30 November 2011

Some heavenly music

conducted by my old friend James Michael Thompson.  Enjoy!

Ah, to sing together

Evening Prayer:  to greet the evening light, to sing Psalms, to attend to God's Holy Word as we commemorated St. Andrew, to join in the Magnificat with the Blessed Virgin, to lift the anxieties of our hearts to the Lord ("to You, O Lord!"), and then to depart into the frosty air with the stars shining down on us after having sung "Creator of the Stars of Night."

Well...yeah.  That's the way to close a busy day.

No question.  No question at all.  I wish we could do it every evening!  Such peace, such beauty, such joy.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We must realize that Religion is not primarily a refuge, but a sacrifice.  That is the heart of the Christian Religion.  It was the heart of our Lord's life.  It must be ours.  Then the divine Love floods our souls and captivates our lives.  Are you saved the Cross?  Then your life with its struggles has been caught up with His strength, so that now you can do all things through Christ Who strengthens you.  It is no longer I , but Christ in me.  That is what is means to be saved by the cross.  -- Berthold v. Schenk, The Presence, p. 76.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Indeed, in temptation and in trials, when the mind is overwhelmed with fear and dread of the wrath of God, then certainly, in that consternation, faith does not conclude:  I have charity, virtues, and merits and on account of this worthiness God will receive me.  But faith points to and looks to the Son of God, who was made a sacrifice for us, now sitting at the right hand of the Father and making intercession for us.  To Him it flees, Him it seeks, in Him it believes, and it concludes that on account of this High Priest we are forgiveness and granted reconciliation, not because of our virtues and our worthiness.  And so faith sets against our sin and our damnation not our works and our own worthiness but the merit of Christ.  -- Blessed Martin Chemnitz, Examen I:576.

Patristic Quote of the Day

And what shall we sing there, save His praises? What else shall we say there, save, You are my God, and I will confess unto You; You are my God, and I will praise You. I will confess unto You, for You have heard me, and art become my Salvation. We will not say these things in loud words; but the love that abides in Him of itself cries out in these words, and these words are love itself. Thus as he began with praise, so he ends: Confess unto the Lord, for He is gracious, and His mercy endures for ever. -- St. Augustine on Psalm 118

The Joy of Advent Hymnody

I truly pity those who are unfamiliar with the great hymns of this season.  They are so rich, so full.  Here are just a few of my all time favorite stanzas:

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

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

A humble beast He rides,
Yet as a king presides;
Though not arrayed in splendor,
He makes the grave surrender:
Hosanna, praise and glory!
Our King, we bow before Thee

Those dear tokens of His passion
Still His dazzling body bears,
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshippers.
With what rapture,
With what rapture,
With what rapture,
Gaze we on those glorious scars.

A righteous Helper comes to thee;
His chariot is humility,
His kingly crown is holiness,
His scepter, pity in distress.
The end of all our woes He brings;
Therefore the earth is glad and sing:
To Christ the Savior raise
Your grateful hymns of praise.

We hail Thee as our Savior, Lord,
Our refuge and our great reward;
Without Thy grace we waste away
Like flow'rs that wither and decay.

See, the Lamb so long expected,
Come with pardon down from heav'n
Let us haste, with tears of sorrow,
One and all to be forgiven.

Not as of old a little child
To bear and fight and die,
But crowned with glory like the sun
That lights that morning sky.

Enter now my waiting heart,
Glorious King, and Lord most holy.
Dwell in me and never leave,
Though I am but poor and lowly.
Ah, what riches will be mine
When Thou art my Guest Divine!

Thou camest the Bridegroom of the Bride
As drew the world to eventide,
The spotless Victim all divine
Proceeding from a Virgin shrine.

Prepare my heart, Lord Jesus,
Turn not from me aside,
And help me to receive You
This blessed Adventtide.
From stall and manger low
Come now to dwell within me;
I'll sing Your praises gladly
And forth Your glory show!

Then gentle Mary bowed her head:
"To me be as it pleaseth God," she said.
"My soul shall laud and magnify God's holy name."
Most highly favored Lady, Gloria!

O come, thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home.
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Just drew up the Lessons and Carols bulletin

for December 14, and was surprised and delighted to put in the piece that the school children are singing (K-8):

Gaudete! gaudete!
Christus est natus ex Maria virgine,

1. Tempus adest gratiae, hoc quod optabamus;
carmina laetitiae devote reddamus. Refrain

2. Deus homo factus est, natura mirante;
mundus renovatus est a Christo regnante. Refrain

3. Ezecaelis orta clausa per transistur;
unde lux est orta, salus invenitur. Refrain

4. Ergo nostra contio psallat iam in lustro;
Benedicat Domino; salus regi nostro. Refrain

This lovely Latin anthem appeared in the Piae Cantiones compiled by Lutheran student Theodosius Petri in 1582.  And now 429 years later Lutheran school children will sing it's beautiful words and powerful melody here in the American midwest.  I love it!

Here is a professional group rendering this lovely anthem:

You can view the original music here and here.


Anyone else delighted by the bits of Herberger that show up in the Treasury readings?  I LOVE reading his stuff.  Makes me want to go back and reread Carver's translation of the work on Genesis.  Good, good stuff!  Shows you HOW Lutherans read the Scriptures:  utterly Christologically (which some seem to confuse with allegorically...that's for you, Marcus).

from Starck's Advent Evening Prayer

We have nothing to give You; we are not able in the least to repay You for rescuing us from the lost condition in which we found ourselves by nature and for setting us free from the bonds of death that held us fast.  All these blessings came to us because Your Son became man.  Your love has no equal - it passes all understanding!  We can do nothing but humbly thank You, praise You, and magnify You.  This is the only tribute by which our hearts can express their affection for You.

29 November 2011

Homily for the Funeral of Arnold Hellmann

[Isaiah 25:6-9 / 1 Cor. 15:51-57 / John 10:27-30]

Brothers and sisters, family and friends of Arne Hellmann:  A coffin under a Christmas tree.  Fitting, for it reminds us why the Child came:  "From sin and death He saves us / and lightens every load."

Still waters run deep, so the saying goes.  And Arne was still waters.  I remember visiting the house when Harold was sick, and Harold and Elsie would chat up a storm about this, that, and the other thing.  We’d talk about things in Synod, latest tidbits in Christian News, things in the congregation, favorite hymns and Scriptures and whatnot.  But Arne would sit silent for the most part.  Every once in a while he’d throw in a comment or two.  He seemed most comfortable talking outside, looking across that beautiful lake and listening to the sound of wind in those pines.  Still waters run deep indeed.

And deep in that man had been planted the Word of God.  Oh, from that moment when your godly parents picked up their 12 day old boy and marched him off to receive Baptism in the old St. Paul’s.  Pr. Hansen poured the water over his little head and said:  “Ich taufe dich im namen des Vaters und des Sohns und des Heiligen Geiste.” And parents and sponsors answered:  “Amen!”  From that moment on, Arne belonged to another.  To Jesus, who is the Savior of sinners and the Destruction of death itself.

Raised in church and school, the Word of God was planted deep into Arne.  And it bore its fruit.  It gave him faith, faith which he freely confessed before this very altar on the day of his confirmation in 1940.  And still he listened to the great promises of God’s Word as he grew.  He came as a faithful communicant to the Supper of His Lord and into Him was given the undying body and blood of the Son of God as the guarantee that just as his sins had been wiped out so also his death would also be undone by His Savior.

Isaiah was celebrating that in our first reading – that the Lord was planning a feast for His people to celebrate death’s defeat; death’s own death.  For when death swallowed down the Lord Jesus, it swallowed a deadly poison to itself.  He came crashing out of death’s stinking maw on Easter Morning and left behind a path for His people to follow Him right out of it.  Such a promise gave Arne hope and joy.  It sustained him in his years of service in the military and through the long years when he saw so many that he loved taken away.  He could look up death and see it for what it is:  a defeated enemy.  It couldn’t hold His Savior; it can’t hold those who are the Savior’s; it can’t hold HIM.  Baptized into Christ, Arne knew he had a life death couldn’t take away.

Oh, it’s still the enemy.  Still something to be fought.  When he was diagnosed he was ready to fight it if were worthwhile.  But if not, he was at peace with that too.  He spoke to me freely of his death not as something to be feared or welcomed, but simply as whatever the Lord’s will was.  He was at peace with that.

And he was concerned about the way things were going in this society and country.  He shared with a book that he’d read by Pr. Wilkerson that spoke of our great country’s demise if we refuse to turn from our sin, confess it, seek God’s mercy and forgiveness.  Arne knew that the living God was not to be trifled with.  He wants His salvation for all; but He will bring judgment on all who continue to spurn His ways and walk on in their stubborn hearts.

We spoke that day of repentance.  Of what a joy it was to live hating sin and eagerly waiting to finally be rid of the menace.  The sting of death is sin; the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God.  HE gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  That day we prayed the 23rd Psalm.  Planted deep into him, he prayed it with me and missed not one single word.  Still waters run deep – and deep into Arne had gone the comfort of having a Good Shepherd who would lead him through the valley of the shadow of death and into eternal life.

It was Sunday that Louis called to let me know Arne was back in the hospital.  I visited with him that night.  He was weak.  The breathing very labored and hard.  Again the promises of God’s Word were shared and once more the 23rd Psalm prayed.  This time he didn’t have the air to speak them aloud, but his lips moved with every single syllable.  When everything else was being taken from him, the Word of God remained with him and gave him comfort, hope, and strength.  Monday, Pastor Gleason also shared the Word and prayed with Arne.  We could see the end was coming close and so could he.  And he was ready.

I’m not sure, Louie and Carl, if he heard the prayers we prayed on Wednesday morning or not.  But that day I read to him the beautiful promise of today’s Gospel:  My sheep hear my voice.  And Arne did that his whole life long.  Not a big speaker, but a big listener.  If he didn't hear me that morning, he could have said the words any way.  He heard and held that word in his heart.  “And I know them and they follow me and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me is greater than all.  And no one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I and my Father are one.”

Eternal life.  A life that the Word of Jesus plant in a man or woman.  Words that give and sustain faith.  Words that a man can quietly live his whole life on and find them the joy of his heart, and in them, the hope of his whole life.

Still waters run deep.  Arne was still waters.  And in his heart and in his mind, he stood beside the still waters with His Shepherd.  Whether he was bowling with friends, or walking along with the little children he loved to have visit.  And His Shepherd on Wednesday reached out and took Arne into His arms and brought Him home just as He had promised to do from the moment of His baptism all those years before.  And now Arne waits with all the saints the joyful fulfillment of the REST of the Lord’s promise:  the resurrection of this body and the life everlasting in the Kingdom where he will ever sing praises to his Lord.  Let us learn from this silent, strong man of faith, to hold tightly to those words of Jesus that can give us a like victory, a like faith, a like unshakable peace.  Amen.

Arnold F Hellmann, 85, of Worden, Ill., died Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011, at Anderson Hospital in Maryville, Ill. He was born Oct. 5, 1926, in Hamel, Ill., the son of the late Adolph C. and Lillian W. M. (Reising) Hellmann.

Mr. Hellmann was born in Hamel and attended St. Paul Lutheran and Hamel Public Schools. He worked the family farm. He joined the U.S. Army and served from 1945 to 1947. He later attended Diesel Mechanic School and worked on some farms and later worked as a mechanic for Frank Lynn Ford Tractor in East Alton. 

He was a member of Saint Paul Lutheran Church. 

He is survived by three sisters, Esther Uphoff of Bedford, Texas, and Mildred Turley of Hurst, Texas and Lucille (Bill) Masters of St. Louis, Mo.; two brothers, Carl (Marlene) Hellmann of Worden, Ill. and Louis (Pat) Hellmann of Worden, Ill.; one sister-in-law, Nancy Hellmann of Glen Carbon, Ill. and many nieces and nephews.

Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by two sisters, Elsie Hellmann and Irma Wuehler; two brothers, Harold Hellmann and Edwin Hellmann; two brothers-in-law, Ralph Turley and Earl Wuehler; one nephew, Daniel Masters; and two nieces, Yvonne Uphoff and Vanessa Weis. 

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

If we wish to know how real the devil is, let us start conducting our church life and business along the plans of the great Master.  If the local parish, which should be the Church Catholic in miniature, is to fulfill its destiny as the chaste bride of Christ, then it will meet Satan.  How dastardly he works his undermining and aggressive attacks! - Berthold v. Schenk, The Presence, p. 75.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We teach the Law of God purely as the norm of all holiness and piety.  We instruct our hearers to do good works according to the norm of the Law, after they have been led to a knowledge of their sins and have embraced the blessings of Christ by faith.  We teach that true, saving faith is not idle but is effectual in the pursuit of good works. Thus where good works do not appear outside, there true faith is not inside.  We teach that through sins against conscience the Holy Spirit and saving faith are cut off from the reborn.  We set before our hearers very serious and urgent reasons why they have to do good works, namely, for God's sake, for our neighbor's sake, and for our own sake.  We encourage our hearers to mortify the flesh along with its lusts, to crucify the old Adam, and thus to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Church, p. 607.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Your Name give the praise Psalm 113:1. For that grace of the water that gushed from the rock (now that rock was Christ 1 Corinthians 10:4), was not given on the score of works that had gone before, but of His mercy that justifies the ungodly. Romans 4:5 For Christ died for sinners, that men might not seek any glory of their own, but in the Lord's Name. - St. Augustine on Psalm 115

28 November 2011

What we ask for...

...in Adventide!

"rescue us from the threatening perils of our sins and save us by Your mighty deliverance..." - Ad Te Levavi

"that by Your coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds..."  Populus Zion

"light the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation..." Gaudete

"come and help us by Your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by Your grace and mercy..." Rorate Coeli

It strikes me

that against certain well-known Roman polemics against Lutheranism, Luther's words cited into today's Treasury reading (and cited also in the Book of Concord) are simply priceless:

Faith, however, is a divine work in us that changes us and makes us be born anew of God.  It kills the old Adam and makes us altogether different men, in heart and spirit and mind and power; it brings with it the Holy Spirit.  O, it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith.  It is impossible for it not be doing good works incessantly.... Whoever does not do such works, however, is an unbeliever... Thus, it is impossible to separate works from faith, quite as impossible as to separate heat and light from fire.  [Treasury, pp. 961,2]

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Peter also grasped the full content of the crucified and risen Jesus.  He say, "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us back to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit."  This is man's destiny:  Reconciliation.  "Be ye reconciled with God."  Therefore after the first Communion, Jesus prayed, "That they may be one with Us."  That has ever been the heavenly desire. -- B. v. Schenk, The Presence, p. 63.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Although in our prayers, alms, and fasts, we by no means follow that external pomp of ceremonies, and though we do not perform our works before people to gain their applause, yet in this area we follow Christ's prescription in Matthew 6:1ff.  From this, however, one can by no means attribute to us a neglect of the exercises of piety, for "the day of the Lord will reveal what was done in secret." -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Church, p. 608.

Patristic Quote of the Day

They have deceived many with the holiness of their behavior. -- St. Jerome, Against the Pelagians, Book 3.

A Mozart Agnus Dei

sung by Cindi, accompanied by Carlo, this past Sunday during the Distribution of the Sacrament.  She's just singing in Latin the same words that we got done singing in English:  Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy, grant us peace.

Kyrie from this Sunday's Liturgy

This is a keeper

Dinner tonight for me was primal hot "cereal."  Unbelievably easy and tasty.  You take 1/2 cup of almonds, 1/2 cup of pecans, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/2 of a banana and 1/4 a cup of almond milk or coconut milk - dump the whole in your food processor and pulse several times.  Scoop out into a bowl and microwave till hot.  Stir in a teaspoon or so of flax seed, dot with some frozen blueberries and top with a bit more of the almond or coconut milk.  Dig in.  Sweet, tasty, stick to your ribs kind of "cereal" - and yet not the first grain or bit of sugar or artificial sweetener in sight!

And when it's been a busy and harried day...

...there is simply nothing so peaceful and calming as to light the candles on the family altar, burn some incense, take out your Treasury, sing the liturgy of Evening Prayer and let the peace of God fill your heart and drive away all the rush, all the anxiety, all the hurry-sickness.  God has a peace for us that the world cannot give...

Random Thoughts from Last Sunday's Bible Class

Sometime Seminarian, John Klinger (tech guru extraordinare) is leading our Bible Class through the Walther movie (of which he was producer).  It's been a fascinating study.

The question of "church" obviously weighed hugely on the early Saxon colony as things fell rapidly apart.  Which drove Walther to read the Scriptures and to read Luther and to the great and joyous "aha" about 2 or 3 who are gathered in the Lord's name having Jesus in their midst (Matthew 18) and with Him, all that is His.

Luther's insight into the priesthood of the baptized was precisely that:  EVERYTHING that the Father has given to the Son, the Son has in great love given to His Bride, the Church.  Which means that the treasures of the Holy Spirit, of the divine Word, of Baptism, of the Eucharist, of the Absolution, the preaching of the Gospel, the gifts of forgiveness and eternal life, the joys of intercession - all these belong to EACH baptized Christian.  They are theirs!

And yet because they are OURS, not MINE, it would be presumptuous for any single Christian to take upon himself to administer the common property of the Christian people without being asked to do so by the Christian people.  So in every congregation, in every 2 or 3 or 30 or 300 or 3000 gathered in the holy name, that is, baptized into Christ, the full authority to FILL the office of the ministry resides.

So when in following the directives of Scripture regarding who may and who may not be placed into that office, the congregation in prayer to God and in reliance on His promises, calls a man to fill that office, that is a divine, certain, rock solid act.  As Luther said "it is God who makes ministers."  It is God's act through the congregation that possesses by virtue of their Baptism into Christ all the riches of Christ Himself (as St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians:  "All things are yours!").

The Word and Sacraments belong, then, to the entire people of God; they never have been and never will be the possessions of the pastors alone.  Pastors, in fact, possess them in no other way than anyone else:  only by Baptism into Christ.  It is a beautiful and joyous "aha" to remember that pastors handle the holy things in the midst of the holy ones as servants of God and stewards of the divine mysteries - that Christ has set them there to serve His people these priceless gifts that He has given to the whole baptized priesthood!

This was a great part of Walther's "aha" that enabled the Saxon colony to survive and more than survive - to thrive in the embrace of the Savior's love, living from the certainty of His giving.  A ministry set neither above nor beneath, but solidly within the Christian congregation.

26 November 2011

St. Paul's in Advent

Advent begins

with the setting of the sun this evening.  As one of the Church's penitential seasons, fasting is always appropriate during Advent.  Some suggestions:  remember Cassian's words that "the fathers have only one invariable rule of fasting:  stop eating before you are full;" think simple meals; since Wednesday and Friday are penitential days, maybe eat only a light breakfast and then skip lunch and after sunset have a simple, but normal sized dinner on those days; the Ember Days in Advent will fall on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after Gaudete.

Lutherans, unlike other liturgically minded Christians, do not observe a distinction of meats - hence, there are no foods that we regard as "off-limits" during these days, as we joyfully confess that all things God created are good and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with thanksgiving.  Yet, moderation in food and drink - something we ought always to practice! - is certainly appropriately strengthened by seasons when we practice "cutting back" - i.e., going hungry for a bit.  Also, since the point of going hungry is not merely to train the body, but far more to provide extra time for prayer and money for alms (what you don't eat that day, you can give away!), a suggestion on any lunches or breakfasts you forgo is to spend the time in praying the Litany and some Psalms, and intentionally upping your charitable giving, particularly to those ministries that focus on feeding the hungry.

Again, unlike other liturgical traditions, Lutherans most certainly do not need to consult any "spiritual father" about such matters - rather, prayerfully, intentionally, and in your God-given Christian freedom embrace whatever practice you think would work well for you in these days.  Above all, clear the clutter - make some space in your life during these days of preparation for the Holy Spirit to do His joyful work through the Word and the Sacrament.  Make a special effort to attend the extra services.  To read in your Scriptures each day (USE that Treasury!), and enjoy the splendid feast that the Church in her love sets before you in these holy days.  You will come to the Christmas Feast with a peaceful and joyous heart.

Two caveats to certain readers:  Orthodox and RC, you do not need to tell me how the above is all wrong.  We know what you all think about such things.  God bless your own time of preparation; but don't hold us to your disciplines which we simply do not acknowledge.

Also, my beloved Past Elder, we do not need yet another lecture on your opinions about fasting... any reader of this blog already knows what you think of it.  Enjoy your Christian freedom and let the rest of us enjoy ours! 

25 November 2011

Loehe Nugget

"The Lutheran Church is so unconcerned about numbers that she looks around and asks: 'Who doesn't belong here?'" -  Three Books on the Church

That was a long time ago.  Sadly, the number fixation (and with it the itch for the approval of men) has gained a strong foothold.  But isn't it great that there was a time when the concern for sharing the same confession of the holy faith was so strong that Loehe could characterize us like that?  May the Lord give us the grace to regain that healthy perspective once again!

24 November 2011

Thanks be to God for...

...the gift of His Son and His Spirit
...the forgiveness of sins and the promise of the resurrection
...the companionship of his saints as we journey toward our home
...the incomparable joys of music and singing
...family, friends, challenging folk, and those who treat us as enemies
...modern marvels like the internet, email, texting - ways to keep in touch
...the genius of the Daily Office and the joys of the Holy Eucharist
...the privilege of prayer and the guidance offered by those who walked with the Lord in the past
...congregational family
...the freedom to move, throw, lift, and run quickly
...food, drink, house, home
...the hymnal and its treasures
...Dave Ramsey and his guidance on matters financial
...the faces of children in catechesis when the light bulb goes on and they totally "get it"
...the gift of memory that is able to hold onto the past and words to pass its wonders on
...silence and candle-light
...art that proclaims the Gospel
...the sweet alteration of rest and work
...the joy of learning ever more
...the silliness of dogs and the wisdom of cats
...conviviality of friends that cheers the heart weighed down
...the Life that shines beyond all corruption and death and fills our hearts with hope and joy everlasting!

Thanksgiving Day Wrap

Whew.  8:28 p.m.  Kitchen is finally cleaned.  Not even sure how many times we ran the dish washer today (thanks be to God for dish washers!).  We headed over to sing Thanksgiving Day Matins at 9 and were home shortly after 10.  Choir was AWESOME.  Opa found out last night that oldest grandchild, Dorothy, and husband Chris, were joining us for Thanksgiving; Grandma found out this morning - better medicine than anything that comes out of the bottle.  She was perky ALL DAY!  After appetizers of David and Meaghan's queso, almond crackers, pomegranate, summer sausage, brie, other cheeses and crackers, twelve of us (Dave & Jo, Chris & Dorothy, Dean & Lauren, David & Meaghan, Sean & Bekah, Cindi and I) sat down to a true feast:  turkey (from Trader Joe's - GREAT tasting!), sausage stuffing, five onion gratin, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potato souffle, pumpkin muffins and rolls.  Some of us took a break afterward for a bit of ultimate Frisbee.  Who won is irrelevant, don't you think?  (Quiet Dean, Sean, and Bekah - no one likes you anyway).  Then desserts - all pies:  low-carb pumpkin, regular pumpkin, chocolate, dutch apple, and pecan.  A serious game of Liverpool ensued.  Who won is again utterly irrelevant (and just because she had knee surgery is no reason to be a Liverpool HOG!).  A bit more visiting and then time for left-overs, and a final game of Liverpool (once again, don't ask; irrelevant - think she's sleeping in the dog house tonight).  Then the kitchen cleaned, the coffee made for tomorrow, and the house relatively quiet.  A joyous thanksgiving feast - and so glad to have extended family gathered around the table and in the home. 

"Glory to God for all things." - St. John Chrysostom.

23 November 2011

A Blast from the Past

Pr. Plvan scanned this pic from long ago of the Weedon family sitting on our wrap-around porch in Mebane, North Carolina. Wow.

I believe it was at the end...

...of the last Eucharist that Fr. Alexander Schmemann celebrated, that he prayed these words. I've shared them before. They become more dear with each passing year:

Thank You, O Lord, for having accepted this Eucharist, which we offered to the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and which filled our hearts with the joy, peace and righteousness of the Holy Spirit.

Thank You, O Lord, for having revealed Yourself unto us and given us the foretaste of Your Kingdom.

Thank You, O Lord, for having united us to one another in serving You and Your Holy Church.

Thank You, O Lord, for having helped us to overcome all difficulties, tensions, passions, temptations and restored peace, mutual love and joy in sharing the communion of the Holy Spirit.

Thank You, O Lord, for the sufferings You bestowed upon us, for they are purifying us from selfishness and reminding us of the "one thing needed;" Your eternal Kingdom.

Thank You, O Lord, for having given us this country where we are free to Worship You.

Thank You, O Lord, for this school, where the name of God is proclaimed.

Thank You, O Lord, for our families: husbands, wives and, especially, children who teach us how to celebrate Your holy Name in joy, movement and holy noise.

Thank You, O Lord, for everyone and everything.

Great are You, O Lord, and marvelous are Your deeds, and no word is sufficient to celebrate Your miracles.

Lord, it is good to be here! Amen.

+Arnold Hellmann, Asleep in Jesus

Arnie reposed in Christ this noon. Please keep his family in your prayers - he is a much beloved brother and uncle and great uncle.

22 November 2011

Long Day's Journey

Up by 5:30 and hit the road by 6:30. A gray and rainy trip for about half of it, out to Concordia. Arrived before ten. No tears until we got there and saw the girls and Melanie. That was very hard. And Chris. It was truly uncanny to see Chris's son - for it was like stepping back into time. That's EXACTLY how Chris looked back when I was his vicar in Garfield.

So many thoughts flooded my mind during the service, at which Pr. Hagan preached a stirring and immensely comforting homily. Eileen's never failing Christmas letter, catching us up on the news. Seeing Eileen and her mom, Mrs. Captain, walking together - both Ladies with a capital L. I don't think I ever saw either one with a single strand of hair misbehaving itself. Sitting in the lovely St. Paul's, my mind went back to the even lovelier Holy Trinity in Garfield.

The loud Slovak singing. Chanting the confession of sins! Shoot, chanting darned near everything. Pastor kneeling before the altar and intoning the Our Father. Old Joe Velibir letting loose on the organ during the offering - always preaching a second sermon, cleverly picking up on themes from the homily, uniting them with hymns, and drawing them out. Or our dear Buschovsky sisters and their love of music. Rosemarie Strba. Mrs. Priester and her unbelievably tasty pecan tassies. The wonderful Sabanoshes, Barbarinis, Glovers, Kmetzs, oh, my goodness. The list goes on and on.

It all came flooding back as we sang "Jerusalem the Golden." I remember Raymond telling me with tears in his eyes how much he loved that piece, and I do believe we sang it nearly every funeral. Garfield seemed a world a way, and yet it was so close. And I was left wondering if the Ritoch children still dip oplatki in honey on Christmas Eve, and if they sing Cas Radosti with gusto? Ah, well. Enough thinking back on the past for the day. Today Pr. Hagan invited us to fix our attention instead on the coming Day of Resurrection, when death will finally be over and done with. For Eileen. For David. For Judy. For all God's children!

After the service, it was a joy to visit with folks. Met some distant relatives of the Blases, and they asked if I knew Vicki Langendorf (she's from Concordia) - I assured them that I run into her at the Y! Talked to a dear lady originally from Troy, Illinois. Got a wonderful visit with Pr. Walt Snyder, a few words in Pr. Tim Millie and Pr. Joel Kurz (I was reading his Von Schenk book just yesterday). Also got to see Pr. Peter Lang. I'm sure I'm forgetting others. We left about 12:30, refueled and headed home. Think we got here about 3:30 or so. Dark and dreary, bare tree limbs, cold and wet - yet we were warmed in our spirits from the unspeakable comfort of God's Word, and we left with peace. A peace that the world will never understand, but which we know is the secret joy of Christ's sisters and bothers.

21 November 2011

Will be very curious

to hear the response of our Roman brothers and sisters to the changes in Mass that will take place this coming Sunday. Ironically, some of those changes will actually be bringing their form of the liturgy a tad closer to the form we use in the Lutheran Service Book.

I do not believe

that there is a single more deadly Satanic lie that people fall for than this: "I don't believe God would want me to be unhappy."

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The sacrifice of Christ cannot be divided into two parts. Therefore, at the Altar we touch Calvary. -- B. von Schenk, *The Presence* p. 90.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

On the basis of Christ's ordinance we daily ask for the forgiveness of sins because we know that sin still dwells in our flesh and because it daily tempts us to fall and quite often also impels us to fall. Meanwhile, by faith we claim that through Christ we obtain forgiveness of sins and that through His blood the filth that clings to us is being washed away. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Church, p. 557.

Patristic Quote of the Day

"And enter not into judgment with Your servant" Psalm 142:2. Who are willing to enter into judgment with Him, save they who, "being ignorant of the righteousness of God, go about to establish their own?" "Wherefore have we fasted, and You have not seen; wherefore have we afflicted our souls, and You take no knowledge?" Isaiah 58:3 As though they would say, "We have done what You have commanded, why do You not render to us what You have promised?" God answers you: I will give to you to receive what I have promised: I have given you that you should do that whereby you may receive. Finally, to such proud ones the Prophet speaks; "Wherefore will you plead with Me? You have all transgressed against Me, says the Lord." Jeremiah 2:29 Why will you enter into judgment with Me, and recount your own righteousnesses?..."For before You every one living shall not be justified." "Every one living;" living, that is, here, living in the flesh, living in expectation of death; born a man; deriving his life of man; sprung from Adam, a living Adam; every one thus living may perhaps be justified before himself, but not before You. -- St. Augustine on Psalm 143

20 November 2011

More David Memories

...you teaching me how to sing Cas Radosti... you teaching St. Paul's how to sing Cas Radosti (during the Advent hymn sings)... the time I had that horrible headache and you actually used your massaging techniques to drive it away... your idea of coffee (gross - you could see the bottom of the cup!)... you teaching the torchbearers how they MUST step out together on the same foot or else the torches will be out of synch all the way down the aisle... you drawing up an entire handbook for instructing crucifers, torch-bearers and acolytes (still have it, too, David!)... you telling the St. Paul ushers that they CANNOT put people in the aisles on Easter Sunday because of the procession... you insisting that I take off the alb and hand it over to you on Easter so you can go iron it before the service starts... Oh, so many, many more...

In Memoriam David Michael Ritoch +

We met all those long ago days in New Jersey.  You were too old to be in the youth group, but you still hung around.  I liked you instantly.  Intense.  Driven.  That odd blink.  Do you remember the songs we worked on together?  I remember we wrote this one for Lazarus Sunday:

Dear friend, I sit here crying,
And yet you stay away.
Dear friend, my brother is dying,
He may not see another day.
He's lying in pain and anguish
And he doesn't know who we are.
You've got to come and save him now,
It's already gone too far.

But when Jesus heard the message
That his friend was close to death.
He stayed where he was for two more days
Till his friend drew his last breath.
Lazarus, O Lazarus, this thing that's happened to you
Has come to pass that the world may know
That what I say is true.
For I know you only sleep, only sleep.

And when he came to Bethany, Jesus saw their despair,
Being moved within his spirit, he wept for his friend there.
"Fear not, my sisters!  For he will rise again."
"Yes, Lord, at the judgement day,
To that we say amen...
But what about now?  What about now?"

"Mary, Martha, don't you see it yet?
Don't you see?
That I am the resurrection for those who believe in me?"

And so they said how he loved him,
As they rolled the stone away. 
But a silence fell upon them
As he looked to heaven to pray.
"Father, I know you hear me,
But that they may believe
That it was You who sent me
Salvation to achieve,
Father, You hear me,
Hear me now!
Lazarus, O Lazarus,
Come out now!"

And from the tomb he came out
In his grave clothes all arrayed.
The Lord said:  "Take them off him,
And do not be afraid."
And so our story ends here
With so much more to say.
He cares enough to lead us
And bring us all the way
Home to His Father, our Father.

Do you remember Joy having a fit about us performing it with the youth group on such short notice, and how it worked just fine anyway?  We always loved proving Joy wrong!

I remember only a week after we sang it, the horrible phone call from my mother.  My brother died in a car accident.  And who took care of everything?  You did.  You got us a flight.  You got us to the airport.  And you were there waiting when we got back too.

I remember your visit to our first call in North Caroline - and how you bought us that white beaded bedspread.  I should have known better than to mention in your hearing that it was something we were thinking about getting!

I remember the shock and joy when YOU heeded my words and came to seminary.  By then, not alone.  With Melanie and Amy.  And soon Emily, baptized right here.  I remember the many afternoons spent lolling about after service - all of us sacked out on the parsonage floor. 

I remember preaching your ordination - text was on Romans 1:16.  I remember being so proud of you that day.  And then the day that you all called to let us know another little Ritoch was on the way and would we be her godparents.  David, I remember her in my prayers each day.  I promise that will not stop. 

I remember my sadness when you left Sweet Springs.  I remember how great it was to have YOU do Lauren and Dean's wedding, with help from the ever capable Amy. 

I remember my perplexity and sorrow when you and Melanie separated and then married again.  I was not a very good friend to you in these last days, David.  I hope you will forgive me.  I was so confused that I didn't know what to say.  I should have at least said this:  I love you, and you will ever be dear to me.

I say it now, and I say it in the confidence that you will still hear and know. 

The memories roll on and on.  But I wanted to post this.  I wanted people to know the song we wrote, and I hope Melanie and the girls will take comfort from such faith as this residing in your heart. 

Rest in peace, my David.  Thank you for all you have done and been to me.  Rest in peace!

[David, his wife Judy, his mother Eileen were killed in a car crash on highway 70 in Missouri on Friday, returning home from his daughter Amy's wedding.  Please remember the rest of the family in your prayers.]

18 November 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The ordination of women uncouples this link between the order of the Holy Trinity and the order of the Christian congregation.  On the other hand, it is associated with the deconstruction of the Holy Trinity with the rejection of the Father's headship and the Son's subordination to the Father.  It involves the subsequent reconstruction of the Holy Trinity as an egalitarian community of interchangeable persons. -- Dr. John Kleinig, Women Pastors?, p. 223.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Because heretics, no less than the orthodox, claim for themselves holiness of doctrine as well as in life in such a way that even in doctrine they counterfeit external holiness, one cannot learn except from the Holy Scriptures which doctrine is truly holy  and has come from the "Holy of Holies," that is, from God Himself. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Church, p. 526.

Patristic Quote of the Day

But the Truth which sprang out of the earth was before the earth, and by It the heaven and the earth were made: but in order that righteousness might look down from heaven, that is, in order that men might be justified by Divine grace, Truth was born of the Virgin Mary; that He might be able to offer a sacrifice to justify them, the sacrifice of suffering, the sacrifice of the Cross. -- St. Augustine, On Psalm 85

17 November 2011

As we approach

holy Advent and Christmas, don't forget, pastors, that the Lutheran Service Book Agenda provides you with rites for blessing the Advent Wreath (p. 309) and for blessing the Creche (p. 311).  These annual rites are both very beautiful and I commend them for your use.  Additionally, remember that the same volume also contains the rite for house-blessings (p. 313) during the days of Epiphany and reminds us that homes may be blessed annually, recalling during Epiphany the visit of the magi to the home of the infant Christ. These blessings all flow out of the Church's joy in St. Paul's words:  "All things are sanctified by the Word of God and prayer."

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Indeed, all its members are to be subordinate to each other in the life of the congregation.  Pastors too are to be subordinate to Christ and his word.  Since Christ has appointed male pastors to represent himself and his heavenly Father in the ministry of word and sacrament, the members of the congregation, whether male or female, are to subordinate themselves to their pastors.  All other ministries are subordinate to the basic ministry and dependent on it.  Those who serve in that ministry pass on what they have received from God the Father through Christ and his apostles.  The exercise of the public ministry depends on this pattern of subordination within the church and cannot operate properly apart from it.  -- Dr. John Kleinig, Women Pastors?, p. 223.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We do not deny that the malice of the devil and the brazenness of people have at times stirred up and still can stir up disagreements in our churches.  These, however, do not undermine the unity of faith in the hearts of the devout, nor do they make suspect the truth of doctrine.  In fact, the unity of faith and the truth of doctrine are actually confirmed from them. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Church, p. 524.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Wherefore I exhort and entreat you all, disregard what this man and that man thinks about these things, and inquire from the Scriptures all these things; and having learned what are the riches, let us pursue after them that we may obtain also the eternal good things. -- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 13 on 2 Corinthians

16 November 2011

Cindi's Knee Surgery

Went well yesterday.  Took a LONG time at the hospital.  Had us get there by 10:30, but she didn't go in for surgery till quarter of two.  Home by about five-thirty or six.  She's now got to sit with her knee up for some 48 hours and with a constant ice flow around the knee.  Thanks for the prayers and well-wishes.  I think she's well on the road to recovery. 

14 November 2011

It's all Sage's fault...

...she put me onto Sission and his Primal Blueprint.  Wow!  I absolutely am amazed at how this dovetails with Wheat Belly, with a lot of Atkins, and with so much other stuff.  But I've not seen anyone put the whole enchilada together so clearly.  And he even suggests that the human body thinks intermittent fasting is NATURAL.  Hmm, so does our Lord and His Church! 

So, Sage, thanks!  I had somehow missed that good Sission stuff before.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

In the church there are no autonomous persons with sovereign power and individual rights.  Rather, we have a community that is characterized by willing subordination.  Subordination is normal and natural.  People who all equally and fully share the same status as children of God in Christ are all called to be subordinate in some way under Christ.  -- Dr. John Kleinig, Women Pastors?, p. 223.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In addition , we can claim a threefold unity of the Evangelical churches.  The first is canonical unity, by which - namely, with the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments - it agrees in everything with our doctrine that we profess, for no Papist has ever been able to convict us of any error in the articles of faith on the basis of Holy Scripture.  In fact, the foremost Papist writers were forced to admit that they cannot overturn our confession at all on the basis of Holy Scripture.

The second is ecclesiastical unity, by which - namely, with the church writers whom they call "fathers" and especially with those who were closest to the times of the apostles - it agrees with our doctrine.  For we are ready in every article in controversy to provide clear and manifest testimonies from the fathers in favor of our position.

The third is symbolical unity, a unity in which we embrace by common consent the doctrine contained in the Symbolical books of our churches...  If anyone refuses to give his name to this, we do not recognize him as a brother in the matter of faith and confession.  -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Church, pp. 522,523.

Patristic Quote of the Day

So Matthew's descending genealogy carried the meaning of Christ's descent as the purgation of sins.  Luke's ascending genealogy as the atonement of sins not His own; that's to say, ours. -- St. Augustine, Sermons to the People, p. 46.

10 November 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Christ's relation as Son to his Father is therefore characterized by his subordination to the headship of the Father.  It has nothing to do with dominance and power of the Father.  It involves and expresses the harmony of the Son with the Father and his love for the Father. -- Dr. John Kleinig, Women Pastors?, p. 223.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Only that is the true and proper unity of the church catholic which has its origin with the Holy Spirit and which unites and binds together people's minds in Christ through the unity of prophetic and apostolic doctrine. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Church, p. 496.

Patristic Quote of the Day

At this point, my dear brothers in Christ, we have to be careful not to overlook something of great importance to our sisters in Christ; that's to say, how modestly the Virgin Mary behaved.  She'd taken the angel's word literally.  She'd given birth to the Son of the Most High.  She'd deferred to Joseph in conversation.  She could've crowed about the honors bestowed on her, but she didn't.  The humble Christ could have taught her humility but, apparently, she taught it to Him.  Mary had great reason to be proud, but she wasn't.  -- St. Augustine, Sermons to the People, p. 28.

We Praise and Thank You

We praise and thank You, O God, through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, that You have enlightened us by revealing the Light that never fades.  Night is falling and day's allotted span draws to a close.  The daylight which You created for our pleasure has fully satisfied us, and yet, of Your free gift, the evening lights do not fail us.  We praise You and glorify You through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord; through Him be glory, honor, and power to You in the Holy Spirit, now and always and forever and ever.  Amen. (LSB Altar Book, p. 337)

09 November 2011

Thoughts on "Exclusive Use"

Yes, it's rather a hot-bottom issue.  The Synod's constitution requires now and has always required "exclusive use of doctrinally pure Agenda and Hymnbooks" in the congregations of the Synod.  Nothing much has changed on the constitutional front.  In the earlier iterations of my own congregation's constitution, we may read:  "In all public services of this congregation, only genuine Lutheran Hymns and in all ministerial acts only genuine Lutheran forms shall be used."  They are of a piece, but not quite the same.  The Synod's Constitution explicitly says that NO worship material may be used save what comes from "doctrinally pure" Agenda and Hymnbooks.  Hence, if you find a nifty hymn in the Methodist hymnal and it's 100% orthodox, you really may not use it if or until it is included in a Lutheran hymnbook where there are not other heterodox hymns.

Today we have Lutherans (even officials in high places) who believe that this is just WAY too restrictive.  It may well be!  I'm open to debate it.  What I'm not open to is continuing to SAY one thing and then go right on doing something far, far different.

This is a matter of simple integrity.  Either we ought to change the constitution to reflect the current reality; or we ought to change the current reality to reflect the constitution.  This is a conversation we OUGHT be having; not saying "yes" and "no" at the same time and pretending that no one notices.  EVERYONE NOTICES!!!! 

Where to start?  I'd start with a study of "why" the "exclusive use," and what it meant in the days it was originally penned.  I'd certainly weigh the changes that have occurred between those days and these, but then we need to openly, honestly and fully debate among ourselves whether this was a wise and good rule that applies to all times; or whether its usefulness has come to an end; or whether it simply needs some tweaking.  Whatever we do, continuing to say one thing and then do whatever the devil we want from parish to parish is NOT an option.

Recently on another forum Dr. Benke noted the great strength we have in LSB.  He's right.  It's been an utterly remarkable success.  Can we live in it?  Is it possible?  Would it be desirable?  How would it strengthen or weaken our Synodical fellowship?  Does it open a path for the LCMS to find common ground in worship once again after all these years? 

Lots of questions.  The answers still are in the future - and so in the Lord's hands.  May it be, dear Lord, may it be!

08 November 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Holy Trinity is a community of three differentiated persons whose relations with each other are no more interchangeable than the relations of husband and wife in marriage.  God the Father is the eternal source and head of the Holy Trinity.  The Son is begotten by the Father and derives his unique identity as Son from His Father.  The Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son and receives everything from them, even as the Spirit returns completely in love back to the Father.  Each is different from the other and yet identified by the other.  Each is ordered harmoniously in relation to the other under the headship of the Father. -- Dr. John Kleinig, Women Pastors? p. 222.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

By no means do we despise the ancients; rather, we consider them as fathers.  If they propose anything in harmony with the voice of our heavenly Father, we accept that with faithful obedience.  But if they propose something not in harmony, we prefer the voice of our heavenly Father.  We consider them as lights, not as deities; as witnesses of the faith, not as judges. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Church, p. 444.

Patristic Quote of the Day

I learned from the example of the children in Babylon that when there is no one to support the cause of true religion, we must accomplish our duties alone.  They sang a hymn to God from the midst of the flame, not thinking of the multitudes who rejected the truth, but content to have each other, though there were only three of them.  Therefore the cloud of our enemies does not dismay us, but we place our trust in the Spirit's help and boldly proclaim the truth. -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 79

[That, by the way, happens to be one of my favorites in the whole book - a word of encouragement to all who walk "the lonely way."]

07 November 2011

Speaking of All Saints...

...I wonder how on earth the Common Service came to replace the traditional Introit for the day?  The early Lutherans simply retained that lovely Latin Introit with this antiphon:  "Let us all rejoice in the Lord, keeping feast day in honor of all the saints; in whose solemnity the angels rejoice and glorify the Son of God."  The Psalm verse is 33:1:  Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous!  It is fitting for the just to give thanks!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The church is not a natural human community which resembles either the family or the state.  It is a supernatural heavenly community which is modelled on the community of divine persons within the Holy Trinity.  The order of the public ministry, together with the arrangements of all relationships in the church, has been designed by God himself to mirror the order of the Holy Trinity.  -- Dr. John Kleinig, *Women Pastors?* p. 222.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In the reborn we distinguish sins of weakness and faulty emotions from sins against conscience.  We say that only these latter, but not the former, are mortal in actuality.  You see, all sins, even the least significant are by their own nature mortal.  Nevertheless the sins of weakness are not imputed to the repentant, those who believe in Christ, those who live under the shadow of grace and resist the lusts of the flesh. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Church, pp. 443,444.

Patristic Quote of the Day

They fight each other with harsh words; they nearly fill the Church with meaningless cries and unintelligible shouts of their incessant clamor.  They continually pervert the teachings of true religion, sometimes by adding to them, and other times by reducing them.  On the one hand are those who confuse the Persons and revert to Judaism; on the other are those who oppose the natures, and are swept away into Greek polytheism.  Inspired Scripture is powerless to mediate between these two parties, nor can apostolic tradition offer them terms of reconciliation.... The jostling for high position is incredible, as every ambitious man tries to thrust himself into high office.  - St. Basil, On the Holy Spirit, par. 77 (describing the state of the "holy" church in his day...)

I need to argue with Pr. Mark Preus more often...

...for our debate about the hymn "Ye Watchers" led my young friend to compose this outstanding text which he suggests be sung to the tune Adoro Te:

For Mary, blessed Virgin, do we sing
To Christ, who is her Savior and her King,
Who, born of God and with the Father one,
Came down and made her womb his holy throne.

All generations now confess her blest,
As she by God the Spirit once confessed,
For God made her the vessel of His grace
From whom our Lord first showed His human face.    

When Gabriel spoke then Mary’s heart believed,
And by the Holy Spirit she conceived,
And God, who nurtures all and all things made,
Was nurtured and made man within a maid.

As fire burned in the bush unharmed by flame,
And by this mystery God showed his name,
So Mary stays a virgin through the birth
Of Jesus, named Savior of the earth.

What favor did our God in heaven show
To all who live in sin and death below
When God showed favor to the Virgin blest,
And from her flesh our flesh and blood possessed? 

The mighty are cast down from off their seat,
The rich are ruined and the proud retreat,
The hungry eat the flesh and drink the blood
That flows to lift the lowly up to God.

How blest is she whose faith was in the Word
That made her be the mother of our Lord!
God, grant us so to trust in what You say,
And with Your mother marvel at this day!

Grant us, dear Father, such humility
As we within the blessed Virgin see,
That we with her may praise her holy Son,
With You and with the Holy Spirit One.  

Check out his hymn revival blog here.  

All Saints Collect

I noticed today (at least I don't THINK I noticed before), that Magdeburg has a different collect for All Saints than the one in our current book.  Our current is an Anglican creation from the Book of Common Prayer.  Here is the original Latin collect for this feast: 

Omnipotens semiterne Deus, qui nos omnium Sanctorum tuorum merita sub una tribuisti celebritate venerari:  quaesumus; ut desideratam nobis tuae propitiationis abundatiam, muliplicatis intercessoribus, largiaris.  Per...

This is slightly revised in Magdeburg: 

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui nos omnes Sanctos tuos sub una tribuisti celebritate venerari, quasumus, ut disideratam nobis tuae propitiationis abundamtiam, multiplicatis fidei et virtutum exemplis largiaris, Per Dominum nostrum... 

I asked Matt Carver and Pr. Curtis for some help in translating and this is my composite of what they came up with: 

Almighty, eternal God, who in one solemnity has granted us to venerate all Your saints, we beseech You, that having so multiplied examples of faith and good virtues, You would bestow upon us Your abundant propitiation, which we desire. 

Now, any other Latinists out there want to take a stab at it???

06 November 2011

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

God gives us His holiness so that we will be able to see Him face to face and enjoy Him forever. -- Dr. John Kleinig, Grace upon Grace, p. 284.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

He whom the serpent has wounded fatally cannot prepare a medicine for himself.  Thus we could not have prepared a cure for ourselves after we were struck by the infernal serpent.  However, in the womb of Mary, God prepared the most precious medicine against those stings by uniting personally, through the operation of the Holy Spirit, the divine and human natures in Christ so that He would be our physician and our medicine, healing the wounds of our soul, soothing our pains, restoring our health.  -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On Christ, p. 143.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Our fathers thought they should welcome the evening light with something better than silence, so they gave thanks as soon as it appeared.  We cannot say who composed these words of thanksgiving at the lighting of the lamps, but the people use these ancient words, and no one accuses them of blasphemy:  We praise Father, Son, and God's Spirit." -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 73.

[Note, the saint refers to the hymn we still sing in evening prayer:  Joyous Light of Glory - Phos Hilaron]

I suppose it partakes

of a boundless theology of glory, but man, oh, man do I love the music for All Saints.  Wes blessed us with trumpet, Sonya with timpani, and the congregation rose to the occasion by belting out the hymns with encouragement from the choir.  We started with the joy of "Ye Watchers," the standard festival setting of "For All the Saints" but it was the final setting of Starke's great Te Deum that led to the loudest singing.  What a great setting by Mark Bender!  The choir verse was outstanding, and the musical painting on the Christological verse - words simply fail!  The whole leaves you begging that the song not cease, that it just go on forever.  "May we with saints be numbered where praises never end in glory everlasting.  Amen, O Lord, Amen!"

You can listen to the hymn here - from the Grand Rapids Higher Things Conference - you'll just have to bend your head! Or here from Nashville Higher Things.  Gotta love those young voices belting it out!!!

05 November 2011

Whenever we celebrate All Saints...

...it's like Easter in the fall.  I love this feast, its readings, its hymns, its prayers.  I love how the holy Evangelists look down at us from the balcony as we read their words in the midst of the congregation.  I love how St. Paul gazes steadfastly toward the front of the Church, to the images of Christ.  All together, the saints invite us to join them in their steady gaze at the beloved Lamb of God, who has taken away the sin of the world, who alone is THEIR righteousness and ours. 

04 November 2011


Cindi and I got up and had breakfast, she cut my hair, we said our prayers and then hit the Y for a good 30 minute workout.  Then off to St. Louis, where we lunched at Bottleworks.  She had a tasty "brat burger" and I had a bison burger.  Also had some caesar salad with crunched parmesan.  Good stuff!  Then to Trader Joe's.  Picked up the usual nuts, frozen beans and asparagus and blue berries, assorted other veggies and stuff.  But best of all:  picked up Kerry Gold Butter.

Ever since I was a youngster, I've searched high and low for something that TASTES like I remember Aunt Emma's butter tasting.  It was hard as a brick, and you had to chop it off in chunks, but when it melted into your food, especially the cornbread?  Oh, my!  It was the best tasting butter in all the world.  When I first heard about Kerry Gold I immediately thought:  maybe?  I think my search has ended.  Absolutely delicious - a rich and creamy butter that is a close first cousin to a cheese.  Yes, I tried it without any bread at all - just to see what it tasted like and by golly, THAT'S IT.  I think some almond toast is on the menu soon!!!

03 November 2011

The Daily Prayers

Treasury of Daily Prayer provides a set prayer to pray each day of the week.  Each day is devoted to specific concerns:  Sunday is prayer for a blessed celebration of the Divine Service, praying for pastors in their preaching and all who receive the blessed Sacrament.  Monday prays for all sorts and conditions of men.  Tuesday prays especially for the persecuted.  Wednesday prays for the dying.  Thursday prays for the grace for a blessed reception of the Holy Eucharist.  Friday commemorates our Lord's sufferings and asks for its powerful grace to be at work in our lives.  Saturday reviews the week, asks for forgiveness, and anticipates the Sunday liturgy.  The longer I come to live in their rhythm, the more I truly love praying each one as its day arrives.  If you've not tried it, I encourage you by all means to adopt the practice.  It will be a blessing!  Promise!

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

We, however, drink the most holy blood of Christ,
the blood that
atoned for our sins,
frees us from the stain of sin,
protects us from the powers of darkness,
fills us with the Holy Spirit,
and transfuses us with the divine life of Christ.
 -- Dr. John Kleinig, Grace upon Grace, p. 282.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

But what do we have in common with that heresy (the Novatian) - we who zealously encourage to serious repentance those who have fallen into even the most serious sins after Baptism?  If they bear witness of this with their words, gestures, and deeds, we lift them up with the consolation of the Gospel and announce to them the remission of their sins. -- Johann Gerhard, The Church, p. 429.

Patristic Quote of the Day

We treat the profession of faith [the Creed] as the origin and mother of doxology. -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 68.

Dr. Herl just shared

some fascinating tidbits with me from the Vesperale of Matthäus Ludecus for the Lutheran cathedral at Havelberg (1589).  Check this out for the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin [a festival, by the way, that still is included in my German CPH published Bible in the list of holy days - how did we lose it?]:

“Gaude Maria virgo, cunctas haereses sola interemisti in universo mundo”

(“Rejoice, O Virgin Mary; you only have killed all the heresies in the entire world” Translation by Dr. Herl.).

Curiously, the antiphon gets a footnote.  And there we read:

“Maria sola inquit D. Vrbanus Rhegius, interemit omnes hareses seu hereticos negantes eam in partu & post partum virginem permansisse, tanquam Organon seu causa materialis, in qua seu ex qua Filius Dei humanam naturam assumsit inviolata eius virginitate, ad quod admirandum, & ineffabile opus sola hac virgo a Deo electa fuit.”

("Mary herself, says Dr. U. Rhegius [note - confessor at Smaclald!]., abolishes all heresies or heretics who deny that she remains a virgin in partu and post partem, as she is the 'organon' or material cause, in which or from whom the Son of God assumes a human nature from her inviolate virginity; For the sake of this admirable and ineffable work alone the virgin was chosen by God" translation by Pr. Curtis)

The following antiphon was also included:

“Post partum virgo inuiolata permansisti, Dei genitrix sit semper benedicta”

(“After birth you remained an inviolate virgin; may the mother of God be ever blessed!” translation by Dr. Herl).

Those early Lutherans!  Whatever were they thinking?  Gotta love the early Lutheran lex orandi!  And how it matches the Lutheran lex credendi of only a few years earlier:  FC SD VIII:24!

02 November 2011

To reinforce

from tonight's Bible Class. We're in Jeremiah, and did chapter 9.  Eleanor sometimes visits our class.  She had the most disturbing comment to report this evening:  some fellow Lutherans had actually said to her "I'm forgiven so it doesn't matter what I do."

THIS IS NOT LUTHERAN.  This is purely devilish.

The first of the 95 must ever be remembered:  When our Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to repent, he meant that the entire life of the Christian should be repentance.

Which is to say, the entire life of the Christian, powered by the forgiveness of God, is an ongoing war against the sin that remains in our flesh. There is no peace treaty with that sin because of forgiveness.  The exact opposite.

You have a house infested with poisonous snakes and you make a treaty of peace with them?  Heck no!  You go after them with a vengeance each time one shows its ugly head.  You do so in the joyful confidence that the final victory WILL be yours, not theirs!

It is absolutely true that this battle continues to our grave.  The evil desires continue to pop up from our corrupted flesh and will.  But the grace of the Holy Spirit is given us for this battle to wage on.

Do we do it perfectly?  Of course not!  We literally LIVE from the forgiveness of our sins.  But because we do, we're snake hunters.  We watch for the wretches to show up and then we attack with a vengeance.  We know they mean us death, and so we bring them to death.  We most certainly do NOT feed them, coddle them, or excuse them with saying:  "But I'm forgiven, so they can stay."

I had always turned to the Apology's repeated assertions about the impossibility of faith existing outside of repentance, but Pastor Curtis pointed out that the Smalcald Articles are even clearer.  Read for yourself III:III:40, 43-45.  Luther is utterly clear.

Rant over.  And thanks to Eleanor for bringing the matter up - for it surely is a wound that needs addressing on the body of Lutheranism.

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

That meal [the Eucharist] is the dynamic center of our spirituality, the heart of our piety. -- Dr. John Kleinig, Grace upon Grace, p. 281.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We do say that part of hell's punishment - and, in fact the most serious part by far - consists of an alienation from the life of God... - Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Church, p. 427.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Every time we bend our knees for prayer and then rise again, we show by this action that through sin we fell down to earth, but our Creator, the Lover of Mankind, has called us back to heaven. -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 66.

01 November 2011


Cindi made Jalapeño poppers for dinner.  SNARF.  Munched on them alongside left-over pumpkin muffins (made with almond flour), a couple pieces of celery with peanut butter, and some slices of gouda.  But the poppers were king.  As David noted, the bacon just makes them.

From the All Saints Liturgy

O higher than the cherubim,
More glorious than the seraphim,
Lead their praises, alleluia!
Thou, Bearer of the Eternal Word,
Most gracious, magnify the Lord!

Respond ye souls in endless rest,
Ye patriarchs and prophets blest,
Ye holy twelve, ye martyrs strong,
All saints triumphant raise the song!
Alleluia... (Processional)

These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation.  They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Introit)

You have knit together Your faithful people of all times and places into one holy communion, the mystical body of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that, together with them, we may come to the unspeakable joys You have prepared for those who love You... (Collect)

Blessed are those whose strength is in You, in whose hearts are the highways to Zion. (Gradual)

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. (Verse)

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. (Gospel)

Oh, blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle; they in glory shine.
Yet all are one in Thee for all are Thine.
Alleluia.  (Hymn of the Day)

Give to Your whole Church, in heaven and on earth, Your light and Your peace.  (Prayer of the Church)

In the communion of all Your saints, gathered into the one body of Your Son, You have surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses that we, encouraged by their faith and strengthened by their fellowship, may run with perseverance the race that is set before us and, together with them, receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.  Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying:  Holy, holy, holy Lord...  (Proper Preface)

Keep us firm in the true faith throughout our days of pilgrimage that, on the day of His coming, we may, together with all Your saints, celebrate the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end.  (Post-communion collect)

The band of the apostles in glory sing Your praise;
The fellowship of prophets their deathless voices raise.
The martyrs in Your kingdom, a vast and noble throng,
Sing with the holy church throughout all the world this song:
O all-majestic Father, Your true and only Son,
And Holy Spirit, Comforter - forever Three in One! (Last Hymn)

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

The Spirit empowers us to offer ourselves with all our tasks, needs, joys, and sorrows to God the Father to serve Him daily in our particular location.  As we listen to His Word, we receive His blessings so that we can pass them on to the people around us.  As we pray for those God places before us each day, we bring them and their needs to Him. -- Dr. John Kleinig, Grace upon Grace, p. 280.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

From this, however, one cannot infer that the writings of the fathers are per se and simply the norm and rule of doctrine in all things, because the fathers subject their own writings to the canonical authority of Scripture.  Not only do they allow, but they even order, that everything they teach be proved and examined on the basis of Scripture.  Thus they acknowledge that Scripture is the universal, primary, and principal norm; whatever does not agree with it cannot be acknowledged as divine but is a fiction humanly devised by whomever it is advanced. -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Church, p. 411.

Patristic Quote of the Day

This day [the 8th] foreshadows the state which is to follow the present age:  a day without sunset, nightfall, or successor, an age which does not grow old or come to an end.  It is therefore necessary for the Church to teach her newborn children to stand for prayer on this day, so that they will always be reminded of eternal life, and not neglect preparations for their journey. -- St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, par. 66.

A Homily upon the Feast of All Saints (2011)

 [Revelation 14:9-17 / 1 John 3:1-3 / Matt. 5:1-12]

Use the eyes of your body, people loved by God, and the Church can look pretty wretched.  Think how the hymn describes her:  “Though with a scornful wonder, men see her sore oppressed; by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed.”  And that’s not even mentioning the bad behavior of her pastors and her laity – for how often do we bring shame on the holy name of our Savior by the words and deeds of our own lives?  Yes, the Church looks like a first class train wreck.

Odd as it may sound, things weren’t too much different toward the close of the first century when St. John was writing.  You know, he outlived all the other apostles.  And so he got to see the countless assaults that attacked the first plantings of the church.  False teachers arising right from the midst of the people of God and spouting off their own crazy ideas as Gospel truth; the heavy hand of the Roman state crashing down on the Church over and over again to wipe her out; the luke-warmness of those who began to take their faith for granted – oh, they showed up for the Divine Services, but they’d lost their first love.  It all became a bit ho-hum for them.

And now exiled and sitting all by his own alone self there on Patmos, God gives John a priceless gift that he shared with us by writing it down:  a vision of the Church as she truly is, as God sees her and declares her to be, and will finally reveal her to all the world:  a vast multitude – you number lovers, give up trying to count them, impossible – and they are from all over the creation:  every nation and tribe and people and language.  But they are gathered in one spot:  before the throne of the Father and of the Lamb.  They are clothed in gleaming white and they bear in their hands the palm branch of victory and as they wave it they announce that:  “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!”  That is, they stand before the throne and every last of them owns up that salvation came to them as pure gift from the hand of God and the Lamb, our Lord Jesus.  Not their doing!

When John is asked who they are, he gives the wise answer:  You better tell me.  And tell him the elder does:  “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation – the great trouble."  THIS age!  They have washed their robes in Lamb’s blood and so they are white and they stand before the throne and they worship day and night in God’s holy temple.  And He shelters them.  Gone the hunger, the thirst, the threat from sun with its heat.  The Lamb is their shepherd. He guides them to springs that flow with living water.  And God Himself wipes away all their tears.

Want to see the Church?  Listen and see with your ears this stunning picture.  That’s what we really are.  Not the mess.  Not the shame and the disaster you see before you eyes – but that huge and noble assembly of all the elect children of God gathered into the worship of God and the Lamb by and in the Holy Spirit.

And so the very same author wrote to the churches in his first epistle, marveling at the massive love that the Father has given you – not will give you – HAS given you.  That right now you should be His children.  And John says it only gets better.  We can’t even begin to guess how it will end up when Christ appears in glory – except for this:  we will be like Him.  We shall see Him in that moment as He truly is, and seeing Him we shall see – yes, with our eyes – ourselves as we really are in Him.  And everyone will see in that moment the gleaming white, the palm branches, the massive crowd of those who have been redeemed, clothed and sheltered throughout the difficulties of this present age.  John says:  If you have this hope, you purify yourself, just as your Jesus is pure.  This hope focuses your life, and you spend the time left to you in your pilgrimage here practicing for the age to come, where love has triumphed over all and there is only joy and peace and thanksgiving and praise in response to the God who has given you everything:  your body and soul, forgiveness for all your sin, and a life that is so strong death turns tail and runs away from it.

It is in light of what shall be, that our Lord pronounces His beatitudes.  This is His first teaching He gives to His disciples.  In it, He trains them to keep the focus on what will be in light of what they have been given already and so that they may endure the hardships that await.  The gift now to the poor in spirit and the persecuted is the very Kingdom of God itself – first and eighth beatitudes.  That kingdom shows up in Jesus.  He is the gift of God’s gracious reign in our flesh and blood.  You are blessed indeed when you have Him; when He is your King and you get to serve Him in everlasting “righteousness, innocence and blessedness.”  That’s to wear the white robe that is blood washed and to stand in the great assembly – unseen now, but truly there – singing and offering praises with all the rest.

But notice that all the middle beatitudes – from second through seventh – are future, not present.  The mourners will be comforted, the meek will inherit this earth, the people who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled, the merciful will receive mercy, the purified in heart will see God, the peacemakers will be called His children.   Which is our Lord’s way of saying:  “now and not yet.”  Now the Kingdom.  Now His gracious presence, reigning in your heart.  Working all things together for your good.  And not yet.  “For the troubles of this present life are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed” is how St. Paul would put it later.  Lot of agony and sorrow here and now as you live in His kingdom, but through it all His presence sustains you, and trains you to focus on what will be.  Even as He did:  “Who for the joy set before Him despised the cross, scorning the shame, and sat down at the right hand of God with angels and principalities subject to Him.”

As with the Head, so with His body.  You don’t focus upon the hardships and the griefs and the heart-breaking sorrows, your failures to live as His people, your constant falling and crawling back to His grace.  No.  You focus through them all on where and how it ends.  “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” St. Paul says, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:13,14.  “Our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await the Savior who will transform our lowly bodies to be like His own by the power that enables Him to subdue all things to Himself.” Phil. 3:20,21.  All things – even your weak and straying hearts.  “We WILL be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.”

So, All Saints.  The day for us to learn to see the future and to press toward it by the power of God’s Spirit as Christ’s own blessed people.  Not the mess of the church as she appears in this world; not the weakness of your own Christian life; but the final result of Christ’s saving work which will appear in all its glory only when He appears again.  Behold it now by faith, love it, ache for it, and live towards it – for in the end that blessedness which is yours and hidden now will be yours and visible on that glorious day.

To Christ, the Lamb whose blood has washed away our sin, to whom alone belongs salvation, be all glory, honor and praise, with the Father and the Holy Spirit  in His holy church now and ever and to the ages of ages.  Amen.