30 April 2013
Those who wish to argue that there is no cooperation by the new man in new obedience need to be candid in acknowledging that they are proposing a reading of the Lutheran Confessions that contradicts the Lutheran dogmatic tradition. The great burden of proof falls on them because they are advancing a reading that contradicts the plain statements of the Confessions themselves, and of the way Lutherans have historically read them.—Pr. Mark Surburg, http://surburg.blogspot.com/2013/04/sanctification-issues-in-question-and.html
Will you deem Him little on this account, that He humbled Himself for your sake, and because to seek for that which had wandered the Good Shepherd, He who lays down His life for the sheep, John 10:11 came upon the mountains and hills upon which you used to sacrifice, John 5:35 and found the wandering one; and having found it, took it upon His shoulders, Hosea 4:13 on which He also bore the wood; and having borne it, brought it back to the life above; and having brought it back, numbered it among those who have never strayed. That He lit a candle, Luke 15:4-5 His own flesh, and swept the house, by cleansing away the sin of the world, and sought for the coin, the Royal Image that was all covered up with passions, and calls together His friends, the Angelic Powers, at the finding of the coin, and makes them sharers of His joy, as He had before made them sharers of the secret of His Incarnation?—St. Gregory Nazianzus, Oration 45
"For through the cross joy has come into all the world." This joy is pure joy because it does not depend on anything in this world, and is not the reward of anything in us. It is totally and absolutely a gift, the "charis," the grace. And being pure gift, this joy has a transformative power, the only real transformative power in this world. It is "seal" of the Holy Spirit on the life of the Church—on its faith, hope and love.—For the Life of the World, p. 55.
29 April 2013
Since faith cannot be idle, it must demonstrate the fruits of love by doing good and avoiding evil. The Holy Spirit is at hand; he does not let us rest but makes us willing and inclined to do all that is good and earnest and diligent in opposing all that is evil. Thus a Christian by such a right use of the sacrament continually, increasingly, day after day, renews himself and grows in Christ, as Paul also teaches us that we should always be renewed [Eph. 4:23] and increase [in holiness].—Blessed Martin Luther, AE 38:126.
24 April 2013
So let me first say that what I have written deals with matters that are a consequence and result of the Gospel and justification. The Gospel and justification stand at the center of what it is to be Lutheran. It is only on account of Christ through the work of the Spirit that a Christian can do anything that pleases God. The Spirit creates and sustains faith through the Means of Grace. It is through the Means of Grace that we receive forgiveness and our lives continually return to those Means of Grace because that is where Christ is present for us. Everything in the Christian life finds its source there and there can be no Christian life apart from it.—Pr. Mark Surburg http://surburg.blogspot.com/2013/04/sanctification-issues-in-question-and.html
I say this to keep anyone from supposing that once faith has been accepted, sin should not be emphasized. Sin is really sin, regardless of whether you commit it before or after you have come to know Christ. And God hates the sin; in fact, so far as the substance of the deed is concerned, every sin is mortal. It is not mortal for the believer; but this is on account of Christ the Propitiator, who expiated it by His death. As for the person who does not believe in Christ, not only are all his sins mortal, but even his good works are sins, in accordance with the statement (Rom. 14:23): “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”—Blessed Martin Luther, Great Galatians, AE 27:76.
Therefore God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, predestinating us to the adoption of children, not because we were going to be of ourselves holy and immaculate, but He chose and predestinated us that we might be so. Moreover, He did this according to the good pleasure of His will, so that nobody might glory concerning his own will, but about God's will towards himself—St. Augustine, On the Predestination of the Saints, Book I, chapter 37.
17 April 2013
"The responsory is the oldest form of the ecclesiastical song employed in the Church... The responsorial song consists of a song built up of strophes or of verses sung by a soloist, and of a recurring refrain or responsum sung by the congregation after each strophe or verse." —Jungmann, The Early Liturgy, p. 285.
How's that work? Funny you should ask. Some examples here and here.
How's that work? Funny you should ask. Some examples here and here.
12 April 2013
So I was looking a little wistfully at one of my favorite t-shirts. It's got a scene from Charlie Brown's Christmas on it, but it's all but faded away. I commented to the folks at the table that I never really could see the brown in the shirt very well. Bekah crinkled her face and asked: "What brown?" So I dutifully pointed to the faded color. She and Cindi both exclaimed: "That's not brown. That's green." The story of my life: I live with people who simply don't see the world the way it is...
11 April 2013
Many Lutheran churches have preserved the order of bishops. Some of them even have apostolic succession. So has the Church of Sweden, and we appreciate it. A Lutheran Church can very well introduce it again where it has been lost. So did the Church of Finland and some Baltic Churches in this century. For the sake of love and in order to facilitate communion with other churches we can accept this order. But if the Episcopalians tell us that this order is essential for the true church and that there can be no valid ministry and no true sacraments without bishops, we must not yield submission even for a moment, that the truth of the gospel might be preserved.—Bishop Bo Giertz, "The Freedom We Have in Christ" in Lord Jesus Christ, Will You Not Stay?, p. 19.
Let us, then, understand the calling whereby they become elected,— not those who are elected because they have believed, but who are elected that they may believe. For the Lord Himself also sufficiently explains this calling when He says, You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you. John 15:16 For if they had been elected because they had believed, they themselves would certainly have first chosen Him by believing in Him, so that they should deserve to be elected. But He takes away this supposition altogether when He says, You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you. And yet they themselves, beyond a doubt, chose Him when they believed on Him.—St. Augustine, On the Predestination of the Saints, I:34.
07 April 2013
06 April 2013
...a trip up to Grafton this afternoon. We took the dogs, hiked up the steep trail and back down a different way, and then Dean, Lauren and Sawyer headed to Bethalto to check in on Dean's sister and brother-in-law, and Bekah, Cindi, Lucy and I stopped in at Aerie's Winery to enjoy a glass of wine and take in the beautiful view.
...my mind remembers. I was reading Sawyer his abbreviated edition of There's a Wocket in My Pocket and was immediately troubled: the zelf up on the shelf was called a "her." I was certain that was NOT right. I googled online and found the original and sure enough, the zelf like the other critters was a "him." HAH! I KNEW it! Like I said, worthless things, but such is the sort of things stuck in this brain.
05 April 2013
...Odd how HUGE Jo's presence is by its absence in her home, particularly in the living room... Not quite two weeks ago, I was shovelling (I refuse to change the spelling of that - I hate the way they changed that rule; I still stick to it: double the last letter!) a foot of snow; today I cut grass and weed-wacked... The intense sadness is tricky: it will begin to abate and then sneak back up on you and seize you when you're least expecting it... Liverpool with just three players works, but again the absence is so loud it's shouting at you (so glad when Bekah got home to join us)... Sawyer's smile is pure healing medicine... Tonight we celebrate Bekah's birthday—poor thing had the absolute worst birthday ever, and on Palm Sunday (when we were supposed to have her celebration), she sat all alone at the kitchen counter eating her dessert. The good thing is that now we'll celebrate with Dean, Lauren and Sawyer joining us and it's in the 70's rather than snowing!... Sunshine and warmth and the smell of freshly cut grass is also cheering... A fresh cup of coffee delivered by your son-in-law is also pretty sweet.
03 April 2013
Saint Paul Lutheran Church
Easter Tuesday – April 2, 2013
Funeral Sermon for Joanne Mae DeVries
The Rev. BT Ball
In Nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
My bones stick to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth. Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has touched me! Why do you, like God, pursue me? Why are you not satisfied with my flesh? “Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!
Alleluia. Christ is risen.
Dear David, Cindi, Debbie and Dee, beloved grandchildren and sons-in-law, my brother, Christian family and friends. Jo was a Christian. So she knew the familiar words of Job, we sang them here just this past Sunday - I know that my Redeemer lives. To say, I know that my Redeemer lives, is to make a Spirit given, confident confession of faith; particularly it is the confession of a suffering believer. It is a Christian confession; borne of the reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Christians believe that their Redeemer lives. Christians believe that Jesus, their Redeemer, died for them and rose from the grave for them three days later. And Jo was a Christian. So she knew her Redeemer, and she did know that to be redeemed a price was to be paid. The death of the Son of God is the redemption price. The price of purchase from sin, death and the power of the devil himself is the Holy death of Jesus; Jesus who is life itself. And He gave it; life into death to pay the price of Jo’s salvation. He redeemed her, and he redeemed you too, and it is in this promise that Job and Jo could also believe with boldness that after death they would see with eyes wide open and alive again, this same Jesus, their Lord and their God. And this is the Christian hope, not heaven alone, but real,tangible, resurrected life with eyes open, bright and clear to see the one who was pierced and crushed death’s power. The Redeemer is the very one who carried the sin of the whole world, and who was cut down by His Father’s hand. And that is the part that hurts Christians the most, it certainly seemed that way for Jo.
Job confessed in the midst of his pain and suffering what was most certain; the life of hisGod and Redeemer, but he also confessed that it was the same God and Redeemer who had struck him with such pain and suffering. He cries out to his friends, “Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has touched me!” Job was in pain of body and soul, and there was no one else to lay that on but God himself. It was God’s hand that caused sores, and pain, loss and great sorrow. It is God’s hand that causes kidney disease, cancer and debilitating back problems. Our Father in heaven seeks to do his work of drawing His children to himself by causing them to lose what he has given, to give up what he has given, life itself, so that he might give life all the more through faith alone. And this is hard to take and hard to bear. Our Lord Jesus Christ was not lying when he said, “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (St. Luke 9:23). And we know that Jo was familiar with this way of God, David you know most of all. You saw.
We all know her thoughts because she wrote them down. Jo left her journals to Bill and Cindi and she wrote, “Why is it hard to believe what is written in God's word? I want to believe. I want to understand. He's my healer, but yet I'm not healed. I'm not angry anymore, I just want God to help me understand. How long must I suffer? How long before You deliver me from the fowler's snare?” To ask such questions in faith is not sinful, because answers and understanding are sought from the Word of the gracious God who has done his chief work in suffering, the cross.
True faith is borne of baptism into the living hope of Christ. In baptism we are crucified with Christ, we are baptized into his sufferings, we are given the redemption he earned and paid for. The sufferings of a Christian are not redemptive, they are for refining. Jo confessed her weakness and her inability to believe. Why is it so hard to believe? Because of the Old Adam, our flesh. The hand of God strikes so that we might despair of ourselves, turn away from our own reason or strength to the cross of Christ and the life He alone gives. So what God does is get at our flesh; He refines his children, in fire and pain. St. Peter wrote, “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3-7).
God tempts no one, but he does discipline us as a loving Father and he does refine his children and for a little while, puts us to grief by various trials, so that we may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. The revelation of Jesus Christ is the day when he will stand at last on the earth, the redeemer who lives. The praise, glory and honor will be given by us to Christ for his redemption and praise that he has granted us to share in his sufferings, St. Paul wrote, “For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Corinthians 1:5). Comfort in suffering comes through the certainty of the forgiveness of sins through the redemption given by the shed blood of Jesus. Comfort in suffering comes in the certainty that Jesus Christ is raised from the dead, he lives and he will stand at the last day. Real comfort comes when Christians, and Jo was a Christian, receive the sacred body and blood of Jesus Christ. Again from her journal, "I really hate it when I miss church and communion. I feel like something is amiss. My healing comes at the communion feast. There is something very personal and uplifting when I take of God's body and blood.”
So here you had a woman who was asking for healing, and wondering when it was going to come and at the very same time confessing that her healing came from the communion feast, when she would take of her God’s body and blood. What a redeemer who creates such faith! When hearts are fainting and failing, when suffering is great, where are you to go? Jo knew. She looked to were the promises and healing were promised; the Word, the sacred body and blood of Jesus Christ. Because you see, Jo was a Christian. And it is Christians who hold to the promise of Jesus “he who believes and is baptized shall be saved, he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). It is Christians, the sheep of Christ’s fold, baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit who will live a resurrected eternal life. It is Christians who have hope in the face of death. It is Christians who know that their redeemer lives and that he will stand at the last on the earth. It is Christians who know and confess by the gift of the Spirit, after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. And Jo was a Christian. Even now as her body sleeps and will be put in the rest of the grave, she sees God, for the true God is not a God of the dead but of the living. She is alive even now, but there is waiting for her the resurrection. Even as Christ is risen and lives, so Jo at the last day, when the trumpet shouts she will be raised imperishable. Christ will draw all who believe and are baptized to life, eternal life. Jo is one of that number, for Jo is a Christian.
In Nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
02 April 2013
Here is an Easter greeting from President Harrison: Video. This man never ceases to impress me. He showed up at my mother-in-law's visitation yesterday evening; we were all very touched that he came (and I was especially shocked knowing his insanely busy schedule), but such acts of kindness and a chance to speak a word of resurrection comfort are his hallmarks. Thank you, President Harrison, for being yourself!