? “For they are folly to him and he is not able to understand them.” (1 Cor. 2:14)

So when Jesus, after having absconded with Peter’s boat and turning it into a pulpit, tells the weary fishermen that it’s time to head back and do some fishing, you can almost hear what’s running through Peter’s mind.

“Number one. You may not have noticed this, rabbi, since you were so busy teaching, but while you’ve been talking, we’ve been working. We just finished cleaning our nets. We just finished folding them and packing them away. Number two. You are a rabbi, and by trade a carpenter. I’ll allow you know a thing or two about the Scriptures. I’ve never heard anyone open them up like you. But would you allow that I am a fisherman? That I know a thing or two about fishing? And you know what? You don’t fish out in the deep, because the fish like the shallows and you don’t fish nearly so well in the daytime as at night. Fish have eyes. They see the net and swim away, you see? Number three. We’ve been up all night working. We got nothing. And then you delayed us by using our boat. We just want to go home and go to sleep. Do you understand?”

So run the thoughts of men. Luther, in his blunt way, put it like this: “It’s natural for us to think we’re smarter than our Lord God.” But notice that though Peter would surely have been thinking along these lines, as he indicates when he says: “Master, we have toiled all night and taken nothing,” there follows a great big fat old “nevertheless.” “Nevertheless, at Your Word I will let down the nets.”

Luther again, describing Peter’s approach: “I’ll kiss my own opinion good-bye and stick to your Word.” Now there you have it. It sounded stupid, foolish, hopeless. But since the Master said it, they did it. There’s a lesson for us all.

How much faith do you think they had when they dropped those nets? I suspect they were just humoring the Lord. Maybe even nursing the thought that they’d be able to say: “See, we told you so.” But what happened?

Fish. The Lord of the sea commanded the fish. And the fish obey when he speaks. Into the nets they swim. School after school, till the nets are ready to break. When the Lord gives gifts, he’s not stingy. Like at Cana, an abundance of wine. So here, an abundance of fish. As the collect for day said it: “exceeding all that we can desire.” He does never does anything by halfs. With Him it’s the lot and them some more. Everything and then some.

But now Peter is really freaking. Fish. Fish. Fish. And as they glisten and flop around in the boat and the boats start to sink under the heaviness of the Lord’s gifts, Peter sinks too. Down to his knees. Fish everywhere. And he says to Jesus: “Go away. Leave me. I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

But God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are not our ways. He didn’t come into the flesh to scare sinners off, but to draw them into communion with Himself. So: “Don’t be afraid.” As though He said: “Yeah, I know it freaks you out to have the Lord of all creation sitting here in your boat and blessing you with an abundance you never looked for, but Peter, you haven’t seen anything yet. I haven’t come among you to merely supply you with an abundance of earthly goods – I would never have had to come down from heaven to do that. I’ve come among you to do something else. Something so that sinners would never have to be afraid of my company ever again. Come on, Peter – come on, James and John. I’ll show you what I’ve come to do. And then you won’t be catching fish anymore. You’ll be catching men.”

And off they went. They left everything behind and followed Jesus. We’re impressed by that, but they’d look at us strangely and say: “Look, if you’ve got the Lord of earth and sea with you, what have you really left behind? He’s everything!” And so they watch Him do what He came to do. They see first-hand how the thoughts of God are not our thoughts. God come in the flesh not to wipe out sinners, but to wipe out sin. God come in the flesh, not to judge and condemn, but to be judged and condemned, to suffer and to die. Nailed to a piece of wood. Whew. Not our thoughts at all. God the Son becoming all that we are by nature in order to make us all that He is by grace. He the Sinner; we the children. He the damned, we the blessed. He in our hell; we in His heaven. Who would ever have dreamed it up? Folly to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Risen from the dead, He sends forth His disciples to fish for men with a Gospel net.

So, it’s not just back then that his thoughts and ours are headed in opposite directions. It goes on still today. He has His way of doing things, and it seems pretty silly to us. He says take some water and throw on a person with the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and sins are forgiven, the Holy Spirit bestowed, a new birth takes place, heaven is opened, people are adopted into the family of God and eternal life is imparted to all who believe it. We want to say: “What? We don’t have to do anything?” “Right,” he says. Or He says: “take bread and wine and speak over them at my command these words of mine and what you then have is My Body and My Blood given for you for the forgiveness of sins, and that way I’ll live in you and you will live in me forever.” We look at it and say: “It sure looks just like bread and wine.” He says: “It is what I say it is.” He says: “Go out and tell my story! Tell people about the God who loved them so much that He took on flesh and blood to suffer and die for them, because He loves them and wants them to share eternity with Him.” We say: “Well, you’ve got to have more than that to make it work.” He says: “No you don’t. Anything you add only detracts.” He says: “Do it my way. You just heed my word and let me take care of filling the boat.”

“My thoughts are not your thoughts and my ways are not your ways.” True, indeed, from His birth of the Immaculate Virgin to His death on the Tree of shame; from His rising in a body incorruptible to the means He uses to impart a share in His endless life - communion with the Father. From start to finish, it’s all different from anything we’d ever have dreamt up, and for that all glory and honor be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

09 July 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

His permission, therefore, is usually spoken of in the Holy Scripture as His energy and work. Nay, even when He says that God creates evil things, and that there is no evil in a city that the Lord hath not done, he does not mean by these words that the Lord is the cause of evil, but the word 'evil' is used in two ways, with two meanings. For sometimes it means what is evil by nature, and this is the opposite of virtue and the will of God: and sometimes it means that which is evil and oppressive to our sensation, that is to say, afflictions and calamities. Now these are seemingly evil because they are painful, but in reality are good. For to those who understand they became ambassadors of conversion and salvation. The Scripture says that of these God is the Author.

St. John of Damascus, Book IV of Orthodox Faith, Chapter XIX

08 July 2006

More Party Pics

Patristic Quote for the Day

Our fathers thought that they should welcome the gift of evening light with something better than silence, so they gave thanks as soon as it appeared. We cannot say who composed these words of thanksgiving at the lighting of the lamps, but the people use these ancient words, and no one accuses them of blaspheming for singing: "We praise Father, Son, and God's Holy Spirit." - St. Basil the Great, *On the Holy Spirit* par. 73

[Note: this is a reference to the Phos Hilaron which remains in The Lutheran Hymnal as #101; in LW in the Evening Prayer Service as well as in this hymn; and in LSB in the Evening Prayer Service, and as this hymn]


We had a little get-together yesterday. The Landskroeners, Robin Fish, Asburrys, Vicar, Bowers, Holles, Riklis, Curtises, and the indominable and famous Archeologist, Dr. Lee Maxwell, newly returned from digging in the dirt in Syria. (Did I leave anybody out?) Much joy, and an obscene amount of food! Nasty martinis supplied by the Vicar:

(just look at Lee's face and you can see what that sucker tastes like!):

Outstanding lo-carb beer offered by yours truly (why did vicar get more takers than me?):

Lots of laughter and joy - even though that dog, Pastor Curtis, was celebrating his 29 (!!!!) birthday. Aside from the Bowers empyting out the contents of their freezer (don't ask!), the absolute hit of the party, though, were the newest members of the Asburry family, held here by Christina and Jonathan:

Theosis and the Cross

Gerhard states the the object of theology is to make men divine - partakers of the divine nature. Take that to the cross for a moment. For it is by the Cross that God most deeply reveals who He is. When He would make you divine, participants in His divine nature, He is not talking about making you "superman" - He is talking about making you be suffering servants, co-heirs with His Son. The divine nature is manifested in the total emptying out of self in service to the sinner in need. That's what He invites us to share and to share it in all its depths. This is not just the path to glorification - though it is that, "if we suffer with Him we will also be glorified with Him" - it IS glorification, just as St. John's Gospel teaches. "The hour has come!" To share in the divine nature is to share in the "mind of Christ" a la Philippians 2. Life lived in union with Christ as love, the gift of self poured out for others. To hold onto self and try to preserve it for self - that is to decline to be a sharer in the divine nature. Yes, He would lift you to the glories of Godhead. That's why He said: "Take up your cross daily and follow me."

07 July 2006

Happy birthday, Mom!

Today is my mother's birthday: Mildred Mastin Weedon. She's been gone for many years now. Had she lived, she would be 89 - she was 43 when I was born. She was a remarkable woman in so many ways. Crippled with polio when she was only three, she lived with suffering her whole life, and yet never made a big deal about it - and never let it spoil her mischevious sense of fun. Some months after my brother Joe died in a car wreck back in 1985, I wrote this rather impertinent poem about her - but she amazed me and still does. She ended up with Alzheimer's before she died, and that was horrible. I miss her much. Memory eternal!

A Portrait - MMW

Beneath your studied, "give a damn" exterior
Runs a pride, the depths of which I cannot fathom -
And the pride lends you a dignity which is beyond
The vision of most in a shallow age.
Proud daughter of high lineage -
Child of the Fields,
To portray you is difficult, most difficult indeed!

The outward marks form a delightful litany:
Your tea, your swing, your towel,
Your collection of wise sayings,
Your love of remnants that speak of eras
That have long since lifted their wings
And forsook these shores,
Your puzzles, your rocking chair, your books.
But these are only the joyful tracks that testify to your presence.
To portray you who fill all these with meaning - that is my task!

First, it must be said that your tender love seems to have no end,
And that your anger is but a momentary flicker.
How I see now that your boundless love is your bane!
For a love so lasting, so great, is capable of grief unutterable
And equally immeasureable.
Surely almost you must feel that you have given and given
Til there is naught left to give -
Yet you cease not to love and give to us all.

Second, it must be said that you are strong.
It flows naturally from your giving.
You have carried us through times of darkness
Beyond our imagining - and still you walk on,
Head held high.

Third, it must be said that you worry far too much.
You are not God, and yet you seem to feel that the
Destiny of your own is in your hand. But it is not so.
From this delusion I fear you shall never be entirely free -
So deeply is it entwined at the root of your being.
And for this foible, I love you dearly,
Though my sincerest prayer is that you might give it into the hands
Of One far stronger and wiser than yourself.

More of you I cannot tell. You pass the bounds of scrutiny.
Only will I ever marvel at the greatness of your suffering love.

Patristic Quote for the Day

When the Logos of God became man, He filled human nature once more with the spiritual knowledge that it had lost; and steeling it against changefulness, He deified it, not in its essential nature but in its quality. He stamped it completely with His own Spirit, as if adding wine to water so as to give the water the quality of the wine. For He becomes truly man so that by grace He may make us gods. - St. Maximos the Great, Second Century on Various Texts, #26

06 July 2006

Wisdom! Let us attend!

Homily for Trinity 3 - Doctor Norman Nagel (Text: 1 Timothy 1:12-17)

In the name of Jesus.

It's amazing what turns up Sunday by Sunday in the Scriptures we hear read. Take today. We could spend a happy time with the Gospel. In this congregation, I've been told, no one can get away with saying, "Oh, we know all about that business of the lost coin and sheep." You have gotten in the way of being surprised with what more and deeper there is with the lost sheep and the lost coin than you ever imagined. And that can also hit you in Bible study, or when the pastor visits you, celebrating some special gift and occasion. Or when you are sick, or dying.

So you have a pastor. That was our Lord's idea, which is where today's epistle comes in with talk of ordination. So let's run with the epistle. If you'd rather have a sermon about the gospel, sorry. Be sure to be here, then, next year, third Sunday after Trinity. Besides you can always count on more from your own pastor than you can from any one-shot preacher. However, a one-shot preacher may have one usefulness. If your pastor preaches the doctrine of the Office of the Holy Ministry, some may suspect he's puffing up himself.

Actually, you see, Holy Ordination does exactly the opposite. It gets the man out of the way of what the Lord puts him there for as His instrument. As Dr. Luther says, "It is the Lord who ordains and makes ministers." And weightier than Dr. Luther is the Apostle Paul, who has only the Lord to thank that he is a minister.

"I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who enabled me because he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, an insolent man. But I obtained mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus."

That's where it's at. "In Christ Jesus." As a place, that is where He is doing His Christ Jesusing. Since He is the only one who does that, what is going on there is only by His doing. And what's the first thing to say about Him and His doing, and where it is going on? "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief."
Paul not only had no score; he was clearly in negative, in minus territory, well below zero, a blasphemer and a persecutor. The Christ Jesus whom he confesses is the one who reached down below zero, rescued him, and - would you believe it? - put him into the ministry. That's enough to bowl Paul over.

But he isn't stuck there with himself. He is talking for the sake of those who are Christians or who are being drawn toward being Christians. Look, if He's such a Lord Jesus as can reach down to where I was, well below zero, you can surely count on Him, you can surely count on Him to do that for you. He saved "a wretch like me."

You've all sung it, but do be careful. Are you drawing attention to yourself or to your Savior? The Apostle points to the Savior: the one who has done the saving job. The only one. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. If you are not a sinner, don't play pretend and make a mockery of the liturgy; of the Savior, whose liturgy it is.

The liturgy begins before the Lord, in His name. We are sinners; there's no denying it. But are baptized. He put His name upon us with the water. There's no denying that. He will not deny that although we may try to get rid of it to our peril. The Lord runs the liturgy with His name. Out of His name, He speaks to us, and we say back to Him what He says to us. That this is what is going on is clearly confessed when the Lord speaks His words to us by the use of the mouth that He has put there for His speaking it.

Now it's not because we figured out it was a good idea to have a minister doing that. It is the Lord's idea. Ours by His gift and mandate. No one may dare to speak same as the Lord speaking, unless the Lord has put him there to do it, as the Lord's instrument for what He, the Lord, is having to say. You are being spoken to by the Lord, by what He is saying and delivering with His words. "It's not my two bits with" says the pastor. "By virtue of my office, as a called and ordained servant of the Word, in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

In the name means He is doing it. And doing it in the way that He has given for it to be done. To say "office" is to say "instrument" is to say "the Lord is doing it." His doing, according as our text puts it, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. He did that. Answered for our sins in our place. At Calvary. And then, as we read at the end of the Gospels, He arranged for the salvation He had achieved Good Friday and Easter to be delivered. He instituted the office of the holy ministry. And that continues on as He puts men into it. If there's no one put in, it's not going on.

His putting Paul in is where today's Epistle begins. Today we are celebrating His putting in, some 20 years ago, him upon whom He put His name in his baptism some twenty years earlier, named William, of the lineage of Weedon, and now called to be your pastor at St. Paul's.

The Lord doesn't let things float. He achieved salvation. He sees to its delivery. Proclamation, Baptism, Absolution, Lord's Supper. And for these to be going on, He instituted the Office of the Holy Ministry, as the Augsburg Confession so clearly confesses. To say "office" is to say "instrument", to say "instrument" is to say "the Lord is doing it." Or the other way round. To say that the Lord is doing it, is to say that His instrument is doing it, to say that the Office He instituted is doing it. The Office He put William Weedon into and called him to be your pastor at St. Paul's.

Did Pastor Weedon baptize you? You can say that. It wouldn't have happened unless somebody did it. But you confess, rather, with the Large Catechism, we see a man's hands doing it, but it is done in the Lord's name. That is, HE is doing it. Only what the Lord does can we be utterly sure of.

Lots of things, then, of His doing to be giving thanks for today, tomorrow, next Sunday. And next year's Third Sunday after Trinity, expect some surprises with the lost sheep and the lost coin. Then, there's heaven coming. That's where the Epistle's doxology swings us up to: "To believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."

In a moment we'll be pulled into doing that with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. The Lord who gives 20 years has always lots more that He is leading us onto. Open your mouth wide, says the Lord, and I will fill it. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Commemoration of the Prophet Isaiah

Isaiah son of Amoz is considered to be the greatest of the writing prophets and is quoted in the
New Testament more than any other Old Testament prophet. His name means “Yahweh [the
Lord] saves.” Isaiah prophesied to the people of Jerusalem and Judah from about 740 B.C. to
700 B.C. and was a contemporary of the prophets Amos, Hosea, and Micah. Isaiah was a fierce
preacher of God’s Law, condemning the sin of idolatry. He was also a comforting proclaimer of
the Gospel, repeatedly emphasizing God’s grace and forgiveness. For this he is sometimes
called the “Evangelist of the Old Testament.” No prophet more clearly prophesied about the
coming Messiah and his saving kingdom. He foretold the Messiah’s miraculous birth (Is 7:14;
9:6), his endless reign (Is 2:1–5; 11:1–16), and his public ministry (Is 61:1–3), but most notably
his “Suffering Servant” role and atoning death (52:13—53:12). The apostle John’s description of
Isaiah, that Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory and spoke of him (John 12:41), is an apt summary of Isaiah’s
prophetic ministry. (LSB Project)

Perpetual Forgiveness

In this matter we do not trust in the faith which we had or in the forgiveness which we obtained in the past, Ezek. 33:13, or else we should be like people who attempt to preserve the sunlight in bags; but we always trust in the ever-present blood of Christ, which perpetually cries for mercy. This blood we continously present to the Father in perpetual repentance. Therefore we do not consider it to be too much if we receive forgiveness of sins early Sunday mornings in the confessional service and again, half an hour later, in the main service, after the confessioin of sins, and once more at twelve o'clock in Holy Communion. Yes, we would not consider it to be too often if we received forgiveness of sins twenty times every hour. I ask, not the sticklers for prescribed forms, if there are such, but the aged women in the closet, Is this true or not? This doctrine, the doctrine of perpetual forgiveness, and none other, protects against [carnal] security. For he who regards justification merely as a stepping-stone to sanctification can easily come to the viewpoint of the clergyman from Pomerania who was given to strong drink. He held that the grace of justification, but not the grace of sanctification had been bestowed upon him. On the other hand, he who thinks he can protect himself from security with the doctrine of gradual forgiveness is not much different from the monks who greviously tortured themselves and yet never found peace. - Edward Preuss, *Justification of the Sinner Before God*, pp. 95,96

Gem from Chem

The most remarkable picture of divine love toward us is that He joins us to Himself in a fellowship not only of created gifts, but that He shares with us from His own essence the Spirit who is co-essential or consubstantial with Himself. For we are not only participants in divine gifts but also we share in the divine nature itself, 2 Peter 1:4. - Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici (vol. 1, page 145)

Patristic Quote for the Day

Since He is offered up in many places, are there many Christs? Not at all. The one Christ is everywhere, being completely here and completely there, one body. For as He who is offered in many places is one body, and not many bodies, so is He also one sacrifice. He is that High Priest of ours who has offered the sacrifice that cleanses us. We also now offer that which, having been offered then, was not consumed. This is done in remembrance of that which was done then. "This do," says He, "in remembrance of Me." For we not make another sacrifice, as the high priest, but always the same. We rather bring about a remembrance of the sacrifice. - Chrysostom, Homily 17 on Hebrews (cited in the Catalog of Testimonies appended to The Book of Concord)

05 July 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

My prayer is but a cold affair, Lord,
because my love burns with so small a flame,
but you who are rich in mercy
will not mete out to them your gifts
according to the dullness of my zeal,
but as your kindness is above all human love
so let your eagerness to hear
be greater than the feeling in my prayers.
Do this for them and with them, Lord,
so that they may speed according to your will,
and thus ruled and protected by you,
always and everywhere,
may they come at last to glory and eternal rest,
through you who are living and reigning God,
through all ages. Amen.

Prayer for Friends - St. Anselm of Canterbury

04 July 2006

Solving the Pinochle Mystery

Calling all pinochle fans - I seek definitive answer to an ongoing disagreement between my wife and myself. Is pinochle best played with the players being limited to the measley hand that fate dealt them, or should they have the opportunity to pass cards to the partner who names trump? Asburry and I stand solidly with passing. My wife and unnamed others insist on the boring old "what you've been dealt is it." Which shall it be?

Patristic Quote for the Day

Our faith teaches something very different. For the corruption of the body, which is a burden on the soul, is not the cause but the punishment of Adam's first sin. Moreover, it was not the corruptible flesh that made the soul sinful; on the contrary, it was the sinful soul that made the flesh corruptible. - St. Augustine, *City of God*, Book XIV, Chapter 3

Answering the Unanswerable

"What is the liturgy?"

I remember when some Presbyterian Korean students put the question to
Nagel in a class he was teaching: "Luther as Servant of the Liturgy." But in
any case, his answer was informative, frustrating, and right on:

"The liturgy is wherein we live as the people of God."

One of the Korean students asked after class why Dr. Nagel hated
them! We told them, he doesn't hate you, but he's trying to answer a
question that avoids taking a living thing and making of it a corpse
for dissection and study. Then we showed them the text in the book
and I think they were more perplexed than ever. And well they might
be, because the Church's liturgy is not just text in a book.

My answer will likely be as frustrating but let me give her a whirl.
The Church's liturgy is her prayed confession. Loehe: "The Church
not only learns, she prays. She prays not only in her single members
in their closets, but together in her houses of assembly. She prays
in speech, she prays in song, and the Lord dwells amid her praises
with His Sacraments. Her approach to Him, His approach to her, the
whole form of her approach and of His coming, we call the Liturgy."

Now the next section is important and vital and we should not ignore.

"These forms are free, few parts are commanded."

But THIS is the part I would emphasize:

"but in spite of her freedom the Church from the beginning has
accepted certain forms. A holy manifoldness of singing and praying
has developed itself, and a lovely course of thought in drawing near
to and departing from the Lord of Lords has been her delight. Like
the planets go round the sun, so the congregation in its services,
full of loveliness and dignity, moves about her Lord. In holy
childlike innocence, which only a childlike heart rightly
understands, the host of redeemed sanctified children of God moves in
worship about the universal Father and the Lamb, and the Spirit of
the Lord of Lords leads them. The spiritual joy and heavenly delight
which such enjoy in their participation in the Liturgy cannot be
described; it impresses even those who are less devout, and the *pure
confession has no lovelier form, no more attractive manner, than when
it is engaged in adoration and praise.*" (Three Books, Book 3,
Chapter 9)

Wherein we live as the people of God.
Wherein God pours out His life to us and we delight and dance in that life, that light.
The whole round then: the Divine Service and the little daily prayer offices,
our prayers at funerals and weddings, our whole manner of being
before the altar of God and the throne of the Word, these are what I
mean by the Liturgy

Bach would not have come to be, I don't believe, without the delight
in that liturgy which he had grown up in from his youth. He learned
the dance early and when he embellished the dance, it was precisely
an embellishment from within - from wherein he lived as a Christian -
and that's what made it truly great indeed.

03 July 2006

Uncle Isaac

I didn't know him. He died long before I was born. He was my father's uncle - Isaac. Yet from his poetry I know him, and I can't help but love him. They were primitive Baptists - and yet from this I poem I know he was a dear brother in Christ:

My Dad, how I have missed him,
In all these sixty years.
His company and counsel
In all my hopes and fears.

I remember well one evening
When I was in distress
And thought my lost condition
I must to him confess.
Expecting when he heard me
He would give me up as lost
And think I was another
Deceiver he had crossed.

But when I heard his answer
To my very great surprise
He seemed to think my troubles
Were linked with Christian ties.
Christ, said he, came to seek and
To save that which was lost,
To heal the broken-hearted,
The weak and tempest-tossed.

Whene'er one's lost condition
Is openly confessed
It shows some revelation
Of God that is expressed.
To look alone to Christ is
To look away from self;
This is the Gospel lesson
My Father used to tell.

Daddy, dear old Daddy,
Affections, how they bind!
His sayings, how they linger
And dwell within my mind!
The hope that God has given
Most highly do I prize
That I may meet my father
Beyond the vaulted skies.

You Knew Me

In my mother's womb You knew me,
Though by human eye unknown,
Yours the hand that fashioned, shaped me,
Gave me father, mother, home.

In the water You received me;
Named me as Your own dear child.
Washed away my sin forever,
As upon my life you smiled.

By Your holy Word You taught me,
Showed me there the way to live:
Every breath and every moment
I receive as gifts You give.

At Your table well You feed me
Where I taste eternal joy.
Fed and nourished by Your presence
All my days Your praise employ.

When at least from earth You call me
And I stand before Your throne,
By Your own grace then receive me,
As a child You've made Your own.

And while I on earth must wander
Help me every day to see
All of life as precious to You;
Precious let it be to me.

Father, Source of all things living!
Jesus, Life of everything!
Spirit, Gift of Life eternal!
You, our God, we praise and sing.

Close Enough

Wow. Tomorrow my oldest brother turns 61!!!! Happy birthday, Butchy! You've been my hero for a long time. After all, you bought me my first fishing rod, bow and arrow set, and razor. Sorry that I never caught onto the hunting and fishing thing. But I still use a razor - somewhat. And thanks for all the trips to every fire station in Montgomery County, Maryland; for the trip down the Rapidan in the boat; for the many tramps through the woods; for the pinochle game where your passing gave me 1,000 Aces; for the fun time when we visited you in Montana and the sights you showed us. You've been a great brother, and I apologize for being the spoiled rotten brat! (P.S. I am not sure that I miss your crazy driving on mountain roads designed to make me think we were plunging over the edge!!!)

Patristic Quote for the Day

'I renounce thee, Satan, thou wicked and most cruel tyrannt!' meaning, 'I fear thy might no longer; for Christ hath overthrown it, having partaken with me of flesh and blood, that through these He might by death destroy death, that I might not forever be subject to bondage. I renounce thee, thou crafty and most subtle serpent. I renounce thee, plotter as thou art, who under the guise of friendship didst work all disobedience, and bring about the apostasy of our first parents. I renounce thee, Satan, the artificer and abettor of all wickedness. - St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Mystagogical Catechesis 1:4

Gem from the Hauspostil

If you are a pastor engaged in preaching and teaching your people, and the response hasn't been all that great, don't be dismayed and diverted. Say to yourself: God has ordered me to proclaim his Word, and that's what I'll continue to do. If it doesn't always proper, God knows why; if my work does thrive, it pleases both him and me. The same attitude should prevail in any other of life's callings. - Martin Luther, House Postil, II:288,289 (Trinity V)

02 July 2006

Unexpected Gifts from the Lord

When vicar arrived at Church today, he told me that service at early would be a little light perhaps. I looked at him questioningly. He said: Because Dr. Nagel's preaching at the late service.

First *I'd* heard of it. Seems some of the congregation arranged this in honor of 20 years of serving in the office of the ministry. Dr. Nagel was a delight, as always, and preached upon the Epistle. If I get a copy of it, I'm going to post it.

Then the Nagels, Vicar, two seminarians (and one seminarian girlfriend) joined us for Sunday supper (which Cindi miraculously pulled together - for 10 of us! - in under an hour). Betsy regaled us with stories about O.P. Kretzmann that had us all laughing. Kindest comment from Besty was that they would love to come out here for worship it were not so far - the people's singing and whole-hearted participation in the liturgy did not go unmarked.

In short, I am a very blessed man: blessed in my teachers, blessed in my vicars, blessed in my parish and above all blessed in my family. Soli Deo gloria!

01 July 2006

Why LSB?

One of my very best friends - one who is given to brutal honesty - asked me today: why bother with the Lutheran Service Book? Why not be content with The Lutheran Hymnal? Why the extra expense?

I was so glad she asked. It gave me the opportunity to pull some thoughts together. Here they are - not in any particular order - but reasons why I favor the adoption of the Lutheran Service Book:

1. Better job of updating the Common Service than in LW.
2. Lots of great new (and old) hymns.
3. Compline! I love the Prayer at the Close of the Day - and the setting in LSB is accessible and beautiful.
4. Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage and Funeral - all in the LSB, cutting out reasons to print these services out.
5. A single method of counting pages, making the hymnal MUCH more user-friendly.
6. Lowered keys (YES!).
7. Fabulous job of updating Matins and Vespers - very simple to follow, kudos on the Magnificat in Vespers.
8. More Psalms!!!
9. A chance (just a chance) of unifying the Synod behind a single ordo that respects fully the heritage of the Common Service, and yet has place for some insight from the 20th century liturgical movement.
10. In DS I and II, a fuller Eucharistia that is sensitive to the concerns of the Lutheran Church and yet offers opportunity for a richer thanksgiving.
11. The historic series given an equal footing with the three-year - a much needed help to restoring historical Lutheran worship.

That's my top 11 reasons. What are yours?

An Interesting Turn of Phrase...

In working my way through the Smacald Articles (which, I freely confess, is my least favorite Symbol), I was struck by the words of III:III:XI:1

"They have neither the authority nor the right to ban marriage and to burden *the divine order of priests* with perpetual celibacy."

Striking that Luther refers here to the Office of the Ministry as "a divine Order" and equally striking that he freely slips into the common usage of the day and speaks of "priests."

Patristic Quote for the Day

Trust not the decision of thy palate; no, but to faith unfaltering; for when we taste we are bidden to taste not bread and wine, but the sign of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Approaching, therefore, come not with thy wrists extended or thy fingers open; but make Thy left hand as if a throne for thy right, wich is on the eve of receiving the King. And having allowed thy palm, receive the Body of Christ, saying after it, Amen....

Then after having partaken of the Body of Christ, approach also the Cup of His Blood; not stretching forth thine hands, but bending and saying in the way of worship and reverence, Amen, be thou hallowed by partaking also of the Blood of Christ.

--St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Mystagogical Catechesis V:20-22 (picture is from our sister parish, Trinity in Worden, IL)