31 August 2016
30 August 2016
29 August 2016
27 August 2016
26 August 2016
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.Observe, the expression is not we had, but
we have.—St. Augustine, On Man's Perfection in Righteousness, Chapter 21
25 August 2016
24 August 2016
And every man that has this hope towards Him purifies himself, even as He is pure,— purifies himself, not indeed by himself alone, but by believing in Him, and calling on Him who sanctifies His saints; which sanctification, when perfected at last (for it is at present only advancing and growing day by day), shall take away from us for ever all the remains of our infirmity.—St. Augustine, On Perfection in Righteousness, Par. 18
23 August 2016
As long as a person thinks he is right he is going to be incomprehensibly proud and presumptuous. He is going to hate God, despise His grace and mercy, and ignore the promises in Christ. The Gospel of the free forgiveness of sins through Christ will never appeal to the self-righteous.
This monster of self-righteousness, this stiff-necked beast, needs a big axe. And that is what the Law is, a big axe. Accordingly, the proper use and function of the Law is to threaten until the conscience is scared stiff.—Martin Luther, Homily for Trinity XIII (Epistle), Church Postils.
22 August 2016
21 August 2016
LORD, let me know mine end, and the number of my days; * that I may be certified how long I have to live.
An interior dialog ensues in which Lord Peter expresses a very modern thought: "Certify me no such thing!" And why not? Better not to see the monster creeping up to devour you; better not to know how close he is standing to you, your spouse, your parents, your child, your neighbor, your friend. The thought is that if you knew how close he was to you, it would spoil all enjoyment of life itself. That's what Lord Peter was thinking and it's quite the way folks operate these days.
Cindi noted a picture she had from a happy event in our lives not too long ago. In the picture were two dear people who have since died. Would it be better to enjoy the happy moment, blissfully oblivious of the beast stalking you? Is that the only real way to enjoy life?
The Scriptures think differently, and therefore so does the Church. No, we may not know the moment that the monster will begin munching us down, but the Scriptures and the Church are quite certain that we do very well NOT to ignore the reality of the end that awaits. We do well to actually ponder it. For then we can stare the monster in the eye each and every day that we live. And far from impoverishing the days we have here on pilgrimage, it actually sets those days utterly free, fills them with laughter and joy!
To pray with the Church in the Litany "from a sudden and evil death: Good Lord, deliver us!" is to pray with the Psalm: "let me know mine end, and the number of my days." For, of course, when you know your end to be "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" it is the promise THAT end that fuels the fight against the monster. It is true, "I had fainted; unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." But since I HAVE believed that, I can turn to face the snarling beast.
I can stare him in the face and say: I know not the day you will make your move, but I know that when you've finished with me and think I am done, you will have to taste the same bitter defeat you tasted in Palestine so long ago. For He lives and He has promised me that my end is not to be turned by you into worm food. My end is to sit with Him in His Father's house as His beloved brother, and to feast in joy forevermore. Yes, He will raise this flesh which you, foul beast, will devour but which you will not and cannot hold. It has partaken of the medicine of immortality, into it has gone the undying Body and Blood of the Savior who defeated you long ago. I am baptized into Him. His life is my life! His blood covers all my sins! Come when you will, do what you must, but YOU are not my end. No, "I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord" (Psalm 118, Luther's only motet).
With all due respect to Lord Peter, he missed Cranmer's true genius, for he mistook what is "mine end" and the wondrous marvel of my days being without end. So comforted, you can stare the monster down and sing it a cheerful round or two of the song of victory every single day; it's all practice for the moment when you hear your song blend with angels, archangels and the whole company of heaven. The Church's hymnody is ammo for that fight!
We got home by 10:10 or so, and began fixing lunch. Small crowd today: Opa, and the David Weedon family, Cindi and I. Still, we sat down to a scruptious brunch and Lydia ate an entire container of blueberries nearly on her own!
I'm definitely game for trying to make a habit of the bike trip to church, but Cindi is still to be convinced. Apparently there would be difficulties with clothes, hair, women-type things that the male of the species just doesn't think about so much (though we surely appreciate the final result!).
18 August 2016
And after the initial investment of paying for the materials and stuff for the square foot garden box, the next years the garden has ended up saving us a bit. It's fun and helps you realize up close and personal that food really is a gift of God: "You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing." True, dat.
The man advocates a radical idea: living on less than you make. As in a LOT less. As in, you can't buy happiness and should stop trying. Lots of good wisdom in there, as I remember our Lord's beautiful saying: "A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
So true. Anyway, off on my bike this morning (Cindi was working) and I headed up the road, stopping to do pushups till I met my quota and then just enjoying the sun, the clouds, the birds, the train, the children with their mom, the trees, the gardens, the swamp, the cardinal, the groundhog, not so much the skunk (the smell crept up on me as I was doing a set of pushups; form went out the window and I hurried to finish the set and get on the bike and out of the vicinity!). I think it was probably just shy of a 20 mile ride, up to Staunton and back and then around town.
One of our friends used to ride his bike daily between Staunton and East St. Louis where he was principal for the local Lutheran school. I'm still in awe of that.
A trip over the river? Someday, maybe. But for now, I think I'll stick to pedaling around the village or one of the neighboring towns and count a trip up to Staunton and back from Hamel a decent run. And I have definitely decided no trips in the car to the post-office or our local grocery. I'm even thinking about trying to get in the habit of just biking the 15 minutes up to the church.
|Text to Cindi at work: Staunton. Yeah, you can hate me...|
17 August 2016
14 August 2016
11 August 2016
And somehow I missed posting on oldest grandson's birthday: we celebrated Sawyer's birthday together last Saturday, a couple days early. And that young man is four. I think he had two full blast birthday parties and one unofficial one, and made off like a pirate (which was also the theme for one of his parties).
10 August 2016
08 August 2016
05 August 2016
Rather, focused upon the unseen but very present Thrice-Holy One. When the servants of the liturgy in the chancel are focused upon the One before whom they are gathered and whose spokesmen they are to be, they behave themselves in a way that bespeaks reverence and awe. It is true that the all-consuming fire has revealed Himself to us as our beloved Father and called us to sonship in Christ by His Spirit, but we never forget in the chancel that the One who has so called us remains the all-consuming fire.
A friend recently described the ministry as itself a "sign," that is, a pointer to something else. That's right on the money. When the folks in the chancel are confessing the unseen but present Blessed Trinity, the angels, and all the saints by their behavior and action, that quite literally draws the congregation in, not to look at those in the chancel, but to get a glimpse of what they are so utterly intent on. And what a blessed moment that is! When a room full of harried and distracted sinner/saints get a glimpse of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, reigning on His throne in infinite love. Why they might just break out singing:
Almighty Father, in Your Son
You loved us when not yet begun
Was this old earth's foundations!
Your Son has ransomed us in love
To live in Him here and above,
This is Your great salvation!
Now, not at ease, but at awe. Bowled over by love so amazing, so divine.
I kept it. I love my little car. It's old. It's not pretty. But it has never one time broken down on me. And it's small. I really dislike driving larger vehicles. And, when I picked it up this morning, wow. I could tell a huge difference! Nutso I may be, but I still have my little black car.
04 August 2016
From its knowledge of human nature it knows that men will sooner open their hearts to the truth when it is gladly but sparingly imparted than when they hear its voice speaking constantly. Therefore it understands how to give people enough of its means but not too much. It does not consider it an insult, nor is it eager to interpret it as an insult, when someone says, “This pastor thinks it is enough if he preaches, catechizes, administers the sacraments, hears confessions, and comforts the sick!” It knows that even the most faithful pastors do not do enough of this. It has little use for multiplying pastoral duties but treasures those which are commanded in the Scriptures and have been recognized since ancient times. To many people it is something novel that a man should not be a jack of many trades but a master of the few precious means, yet this is what the church has always thought. In a word, it accomplishes much through a few means. …
It is enough, and more than enough, if a man just carries out the ancient duties of a pastor. Superfluous and even a hindrance is the officiousness of modern pastors. Here the slogan should be, “Not many, but much.” The poverty of our fathers is richer than the wealth of their opponents. It is through alternating periods of withdrawal and public appearance, stillness and publicity, through persistent use of Word and sacrament, through giving of a quiet but full measure, through modesty and steadfastness that the Lutheran church attains its goals.
Pastors need to be encouraged in this regard, because there are always voices suggesting that they're wasting their time if they are not doing X, and X signifies something OTHER than working on sermons or instruction, administering the sacraments, hearing confessions and visiting the sick and homebound. Parishes that have a pastor that devotes himself to those duties know what a blessing from God they have received; but it doesn't hurt to remind your pastor that you are blessed that he focuses on what God has given him to do and doesn't make up other busyness of his own or accept other busyness from busybodies.
"If the Pharisee hadn't been so arrogant, but in humility had offered his gifts to God and said, Lord you have shown me much mercy in that you have so graciously have kept me from this and other sins; this is a gift from you and I will rejoice in it; I will not be presumptuous because of it, nor despise anyone, for you could recall the gift if you wished. If he had reacted thus, God would have from day to day bestowed greater gifts and would not have been inimical toward him."
"When God has blessed a person with money or possessions, he certainly ought not foolishly think of himself as a poor beggar. If we have helped the needy with good counsel or gifts, we certainly should not deny that this by saying that we have done nothing good. No, that would not be true. One should recognize God's gifts, praise him for receiving them, and do it gratefully. But in addition one should humble say, My God, it is yours and not mine; you have given it; I thank you for the same. That would the right and humble way to receive them. We must not consider God's gifts insignificant or of little value, but recognize them and esteem them, never becoming arrogant and despising others. Rather, as we have said repeatedly, one should say, Dear God, it is your gift which you have given me; if another person does not have the same, that is of no count, for he has the same gracious God as I; so why should I despise him?" HP II:393
02 August 2016
Candlesticks cleaned and put in curio
Candlestand by door taken downstairs
Coffee made for tomorrow
Kitchen swept, dry and wet swiffled
Cleaned stove top
Dining Room Blinds washed
Trash taken out
Then she and I enjoyed a stroll around the neighborhood. She had some errands to run in town and the fireplace had been bugging me, so:
Fireplace cleaned out
Living room and hall vacuumed
And all while some two pots of French press coffee were enjoyed. Oh, and I also read Luther's great homily in the House Postils for Trinity XI. How much I've missed studying his homilies! I think even when I get back to work, that needs to have a regular place in my reading. The great quote from this morning came at the tale end of the homily:
"Therefore, let everyone humble himself before God, be caring toward his neighbor, and not despise him, serve and work faithfully to earn his living, eat and drink; let him take care not to become proud and puffed up, as he sees that he, too, has unclean hands. To these God gives his grace; but those who do not obey will be cast out. For God cannot endure pride, as Mary recounts in her hymn of praise, 'He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts; he hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.'"
It called my mind back to my parent's closet. And once more the realization hit how much I have ended up like my father. He had a uniform he wore every single work day, and often he just wore it on the weekends. Green khakis and a green shirt, mostly short sleeved but not always. He might wear a green sweater in the winter. My uniform is a different color, but most work days I wear a black cleric (almost always short sleeved) and black pants. The uniform eliminates a decision for each work day. Just walk into the closet and don it. He almost always wore loafers; me too. He tended to wear the same hair cut (though I see from pictures he did experiment a bit more when he was younger); me too. And that hair gel? A different gel, but yes, he used gel in his hair and combed it into place each day. A morning without coffee was unthinkable. He took his with cream and sugar. He finished a pot each morning, because he was the only one in the house who drank it. He and mom always ate their breakfast together (Cindi and I do likewise, though she's picked up the coffee habit from me). He didn't particularly enjoy "going." To him the joy was all at home. Me too.
It makes me wonder how many other things are like my father that I don't even begin to realize. He's been gone for 36 years so some of the memories get a bit fuzzy. Odd thoughts for the morning, and all started by this Walgreen's senior discount day....