30 November 2014

Okay, I might be prejudiced, but...

...what a great looking family:

Now, Lauren and Dean, I need YOUR family pic for Christmas! Mom and Bek and I will get one posted here one of these days. 

Advent arrives

today with its ever joyful hope of repentance and renewal. The new man welcomes each of the penitential seasons as a fresh opportunity to assault the old man and his wretched ways that ever come creeping back in to corrupt our lives and destroy faith. The Epistle for this day sounds that note particularly. And this assault on the old man is possible because of the certain foundation in which the new man stands:

Sin's debt, that fearful burden,
Cannot His love erase;
Your guilt the Lord will pardon
And cover by His grace.
He comes, for you procuring
The peace of sin forgiv'n,
His children thus securing
Eternal life in heav'n. 
LSB 334:6

It was a blessing to hear the Gospel from the lips of our dear District President, Pr. Timothy Scharr, in both the Divine Service and Bible Class, and to receive the gift anew of the Savior's body and blood, praying and singing together:

Enter now my waiting heart,
Glorious King and Lord most holy.
Dwell in me and ne'er depart,
Though I am but poor and lowly.
Ah, what riches will be mine
When Thou art my guest divine!
LSB 350:2

29 November 2014

The Card Vacation

So, we started out with Pinochle, four handed, no passing, on Friday night. The men won. We moved to six handed Pinochle, with passing, on Sunday. The men won. We moved to liverpool on both Wednesday and Friday, and Cindi won once and Karen twice. Tonight we move to Pinochle with passing, and we'll see who will win. I'm betting it will be the men. So ten days off and five nights of cards. Sounds good to me!

28 November 2014

The Advent Fast

is almost upon us. I know that in the world around us, "the holidays" have begun. But in contast to the world, in the Church these are quiet and contemplative days. She provides a joyous haven from the insane gluttony and indulgence. In the Divine Service, the Greater Gloria is silenced and the Kyrie may be extended. Come this Saturday it will be time to light the first candle on the wreath. This year, our family will be reading in the evenings from God With Us: Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany Sermons by David H. Petersen. The traditional weekly Wednesday and Friday fasts might well be augmented with the Ember Saturday fast (this year, December 20). And best of all, in so many of our parishes Vespers or Evening Prayer will be offered on Wednesdays. These are truly my favorite Vespers of the year. Something about heading off to church with your breath puffing in the cold air and the twinkling lights shining out of the cold dark vault above, summoning us to join in praise of their Creator: Creator of the stars of night... At the IC in our chapels on Tuesdays and Thursdays we'll be meditating on the Great O Antiphons. We'll pray them in Treasury on December 16 thruough the 23. We decided this year to keep the fast by decorating much later in our home. A few "winter" things may appear, but the Christmas goodies will wait for at least the time of the Great O's and we'll keep the full twelve days.

A few thanksgiving pics...

Though I forgot to get some of the main table...

26 November 2014

News reached us tonight

of an old friend entering hospice care. Thinking of one of the hymns for the Last Sunday:

There shall we see in glory
Our dear Redeemer's face;
The long-awaited story
Of heavenly joy takes place.
The patriarchs shall meet us,
The prophets' holy band;
Apostles, martyrs, greet us
In that celestial land.

There God shall from all evil
Forever make us free,
From sin and from the devil,
From all adversity,
From sickness, pain and sadness,
From troubles, cares, and fears,
And grant us heavenly gladness
And wipe away our tears.

In that fair home shall never
Be silent music's voice;
With hearts and lips forever
We shall in God rejoice,
While angel hosts are raising
With saints from great to least
A mighty hymn for praising
The Giver of the feast.
LSB 514:2–4

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

The light snowfall

had me remembering the day Daddy died and then I remembered. Yesterday marked the 20th year since Mom passed away. And this January 5th will mark the 35th since Daddy died. I always feel sadness with the holidays come and think of those who have gone and who never got to know their wonderful grandchildren (and great children) and nephew and nieces. And hard as it is to fathom this will be the second Thanksgiving and Christmas without our dear Jo. 


A pot of Irish Breakfast, a roaring fire, the dance of snowflakes outside the windows, and a sleeping baby...while Lutheran Public Radio plays quietly. Could one ask for a better afternoon?


Are well under way. Cranberry sauce and cornbread dressing were made up yesterday. Stuffed mushrooms prepared. Sweet tater soufflé done. Turkey thawing. Cherry and pecan pie smelling up the house. Chocolate and pumpkin still to go. Potatoes to peel, asparagus spears to wrap in bacon, veggies and summer sausage to cut up, cheeses to slice, tapioca flour rolls to ready. Dave is bringing ham and Aunt Sandy some wheat rolls. A holiday ale for those who would like it; wine or beer, coffee or water for the rest.

25 November 2014

Gifts from the Lord...

...my eldest daughter created this today to share her good news. She was quite amused with herself. 

I suppose you can sign me Old Fish. 

23 November 2014

Hymns of the Last Sunday

The last Sunday in the Church Year contains some of my favorite hymns. We sing not only Nicolai's great "Wake, Awake!" but "Christ Is Surely Coming" (newer, and very good), "The Day Is Surely Drawing Near" (a Reformation adaptation of the medieval Dies Irae), and the lovely scandinavian "Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers." In all of them rings out the somber warning of preparation for the Day of the Lord that is sounded in all the readings appointed for the day, and yet their tone is overwhelmingly one of joy. The believer in Christ welcomes and longs for the advent of that great Day precisely becaue the believer in Christ longs for the Savior and for the complete freedom from sin which He will bring with Him as His final gift to His bride before He ushers her into the joyous and unending feast.

Commemoration of Clement of Rome

From our Synod's website: Clement (ca. A.D. 35–100) is remembered for having established the pattern of apostolic authority that governed the Christian Church during the first and second centuries. He also insisted on keeping Christ at the center of the Church's worship and outreach. In a letter to the Christians at Corinth, he emphasized the centrality of Jesus' death and resurrection: “Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ, realizing how precious it is to His Father, since it was poured out for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to the whole world” (1 Clement 6:31). Prior to suffering a martyr's death by drowning, he displayed a steadfast, Christ-like love for God's redeemed people, serving as an inspiration to future generations to continue to build the Church on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, with Christ as the one and only cornerstone.

Treasury of Daily Prayer offers a beautiful collect for this commemoration, asking: "Grant that Your Church may be anchored in Your truth by the presence of the Holy Spirit and kept blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (p. 944)

My favorite quote from St. Clement of Rome is from his first letter to the Corinthians:

"Similarly we also, who by His will have been called in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, or our own wisdom or understanding or godliness, nor by such deeds as we have done in holiness of heart, but by that faith through which Almighty God has justified all men since the beginning of time. Glory be to Him, forever and ever, Amen." - St. Clement of Rome (Letter to the Corinthians, par. 32)

21 November 2014

Another "aha"

from the Seed Grains. Long time readers of this blog might recall the firestorm unintentionally set off with this post on the emendation of texts that the Lutherans had practiced at the time of the Reformation. I find it interesting that Loehe carried one of these gems forward in Seed Grains, and it appears as prayer 205 (p. 118). All Hail:

All hail! King of mercy. Hail! Thou Who art the life, the joy, and the hope of our souls. We miserable children of Eve cry unto Thee. We long for Thee, sorrowing and weeping in this vale of tears. Hail, therefore, O Lord Christ! Thou Who dost intercede for us with God, turn Thine eyes, beaming with mercy, upon us, and show Thyself unto us, Thou blessed Son of God and of Mary, when the days of our misery shall have passed. O gracious, gentle, sweet and lovely Jesus Christ. Amen.

Similarly, he offers the Anima Christi (p. 118):

May the soul of Christ sanctify me. May the body of Christ preserve me. May the blood of Christ nourish me. The water that flowed from His riven side, may it cleanse me. In Thy holy wounds let me hide. O Lord, help me that I be never separated from Thee. Defend me against the evil one. In the hour of death set me down by Thee, that I may with all Thy holy angels evermore praise Thee. Amen.

That Ellipsis in the Friday Prayer

It's in our Treasury of Daily Prayer, on page 1313:

Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, we thank You... that You have redeemed us poor and condemned creatures.

The ellipsis has always bothered me. What was supposed to be there? But then I found the prayer in Loehe's Seed Grains of Prayer on page 125:

We give thanks unto Thee, Lord Jesus Christ, true God and Man, that by Thy holy sufferings, death and shedding of blood Thou hast redeemed us poor sinful and condemned beings.

So now that I know WHAT was missing, the question is why on earth would it have NOT been included?

20 November 2014

A Solemn Atmosphere

Today in our Churches we have an altar for the administration of the Eucharist, and we have platforms or pulpits for teaching the people. These objects were built not only to meet a need but also to create a solemn atmosphere.—Martin Luther on Genesis 2:9

Beautiful Luther Quote

We can state with certainty that where the Eucharist, Baptism, and the Word are, there are Christ, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life.—Martin Luther on Genesis Commentary (4:3).

19 November 2014

If you would remember

my friend Jennifer (who designed the header of this blog) in your prayers, I'd be grateful. Jennifer recently received word of a major health issue. 

Climb every mountain...

...or desk or table:

Commemorating St. Elizabeth of Hungary

From our Synod's website (and the Treasury of Daily Prayer):

Born in Pressburg, Hungary, in 1207, Elizabeth was the daughter of King Andrew II and his wife Gertrude. Given as a bride in an arranged political marriage, Elizabeth became the wife of Louis of Thuringia in Germany at the age of 14. She had a spirit of Christian generosity and charity, and the home she established for her husband and three children in the Wartburg Castle at Eisenach was known for its hospitality and family love. Elizabeth often supervised the care of the sick and needy and even gave up her bed to a leper at one time. Widowed at the age of 20, she made provisions for her children and entered into an austere life as a nun in the Order of Saint Francis. Her self-denial led to failing health and an early death in 1231 at the age of 24. Remembered for her self-sacrificing ways, Elizabeth is commemorated through the many hospitals named for her around the world.

The Treasury offers a beautiful prayer for the day, asking "Mighty King, whose inheritance is not of this world, inspire in us the humility and benevolent charity of Elizabeth of Hungary." (p. 929) She is a shining light for Christ's people, pointing the way to live welcoming every person as Christ, and every need and suffering as His own.

The Writing for today (from Dr. Luther) captures her spirit: "But if anyone earnestly believed that he is receiving the Lord Himself when he receives a poor brother, there would be no need for such anxious, zealous, and soliticous exhortations to do works of love...together with godly Abraham we would run to meet the wretched people, invite them into our homes, seize upon this honor and distinction ahead of others and say: 'O Lord Jesus, come to me; enjoy my bread, wine, silver and gold. How well it is has been invested by me when I invest it in You!'" (p. 928)

The Prayer of the Church

in the old Common Service is itself a powerful lesson in learning how to ask good things from God and to receive His varied benefactions with thanksgiving and praise. As I pondered that prayer this morning, I was particularly appreciative of this paragraph:

And although we have deserved Thy righteous wrath and manifold punishments, yet, we entreat Thee, O most merciful Father, remember not the sins of our youth nor our many transgressions; but out of Thine unspeakable goodness, grace, and mercy, defend us from all harm and danger of body and soul. Preserve us from false and pernicious doctrine, from war and bloodshed, from plague and pestilence, from all calamity by fire and water, from hail and tempest, from failure of harvest and despair of Thy mercy, and from an evil death. And in every trouble, show Thyself a very present Help, the Savior of all men, and especially of them that believe.

Three things stood out to me in that petition. First, our ancestors in the faith held that doctrine was not by any means a neutral thing. When it was falsified, it was pernicious: a danger that they ranked ahead of any temporal disaster that could befall. Second, that petition for preservation from "despair of Thy mercy." The very real danger of sinners being so utterly overwhelmed in their own sinfulness that they imagine that it could extinguish the ocean of divine mercy. Third, how fitting this prayer is for us to offer in the St. Louis area as we await of whatever will follow in the wake of the Michael Brown Grand Jury announcement.

The little volume An Explanation of the Common Service (now reprinted by Emmanuel Press and worth owning by every Lutheran), notes that the General Prayer has been "in almost its present form in 1553." The Muehlenberg liturgy insisted that it not be altered. The question is put: "Are the prayers of the Common Service preferable to free prayers?" and the answer given: "Yes. Because they are not the prayers of the Minister, but of the Church; not of a single congregation, but of the whole Church; and because each person may readily take part in them. The needs of God's people are ever the same, and the beautiful forms, which the Church has developed in her experience through the ages, give full expression to the believer's wants at all times." (p. 47) 

There's wisdom there.

A Video Introduction to the Book of Concord

I honestly can't remember if I have posted this before, but it's a video introduction to the Book of Concord I was privileged to offer at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in LaGrange, Kentucky a while back. It took Pr. Fraiser a few minutes to get the mic on me since I wasn't holding still, so the audio improves after a bit:

Intro to the Book of Concord

18 November 2014

You know...

...I DO enjoy doing the radio shows. But I think between last week and this, I ended up recording or doing 15 different ones, most being Thy Strong Word, of course, but also three Issues and a guest spot on Family Shield with Kay Meyer. But I'm definitely ready for Friday to be here and not to think about radio at all for one solid week. Still, had a blast today with former fieldworker, vicar, and dear friend Pastor Brian Holle today on Thy Strong Word doing Mark 4. Thursday's Issues show on the term "Eucharist" for Lord's Supper should be a lot of fun too. When all is gift, all is given, then there is only thanksgiving!

17 November 2014

Much joy

in researching "Eucharist" for this week's Issues Etc. show. Some modern day Lutherans dislike the term, but it was widely used among Lutherans of yesteryear...

15 November 2014

On food

Great meals today! 

Breakfast: sausage, egg (we get the best eggs from Shirley!), potatoes (reheated and fried) and spinach and onions. And Cindi and I MIGHT have downed two pots of coffee between us. And that ws before I pulled out the french press.

Lunch: a big salad with some of our home grown tomatoes (a handful left, still ripening in the kitching window) with all kinds of veggies and topped with wild caught smoked sock-eye salmon and hardboiled egg. Very, very good.

After I got the fire going

this morning, I stepped out onto the deck. It was still quite cold. In the 20's, I'm guess. That chill air and smell of a wood fire? It carries me back to Aunt Emma's or Grandma Bess's in a heartbeat. They both cooked over stoves that were wood fueled, and made some of the tastiest food you'd ever put in your mouth. But mostly I think of tramping in the woods in the cold, and that smell of the wood burning greeted you as you headed toward the house as the sun was setting and you knew that inside was everything most precious: the family gathered around the table, laughter, and stories. Odd how just the whiff of the wood fire and the cold brings it all rushing back to mind.

13 November 2014

Much joy today

as Pastor Day and I discuss Mark 1 on Thy Strong Word:

12 November 2014

Today's Chapel Homily

On Colossians 2:11ff. and Augsburg Confession, Article IX.

It was surely one of the shockers of the Reformation when Lutherans found fellow Christians ready to dump the Baptism of infants and doing so because they decided that Baptism was, after all, something we do and it can only have value and worth if we do it with our noggins fully engaged. Once again, grownups getting in the way, blocking the little ones from coming to Jesus to receive His blessing. Telling them: Not yet. You can’t appreciate His embrace until you can think it through for yourself.

Paul in todays’ reading significantly likens Baptism in the New Covenant to circumcision in the Old. But as always the Old was piecemeal and the new is whole hog. So in circumicion a bit of your flesh was slice off and tossed away, but in Baptism, the whole body of flesh is done to death with Jesus and then raised with Him through faith. And this is the key phrase: “through the powerful working of God.”

Baptism isn’t your doing. Get your hands off the verbs! Baptism is where God does the powerful work. He takes those who are dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of their flesh and He buries them with Jesus and then proceeds to make them alive together with Christ. And He does this by way of forgiveness: “having forgiven us ALL our trespasses, cancelling the record of debt that stood against us.”

Little ones need it. Big ones need it. Age is irrelevant. Take the little ones and ask yourself: Did you ever have to teach them to be selfish? To say: “Mine!” It’s almost the first word they learn after mama and papa and NO. Thrwart their little plans and watch and see. Does the tiny baby in the cradle ever not scream bloody murder when it doesn’t get what it wants? See the shaking and the anger and the turning red in the face.

Which is just to note that the little ones need what Baptism gives. They need forgiveness. They need to be joined to Jesus in his death, burying that sinful impulse that animates us, and rising with Him to a new life.

But, the other folks said and say to the Lutherans, but what good is it if the babies can’t believe? And we answer: Oh, not a bit of good at all. Good thing that they can. Or rather, good thing that God can give the gift of faith to an infant. Faith is always impossible for human beings no matter their age. It only comes if it ever comes as a divine gift, freely given. So Psalm 22:9 “You took me from my mother’s womb, YOU MADE ME TRUST IN YOU on my mother’s breast.” In the OT through the gift of circumcision but in the NT through the gift of Baptism. What did Peter preach on Pentecost?

“Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, for the promise is for you and your children.” They are not to be excluded from the place where in the mighty working of God sin is forgiven: the waters of Baptism. That’s where the triumph of the cross is forked over first and foremost. Amen.

11 November 2014

A cold and grey November day...

...and a roaring fire in the fireplace, the dog asleep on the hearth mat, candles on the mantel, and soup for dinner. Life is good.

10 November 2014


I think Sandy Bowers is right. A baked tater is a darned near perfect lunch. With real butter and cheese and sour cream and bacon and chives. Oh yeah. 

08 November 2014


Bit of a longish day. Got up by six to get over to seminary to lead Matins for the opening of the Infertility Ethics Symposium. Pr. Pless preached the first service. Then Pastor Cwirla did the perfect opening presentation, wrapping us up in the Biblical narrative and so allowing the Spirit to open our eyes to new ways of seeing all things.

Right after he wrapped up, I headed back home and changed. Cindi and I headed into Edwardsville to pick up a few items and then head over to David and Meaghan's for Lydia's birthday party. She was back on October 30th, but this was when the family could gather to celebrate. She had a great time, though I think she was surprised by all these people invading her home. Got to see David's landscaping up close and the kitchen he's building for Lydia. How on earth did I ever end up with such a handy son? Amazing! After Lydia opened her presents, we headed back home. I changed and headed back to St. Louis.

Got there just in time to hear Pr. Esget's absolutely stunning presentation. So much to think about! And so utterly practical. Beautiful stuff.

I had to cut short the last presentation to get stuff ready for Vespers. Dork that I am, I FORGOT THE CANDLES. I noticed halfway through Vespers that they were not lit. Oh well. Dr. Gibbs gave us the goods in the sermon on Romans 8:26ff. Headed back home for a quiet evening of Schütz and a glass of wine. Cindi's off bowling and Bekah is watching something on her iPad in her room. And that's about a wrap.

04 November 2014

Luther on Ecclesiastes 6

He wants us to enjoy our pleasure, but in God, so that we do not abandon ourselves to pleasure when it is present, as the wicked do, nor grieve when it is absent but bear it with equanimity.

03 November 2014

Luther on Ecclesiastes 5

But one should travel on the royal road. Let us work hard and do whatever we can in accordance with the Word of God; let us not, however, measure the work on the basis of our efforts, but commit every effort and plan and outcome to the wisdom of God.

02 November 2014

Joyous All Saints Celebration

As is the custom in so many of our parishes, St. Paul's transferred All Saints to this Sunday (traditionally, All Souls), and commemorated especially the faithful departed of St. Paul's whose pilgrimage ended since the last All Saints celebration. Pr. Ball read not only the names but, I suspect, the confirmation verses of the deceased. Each was marked with the tolling of the great bell.

A great treat was hearing Pr. Sharp, Synod's new missionary to Uruguay, preach on the Beatitutudes (best sermon on them I've ever heard) and present in Bible Class on the nature of the mission. Did you know that Uruguay is overwhelmingly folks of European descent and that it is the only Latin American country where the majority of the country is not Roman Catholic?

01 November 2014

That middle of the night wakefulness

Like everyone else I thought it a problem. I called it my donut hole. I'd fall sound asleep and then wake up for no apparent reason and have trouble getting back to sleep until an hour or an hour and a half went by. But then I encountered this:

Check it out. Think of our Lord's pattern of prayer. His assumptions about "watchfulness" - that night was not just for sleep. Think of the monastic singing of the psalms at midnight. It all makes soooo much sense.