30 March 2014

St. Paul's, Iowa City

Great trip up to Iowa City (trip home was actually just shy of four hours!). Connected with old friends, met lots of new ones and enjoyed magnificent hospitality with the Mons family. And what an absolutely fabulous Divine Service this morning - musical gifts abounding in that congregation, and the liturgy celebrated so reverently and yet enthusiastically by the overwhelmingly young congregation. Was a great joy indeed. I presented on Living Liturgy, and if anyone had any doubts about the liturgy being alive in the Lutheran Church, go and visit this wonderful place.

25 March 2014


...it was a year ago. In the late morning, they decided to move Jo out of ICU into a small room that was all too familiar to me. Marianne had died there some years earlier. I asked if we could bring her home. We knew she may not make it, but with help from hospice, we got Jo back home. We set up a bed in the living room. Sandy and Russ, Dee and Deb had arrived Monday. This was Tuesday. Holy Tuesday. Lauren and Sawyer arrived and said their goodbyes. And thus the vigil began.

The lot fell to poor Dee. Jo gave none of the usual signs. We'd warned her what to expect, but nothing like that happened. She just stopped breathing. We ran over next door, but she was gone. Then the hours of waiting for what happened next began. The hospice nurse. The funeral director and hearse. Meeting with pastor. I'd done this how many times as a pastor? I couldn't even begin to guess. But now I was sitting there with Cindi, Deb, Dee and Dave. We were all so empty inside. So exhausted and still trying to take it all in.

Now it is a year later. Jo has three new great grandchildren she never got to meet. A wedding of a grandson she didn't get to attend. A family reunion she had so looked forward to and that we all attended for her.

Every time we sit down to play liverpool or enjoy a family meal, her presence is huge by its absence. Meaghan and David framed the picture that Meaghan took of all of us that last time we were all together, before Lauren, Dean, and Sawyer moved away. It hangs over the mantel and right smack dab in the center is Joanne. She'll always be the center, even when she's not physically here anymore.

Rest in peace, Joanne. We love you. We miss you. We will never be the same without you. I'm glad your sufferings have come to an end, but not a day goes by when we don't think of you, miss you.

New Toy

Picked up shortly before trip to Canada an iPad Mini with retina. WOW! Love this little puppy and am amazed at all the stuff it can do. Have you ever contemplated the consolidation of gadgets? This thing is a camera, a video recorder, email reader, web surfer, word processor, spread sheet maker, presentation maker, skype and facetime device, e-book reader, netflix viewer, DirecTV viewer, photo album, gaming device, and the list only goes on! It easily fits into my pocket of my coat and makes writing on the road a piece of cake. The more I use it the more amazed I am. Does it replace the laptop? Not quite yet, but it sure as shooting is getting close.

19 March 2014

Patristic Quote of the Day

Hear the proud language of the JewsWe be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man; and, We be born of God. But not so this woman, rather she calls herself a dog, and them masters; so for this she became a child. What then says Christ? O woman, great is your faith.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 52 on St. Matthew

Old Lutheran Quote(s) of the Day

Krauth on the death of the unbaptized child:

"It is not the doctrine of our confession that any human creature has ever been, or ever will be, lost purely on account of original sin. For while it presupposes that original sin, if UNARRESTED, would bring death, it supposes it to be arrested, certainly and ordinarily, through the Holy Spirit by the divine means rightly received, and throws no obstacle in the way of our hearty faith that, in the case of infants dying without the means, the Holy Ghost in His own blessed way, directly and extraordinarily, may make the change that delivers the child from the power of indwelling sin." (p. 429 Conservative Reformation)

Also this:

"In the fact that there is an ordinary means appointed, our Church sees the guaranty that God wishes to renew and save children, and what so powerfully as this prompts the blessed assurance that if God fails to reach the child in His ordinary way, He will reach it in some other!... When then in the mysterious providence of this Lover of these precious little ones, they are cut off from the reception of His grace by its ordinary channel, our Church cherishes the most blessed assurance, wrought by the very existence of infant baptism, that in some other way God's tenderness will reach and redeem them. Our confidence in the uncovenanted mercy of God is strong in proportion to the tenacity to which we cling to Baptism as the ordinary mean, most necessary on our part, if we can possibly have it or have it given." (p. 438 Conservative Reformation)

Comfort, Comfort Ye My People

Registration is now OPEN for the LCMS's triennial Institute on Liturgy, Preaching and Church Music! You can find out about this great opportunity by clicking here. Who's it for? Pastors, church musicians, any baptized child of God who is passionate about worship! Going to be awesome - be there!

15 March 2014

Crazy but blessed trip...

...Wednesday morning I was supposed to fly out to Chicago early and catch plane to Toronto. The storm kabashed that. So ended up flying to Dallas, catching a bite to eat, and arriving in Canada at quarter to midnight. The snow and ice had hit pretty hard up there, so I was almost late for preaching the Divine Service, but Pr. Saar managed to get us there only a few minutes late. A blessed day with the pastors up there and then a circuit convocation in the evening. Next day a Higher Things retreat - great joy! Meeting Mark Veeneman in the flesh and hearing him give forth some Bach and Buxtehude. Time with Prs. Saar and Reinhard and Lanz and so many others; time meeting more of the Klages clan, and seeing some of Kelly's artwork I'd not seen. Four paintings of the evangists above the altar of St. John's in Mount Forest by Ma Halter!!! Who'd have thunk? Great visit with Pr Saar and Becky. But then breakfast in Toronto this a.m., lunch in NY at LaGuardia, and then dinner in Edwardsville. Wiped. Ready to rest the voice and hope that I can sing the Gounod piece for tomorrow.

A Homily upon Reminiscere

If you want to make sense out of the readings for Lent you need to remember that this season was designed as an instruction period for those who were new to Christ.  So the first Sunday in Lent introduces the newbees to the devil.  Let’s them know that yes, there really is an enemy out there literally hell-bent on destroying them and wiping out their faith in the God who is calling them to life in Jesus Christ.  The first Sunday in Lent warns:  Expect to be tempted, and prepare for all kinds of seduction because if the tempter can’t get at you one way, he’ll just try another.  The Word of God, however, has the power to defeat and drive this enemy away.

The second Sunday introduces new Christians to a phenomenon that old Christians know well, but that will seem quite shocking to those who are just beginning to walk the way.  We tell them not only do they have to deal with the devil roaring like a lion, looking for someone to devour, but they will have to content with another quite common and trying spiritual experience:  getting the cold shoulder from God.  Don’t be deceived we tell them.  There are times that you pray and God’s answer to your prayer seems to drop on your plate before you even say “Amen” – but this Sunday warns:  don’t get used to it and think that’s what it’s always like; it most certainly is not.

No, instead many times we struggle and wrestle with God in prayer, and like Jacob, we walk away limping.  We cry out like the woman in today’s Gospel and we feel ignored, excluded and insulted.  And what then?  Do we give up and believe what the Enemy is whispering in our ear?  When he tells us:  See, it was all an illusion; there is no God to hear your prayer; or if there is a God who hears prayers, he sure as shootin’ isn’t listening to the prayers of someone like you.  Should we just hang our heads and walk away from the whole Christianity thing and think:  It’s no good; it’s not meant for me?

Today the Church urges you:  Don’t do it!  Don’t give into those despairing thoughts!  Look at the little lady from Canaan and follow her example instead.  She is a living enactment of our Lord’s words:  “Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and the door shall be opened to you, for everyone who asks receives and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.”

She came to Jesus.  Maybe she was trying to disguise the fact that she had no claim on him by using the title “Son of David.”  “Son of David, have mercy on me.  My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”  One of Satan’s crew had a grabbed hold of her daughter like a bull-dog and wasn’t letting go; filling that poor child with the hatred and bitterness, the rage and anger and resentment that is the beating heart of hell.  And when she hears that the great Healer has come into her area, it was like a gift from heaven.  Never had any been known to cry to Him in vain.  And so she runs to him and pleads.

But what is this treatment she receives?  “He answered her not a word.”  Even the disciples are shocked at how he treats this woman.  They intervene on her behalf, but it does no good.  He simply tells them:  “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

If she thought that she had fooled him by using the Messianic title “Son of David” that he might think her a Jew, she now knows that no one pulls the wool over Jesus’ eyes.  He knows that she is not one of the chosen people.  Does she slink off then?  Does she give up?  No!  She falls down before him and insists:  “Lord, help me!”

Surely now?  But what does He say?  “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

He doesn’t just tell her that she is not one of the chosen people; He tells her she is a dog unworthy of the bread He was sent to give to His people.  Now does she slink away?  Now does she finally give up?  No!

“Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”  She only was asking for a crumb.

See how she wrestled with our Lord!  See how she clung to His words!  “I will not let you go until you bless me!” See how she let herself be emptied of every claim and yet still throw herself on His pity, mercy, and kindness!  And see how see was not disappointed.  “O woman, great is your faith, let it be to you as you desire.”  “And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”

Study at this woman, the Church says to the new Christians, on this Sunday in Lent!  Learn from her!  When you pray, come to Jesus and bring your requests to him.  Own up to the fact that you have no claim on Him for you are but a poor, miserable sinner, and yet do not cease to plead for His mercy.  But if He seems to turn His back upon you, don’t believe it.  Not for a second.  You stick to Him like a burr on a dog.  You hold Him tight and don’t let Him go.

You see, it’s His way to test those who come to Him.  No two ways about it.  He teaches them the long and hard way not to rely on themselves and their feelings and how they think things should go in their lives.  He teaches them to trust in Him and in His great love and mercy and He does it by giving them the cold shoulder.

Think of it:  this woman didn’t even know the whole story.  Not like you do, and yet she clung to Him.  How much more reason do you have not to give up on Him?  After all, you know that where His love landed Him:  upon the cross, laden with your sin!  You know how He spilled His blood to wipe out your sin and undo your death and deliver to you the gift of eternal life.

St. Paul, in thinking about this, wrote:  “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things?”  Every time we share the Eucharist, eating the crumbs from His Table, our confidence is reinforced that the God who would do THIS for us can be trusted absolutely not to deny us or forsake us in the end – no matter what we may be going through right now.

And that’s what the Church would say to the newbies and, by way of reminder, to the old foggies too on this, the Second Sunday in Lent:  Stick to Jesus and keep praying and asking, and no matter what.  He uses the cold shoulder to bless you, for tribulation will produce perseverance and perseverance, character, and character, hope, and that hope will not disappoint!  Amen.

14 March 2014

Today's Scripture

I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth.—Gen. 13:16

Symbolically speaking...

For the Christian way essentially consists in acknowledging ourselves to be sinners and in praying for grace.—LC Exhortation to Confession 9

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Therefore I grant you [Satan] no right over me, rather I have a right over you, because you attack me although I am innocent, you who were before conquered and condemned by Him [Jesus], so that you should leave me in peace. For I am no longer merely a child of man; I have become the child of God, for I have been baptized into His blood and His victory, and arrayed in all the riches of His bounty.—Martin Luther, Day by Day, p. 127.

Patristic Quote of the Day

He is not indignant, nor provoked, but with that extreme gentleness He reasons with him again from the Scriptures, saying, You shall not tempt the Lord your God: Matthew 4:7 teaching us that we must overcome the devil, not by miracles, but by forbearance and long-suffering, and that we should do nothing at all for display and vainglory.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 13 on St. Matthew

13 March 2014

Today's Scripture

...and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.—Gen. 12:3

Symbolically speaking...

Here we must know that this faith should be confident that God freely forgives us for Christ's sake, for the sake of His own promise, not for the sake of our works, contrition, confession, or satisfactions. For if faith relies upon these works, it immediately becomes uncertain, because the terrified conscience sees that these works are unworthy.—Ap. XII:95

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Hence one of the two things is always present, continuing as an eternal conversation between God and the soul. Either He speaks to us and we are still, listening to God, or He listens to us as we speak to Him, praying for what we need.—Martin Luther, Day by Day, p. 125.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Since the first of mankind were in this way beguiled and over-argued by him, not putting earnest faith in God. For the contrary of what God had said he [the devil] promised them [Adam and Eve], and puffed them up with vain hopes, and brought them to unbelief, and so cast them out of the blessings they actually possessed.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 13 on St. Matthew

12 March 2014

Today's Scripture

And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, "I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done."—Genesis 8:23

Symbolically speaking...

The Law will always accuse us because we never satisfy God's Law.—Apology XII:88

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Thus you may read in the book of the Elders, that a young brother wanted to be rid of his thoughts. Said the Elder, Dear brother, you cannot hinder the birds in the air from flying over your head; but you can prevent them from building a nest in your hair.—Martin Luther, Day by Day, p. 124.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For then most especially does the devil assail, when he sees men left alone, and by themselves.... Wherefore we have the greatest need on this very account to be flocking together continually, that we may not be open to the devil's attacks.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 13 on St. Matthew

11 March 2014

Today's Scripture

And the Lord shut him in.—Genesis 7:16

Symbolically speaking...

God's two chief works among people are these: to terrify; to justify and make alive those who have been terrified. Into these two works all Scripture has been distributed.—Apology XII:53.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Thus God manifests His glory and majesty in our weakness, therefore He casts us out into the desert, that is, He casts us down, so that we are deserted of all creatures and can see no help. We even think that God Himself has utterly forsaken us. For as He acts toward Christ, even so does He acts towards us. It does not run smoothly.—Martin Luther, Day by Day, p. 123.

Patristic Quote of the Day

How then says He, Pray that you enter not into temptation. Matthew 26:41 For this cause he does not show you Jesus simply going up, but led up according to the principle of the Economy; signifying obscurely by this, that we ought not of ourselves to leap upon it, but being dragged thereto, to stand manfully.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 13 on St. Matthew

10 March 2014

Inside song of songs...

...sitting on the deck in the sunshine, 70's, enjoying a glass of wine, and the song of the doves is heard again in our land. Sweet. I won't think about the weather forecast for Wednesday. I'm just enjoying Monday and Tuesday!

P.S. We got to take Lydia for a walk in the warm sunshine when I got home from work. There's nothing like showing off your adorable granddaughter to the neighborhood!

Symbolically speaking...

Therefore, it would be wicked to remove private Absolution from the Church. If anyone despises private Absolution, he does not understand what the forgiveness of sins or the Power of the Keys is.—Apology XII:2

Today's Scripture

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.—Gen. 6:8

Symbolically Speaking...

It is beneficial to teach the following: common evils are reduced by our repentance, by good works completed from faith, not, as these men imagine, completed in mortal sin. Here belongs the example of the Ninevites (Jonah 3:10), who by their repentance (all of repentance) were reconciled to God and received the favor that their city was not destroyed.—Ap. XII:68,69.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Whenever faith begins, temptation soon follows.—Martin Luther, Day by Day, p. 123.

Patristic Quote of the Day

After the descent of the Spirit, after the voice that was borne from above, and said, This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And what was marvellous, it was of the Holy Spirit; for this, he here says, led Him up. For since with a view to our instruction He both did and underwent all things; He endures also to be led up there, and to wrestle against the devil: in order that each of those who are baptized, if after his baptism he have to endure greater temptations, may not be troubled as if the result were unexpected, but may continue to endure all nobly, as though it were happening in the natural course of things.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 13 on St. Matthew

08 March 2014

Symbolically speaking...

So troubles are inflicted on account of present sin because in the saints they kill and wipe out lust so that the Spirit may renew them. As Paul says (Rom. 8:10), “Your body is dead because of sin”; that is, it is being killed because of the sin still present and remaining in the flesh. Ap XII:152

Scripture for the Day

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:3-4, ESV)

07 March 2014

Lenten Greetings

from President Harrison.

Symbolically speaking...

We grant that revenge or punishment is necessary for penitence, but not as a merit or price, as our opponents imagine satisfactions to be. But in a formal sense revenge is part of penitence because regeneration itself takes place by constantly mortifying the old life. Ap. XII:148

Scripture for the Day

Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:10-11, ESV)

06 March 2014

Symbolically speaking...

True prayer, charity, and fasting have God’s command: and where they do, it is a sin to omit them. But where they are not commanded by God’s law but have a set form derived from human tradition, such works belong to the human traditions of which Christ says (Matt. 15:9), “In vain do they worship me with the precepts of men.” Thus certain fasts were instituted not to control the flesh but, as Scotus says, to pay homage to God and to compensate for eternal death. The same holds when a fixed number of prayers or certain acts of charity are performed as acts of worship which ex opere operato pay homage to God and compensate for eternal death. They attribute satisfaction to the mere performance of these acts, for they teach that they avail even for those in mortal sin. Ap XII:143

Scripture for the Day

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8, ESV)

05 March 2014

Patristic Quote of the Day

And whereas in the matter of almsgiving, He did not put it simply, but having said, Take heed not to do it before men, He added, to be seen of them; yet concerning fasting and prayer, He made no such limitation. Why could this have been? Because for almsgiving to be altogether concealed is impossible, but for prayer and fasting, it is possible.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 20 on St. Matthew

Symbolically Speaking...

We believe that God’s glory and command require penitence to produce good fruits, and that good fruits like true fasting, prayer, and charity have his command. AP XII:129

Scripture for the Day - Ash Wednesday

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster. (Joel 2:12-13, ESV)

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In that manner you must also look at Christ if you want to recognize Him and know who He is, not as your eyes and senses prescribe, but as His Word shows and portrays Him—as born of the Virgin, as the One who died and rose again for you and now sits enthroned as Lord of all.—Martin Luther, Sermons on John 14–16 (AE 23:34).

Patristic Quote of the Day

You should speak ill of your own sins, but should not busy yourselves about those of other people.—St. John Chrysostom, Three Homilies on the Devil, par. 1

04 March 2014


video. Enjoy! HT: R. Nikoley


...where are the 600?

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Therefore it is certain that he who bypasses the Person of Christ never finds the true God; for since God is fully in Christ, where He places Himself for us, no effort to deal with God without and apart from Christ on the strength of human thoughts and devotion will be be successful.—Martin Luther, Sermons on John 14–16 (AE 24:23).

Patristic Quote of the Day

For he who deceived the first man, and under the pretext of greater hopes, threw them out even of the blessings they had in possession, he it is who now suggests the saying and fancying of these things. And for this reason he persuades some to suspect there is no hell, that he may thrust them into hell.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 25 on Romans

03 March 2014

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

If you want to fast, put on mercy and love for the neighbor, so that you may do good for him.—Martin Luther, Commentary on Isaiah 58:6 (AE 17:286).

Patristic Quote of the Day

For when he is speaking of doctrines, hear what he says, If any one preaches unto you any gospel other than that you have received, let him be accursed , even if it be an angel. And again, I fear lest by any means as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted. 2 Corinthians 11:3 And in writing to the Philippians, he says, Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the circumcision. Philippians 3:2 But with the Romans, since it was not yet the proper time for setting things of this sort right, Let every man, he says, be fully persuaded in his own mind. For he had been speaking of fasting.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 25 on Romans

02 March 2014

Fastenzeit (Fasting-time, that is, Lent) Approaches

Here's a post I wrote some years ago about a Lutheran approach to the topic of the Lenten (and Advent) fasts:

The Augsburg Confession disdains the distinction of meats, and does so solidly based on Colossians But that doesn't mean that Lutherans didn't and don't fast. If we remember that fast mean "to go hungry" the solution is apparent: skip meals! It's not a matter of what FOOD you give up for Lent, but a matter of what MEALS and feeding (as in snacking!) you set aside. If one follows the typical Western fast, one eats but 1 and 1/4 to 1/2 meals per day. This is not done to impress God, but to train our bodies (that our belly is not our boss) and to free up time for prayer and money for charity...

Whatever your shape your fasting discipline takes (and it is surely is between you and your Lord and no one else), may you enjoy a blessed and holy Lent!

Lucy says: "They USED to play with ME!"