30 October 2008

Even the Ember Days...

...yup. See TDP page 21 as days of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Sweet!!!

TDP - Minor Gripes

And I stress MINOR. (Pic courtesy of the marvelous Jen B!)

* The Canticles following the Psalms are not pointed for chanting.
* The order of the stuff in the daily readings should ideally have been: Psalm HYMN Readings etc. That would have facilitated its use in the daily office.
* Instead of the first Psalm Chart, it would have been very nice to have had the days and morning or evening written into the Psalter itself (with a note recognizing that not everyone will pray it that way).

That's it. That's ALL I can suggest to improve the book. No joke. And how minor are those three things, eh? Oh, I know some folks consider the ESV to be a drawback; I don't. In general, it's a very good translation and I, for one, suspect it will have some staying power.

A Question I'm Often Asked

is "where do I begin in reading the Fathers?" There IS tons to choose from. I've given various answers in the past. I've got a new one now: Order your copy of Treasury of Daily Prayer and enjoy some of the very best of the Fathers as part of your daily prayer life. How much easier does it get?

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Whoever believes that all faiths are the same and have an equal claim on the truth basically believes nothing at all. -- C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 872

Patristic Quote of the Day

He needs not, be sure, anything of ours: but we stand in need of all things from Him. Thus thanksgiving itself adds nothing to Him, but causes us to be nearer to Him. For if men's bounties, when we call them to memory, do the more warm us with their proper love-charm; much more when we are continually bringing to mind the noble acts of our Lord towards us, shall we be more diligent in regard of His commandments. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 8

Note for Those Praying...

...the Office according to the 30 day Psalm Chart. The Treasury does not include the traditional advice for dealing with a 31 day month: tomorrow simply repeat the Psalms that were prayed today.

29 October 2008

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Therefore let Christ rise and live in thee, that thou mayest live eternally with Him in heaven. This is the first resurrection. -- Johann Gerhard, *Sacred Meditations* LI

Patristic Quote of the Day

Now I know indeed that many tremble only at hell, but I affirm the loss of that glory to be a far greater punishment than hell. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 7


Matins + Workout at Y + Communion to Noel + Pericopal Study (commendations to Pr. Hemmer for his usual outstanding job!) + Lunch with pastors + Visit Agnes in hospital (Granite) + Communion to Debbie and Eldon + Visit Wilma in hospital (Staunton) + Communion to Alfred + Finished my stuff for Sunday bulletins + Blog a tad [that's NOW!] + Vespers + Divine Service for Sts. Simon and Jude, Apostles + Bible Class on Wisdom, Chapter 8 + Compline + Discuss funeral plans for Carol Wilson, daughter of Leona Daube - May she rest in peace! + Glass of wine + BED

Today's activities exemplify what I dearly love about serving in the pastoral office: the variety of tasks that present themselves each day. That, and what an honor to accompany the people of God in their earthly pilgrimage with the unspeakable comfort of the Word and prayer and the Sacraments of Christ! It's the sort of day that I thank God for putting this most unworthy sinner into the office that preaches the reconciliation.

28 October 2008

A Few Days In...

...and some further reflections on Treasury of Daily Prayer:

The Psalmody printed with the daily readings makes a fine addition to a midday office, leaving the longer praying of the Psalter (as in the table on pages 1436,37) for daily Matins and Vespers.

Adding the "Writing" at Matins does mirror ancient precedent for the office, but it is a tad awkward when the piece in question is commenting upon the NT reading that is read at Vespers. It could also be read at the midday devotion.

I'm finding a natural rhythm of using the daily prayers (pp. 1306ff.) in Matins; reserving my private intercessions for Vespers - wasn't it at sundown that the people gathered round our Lord and brought to Him all who in need?

The Great O's come at the tail end of their appointed days - makes sense to have them attached to the daily readings, rather than having to look them up in another place.

Amazing how much you can pay attention to the words of the reading when you're not thinking: "Now, what verse is this supposed to end at?"

Pr. Tom Fast's little section on praying Luther's Small Catechism is gold.

There are like a hundred introductions to the Treasury (well, okay, so there are only SIX), but each of them is quite valuable in its own right and should be read through.

The only TRICKY part of using the book is that from Ash Wednesday through the Day of Holy Trinity, you have to keep your eye not only on the readings for the day, but also the commemorations, feasts, and festivals. And even this, they've made relatively easy, providing the supplemental material on pages 1275-1304.

The extra emphasis on the Catechism during the days of Lent (a catechetical writing provided for each day) will prove a blessing.

The amazement continues...

The Busy Week(s)

Finishing up shutins is always a busy time - so many folks to see, to commune, to pray with. But it's also a rejuvenating week. Their witness never ceases to lift me up. I know I'm supposed to be bringing the spiritual nourishment to them, but it's definitely a case of what St. Paul wrote: "so that by God's will I may come to you and be refreshed by your company." Rom 15:32 Refreshment for me; the gifts of Jesus for them.

Festival of Sts. Simon and Jude, Apostles

The Treasury of Daily Prayer notes: "According to early Christian tradition, Simon and Jude journeyed together as missionaries to Persia, where they were martyred." Noting how little we know of St. Simon personally, TDP observes: "Thus he is remembered and honored for the sake of his office, and thereby stand before us - in eternity, as in his life and ministry on earth - in the name and stead of Christ Jesus our Lord. We give thanks to God for calling and sending Simon, along with Jude and all the apostles, to preach and teach the Holy Gospel, to proclaim repentance and forgiveness, and to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

The collect BPB gives for this day: O almighty God, who hast built Thy church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the head Cornerstone: grant us to be joined in unity of spirit by their doctrine, that we may be a holy temple acceptable unto Thee, through the same, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Let us not therefore be anxious, for we shall gain nothing by it, but tormenting ourselves. For whereas He gives both when we take thought, and when we do not, and more of the two, when we do not; what do you gain by your anxiety, but to exact of yourself a superfluous penalty? -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 6

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In sorrow [the Christian] is joyful; in poverty he is rich; in the tribulations of the world, he is secure; in all the storms and commotions of this life he is tranquil; amidst the abuses and insults of men he is peaceful; and in the hour of death itself he lives! - Johann Gerhard, *Sacred Meditations* XXXII (True Peace of Soul)

26 October 2008

Scattered Thoughts on the Treasury

Now that I have the Treasury of Daily Prayer in hand, I must confess to being even more impressed than I was in looking through the PDF files CPH shared. The book is MASSIVE - it couldn't be anything else, since it included so many gems and treasures.

Among the hidden gems, the one that I've been most blessed by is found tucked away on page 1441. It's a pre-communion prayer of St. John Chrysostom:

Know, O Lord my God, I am unworthy that You should enter beneath the roof of the temple of my soul, because it is all empty and dead. There is in me no worthy place where You may lay Your head....

Gems such as this are literally strewn across the pages of the book.

My suggestion to those who will be using the TDP as a daily Breviary for Matins and Vespers is to turn to the Psalter on pages 1323-1423 and, using the Schedule for Reading the Psalms Over Thirty Days (pp. 1436, 1437), mark at the head of each set of Psalms the day and the time (m for morning; e for evening). This will eliminate the need to refer to the Psalm chart. Thus, at Psalm 1, write: 1-M and at Psalm 6 write: 1-E, and so on.

Don't miss the fine prayers that are provided for each day of the week (pp. 1306-1309). These are fitting additions to the Matins or Vespers.

It is appropriate to append the reading about a given day's Commemoration, Feast or Festival to the end of Matins, and perhaps to include the Prayer of the Day following the announcement of what is being commemorated.

Note that Compline is printed exactly as in the hymnal, therefore you need to know that the traditional Compline Psalms are 4, 91, and 134. The traditional Compline hymn is "Before the Ending of the Day" LSB 889. You might want to copy it and keep it with Compline or better yet, just memorize it.

The simplest way to use the Treasury is to confine one's self to the Psalmody and readings provided for each day. That's what I suspect the majority of our laity will do, but it certainly can be used for a more complete office. The introductions provide invaluable help in this regard. I particularly appreciated these words on page 20:

"The Daily Office is not an isolated, individual endeavor. Instead, it is the way an individual participates in the prayer life of the community, the Church. Thus, one does not need to feel a burden to participate in a particular office every day or feel guilty because a time of prayer was missed. Rather, when you miss a time you typically set aside for prayer, be conscious that the prayer goes on as the people of God throughout the world call on their dear Father."

With the vast resources of this work, how easily the Daily Office could again come to be sung and prayed in our Churches (at least Matins and Vespers) - ideally daily but certainly at least during the great Penitential Seasons. As the Eucharist has been restored to its rightful place among us as the Chief Service each Lord's Day, the prayer offices have in many places become unfamiliar to our people. Time to bring them back and show that rather than replacing the Eucharist, they lead toward it and accompany us after receiving it!

More later, I'm sure. But what a gift the good folks at CPH have given us this time, people loved by God! What a gift!

Reformation Festival

WOW! What a joy! Our choir quartet singing "Kyrie, God Father" and leading "Isaiah" and stanza two of "A Mighty Fortress" and Divine Service 5... Patrick on the trumpet and Bob on the timps... Diane pulling out all the stops... "Lord, Keep Us Steadfast" and "Dear Christians, One and All" and so much else... What a great and joyous feast!

25 October 2008

Getting in the Mood for Thanksgiving

I dearly love that day. Cindi and I cook as much as we can ahead of time, but there's still LOTS to do the day of Thanksgiving. Best is when it's nice and cold - and even gray outside - because the warmth and joy of the day chases away so much of the November gloom. We're up early and then head to Church for Matins. Such a joyous service, and always fun to see the folks who have come home for the holiday. The choir sings, the bells ring, and the people really belt out the hymns and psalms. After we've sung our thanksgivings to God, we head home to enjoy the feast. We usually have family with us - this year I'm working hard at enticing my sister and her husband to join us - and we spend the day together feasting on those treats we make only for that day! And usually, sometime that day, we gather around the piano and begin singing Advent and Christmas carols - harmonies everywhere - and some time for cards. And let's not forget the after dinner nap! Anywho, Cindi and I began planning this morning. I'm hyped!

Baking Morning

Banana Nut Cake with Cream Cheese frosting - yes, it's a lo-carb recipe. Between Almond Flour and Splenda, what can't one come up with???

Commemoration of Dorcas, Lydia and Phoebe, Faithful Women

From our Synod's Website:

These women were exemplary Christians who demonstrated their faith by their material support of the Church. Dorcas (also known as Tabitha) was well-known and much loved for her acts of charity in the city of Joppa, especially for her making clothes for the poor. When Dorcas died suddenly, the members of her congregation sent to the neighboring city of Lydda for the Apostle Peter, who came and raised her from the dead (Acts 9:36–41). Lydia was a woman of Thyatira, who worked at Philippi selling a famous purple dye that was so much in demand in the ancient world. She was also a “worshiper of God” at the local synagogue. When the Apostle Paul encountered her in prayer among other proselyte women, his preaching of the Word brought Lydia to faith in Christ. She and her friends thus became the nucleus of the Christian community in Philippi (16:13–15, 40). Phoebe was another faithful woman associated with the Apostle Paul. She was a deaconess from Cenchrae (the port of Corinth) whom Paul sent to the church in Rome with his Epistle to the Romans. In it he writes of her support for the work of the early Church (Rom 16:1).

O God, for saints and servants,
Those named and those unknown
In whom through all the ages
Your light of glory shone,
We offer glad thanksgiving
And fervent prayer we raise
That, faithful in Your service,
Our lives may sing Your praise.
LSB 855

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

God's name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God's Word profanes the name of God among us. Protect us from this, heavenly Father!
--Martin Luther, The Small Catechism

Patristic Quote of the Day

Worthy of him who calls God Father, is the prayer to ask nothing before the glory of His Father, but to account all things secondary to the work of praising Him. For hallowed is glorified. For His own glory He has complete, and ever continuing the same, but He commands him who prays to seek that He may be glorified also by our life. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 6

24 October 2008

All Filled In

We have three picture frames on the wall in our living room. They show each of the three children from preschool (well, Lauren didn't go to preschool, but from that age for her) through high school. I remember when Cindi put them up thinking that they looked a little silly, with so many blank spaces. Now the pictures are all filled in; Bekah's senior portraits arrived the other day. It was satisfying and yet rather sad to fill in that last spot. Studying the faces, Lauren and Bekah changed the least. You can easily trace the adult face in the preschool picture and vice-versa. David changed most of all - his face went from round and chubby to long and narrow. My babies are babies no longer...

BUT if you think I lost a lot (I did!)....

...consider Cindi's success:

'Twas the Year Before Atkins...

...which, I think, would be 2001. Just looking at it gives me the heebie-jeebies!

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Therefore, this title 'Father' comprises not only the Father from eternity who has begotten his only-begotten Son, but in respect of the Father, as the whole Trinity, it contains the benefits of our regeneration, adoption, and calling to a heavenly inheritance. -- Blessed Martin Chemnitz, *The Lord's Prayer* p. 28

Patristic Quote of the Day

For he who calls God Father, by him both remission of sins, and taking away of punishment, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, and adoption, and inheritance, and brotherhood with the Only-Begotten, and the supply of the Spirit, are acknowledged in this single title. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 6

23 October 2008

One of the Things

I find absolutely amazing about all the "Luther" movies (we always show one at the school during the week of Reformation) is how they all MISS the Gospel itself. How hard is it to depict an "aha" over "iustita Dei"? Luther's description of his "aha" - that the righteousness is a GIFT GIVEN rather than a harder demand than the Law of Moses - always reminds me of this passage from St. John Chrysostom:

“'To declare His righteousness.' What is declaring of righteousness? Like the declaring of His riches, not only for Him to be rich Himself, but also to make others rich, or of life, not only that He is Himself living, but also that He makes the dead to live; and of His power, not only that He is Himself powerful, but also that He makes the feeble powerful. So also is the declaring of His righteousness not only that He is Himself righteous, but that He doth also make them that are filled with the putrefying sores of sin suddenly righteous. And it is to explain this, viz. what is "declaring," that he has added, "That He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." Doubt not then: for it is not of works, but of faith: and shun not the righteousness of God, for it is a blessing in two ways; because it is easy, and also open to all men.” - St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 3

Saint James of Jerusalem, Brother of Jesus and Martyr

The Treasury of Daily Prayer notes that while some modern theologians believe St. James to have been the child of Joseph and the Blessed Virgin, throughout most of the Church (historically and even today) the title "brother" is taken to mean kinsman. St. James is the author of the epistle bearing his name in the New Testament, where he humbly refers to himself a "slave of Jesus Christ." Josephus recounts the story of his martyrdom in A.D. 62.

Pr. Gregory Wismar has penned a stanza for "By All the Saints" in honor of St. James of Jerusalem:

We sing of James, Christ's brother,
Who at Jerusalem
Told how God loved the Gentiles
And, in Christ, welcomed them.
Rejoicing in salvation
May we too, by God's grace,
Extend Christ's invitation
To all the human race.
LSB 518:27

The stanza has in mind the role that St. James played at the great Jerusalem Council, which he presided over, together with St. Peter and St. Paul.

The collect for this day asks that "we may follow his example of prayer and reconciliation and be strengthened by the witness of his death."

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Always consider the past with respect to three things: the evil I have committed, the good I have omitted, and the time I have lost.

Always consider the present with respect to these three things: the brevity of my present life, the difficulty of salvation, and the fewness of the saved.

Always consider the future with respect to these three things: death, than which nothing is more horrible; the judgment, than which nothing is more terrible; and the fires of hell, than which nothing is more intolerable.

--Johann Gerhard, *Sacred Meditations* XXVIII

Patristic Quote of the Day

For He said not, do not hate, but love; He said not, do not injure, but do good. And if any one should examine accurately, he will see that even to these things somewhat is added, much greater than they are. For neither did He simply command to love, but to pray. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 5

22 October 2008

I ask again...

...what IS it about a bunch of Christians, standing in a darkened chancel, and singing Compline before going home for the night that is such a big "YES!" Every time we sing the whole service, something inside affirms: "This is the way a day was meant to end. Every day!"

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Where is the command? Where is the promise? -- Blessed Martin Chemnitz, *Examination of the Council of Trent* II:696

Patristic Quote of the Day

And if I see you persisting, I will forbid you for the future to set foot on this sacred threshold, and partake of the immortal mysteries; as we do fornicators and adulterers, and persons charged with murder. Yea, for it is better to offer our accustomed prayers, with two or three, who keep the laws of God, than to sweep together a multitude of trangressors and corrupters of others. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 5

Early Bird Voting

is actually rather nice! I voted this afternoon. There was exactly ONE person in line in front of me and none behind me.

21 October 2008

Oh, bummer!

Dr. didn't run cholesterol tests this time. I was hoping to see if it dropped again since I've been strictly following Atkins since Lent began. He decided, though, that last year's numbers were still so good as to not worry about testing again for a few years.

Cool thing was that last year when I went in, he saw my blood pressure and immediately said: "You're not exercising, are you?" This year, when he saw the blood pressure (116/72) he immediately said: "You ARE exercising, aren't you?" Smile!!! Thank you, Pr. Hall for encouraging me to get moving again in a regular workout.

What does a strict Atkins dinner look like for someone on maintenance?

A salad of spinach and lettuce, peppers, onion and cucumber with ranch dressing
Two salmon patties (has to be made with red sockeye) with cocktail sauce
A lo-carb banana muffin (one of Cindi's concoctions) with butter
A serving of chocolate mousse with whipped cream
Five almonds

Who could ask for a more diverse and delicious dinner?

Arsenic and Old Lace

Some pics of Bekah as Mr. Witherspoon - she's wearing my clothes - and they fit - how scary is that? "I thought I'd had my last glass of elderberry wine!" "Oh, no. HERE it is!"

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Nothing is more unhappy than the happiness of those living in sin, and nothing is more miserable than the man who is ignorant of his miserable condition in sin. -- Johann Gerhard, *Sacred Meditations* XXIX

Patristic Quote of the Day

For since the law was laboring at this, to make man righteous, but had not power, He came and brought in the way of righteousness by faith, and so established that which the law desired: and what the law could not by letters, this He accomplished by faith. On this account He says, I am not come to destroy the law. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 5

20 October 2008

Neglected Rubrics, Part Whatever

from Visiting the Sick and Distressed (Lutheran Service Book Agenda, page 48):

It is appropriate that the pastor receive the body and blood of the Lord with the sick or distressed person, together with those present who have previously been admitted to the Lord's Table.

'Nuff said.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

There is no greater sin than being ungrateful for the blessing of the Gospel, and for that the punishment will certainly not fail to come. -- C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 849

Patristic Quote of the Day

"Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called sons of God." Here He not only takes away altogether our own strife and hatred among ourselves, but He requires besides this something more, namely, that we should set at one again others, who are at strife. - St. John Chysostom, On the Beatitudes.

Great Visit and Crazy Weekend

It was a real joy for us to have Deb here this weekend. She flew in on Friday and left this morning. The weekend was a bit of a whirl:

Bekah in Arsenic and Old Lace on Friday and Saturday; Bekah's tennis finals on Friday; Communion to Flo and then house-blessing for Dave and Jo on Saturday. Divine Service on Saturday. Deb and Cindi worked much of Saturday at Dave and Jo's to help with sorting through stuff from the move. I had my usual round on Sunday. Lauren and Dean, Dave and Jo, joined us for lunch on Sunday and then a game of cards. Catechism service on Sunday afternoon and then a little bit more visiting last night. Deb and I panicked a bit on the way to the airport as the traffic STOPPED on the highway just short of the airport. McCain was flying in and they stopped everything! Fortunately, Deb still made her flight and has arrived safely at home. Some pics from the weekend (and none of DEB???). Pics from Arsenic and Old Lace will hopefully show up tomorrow!

18 October 2008

The Day of St. Luke, the Evangelist

Today we commemorate St. Luke, the beloved Physician and the author of the third Gospel and of Acts. The readings appointed for the day are Isaiah 35:5-8; 2 Timothy 4:5-18; and Luke 10:1-9. According to tradition, St. Luke was one of the 72 the Lord sent out. He is also believed to have been a painter and to have made the first images of the Blessed Mother holding the Child Jesus. His Gospel contains information he could have received only from the Virgin Mother herself.

For that belov'd physician
All praise, whose Gospel shows
The Healer of the nations,
The One who share our woes.
Your wine and oil, O Savior,
Upon our spirits pour,
And with true balm of Gilead
Anoint us evermore. LSB 518:26

Almighty God, who calledst Saint Luke the physician to be an Evangelist and physician of the soul: heal, we beseech Thee, all the diseases of our souls, by the wholesome medicine of Thy Word; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. (Brotherhood Prayer Book)

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

All the Psalms give Christians strength in suffering - that is, they comfort us in our afflictions, so that our backs do not break, but we continue in hope and patience. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Homily upon the Day of Saints Peter and Paul

Patristic Quote of the Day

Though fasting, prayer, almsgiving, temperance, any other good thing whatever, be gathered together in you; without humility all fall away and perish. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 5

16 October 2008

Homily for Trinity 22 (2008)

[Micah 6:6-8 / Philippians 1:3-11 / Matthew 18:21-35]

Let’s be honest: it’s not that we don’t WANT to forgive those who have sinned against us – yes, 70 times seven! The problem is that we don’t know how. When we’ve been really hurt, damaged by someone’s words or behavior, their lying or ridicule, something inside of us curls up like a little child that has been abused, and we’re simply scared to move, scared to forgive. Scared that the pain we’re barely coping with right now is only going to get worse – and that it will kill us or drive us crazy. We just don’t think we can bear it.

There’s not a person in this room who didn’t know before walking in the door today that our God expects us to live in total, absolute and unconditional forgiveness toward each other, toward those who have hurt us, toward those who have trashed us to others. We know it and so we all wince when we hear our Lord speak in the Gospel reading.

We KNOW we’re like the servant who had a big debt forgiven. But those littler debts owed to us – well, to us they're not little. It’s a matter of pain. Can we take the pain? We’re afraid, very much afraid, we can’t. That if we open our hearts again and forgive, and they do it again – and we really suspect they will - then we’ll end up even more damaged than we already are. And that leaves us terrified, because we know exactly how Jesus ended today’s Gospel. We know that He speaks the truth, the absolute truth to us: “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

“From the heart.” That’s the problem. Oh, it’s easy to say sometimes: “I forgive you.” But the heart? When Satan goes to work and plops in his DVD and plays the whole scene again in your heart in slow motion, all the anger, the hurt, the betrayal come rushing back and we’re convinced, absolutely convinced, we can’t forgive. The old evil foe persuades us it will kill us or send us to the loony bin. And so many live lives of quiet despair, knowing that they are harboring resentments that the Lord absolutely forbids, and yet convinced that they are helpless to do anything about it.

But, people loved by God, if WE are helpless, HE is not. If pity dies in our heart, it never dies in His. St. Paul said in today’s epistle: “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes THROUGH Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.”

Your every “I can’t” He counters with: “I know, but I can. I have forgiven the sins of the world. I am the King who tears up the accounts of what is owed and sets people free from their bonds. I am the King who came into the flesh to pay for you all the debt that you could not pay: the debt of love. I am the King whose life was love from start to finish. Love caused my incarnation, love brought me down to you. Love led me to the Tree. Love led me to the tomb. And love led me out into a life that never ends. Love I send with My Spirit to dwell in you. My whole being is a burning fire of love. And I can do IN you what you can never do on your own.”

The fruits of righteousness – such as the ability to forgive and to pray for and to seek God’s blessing on those who have really and truly hurt you – this comes “through Jesus Christ” and so God gets all the glory and praise. It’s not something you have to work up, some feeling you have to muster, some enormous effort of your will. No. It’s a gift your Savior simply gives you – the gift of His forgiveness and His love to live inside you. A forgiveness and love that embraces not just you, but the whole world. That’s WHO He is.

Do you see then why the Eucharist is so at the heart of the Church’s life? If we are going to forgive all, to love all, to embrace those who have done us harm and hurt us and who will likely do it again, there is only one way: and that’s to become united with Love incarnate, to become one with Forgiveness Enfleshed. When we open our mouths and Jesus puts into them the body that took away the sins of the world and the blood that cries for pardon for our whole race, when He unites Himself to us, we can know the secret that St. Paul would talk about in a later chapter of Philippians: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

But what about the hurt? What about the pain? Can we bear it? What if it destroys us? His answer is profound: “Child, it did not destroy me. It cannot destroy me. I forgave all, and they killed me. And yet I live forevermore. My life will never end. And that life, that unending fire of love, is now yours. I pour into you to become your life, your love. The hurt will still hurt, but it will not be able to destroy you, because you are united to Me.”

In the face of this, what can we do but kneel before Him and confess that we surely deserve nothing but His temporal and eternal punishment, and yet ask for the grace He gives, ask that His love, His forgiveness, His unquenchable pardon would take root within us and shape us into a people of forgiveness. We can’t from our own resources forgive to the extent we’ve been hurt, that is true; but we don't have to live from our own resources. We live from the Crucified and Risen Lord to whom be the glory with His Father and His all-holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages! Amen.

Eating Apples

Okay, I'm hooked. I've been eating one apple a day for several weeks now. I look forward to the treat. I've haven't tried a bunch of varieties - and can't recall offhand the one I've been eating most lately (it's a blend of red and yellow peel, crisp and sweet). Right now, however, I'm working on the apples that Larmen brought by the parsonage the other day. They are apples from his yard - don't know what kind they are either. Sort of reminds me of a winesap, but a little too big, I'm thinking, for that. Coloring is similar though. Larmen tells me they'll get sweeter in a couple weeks. Can't wait, but they're still delicious right now. My goal this week is to only eat when sitting down for meals, except for the single treat of the apple sometime in the afternoon. I think knowing the apple is the only treat has made it that much tastier.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Every kind of death is not the end of misery, for the death of the wicked is just the beginning of their torments. The death of the godly is their deliverance from all evil and a beginning of everlasting happiness.--Martin Chemnitz, The Lord's Prayer, p. 93

Patristic Quote of the Day

For no one of those who have not done away with their sins here, when he has departed thither shall be able to escape his account for them; but as they who are taken out of these earthly prisons are brought in their chains to the place of judgment, even so all souls, when they have gone away hence bound with the manifold chains of their sins, are led to the awful judgment-seat. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 4

15 October 2008

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The foremost fruits of the institution and the foremost profits of a salutary reception [that is, of the Eucharist] are that we be strengthened in the faith, have Christ dwell in us, be fed and sustained for eternal life. -- Johann Gerhard, *A Comprehensive Explanation of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper* p. 379

Patristic Quote of the Day

How then does Christ? He is not indignant, nor provoked, but with that extreme gentleness He reasons with him again from the Scriptures, saying, You shall not tempt the Lord your God: Matthew 4:7 teaching us that we must overcome the devil, not by miracles, but by forbearance and long-suffering, and that we should do nothing at all for display and vainglory. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 4

Great Way to Start a Day

I met Bob for racquet ball this morning at 6:30. He trounced me all three games, but it was definitely GREAT to be playing again - and in between games we worked out some details for celebrating Divine Service Five for the Reformation festival. Then time for the regular workout (30 minutes elliptical; leg strength training; 15 minutes stepper). After a Starbucks' coffee, and Matins with the help off my iPhone (thanks, anon Lutheran!); then off to private confession and absolution, followed by an exegetical study and to lunch with a great group of pastors. Got home before the sky opened and the rain started. Still to come today: Divine Service for St. Luke's Day (transferred to today from the 18th), study of Wisdom 6, and Compline.

14 October 2008

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In this life of believing it is His will to appear small; but in the life of seeing He will not be small but very great. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Homily from 1531

Patristic Quote of the Day

Yea with this very purpose the Lord, having first come here and having brought His angels, did then, taking you with Him, depart thither; that even before your going up to that place, you might understand that it is possible for you to inhabit earth as it were heaven. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 3

Funeral Homily for Glenn Schumacher

LaVerne, Brian, Joy, Judy, Jaime, family and friends of Glenn Schumacher, if there is one thing that I will always remember Glenn for it is his stories – his ability to weave a tale and bring the past to life. How many times do I recall him sitting in the parsonage living room as we were celebrating some event in my children’s life, and he would be holding court – telling his stories and evoking laughter and memory: baseball, life growing up, in the service, travelling, raising his children. One theme, though, that wove itself into his stories was his life at St. Paul’s – and how could it be otherwise?

When he was only a little baby barely two weeks old, his godly parents rushed him to the font in the old St. Paul’s church. You see, they knew that the story of Glenn’s life – left to itself – would only be the sadness of sin and death. They knew that someday he would die and stand before the Judgment Seat of God and they knew that no matter how good a man he would grow up to be, he’d never be able to pass muster on that day of Judgment without the forgiveness and pardon of Jesus Christ, without His perfect righteousness placed upon him as a gift.

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” That was how they lived, and so they brought their little child to Jesus and placed him in the Savior’s arms in the waters of Baptism. As old Pastor Hansen trickled the water over his head and said “ich taufe dich im Namen des Vaters und des Sohnes und des Heiligen Geistes. Amen!” Glenn’s life became changed forever. His baptismal certificate reminded him of this. There we read: “In your earliest childhood, you were baptized into the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Through your baptism you are a child of God and an heir of eternal salvation. That entire, full salvation has been given to you. Let it be your lifelong greatest care that you guard this salvation and always remain a child of God.”

Some years later, Glenn stood before this very altar and confessed His faith in the Blessed Trinity. Pastor Hennig laid his hands upon his head and prayed for him to be strengthened in that faith all his days. He read over Glenn a scripture verse: “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life.” And then shortly thereafter, Glenn opened his mouth and for the first time into his body was placed the undying Body and Blood of the Son of God, for the forgiveness of all his sins and as Christ’s promise and guarantee to him that death would never be the last chapter in his story. He faithfully received that Sacrament all his days.

As he grew in years, you could find him in God’s house quite often, listening to the words and promises of Jesus. Here he learned that his story was wrapped into a greater story: he learned that he was an object of God’s love from before time began, that though he was a poor, miserable sinner, who deserved nothing but God’s temporal and eternal punishment, his Savior had died on the cross to pardon his sin and had risen from the dead to destroy his death, and had ascended to heaven to prepare a home for him that he would never lose.

Home. You know how much home and family meant to him. Here, before this very altar, he married the lovely LaVerne Schmidt in 1952, and here he and LaVerne did for you what his parents did for him: they brought you to Christ in baptism and here you were taught the faith, and you were enfolded into the Savior’s story too. They wanted above all for you to know that you have a Savior, that He has loved you, died for you, rose again for, and promises you a life that no death can take from you.

As your family grew and took wings, I think he especially came to live for those wonderful moments when he and LaVerne visited you or when you all came home – and always it seems with new members of the family. Inlaws, children, grandchildren. He brightened up so much at the thought of you all being with him. He was positively determined to go out to the farm on his 80th birthday and hoist a beer in celebration with his beloved family.

And in the last weeks that have been so hard on you all, Glenn saw the coming of the end of his earthly pilgrimage. Yes, I know that he was seeing it for years! But he knew the difference in these last weeks. And so his story folded at last completely into the Savior story. He would walk through the valley of the shadow of death. But he would not walk alone. He passed this way with the One who had loved him with an everlasting love, with the One who had come into our flesh and shed his blood to give us a life that never ends. He walked this way with the Lord who promised Glenn together with all believers in His promise that He would bring them home at last.

Borne on eagles wings, or at least the wings of the angels, Glenn closed his eyes on Saturday to this age and his soul was brought into the presence of God, and his body began its peaceful sleep awaiting the day of resurrection. As he passed through this he had but one prayer: “Give me Jesus.”

So today we do not say that Glen’s story is over. Today we say that the prologue has been finished and the real story is just beginning. What tales he will have to tell us when we join him with the saints and angels around the throne singing the praises of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit – to whom be glory forever and ever! Amen.

Glenn E. Schumacher, age 80, of Alhambra, died at 11:12 a.m., on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008, at Alhambra Care Center in Alhambra. He was born on Aug. 20, 1928, in Alhambra, the son of the late Fred H. and Rika Brakhane Schumacher. He married LaVerne Esther Schmidt on June 15, 1952, at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hamel. She survives. Along with his wife, he is survived by two daughters: Joy, and husband Robert, Hill of Perryville, Ky. and Judy, and husband Jayson, Krall of Plymoth, Wisc.; two sons: Brian, and wife Kay, Schumacher of LaCrosse, Wisc. and Jamison, and wife Jennifer, Schumacher of Quincy; 10 grandchildren: Rob, and wife Amy, Hill of Perryville, Ky., Sara, and fiancé Mason, Hill of Perryville, Ky., Erin, and husband Henry, Krall-Rotering of New Orleans, La., Zachary Krall of Grafton, Wisc., Rachel Schumacher of Eau Claire, Wisc, Hannah Schumacher of LaCrosse, Wisc., Jacob Schumacher of Quincy, Jayden Schumacher of Quincy, Zoey Schumacher of Quincy and Zayn Schumacher of Quincy; two great grandchildren: Alyssa Hill of Perryville, Ky. and Kaylee Jo Hill of Perryville, Ky.; two sisters: Doris Gusewelle of Alhambra and Melba Helmkamp of Bethalto; two brothers: Harold, and wife Marilyn, Schumacher of Lincoln City, Ore. and Fred, and wife Marg, Schumacher of Mesa, Ariz.; and a sister-in-law: Norma Schumacher of Edwardsville; and a brother-in-law and sister-in-law: Wilbur and Lillian Schmidt of Hamel. Along with his parents, he was preceded in death by a brother: Norman Schumacher; a sister: Dorothy Prante; an infant sister: Anita Schumacher; an infant daughter: Janet Schumacher; and three brothers-in-law: Norman Gusewelle, Gilbert Prante and Ralph Helmkamp. Mr. Schumacher was born in Alhambra township. He graduated from Edwardsville High School in 1947. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army, serving from June 24, 1953 to June 30, 1961, in the Korean War and later stationed in Alaska. He was a life long farmer and heavy equipment operator for 35 years. In his younger years, he was an avid sportsman, played basketball, baseball and bowled. Most of all he loved to visit with his children and grandchildren. His memberships included St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hamel, the American Legion Post No. 1147, in Alhambra, the Madison County Farm Bureau, serving as past director, and former member of the Operating Engineers, Local 520 in Granite City.

13 October 2008

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Common prayer is a precious and most powerful thing. That is why we gather together to pray. The Church is called a house of prayer that we may gather together there in unity of spirit and bethink ourselves of the needs and sorrows of all men and carry them in prayer before the throne of God and invoke His grace. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Sermon on Good Works from 1520

Patristic Quote of the Day

Do you see how great is the wisdom of the Baptist? how, when He Himself is preaching, He says everything to alarm, and fill them with anxiety; but when He is sending men to Him, whatever was mild and apt to recover them: not bringing forward the axe, nor the tree that is cut down and burnt, and cast into the fire, nor the wrath to come, but remission of sins, and removing of punishment, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, and adoption, and brotherhood, and a partaking of the inheritance, and an abundant supply of the Holy Ghost. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 3

12 October 2008

A Beautiful Prayer

In the Treasury of Daily Prayer there is a section with prayers for every day of the week. Sunday's prayer wraps up with these words:

Let the Last Day come soon, so that we, released from all strife, may behold You with all saints and angels face-to-
face and sing our praises to You better than we are now able. Amen. Yes, come Lord Jesus! Amen.

Isn't that beautiful? "Better than we are now able." Now is the time of practice for the joys of eternity, for the songs of doxology that will never end. Our songs are feeble now, but they will wax strong and perfect on that joyous day when we see our Lord Jesus with all his saints and the angels face-to-face.

It reminds me of the Queen of the Chorales:

What joy to know, when life is past,
The Lord we love is first and last,
The end and the beginning!
He will one day, oh, glorious grace,
Transport us to that happy place
Beyond all tears and sinning!
Amen! Amen!
Come, Lord Jesus!
Crown of gladness!
We are yearning
For the day of Your returning! LSB 395:6

11 October 2008

Prayer at the Time of Death

[for Glenn and his family]

O holy and righteous God, it hath pleased Thee to call from this life Thy servant Glenn by temporal death. Let us learn from this death that we, too, must die and leave this world, in order that we may prepare for it in time by repentance, a living faith, and avoiding the sins and vanities of the world.

Refresh the soul that has now departed with heavenly consolation and joy, and fulfill for it all the gracious promises which in Thy holy Word Thou hast made to those who believe in Thee. Grant to the body a soft and quiet rest in the earth till the Last Day, when Thou wilt reunite body and soul and lead them into glory, so that the entire person who served Thee here may be filled with heavenly joy there.

Comfort all who are in grief over this death, and be and remain to the bereaved their Father, Provider, Guardian, Helper, and Support. Do not forsake them, and do not withdraw Thy hand from them, but let them abundantly experience Thy goodness, grace, love, and help, until Thou will grant them also a happy and blessed end. Hear us for Thy mercy’s sake. Amen. - Starck's Prayer Book

Pastoral Swings

This morning at Glenn's bedside. I knew it couldn't be long. We sang and prayed and commended him again in to the hands of the Savior. "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace..." Then over to Heather and Jon's to pray the rite for blessing of a new mother, and make arrangements for a Baptism on All Saints. While there, word that Glenn had fallen asleep in Jesus. Tonight Nicolette and her newborn twins will be coopted into Christ's kingdom by Baptism. Sorrow. Joy. Joys.

And what accompanies the whole journey is the Lord God speaking His words of promise, of grace, of forgiveness, of love. Life in this fallen world is the great battleground where faith wages its war with despair by clinging to the promises of God; a battle to hold that what we cannot see is mightier and stronger than all the death and sorrow we experience all around us. In this Sunday's Gospel (John 4), the man has to go home with just the promise of Jesus in his pocket (Franzmann). And the promise is what he must use to fight the despair into which the devil would plunge him. He found out in the end that the promise of Jesus was stronger than the death attacking his son. As we make our journey from cradle to grave may we find the same!

Commemoration of Philip, the Deacon

Today our Synod commemorates St. Philip, the Deacon. From our Synod's website: Philip, also called the Evangelist (Acts 21:8), was one of the seven men appointed to assist in the work of the twelve Apostles and of the rapidly growing early church by overseeing the distribution of food to the poor (6:1–6). Following the martyrdom of Stephen, Philip proclaimed the Gospel in Samaria and led Simon the Sorcerer to become a believer in Christ (8:4–13). He was also instrumental in bringing about the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch (8:26–39), through whom Philip became indirectly responsible for bringing the Good News of Jesus to the people on the continent of Africa. In the town of Caesarea he was host for several days to the Apostle Paul, who stopped there on his last journey to Jerusalem (21:8–15).

Apostles, prophets, martyrs,
And all the noble throng
Who wear the spotless raiment
And raise the ceaseless song -
For these, passed on before us
We offer praises due
And, walking in their footsteps,
Would live our lives for You. LSB 517:4

10 October 2008

These Two

have been singing together on stage for a long, long time - since Cindi was a teen and Dave was doing dinner theatre. Picture courtesy of my mother-in-law, who does a much better job with her camera than I do with mine!

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The doctrine of the Lord's Supper is the most vital and practical in the whole range of the profoundest Christian life - the doctrine which, beyond all others, conditions and vitalizes that life, for in it the character of faith is determined, invigorated, and purified as it is nowhere else. It is not only a fundamental doctrine, but it is among the most fundamental of the fundamentals. -- C. P. Krauth, *The Conservative Reformation* p. 655

Patristic Quote of the Day

In that we fulfill the whole law; and to express this He said, all righteousness. For righteousness is the fulfilling of the commandments. Since then we have performed all the rest of the commandments, says He, and this alone remains, it also must be added: because I have come to do away the curse that is appointed for the transgression of the law. I must therefore first fulfill it all, and having delivered you from its condemnation, in this way bring it to an end. It becomes me therefore to fulfill the whole law, by the same rule that it becomes me to do away the curse that is written against you in the law: this being the very purpose of my assuming flesh, and coming hither. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 3

Clarification from Todd and Jeff

This just in from Todd and Jeff:


The October Reporter contains an article titled "Issues, Etc."

The article reports "an agreement has been reached" between the synodical BOD and us over the name "Issues, Etc."


I've recorded a short audio response to the article. It is attached.

I've also posted this short audio response at iTunes and on the "On-Demand" section of our website, www.issuesetc.org.


Music, Anyone?

Collinsville Chorale has their Fall Concert tonight at Collinsville High School. Singing starts at 7 and will feature music from a host of movies. And you just might recognize one of the soloists (and she sure is pretty!). If you're in shouting distance, come on down and enjoy!

09 October 2008

Commemoration of Abraham

From our Synod's website:

Abraham (known early in his life as Abram) was called by God to become the father of a great nation (Genesis 12). At the age of 75 and in obedience to God's command, he, his wife Sarah, and his nephew Lot moved southwest from the town of Haran to the land of Canaan. There God established a covenant with Abraham (15:18), promising the land of Canaan to his descendants. At the age of 100 Abraham and Sarah were finally blessed with Isaac, the son long promised to them by God. Abraham demonstrated supreme obedience when God commanded him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. God spared the young man's life only at the last moment and provided a ram as a substitute offering (22:1–19). Abraham died at the age of 175 and was buried in the Cave of Machpelah, which he had purchased earlier as a burial site for Sarah. He is especially honored as the first of the three great Old Testament Patriarchs—and for his “righteousness before God through faith” (Romans 4:1–12).

The God of Abr'ham praise,
Who reigns enthroned above;
Ancient of everlasting days
And God of love.
Jehovah, great I AM!
By earth and heav'n confessed,
I bow and bless the sacred name
Forever blest!

The whole triumphant host
Give thanks to God on high.
"Hail, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!"
They ever cry.
Hail, Abr'ham's God and mine!
I join the heavenly lays:
All mighty and majesty are Thine
And endless praise! LSB 798:1,9

08 October 2008

Talk About a Wonderful Week

Let's see:

Saturday - Divine Service at St. Paul's with the Baptism of Brody
Sunday - Divine Services at St. Paul's; Bible Class; Vespers for Pentecost 21 with Installation of Pr. Wilken at Trinity, Millstadt
Monday - Noonday Office and Divine Service at Pastoral Conference
Tuesday - Matins (with St. John Chrysostom preaching and the Starke Te Deum); Noonday Office and Evening Prayer at Pastoral Conference
Wednesday - Matins (with Blessed Martin Luther preaching and the TLH Anglican Te Deum) and Itinerarium at Pastoral Conference and then Divine Service, Bible Study, and Compline at St. Paul's

You must admit: for a liturgical nut is was like being turned loose in the candy store! :) AND to top it off, our presenters and responders were quite outstanding on the topic of preaching. But the praying of the Psalter together in community stood out to me for the inexpressible comfort that it brought. No trimming in praying the Psalter. We prayed or sang the appointed psalms for morning and evening for each day, together with the appointed readings. Truly a foretaste of heaven.

07 October 2008

An Interesting

piece by my brother-in-law, Doug Dillon. Enjoy - but with the disclaimer that I understand NOTHING of these matters. I do trust Doug, however, as one who has studied them long and hard.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

No one should preach against those traditions having to do with adiaphora that were established for the sake of order. Rather, we should endorse them so that the laity are not frightened away from such ceremonies and traditions and start despising the exercise of piety in general. - Urbanus Rhegius, Confessor at Smalcald, Preaching the Reformation

Patristic Quote of the Day

He is the mute lamb,
he is the slain lamb,
he is born of Mary, the fair ewe,
he is taken from the flock
and delivered over to immolation
and slain in the evening
and buried in the night;
who was broken on the wood,
was not corrupted in the earth,
he rose from the dead,
and raised man from the depths of the tomb.
- St. Melito of Sardis, Easter Homily

06 October 2008

Interesting Post

by David Schütz on the Bishop of Rome's citing Blessed Martin Luther favorably in one of his catechesis on St. Paul. David, I agree that the Blessed Exchange (though Luther inherited rather than formulated it - see the wonderful epistle to Diognetus) could be a most fruitful point of discussion between our jurisdictions.

Neglected Rubric Once Again

At the installation yesterday, several folks asked: why green? Why not red? Dixie also asked in the comments under the previous post. I figured it was worth putting at the top of the blog.

Lutheran Service Book Agenda, on page 174, notes under The Rite in Detail, #4:

"When the propers for ordinations and installations are used, the color is red. When the propers of the Sunday or festival are used, the color is that of the day or season."

Hence, when we celebrated Vespers of Pentecost 21 yesterday, and used the propers for that celebration, we also used the color for that celebration.

One might also note that long-standing practice notwithstanding, there is simply NO provision for laying on of hands at an installation; that is reserved for ordination. I refuse to lay hand on the head of man being installed in office; I think it sends a confused message.

05 October 2008

Homily for Vespers of Pentecost 21 - with the Installation of Pastor Todd Wilken

Picture is of the 17 pastors who gathered to place Pr. Wilken into office at Trinity Lutheran Church in Millstadt, Illinois.

[Isaiah 5:1-7 / Philippians 3:4-14 / Matthew 21:33-46]

"This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance." Jesus foretells his own death in these words.

The tenants wanted the vineyard, but not a relationship with the Owner, who sought only the fruits of the vineyard and was happy to have them live there on his land and enjoy its goodness and thank him by the portion they rendered him. They did not want any reminder that it wasn't all theirs. And so all those who came to their lives reminding them that their lives were not their own, were unwelcome and silenced.

The final reminder that their lives were not their own was a Son. Unlike all the others sent to them, this one was the very child of the Owner. But his fate is the same as the others. Tossed out of the vineyard, killed, because he reminded them by his very person that their lives were not their own.

By doing so they thought they made their lives their own. "We will get his inheritance." In God's irony, their words were true.

For it was by the killing of the Son that an inheritance was obtained for them - and for all - that was greater than anything they could have dreamed as they desperately clung to their little patch of life. The death of the Son was the gift of life from God. Isaiah pointed the way.

The First Reading spoke of the protection of the vineyard being removed. This foretells more than Israel's destruction. It foreshadowed the protection of the Father's hand being removed from the Son. As the vineyard was made a waste and overgrown with briers and thorns, so the Son was made a waste, counted as human garbage, and crowned with thorns. As the vineyard was bereft of rain, left thirsty and dry, so the Son hanging on the cross cried out "I thirst." As God looked to his vineyard for justice and saw bloodshed, so in the Son he looked at bloodshed and saw justice. As God looked to his vineyard for righteousness, but heard a cry; so he heard the cry of the Son "It is finished!" and behold a righteousness that will stand firm for all people and for all time.

The death that the Son dies is not any other death than ours. The death of the heir is offered us as our very death to the old way of living that says: "It's my life; I can do with it what I want." The death of the Son is offered us as our way out of that dead-end road.

Even more, His death opens up the way for mere tenants to become sons themselves, heirs not of a piece of real-estate, but of the Father's love, beloved children who are given the gift of eternal life. Bringing us into the love and communion of the Triune God: this is what the death of the Son accomplishes and offers and bestows.

So for any to welcome that gift of Jesus' death means death to the lie that our lives are our own. It means owning up to the fact that we too are implicated in His death. It means facing squarely the reality that His death is exactly what we deserve for our own attempts to call the shots and be in control. His death given to us as ours is the gift of Baptism calling us to die in ourselves to every last impulse to treat our lives as our own. His death given us as ours in Baptism frees us to be heirs of the Father with Him. He died to make us joint-heirs, his brothers and sisters, children with him of one heavenly Father.

Any who refuse such a gift - that is, any who would rather be renegade tenants in a vineyard where they live for a short time the illusion that they are in control, having driven away or killed every reminder that this is all a lie - are those who in the end receive the horrifying judgment: "He will put those wretches to a miserable end."

Jesus is a stone of stumbling. His presence in our lives either crushes to the death the old lie about our lives as our own so that we die with Him and then are into new life where we live as beloved children and heirs, or we have to throw Jesus and His Word out to silence their reminders of the deepest truth about ourselves, a truth that we do not want to know.

When Paul said that he counted everything else but Jesus as rubbish, he was stating a very profound truth: to have Jesus but nothing else that we dare to call our own before God is to have everything; to have everything that we call our own but not Jesus is to have nothing at all.

Rather than cling to the remains of a ruined vineyard, Jesus is given us in His death and resurrection that clinging to Him and to Him alone we may stand before the Father with Him as children and heirs - not by our doing, but by His gift. His death our life. His life our salvation.

And today He gives you another gift: a new pastor – an associate to your beloved Pr. Kumm. This gift God gives solely for the purpose that His Gospel might continue to sound among you. He’s here to remind you that the vineyard isn’t yours, but the Lord’s – that your lives belong to the Crucified and Risen one. He’s here to remind you that having everything without having Jesus is only to have so much rubbish. Here’s put here to serve up to you the life that is in Christ – to keep you as a parish and individual members of it Christ centered and cross focused as he never tires of saying. So enough of him, and back to what he’s here for.

As often as the Feast is spread here at this altar, the gift of Christ's body and blood - that which was once tossed out by humanity as worthless rubbish - is offered you by the living Savior as the only real life in the whole world. By this body and blood your God gives you an inheritance far greater than any earthly vineyard, than any earthly thing! Here he offers and seals to you the gift of Life itself. For this is the blood that the Father saw spilled, and beheld justice! Here the cry that God looked for and beheld, righteousness! Here you are made the heirs of eternal life. Here you taste the unspeakable goodness of your God. Amen.

Bekah Ready for Homecoming

...this is her (and our!) last homecoming for Metro East Lutheran High School.

04 October 2008

Higher Things

THIS is going to be a lot of fun! SOLA: Christ, Scripture, Faith, Grace. And working with Pr. Keseman (multi time winner of Weedon's All Time Favorite People Award) is just the icing on the cake - er, I mean, the cheese on the lo-carb cracker!

Invitatory - Trinity 20-24

L: Glorious is God with His angels and saints.

C: O come, let us worship Him!


Lead by Principal Paul Miller (Unity Lutheran School - far left, top photo), a group of bikers toured six Lutheran Churches in northern Madison County today. They stopped at St. Paul's about 11:30. Pictured here is the whole group, and also President Herbert Mueller (of the Southern Illinois District - second photo) who joined the bikers on their trek - performing his episcopal visitations in a most old fashioned way!

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

So then the beloved Lord Christ is both the Shepherd and the Pasture. He feeds us and gives us to drink of His body and blood; He nourishes and cares for us like a shepherd feeds and cares for his flock. -- Johann Gerhard, *Postilla I* 375

Patristic Quote of the Day

For whereas the eyes are often deceived, not in the things unseen only (for of those they do not so much as take cognizance), but even in those which men think they actually see, distance and atmosphere, and absence of mind, and anger, and care, and ten thousand other things impeding their accuracy; the reasoning power of the soul on the other hand, if it receive the light of the divine Scriptures, will prove a more accurate, an unerring standard of realities. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 4

Four Dozen

Yup, it's the four dozen day for me. Or at least it will be at about 10 this morning. I sure don't remember getting that old - well, but memory has never been my strong suit (unless it is memory of text). So many blessings to thank the Blessed Trinity for throughout those years - above all for divine forgiving grace. The older I am, the more profoundly true ring the words of the Catechism: "All this He does only out of fatherly divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true."

03 October 2008

Busy but Fun Day

After breakfast and Matins, Cindi and I headed to the Y and did our workouts. Then off to lunch at Applebees and a bit of grocery and other shopping. Once home we set to work: I made french bread for dinner tonight (for our guests - not for us!); Cindi made 12 bars of soap (lavender); we made together a loaf of our lo-carb cinnamon bread (to DIE for!); I cut up the spaghetti squash and we began nuking it. Dave, Jo, and Sandy joined us for dinner tonight (regular spaghetti plus the spaghetti squash, salad, french bread, grapes, with pumpkin cheesecake for dessert), then some Liverpool, and a fire in the outdoor fire place. Sad to think Sandy's heading back to Maryland, but we're glad she was able to be here this week - she was a HUGE help to Jo and Dave in the move.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

What is daily renewal? It is the continuation of the work of grace that the Holy Ghost began in our soul by justification through faith. It is the hearty diligence that the believing Christian exercises daily in putting off, more and more, the old man, always striving to avoid error and suppressing sin in himself. It is the earnest daily effort to put on the new man, growing in doctrine and spiritual wisdom, so the Christian becomes conformed more and more to the image of Jesus Christ in thoughts, words, and deeds. In this daily renewal of the Christian he must constantly war against his weakness and the great corruption in himself in order that they do not rule him. - C. F. W. Walther, *God Grant It!* p. 797

Patristic Quote of the Day

For we ought not as soon as we retire from the Communion, to plunge into business unsuited to the Communion, but as soon as ever we get home, to take our Bible into our hands, and call our wife and children to join us in putting together what we have heard, and then, not before, engage in the business of life. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 1

02 October 2008

Why is it

that that shade of blue of an October sky fills the heart with joy?

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

For because of sin our nature was separated and alienated from the Deity, which is the fountain of life, so that the divine majesty, if He had acted without mediator between Himself and our human nature, could have fallen upon us like a consuming fire on a pile of straw. Therefore the Son of God assumed our nature, without sin, and first so sanctified it in His person that He made it not only alive, but life-giving. Then, through this nature by which He is our brother and of the same substance with us, He brought us into the most intimate union with Himself, so that we are brought back into union with God the Father, the fountain of life. The connecting link of our union with God is Christ, with us as a man through the blessed mystery, and as God He is united with God the Father by nature. - Martin Chemnitz, *The Lord's Supper* p. 127

Patristic Quote of the Day

For to confess one's own sins, this is to give thanks with confession unto God: a kind of thing which implies one to be guilty of numberless offenses, yet not to have the due penalty exacted. This man most of all is the giver of thanks. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew 1

Surprise Visit

What a blessing to have Pr. Gleason join us for Eucharist, Bible Study, and Compline last night - and then come back to the parsonage for a visit! It made my day. And I had to laugh when I asked him if he minded dogs and he said that it was good to meet Lucy in person. I forget that folks track such matters on the blog! Lucy was very happy to sniff a new person and enjoyed his visit as much as we did.

01 October 2008

The Goal

Fabulously Fit by Fifty! Isn't that deliciously alliterative? Cindi and I started this challenge at the start of September. By the time we turn 50 (I've got six months more than she does - I married an older woman), we'll be in better shape than we've been in our lives to this point - God willing. HE holds the ultimate cards, of course. But assuming nothing catastrophic between now and then, we're committed to the weekly exercise routine (thanks, Pr. Hall - it's been a HUGE blessing). Boy, did I ever need it. Working out stress rather than holding in stress. Great stuff.

And I've decided to venture a tad on my Adkins and experiment with eating an apple each day. So far, no adverse weight gains, and I'm really enjoying the fresh fruit.

So far, the three times a week routine involves 45 minutes cardio and then working one major muscle group on each of the three days - except the mean lady at the Y made me do abs each of the three times. If you'd ever seen how butchered up my stomach is, you'll realize that abs are totally laughable. "Frankenbelly" my nephew calls the scar! So I'm quite skeptical about spending so much effort on that, but she insisted, so I'm doing it anyway.

Here's my challenge to you, dear readers: KEEP ON MY CASE! I give you permission to write me and nag at any time to see if I'm still doing it. If I miss - which I have no intention of doing - I'll post a public confession of my remissness right here on ye olde blog.

Any other 48 year olds out there want to join in? Come on! We can DO this, God willing. And, besides, it really is kind of fun.


Well, let's just say NOT batting 100! I forgot to put dinner in the crockpot (yes, there was a note and a crockpot sitting on the counter and I totally missed both - even though Cindi had reminded me the night before). I arrive at the Y a few minutes behind where I wanted to be, only to find out that I hadn't packed a shirt. GRR! I was not about to exercise in my clerical!!! Fortunately the Y sold T-shirts, so I am 7 dollars poorer and the proud owner of a shirt boasting Y Basketball (you have to know me - this is hysterically funny). This delay put me late for our pericopal study that I was leading today. But then things calmed down. Sort of. After lunch, I headed to St. Louis to visit Alfred - only he was receiving dialysis, so after hunting up the dialysis lab we had a short visit and prayer together. Then back to the car - praying all the while that I hadn't got a ticket (I didn't have change). No ticket. Yeah! By the time I get home it's 2:30 and I'm thinking that Joanie will already have run the bulletin - but I had forgotten something for the Messenger so she and Shirley are sitting there visiting and waiting for the dingy pastor to finally check in. GRRR! I'm almost afraid to find out what will happen at the Divine Service, the Bible Study, and Compline.

Yesterday was one of those days...

...when at the end I looked back and was amazed at how much actually happened:

Matins and reading of BOC...breakfast with Cindi and Bekah...taught two units of OT Catechesis in the school (the end of the flood and the way God puts signs on His promises)...trained some new acolytes...took the sacrament to Elva...lunched with Cindi...sacrament to Ruth, visit with Delmar, visit with Al...interviewed on Issues about St. Jerome...dinner...Vespers...wrote study on Wisdom 4 for Wed evening Bible Class...wrote and ran off Pericopal study for Trinity 21 for pastors study group (still can't figure out how to make the machine staple in the right spot!!!)...grabbed a glass of my fine boxed Chardonnay (last week I discovered not all boxed Chardonnays are created equal - give me please Franzia and not Rossi!) and went downstairs to catch the evening news before heading to bed (why did I bother with the news???).

Glory to You, O Lord, for the little joys of life, and for the big joy of sharing Your divine promises with Your people and those You bring our way!

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Behold Christ, thy Saviour; in the agony of His awful passion He lays His own will on the altar as a most pleasing sacrifice unto God; and so do thou offer up thine own will unto God, and thou shalt indeed accomplish that which Christ requires of thee as a disciple, the denial of thine own self. -- Johann Gerhard, *Sacred Meditations* XXXI

Patristic Quote of the Day

Grant us hearts filled with love and the spirit of patience in sufferings. - St. Ephraim the Syrian, *A Spiritual Psalter* #97