31 August 2006

Not himself

Today I finished up my shut-ins. Had a great visit with Wilma and Ed. Frieda and Lenora seemed a bit out of it, the fog gathers with both of them. Frederick was in good shape, but Alfred. My sweet Alfred. He has more than a touch of Alzheimers and is just not himself, not at all. He confessed his sins and received absolution and he prayed the Our Father, but he turned down our Lord's body and blood. You would have to know Alfred. He would NEVER turn down the Sacrament. He's just not himself. I confess that I hate this disease that holds him in its grip. And I pray for the day of his full and final healing. His dear wife Clara (together with Wilma) is like my own mom, and I hate to think of her having to hear the things he says. The thing that is so utterly clear is that it is NOT Alfred, but the disease. Lord Jesus, you can reach beyond all the barriers of disease - touch your servant Alfred with your loving care and give him again Your peace and Your joy! Amen!

Patristic Quote for the Day

Well done, O Christ, O Wisdom and Power and Word of God, and God almighty! What should we resourceless people give Thee in return for all things? For all things are Thine and Thou askest nothing of us but that we be saved. Even this Thou hast given us, and by Thy ineffable goodness Thou art grateful to those who accept it.

- St. John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith, Book IV, Chapter IV

30 August 2006


You can’t know what it was like. You just can’t know. It was like darkness wrapping itself around me, cutting me off from life. Oh, I used to be the same as you! I used to be able to hear and sing. But then it started to fade. It became harder to hear and soon there was no music. The birds were silent. The wind made no noise. The children were mimes. I couldn’t talk right either. I tried! But only my wife could understand me – and she had trouble much of the time. It was like being cut off from the world. Like being sealed in a living grave. I could see the world going on around me. But that was all.

I had never heard my grandchild’s voice. Never been able to speak her name. It hurt so badly! There was so much I wanted to hear! Much I needed to say!

And one day my old friends came by. I could see they were excited. They made motions for me to get my things together and come along with them. I was not interested in much of anything by that time. I waved them away. But they were insistent. They got me up and started tugging at me as if they were in a terrific hurry. It was easier to go along than fight them off, so I went. Thank God, I went!

I remember the day like it was yesterday. The sun was golden and hot and the sky like a vault of blue over my head, with not a cloud in it. But I wasn’t in much of a mood to enjoy the day at first. I was a piece of baggage toted along. Whenever I tried to ask them what was going on, they just shrugged their shoulders and looked confused. They couldn’t even understand a word that I said.

And then up ahead I saw it. A crowd of people – and at the center of the crowd a man. We pushed and shoved our way through and then they brought me right to him.

How can I ever make you understand this man? He was so different! Most people, when they realized I couldn’t hear them, would just walk away with a shrug. Sometimes when I tried to talk, I could see them shake their shoulders in laughter. And I’d get mad and try to talk loud and their shoulders only shook the more. Well this man wasn’t like that. Not at all.

He looked at me and all of a sudden it was different. In that one look He was telling me: “You’re not alone, my friend. You’re not alone.” And I knew he was right. I knew I wasn’t alone anymore. He was in my world with me. I looked into His eyes and they seemed to be looking right down inside of me, reading the secret thoughts of my heart. I started to cry as hope stirred in me. Maybe he could do what none of the physicians could. Maybe. Maybe.

He reached out to me and took my hand in his, and led me aside, away from all the others. We stood looking at each other for a minute. And then He reached out his hands, took his fingers, and actually put them in my deaf ears. He then spit into one hand, wiped his finger in the spittle and smeared His spit on my tongue.

Then it was that I knew what was going to happen! I was going to be healed. At last! He turned those burning eyes of His up to the sky. He seemed to see things there that I couldn’t see. He sighed. It was a great sigh. His whole body shuddered. And He said – and as He said it I actually heard it, like a sound from a great distance and growing louder by the second: Ephphatha! Open up! OPEN UP!

And instantly I was hearing again! The birds, the crowds, His breathing next to me! I heard it all. And I opened my mouth and said: “I can hear!” And I said it, just like anyone would. Clear as can be. I heard it with my own two ears. Tongue tied no more!!!

The crowd went into an uproar when we came back -everyone turning to everyone else. “Was there ever anything like it? He does all things well! He even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak!”

I must confess. I went home then. But whenever Jesus was nearby I went to hear Him. You know what? The things He said – they just kept on opening me up. He saw, He spoke, He listened to a world that was so much bigger and better than the little world I had known.

I had been so closed off. So shut up in my own little world. He changed all that. He opened up those who would listen to Him. He showed us a world where the God who had made all things was not some cold and angry and distant being, but a loving Father, who really and truly cares about us – giving us the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the place we live. He showed us a world where the Father’s love sang out in the bird’s song and the waving of the grass. He showed us a world where we didn’t need to be worried or anxious as if we were on our own, without a Father. A world where we could live at peace with the Father’s care and die with joy, knowing that the Father would be enfolding us into His arms. He showed us a world where we don’t have to try to do things to make God love us – a world where God’s love is simply always there. Where we can reach out and touch others without fear or suspicion –giving them a taste of what it’s like to live the opened up life.

Now please, don’t get me wrong. The opened up life isn’t a life without trouble. No. He made that plain right from the start. If we allow God to open us up and live like that in this world, we are asking for trouble. He told us plainly that we have an enemy out to destroy us, out to keep us locked up in our own little worlds of fear. But He promised us that in all the troubles we go through in our lives, He will never leave us – told us He would use the troubles to make us ever stronger in Him.

And He didn’t just talk like that. He lived it. Died it. The people who didn’t want to be opened to this new way of living and loving, seeing and hearing, nailed Him to a tree and they thought that would shut Him out once and for all. They jeered: “Now we see how much Your Father loves you!”

But He’d told us that it was all part of the plan. By suffering and dying He was able to speak His biggest and final Ephphatha! “Open up!” He died on the cross and was laid in the tomb, but in the darkness of Easter morning His voice sounded again and the doors of hell and death burst open at the sound. “Open up!” Heaven itself opened up, opened wide, and all who have been opened up by faith in the Savior walk out of death and into a life that never ends. The opening up for them goes on and on forever. Always more He has to give. Always the opening up to hold more and more as we grow up into Him for eternity!

Let's come to Him and pray: “Open my very being Lord, to experience Your Father’s love. Speak Your ephphatha over me today!” Amen.

The Peace of Compline

What is it about those words?

Standing in the darkened Church and singing together words hallowed by long centuries of use, joining Christians from long ago and still today, all praying:

I confess to almighty God before the whole company of heaven...

...pardon, forgiveness, and remission of all your sins...

...in peace I will both lay down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety...

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High...

May the Lord bless you from Zion, He who made heaven and earth. Glory...

Before the ending of the day, Creator of the world we pray...

...and be our Guard and Keeper now...

You, O Lord, are in the midst of us and we are called by Your name...

Into your hands...

You have redeemed me, O Lord, God of truth...

Visit our dwellings, O Lord, and drive far away all the snares of the enemy...

...Your holy angels dwell with us...

Our Father...

And then the crowning words of the Office:

Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ and alseep we may rest in peace.

Bedtime or funeral? Yes. Either. Lord, now You let Your servant depart in peace.

In peace. That's the whole office in a nutshell. Peace. Peace because no matter what comes tonight, tomorrow, or the next day and on forever:

"The almighty and merciful Lord, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" DOES "bless us and keep us."

Peace. Amen. A good night indeed.

Patristic Quote for the Day

And he well said, "a righteousness of mine own," not that which I gained by labor and toil, but that which I found from grace. If then he who was so excellent [i.e., St. Paul] is saved by grace, much more are you. For since it was likely they would say that the righteousness which comes from toil is the greater, he shows that it is dung in comparison with the other. For otherwise I, who was so excellent in it, would not have cast it away, and run to the other. But what is that other? That which is from the faith of God, i.e. it too is given by God. This is the righteousness of God; this is altogether a gift. And the gifts of God far exceed those worthless good deeds, which are due to our own diligence. Chrysostom, Homily on Philippians 3

[Note that St. John Chrysostom does not speak of works of the Mosaic law such as circumcision etc., but specifically opposes the gift of God to the totality of "those worthless good deed, which are due to our own diligence."]

29 August 2006

The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

Today the Holy Church throughout the world remembers the beheading of St. John the Baptist, so that the Lord's forerunner on earth was also His forerunner to the dead, announcing that He who was the Defeat of Death was now in flesh and blood and soon coming to release all and bring them the grace of Resurrection.

St. Paul's, Hamel, will observe the day with Vespers at 5:30 and the Divine Service at 6:00 p.m.

Readings: Rev 6:9-11 / Rom 6:1-6 / Mark 6:14-29

Collect: Sancti Joanis Baptistae Praecursoris et Martyris tui, quaesumus, Domine, veneranda festivitas: salutaris auxilii nobis praestet effectum: Qui vivis... (Take that, CPH!)

Patristic Quote for the Day

What does this mean? That he has justified our race not by right actions, not by toils, not by barter and exchange, but by grace alone. Paul, too, made this clear when he said: “But now the justice of God has been made manifest apart from the Law.” But the justice of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ and not through any labor and suffering. -- St. John Chrysostom, *Against Judaizing Christians* Discourse VII:III 2

28 August 2006


What does a day hold?

Email, and news that my cousin Debbie is on life-support (God grant her healing!) + Breakfast + Shower + Matins + Opening at our school + 5-6th Grade Class on Creation + 7-8th Grade Class on Creation (should mention the joy of the "a-ha" that Benedict XVI points out in the creation account as a sort of "anti-Babylonian" tract - their "gods" don't even get names, just the greater and lesser light. Good stuff. I owe Pastor Gregory that book back. Someday...) + Sacrament to my oldest member, currently hospitalized + Sacrament to an older man in a nursing home + Lunch + Visit to the dentist (my wife is under the impression that the denist does not rip the gum away from the tooth; she is wrong) + Sacrament to a member who lives in a retirement village some 30 miles away + Vespers + Dinner + Work on Hymn Database for St. Paul's use of LSB + Day Care Board Meeting + Miscellaneous Blogging and sipping my fine boxed chablis and before bed, Compline

In short, a good day, but not much time to spend at the keyboard. Tomorrow promises to be another such - but all the visits with the Sacrament tomorrow will be local.


Patristic Quote for the Day

God is a great lover of man. He did not hesitate to surrender His Son as prey in order to spare His servant. He surrendered His only-begotten to purchase hard-hearted servants. He paid the blood of His Son as the price. O the philanthropy of the Master! And do not tell me again, “I sinned a lot; how can I be saved?” You cannot save yourself, but your Master can, and to such a great degree as to obliterate your sins. Pay attention very carefully to the discourse. He wipes out the sins so completely that not a single trace of them remains. – Chrysostom (Homily 8 "On Repentance and the Church" in The Fathers Of The Church, pp. 116,117)

27 August 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

"What is the mark of a faithful soul? To be in these dispositions of full acceptance on the authority of the words of Scripture, not venturing to reject anything nor making additions. For, if ‘all that is not of faith is sin’ as the Apostle says, and ‘faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God,’ everything outside Holy Scripture, not being of faith, is sin.”
-- Saint Basil the Great (The Fathers Of The Church, vol. 9, "The Morals" page 204 ).

26 August 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

"To declare His righteousness." What is declaring of righteousness? Like the declaring of His riches, not only for Him to be rich Himself, but also to make others rich, or of life, not only that He is Himself living, but also that He makes the dead to live; and of His power, not only that He is Himself powerful, but also that He makes the feeble powerful.

So also is the declaring of His righteousness not only that He is Himself righteous, but that He doth also make them that are filled with the putrefying sores of sin suddenly righteous. And it is to explain this, viz. what is "declaring," that he has added, "That He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."

Doubt not then: for it is not of works, but of faith: and shun not the righteousness of God, for it is a blessing in two ways; because it is easy, and also open to all men. And be not abashed and shamefaced. For if He Himself openly declareth Himself to do so, and He, so to say, findeth a delight and a pride therein, how comest thou to be dejected and to hide thy face at what thy Master glorieth in?

- St. John Chrysostom (Homilies on Romans 3)

25 August 2006

Collects Revisited

Live and learn. A good friend told me today that CPH holds the copyright on the collects in LSB, and therefore that I cannot legally publish them on my blog. Sorry about that, folks. I know, it seems utterly silly - how can a publishing house copyright the ancient collects of the Western Church? The new ones they wrote for Series A, B, and C, I could PERHAPS understand. But the traditional collects that are the common heritage of the West? Go figure. But there it is.

I am still waiting to see if the collects from TLH are under copyright; again, since most of them are directly out of the Book of Common Prayer, I don't know how they could be. But if they are not, I'll offer my own "updated" version of those for any who want to use them for the daily office.

Copyrighting the Church's prayer? I may blog, but I don't get THAT - I guess I'm not ready for the silliness of the digital age.

Patristic Quote for the Day

[Well, okay, so this is definitely PUSHING THE LIMITS of "quote" - let's just consider it the Patristic READING for the day!] Suppose someone should be caught in the act of adultery and the foulest crimes and then be thrown into prison. Suppose, next, that judgment was going to be passed against him and that he would be condemned. Suppose that just at that moment a letter should come from the Emperor setting free from any accounting or examination all those detained in prison. If the prisoner should refuse to take advantage of the pardon, remain obstinate and choose to be brought to trial, to give an account, and to undergo punishment, he will not be able thereafter to avail himself of the Emperor's favor. For when he made himself accountable to the court, examination, and sentence, he chose of his own accord to deprive himself of the imperial gift.

This is what happened in the case of the Jews. Look how it is. All human nature was taken in the foulest evils. "All have sinned," says Paul. They were locked, as it were, in a prison by the curse of their transgression of the Law. The sentence of the judge was going to be passed against them. A letter from the King came down from heaven. Rather, the King himself came. Without examination, without exacting an account, he set all men free from the chains of their sins.

All, then, who run to Christ are saved by his grace and profit from his gift. But those who wish to find justification from the Law will also fall from grace. They will not be able to enjoy the King's loving-kindness because they are striving to gain salvation by their own efforts; they will draw down on themselves the curse of the Law because by the works of the Law no flesh will find justification.

--St. John Chrysostom (Discourses Against Judaizing Christians. Discourse I:6-II:1)

The Hymnal in the Home

[Note: the following was an article I wrote for our parish newsletter, the Messenger]

Lutheran Service Book is not meant just as a hymnal to be used in the Church services. It is also meant for use in the school and in the home. How can it enrich your devotional life at home? Well, consider using it in these ways:

1. Put it on the piano and sing from it! Well, okay, so not everyone has a piano at home, but if you do and you have someone who can play for you, this is a GREAT family activity. Just set aside some time each week, to gather the family around and sing. Let the kids pick out some of their favorite songs! Work together on learning some of the new gems in the book. But singing together as a family is one of the single richest ways you can pass on the faith to your children.

2. Use the Daily Prayer Orders. These are found beginning on page 294 and running through 298. If are single, you can use these to shape your private devotion; for families, it's a great resource for your daily devotions together. The prayer guide on p. 294 can lead you through a regular rotation of intercession (we've printed it in our Priesthood Prays for years, and it still shows up on our website under Priesthood Prays). Then there are specific orders for the different times of the day: Morning, Noon, early Evening, and Night. Readings are suggested, or you can use the daily readings that we print out in the bulletin each week.

3. Preparing for the Lord's Supper. Just because the Lord's Supper is offered every week, that's no excuse not to take time to carefully prepare for receiving the Supper. Use your LSB to help you do this. You can sing any of the Communion hymns (617-643). You can review the Sacrament of the Altar section of the Small Catechism (326-327). You can use the Christian Questions with their Answers (329-330). You can pray the pre-communion prayer found on the inside cover of the hymnal, or the prayer for right reception of the Eucharist, found at 308.

4. Preparing for Private Absolution. The hymnal can also help you prepare for private absolution. Sing one of the hymns for confession (606-616). Pray Psalm 51. Review what the Catechism teaches about the Office of Keys and Confession (326). Read through the Ten Commandments and their explanations and make a list of how you have broken these (321-322). Pray the prayer before Confession (inside cover). Read the Confessional Address (290-291).

5. Enrich your Prayer Life. There is a veritable treasury of prayers for a great array of occasions printed in the LSB (305-318). Written prayers will never replace prayers "from the heart" but they certainly can enrich them. If ever at a loss for how to pray for a given situation, check out this treasury of prayers and see if there is not a prayer here that meets the need!

In short, the Church's Hymnbook is meant to be the PRAYERBOOK of her people too. Never have we had a hymnal before that put such goodies in our hands in a single volume. Try it out and see whether or not the LSB does not make a GREAT prayerbook for you and your family!

Where are the Collects?

I've heard from some folks trying to use the LSB for their daily prayers and frustrated at not having the collects. They will be the in altar book, of course, but for the laity that's a hefty purchase to have access to the collects. We print them out each week at St. Paul's, but I'm going to start blogging the Collects used each week here. Understand that they are from the proposal sent out to the Synod a couple years ago and when the altar book itself is published, there may be minor changes. But for now...

COLLECT for Trinity 10

O God, You delcare Your almighty power above all in showing mercy and pity. Mercifully grant us such a measure of Your grace that we may obtain Your gracious promises and be made partakers of Your heavenly treasures; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

COLLECT for St. Bartholomew - August 24

(See the selection from yesterday)

COLLECT for Trinity 11

Almighty and everlasting God, always more ready to hear than we to pray and to give more than we either desire or deserve, pour down upon us the abundance of Your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid and giving us those good things that we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

COLLECT for The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist - August 29

Almighty God, You gave Your servant John the Baptist to be the forerunner of Your Son, Jesus Christ, both in his preaching of repentance and in his innocent death. Grant that we, who have died and risen with Christ in Holy Baptism, may daily repent of our sins, patiently suffer for the sake of the truth, and may fearlessly bear witness to His victory over death; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

24 August 2006

Korby yet again

From the central activity of worship as receiving in faith the offered reconciliation in Christ, which creates the new life in her, the church derives boldness from the Word of God which she hears while speaking. Her courage is the joy of offering all her sufferings to God, not only as pleasing to Him but also as the manifestation of the victory of His graicous will over evil. She does not call suffering an act to propitiate God, but by calling out in proclamation and prayer, the church rejoices in her union with the Mediator, in consort with whom she is instrumental in bearing some specific piece of evil in the world. She accepts the death inflicted on her, not in morbidity but in union with Christ's conquering death. At worship one Christian calls to another with the remembrance of Christ's sufferings that each together may turn over all suffering to God as a joyful celebration of God's victory in Christ. - The Church at Worship in *The Lively Function of the Gospel* p. 77

An Old Service in a New Dress

I have to confess: when I first heard that LSB was including a Service of Prayer and Preaching, I thought: Why? I mean, if we have the Eucharist every Lord's Day, and if we use the Daily Prayer Offices of the Church (Matins, Vespers, Compline), why would we need any other preaching service? But a careful examination of the *Service of Prayer and Preaching* suggests that it might be misnamed. What we have here is nothing but a modern version of the old Lutheran Catechism service.

Yes, Catechism SERVICE. For many years after the Reformation, Catechism was not thought of as a "text book" for a "class room" but as a "prayer book" for worship. There was a regular liturgy for it, featuring the singing of hymns, the recitation of the primary texts of the Catechism, and then the back and forth on one of the explanations of the chief part being discussed that day. The preacher would then give instruction on that chief part and wrap the whole thing up with prayer.

If you look under the hood, that's exactly what *Service of Prayer and Preaching* is:

Opening Versicles
Old Testament Canticle (Isaiah 12 - a very catechetical canticle!)
Scripture Readings and Responsory
Recitation of Ten Commandments, Creed, and Our Father
Responsive Reading of a Section of the Catechism
Sermon or Catechetical Instruction
Prayer (Litany and the Collect of the Day and for the Word)
Optional Morning or Evening Prayer
New Testament Canticle (Romans 6 - again, all wet with Baptismal water!)

What amazing things could happen among us if we moved our Catechetical experience from the classroom (open head, dump in knowledge, test and voila! A Christian!), to the Church, returning it to a context of the presence of God and prayer! The outcome of such catechesis being not the knowledge that puffs up, but the humility of a repentant heart learning to cling to the promises of God in Christ.

I'm ready to go for it. Anyone else?

Saint Bartholomew

Today the holy Church commemorates the apostle of our Lord, St. Bartholomew (who is also called Nathanael).

Readings: Proverbs 3:1-8 / 2 Cor. 4:7-10 / Luke 22:24-30 or John 1:43-51

Almighty God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, chose Bartholomew to be an apostle to preach the blessed Gospel. Grant that Your Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

All praise for him whose candor
Through all his doubt You saw
When Philip at the fig tree
Disclosed You in the law.
Discern, beneath our surface,
O Lord, what we can be,
That by Your truth made guileless
Your glory we may see.

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.

23 August 2006

Two to wrap up the day

1. In My Mother's Womb

In my mother's womb You knew me,
Though to 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.

In 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 last 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 wonder,
Help me every day to see
All of life as precious to You,
Let it precious be to me.

Father, Source of all things living!
Jesus, Life of everthing!
Spirit, Gift of Life eternal!
Three in One we praise and sing!

2. Upon the Ikon of Christ Crucified

The flicker of light dancing upon the Crux of eternity
Illumines for me a world yet all-glorious
Beyond the rage of humanity's great mime.
Here, beyond imaginings, is the Lamb victorious
In His sacrifice of love. I am
Here brought to a window of heaven
And to God's glory and grace. I am
Here cleansed within of old leaven
From my self-ordained feast; and seven
Times over am given His robe
To wear for festal dance, for He has riven
This corruptible little frame.

Here I am, O God, my God;
Here the epiphany of Your love upon the Rood.

Another Korby Gem

This comes from the first thing I ever read of Korby. When I was in junior high, the assistant pastor at my home church (Pastor Karl Bachman) told me that if I really wanted to understand what was going on in Synod, I needed to read *The Lively Function of the Gospel* - a festschrift in honor of Richard Caemerer. I picked it up and didn't understand hardly anything. But a few years later, in college, I came back to it, and of all the essays in the book, the one by this man Korby really grabbed hold. I remember reading it on the bus as I travelled to Montgomery College for classes. It was dense, hard to follow, deep - but I knew I was dealing with truth. It was worth trying to understand. I still think it is. Here's just a teasing taste from his essay *The Church at Worship*:

"The liturgical forms and actions are public instruments for such caring in calling. They are the training ground for 'gospeling' each other and being 'gospeled.' Obviously, ritual can become ritualism. But the conquest of ritualism is neither formlessness nor an infinite variation of forms. The overthrow of ritualism, like the destruction of any other idolatry, is brought about by the advent of the true God; that is, by the Gospel. True worship is always its own reformation." (p. 72)


You know what I mean. Whew. But it is progressing along nicely, Deo gratias! This week is the first week our parish school is in session, and we had the great joy yesterday of installing Pastor Keith GeRue as the Headmaster of Trinity-St. Paul. We also had fun trying to sing Matins from LSB (without all the music for the organist). Good thing Christians live in mutual forgiveness so that the wondrously long-suffering Marianne HAS to forgive me for throwing that mess at her. The GeRues had another truckload arrive yesterday afternoon and we off-loaded that - St. Paul members coming out of the wood work to help out, and all at a moment's notice. Pastor GeRue will be installed as Associate Pastor at both Trinity Lutheran in Worden and St. Paul's in Hamel in a joint-service on September 3rd at Trinity at 3:00 p.m. The Divine Service will be offered, at which Pastor GeRue will preside, and St. Gregory the Great will be commemorated. Anyone in shoutin' distance, come on down!

You can read a bit about Pastor GeRue here.

The Royal Banners

Ever since I first heard the haunting Gregorian melody of "The Royal Banners" I have loved that piece. I think it first showed up with that melody (in LCMS circles I mean!) in the *Worship Supplement* of 1969. But much as I have loved the Gregorian, I've never been successful in teaching the hymn to a congregation.

Enter LSB. Our new book provides a setting for this hymn that "choralizes" it, but without losing the "feel" of the Gregorian piece. Bad way to describe it, I know, but I'm not sure how else to do so. Ah, it does for this piece what Lutherans have long done with Veni Creator - and just as Veni Creator in the chorale version keeps the same flavor as the more florid Gregorian chant, so with this setting by Paul Weber. It's found at LSB 455. Sing it and let me know if you don't think he's done a fabulous job of capturing the Gregorian and yet making it accessible for the congregation to sing.

Patristic Quote for the Day

When all is said and done, there is only one means and only one method of treatment available, and that is teaching by word of mouth. That is the best instrument, the best diet, and the best climate. It takes the place of medicine and cautery and surgery. When we need to cauterize or cut, we must use this. By it we rouse the soul's lethargy or reduce its inflammation, we remove excrescences and supply defects, and, in short, do everything which contributes to its health. -- St. John Chrysostom, *On the Priesthood,* IV:3

22 August 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

For this reason, therefore, He assumed a body capable of death, in order that it, through belonging to the Word Who is above all, might become in dying a sufficient exchange for all, and, itself remaining incorruptible through His indwelling, might thereafter put an end to corruption for all others as well, by the grace of the resurrection. It was by surrendering to death His body which He had taken, as an offering and sacrifice free from every stain, that He forthwith abolished death for His human brethren by the offering of the equivalent. - St. Athanasius, *On the Incarnation* chapter 9

21 August 2006

A Homily for Trinity 11

Homily for Trinity 11

Our God does not leave us to grope after him and try to find him on our own. The God we worship is the God who makes Himself known AND who locates Himself in grace so that His people can find him and receive the life He wants to give them. That’s what the temple was all about; what it was there for.

When King Solomon prayed the prayer of dedication for that holy place, over and over again he asked: “and when someone comes and prays in this place, hear in heaven, your dwelling place, and forgive.” The Temple was the place God was dishing out forgiveness of sins. There was a never-ceasing flow of blood from the sacrifices there – for without the shedding of blood there is no remission, no forgiveness. But you get the temple all wrong, all backwards, if you think that the people were bringing their gifts to appease the Lord. No way! It was the other way round. God was giving them the gifts they brought so that He might use those gifts to give them forgiveness, to answer the prayer that the temple was put in place to answer.

Cain had it backwards. Even though there was no temple in those days, already Abel understood that the worship that pleases the Lord is when we let Him give us forgiveness, and that forgiveness always seems to involve blood. So Abel brings the Lamb and sacrifices it for the forgiveness of his sins, so that God can through that offering reach Him pardon and life. The sacrifice confessed that Abel’s life was forfeit because of his sin, and that he needed a substitute, a life interposed in place of his own. And Abel recognized in the Lamb God had provided exactly that. Even when Abel’s blood is spilled, and cries aloud to God from the ground, it is blood of one who has been redeemed, and it does not cry in vain. God will raise Abel, first martyr for the Lamb.

But in the Gospel the sad Pharisee, standing apart by himself, doesn’t seem to know why he’s there. The temple was the forgiveness place, where God dished out the “abundance of His mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid and giving us those good things we are not worthy to ask.” [collect] God was standing ready to give, as He always was at the temple, but the proud Pharisee didn’t think he needed what God was serving up.

“Forgiveness? Why that’s for the likes of sinners. Like the rest. Like that miserable tax collector over there.” The Pharisee had come to tell God what a lucky bloke God was to have such a servant – one who took the faith seriously enough to effect both pocketbook and stomach. He was all about what HE had done for the Lord. You slip into that whenever you are ready to pat yourself on the back for you service, and look disparagingly on those you don’t think have quite put in the same effort.

In contrast stood the poor tax-collector. He had come to the right place. The forgiveness place. And he came asking for what God was dying to give there. Beating his breast he cried out: “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Our English there doesn’t serve as well as it might. More literally, what the man prayed was: O God, be propitious to me, THE sinner! O God, grant the sinner, me, a sacrifice that will take away my sin and give me forgiveness! That’s the sort of mercy that he ached for; a bloody mercy from the hand of God.

Jesus tells us who went home justified. Not the proud man who forgot what the Temple was there to give, but the sinner who came to use it aright. The tax man came, asking for nothing but bloody mercy and forgiveness, though he was nothing but a sinner and so didn’t even try to pretend that he had any claim on God. He went home a righteous man. For God answered the prayer he raised, and the only way anyone is righteous is when God forgives their sin.

How richly God answers that prayer for which the Temple was put in place He shows by the mouth of Him who tells the parable. He is the answer to the prayer and the whole structure of the Temple, all its worship, the endless streams of blood pouring from its altars, points in every way to Him. Jesus is the bloody mercy that the tax man prayed for. Just as that man claimed not to be just “a” sinner, but THE sinner. So Christ came to be THE Sinner in his place – and yours and mine.

He goes to His Cross, condemned that we might be declared innocent; forsaken that we might never be abandoned; given into death that we might share His endless life. Behold, the Lamb! Abel’s lamb was already pointing to Him, but it was only a type, a sign, a prefigurement. Here is the reality, here is the One who on His cross answers the plea for mercy, blood mercy, giving forgiveness, giving life.

As the Risen Lord, who gambled everything upon His Father’s promise and found it to hold, He has gotten rid of the Temple in Jerusalem that people would have to journey to, and He has sent instead the very thing the Temple foretold out into all the world. Now, wherever the Church erects an altar and through her ordained servants lending the Lord Jesus their mouth and their hands, Jesus goes on giving to His people the bloody mercy for which they plead: His body given into death for the forgiveness sins; His blood, spilled upon the cross to blot out the handwriting that was against us. It’s yours today, all you who confess your guilt, your sin, your countless failures to live the life He has called you to, also your sin of looking down on others. He reaches it to you anew: “For you! For forgiveness!” The bloody mercy of His body and blood. The gift that once was prefigured by the Temple now standing in countless temples throughout the world.

Paul reminds us in the epistle that its all for free. You can’t pay for it if you tried. God doesn’t need what you can do for Him! You need what He alone can do for you and does for free. Be done today with silly Pharisee praying and thinking. God’s not in your debt, but you are in His. And when you stand before Him, beating your breast and praying with the tax man, Jesus delights to dump down on you “those good things you are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ,” to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit be all honor and glory, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages! Amen.

Patristic Quote for the Day

Lord Jesus Christ, by the Father's plan and by the working of the Holy Ghost of your own free will you died and mercifully redeemed the world from sin and everlasting death. I adore and venerate you as much as ever I can, though my love is so cold, my devotion so poor. Thank you for the good gift of this your holy Body and Blood, which I desire to receive as cleansing from sin and for a defence against it. - A Communion Prayer of St. Anselm of Canterbury.

20 August 2006

Happy to Report...

...that the preaching of the saving Gospel and the reverent celebration of the Holy Eucharist is alive and well at Concordia Lutheran Church in Granite City. Pastor Feicho really is one of the finest preachers I've been privileged to hear. I have heard him many times and he never fails to deliver the Good News in a way that keeps me on the edge of my seat. And, as at Hope last week where Pastor Asburry and Hope's building preached so harmoniously together, so at Concordia, the building proclaimed together with Pastor Feicho. As we knelt before the altar, the beautiful crucifix before our eyes, we rejoiced to receive with all the pilgrim church "the things that make for our peace" - the precious Body and Blood of our Savior who visits us in this time of grace that He might not have cause to weep over us in eternity. The icing on the cake was Mrs. Daniels outstanding service on the organ - David commented on the beautiful Bach postlude as we left.

Patristic Quote for the Day

I learned from the example of the children in Babylon that when there is no one to support the cause of true religion, we must accomplish our duties alone. They sang a hymn to God from the midst of the flames, not thinking of the multitudes who rejected the truth, but content to have each other, even though there were only three of them. Therefore the cloud of our enemies does not dismay us, but we place our trust in the Spirit's help, and boldly proclaim the truth. - St. Basil the Great *On the Holy Spirit* par. 79

19 August 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

Now, all this was so accomplished that nothing in the future escaped the foreknowledge of God, yet nothing in the foreknowledge compelled anyone to sin. - St. Augustine, *City of God* Book XIV: Chapter 27

Gottes Befehl...DIAKONOS

An interesting passage in the Lutheran Symbols is found in the German of the Apology (which is not the official text of that Symbol, the Latin is) at XIII, par. 12. After granting that Ordination can be considered a sacrament, we have:

Denn die Kirche hat Gottes Befehl, dass sie soll Prediger UND DIAKONOS bestellen.

Because the Church has God's command, that she ought to appoint both preachers AND DEACONS. [emphasis mine]

The "and deacons" part is what interests me. Some will argue that deacons here is used as a synonym for preachers, and that the two should be taken together as a single office (like "pastors and teachers" in Eph 4), but I am not certain that was what Jonas intended. If he were speaking that way, auf Deutsch, wouldn't the natural conjunction be "oder" rather than "und"? Any thoughts out there? Aside from the obvious one: where did God command the Church to appoint deacons? Thoughts on that too? Does apostolic practice constitute divine command? Why or why not? Is it significant that it reads "God's" command and not "our Lord's" command?

[I honestly don't remember if I've brought this up on the blog before, and since if I did, your answers didn't stick in the old mind here, throw them out again and pardon the redundancy!]

18 August 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

[On the consecration of the Eucharist]

It is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who perform everything; but the priest lends his tongue and supplies his hand. - St. John Chrysostom, *On the Treachery of Judas* 1:6

(This is a bit further on from the famous section of this sermon that is quoted in the Formula of Concord).

Am I ready for THIS?

That's the hand of my oldest daughter, Lauren, who yesterday accepted a marriage proposal from one Mr. Dean Herberts of Collinsville, Illinois, studying to be a pastor in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Date is not set yet for certain, but thinking about next summer. I told Lauren that we would have competing "dresses" on when I walked her down the aisle. How on earth does a pastor DO that? I'll have to ask around. They are talking about the wedding taking place within the Divine Service. I wonder if they'll have this hymn at the wedding?

Gracious Savior, grant Your blessing
To this husband and this wife,
That in peace they live together
In Your love throughout their life.
Christ, defend them from the tempter
And from all that would destroy
Love's foundation You have laid here
And its threshold paved with joy.

Lord, if You are not the builder,
Then the house is built in vain,
For a home without Your presence
Shall without true love remain.
Yet when You within a marriage
Come and dwell with grace divine,
There You fill the empty vessels,
Changing water into wine.

Make their love a living picture
Showing how You loved Your bride:
When You gave Yourself to cleanse her,
When for her You bled and died.
Jesus, You have made her holy,
Pure and fair her radiant train:
To Yourself, Your Church presenting,
Without wrinkle, spot, or stain.

--Stephen Starke, LSB #860

16 August 2006

The Saints in Christ

The saints in Christ are one in ev'ry place
To serve the Gospel of His costly grace;
From those first days to this, our hope the same:
The love of Christ, one Lord, one saving name.

In chains for Christ! His prisoners love to sing,
For slaves and free rejoice to praise our King;
What though the Church on earth still suffers wrong?
The cross of Christ remains our pilgrim song.

To live is Christ, for us, to die is gain;
Where then shall be our hunger, danger, pain?
Our joy to preach good news to rich and poor,
Then be with Christ, to live forevermore.

Lord Jesus Christ! Heaven's praise let earth repeat;
The work that You began, You will complete.
By grace let ev'ry foe become Your friend;
Your day, O Christ, shall dawn and never end.

-Christopher Idle, LSB #838

Homiletical Study for Trinity 11

[Note: this is what I'll offer as fodder for discussion today at our pericopal study group. I don't think I could survive without this wonderful weekly meeting where the almost sacrament of "the mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren" takes place.]

Oremus. Almighty and everlasting God, always more ready to hear than we to pray and to give more than we either desire or deserve, pour down upon us the abundance of Your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid and giving us those good things we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Readings: Genesis 4:1-15 / Ephesians 2:1-10 (1 Cor. 15:1-10) / Luke 18:9-14

The collect is remarkable in this post-Trinity season for picking up the theme of the Sunday. It was originally Leonine, and to that the Gelasian sacramentary added “forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid” and the Prayer Book (1549) added “always more ready to hear than we to pray.” Bishop Cosin in 1662 further changed the conclusion from “giving us that which our prayer dare not ask” to the present form. Thus it’s grown over the years.

The Introit speaks of “God setting the solitary in families” or “giving them a home to dwell in” – the solitary calls to mind the tax-collector who stands off by himself and yet goes to his house justified, given a home indeed!

The first reading recounts the birth of Cain and Abel (don’t miss the messianic prophesy that Luther’s Bible nails in verse 1 – where the Hebrew lacks “help of”). The focus is on the murder in the heart of Cain and how even with murderous heart he would dare to stand before God and dismiss his brother and his murder as unimportant. Luther’s hymn on the Dutch martyrs has the mark of Cain being God putting the blood of Abel on his forehead. St. Augustine sees in these two and in the animosity that exists in the heart of Cain toward Abel the beginning the two great “Cities.” The City of men is typified in Cain, with his anger that his self-chosen worship is not acceptable, in his murderous intents and actions, and in his whining. The City of God is typified in Abel, where the worship God accepts has the Lamb of sacrifice upon the altar and where he suffers from the hand of his own brother who will not join him in his worship that consists of receiving mercy from the hand of God.

The Epistle listed first in LSB was chosen to match the Gospel, obviously. It contains the core of St. Paul’s exposition of grace and salvation as pure gift. To those dead in sin (other places he speaks of those dying in it) comes the gift of resurrection to new life. Resurrection always comes as grace and gift because of the nature of the dead. Important in this passage is that it shows that in Christ we have been coronated and seated with Him (not just IN Him) and thus we reign even in this age as kings and queens. Yesterday we celebrated Mary’s death and subsequent enthronement as queen. She’s all of that not different from you, but together with you. And she reigns as we reign in this life by love alone. This is the love that Cain forever wars against and rejects, but which Abel goes on giving in his suffering. Note that though our resurrection in Christ is done without reference to our works, it is done so that good works may result, and even those are to be “graced” – received as gifts from the hand of God who prepared them beforehand for us to “walk in” – one might almost say, for us to enjoy. For even the love that is resisted and rejected is still enjoyed by those who give it – it flows from God to them as the gift of His presence, His joy, His Spirit.

The traditional Epistle is also quite apt, for it recounts the faith of the one-time Pharisee who had to learn to count all loss so that He might possess the Crucified and Risen Lord as His only life.

The Gospel in Detail:

Luke 18:9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:

Can’t get much more anti-fideism than that! They believed all right. But the object of their faith wasn’t God or His mercy, but THEMSELVES. Namely, that they were righteous or just. The proof of their faith in self and in self-righteousness was in the treatment of others. Louw & Nida suggest that the word means to look upon a person or object as though it had no value; thus to think that others (or, more literally, the rest) were worthless, that they didn’t count. This evokes from our Lord’s mouth today’s parable, and do we not all need to hear it? For when we treat others with contempt (mocking the Ablaze folks, for example), are we not dividing ourselves out and regarding the remainder with contempt?

10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

The temple, recall, was to be a house of prayer for all people. See Isaiah 56:7. And in the great prayer of consecration uttered by King Solomon, like the toll of a great bell, comes the line: “hear in heaven and forgive.” The temple was the divinely appointed place for the dishing out of God’s mercy, His forgiveness, His amnesty and pardon. So why would anyone go there who didn’t want what’s on the menu?

11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

Standing by himself, perhaps praying to himself, but the putting apart of himself from the rest is crucial in his definition of self. He is a Pharisee, and they are a people set apart. They didn’t play at the religious game half-heartedly; they threw their might into it. And that’s why he had to stand apart. Because if the people crept a little nearer they might notice the embarrassing fact that he was a man in need of mercy himself. Keep them at arm’s distance and maybe they won’t notice that, after all, at least in his heart, he is not different from “the rest” after all. Is he in earnest in his thanksgiving? Certainly we can thank God when He keeps us from vile behavior, but this man is really congratulating himself, as the next words show.

12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’

None of this is criticized by our Lord. Fasting is a good thing and our Lord assumes His own will do so! Giving tithes is a good thing, commanded by God, so that to fail to do is to rob God Himself as Malachi makes perfectly clear. But to dwell on the denial of food to the body and the giving of tithes and alms, is to move the focus away from where it simply must be when we gather “coram Deo.” For God does not look as man looks; Man indeed looks on the outward appearance, but God looks upon the heart – as God reminded Samuel when he was impressed with David’s pretty-faced brothers. And if the gaze of the One in the temple reaches to the heart, what then? “O God before whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid” – terrifying but true words from the Collect for purity. You can’t go dodging the eye that sees you to your depths. To pretend you can is to play the religious game – keeping both God and others with observing eyes, at a distance from whom you really are.

13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’

Afar off, not lifting eyes, but beating his chest, he prayed the prayer that the Temple was put in place to answer: “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” Not the Kyrie eleison mercy, but the mercy that goes with the Temple, the mercy with the stress on the instrumentality of its being given: “be propitious to me.” Grant me the sacrifice of forgiveness that will give me pardon and life. Not Cain’s grains; not even Abel’s lambs, but the Lamb, the one telling the parable. He is the ultimate answer as in His Body which is THE Temple, He carried out the ultimate oblation, the sacrifice of mercy that all need who would ever presume to stand before the all-seeing eye of God. And since we all need it, there is no playing Mr. Peacock. Before the eyes that penetrate to the depths and see the whole of our lives, there can only be the plea for pardon

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

So much for “justification” being the brain-storm of St. Paul. At the clencher of Jesus’ parable is a sinner going to his home “justified.” Things turned topsy-turvy. The man who considered himself righteous and did not ask for the mercy that the Temple offered leaves with all his sin still upon him. Ever notice that in the parable of the Sheep and Goats, the Sheep apparently have no sin, and the Goats apparently have no righteousness. Those who don’t realize their need for mercy now will be given the last true look at themselves as they head off to the fire. The man who did not consider himself righteous, who knew that God saw down to the depths and trembled in terror at the thought, and so pleaded for the Temple’s gift: for propitiation, expiation, forgiveness, the gift that wipes out sin. That one got what he asked for.

Was he declared righteous or made righteous? Whenever you are confronted with this silly question be sure to point to Genesis 1. The Lord’s declaration creates. Always has and always will.

He doesn’t leave us in ignorance about what it all means: you do the exalting and God will take care of the humbling; or you do the humbling and God will take care of the exalting. Can’t be both ways, which will you have it be?

Patristic Quote for the Day

For what is the self-complacent man but a slave of his own self-praise. It is different with the man who believes in, hopes in, loves and truly worships God. He gives more attention to the defects in which he takes no pleasure than to whatever virtues he may have and which are not so much pleasing to him as to the truth. And whatever he finds that is pleasing he attributes solely to the mercy of Him whom he fears to displease, thanking God meanwhile for the defects that have been corrected and praying for the correction of others. - St. Augustine *City of God* Book V, Chapter 20

15 August 2006

St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord

On this day, the holy Church throughout the world remembers the Blessed Virgin, celebrating the day of dormition, her falling asleep in Jesus.

Collect: Almighty God, You chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of Your only Son. Grant that we, who are redeemed by His blood, may share with her in the glory of Your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (LSB)

Readings: Isaiah 61:7-11 / Galatians 4:4-7 / Luke 1:39-55

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, through Jesus Christ our Lord, for by the Holy Spirit Your only-begotten Son was conceived in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary and brought forth in the substance of our human flesh that we might partake of His divine life. Therefore 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... (LSB)

From a Homily by the Blessed Arthur Carl Piepkorn upon this day:

Yet both extremes - the extreme of excessive veneration and the extreme of excessive downgrading of the Mother of God - are sources of concern and scandal to Christians who stand committed to the Book of Concord and to the Book of God. The reason for their concern in both directions finds a focus in the words of St. Elisabeth in today's Gospel: "And why is this granted me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?" That is precisely the point. She is the Mother of *Our Lord*, hence Elizabeth's awed delight. But she is the *Mother* of Our Lord, so that the bright aureole that enfolds her figure is only a reflection of His blazing and unearthly glory.

The function of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Sacred Scriptures, in the history of salvation, and in the faith and worship of the Church, is to point to her Son. The noblest picture that can be painted of her is with her Child in her arms. She is the living and loving proof that when the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the Law, to redeem those that were under the Law, so that we might receive adoption as children. She is the living and loving proof that for us men and for our salvation the only God who is the bosom of the Father came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost and was made man; that He who died for us is one of us; that the one Mediator between God and man is the man Christ Jesus, that "there is no other God besides this Man" that the merciful and faithful High Priest Whom we have in the service of God to make expiation for the sins of our fallen kind is made like us His brethren in every respect, that we have an Intercessor Who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, one Who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning, that He partook of our nature of flesh and blood so that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and might deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.

As long as the focus of the spotlight is on the Lord Jesus Christ, the richer the radiance that reflects upon His Mother the better. We are not offended that Gabriel addressed her, "Hail, O Favored One," or that St. Elisabeth by divine inspiration twice called her blessed, while expressing humble amazement that the favor should be granted her of entertaining in her home the Mother of her Lord; or that by the same inspiration the Holy Virgin should say, "All generations will call me blessed."

Nor ought we feel any particular compulsion to execrate pious opinions long held by Christians. We need not feel obligated to blacken her reputation and to invent transgressions for her to have committed as if somehow we were saved by the sinfulness of the Blessed Virgin rather than by the sinlessness of her Son.

Here we stand with Blessed Martin Luther. In his exasperated distress at the exaggerations of the medieval Mary cult, he might delcare: "I should wish that the veneration of Mary be altogether exterminated solely on account of its abuse." Yet, three years before his death he was still affirming in print the opinion that he had worked out in detail and with considerable theological ingenuity twenty-five years earlier, namely, that through the merits of her Son-to-be the Blessed Virgin was marvelously preserved from taint of sin from the first moment of her existence as a human being. We who have been reading him at least in English will recall that in the *Exposition of the Magnificat* he calls "Queen of heaven" a true enough name for her, and that elsewhere he acknowledges her as a gracious Lady exalted above all empresses.

We remember that so doughty an adherent of the Augsburg Confession as Blessed John Brenz could say of the bodily taking up of the Virgin to Heaven: "About this let everyone think as he will." And that the great Lutheran hymn-writer and preacher of the late seventeenth century, Blessed Valerius Herberger, presents a careful justification of this theological opinion in a sermon in his *Evangelische Herzpostille*. It is when these pious opinions are elevated to the status of dogmas which must be believed under pain of eternal condemnation that we delcare this kind of constraint - rather than the opinions themselves - to be antichristian and diabolical.

We Lutherans have no reluctance about apostrophizing the Blessed Virgin in our hymns and in our worship. Today's gradual repeats the inspired words of St. Elizabeth: "Blessed art Thou, O Mary, among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb; behold there shall be a performance of those things which were told thee from the Lord." In the propers for the Feast of the Annunciation, the tract is the Angelus. One hymn in our German hymnal addresses her: "Mary, God has chosen thee to become a mother." A hymn that we have sung in this summer's series of chapel services paraphrases the Eastern Church's Theotokion: "O higher than the Cherubim, More glorious than the Seraphim, Lead their praises!" And it goes on to call for her, as the Bearer of the Eternal Word, to continue to magnify the Lord as she first did in the events that we celebrate today. In one of our most popular Christmas carols we describe her as prophetically foretold "Branch of loveliest form and grace" while at least two others describe her as "undefiled."

The official editions of our Church's Symbols twice apply to her the title that the Council of Ephesus approved in 431, "The woman who gave birth to God," or, as we usually translate it into English, "Mother of God." They speak of her perpetual maidenhood and the birth of our Saviour without violation of her virgin estate. They call her "the pure, the most holy, and most praiseworthy Virgin." And they cheerfully concede that in the presence of God she is interceding for the Church upon earth.

Yet in all of this she is first and always, "the Mother *of Our Lord.*" If in our hymns we call her - as we do - "most gracious" and "full of grace," it is because God has filled her with the grace of which His Son is the Incarnate expression. And if we call her blessed, it is because we can imagine her bliss in bearing the Lord Jesus beneath her heart by reason of the operation of the same Holy Ghost in our heart....

Delivered at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis (*The Church: The Selected Writings of A.C. Piepkorn*, ALPB, pp. 287-290)

14 August 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

Our city is different from theirs as heaven from earth, as everlasting life from passing pleasure, as solid glory from empty praise, as the company of angels from the companionship of mortals, as the Light of him who made the sun and moon is brighter than the light of sun and moon. We can learn from this, too, that the remission of sins which makes us citizens of the Eternal City was faintly adumbrated when Romulus gathered the first citizens of his city by providing sanctuary and immunity for a multitude of criminals. - St. Augustine, *The City of God* Book V, Chapter 17

13 August 2006

A Beautiful Daily Prayer at Vespers

O Lord our God, we aknowledge Your great goodness toward us and and praise You for the mercy and grace that our eyes have seen, our ears have heard, and our hearts have known. We sincerely repent of the sins of this day and those in the past. Pardon our offenses, correct and reform what is lacking in us, and help us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Inscribe Your law upon our hearts and equip us to serve You with holy and blameless lives. May each day remind us of the coming of the night when no one can work. In the emptiness of this present age keep us united by a living faith through the power of Your Holy Spirit with Him who is the resurrection and the life, that we may escape the eternal bitter pains of condemnation.

By Your Holy Spirit bless the preaching of Your Word and the administration of Your Sacraments. Preserve these gifts to us and to all Christians. Guard and protect us from all dangers to body and soul. Grant that we may with faithful perseverance receive from You our sorrows as well as our joys, knowing that health and sickness, riches and poverty, and all things come by permission of Your fatherly hand. Keep us this day under Your protective care and preserve us, securely trusting in Your everlasting goodness and love, for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. - LSB, page 309

Patristic Quote for the Day

To this Country we pleadingly invite you. Join its citizens, for it offers more than mere sanctuary, it offers the true remission of your sins. - St. Augustine, City of God, Book II, Chapter 29

The Big Cut

Fr. Fenton has gotten me thinking. He raises an interesting question in the comments under a previous post: is it inappropriate for us to criticize what was the core Eucharistia of the Western Church for over 1,000 years? I have much sympathy with the argument that the Roman Canon needed "prunning" but not "excision" - but in *most* of Lutheranism (the Swedes a shining exception) all that remained of the canon was the Verba Christi - the Word of our Lord's Testament.

A number of questions present themselves:

1. Did Luther correctly understand the canon or did he read his own understanding of it into what the words actually were meant to convey? (I.e., was a catechetical solution possible without removing the canon wholesale?)

2. In what sense was a prayer that was never prayed aloud publicly in fact the West's Eucharistia - remember the importance attached in St. Justin to the people's "Amening" of said prayer. Can't "amen" what you don't know!

3. Has ANYONE ever heard a satisfactory explanation of St. Gregory the Great's claim (which figures so prominently in Lutheran polemics) that the Apostles' consecrated the host of oblation solely with the Our Father (and presumably the Verba?)? It can be found in his letter to Bishop John of Syracuse.

4. Did the overwhelming typical Lutheran practice of restricting the consecration to the Verba alone fundamentally alter the Sacrament? If so, how? I have some thoughts on this, and I would think that the big problem arises not with the Lutheran solution of the 16th century, but with the 20th century practice of picking up the elements and turning around to the people with them, or facing the people across the altar, instead of the nearly universal rubric of the early Lutheran rites that the consecration is said by the priest (as he was called in those days) *facing the altar.*

5. The Western Rite Orthodox do not receive the Canon without making adjustments, the two most noteable being the dropping of mention of the saints' merits and the addition of an epiclesis (borrowed from the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom); if recension is necessary for the prayer to be regarded as "Orthodox" by Orthodox, should the Lutherans be faulted for recognizing that the prayer had problems, even though their solution was more than a tad drastic. Is there a difference in kind between the Lutherans dropping the prayer and the Orthodox "fixing" it?

I'd be curious to hear thoughts about this topic (one dear to my heart) from all sides - yes, even those of you who think that the Preface got it wrong when it says that we should "at all times and in all places give thanks!" ; )

Hope in St. Louis

Cindi and I hate missing church at St. Paul's, but when vacation time rolls around, we usually attend elsewhere. Hard to be "on vacation" and "at home." This morning, we ventured down into St. Louis and attended Hope Lutheran Church where Pastor Randy Asburry serves, together with Kantor Stephen Rosebrock, who also plays the organ. What a blessing this morning to worship with this parish! Pastor Asburry preached a very targeted sermon based on the Gospel for this Sunday after Trinity - the Unjust Steward. The music supplied by Kantor Rosebrock was a real treat to listen to and sing with. The liturgy was LW DS II, Setting 1, and the hymns all undergirded and supported the Word proclaimed. What a joy to receive our Lord's body and blood and His precious Gospel in a buildling that also proclaimed the joy of Christ's victory in stone, wood, glass, pipe and wind.

12 August 2006

Yeah! O Traurigkeit is FIXED!!!!

Auf Deutsch, verse 2 read: "O grosser Not! Gott selbst ist tod!" - but up till now, the English has softened this to read: "Deep, deep the pain! God's Son is slain" (LW) or "O sorrow dread! God's Son is dead!" (TLH). But now LSB 448 offers for the first time auf Englisch the intent of the German: "O sorrow dread! Our God is dead." YES. For the one slain upon the tree is God Himself. And they get it also in verse 6: "O Virgin's Son, What Thou hast won Is far beyond all telling: How our God, detested, died, Hell and devil felling."

And while we're rejoicing in fixes, what about giving the LSB major kudos for putting the Eucharist BACK into "Wake, Awake!"? Nicholai spoke of answering the joyful call and all joining in the Abendmahl - the Lord's Supper - in verse 2. This shows up beautifully in LSB #516: "We enter all The wedding hall To eat the Supper at Thy call." Contrast this with TLH: "The joyful call we answer all and follow to the nuptial hall."

One thing that did not get fixed is the verse 4 of "Let All Together" (LSB #389) where the clear theosis of the original is still lacking in the English. But, hey, I'm rejoicing in the ones that DID get fixed and fixed well.

Another New Favorite

When You woke that Thursday morning,
Savior, teacher, faithful friend,
Thoughts of self and safety scorning,
Knowing how the day would end;
Lamb of God, foretold for ages,
Now at last the hour had come
When but One could pay sin's wages;
You assumed their dreadful sum.

Never so alone and lonely,
Longing with tormented heart
To be with Your dear and only
For a quiet hour apart;
Sinless Lamb and fallen creature,
One last paschal meal to eat,
One last lesson as their teacher,
Washing Your disciples feet.

What was there that You could give them
That would never be outspent,
What great gift that would outlive them,
What last will and Testament?
"Show me and the world you love Me,
Know me as the Lamb of God:
Do this in remembrance of Me,
Eat this body, drink this blood."

One in faith, in love united,
All one body, You the head,
When we meet, by You invited,
You are with us as You said.
One with You and one another
In a unity sublime,
See in us Your sister, brother,
One in ev'ry place and time.

One day all the Church will capture
That bright vision glorious,
And Your saints will know the rapture
That Your heart desired for us,
When the longed for peace and union
Of the Greatest and the least
Meet in joyous, blest communion
In Your never-ending feast.

--(A Maundy Thursday Hymn, by Jaroslav Vajda) LSB #445

Patristic Quote for the Day

This Mediator, first through the Prophets, then by His own lips, afterwards through the Apostles, revealed whatever He considered necessary. He also inspired the Scripture, which is regarded as canonical and of supreme authority and to which we give credence concerning all those truths we ought to know and yet, of ourselves, are unable to learn. - St. Augustine, *City of God*, Book XI, Chapter 3

11 August 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

Even our virtue in this life, genuine as it is because it is referred to the true goal of every good, lies more in the pardoning of sins than in any perfection of virtues. Witness the prayer of God's whole City, wandering on earth and calling out to Him through all her members: 'Forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.' - St. Augustine, City of God, Book XIX, Chapter 27

Ack! How did it happen?

How did my baby turn 19???? Here's a pic of the lovely Lauren with (as he's known around these parts) "the amazing Dean!" (Hey, we ALL agree he IS amazing). Lauren's been missing Dean pretty badly this summer - and I think it works the other way round too. Dean's been working at a camp in Alaska, and Lauren's been at a camp in exciting Southern Illinois. Next week they get to see each other again, and I *think* they're both a little excited about that.

But it was 19 years ago today that I first got to see that beautiful face - and I got to hold her before her mom did too! She was a c-section baby. When she was born, old Henry Huepenbecker told me: "She's born on my birthday! I think you should name her Henrietta." Well, she dodged that bullet. (Henry is a story for another time - delightful man and unbelievably agile into his 90's!). I remember the nights of holding and rocking her and singing hymns to her (she really liked "A Stable Lamp is Lighted" - I could just tell!). And now she's so grown up, so independent.

Well, LEW, happy birthday! We love you!!!!

10 August 2006

Just to let you know...

....after MONTHS of Jude 12, God gave us a Psalm 65:9 kind of day...for which we give great thanks and praise.

A New Song!

"O sing unto the Lord a new song, for He hath done marvelous things!" Ps. 98:1

For many, many years I thought that meant that we shouldn't oppose the gifts of new music from the hand of God. Certainly LSB gives us many new songs both in text and tune, and we can praise God for them.

But I think that misses the point of the Psalm. Because the "new song" is not new because you've never heard it before. It's new because it's the song of the new people of God, the people whose life is anchored in the life of Christ which death cannot touch. It's the new song because it is the song of those described by St. Augustine: "We are an Easter people, and alleluia is our song!"

The "new" song then can be chronologically old or new, but it lives from the kairos of God's invasion of the world in the incarnation of our Lord and His bringing into this "old" age which is marked at every step by death the "new" age which death can never destroy.

The Church is a colony from the future: we live in this old age the joys of the age that is to come. And we sing the songs of that new age, where Love has triumphed and is all in all, even here and now.

So what does the new song sound like? Like this:

"For me to live is Jesus,
To die is gain for me;
So when my Savior pleases,
I meet death willingly" (LSB #742)

"Satan, I defy thee;
Death, I now decry thee;
Fear, I bid thee cease.
World, thou shalt not harm me
Nor thy threats alarm me
While I sing of peace.
God's great pow'r guards every hour;
Earth and all its depths adore Him,
Silent bow before Him." (LSB #743)

"Be still my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last." (LSB #752)

"Shatter the darkness, break the gloom;
Sun, reveal an empty tomb
Shining with joy for all our sorrows,
Hope and peace for all tomorrows,
Life uneclipsed by doubt and dread:
Christ has risen from the dead!" (LSB #481)

"Crown Him the Lord of life,
Who triumphed o'er the grave
And rose victorious in the strife
For those He came to save.
His glories now we sing,
Who died and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring,
And lives that death may die." (LSB #525)

"Sing with all the saints in glory,
Sing the resurrection song!
Death and sorrow, earth's dark story,
To the former days belong.
All around the clouds are breaking;
Soon the storms of time shall cease;
In God's likeness we awaken,
Knowing everlasting peace." (LSB #671)

"Thine the glory in the night
No more dying only light
Thine the river
Thine the tree
Then the Lamb eternally
Then the holy, holy, holy
Celebration jubilee
Thine the splender
Thine the brightness
Only Thee only Thee (LSB #680)

It is joy beyond all telling to stand before God and to join His people in singing the new song! Let us sing with all our hearts and all our minds, with our strength and power, to Him who has given us this new song to sing forever. Amen!

Patristic Quote for the Day

Stretch forth, O Lord, Thy hand to me who lie in the dust and help me. For I want to get up, but cannot. The burden of sin has crushed me; evil habits hold me chained to the earth, and I am altogether like the paralytic. I vow to change my ways and I fast, but everything remains the same. I am zealous to glorify Thee with my lips, but I have no zeal to please Thee with deeds. - St. Ephrem the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #40

Glory to You for Your Deacon and Martyr, Lawrence!

Early in the third century A.D., Lawrence, most likely born in Spain, made his way to Rome. There he was appointed chief of the seven deacons and was given the responsibility to manage church property and finances. The emperor at the time, who thought that the church had valuable things worth confiscating, ordered Laurence to produce the "treasures of the church." Lawrence brought before the emperor the poor whose lives had been touched by Christian charity. He was then jailed and eventually executed in the year 258 by being roasted on a gridiron. His martyrdom left a deep impression on the young church. Almost immediately, the date of His death, August 10, became a permanent fixture on the early commemorative calendar of the Church.

Respond, ye souls in endless rest,
Ye Patriarchs and Prophets blest:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Ye holy Twelve, Ye Martyrs strong,
All saints triumphant, join the song:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

O friends, in gladness let us sing,
Supernal anthems echoing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit,
Three in One,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
(LSB #670, st. 3,4)

Almighty God, who didst give Thy servant Lawrence boldness to confess the name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may likewise ever be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for His sake; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost: ever one God, world without end. (Brotherhood Prayerbook: Commemoration of a Martyr)

09 August 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

Praise to Him Who descended to us in human form!
Prasie to the Invisible One Who became visible for our sake!
Praise to the Eternal One Who tasted death for us!
Praise to the Mysterious One Whom no mind can comprehend, and Who through His grace made Himself manifest by taking on flesh!

--St. Ephrem the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #118


We've been having a great time with the Dillons in town. Here's a pic of the two sisters - Deb and Cindi - cropped to keep SOMEONE happy... : )

Another Winner

We sing for all the unsung saints,
That countless, nameless throng,
Who kept the faith and passed it on
With hope steadfast and strong
Through all the daily griefs and joys
No chronicles record,
Forgetful of their lack of fame,
But mindful of their Lord.

Though uninscribed with date or place,
With title, rank, or name,
As living stones their stories join
To form a hallowed frame
Around the mystery in their midst:
The Lamb once sacrificed,
The Love that wrested life from death,
The wounded, risen Christ.

So we take heart from unknown saints
Bereft of earthly fame,
Those faithful ones who have received
A more enduring name:
For they reveal true blessing comes
When we our pride efface
And offer back our lives to be
The vessels of God's grace.

--Carl P. Daw, Jr. (LSB #678)

Reformation Goodie

This remembrance of the dead, which was practiced of old and still exists in the catholic church, is an open testimony of charity and of faith in the glorious resurrection of the flesh. And since it is the fruit of faith that works through love, no one will reject it except for Epicureans and Sadducees. - Urbanus Rhegius, *Preaching the Reformation* p. 99, 101

[Note that Urbanus Rhegius was Reformer of Luneburg, a signer of the Smalcald Articles, and author of this little treatise which was often published with Chemnitz' Enchiridion as a complete pastor's "how to" manual. Note that in the above quote, he is including the churches of the Augsburg Confession under the designation "catholic church." It very much challenges the forgetfulness of the faithful departed that unfortunately prevails among Lutheran churches today. The LSB reminds us of the joy of remembering the faithful departed on pages xii and xiii.]

08 August 2006

LSB Hymnody

In the past I've been critical of the way that hymnody new to Lutheranism (much of it of dubious value in my opinion) has replaced the "core chorales" of Lutheranism in the hearts and minds of our people. There's no doubt that whenever something new gets added into the limited space of a hymnal, something old gets shoved aside. With LSB, although there are certain hymns I would not have bothered including, I am struck by the fresh and beautiful imagery in many of the newer pieces. They are indeed very worthy additions to our hymn corpus.

Here's one of my new favorites: "O Christ, Who Shared Our Mortal Life" by Herman G. Stuempfle, Jr. It's at LSB #552. It provides separate stanzas for the three times that our Lord was brought to a deathbed, but I'll just quote the ones for the widow of Nain's son. Is this awesome or what?

O Christ, who shared our mortal life
And ended death's long reign,
Who healed the sick and raised the dead
And bore all grief and pain;
We know our years on earth are few,
That death is always near.
Come now to us, O Lord of life;
Bring hope that conquers fear!

The ranks of death with trophy grim
Through ancient streets once trod
And suddenly confronted You,
The mighty Son of God.
A widow's tears evoked Your Word;
You stopped the bearers' tread.
"Weep not!" in pity then You spoke
To her whose son was dead.

The ranks of death, the Lord of life,
Stood face to face that hour;
And You took up the age-old strife
With words of awesome power:
"Young man, arise" You ordered loud,
And death defeated lay.
The widow's son cast off his shroud
And strode from death away.

Death's power holds us still in thrall
And bears us toward the tomb.
Death's darkening cloud hangs like a pall
That threatens earth with gloom.
But You have broken death's embrace
And torn away its sting.
Restore to life, our mortal race!
Raise us, O Risen King!

LSB and the Daily Office

Breviaries are notoriously complex. Lots of page turning to get where you're supposed to be. Praying the Office from the Church's hymnals has not been much easier, truthfully. LSB, however, has taken strides toward making the praying of the Daily Office out of the hymnbook to be relatively painless venture. You're able to concentrate on praying instead of "where am I supposed to be now?"

Some observations, regarding Matins, Vespers and Compline (no comments yet on Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer).

First, the Orders for Matins and Vespers are very simple, easy to follow, and beautiful (set with Anglican Chant for the most part, though a Gregorian psalm tone is used for the Magnificat in Vespers as in LW).

Second, LSB provides a very helpful chart for Psalm singing on page 304. This chart does not include the entire Psalter, but only the Psalms that are included in LSB itself, but it does cover all of those (106 of the Psalms are included in the pew edition, if my counting is correct). For most of the year, a four week rotation holds; but there are special Psalms assigned to Lent, to Easter, to Advent, and to Christmas.

Third, the LSB psalm tones provide a few new ones, but many of the tones that we've become familiar with from LW/LBW and from HS98. The pointing of the Psalms is somewhat cleaner than in LW (no distinction between two syllable and three syllable ending). Very singable, and as throughout the hymnal, a clean type-face that is a joy to read. Psalm tones are not pre-assigned to individual psalms, which would make teaching the tones fairly easy: pick one or two tones and keep working on them until the congregation has them mastered, then add a few more.

Fourth, the LSB provides a daily lectionary: two readings of about 15-30 verses a day each, one from the Old Testament and one from the New. These readings follow a basic lectio continua approach, and the tradition of reading certain books during certain seasons of the Church year (Genesis read in Lent, for example).

Fifth, the LSB provides an outstanding selection of collects for all sorts and conditions of men that can be prayed after the Collect of the Day at the conclusion of the Daily Office (13 pages of them).

Sixth, the Order of Compline, carried forward essentially unchanged from LW (except for the placing of the Office Hymn immediately after the Psalmody - a feature that is consistent across the Offices now), is also a joy to pray and sing.

All in all, the LSB is a remarkably complete work for praying the Daily Office either in corporate or individual settings. The book continues to surprise and delight with its thoroughness and yet ease of use.

Patristic Quote for the Day

Regard me with mercy, O Master, from Thy holy heights. Look upon the impenitence of my poor soul, and by the judgements that Thou knowest, have mercy on me and correct me. As if standing before the throne of Thy throne and touching Thine immaculate feet, I beseech and beg Thee with contrite heart: have mercy on me; show Thy loving-kindness to Thy creature; freely convert me by Thy grace.

I know that Thou canst do all things and that nothing is impossible for Thee. Wait not for my corrupt will to exercise itself, for I lack ambition to correct myself.

- St. Ephrem the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #121

07 August 2006

Future Hunter?

I think not. My brother sent this to me today. It shows quite accurately how comfortable this boy is around fire arms. And yes, "this boy" is me (as if you couldn't already tell from the eyes - but they look even bigger than normal!). LOL!!!

Patristic Quote for the Day

I have nothing to offer Thee, neither a good deed, nor a pure heart; but hoping in Thy compassion I lay myself down, that Thou mightest bring me to contrition and unwavering observance of Thy commandments, and that I might not fall so easily into sin again, but serve Thee from henceforth in reverence and truth all the days of my life. - St. Ephrem the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #146

06 August 2006

Where are you going on vacation?

I get that question a lot. You see, my vacation started today after church. Where am I going?

Let's see:



No contest. I'm going to my favorite place in all the world. HOME. As in the St. Paul's parsonage. We wanted to arrange a trip away, but the kid's conflicting schedules ruled it out for this summer. So, I'm just going to take off two weeks and do some fun things:

Deb and family are there till Thursday and we'll be doing plenty of visiting!
I plan to go to the library and sign out several books and read them - I haven't been able to read much lately.
I plan to do some worship planning for the upcoming quarter - I usually do a year in advance but transitioning to the new hymnal made that impossible.
I plan to spend some time watching some DVDs - I hardly ever turn on the TV and I plan on kicking back and watching a movie or two.
I plan to visit some neighboring churches to hear the preaching of the Gospel and receive the Sacrament.
I plan to spend one day at the waterpark in Wood River.
I plan to spend one day at Raging Rivers in Grafton.
I plan to play some pinochle.

Sounds like an odd vacation, I'm sure, but my idea of the perfect vacation is the one where you get to stay home and enjoy the comfort of your own bed and eat your own food. "Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."

Odd Man Out

Lutherans are sort of odd man out today. August 6th is the day that most Christians (Orthodox and Roman Catholics and Anglicans) celebrate our Lord's Transfiguration, glorying in the uncreated light that shone upon Tabor. In the 16th century, most Lutherans (the Swedes a major exception, I believe) transferred this celebration to the end of the Epiphany season, celebrating it is as the last great epiphany of our Lord before His Pascha. Still, in honor of our many sisters and brothers who are rejoicing in the Feast on this day, my all time favorite hymn for the feast, sung to the majestic Agincourt Hymn known as Deo Gracias:

O wondrous type! O vision fair
Of glory that the Church may share,
Which Christ upon the mountain shows,
Where brighter than the sun He glows!

With Moses and Elijah nigh
The incarnate Lord holds converse high;
And from the cloud the Holy One
Bears record to the only Son!

With shining face and bright array
Christ deigns to manifest today
What glory shall be theirs above
Who joys in God with perfect love.

And faithful hearts are raised on high
By this great vision's mystery,
For which in joyful strains we raise
The voice of prayer, the hymn of praise.

O Father, with the Eternal Son,
And Holy Spirit, ever one,
We pray Thee, bring us by Thy grace
To see Thy glory face to face! (LSB #413)

Patristic Quote for the Day

But behold, also let no one dare to say: I have not sinned. He who says this is blind; he has shut his eyes. He deceives himself and knows not that Satan is robbing him blind - both in word and deed, through all of the senses, sight, hearing, and touch, and through thoughts. For who can boast that he has an innocentheart and that all his senses are pure?

No one is sinless, no one is clean of defilement, no man is free from guilt except Him alone Who for our sake was impoverished though He was rich. He alone is sinless Who took upon Himself the sins of the world, wants all men to be saved, desires not the death of a sinner and is a lover of mankind, abundantly benevolent, kindhearted, and sincerely loving.

Let us also run to Him, for all sinners who have run to Him have found salvation.

--St. Ephrem the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #126

Deo Gratias!

Thanks be to God! He has answered the prayers of His people at St. Paul's, Hamel, and Trinity, Worden, and provided for us a Headmaster for Trinity-St. Paul Lutheran School, and an associate pastor for both St. Paul's and Trinity: Pastor Keith GeRue. Our prayers remain with the parish he leaves, that God would provide them another faithful shepherd.

Now thank we all our God
With hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done,
In whom His world rejoices;
Who from our mother's arms
Has blest us on our way
With countless gifts of love
And still is ours today. (LSB #895, vs. 1)

05 August 2006

A Nice Change

Ever since we started the Saturday evening Eucharist, we've used an abbreviated order of service, thinking that the smaller number of people would have difficulty in sustaining a fully sung Eucharist. But we've had, over the years, several folks complain about the meagre opportunities to sing at that liturgy. Tonight we changed all that. Full Eucharist, right out of the Service Book, no cuts anywhere. And out of the blue we had 60+ people in attendance tonight - and that's GREAT for us on Saturday evening. Service ran about ten minutes longer than it would without singing the whole liturgy, but I didn't hear a soul complaining as they left. A nice change, a good one.

Patristic Quote for the Day

Thou knowest, O Master, the failings of human nature. Remember that from his youth evil thoughts press diligently upon a man and be not wroth with me to the end, but open to me Thy hand and the door of Thy loving-kindness. May my recklessness not surpass Thy solicitude.

Accept, O Master, and hearken unto mine impure and unworthy supplication, Thou Who savest those who hope in Thee, Who rejectest not the prayer of sinners, Who stretchest forth Thy hand to those who have been cast to the ground. Guide me in fear of Thee and give me tears of contrition.

I have lifted up the mental eyes of my soul to Thee, O Lord. Cast me not away from Thy face, for blessed is Thy name unto the ages. - St. Ephrem of Syria, *Spiritual Psalter* #123