30 November 2016

Want some mellow Advent / Christmas music?

Check out this:

The King Shall Come

or listen here:

A huge thank you to Dr. Kevin Ambrust for doing the production work on this!

P.S. Yes, I know it’s not November of 2017...but it’s the only way I know of to keep a post at the TOP of the blog postings!

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In fact, when the heart understands the Father, this mitigates all the pain we indeed feel as we are being punished. Hence this statement can be a source of comfort in finally any adversity at all. When God throws us into poverty or disgrace, when He nails us to a cross, when He allows our property to be taken from us, let us always say: “Let it go. God intends nothing bad.” He does everything out of a fatherly love.—Martin Luther, On Zechariah 1

Patristic Quote of the Day

In the same manner, in the matter in question, the term ousia is common, like goodness, or Godhead, or any similar attribute; while hypostasis is contemplated in the special property of Fatherhood, Sonship, or the power to sanctify.—St. Basil the Great, Letter 214

29 November 2016

Patristic Quote of the Day

If He sees us accepting our present circumstances with thanksgiving, He will either put away our troubles as He did Job's, or will requite us with the glorious crowns of patience in the life to come.—St. Basil the Great, Letter 212

28 November 2016

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

For when a man's heart has adopted such confidence that he believes God cares for him, that God is kindly disposed to him, that God will be a very faithful Guardian and Companion in every need, then he no longer is a man who believes this but already a divine creature, since he now has a divine zeal and power in his heart. This fires his heart and makes it grow against every fear, against all the foes he faces, in short, against all creatures. Therefore, because this is a situation of such great dimensions, we need an abundant and rich supply of the Word so that we may finally be strengthened by it.—Martin Luther on Zechariah 1

Patristic Quote of the Day

The gifts of the Lord are ever great and many; in greatness beyond measure, in number incalculable.—St. Basil the Great, Letter 197

25 November 2016

The light no darkness can overcome

I Came Across

this posting from nearly 10 years ago on the blog, on Dec. 15, 2006. It's a letter I wrote to my father. Only thing I'd change is to add that I wish he could know my grandkids too. 

Happy birthday, Daddy!
Dear Daddy,

Wow! I can't believe you'd be 86 today. I was thinking about you the other day when I was shaving - I realized that you were the age I am today when I was all of six years old. I tried to picture myself having a six year old right now, and it was not computing.

There are so many things that I want to write and tell you about. How I wish you could spend time with your grandchildren. I think they'd crack you up with their antics! Sometimes I just imagine about what it would be like for you and mom to pull up and spend the Christmas holidays with us. You'd love Lucy - of course I had to get a beagle. Beagles were your favorites, so they've always been mine too. And as for Cindi's cooking - hey, I know you guys thought Bonnie was an unbelievable cook, and she is, but I think Cindi gives her a run for the money. I picture you guys bustling into the house and sitting down (slightly uncomfortable, I know, at first, but then settling in). I picture you guys smiling as we join around the clavinova and sing carols and hymns. I remember how much you loved to hear Cindi sing. Of all the gifts you guys gave me over the years, there is none that I appreciate so much as the weekend I talked you into the piano and you went out and bought it for me. Remember how shocked mom was! But what a gift. It has been something that has brought me blessing for so many years. I always remember it was your kindness in giving into a teenager's whim that started me off on that path.

Speaking of Christmas, I know you would not approve of the tree. First, it's not a cedar. Second, it's not real. Third, there's not an icicle on it. I remember the care with which you always lifted off each icicle and hung it, branch by branch, and how stunning the tree looked when you were done. I never have had the patience, I confess. But we still have lots of the ornaments we used in our house on Munson Street. I think we even have some of those cheapo ones that mom picked up at Grand Union one year - they were green. Who do you think THAT was for, eh? And you'll never guess who usually sits under our tree! Giddyup. Yes, that old red horse is still around. It comes out for a visit every year. I think you gave it to me on that Christmas that I was three and you were 43. 

Well, I just wanted to write you on your birthday and let you know how much you are in my thoughts. You've been gone for so long, but I think I miss you more with each passing year. May God grant rest to your soul, daddy! 

I love you.


24 November 2016


As we gathered to eat the feast today, my thoughts went to this piece of artwork that hangs in our dining room. Charles gave it to me after Leola's death. He had heard me admire it in her home. It's Emmaus. The presence of Christ revealed at the table as the bread was broken. It reminds me always of there being something holy about gathering together around the table as we feast on the bounty of our heavenly Father's loving provision. Always we feast in the presence of an unseen Guest, or rather, Host, the Son who came among us to make us His bride and promises to bring us to the feast of which all our feasts are only teasing foretaste: the feast where we're gathered home at last, to the only home we will never lose and where the joys are eternal. Leola always loved to entertain. She had the true gift of hospitality. And I wonder if so much of that for her were not her recognition of the unseen Guest who is really our Host, of which this artwork is a reminder. Come, Lord Jesus, be our Guest...our Host.

22 November 2016


Mom always said they came from her mom's mom's side of the family (last name of Sparks and from Scotland) and were quite old. I'm not sure exactly HOW old. The one is a bit bent, almost like it's been through a fire at some point. When I was a lad, I remember that they graced the parlor organ in the front room of the old house (which also sported a lovely grand piano). My mom's side was the musical branch of the family, and I was always drawn to that room for the joys of playing around on the instruments. Mom surprised me with them as a gift one year. I polish them up each Thanksgiving or Christmas time and I'm always amazed at how the brass shines. 

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

There is, you see, a twofold conversion—that of the Gospel and that of the Law. The Law merely gives the command, but nothing is accomplished; something is accomplished, however, through the Gospel, when the Spirit is added. He renews hearts, and then God turns toward us. This is the conversion of peace, that is, that we are not merely righteous but also filled with joy and find delight in God’s goodness.—Martin Luther on Zechariah 1

Patristic Quote of the Day

Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favour of that side will be cast the vote of truth.—St. Basil the Great, Letter 189

21 November 2016

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

In fact, the prophet removes all things from before their eyes and sends the people back to God’s Word, saying that God will fulfill His Word, even though all creatures resist. For it is He who makes life out of death, righteousness out of sin, the greatest wealth out of abject poverty. Briefly, it is He who makes all things out of nothing and calls the things which are not as if they were, etc. (Rom. 4:17). This is something vitally necessary for us to note in every temptation—that we may have faith in God and learn to commit ourselves to Him, that He will free us beyond every judgment of our reason as we would not have dared to hope.—Luther on Zechariah 1

Patristic Quote of the Day

Thus they [the ancients] used the names of heresies, of schisms, and of unlawful congregations. By heresies they meant men who were altogether broken off and alienated in matters relating to the actual faith; by schisms men who had separated for some ecclesiastical reasons and questions capable of mutual solution; by unlawful congregations gatherings held by disorderly presbyters or bishops or by uninstructed laymen. As, for instance, if a man be convicted of crime, and prohibited from discharging ministerial functions, and then refuses to submit to the canons, but arrogates to himself episcopal and ministerial rights, and persons leave the Catholic Church and join him, this is unlawful assembly. To disagree with members of the Church about repentance, is schism. Instances of heresy are those of the Manichæans, of the Valentinians, of the Marcionites, and of these Pepuzenes; for with them there comes in at once their disagreement concerning the actual faith in God. So it seemed good to the ancient authorities to reject the baptism of heretics altogether, but to admit that of schismatics, on the ground that they still belonged to the Church.—St. Basil the Great, Letter 188

20 November 2016

For Jamie...

my fellow foodie and neighboUr to the north (WAY north), who always wants to know what's the menu for thanksgiving.

So, this year:

Appetizers, by special demand, will be my sausage stuffed mushrooms and a brie. Can't give you a recipe on the mushrooms because I never know what's ending up in it till I start throwing it together. I fry up the sausage and mushroom stems with garlic and some wine and then add other stuff and top with a bit of pastured cheese (we use Dubliner). Maybe some smoked oysters or smoked red sockeye salmon to go along with the Brie too.

Main course will, of course, feature turkey (Cindi) and a ham (Dave). There will be mashed taters with gravy, Mildred Weedon's cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce (left over from St. Paul's sausage supper, where they make it from scratch!), sweet tater soufflé, and green beans. David's baking up some bread of some sort, but so are we. We're making paleo cheddar biscuits. Major yum. And they work great cold to hold mayo and leftover turkey for sandwiches. Of course lots of good Kerry Gold butter to slather on the breads.

Desserts will be a chocolate cake (Dave), a pecan pie (David), and Cindi and I are making a pumpkin pie (Abel James' recipe - just google Fatburningman pumpkin pie!). Also a dish of spiced sweet pecans.

We're HOPING to serve a great organic wine we discovered a week ago, but the place was sold out of it this week. Maybe it will be back before the weekend? It was called Our Daily Red. Cindi and I both loved it. Only 12% alcohol and though not sweet, it was the grapiest wine I've ever tasted. It was fabulous. If we can't get that, we'll offer a couple other organic wine choices. We've lately discovered how ridiculously processed commercial wine is (and here in the States they don't even have to tell you what they put in it; did you know they put DYE in commercial wine??? Ugh.). Of course, there will also be plenty of freshly ground brewed coffee (we favor 8 O'clock whole bean).

Sitting down to the feast this year will be a rather smaller than usual crowd: Aunt Sandy and her son, Russ, Dave (Opa), David and Meaghan, Lydia and Henry (well, he has to sit off to the side in his high chair), and Cindi and I. Granddaughter Lydia makes something like the seventh generation that has feasted together at that table and sampled pies from the "breakfront" (which both came from Cindi's grandmother's grandmother). Cool, eh? Oh, and we'll be using this for our table prayer again:

Thanksgiving Table Prayer

And that's about a wrap. So, now you know, Jamie!

19 November 2016

It's an apocryphal

saying of Luther: "If I knew the world would end tomorrow, I'd plant an apple tree today." It came to mind, because my cousin posted some stunning pics of my mom's home place. And right outside the dining room there grows a majestic holly tree. You see, it was planted by Cousin Ann Field. She, as so many have done over the years, came home to die. In those days they called it Consumption. Today, it's TB. She had a disease that would take her life and in a horrible way. And what did she do? She planted a holly tree. And to this day, it gives its green leaves and red berries to decorate the old place in joyful anticipation of Christ's birth. She's been gone for over a century, but her gift endures. I hope that if my world were ending tomorrow, I'd plant a tree today too. 

Happy birthday, Clara!

Karen had a great idea: she thought she and John would surprise Clara (celebrating her 29th birthday...or something like that) with a trip to Cracker Barrell at which Cindi and I would also show up. We had gotten there early to get a table and alerted the wait staff that we had a very special lady coming in to celebrate her birthday. One lady wished Clara a happy birthday as she came in and Clara was clearly puzzled. When she saw Cindi and me, we both got huge Clara hugs! We sat down and proceeded to enjoy our meal together and to catch up. But unbenknownst to us, folks were watching our little party unfold. Some college aged young ladies were sitting at the table across from us and they were smiling. They got up and left to pay their bill, but then they showed back up with birthday presents for Clara: a bracelet and a snuggly scarf. She was flabergasted and we were all delighted as such a kind and generous and random act of kindness. I think the whole episode wore Clara out in a good way; she was pleased as punch. One of our kind waitresses took a pic of us at the end of the evening:

18 November 2016

Red Sky in Morning...

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

You will feel joy. You will feel in your conscience that the Lord is kindly disposed toward you, that He surely is a kind Father to you in all things. You see, the Lord is said to rejoice over us when He causes us to sense His favor, την αὐτοῦ χρηστότητα (“His kindness”). He has expressed the nature of the kingdom of Christ very aptly and emphatically.—Martin Luther on Zephaniah 3:17

Patristic Quote of the Day

I, however, call on all who trust in Christ not to busy themselves in opposition to the ancient faith, but, as we believe, so to be baptized, and, as we are baptized, so to offer the doxology. It is enough for us to confess those names which we have received from Holy Scripture, and to shun all innovation about them. Our salvation does not lie in the invention of modes of address, but in the sound confession of the Godhead in which we have professed our faith.—St. Basil the Great, Letter 175

16 November 2016

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We do not believe, nor should we believe, that we have no sins. Rather, we believe and should believe that through Christ our sins have been forgiven and are daily being forgiven to us.—Johann Gerhard, On the Church, p. 557

Patristic Quote of the Day

We begin to sin when there is a lack of the fear of God in us.—St. Basil the Great, Letter 174

15 November 2016

Old Latin Quote of the Day

Certe sacramenta, quae sumimus, corporis et sanquinis Christi, divina res est, propter quod et per eadem Divinae efficimur consortes naturae, et tamen esse non desinit substantia vel natura panis et vini.—Pope St. Gelasius, De duabus natur in Chr. adv. Eutych. et Nestor. 

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

For it is not the mark of a Christian mind to take no delight in assertions; on the contrary, a man must delight in assertions or he will be no Christian. And by assertion—in order that we may not be misled by words—I mean a constant adhering, affirming, confessing, maintaining, and an invincible persevering; nor, I think, does the word mean anything else either as used by the Latins or by us in our time.—Martin Luther, On the Bondage of the Will

Patristic Quote of the Day

And what is our condition? Love is grown cold; the teaching of the Fathers is being laid waste; everywhere is shipwreck of the Faith; the mouths of the Faithful are silent; the people, driven from the houses of prayer, lift up their hands in the open air to their Lord which is in heaven. Our afflictions are heavy, martyrdom is nowhere to be seen, because those who evilly entreat us are called by the same name as ourselves. Wherefore pray to the Lord yourself, and join all Christ's noble athletes with you in prayer for the Churches, to the end that, if any further time remains for this world, and all things are not being driven to destruction, God may be reconciled to his own Churches and restore them to their ancient peace.—St. Basil the Great, Letter 164

14 November 2016

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Therefore it is impossible for any self-righteous people to know what freedom from sin, etc., really is. By contrast, our freedom has as its foundation Christ, who is the eternal High Priest, who is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Therefore the freedom, forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and life that we have through Him are sure, firm, and eternal, provided that we believe this. If we cling firmly to Christ by faith and stand firm in the freedom with which He has made us free, we shall have those inestimable gifts.—Martin Luther, Great Galatians 5

Patristic Quote of the Day

But all believers in Christ are one people; all Christ's people, although He is hailed from many regions, are one Church.—St. Basil the Great, Letter 161

13 November 2016

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Nevertheless, under the form of bread, the true body of Christ, given for us on the cross, under the form of wine, the true blood of Christ, shed for us, are present; furthermore, it is not a spiritual or imagined body and blood but the genuine natural body and blood derived from the holy, virginal, true, human body of Mary, conceived without a human body by the Holy Spirit alone. This body and blood of Christ are even now sitting at the right hand of God in majesty, in the divine person called Jesus Christ, who is a genuine, true, eternal God with the Father of whom he was born from eternity, etc. This body and this blood of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, not only the holy and worthy but also sinners and the unworthy truly administer and receive bodily, although invisibly, with their hands, their mouths, the chalice, paten, corporal, and whatever they use for this purpose when it is administered and received in the mass.—Martin Luther, Letter of Martin Luther Concerning His Book on the Private Mass

Patristic Quote of the Day

I need use no argument to prove to those who are even slightly trained in Scripture, that the creature is separated from the Godhead. The creature is a slave; but the Spirit sets free. The creature needs life; the Spirit is the Giver of life. John 6:63 The creature requires teaching. It is the Spirit that teaches. John 14:26 The creature is sanctified; it is the Spirit that sanctifies. Romans 15:16 Whether you name angels, archangels, or all the heavenly powers, they receive their sanctification through the Spirit, but the Spirit Himself has His holiness by nature, not received by favour, but essentially His; whence He has received the distinctive name of Holy.—St. Basil the Great, Letter 159

12 November 2016

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

But when you are condemned, cursed, reviled, slandered, and plagued because of Christ, you are sanctified. It mortifies the old Adam and teaches him patience, humility, gentleness, praise and thanks, and good cheer in suffering. That is what it means to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit and to be renewed to a new life in Christ; in that way we learn to believe in God, to trust him, to love him, and to place our hope in him, as Romans 5 [:1–5] says, “Suffering produces hope,” etc.—Martin Luther, On the Councils and the Church

Patristic Quote of the Day

I will add a statement on this subject in conformity with the sense of Scripture. As we were baptized, so we profess our belief. As we profess our belief, so also we offer praise. As then baptism has been given us by the Saviour, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, so, in accordance with our baptism, we make the confession of the creed, and our doxology in accordance with our creed.—St. Basil the Great, Letter 159

11 November 2016

To the Father

When night falls upon the earth, the stillness of sleep reigns and sounds of the past day become silent; I see the splendor of Thy heavenly mansions. Flame and purple, gold and azure presage the indescribable beauty of Thy home and solemnly call forth: Let us go to the Father! - Akathist of Thanksgiving

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

For the holy church sins and stumbles or can even err, as the Lord’s Prayer teaches. However, it does not defend or excuse itself, but humbly asks for forgiveness and improves itself as it is able. Thus it is forgiven so that henceforth its sin is no longer reckoned as sin.—Martin Luther, A Letter Concerning His Book on the Private Mass

Patristic Quote of the Day

Our bodies may be separated by distance, but God’s eye still doubtless looks upon us both; if indeed a life like mine is fit to be beheld by the divine eyes; for I have read somewhere in the Psalms that the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous. I do indeed pray that with you and with all that are like minded with you, I may be associated, even in body, and that night and day with you and with any other true worshipper of God I may bow my knees to our Father which is in heaven; for I know that communion in prayer brings great gain.—St. Basil the Great, Letter 150

10 November 2016

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We will boast of nothing but the Holy Scriptures, continually mindful that the Holy Spirit cannot contradict himself, for he is not a God of discord, but a God of peace and harmony.—Martin Luther, On the Misuse of the Mass

Patristic Quote of the Day

In return I salute you, and beg you earnestly to give heed to the salvation of your soul, disciplining all the lusts of the flesh by reason, and ever keeping the thought of God built up in your soul, as in a very holy temple. In every deed and every word hold before your eyes the judgment of Christ, so that every individual action, being referred to that exact and awful examination may bring you glory in the day of retribution, when you win praise from all creation.—St. Basil the Great, Letter 146

08 November 2016

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

If God had not been on our side
And had not come to aid us,
The foes with all their pow'r and pride
Would surely have dismayed us.
For we, His flock, would have to fear
The threat of men both far and near
Who rise in might against us.

Their furious wrath, did God permit, 
Would surely have consumed us
And as a deep and yawning pit
With life and limb entombed us.
Like men o'er whom dark waters roll
Their wrath would have engulfed our soul
And, like a flood, o'erwhelmed us.

Blest be the Lord, who foiled their threat
That they could not devour us;
Our souls, like birds, escaped their net,
They could not overpow'r us. 
The snare is broken—we are free!
Our help is ever, Lord, in Thee,
Who madest earth and heaven.
—Martin Luther, paraphrase of Psalm 124 (and another shameful miss in our current hymnal)

Patristic Quote of the Day

Only let our spirit be kept unbroken, the firmness of our faith in Christ be maintained unshaken, and ere long our Champion will appear; He will come and will not tarry. Expect tribulation after tribulation, hope upon hope; yet a little while; yet a little while. Thus the Holy Ghost knows how to comfort His nurslings by a promise of the future. After tribulations comes hope, and what we are hoping for is not far off, for let a man name the whole of human life, it is but a tiny interval compared with the endless age which is laid up in our hopes.—St. Basil the Great, Letter 140

07 November 2016

A Stunning Homily

by Pr. Steven Schave. Feast and enjoy! I told him I wanted to interrupt at the end and announce: "We will now sing The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns."

The Word Became Flesh
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[d] from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'") 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.[e] 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God,[f] who is at the Father's side,[g] he has made him known.
In the beginning, darkness was upon the face of the deep, and into that dark void of a raging abyss, God called out "Let there be light." And by the power of His creating Word there was light; God speaks and so it is done. The first radiation of life was breathed into our world by the Spirit of God to give us light and warmth where there was once only darkness and bitter cold. The "Word of God was there at the beginning and all things where made through Him." "In him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

 But oh how quickly mankind plunges themselves into the darkness… trying to hide from the light after we have eaten of the forbidden fruit. God is the pillar of cloud and fire that separates us from the darkened world, but we continually dive into the shadows again and again. When the light of God's Word exposes us, we run to the farthest corner to look for a dark place. But there is nowhere we can hide, for God knows even the deepest, darkest, places in our hearts.

 And so we wander in the shadows, aimlessly looking for the peace, hope, comfort, warmth and love that only the Light can give. We stub our toes on the dangerous corners hidden in the darkness and curse God as if it were His fault. And our search for anything good in the darkness is hopeless and leads only to an eternal chasm, so deep it is, that we no longer recognize the light… the darkness unable to bear its presence. And so for all of us who dwell in the darkness of our sins, the coffin door closes, and the light is no more.

But like a blinding shaft of light, this announcement comes beaming down this very morning "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." Did you feel the awesome impact of that? More powerful than a supernova, when the Word that was there at the Beginning of the World takes on our flesh, it is a cosmic collision of Heaven and Earth! With that God says, Let there Be Light! The shepherds and the wise men were guided by the Star of Bethlehem on a dark winter's night to look into the eyes of the One who would lighten up our darkened universe again… brighter than any star. The presence of God tabernacling among us again… not in tents or temples of stone… but in our own flesh and blood. God and sinner reconciled, the Light of the World shines forth.

We live in such dark days, but know this; the darkness will not overcome, because Christ will take all of the world's darkness upon Himself. "He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him." And because this world did not recognize Him they crucified Him. Jesus Christ, the Word that became our flesh to redeem it, must walk through the darkness to bring us into the light: through the darkness of temptation, mourning and grief, pain and suffering, and even the valley of the shadow of death in the world's darkest hour. And to be sure, when the eyes that once lit up the Heavens went dim on the cross, this world only saw the darkness of death… the light was hidden to them. But there was something more, much more.
God once sent a small band of men led by Gideon to conquer what seemed like an invincible army in a battle of the light against the darkness. Gideon's men were armed with nothing more than a trumpet in one hand and a torch covered by a jar in the other. But with the blast of the trumpet, when they shattered the earthen vessels that held their flames upon a post, their enemies scattered in fear of the light and were destroyed. So when Christ was dying on the cross, like the blast of a trumpet, He cried out "It is finished". And when the earthen vessel of the Word made flesh was shattered upon the post of a cross, the Light of the World beamed into the evil realms of darkness… and your enemies of sin, death and the devil went running, because they were completely defeated by the Light. The darkness no longer had any hold on you: the light shines in the darkness and the darkness shall not overcome it. Because on the third day, God the Father looked upon the cold, lifeless body of His Son and He said, "Let there be Light!" by raising Him up through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Light shone again for the world to see.

And that is the same Light that shines in you and me even in our darkest moments. God sustains the Light of our faith through His Word which enlightens. He strengthens our faith by giving us the Word made flesh as we come to His table to be in communion with the Light of the World which tabernacles in bread and wine. And in our baptisms God poured out the light upon us with a light that no darkness shall overcome. Where there was once only darkness and bitter cold, life was breathed into us by the Spirit of God to give us light and warmth: enveloped in the love of God, robed in His righteousness, born of God as His children. So by grace through faith, God says, "Let there be light!" And it is that light which sends us out to help others who cower in the darkness... like John the Baptist our life in the light is our testimony that others might believe.

We are witnesses to God's grace, in that we have been led out of darkness and into the Light. And there is no greater witness than when we are shadowed by our darkest moments and yet others still see the Light shining through. Others will see in those times that we are not looking down into the dark abyss of this world, but instead are looking into the manger and outside an empty tomb where the Morning Star has turned the night into day for us. Christ who knows our suffering, cares for us at all times and He shines in us. Because even when we take our last breath in this dark world, and the candle of our life is snuffed out, others will see a peace and joy that can only come from the Light of the World. We have been baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ and when we depart from this world we will look into the glowing eyes of our Savior. And in the blink of an eye when the Light of the World returns to this world of shadows again, He will raise up our earthly vessels even buried in the deepest, darkest tomb. And with the blast of a trumpet He will proclaim "Let there be light!"

I know it's said that it is darkest before the dawn, and based on what all is being said lately it sounds like the sky is falling, and maybe it is, maybe it is… but in these dark and latter days, know this: the dawn is coming soon, very soon… bringing light and life… soon, very soon, God will dwell among His people in all His glory… Father, Son and Holy Spirit… and there will be no need for the sun, neither the moon… because the light of Christ will be the light of the World… and the darkness, the darkness will be no more. In Jesus name, Amen.

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

That Thou wouldst deign to rule and govern thy holy catholic church: We beseech Thee to hear us.

That Thou wouldst deign to preserve all bishops, pastors, and ministers of the church in sound word and holy life: We beseech Thee to hear us.

That Thou wouldst deign to remove all sects and all offenses: We beseech Thee to ehar us.

That Thou wouldst deign to lead back the erring and deceived into the way of truth: We beseech Thee to hear us.

That Thou wouldst deign to trample Satan under our feet: We beseech Thee to hear us.

That Thou wouldst deign to send faithful laborers into Thy harvest: We beseech Thee to hear us.

That Thou wouldst deign to grant all hearers increase in the word and in the fruit of the Spirit: We beseech Thee to hear us.

That Thou wouldst deight to lift up the lapsed and to strengthen those who stand: We beseech Thee to hear us.

That Thou wouldst deign to encourage and assist the timid and the tempted: We beseech Thee to hear us.

—Martin Luther, from The Latin Litany Corrected

Patristic Quote of the Day

I have observed the ingenuity of the devil’s mode of warfare. When he saw that the Church increased under the persecution of enemies and flourished all the more, he changed his plan. He no longer carries on an open warfare, but lays secret snares against us, hiding his hostility under the name which they bear, in order that we may both suffer like our fathers, and, at the same time, seem not to suffer for Christ's sake, because our persecutors too bear the name of Christians.—St. Basil the Great, Letter 139

That Beautiful Vespers at the Seminary

can be heard right here:

Just click watch again for the Reformation Anniversary service and even download the PDF and you can sing along!

06 November 2016

What a day!

We started out this morning early with a quick rehearsal before the two Divine Services at St. Paul's. The Choir sang Introit and Gradual, but also "E'en So, Lord Jesus," "Blessing and Honor," and the Wolfe "For All the Saints" (stanzas 4 and 6). A truly joyous feast day. Then back to the house for Sunday brunch. Nine of us sat at table together (and Henry sat in his high chair) and enjoyed bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes, peppers and carrots. Quick clean up, and then off to the seminary for the kick off service for the Anniversary Celebration. Wow and wow. The musicians absolutely outdid themselves. Kudos to Mark Bender for leading the mass choir, Jim Marriott for the organ, and the kids from Lutheran South's wind symphony. President Harrison delivered (or rather, let Luther deliver) a stunning homily: Rage on! We grabbed a brat after the Vespers, passed on the beer, and headed home. All Saints Mass and then Vespers. What more can a man ask for the perfect Sunday? I mean, think about it. We got to sing today:

Sing with All the Saints in Glory
For All the Saints
Behold, A Host
Jesus Sat with His Disciples
The Church's One Foundation
Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones

And then!

Thy Strong Word
A Mighty Fortress
Though all Our Life
Church of God, Elect and Glorious

Yup, that's a feast for the day. Our voices are shot! Think it will be an early bed time.

Well, it was absolutely beautiful...

...while it lasted. For the past seven years we've feasted on the very best of Lutheran organ music (Bach, Buxdehute, Pachelbel to only name some of my very favorites); our choir has been immeasurably enriched by absolutely stunning conducting, taking us from your run of the mill church choir, to a choir that could pull off pieces and do them well, way beyond anything we'd ever dared dream. Mozart Mass in C? No problem! Faure's Cantique de Jean Racine. Got it! Manz' E'en So. Nailed it! We've sung in Latin (Panis Angelicus, for instance) and German (Luther's Herr Gott, Dich Loben Wir), and probably the most challenging stuff has been some John Rutter pieces for Christmas. Anywho...the man who accomplished this improbably feat? Mr. Carlo Van Ulft. Sadly, today's bulletin announced that he's submitted his letter of resignation and that his time at St. Paul's draws rapidly to a close. His final Sunday will be on November 20th. My sadness is beyond words that this wonderful experience with him is almost over, but I will always, always be thankful for the way he enriched and transformed our congregation's music. We have been remarkably graced. God bless you, Carlo, and may your music continue to bring joy to the hearts of those who will be blessed to hear you play and sing under your leadership in the future. 

04 November 2016

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

And for this reason also has government been ordained by God, that it may uphold general peace, which thing alone cannot be paid for by all the money in the world. We just noticed a few things in the uprising of the peasant, what damage, misery and woe are caused by rebellion and the breaking of peace. God grant that things do not go further and that we experience no more.—Martin Luther, Homily on Trinity XXIII, Church Postil

Patristic Quote of the Day

A streamlet tells of its own spring, and so the manner of speech marks the heart from which it came.—St. Basil the Great, Letter 134

I am always amazed

at how GREAT it feels to workout in a fasted state. Cindi and I usually skip Wednesday and Friday meals during the day, and just eat at night. So lunchtime is free time. I spent it today walking (already got my 10K steps +), doing pushups (I've settled in a pattern of 200 daily, but none of Sundays; my daughter-in-law the PT Dr. told me to stop doing as many as I had been), and then running sprints (which I try to run these days three times a week). The sprints still amaze me. I start out with an easy jog and until I reach a spot I've set, and then I sprint. How? By lifting high the knees and still running on my toes, staying perfectly upright and not leaning in. If anything leaning slightly back. First, you feel like you're going slowly and then WAM! Like the cartoons show, suddenly you're flying and without almost any conscious effort except keeping knees high and just pressing your internal throttle to go always a bit faster. I don't know how long these last. I just run between predetermined spots, and always try to run faster. I do eight sets of them. And when I need to replenish my water bottle at work, I walk down the stairs from the fourth to the first floor and fill it up in the fitness center and throw in a quick set of pullups. Today I've already hit 20 of those. And all this feeling absolutely fabulous because my body's not having to process new food; I'm still fine from what we ate last night because it was wholesome and nutritious and not filled with the usual toxic chemical stew that is modern processed food. Anyway, long time readers of this blog know I've been a big fan of following the Church's historic fasts. I still am. But these days I have to confess that I don't fast as an act of penitence or anything close to it. Gulp. I fast twice a week because it feels GREAT. And what goes for the workouts goes a thousand percent more for the mental work for the day. Fasting day is always productive day for work. If you've not tried intermittent fasting, it is really just an ancient piece of human wisdom that seems to work. Give it a whirl, but FIRST make sure you've nourished your body with REAL food, giving it the nutrition it needs. 

03 November 2016

Today's Catechesis

Chapel for 11/3
P&P, p. 260.
Reading: from John 6
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" 53 So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever."
Catechism (p. 327, top left)
What is the benefit of this eating and drinking?
These words, "Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins," show us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.
How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?
Certainly not just eating and drinking do these things, but the words written here: "Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins." These words, along with the bodily eating and drinking, are the main thing in the Sacrament. Whoever believes these words has exactly what they say: "forgiveness of sins."
In the name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
She snuck up behind Him in the crowd. She was afraid. She was desperate. She'd tried everything else and everything else had failed her. Her blood still hemorrhaged and nothing staunched the flow. But that made her unclean. And all she touched unclean. So she tried to hide as she did faith's deed. She reached out a trembling hand to touch the fringe, the hem of Jesus in the crowd.
And He stopped. Stopped just as soon as she touched. She felt it in herself. She knew her bleeding had stopped. But He felt it too. It's the only passage in the Gospels that gives even the least kind of hint about what went on in the God-Man when He worked His miracles. He stops dead in the midst of the crowd and turns and searches the faces, asking: "Who touched me?"
His disciples are quite convinced that it's an unreasonable question. He's in the middle of a crowd, for Pete's sake, and their bumping against him at every turn. How can he ask? But He explains: "Someone touched Me, for I perceive that power has gone from me."
What a curious and enigmatic statement. There is touch and there is touch. There is the careless brush up against that doesn't tap into what's hidden there in Jesus. Then there is the trembling hand that reaches out to receive, to be given to, and that hand withdraws the elixer of life from the touch even of His clothes. Jesus gives a name to that touch when He tells the woman, "Daughter, your faith has saved you, made you well, healed you. Go in peace." Faith is the hand that reaches out to receive from Jesus. Even to steal from Him, but He makes the stolen a gift. Luther said: "He likes to be stolen from."
Now take it all to the Eucharist. In the supper how many Sunday after Sunday bump up against the body and blood? They come forward and receive the Eucharist, but never expect it to do anything, to change anything. They don't come forward in faith that in this Sacrament you are coming into contact with the greatest power and force in all the world. He clothes Himself for you to touch. Power goes forth from Jesus to the person who touches His body and blood in faith and it transforms them. And as the touch has the name "faith" so the power has a name: Love. That love changes you, From the inside out, saves you, heals you. And to touch it in faith is to touch it in the sense of "for me." He meant and included me when He said: "for you, for the forgiveness of sins." Me. My sins. This body given for me. This blood shed for me. This is love.
These words ARE the main thing in the Sacrament because to have the body and blood of some man, even to have the body and blood of the Eternal Son of God who created all things, that's not yet good news. You could just be in the crowd bumping up against Him. But to have Him reach His body and blood to you because He loves you, because He forgives you all your sin, because He wants to plant inside of you a resurrection life that death will never rob you of: THAT is some good news.
And that's why John 6 alludes to the Eucharist but can't be applied directly. Because just touching or eating the Body and Blood does NOT guarantee receiving all the blessings in that body and blood. St. Paul makes it clear you can receive them in a way that instead of bringing blessing, brings judgment. That is, you can receive them without faith. Touch them, without touching them.
Said most simply: the Eucharist is not magic; it is a miracle. And the heart of the miracle is that YOU are loved, and He plants himself among us to let us touch in faith that body and blood so that the power of love can flow from Him into you all that is His is made yours and all yours His, and He holds you tight and says: "You touched me. You touched me and I'm glad you did. I love you. You are mine forever. Go in peace."
Hymn: 621 Let All Mortal Flesh
Allen, Jan, Kyle, Deaconess Gail (serving in Dominican).

01 November 2016

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

For certain it is, if you trust any man, you are already deceived, for human nature, in itself, cannot but lie and deceive. Everything is uncertain among men, their deeds and words are unstable; that you may well believe.—Martin Luther, Homily for Trinity XXIII, Church Postils

Patristic Quote of the Day

The sight of the eyes brings about bodily friendship, and long companionship strengthens it, but genuine regard is the gift of the Spirit, Who unites what is separated by long distances, and makes friends known to one another, not by bodily qualities, but by the characteristics of the soul.—St. Basil, Letter 133

You know...

...it's a wondrous world. I am sitting here this evening, and "Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus" is coming over the iPad. Lutheran Public Radio is SUCH a blessing. The joyous songs of the Church available at a "tap!" If you're a Lutheran Christian and have not checked out this incredible (and freely offered!) resource, by all means, check it out. Just google Lutheran Public Radio Music.

Life is SOOOOO much more fun

with Matthew Carver in it!

Here's his latest and it is gold. Get ye to Emmanuel Press and enjoy the feast! Yes, they're in English AND Latin, and he even was nice enough to put the Gregorian notation into modern notation for the English versions. A delight indeed! How I wish Lee Maxwell were alive to get his hands on this!