30 November 2009

St. Andrew's Day

Full day and full of joy: Matins; taught two units of Lutheran Catechesis in the school; daycare/preschool chapel; wonderful gift in the mail from Bob (thanks again!); communion to Ramona and a bonus visit with Janice (don't let her feed the cows again, Melvin; that will learn ya!); new recipe for lunch with Cindi; workout; hospital visit to Florene (doing MUCH better, thanks be to God!); Vespers and Divine Service for St. Andrew's Day; quiet evening at home (Cindi at Collinsville Chorale; Bekah working; David in the "cave.")

Some Musical Moments at St. Paul's

The quartet sings Paul Manz' "E'en So, Lord Jesus" the Last Sunday of the Church Year:

Carlo plays us some Johann Walther for the prelude on the Last Sunday of the Church Year - and now you know why folks are saying they have to get to Church early to hear the prelude...:

The GREATEST Work Out Music

has got to be Bach's Christmas Oratorio. Talk about music that gets the blood pumping! "Jauchzet, frohlocket, auf, preiset die Tage!" but the most joyous of all to me is the duet on "Herr, dein Mitleid, dein Erbarmen" - you bet it comforts and sets us free!!! Just listening I thought: this is what JOY sounds like, heavenly joy.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Church then follows Jesus in singing its songs and in performing its praises. It does not, however, sing its own song; it sings the song that it receives from Him. -- John Kleinig, *What's the Use of Praising God?* pp. 12, 13

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Thou dost not seek Him, He seeks thee; thou dost not find Him, He finds thee; thy faith comes of Him, not of thyself. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Sermon for Advent I, 1522 (Day by Day, p. 3)

Patristic Quote of the Day

As to the tears He shed for Lazarus, they remove all suspicion that He was merely an appearance, since tears can flow only from a body that is real. On the other hand, when He said: 'Lazarus come forth,' and one who was already corrupting emerged alive from ths opening grave, He gave a clear indication of divinity. - Niceta of Remesiana, Instruction on the Faith

29 November 2009

Reminder: St. Andrew's Day

Tomorrow, St. Paul's will celebrate Vespers at 5:45 p.m. and Divine Service at 6:15 p.m., commemorating St. Andrew the Apostle. The Sunday nearest St. Andrew's day is always the first Sunday in Advent. Join us if you can!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

He [our Lord Jesus Christ] transposes our song of rejection and loss into His divine idiom, even as He also transposes His divine song of grace and acceptance into our human idiom. They do not, however, remain two separate songs that clash with each other. In Jesus they cohere; they combine to form a single song which speaks of a common experience of abandonment and acceptance, of suffering and celebration, of death and resurrection. The dissonances of earthly life have, as it were, been incorporated and resolved in His act of praise. -- John Kleinig, *What's the Use of Praising God?* p. 12

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

His wretchedness and poverty are manifest, for He comes riding on an ass like a beggar having neither saddle nor spurs. But that He will take from us sin, strangle death, endow us with eternal holiness, eternal bliss, and eternal life, this cannot be seen. Wherefore thou must hear and believe. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Sermon for Advent I, 1533 (Day by Day, p. 1)

Patristic Quote of the Day

The fact is that men who look for lofty wisdom are often puzzled by the simplest problems. They forget what the Apostle said, 'Be not highminded, but fear.' Seeking what is unlawful, they lose what is lawful. They pretend to weigh and grasp the very Author and Maker of heaven and earth. Yet, they are unable to perceive and grasp what God has made even with their senses. In the presence of the magnitude and multitude of God's works, their single and simple duty should be to adore. -- Niceta of Remesiana, Instruction in the Faith

The Music of Advent

rocks. 'nuff said.

28 November 2009

Treasury Users

Tonight at sunset, Advent begins. The invitatory, antiphons and responsory for Advent are mostly found on page O-62 in the center of the book. Mostly, because when the time comes for the Great O Antiphons, they are printed with the daily propers.

Behold, the Lord comes to save us.
O come, let us worship Him!

Behold, the Lord shall come and all His saints with Him;
And in that day the light shall be great. Alleluia!

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch.
This is the name by which He will be called: the Lord Is Our Righteousness.

In His days Judah will be saved and Israel will dwell securely.
This is the name by which He will be called: the Lord Is Our Righteousness.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
This is the name by which He will be called: the Lord Is Our Righteousness.

God Was There Upon His Throne

Savior of the nations, come,
Virgin's Son make here Your home!
Marvel now, O heav'n and earth
That the Lord chose such a birth.

Not by human flesh and blood,
By the Spirit of our God
Was the Word of God made flesh -
Woman's offspring, pure and fresh.

Here a maid was found with child,
Yet remained a virgin mild.
In her womb this truth was shown:
God was there upon His throne.

Then stepped forth the Lord of all
From His pure and kingly hall;
God of God, yet fully man,
His heroic course began.

God the Father was His Source,
Back to God He ran His course,
Into hell His road went down,
Back then to His throne and crown.

For You are the Father's Son
Who in flesh the vict'ry won.
By Your mighty pow'r make whole
All our ills of flesh and soul.

From the manger newborn light
Shines in glory through the night.
Darkness there no more resides;
In this light faith now abides.

Glory to the Father sing,
Glory to the Son, our King,
Glory to the Spirit be
Now and through eternity.
LSB 332 - St. Ambrose of Milan, Blessed Martin Luther

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

He [our Lord Jesus Christ] became our brother, so that He could sing the praises of God to us here on earth and include us in that song of praise. We may therefore join with Him in His song. He is our true praise leader. -- John Kleinig, *What's the Use of Praising God?" p. 11

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

O my Savior, You came into the world to save sinners; receive me and enter my heart. You have long ago, even before I was born, chosen my soul for Your dwelling. You prepared it for this purpose in Holy Baptism, when I was washed with Your precious blood and purified from all pollutions of the flesh. But I have departed from You, I have again defiled my soul with many grievous sins. By my ungodly conduct I have often broken my baptismal covenant. I now return to You. I open the door of my heart again to You. I long for You with great earnestness. As the deer pants for the streams of water, so my soul longs and pants for You, my God and Savior. May it please you to come and enter my heart. I vow eternal faithfulness to You. Unite Yourself with me, that nothing may separate us. Let Your Spirit from now on be joined to my spirit, and lead me always in a straight path, that I may always follow You, cling to You, and through You obtain eternal salvation. -- Starck's Prayer Book, Advent Prayer (pp. 48,49)

Patristic Quote of the Day

In your hour of death, brother, should you lose hope of obtaining a just reward in heavenly glory, be bold in faith to remember that He is the door, and through Him, once you are raised from the dead, you will enter the mysteries of heaven, join the company of angels, and hear the longed-for words: 'Well done, good and faithful servant; because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many; enter the joy of thy master, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.' - Niceta of Remesiana, Names and Titles of Our Savior

Advent I Homily (2009)

[Jeremiah 23:5-8 / Romans 13:11-14 / Matthew 21:1-9]

Palm Sunday at the start of Advent? It never fails to strike as strange those who forget that it is Advent we are beginning today, not Christmas. The world sees no need for Advent - for repentance and preparation - also the world that lives inside of our hearts. It wants to plunge full blast into the joy of the angels and the shepherds and the wise men, not to mention Frosty, Santa and Little Suzy Snowflake.

But the Church in her wisdom puts on the brakes and says, “Not so fast.” If the joy of Christmas is going to be all that God intends it to be for His people - a joy vast, deep, divine - it must be received in hearts that are stilled and quiet, in hearts that are sorry for sin and long to be freed from it. In hearts that understand our Lord’s three-fold coming and pray with longing “Come, Lord Jesus!” Only such hearts are able to receive the fullness of the joy that lies in the Christmas Feast - a joy far brighter than tinsel and infinitely more satisfying than an endless round of parties and gluttony and drunkenness - looking for life in all the wrong places.

So on to Jerusalem! On to the One who rides in on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. See with your eyes. But believe with your ears. That is the key. What you see will offend you. What you hear will astonish and delight you.

Jesus comes riding into town. He comes as the King foretold by the prophet. But such a King! Where is his army, his royal troops? They are unseen! Where is His Kingdom? It is unseen! Where is His pomp, His splendor, His glory? All unseen! What meets the eye is the rag-tag prophet from Nazareth, so poor that He has to ride on a borrowed burro, and hailed only by the rowdy crowd of pilgrims making their way into the City for the Feast. The great, the high, the noble - they look down their noses in disdain. They order Jesus to silence His rabble. And what is this King riding to? His coronation, His enthronement? No and yes. No, because He is heading for His death. The ignoble criminal’s death - being nailed to a cross. Yes, because the cross is His throne, from which He reigns and rules as King of all. But this cannot be seen. This can only be believed. And so on to the all important words of the prophet:

“Behold your King!” Behold means close your eyes and open your ears. The words will belie the sight, but the words will be true, no matter what the eyes see. Behold! That is, see with the vision of faith. Faith which is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. And what are we to behold? The King? No. Your King.

He rides on a beast of burden. That was not by accident. No steed of war. A plodding, faithful donkey to show you that He comes to bear your burdens. He comes to shoulder your sorrows. What is too heavy for you, what crushes the life and joy out of you, this King lifts off you. He bears your burdens Himself. Makes your sorrows His - all of them. Makes your sin His - all of it, upon His cross. Makes your hell His - that horrid loneliness He suffered in your place, crying out for you “Eli, eli, lama sabanchthani.”. Makes your death His - and dies it to destroy it. Thus the greatest Burden Bearer of them all is carried by the beast of burden to His appointment with death and destruction. He bears all that is yours in order to give you all that is His! His life, risen from the dead. YOURS. His pardon, secured by His risen flesh. YOURS. His Kingdom, His Father’s house, His feast that never ends. YOURS. Behold, that is the sort of King you have!

Your King brought you this in your Baptism. Made you there His own. Poured over your life His promises, His blessings. Your King brings you still these gifts in His words, to renew your mind and fill you with His Spirit. And, yes, in the Sacrament of the Altar, your King still comes. Comes riding into town - into your life, into your mouth - this time not on a donkey but hidden beneath the bread that is His true Body and the wine that is His true Blood. He comes to you still. Your King. And so you greet Him still in the old way. “Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” As that day in Jerusalem, so here today, same King, same song, same gifts, same salvation.

Don’t you be saying in your heart: “Oh, that’s just a bunch of religious mumbo-jumbo.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The King really does come to you, gift bearing!. Many in Jerusalem didn’t have the eyes to see it because they wouldn’t listen to what the Word of God announced about Him. Even though He didn’t look like much of King, God’s Word said and so He was. Today, many is the person who sits in the pew and listens to the sermon with mild interest and curiosity, wondering if the pastor is going to amuse them today. Many is the person who approaches the Table of Christ because its the done thing, you know, not too often and not too seldom. A little bit of food and maybe a nice prayer to Jesus and that’s all it seems to be. But how deadly wrong. The sermon is not to entertain and amuse you but to bring the King to you. The Burden-bearing, Gift-giving King who comes in His Word as it is spoken. Not pastor’s thoughts for the week, but Jesus’ pardon and peace, forgiveness and unending life. Likewise in the Word as it is read and prayed. Likewise in the Supper. The Eucharist is not celebrated to satisfy your religious sensibilities - but to bring the King to you, in His true body and blood, with all His gifts of forgiveness and life, entering you, filling you with His presence, His peace and His joy.

So don’t judge what happens in this room by what you see with your eyes. Go by what the Word says. And lo, it will be for you the Royal Banqueting Hall. Your inner eyes will be opened and your heart, and you will see that Your King comes to you today.

When you have welcomed Him, and known Him to be the kind of King that Zechariah and the Evangelist describe, then you are on your way toward appreciating what Christmas joy is all about. When you long for Him to enter your heart and make it new, to fill your life with His endless life, when you hunger and thirst for His presence, and ache for Him to set you free you everything that leads away from Him, from all the sadness of sin, then Advent has begun to do its job and the Lord is answering your prayer to rescue you from the threatening perils of your sins and save you by His mighty deliverance, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit be all glory now and ever and unto the ages of ages! Amen.

27 November 2009

Love Caused

Love caused Your incarnation;
Love brought You down to me.
Your thirst for my salvation
Procured my liberty.
Oh, love beyond all telling
That led You to embrace
In love, all love excelling,
Our lost and fallen race.
--LSB 334:4

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The praises of the church then are full of wonder and amazement at the great mystery of the incarnation, by which the whole fullness of the deity dwells bodily in Jesus, so that we human can come to fullness of life in and through Him. -- John Kleinig, *What's the Use of Praising God?" p. 10

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

He distributes a true, perfect righteousness to the subjects of His kingdom, He has given His life as a sacrifice, taken our sins upon Himself, so that by His confession He might make us righteous, Is. 53:11. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Homily for Advent I

Patristic Quote of the Day

His [name] is called Justice, because through faith in His name sinners are made just; and Redemption, because He paid the price in His blood to buy us back, we who had been so long lost. - Niceta of Remesiana, The Names and Titles of Our Savior

Advent Poem

Advent / the season

purple bleeding into blue
Harvey S. Mozolak

little Lent
out of season Passion
the wood slats will have to be closer
to hold him from falling
from the wood
straw will do for thorns
nails rough Joseph hands
for now
a kneeling Mary
yet without another son
the tears the same
the spear already cast

25 November 2009

Thanksgiving Day Homily 2009

[Deuteronomy 8:1-10 / 1 Timothy 2:1-4 / Luke 17:11-19]

“The Church lives in thanksgiving” wrote Alexander Schmemann. “It is the air she breathes.” Which is to say the Church lives from the abundance of the gifts. God’s gifts, showering down around her, without ceasing. Unlike the world that is blind to the gifts, the Church sees them, celebrates them, joys in them. Such a God we have! Giving to stagger the imagination. And so the perpetual thanksgiving which is merely the confession of perpetual divine giving.

Moses leads the way in today’s first reading with the reminder to the Israelites of God’s provision for their journey. The Lord always leads His people from here to there. But along the way, He takes thought of how to train them that their life isn’t kept up by bread alone, by the earthly goodies He delights to give them; that they live instead from every Word that He speaks to them. His Word, after all, is the cause of all the goodies of the creation they delight in. And He has commanded the creation to provide sustenance for this earthly journey - and even when things got a bit more settled for the Israelites, as they are for us, a good land: brooks, fountains, valleys, wheat and barley, and other crops. A land where you can eat without scarcity, don’t forget - he warns - that you’re still a people on pilgrimage - this isn’t home - and remember to bless the Lord for the good land He has given you as you journey on with Him. So with them, and so with us.

And with Luther the reminder that the good gift of daily bread is so much more than the loaf. It’s all that goes into the loaf - the good weather, the government, family and friends, health, and on and on. All gifts. All showered down from the Lord. And the Church seeing such gifts raises to God her thanks - not one day a year, but continually “at all times and in all places.”

St. Paul swings in with the second reading reminding us to give thanks above all for this - that the good God we serve is our Savior, He wants everyone to be saved and everyone to come to the knowledge of the truth. What truth is that? The truth of the gifts confessed in the second article of the Creed. The truth about the greatest of all gifts: the eternal Son into our flesh as shall soon celebrate during Advent and Christmas: “To you is born this day a Savior, Christ the Lord. TO YOU.” The truth about the Son who shouldered our sin to Calvary’s tree, wiping it out with His own blood as we shall celebrate at Lent: “He made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” The truth about the Son ripping a hole right through death and transforming it forever into a peaceful sleep with a joyous and certain wakening as we celebrate at Easter: “Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” Gifts all - and He wants them for all. How can we ever thank Him enough? We get included in all that.

But the third reading - the forgetful lepers - challenges us with how easy it is to fall into the ways of unbelief. That is to measure the gifts and to say to God: “Fill it up right to that line. Yes, very good. That’s enough. That will do. Don’t need any more, thank you very much.” So the nine went off with the little healing, no doubt quite grateful to the end of their days to the Rabbi who had miraculously healed them. But the Rabbi stood there asking: “Where are the nine?” He had more gifts to give! But no one came back for the rest, to give glory to God except the foreigner. The foreigner, the Samaritan, he comes back for the more and gets it: “Your faith has saved you.” The Lord always has more. That’s His way. He has more for you than you can ever imagine. Gifts abounding. So never walk away from Him and say: “I’ve had enough.” I was baptized, what do I need the Word for? I’ve received Communion, why do I need absolution? I’ve been to Church this week. Why do I need to read my Bible at home? Oh, we’re guilty of telling way too often: “That’s enough.” Unbelief!

The way of faith, instead, is ever return, glorifying Him for what He has given, and you will find that He always has even more to give, and that leads to more thanksgiving from you. He wants it to be an endless cycle and the very joy of your life. He wants finally to give you nothing less than Himself, and He is, as Dr. Luther put it so unforgettably, an “eternal fountain that gushes forth abundantly nothing but what is good.” And so you gush forth constant thanksgiving for all the gifts of your Lord to you.

Today as you gather around the table, some of His gifts before, others of His gifts around you, the greatest of His gifts within you - lift your voice and glorify the God who gives - freely and without measure - and you will know the joy of the Church’s very life. She lives in thanksgiving. It is the air she breathes. “We praise You and acknowledge You, O God, to be the Lord.” Amen.

The Feast

Tomorrow we'll be serving:


Baby Bella Mushrooms - stuffed (sausage, bacon, cheddar, burgundy wine, stems, garlic - all blended together - and topped with parmesan and agiago)
Cheese ball, Brie, and Other Cheeses
Almond Crackers, Regular Crackers
Summer Sausage

Main Meal:

Brined Turkey, Quick Roasted
Gravy (but no dressing this time round)
Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Cauliflower
Light Rolls (for Lauren and Dean and whoever else)
Mock Cornbread (for Cindi and me)
Popovers (for Bekah and David and whoever else)
Sweet Potato Casserole
Five Onion Graten
Cranberry Sauce

Pecan Pie
Dutch Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Low-carb Pumpkin Pie in Almond Crust
Cherry Pie
Truffles (Darlene, you naughty soul! We adore them)
Marzipan (some of those dipped in chocolate too...)

And last, but not least, we'll be serving a WIN at Liverpool to ME. At least, we had BETTER be.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The theophany of God in His human body creates a new choir, in which people combine with the angels in the performance of doxology. -- John Kleinig, *What's the Use of Praising God?" p. 9

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Word of God sanctifies everything, inasmuch as it is holy, yes, holiness, truth, and wisdom itself. And the life that is governed by the Word is the true, righteous, wise, and eternal life. But if it lacks the Word, it also lacks truth, light, and wisdom before God, and all its doings are works of darkness. -- Luther on Genesis 26

Patristic Quote of the Day

What does it mean to fall off from God, except to depart from Him? Moreover, if a man is separated from God, he is necessarily united to the Devil. -- St. Caesarius of Arles, Homily 79

24 November 2009

Homiletical Study for Populus Zion (Advent II)

Oremus. Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds; through the same, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

COW Intro:
The Lord Comes on the Last Day
[Malachi 4:1–6 + Romans 15:4–13 + Luke 21:25–36]

The day on which our Lord returns will be a “great and awesome day” (Mal. 4:5). For He will come in a cloud with great power and glory. To the wicked and the proud, it will be a Day of judgment that will “set them ablaze” (Mal. 4:1). The signs preceding this Day will bring them fear and fainting. But to those who believe, who fear the name of the Lord, this Day is one to look forward to and rejoice in: “. . . straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). Christ our Redeemer is coming; the Sun of Righteousness will bring healing in His wings. Let us, then, give attention to the words of the Lord, which do not pass away. Let us “through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures” (Rom. 15:4) be strengthened in our hope by the Holy Spirit and watch diligently for Jesus’ coming. Then, by God’s grace, we shall escape all these things that will come to pass and stand before the Son of Man.

Liturgical Notes

As we noted that “Wake, Awake” captured the liturgical tone for the Last Sunday of the Church Year, so Wesley’s incomparable “Lo, He Comes” does the same for this Sunday. The antiphon to the Introit captures the joy of the day: Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your salvation comes.” What the Church eagerly waits for in the Parousia is not “doomsday” but “the regeneration” – the rebirth of creation. When “the Lord causes His majestic voice to be heard” then His people will have “gladness of heart.” Everywhere the joy of the early Church’s “maranatha!” rings through in this day’s celebration.


Malachi 4:1-6

Not to be missed: the Day that is coming, the Sun that will be a burning oven and set ablaze the wicked, is the very same that brings healing light to “those who fear” the Lord’s name. Not two different events; the same event. The Advent of a Light so intense and bright, so powerful and strong. It is death to those who despise the Lord and His ways; it is healing to those who long to be freed from sin. The advent of this light to them is like springtime for pent-up calves – kicking up their heels in delight at life as they are let out. Beneath their feet, the ashes, the remnant of the wicked. How to be among those who are ready, so that that day is joy and release and not terror and destruction? “Remember the law of my servant Moses.” That will keep you in saving humility. “Look for Elijah” who will turn hearts back to the Lord: in other words, heed the Baptist as he calls you to repentance and points you to the Lamb of God who takes away the world’s sin. Much joy can be had tracing down all the fire lingo: our God is a consuming fire from Deuteronomy to Hebrews. St. Paul speaks of the fire testing each man’s work. Our Lord says that everyone will be salted with fire. St. Maxmos and others have speculated that heaven and hell are the same place - the same fire lights them both – and that is God’s presence. To some it is warm, joy, delight; to others pain, misery and sorrow.

Romans 15:4-13

Our God is a God of hope. He gives a certain hope and foretaste of the future that will be in His Son’s resurrection from the dead and entrance into glory. We anticipate that glory as we with one voice extol and glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and welcome one another with the same kindness with which we have been welcomed by God. For our Lord became servant to Jew and Gentile that both might sing one song of praise together, or, as Kleinig would say, so that we can join in the heavenly choir and be part of that choir here on earth, heralding the coming age.

Gospel in Detail: Luke 21:25-36

Luke 21:25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Heavenly and cosmic events announce the end: “creation itself is torn apart.” TLSB There is world wide confusion at the events as they begin to occur. But perplexity is the prelude to the fear that shakes the world when all that seemed reliable and stable is shaken and comes crumbling down. Homiletically, you might note that long before the great signs of destruction of the whole, there are times when our personal universes crumble and we are forced to face the terror of the end. “It’s inoperable; I’m sorry” and such. “Shaken” calls forth Haggai 2:6-9 – and also rings in Hebrews 12:26-29. The removal of what is not permanent. And we do well in that context to remember also St. Paul’s works in 2 Cor. 4:18 – we look for the things that are eternal and they cannot be seen, but we know that when all that IS seen is shaken, then the eternal will appear. Meanwhile it is hidden and our secret joy.

27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

The Son of Man coming in clouds with power and much glory calls forth Daniel 7:13,14. What Daniel saw was the Ascension of that Son of Man; what here is foretold is His appearing in glory at the end of time. Cloud and glory also point to temple, to God’s presence.

Straighten up and raise your heads! Not the cowering, cringing fear of those who are in terror that everything they thought of as stable and theirs is wiped out; but the joy of people who could say with the Psalmist: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is none on earth that I desire besides You? My flesh and my heart may fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (73) Your redemption, your release, is drawing near. The final deliverance from bondage to sin and to death is at hand. Luther said that no one need fear that Day who longs to be freed from sin; only fear it, if you want to keep your sin.

Heads raised up and watching point to the words of the Creed: “and I LOOK FOR the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come.”

Luke 21:29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Luther again is joyous in the “aha” that all things falling apart in this creation signal not its death and destruction, not its cold winter, but the dawning of the unending summer of God, and so the creation’s completion, its final joy, its perfection. Our Lord’s words are designed to chase the fear away from our hearts when we see the universe (or our personal universe) crumble; there is something more certain than the universe. The words and promise of Jesus.

Verse 32 is notorious in its difficulty. Option #1: Jesus got it wrong; it didn’t happen as fast as He thought it would. Impossible for Orthodox Christians to embrace. Option #2: Jesus got it right; the cataclysmic events described all occur with His own Exodus upon the Cross and so that generation got to see the New Creation ushered in, even if not fulfilled yet. Option #3: Jesus got it right. This generation refers to the unbelievers and indicates that there will be unbelievers all the way through to the end (TLSB note Luke apparently uses the term this way 9 times). Option #4: Jesus got it right. This generation refers to the CHURCH, and so is a version of the promise of perpetuo mansura. Option #5: Jesus got it right. This generation refers to the generation at the end that begins to see the cosmic falling apart – it will be that generation on whom the end will come (hence, not a prolonged but a sudden, cataclysmic event). There may be other options; but those are the ones I’ve heard. If you add in verse 33 and the promise that Jesus’ words are what go on even when the heaven and the earth have crumbled to bits, then I think option 4 might have something to commend it.

Luke 21:34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Hearts “weighed down” is the exact opposite of “sursum corda.” The stuff that pulls the heart downward is both excess of pleasure (drunkenness) and of worry. Both focus on the visible world. In contrast the Church calls out (Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom): “Let us lay aside all earthly cares…” This before the sursum and so hearts in the heights. A heart in the height, a heart that belongs already to the citizenship of heaven, is a heart that longs and waits for the Day of the Lord’s appearing. It knows that destruction will come upon all that is visible. And so the heart does not give itself to what passes away, but to what abides eternally. So people with sursumed cordas are vigilant, staying awake, praying for the strength to escape the destruction that will come and instead to find all joy in standing before the Son of Man. The Eucharist already gives it to us in anticipation and hidden, but then the Eucharist will be visible – everything that is now hidden will be visible and all that is now visible will be wiped out.

Fear or joy? Let ours be the joy – but let it be a vigilant joy that recognizes the danger always posed by hearts prone to resist sursuming and which tend by nature toward the downward (Augustine pointed out that the animals are made bent downward; we were made to look up!). The SLOG is in the gift that raises our hearts and gives us even now a participation and anticipation of how it will be in the End. Stir up our hearts, O Lord!

Thursday Morning

at St. Paul's will bring a joyful Matins sung at 9 a.m. Folks we don't normally get to see will be home with their families, the table of food for the hungry will pile high in front of the church, the songs of thanksgiving will be belted out louder than seems possible, the Bells of St. Paul will play, the Adult Choir will sing, and then after hearing the Word and praising the Giver of All Good Gifts with a mighty Te Deum Laudamus, we'll all head home to celebrate with family and friends the joy of the day. Yes, I dearly love a Thanksgiving morning at St. Paul's. "O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms!"

A Tale of Two Communion Visits

After I commune my shutins, I usually comment that it is a joy to be able to bring the Sacrament to them. Yesterday, after I said this, Ruth took my breath away when she looked right at me and said: "Yes, it is the only thing worth living for." Living in a wheel chair, in a nursing home, lonely much of the time, she craves the forgiveness and eternal life which her Savior gives her; the union with Christ which is the gift of the Supper. The only thing worth living for indeed: to become one with Christ!

Today, as I was setting up communion for Elva, I overhear her daughter tell her that I've arrived to give her communion. She replied immediately: "But I'm not worthy." This oldest member of our parish, and so humble in her approach to the Eucharist! Her daughter immediately assured that none of us is worthy and that's why we need the Sacrament. She happily received it and thanked me for bringing it to her.

"Lord, may Thy body and Thy blood
Be for my soul the highest good!"

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The praise of the triune God in the church differs from acts of praise in all other religions because it is based on the incarnation of God's Son and our present union with Him. It depends on His invisible presence with us in the Lord's Supper. -- John Kleinig, *What's the Use of Praising God?* p. 7

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

You cannot make a person a true Christian by oratory, though it be ever so sublime and fervent, but only by the Word of God. The Word of God alone produces repentance, faith, and godliness and preserves men therein unto the end. -- C. F. W. Walther *Proper Distinction* p. 111

Patristic Quote of the Day

Every man, beloved brethren, feeds either Christ or the Devil at the banquet of his heart. - St. Caesarius of Arles, Homily 79

23 November 2009

Interesting Post

by David Schütz on the writing on the shroud.

Commemoration of Clement of Rome

From the Treasury and our Synod's website:

Clement (ca. A.D. 35–100) is remembered for having established the pattern of apostolic authority that governed the Christian Church during the first and second centuries. He also insisted on keeping Christ at the center of the Church's worship and outreach. In a letter to the Christians at Corinth, he emphasized the centrality of Jesus' death and resurrection: “Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ, realizing how precious it is to His Father, since it was poured out for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to the whole world” (1 Clement 6:31). Prior to suffering a martyr's death by drowning, he displayed a steadfast, Christ-like love for God's redeemed people, serving as an inspiration to future generations to continue to build the Church on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, with Christ as the one and only cornerstone.

We pray today:

Almighty God, Your servant Clement of Rome called the Church in Corinth to repentance and faith to unite them in Christian love. Grant that Your Church may be anchored in Your truth by the presence of the Holy Spirit and kept blameless in Your service until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ... (Treasury, p. 944)

My all-time favorite quote from St. Clement is this:

"Similarly we also, who by His will have been called in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, or our own wisdom or understanding or godliness, nor by such deeds as we have done in holiness of heart, but by that faith through which Almighty God has justified all men since the beginning of time. Glory be to Him, forever and ever, Amen." - (Letter to the Corinthians, par. 32) [Fitting that in the Roman Church in those days, the TEACHING of the Epistle to the Romans was still at work!]

Watching some of the press reaction...

...to Climategate reminds me rather much of the grand Oz operating his machine and shouting out: "Ignore the man behind the curtain!" Didn't work for the Great and Terrible; doubt it will work for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change either.

Other Unique features

of the 1576 Red Book:

It also is the only liturgy I am aware of that explicitly retained the vesting prayers. I've only included some of them!:

Before vesting:
Put off from me, О Lord God, the old man with his manners and deeds, and clothe me with a new man that is made according unto God in true righteousness and holiness.

As the priest washes his hands
Grant us, O Lord God, that as the uncleanness of our hands is washed away, so also our heart and mind may through Thee be cleansed from all taint, and the increase of all holy virtues may grow in us.

As the priest dons the amice.
Preserve, О Lord God, with the grace of Thy Holy Spirit mine head, my shoulders, and my breast, that I may serve Thee the God of the living, who reignest for evermore.

As the priest dons the alb.
Make me white, O Lord God, and my heart clean, that cleansed in the blood of the Lamb I may attain everlasting joy.

As the priest dons the cincture.
Gird me, O Lord God, with the girdle of purity and extinguish in my loins the moisture of all unclean desires that the virtue of continence and chastity may abide in me.

As the priest dons the stole.
Clothe me about, O Lord God, with the garment of righteousness and immortality, that I have lost through the transgression of my first parents, and cleanse my heart and mind from the taint of all sins.

As the priest dons the chasuble.
Clothe me, О Lord God, with humility, love and peace, that entirely armed with virtues, I may withstand all vices and naughtiness, and likewise all mine enemies, spiritual and bodily.

Additionally, it is the only Lutheran liturgy of I am familiar with that put an epiclesis in a most logical spot (for Lutherans!) - at the close of the general intercessions and immediately prior to the Preface (a prayer we have often borrowed and adapted to close the Prayer of the Church at St. Paul's):

О Lord God, who willest that Thy Son's holy and most worthy Supper should be unto us a pledge and assurance of Thy mercy : awaken our heart, that we who celebrate the same His Supper may have a salutary remembrance of Thy benefits, and humbly give Thee true and bounden thanks, glory, honour, and praise for evermore. Help us Thy servants and Thy people that we may herewith remember the holy, pure, stainless, and blessed offering of thy Son, which He made upon the cross for us, and worthily celebrate the mystery of the new testament and eternal covenant. Bless and sanctify with the power of Thy Holy Spirit that which is prepared and set apart for this holy use, bread and wine, that rightly used it may be unto us the body and blood of Thy Son, the food of eternal life, which we may desire and seek with greatest longing. Through the same Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who with Thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth in one Godhead from everlasting to everlasting. Amen.

Additionally, it is the only Lutheran liturgy I am familiar with that retained a form of the embolism:

...but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Deliver us O Lord from all evil, both past, present, and that which may come. Grant us gracious peace in our days, that beneath thy merciful protection and defence, we may be free from sins and safe from all affliction. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The peace of the Lord...

All around, it is a most intriguing liturgy and I quite agree with Evanson's evaluation of it: it is Lutheran at its core (though I freely admit that in ceremonies it skates as close to the edge as any Lutheran liturgy out there). The notion that it is Jesuit inspired is simply inconceivable to me; no Jesuit would approve of what this liturgy confessed regarding the Holy Eucharist.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

This [praise] is no occasional task, something we do once a week, or every now and then when we feel moved to do so. Nor is it something that we do by ourselves. Since we belong to the church, we have joined God's heavenly choir here on earth. This means that our whole life is, in some way, caught up in praising God. -- John Kleinig, *What's the Use of Praising God* p. 4

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Now we must submit to the veiling of our eyes, and we must be content to be led by faith and the Word alone. -- Blessed Martin Luther, Sermon from 1544 (Day by Day, p. 429)

Patristic Quote of the Day

What seems greater to you, the word of God or the Body of Christ? If you will give a true reply, you surely must say that the former is no less than the latter. Therefore, with as great anxiety as we show when Christ's Body is ministered to us, lest nothing fall out of our hands onto the ground, with as great anxiety we should see to it that God's word which is dispensed to us may not perish from our hearts because we are thinking or talking about something else. The person who hears the word of God with inattention is surely no less guilty than one who allows Christ's Body to fall on the ground through his own carelessness. - St. Caesarius of Arles, Homily 78

22 November 2009

Don't you really think...

...that the Pauline exemption permits a man to divorce his wife for consistently winning at Liverpool - AND being a snot about it???

Red Book's Proposed Eucharistic Prayer

This little volume (promulgated in 1576) is truly one of the undervalued gems of Lutheran liturgical theology. Sad that it met so swift a demise in Sweden. Although the Red Book retained the Swedish custom of building the consecration into the actual Preface and so followed it with the Sanctus, what is of interest to me is the prayer that was prayed following the Sanctus and leading to the Our Father. It is in every sense an evangelical reworking of the Roman canon:

[...Hosanna in the highest!]

Therefore we also remember, O Lord God, this blessed command and the same Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ's holy passion and death, His resurrection and ascension. And this Thy Son Thou hast in Thy boundless mercy sent and given unto us, that He might be an offering for our sins, and by His one offering on the cross pay the price of our redemption, fulfill Thy justice and make perfect such an offering as might serve for the welfare of all the elect unto the end of the world. The same Thy Son, the same offering, which is a pure, holy and undefiled offering, set before us for our reconciliation, our shield, defence, and covering against Thy wrath, against the terror of sins and of death, we take and receive with faith and offer before Thy glorious majesty with our humble supplications. For these Thy great benefits we give Thee fervent thanks with heart and mouth, yet not as our bounden duty is but according to our power.

And we humbly beseech Thee through the same Thy Son, whom thou in Thy divine and secret counsel hast set before us as our only mediator, that Thou wilt vouchsafe to look upon us and our prayers with mercy and pitying eye, suffer them to come to Thy heavenly altar before Thy Divine majesty and be pleasing unto Thee, that all we who are partakers at this altar of the blessed and holy food and drink, the holy bread of eternal life and the Cup of eternal salvation, which is the holy body and precious blood of Thy Son, may also be fulfilled with all heavenly benediction and grace.

We pray Thee likewise, O Lord God, that Thou wilt vouchsafe to grant us poor sinful men who trust in Thy manifold mercies, that we may be received among Thy holy Apostles, Martyrs and all Thy saints, in whose number suffer us to be, not of our merit, but of thy compassion, who forgivest our sins and failings. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

By whom Thou, O Lord, dost ever create, sanctify, quicken, bless and grant us every good thing. Through Him, with Him, and in Him be all honor, glory and praise unto Thee Almighty God and Father and to the Holy Spirit, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen.

Let us pray.
As our Lord Jesus Christ himself hath taught us, saying thus : Our Father

This is Most Certainly True

...when the Meinzen family has a Baptism to attend elsewhere, late service is half full, and some other church is packed to the gills.

21 November 2009

Some of the Goodies

you'll hear at St. Paul's during December:

Advent I Midweek
Postlude: Prelude and Fugue in g minor Johann S. Bach

December 5/6
Prelude: Où S'en Vont Ces Gais Bergers Claude Balbastre
Postlude: Prelude and Fugue in G Major Nicolaus Bruhns

Advent II Midweek

Postlude: Organ Choral on
“Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland” Johan Pachelbel

December 12/13
Prelude: Tous Les Bourgeois de Châtres Claude Balbastre
Postlude: Ceremonial March Charles Vincent

Advent III Midweek
Prelude: Organ Prelude on “Vom Himmel Hoch” Johann Pachelbel
Postlude: Organ Prelude on “Vom Himmel Hoch” Johann S. Bach

December 19/20
Prelude: Quand Jesus Naquit a Noël Claude Balbastre
Postlude: Allegro Maestoso and
Fugue in C Major (Sonata II) Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

December 24/25
Prelude: Rhapsody on French Noëls Eugene Gigout
Offertory: Wie Schön Leuchtet der Morgenstern Johann Ch. Rinck
Postlude: Grand Fantasia on “Joy to the World” Marc Cheban

[P.S. Yes, I do feel as though I've died and entered paradise....]

Welcome Yule!

Wolcum, Wolcum,
Wolcum be thou heavenè king,
Wolcume, born in one morning,
Welcome, for whom we sall sing!

Wolcum be ye, Stevene and Jon,
Wolcum, Innocentes every one,
Wolcum, Thomas marter one,
Wolcum be ye, good New Yere,
Wolcum Twelfth Day both in fere,
Wolcum seintes lefe and dere.

Candelmesse, Queene of Bliss,
Wolcum bothe to more and lesse.
Wolcum be ye that are here,
Wolcum alle and make good cheer.
Wolcum alle another yere

At St. Paul's Lutheran Church we will welcome the holy days with this schedule of celebration. Note that on the Sunday after Christmas there is only ONE Divine Service at 9:00 a.m. for St. John's Day.


Nov. 28 - Advent I - Divine Service (4 - sung) - 6 p.m.
Nov. 29 - Advent I - Divine Service (4 - sung) - 7:45, 10 a.m.

Nov. 30 - St. Andrew’s Day - Vespers - 5:45 p.m., Divine Service (1 - Spoken), 6:15 p.m.

Dec. 2 - Advent Midweek - Hymn Sing 7 p.m.; Evening Prayer 7:15 p.m.; Refreshments 8 p.m.

Dec. 5 - Advent II - Divine Service (3 - sung) - 6 p.m.
Dec. 6 - Advent II - Divine Service (3 - sung) - 7:45, 10 a.m.

Dec. 9 - Advent Midweek - Hymn Sing 7 p.m.; Evening Prayer 7:15 p.m.; Refreshments 8 p.m.

Dec. 12 - Advent III - Divine Service (3 - sung) - 6 p.m.
Dec. 13 - Advent III - Divine Service (3 - sung) - 7:45, 10 a.m.

Dec.16 - Service of Lessons and Carols 7:15 p.m. Refreshments, 8 p.m.

Dec. 19 - Advent IV - Divine Service (3 - sung) - 6 p.m.
Dec. 20 - Advent IV - Divine Service (3 - sung) - 7:45, 10 a.m.

Dec. 21 - St. Thomas’ Day - Vespers 5:45 p.m.; Divine Service (1 - spoken) 6:15 p.m.


Dec. 24 - Christmas Eve - Preservice Music 6:30 p.m.; Children’s Service 7:00 p.m.; CANDLELIGHT DIVINE SERVICE (3 - sung) 11 p.m.

Dec. 25 - THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD - Divine Service (3 - sung) 9 a.m.

Dec. 26 - St. Stephen, Martyr - Divine Service (3 - sung) 6 p.m.
Dec. 27 - St. John, Apostle and Evangelist - Divine Service (3 - sung) 9 a.m.
Dec. 28 - Holy Innocents, Martyrs - Vespers 5:45 p.m.; Divine Service (1 - spoken) 6:15 p.m.
Dec. 31 - Eve of the Name of Jesus - Divine Service (3 - sung) 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 1 - Circumcision of Our Lord - Matins 9:00 a.m.


Jan 2 - Epiphany Observed - Divine Service (3 - sung) - 6:00 p.m.
Jan 3 - Epiphany Observed - Divine Service (3 - sung) 7:45, 10 a.m. (Installation of Congregational Officers at both Sunday Services)

Question regarding Christmas

Traditionally, Christmas Day is the only day of the year supplied with three distinct masses: Midnight, Dawn, and Day. At St. Paul's we invariably observe the Mass for Christmas Midnight and have traditionally observed the Day (John 1). We never observe the Dawn service with Luke 2:15-20 (at least in my memory). I'm wondering if other parishes alternate between Dawn and Day or if the Day service is what is usually observed on the 25th?

I never noticed

before how "The Bridegroom Soon Will Calls Us" literally dances - at least Carlo at the console!

yuk, yuk, yuk...

So here's a promo I'm thinking about doing for St. Paul's on Issues Etc., since we're a sponsor of the show:

Think big screens belong in the movie theater, not at church?

Think garage bands should stay in the garage, not jam in front of the altar?

We do too!

Come join us at St. Paul Lutheran Church of Hamel, Illinois for services that are reverent, traditional, and vibrant.

Saturday evening Divine Service at 6; Sunday morning Divine Services at 7:45 and 10. Sunday school and Bible Class for all ages at 9.

We'd love for you to join us! And don't worry: not a big screen or garage band in sight. Promise.

[Not this:]

[Just this:]

Speaking of Praising God!

My soul, now praise Your Maker!
Let all within me bless His name
Who makes you full partaker
Of blessings more than you dare claim.
Forget Him not whose meekness
Still bears with all your sin,
Who heals your ev'ry weakness,
Renews your life within;
Whose grace and care are endless
And saved you through the past;
Who leaves no suff'rer friendless
But rights the wrong at last.

He offers all His treasure
Of justice, truth, and righteousness,
His love beyond all measure,
His yearning pity o'er distress;
Nor treats us as we merit
But sets His anger by
The poor and contrite spirit
Finds His compassion nigh;
And high as heav'n above us,
As dawn from close of day,
So far, since He has loved us,
He puts our sins away.

For as a tender father
Has pity on His children here,
God in His arms will gather
All who are His in childlike fear.
He knows how frail our powers,
Who but from dust are made.
We flourish like the flowers,
And even so we fade;
The wind but through them passes,
And all their bloom is o'er.
We wither like the grasses;
Our place knows us no more.

His grace remains forever,
And children's children yet shall prove
That God forsakes them never
Who in true fear shall seek His love.
In heav'n is fixed His dwelling,
His rule is over all;
O hosts with might excelling,
With praise before Him fall.
Praise Him forever reigning,
All you who hear His Word -
Our life and all sustaining.
My soul, O praise the Lord!
LSB 820

Or, auf Deutsch - and doesn't it just slay you to watch them SIT to sing this magnificent text?:

Or, just the organ meditation upon the same by Buxtehude:

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We Christians are called to praise the triune God. That, in fact, is the main purpose of our life here on earth (1 Pet. 2:9). It is part of our vocation as members of God's royal priesthood. -- John Kleinig *What's the Use of Praising God* p. 3

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

On Sundays a multitude of people assemble with great regularity to sing the praises of the Lord, to hear and meditate upon the Word, for use of the sacraments, for public prayers, for the gathering of alms, and for other exercises of piety....Moreover, solemn festivals about the chief benefits of Christ, and of the principal points of the heavenly doctrine are celebrated with great devotion and piety, with explanation of the doctrine, and with public praise of the benefits of God. -- Martin Chemnitz, *Examen* IV:436,7

Patristic Quote of the Day

It is truly good and pleasing enough to God when the tongue devoutly chants the psalms, but it will be still better if your life is in harmony with the words on your tongue. Our words and our lives should be in agreement. -- St. Caesarius of Arles, Homily 75

20 November 2009

If you're going to have...

...a eucharistic prayer, I still maintain that it is impossible to beat that of the Petri 1531 liturgy. How is this for great thanksgiving to God? [You will note how Divine Service 4 in LSB is deeply indebted to this prayer]

Verily it is meet right and blessed that we should in all places give thanks and praise to Thee, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God for all Thy benefits, and especially for that one that Thou didst unto us, when we all by reason of sins were in so bad a case that nought but damnation and eternal death awaited us, and no creature in heaven or earth could help us, then Thou didst send forth Thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, who was of the same divine nature as Thyself, didst suffer Him to become a man for our sake, didst lay our sins upon Him, and didst suffer him to undergo death instead of our all dying eternally, and as He hath overcome death and risen again into life, and now dieth nevermore, so likewise shall all they who put their trust therein overcome sins and death and through Him attain to everlasting life, and for our admonition that we should bear in mind and never forget such His benefit, in the night that He was betrayed celebrated a supper, in which He took the bread in His holy hands, gave thanks to His heavenly father, blessed it, brake it, and gave to His disciples, and said : Take ye and eat, this is My body which is given for you, do this in remembrance of Me.

Then the priest lifts it up, lays it down again, and takes the cup, saying :—

Likewise also he took the cup in His holy hands, gave thanks to His heavenly father, blessed it and gave to His disciples and said : Take and drink ye all of this, this is the cup of the new testament in My blood, which for you and for many is shed for the remission of sins ; as oft as ye do this, do this in remembrance of Me.

Then he lifts it up and sets it down again.

Afterwards is read or sung.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth, heaven and earth are full of Thy glory, hosanna in the highest, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, hosanna in the highest.

Paula made my day...

...at our school's dinner auction when she told me that she looks forward to getting up at 4:30 in the morning so she can pray from Starck before heading off to work - and she especially loved Tuesdays prayer in remembrance of Baptism. YEAH!!!!

At the Name of Jesus

At the Name of Jesus, every knee shall bow,
Every tongue confess Him King of glory now;
’Tis the Father’s pleasure we should call Him Lord,
Who from the beginning was the mighty Word.

At His voice creation sprang at once to sight,
All the angel faces, all the hosts of light,
Thrones and dominations, stars upon their way,
All the heavenly orders, in their great array.

Humbled for a season, to receive a name
From the lips of sinners unto whom He came,
Faithfully He bore it, spotless to the last,
Brought it back victorious when from death He passed.

Bore it up triumphant with its human light,
Through all ranks of creatures, to the central height,
To the throne of Godhead, to the Father’s breast;
Filled it with the glory of that perfect rest.

In your hearts enthrone Him; there let Him subdue
All that is not holy, all that is not true;
Crown Him as your Captain in temptation’s hour;
Let His will enfold you in its light and power.

Christians, this Lord Jesus shall return again,
With His Father’s glory, with His angel train;
For all wreaths of empire meet upon His brow,
And our hearts confess Him King of glory now.

Glory, then, to Jesus, Who, the Prince of Light,
To a world in darkness brought the gift of sight,
Praise to God the Father; In the Spirit's love
Praise we all together Him who reigns above.
LSB 512

What a Fine Homily

by my internet friend Fr. Tapani Simojoki of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Fareham, England on Mark 13. Listen to the whole thing - you'll be blessed indeed!

P.S. Fr. Simojoki shared with me a publication of our dear Dr. Kleinig tititled "What's the Use of Praising God" and it is from it that my "New Lutheran Quote of the Day" will be coming for a few weeks!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Word of God, the written and proclaimed Word, creates and builds the Church. There is no other means to build the Church of Christ. For the Word of God alone creates faith. -- Hermann Sasse, *The Lonely Way* vol. 1:157

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The perpetual action and daily exercise of faith in this life is to abide and continue in Him, lest the remission of sins be lost - but that it may be retained more firmly and surely. -- Martin Chemnitz *Examen* II:239

Patristic Quote of the Day

When we call you, not to earthly, but to heavenly pursuits, not to temporal ones, but to those which will benefit your soul forever, we are not looking for any passing gain, but invite you to heavenly treasures. -- St. Caesarius of Arles, Homily 74

Check Out the Summaries

that the Commission on Worship has put out for introducing the Sundays of the year: Lectionary Summaries. Very nice to print at the head of the bulletin to let the faithful focus a bit on what the readings will bring them that day. Kudos, COW-boys! Nicely done.

19 November 2009

Listening to Praetorius

I am convinced, utterly convinced, that no one understands Lutheran Orthodoxy who doesn't experience something of the sublime glorification of God in the liturgy of those days. Talk about evangelische Ansatz! It was first and foremost an explosion of praise that brought Western music to new heights and sometimes I think that we've never come close to scaling those lofty peaks in the many centuries since. And it's wrong to think of Bach as isolated; he was the last of the greats of those days, but he stood on the shoulders of giants too.

The End of an Era

The last sibling of O.P. Kretzmann, Norman Kretzmann, has reposed in Christ. Thanks, Fr. Cota, for the information.

One of my new favorites

from the Praetorius Christ-Mass:

Uns ist ein Kindlein heut geborn,
von einer Jungfraun auser korn,
ein wahrer Mensch und wahrer Gott,
daß er uns helf aus aller Not,
sein Nam ist Wunderbar und Rat,
durch ihn haben wir funden Gnad.

Was hätt uns Gott mehr können tun,
Denn daß er uns schenkt seinen Sohn,
Der von uns weggenommen hat,
All unser Sünd und Missetat,
Erlöst uns von der Sünd und Pein,
Darein wir sollten ewig sein.

Freu dich du werte Christenheit,
Und dank es Gott in Ewigkeit,
Haß aber alle Sünd und List,
Davon du teur erlöset bist,
Sei fortan gottfürchtig und rein,
Zu Ehren dem neugbornen Kindelein.

My rough English rendering:

To us is born a little Child
Of Virgin holy, meek, and mild;
He is true man and God in one,
To help us He to earth has come.
His name is Wondrous Prince of Peace
Through Him God’s grace shall never cease.

What more for us could God have done
Than sending us His own dear Son,
Who took away from us our sin
And all the sorrows of our kin,
Released us from the grief and shame
That was our due in hellish flame?

So joy, O Christian folk, this morn
And thank our God nor His love scorn,
But hate all sin and from it flee,
For great the price to set you free;
Be godly therefore and up-raise
To this young Child your songs of praise!

From the Last Sunday Liturgy

The Bridegroom soon will call us, "Come to the wedding feast"...The ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads. They shall obtain gladness and joy and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. O Lord, make me to know my end and what is the measure of my days...O Lord, absolve Your people from their offenses that, from the bonds of our sins which by reason of our frailty we have brought upon ourselves, we may be delivered by Your bountiful goodness...New heavens and a new earth... The wolf and the lamb shall graze together... In many-colored robes the king's daughter is led to the king with her virgin companions following behind her... God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ... I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband... Watch, therefore, for you do not know the day nor the hour... Wake, awake, for night is flying... She wakes, she rises from her gloom... And of this fruit so pure and sweet, the Lord invites the world to eat, to find within this cross of wood, the tree of life with every good... Wide open stand the gates adorned with pearl, While round God's golden throne the choirs of saints in endless circles curl, and joyous praise the Son! They watch Him now descending to visit waiting earth. The Lord of Life unending, brings dying hope new birth... Thine the glory in the night, no more dying, only light... In my love's baptismal river I have made you Mine forever. Go, My children, with My blessing - You are My own...

So I Tried

to finish up my Christmas shopping on my last day of vacation. I went and looked around the stores. Bah, humbug! Ended up purchasing a single item. I came home, sat down at the computer, with a fresh pot of coffee, and finished ALL of my shopping in minutes. Good grief. Why didn't I just do that from the start??? Next year I think I will shop ENTIRELY online. Someone remind me to do that, okay?

The King

of the chorales, is our hymn of the day for this coming Sunday, the Last Sunday of the Church Year. Pastor Nicolai wrote both text and tune as his parish was being decimated by a great plague. With no family not in mourning, he wrote a book on the joy that is ours in Christ, the joy of everlasting life, and appended to that book three poems, of which this is generally regarded as the greatest. Truly, here is a wondrous fulfillment of Samson's riddle: "Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet." When death was like a lion devouring his parish, Pr. Nicolai had the faith to see the lion as DEAD itself, and to bring forth from the lion's corpus this divine honey, this sublime text and tune. Also greatly beloved is Bach's fabulous setting of the second stanza of this hymn:

"Wake, awake, for night is flying,"
The watchmen on the heights are crying;
"Awake, Jerusalem, arise!"
Midnight hears the welcome voices
And at the thrilling cry rejoices:
"Oh, where are ye, ye virgins wise?
The Bridegroom comes, awake!
Your lamps with gladness take!
With bridal care
Yourselves prepare
To meet the Bridegroom, who is near!"

Zion hears the watchmen singing
And all her heart with joy is springing;
She wakes, she rises from her gloom.
For her Lord comes down all glorious,
The strong in grace, in truth victorious;
Her star is ris'n, her light is come.
Now come, Thou Blessed One,
Lord Jesus, God's own Son,
Hail! Hosanna!
We enter all
The wedding hall
To eat the Supper at Thy call.

Now let all the heav'ns adore Thee,
Let saints and angels sing before Thee
With harp and cymbals' clearest tone.
Of one pearl each shining portal,
Where, dwelling with the choir immortal,
We gather round Thy radiant throne.
No eye has seen the light,
No ear has heard the might
Of Thy glory!
Therefore will we
Sing hymns of praise and joy to Thee!
LSB 516

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Ever since that hour when, in the celebration of the first Supper on the night when he was betrayed, Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of the Father, as at once the High Priest and the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, distributed his true body and blood to his circle of disciples under bread and wine, thereby making them members of his body and bestowing on them forgiveness of sins along with life and salvation, the heart of the church has been beating in the Lord's Supper. -- Hermann Sasse, *Lonely Way* I:425

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We now have the comforting promise that Christ, our Head, our King and High Priest is present in the assembly of His Church as it is gathered together in His name in the ministry of the Word and sacrament, and thus present with His entire Church everywhere, that is, with all and each one of His members, thus also with me in my prayer, in my trouble, and in the guidance of my whole life. -- Martin Chemnitz, *Two Natures in Christ* p. 453

Patristic Quote of the Day

What a man attentively thinks of at the time of prayer, dearest brethren, that he has set up as a kind of god in his heart, and he seems to keep it and worship it as his god and lord. This fact inspires in me unbearable pain and trembling, whenever a mind in the very act of prayer is carried away to various worldly occupations. The man seems to discuss one thing in words, but is clearly seen to be far away in thought, as though when we speak to God we should think of anything else except with our whole heart and soul and mind to ask for the forgiveness of our sins and His grace. -- St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 71

Commemoration of Elizabeth of Hungary

From our Synod's website (and the Treasury of Daily Prayer):

Born in Pressburg, Hungary, in 1207, Elizabeth was the daughter of King Andrew II and his wife Gertrude. Given as a bride in an arranged political marriage, Elizabeth became the wife of Louis of Thuringia in Germany at the age of 14. She had a spirit of Christian generosity and charity, and the home she established for her husband and three children in the Wartburg Castle at Eisenach was known for its hospitality and family love. Elizabeth often supervised the care of the sick and needy and even gave up her bed to a leper at one time. Widowed at the age of 20, she made provisions for her children and entered into an austere life as a nun in the Order of Saint Francis. Her self-denial led to failing health and an early death in 1231 at the age of 24. Remembered for her self-sacrificing ways, Elizabeth is commemorated through the many hospitals named for her around the world.

The Treasury offers a beautiful prayer for the day, asking "Mighty King, whose inheritance is not of this world, inspire in us the humility and benevolent charity of Elizabeth of Hungary." (p. 929) She is a shining light for Christ's people, pointing the way to live welcoming every person as Christ, and every need and suffering as His own.

The Writing for today (from Dr. Luther) captures her spirit: "But if anyone earnestly believed that he is receiving the Lord Himself when he receives a poor brother, there would be no need for such anxious, zealous, and soliticous exhortations to do works of love...together with godly Abraham we would run to meet the wretched people, invite them into our homes, seize upon this honor and distinction ahead of others and say: 'O Lord Jesus, come to me; enjoy my bread, wine, silver and gold. How well it is has been invested by me when I invest it in You!'" (p. 928)

18 November 2009


it has been proven beyond dispute that liverpool is a totally, absolutely, unbelievably stupid game.

Kenyan and Baltic Bishops Speak Up

[HT to Dr. Tighe for providing me with these]


This is the statement of the executive committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya that met on the 12th November 2009, on the Apostasy of the church of Sweden to consecrate not just a woman to the office of bishop but a lesbian bishop on the 8th November 2009 in Uppsala cathedral.

We, in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya, are watching with shock, dismay and disappointment, the news about these recent developments on what we would call “ the mega” Church bodies in the world are up to, when they work so hard and tirelessly to lead the world into religiousless society (leave alone Christianity)

In addition to our statement on what took place in the USA when ELCA in its Church wide Assembly held on 21 August 2009, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, resolved officially to open the door of the office of the public ministry to those who are in “committed” same gender sexual relations, we further state that it beats our logics and saddens us very much that the church of Sweden, which at the reformation was the pillar of Biblical Reformation within Christendom has now decided to go apostate by consecretating a lesbian woman as bishop on the 8th November 2009 and indeed women in the office of the Ministry over and above its earlier decision to allow same sex partners to hold the Sacred office of Word and Sacrament.

We therefore again reiterate as we did in our statement condemning the decision of ELCA issued on the 25th of September 2009;

1. that we condemn in the strongest terms possible this unfortunate and anti-scriptural development in a church body that bears the name of the great reformer, Dr. Martin Luther;
2. that these Church Bodies have rejected the faith of Christendom as have been confessed all along starting with the Apostles and the fathers as is also confessed today in the three ecumenical creeds.
3. that these church bodies have out rightly rejected the Authority of the Scriptures as the Word of God
4. to the Lutherans, Dr. Martin Luther brought the Church from being under the authority of man and speculations of human philosophies to be under the authority of the Scriptures.
5. that we want to remind those Lutheran Churches and others who ordain women into office of the Word and Sacrament that these unfortunate practice is a novelty that just started some fifty year ago and indeed an epicenter of spiritual lesbianism in the Church today.
6. that we condemn sexual perversion in all its manifestations;
7. that same sex marital union is not only contrary to God’s will as clearly expressed in the Holy Scripture, but also repugnant to the natural created social order;
8. that God’s plan and purpose of marriage is fulfilled only in heterosexual (one man - one woman) life long commitment;
9. that this act by the Church of Sweden constitutes a loveless and callous disregard of the spiritual condition of those caught in homosexual bondage; and
10. that, most seriously of all, it is nothing less than a denial of the transformative power of the love we know in our Savior Jesus Christ, Who seeks all sinners in order to restore them to communion with the Father through the ministrations of His Holy Spirit in Word and sacrament.

Therefore, we must confess the Word of God and be faithful to it. In the name of our crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon the Church of Sweden to repent of its apostasy from the truth. We feel compassion for those among us who are caught in homosexual bondage and want them to know the transforming power of God’s forgiveness and love. Thus we hereby dedicate ourselves anew into the service of Him Who came to serve us sinners, including those caught in homosexual bondage, and Who by the power of His cross and resurrection creates in us a new will to please Him in patterns of living that are chaste and pure. In saying these things, we are standing with our fellow redeemed in the great consensus of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, particularly with those church bodies in the International Lutheran Council. We want to assure the remnant Church bodies in the world, that as much the apostasy may continue aggressively, we believe the Church will not be defaced from the face of the earth. We therefore want to encourage and stand with the remnant Church bodies in Europe like Mission province in Sweden, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in America, Faithful Lutheran Churches in Africa and the rest of the World to stand up and take the Challenge to remain faithful to the Scriptures - for by the Scripture the Lord will save the Church in the World even unto end of the earth.

Signed this 13th day of November 2009:
Most Rev. Dr. Walter Obare Arch Bishop
Rev. John Halakhe General Secretary

The leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Estonia, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia and Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lithuania met in Tallinn on the 3rd and 4th of November, 2009 to strengthen the long experience of unity of the Lutheran churches in the Baltic countries and to pray for the fellowship among Christians of the whole world, recognizing that in our time the ties among and within Christian communities in many places are put to the test. Bishops also discussed tasks and responsibilities of their churches looking for better ways of co-operation in the future. Christian faith means living with Christ and serving one another.

Especially at times of the economic difficulties when so many people have lost their external foothold and inner peace, we invite our compatriots to expand their appreciation of their Christian roots and to utilize all the spiritual wealth that is revealed in the Holy Scripture and offered to everyone who turns to God and puts their trust on Christ. The present crisis in the world economy is a fruit of a long term failure to act accordingly the principles which God has laid in the foundations of His creation. Consumerism and individualism of the modern society have taken their toll. To look for solution only by means of mending economy would mean to repeat the same mistake.

A spiritual renewal must come first, a renewed sense of balance between rights and obligations, communion empathy, solidarity, and mutual support. We believe that the most convincing inner motivation for that change is found in an encounter of a person with the living Christ. To facilitate that encounter by word and deed is the first and foremost calling of the Christian church. Jesus Christ said: “Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (Matt.28:19-20)

The Christian community as a part of the society is not separated from issues related to the natural and human environment both locally and globally. Justice in the society and life quality of the people or protection of our Baltic Sea against the state negligence and corporate exploitation are some of the critical examples of this area of concern. As communities gathered around the Word of God and the keepers of Christian ethos our churches must address the spiritual root-causes of the contemporary problems. The churches must remember that the main instrument entrusted to them by God is His word – the law and the gospel - and the service to the neighbour in charity.

We also invite our political powers to realize more clearly the spiritual dimension of the human life and the good fruits of a positive co-operation between state, municipalities, schools and the church. Teaching and implementing Christian principles strenghthen the family as well as the whole community. Liberty of conscience and freedom of speech belong to the values of society defining religious life not only as a private but also as a public social right which has to be fostered. Religious education and religious studies form an inseparable part of this right.

At the present time a common witness of churches is vitally important, therefore we express our deepest concern about modern tendencies that weaken the fellowship among Christians and cause divisions in and among churches. The recent decisions made by some member churches of the Lutheran World Federation to approve of religious matrimony for couples of the same gender and to equate such conjugal life with marriage or to ordain non celibate homosexual persons for pastoral or episcopal office epitomize these tendencies that are tearing apart fellowhip among Christians. We affirm that the marriage is the conjugal life between a man and a woman and that a homosexual activity is incompatible with the discipleship of Christ. We believe that in following the modern trends, churches are departing from the apostolic doctrine of human sexuality and marriage. We see the Lutheran communion and eccumenical efforts endangered by such decisions and actions because they lead to a situation where the Lutheran churches, members of the Lutheran World Federation are not able to fully recognize each others ecclesiastical offices, to exchange the ministries and to participate together in preaching the Word and celebrating the sacraments.

We call upon our Lutheran sisters and brothers to unity and co-operation based upon the foundation of Holy Scripture and loyalty to the Lutheran confessions. Contemporary challenges demand a firm stand based upon timeless truths and values. The common understanding of the Gospel by churches is a treasure we cannot afford to lose and it needs to be passed on to the current and future generations. Our mission is to be faithful in that which we have received, God’s mercy. We are to serve our Lord and our neighbours thus until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God (Eph. 4:13)

Archbishop of Riga Janis Vanags Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia
Bishop of Daugavpils Einars Alpe Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia
Bishop of Liepaja Pavils Bruvers Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia
Bishop Mindaugas Sabutis Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lithuania
Archbishop Andres Põder Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church
Archbishop emeritus Kuno Pajula Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church
Bishop Einar Soone Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church

Poem by James McAuley

My friend Kiran Krishna shared this with me today. I thought it quite profound. I'd not heard of McAuley who was a Roman Catholic Christian in Australia.

Come into yourself a while,
Be deaf to outer cries;
Ask not who wins, who falls, who rages,
Or what each doubtful sign presages,
Or what face treachery wears.

It is not said we shall succeed,
Save as his Cross prevails:
The good we choose and mean to do
Prospers if he wills it too,
And if not, then it fails.

Nor is failure our disgrace:
By ways we cannot know
He keeps the merit in his hand,
And suddenly as no one planned,
Behold the kingdom grow!

Lectio Divina

Zedekiah's vain reliance upon Egypt gives some flesh to the Psalm's exhortation: "Trust not in princes!" How often we too fall into the trap of looking for solutions from mere mortals, ever as fickle and unreliable as Egypt of old.

Yet there is One Prince we can trust. We saw Him confessed in today's second reading: "This is Jesus, King of the Jews." Here is no mere mortal. Here is the Son of God who refuses to come down from the cross because He is determined not to save Himself, but us. He is forsaken that we might never be. He dies that we might live. He lives that we might never die!

On a totally different tact: Note again at the end of the second reading the reference to a Mary who is "Mother of James and Joseph." Nor can this be the Blessed Virgin, for she did not stand "looking on from a distance" as this woman did, but beneath the very cross itself (John 19); and it would be exceedingly odd for the Holy Evangelist to refer to her (were she the Blessed Mother) in any other way than "His" or "Jesus'" mother. I'm happy to note that TLSB picks up on this: "Possibly Mary the wife of Clopas, a sister to Mary the mother of Jesus."

Piepkorn Goodie

I believe that you have acted wisely in not deserting the Church of your Baptism and Confirmation for another obedience. In my experience there is nothing to which a Christian can legitimately aspire in any other communion that is not implicit in the Church of the Augsburg Confession. If, at a particular time or in a particular place, that which he seeks is not explicit, it may be that God has called him to that time and place in order patiently to recover something that the Church of the Augsburg Confession has lost or neglected or overlooked. Let me counsel you therefore to stay where you are and faithfully to pray, to study, to witness and to work for a restoration of sacramental life to the Church that above all others is capable of most fully utilizing it. -- A. C. Piepkorn, written in December of 1952 to a student who had thought about leaving Lutheranism for Anglicanism. Copyright © 2006 American Lutheran Publicity Bureau. Reprinted with permission. Lutheran Forum, 40:3 (Una Sancta/Fall 2006): 48-55. www.alpb.org. (Thanks to Dr. Secker for sending me the article)

With Heart and Hands Uplifted

Rejoice, rejoice, believers,
And let your lights appear;
The evening is advancing
And darker night is near.
The Bridegroom is arising
And soon is drawing nigh.
Up, pray and watch and wrestle;
At midnight comes the cry.

The watchers on the mountain
Proclaim the Bridegroom near;
Go forth as He approaches
With alleluias clear.
The marriage feast is waiting;
The gates stand wide open stand.
Arise, O heirs of glory;
The Bridegroom is at hand.

The saints, who here in patience
Their cross and suff'rings bore,
Shall live and reign forever
When sorrow is no more.
Around the throne of glory
The Lamb they shall behold;
In triumph cast before Him
Their diadems of gold.

Our hope and expectation,
O Jesus, now appear;
Arise, O Sun so longed for,
O'er this benighted sphere.
With hearts and hands uplifted,
We plead, O Lord, to see
The day of earth's redemption
That sets Your people free!
LSB 515

Speaking of Baptismal Identity...

...I recently read in one of St. Caesarius' homilies on Baptism how in that Sacrament we renounce the old ruler of our lives and take an oath of allegiance to the Blessed Trinity; we join the militia Christi. "Do you renounce the devil? And all his works? And all his ways? Do you believe in God the Father? the Son? the Holy Spirit?"

The recent tragedy at Ft. Hood reminded me of this sermon, for St. Caesarius points out that the person who willfully chooses to serve sin after having been baptized is in fact a defector from Christ's army (whose assault is constant and ongoing against sin) and becomes a traitor. Such wear the uniform of Christ and yet choose to serve the purposes of the enemy; such pretend to have allegiance to the King when in fact they give it to the devil!

Lord, make us faithful soldiers for Christ, that we may be worthy of the uniform we wear, remembering whose side we are on, and join in your never-ending assault on sin, Satan, and eternal death in this age!