31 May 2008

Patristic Quote of the Day

Wherefore with full assurance let us partake as of the Body and Blood of Christ: for in the figure of Bread is given to you His Body, and in the figure of Wine His Blood; that you by partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, may be made of the same body and the same blood with Him. For thus we come to bear Christ in us, because His Body and Blood are distributed through our members; thus it is that, according to the blessed Peter, we become partakers of the divine nature 2 Peter 1:4 . -- St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture 22

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The truth is, that this doctrine, so clearly revealed in the New Testament, so clearly confessed by the Early Church, lies at the very heart of the Evangelical system - Christ is the centre of the system, and in the Supper is the centre of Christ's revelation of Himself. The glory and mystery of the incarnation combine here as they combine nowhere else. Communion with Christ is that by which we live, and the Supper is "the Communion." -- C. P. Krauth, *Conservative Reformation* p. 655

Homily for Trinity 2 (2008)

[Proverbs 9:1-10 / 1 John 3:13-18 / Luke 14:15-24]

“Blessed is everyone who WILL EAT bread in the Kingdom of God!” That’s what the fellow cried out. The man who was reclining at Table with Jesus, hearing Him preach and teach and sharing the meal together with Him. He was so focused on the future, that He was in danger of missing the present. The fellow was thinking of how wonderful heaven must be. You can almost hear the wistfulness in his words.

Jesus’ reply is rather shocking. He basically says: “You think so? Most people don’t. And here’s the proof. Because what you’re thinking of in the sweet bye and bye is exactly what I am offering in the sweet here and now. Feasting with Me IS heaven. Communing with Me IS life. But would you look at what happens!”

And so the parable. A great banquet. A banquet first announced (that would be by the prophets – as we also heard in today’s first reading from Proverbs) and then prepared. A banquet to which people are invited without having to bring a single thing, not even a side-dish to share – ALL supplied in full, ALL gift. “Come, for everything is now ready.” Which is just the same as saying: You want heaven? What about I give you a bit of heaven right here and now?

And what response does this invitation receive? “I have bought a field and must go inspect it. I have bought five yoke of oxen and I go to examine them. I have married a wife and therefore I cannot come. Please have me excused.”

The gift of heaven itself offered to the citizens of the earth, and they are so preoccupied with the business and pleasures of this age that they simply have no time for the joys of the age to come; and even worse, by preferring the pleasures and occupations of this life, they show that they have no real desire for heaven after all. That is what actually stands behind the excuses: we’ve got more important things to do in our lives right now, God, than to eat bread with You in Your Kingdom. Farming, boating, golfing, sleeping in, reading the newspaper, picnicking, camping, partying with our friends. You name it. But it all comes down to this: Your offer isn’t as appetizing to us as the fun of this world. And so we give our hearts to the things temporal that we are bound to lose; and neglect to our unspeakable hurt the things eternal.

The banquet is a gift. First, foremost, always. Gifts are offered; not coerced. God offers them in freedom without compulsion and we can reject them in freedom without compulsion. Heaven is a gift. Even heaven on this earth. Our God will never force a person to receive it. But the invitation does not ring out over any one person’s life indefinitely. There comes a time when the invitation moves on to others. And so in the parable, it moved on to the poor, the crippled, blind and lame, the people of the highways and hedges. They filled the banquet hall that others had spurned. They gratefully attended to the heavenly feast that our Father prepares for His children on earth. And all who heed the invite find a welcome that astonishes and a feast more lavish than anything they could ever imagine, desire, or certainly deserve.

And so the story has gone on through these many centuries. Our God keeps setting up His banqueting table among us and He summons any who will to leave behind the preoccupations of this life, who will lay aside all earthly cares, to come and feast with Him. To listen to Him as He reveals in His Word the joys He has prepared for those who love Him, and then to receive the food that He has readied for them: the unimaginable feast of His Son’s body and blood. Yes, the very sacrifice by which atonement was won for all people on the Cross becomes the sacrament by which atonement is applied to all who come to receive. The body that was broken for the remission of sins upon Golgotha, is the body that He reaches you at this table. The blood that blotted out the sin of the world is the blood He wants to pour into you from His chalice.

And why? So that you may have communion with your Savior. So that you may live in Him and He may live in you. Your sins forgiven, your death destroyed. This is the meaning of life itself. This is the banquet which is wholly gift and which the Heavenly Father has set for you so that you may already here and now by faith partake of the life that He has prepared for you in eternity.

But what will you answer Him? Wisdom invites: “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and live, and walk in the way of insight.” There is no insight greater than that the Blessed Trinity has so created and so redeemed you that you might live in communion with Him. You are the objects of such great love! “By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us.” And where else do you taste that love but at His banquet, His Divine Service where the table of the Word and the table of the Supper overflow with gifts of life for each of you, His beloved children?

Do you want to go to heaven? Do you want to eat bread in the Kingdom of God? Do you want to recline at table with saints and angels and feast forever in the joy of God’s presence? Do you want to hear the hymn of praise that never ceases? Do you want to be with your loved ones who have died in the faith and passed behind the veil? You don’t have to wait. He reaches you the gift here and now, and He reaches it to you every week. And the more you experience what He offers here, the more you will realize that there is nothing on earth that could ever satisfy you like this. For here is the love, the peace, the joy you ache for. Here is total acceptance, pardon and love. Here is the family of God gathered as one around the Savior, some few seen, and multitudes upon multitudes unseen. Not in the sweet bye and bye. But all here and all now. Waiting. For you. “Come, for everything is now ready.” Amen.

30 May 2008

One More Krauth Goodie

Man, is this guy unbelievably helpful:

"The theory of the atonement, which pretends to explain it, is rotten at the core. The atonement, in its whole conception, belongs to a world which man cannot now enter. The blessings and adaptations of it we can comprehend in some measure. We can approach them with tender hearts, full of gratitude; but the essence of the atonement we can understand as little as can understand the essence of God." Conservative Reformation, p. 654

Patristic Quote of the Day

Receive in the bread that which hung upon the cross. Receive in the cup that which was shed from Christ's side. -- St. Augustine, Ad. Neophytos I

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

When Christ gives us Himself, He gives us everything. His body and blood are the organs of His Deity. In them them to us He gives all to us... C. P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* p. 606

Definitive Answer to the John 6 Question

In quoting the sixth chapter of John, as bearing on the Lord's Supper, it may be well, once for all, to say that it is quoted not on the supposition that it speaks of the Lord's Supper specifically, but that in stating the general doctrine of the life-giving power of Christ's flesh and blood, it states a doctrine under which the benefits of the sacramental eating comes a species. If we come into supernatural, blessed participation of Christ's body and blood, in the act of faith, without the Lord's Supper, a fortiori, we have a blessed participation of them in the act of the Lord's Supper. The sixth chapter of John treats of the grand end of which the Lord's Supper is the grand means. We partake of Christ's body and blood sacramentally, in order that we may partake of them savingly. Of the latter, not the former, the sixth of John speaks. -- C. P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* p. 598

Backyard Pics

29 May 2008

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In what way body and blood are communicated to us in this Sacrament is so great a thing that the mind of man in this life cannot comprehend it... The true body and blood of Christ are given in a heavenly and spiritual way which He knows, and which sorrowing and agitated consciences experience, and which surpasses the power of the mind of man... The whole Christ is given us in the Sacrament that we may be one flesh with Him. -- Jakob Andreae, *De Coena Domini* (cited in Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* p. 765)

Patristic Quote of the Day

Thou, O Jesus, hast redeemed all with Thy blood; and by Thy death hast Thou bound the powerful adversary. Release me from the fetters of the evil one; break his shackles and bonds. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* 52

28 May 2008


What you've all been waiting for...


27 May 2008

Confession in the Collects

Have you ever pondered what the Collects of the Church confess about us?

"because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing" - Trinity 1
"without whom nothing is strong and nothing is holy"- Trinity 3
"we, who cannot do anything that is good without You" - Trinity 8
"more ready to hear than we to pray and to give more than we either desire or deserve" - Trinity 11
"by Your gift alone Your people faithful people render true and laudable service" - Trinity 12
"because of our frailty we cannot but fall" - Trinity 14
"because she [the Church] cannot continue in safety without Your aid"- Trinity 15
"because without You we are not able to please You" - Trinity 18
"absolve Your people from the bonds of our sins, which by reason of our frailty we have brought upon ourselves" - Trinity 23
"we, who put no trust in our own merits, may not be dealt with by the severity of Your judgment, but according to Your mercy" - Trinity 25

It is an honest confession of human impotence in the face of sin, frailty in the face of temptation, weakness in spite of our Lord's grace. And so we plead ever for more grace, more mercy, more strength and kindness from Him who alone is our salvation and our eternal help.

Most of these collects are pre-Reformation. It is not just the Reformation that noted the damage original sin had caused to our race. These little prayers that stand at the beginning of the Service of the Word in the Divine Service are testimonies to the simple truth about our human condition which Sacred Scripture testifies to and human beings steadfastly attempt to avoid facing.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Let us then in everything believe God, and gainsay Him in nothing, though what is said seem to be contrary to our thoughts and senses, but let His word be of higher authority than both reasonings and sight. Thus let us do in the mysteries also, not looking at the things set before us, but keeping in mind His sayings. For His word cannot deceive, but our senses are easily beguiled. That has never failed, but this in most things goes wrong. Since then the word says, This is my body, let us both be persuaded and believe, and look at it with the eyes of the mind. - - St. John Chrysostom, Homily 81 on St. Matthew

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The prayer is made: "Send down Thy Holy Spirit, that He may show this bread (to be) the body of Thy Christ, and this cup the blood of Thy Christ." Here, in the earliest form, the true function of the Holy Ghost in the Supper is clearly stated - not the consummation of the sacramental mystery, by His working, but the illumination of the soul, so that it may in faith grasp the great mystery there existent, and may have shown to it by the Holy Ghost that the bread and cup are indeed the body and blood of Christ. -- C. P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* p. 753

It Started Out

sunshine and 70 degrees; right now it is pouring rain (and has been for a while) and 59. And this is the last week of MAY??? This has to be the gloomiest, wettest Spring I ever remember.

26 May 2008

Thoughts Ablaze...

I posted this on the ALPB site in response to some words from Bishop Benke. A friend suggested they might be of value also on the blog, so here they are:

As far as the family squabbling goes, I've tried to suggest that what the squabbling is about is not merely whose turn it is to do the dishes, but precisely caused by those who, from inside or out, would insist that the very things that make the Lutheran Church be the home that it is are the things that need to be dumped: her liturgy, her catechesis, her hymnody. I've tried to point out that I'm not saying that these things have a value in themselves; they don't. Their value is in their deliverance of the Gospel. I've tried to avoid the impression that I'm into preserving the museum pieces of Lutheranism; I'm not. It's a LIVING heritage that continues to grow. But it grows in continuity with what has come before, not by cutting one's self off from it. Let's be concrete: a parish that adopts the liturgy of the Pentecostals, welcomes adults in without instructing them in the Catechism (which is all about how to live from the receiving end of God's rich giving), and is held up by the Synod as the wonder parish we are all to imitate, does not make for accepting Ablaze. It makes for those of us in the house crying out: "There are folks here - from the inside or the outside - who are setting fire to our precious Gospel heritage and if we allow them to burn it up in the spirit of American evangelicalism it is not just a loss for us - but a loss for the whole world. We hold this treasure always and only to offer it to the world as the joyful life of learning to live by the Spirit's power from the great giving of our God."

Hope that's not too blunt. But it's the way this fellow sees it. It's not about little family squabbles; it's about whether burning our house down is a good thing or a bad thing.

What a Way to Spend Memorial Day

It was perfect. Why? I spent it with Krauth and Bayer. (Cindi spent the morning scrapbooking with Jo, so I really did get some quality reading time in). Krauth I came to respect more and more; Bayer I came to scratch my head over more than a little. Bayer's got some really good stuff, but golly day in the morning does it ever take him forever just to spit it out. Krauth, on the other hand, is just dense with goodies. In Krauth I've been exploring especially again his treatment of the Supper. His demonstration from the Fathers about the true doctrine of the Eucharist was amazingly thorough and insightful - what I've come to expect of the man. I ask again: WHY wasn't I made to read this theologian at seminary? I would definitely include his writings as a MUST for theological education in the Lutheran Church.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Man offers to God; this is sacrifice. God gives back to man; this is sacrament. The oblation, or thing offered, supplies both sacrifice and sacrament, but with this difference, that under the Old Dispensation, God received part and man received part; under the New, God receives all and gives back all: Jesus Christ, in His own divine person, makes that complete which was narrowed under the Old Covenant by the necessarily limitations of mere matter. -- C. P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* p. 591

24 May 2008

On the Bidding Prayer

The Bidding Prayer is truly one of the treasures of the Church. It comes down to us from a time when this form of intercession was practiced in the regular Divine Service of the Roman Church. Even though in the Middle Ages it disappeared from the regular Roman rite, it remained in the Good Friday liturgy as a testimony to how Christians used to pray.

In LSB, the Bidding Prayer is, of course, appointed for its age old use on Good Friday, but additionally it may "replace the prayers in the Daily Office or the Prayer of the Church in the Divine Service." (LSB Altar Book, p. 406)

The prayer consists of a bid by an assisting minister (deacon), followed by a time for the congregation to pray (during which they traditionally knelt), followed by a collect by the pastor (during which the congregation traditionally stood), and which they sealed with their "amen!"

Here is the scope of the Lutheran version of this great prayer, outlined in the bids to pray:

Let us pray for the whole Christian Church, that our Lord God would defend her against all the assaults and temptations of the adversary and keep her perpetually on the true foundation, Jesus Christ.

Let us pray all the ministers of the Word, for all vocations in the Church, and for all the people of God.

Let us pray for our catechumens, that our Lord God would open their hearts and the door of His mercy that, having received the remission of all their sins by the washing of regeneration, they may be mindful of their Baptism and evermore be found in CHrist Jesus, our Lord.

Let us pray for all in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Let us pray our Lord God that He would deliver the world from all error, take away disease, ward off famine, set free those in bondage, grant health to the sick and a safe journey to all who travel.

Let us pray for all who are outside the Church, that our Lord God would be pleased to deliver them from their error, call them to faith in the true and living God and His only Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, and gather them into His family, the Church.

Let us pray for peace, that we may come to the knowledge of God's holy Word and walk before Him as is fitting for Christians.

Let us pray for our enemies, that God would remember them in mercy and graciously grant them such things as are both needful for them and profitable for their salvation.

Let us pray for the fruits of the earth, that God would send down His blessing upon them and graciously dispose our hearts to enjoy them according to His own good will.

Finally, let us pray for all those things which our Lord would have us ask, saying: Our Father...

Mollie's Got Some Good Stuff

up over at Augsburg 1530. The piece from David Berger on Ablaze was particularly well done.

BIG thanks

to Scott and Dennis. They fixed the lights in the Church today. Talk about a difference! I can READ the Altar Book after all. Amazing how the whole chancel is lighted up now. I am VERY grateful; you guys "light up my life." :)

Homily for Trinity 1 - 2008

This is a slight revision of a sermon offered a couple years back, but I really wanted to preach it again, so here it is:

[Genesis 15:1-6 / 1 John 4:16-21 / Luke 16:19-31]

Why Abraham? Why not say: “Lazarus went to heaven”? Why drag Abraham into it?

Abraham was not a poor man, after all, not by any measure. A wealthy man - as rich as the rich man in the parable, if not richer. So why single him out? We get a clue if we remember what happened when unknown visitors showed up on Abraham’s doorstep by the Oaks of Mamre. Do you recall?

“When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said: ‘O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet and rest yourselves, and after that you may pass on - since you have come to your servant.” And then Abraham and his wife and servants prepared an unbelievable feast for these three men. Sarah kneaded up 21 quarts worth of flour and made cakes (Pr. Feicho tells me that's 180+ biscuits a person!), and Abraham had his servants prepare a young calf - yes, a whole young calf, for three guests - and served it with curds and milk. A feast indeed. And all for men he never met before. Just because they landed on his doorstep.

Do you see the contrast then with the other rich man - the one in today's Gospel? He can call Abraham “Father” but there’s no “like father, like son” here. This son may have shared Abraham’s blood, but he did not share his mercy, his kindness, or his faith. His faith did not extend itself in hospitality; his was a life without mercy.

Think of our lives today. We are so busy. We run from one thing to the next. Is it any wonder that loneliness is epidemic among us? We have neither time for the silence of withdrawal for personal reflection nor the time for hospitality, for welcoming people into our homes. And we’ve simply accepted this state of affairs as normal. Today’s Gospel challenges that to the core.

A little earlier in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus said: “But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean to you.”

Give alms from within - in other words, our mercy, our hospitality, can never just be a matter of setting THINGS in front of others: gifts to buy them off so that they leave us alone. What we must give alms of is the stuff within: our very selves. Lazarus hungered for more than the crumbs from the Rich Man’s table. He hungered for a friend to talk to, to share with. It was the Rich Man himself who could have provided for Lazarus - not just “charity” (as we’ve come to think of it) but love, giving alms of self to another. Time, friendship, and, yes, food.

That’s how Abraham was. He didn’t just give food to strangers and walk away; he welcomed them to his home. He celebrated that they had come to him. And that, of course, points to the true Son of Abraham: He who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor that we through his poverty might become rich: our Lord Jesus.

God didn’t just send us some food so that we could put fuel into our bodies and keep on going. With the food, God gives Himself. That’s vital. That’s what the Eucharist is all about. “A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou.” That’s salvation. It’s what human beings ache for in the depths of their heart whether they know it or not.

When our Lord went to His cross He embraced fully the horrid loneliness that we fallen humans have chosen for ourselves. He took it all into Himself and out of that horrible depth He cried out. “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” Entering that loneliness and filling it with His forgiveness, His love, His presence, He destroyed it forever. Sin is always loneliness - man going his own way: “they have turned every one to His own way.” But when “the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all” the power of sin to separate us from Him - and so from each other - was broken entirely! Loneliness is destroyed by the Son of Mary!

And it is no accident that He shared a meal where He gave more than bread to His own - where He gave them His very self, His true body and blood. “Do this as the memorial of me!” he told them. As the memorial of the One who was not content to give things – who offers Himself to be our companion.

Our turn now. We know that we still feast at the table where our Lord gives us Himself - the Body that shattered the grave and the Blood that forever blots out the handwriting that was against us. He gives us Himself without holding anything back.

Such life then He sets before us on His Table. If gathering together and receiving from God the gift of Himself pours life into us and renews us - how can we ever fail to see that what happens here is not a blip on the screen of our lives? What happens here in this holy place manifests what all of life is created and meant to be! All that it can be when it is lived by faith in Him! Do you think it was an accident that when the Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost, one of the things we learn about them is that “day by day...together breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts!”

In their homes as in ours, in every one of them, stands a table. Whether we are single or whether we are married; whether we are blessed with children or whether we are not. In each home there stands a table, and that table testifies to the will of God for us humans: to be family to each other, sisters and brothers of the Son of God. Such a simple vision God has: all of us members of one family, eating from one table, and giving ourselves fully and completely to one another. No such thing as strangers then, because every human is a welcome guest! Simple, but powerful. And that’s life! It starts here, it goes on forever in eternity.

Let our tables at home begin to reflect the heavenly Father’s table. Be done with token charity, and instead open wide your hearts, your lives, yes, your homes to one other and to all whom God brings our way. Rejoice to extend to others the hospitality of Abraham, knowing it is a joyous reflection of the hospitality of Him who has gone before us to prepare us a place at His Father’s table and a welcome in His Father’s home, to whose Kingdom may He grant us all to attain through His mercy and love for mankind.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The favors of God so far exceed human hope and expectation, that often they are not believed. For God has bestowed upon us such things as the mind of man never looked for, never thought of. It is for this reason that the Apostles spend much discourse in securing a belief of the gifts that are granted us of God. For as men, upon receiving some great good, ask themselves if it is not a dream, as not believing it; so it is with respect to the gifts of God. What then was it that was thought incredible? That those who were enemies, and sinners, neither justified by the law, nor by works, should immediately through faith alone be advanced to the highest favor. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Timothy 1

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

It belongs to the essence of the Church that it can give thanks... What is a people who can longer sing a Te Deum? - Hermann Sasse, *The Lonely Way* p. 481

The Promise and the Church

The Lutheran Confession is that the Church is called into being and sustained by the promise of God that we call the Gospel - spoken in words (preaching and absolution) and sacramentally enacted (Baptism and Eucharist). Where this promise is spoken and enacted, there God by His address calls forth the faith that justifies. But faith in this case means precisely that which holds to the promise and the Promiser in what He says He is giving.

Oswald Bayer interestingly observes what happens when the nature of the Gospel is shifted from promise; how faith itself then changes correspondingly.

"If the word becomes an appeal, faith becomes its performance in action. If the word becomes a demonstration, faith becomes insight; if it becomes a statement, faith becomes knowledge. Finally, if the word becomes an expression, faith becomes a ground of experience given with human being as such. Only if the word is promise (promissio) is faith really faith." [Theology the Lutheran Way, p. 139]

Faith really faith - that is, such faith as St. Paul spoke of. That lively, active faith Luther praised.

What happens then to the Church when the Gospel is altered from its nature as divinely given, free promise? Wow. Here's the ultimate lex orandi, lex credendi. In His Word preached, in His sacraments delivered, God is giving promises - fundamentally so - and to alter the verbal form of the promise is to alter the Church's faith at its foundation. Sigh. It gives one furiously to think... That Bayer, he is one very helpful theologian indeed.

How to Drive Your Parents Nuts - 101

Even though you are a strapping lad of almost 20 years, you:

1. Consistently fail to carry your driver's license (let alone wallet!) with you;
2. Your sister's mother-in-law saves your butt at Kohl's because you're trying to write a check without any I.D.
3. You ask to borrow your father's belt because you accidentally left yours at the theatre last night.
4. You realize when you get ready to walk out the door that your SHOES were also left at the same theatre, so you got to wear BROWN shoes with your black pants to work.
5. You rush out to get to work on time, only to call a few minutes later and sheepishly confess that you forgot that work didn't start till 9 and you were there at 8.
6. You borrow a lid from your mother's pot for a "prop" for art and leave it at your girlfriend's house - for WEEKS.
7. You drive off to town more than once, intending to go to work, and leave your uniform sitting on the piano so you have to drive home again to get it - but hey - what's a little gas cost these days?
8. You take snacks into your room, leave them open and let them go stale - so that your sisters can complain about this to your parents.
9. You expect your mommy to keep track of your checkbook for you.
10. You firmly believe that the floor of your room is the best place to "hang up" your clothes.

[Okay, got that out of my system...but waiting for the NEXT list of 10 to develop, after which there will be no further lists; the lad will have achieved his purpose of driving us insane and into the nut house.]

23 May 2008

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We cannot learn what the Church is from theological books. Nor can we learn this only from sermons, even though it should continually be said to us in sermons and we should hear it there. Rather, faith in the church - that is, believing knowledge of what the church is according to her deepest essence - arises from our experiences at the celebration of the Supper. -- Herman Sasse, *The Lonely Way* vol. 1, p. 394

Patristic Quote of the Day

For let us ever consider, that he who blesses his enemy, blesses himself, he who curses his enemy, curses himself, and he who prays for his enemy, prays not for him, but for himself. If we thus act, we shall be able to reduce to practice this excellent virtue, and so to obtain the promised blessings, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Timothy 2

Canticle for Matins

"The Te Deum, Benedictus (page 300), or another canticle (Hymns 925-941) is sung." Lutheran Service Book, Altar Book, page 296

What does that mean? It means that it is in the rubrics of Matins in LSB to substitute any of the following for the Te Deum or Benedictus:

Song of Moses and Israel - Cantemus Domino - 925
Song from Deuteronomy - Audite, coeli - 926
First Song of Isaiah - Confitebor tibi, Domine - 927
Song of Hannah - Exultavit cor meum - 928
I Will Greatly Rejoice in the Lord - Gaudens gaudebo - 929
All You Works of God - Benedicte, Omnia Opera - 930
All You Works of the Lord - Benedicte, Omnia Opera - 931
Jesus Sat With His Disciples - Beatitudes - 932
My Soul Rejoices - Magnificat - 933
My Soul Now Magnifies - Magnificat - 934
Tell Out My Soul - Magnificat - 935
Sing Praise to the God of Israel - Benedictus - 936
Lord, Bid Your Servant - Nunc Dimittis - 937
In Peace and Joy I Now Depart - Nunc Dimittis - 938
You are God; We Praise You - Te Deum - 939
Holy God, We Praise Your Name - Te Deum - 940
We Praise You and Acknowledge You, O God - Te Deum - 941

What strikes me as odd about this rubric is that (aside from the hymn paraphrases of the Benedictus and Te Deum), it permits the use of canticles whose traditional spot is elsewhere. For example, Cantemus Domino was a canticle at the morning office included in the PSALMODY. Similarly with Audite Coeli and Confitemur Tibi and Exultavit cor meum and Benedicte Omnia Opera. And, of course, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis are traditionally associated in the Western use with the evening office or night office. My suggestion is that if pastors use this rubric, they restrict themselves to subbing only the rimed paraphrases of the Te Deum or Benedictus, and that they do even that sparingly.

Wonderful Web Resource

If you are praying the daily office at your COMPUTER, here's a wonderful hypertext resource:

Readings and Psalms

Note that they come up automatically in NKJV, but you can select any Bible version available, including the ESV. What a nice service the Anonymous Lutheran has provided for this. Just find the day and click and off you go. Note that the order is Matins Psalm / First Reading / Second Reading / Vespers Psalms.

22 May 2008

Old Joke that I'm Still Laughing About...

...someone told me this the other day:

What do you call a Catholic who really knows his Bible?


A Lutheran!

Okay, just couldn't resist.

Truth is, most Lutherans are as abysmal as any Romanist when it comes to Biblical content, and many a devout Baptist or Presbyterian could run rings around either one! And that's a tragedy indeed. Oh, not just culturally (though that too - I mean, how can one read and appreciate the literature of the Western world if one doesn't know the almost constant stream of Biblical allusions that fill it?). I mean above all spiritually.

We come to know God in and through these words, these stories, these wonderful types and antitypes that are filled to the brim with the good news of Jesus Christ in His incarnation, death, resurrection, and glorification for our salvation. We need to KNOW them, because in knowing them we can come to know Him, to love Him, and to receive from His Spirit a true forming of the "mind of Christ" within us. It's one reason I'm very committed to the praying of the Daily Office - which provides an orderly way for us Christians to become intimately familiar with large chunks of God's holy Word.

Right now we're ploughing through Song of Songs in Matins and John's Gospel at Vespers. It's a great and wonderful adventure - a table of appointed readings is found in LSB 299-303 with a Psalm Chart following for the daily Office. Let us learn again to LIVE in and from the precious Word of God written so that the silly joke I began with might at least stand a chance of being true sometimes!

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

For Christ enlivens His true kingdom by His Spirit, whether it is revealed or is covered by the cross, just as the glorified Christ is the same Christ who was afflicted. - Apology VII/VIII.18

Patristic Quote of the Day

Before it is consecrated, it is bread, but when the words of Christ have been added, it is the body of Christ. Therefore hear him saying: Take and eat ye all of this; for this is my body. And before the words of Christ it is a cup full of wine and water. When the words of Christ have operated then and there it is made to be the blood of Christ which redeemed the people. Therefore, see in how many ways the word of Christ is mighty to change all things. There the Lord Jesus himself testifies to us that we receive his body and blood. Ought we to doubt of his trustworthiness and testimony? -- attrib. to St. Ambrose of Milan, *de Sacramentis* Book IV, Chapter V

21 May 2008

Of Invitatories

LSB's Altar Book contains a listing of invitatories to be spread across the post-Trinity season in both Matins and Morning Prayer. I never paid much heed to them at first. Now I note to my surprise that the first four of the series have a familiar ring:

Trinity: The Lord has called us by the Gospel.
Trinity 1-8: The Lord has gathered us in the true faith.
Trinity 9-13: The Lord has enlightened us in the true faith.
Trinity 14--20: The Lord has sanctified us in the true faith.
Trinity 20-24: Glorious is God with His angels and saints.
Trinity 25-27: The Lord will come again in glory.

Yup. Right out of the Catechism's explanation to the Third Article. Which makes those four invitatories addressed, rather interestingly, to the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life. He is the Lord who calls us by the Gospel, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies us in the true faith. Note that the fifth invitatory falls generally between St. Michael and All Angels and the feast of All Saints. The last invitatory falls during the time devoted to the second coming of our Lord in the Sunday lectionary.

A unique interplay then of lex orandi and lex credendi here, and we see how they are but two sides of one coin. I think it was Sasse who said something along the lines that a doctrine that cannot be prayed is no doctrine at all.

Patristic Quote of the Day

What then have we promised in this life? The forgiveness of sins and the laver of regeneration. Now in the first place, baptism itself has its chief part in things to come; and Paul exclaims, saying, (Col. iii. 4.) For you died, and your life is hid with Christ in God: when your life shall be manifested, then shall you also with Him be manifested in glory. But if in this life also it has advantages, as indeed it has, this also is more than all a matter of great wonder, that they had power to persuade men who had done innumerable evil deeds, yea such as no one else had done, that they should wash themselves clean of all, and they should give account of none of their offences. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Cor. 2

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

No matter how great the multitude of the wicked is, we may know that the Church still exists and Christ provides those gifts He has promised to the Church - to forgive sins, to hear prayer, to give the Holy Spirit. -- Apology, VII/VIII:10

19 May 2008

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Fathers held, in the Supper, to the true presence of the elements, and so cannot be harmonized with Romish Transubstantiation: they taught a true presence of the body and blood of Christ, and so cannot be harmonized with the Calvinistic spiritualism. Alike in their assertions and negations, they accord with the positive doctrine of the Lutheran Church, and the antithesis of that doctrine to error. - C. P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* p. 751

Patristic Quote of the Day

For if Christ be the end of the Law, he that has not Christ, even if he seem to have that righteousness, has it not. But he that has Christ, even though he have not fulfilled the Law aright, has received the whole. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 10

18 May 2008

Return to the Common Prefaces

Another thing that changes this week is that we return to the "Common" Prefaces. LSB provides three of these, any of which may be used on these Sundays after Trinity. My preference is Common II, inspired by the Eucharistic Prayer of Hippolytus:

...who, having created all things, took on human flesh and was born of the virgin Mary. For our sake He died on the cross and rose from the dead to put an end to death, thus fulfilling Your will and gaining for You a holy people. Therefore...

Confessing the Athanasian

I confess that I enjoy it. We confess it responsively by whole verse. At St. Paul's we only do so once a year, on Trinity Sunday, and contrary to the better liturgical practice, we let it replace the Nicene Creed in the Divine Service (the practice I first learned as a Lutheran). But aside from pushing everyone's "catholic" buttons, what I really love is the utter clarity of expression that characterizes this Symbol. The longer one studies the complexities of the Trinitarian and Christological controversies of the early centuries, the more one can only marvel at the clarity of the Athanasian Creed, achieved at such a great cost, and the more one values it as a priceless heritage from our fathers in the faith. It is fully worthy of being used more than once a year, but I find it comforting that Lutherans as a whole still trot it out on this Sunday.

Mother's Day - A Week Late

The kids decided to wait for Mother's Day until Lauren and Dean got home. Let me see if I can get all this straight:

Mom got a manicure and pedicure, her hair done up and makeup put on, her house cleaned, her van cleaned, dinner made and cleaned up. I don't think I left anything out.

She was treated like a queen today - and she deserves it, too! You guys did a great job - thanks!

P.S. Oh, yeah! There was one more thing. Lauren decided Cin wasn't allowed to win at Liverpool today...

Feast vs. Festival

In a discussion on the Liturgy List, Pr. Vieker helpfully pointed out a very little observed footnote in LSB on page xi. On that page are listed out Feasts and Festivals. But which is which? The bolded items are denoted as "principal feasts of Christ" and are "normally observed when they occur on a Sunday." What are these?

Eve of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus (Dec. 31)
Circumcision and Name of Jesus (Jan. 1)
Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord (Feb. 2)
Annunciation of our Lord (March 25)
The Nativity of St. John the Baptist (June 24)
The Visitation (July 2)
St. Michael and All Angels (September 29)
All Saints Day (November 1)

All these are FEASTS in LSB and the lectionary introduces them so. The rest of the days on that page are festivals "that may be observed according to local custom and preference." A quite separate category are Commemorations. Commemorations lack propers and so are not intended to be "celebrated" in the Divine Service, but the person (or event) commemorated may be included in the prayers for that day.

What a Glorious Sunday

when you get to sing not only "Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest" but "Let All Mortal Flesh," "Wide Open Stand the Gates," and "Now Thank We." The Festival of the Holy Trinity provides our entrance into the Semester Ecclesiae. Now the long "green" season has begun, with its emphasis on our Lord's teaching and our growth in union with Him in both love and hope (as distinct from the Semester Domini with its emphasis upon the events of our Lord's life, and hence upon the substance of our faith). In the many Sundays ahead it is our prayer that the Blessed Spirit would shape in us the mind of Christ.

17 May 2008

Revitalizing Lutheran Congregations

Pastor McCain (with some distracting background music - here we're thinking of an earthly problem and he distracts us with heavenly music!) very helpfully cites from District President Cripe about the challenges facing pastors when they realize that their parishes are not - despite the signs - Lutheran. I used to tell my PALS guys: most of you are going out as Lutheran pastors to serve non-Lutheran parishes. Remember that and it will help keep you out of some trouble (and land you in other kinds of trouble). Kudos to Pr. McCain and DP Cripe for sharing what is at the heart of so much heart-break in the LCMS.

The Feast of the Holy Trinity

Homily for the Feast of the Holy Trinity (2008)

For the world, what you can see is all that’s real and all that matters. For the Church, what we can see is real, but we know it’s only the least part of what’s real, and it isn’t what ultimately matters. We’re committed to living from, orienting our lives toward, realities that are not seen and so there’s no explaining to the world what we’re up to. There’s no rational making sense of it. We don’t rely on sight, but we do rely on hearing. The Church is all about ears, not eyes. And the ears open up our inner eyes to see what truly is by the Spirit’s power.

Isaiah had a moment, though, when it went beyond ears. The whole liturgy of the temple was a point of connection between the unseen world and the visible world, between heaven and earth, if you will. But it was all ear stuff. Words and promises. Sacrifices that all pointed beyond themselves. Blood of innocent animals pouring out and yet the blood that was seen there wasn’t the big thing. And everyone knew that. For Isaiah a day came that changed his life. He got to see with his eyes the invisible world, the world that all that worship had been oriented towards. It was the year King Uzziah died and there in the liturgy on day, earth dropped away and heaven became visible. Isaiah saw the Lord, Yahweh, sitting on His throne, high and lifted up. The train of His robe filled the earthly temple like the billows of the sweet incense. And above Him, the spirits of fire, the seraphim, six winged, many eyed, and covering their faces in humility before the Lord of all and crying out as they flew: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.” The earthly temple was shaking at the voice of the heavenly critters flying about and calling and the smoke of the incense filled the house with glory.

Isaiah’s response is instructive. Not: Wow, isn’t this neat! I’ve always wanted to see God with my own eyes and now I am. Sweet! Rather: Woe is me! Oy vey! I’m lost. I’m a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips and now my eyes have seen the King, the real King, the Lord of hosts!” Isaiah thought he was dead meat. Such is the reaction of all people when the invisible world is suddenly made visible, when they see the realm that is beyond sight. And what happened next? Did God reveal the invisible world to Isaiah in order to destroy him? No. One of the seraphs grabs some tongs – note that, the angel uses tongs – and plucks a live, burning coal right off the altar and starts winging it toward Isaiah. No place to run, no place to hide, and fiery coal headed straight toward his mouth. YOUCH. His lips are seared and yet this pain is not bad, but good. The angel whispers: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” When the invisible world crashes through and terrifies us, it is not for the purpose of terrifying us, but for the purpose of touching us, taking our guilt and our sin away with the fire from God’s altar.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable his ways! And so Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night. And there in front of Nicodemus is the entire temple and unseen world that Isaiah beheld. Here in front of Nicodemus is the Lord who sat upon that throne, hymned by the seraphim, now made flesh and blood, dwelling among us. He knows that our Lord must be “from God” but he’s not sure what that “from God” entails. Jesus tells him: “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again (or from above) he cannot see the kingdom of God.” You need a new birth to see the unseen world – the kingdom! Nicodemus, his mind on earthly things, on the visible, stumbles over this rebirth talk. Jesus doesn’t back down: “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” And make no mistake about it: THAT’S the goal of God. That we enter His kingdom, that we live from the world that is unseen in this age, that we are given new birth and pardon and forgiveness. What’s born of flesh is flesh and sees nothing more than what the eyes behold. What’s born of the Spirit is spirit and begins to see what no eye has seen and no ear heard and what has not entered into the hearts of men, the love that God has for them.

Nicodemus not getting it frustrates our Lord. “How can you believe if I tell you heavenly things if you don’t get these earthly things. No one has ascended into heaven except the Son of Man who descended from heaven.” He’s the key to unlocking the unseen world. And where does He do that? “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” The cross is the key, as always. Baptism – that new birth of water and the Spirit – opens the eyes to see what the cross was all about. Look not only on the visible – on the man laboring to breathe, crying out in suffering, bleeding, dying, and dead – look instead upon the scene from the Spirit’s perspective, from heaven’s perspective. Here is the Lamb of God, sent from the Father, bearing the sin of all the world, so that all who believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life, the life of the kingdom. Here is the Son, gift given by the Father, revealed by the Spirit, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Here’s the altar. The sacrifice. The high priest. The temple. The atoning blood. The gift of life. All in the man hanging upon the tree.

Today the burning coal that is the body and blood of the Son of God will be taken from off the altar of the cross at Jesus’ command in order to touch your lips so that your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for. All the life that is in His death touches you; His body, now resurrected and glorified and forever beyond the grave, the pledge of eternal life, touches your lips.

And you realize that we live from these unseen realities, from the invisible world that truly is, and how little becomes the world that we can see, and how great the world that is beyond our sight now. A world that will appear in all its glory when Christ appears at the last day, and we with Him.

The Feast of the Holy Trinity is the feast of what cannot be seen with flesh born of flesh eyes, but what can only be revealed through spirit born of Spirit eyes in Baptism. The God who is hymned forever as the holy, holy, holy One, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, reaching to us in Jesus a gift of life that we might see the love that God has for us and so seeing, join in the joy of what cannot be seen in this age, orienting our lives toward the invisible one who for love of us once took on flesh and blood. And so, forgiven, cleansed, restored, we join the Seraphim in what is real life, singing: To Christ our Lamb be glory with His unoriginate Father and the all-holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages! Amen.

16 May 2008

That's A Wrap

A nice day off. I got a leisurely start to the day, and enjoyed my pot of coffee with some web-surfing. Then after a shower, Cindi and I headed into St. Louis. We got stopped by construction on I-55, but that's alright. There are trees all along the highway by Collinsville that are hanging with chains of beautiful white flowers. We listened to some music and sat in the car and enjoyed the sunshine and the warm day. We finally made it over to Olympia's for lunch. Saganaki and a Gyro salad - and since Cin hates olives, I got to eat all from her salad too. Sadly all the outside tables were taken, so we feasted in the dark and slightly chilly inside. Then off to the stadium to buy some tickets for a ball game. Thanks be to God, none were for me. Cindi, David, Dave, and Bekah will head off to the old ball game on June 2. I imagine I'll be at home working more on my presentation for the St. John Chrysostom's Preachers Retreat in Canada. After the stadium, we headed back to Collinsville and Wally World to shop for that new microwave. We found a black one that we wanted, but the display model was the only one available - so they gave it to us for the cost of the cheapest microwave they sell. That was a saving of $20! Almost paid for one of those nose-bleed ball tickets. When we got home it was still beautiful outside. Cindi opted for a bike ride and I went for a walk. Lauren, Dean, Jo and Dave joined us for dinner - burgers and hotdogs on the grill - which we ate outside. Then a game of liverpool - WHICH I WON! Will miracles never cease! Now Cindi and Lauren are marking things for the yard sale in Hamel tomorrow. Just a wonderful, stress-free, satisfying day all around. Deo gratias!

Garden Pics


Yeah, well, so, Cindi is flying high today. At Walmart she got carded - for being under 40. She thinks this is a big deal. How can I break it to her that the lady had a seeing eye dog hidden under the counter? She's never going to let me live this one down, folks...

The Rev. Dean Speaks...

...and very well, as usual. Not for the faint of heart.

click here

15 May 2008

Warning: Atkins Thoughts for the Day

Diet vs. way of eating. Big diff and its the diff between failure and success when it comes to controlling weight. A diet is something you do temporarily. You modify your eating habits for a time to help drop pounds. It's well known, though, that the yo-yo effect lands you heavier than ever when you stop your "diet."

Atkins is a way of eating, a mind-change about what you put into your mouth. The goal is to totally change how you eat and how you fuel your body. By eliminating the sugar swings, your whole system stabilizes.

And there are all kinds of weird side effects. For years, I've suffered from migraines. Tossing of cookies kind of headaches. Make the light PLEASE go bye-bye kind of headaches. Please don't whisper so loud kind of headaches. When they hit, I'm usually out for a day, sometimes more. But when I strictly follow Atkins, the headaches come quite seldom and almost are not noticeable. I am able to just pop an aspirin and go on. When I am foolish enough to leave this way of eating, they come back with a vengeance. Don't ask me why - I haven't a clue. Another side effect is a feeling of greater energy. When I'm eating this way, I don't get that "time to nap" feeling in the afternoon. I basically never nap with Atkins. I may sit in the chair and get very still to relax, but I find that the sleep at night is all I really need.

What's the pitfall to watch out for? Fooling yourself into allowing exceptions. You need to know your own cravings. Cin is attracted to the sweet stuff. M&Ms are sheer torture. To me, that's not a temptation at all. MY craving is for SALT. And I've learned that there is no such thing as "just one potato chip." If you take seriously the approach that you've changed your way of eating (that you're not on a diet), it gives enormous power to deal with the temptations. I kinda enjoy looking at the bag of chips and saying: "No way, Jose! You are just so NOT worth it." And then I'll treat myself to some cheese, some berries, or some other food that doesn't impact my blood sugar.

The end result? I follow the Atkins way of eating because I love how it makes me feel; I get a kick out of weighing at almost 48 what I weighed at 21; and even though the food I eat is tasty and wonderful, I find myself thinking about food a lot less. I'd encourage anyone to give it a whirl!

Patristic Quote of the Day

We need none of those legal observances, he says; faith suffices to obtain for us the Spirit, and by Him righteousness, and many and great benefits. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Galatians 5

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

If we find our faith in the Fathers, we must not always expect to find it couched in the terms which we should now employ. It is their faith rather than their theology we are seeking; and we should compare our faith with their faith rather than our dogmatics with theirs. Systematic thinking and nicely balanced expression are the growth of ages in the Church. -- Krauth, *Conservative Reformation* p. 726

14 May 2008

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa

It struck me tonight at Compline how utterly deathly those words are to the old Adam. We stand before each other AND before the whole company of heaven and we confess that we have sinned. Real sins of thought, word, and deed. But here's the nail in the coffin of the old Adam: we don't excuse the sins. Yes, I've sinned in thought, word, and deed, BUT... You know the routine. It's natively bred into us. It's ALWAYS someone else's fault. But the Confiteor will not let us get away with that. We stand and confess not merely that we have sinned, but that it is "by my fault, by my own fault, by my own most grievous fault." It's MY doing. None other's. It is the exact opposite of Adam and Eve's blame game in Eden. I sinned, and no one is to blame but me. What utter freedom there is in such a confession! How wise the Church to hand it onto us to become our own prayer and words. Once again, the liturgy puts truth into our lips.

And from PART of a pastoral conference...

...This was passed with near unanimous voice vote at the Spring Pastors' Conference of the Southern Region of the Rocky Mountain District:

Resolution to Request the Restoration of "Issues, Etc." on KFUO, The Disclosure of Board for Communication Documents Related to Its Cancellation, and an Independent Audit of KFUO:

Whereas, members of the Southern Region of the Rocky Mountain District-LCMS have voiced their confusion and frustration at the handling of the "Issues, Etc." cancellation and firing of its Called host and producer; and

Whereas, "Issues, Etc." has been a blessing to many people of the Southern Region of the Rocky Mountain District-LCMS - Lutherans, other Christians, and those outside the Church, listeners in the KFUO broadcast area, listeners of stations across the country which carry this program in syndication, and thousands of listeners from around the world who downloaded audio files of the show on the Internet; and

Whereas, "Issues, Etc." has been a valuable resource for pastors and congregations, keeping them abreast of current issues at the intersection of theology and American society, and helping them to respond to these issues in a truly biblical, evangelical, that is, Lutheran way, indeed serving as a model for LCMS outreach effort; and

Whereas, Issues, Etc. was in the forefront of broadcast technology and on the cutting edge of communications technology through streaming broadcasts and podcasting, and thereby making it an outstanding outreach tool to/for both our own LCMS members and youth as well as those outside the Church throughout the world thereby fulfilling the Great Commission (Matt 28:18); and

Whereas, Issues, Etc. has been an uncommonly excellent vehicle for broadcasting some of the best teaching that our LCMS has to offer to the world, because it has regularly scheduled professors from both seminaries and many of our universities, plus noted experts from the International Center as well as LC-MS parishes and other agencies; and

Whereas, KFUO recently cancelled Issues, Etc., temporarily pulled it from the KFUO web site, and dismissed its on-air host, Rev. Todd Wilken from a called position of the Church, and program director, Jeff Schwarz, for widely disputed reasons; and

Whereas, over seven thousand Christians from around the world and across denominational lines including not only the radio audience, but more importantly, an impressive audience using the web and podcasts, including soldiers serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other posts throughout the world, have signed an online petition requesting KFUO to reinstate "Issues, Etc."
with its host (www.petitiononline.com/Issues/petition); and

Whereas, God has gifted His Church with material wealth primarily for the purpose of reaching to the unchurched and nourishing the faith of the churched and since "Issues, Etc." has done well in this regard, in accord with Jesus' instructions in Luke 16; therefore be it

Resolved, that the pastors of the Southern Region of the Rocky Mountain District-LCMS gathered in solemn assembly give thanks and praise to God for the ministry of Issues, Etc. and the hard work of Pastor Wilken and Mr.
Schwarz; and be it further

Resolved, That the Southern Region of the Rocky Mountain District-LCMS requests that the Board for Communication Services and KFUO AM publically apologize to the dismissed staff and their listeners and strive toward a mutually agreeable arrangement under which Rev. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz may continue their exemplary production and airing of this program, and reinstate "Issues, Etc." to its previous broadcast times as soon as possible; and be it further

Resolved, That the Southern Region of the Rocky Mountain District-LCMS requests, for the sake of trust and unity, that Mr. David Strand and the Board for Communication Services make public all internal documents and memos concerning this cancellation, including any documentation of not just radio listenership, but also about podcast downloads across American and around the world, and, in addition, allow for a complete, independent, and publicly documented audit of KFUO finances, including directly comparable financial performance of all of the station's programs; and be it further

Resolved, that the pastors of the Southern Region of the Rocky Mountain District-LCMS request that the Board of Directors of the Rocky Mountain District-LCMS, the Board of Directors-LCMS, and the President, LCMS request in turn that the LC-MS Board for Communications Services and radio station KFUO AM reinstate the recently dismissed staff, so that they may continue their exemplary work in our behalf on this program.

Signed: Rev Douglas Escue
Vice President for the Southern Region, Rocky Mountain District, for the pastors of the Southern Region

Scott Is Having...

...too much fun! Check out his map of Issue's Blue and Red states. Come on, Salt Water folks. I know you can do it. Give us one of those districts in Issues red, please!

Patristic Quote of the Day

But why does he call it inheritance (or lot)? To show that by his own achievements no one obtains the kingdom, but as a lot is rather the result of good luck, so in truth is it here also. For a life so good as to be counted worthy of the kingdom does no one show forth, but the whole is of His free gift. Therefore He says, When you have done all, say, We are unprofitable servants, for we have done that which was our duty to do. (Luke xvii. 10.) -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Colossians 1

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Do learn to love the Sacrament of the Altar as the meeting place with your beloved who have passed within the veil. Here again the Sacrament is the heart of our religion. The Blessed Sacrament links us not merely to Bethlehem and Calvary, but to the whole world beyond the grave as well, for at the Altar the infinite is enshrined in the finite; Heaven stoops to earth; and the seen and the unseen meet. -- Von Schenk, *The Presence* p. 132

The Minnesota Districts Weigh In

To Encourage Action Regarding Issues, Etc.

Whereas, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has clearly expressed its desire to be intentional in engaging our culture with the clear proclamation of the Scriptures; and

Whereas, LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick, in his March 31, 2008 letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal describe our Synod as “faithful to the Scriptures and Lutheran Confession” and “blessed by unity in our common confession and the articles of our shared faith”; and

Whereas, the KFUO-AM radio program Issues, Etc. clearly articulated that common confession; and

Whereas, Issues, Etc. has ably provided LCMS Christians with a resource that teaches them how to engage the culture with the clear witness of the Holy Scripture and the pure proclamation of the Gospel of Christ; and

Whereas, the Board for Communication Services on April 18, 2005 stated, “The board recognizes the value of [Issues, Etc.] to the Synod for nearly 15 years and is seeking ways to develop more cost-effective, engaging Lutheran apologetic programming for broad distribution”; therefore be it

Resolved, that the Minnesota State Pastoral Conference (Minnesota North District and Minnesota South District) gathered in assembly at Madden’s Resort in Brainerd, MN on May 12-14, 2008 praise God by standing and singing the Common Doxology for the many years during which the program Issues, Etc. aired, and for the faithful service of the Rev. Todd Wilken and Mr. Jeff Schwarz; and be it further

Resolved, that the Minnesota State Pastoral Conference encourage the Board for Communication Services and KFUO-AM to express publicly their appreciation for the many years of faithful service rendered by Rev. Todd Wilken and Mr. Jeff Schwarz in relation to the Issues, Etc. program; and be it further

Resolved, that the Minnesota State Pastoral Conference express its disappointment to the Board of Communication Services for the abrupt cancellation of Issues, Etc.; and be it further

Resolved, that the Minnesota State Pastoral Conference encourage and invite the prayers and support (including financial) of all congregations and individuals of our districts for the Board for Communication Services and KFUO-AM so that existing programming may be abundantly funded, and so that it may be possible to reinstate the former Issues, Etc. program or initiate a program of a similar format; and be it finally

Resolved, that the Minnesota State Pastoral Conference encourage the Board for Communication Services to consider reversing, revisiting, or ameliorating their actions in regard to the cancellation of the Issues, Etc. program.

Action: Passed.

They Had Been Good Buddies

The Fridge and the Microwave, I mean. They'd been sitting next to each other for years. So when the Fridge gave every indication of giving up the ghost, we euthanized it and replaced it with a new model - and this one was black to match all the other appliances in the parsonage kitchen. Well, all except for the microwave which sits next to the fridge. It remains white. But I think it couldn't handle the pressure of standing out in the crowd and I think it mourned the death of its friend. For when Cindi went to use it this morning, you'll never guess what. Yup. It didn't need to be euthanized. It had given up the ghost all on its own. The very next day after the big black fridge moved into the neighborhood. Cindi told Bekah it was all her fault - she had declared last night how the microwave just didn't go anymore. And so it must have died of a broken heart...

12 May 2008

From CPH's Website - + Jaroslav Vajda


Rev. Dr. Jaroslav J. Vajda, composer, musician, and friend was blessed by God with a holy death on May 10, 2008, and taken home to rest in the arms of Jesus Christ to await the resurrection of the dead.

“Concordia Publishing House gives thanks to God for the faithful work of His servant, Rev. Vajda,” shares Bruce G. Kintz, President and CEO. “We rejoice in resurrection joy with his wife, Louise and children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His devoted service to CPH and his greater contribution to music will remain an enduring legacy.”

Rev. Vajda was named editor of Concordia Publishing House’s This Day magazine in 1963. From 1971 until his retirement in 1986, he served as book developer and editor at Concordia Publishing House.

Rev. Vajda came to prominence as a hymn writer with his hymn “Now the Silence,” which first appeared in Worship Supplement (CPH, 1969). His hymns and translations biblically rooted and rich in imagery number more than 200 and can be found in nearly 50 hymnals of various Christian denominations worldwide. In recognition of his significant contributions to the world of Christian hymnody, Pastor Vajda was named a Fellow of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. He also received an honorary doctorate degree from his alma mater, Concordia Seminary – Saint Louis, in 2007.

In the spring of 2000, Concordia Publishing House purchased the rights to Rev. Vajda’s hymns and translations in order to preserve this important body of work for many generations to come. The complete collection of his hymns, Sing Peace, Sing Gift of Peace, was published by Concordia Publishing House in 2003. His hymns and translations can also be found in Lutheran Worship (CPH, 1982), Hymnal Supplement 98 (CPH, 1998), and Lutheran Service Book (CPH, 2006).

“The love that we have always known,
Our constant joy and endless light,
Now to the loveless world be shown,
Now break upon it deathly night.
Into one song compress the love
that rules our universe above:
Sing love, sing love, sing God is love!”

Homily for Pentecost Tuesday

[We have Winkel here tomorrow, and the readings will be Acts 8:14-17; John 10:1-10]

On Pentecost, Word and Spirit were running very much together. Today, though, we hear of Samaritans who receive the Word of God – which Word is gift of the Spirit, which reception is gift of the Spirit – and yet we are told that the Spirit “had not yet fallen on any of them.” And to add insult to injury, St. Luke tosses in this zinger: “but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Only been baptized? Lord, have mercy, what was St. Luke thinking about? Homer nods. Does St. Luke? Does the Holy Spirit? And if they don’t nod, what then?

Do the Apostles’ hands make up for what is lacking in the Lord’s Word and His Baptism? Do Peter and John’s hands deliver what the Lord’s Word and his holy Sacrament fail to give? Certainly sounds that way. Maybe we’d best all head up to the Assembly of God Church and apologize for getting the whole thing wrong! Or do we need to St. Bonfiace in Edwardsville and apologize to Rome for not having sacramental confirmation?

Or is there a way out of the conundrum? In today’s Gospel our Lord says that the thief – the devil – comes only to steal and kill and destroy. He contrasts that with His own reason for coming. “I came that they might have life” – and here’s the key – “and have it abundantly.” Abundantly. Perissos. More than you’ve a right to expect or anticipate and more than you can control. Picture the glass being filled with water and then the water continuing to spill in and over and flood the glass, the table, the floor. More giving than you can hold on to.

That’s the way of our God revealed in His Son. When He has given us everything, He still has more to give. You cannot control or constrain His giving. So with the Lord’s Words that the Samaritans received, came the gift of the Spirit who was active in those words – causing them to be believed. “Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God” and yet “No one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” And St. Paul can ask the Galatians: “Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?” He expects the answer: “By hearing with faith.” And once you’re brought to faith, do you need Baptism? What more could it possibly give you than you’ve already received? And yet, the Lord who gave you everything, gives you even more.

And so Baptism gives its gifts to the Samaritans. They are joined to Jesus in His death and resurrection, wrapped around in His vital righteousness, their sins are forgiven, and they are made heirs of heaven itself. This is the washing of rebirth and renewal in the Holy Spirit. So surely we don’t need anything more once you’ve received that, right? And yet the Lord who gives everything, always has more to give.

And so along come the Apostles’ hands, and those hands are an enacted prayer. Prayer that they might receive the Holy Spirit. Not that He wasn’t already there and active, but that His being there and active would be confirmed in them, strengthened in them. And so it was. They received the Holy Spirit, says St. Luke. And since Simon the Magician could SEE this falling of the Spirit, it must have been something akin to what happened on the morning of Pentecost with some signs – but what they were we’re not told.

When He has given you the lot, He has more to deliver. That is the way of the Calvary Lord who came to be the door that we might enter by Him and be saved. The gifts cannot be quantified, and so He continues to dish them out, more than we can ask for, more than we can even desire. But neither our asking or desiring constrain His generosity in His Son.

Having given us His Word, having given us His Baptism, having given us His Spirit, we might ask: what more would I need? That is unbelief speaking even when it cloaks itself in piety. The Lord’s giving is what we live from and He dishes His gifts out beyond our control. We can receive them and rejoice in them, but we cannot measure and manipulate them or constrain them.

More gifts on the way in just a moment. The Lord will use His Words to consecrate bread and wine and attach His promise to them. They will become for us His body and blood and the very nourishment of eternal life. What the Good Shepherd gave into death to deliver us from the bite of that nasty wolf forever – that He will give to us for forgiveness of all our sin.

Forgiveness of sin? Didn’t we already get that in Baptism? Or when we first believed? And didn’t it already come in the Absolution? Why do we need the Supper?

Away with our wretched unbelief that refuses to let itself be nothing but given to. The Lord’s gifts roll on, and in them a life that we might have abundantly – no stinginess with this Lord Jesus of ours, this Good Shepherd. He gives and gives and when He’s given us everything, there’s still more. Well does our Larger Catechism confess: "It is as though He were an eternal fountain that gushes forth abundantly nothing but what is good." Perissos. Abundantly. Let us enjoy His bounty and celebrate the feast! Amen.

Patristic Quote of the Day

When we share in the Spirit, we possess the love of the Father, the grace of the Son, and the fellowship of the Spirit himself. -- St. Athanasius, First Letter to Serapion

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Through this act [the events of Pentecost], the Holy Ghost revealed Himself, gloriously and majestically, before all the world as true God and the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. He now demands that the world recognize that He, with the Father and Son, is God, equally eternal and mighty, and that all should honor and worship Him on earth as in heaven. -- C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 453

Good gravy! What next?

click here

Dr. Noland was a popular and frequent guest on Issues, Etc.

Fine Article

Here's a rather fine article by David Berger on the topic of diversity in worship:

click here

HT: Mollie

11 May 2008

So, um, yeah...

...Crystal is kissing a pig. Why am I not surprised???

"Ahas" During the Readings

Hate it when that happens! I want to scribble it down lest I forget it as fast as it came along. In the Babel account, humanity is active: "let us, let us, let us" and afraid "lest we be dispersed." And thus at the heart of Babel is man's attempt to reach God, to do and to work, to storm heaven by our deeds. And the Lord rejects this utterly and scatters people. When Babel is reversed it is clear that it is not our doing, but His giving which accomplishes and delivers salvation.

And in the Gospel today, when our Lord says: "the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me." The ruler of this world HAS a claim [note that the word claim is absent from the Greek; literally, he has nothing in me], has a piece of all who have sinned. As in Narnia, the traitors belong to the white witch. Jesus makes it clear that what's about to befall Him does not come about from Satan having a piece of him, for Satan can never get his clutches into Him. Rather, what our Lord "rises" to go meet is simply what His Father has commanded Him to do, and that's the measure of His love for the Father that He receives even what awaits on Calvary in obedience.

"Yeah, Father, yeah most willingly I'll do what Thou commandest" as we sing.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Just as your head takes priority over all other members of your body, and if a stone, stick, or sword is aimed at you, you raise other members of your body to deflect the blow from your head, knowing that you cannot live in this life without your head - so may you give priority over all things to faith in the Holy Trinity, Which One in essence, for without this faith no one can live the true life. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #57

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

God's revelation of Himself to man is for the purpose of implanting and developing within man a new life. -- H. E. Jacobs, *Elements* p. 13

Good Quote on the Hiddenness of God

In the face of this God, theology can only speak of the God who speaks to us through the history of Christ. It refuses to reconcile the inscrutable hiddenness of God and his tangible promise, which does lament death and brings about life through death. It does not try to comprehend God's hiddenness rationally but recognizes that it will always remain a mystery to us this side of the grave. Theology cannot even identify it with his wrath and judgment, because God's wrath and judgment are forms of his love. Therefore, theology cannot even understand it in the light of the distinction and inseparability of law and gospel, the gospel's promise of life and the law's threat of death. -- Oswald Bayer, *Theology the Lutheran Way* pp. 95, 96

10 May 2008

Did I Happen to Mention?

That Dean graduated today from Seward? Congratulations, favorite Son-in-law! AND Lauren and Dean are coming home for the summer tomorrow!!! YEAH! Can't wait to beat them at Liverpool.

A New Pentecost Hymn

Holy Spirit, the wind of great power,
Source of strength and of peace and of love,
Truest Comforter, plead,
As You bring all our need
To the throne of God's glory above.
Be the light that enlightens the Scriptures;
Keep our feet from each devilish snare;
Only You can make whole
All that troubles our soul;
By Your chrism, Christ's triumph we share.
[LSB 502:4]

Cindi loves this song. I must confess, though, that I just can't get over the one part where the music is an exact match for "chim-chim-cherie-chim-cheru!"

From Tomorrow's Pentecost Liturgy

O Holy Spirit, enter in,
And in our hearts Your work begin,
Your dwelling place now make us.
Sun of the soul, O Light divine,
Around and in us brightly shine,
To joy and gladness wake us
That we may be
Truly living,
To You giving
Prayer unceasing
And in love be still increasing. [LSB 913:1]

O God, on this day You once taught the hearts of Your faithful people by sending them the light of Your Holy Spirit. Grant us in our day by the same Spirit to have a right understanding in all things and evermore to rejoice in His holy consolation...

Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your love! Alleluia!

Come, Holy Fire, comfort true,
Grant us the will Your work to do
And in Your service to abide;
Let trials turn us not aside.
Lord, by Your pow'r prepare each heart,
And to our weakness strength impart
That bravely here we may contend,
Through life and death to You, our Lord, ascend.
Alleluia! Alleluia! [LSB 497:3]

And we beg You to bless and sanctify by Your Holy Spirit’s power the bread and wine we bring before You that they become for us, through our Savior’s Words, His true Body and Blood, the nourishment of eternal life...

It is truly good, right, and salutary that we should at all time and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who ascended above the heavens and, sitting at Your right hand, poured out on this day the promised Holy Spirit on His chosen disciples. For all this the whole earth rejoices with exceeding joy. Therefore with angels and archangels...

O sweetest Love, Your grace on us bestow,
Set our hearts with sacred fire aglow,
That with hearts united we love each other,
Ev'ry stranger, sister, and brother.
Lord, have mercy! [LSB 768:2]

...and we ask You not to forsake Your children, but always to rule our hearts and minds by Your Holy Spirit that we may be enabled constantly to serve You...


I'm beginning to think about building that ark...

Hey! We Know Him!

That's St. Paul's own David Sander (well, USED to be St. Paul's own David Sander). Check it out:

click here

Best wishes, David, for a successful election!

Pentecost Homily - Take 2

Homily for Pentecost 2008

Words. Amazing how much of the Bible deals with words. In our first reading today, we heard about mixed up words – folks babbling to each other – as God introduces the confusion of languages to humble human pride, as a check on the wickedness we egg each other onto when we can communicate together flawlessly. Why are there different languages? The Bible’s answer is to keep us from being even more naughty than we already are.

And words are big again in our second reading, as Babel goes into stunning reverse. With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the 50th day after our Lord’s resurrection from the dead, comes speaking. As tongues of flame divide and rest on each of the apostles, and they are filled with the Holy Spirit, what do they do? They begin to speak – speaking as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The Spirit of God is yaker. He talks. He’s not silent. He speaks and what He speaks about through the Apostles is one thing: “the mighty works of God” that He accomplished in Jesus Christ. The Spirit wants to talk about Jesus. Find yourself a spirit who wants to talk about something else – something more relevant maybe, like about you, and what you’ve got is NOT the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is all about words that give you Jesus.

And after the crowd heard these mighty works of God in their own languages – the very undoing of Babel – some begin to discount and discredit the whole thing. “They’re just drunk” people begin to say to each other. Using human words and wisdom to try to discount the wisdom and words of God. Peter doesn’t let them get away with it, though.

Up he stands – same fellow that hid behind closed doors a few weeks ago, same fellow who denied his Lord out of fear of a young girl – and now he speaks and what bold words! “Give ear to my words” he cries! “These men are not drunk as you suppose. It’s what God spoke through Joel coming to pass. The Lord is pouring out His Spirit on one and all and they all prophesy, they all speak out, the Spirit gives them words and you ALL need to hear these words, because they are the great promise of God: Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved!”

Words, words, and more words Peter speaks and in all of them the Holy Spirit is present, active, at work. Hearts cut to the quick. Repentance given. Faith engendered and that day 3,000, heeding Peter’s words, land splash in the water and receive Baptism – the gift of rebirth and new life and they become yakers too, talking to others constantly about Jesus and about the great things God has done for us all in and through His Son.

And what do you think we find in the Gospel for the day? More about words! Jesus kicks it off by telling his disciples – remember, it was Maundy Thursday and they were just finishing up in the Upper Room and ready to head to the Garden – Jesus tells his disciples: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me.” Jesus, the Word made flesh, came into our flesh bringing along words. Words, he says, that arise from the heart of God the Father. Words for us to keep and to treasure. Words that are not just “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Words formed by the Holy Spirit and that crackle with the life of the Father and the Son. Words that, when we let them find a home in us, bring with them the Blessed Trinity.

And the great task of the Holy Spirit when Jesus sends Him would be to help and guarantee that the apostles would remember and pass on those life-giving words. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

Whenever we read from one of the Holy Gospels we are reading the fulfillment of that promise. The holy evangelists fork over to us the words that our Lord brought from heaven so that those words can live inside of us. And when that happens, the Father and Son move in through those Spirit-inspired words. And when we have Father and Son living in us in the Words brought to remembrance by the Spirit, we have the peace that Jesus was talking about: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you…let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

How’s the peace in your life? I can promise you this: if the peace is absent, it’s because you’ve forgotten to let the words Jesus brought live in you, bringing you Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Those words drive out all the fretting, all the anxiety, all the fear, all the anger and upset. None of those things can make it in the presence of the Blessed Trinity. Those words bring peace. Let them live in you and you will find out how utterly true that is.

Those words bring you peace because what they show you is that the Father has loved you from before time began; and that seeing you in your need, in your sin, in your failures and rebellions, He didn’t cast you off or give up on you. No. He sent His Son to bring you forgiveness, to carry your sins to death in His body on the tree so that you might die to sin and live for righteousness. And when His Son’s work of salvation was all through, He didn’t sit back and wait for you to make the first move. He poured out His Spirit – the yaking Spirit – so that you would come know firsthand the love that God has for you. The more the words live in you, the more the peace reigns in you, and you know that God uses even the difficult, trying, disappointing, frustrating and infuriating moments to bless you and so you begin to grow into a peace that is unshakable.

Perhaps no greater peace can ever come to you than comes through the words Jesus spoke that night when He took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it. My body for you, My blood for you for the forgiveness of sins. Yes, let those words of the Spirit live in you and you will know peace. And you’ll also have the Spirit living in you who always wants to tell others through you about the mighty deeds of God in Jesus Christ – our Crucified, Risen, Ascended, Reigning and Returning Lord, to whom be glory forever in His holy Church by the Holy Spirit now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Homily for Pentecost

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful people and kindle in us the fire of your love. Amen.

It was on this day, the fiftieth day from the first Easter, that the Lord Jesus kept His promise and poured out His Holy Spirit. In mighty roar of wind and crackle of flame, the Spirit descended and filled the disciples with power. Miraculously they began to speak in languages they had never learned, declaring the mighty deeds of God in Jesus Christ. When the crowds began to think they were drunk, Peter took to the pulpit and preached the first Pentecost Day sermon. From Peter's preaching that day 3,000 souls were baptized and thus Pentecost is called the birthday of the Christian Church.

But if the work of God the Holy Spirit in the Christ's Church began with great fireworks and drew much attention to itself, it has continued quiet and almost unobserved. When the Spirit comes at Baptism, there is no wind, no flame. Merely the splash of water and the quiet promise from the Word of God that forgiveness has been given and a kingdom bestowed, together with a new birth. Likewise, when the Spirit comes to us through the Word, there is no impressive display. Only the quiet and indepth work of imparting faith and forgiveness, and conforming our lives to Christ.

It is the quiet work of the Spirit that Jesus speaks about in today's Gospel. Remember the context. This is Jesus' farewell to his disciples. It is taking place at the Last Supper and as they walk on their way to the Garden where He will be betrayed. He says to them that night: "If anyone loves Me, He will keep My word; and My Father will love him and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me, does not keep My words, and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me."

Those are not words of manipulation, but of rock solid fact. We love Jesus as we keep His words. As His words find a home in our hearts, we will know the love of the Father, and the Father and Jesus Himself come and live in us. That is because the Words of Jesus are the words that His Father gave Him to give to us, that our God might live in our hearts by faith. That we might actually be His temples on the earth.

Still, I wonder that night if those words didn't move the disciples to despair. How wonderful the promise that the Lord Jesus and the Father would dwell in them with the words of Jesus - but oh, how hard to remember the words! How difficult to let them sink in and find a home in the soul! And now He was talking about leaving. He told them that He had only a little time left with them. True, He has the words of everlasting life, but what will become of those words when He is no longer there speaking them to comfort and cheer their hearts? What then?

So Jesus promises them more. "These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." What they could not do on their own - remember the words of Jesus - that the Holy Spirit will enable them to do. He will take the words of Jesus and He will call them again to their minds.

That He did. Already witness the power of Peter's preaching on the Day of Pentecost! He boldly cites the prophet Joel and announces: That's what has happened this very day. The Spirit has been poured out. And the Spirit did more than just remind the Apostles' of what Jesus had said. He enabled them to understand what Jesus said with penetrating insight. He opened up the Old Testament to them and showed them how it was all full of Jesus Christ, how it all pointed to Him and to His finished work of redemption. And more, He caused their preaching of the Word to be with power. Through their words He convicted the world of sin, (Brethren, what must we do?) and then showed the righteousness of Christ as God's remedy for our pardon (Repent and be baptized!).

In the precious words of the Bible, we have the fulfillment of Christ's promise to the disciples. The Spirit came on them as promised. The Spirit proved to be a Helper indeed. By His work in their lives, they were divinely helped to remember the very words that Jesus Christ Himself had spoken and taught. They wrote those words down - again by the same Spirit. They are His words as well as theirs. And He is powerfully active in them. Through the preaching of His Word, God the Holy Spirit still gathers Himself a church and sustains the very life of that Church for as long as it is in this world on pilgrimage.

That's why you can take all the programs for fixing this or that that's gone wrong with the Church and throw them away. They are utterly worthless. What sustains and keeps the Church going is the Word of God alone, where the Spirit of God alone speaks, confronting our sin and giving us forgiveness through Christ's blood.

And what joy that can give to your life today, my friends! The world we live in has lost the ability to look at anything and say: "That's right" or "That's wrong." Our society can only speak of "values" and making "value judgments". All that used to be black or white is dissolved into a murky gray. But into that murk, the Word of God still cuts with a sharpness that outrages the world. The Spirit there speaks the Law with uncompromised conviction. The Holy Ten Commandments still stand. And the reason an action is right or wrong is because God says so. If God were to decree that picking up purple straws on Wednesday afternoons was a sin, then it would be a sin indeed. The comfort you have in this, people of God, is that the Spirit has given you a record that is utterly reliable, absolutely inerrant and infallible. It will not lead you wrong. God the Holy Spirit speaks in His Scriptures with utmost clarity for your life.

But as much as He there witnesses to the Law, to show us our sin and to guide us in holy living, He much more in His Scripture witnesses to Jesus Christ himself. Points to Him as the One and Only Savior we have, who took our sins in His own body on the tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness and find healing in His wounds. So it is above all a book of comfort. Fitting indeed, for Christ ends today's gospel with these words: "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled; neither let it be afraid."

Trouble and fear. Two things that cannot hang around where the Holy Trinity makes His dwelling. Where the Father and the Son abide in those who live in the Spirit's words, letting those words find a home in them, trouble and fear disappear. Oh, not that troubles won't come in this world. Of course they will. But that in the midst of worldly trouble, God's people know a heavenly peace. The peace that can only come from the Spirit Himself, filling our hearts. The Spirit who dwells in us as the words of Jesus dwell in our inmost hearts. If you don't have that peace inside, you need to ask if you are letting the words of Jesus live in you.

This Pentecost Day, dear friends, make it your resolve to let those Words of the Spirit find a home in you. Feed on them in your hearts. They will give you peace like the world cannot give. They come to you directly from the heart of God the Father, delivered by your Lord Jesus, and guaranteed by His Spirit - alive with the life of the Holy and Blessed Trinity, whose presence is peace indeed and to whom be glory through endless ages. Amen.