30 November 2020
A little Chesterton, and a lot of Betjeman to nourish the soul this Adventide:
When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood,
Then surely I was born;
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.
The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.
The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
'The church looks nice' on Christmas Day.
Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says 'Merry Christmas to you all'.
And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.
And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children's hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say 'Come!'
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.
And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?
And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,
No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.
This sermon has been undertaken for the instruction of children and uneducated people. Hence from ancient times it has been called, in Greek, a “catechism”—that is, instruction for children. Its contents represent the minimum of knowledge required of a Christian. (By which he means: the texts of the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Our Father).—LC Preface 1, 2
29 November 2020
27 November 2020
Oliver enjoying this crazy horse I got when I was his age: 2 or 3. So the horse is 57 or 58. Yes, my parents got their money out of that sucker. I showed the kids a pic of him and me back when I first got him. Lydia: “So he used to be all red.” He’s lost a bit of paint!
26 November 2020
25 November 2020
24 November 2020
23 November 2020
21 November 2020
Who hath gone up into heaven, and taken her [wisdom], and brought her down from the clouds? Who hath gone over the sea, and found her, and will bring her for pure gold? (Baruch 3:29-30)
Cf. Romans 10:6,7: But the righteousness which is of faith speaking on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (That is, to bring Christ down from above) Or, Who shall descend to the deep (that is to bring Christ up against from the dead).
Here are the two short homilies from the Matins:
Thursday (1 Thes. 5:1-10):
You are not in the dark, boys and girls, about the fact that the Lord Jesus will return in glory.
Why, you confess it every single time you say the Creed: “and He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end.” And so, since you’re not in the dark about that, you, “look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” You know that’s what’s headed your way and mine. And since you know that that’s how it will be, St. Paul tells you to live your lives toward that glorious appearing as the children of light that you already are.
When many of you were baptized, a lighted candle was given you. It was to show that you had received Christ, the light of the world, and you were now a child of the light, one of those who wait for the dawning of that glorious day of His appear.
The children of the darkness are those who are in the dark—that is, who don’t know—about the Lord Jesus and about His appearing. They either don’t know about it, or they don’t believe it and so they don’t expect it or prepare themselves for it.
You, however, are not like them. You know He will appear exactly as He promised. You know how He has fulfilled every promise He ever gave and so you know He will fulfill that one too. Then every eye will see Him, including those who nailed Him to the tree. That day there will be a lot of sorrow for those who find out that what they weren’t expecting is actually happening.
Because they didn’t look for it, they sort of snoozed their way through life, sadly never realizing that this life was all given so that they might be prepared for that day so that they could welcome it with joy. They miss out on that.
But not you. You’re not that way, St. Paul insists. You are children of light. Children of the day. You’re not destined for the night or appointed for wrath, that is for the darkness of hell. Instead, God has appointed you to obtain salvation by your Lord Jesus Christ.
So it matters not one whit whether you’re alive or dead when that moment you’ve been waiting for finally dawns. If you’re sleeping in your grave that day, Jesus will waken you and take you home. And if you see His coming with your very eyes, He will transform your lowly body to be like His glorious body, as we heard yesterday, and He will take you home. You will live together with Him forever either way.
This is big comfort and St. Paul urges us to share it with each other and so build each other up in faith. Always remember the One who is coming and look for Him. Though He delays He hasn’t forgotten. You will see. All will see.
Blessed are those children of the light who are waiting and looking forward to that day and greet its arrival with songs of joy. Zion hears the watchmen singing and all her heart with joy is springing. She wakes, she rises from her gloom, for Her Lord comes down all glorious, the strong in grace, in truth victorious, Her star is risen, her LIGHT has come. Now come, Thou blessed One, Lord Jesus, God’s own son. Hail hosanna. We enter all the wedding hall to eat the Supper at Thy call.” Amen!
Friday (Psalm 149):
O Lord, open my lips. And my mouth will declare your praise.
Your mouth is not just there to be a pie hole, as they say. To stuff the food down. Your mouth is created for a higher task. It’s created for praise.
Have you ever pondered, boys and girls, how often the Psalmist tells you to “praise the Lord!” It’s his way of saying: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” And his way of saying “it is a good to sing praises to the Lord.”
When we praise the Lord together, when He opens our lips and our mouths show forth His praise, when we sing of what He has done for us, His mighty works in creation and redemption and sanctification, when we look forward, as we thought about yesterday, to the day of Christ’s appearing, it all comes to this. We praise Him because He,
“the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He adorns the humble with salvation.”
We praise Him because astonishingly, the Maker of all of this, of the earth and the wide sea, of the far nebulae and the nearer sun and moon, He actually takes notice of you. And more than notice, He delights in you. And He’s tickled pink that He made you, and that you have been joined to His Son, and that you are robed in the garments of salvation. And in response all that, what’s left but praise?
So, let the high praises of God be in your throats and a two-edged sword in their hands, that would be the Word of God. This is how you reign with Christ among the nations and how you rule with Him over everything, seated with Him on the throne. You sing your Te Deums. You chant our Venites. You hear and proclaim His Law and His Promises. And so you reign with King Jesus, and you join Him in His life of praise to His Father. This is honor for all His godly ones. For those who belong to Him.
O Lord, open my lips. And my mouth will declare your praise. May that high praise of God ring on in your hearts upon your beds and in your living rooms and even at your thanksgiving tables. May you never forget that because He has delighted in you even to the gift of His Son, you have cause to praise the Lord now and forever. Praise the Lord! Amen.
20 November 2020
19 November 2020
18 November 2020
17 November 2020
16 November 2020
14 November 2020
When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.
13 November 2020
12 November 2020
11 November 2020
10 November 2020
For nigh on 50 years, it’s weird how the non-verbal communication actually does work. I walked out of the sacristy on Sunday and Cindi looked at me with a goofy smile. It took me no longer than the time to sit down to translate: Kantor was pulling one of Carlo’s pet tricks. She was improvising on the Hymn of the Day for a prelude, but in minor mode rather than the major mode it was written in. Our friend Carlo did this ALL the time. And it just made her smile to remember our old friend, and that made me smile. We then settled in and enjoyed the same musical treat from our new Kantor. All that back and forth with a glance.
09 November 2020
...hath a continual feast.” And is not this our calling, people loved by God? Has not Christ our Savior given us abundant cause for a merry heart? He Himself is the Propitiation for our sins and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world! He Himself has promised us “Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” He Himself has assured us through His holy apostle that He works all things for the good of those who love Him. He has promised us nothing less than the Kingdom. He consoles us that those we lose in this life who die in Him are not truly lost to us at all. He promises that He will wipe away all the tears from our eyes and that He cares for us so that we can indeed cast every care of our lives upon Him.
When we think of it, how can we NOT have a merry heart enjoying the continual feast that He has summoned us into? Luther once said that the devil is a sad spirit. True indeed. What sorrow is greater than definitive rejection of Him who alone is our joy and our life. “The joy of the Lord is your strength!” And no wonder the man could preach upon the Annunciation: “But for a man who belongs to everlasting kingdom all is well, and it is fitting that he should dance through life forevermore!” (Sermon, 1544) Oh, Lord, give us one and all merry hearts that we may witness Your joy in our lives.