31 July 2010

Nothing like...

...being back to presiding at St. Paul's.  I miss it so much when we take vacation - even though we worshipped here two of the Sundays.  I'm so thankful for Pastor Gleason - it makes it possible to go on vacation without worrying when you know that there is a pastor here who loves the people and is eager to care for them with the saving Gospel.  Still, it's just GREAT to be back again.  Now, if I could just remember how the chant for the salutation goes...

Moving Day...

...for Lauren and Dean (aka the Vicar of Overland).  Here's a pic of the house and of the new "lady" of the house - note the tutu.  She takes after her mother...what can I say?

29 July 2010

A Couple that Surfs Together...

...stays together.  And it doesn't hurt to have the President of Concordia Seminary looking over your shoulder!

A pic from Houston snapped by our own John Klinger (who was VERY eager to get rid of his matching tie to the one you see Dale wearing here, sporting the colors of Concordia Seminary - which he had to wear every day of the convention.  John is known for his infinite varieties of ties...).

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Eat and be filled, and there is always more - more Jesus than you have so far calculated, imagined, delighted in.  From Him, then, receive happy, growing, deep-down days that pull you forward to the always more He would give you.  "Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing." -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 194

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Faith requires a divine promise to which it can hold. -- C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 218

Patristic Quote of the Day

Love humility and you will never fall into the devil's snare, for, soaring on humility's swift wings you will always remain above the enemy's snares.  -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #28.

28 July 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Calvary was where Jesus was for you with a love that did not count the cost.  Jesus poured out His life for you there.  He shed His blood.  The blood that is given us to drink at His table where our Good Shepherd, who has given His life for the sheep, prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 193.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The true doctrine of Absolution does not make people secure but thoroughly and radically plucks them out of the devil's kingdom.  -- C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 207.

Patristic Quote of the Day

May heaven and earth and all that is within them sing praises with us to the One who has magnified our race, for He has renewed His image in us, blotted out our sins, given us His name, and subjected all things to us.  He Who raised us up above all things is deserving of all manner of praise from those who honor Him.  Let us all with one voice sing praise to Him and to the Father Who sent Him and to the Holy Spirit.  -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #44.

27 July 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The heart of any slice of the Gospel is the Jesus it gives. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 192.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Through Thy loving-kindness Thou defendest us before Thy Father, for Thou art the chosen sacrifice, offered for the world. -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter, #102

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Absolution is basically shorthand for the Gospel. -- C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 192.

25 July 2010

St. James, the Elder, Apostle

O Lord, for James, we praise You, 

Who fell to Herod's sword; 

He drank Your cup of suff'ring 

And thus fulfilled Your word. 

Lord, curb our vain impatience 

For glory and for fame, 

Equip us for such sufferings 

As glorify Your name.

LSB 518:21

O gracious God, Your servant and apostle James was the first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the name of Jesus Christ.  Pour out upon the leaders of Your Church that spirit of self-denying service that they may forsake all false and passing allurements and follow Christ alone, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

24 July 2010

And the Liverpool Winner today is...

... Vicar Dean Herberts!

David in Seusical (with a 70's twist)

These are the Wickersham brothers, and David is in the center.  Notice, not one of them has his feet on the ground!

23 July 2010

Pinochle Winners

In their proper order...and as you can see, all's well that ends well!

10 Minutes with the President

Check it out here.  HT:  Mollie.

22 July 2010

The Festival of St. Mary Magdalene

"Apostle to the Apostles."

Speak, Mary, declaring
What you saw when wayfaring:

"The tomb of Christ, who is living
The glory of Jesus' resurrection;
Bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting.
My Lord, my hope, is arisen.
To Galilee He goes before you."

Christ indeed from death is risen,
Our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!
Amen.  Alleluia.
LSB 460

21 July 2010


Honda's title came in the mail today.  Now it feels official that it's ours.

Settling into Vacation Mode

has not been easy.  The tension from the build up over the convention has been slowly, ever so slowly draining away, but it's still there.  I think I'm going to take a few days off from answering the phone (yeah, I know...) and answering emails.  I may blog, but will not engage in conversation about what I post.  Just need some genuine "down time" and intend to take it.  I'll be back in a bit!

20 July 2010

The Problem

is when we focus on extolling the proclamation of the Gospel; instead of actually proclaiming the Gospel.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Apostle rings in Psalm 68 with the kicker, "He gave gifts to men."  Where does God do that?  Can we determine the place?  If no place, then no gift.  Gifts to us happen at a place and at a time.  For a gift to be given, there needs to be not only a time and a place but also a gift.  And there is gift when there is someone who gives the gift and someone to whom the gift is given.  These three.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 188.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We will never achieve perfect sanctification in this life, but we must make a beginning and progress in this effort.  For it you do not increase, you will decrease.  And if you decrease, you will ultimately completely stop using what God has given you.  Finally, you will die off. -- C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 136.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Daily do I provoke Thy long-suffering patience, O Master.  Before mine eyes are both my wretchedness and Thy loving-kindness.  -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #113.

19 July 2010

Anthem: "Lord, It Belongs Not to My Care"

Lord, it belongs not to my care
Whether I die or live;
To love and serve Thee is my share,
And this Thy grace must give.

If life be long, I will be glad,
That I may long obey;
If short, yet why should I be sad
To welcome endless day?

Christ leads me through no darker rooms
Than He went through before;
He that unto God’s kingdom comes
Must enter by this door.

Come, Lord, when grace hath made me meet
Thy blessèd face to see;
For if Thy work on earth be sweet
What will Thy glory be!

My knowledge of that life is small,
The eye of faith is dim;
But ’tis enough that Christ knows all,
And I shall be with Him.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

They are there for the work of the ministry, not for their own sake, as is implied by the word work, which here and in some other places is used in a way that makes it perfectly clear that the Lord is the one who is doing the work, which He does through those whom He has put there for His doing it. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 189.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

If forgiveness of sins without repentance is preached, the people will imagine they have already been forgiven their sins, which makes them secure and unconcerned.  This is a greater error and sin than all errors of former times, and we can rightfully fear we are in danger of what Christ points out when He says in Matthew 12:45:  "The last state of person is worst than the first." -- Blessed Martin Luther, AE 40:274.

Patristic Quote of the Day

If He is not God and man then, indeed, our salvation is false, and false are the pronouncements of the prophets.  -- St. Ephraim the Syrian, Spiritual Psalter #23.

18 July 2010

The Issues Etc. Convention

Mollie has opined on this; and I suspect she is (as usual) totally on target.  This was in many respects, the Issues Etc. Convention.  I honestly do not think the present administration had the first clue about the fire-storm they set off when Pastor Wilken and Jeff Schwarz were fired without cause that Holy Tuesday morning.

The irony is not to be missed:  Pastor Wilken is associate to Pastor Michael Kumm.  And Michael Kumm, a nomination from the floor, was elected to the Board of Directors of Synod.  But the crowning irony was when Jeff Schwarz, Producer of Issues, was elected as layman to the Commission on Theology and Church Relations, while the man who sat in the presidency under which Todd and Jeff were fired, was himself voted out of office, while President-elect Harrison (a frequent guest on the show) was voted in.

The older political groupings in Missouri had been unable in the past decade to deliver a solid win; they came close time and time again, but kept failing.  What put them over the top this time?  The Issues crowd!  The number of folks who came up to me and said:  "Oh, I wanted to introduce myself.  I hear you on Issues!" simply blew me away.  There were TONS of them at this Convention, and they, I suspect, voted as a block for Pastor Harrison.

Yes, it truly was The Issues Etc. Convention.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Christ came not only to bring peace between us and God but also to the conflicting parts of our own selves and to heal the divisions there.  Christ came to put us together, to make us whole. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 186.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

If we make our sins look small, we make Christ look small. -- C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 120

Patristic Quote of the Day

He raises them to the unwavering conviction, that certainly and under all circumstances they will have enough, because their Father well knows of what things they have need, even He Who is in heaven. And at a most fitting season He calls Him Father, that they may know, that He will not forget His children, but be kind and loving unto them. - St. Cyril of Alexandria, Sermon XC on Luke.

About SID

With the election of our own District President, Herbert Mueller, to the First Vice-Presidency of Synod, Pastor Timothy Scharr will assume the presidency of our District.  President Mueller said on more than one occasion that he could accept serving at the Synodical level with peace, knowing that his beloved Southern Illinois District would be in good hands.  He is absolutely correct.  I am delighted to welcome Pastor Timothy Scharr as our new president, our bishop in Christ.  May the Lord richly bless his service to the people of this district - and the time of transition (both at Synodical and District levels)!

P.S.  I think Pr. Scharr is the tallest president SID has ever had!

Did Anyone Else Almost

tear up this morning as we sang the Hymn of the Day?

We sought the Lord in our distress;
O God, in mercy hear us.
Our Savior saw our helplessness
And came with peace to cheer us.
For this we thank and praise the Lord,
Who is by one and all adored:
To God all praise and glory!

He never shall forsake His flock,
His chosen generation;
He is their refuge and their rock,
Their peace and their salvation.
As with a mother's tender hand,
He leads His own, His chosen band:
To God all praise and glory!
LSB 819:3,4

One thought about convention

is that the delegates seemed to be in favor of streamlining the way things work out of the International Center, but in general opposed to changing the way things work closer to home: in circuits and such.

17 July 2010


at 9:30.  Air travel is amazing.  Dinner in Houston; bed-time in suburban St. Louis.  More on convention reflections as I have time in the coming week...

I am looking forward also

to a glass of COLD fine boxed wine.  We bought a box of wine for the room, but I'm afraid it's not the same when you have to ice the drink as opposed to the drink being chilled to begin with!  Is it wrong to drink a whole box at once?  I suspect so.  Drats.

Jumble of Thoughts

as the Convention wends to its close...  Kudos to President Kieschnick and team for focusing upon One People Forgiven - it was a message we needed constantly to hear and live from and it enabled us to get through...  Pastor Sanchez definitely knows how to properly distinguish law and gospel and let the gospel predominate - and when are we going to get that paraphrase of St. Francis' prayer in our hymnal???... I really miss Sagar and Malini - it was so good to see them again, and to get to meet Sagar's mother... Red Chair videos were a really mixed bag - the very best were the ones where the DPs confessed their OWN sins and how they were forgiven... David Johnson knows how to play the organ - a pity we didn't get to hear more of him, but I loved his playing... There are so many folks that I didn't get time to visit and really, really wanted to, but the work really is exhausting and we found ourselves hitting the hay rather early each evening... The beauty of Pastor Harrison's first address to the convention... The bishop and brothers from Haiti and the terrifying thought of hurricane striking the island with so many only living in tents - Kyrie eleison! - may the work we do there give hope!... The fine words from Pastor Moon... I miss my Walther (I didn't bring it along, and am eager to get back to reading it)... Glad Cindi got to take this week off and accompany me... Beginning the convention with that extended prayer time was an absolutely wonderful thing - bidding prayer approach, if you will... That's about it!  Looking forward to some time floating in my own pool and not doing a blessed thing!!!

16 July 2010

Look Who We Got To Spend the Evening With!

Why we love our new Synodical President...

...it was a stunning moment.  No one thought it could actually happen given the way the votes had been running.  But watch this man open his mouth and the Scriptures pour forth - listen to how he addressed the hurting souls before him.  God has given us a pastor for a president:

Friday Evening

Whew!  Almost a clean sweep for the United List candidates.  Kind of amazing, and indicating - I think - a tidal change in Missouri.  We'll have to see, though, how it all pans out.  Yours truly was elected to the Board of Regents of Concordia University - Chicago (i.e., RF).  Already learned when the first meetings are from Bishop Gilbert of NID.  So many, many questions remain even about resolutions we approve.  Today there were a couple of surprises.  I am thinking that FC 8 was not exactly happy with the assembly when they insisted that circuits are local and when they flat out refused to allow giving preference to overtures that come from entities other than congregations.  Tonight will be a great, great joy:  dinner with Sagar and Malini Pilli (and Malini is pregnant!).  We'll see what tomorrow will bring.  I'm anxious to get BACK HOME and take a few weeks off.  This has been insane.

15 July 2010

Thursday Evening

Congratulations to our very own Jeff Schwarz, elected to the Commission on Theology and Church Relations by the Synod today.  Over all, the elections are taking a decided turn away from the direction of the previous couple conventions.  We had a real fiasco when a ballot came up with three candidates receiving more than 50 percent of the vote (but we had voted for two); they finally sorted it out.  Our own Ralph Laufer read to the convention the bylaw that actually settled the dispute, but it took them a while to agree with it.  Wonderful moment today was the delegation from Haiti greeting us through their bishop and our pledge to continue the work there.

14 July 2010

Wednesday Evening

Busy day.  Floor nominations came out of the wood work and that took a LONG time.  Finally delegates grew impatient and called to end allowing them.  Now sitting on the Board of Directors is Pr. Michael Kumm (as in the man with Todd Wilken as associate) and Pr. Vic Belton (old friend from Bronxville and the seminary).  The entire slate of laity from the United List was also elected to the board.  Amazing.

Cin and I have enjoyed running into folk again:  today I finally caught up with Scott Yakimow for a moment and had a nice talk with Jim Butler.  It's been a delight to chat now and again with Dr. Mundiger and Judge Neely Owen.  Oh and whole bunch of others I'm not remembering at the moment.

We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant with the Bowers.  Looking forward to a quiet evening and early to bed, I think.  Tomorrow is another day...

Oh, and I must confess I have NEVER in the entirety of my years in the ministry felt more optimistic about the future of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod.

Wednesday Afternoon

Still hoping for a chance to move a substitution on the lay ministry resolution to pull the SID/NID overture and get it on the floor for at least discussion and hearing.  Stood long time at mic and turn never came around before it was remanded to to the committee - whence, I wonder, if they will let it die...

13 July 2010

What a Day!

Well, at the close of the day, Synod has a new president-elect, Pr. Matthew Harrison, and new first vice-president elect, Pr. Herbert C. Mueller, Jr.  Lots of amazing twists and turns today - but what a wonderful, generous and kind address Pr. Harrison gave.  Glory to God!


Still to come today is the election for president and vice-president.  Pray, people of God!  The restructuring went through, but the assembly did insist on some modifications that I think were significant.  Too tired to post much more at the moment.

11 July 2010

Sitting in Houston...

The convention voted to decline an amendment that would have moved up presidential vote.  So we will proceed by listening to Floor Committee 8 do their presentation and answer questions regarding the massive restructuring proposals.  The opening worship section was a mix of a Lutheran divine service, a charismatic worship experience, and a rock concert.  It led me to pray a lot of Kyrie eleisons.... Pastor Pilli is here somewhere and I really hope to run into him.  Have got to catch up with a bunch of friends, but not nearly so many as I know are here.  Finding folks is always a challenge.  You all keep praying for our Synod and that God's good and gracious will be done!

09 July 2010

Dear HT Folks,

I was NOT asleep... merely meditating with my eyes closed and my mouth drooling.....


[And the moral of the story is:  don't schedule a plenary AFTER announcements and a 2 hour opening worship liturgy when folks haven't even had time for LUNCH!!! ]

Please remember

Debbie and her family in your prayers.  Debbie fell asleep today in Jesus.  She was a simple believer - she knew that God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  She trusted that and in that confidence she fell asleep in her Savior.  I communed her for the last time a couple weeks ago; Pastor Gleason visited with her a couple times this week in the hospital; he'll have the funeral at St. Paul's next week while I'm at convention.  What joy to think of Debbie singing the praises of her Redeemer and reunited with her beloved mother!

Patristic Quote of the Day - in Honor of the Synodical Convention

St. Gregory of Nazianzus' Letter CXXX:

For my part, if I am to write the truth, 
my inclination is to avoid all assemblies of bishops, 
because I have never seen any Council come to a good end, 
nor turn out to be a solution of evils.  
On the contrary, it usually increases them.  
You always find there love of contention and love of power 
(I hope you will not think me a bore, for writing like this), 
which beggars description; 
and, while sitting in judgment on others, 
a man might well be convicted of ill-doing himself 
long before he should put down the ill-doing of his opponents.

Homily from Wednesday Matins at Higher Things

(Romans 1:18-25)

He remains a giver of gifts even when His giving is not acknowledged.  St. Paul is in the demolition section of Romans.  He’s working the Gentiles over now - shutting every mouth and exposing the lies we like to tell ourselves.  He’s not got to the Jews yet – that’s chapter two.  Nor to the Gospel yet – that’s mostly in three and four. He’s focusing in our reading on the Gentiles and their folly – which certainly we can still see around us every day.  Folks trying to squeeze life out of the creation, when it is only found in the Creator; elevating the gifts given to gods themselves.  Foolish, but there it is.  And if we’re willing to be a bit honest, maybe all that is not just around us but even inside us.

You too know something about looking for life in all the wrong places.   You know something about ignoring your Creator and fixating on the goodies of this world and the good times you can have here as though that were what life is all about.  You may not be so foolish as to bow down to some carved rock or piece of wood and call it your god, but is your trust always in the Blessed Trinity?

You can run the diagnostic by asking yourself and answering honestly what we learn from the Large Catechism:  “A god is that from which we are to expect all good and in which we are to take refuge in all distress.  So, to have a God is nothing other than trusting and believing in him with the heart.  I have often said, it is the faith of the heart that makes both God and an idol.” (I:2) 

So, where do you look for every good?  Where do you turn first when you’re in trouble?  Answer yourself honestly and you’ll discover who or what your God is.

And if at all like me, you will have to admit:  I have often been a Gentile fool too.  I have worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, and to make matters worse, the creature I have worshipped and served mostly is simply myself!

And Paul writes the terrifying judgment:  “God gave them up.”  Doesn’t get worse than that – Him washing His hands of you!  “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator who is blessed forever!”

We’d be in one sad fix if the story stopped there and we had only to hear the Law that exposes our inner idolatries, the false worship that shows up in snatching the good gifts of the creation without so much of a thought as thanking the One who stands there giving to us; abusing our bodies as though they were our own to do with as we please and not gifts, undeserved gifts from the hand of the Creator,  intended for holiness, for being filled with the Spirit and raised from the dead in incorruption.  Hearts filled instead with anxiety instead of peace because we’ve ended up only trusting ourselves. If the story stopped here, we’d walk away today in despair. 

Romans, of course, doesn’t stop there.  Paul goes on to pound on the Jews as well as the Gentiles and thus to shut up every mouth - the heathen and the religious - to silence every human excuse, all our "but, but, but"s and and to drag our sorry butts, every last one of us – no matter how great our sin, no matter how foolishly we’ve lived our lives, no matter how massive our idolatries – to drag us one and all to the foot of the cross, there to behold the mystery of God.  To see the One who never forgot that He walked this life in the presence of His Father, who never forgot one time to thank Him for His every good gift, who never one time used His body for anything other than the doing of His Father’s will (“A body you have prepared for me, Lo, I have come to do Your will!”).  To behold in awe that One do that will by yielding up His body on the cross, as the propitiation God sets forth through His blood, for you to receive by faith.  For indeed, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God - you, me, everyone - and indeed all are justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus - you, me, everyone.

A whole new way of life, then, offered to us in Him.  Not the old way of blindly snatching, abusing our bodies and worshipping and serving ourselves.  A new way in Him, with Him, under His bloody forgiveness, beginning to see and learning to receive all as gift, and to enjoy the creation itself as it was meant to be:  as communion with the Creator who is blessed forever.  A new way of yielding up our bodies for what they were made for: doing God’s will; not scratching our sinful itches.  And since until He raises these bodies from the grave, we will do all this only in much weakness and with lots of stumbling and falls along the way, He sets over our entire lives the greatest gift of all:  the rock-certain forgiveness won by His blood so that we may not fear or be discouraged till He finally makes our lives like His:  one unbroken praise to the Creator and Giver of all good., one complete sacrifice to the will of the Father. 

Did you notice in today’s Psalm that it is the mark of the dead that they do not praise the Lord?  Whether they are breathing or not is irrelevant!  Similarly, “but we will praise the Lord now and forevermore.”  Our praise goes on – even when the body stops breathing.  As we just sang:  “Though my flesh awaits its raising, still my soul continues praising.”  And for that all glory to the Giver of all good, now and ever, and to the age of ages!  Amen.

Brief Check-in

Just pulled in from Higher Things - Nashville:  Given.  A few hours at home, haircut, dinner with Jo and Dave, and one night in my own bed and then off to the Synodical Convention. Please keep our Synod in your prayers, and pray for safe traveling for all delegates and attendees.  A few bad pics (my old iPhone isn't the best for pics!) from Higher Things:

05 July 2010

Thanks, all

for the prayers for Jo.  She received the anointing of the sick and the sacrament of our Lord's Body and Blood today.  Her fever is broken and she seems in better spirits.  There is every hope that the renal failure was temporary (as the heart difficulty was too).  Please keep her in your prayers!

Prayers coveted

for Jo, Cindi's mom.  She is hospitalized - what we thought was a simple urinary tract infection has taken an insidious turn.  Now we have kidney failure and rapid heart beat.  More later when we know more; in the meantime, I'd be thankful if you all remember her in your prayers!  As someone preached recently:  "You never know what a day will bring."

03 July 2010

The deep breath...

...before the plunge.  After the weekend's Divine Services and Bible Class, Higher Things Nashville beckons, and then the Synodical Convention, and then a couple weeks vacation (which may be mostly staycation).  May the Lord have mercy on our Synod and grant us a leader and a vision for the future that upholds our faith (and doesn't war against it) and that can lead us to greater unity in our worship of the Blessed Trinity and in mission and outreach!

Intercessions for Trinity 5

Let us pray for the whole Church of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs. Brief Silence.

O God of our salvation, hear our prayers for Your Church, that faithfully casting the Gospel net of the Crucified and Risen Lord, all Your people may toil with zeal in sharing the Good News. Lord, in Your mercy, R.

God of our hope, remember all Church workers who struggle with depression and anxiety when they see little or no fruit from their labors. Grant them steadfast trust in Your Word and refreshment through Your unfailing promises. Lord, in Your mercy, R.

Lord of the Church, remember in mercy our Synod as we gather in convention and grant all delegates a share in the wisdom that comes from Your Spirit. Lord, in Your mercy, R.

O Lord God of hosts, remember our nation and its leaders as we give thanks to you upon this Independence Day. Strengthen and uphold them in every good deed; and surround with Your compassion all who serve in our armed forces. Lord, in Your mercy, R.

Give ear, O God of Jacob, to our prayers for those who cry out to You in difficult circumstances: the lonely and frightened, the unemployed and homeless, those in difficult family situations, the sick and the dying, and especially those who have asked our prayers... Give to each the comfort and joy that come from You alone. Lord, in Your mercy, R.

O Lord, You are our light and our salvation, and You set a feast before us that we might know Your forgiveness, taste Your kindness, and live in You forevermore. Grant us repentant faith to welcome the gift of the Savior's body and blood to our salvation and abundant blessing. Lord, in Your mercy, R.

Join our prayers and praises with those of Your faithful people of every time and place and unite them in the ceaseless petitions of our great High Priest until He comes in power and great glory as victorious Lord of all. Through Him, with Him and in Him in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all power and glory are Yours, almighty Father, forever and ever.

Homily for Trinity 5 (2010)

[1 Kings 19:11-21 / 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 / Luke 5:1-11]

You never know what a day will bring.  When Elisha set out to work the field that fateful morning, he surely had no idea what was headed his way.  Just another workday, it seemed, when out of the blue a man walked by him and tossed a coat on him.  Suddenly his whole life was topsy-turvy.  A farewell feast for family and friends, and then off he went to apprentice under Elijah.  He would learn firsthand what it was like to be a prophet of Yahweh, the God of Israel.  I wonder if Elijah began the teaching by telling him it was no bed of roses?  If he complained to him as he had just complained to the Lord, that he had done things God’s way and it didn’t seem to pan out.  “Yet, young man” the older prophet might have said:  “don’t rely on your eyes or your own understanding.  Speak His Word.  Do what He bids you.  He promised me that though I couldn’t see the result, seven thousand in this land still belong to Him, seven thousand who wouldn’t think of committing idolatry with Baal.  I didn’t see it, though His Word had done it.  I thought I was all alone.  You’ll have days like that too.  Just remember, you’re not.”

And what was running through Peter’s mind that fateful morning when he was cleaning his nets besides the Lake of Gennesaret?  Up all night and casting, casting again and again, and coming up empty.  He wasn’t fishing for pleasure, after all.  It was a matter of income, of eating, of paying his bills.  Did he wonder:  why such a fruitless night, O God?  Why do you let us work and work and pay no heed nor help us? 

You never know what a day will bring.  Suddenly there is a shadow in the morning light.  A man standing beside them and asking if he could use their boat.  Crowds gathered and the man talked and talked.  Did Peter even listen?  Maybe with at least half an ear as the nets were mended, washed, and carefully stowed away.  Maybe the man went on talking for a while longer, and Peter and the others became restless.  It was growing later and they were very tired and just wanted to lay down for a bit to rest. 

At last the teaching came to an end.  Or so it seemed.  But you never know what a day will bring.  The rabbi turned to Simon and looked him in the eye:  “Put out in the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

Can you imagine the thoughts that chased through their mind?  “The deep isn’t where you catch the fish; and in daytime they see the net and just swim away.  Rabbi, you should maybe stick to teaching and leave the fishing to the experts, eh?”  But if such thoughts arose, they quickly fled.  The teacher hadn’t asked, after all; he had commanded.  And the look in his eyes did not suggest it wise to do anything but what he said.  With no doubt a sigh, Peter answers for them:  “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing.  But at your word I will let down the nets.”

Was he relishing already the thought of being able to pull the net up and say:  “See, I told you it was pointless”?  Before he could even think it, let alone say it, the vicious tug and suddenly the sea is alive, as though the Lord of the sea had commanded his fish to jump into their nets.  The nets breaking, the boats swamped and even sinking, and their shock turns to terror as they turn back to the man who stood there.

On his knees Peter falls:  “Go away.  Leave.  Get out of here.  You can’t be hanging around me, Lord.  I am sinful man.”  Peter may not yet know the fullness of who this man is, but he knows holiness when he meets it.  He feels the terror of his sin the way sinners always feels in the presence of One in whom there is none at all. 

Comes the answer from the Master:  “Do not be afraid.  Do not fear.”  That is,  I have not come into the flesh to judge you, to destroy you, to pay you back.  I have come into the flesh to save you and to restore you.  To give you more in Me than you lost in Adam.  And I’ve got a job for you.  From now on, it won’t be fish; it will be men you are catching.  Come!”

You never know what a day will bring.  And so what started out as bummer of a workday ended up being the day of a major haul, and yet they walked away from it all.  Like Elisha burning the yokes, slaughtering the oxen; they walked away from the old into the new.  And they began to learn what it was to serve the God of Israel, the Lord of the Sea, who had come among them in human flesh and blood – not to terrify with His holiness, but to save in His righteousness.

What would they use to catch men?  A net, a net supplied by the Lord.  We call it the Gospel – the message of the cross, the word of the Crucified. They were witnesses to it all.  They saw Him do what no mere man can do.  They saw Him experience, what no apparition could experience.  They came to know first hand that He was both God and man in one person.  They learned He was God when He silenced the storm; they learned He was man when He was plum worn out, asleep in the boat.  They learned He was God when He raised the dead; they learned He was man when He wept beside the grave of His friend.  And they saw this God-man not merely do wonder after wonder, not merely give teaching after teaching, but they saw how He lived His teaching to the full – forgiving His enemies, doing good to those who hated Him, showing mercy to those who persecuted, betrayed, denied and killed Him.  They saw it all with their own eyes – as He in unshakable trust, yielded up His body on the Tree, to give humanity back to the Father, to pour upon the world the blood that wipes out all sin, to enter death itself that He might blow it up from the inside out and open wide the Kingdom of heaven to all believers.  They saw Him raised from the dead and they knew in that moment that their sins were forgiven.  They received from His hand the blessed Spirit with the strength to go forth and bear witness.  And so they did.  They went out with a message of Christ crucified and told it to one and all:  Your sins are forgiven!  They were laid on the Lamb of God and He has taken them all away.  Believe it, it is yours and it is true.  God loves you, even you, sinner, even you. Come to Him, and taste His forgiving love.  And so the message went out and goes out still.

No, you never know what a day will bring.  You never know what will happen to your life when God bumps along into it, surprisingly claims you as His very own, His beloved, sinner though you be, and makes you a witness to His grace – putting the Gospel net into your hands. 

You never know what a day may bring.  Things may turn inside out and upside down.  Hardships may come like never before – certainly it is what happened to Elijah, Elisha, and to the holy Apostles - but suddenly the hardships don’t have the power to crush you anymore.  They become fellowship with the Crucified and Risen Lord and you know that at the end of it all – not matter what comes - is resurrection and life everlasting with Him.

You never know what a day may bring, but you know that as long as it is called today, He will be there for you, handing over His body and blood into your mouth as the comforting guarantee and seal of His forgiveness and your eternal future.  And in such joyful assurance, you go with Him, casting the net over and over again as He pilots you across the sea of this troubled age to the far shore, to the Father’s house. 

You never know what a day will bring, but with Him you know it will end in “good things that surpass all understanding” (Collect) and for that all praise, glory, and honor to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and to the ages of ages!  Amen.

02 July 2010

That's a wrap...

...hospital visit with Ann - turned out great - Deo gratias!... home for Matins and then some lunch with Fisks - a delight to meet Meredith, Trinity, Anastasia and Chloe, and to reconnect with Jonathan... Some yard work (a hair cut for the fir tree David planted when a wee lad, among other things)... Dinner with Lauren and Dave (Jo missed, feeling poorly today)... Cards (don't ask!)... Brief chat with Sister Goose... Bed looms - am ready to call it a day...

01 July 2010

Rosenmüller's Vespers

of the Blessed Virgin is simply delightful.  I really wish that the folks who put it together hadn't altered his original to Roman texts, though.  I'd have loved to hear the actual texts as Lutherans sang them in those days.  No, he's not quite Schütz, but he's not far beneath him in the quality of the music.  The peace of heaven distilled in song.

Thought for the Day

Those who hate the liturgy do so because they hate the Word of God which is enshrined in it and which it conveys with clarity.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

When we are no longer afraid of God, when we no longer try to hide from God or give Him only a piece of ourselves, we shall have joy in knowing that His eye is one us that He is pleased to call us His.  When we are no longer afraid of God, then surely we shall fear no one.  No one can make us feel unsure, put us on the defensive, and drive us to put on some false face.  When we know that we become God's children through Christ alone, we cannot convert something better or in pride strive to construct an outward appearance that will impress others and make us out better than we are, better than being God's children.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, pp. 185,6.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The reason so many people assume that they are really good Christians is because their parents reared them to be miserable Pharisees.  Their parents never made them aware of the fact that they are miserable sinners. -- C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 93.

Patristic Quote of the Day

We all sinned in one, so that we all die in one; we received the law, not by amendment according to its precepts to put an end to sin, but by transgression to increase it. For the law entered that sin might abound; Romans 5:20 and the Scripture has concluded all under sin; Galatians 3:22 but thanks be to God, who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,1 Corinthians 15:57 in order that where sin abounded, grace might much more abound; Romans 5:20 and that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe; Galatians 3:22 and that we might overcome death by a deathless resurrection, and sin,the sting thereof, by a free justification.--St. Augustine, On Merit and Remission of Sins, Book III, par. 20.

If you want to get

a great handle on the mission/liturgy challenge, I cannot recommend highly enough this paper by Pr. Heath Curtis.  Read the whole thing - it will fill you with great joy!  Seriously!