19 September 2007

Why I Like Wednesdays!

Chapel at Trinity-St. Paul - boy, do the kids do a GREAT job of singing Matins!

Pastors' Study Group - used to meet here at St. Paul, but we recently moved this to Maryville (St. John's) to make it easier for those who come from St. Louis (cuts the distance quite a bit). This weekly gathering of pastors (and deaconess) has remained one of my greatest comforts and supports over the years. Any of you in the area who can make it, join Curtis, Landskroener, Asburry, Maxwell, Feicho, Bowers and me! That's at 10 a.m. and we follow it with going out to eat.

Old Testament Catechesis - I just LOVE teaching the Old Testament. I never cease to be amazed at how it unfolds for us the joy of our salvation in Christ. It's all right there before us, if we have the eyes to truly see it. Tonight we'll be covering the opening chapters of Exodus.

Compline - what is it about standing together in the darkening church, confessing our sins, singing psalms and ancient hymns, drinking in the promises of God's word, and interceding that makes a day end so utterly perfectly? I always walk home from Compline with an extra spring in my step - those haunting melodies and peace-engendering words! "Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping..."

Yup. Wednesdays are wonderful. No two ways about it.


Rev. Paul Beisel said...

So, does anything bad ever happen to you? I mean, do you ever have a bad day, a time when you aren't "amazed" and "awed" by everything? You sound like you have a lot more saint than sinner in you. I honestly can't relate to much of what you write about or describe. My life is pretty dull in comparison, I guess. I don't have choir boys singing Matins at Wednesday chapel. Heck, I'm lucky if all three kids (besides my own) in the church actually come. I'm not criticizing you, just wish I could relate in even a small way.

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

Yeah, like I said on the other blog entry, I'm jealous. I have sung Compline a couple of times with my kids, and I'll just have to do it more when I get home. That "Guide us waking" melody is like Dentyne Ice. :)

That said, don't ever stop. ;) Please pray that the churches in central Ohio come to appreciate the Divine Service and daily offices.

William Weedon said...

Dear Paul,

Goodness, yes. Some terrible days and down days. And then I am a beast to be around, I fear. I notice that both my wife and children "give me space" - and I think it is to avoid getting their heads bit off! :( They can amply testify that the battle between old self and new man is still a very touch and go situation.

Still, mostly I am a very happy and contented person - probably a lot to do with this wonderful place I serve. I don't deserve a parish like this, loving people like this, a people who hunger for the Word and the Eucharist - not by a long shot. But it's where I am called, and I confess that I love it here. The parish is like a huge extended family to me.

Working with like-minded servants of the Word is also a grace of God far beyond my deserving - I mean, Heath Curtis lives two miles across the fields. How sweet is that? We share a school. Keith GeRue (when he's here) lives across the parking lot. I've got a network of support in folks like Feicho, Landskroener, Maxwell, and others. They've put up with me when I was at my absolute worst and loved me through it all, even when they needed to tell me what an arrogant ass I was being. Thank God for good friends!

I wish you could come and stay with us for a while. You'd see the ups and the downs, but I think you'd walk away encouraged - the folks here just do that to one. So I'm sorry that anything said was a downer to you; that's the opposite of its intent.

Hey, you've already got me jealous as can be of a little one to hold - congratulations! I'm itching for the day I get to hold a newborn grandchild, but don't tell my daughter yet!!!

Past Elder said...

God bless me. How's the job market in Hamel?

Now last Wednesday I go to the opening service for mid-week, and was happily amazed when the IDCE began saying here's a way to begin prayer and then showed kids and adults alike how to make the Sign of the Cross, and I'm thinking maybe these missional guys aren't all bad, etc.

So this Wednesday I go to men's adult class to find out the text will be that classic by the newest Doctor of the Church, Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life.

Now, as any reader of my posts knows, I am supremely even tempered and not at all Luther like in a tendency to rant or engage in colourful verbal excess at the most miserable ecclesiastical droppings of raging revisionist dogs, let alone mix up words from several languages und so weiter.

So in perfect peace and repose, not to mention the peace of knowing my tropical shirt was even brighter than Warren's, I went and watched the video.

Then in discussion mentioned I didn't hear a thing about the Cross of Christ, Law and Gospel, Word and Sacrament, but did hear that we will be judged for the next life on what we do in this one, which is rank heresy.

Which brought about agreement from all present, including two elders who are not past, and a statement from one that there is much here we will need to block out, which in turn led to a general agreement that sometimes we Lutherans get so into salvation not by works that we leave works out altogether and our people leave Sunday with no clue whatever what to do about their lives until next Sunday when they hear Jesus died for their sins and they are forgiven. Find what is useful toward the third use of the law, in other words. Then on the way home listened to the boys talk about their classes and was amazed to hear their teachers had quite effectively communicated things I had said but apparently not communicated.

Mow lettest thou thy servant depart in peace. Compline indeed. Gott hilf mir, and I'm not even German!

Dixie said...

Then in discussion mentioned I didn't hear a thing about the Cross of Christ, Law and Gospel, Word and Sacrament,

Later in my Lutheran years, when the influx of non-Lutheran studies became so popular in our local congregation I came to realize the studies from the non-sacramental church folks had nothing to say to me because nothing they could say would spring from an understanding grounded in the Sacramental life. To this day I am deliberate in not reading anything about the Christian faith / life or listening to Christian music written by anyone apart from that basis. I think there is a great danger in applying the instruction coming from someone who has no Sacramental fountain from which to draw. For example, in one Beth Moore study, we discussed the sins in our life that cause very real problems to us and those around us but because Beth Moore has no understanding of the Sacrament of Confession/Absolution or in the Eucharist, she couldn't offer the most obvious and best solution.

but did hear that we will be judged for the next life on what we do in this one, which is rank heresy.

Please help me understand. I didn't realize Lutherans don't believe in the Judgement and that what we do in this life doesn't matter. I recall one Lutheran pastor teaching on this...about levels of heaven?

But not to neglect the OP. You, Pastor Weedon, seem to be the eternal optimist. I am one, too! It's just the way I am constructed. I love Wednesdays for Vespers but I haven't learned to love the fasting we (the Orthodox) do on Wednesdays...yet. (See there is that eternal optimism talking again.)

William Weedon said...

Past Elder,

I'm with Dixie on not being sure what you mean about not being judged "for the next life on what we do in this one." I wonder if you're front loading that "for" - indeed, when I stand before the throne of God my only plea can be for mercy on account of my Blessed Savior's incarnation and pascha. Yet it is my Blessed Savior who will sit upon the judgment seat before whom we must all appear and Scripture teaches "so that each one may receive what is due for what was done in the body, whether good or evil." 2 Cor. 5:10. Such a judgment does not preclude the forgiveness of sins, but presupposes it. He will give us what is due according to His grace and mercy. He will crown the good that He has already worked in us and this with - as Dixie intimated - varying degrees of glory.

Don't you think Scripture teaches (or at least implies) a distinction between the "thumbs up or thumbs down" judgment and the judgment rendered over the life of those who have believed in Christ that then awards the varying degrees of glory?

William Weedon said...


An optimist? I suppose so. Believe it or not, I've never given it much thought. I suppose if I think of myself in the classic four personality types, I'm overwhelmingly a Sanguine.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Beisel,

I LOVE starting the morning with a good, deep-hearted belly laugh and you got me with your post! My wife and I have often asked the same question. Bill's just blessed with a wonderful outlook on life. I don't think it's what you or I have or don't have in our lives, it's how we look at them, compared to how he looks at everything.

But, I have to point out, in regards to your comment about not being able to relate, you're wrong. I just read your blog. Your wonderful new son slept for almost 4 hours straight the first night home from the hospital. Brother, you are truly blessed!!

Peace to all,

Anonymous said...

Past Elder's comments remind me about the caricature Dr. Martin Marty used to write about the Lutheran pastor who thundered at his congregation that they should never, ever think that they should try to earn God's favor with their good works.

He looked around at the half sleeping congregation and thought, "Who's trying?"

Again, a caricature. Of course Lutherans believe in what has classically been called "the Four Last Things -- death, judgment, heaven and hell.

There's no getting around the teaching in Matthew:

then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.'


Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'

It matters. Very much.

I'm with Dixie, I simply don't engage with writers, etc. with the Rick Warren mindset who have no sacramental fountain from which to draw, as she puts it so well.

Praying Compline has become one of the spiritual bedrocks of my life. It's such a blessing.

Past Elder said...

No, I am not denying the Four Last Things or varying degrees of glory among the saved as distinct from salvation by faith alone, or for that matter I am not saying works don't matter.

In fact, it was my point in discussion that one charge too often validly charged against Lutheran preaching is that we preach forgiveness of sin and salvation by faith and rightly so, then our members go home to marriages they can't stand, children who drive them nuts and vice versa, jobs that have become depressing ruts or no job at all, in general a life they which they were not living, with not a clue as to what to do until next Sunday when they hear again their sins are forgiven through faith in Christ Jesus -- and so they go someplace where they seem to get such direction, all too often by those who not only have no sacraments but also slide into works righteousness. In short, we become so concerned about our works not meriting salvation that we avoid works at all.

A number of Lutheran blogs have taken up this subject recently, and Luther himself was concerned about it and spoke of it. I was heartened that the others in the group saw too that Warren lacks much of what we consider indispensible. I agree too that the choice of his book is ill advised. In a way it's like the worship wars -- how do you supply Lutheran content to a form of worship designed to express another content, and if you don't, why bother.

What bothers me about Warren is not so much the works, although I wonder if he himself is clear on works not to be saved but because we are saved, but that amid all the talk about Jesus the focus is on me, what I do and what I feel. Latter day Pietism. The corrective is not to ignore what I do and what I feel. Pietism for all its ill effects starts with a valid point -- formalism does not save either.

So, insofar as we can get from this less than advisable source something of value toward the third use of the law it will be OK, which is not what I would have hoped from our men's study but not what I feared either.

Past Elder said...

Great Scott, our Lenten sermons were a Lutheranised version of Warren's steps.

So how IS the job market in Hamel?

And I think I remember reading somewhere than in ancient Rome thumbs up was actually the negative sign and thumbs down the positive, reverse of their usage now. Perhaps if Dr Tighe is lurking he can clarify.

William Weedon said...


I have no idea how the job market here is, but it would be great to have you around!

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Fr. Bill,

I certainly was not offended. Just having one of those moments where I wished things could be different in some respects. certainly we have our ups and good days, just like you. And you do portray a marvelous attitude about life in the ministry. What I see is a dwindling congregation. Of course, I know that there are no "small" congregations if you believe that you are only a part of the "angels, archangels, and the whole company of heaven" that joins in the thrice-holy hymn at the Divine Service. Tomorrow will be a very good day.

Storing up treasures in heaven,