31 July 2008

Sneak Preview

Because I bug and harass the good folks at CPH no end, I've been blessed to see some of the new Treasury of Daily Prayer. All I can say is: PREPARE TO BE BLOWN AWAY! The good folks who have worked on this puppy have produced something that I have never seen in the whole of Lutheran liturgical history: a daily office book and so much more in a SINGLE volume. Not one that refers to charts for you to search out readings in your Bible or Psalter. No, everything needed is included between the two covers of this ginormous volume. ALL the daily Bible readings; the entire Psalter (and yes, with the monthly chart from Common Prayer also included); fabulous readings from the early Church, Reformation, and post-Reformation fathers (with none of those wacky readings on finds in the otherwise excellent For All the Saints); Hymn verses; Commemorations; Prayers; all the daily prayer offices in LSB including the suffrages and litany; helps for private confession and preparation for Communion; seasonal invitatories, antiphons, responsories. The list could go on and on.

I was certainly excited to see the excellent materials produced for Lutheran Service Book, but this companion volume for the Daily Office exceeds my wildest expectations. Kudos to Scot Kinnaman and his team. They're preparing to bless the Lutheran Church with a prayer resource that will be valued by pastors, deaconesses, teachers, church workers of whatever stripe, and the laity. What a gift! I can't wait to order mine!!! You'll want to order one for you, for your pastor, and for each member of your family. It's that good. Honest injun!

Homily for Trinity 11 (2008)

[Genesis 4:1-15 / Ephesians 2:1-10 / Luke 18:9-14]

The mark of Cain is something we’ll likely never know. But the mark of the Pharisee is plain as day: “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and treated others with contempt.” To be in the right so as to be able to look down your nose at those you hold to be in the wrong – that lands you in Pharisee country. Think of those whom you’ve disagreed of late. Think of how you’ve regarded them. Have you looked down on them? Have you thought yourself better because you knew you were in the right and they were in the wrong? Have you dared to whisper in your heart: “Thank God I’m not like THEM?”

To be right is a most dangerous position for a fallen human. I mean, think of the Pharisee in Jesus’ story. He was RIGHT to pray – Jesus had just told a parable to encourage us ALWAYS to pray and NEVER to give up. He was right not to want to be a sinner – notorious or otherwise. He was right to fast and go without food, for fasting pleases God as we read everywhere in Scripture. He was right to give his tithe, his tenth, and not to hold back from the Lord that which is His due. In doing all those things the Pharisee wasn’t in the wrong; they were all good things to do and to strive for.

But where he shot himself in the foot was in looking at what he did in such a way that he was able to despise others who weren’t like him, who weren’t in the right like him. If you’ve been convinced you’re right and others are dead wrong, and you’ve looked down on them in your heart and spoken evil of them, you know whom you are like.

But being a Pharisee is not the only option. There is also the tax-collector. The man who looks into his life with dismay and realizes how often his heart isn’t in the things the Lord commands and how often he fails, and how miserable and sorry his life truly is. This man has no way of looking down on ANYONE, because he realizes how greatly he himself has failed the Lord. He can only stand afar off and beat his breast and plead: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

The tax collector is focused not on his rightness, or on the good things he’s done, or his noble intents. No, he’s focused squarely upon the sin, the shame, the failure, the sorrow of his life. He looks upon it without any Polaroid lenses to filter things – he looks at his life in the stark, unfiltered sunshine of God’s holy law. And so his constant plea, over and over again: “Be merciful to me, a sinner!”

The word he uses for mercy is not our usual. It’s not what we sing when we say Kyrie eleison! Rather, it’s more along these lines: O God, provide atonement for me; O God, provide a sacrifice to blot out my sins; O God, let the blood of Your sacrifice cover over my guilt and make we pure before You.

It’s the sort of prayer that Abel would have understood as the lamb’s blood spilled and an innocent animal died in his stead and for his sake. It’s the sort of prayer that Cain and his brother the Pharisee never get – because they never think THEY’RE as bad as all that.

It’s a prayer for bloody mercy, for sacrifice that substitutes for the sinner. And even as they ask for such an audacious thing, God in astonishing grace grants it.

Abel’s blood may have cried for vengeance to the skies. But there is another blood shed that cries for something entirely different; not judgment, but pardon; not vindication, but mercy. There is blood that speaks louder and more clearly than Abel’s lamb could ever voice. There is the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

It’s what the tax collector was asking for. And that’s why Jesus said that the fellow went home justified, rather than the man who didn’t think he needed all that blood. The tax collector, who humbled himself to plead for divine mercy in the blood of the Lamb slain for him – he in the end was exalted. And not he alone, but all who stand with him, pleading before God for mercy that they know they have not deserved, mercy written in blood, spilled to give life.

Have you been living in Pharisee territory? Have you been despising others? For you there is a Lamb whose blood pleads for your pardon, whose crimson stain can give you life. He does not want your destruction; as He was tender to Cain and sought to turn him from sin before judgment wiped him out, so He is tender to YOU, Pharisee, and seeks to turn you from all that despising and judging and putting down. He seeks to you show you that He has provided a better way for you than that. A way so that you too can go down to your house justified.

His body and blood that were on the tree to plead for forgiveness for your every sin –He reaches you today. He says: Let it go; you know you’re not in a position to look down on anyone. I know your heart. And even so, I have loved you with an everlasting love. Come, take of my body, let my blood stain your lips and your throat, and cleanse you from all sin, and from all the treating of your fellow sinners with contempt. Mercy is my gift to you, atoning mercy, bloody mercy, my life poured out for you. And so you will live with me forever. Forgiven. Amen.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

There must a continuous progression from Sinai to Zion, so that the object of justifying faith does not become Epicureanism or, as Peter says, "a cloak for maliciousness." (1 Pet 2:16) - Blessed Martin Chemnitz, *Justification* p. 103

Patristic Quote of the Day

For, not that He might deliver us from evils only, did He suffer so great things, but that also we might obtain the first rewards; as if one should not only free a condemned criminal from his punishment, but also advance him to honor. And he has ranked you with those who have not sinned, yea rather not with those who have done no sin only, but even with those who have wrought the greatest righteousness; and, what is truly a great thing, has given the holiness which is before Him, and the being unreprovable. Now an advance upon unblamable is unreprovable, when we have done nothing either to be condemned for, or charged with. But, since he ascribed the whole to Him, because through His death He achieved these things; what then, says one, is it to us? we need nothing. Therefore he added,

Ver. 23. If so be that you continue in the faith grounded and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the Gospel.

Here he strikes a blow at their listlessness. And he said not simply continue, for it is possible to continue wavering, and vacillating; it is possible to stand, and continue, though turned this way and that. If so be that you continue, he says, grounded and steadfast, and not moved away. Wonderful! What a forcible metaphor he uses; he says not only not tossed to and fro, but not even moved. And observe, he lays down so far nothing burdensome, nor toilsome, but faith and hope; that is, if you continue believing, that the hope of the things to come is true. For this indeed is possible; but, as regards virtuous living, it is not possible to avoid being shaken about, though it be but a little; so (what he enjoins) is not grievous.--St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Colossians 1

Commemoration of Joseph of Arimathea

From Synod's website:

This Joseph, mentioned in all four Gospels, come from a small village called Arimathea in the hill country of Judea. He was a respected member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious council in Jerusalem. He was presumably wealthy, since he owned his own unused tomb in a garden not far from the site of Jesus' crucifixion (Mt 27:60). Joseph, a man waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went to Pontius Pilate after the death of Jesus and asked for Jesus' body (Mk 15:43). Along with Nicodemus, Joseph removed the body and placed it in the tomb (John 19:39). Their public devotion contrasted greatly to the fearfulness of the disciples who had abandoned Jesus.

O darkest woe!
Ye tears, forth flow!
Has earth so sad a wonder?
God the Father's Only Son
Now is buried yonder!

O sorrow dread!
Our God is dead,
Upon the cross extended.
There His love enlivened us
As His life was ended.

O Virgin's Son,
What Thou hast won
Is far beyond all telling:
How our God, detested, died,
Hell and devil felling. LSB 448:1,2,6

Crazy Day

Into St. Louis early to pray with Cate before her surgery + Visit with Louis, and praying of commendation of the dying; his time on earth appears to be growing short + Visit with Glenn and thanks be to God, some improvement last night; may it continue! + Daycare Chapel on Mary and Martha and listening when Jesus talks + Check in on Dave, Jo, and Sandi - all seemed well today + Run off insert and assemble bulletin (secretary is taking a MUCH needed week off - thanks be to God for all she does for us!) + Lunch with Cindi + Sacrament taken to Wilma, to Ruth, to Frederick, visit with Clara and Alfred, and then Sacrament to Al + In between, on the road, phone conversations setting up a Baptism and chatting with our principal about some school issues + Yet to come: Dinner and then time to write a homily, God willing and no one else lands in the hospital!!

30 July 2008

A Nice End...

...to a bad beginning. Woke up with migraine, but caught it quickly and the head pain and queasy stomach didn't go beyond that. Deo gratias! Jo ended up visiting the ER, but they finally diagnosed what was causing the problem and hopefully she's on the mend. Ended today with Eucharist commemorating St. James, the Elder (whose day was last Friday), then Bible Study on Song of Songs 5 (I'm really enjoying teaching on this), followed by Compline and then Catechesis on the Ten Commandments, with some great questions from the participants. All's well that ends well, and today's ending was MUCH sweeter than its beginning - again, Deo gratias!

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Therefore, in order that the praise may be and remain solidly and wholly with Christ for our justification, Paul does not want our "doing" to be mixed in with Christ's obedience, but when we by faith lay hold on this obedience, then we have solid, perfect, and complete righteousness before God. - Blessed Martin Chemnitz, *Justification* p. 163

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. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Colossians 1

Commemoration of Robert Barnes, Confessor and Martyr

Today we commemorate Robert Barnes, Confessor and Martyr. From the Synod website:

Remembered as a devoted disciple of Martin Luther, Robert Barnes is considered to be among the first Lutheran martyrs. Born in 1495, Barnes became the prior of the Augustinian monastery at Cambridge, England. Converted to Lutheran teaching, he shared his insights with many English scholars through writings and personal contacts. During a time of exile to Germany he became a friend of Luther and later wrote a Latin summary of the main doctrines of the Augsburg Confession titled "Sententiae." Upon his return to England, Barnes shared his Lutheran doctrines and views in person with King Henry VIII and initially had a positive reception. In 1529 Barnes was named royal chaplain. The changing political and ecclesiastical climate in his native country, however, claimed him as a victim; he was burned at the stake in Smithfield in 1540. His final confession of faith was published by Luther, who called his friend Barnes "our good, pious table companion and guest of our home, this holy martyr, Saint Robertus."

Despised and scorned, they sojourned here;
But now, how glorious they appear!
Those martyrs stand,
A priestly band,
God's throne forever near.
On earth they wept through bitte years;
Now God has wiped away their tears,
Transformed their strife
To heav'nly life,
And freed them from their fears.
They now enjoy the Sabbath rest,
The heavenly banquet of the blest;
The Lamb, their Lord,
At festive board,
Himself is host and guest. -- LSB 676:2

29 July 2008

You'll never guess what I did this evening!

I had a long and enjoyable talk with my son. We talked about tons of stuff (after back scratches). Thank you, Lord, for such a son - I surely have done nothing to deserve him! I think about my children and I am absolutely amazed at them all. So different from each other, and now all so grown up. Lew, David, and Bekah, I love you each more than words can ever express!!! And I love that you feel free to talk to us about everything.

Must Read Blogging...

...from the beloved Dean of the Society of St. Polycarp:

click here

Patristic Quote of the Day

For to have received the Spirit came not of the poverty of the Law, but of the righteousness which is by Faith, and to preserve it when obtained came not from Circumcision but from Grace. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Galatians 6

Commemoration of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany

From our Synod's website:

Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany were disciples with whom Jesus had a special bond of love and friendship. John's Gospel records that “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (John 11:15). On one occasion Martha welcomed Jesus into their home for a meal. While she did all the work, Mary sat at Jesus' feet listening to his Word and was commended by Jesus for choosing the “good portion which will not be taken away from her” (Lk 10:38–42). When their brother Lazarus died, Jesus spoke to Martha this beautiful Gospel promise: “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he life? (John 11:25–27). Ironically, when Jesus raised Lazarus from the death, it made Jesus' enemies more determined than ever to kill him (John 11:39–54). Six days before Jesus was crucified, Mary anointed his feet with a very expensive fragrant oil and wiped them with her hair, not knowing at the time that she was doing it in preparation for Jesus' burial (John 12:1–8; Mt 26:6-13).

How were Mary's thoughts devoted
Her eternal joy to find
As intent each word she noted
At her Savior's feet reclined!
How kindled her heart,
How devout was its feeling,
While hearing the lessons
That Christ was revealing!
All earthly concerns
She forgot for her Lord
And found her contentment
In hearing His Word. LSB 536:2

Two weeping sisters, worn by grief
And mired in depths of gloom,
Stood watching where their brother lay
Within a rock-sealed tomb.
When, Lord, You met them as they mourned,
You wept compassion's tear.
But Martha, sore with sorrow, said,
"He'd lived had You been here!"

"I am the Lord of life and death!"
You answered Martha's cry,
"And all who hear and trust My Word
Shall live, although they die!"
You walked the path to Laz'rus' tomb
You called him forth by name,
And living, loving once again
From death to life he came!" LSB 552:9,10

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

As for yourselves, see to it first that you are thoroughly familiar with the subject matter; after that it will be easy to learn the grammar. He who sins in the matter of grammar commits a venial sin, but to sin in the subject matter is a mortal sin. Furthermore, I consider knowledge of the subject matter nothing else than a knowledge of the New Testament; for when this is understood well, the entire Scripture of the Old Testament is clear.-- Blessed Martin Luther [Luther's Works 3], S. 3:72]

I Can't Believe

that my Bekah Boo is getting her SENIOR pictures taken today! My baby is going to be a senior? How did that happen??? This pic is one Lauren took on Saturday. Maybe we should get HER to do the senior pics, eh? The amazing thing in this pic is how much Bek and Lauren look alike!

28 July 2008

Hospital Day

I spent the day with my beloved father-in-law, Dave, who is also my parishioner, at St. Mary's. Today's surgery was to fix his hand, which he injured last week in a saw slip up. I spent much of the day thinking about this man whose life has been so intertwined with my own. I remember him bringing me along with his family to Jesus 77 in the Florida sunshine. I remembered when I was a student at Montgomery College and a snow storm hit and closed down the bus transportation. My own father had recently died. I was there in Rockville with no way home. Dave came to the rescue! He arrived in a little VW bug and off we went. He even had the joy of doing some donuts on the way home, but I mostly remember being so thankful and relieved that I didn't have to leave my mom alone that night - that Dave came out to get me. I remembered the trip to Ocean City (one of many) when the car broke down. He was in such pain - his back had given him problems for years, but he faithfully worked on the car while the girls were at the beach. I stayed with him in case I could help (which is really laughable - "hand me the wrench, Bill" "Um, Dave, what's a wrench look like?"). He did the whole thing and finished just in time to transport everyone back home. I remember trying to haul him and Cindi around on a catamaran that we rented at Ocean City - just in time for low tide to ground the dang thing. I remember the long hours he put in at the Tuneup Shop. The countless trips to the campground in PA and to the "Farm" in the valley. I remember him being there for my father's funeral, my brother's funeral, my mother's funeral. He has been there at every turn, a loving support. I remember our trip to PEI when Cindi asked: what snacks should I bring out? and he said: "All of them!" So many, many memories over the years. I am very grateful that my father-in-law is not only my parishioner, but one of my dearest friends. The doc is hopeful for a good recovery of the hand - and I'm definitely praying for one too. Much love, old friend!

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

For it is not sufficient if a man has the Word and the pure doctrine. He must also have the assurance of his call, and whoever enters without this assurance enters only in order to kill and destroy (John 10:10). For God never prospers the work of those who are not called. Even if they teach something good and useful, it does not edify.
--Luther, Martin [Pelikan, Jaroslav Jan (Hrsg.) ; Oswald, Hilton C. (Hrsg.) ; Lehmann, Helmut T. (Hrsg.): Luther's Works, Vol. 26 : Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4. Saint Louis : Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1963 (Luther's Works 26), S. 26:vii-20]

Patristic Quote of the Day

And what is the boast of the Cross? That Christ for my sake took on Him the form of a slave, and bore His sufferings for me the slave, the enemy, the unfeeling one; yea He so loved me as to give Himself up to a curse for me. What can be comparable to this! - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Galatians 6

Commemorating the Fifth Evangelist

Today we commemorate the life and work of J. S. Bach, Kantor, sometimes called the Fifth Evangelist for his incredible testimony to the Gospel of Christ in sacred song. This was the day he rested from earthly music and entered the heavenly choir. On a personal note, learning and performing some of his great pieces in college was truly one of the high points of attending a Lutheran college: Jesus, Priceless Treasure (all 20 minutes worth); Be Not Afraid; and many others. From our Synod's website:

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) is acknowledged as one of the most famous and gifted of all composers past and present in the entire western world. Orphaned at the age of ten, Bach was mostly self-taught in music. His professional life as conductor, performer, composer, teacher, and organ consultant began at the age of 19 in the town of Arnstadt and ended in Leipzig, where for the last 27 years of his life he was responsible for all the music in the city's four Lutheran churches. In addition to his being a superb keyboard artist, the genius and bulk of Bach's vocal and instrumental compositions remain overwhelming. A devout and devoted Lutheran, he is especially honored in Christendom for his lifelong insistence that his music was written primarily for the liturgical life of the church to glorify God and edify his people.

27 July 2008

Has It Ever Struck

you as odd that the Divine Service is modified on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Vigil of Easter, but that is intact entirely for the Christmas cycle?

Let CPH Know...

...how MUCH you'd appreciate a beautiful "Book of the Gospels"! I figure that it can't be that hard in this day and age to produce for us the Gospels from the three year lectionary and the one year and include the Passion of Our Lord, beautifully bound, gold edging, and large. Let it cost $100 or so, but wouldn't you buy it? I'd love to have genuine Book of the Gospels to compliment the Lectionary we already use (but which is not so beautiful as the Altar Book - and that's an incongruity, surely?). Register your vote right here. Reply and tell them: YES! I want one!!!

Is there any

taste so delightful as some brie with a glass of chardonnay? What a way to fill the corners at the end of a day!

Confessing Our Sin

How do we Lutherans confess our sins? Well, certainly the preferable form is private confession and absolution, but we have a number of public forms we use as well. What follows are the various confessions used in LSB. Note that rather than having us confess particular sins (that's where private confession comes in!), we confess in general terms our sinfulness. We don't try to hold anything out as beyond the scope of forgiveness, but acknowledge that we need this forgiveness through and through because of the sinful corruption of our nature:

Divine Service I and II and optional in V:

Most merciful God, we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbor as ourselves. We justly deserve Your present and eternal punishment. For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways, to the glory of Your holy name. Amen. [Lutheran adaptation of a confession from the Book of Common Prayer]

Divine Service III and optional in V and in Corporate Confession and Absolution and on Maundy Thursday:

O almighty God, merciful Father, I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto You all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended You and justly deserved Your temporal and eternal punishment. But I am heartily sorry for them, and sincerely repent of them, and I pray You, of Your boundless mercy, and for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter suffering and death of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor, sinful being. [Saxony, 1581]

Divine Service III (optional)

(Pastor): Almighty God, our maker and redeemer, we poor sinners confess unto You that we are by nature sinful and unclean and that we have sinned against You by thought, word, and deed. Wherefore we flee for refuge to Your infinite mercy, seeking and imploring Your grace for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(all): O most merciful God, who has given Your only-begotten Son to die for us, have mercy upon us and for His sake grant us remission of all our sins; and by Your Holy Spirit increase in us true knowledge of You and of Your will and true obedience to Your Word, to the end that by Your grace, we may come to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. [Mecklenburg, 1545]

Divine Service IV:

(spoken as the invitation to confession by the pastor): Since we are gathered to hear God's Word, call upon Him in prayer and praise, and receive the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in the fellowship of this altar, let us first consider our unworthiness and confess before God and one another that we have sinned in thought, word, and deed, and that we cannot free ourselves from our sinful condition. Together as His people let us take refuge in the infinite mercy of God, our heavenly Father, seeking His grace for the sake of Christ, and saying: God be merciful to me, a sinner.
(to which all respond): Almighty God, have mercy upon us, forgive us our sins, and lead us to everlasting life.


(first option): I confess to God Almighty, before the whole company of heaven and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned in thought, word, and deed by my fault, by my own fault, by my own most grievous fault; wherefore I pray God Almighty to have mercy on me, forgive me all my sins, and bring me to everlasting life. Amen. [from the ancient Roman Confiteor at the start of the Mass and at Compline]

(second option): Holy and gracious God, I confess that I have sinned against You this day. Some of my sin I know - the thoughts and words and deeds of which I am ashamed - but some is known only to You. In the name of Jesus Christ, I ask forgiveness. Deliver and restore me that I may rest in peace. [adaptation of LBW]

Note that while Confession and Absolution is a regular feature of the Divine Service, in Lutheran use it shows up in the Daily Office only in Compline - unlike typical Anglican use.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The fact that the Christian Church has endured despite repeated assaults through all the centuries that followed the apostolic age, and that it continues to grow, is a greater miracle than all of those performed in the earliest years of the Church. -- C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 646

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)

26 July 2008

From Tomorrow's Hymn of the Day

Yet she on earth has union
With God, the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won.
O blessed heav'nly chorus!
Lord, save us by Your grace
That we, like saints before us,
May see You face to face!
LBW 644:5

More Neglected Rubrics

In all of the Divine Services in LSB, we find this rubric after the salutation: "The presiding minister faces the altar. A brief silence may be observed. The presiding minister may raise his outstretched hands in the gesture of prayer while speaking or chanting the COLLECT OF THE DAY."

Two parts: both in the category of "may" rather than "shall" rubrics. Silence and then outstretched hands. The silence recognizes that the pastor's "Let us pray" is a bid. The congregation is thereby invited to lift its prayers in silence to the Lord. The collect by its very nature "collects" these individual intercessions and gives them voice. And the outstretched hands? Empty hands. Hands that are nothing but given to. Hands that are beggar's hands, awaiting the Lord's benefactions. Hands of a child outstretched to the parent to be lifted up, carried and loved. "Nothing in my hands I bring" we sing in one of popular hymns of the Western Church.

Sometimes the silence and the gesture can say more than any words can. These are "may" rubrics, but good ones to follow. They allow the congregation silence to gather its thoughts and the outstretched hands speak volumes by themselves. We are a people nothing but given to. We wait upon the Lord.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

From the moment mankind fell, the reason for man's destruction has been that he wants to be his own lord. -- C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 617

Patristic Quote of the Day

When a man recurs to the Law, which cannot save him, and falls from grace, what remains but an inexorable retribution, the Law being powerless, and grace rejecting him?

Thus having aggravated their alarm, and disquieted their mind, and shown them all the shipwreck they were about to suffer, he opens to them the haven of grace which was near at hand. This is ever his wont, and he shows that in this quarter salvation is easy and secure, subjoining the words,

Ver. 5. For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness.

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

Wedding Homily for Dan and Susan

A reading from Jeremiah 29: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.

A reading from John 2: 2:1 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

Dan and Sue,

Jeremiah’s words must have sounded mighty strange to those who first heard them. As everything was crashing down around them, enemies surrounding the city, destruction within and without, everywhere they turned something worse waiting to happen. And yet the prophet comes into that hopeless moment with a word of promise: God’s plans for them included a future, a hope; they would call and He would hear their prayer. Against all that they could see and all that their reason told them they could expect, God plops down a promise pregnant with hope.

And here you are. You’ve both known some rather sad and trying moments. You’ve both no doubt wondered what on earth plans God could have for you. You might have even settled down to the way things were and thought that was how they’d always be. And along comes the Lord with His surprises and here you are together and He reminds you that He always had for you a future and a hope, that He meant you good and not evil all your days.

But even in the good gift of your marriage, the trying moments come along. The wine runs dry. To the couple in today’s reading, that would have been a huge social embarrassment. But there’s more there than that. There come times in every relationship where it seems the wine runs out, the sparkle, the delight is gone. And it’s just plain ordinary water. And you wonder again: “What was God’s promise about a future and a hope? Where’s the joy?”

Follow Mother Mary. She leads you in the right way. She takes the problem to her Son and dumps it in his ear. “You will call upon me and come and pray to Me and I will hear.” “They have no wine,” she says. And when He pulls His “not my hour” business, she gives Him the look that says: “don’t try that on me. I know you, my Son, and I know you care. You are the one who provides Israel with a future and a hope!” And so she tells the servants: “Do whatever He tells you.” Those are the last recorded words of Mary in the New Testament.

What glorious counsel for your marriage! Do whatever He tells you! Trust in His promise for a future and a hope and sit back and watch Him work His stuff. For He does bless those who pray to Him and who wait and watch for Him to provide.

Not just wine. But the good stuff. So much that the steward is amazed that they’ve kept it back until all the guests are too, well, RELAXED, to really enjoy the difference. With the Lord, the gifts keep on giving, and they transform what is ordinary into what is utterly extraordinary. His gifts give you a future and a hope.

That future and hope is not merely for this life. The One who binds you together today in marriage has a bigger future and hope for you than you will have time for in this world. He is the One whose cross and death, whose resurrection and ascension have opened wide to you, his baptized children, a future bright with eternity: a home where you will always be welcome and where the joy of being together will never come to an end.

Having such a future and such a hope before you changes how you live together as man and wife, just as it changed how Israel faced her troubles. You can go forward into the future with the utter joy of knowing what waits you at the end. The One who made the water into wine accompanies you all the way, and at the end is His great Feast, of which you may have a foretaste even now in His Supper.

Living together under His promises, your life will shine in witness to the hope you have in Him, and He will have use of you to lead others into the joy of His future, of His promises. As you turn to Him and learn to bring to Him your every need, He will answer you in ways you’ve not begun to dream. To Him be glory forever with His unoriginate Father and all-holy Spirit, unto the ages of ages! Amen.

Joys Abounding

What a great day! This morning, after breakfast, I wrote the wedding homily for Dan and Sue. Then Cindi, Bekah and I hit the bike trail. Good ride, except that the wind had the NERVE to shift on us right after we started back home. We got it in our faces coming and going. Grr! Then I did a bit more yard work. I'd tried to cut yesterday when the grass was a wee bit wet, and I'm afraid that it was showing some spots I had missed, so I went over the back and side yards again. A little pool time, and then it was the great feast.

Cindi had pulled out a turkey and so we had cornbread (well, lo-carb almond flour bread - 2 minutes in the microwave - unbelievable stuff!), biscuits and a whole wheat loaf, the turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, mashed cauliflower. Lauren and Dean, Opa, Bekah, Cindi and I definitely made oinks of ourselves. Quite tasty. Sorry, Jo, Sandi, and David - you lost out!

Time then for a little liverpool - which we interrupted after the third hand for dessert - home made chocolate pie (for the non lo carbers) and cheesecake (for Cindi and me). Perfect with some freshly ground and brewed coffee. Delicious!

Then I was off to do the wedding for Dan and Susan. Very laid back and joyous. May the Lord bless their union richly!

Still ahead is Divine Service at 6:15. A full day and yet one that seemed quite relaxing.

25 July 2008

Patristic Quote of the Day

It is not merely that the Church was barren like Sarah, or became a mother of many children like her, but she bore them in the way Sarah did. As it was not nature but the promise of God which rendered Sarah a mother, [for the word of God which said, At the time appointed I will return unto you, and Sarah shall have a son, (Gen. xviii. 14.) this entered into the womb and formed the babe,] so also in our regeneration it is not nature, but the Words of God spoken by the Priest, (the faithful know them,) which in the Bath of water as in a sort of womb, form and regenerate him who is baptized. - St. John Chrysostom, *Homily on Galatians 4*

St. James the Elder, Apostle

Today we commemorate St. James, the Elder, brother of St. John and first martyr among the Twelve. The first reading tells his story: Acts 11:27-12:5.

Upon the ordination of a friend not too long ago, a mutual friend (Pr. Jay Watson), wrote to him: "Welcome to the martyrdom." The collect captures the same thought:

"Your servant and apostle James was the first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the name of Jesus Christ. Pour out upon the leaders of Your Church that spirit of self-denying service that they may forsake all false and passing allurements and follow Christ alone."

The spirit of martyrdom - of not finding our life anywhere but in communion with Jesus Christ - is the spirit we pray for all who hold office in Christ's Church. St. James' Day reminds us of this:

O Lord, for James we praise You,
Who fell to Herod's sword;
He drank the cup of suff'ring
And thus fulfilled Your word.
Lord, curb our vain impatience
For glory and for fame,
Equip us for such suff'rings
As glorify Your name.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Oh, let us long for that glorious day when God will break open the seal of His eternal testament and distribute the heavenly inheritance among His children! In the meantime, let us be faithful until death, that we, too, may obtain the crown of life. Let us cling to Christ, who grants us aid in life and in death. - C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 616

23 July 2008

An Interesting Question

Pr. Wilken posed this today on Issues, Etc. I wonder what you all think? He asked: Will the Missouri Synod ordain women? He thought it would; Jeff thought it wouldn't. I also tend to think it likely won't. Why?

Because rather than destroying the Office of the Holy Ministry by violating the Word of God with ordaining the fair sex, we are already well on the way to destroying it with the notion that those who have not been called and publicly set into the Office of the Ministry may preach and administer the Sacraments. It's as though AC XIV is an embarrassment and doesn't really norm our practice anymore!

If we're not to be LINOs (thanks Lito!) - that is, Lutheran In Name Only - then AC XIV remains in force among us, no matter what others do. To be Lutheran - and not only in name - is to assert that "no one should publicly preach, teach, or administer the sacraments who is not RITE VOCATUS." Period.


This morning after some yard work (spoken of earlier), a meeting with a dear friend and member; then a wee bit of sun in the pool. Only a wee bit, because I needed to head to Collinsville for Issues, Etc. today - a pastoral round-table (although the table I saw was square) with Pr. Michael Kum, Pr. Tim Rossow, and myself. Then to pick up Bekah from the Herberts and back here for dinner. Then the Wednesday marathon: Divine Service for St. Mary Magdalene Day, Bible Class on Song of Songs 4, Compline, and beginning an adult instruction class. Great class tonight with some good discussion. It feels decidedly WEIRD, however, to go from Compline to another activity!!!

AND continuing the "green" trend...

...I shaped up the bushes out front and the rose bush on the side today with a pair of hand clippers. They need to be sharpened, I believe, but they still did the job and did it with much less hassle and noise than our electric clippers. I've always despised yard work - I am beginning to think it was mostly because I despise loud noises! I clipped away this a.m. for about 20 minutes and go them looking somewhat better and as I clipped I could even hear the birds singing. Sam Gamgee was really onto something!

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In fact, the final goal of the grace that God established in Christ for our redemption, atonement, deliverance, and salvation is that we might be wholly cleansed from sin and perfectly hallowed by His Spirit. In that way, the divine image might be restored in us and our spirit might again become capable of eternal perfect union with the Holy Ghost. - C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 611

Patristic Quote of the Day

Yet was He not crucified in Galatia, but at Jerusalem. His reason for saying, among you, is to declare the power of faith to see events which are at a distance. He says not, crucified, but, openly set forth crucified, signifying that by the eye of faith they saw more distinctly than some who were present as spectators. For many of the latter received no benefit, but the former, who were not eye-witnesses, yet saw it by faith more clearly. These words convey both praise and blame; praise, for their implicit acceptance of the truth; blame, because Him whom they had seen, for their sakes, stripped naked, transfixed, nailed to the cross, spit upon, mocked, fed with vinegar, upbraided by thieves, pierced with a spear; (for all this is implied in the words, openly set forth, crucified,) Him had they left, and betaken themselves to the Law, unshamed by any of those sufferings. Here observe how Paul, leaving all mention of heaven, earth, and sea, everywhere preaches the power of Christ, bearing about as he did, and holding up His cross: for this is the sum of the Divine love toward us. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Galatians 3

22 July 2008

She says it's a fad...

...my reel mower, she means. I think she's wrong. I love it! I admit it's a bit overboard, but when I was so agitated today, it really aided in relaxing to mow the front yard. And it took less than 1/2 hour. I'm think the whole of the yard around the parsonage is only 1 and 1/2 hour to do. The peaceful "click, click, click" as the mower shaves the lawn, the physical exertion of actually pushing it, and the fun of a beautifully cropped lawn - they all add up to a pleasurable experience. I'm rather determined to show Cindi wrong on this one. Not a passing fad, but a simple way to work off the anxieties of the day. And when I'm done, I wash it off with the hose and spray it with oil ready for the next clipping. She may think I'm nuts, but that's okay.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The Law commands all its precepts to be performed, and punishes the transgressor; therefore we are all dead to it, for no man has fulfilled it. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Galatians 2

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The words of Holy Scripture are efficacious, because they are the words of Him who sits upon the throne of Heaven, and always attends them with His Spirit. HIs Kingdom on earth advances by the ever progressive appropriation of the truth contained in Holy Scripture by His people. It grows in individuals, as in every perplexity and affliction, they find words of Scripture to direct and console them; and in the Church as, from age to age, it more fully appropriates the treasures that are stored up there. -- Henry E. Jacobs, *Elements of Religion* p. 137

St. Mary Magdalene

Today is the day the LCMS together with the Western Church commemorates St. Mary Magdalene (at St. Paul's we'll be celebrating this tomorrow). We pray this day:

Almighty God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, restored Mary Magdalene to health and called her to be the first witness of His resurrection. Heal us from our infirmities and call us to know You in the power of Your Son's unending life...

Epistle: Acts 13:26-31

Holy Gospel: John 20:1-2, 10-18

Preface: ...in the communion of all Your saints gathered into the one body of Your Son, You have surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses that we, encouraged by their faith and strengthened by their fellowship, may run with perseverance the race that is set before us and, together with them, receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. Therefore with angels...

All praise for Mary Magdalene,
Whose wholeness was restored
By You, her faithful Master,
Her Savior and her Lord.
On Easter Morning early
A word from You sufficed;
For she was first to see You,
Her Lord, her risen Christ.

21 July 2008

Thoughts on a Bike Ride

I was without a car for much of today, so when my dentist appointment rolled around, I jumped on my bike and rode to Worden. It gave time to think, and one of the things I was thinking about was the place of hope.

As Lutheran Christians we know what to do with faith and with love. We pray that the Sacrament strengthen us in faith towards God and in fervent love toward another. We know that the Christian lives outside himself; he lives in God by faith and in his neighbor by love. But where's the THIRD of the cardinal virtues: hope?

I wondered if they weren't all three united in this way: our hope is the certainty of our faith, that one day love will prevail; that as it prevailed already in the Crucified and Risen Son of God, so through Him it will prevail ultimately in all things. Our hope is the faith that love never ends and cannot fail.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Grant that daily I die to myself so that the lures of the flesh will not draw me away from the true life that is in Christ. -- Johann Gerhard, *Meditations on Divine Mercy* p. 97

Patristic Quote of the Day

"For our sins," says the Apostle; we had pierced ourselves with ten thousand evils, and had deserved the gravest punishment; and the Law not only did not deliver us, but it even condemned us, making sin more manifest, without the power to release us from it, or to stay the anger of God. But the Son of God made this impossibility possible for he remitted our sins, He restored us from enmity to the condition of friends, He freely bestowed on us numberless other blessings. - St. John Chrysostom, On Galatians 1

20 July 2008

Interesting Day

After the Divine Services and Bible Class I headed out for the hospital to visit Al and bring him the Sacrament. Then quick back to St. Paul's for an appointment at 2. But right before I got back to St. Paul's, I met the ambulance rushing down the road (and I always wonder: is that for one of mine). Little did I know! Then Cindi called - her dad had been using a table saw and had sliced through some fingers. After the meeting, down to Anderson to check on Dave, but they've got no plastic surgeon on call over the weekend, so he's to be shipped to SLU. I drive Cindi and Jo down to SLU (stopping for a bite to eat) and then a long wait at SLU - for not terrible news, but not the best. Rather than operating today, the doctor closed up the wounds and told Dave he'd see him sometime next week for surgery after the blood thinner he takes has worked its way out of his system. He's most likely receiving a prosthetic joint in the ring finger. Yikes! So poor Dave is rather hobbled with only one hand useable (the damaged one is wrapped up like a mummy). He decided on Red Robyn as the place to eat on the way home (he'd not had a thing since breakfast). Got him and Jo home and settled, but between his bad hand and her still sore shoulder, getting dressed is not going to be an easy task for them. And we won't even THINK about the next time we'll be able to play cards... :( Prayer for Al and for Dave (and Jo!) would be appreciated!

Homily for Trinity 9 -2008

[2 Samuel 22:26-34 / 1 Cor. 10:6-13 / Luke 16:1-9]

The explanation to today’s Gospel is at the tail end, Jesus’ wrap up words: “And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.”

But even the explanation leaves us asking some questions. Why is wealth unrighteous? When does it fail? Who are these friends who welcome us into the eternal dwellings?

First, “unrighteous wealth.” Luther opined that it was called “unrighteous” simply because our USE of it was so often unrighteous. There’s first of all the unbelief that manifests itself as greed: can’t let loose of that money by giving it away, because who knows if there will be enough for me and mine tomorrow! Forgotten is the lesson of the manna. Remember how God worked that. There was always more for tomorrow, but when you tried to store up and save the stuff (instead of trusting the Lord’s generous giving), it grew worms and stank. There’s a very sound reason that our Lord teaches us to pray for “daily bread” and not “tomorrow, next week, next month and next year’s bread.” Then there’s the silliness of thinking that life itself is all about accumulating stuff: more and more equals better and better. And so the “bigger and better barns” that we build to hold all the stuff, forgetting our Lord’s words that life does not consist in the abundance of one’s possessions. Even the world realizes the folly of this way of thinking when bumper stickers read: “He who dies with the most toys wins.”

But I’ve wondered if the Lord calls it “unrighteous wealth” not merely because of our bad use of it, but because it – all the stuff we call wealth – won’t make it into the Kingdom, the Kingdom that IS righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:7).

What WILL make it into the kingdom are people. People who surround us all the time. People who stand in various kinds of need. People whom we can bless in countless ways. If we have the eyes to see them. If we have the eyes to see their need. And if our hearts have been opened by God to care.

To care, and to be shrewd enough to realize how things will shake down at the end. The dishonest manager was commended – not for his dishonesty – but for his SHREWDNESS. He saw what was coming in the future and he made plans for folks to welcome him when he lost the funds that he once had management of. Those funds wouldn’t be following him into the future; he’d lose them all. But the people to whom he showed kindness and good will, the people who benefited from his generosity (albeit, a generosity that really wasn’t his to share), would be! He made FRIENDS with that stuff that wasn’t his, and those friends would remain even when that stuff was gone.

Do you see Jesus’ point? He says that the sons of this world outfox the sons of light – that would be us, the baptized, the enlightened ones. He says THEY can figure out how to plan for their future – why do we have such a hard time with it?

The wealth won’t make it in the kingdom. There won’t be computers, boats, motorcycles, lake houses, new cars, or whatever other toy you can think of (and what men call “tools” are usually just more expensive toys). You won’t have a stock portfolio, a fat checking account, or a wallet full of cash. Old Job nailed it. You exit this world as you entered it: naked. You carry nothing out with you.

But that day you will be surrounded by all the dead that the Lord raises, and many of them will be people you knew, people whose paths you crossed somewhere on the journey of life. They WILL be there. Invest in your future, Jesus says! LOVE them! Share with them! Give to them, and they will throw their arms around you and welcome you into the heavenly home – you proved yourself their friend because you took the effort to notice their need and to help them.

After all, that is exactly what the teller of the Parable did. He noticed His neighbor – that would be us – in our need, and He didn’t count a single thing that was His as His own, but He gave up everything that He had in order to befriend us, to care for us, to provide us with that heavenly home. And He not only gave up all that was His, but He assumed all that was ours – not only our flesh and blood, but also the horrible debt of sin – and He paid it as His own, with the righteousness that was His alone. His cross is where He has made Himself friends for century upon century. And He invites us into this same way of living. He shows us that giving up everything – even life itself – for the service of others is what love does. And the cool thing about love is that death cannot destroy it – His love proved stronger than the grave. And He rose again to be the first to welcome home His many friends into the eternal dwellings He prepared for them.

In His Supper today He reaches you the fullness of that love, forgiving your sins – also those where you have used wealth unrighteously in greed or fear – and here He strengthens you to believe that a life lived in service to the neighbor is the only sort of life that is worth the living. Because its end is the joyous welcome home of forgiven sinners to the Father’s house. Be shrewd, people loved by God. Remember what lasts and what doesn’t, and by the grace of the Holy Spirit, use the stuff that doesn’t to bless the people that do. Amen.

19 July 2008

Twelve Miles

That's how far the round trip is from our house up to the end of the bike path at Decamp Junction. I forgot to mention yesterday that along the trail I got to see a doe and two fawns. Today we saw a blue bird (they always remind me of my grandmother's place!) and some hawks, and a train. Bek, Cindi and I travelled it together today. The way up was great, with the wind mostly at our backs...the way home was like a wind-tunnel! Up we were averaging over 11 miles per hour; back, barely 8!

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Indeed, the church learned to praise and give thanks in his [our Lord's] thanksgiving and in his praise. With her thanksgiving she joins together in his, in the praise which the eternal Son brings to the Father. The church learned this in the Eucharist, in the Supper, just as she on the whole first learned there to pray correctly. For the liturgy, the prayer of the church, proceeds from the celebration of the Supper. -- Hermann Sasse, *The Lonely Way* I:481,482

Patristic Quote of the Day

What was the reason for the Incarnation? It has to be this: the flesh that had sinned had to be redeemed by the same flesh. -- St. Ambrose of Milan *De Incarnationis dominicae sacramento* 56

The Mower

Wow! Very different from one I owned in the past. This is Scott's 20 inch reel mower - very easy to push and does a fine job clipping. Tom cut our back yard yesterday, all except around the pool, so when I got the new mower home I finished up around the pool and on a whim went over the back yard again, shaving off just a wee bit more than Tom's cutting had. Worked like a charm! There is something very peaceful about cutting grass without the roar of an engine or the smell of gas. Our next door neighbor when I was growing up, always had one for their yard. I can still remember how beautiful their yard was - the rose bushes along the fence, hydrangeas along the house, and the yard looking like it had a flat top hair cut. If I close my eyes I can still see Mr. Dick (may he rest in peace!) pushing that reel mower and tending his beautiful yard.

18 July 2008

Friday's Fun

Cindi and I headed out early this morning for breakfast at Sgt. Pepper's - we love their breakfast menu (served all day). After we got home, I vacuumed the pool and then Cin, Bek and I caught a few rays. After lunch, Cindi headed over to a friend's and I decided to see how far the new bike path out of Worden goes - or rather, how far I could go on it! Made it up to Decamp Junction and back at a nice pace - took just over 1 and 1/2 hour. No dobermans this time round! We're taking David out shortly to purchase a sports coat (delayed birthday present) and I'm buying a reel mower. This evening, God willing, we'll enjoy some liverpool again with Dave and Jo. Surely THIS time???

Patristic Quote of the Day

If you are an ardent reader, seek not brilliant and erudite texts; otherwise the demon of haughtiness will strike your heart. But like a wise bee that gathers honey from flowers, through your reading obtain also healing for your soul. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #57

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Yet we cannot dispense with these dogmatic definitions, if for no other reason than we have devised nothing better. They describe the only kind of Saviour Who can really save us - a single Redeemer Who is very God and Who is truly man. May God the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Life-Giver, Who led the Fathers at Chalcedon into the fullness of revealed Truth, conserve that saving Faith in all members of Christ's whole Church Militant! - A.C. Piepkorn, *The Sacred Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions* p. 71

E'en So

[HT to -C, who has a quite touching post on the the passing of Ruth Manz (may she rest in peace). Countless are the souls who have been blessed by this stunning anthem.]

17 July 2008

Ha! Didn't I TELL you?

click here

[HT: Matt Bowers]

The Diverse Joys

of being a pastor. Every time I ponder it, I can only thank God for the unspeakable privilege of serving in this ministry:

Up and out early this a.m. to pray with Glenn and Thelma before Glenn's surgery; back home to pray daily office and read BOC; out to do chapel at daycare on how Jesus healed the woman with the flow of blood - kids were VERY good as they listened to the Bible story and even Crystal behaved most of the time; communion visit to Roy and Clara and getting to hear about the visit of an angel to Clara in her recent stay in the home - God's servants are everywhere! - and Roy showed me the $2 bill he got in change on his first date with Clara back in 1946 and which he's kept ever since; printed out Bible Study on Hebrews 7 and got it to Joanie to run off.

Still to come: a sermon still needs doing; and then Vespers and we'll call the day a wrap, God willing.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Woe is me, O Lord! Thy grace draws me toward life, but I instead prefer death. Thou takest pains that I might become as honorable as the angels; but I, in my depravity, debase myself. My sins have multiplied, O Lord, and ceaselessly do they multiply and there is no limit to their multitude. And who would will mourn for me or pray for me? Do Thou, O my Savior, Thyself condescend to have mercy on me through Thy grace and regard me who despair with compassion! -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #54

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is not charity to bear with others because the differences between us are trifling; it is charity to bear with them although the differences are great. Charity does not cover error; because error is the daughter of sin, and charity is the daughter of God. Charity covers errorists so far as she may without palliating their errors, for the errorist, as a man, is God's child. - C. P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* p. 143

15 July 2008

More on Neglected Rubrics

In Evening Prayer, a rubric notes under Psalm 141 (p. 338, LSB Altar Book): "The use of incense is appropriate as Psalm 141 is sung." Well, duh. Three times the cry rings out: "Let my prayer rise before You as incense." But the rubric gives zero guidance on HOW it is to be used. Since most of our parishes are quite unfamiliar with this venerable practice, LBW's Minister's Desk Edition suggests setting an incense burner upon the altar during this Psalm. That's a good way to introduce the practice. Traditionally in the Church incense is swung from a thurible, and that's also appropriate. As the sweet smell wafts aloft we recall that our prayers also rise before the Father and are acceptable in His sight through the sweet savor of His Son who presents them in His name.

Trinity 8 Collect

This collect comes down to us from the Leonine Sacramentary, which Reed dates from the fifth century. It offers us both a stunning and realistic confession of human impotence, and a powerful and glorious faith in divine grace (the Council of Orange looming large in the background?):

...that we, who cannot do anything that is good without You may be enabled by You to live according to Your will.

"Apart from me," our Lord reminds us "you can do nothing." And with Him? "I can do all things through Him which strengtheneth me."

What a blessed prayer for us to be praying this week!

Happy birthday, my Davids!

Today my son and father-in-law share a birthday - a most blessed birthday to you both! The younger David's birthday means that Cindi and I now have only one child left who is a teen, our Bekah Boo. We celebrated younger David's birthday on Sunday; older David's birthday will be celebrated tonight. Lauren and Dean will join us (younger David has to work!), and we'll enjoy pizza (the real deal and some low carb) and then I thoroughly intend to WIN some liverpool. As mom always used to say, "I can't lost his cornfield, but I'll try found it." What? you ask. Shouldn't DAVE win on his birthday? NO! He had an early birthday present last Friday and TROUNCED us. :)

Morning Reading

What joy to serve in the office of the ministry where study is a part of one's calling! This morning after Matins and the reading from the BOC (into the Apology's critique of monasticism at the moment), got to read Luther's second homily on Trinity 9 in the House Postils and St. Cyril of Alexandria's homily on the same reading (Luke 16:1-9) in his Luke Commentary. Luther and Cyril very much track together on the gist of the parable, and St. Cyril warns against trying to find meaning in every detail of that parable, but instead to allow its point to sink in: "for it is impossible for love to the poor ever to remain unrewarded." Also spent some time reading more in Gerhard's *On the Nature of Theology and Scripture* (as Pr. Lehmann observed when he and Jenn surprised me with a visit yesterday, the most frustrating thing about that series is that the editors don't bother to find modern references for the fathers cited). In any case, Gerhard's *On the Judge of Controversies in the Church* is very well thought through.

More Luther on the Gospel for Trinity 9

For whatever good we do here for needy people, showing them friendship and kindness, these very deeds will on Judgment Day not merely bear witness to the fact that we have conducted ourselves in a brotherly and Christian fashion, but will have their own reward. - House Postil II:360

Patristic Quote of the Day

The earth of human nature was already cursed in the first liar. Only in the birth from the Blessed Virgin did it produce a blessed shoot, an exception to the vice of its roots. Its spiritual origin is acquired by anyone who is regenerated. And for every man who is born again, the water of baptism is like the virginal womb. The same Spirit that filled the Virgin now fills the baptismal font; hence, that sin, which was once removed by a holy conception, is now taken away by a mystic ablution. - St. Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome, Sermo 24, 3

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is the distinctive work of the incarnate Son of God to redeem, and to apply His redemption in His own person. It is the distinctive work of the Holy Spirit to work in us that faith which will savingly use what Christ offers. We, no less than the Reformed, recognize the necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Lord's Supper; not, however, to do Christ's work, but to do His own. The Holy Spirit makes us savingly partakers in what is received by the outward organs of the soul. Christ is intercessor for us with the Father, and so secures for us the possibility of partaking in the blessings which centre in His person. The Holy Spirit is intercessor for the Father and the Son with us, and thus leads us actually to accept with the heart those most blessed gifts which the Father and Son offer us. In the Lord's Supper, Christ gives to us Himself, and the Holy Spirit, if we do not resist His sacred work, enables us, from the person of Christ thus given us, to draw those benefits of which that person is the sole spring. -- C. P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* p. 497

Pastor Beisel on Service

A quite wonderful meditation. Must read readings for all us husbands above all.

14 July 2008

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Ought I not spit myself in the face, that while others rush pell-mell toward hell, I don't crawl towards heaven? - Blessed Martin Luther, Sermon for 9 Trinity Housepostils II:353

Patristic Quote of the Day

Son of the Virgin, God of the Virgin, and creator of the world: yours is the suffering, yours the depths of wisdom. You know what you were and what you became; because you were willing to suffer, you deigned to come and save mankind. Like a lamb you lifted our sins from us, and you have abolished them by your sacrifice, my Savior, and saved every man. - St. Romanos the Melodist, [Mary at the Cross, tran. Constantine A. Trypanis, in *The Penguin Book of Greek Verse*]

13 July 2008

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Through the whole of the worship of the Christian ages runs the confession that it is the undivided person of Christ to which the heart of the Church turns: a Christ who is everywhere God, everywhere man; a Christ in whom dwells the fulness of the Godhead bodily; a Christ who has passed through all the heavens, and ascended far above them all, that he might fill all things. - C. P. Krauth, *Conservative Reformation* p. 754

Patristic Quote of the Day

The Word was made flesh, and we through the food of the Lord truly receive the Word made flesh. - St. Hilary, De Trinit. VIII.18

Beautiful Words from Urbanus Rhegius...

...confessor of Smalcald, Superintendent of Lüneburg on the topic of honoring the saints:

"Their love for us has not diminished but increased. That does not mean, however, that we should invoke the saints, just as we do not call upon angels, but only upon Christ our God. We should nevertheless honor the saints just as the early Church honored them by respectfully celebrating their memory. It gave thanks to God for setting them free, for the grace given to them, for their blessedness, and for the excellent gifts which God through the saints has poured out upon the church...

"Are not saints the brightest mirrors of divine grace in which we see what the grace of God can do?...

"We do not believe that the saints are gone, but rather gone ahead to the life of the age to come...

"O that blessed city of God, into which so many children, virgins, and martyrs have been received, where we will see for eternity apostles, prophets, patriarchs, and all the righteous who have believed in Christ, from Adam up to the last Christian on earth! We will see choirs of angels, and the most blessed mother herself who is the noblest member of the mystical body, finally the only source of eternal joy for angels and humans, Jesus Christ the king of glory, and God who is all in all. By reverently recalling such things, faith in our glorious resurrection and future life will surely be inflamed, nurtured, and confirmed in us.

"This remembrance of the dead...is an open testimony of charity and of faith in the glorious resurrection of the flesh. And since it is a fruit of faith that works through love, no one will reject it except for Epicureans and Sadducees.

Rhegius, *Preaching the Reformation* selections from pp. 95-101

12 July 2008

Patristic Quote of the Day

There is one Father of all, there is one Word of all, and the Holy Spirit is one and the same everywhere. There is also one Virgin Mother, whom I love to call the Church. Alone, this mother had no milk, because she alone did not become a woman. She is virgin and mother simultaneously; a virgin undefiled and a mother full of love. -- St. Clement of Alexandria, Paedagogus I, 6

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

A Church which contends for nothing has either lost the truth, or has ceased to love it. - C. P. Krauth, *Conservative Reformation* p. 1147

11 July 2008

Ah, the Day Off

I do enjoy Fridays. Today we got a late start, spending time catching up on blogs, news and such. I enjoyed my morning coffee as I read and browsed. Then we caught an hour out in the pool this a.m. Bekah joined us a while too. After lunch we went back to working on the fish pond. We've finally got it cleaned out and looking (and SMELLING) good again. The sun was so inviting that Bekah, David, Cindi and I ended up in the pool again for an hour. Finished cleaning up in my office (I'd let the bookshelves turn into a jumble) while Cindi worked on a filing cabinet. Then dinner (Bek was already at work, but steaks for Cin and David, and hotdogs for me - stop laughing. I just like them more than steaks), and now we're preparing for Liverpool with Dave and Jo. A great and relaxing day - Deo gratias!

Patristic Quote of the Day

For "he did not know her" - it says - "until she gave birth to a Son, her firstborn." But this could make one suppose that Mary, after having offered in all her purity her own service in giving birth to the Lord, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, did not subsequently refrain from normal conjugal relations. That would not have affected the teaching of our religion at all, because Mary's virginity was necessary until the service of the Incarnation, and what happened afterward need not be investigated in order to affect the doctrine of the mystery. But since the lovers of Christ [that is, the faithful] do not allow themselves to hear that the Mother of God ceased at a given moment to be a virgin, we consider their testimony sufficient. -- St. Basil the Great, Homily [PG 31, 1468]

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Now everyone wants to help the Church through polity. And yet the evil lies much deeper. The Church's decay did not come in first place from her form and external arrangement, however much this helped to bring to the depths in which we now behold her. The evil will therefore not be lifted through a mere change of polity. -- Wilhlem Loehe, *Aphorisms on the New Testament Offices and their Relationship to the Congregation* p. 86

10 July 2008

If You've Ever Been Confused...

...about Church and Ministry, by all means read, mark, learn and inwardly digest THIS.

Kudos to our northern brothers! I think we need a LCC South District. :) This is, bar none, the best summary I've yet encountered on the topic. When you begin with our Lord, you can't go wrong!

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The sin is really in the condition of the will. The sin done is but phenomenal to the real sin. - C. P. Krauth, *Conservative Reformation* p. 453

Patristic Quote of the Day

Let us consider the righteous, from what cause they all shone brightly forth. Was it not from affliction? - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Hebrews 12

09 July 2008

Patristic Quote of the Day

Strange! How were we drowned in wickedness, so that we could not be purified, but needed a new birth? For this is implied by Regeneration. For as when a house is in a ruinous state no one places props under it, nor makes any addition to the old building, but pulls it down to its foundations, and rebuilds it anew; so in our case, God has not repaired us, but has made us anew. For this is the renewing of the Holy Ghost. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Titus 3

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is vastly more important, then, to know what the Reformation retained than what it overthrew; for the overthrow of error, though often an indispensable prerequisite to the establishment of truth, is not truth itself; it may clear the foundation, simply to substitute one error for another, perhaps a greater for a less. -- C. P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* p. 202

08 July 2008

More Pics from Redeemer's 50th...

...thanks, Ruth Ellen!

Kind of Interesting...

...that in all the talk about reservation and such around the Lutheran blogosphere, this has not been mentioned:

From *The Altar Guild Manual: Lutheran Service Book Edition*:

If any of the Lord's body and blood remain, they can be disposed of in a number of ways. The best way is to consume the remaining elements, since the Lord said, "Take and eat...Take and drink," and did not provide for anything that was left over. There is historic precedent *for reserving* the remaining elements against the next Communion. The hosts can be stored in a pyx or ciborium (apart from unconsecrated hosts), the blood of the Lord in a suitable cruet or flagon (apart from unconsecrated wine). What remains in the chalice, however, should either be consumed or poured into the piscina or onto the ground, since there may be crumbs or other foreign matter in it. *The reserved elements* may then be kept in the sacristy or placed on the altar or credence and covered with a white veil. It is un-Lutheran and irreverent to place unused elements in the trash or to pour the remainder of what is in the chalice or flagon into the common drain. - p. 89

Consume remaining elements OR put the consecrated hosts into the proper receptacle (not mixing them with unconsecrated hosts); put consecrated wine from flagon or cruet (or remaining individual glasses) into the proper receptacle (not mixing it with unconsecrated wine); pour remaining wine from chalice into the piscina or onto the ground.

Pour water into flagon/cruet, chalice, and the used individual glasses, then rinse out into the piscina or onto the ground. - p. 101

I note that this book contains the following on its cover page: Authorized by the Commission on Worship of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod. I believe that this gives the contents the force of rubrics for our use. Thus, there is the best practice (consumption) and that practice also allowed which has historical precedent, namely, reservation "against the next Communion" [which may well be the communication of shutins].

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The private opinions of individuals, however influential, can in no sense establish or remove one word of the Creed of the Church. Any man who, on any pretense, gives ecclesiastical authority to private opinions, is robbing the Church of her freedom. She is to be held responsible for no doctrines which she has not officially declared to be her own. -- C. P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* p. 265

Patristic Quote of the Day

You see again how it is from faith that the boldness comes, and the gift is universal; since it is not of the Jews only that this is said, but also of the whole human race. For every one, he would say, whether Jew, or Grecian, or Scythian, or Thracian, or whatsoever else he may be, will, if he believes, enjoy the privilege of great boldness. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Romans 9

Dean's Fault

You know, I used to be perfectly happy with Maxwell House coffee. Scoop some, make some, enjoy the java. But my son-in-law is a coffee connoisseur and he really got me hooked on fresh ground. So much so that I asked for and got a coffee maker that grinds as well as makes coffee. Trying not to be decadent, I limit myself to one pot of fresh ground java a day, but let me tell you when that second pot is made from pre-ground bean, what a total taste difference. Well, at least it allows me appreciate the first pot of the day so much more...

07 July 2008

More Good Bach

[HT: Resqrev.blogspot.com]

Really sweet. Watch the fellow play the final bit - literally dancing on the footboard!

Patristic Quote of the Day

Haste ye then to partake of one Eucharist, for there is the one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup for the uniting of His blood, one altar. - St. Ignatius of Antioch, To the Philadephians, 4

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

God can no more save sin in nature than he can save it in character, and hence a new nature is absolutely needed by an infant as by an adult. To deny that an infant is capable of regeneration is to deny that it is capable of salvation. --Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* p. 416

Lutheran Talk Radio

You can listen to Issues, Etc. on-demand at www.issuesetc.org. Issues, Etc. is hosted by LCMS Pastor Todd Wilken and produced by Lutheran Public Radio. This week's topics include: Islam, The Gospel, Religion & the 2008 Election, Evangelical Style, Lutheran Substance, the Purpose Driven Movement and more. Listen to what you want when you want at www.issuesetc.org!

[Pastors and laity - why not see if you can get this in your bulletin this week!]

06 July 2008

Wonderful Essay on Duration

of the Eucharist:

click here

Pastor Ben Harju has read and digested Chemnitz on the topic and offers some very sound help in sorting out what the Symbols are saying (and not saying).

The Tree Of Life

We sang this Stephen Starke text this morning as a hymn during the distribution of the Holy Eucharist. The more I sing it, the more I love it.

The tree of life with ev'ry good
In Eden's holy orchard stood,
And of its fruit so pure and sweet
God let the man and woman eat.
Yet in this garden also grew
Another tree, of which they knew,
Its lovely limbs with fruit adorned
Against whose eating God had warned.

The stillness of that sacred grove
Was broken as the serpent strove
With tempting voice to Evil beguile
And Adam too by sin defile.
O day of sadness when the breath
Of fear and sadness, doubt and death,
Its awful poison first displayed
Within the world, so newly made.

What mercy God showed to our race,
A plan of rescue by His grace
In sending One from woman's seed,
The One to meet our greatest need -
For on a tree uplifted high
His only Son for sin would die,
Would drink the cup of scorn and dread
To crush the ancient serpent's head.

Now from that tree of Jesus' shame
Flows life eternal in His name:
For all who trust and will believe
Salvation's living fruit receive.
And of that fruit, so pure and sweet,
The Lord invites the world to eat,
To find within this cross of wood
The tree of life with ev'ry good. (LSB 561)

05 July 2008

Commemoration of Isaiah, the Prophet - A Day Early

Tomorrow, on July 6th, our Synod will commemorate and give thanks to God for the prophet Isaiah. From our Synod's website:

July 6

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

This day has long been observed in commemoration of Isaiah in Lutheranism (see Here).

How could I not have known
Isaiah would be there,
His prophesies fulfilled,
With pounding heart I stare,
A child, a Son,
The Prince of Peace for me,
A child, a Son,
The Prince of Peace for me. (LSB 369:3)

Rejoicing in the fellowship of the Prophet Isaiah and of all the saints, let us commend ourselves, one another, and our whole life to Christ, our Lord: to You, O Lord!

For Lovers of the Church's Music...

...check out this puppy:

Chorale Treasure

(HT: Pr. Keith's Blog - well worth reading!)

How NOT to Win Your Wife's Favor...

...deciding to help weed the garden while she's away, and pulling up her Hibiscus and throwing it in the dumpster. Oops. Charlie, as you are married (and our prayers are with you and Jenn today), please remember to keep your hands OFF her Hibiscus as you value your marriage...

On Neglected Rubrics

[Note: Rubrics are instructions for HOW the rite is to be done, and they are written in red in our service books to distinguish them from the text of the rite, which is in black.] First one: It's there. It's there in Matins, in Vespers, in Morning Prayer and in Evening Prayer.

"The congregation remains seated for all readings."

I bring it up because there's a wide-spread tendency to allow the ceremonies from the Divine Service to filter over to the Daily Offices. In the Divine Service, the rubric is also clear: we stand for the Alleluia and the Holy Gospel. But our Service book directs that we SIT for all readings during the Daily Office, even when one of these readings is from the Holy Gospels. The Daily Office is NOT the Divine Service, and the Divine Service is NOT the Daily Office. Rather, the Divine Service is the sun around which the Daily Offices orbit as the planets.

Second one: Not technically a rubric, still it's there. It's in all five orders of Divine Service.

No matter whether the pastors uses the longer or the shorter formula for distribution, when the gift of the Lord's body and blood are received, the people respond: "Amen!"

Third one: It's there. In all five orders of Divine Service.

"The pastor and those who assist him receive the body and blood of Christ first, the presiding minister communing himself and his assistants."

The principal at work in this rubric reaches right back to the days of the first Nicene council which forbade the deacons who did not have the authority to consecrate the Eucharist in the Churches to give the Sacrament to those who did.

Fourth one: It's there. In all five orders of Divine Service.

"The presiding minister faces the elements on the altar during the consecration."

Hence, no picking up SOME of the elements and turning to face the people. If you have an east-wall altar, you FACE it for the consecration; if you have a free-standing altar, you can face the people over it, or you can face the elements the same direction the people do.

For Lutherans rubrics aren't in the category of Divine Law; they are in the category of good order. They provide guidelines for our liturgical actions to be uniform across wide swaths of the Church so that when we come to Church the behavior doesn't distract ("what's he DOING up there?") but is utterly taken for granted so that we can focus together on the one thing needful. As my friend, Pr. Paul McCain, likes to put it: "Say the black, do the red." If we all did so, our people traveling from parish to parish would find themselves at home wherever the name was LCMS or LCC - and wouldn't that be a wonderful thing?

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

If Christ must die to make our redemption, He must live to apply it. If the Lord's Supper is a sacrament of the redemption made by His death, it is also a sacrament of the same redemption applied by His life. If it tells us that His body and blood were necessary to make our redemption, it tells us also that they are still necessary to apply the redemption they have made. He made the sacrifice once for all - He applies it constantly. We live by Him, we must hang on Him - the vine does not send up one gush of its noble sap and then remain inert. It receives the totality of life, once for all, but the sap which sustain it must flow on - its one, unchanging and abiding life put itself forth in new offshoots, and by constant application of itself maintains the old branches. If the sap-life ceases, the seed-life cannot save. Cut the branch off, and the memory of the life will not keep it from withering; it must have life in itself - and this it must derive successively from the vine. -- Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* pp. 655, 656

Patristic Quote of the Day

After speaking of the wages of sin, in the case of the blessings, he has not kept to the same order (τάξιν, rank or relation): for he does not say, the wages of good deeds, but the gift of God; to show, that it was not of themselves that they were freed, nor was it a due they received, neither yet a return, nor a recompense of labors, but by grace all these things came about. And so there was a superiority for this cause also, in that He did not free them only, or change their condition for a better, but that He did it without any labor or trouble upon their part: and that He not only freed them, but also gave them much more than before, and that through His Son. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily 12 on Romans

04 July 2008


...is such an unbelievably stupid game!

On Looking At Things the Other Way Round

It strikes me how often that is the case with Lutheranism. Not that we get things backwards, but that we affirm the inverse of what other's assert as truth. A few examples.

"The finite is not capable of the infinite." This was the definitive Calvinist answer to the Lutheran doctrine of the Eucharist (and of the means of grace and Christology in general). But what did the Lutherans say to this? "Ah, but the Infinite IS capable of the finite."

"Whatever is not commanded is forbidden." Again, a classic Reformed approach. But the Lutherans inverted it: "Whatever is not forbidden is permitted." Hence the Lutheran retention of so much of the liturgical treasure of the Church, her much more open approach to the Church of the Middle Ages and the ancient undivided Church.

"The Church preserves the Gospel." Thus the constant appeal to tradition in both Rome and the East. But what do Lutherans say to this? "Rather, it is the Gospel which preserves the Church!" And we point to tradition *as witness* to how the Gospel has done so!

"The Church interprets the Scriptures." Again a Roman and Eastern favorite, to which the Lutherans infuriatingly say: "Rather, the Scriptures interpret the Church." "A book can't do that!" is the claim. "This book can," our smiling response, "because this book is GOD speaking. His Word. Mighty and active. Just listen up!"

"We recognize the Sacraments are efficacious only when they are performed in the communion of the Church." Thus, guaranteeing the sacraments via the Church. We flip it: "We recognize the communion of the Church only because the Sacraments are efficacious." Thus, guaranteeing the Church via the sacraments.

Lutherans are so infuriatingly backwards to other Christian confessions and jurisdictions - but what freedom, what joy, yes what certainty in our delightful reversal of things! At bottom each reversal is founded in the belief and certainty that God's Word and promises can be banked on - without first getting the "a okay" from human reason or running any ecclesiastical safeguards into the promises of God.

Fun on the Fourth

Dave and Jo, Lauren and Dean, Bekah, Cindi and I plan on LIVERPOOL this afternoon (which it is way past MY turn to win - sorry, Jo!), and then a cookout. Looks like we'll be feasting on:

hotdogs (my favorites!), hamburgers and porkburgers (yuck!); deviled eggs (yum!); cole slaw (yum!); fresh corn on the cob (yum!) ; fruit salad (yum!); and, for dessert, home made ice-cream (one with sugar; one with splenda - yum, yum) and for the non-low-carb eaters a peach and blueberry pie (sigh, I WISH). What a feast summer sets before us each year!!!

And I'll just BET that when we're done pigging, we'll go back to some more cards.

What? you ask. Where's the Wally? Well, David and his beloved are headed to Six Flags today with some friends. We'll miss them. I think we've only snared Meaghan into Liverpool one time, and I think she trounced us that day. Hmm. Maybe it's a good thing they're headed out then...

Happy birthday, dear Butchy!

Yup, my oldest brother celebrates HIS birthday with fireworks every year [that's Butch holding his first-born son back in 1970 - a few years younger than he is today]. Butch is 63 years old and going strong. I remember so many kindnesses on his part. It was Butch who bought me my first bow and tried to teach me to use it (hey, he is an optimist). He bought me my first fishing gear and tried to teach me to use it (I told you, the man is an incredible optimist). He made sure that I had visited every last fire department in Montgomery County, Maryland as a child (I've discovered he was right about life being all about putting out fires, but not quite the way he was thinking). So to my oldest sibling: Happy birthday Seldon Stuart, fireman extraordinaire! You're daily in my prayers, bro.