30 October 2013

Double Joys

Well, it's been a crazy couple days. Back on Monday, Lauren (not due till later in November) went into labor in NC. Cindi was supposed to be with them to take care of Sawyer when Lauren had her scheduled c-section. Apparently little Annabelle Scarlet Herberts wanted nothing to do with a c-section. She decided to be born naturally! She's a sweet, little love:

We got Cindi out on a plane as soon as we could and she arrived in North Carolina on Monday evening. But the problem is...

Annabelle was actually born on Lydia's due-date - David and Meaghan's little girl. No action on the day of Annabelle's birth, but then we started to get some action.

Meaghan ended up giving birth to her little girl this morning. So I'm here with David and Meaghan in Illinois and Cindi is in NC with Lauren and Dean and Sawyer (and his other grandma, Lynn).  Which makes both Cindi and I both very happy and very sad. We so much would love to enjoy our new grand babies together, but it was not to be.

How I wish my mom and Jo could be here for these joys!

A few more pics:





28 October 2013

Man proposes...God disposes.

I think today Cindi will meet our oldest granddaughter. She was supposed to be Lydia, but I think she's going to be Annabelle instead. She's headed out to NC in a few hours.

25 October 2013

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Our prayer is part of our work in Christ's heavenly administration of His Father's realm.—Dr. John Kleinig, Grace upon Grace, p. 155.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

No, my dear man, do not recommend to me peace and unity when thereby God's Word is lost, for then eternal life and everything else would be lost. In this matter there can be no yielding nor giving way, no, not for love of you or any other person, but everything must yield to the Word, whether it be friend or foe.—Blessed Martin Luther, Day by Day, p. 384

Patristic Quote of the Day

So great, then, is the difference between the law and grace, that although the law is undoubtedly of God, yet the righteousness which is of the law is not of God, but the righteousness which is consummated by grace is of God. The one is designated the righteousness of the law, because it is done through fear of the curse of the law; while the other is called the righteousness of God, because it is bestowed through the beneficence of His grace, so that it is not a terrible but a pleasant commandment, according to the prayer in the psalm: Good are You, O Lord, therefore in Your goodness teach me Your righteousness; that is, that I may not be compelled like a slave to live under the law with fear of punishment; but rather in the freedom of love may be delighted to live with law as my companion. When the freeman keeps a commandment, he does it readily. And whosoever learns his duty in this spirit, does everything that he has learned ought to be done.—St. Augustine, On the Grace of Christ and On Original Sin, Book I, Chapter 14

22 October 2013

I thought she was crazy...

...but it's not the first time I thought so. Deaconess Sandra Bowers thought we should help today at Zion Lutheran Church, North St. Louis. It was a servant event for those of us who work at the IC. I totally enjoyed myself and doing something physical to help a neighbor, well, it was good and very good.

I remember singing here when I was at seminary under Gerry Coleman's direction years upon years ago. A beautiful jewel of a sanctuary, standing as a beacon in the wasteland that is north St. Louis. What hope if the place could be renewed and regenerated. With Pr. Fritz Raedeke as pastor, I'm certain that the joyous Gospel sounds forth there week by week. To gather the citizens around it again is the task. We worked today on the church grounds and in the old school building. Slowly but surely. Something great is about to happen here. You can feel it in the very air.

21 October 2013

Excellent Article

by a heart surgeon. Please check out what he says here. Your heart will thank you.  HT: Trent Sebits

17 October 2013

Sis

My sister, Marie (whom we always called Sis or Sissy) and her husband Jimmy arrived today. Looking forward to several days of visiting. We get to spend far too little time together. Last time they were out in Illinois was, I believe, for Thanksgiving (the year David and Meaghan had just begun to date). They've always been a very special part of my life - Sis was like a second mom in so many ways, and Jimmy was amazingly patient and kind. He lived across the street when I was little and he used to be our mail man. I remember when he took Sissy to the prom and the long pale blue dress she wore (with cape). Jimmy had a red Impala. After they were married, they had pity on the poor younger brother and often took me on trips with them (I especially remember the beach, both at the Chesepeak and at Ocean City). Now we're all old. Sis and Jimmy even have a great grandchild, Brayden. But the memories are still wonderful to treasure. Glad they'll be here for a few days.

Time keeps getting away from me!

Been a long time since I posted. Had a wonderful trip out to Redeemer in Huntington Beach, where the joys of the living Liturgy were unpacked and I got to preach and teach Bible Class. Much joy getting to know the saints there. Much joy indeed.

Glad, though, that no more conferences or speaking engagements scheduled through year's end, so we can hopefully get lots of stuff done at the office. Plans are on for next year's Institute on Liturgy, Preaching, and Church Music titled Comfort, Comfort Ye My People: Preaching, Singing, and Praying the Peace of Christ to the Troubled Conscience and the Broken Heart. It will be in Seward, July 28–31. Plan on joining us if you are interested in worship! Shaping up to be a great conference.

09 October 2013

Wisconsin

Had two beautiful days. Drove up to Milwaukee to do an address on confessing Christ to athiests at University of Wisconsin last night. Got to meet Vicar Rockrohr (I already knew his mom and dad, nice to meet this promising young man!). Caught up briefly with several acquaintances (Tirzah, Gary and Susan, Nathan, Katherine and Jerry's family). This morning before I left, was privileged to join in Matins, sung in the Baptismal Chapel at Luther Memorial. What a beautiful church! The nave is filled with stained glass proclaiming key events of OT history, the life of our Lord, and the history of the Church. I was suprised and delighted to see images of Sts. Boniface, Ansgar and Bernard. Vicar led a sung Matins (though only five of us were gathered) and led it very well. We sang the liturgy, chanted the Psalm, sang the hymn, and singing Benedictus was (as Sharilyn observed long ago) like welcoming an old friend. Vicar read to us from 1 Corinthians 11 and also a wonderful bit from the Larger Catechism. I headed home in good spirits and decided to give a full listen to Bach's Epiphany Day Mass (thank you, Pr. Jay Webber) and then to Sch├╝tz's Christmas Vespers. The sun streamed in the car - not a cloud in they sky. Woody Wisconsin gave way to the fields of Illinois, being harvested. It was truly a joyous trip!

07 October 2013

Homily at opening of LCMS Disaster Conference, 2013

Text: Lamentations 3:10–26

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Jeremiah knew a thing or two about disaster. He'd been sent to prophesy it's immanent arrival, but when it struck it still hit him like a sucker punch in the gut. Walking about a city in smoldering ruins, houses burned, the population decimated, and unthinkably even the temple reduced to rubble and raided, emptied of all its holy things, cries of the survivors ringing in his ears, the old prophet does an odd thing.

He begins to sing. His song is a song of Lament, a song of sorrows: "How lonely sits the city that once was full of people!...Is is nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow which was brought upon me, which The Lord inflicted on the day of His fierce wrath." He sings his song speaks from the perspective of the victims. And speaking from that perspective there is no wiggle room. He knows that the ultimate source of disaster is that it comes from the hand of The Lord. Neither he nor the people can pretend the luxury of theologizing in such a way as to keep The Lord's hands away from what has befallen them. The wrath is too near. They feel it in their bones. And they acknowledge that it is just: "The Lord is in the right, for I have rebelled against his word; but hear, all you peoples, and see my suffering!"

When disaster strikes, let us learn from Jeremiah to sing with the people what it actually feels like. Let us not ignore the elephant in the room. From today's reading: "He is a bear lying in wait for me, a lion in hiding, he turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces; he has made me desolate, he bent his bow and set me as a target for his arrow. He drove into my kidneys the arrow of his quiver.... He filled me with bitterness; he has sated me with wormwood. He has made my teeth grind on gravel and made me cower in ashes. My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is."

It doesn't get more honest than that. God the bear, God the lion, God the archer and you his target, God grinding your face in the gravel. 

And so despair. That too. "so I say, My endurance has perished (as in, I can't take it anymore!), so has my hope from The Lord (as in, who can fight against Him when He fights you?)."

So the prophet sang. Sang with the people. Sang with their misery. It was his misery too. And he faced up to the omnipotence of God and its clear implications. He didn't even try to let God off the hook or distance him from the horror he lived in each day. He walked the streets of a ruined city singing the dirge of death, the death of hope, the fierce anger of The Lord.

Yet his song didn't stop there, did it? He sang all of that. And it was all true. He knew from Torah the terror of the words: "For a fire is kindled by my anger and it burns to the depths of Sheol, devours the earth and its increase, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains. And I will heap disasters upon them and I will spend my arrows on them." (Deut. 32:22,23) But he knew that that song went on: "For The Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants, when he sees that their power is gone." (Deut. 32:36). He knew that that song ended with promise: "See now that I, even I, am he; and there is no god besides me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal." (32:39)

The end of the song can't be lamentation, because if He kills, He yet also makes alive. If He wounds, He yet also heals. And so Jeremiah's loud lament reaches it climax as he sings to the mourners in Jerusalem: "This I call to mind and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of The Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness."

Everything else comes to an end. Everything. Disasters merely force us to see in a moment what slow time somewhat disguises: everything else comes to an end. You and me, the houses and homes we dwell in, the cities and nations we build, the plans we make, the dreams we dream, they all vanish away, dissolving like a morning mist. 

And yet seeing this and seeing it clearly, Jeremiah's heart swelled with hope and he sought to sing his hope into the hearts of the survivors: for in the face of disaster, of the end to which all else must come, Jeremiah beheld the shining light of mercy. He knew that there is one thing which has no end: the steadfast love of The Lord. It never fails. It never ceases. It may be hidden from our eyes for a time, like the sun by the stormy sky and clouds, but it never ceases to shine. 

And we know that that shining is greatest from Christ's cross. There, in the midst of the worst disaster imaginable, the creature killing the Creator, Death swallowing up Life, the death of God Himself in the flesh, we behold the triumph of the one thing that never fails: mercy. The cross forever witnesses that the terror of God's wrath against all our sin, which is so near us in the day of disaster: "Man of God, have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son?" as the Widow of Zarephath cried out - that it also has an end. We see the wrath of God against sin upon the cross. And yet it shines before us the hope that filled Jeremiah's heart: God is near us not to destroy us finally, but bestow upon us what has no end, what can never be shaken or torn down: His steadfast love. The cross achieves and manifests this. It swallows up wrath as Jesus drains that cup down to its bitter dregs. Behold, upon the Cross Him who is Steadfast love, Him who is faithfulness, Him who kept His every promise and who will keep them. Behold, Mercy as He triumphs over judgment. Behold, Him who was killed and yet made alive. Behold, Him who was wounded and yet was healed. He joins us in our sorrows to give us what lasts beyond all sorrow: mercy. He joins us in our sin to give us what lasts beyond all sin: forgiveness.

So Jeremiah sings his song and we with him: "The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of The Lord." Wait then and wait in hope, we sing in the midst of whatever the next disaster is. We give full voice to the lament of grief, the dirge of death, but we dare never stop there. We sing through them to the steadfast love that ceases not, we sing through them to Jesus, of His mercy, His life, His love that never ends. And so we bind up the wounds not just of body and mind, but above all of heart and soul, singing the truth of both Law and Gospel, of Wrath and Mercy, of Judgment and Grace, and proclaiming with boldness that among the things that has an end is the wrath of The Lord, but His mercies are new every morning. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

03 October 2013

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

No, not everyone who dies goes to a better place. Some, sadly, unnecessarily, die and go to hell—but not you. Your Lord was crucified and raised for your justification. You bear the name of the Holy Trinity upon your forehead and heart. You eat the manna of Jesus' risen body and blood and commune with all the saints and holy angels. You die and go to your Lord Jesus Christ and His Father, because He did not love His life but laid it down for yours.—Pr. David Petersen, Thy Kingdom Come, p. 193.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Meditate, O devout soul, upon the awfulness of future punishment, and thou wilt easily overcome every base and sinful desire.—Blessed Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditations, XLIX.

Patristic Quote of the Day

There are many men, who form good hopes not by abstaining from their sins, but by thinking that hell is not so terrible as it is said to be, but milder than what is threatened, and temporary, not eternal; and about this they philosophize much. But I could show from many reasons, and conclude from the very expressions concerning hell, that it is not only not milder, but much more terrible than is threatened.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 3 on 2 Thessalonians.

02 October 2013

Patristic Quote of the Day

He [the Antichrist] will abolish all the gods, and will order men to worship him instead of God, and he will be seated in the temple of God, not that in Jerusalem only, but also in every Church.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 3 on 2 Thessalonians

01 October 2013

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

Let us not abandon the fellowship in our congregation and fail to come to worship services. Already at that time (writing of Hebrews) there were those who made a habit of that. That is and remains a betrayal not only to the congregation, but to Him who is the head, Christ.—Bishop Bo Giertz, To Live with Christ, p. 701.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The greater the suffering, the nearer is Christ.—Johann Gerhard, Postilla II:234.

Patristic Quote of the Day

If we always think of hell, we shall not soon fall into it.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 2 on 2 Thessalonians