31 October 2010

Today I ate

Elk for the first time.  Dean had gone on a hunting expedition to Colorado with some family members - his uncle bagged the elk (a cow, not a bull).  Dean grilled some steaks up for us tonight and we enjoyed a fine dinner at his and Lauren's home.  About the pinochle afterwards, well... the less said, the better.  Obviously eating Elk interferes with men's native superiority in the game...  ;)

P.S.  How did the Elk taste?  Well, exactly like steak.  I couldn't tell the difference.  Maybe it was the marinate, but I would have sworn it was beef.  It was rather tasty indeed.

30 October 2010

Great Capon Quote from Dr. Kent Heimbigner

"The reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellarful of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two hundred proof grace -- of bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly." -Robert Capon

A stunningly beautiful day!

This October takes the cake for beautiful months.  There are still some leaves hanging around, though most are gone.  The air this morning was crisp - about 55 when I set out for my run.  Ran down to Hamel and back and a littler farther - enough to make 5 miles.  Everywhere I looked there was something beautiful to see in nature:  from wooly worms to very sluggish grasshoppers (surely both on their last legs), a horse and a goat and some sheep grazing amid the brown grass, two beautiful cows that our neighbors have just put in their pasture, the blue sky with a pattern of puffy cloud, the empty fields and the sun shining bright.  Very nice!

29 October 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Faith takes hold of God as the living God who graciously involves HImself with us.  It is taking God seriously.  It is our lot thrown in with Him, the evidence of which is in our fulfilling action. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 349.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Firmly believe that our bodies, nourished with this heavenly food, shall some day rise again from the dead. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XXI

Patristic Quote of the Day

Wherefore he again cried out, saying, Behold the Lamb of God, which bears the sin of the world. He did not say, which remits, but, that which implies a more guardian care, which bears it. For it is not all one, simply to remit, and to take it upon Himself. For the one was to be done without peril, the other with death. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 11 on Matthew

28 October 2010

Homily upon the Day of Sts. Simon and Jude

[John 15:17-21]

Over against the love into which Christ has brought His apostles stands the hatred of the world. “These things I command you, so that you will love one another. If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” In point of fact, it is Christ Himself whom the world hates in His apostles and in those who abide in Christ’s love.

Our Lord makes clear that His fate will be theirs. Simon and Jude heard that night from His own blessed lips that what they were about to see happen to Him would be replayed over again in their lives. “Because they do not know Him who sent me.”

But it was that conviction that what happened to the Lord was indeed what would happen to them that set them free and opened their mouths with a witness that none could silence. For what happened to their Master was that after suffering, after dying, after lying in the three-day tomb, He was raised in incorruption, His body filled to the brim with a life that could never be taken from Him ever again.

When you know the end of the story, when you’ve peeked ahead to see how it ends, it changes the terror you might feel in the middle of the action. Simon and Jude went hither and yon and saw some big time action. Tradition says they finally travelled together to Persia where they met a not very nice end. Simon sawn asunder and Jude battered with battleax.

They had gone forward with only a message of incredible love: that the Creator of this world was not content to see it ruined, to see death reign, to see his creature destroying themselves in their sin, and so He did something about it. Came among us and lived among us the way of love – which will not use power coercively. Came among us to live a life so full of love that death itself couldn’t hold Him down. Came among us to give us a share in His own unending life. “He died for you! He loves you!” proclaimed Simon and Jude. Even as they died for Him. Their blood preached the same love!

They could die so cheerfully with the end of the story known. They’d seen Him, remember. They were there when Thomas reached the trembling finger into the gaping side. They saw Him on the other side of death munching on fish. He showed them in so many ways that He was truly victor over death and the grave, and when His Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost, they were there, and they began the miracle of speaking the mighty deeds of God in tongues they’d never learned. So they went out as witnesses to a joy that was bigger than all the sadness of this world, a righteousness stronger than all the injustices and wrongs, a peace more solid and lasting than any heart-ache of this world. They knew themselves forgiven and they knew themselves in Christ to have a life that could not finally be taken from them. So love filled them to the brim, even as they died martyrs, witnesses to Christ’s victory.

He would have use of you as He had use of them. So He gives into you His crucified, risen, glorified body and blood – so that you who have been baptized into Him, might be witnesses to His forgiveness and the gift of His life, that your lives might be filled – as were Simon and Jude’s – with His divine love. Come, taste and see that the Lord is good and then go forth to invite the world to magnify the Lord with you, so that all may exalt His name together - with Sts. Simon and Jude and all His apostles and the whole Church. Amen.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We Lutherans are subject to a special temptation.  We have been so much assured that our standing with God is based entirely on God's free and undeserved love and not on any action of ours that the devil is right there to suggest:  "Well, if it not based on any action of yours, your actions don't matter.  You have a nice cushion to rest on there.  You have complete forgiveness in Christ.  So do as you please.  You are always forgiven."  There is no more hideous mockery of Christ and Calvary than that.  Christ died in our place so we may not be condemned and punished for our sins.  He takes all that for us so we may be forgiven and may know the living God as a God who graciously involves Himself with us and we with Him.  Are we, then, to make of this the basis for a life that contradicts that we are involved with Him?  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 348.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

O let us greatly fear to come to that great marriage supper of the Lamb clad in the miserable and filthy garments of our own works; but clothe Thou us, O Lord, lest in that day we be found naked.  -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XX

Patristic Quote of the Day

For this end he [St. John the Baptist] exhorted them to confess and repent of their sins; not that they should be punished, but that they might more easily receive the subsequent remission. For had they not condemned themselves, they could not have sought after His grace; and not seeking, they could not have obtained remission. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 10 on Matthew

27 October 2010

So far...

...Office 2011 for Mac gets a solid A for performance.  All except for STILL lacking book folds - very important for a church!  The work around is to make Lutheran Service Builder save formats fitting for a full page and then use "PDF Create Booklet" to make bulletin go.  Not the BEST solution.  Microsoft, give us book folds on the Mac!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

When we are shocked by the shady and downright wicked things that the patriarchs did, it is perfectly clear that God didn't bother about them because they were such splendid fellows.  That they certainly were not.  So the reason for God's concern for them was not in them but only in God.  The shabbier their record the more amazing is the grace of God that so patiently cared for them and brought them through.  God had given them His promise and He couldn't go back on His word.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, pp. 345,6

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

This holy remedy [the Eucharist] heals all the gaping wounds that sin hath made; the life-giving body of the Son of God overcomes every deadly sin. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XX

Patristic Quote of the Day

He that desires the kingdom will laugh covetousness to scorn. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 9 on Matthew.

Reminder: Sts. Simon and Jude, Apostles

Tomorrow (Thursday, October 28) St. Paul's will celebrate the Divine Service at 6 p.m. commemorating these two Apostles of our Lord.  Join us, if you can!

Praise, Lord, for Your apostles,
Saint Simon and Saint Jude,
One love, one hope impelled them
To tread the way, renewed.
May we with zeal as earnest
The faith of Christ maintain,
Be bound in love together,
And life eternal gain.
LSB 518:28

Almighty God, You chose Your servants Simon and Jude to be numbered among the glorious company of the apostles.  As they were faithful and zealous in their mission, so may we with ardent devotion make known the love and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever!

26 October 2010

Holy Smoke!

An hysterical article by Fr. Peters on the epidemic of asthma among Lutherans...when they spot incense.  Enjoy!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

When you enlist with Christ you get more than you bargained for.  If you are quite satisfied with yourself and the way you are managing things, you would be well advised to stay away from Christ.  You are really in for something when Christ takes over, when you call Him Lord.  When you do that, you are onto something solid. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 344.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Thus this holy supper will transform our souls; this most divine sacrament will make us divine men. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XX

Patristic Quote of the Day

And this because God, who is full of love to man, did with these hardships mingle things pleasant also; which indeed is His way with regard to all the saints, making neither their dangers nor their refreshment continual, but weaving the life of all righteous men, out of both the one and the other. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 8 on Matthew

25 October 2010


I was surprised to discover that my series on the Liturgy can still be accessed here.  That was a FUN series to do on the historic liturgy, and I'm glad to know that it's still alive and kicking!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

When God says you must love Him more than wife or child, it sounds like He is wanting to cut back your love for them.  The opposite is the case.  You love your wife and child best when you love God most.  Then your love for them can be sound, healthy, full, and sure, and your love for them is held within His love for you.  This is true also for your enjoyment of your car, refrigerator and potatoes. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 343.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The holy flesh of God which the angelic hosts adore in the unity of the divine nature, before which the archangels bow in lowly reverence, and before which the principalities tremble and stand in awe, is become the spiritual nourishment of our souls! -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XIX

Patristic Quote of the Day

But take heed that you be not like Herod, and say, that I may come and worship Him, and when you have come, be minded to slay Him. For him do they resemble, who partake of the mysteries unworthily: it being said, that such a one shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 11:27 Yes; for they have in themselves the tyrant who is grieved at Christ's kingdom, him that is more wicked than Herod of old, even Mammon. For he would fain have the dominion, and sends them that are his own to worship in appearance, but slaying while they worship. Let us fear then, lest at any time, while we have the appearance of suppliants and worshippers, we should in deed show forth the contrary. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 7 on Matthew

24 October 2010

Busy, Busy Day!

This morning Pr. Allen Braun served as deacon at the late service, and then he and his wonderful family joined us for a meal:

Maria is one of our darling godchildren; she's sitting beside her beautiful mommy:  Laura

That's Bekah (barely visible), Christina, Clarissa, Laura, Katherine and Sam

Then after hearing some confessions, the joy of Catechism Service - and the focus on John 18-19.  I tried to wrap that up in time to get to the Youth Group's big Paint Ball activity - wow, the kids turned out and brought a ton of friends.  We think we had closing in on 40 youth show up.  We even ran out of guns!  Veronica did a great job leading the devotion (thanks to Higher Things - we swiped today's devotion from them!), and after some hotdogs and snacks they were off splatting each other royally!

Note:  these are NOT youth!

Neither is he, but he likes guns...and he's a lot nearer to youth than the other two!

23 October 2010

That Martyria, Diakonia, Koinonia thingy

I think it is a mistake to start with the martyria. Rather, one starts with koinonia, with our Lord reaching us a share in His communion with the Father in the Spirit and this is found to be everlasting life. THIS is what one then witnesses about, testifies to the truth of, and it is THIS which frees us from the fatal curve in on one's self and straightens up, turning us outward toward the neighbor in acts of diakonia, of mercy, thus authenticating the martyria and calling others back with us into the koinonia of our Lord in the Spirit with the Father.  Not that anyone asked, but since when has THAT stopped me?

Fisk Does It Again (and Again and Again)

Wonder if our bell choir

could pull this off?  I love it!


Maria Johanna will be visiting, together with her parents (Pr. and Laura Braun) and siblings.  Looking forward to it!  We decided on our menu and made up most of the goodies today.  Induction Chili (no beans); Cheese Potato Soup; two loaves of french bread (one topped with sesame and one with poppy); and some ginger bread for dessert (or left over pies - a chocolate or a strawberry).  The house is smelling mighty fine.  I can just see David bopping in after work (should be here about the time the french bread comes out of the oven!) and feasting on the smells only to be told:  "Sorry, hands off; it's all for tomorrow."  He gets that adorable sad puppy dog face when he's told "no" about food.

Homily upon Trinity 21 (2010)

[Genesis 1:1-2:3 / Ephesians 6:10-17 / John 4:46-54]

God speaks and what He says happens. Let there be this and let there be that, and lo, this and that there were. Over and over again. Until the world is shaped and filled and life abounds, with humanity placed at the crown and apex of His spoken-into-being world. God speaks and what He says happens.

Which is all fine and good when you can SEE the immediate results of His speaking. But what about when you can’t? Is it still so? Even though you can’t see or measure or verify, does the creating Word of God still do its job?

The official in today’s Gospel came to Jesus because his son was ill, in fact dying. He had nowhere else he could turn. He begs Jesus to do two things: to come down with him, and to heal his son before death takes him.

Oh, this official has faith, but it’s a weak faith. He knows Jesus can do the job, but he seems to think it only will happen if Jesus accompanies him to the child’s bedside and if they reach the child before the child dies.

Jesus rebukes not only the man but the crowds. The you is plural: “Unless you all SEE signs and wonders you will not believe.” The problem with such faith is that it doesn’t hang entirely on God speaking and bringing about what He promises. It rather hangs on seeing. We recall that in Hebrews faith is defined as: the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Jesus wants to give this man and us a bigger faith than the faith that merely runs with seeing. So rather than accompany the father to his dying son, Jesus sends him home with a word of promise: “Go; your son lives.”

The man believed Jesus’ words. He clung to them and so off he went. But do you think for a second that it was all that simple? Do you imagine he didn’t turn in perplexity a time or two or twenty and look back at Jesus and wonder, in fear and doubt?

In today’s Epistle St. Paul spoke to us of our armor for spiritual warfare. Lots of defensive weapons described, but only one offensive. That last bit: the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. That’s what he puts into your hand to do the battle against Satan.

For battle it is: when the Word of God seems not to be coming true for you, when you are sent away with miles to go and only a promise in your pocket, Satan comes and whispers: “See. I told you he didn’t love you. I told you he didn’t care about the likes of you. He COULD have bothered himself to come down and accompany you, but nooooo. He’s got other things to attend to - people more important than you. He could have come down and saved your son, but no, he sends you away with nothing.”

These battles are not rarities in the Christian life. They comprise it. You will find that they grow as you grow. What is behind them is God getting you ready for the last and final battle. You see, when you go to face your moment of death, when everything is taken away from you, then you will have only the promises of God that will go with you through that last battle and you will either cling to them and be victorious or Satan will succeed in wresting that sword from your hand, making you believe that the promises are worthless, that they are wishful thinking and nothing more, that they have no power to deliver you finally from either your sins (which he will assiduously remind you of in great detail) or your death (which is breathing down your neck at that moment). To prepare you for victory in that battle, again and again the Lord takes away from you this or that, and sends you out with just a word, just a promise from Him. So your Lord teaches you to cling to His promises, promises that do not fail.

The Lutheran Confessions describe this battle when they define true divine services as “the exercises of faith struggling with despair.” That’s real worship. Faith clinging to the promises of God in Christ Jesus against the despair Satan and your flesh would stir up in you.

So the official in today’s Gospel battled back and forth as he travelled all those miles to home. Against the fears and doubts that Satan planted within him, he would hurl the promise: “no, He said my son lives.” So the battle raged within - sometimes the promise brought peace, but then Satan would steal it away with a big “ah, but what if?” And then he’d have to take up the promise again and comfort himself. So it went until the moment he sees the servants coming towards him. He sees the look on their face and his heart melts for joy. They are not anxious, they are joyful. And the first words out of their mouths? Well, our translators did us no favors with this Gospel. They rendered the words: “told him that his son was recovering.” The Greek is more interesting: “they told him: See your son lives.” Do you get it? They spoke the very words to him that JESUS had spoken. The promise on their lips!

When the father learned that it was at the very hour Jesus had said: “your son lives” that the tide had turned, the fever broken, the child’s life spared, he told his household all about it and they believed with him. John says this is the second sign - and all the signs in John’s Gospel culminate in that last and greatest sign: the crucifixion. Here above all is time to not focus on what you see, but on what God promises. What you see is just another human being, trodden down under unjust government, murdered for convenience and because someone thought it to their advantage. Nothing new there. Same old, same old across human history. But let the word of God define what you see and lo, a glorious vision opens before you. The Lamb of God ascending the cross in divine love to bear the sin of the world, to free you and all from sin, from death, from hell, from Satan.

And so the Lord would teach you to trust that His powerful Word will not fail you - especially when it is all you have left to cling to. When you lay dying and Satan brings out those sins of yours in vivid detail, you will turn eyes from them to Him who on the Cross answered for them all, and who promises you that He is the propitiation for your sins and for the sins of the world. You are forgiven. When you lay dying and Satan would bring you to despair over the grave that is fast closing in on you, you will remember Him who said: “Because I live, you will live also.” You will remember that He died and rose again and that He promises to raise you with Him. When you have to say goodbye to those you have known and loved and you think your heart will break beyond repair, you will remember that “in my Father’s house are many mansions and I go to prepare a place for you all” and your heart will ease. That is how you will take up the sword of the Spirit to do the battle - to lean on the words and promises of God for what cannot be seen and you will see in the end exactly what the official in today's Gospel saw:  that God is faithful, that what He promises He brings to pass. The Eucharist we celebrate today is the promise that all this is so for you. Amen.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Through the low doorway of confession we must go on our knees with no specifications we can impose on God.  Those who have been brought through this find that when they have been cleansed of other gods, cleansed of trying to play God, cleansed of telling God how to behave, they find the solid fact of God, the solid point of reference, God in the stable and on the cross.  There is a God you can rely on and love, a God from whose hands we live.  Every good thing is then received and valued from Him.  When everything is seen in relationship to God, it has its true and full value and meaning and blessing.  Then things can't be ruined by being treated as idols.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 343.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

But behold, in this holy Supper, more than a paradise! -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XIX

Patristic Quote of the Day

For what could they have to say, who did not receive Christ after so many prophets, when they saw that wise men, at the sight of a single star, had received this same, and had worshipped Him who was made manifest. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 6 on Matthew

22 October 2010

Part of Issues Etc Reformation Series

a discussion on worship.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

He is number one.  We must take it from Him.  What He gives and says goes.  This can be rough.  We are reluctant to let Him have the say so. We would rather like to keep that or, at least, some of it.  We are prepared to fit Him in somewhere down along the line of other gods.  We don't want to tell Him straight that He is redundant.  Better to put Him on reduced time.  We might need Him some day.  That line of thinking betrays itself when things don't work out the way we want them to.  There comes a day when we need God and He doesn't come up to our specifications.  He doesn't deliver the goods, so we sack Him.  Well, not just like that.  We use some polite dodge or another, but the effect is the same.  What it boils down to is that God is not doing what number one tells Him to do.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 342.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

What sin is so great that it may not be healed by the life-giving flesh of Christ?  What sin so deadly that it may not be atoned for by the death of the Son of God?  What darts of the devil so fiery but they may be quenched in this fountain of divine grace? -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XIX

Patristic Quote of the Day

And when he had taken her, he knew her not, till she had brought forth her first-born Son. He has here used the word till, not that you should suspect that afterwards he did know her, but to inform you that before the birth the Virgin was wholly untouched by man. But why then, it may be said, has he used the word, till? Because it is usual in Scripture often to do this, and to use this expression without reference to limited times. For so with respect to the ark likewise, it is said, The raven returned not till the earth was dried up. Genesis 8:7 And yet it did not return even after that time. And when discoursing also of God, the Scripture says, From age until age You are, not as fixing limits in this case. And again when it is preaching the Gospel beforehand, and saying, In his days shall righteousness flourish, and abundance of peace, till the moon be taken away, it does not set a limit to this fair part of creation. So then here likewise, it uses the word till, to make certain what was before the birth, but as to what follows, it leaves you to make the inference. Thus, what it was necessary for you to learn of Him, this He Himself has said; that the Virgin was untouched by man until the birth; but that which both was seen to be a consequence of the former statement, and was acknowledged, this in its turn he leaves for you to perceive; namely, that not even after this, she having so become a mother, and having been counted worthy of a new sort of travail, and a child-bearing so strange, could that righteous man ever have endured to know her. For if he had known her, and had kept her in the place of a wife, how is it that our Lord John 19:27 commits her, as unprotected, and having no one, to His disciple, and commands him to take her to his own home? -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 5 on Matthew

21 October 2010

One of David's School Projects

You know...

...a couple weeks ago we decided to use some antique ball jars from my mom to put some grain into in the kitchen.  I didn't think we'd need to label the grain - I mean, you can look and see what's what, right?  So, tonight Cindi complains that the brown rice she has made up for me just is not getting done.  I take a peak and sure enough - watery.  And it looks weird.  So I stir some more, cover it up, and we wait a bit longer.  I try it again.  Nope.  Not done and not right either.  Weird.  Can rice go bad?  No.  I look over at the containers and a light dawns.  I ask Cindi if she fixed the "rice" from the large blue ball jar?  Yes, that's the one.  The one with the WHOLE WHEAT in it.  I showed her the one with the rice in it (it actually HAD a label) and we had a good laugh.  The stir fry was still good - even without the rice.  And I didn't even say ANYTHING to her about proving herself David's mother...

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

God comes into the mess we have made of things.  He is born as one of us, as we shall shortly celebrate.  He makes a way through the mess for us.  He takes our sin and answers for it.  He takes our death and overcomes it.  All this He did for you so you might know Him as the God who forgives you, the God who takes you on and would fulfill His happy purpose for you. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 342.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In the Holy Supper of our Lord we have a mystery placed before us that should cause the deepest awe and excite our profoundest adoration.  There is the treasury and store-house of God's grace.  -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XIX

Patristic Quote of the Day

[The Angel to St. Joseph]:  For do not thou, because He is of the Holy Ghost, imagine that you are an alien to the ministry of this dispensation. Since although in the birth you have no part, but the Virgin abode untouched, nevertheless, what pertains to a father, not injuring the honor of virginity, that do I give you, to set a Name on that which is born: for you shall call Him. For though the offspring be not yours, yet shall you exhibit a father's care towards Him. Wherefore I do straightway, even from the giving of the name, connect you with Him that is born. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 4 on Matthew

20 October 2010

I noted on

erstwhile Lutheran, now Roman Catholic, David Sch├╝tz's blog this fascinating link:  the music of the new mass.  Come Advent next [corrected!] year, the silly season is largely over for many of the excesses that followed in the wake of Vatican II in the Roman parishes and this new and more stately and dignified Mass will be introduced in them.  Oh, it's still Roman with all the problems entailed therein, but it is still a joy to see them step back from a reform of the Mass so radical that arch-confessionalist Lutheran Hermann Sasse characterized as being "presided over by St. Zwingli!"  Wonder how on earth this will be received in the Roman parishes here in North America.  I'll be eagerly listening for responses.

Some of the oddest of comments we've received at St. Paul's over the years come from disillusioned Roman Catholics who observe that our liturgy (Lutheran through and through, mind you) is rather like what they used to have in years gone by.  They mean, I think, the reverence of the ceremonial, the careful manner in which the liturgy is celebrated with joy among us.  They recognize in our Lutheran Divine Service something more akin to the Masses of their childhood than what they currently find in their Roman parishes.  I hope, for their sake, that this is about to change for them.

Homily upon Trinity 20

Jesus lays bare the Kingdom of God with a story.  The King prepares a great feast for His Son’s wedding, and invites to the feast his subjects.  He sends out the kindest and gentlest of invitations: “Come, for everything is ready!”  You see what kind of a King He is!  He is a King who does all, prepares all, and then invites His people merely to enjoy His rich bounty.  He is a Giver King - and a rather thinly disguised God the Father.

But what happens?  They don’t want to come.  The King is perplexed other servants He sends out.  This time the message is more explicit:  I’ve killed my oxen and my fatted calves.  Everthing’s ready - on the table.  Getting cold.  Won’t you come?  Come to the wedding feast! 

You moms know what he was going through, don’t you?  The dinner all set on the table and the husband buried in the newspaper or in front of the computer or piddling around in the shop, the kids glued to the T.V. or busy playing around outside.  And meanwhile the dinner is getting cold.  A little more urgently you call:  Come to dinner. 

Well, as so often happens with your dinners, so with the King’s.  The ones invited “made light” of the invitation.  They regarded it as not important - at least, not as important as whatever it is that they were up to at the moment.  One goes to his farm and another to his business (you see, he covers the country mouse and the city mouse in one fell swoop!) and others do even worse.  They grab those who invited them to the wedding and beat on them and then killed them.

Now, this is so stupid as to be almost unbelievable, isn’t it?  We all want to say:  “Come on, Jesus, that would never happen.  You wouldn’t have people be so foolish as to beat up on and kill those whom a king, with an army at his command, had invited to share in a supper.”  But Jesus would look you in the eye and say:  “Oh, but weren’t they so foolish?”  For so they did.  His own people.  They not only killed the messengers, but they killed the Son in whose honor the wedding feast was to be held.  And then that terrible fate went out over them:  the king sent his armies and burned their city. Again, a not so veiled reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. 

So the invitation to the wedding went beyond the Jewish nation and other nations were called to the wedding feast.  The gathering of the gentiles, the non-Jews into the great wedding feast.  The Gospel reaches out and gathers a people for God.  But beware!  Merely to be in attendance at the wedding is not enough.  Here you are, each of you, at the wedding today.  Waiting for the celebration to begin in earnest.  But before it begins, the King himself will come to inspect the guests and examine those invited. What He looks for is a wedding garment.

Let me be perfectly clear:  this garment is not something you have to come up with on your own.  He has sent His Gospel out to invite you in:  the good and the bad together.  With His Gospel’s invitation goes the gift of the wedding garment.  Do you know what it is?  The wedding garment is nothing less than the righteousness of Jesus Christ, covering over your sin, hiding it from the eyes of God the Father as with a vestment, a robe, some clothing. 

Listen to how Isaiah describes it:  “I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”  (Is 61:10)  And when did He do this?  When did He give you this wonderful garment of salvation, this robe of righteousenss?  Listen again to what St. Paul says in Galatians 3:  “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.”  (Gal. 3:27)  Many churches show this by placing the white robe on the newly baptized with the words: “Receive this white robe to show that Christ has taken away your sin and placed on you His perfect righteousness.  So shall you in faith ever stand before Him.”  In your baptism, when the Holy Spirit called you into life in Christ you were given this garment of salvation to wear, and it must be the concern of your life that you wear this garment always so that when you appear before the King at the marriage feast of the Lamb, you are not without it.

The man bound hand and foot and thrown out into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, was not wearing what he had been given to wear.  He dared to appear before the King in his own dirty, filthy garments, in his own righteousness.  This can be understood two ways.  First, that he didn’t wear the wedding garment because he was too intent on enjoying sin.  Instead of fulfilling his baptism and putting off the sinful nature with its evil desires, he was indulging it.  Did he say in his heart:  “What a great arrangement!  I like to sin and God likes to forgive!”?  Beware of this like the devil.  That is to take the precious wedding garment you have been given and treat it with contempt.  Instead of using it to cover your sinfulness in true repentance, you then take it and drag it through the mud.  God forbid!  What is that but treating with contempt the sufferings and death of your Savior?  Or, second, it could be that he didn’t think he needed that garment because he imagined his own holiness was quite beautiful enough.  That is, he was self-righteous.  Either way, my friends, lands you in the outer darkness.  What they both have in common is a despising of the gift of the wedding garment that God has given.

Think what it cost God to clothe you with the holiness of His Son!  Not merely that His Son took on flesh and blood, but the shame that His Son was stripped naked and nailed to a tree, and there His Father clothed him with the guilt and shame and filthy garment of our sin.  On Calvary He took our sin so that in Baptism He might give us His righteousness.  Luther called this the happy exchange.  We have nothing to give but our sin and He will take nothing us else from us.  He has nothing to give but His righteousness and this He freely bestows.

To you, baptized people of God, this wedding garment has been given.  But what do you do with it?  You must wear it.  And there is only one way to wear what has been given.  That is faith.  By faith you put on the wedding garment.  That is, you have only to believe that what Christ did He did for you.  What He suffered He suffered for you, to atone your sin. When He rose it was to destroy your death.   Whenever you pray, whenever you stand before the King who has invited you to the feast, you must wear this garment:  saying, “I come to you Father and pray only on the basis of the righteousness of your Son, which He has made my own.”  And that you might not doubt that it was all for you that He did this, He not only gives you the garment to wear, but invites you to the foretaste, the hor doeuvres of the great Wedding Feast - He calls you to His supper, to give you His Body and Blood, whispering in your ears:  for you, for you, for you!  I died for you.  My body given for you.  My blood poured out for you.  Take and eat and be strengthened in your faith.  You see, baptism gives you the wedding garment, but here the garment is found:  the very body and blood which are your righteousness before God. 

Clothed in such rich dress you will be able to sing eternally:  “Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness, my beauty are, my glorious dress; midst flaming worlds in these arrayed, with joy shall I lift up my head.”  And so when you come into this room for the last time, your casket will be clothed with a white pall, a white robe – the confession that YOUR righteousness is only what you were given in Baptism:  Christ Himself.  Amen.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

No created thing can take His place and pull it off.  As created by Him, we can only derive our life and success from Him.  There is really no other alternative.  We are either in the fulfillment of His plan or we are that plan ruined.  While there is no escaping these facts, God is not a tyrant who makes slaves as do the other gods.  He allows the option of rejection.  If we persistently set ourselves to do without God, God finally says, "you shall have it as you want it then," which means hell.  The negative possibility is bound up in the fact that God is no idol.  He wants no slaves.  He is not that sort of person.  He wants sons and daughters, a family held together by the greatest of His gifts - love.  That is the sort of God He is.  --Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, pp. 342.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We are united to Him not only because He assumed our nature, but because His body and blood are communicated to us in the Supper.  -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XVIII

Patristic Quote of the Day

For nothing is so acceptable to God as to number one's self with the last. This is a first principle of all practical wisdom. For he that is humbled, and bruised in heart, will not be vainglorious, will not be wrathful, will not envy his neighbor, will not harbor any other passion. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 3 on Matthew

19 October 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

There is nobody and nothing that can stand the strain of being treated as God except God Himself... Idols make slaves to our ruin.  They all break under the strain of being treated as God, then those who rely on them break with them. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 341.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Inexpressibly great must be the value of our souls, since they are fed with the precious ransom of their own redemption.  Great indeed is the honor put upon our bodies, inasmuch as they are the dwelling places of our souls redeemed and fed by the body of Christ, and are the temples of the Holy Spirit, and the abodes of the adorable Trinity.  It cannot be that they should ever remain in the grave, since they are thus nourished with the body and blood of our Lord.  -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XVIII

Patristic Quote of the Day

When therefore you are told that the Son of God is Son of David and of Abraham, doubt not any more that thou too, the son of Adam, shall be son of God. For not at random, nor in vain did He abase Himself so greatly, only He was minded to exalt us. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 2 on Matthew

18 October 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

As Christians we may live with a royal confidence.  We know who we are and we know our goal.  The Lord has forgiven us and taken us on.  We have His pledge that what He has begun He will see through to the consummation. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 336.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

At the Baptism of Christ all three persons of the adorable Trinity were present; so they are at our baptisms.  And so in that word of promise, which is united to the element of water, faith receives the grace of the heavenly Father who adopts us, the merit of the blessed Son who cleanses us from sin, and the efficacious working of the Holy Spirit who regenerates us. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XVII

Patristic Quote of the Day

But what are these points [in which all the Gospels agree]? Such as follow: That God became man, that He wrought miracles, that He was crucified, that He was buried, that He rose again, that He ascended, that He will judge, that He has given commandments tending to salvation, that He has brought in a law not contrary to the Old Testament, that He is a Son, that He is only-begotten, that He is a true Son, that He is of the same substance with the Father, and as many things as are like these; for touching these we shall find that there is in them a full agreement.
--St. John Chrysostom, Homily 1 on Matthew

Day of St. Luke, the Evangelist

Today we celebrate the day of Saint Luke the Evangelist.  Divine Service will be offered at 6 p.m.

Almighty God, our Father, Your blessed Son called Luke the physician to be an evangelist and physician of the soul.  Grant that the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments may put to flight the diseases of our souls that with willing hearts we may ever love and serve You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

16 October 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We know His death for us on Calvary.  We know that if God did that for us then no power of sin, world, or Satan can separate us from the love of God.  No matter what onslaughts of sin we may have to endure, we know that we cannot be destroyed.  We may have to suffer a lot.  Jesus did too.  We may be put to death.  But through all this we know that the God who joined Himself to us in Bethlehem and died for us on Calvary will not forsake us.  By all this our being bound up with Him is tested and strengthened.  We are challenged to show forth the victory with our lives and with our deaths.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 328,9.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

As it was at the creation, so it is at our regeneration.  For as at the creation of the world, the Spirit of the Lord moved upon the face of the waters and imparted to them a vital energy, so in the water of Baptism the same Holy Spirit is present to render it efficacious for our regeneration. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XVII

Patristic Quote of the Day

And whence is division? From opinions contrary to the teaching of the Apostles. And whence come opinions of this sort? From men's being slaves to the belly, and the other passions. For such, he says, serve not the Lord, but their own belly. And so there would be no offense, there would be no division, unless some opinion were thought of contrary to the doctrine of the Apostles. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 31 on Romans

The Sun is just

peeking over the trees and it is 7:23 a.m.  Wow.  You can really feel the collapse of the light as fall seems to gather speed.  And within grows the natural tug toward the celebration of light itself against the weakened sun:  fires, candles, and before long Christmas lights.  It touches something deep down inside of us, and our faith takes it and reveals through it something deeper by far, as we sing in the Benedictus at Matins:  "through the tender mercy of our God the Day shall dawn upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."  There is a darkness deeper far than the darkest, longest, coldest night.  But even in that darkness - in the very shadow of death itself - Light shone that transformed death forever, destroyed it literally from the inside out.

15 October 2010

Fabulous concert

tonight by Collinsville Chorale.  They excelled on "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" (yeah, I'm a softie for Simon and Garfunkel anyway).  I may say without prejudice that my beloved wife is one of the more interesting singers to observe:  she gives herself wholly into each song and her eyes are fixed on Andy as he conducts.  And if my eyes stray from my beloved wife, there's always my daughter to behold, almost (but not quite as much) into the singing as her mommy.  Hopefully for the Christmas concert we'll have ALL the Weedons singing.  Andy is a hoot and a half to sing with - he's totally got the gift.  TOTALLY.

Because poetry came up in another conversation today...

...I thought of this poem of J. R. R. Tolkien that I think is one of his absolute finest.  Reminds me so very much of how my mom would, indeed, sit beside the fire in her rocking chair and wait for those returning voices:

I sit beside the fire and think
of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies
In summers that have been;

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun
and wind upon my hair.

I sit beside the fire and think
of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring
that I shall ever see.

For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring
there is a different green.

I sit beside the fire and think
of people long ago,
and people who will see a world
that I shall never know.

But all the while I sit and think
of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet
and voices at the door.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

He doesn't stop sin by an act of almighty power, for that would mean killing every sinner.  He takes our sin on Himself and suffers it all, even to the agony of the cross, so sin may be forgiven and we may be changed and brought into the kingdom of God where He rules, not with a sword but with His love.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 328.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Contrition is the spiritual hunger of our souls; and by faith our souls are spiritually fed.  -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XVI

Patristic Quote of the Day

In what sense then does he say, I suffer not a woman to teach? 1 Timothy 2:12 He means to hinder her from publicly coming forward 1 Corinthians 14:35, and from the seat on the bema, not from the word of teaching. Since if this were the case, how would he have said to the woman that had an unbelieving husband, How do you know, O woman, if you shall save your husband? 1 Corinthians 7:16 Or how came he to suffer her to admonish children, when he says, but she shall be saved by child-bearing if they continue in faith, and charity, and holiness, with sobriety? 1 Timothy 2:15 How came Priscilla to instruct even Apollos? It was not then to cut in sunder private conversing for advantage that he said this, but that before all, and which it was the teacher's duty to give in the public assembly; or again, in case the husband be believing and thoroughly furnished, able also to instruct her. When she is the wiser, then he does not forbid her teaching and improving him. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 31 on Romans

14 October 2010

The Celebrant's Communion Prayers

In his crucial writing on the Latin Mass of 1532, Dr. Luther gives his "amen" to certain prayers that the celebrant may pray, all with the altering of the first person singular to plural (thus ruling out of bounds the private mass).  It seems to me a crying shame that these have largely been lost to our typical Lutheran practice.  They include the following:

Before communing:

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who through the will of the Father and the co-operation of the Holy Ghost, didst through thy death give life to the world: deliver us by this thy most sacred body and blood from all our iniquities, and from all evils: and make us ever to cleave to thy commandments; nor ever suffer us to be separated from thee: who with the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest with God, world without end. Amen.

And after communing:

What we have taken with our lips, O Lord, may we with pure minds receive; and from a temporal gift, may it become to us an everlasting remedy.

May Thy body [and Thy blood] which we have received cleave to our inmost parts: and grant that no stain of sin may remain in us whom this pure and holy sacrament hath refreshed, O thou who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost world without end.  Amen.

Another sola?

In this morning's psalter, I noted a sola I'd not heeded before:

My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come;
I will remind them of your righteousness,
yours alone.
--Psalm 71:15,16

The Church has a sole righteousness to extol, to tell of, to praise - and it is the righteousness of God, a righteousness that wrought mighty deeds of salvation.  From manger to cross, from empty tomb to ascension, from the pouring out of the Spirit to the glorious Appearing at the Last Day to usher in the Resurrection Age.  And it's not that that righteousness of God has no effect upon us:  our "righteousness" is simply the result of His righteousness given to us, His life given us to live as our very own.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

But if He slew everyone of us prepared to put himself first, there would be none of us left.  He came the way of love, which knows that we are not made better by force.  The only thing that can really change us is love.  It changes us inside.  Force deals only with the outside of a person.  When God came to save us from sin, He used not force but love - love that brought Him to a stinking stable and a cruel cross. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, pp. 327.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is truly wonderful when we consider how God hath formed in us our flesh and our bones; but it is still more wonderful to think how He was willing to become flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone.  O my soul, give unceasing thanks to God who created thee, when as yet thou hadst no being; who redeemed thee, when through sin thou wast under eternal condemnation; and who hath prepared for thee joys unspeakable and full of glory, if thou by faith dost cling to Christ thy Savior. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XV

Patristic Quote of the Day

For as Christ loved the world, and as the Father does, so does the Spirit also. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 30 on Romans

13 October 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

When we try to overthrow God, it is not God who comes to grief. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 326.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Well may we wonder at the stupendous reconciliation of divine justice and mercy, which no one, before God was manifest in the flesh, could have devised, nor after He was so manifested, could fully comprehend. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XIV

Patristic Quote of the Day

For there is need not only of faith, but also of a spiritual way of life, that we may keep the Spirit that was given once for all. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 29 on Romans

Wonderful get-away

down to Southern Illinois.  Cindi and I spent three days, two nights, walking trails (including the Little Grand Canyon), visiting a winery and farmer's market, and enjoying the beauty of autumn.  Discovered the zoom on my iPhone as we snapped photos.  Today we walked 16 miles through some pretty rugged country at times.  It took us 6 hours.  We were treated to a rain shower in the middle too.  And it is totally disconcerting to be walking the midst of a forest and to have your CELL PHONE RING.  I chose to pretend I didn't even hear it.  Here are some pics from our adventures:

10 October 2010

Prayer After Communion

Merciful Redeemer, You have fulfilled Your promise, "Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  At Your Table I have received nourishment for my soul, the water of life in my weariness.  By giving me, with the bread and cup, Your body and Your blood, You have have said to me:  "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine."  You have wiped out all my sins and have put on me the garment of Your righteousness.  Make me truly grateful for Your abundant love.  Let the Sacrament be in me a power overcoming unbelief and doubt, conquering temptations and evil desires, and producing good works and humble service.  Having been a guest at Your Table, help me to share the bread of life with my neighbors, so that they may share my joy and happiness.  To You and the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory forever and ever.  Amen. -- from the Treasury of Daily Prayer, p. 1470.

From Starck's Prayer for Children

Immediately after their natural birth, I placed them into the arms of Your mercy in Holy Baptism.  Behold, I now do the same in my prayer.  Bless my children.  Attend them in their going out and their coming in.  Keep them in Your holy fear, that they may never burden their consciences with sins or offend You, or worst of all, fall from Your grace.  Give them believing, humble, obedient, and godly hearts, that, like the child Jesus, they may increase in stature, wisdom and favor with God and men.  Imprint on their hearts the image of Jesus in order that they may always keep, until their blessed end, a gracious God and an unstained conscience.

Let my children be devout in their prayers, well-grounded in their Christian faith, steadfast and zealous in worship, chaste in their living, godly in their conversation, so that by their words and actions they may give offense to no one and thus bring upon themselves a fearful judgment.  Preserve them from temptations and evil company.  By Your Holy Spirit keep them constantly in mind of Your holy presence, that they remember that You are with them at home and away, in their room, by day and by night, in the company of others and when they are alone.  Let Your holy angels be with them when they go out and when they come in.  Let Your angels guard them when they travel.  Give them Your holy angels as their companions.  By their aid rescue them from dangers, as You did with Lot.  Let them, like Jacob, live under the angels' watchful care.  --pp. 170, 171

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

God gives to us that we may grow to be like Him.  God has His delight in giving.  The more we are like God, the more joy we have in giving and sharing our gifts with others.  What He does for us, He wants us, in turn, to do for others.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 323

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Let us go with the shepherds to the manger of Christ, that is, His Church, and as He lay in that manger in swaddling clothes, so in the sacred scriptures, we shall find our Savior.  Let us also with a lively recollection of the words of this mystery, like Mary, the blessed mother of our Lord, keep pondering them continually in our hearts.  -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XIV

Patristic Quote of the Day

For it was not that the Law might continue, but that He might put an end to it, and free you from the curse thereof, and set you entirely at liberty from the dominion of that Law. For it was because you had transgressed the Law, that He fulfilled it, not that you might fulfil it, but that He might confirm to you the promises made unto the fathers, which the Law had caused to be suspended, by showing you to have offended, and to be unworthy of the inheritance. And so thou also art saved by grace, since you were cast off. Do not thou then bicker, nor perversely cling to the Law at this unsuitable time, since it would have cast you also out of the promise, unless Christ had suffered so many things for you. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 28 on Romans

09 October 2010

Oh, my gracious!

Robert Clark sent me this pic of him, Michele and me on the day of their wedding...it was a few moons ago - before I learned how to make sure my stole was on straight (solved that for weddings now:  I wear only cassock and surplice!)!!!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

After Calvary we can have no doubt of His love. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 322.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Good tidings of great joy are announced because the author and giver of all joy was born into the world.  They are bidden to rejoice, because the enmity between God and man, the real cause of all our sorrow, was removed.  -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XIV

Patristic Quote of the Day

 And he uses a doxology again through awe at the incomprehensibleness of these mysteries. For even now they have appeared, there is no such thing as comprehending them by reasonings, but it is by faith we must come to a knowledge of them, for in no other way can we.-- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 27 on Romans

Excellent articles

on Von Schenk and Pelikan in the recent CTQ.  Sauer's greatest line:  "although Von Schenk was never accused of being humble."  Most lovely thought in the article on Pelikan is that weeks before his death, he is still listening to Bach, to the B Minor Mass.

Two Pics from Pastoral Conference...

...'nuff said:

07 October 2010

People who eat Atkins...

...shouldn't read the book *Eating Animals* - but on the other hand, maybe they should... About half way through and 100% grossed out.


Got a phone call this a.m. from Dr. Dale Meyer, informing us that he had a fieldworker for us!  Thank you, Dale!!!  Our own John Klinger - who runs the tech stuff at the seminary.  Now that is a double gift - first that we have a fieldworker and second that we get such a fantastic one.  John is the regular tenor in our Quartet.  I see a lot of running up and down the stairs between balcony and chancel in his future...  :)

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

What is more, some people, with a great show of humility, declare that they hold God too far, too high, and too exalted to think that He would send rain to water their beans.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 320.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

He is the first and only-begotten of His mother here on earth, who according to His divine nature is the first and only-begotten of His Father in heaven. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XIV

Patristic Quote of the Day

By nature, he says, nothing is unclean but it becomes so by the spirit in which a man uses it. Therefore it becomes so to himself only, and not to all. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 26 on Romans.

05 October 2010

How does a Lutheran pray upon the birthday?

Take a page from Starck!

Eternal, gracious, and merciful God, by Your favor I have again lived to see my birthday, the day on which You ushered me into the light of day, to receive me later by Holy Baptism as Your child.  By the former favor I was made a human being and your creature, by the latter I become Your child and heir.  And so this day will be a day of prayer, praise and thanksgiving to me.


Having been nurtured in Your arms, I have been guided and accompanied by You in the years that followed.  You have given me food and clothing, and have graciously guarded me until this day.  O my God, I am not worthy of the least of all of the mercies and of all the faithfulness that You have shown me.  Come and hear; I will declare what the Lord has done for my body and soul.  Unfortunately I cannot recount everything!  One could sooner number the stars in the sky than the gracious gifts I have received from You, O Lord.  From how many dangers You have delivered me!  How many calamities You have warded off from me!  Your Spirit has taught, governed, guided, and when I was leaning toward sin, has inwardly warned and restrained me.

O my God, while my years increase and Your favors also become numerous, I am reminded today of the sins that I have committed throughout my life.  Forgive them to me for Jesus’ sake.  Blot them out with His holy blood, and let me obtain mercy for His sake.  Grant me grace to spend the remaining days of my life, which are written in Your book, in true fear of You and in sincere faith, that all my doings and my whole life may be pleasing to You.  And since I do not know the number of my days on earth, while I know that You have fixed bounds for me which I cannot pass, keep me from shortening my own life by anger, intemperance, sins, wrecklessness, and crimes.  Let me reach the limit of life appointed for me in health, under Your blessing and protection, until after this earthly and transitory life You will give me eternal and heavenly life for the sake of Jesus Christ.  Till then I shall celebrate this day, as often as it recurs, with praise and thanksgiving, and shall now sing:

My soul, now praise your Maker!  Let all within me bless His name Who makes you full partaker Of mercies 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 wronged at last.  LSB 820:1

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Sometimes, with drastic mercy, our Father empties our hands so there may be room for His gifts.  Blessed are those who are given to by God.  Blessed are they who receive their death as a gift from His hands.  Despite the pain and the perplexity of any way of dying, we are never outside His hands, and within His hands and from His hands our deaths are a gift by way of which He brings us to the fullness of His promises. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 317.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Acknowledge, O faithful soul, these many marvelous instances of Christ's love to thee; cherish thou the love of Him, who for love of thee entered the Virgin's womb. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XIII

Patristic Quote of the Day

It was not money, but His own Blood that He gave as bail for us. And for this cause He would not have the heart to give them up, for whom He had laid down so great a price. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 25 on Romans

On Death and Resurrection

A very fine pastoral conference this year up at Pere Marquette.  We were blessed to hear Pr. William Cwirla and Prof. Jeff Gibbs hold forth.  Cwirla gave us the art of dying.  Gibbs challenged us on the resurrection.  I think Gibbs' presentation was quite similar to what he delivered at the worship conference but this allowed for greater expansion of his thought and it was well worth it.  Random thoughts and ahas that came along:

* The "intermediate state" better describes the state of all creation between the beginning of the Resurrection in our Lord and its completion at His Appearing than it does merely referring to the blessed dead during that same time.

* The substitution of the meta-narrative that has prevailed through so much of Christianity - where "heaven" is the goal and death is just the gateway to heaven, and can stop the story without reckoning with the Appearing of our Lord and the joy of resurrection on that day - is perhaps the main culprit in the loss of prayer for the dead among us.  We forget that the dead await the Resurrection - and the martyrs under the altar impatiently!  "How long, O Lord?"

* To overemphasize the continuity or the discontinuity between old creation/new creation will equally land you in truncating of the Biblical witness.  The key word is that we (and all creation!) will be "changed" at that moment, rendered incorruptible, immortal.

* Starck's Prayer Book has the whole Ars Moriendi totally covered from a Lutheran perspective; cannot recommend its beautiful prayers and comforts highly enough.

* I am irritated when Romans 6:23 is continually interpreted as though:  You sin, so God serves you the wage of death; yet God's free gift is eternal life.  The genitives are parallel in construction, and the whole image is of slavery.  Paul's point is simply:  You want to be sin's slave?  Fine.  But you realize what wage Sin delights to pay out to those who serve him:  DEATH.  Much better to be God's slave, for He doesn't dish out a wage, but a free gift of eternal life.  The wage sin pays vs. the gift God gives.

* At one point Gibbs noted that in the snippets we have of preaching in Acts, the death of Christ does not appear to be particularly salvific, rather, the emphasis is on the Resurrection.  That's true.  But it's also of interest to me that (I believe) it is only in the Jerusalem chapters that we have the accusation hurled:  "whom YOU crucified."  Once they move outside Jerusalem, this becomes "whom THEY crucified."  No attempt to portray collective guilt upon the human race for the death of the Anointed One.  Quite in contrast with "I caused Thy grief and sighing by sorrows multiplying as countless as the sand."

* If you have a salvation that is finished with death (either Christ's or our own), you do not have the Biblical salvation.  For it is finished when the dead are raised: Christ, the first-fruits, and then us.

* I think that St. Paul probably is referring to the NEW creation when He calls Christ the firstborn of all creation - the firstborn out of the old and into the new and incorruptible and immortal.

* Cwirla highlighted at one point the fine German funeral hymn:  "This body in the grave we lay."  I love the hymn, but the intrusion of the alternate metanarrative at the end of verse one has always made me scratch my head a bit:  "to mount triumphant to the skies."  Just checked it out and it is quite different in the original German:  "it [this body we're burying] will on the Day of Renewal (the Last Day) arise and appear without corruption."  What a shame that we didn't get that fixed for LSB!

Those are just some random thoughts I had in reaction to these two fine presentations.  Any thoughts from you all?

04 October 2010

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The hands that hold us are the hands pierced on Calvary.  They hold while the wired-up body lies in intensive care and the machinery keeps some heartbeat going and we wonder whether the person is still there.  Whether the body is inert or wrenching, we stand in reverence before what may be passing between that person and the Lord.  He knows.  With our prayers we draw closer.  We hope that person is in the hands of the Lamb who was slain for him, for her, for you.  No separation there either.  -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 316.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Since faith unites us so closely to Christ it is really the mother of all virtues in us.  -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditation XII

Patristic Quote of the Day

For He would have our soul to be a dwelling for Himself, and Himself to be laid round about us as a garment, that He may be unto us all things both from within and from without. For He is our fullness; for He is the fullness of Him that fills all in all Ephesians 1:23: and the Way, and the Husband, and the Bridegroom;— for I have espoused you as a chaste virgin to one husband, 2 Corinthians 11:2: and a root, and drink, and meat, and life—for he says, I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me; Galatians 2:20 and Apostle, and High-Priest, and Teacher, and Father, and Brother, and Joint-heir, and sharer of the tomb and Cross;— for it says, We were buried together with Him, and planted together in the likeness of His Death Romans 6:4-5: and a Suppliant;— For we are ambassadors in Christ's stead 2 Corinthians 5:20: and an Advocate to the Father;— for He also makes, it says, intercession for us: Romans 8:34 and house and inhabitant—for He says, He that abides in Me and I in Him John 15:5: and a Friend; for, You are My friends John 15:14: and a Foundation, and Cornerstone. And we are His members and His heritage, and building, and branches, and fellow-workers. For what is there that He is not minded to be to us, when He makes us cleave and fit on to Him in every way? And this is a sign of one loving exceedingly. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 24 on Romans

03 October 2010

My Tribute to T. S. Eliot

upon the Eve of my 50th birthday:

I grow old,
I grow old,
I shall wear my trousers rolled.
Do I dare to eat a peach?
What?  Are you nuts?
Peaches are full of carbs!

Trinity 18's Day

After joyous Divine Services this morning, and Mr. Giordano's fine Bible Class, we welcomed new members with our LWML Family Fun Day - meal and games.  Great to see about 9 new members stayed for that.  I headed out early so I could finish up services for Trinity 19 and 20 and ship to Joanie.  Then a hospital call to see little Jamie Rose and check in on Marilyn.  Back to teach the first lesson on the Apostles' Creed in the Catechism Service.  Cindi and I grabbed a small bite of dinner, then we played LIVERPOOL and I am happy to report that yours truly won both games.  So sorry, Jo!  We wrapped up the day with a fire that finished up the very last of last year's Christmas tree.  A most enjoyable day.

02 October 2010

Attention Ladies!

Theology is not and has never been just for men.  I am so happy to announce that there is now a website devoted to the Book of Concord FOR WOMEN!  It's name is Women United for the Christian Book of Concord - Pure Doctrine for All!  Check it out here.  The impetus for this site was a dear laywoman who found so much comfort and blessing from the Book of Concord that she wanted to know why on earth EVERYONE wasn't reading and talking about this good stuff.  So enjoy the discussions!

Love this weather!

Cindi gathered the family together for an early birthday breakfast for Meaghan and myself.  The table was loaded:  whole-wheat pancakes with blueberries and just plain; low-carb protein pancakes; over 2 lbs of bacon fried up; hash browns; fruit salad; and fresh coffee.  It was fabulous. And it rained while we were eating breakfast and then cleared up, so headed out for a run.  Seven miles, but it felt so great out I could have run another seven.  I didn't realize that running when temps are in upper fifties could be so pleasant.  It's perfect!  Cindi and Lauren went roller-blading and took Dudley, the coon hound, along with them.  Now the sun keeps breaking through and the sky has that unmistakable shade of October blue.  Love it!

01 October 2010


a loaf of low-carb cinnamon raisin bread that I made tonight.  Love it when it rises like that!