31 August 2020

Last day of the month...more boring fitness

Stuff. Just to keep myself honest. The month of August saw 4,200 pushups; 260 pullups; 400 KB swings; and four sprint sessions and just some other running sessions for the fun of it. Ended up buying an Apple Watch with blow money this month, and was delighted to find out it reads VO2Max. According to that, during my sprint running, I ended up with 43.4 VO2Max, which according to the charts I consulted on the internet puts my oxygen capacity at average for an 18 year old, but top of the line for a nearly 60 year old. Love this workout routine and am so glad I finally found it, after floundering a bit when I started working from home.

Luther and Lewis

Just as God in the beginning of creation made the world out of nothing, whence He is called the Creator and the Almighty, so His manner of working continues unchanged. Even now and to the end of the world, all His works are such that out of that which is nothing, worthless, despised, wretched, and dead, He makes that which is something, precious, honorable, blessed, and living.—Martin Luther, Magnificat, AE 21:299

The difficulty of converting an uneducated man nowadays lies in his complacency. Popularized science, the conventions or ‘unconventions’ of his immediate circle, party programmes, etc., enclose him in a tiny windowless universe which he mistakes for the only possible universe. There are no distant horizons, no mysteries. He thinks everything has been settled. A cultured person, on the other hand, is almost comopelled to be aware that reality is very odd and that the ultimate truth, whatever is may be, must have the characteristics of strangeness—must be something that would seem remote and fantastic to the uncultured.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 222.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The Lord, who often spoke with modesty, obscuring his own glory, speaks here in a way so as to establish the opinion of those who were amazed at his authority: “I will. Be clean.”—St. Jn Chrys. Hom 25 on St. Matthew

Catechesis: Lord’s Prayer, Fifth Petition

It is not as though He did not forgive sin without and even before our prayer.... But the purpose of this prayer is that we may recognize and receive such forgiveness.—LC III:88

This should serve God’s purpose of breaking our pride and keeping us humble.—LC III:90

In short, if God does not forgive without stopping, we are lost.—LC III:91


30 August 2020

A Joyous Answered Prayer

One of the hardest days of my life was putting my only grandson, my daughter and wife on a plane to fly to my daughter and son-in-law’s new church out in North Carolina, some 14 hours away from us. I remember sitting here in my living room and watching the sun sink on the wall, and my own spirits sinking right along with it. They were sooooo far away. Things got slightly better a few years ago: my son-in-law accepted a call to a dual parish in northern Wisconsin. It was 8 hours away, which was much closer than the 14! But still so very far. And BRRRRR. Northern Wisconsin. We visited one Christmas holiday and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such bitter temperatures and snow. Well, today Dean announced that he’d accepted a call to Dieterich, Illinois, a mere 90 minutes away from us and from Dean’s family. We’re over the moon! Family holidays become a possibility again for the whole extended clan. And the parishes are both beautiful (one of them is home to our friends Candy Esch and Heather Goeckner) and instead of squeezing into a parsonage that really was never meant to accommodate a family their size (WI), they’ll be in a nice sized parsonage like they had in NC with plenty of bedrooms. Thanks be to God. We are so, so thankful that this call came their way and we pray God’s richest blessings upon Dean as he ministers there. Welcome back to Illinois, Herberts!!! And grandkids, when you coming for a visit???

29 August 2020

Daily Office Update

There are many options available for those who wish to pray along with the Church’s daily offices. One can use Treasury of Daily Prayer for this, though as Pr. David Petersen noted years ago, that book is pretty much designed to be a single office book, and that indeed is how my wife and I have settled into using it. There is the lovely Brotherhood Prayer Book which gives one a maximal Gregorian experience with a Lutheran accent. Various individuals have published Breviaries (office books), including For All the Saints from American Lutheran Publicity Bureau and Concordia’s older volumes: Daily Prayer by Robert Sauer and The Daily Office by Herbert Lindemann. 

I wanted to share in this post how I’ve sort of settled into praying the Office, and it’s not from any of those books, oddly enough. It’s a strange combo of my Bible and my Phone (and before I got that new Bible I wrote about a while ago, it was just my phone!).  

I begin with Matins with its opening versicles, and then pray the Psalms assigned for the morning from the monthly Psalter (this is the genius of the Book of Common Prayer, and you can find it in Treasury). I pray these from the King James Version, and have my Bible marked with where the Psalms begin and end, morning and evening. Then I read the first assigned reading from the Original King James Version Bible Reading Chart. It’s usually a chapter from the Old Testament, sometimes from the Apocrypha (and usually so on saints days, such as the Apostles’). After reading that chapter, I pray the Te Deum Laudamus. Finishing that I turn to the second assigned reading, again, usually a chapter. In the morning, this will come successively from Matthew-Acts; and then repeat in the course of the year. After reading the second chapter, I pray the Benedictus. Then I use Lutheran Prayer Companion (most often the electronic version) to offer up the prayers for the day (two morning prayers and then a prayer based on successive petitions of the Our Father). The collect for grace and the benedicamus round out the office. I have, of all things, a spreadsheet on my phone with the appointed Psalms and Bible Readings for the month. I’m slowly filling it out. It makes it very simple to double check that I’m praying the correct Psalms and readings.

Sometime post 3:30 p.m.., I’ll pray the evening office. And here it is the same: Opening versicles from Vespers, the monthly Psalter, the first reading from the Old Testament (mostly the next chapter from the morning) or Apocrypha, Magnificat, the second reading from the Epistles or Revelation, the Nunc Dimittis, and then usually just the Kyrie, Our Father, and Collect for Peace, closing with the Benedicamus. I actually usually reserve the Evening Prayers (two for each day from Lutheran Prayer Companion) for sometime closer to bedtime.

I’ve found it a joyously simple way to stay rooted in the Daily Office. It’s true that it short-shrifts the Hymns, but I do occasionally throw one of those in too, particularly the daily hymns from the Lutheran Prayer Companion which mirror in many ways the traditional Breviary hymns for each day. I’m curious if others have adapted a way of praying the office that has proven beneficial to them?

28 August 2020

Luther and Lewis

In Christ, as I have said, they are all alike. Grace is granted equally to all and brings full salvation to each individual, as the highest and most common possession; thus whoever has Christ has everything. And there will be a distinction in glory with which we shall be adorned, and in the brightness with which we shall shine.—Martin Luther, Conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, AE 21:294

Everyone has noticed how hard it is to turn our thoughts to God when everything is going well with us. We ‘have all we want’ is a terrible saying ‘all’ does not include God. We find God an interruption. As St. Augustine [note: today is his commemoration] says somewhere, ‘God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full—there’s nowhere for Him to put it.’—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 219

Patristic Quote of the Day

But most of all they were astounded at his authority. For when he said these things [in the Sermon on the Mount], he did not refer to another, as even the prophet Moses did, but everywhere he showed that himself was the One who had the authority to decide.—St. John Chry. Hom. 25 on St. Matt.

Catechesis: Fourth Petition of the Our Father

When you mention and pray for daily bread, you pray for everything that is necessary in order to have and enjoy daily bread. On the other hand you pray against everything that interferes with it.—LC III:72

In short, this petition applies both to the household and to the neighborly or civil relationship and government.—LC III:73

There is, indeed, the greatest need to pray for earthly authority and government. By them, most of all, God preserves for us our daily bread and all the comforts of this life.—LC III:74

[Satan] also prevents and hinders the stability of all government and honorable, peaceable relations on earth. There he causes so much contention, murder, treason, and war.—LC III:80

He wishes that we pray for these goods in order that we may recognize that we receive them from His hand and may feel His fatherly goodness toward us in them.—LC III:83

27 August 2020

Patristic Quote of the Day

He says this (Matt 7:13,14) not because the Lord’s yoke is rough or his burden heavy but because there are a few who wish their labors to end. They do not put their full trust in the Lord when he cries, “Come to me, all you who labor, and I will give you rest....” Hence the humble and the meek of heart are named at the very beginning of this sermon. But because there are many who spurn this smooth yoke and this light burden, it comes to pass that the way that leads to life is demanding and the entry gate is narrow.—St. Augustine, Sermon on the Mount 

Luther and Lewis

[On the Golden Rule] It takes a good teacher to condense and summarize such a long-drawn-out sermon in such a way that everyone can carry it home with him, be reminded of it daily, and see what is missing in his whole life; for he has it written in his own heart, and in fact, in his whole life and activity.—Martin Luther, Sermon on the Mount AE 21:236

St. Augustine and Rousseau both write Confessions; but to the one his own temperament is a kind of absolute..., to the other it is ‘a narrow house too narrow for Thee to enter—oh, make it wide. It is in ruins—oh, rebuild it’...—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 218

Catechesis: Third Petition of the Our Father

For our flesh is in itself lazy and inclined to evil, even though we have accepted and believed God’s Word. —LC III.53

If we would be Christians, therefore, we must surely expect and count on having the devil with all his angels and the world as our enemies.... For where God’s Word is preached, accepted, or believed and produces fruit, there the holy cross cannot be missing.—LC III:65

The test is to be steadfast and to suffer with patience in whatever way we are assaulted, and to let go whatever is taken from us.—LC III:66

Look, we have in these three petitions, in the simplest way, the needs that relate to God Himself. Yet they are all for our sakes.—LC III:68

BOC Quote

Christ’s glory becomes more brilliant when we teach that we make the most of Him as our Mediator and Atoning Sacrifice. Godly consciences see that the most abundant consolation is offered to them in this doctrine. They see that they ought to believe and most firmly assert that they have a reconciled Father for Christ’s sake, and not for the sake of our righteousness. Yet, they also see that Christ aids us, so that we are able to keep the Law as well.—Ap. V:178

26 August 2020

On Reversion

That is, going back. The more I think of it, the more I smile to myself. 

I just ordered myself a brand spanking new Bible. It’s rather compact, but easy to read, and it has the all the books, including the Apocrypha. What version, you ask?

Well, it’s King James. (I actually have a facsimile of the original, but it has numerous odd quirks with typeface and spellings that make it slightly challenging to use. This one is easy peasy). The King James? Really??? 

Really. Like it was yesterday, I remember when I turned ten years old and my parents for Christmas gave me my first Bible. It was, of course, a King James. My mother patiently explained that there are other Bibles that were easier to read by far, but “of course, they’re not the real Bible.” I smile just remembering her saying it. And I remember how I struggled to read it and without much profit! The maps and pics were impressive though. Yet here I am.

For my podcast, I have mostly been using the ESV, but it does get slightly irritating how very often feel I have to go back to the KJV to point out a different way of saying something, usually a way I think better delivers the point of the original. So for my personal Bible reading and study, it’s reversion. 

A friend long ago pointed out to me that these newer versions pop up ever few years and they’re always changing them. With the KJV, he said, you can count on it being the same in 20 years as it is now. He was right.

And incline our hearts to keep Thy law...

Today’s Treasury reading from 1 Kings 8 (specifically vs. 58) reminded me of the Anglican Communion Service in the Book of Common Prayer. After each commandment is recited near the opening of that liturgy, the people respond with a Kyrie and the above petition: “Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.” When Solomon is nearing the end of his great prayer, he asks: “May He not leave us nor forsake us that He may incline our hearts to him, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His rules which He commanded our fathers.” What a beautiful prayer indeed: for we cannot incline our hearts one way or another, but we seek from Him the gift of a heart inclined to obedience.

Luther and Lewis

[On Golden Rule] With these words He concludes the teaching He has been giving us in these three chapters, and wraps it all up in a little package where it call all be found. Thus everyone can put it in his bosom and keep it.—Martin Luther, Sermon on the Mount, AE 21:235

In the New Testament, the art of life is an art of imitation.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 217

Patristic Quote of the Day

[On the golden rule]: In this statement Jesus briefly sums up all that is required. He shows that the definition of virtue is short and easy and already known to all.—St. Jn Chrys. Hom 23 on St. Matt.

Catechesis

Because He is God, He also claims the honor of giving much more and more abundantly than anyone can understand. He is like an eternal, unfailing fountain. The more it pours forth and overflows, the more it continues to give. God desires nothing more seriously from us than that we ask Him for much and great things.—LC III:56

25 August 2020

Luther and Lewis

What we are discussing here is another kingdom, one which in no way weakens or annuls the other, namely, spiritual life and existence among Christians, where it is forbidden to judge and condemn another. The devil always mixes into such judging to do his work. He gives each individual a high estimate of himself.—Martin Luther AE 21:211

What are the key words of modern criticism? Creative, with its opposite derivative; spontaneity, with its opposite convention; freedom, contrasted with rules.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 216

Patristic Quote of the Day

For the verdict that one’s brother needs a splinter taken from his eye does not come from concern but from contempt for humanity. Even while one is putting on a mask of love toward others, one is actually performing a deed of consummate evil by inflicting numerous criticisms and accusations on close companions, thereby usurping the rank of teacher when one is not even worthy to be called a disciple.... So then, you who are so spiteful as to see even the little faulty details in others, how have you become so careless with your own affairs that you avoid your own major faults?—St. Jn Chrys. Hom 23 on St. Matthew

Catechesis: First Petition

Hallowed be Thy name.

For God’s name was given to us when we became Christians and were baptized. LC III:37

Since we call God our Father in this prayer, it is our duty to act and behave ourselves as godly children, that He may not receive shame, but honor and praise through us. LC III:39

God’s name is profaned when people preach, teach, and say in God’s name what is false and misleading. LC III:41

God’s name is profaned by an openly wicked life and works. LC III:43

In this petition we pray for exactly what God demands in the Second Commandment. LC III:45

To hallow means the same as to praise, magnify, and honor both in word and deed. LC III:46

24 August 2020

Luther and Lewis

But “two masters” means two that are opposed to each other and that issue contradictory orders, the way God and the devil do. God says: “You shall not be greedy, and you shall not have any other gods.” But the devil contradicts this and says: “You may be greedy and serve Mammon.”—Martin Luther, AE 21:186.

Surely God saves different souls in different ways? To preach instantaneous conversion and eternal security as if they must be the experiences of all who are saved, seems to me very dangerous: the very way to drive some into presumption and others into despair.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 216.

Patristic Quote of the Day

To have mammon for your master is already worse itself than any later punishment and enough retribution before the punishment for anyone trapped in it.—St. Jn Chry. Hom 21 on St. Matt.

Catechesis: Introduction to the Our Father

There is no nobler prayer to be found on earth than the Lord’s Prayer. We pray it daily.—LC III:23

They were unwilling to take anything from Him, but wished only to give Him something.—LC III:25

Therefore, God also requires that you weep and ask for such needs and wants, not because He does not know about them, but so that you may kindle your heart to stronger and greater desires and make wide and open your cloak to receive much.—LC III:27

Here is included in seven successive articles, or petitions, every need that never ceases to apply to us. Each is so great that it ought to drive us to keep praying the Lord’s Prayer all our lives.—LC III:34

22 August 2020

A view from my seat in the chancel this evening...


A delightful evening

With old friends...and many a hand of pinochle!


21 August 2020

Luther and Lewis

On the other hand, if your eye is a villain, you do not behave according to God’s commands, and your office, but you step out of line. All you think about is the gratification of your lust and love for money. Then your whole body is dark, and everything you do is damned before God and lost, even though the world may speak of you as a pious man.—Martin Luther, Sermon on the Mount, AE 21:180, 181

There are of course senses in which this true. God is no accepter of persons: His love for us is not measured by our social rank or our intellectual talents. But I believe there is a sense in which this maxim is the reverse of the truth. I am going to venture to say that artificial equality is necessary in the life of the state, but that in the Church we strip off this disguise, we recover our real inequalities, and are thereby refreshed and quickened.... I believe the authority of parent over child, husband over wife, learned over simple, to have been as much a part of the original plan as the authority of man over beast. I believe that if we had not fallen Filmer would be right, and patriarchal monarchy would be the sole lawful government.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 213.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For what the mind is to the soul, the eye is to the body.—St. John Chry. Homily 20 on St. Matthew

Catechesis: Lord’s Prayer, Intro

And Christ says in the Gospel of St. Matthew, “Ask, and it will be given to you...for everyone who asks receives.” Such promises certainly ought to encourage and kindle our hearts to pray with pleasure and delight.—LC III:20

Whoever, therefore, does not believe this promise must note again that he outrages God like a person who thoroughly dishonors Him and accuses Him of falsehood.—LC III:21

20 August 2020

Luther and Lewis

As has often been said, however, this is certainly the very best prayer that ever came to earth or that anyone could ever have thought up. Because God the Father composed it through His Son and placed it into His mouth, there is no need for us to doubt that it pleases Him immensely.—Martin Luther, Sermon on the Mount, AE 21:146

Those who are members of one another become as diverse as the hand and the ear. That is why the worldlings are so monotonously alike compared with the almost fantastic variety of the saints. Obedience is the road to freedom, humility the road to pleasure, unity the road to personality.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 212. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

The prayer to hallow God’s name corresponds to what Jesus had previously taught: “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify Your Father who is in heaven.”... So “hallowed” means “glorified.” In effect He is saying, “Enable us to live so purely that through us all may glorify You.”—St. Jn Chrys. Hom 19 St. Matthew

Catechesis: Introduction to Lord’s Prayer

Nothing is more necessary than that we should continually turn towards God’s ear, call upon Him, and pray to Him. We must pray that He would give, preserve, and increase faith in us and fulfillment of the Ten Commandments.—LC III:2

And the first thing to know is that it our duty to pray because of God’s commandment.—LC III:5

Praying, as the Second Commandment teaches, is to call upon God in every need. He requires this of us and has not left it to our choice. But it is our duty and obligation to pray.—LC III:8

I rest my prayer on the same commandment on which all the saints rest their prayer. Furthermore, I pray for the same thing that they all prayed for and always have prayed.—LC III:16

19 August 2020

Luther and Lewis

Then why does He tell us to ask for these things? The reason He commands it is, of course, not in order to have us make our prayers an instruction to Him as to what He ought to give us, but in order to have us acknowledge and confess that He is already bestowing many blessings upon us and confess that He can and will give us still more. By our praying, therefore, we are instructing ourselves more than we are Him.—Martin Luther, Sermon on the Mount, AE 21:144.

They are trying to inoculate the child with the preposterous view that one’s mother is simply a fellow citizen like anyone else, to make it ignorant of what all men know and insensible to what all men feel. They are trying to drag the featureless repetitions of the collective into the fuller and more concrete world of the family. A convict has a number instead of a name. That is the collective idea carried to its extreme.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 211

Patristic Quote of the Day

By inward prayer the inequality of human things is thwarted. It shows how nearly equal are the king and the poor person in all matters that are most indispensable and of greatest weight. Behind those closed doors before God, we are all equals.—St. Jn Chrys. Hom 19 on St. Matt.

Catechesis: Creed Summary

For here in all three articles God has revealed Himself and opened to us the deepest abyss of His fatherly heart and His pure, inexpressible love. He has created us for this very reason, that He might redeem and sanctify us. LC II:64

Jesus is the mirror of the fatherly heart, outside of whom we see nothing but an angry and terrible Judge. But we couldn’t know anything about Christ either, unless it had been revealed by the Holy Spirit. LC II:65

The Creed tells us what God does for us and gives to us. LC II:67

The Creed brings pure grace and makes us godly and acceptable to God. For by this knowledge we love and delight in all God’s commandments. Here we see that God gives Himself to us completely.... The Father gives all creatures. The Son gives His entire work. The Holy Spirit bestows all His gifts. LC II: 68

18 August 2020

Luther and Lewis

In addition to almsgiving or doing good to our neighbor, praying is another work that is appropriate to the Christian. Just as the necessities of this life requires us to do good to our neighbor and to sympathize with him in his need—after all, that is why we live together on earth, so that we might serve and help one another—so the constant threat to us in this life from every kind of inevitable danger and unavoidable need requires us to call upon God continually and to seek His help, both on our own behalf and on behalf of everyone else.—Martin Luther, AE 21:137

It must be most emphatically stated the the items or particulars included in a homogeneous class are almost the reverse of what St. Paul meant by members. By members he means what we should call organs, things essentially different from, and complementary to, one another: things different not only in structure and function but also in dignity.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 210

Patristic Quote of the Day

It is not to human beings that you are praying but to God, who is present everywhere, who hears even before you speak and who knows already the secrets of the heart. If you pray to this One you shall receive a great reward.—St. Jn Chrys. Hom 19 on St. Matt. 

Catechesis: Third Article

Everything, therefore, in the Christian Church is ordered toward this goal: we shall daily receive in the Church nothing but forgiveness of sin through the Word and signs, to comfort and encourage our consciences as long as we live here. LC II:58

For now we are only half pure and holy. So the Holy Spirit always has some reason to continue His work in us through the Word. He must daily administer forgiveness until we reach the life to come. At that time there will be no more forgiveness, but only perfectly pure and holy people. We will be full of godliness and righteousness, removed and free from sin, death, and all evil, in a new, immortal, and glorified body. LC II:57

17 August 2020

One of the things...

...I have particularly come to enjoy on my iPhone is access to the library and its supply of digital books. I can’t even begin to remember how many books I’ve read (or listened to) since Bekah showed me how to borrow books this way. Non-fiction like The Power of Habit and Irresistible. And of course a steady stream of fiction by Baldacci, Connelly, and Crais. Cindi still likes to go to the library (yes, our local is open again) and browse, but I’m sold on just hunting with my device and discovering something new to read.

When I first started reading on the iPhone I remember having trouble remembering what I read as well as I could remember off a printed page, but that seems largely to have resolved itself. In addition to library books, I usually do my Bible reading and Psalms from the iPhone too these days (we still pray Treasury from the physical volume except when travelling...travelling, remember that?). I’ve even drawn up a spreadsheet from my facsimile of the original KJV that has the day’s Psalms and the assigned readings (and some fun calendar notes). So, I open Numbers to check on the Psalms and readings for Morning or Evening. And then I’ve gotten into the habit of mostly using Lutheran Prayer Companion also on my phone. I’ve added that to Books, and pretty much use it each day (thank you, Matthew Carver). 

So much of my reading has mostly become for me a screen thing rather than a book thing. I would never have suspected how much so even a mere three years ago.

Luther and Lewis

The Lord spent three days preaching in the Temple [in holy week], because He had never before been so deeply moved, for He sensed the peril of the hour pressing upon Him. The dear Lord Jesus would gladly have seen a different response.—Martin Luther, Sermon from 1531, Day by Day, p. 302.

There is, in fact, a fatal tendency in all human activities for the means to encroach upon the very ends which they are intended to serve.... The Christian is called not to individualism but to membership in the mystical body. A consideration of the difference between a secular collective and the mystical body is therefore the first step to understanding how Christianity without being individualistic can yet counteract collectivism.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, pp. 209, 210.

Patristic Quote of the Day

[On Matt. 6:1-4] On first glance it seems as if the same thing were being repeated, but if you were carefully to pay attention, you will note a careful distinction. Almost may be given in the presence of others to be seen by them, or they may be given in the presence of others but not to be seen.... He is not focusing simply on the outward act, but on the intent of the heart.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 19 on St. Matthew

Catechesis: Third Article

Where Christ is not preached, there is no Holy Spirit who creates, calls, and gathers the Christian Church, without which no one can come to Christ the Lord. LC II:48

I believe that there is upon earth a little holy group and congregation of pure saints, under one head, even Christ. This group is called together by the Holy Spirit in one faith, one mind, and understanding, with many different gifts, yet agreeing in love, without sects or schisms. I am also a part and member of this group, a sharer and joint owner of all the goods it possesses. I am brought to it and incorporated into it by the Holy Spirit through having heard and continuing to hear God’s Word, which is the beginning of entering it. LC II:51, 52

By the Word He [the Holy Spirit] works and promotes sanctification, causing this congregation daily to grow and to become strong in the faith and its fruit, which He produces. LC II:53

15 August 2020

Some old pics Cin came across

 

Pic of my brother Joe, his wife Peggy, and children, Shannon, Kim, and Lisa; our wedding day.
Our dear Clara with one the vestments given in memory of Alfred 


Cin and I at Bear Mountain eons ago

Patristic Quote for the Day

Having seen God become man, and descend so far, and suffer so much for your sake, do you still inquire and doubt, how it is possible to forgive your fellow-servants their injuriousness? Do you not hear Him on the cross, saying, Forgive them, for they know not what they do? Do you not hear Paul, when he says, He who is gone up on high, and is sitting on the right hand intercedes for us? Do you see not that even after the cross, and after He had been received up, He sent the apostles unto the Jews that had slain Him, to bring them His ten thousand blessings, and this, though they were to suffer ten thousand terrors at their hands?—St. John Chrys. Hom 18 on St. Matt. 

Luther and Lewis

If you can look upon your wife as though she were the only woman in the world and there is none besides; if you can look upon your husband as though he was the only man in the world there were none besides, then no king, and not even the sun, will shine brighter and clearer in your eyes than your wife and your husband. For here you have the Word of God which gives you your husband and your wife and says: This man shall be yours; the woman shall be yours. That pleases Me well.—Martin Luther, A marriage sermon, 1531

To make Christianity a private affair while banishing all privacy is to relegate it to the rainbow’s end or the Greek Calends. That is one of the enemy’s stratagems.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 207, 208.

Catechesis: Third Article

In a similar way, the Holy Spirit causes our sanctification by the following: the communion of saints or the Christian Church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. That means He leads us first into His holy congregation and places us in the bosom of the Church. Through the Church He preaches to us and brings us to Christ.—LC II:37

God has caused His Word to go forth and be proclaimed. In the Word He has the Holy Spirit bring this treasure home and make it our own. Therefore, sanctifying is just bringing us to Christ so we receive this good, which we could not get ourselves.—LC II:38, 39

A Saturday just like the Dr. Ordered

We got up at our usual time (quarter to six), enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee, prayed Treasury, and did our own private devotions. Then it was time for a walk. We circled the neighborhood as we usually do on pleasant days. Then I did some meditation and got ready to run sprints. Ran a ways up the bike path and back. Listened to an excellent podcast, an interview with Dr. Shawn Baker.  Then time to vacuum the pool. Boy, did it ever need it, too. Then a bit of a snooze on the raft in the sun and a shower. Worked on a little Aria by Scarlatti. Wrote a letter to a friend. Then Cindi and I finally got around to eating at 2. I’ve taken to burgers lately; she’s happy to eat the steaks. We had eggs with the beef, something I’ve come to enjoy very much. Then a slow bike ride down to post office to post letter, and now the only thing in front of me is the Saturday service at St. Paul’s. That one meal will probably do us for the day. Now feeling relaxed indeed and very thankful for a beautiful day together with my wife. 

14 August 2020

Luther and Lewis

If man and woman are truly joined in wedlock, they do not have an easy time, for married life means labor and sorrow, or else it would not be right before God. Wherefore, if in your married life you have to endure much sorrow and labour, be of good cheer and remember that it is so ordained that it is God’s holy will that people should marry. Therefore in the name of God, I burden myself with trouble and give myself to marriage, willingly and cheerfully.—Martin Luther, Exposition of Genesis, 1527

It was one of the Wesleys, I think, who said that the New Testament knows nothing of solitary religion. We are forbidden to neglect the assembling of ourselves together. Christianity is already institutional in the earliest of its documents. The Church is the Bride of Christ. We are members of one another.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 206

Patristic Quote of the Day

But if we entangle ourselves in things present, and plunge ourselves in them more and more, how will it be possible for them to be persuaded that we are hastening to another sojourn?—St. John Chrys. Hom 15 on Matt.

Catechesis: Second Article

Let this, then, be the sum of this article: the little word Lord means simply the same as Redeemer. It means the one who has brought us from Satan to God, from death to life, from sin to righteousness, and who preserves us in the same.—LC II:31

Further, it explains that He suffered, died, and was buried so that He might make satisfaction for me nad pay what I owe not with silver or gold, but with His own precious blood.—LC II:31

To explain all these individual points does not belong to brief sermons for children. That belongs to fuller sermons that extend throughout the entire year, especially at those times that are appointed for the purpose of treating each article at length—for Christ’s birth, sufferings, resurrection, ascension and so on.—LC II:32

Yes, the entire Gospel that we preach is based on this point, that we properly understand this article as that upon which our salvation and all our happiness rests.—LC II:33

13 August 2020

From Book of Concord

Today’s Treasury reading from the BOC was from the Apology. This section is rich, but it is very easy to lose the gems because Melanchthon obviously needed a good editor and didn’t have one! 

My favorites:

If anyone should cast away love, even though he has great faith, he does not keep his faith. For he does not keep the Holy Spirit. Article V:98

Justification is not the approval of a particular work, but of the entire person. Article V:101

Neither is justification even to be dreamed of without Christ as the Atonement. Article V:101

The adversaries corrupt very many passages, because they bring to them their own opinions and do not derive the meaning from the passages themselves. Article V:103

Random thought while exercising

And listening to the Scriptures. Revelation XVIII:23 on the destruction of Babylon: And the light of a candle shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee. 

It occurred to me that this may refer to the horrid situation when the judgment of God visits a place and the light of the candle of God’s word is removed from it; and thus there the voice of the Bridegroom is no longer heard, nor does the Bride, the Church lift up her voice in praise and thanksgiving to her Bridegroom. A place where the Word is silenced and the Church dies. And how much of a wasteland have our cities indeed become where this has taken place? 

Every Thursday in the Treasury of Daily Prayer, we beg our Lord: “Pardon all our arrogance and do not come to us in wrath to remove the lamp of Your Word from before our eyes! O Lord, we pray You: visit this vine which You once established for Yourself and renew us with the sun of Your mercy and the water of eternal life.” O Lord, our sins are many and great, but let not the lamp of Your Word be extinguished among us so that we no longer hear our Bridegroom’s sweet voice, nor the songs of Your Bride ever vanish from among us. Amen!

Luther and Lewis

God has created one being and one unity with this intent, that each one in fulfilling his ministry shall do the work allotted to him as his state demands, performing it with that humility which regards all states and persons as equal before God, as being all created equal and having the one as much favour with Him as the other, so that no one may pride himself before God and his neighbor, thinking highly of himself because his state is high, but may perceive that unless he preserves, in his higher state, the spirit of true humility, he sins much more shamefully and will be condemned much more severely than any man of lower degree.—Martin Luther, Sermon, 1531

Novelty may fix our attention not even on the service but on the celebrant. You know what I mean. Try as one may to exclude it, the question, ‘What on earth is he up to now?’ will intrude. It lays one’s devotion waste. There is really some excuse for the man who said, ‘I wish they’d remember that the charge to Peter was Feed my sheep, not Try experiments on my rats, or even, Teach my performing dogs new tricks.’ Thus my whole liturgiological position really boils down to an entreaty for permanence and uniformity.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 206.

Patristic Quote of the Day

For when men see us despising all things present, and preparing ourselves for that which is to come, our actions will persuade them sooner than any discourse.—St. Jn Chrys. Hom 15 on St. Matt.

Catechesis: First Article

We emphasize the words “Creator of heaven and earth.”...This is what I mean and believe, that I am God’s creature. I mean that He has given and constantly preserves for me my body, soul, and life, my members great and small, all my senses, reason, and understanding, and so on.—LC II:13

We confess that He does all this out of pure love and goodness, without our merit, as a kind Father. He cares for us that no evil falls upon us.—LC II:18

Therefore, it is clearly concluded that it our duty to love, praise, and thank Him for these things without ceasing.—LC II:19

For here we see how the Father has given Himself to us, together with all creatures, and has most richly provided for us in this life. We see that He has overwhelmed us with unspeakable, eternal treasures by His Son and the Holy Spirit, as we shall hear.—LC II:24

12 August 2020

Luther and Lewis

God is the giver of all good gifts; but your must fall to, and take the bull by the horns, which means you must work to give God an occasion and a mask.—Martin Luther, Exposition Ps. cxlvii

To judge from their practice, very few Anglican clergy-men take this view. It looks as if they believed people can be lured to go to church by incessant brightenings, lightenings, lengthenings, abridgements, simplifications, and complications of the service. And it is probably true that a new, keen vicar will usually be able to form within his parish a minority who are in favour of his innovations. The majority, I believe, never are. Those who remain—many give up churchgoing altogether—merely endure. Is it simply because the majority are hidebound? I think not. They have a good reason for their conservatism. Novelty, simply as such, can only have an entertainment value. And they don’t go to church to be entertained. —C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 205. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

For if those who grieve for children, or wife, or any other relation gone from them, have no fondness for gain or pleasure during that period of their sorrow; if they aim not at glory, are not provoked by insults, nor led captive by envy, nor beset by any other passion, their grief alone wholly possessing them; much more will they who mourn for their own sins, as they ought to mourn, show forth a self-denial greater than this.—St. Jn Chrys., Homily 15 on St. Matthew

Catechesis: Intro to the Apostles’ Creed

To state it quite briefly, the Creed teaches us to Him fully. This is intended to help us do what we ought to do according to the Ten Commandments.—LC II:1,2

For it we could by our own powers keep the Ten Commandments as they should be kept, we would need nothing further, neither the Creed nor the Lord’s Prayer.—LC II:3

We present them as though the Creed were briefly summarized in so many words: I believe in God the Father, who has created me; I believe in God the Son, who has redeemed me; I believe in the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies me. One God and one faith, but three persons. Therefore three articles or confessions.—LC II:7

11 August 2020

Happy birthday, Lauren Elizabeth!

Today my oldest turns 33. I still remember her being born upon old Henry Huepenbecker’s birthday and he modestly suggested we really ought name her Henrietta! Rosalee, his wife, would have approved. But she ended up being named with my beloved wife’s middle name and my dear Aunt Fanny’s middle name. She’s ONLY thirty-three but I am staggered by how much she’s fit into her life. She’s a super mom (downright crunchy) and a pastor’s wife and as down to earth as they come. She homeschools and is a huge Charlotte Mason fan. She manages to ride herd on six children, and never seems to get flustered (yes, despite that, she truly is my daughter). Even though she likes making plans, she just rolls with the punches when God tears her plans up and does things a totally different way. She is a great older sister too as both her siblings will attest. In fact, her only real defect as a daughter is that she never really could be convinced to scratch my back. I usually could get the other two to do it without issue, and I’ve trained her kids already fairly well too by now. But despite that serious character flaw, happy birthday, Lauren!!!! You know that we love you more than our luggage.


Luther and Lewis

 For this reason we should make righteous Mammon out of unrighteous Mammon, and use it properly and in God-pleasing manner. Whoever does that will on Judgment Day have many friends and testimonies to his faith.—Martin Luther, HP II:364

The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility; rather it proves the offender’s inability to forget himself in the rite, and his readiness to spoil for everyone else the proper pleasure of ritual.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 204. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

And here too again he designated not simply all that mourn, but all that do so for sins.—St. Jn Chrysostom, Homily 15 on St. Matthew

Catechesis: Summary and Close of the Commandments

Everything that is to be a good work must arise and flow from this true fountain and channel. So apart from the Ten Commandments no work or thing can be good or pleasing to God.—LC I:311

The miserable blind people do not see that no person can go far enough to keep one of the Ten Commandments as it should be kept. Both the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer must come to our aid (as we shall hear). By them power and strength to keep the commandments is sought and prayed for and received continually. —LC I:316

Everything is to flow from the First Commandment’s power.... But note what God would have you do, what He will quite surely demand of you. If you skip that, you have an angry Judge. But if you do the work, you have a gracious Father.—LC I:327

We should have them always in our memory. Then we might do them in all our actions and ways.—LC I:331


10 August 2020

Luther and Lewis

Therefore, although a man’s state may be lower than your own, you must not forget that it is likewise created and ordained by God. And again you must know, that you have been given your state that you may humble yourself and serve others.—Martin Luther, Sermons, 1544

The advantage of a fixed form of service is that we know what is coming... In a fixed form we ought to have ‘gone through the motions’ before in our private prayers; the rigid form really sets our devotions free. I also find the more rigid it is, the easier to keep one’s thoughts from straying. Also it prevents getting too completely eaten up by whatever happens to be the preoccupation of the moment [i.e., war, an election, or what not]. The permanent shape of Christianity shows through.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 203 And can I just add a very loud sung: Amen! Amen! Amen!?

Patristic Quote of the Day

[On Beatitudes] And He does not introduce what He says by way of advice or of commandments, but by way of blessing, so making His word less burthensome, and opening to all the course of His discipline. Homily 15 on St. Matthew

Catechesis: Commandments 9, 10

God has added these two commandments in order that it be considered sinful and forbidden to desire or in any way to aim at getting our neighbor’s wife or possessions.—LC I:293

Layers and jurists assist in this who twist and stretch the law to suit it to their cause. They stress words and use them for a trick, despite fairness or their neighbor’s need.—LC I:299

In the New Testament, those who are married are forbidden to get divorced.—LC I:306

It is commanded, first, that we do not desire our neighbor’s harm, nor even assist, nor give opportunity for it. But we must gladly wish and leave him what he has. Also, we must advance and preserve for him what may be for his profit and service, just as we wish to be treated. So these commandments are especially directed against envy and miserable greed. God wants to remove all causes and sources from which arises everything by which we harm our neighbor.—LC I:309, 310

08 August 2020

A wee bit of grandpa bliss

 

Catechesis: 8th Commandment

To be a judge requires above all things a godly man, and not only a godly man, but also a wise, modest, indeed, a brave and bold man.—LC I:259

Next this commandment extends very much further, if we apply it to the spiritual jurisdiction or administration. Here is a common occurrence that everyone bears false witness against his neighbor. For wherever there are godly preachers and Christians, they must bear the sentence before the world that calls them heretics, apostates, and indeed, instigators and desperately wicked unbelievers. Besides, God’s Word must suffer in the most shameful and hateful manner, being persecuted, blasphemed, contradicted, perverted, and falsely quoted and interpreted.—LC I: 262

Here belongs the particularly detestable device, shameful vice of speaking behind a person’s back and slandering, to which the devil spurs us on, and of which much could be said. For it is a common plague that everyone prefers hearing evil more than hearing good about his neighbor.—LC I:264

You may indeed know about a sin, but you are not to judge it.—LC I:266

Therefore, if you meet an idle tongue that betrays and slanders someone, contradict such a person promptly to his face, so he may blush.—LC I 273

Let this, then, be your rule, that you do not too quickly spread evil about your neighbor and slander him to others. Instead, admonish him privately that he may amen his life.—LC I 276

All this has been said about secret sins. But where the sin is quite public, so that the judge and everybody knows about it, you can without any sin shun and the offender and let him go his own way, because he has brought himself into disgrace. You can also publicly testify about him.—LC I 284

Patristic Quote of the DAy

Answering “Who are the poor in spirit?”
For He means here them who are awestruck, and tremble at the commandments of God. Whom also by His prophet Isaiah God earnestly accepting said, “To whom will I look, but to him who is meek and quiet, and trembles at My words?” —St. Jn Chrys., Homily 15 on St. Matthew

Luther and Lewis

Every sect always has one or more special points and articles—which they publicly teach, urge, and defend as true, certain, and necessary to believe or hold—which are obviously wrong and can easily be recognized as from the devil.—Martin Luther, Sermon for Trinity 8, AE 78:296.

There is indeed one mental image which does not lure me away into trivial elaborations. I mean the Crucifixion itself.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 202.

06 August 2020

Luther and Lewis

Because He tells His Christians to guard against false teachers and thus makes them into judges—yes, gives them power and command to pass sentence on all teachings—He also requires them to be wise and sensible Christians who know what the true teaching is and can distinguish between it and other, false teachings.—Martin Luther, Sermon on Trinity 8, AE 78:293

One rather curious detail [of the Transfiguration observed this day by most Christians] is that this shining or whiteness affected His clothes as much as His body.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 200.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Accordingly, we know not what to pray for as we ought in regard to tribulations, which may do us good or harm; and yet, because they are hard and painful, and against the natural feelings of our weak nature, we pray, with a desire which is common to mankind, that they may be removed from us. But we ought to exercise such submission to the will of the Lord our God, that if He does not remove those vexations, we do not suppose ourselves to be neglected by Him, but rather, in patient endurance of evil, hope to be made partakers of greater good, for so His strength is perfected in our weakness.—St. Augustine, Letter cxxx to Proba

Catechesis: Sixth Commandment

Not only is the outward act of adultery forbidden, but also every kind of cause, motive, and means of adultery. LC I:203

Everyone must live chastely himself and help his neighbor to do the same. LC I:205

He created man and woman separately, as is clear. This was not for lewdness, but so that they might live together in marriage, be fruitful, bear children, and nourish and train them to honor God. LC I:297

For where nature has its course—since it is given by God—it is not possible to remain chaste without marriage....Yet God’s grace is also required in order that the heart may be pure. LC I:212

Therefore, all vows of chastity outside of the married state are condemned by this commandment. LC I:216

For harmony is one of the principal points that enkindles love and desire for chastity, so that, where this is found, chastity will follow without any command. LC I:219

05 August 2020

Luther and Lewis

Therefore, learn here to beware and to take a good look at whether all teaching correctly conveys and emphasizes this important point and basis, that is, whether it preaches Christ correctly and purely. You will certainly find that all fanatics and sectarians always either completely discard this article or add something to it, guiding people to this as if it were a work especially necessary for salvation.—Martin Luther, Sermon for Trinity 8, AE 78:289

We do not know in advance whether the lover or the psychologist is giving the more correct account of love, or whether both accounts are equally correct in different ways, or whether both are equally wrong. We just have to find out. But the period of browbeating has got to end. [i.e., he means of discounting the lover’s inside view of love as opposed to the psychologist’s outside view]—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 200.

Patristic Quote of the Day

If you go over all the words of holy prayers, you will, I believe, find nothing which cannot be comprised and summed up in the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. These things it is our duty to ask without hesitation for ourselves and for our friends, and for strangers—yea, even for enemies.—St Augustine ep cxxx to Proba

Catechesis: Fifth Commandment

What is forbidden in this commandment is forbidden to the individual in his relationship with anyone else, but not to the government.—LC I:181

He would have this commandment placed as a wall, fortress, and refuge around our neighbor so that we do not hurt or harm him in his body—LC I:185

He wants to make us used to keeping this commandment ever in view, always to contemplate ourselves in it as in a mirror, to regard the will of God, and to turn over to Him the wrong that we suffer with hearty confidence and by calling on His name.—LC I:187

It also applies to anyone who can do his neighbor good, prevent or resist evil, defend and save his neighbor so that no bodily harm or hurt happens to him—yet does not do this.—LC I; 189

Therefore it is God’s ultimate purpose that we let harm come to no one, but show him all good and love.—LC I:193

04 August 2020

Luther and Lewis

The greatest and most difficult struggle is when one must struggle with Scripture against Scripture.—Martin Luther, Sermon for Trinity 8 AE 78:287

In other words, you can step outside one experience only by stepping inside another. Therefore, if all inside experiences are misleading, we are always misled.—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 199.

Patristic Quote of the Day

If we pray rightly, and as becomes our wants, we say nothing but what is already contained in the Lord’s Prayer. And whoever says in prayer anything which cannot find its place in that gospel prayer, is praying in a way which, if it be not unlawful, is at least not spiritual; and I know not how carnal prayers can be lawful, since it becomes those who are born again by the Spirit to pray in no other way than spiritually.—St. Augustine, ep. cxxx To Proba

Catechesis: The Fourth Commandment

Honor requires not only that parents be addressed kindly and with reverence, but also that, both in the heart and with the body, we demonstrate that we value them very highly, and that, next to God, we regard them as the very highest. (LC I:107)

For all authority flows and is born from the authority of parents. (LC I:141)

For those who want to be Christians are obliged in God’s sight to think them worthy of double honor who minister to their souls. They are obliged to deal well with them and provide for them. (LC I:162)

Just do what is your duty. Let God manage how He will support you and provide enough for you. (LC I:165)


03 August 2020

Luther and Lewis

Accordingly, it is true, as people say, that Holy Scripture is a book for heretics, that is, a book which heretics mostly claim for themselves, for no other book has been misused as much—yes, they can boast about no other book. There has never been any heresy so bad or coarse that it did not attempt to conceal and cloak itself with Scripture....Thus Holy Scripture must be a book for heretics, not that it is Scripture’s fault, but the evildoer’s fault, who so shamefully misuse it.—Martin Luther, Sermon for Trinity 8 (the “sheep’s clothing” that the wolves wear, being Scripture) AE 78:287.

The people who look at things have had it all their own way; the people who look along things have simply been browbeaten. It has even come to be taken for granted that the external account of a thing somehow refutes or ‘debunks’ the account given from inside. ‘All these moral ideals which look so transcendental and beautiful from inside,’ says the wiseacre, ‘are really on a mass of biological instincts and inherited taboos.’ And no one plays the game the other way round by replying, ‘If you will only step inside, the things that look to you like instincts and taboos will suddenly reveal their real and transcendental nature.’—C. S. Lewis, Business of Heaven, p. 197, 198.

Patristic Quote of the Day

When we say: “Deliver us from evil,” we admonish ourselves to consider that we are not yet enjoying that good estate in which we shall experience no evil. And this petition, which stands last in the Lord’s Prayer, is so comprehensive that a Christian, in whatsoever affliction he be placed, may in using it give utterance to his groans and find vent for his tears—may begin with this petition, go on with it, and with it conclude his prayer. For it was necessary that by the use of these words the things which they signify should be kept before our memory.—St. Augustine, Letter cxxx to Proba

Catechesis: Third Commandment

God’s Word is the treasure that sanctifies everything. By the Word even all the saints themselves were sanctified. Wherever God’s Word is taught, preached, read, heard, or meditated upon, then the person, day, and work are sanctified.—LC I:91, 92.