31 March 2021

Gerhard and Walther

In the holy Lord’s Supper, we do not just receive bread and wine. Rather, by means of the blessed bread we simultaneously receive the true body, and by means of the blessed wine, the true blood of Christ—as is to be concluded from the words of institution. But then Christ’s body and blood is personally united with His Godhead. It is the holy Temple in which the entire fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:49.

When Christ says, “which is given for you” and “which was shed for you,” He tells us that the most important thing about His Supper is not the presence of His body and blood, but the fact that it is the body that was given into death for us and the blood that was shed for us. The phrase “for you” is therefore the key to the mystery of grace embedded in the Lord’s Supper.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 335.

Patristic Quote of the Day

My will refuses to follow Thy will. Do Thou thyself subdue me to Thy will, that I might thereby receive salvation and glorify Thy will, for it is kind to the penitent.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #42.

Catechesis: Law and Gospel

(Quoting Luther): “Indeed, what could be a more sobering and terrifying demonstration and proclamation of the wrath of God against sin than the suffering and death of Christ, his Son? But as long as all these things all proclaim God’s wrath and terrify the human being, it is still not the proclamation of the gospel or of Christ, in the strict sense. It is instead the proclamation of Moses and the law to the unrepentant. For the gospel and Christ are established and given not to terrify or to condemn, but rather to comfort and console those who have felt its terror and are fainthearted.”—FC SD V:12

30 March 2021

Gerhard and Walther

[We are to read the Scriptures] piously and obediently, so that we do not perchance foist our own pre-conceived notions upon the Scriptures and attempt to make the Scriptures comply with them. Instead, we are to have the earnest intention to learn God’s will from the Scripture and follow it, so that we also gladly take our reason captive to the obedience of faith and willingly believe the Word of God, even though we are unable to grasp it with our reason.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:47.

The altar on which the holy Supper is celebrated should also be the pulpit of the laity where they, as true spiritual priests, proclaim the virtues of Him who called them from the darkness into His wonderful light. The preacher proclaims the crucified Christ from the pulpit, and when the sermon has ended, the believing congregation gathers at the altar to proclaim Him as well. By this, they demonstrate that they are part of the Church of Christ.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 332. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

The adversary has deceived me; he has stripped me of my garment and stolen it away. Because of him I remain fruitless and must go to the judgment entirely naked. May Thy mercy be for me a robe in the day of judgment!—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #42.

Catechesis: Law and Gospel

For since the proclamation of the law alone, without Christ, either makes presumptuous people, who believe that they can fulfill the law with their outward works, or drives people into total despair, Christ took the law into his own hands and interpreted it spiritually. He thus revealed his “wrath from heaven” upon all sinners and how great it is. This wrath directs sinners to the law, and only from it do they really learn to recognize their sins. Moses would never have been able to wring this kind of recognition of sin out of them.—FC SD V:10.

29 March 2021

Gerhard and Walther

For we cannot at first glance immediately grasp the Holy Scriptures with a hurried reading of it. Instead, we have to make it well known to us and become very familiar with it. The very Majesty and Glory of the Holy Scriptures requires this. For in them are hidden such heavenly and godly mysteries about which we in this our entire lifetime shall never to be able to completely finish learning. The tiniest letter and tittle in God’s Word is full of heavenly wisdom and salutary doctrine.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:41. 

Receiving Christ’s body and blood in remembrance of Him, then, means that they are consumed both with the mouth and spiritually. In a words, they are eaten in faith.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 331.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Thou knowest, O Lord, my passions hidden in darkness; the sores of my soul are known to Thee. Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed. If Thou wilt not built the house of my soul, I labor in vain trying to build it myself.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #41.

Catechesis: Law and Gospel

The distinction between the law and the gospel is a particularly glorious light. It serves to divide God’s Word properly [cf. 2 Tim. 2:15] and to explain correctly and make understandable the writings of the holy prophets and apostles. Therefore, we must diligently preserve this distinction, so as not to mix these two teachings together and make the gospel into a law. For this obscures the merit of Christ and robs troubled consciences of the comfort that they otherwise have in the holy gospel when it is preached clearly and purely.—FC SD V:1

28 March 2021

Easter is...

...the first Sunday AFTER the first full moon AFTER the vernal equinox. That makes this our Easter moon and it means next Sunday is Easter:

Palm Sunday Homily

Homily for Palmarum 2021 

People loved by God, because we have spent the Lenten Midweeks meditating on the Holy Passion, today’s sermon will not deal with that, but we’ll return to the joy we had at the beginning of the service: the Palm Sunday Gospel from St. Matthew 21 and meditate our way through that together. Before we begin, though, would you join me in prayer? Lord God, heavenly Father, we ought always to thank and praise and glorify You that You appointed Your Son as King and Savior to rescue us from the tyranny of sin and death. Enlighten, direct and lead us by Your Holy Spirit so that we always cling to this King and joyfully sing His praises throughout our days here in this world and finally with all the saints around Your throne. We ask it in His holy name. Amen.

Matthew 21:1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” You may not know what meets you at the bend in the road, on the other side of the hill, or further down the pike. But that was never the case with Jesus. He always knows what is up ahead, for him and for his disciples and so for you and me. And He’d been telling them what’s up ahead for Him for a long time now: about the sufferings that awaited in Jerusalem and then the glory of the resurrection. And so to inaugurate that holy week when the Lamb of God would suffer and die for the sins of the world and so trounce death and leave it in the dust, He plans a little surprise. A parade. Over and over again, we’ve heard Jesus tell people in the Gospels: “Hush. Don’t tell anyone who I am.” But that’s all at an end now. He’s preparing to show the whole world who He is. And so He sends two of the disciples to find that donkey and colt that he knows are there and just waiting, and to bring them to him.

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” Echoes here, people loved by God, of an earlier Son of David who rode David’s mule into Jerusalem to shouts of “Long live King Solomon!” And back then that served notice to the man who was trying to usurp the throne that the real King had just been revealed to Israel. The sacred writers tell us that the people went up after Solomon with music and singing and joy. The noise was so raucous that it shook the earth. And then centuries later, the prophet Zechariah foretells a divine re-do as we heard in the first reading! That’s when THE promised Son of David, THE true King of God’s people, would arrive in much the same way. Humble. Mounted on a donkey, And joy would be everywhere that day, when King JESUS rides the ass into His holy City.

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them.  Smart move. Do what Jesus tells you to! I remember wondering how Jesus rode on them both “and,,,he sat on them.” He may indeed have ridden first one, then the other. The Fathers thought that was a way of saying He came for Israel—the “broken in” ass—and for the Gentiles, —the colt which had not yet been ridden. Barb Brase one day pointed out the obvious to me that I had somehow missed: “He sat on THEM.” The reference to the them, there, is probably “their cloaks” rather than donkey and her colt. The disciples’ clothes form a sort of saddle for him.

8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Like the story of Sir Walter Raleigh before Queen Elizabeth the First: Jesus’ red carpet welcome, if you will. You can see them coming off and lining the street as the donkey and colt are led along with Jesus astride one or the other crests the Mount of Olives and begins His descent.. But also “branches from the trees.” Only St. John mentions that the branches were palms.

9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And so we come at last to the most important part of this whole Gospel. They are basically singing from Psalm 118.

Hosanna is just the Hebrew way of shouting: “Save us now!” So what were they thinking? That He was riding into His holy City to lead the revolt that would fling the Romans across the Mediterranean back to where they came from ? That He’d come to be the kind of Savior that fixes the stuff that goes wrong in your life here? He did do plenty of that in His ministry, of course: healing the sick, driving out demons, even raising the dead to life. But now, now He’s come to His great moment to actually answer that prayer: “Save us now.” Later, as you just heard, they’d cry: “Save yourself and come down from the Cross.” His silence is His answer: “No, I’d rather stay here and save YOU.” What you need is not some temporary fix. What you need is a sacrifice of atonement that can wipe out sins forever and that is what he comes to provide.. Psalm 118 again: “Bind the festal sacrifice with cords up to the horns of the altar.” HE’S the festal sacrifice and the altar is the Cross. That’s where Your King will reign in a sacrifice of love so breathtakingly amazing that it will capture the hearts of men and women of every nation and century, and make them love Him forever.

Now, you MUST have noticed that we don’t just hear this “Hosanna” and “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” on Palm Sunday or the first Sunday in Advent. Oh, no. It’s a regular part of our Divine Service. Right after you’ve been trembling with Isaiah in the temple, as the cherubim sing their holies, the temple fades and suddenly you are with the pilgrims crowding the road that joyous Palm Sunday, doffing coats, and waving the palm branches in the air, and singing to the King who has come to us as Zechariah foretold long ago, bringing salvation. That day He rode into the holy city on the beasts of burden. Today He comes to you, “riding” the bread and wine which He will make His true body and blood. But He comes for the same reason: to answer your prayer for salvation, to deliver to you forgiveness and pour His divine life into you. Salvation indeed!

And so as often as you catch the first glimpse of Him coming into our midst with His life-giving gifts, you can’t help but break into your hosannas and blessed is he’s, joining the church of all ages in welcoming the King. Your King. And it’s almost like we stutter with joy getting the words out: “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He! Blessed is He! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!”

And here is is something my Pastor taught me of when I was a young teen, which is now a long time ago: we must never let the sorrow of what awaits at the week’s end eclipse the joy of  today’s feast. Jesus wouldn’t. Instead, He told the grumps who wanted to squelch the children’s joy in the temple that if they succeeded in quieting them, then the very stones would cry out! (Which, of course, they would do on Good Friday).

So here is present joy: Your King comes to you today. And very shortly His body and His blood will go into you. Forgiveness that wipes out of all your sin. The pledge of His undying love for you.. Today you get to join the crowds in the raucous “Hosanna” and “Blessed is he!” Today. Let it rip!

The King comes. Welcome Him with gladness, that we may attain unto the good things that He has promised us, by His grace and love towards mankind, to whom be glory and dominion, now and ever, world without end. Amen. 

Our Godson Sammy

Served at the altar for the first time today. It was a privilege to serve with him:

Marathon Weekend

Whew!!! Started last evening with Saturday Divine Service. Yes, featured Palm Sunday procession, a Baptism for Chris and Amilia’s little one, Jonas Craig, the full liturgy with the long reading of St. Matthew’s Passion, my sermon on the processional Gospel, and the Sacrament. Pastor served as celebrant last evening because of the Baptism. It was like about an hour and a half service! And near the end of the sermon everyone’s phone or smart watch was squawking out a tornado warning (but it well to our south).

I thought about the Baptism a bit. You know, some Lutherans are troubled by all the ceremonies that cluster around Baptism as though they had an independent worth. The image that came to me was of a huge ROCK splashing down into a pool of water, and how the water splashes out in all directions. And so the Word of God that comes to the water at the very moment of Baptism is like that huge rock, and the splashes are both before and after. It’s not that the various ceremonies are independent of that Word, the rock (if you will), dropped into the pool of water; it’s that they are the result of it! So the signing with the cross, the little exorcism, the renunciations, the confession of the faith, the chrismation, the candle and so on: all confess the gifts that the Word splashing down into the water delivered most assuredly to little Jonas. 

Then this morning, sans Baptism, a rinse and repeat THREE times. I did shorten the sermon a bit after last night, but then there were more people to commune at all the liturgies today, and today I was celebrant for the three Divine Services. Let me tell you, this old man’s voice was dead tired by the time the last liturgy wrapped up. Nothing makes me feel my age quite like the way the voice isn’t happy after the round of services. Part way through the second Sunday liturgy, it’s already like a kid in the backseat asking: “We done yet? Huh? Huh?” Grr. 

Hurried home after late service to a wonderful lunch with the David Weedon family, Opa, Lois, and Cindi. Now I am thinking a nap is shortly in order.

27 March 2021

Russian Novelists...

...have absolutely nothing on southerners when it comes to multiplicity of names. I was thinking of this last night for no apparent reason. My mom’s family:

Eldest sister: Francis, known as Fanny (by her nieces and nephews) but by her brothers and sisters as Iss. Last row, second from right.
Then: Ada, known as Ada (by her nieces and nephews) but by her brothers and sisters as Di. She’s standing by her husband Archie in the picture, who’s holding her first child, Janice.
Then: Catherine, known as Kitty by everyone (far left).
Then: Mildred (my mom!), known as Bill by her elders, but called Mibby by her brothers and sisters, and Mildred by her nieces and nephews. She’s got her arms around her dad.
Then: James, known as Jimmy by everyone but his siblings who called him Bubby; he, however, called himself Stud (to many an eye roll!). He’s got the smoke in his fingers.
Then: Emma, known as Igg by her sisters and brothers; and for some odd reason my sister always called her Miss Emma; I always called her Aunt Emma. She’s kneeling behind her mom.
Then: Seldon, called Selly, I believe, by his brothers and sisters. He tragically died in a hunting accident at 16 years old. He’s ignoring the camera and cuddling his dog, Tippy (who waited for him to come home for weeks after he died; heartbreaking!).
Oh, and granddaddy was known as Tom (Joseph Thomas) and his wife as Martha. Martha had come to our home in Maryland to help mom with what she thought (mistakenly) was probably her last pregnancy, with my brother Maupin in 1951. And she suffered a heart attack and died just before he was born. My poor grandfather never really recovered from the loss of his youngest and then his wife. 

But imagine having to keep all that straight in a novel, and you’d soon be jotting notes on the characters’ various names like you have to do when you pick up a Dostoyevsky story! 

Gerhard and Walther

In God’s Word we find everything that we need for godliness.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:36.

Whatever kind of sinner a person may be, he finds what he needs in Christ the true High Priest, who obtained an eternal redemption. Therefore, regardless of the time or place in which he lives, or the magnitude and duration of his sin, if Christ has become his High Priest, he has an eternal redemption.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 327.

Patristic Quote of the Day

I vow to change my ways and I fast, but everything remains the same. I am zealous to glorify Thee with my lips, but I have no zeal to please Thee with deeds. How dare I ask forgiveness of my former sins when I have made no attempt to abandon my former love of sin? Or how shall I shed the old man, when I have not cut off my desire for sinful seductions? O Lord, raise me up, a paralytic; rouse me who sleep; resurrect me, deadened by sin! Save my miserable soul from death, O Lord who hast authority over life and death!—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #40.

Catechesis: Good Works

On the other hand, this does not mean that faith only lays hold of righteousness and salvation at the beginning and thereafter delegates its function to works, so that from then on they may preserve faith and the righteousness and salvation that have been received. On the contrary, so that we may be sure and certain of the promise not only that we receive righteousness and salvation but also that we retain it, Paul attributes to faith not only access to the grace but also the basis for our standing in grace and our “boasting in the glory which is to come.” That is, he attributes everything—the beginning, the middle, and end—to faith alone.—FC SD IV:34

26 March 2021

Gerhard and Walther

The ever-faithful, most loving God, who desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, has, out of sheer, overwhelming goodness, revealed Himself to the human race in His Word. Also, He has entrusted it to His Church so that through the hearing and reading of it godliness should be ignited and awakened, implanted, sustained, and increased in the hearts of men.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:33.

Christ is a different high priest. He did not attain this position on earth by the acclamation of men; instead, He came to earth to serve in this role. God Himself in eternity selected and anointed Christ as High Priest. He was born as our High Priest, in other words, as soon as He entered the world, he was already in that office.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 323. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

The favors of God so far exceed human hope and expectation, that often they are not believed. For God has bestowed upon us such things as the mind of man never looked for, never thought of. It is for this reason that the Apostles spend much discourse in securing a belief of the gifts that are granted believing it; so it is with respect to the gifts of God. What then was it that was thought incredible? That those who were enemies, and sinners, neither justified by the law, nor by works, should immediately through faith alone be advanced to the highest favor. Upon this head accordingly Paul has discoursed at length in his Epistle to the Romans, and here again at length. This is a faithful saying, he says, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 4 on 1 Timothy

Catechesis: Good Works

Here we must take great care not to draw works into the article of justification and salvation and mix them with it. Therefore it is proper to reject the propositiones that good works are necessary for the salvation of believers and that it is impossible to be saved without good works. For these [propositions] are totally contradictory to the teaching on the exclusive clauses in the article of justification and salvation, that is, they oppose St. Paul’s expressions that completely exclude our works and merits from justification and ascribe everything to God’s grace and Christ’s merit alone.—FC SD IV:22

Since it’s coming up this week...

...here’s an article that Lutheran Witness Blog kindly published, where I miss Palm Sunday like it used to be. Click here. Please note that I wrote my single response to a comment on the article from Mexico, without my materials with me, and so I misspoke about the Holy Week readings: Palm Sunday is St. Matthew’s Passion; Monday is from St. John 12; Tuesday is St. Mark’s Passion; Wednesday is St. Luke’s Passion; Friday is St. John’s Passion (in part, twice!). 

25 March 2021

Mother, not Goddess

On ALPB Fr. Michael Slusser shared these words from Pope Francis’ audience last night on the Eve of the Annunciation. I thought they were very intriguing, particularly “some are exaggerated.” What I find particularly interesting, though, is that the image here ascribed to Mary is quite similar to our Lord’s own words: “How often would I have gathered you, as a hen gathers its chicks beneath its wings...” Lots of good here to my ear, but I’m not at all persuaded that exaggerations, even and especially done in love, are actually safe when they are not acknowledged as such. It was the truth we were to speak in love. What do you think of the Pope’s words?

Christ is the Mediator, Christ is the bridge that we cross to turn to the Father (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2674). He is the only Redeemer: there are no co-redeemers with Christ. He is the only one. He is the Mediator par excellence. He is the Mediator. Each prayer we raise to God is through Christ, with Christ and in Christ and it is fulfilled thanks to his intercession. The Holy Spirit extends Christ’s mediation through every time and every place: there is no other name by which we can be saved: Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and humanity (see Acts 4:12).
. . .
Jesus extended Mary’s maternity to the entire Church when He entrusted her to his beloved disciple shortly before dying on the cross. From that moment on, we have all been gathered under her mantle, as depicted in certain medieval frescoes or paintings. Even the first Latin antiphon – sub tuum praesidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genitrix: the Madonna who ‘covers’, like a Mother, to whom Jesus entrusted us, all of us; but as a Mother, not as a goddess, not as co-redeemer: as Mother. It is true that Christian piety has always given her beautiful titles, as a child gives his or her mamma: how many beautiful things children say about their mamma whom they love so much! How many beautiful things. But we need to be careful: the things the Church, the Saints, say about her, beautiful things, about Mary, subtract nothing from Christ’s sole Redemption. He is the only Redeemer. They are expressions of love like a child for his or her mamma – some are exaggerated. But love, as we know, always makes us exaggerate things, but out of love.

Gerhard and Walther

Basically, there are five auxiliary means (of receiving and acquiring godliness): 1. The hearing or the reading of God’s Word. 2. The reception of the Eucharist. 3. Sacred Meditations. 4. Diligent prayer and calling upon God. 5. The suppression and taming of the body.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:30. 

[The people] are thus instructed to base their faith, not on man’s testimony, but on the Scriptures, and to fight with the sword of the Spirit. They are also commanded to examine and judge all teachers according to God’s Word, and not let themselves be seduced by false prophets.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 323.

Patristic Quote of the Day

We confess one and the same individual as perfect God and perfect Man. He is God the Word which was flesh. For if He was not flesh, why was Mary chosen? And if He is not God, whom does Gabriel call Lord?—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #23.

Catechesis: Good Works

They [expressions such as “good works are necessary” and “we should and must do what God commands”] should properly be introduced and used to reject and condemn the illusion of Epicurean security, since many construct for themselves a dead faith or illusory faith, which exists without repentance or good works. As if true faith and the evil intention to remain and continue in sin could exist in a single heart at the same time! That is impossible.—FC SD IV:15

24 March 2021

And Cindi had a very happy “hunting” day...

...half a side of Hamel-raised beef from the Hellmann farm. It’s not all in this freezer. Some got stored over at my father-in-law’s next door. We love that we can buy local raised and (sort of) local processed meats. 

Vacation Reflections

Cindi and I were blessed to get away for a week in Mexico with our dear friends the Van Ulfts and the Klingers. We soaked in the warmth, the sun, the shimmering Caribbean, the salt tang, the breathtaking flora and fauna. We played our favorite six handed pinochle often more than one game a day (though the stars were out of their courses as far as the winners were concerned). We slept more than we ever do at home. Due to COVID, the resort was only operating at 30% capacity, so there was never a need to rush to reserve a cabana on the beach or arrive early for a meal. Picture all the beauty with only a handful of people. Weather was astounding (and we even had one delightful afternoon of tropical deluge). We heard the cry of the peacocks (and since it was spring time, saw some of the males strutting their stuff!). And then there was the scream of the howler monkeys, the curious eye of the Tucan, the agoutis and coatis. The relaxing joy of “Mexican coffee” in the morning (made with milk that tastes very different from our milk), consumed in prodigious amounts. The “cheating” on our usual dietary regimen to our heart’s content with sweet drinks and even (gasp!) croissants. The laughter and the strolls along the beach, gathering shells (Cindi found some remarkable specimens this time). Most of all, just not “having” to do anything at all. And we six travel companions are oddly at one with each other: doesn’t matter how we end up pairing off. We all seem to enjoy each other’s company, and most blessed gift of all: are utterly at peace with someone lapsing off into silence. Never a problem. And singing our Sunday Matins upon the beach together? Priceless. No real trouble getting our COVID test to board the plane back home, and the resort has had ZERO positive tests since they began (and yes, they do a very invasive and thorough test...my poor nose!).

Thank You, dear Father, for the wonder and beauty of Your world! Thank You for the gift of fellow pilgrims along the way! Thank You for the thunder of the sea and the cheering light of the sun! Thank you for “the whiteness of the moon at even” and for “the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks!” Thank you for the kind people we meet along the way, for the LOUD family from Colorado who were so filled with joy! For the gregarious Skip from St. Louis (originally). For Jaime and Daniels and Alejandro and all the kind folks who made the trip so enjoyable! Thank you for safe travel there and back again! Thank you for the respite that renews us for work and sends us back to it invigorated and refreshed! Thank you for the time with my dear wife and for her laughter and her beauty of body and spirit! Thank you, Lord, for all things!

Ah, Spring!

And though I didn’t grab a pic, on the walk I took a deep inhale at the beautiful purple hyacinths. Awesome.

Gerhard and Walther

Among other reasons, God the Lord has given us His Law in His holy Word for the purpose that He in it wanted to prescribe for a person a perfect rule and guideline for good works.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:25. 

How is it that all true Christians have no allowed their faith in the holy Bible to waiver? It is because they “have tasted the goodness of the word of God” and the “powers of the age to come” (Heb. 6:3) that lie in it.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 320.

Patristic Quote of the Day

O Master, summon me, a captive who is held and bound by his deeds as with chains, for Thou alone knowest how to free those who are bound and how to heal the invisible sores that are known only to Thee Who knowest all mysteries.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #19

Catechesis: Righteousness of Faith

For this reason, neither the divine nor the human nature of Christ in itself is reckoned to us as righteousness, but only the obedience of the person, who is at the same time God and a human being. Therefore faith looks to the person of Christ.—FC SD III:58.

23 March 2021

Back to Illinois

But a few pics from this morning...

Gerhard and Walther

Before the final end of the world there will come some frightening perilous times.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:331.

Away with all the deceptions of the wisdom of this world! The Bible alone has “words of eternal life” and this is what we are seeking. It shows us reconciliation with God through Christ. It shows us the way the sinner can be justified and saved. And by this, it gives us the power to walk here on earth, in a new, holy, and blessed life.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 318.

Patristic Quote of the Day

It was for thy sake Christ was crucified; so will He cast thee aside? He knows who oppresses us. He knows that we have no other help but Him alone.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter, #27

Catechesis: The Righteousness of Faith

Rather, this indwelling [of God in the believers] is a result of the righteousness of faith which precedes it, and this righteousness [of faith] is nothing else than the forgiveness of sins and the acceptance of poor sinners by grace, only because of Christ’s obedience and merit.—FC SD III:54.

22 March 2021

Gerhard and Walther

We are unable to take anything out of this world, except for only what we have placed into the hands of the poor, as into a treasure chest of Christ.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:330.

Those who commit this sin [blasphemy against the Holy Spirit] are seldom frightened about it. On the other hand, many who are far from sinning in this way torment themselves thinking that they have done so.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 315.

Patristic Quote of the Day

O Christ, Who didst will to become a sacrifice for us, destroy the sin that has stricken all my members. Descend and dwell in my members.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #26

Catechesis: Righteousness of Faith

To be sure, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who is the eternal and essential righteousness, dwells through faith in the elect, who have become righteous through Christ and are reconciled to God.—FC SD III:54 

21 March 2021

How is it possible

That our youngest child turns 30 today? I remember the day of her birth like it was yesterday. It was a beautiful day in North Carolina and the dogwoods were in full bloom. Remarkably, she was a vaginal birth after two c-sections. And yet she weighed in at a whopping 11 lbs and 10 ounces. Insane! The day we brought her home, I let Cindi rest and took Bekah on her first car ride: we stopped in at Miss Ruby’s shop so she could meet her. She took one look at her, her eyes got very wide, and she said: “Poor Cindi! She pushed THAT out?” Not EXACTLY the response I was expecting, but then again, the child did look like she was a month old rather than born earlier that morning!

She and I have had more than our fair share of knocking heads. Both of us feel perfectly free grumping at the other (in a way, oddly, that I do not tend to do with either her older sister or her brother); and we’ve had some knock down, drag outs over the years. But it always ends happily, after the tears, with hugs and kisses.

So very proud of the woman Rebekah has become, teaching school, and blessed with such an awesome husband. She and Andy are just perfect together. And right now they’ve opened up their home and are fostering a very sweet young lady, pouring love and care into a life that has not known them in the abundance she should have. 

Oh, Bekah is and I suspect always will be a bundle of energy and excitement (I joke that she often enough enters the house talking 90 miles an hour!). But she will always be my baby girl. Even if she is 30!

Gerhard and Walther

Those who use this world should not misuse it in such a manner that they actually cling to it with a huge, inordinate love for it.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:327.

If a person is to be cured of the blindness of his sinful heart, God’s light must reveal to him that he is both erring and lost.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 314.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The sinless Lamb of God freely chose to suffer the cross in the flesh and was slain for the salvation of us sinners. In incorruptible flesh did He taste death in order to save our fallen nature.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter, #25.

Catechesis: Righteousness of Faith

Faith makes people righteous only because it, as a means and instrument, lays hold of and accepts God’s grace and Christ’s merit in the promise of the Gospel.—FC SD III:43.

20 March 2021

Gerhard and Walther

That a person is fearful of hell’s pain has yet to deceive anyone. However, it has harmed many that they have—without any fear of hell’s pain—lived in self-assurance and then died unrepentant.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:316.

If God did not dwell with the saints in the New Jerusalem, they would not be blessed even in that beautiful heavenly city.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 310.

Patristic Quote of the Day

O Lord, Who lovest good and art a God of mercy and compassion! Save me from the terrible corrupt enemy, who hourly fetters and persecutes my soul with evil and corrupt thoughts.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter, #24.

Catechesis: Righteousness of Faith

Therefore, the proper order between faith and good works, and likewise the proper order between justification and renewal or sanctification, must be preserved and maintained. For good works do not precede faith, nor does sanctification precede justification.—FC SD III:40, 41.

19 March 2021

Homily for St. Joseph’s Day

The texts are 2 Samuel 7:4-16; Romans 4:13-18; and Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23.

Who's the carpenter here? David wanted to build a house for God, but God tells him: "No, I'm the one who will build a house for you." David is blown away by the kindness of the Lord, His goodness and love. "Let it be" he prays. "Dump down the goodies."

Years later, a Carpenter, a Son of David, welcomed into his home a woman pregnant with a child not of his own body, but the child of his heart. He welcomed the little Carpenter, God in the flesh, who had come to build a true temple for God among human flesh and blood. Jesus was the name the angel gave. "Because he will save his people from their sins." As Mary came nearer to term and the child bulged in her womb, Joseph would place his hand on her tummy and feel the baby kick, and say to himself: "This is my Savior. This is the one we have prayed for and hoped for all our lives. He comes to set us free!"

Old Joseph didn't live to see how that redemption would take place. He's last mentioned in the temple with Mary and Jesus when the lad was 12. Sometime between then and Jesus' baptism at the age of 30, he died. He didn't live to see the shame of the cross, when only Mary and her friends had the courage to stand by him. He didn't live to see the triumph of the empty tomb when Jesus would begin spreading the joy of death's defeat into all the world. He probably never saw Jesus work a miracle, but that didn't matter.

He still died full of faith and hope because he knew that in that child, learning to walk, learning to talk, in that child who hugged him and liked to rub his face in Joseph's rough beard, in that child who ate at his table and looked so peaceful sleeping under his roof, in that child who played with abandon and prayed with glee, in that child God had come to be with us, to save us. And so Joseph closed his eyes in peace and opened them in heaven's light only to be embraced by his child, his Jesus.  

While on earth, Joseph had cared and provided for the Child and now in heaven the Child of Mary would forever care and provide for him - the Child, his Jesus, had built a lasting home for his foster-father and for all who welcome Him into their lives.

Joseph lurks in the background. But how our Lord loved his earthly protector and provider! You and I often know what Joseph felt like. We're background people, too, for the most part. Maybe often overlooked and forgotten, just doing the tasks the Lord has given us to do. That's okay. There's one who doesn't overlook or forget. One who loves us. One who is waiting to welcome us home. The Child who was born of Mary, nurtured by Joseph; the Child who by his cross and resurrection has built and opened wide for all who trust Him - great and small alike - an eternal home. There's a reason he was the Carpenter's son. Amen.

Gerhard and Walther

Whoever sins against conscience is doing nothing other than gathering wood and straw for this hellish fire.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:312.

A glorious dwelling in another world is prepared for the church that sojourns and struggles in this world. She will enter that new world when she completes her pilgrimage in this land of trial.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 307.

Patristic Quote of the Day

If He was not flesh, who was crucified on the cross? And if He is not God, who shook the foundations of the earth?—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #23.

Catechesis: Righteousness of Faith

This is no way suggests that true faith can exist apart from true contrition, or that good works should not, must not, or may not follow from faith (as certain and inevitable fruits) or that believers may or must not do good.—FC SD III:36

18 March 2021

Some more...

In our happy place...


Gerhard and Walther

Each individual true, pious Christian is a preacher, for even though he does not actually teach with words in the public assembly, he nevertheless teaches by his life and through the works by which the unbelievers and godless are won.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:301.

The world will not bring an end to the Church, but the Church will bring an end to the world.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 305. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

Blessed is the man who has the love of God in him, for he bears God in himself. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #22

Catechesis: Righteousness of Faith

In order that the troubled heart may have a reliable and certain comfort and that Christ’s merit and God’s grace may be given the honor due them, Scripture teaches that the righteousness of faith before God consists only in the gracious reconciliation or forgiveness of sins.—FC SD III:30

17 March 2021

In honor of St. Patricks...

...los tres amigos dressed in green! We also did an Irish jig for the ladies, but fortunately they were laughing too hard to get any pictures or videos of THAT.

St. Patrick, Missionary to Ireland

Today our churches remember St. Patrick, the missionary to Ireland. From our Synod's website:

Patrick is one of the best-known of the missionary saints. Born to a Christian family in Britain around the year 389, he was captured as a teenager by raiders, taken to Ireland, and forced to serve as a herdsman. After six years he escaped and found his way to a monastery community in France. Ordained a bishop in 432, he made his way back to Ireland, where he spent the rest of his long life spreading the Gospel and organizing Christian communities. He strongly defended the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in a time when it was not popular to do so. His literary legacy includes his autobiography, Confessio, and several prayers and hymns still used in the church today. Patrick died around the year 466.

LSB 604 is attributed to St. Patrick, called "St. Patrick's Breastplate."

I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,
By pow'r of faith, Christ's incarnation,
His Baptism in the Jordan River,
His cross of death for my salvation.
His bursting from the spiced tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom,
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today 
The pow'r of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need,
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The Word of God to give me speech,
His heav'nly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
the vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within in,
The hostile foes that mar my course;
Or few or many far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me those holy pow'rs.  

I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same, 
The Three in One and One in Three,
Of whom all nature has creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word.
Praise to the Lord of my salvation;
Salvation is of Christ the Lord!

Gerhard and Walther

If we were to be given a single moment to peek into heaven and get to see in what great joy and glory the elect in heaven are actually living, we would day and night solely see to it that we might be like them here on earth through godliness so that hereafter we might also be like them in joy and glory.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:299.

One of the certain signs of the true Church is the preaching of the pure and clear Word of God with its seals, the holy Sacraments. And where this heavenly seed is sown, we can be certain that, according to the infallible promise of God, it will rise up in at least some hearers.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 303.

Patristic Quote of the Day

So come forth boldly, O sinner. The door is already open and ready to receive you. Bring the Lord a sacrifice of tears and go freely to Him. He does not demand gifts, nor does He have any respect of persons. He is kindhearted to men and willingly forgives the sins of repentant sinners.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #21

Catechesis: Righteousness of Faith

However, when we teach that through the activity of the Holy Spirit we are born anew and become righteous, this does not mean that after rebirth unrighteousness no longer clings to the essence and life of the justified and reborn. Instead, it means that the perfect obedience of Christ has covered all their sins, which inhere in human nature during this life.—FC SD III:22

16 March 2021

Gerhard and Walther

Under the name of the neighbor is to be understood all mankind; however, these can be divided into two groups. Some are believers and godly. Some are unbelievers and godless.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis, I:294.

What holds her [the Church] together is unseen by the eyes of people.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 300.

Patristic Quote of the Day

When I am judged, may the hand of the prince of this world not seize me and drag me, a sinner, away to the depths of hell. But protect Thou me and be my defender.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter, #20.

Catechesis: Righteousness of Faith

We are justified on the basis of sheer grace, because of the sole merit, the entire obedience, and the bitter suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ alone, whose obedience is reckoned to us as righteousness.—FC SD III:9

15 March 2021

One of Lewis’ greatest lines

“You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,” said Aslan. “And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content.” From Prince Caspian.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Regard me according to Thy great mercy; incline Thine ear to my prayer and forgive me, who am guilty of falling into many sins; forgive me all of the wretched things I have done, for I have been conquered by my own evil will.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter, #19

Gerhard and Walther

To sum it all up, the good which we are able to wish for in this life, that which we joyfully are able to desire, all this will be found there in complete fullness. Indeed, there will actually be more goodness and joy there than we are capable of wanting or desiring.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:293.

What do most Christians do? Are they grieved over their sins? Do they seek to recognize them more vividly and deeply? Do they fight against them?—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p, 298.

Catechesis: Righteousness of Faith

As God as as human being he [Christ] has redeemed us from all sin, made us righteous, and saved us through his perfect obedience.—FC SD III:4

14 March 2021

And again...

...it’s our pastor’s custom to pray the collect of the day with the assisting minister(s) and acolyte(s) before we head back for the entrance procession. And so he prayed the one LSB (and I believe LW) appointed for Laetare. And as he prayed, a nagging suspicion grew in my mind. After saying “Amen” to that rather verbose collect, I pulled out The Lutheran Hymnal and checked. Sure enough! Somewhere along the line we DITCHED the decidedly more somber Latin original. Here’s what TLH has for Laetare:

Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds worthily deserve to be punished, by the comfort of Thy grace may mercifully be relieved, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord...

Which mirrors exactly the old Latin collect: Concéde, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, qui ex mérito nostra actiónis affligimur, tuae grátiae consolatióne respirémus. Per Dóminum nostram.

This particular collect has sharp edges, no? It makes us uncomfortable. 

And so somewhere we swapped it out for the rather lovely but utterly round edged current prayer (I hesitate to call it a collect):

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, Your mercies are new every morning; and though we deserve only punishment You receive as Your children and provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant that we may heartily acknowledge Your merciful goodness, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ...

I’m sorry, but despite being a fine prayer in its own right, I don’t think it’s an improvement at all as the Collect for Laetare. The shorter, punchier and sharper original has about it all the characteristics that Edmund Bishop rightly lauded in the Latin rite (and that is our Lutheran heritage). I keep thinking of how Tyndale was a prophet when he rendered Matthew 6 with “Babble not much as the heathen do.” The prosaic wordiness that overexplains everything is perhaps the besetting sin of our current rite, and frankly either it grows more irritating with the passing of time (or perhaps I’m just getting older and crankier, or once again, both?). 

Gerhard and Walther

What could be lovelier than hearing an angel praise God?—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:292.

Wherever a person may find himself, he can enter into the kingdom of Christ.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 296.

Patristic Quote of the Day

May the spirit of fear, the spirit of despondency, and the spirit of pride and of all manner of malice withdraw from my soul. In it may all manner of excitement produced by the workings of the devil be extinguished.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #18

Catechesis: Free Will

It has been sufficiently explained above how God makes willing people out of rebellious and unwilling people through the drawing power of the Holy Spirit, and how after this conversion of the human being the reborn will is not idle in the daily practice of repentance but cooperates in all the works of the Holy Spirit that he accomplishes through us.—FC SD II:88

13 March 2021

Gerhard and Walther

The joy of this world is intermingled with much bitterness; the joy of the future world is pure and unspotted.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:291.

No one becomes just and holy before God by his sanctification. But whoever does not earnestly continue to seek a more perfect sanctification certainly falls back again under the complete power of some sin.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 294. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

The glad in paradise intercede for me and cry out to Thee, O only Lover of mankind. Attend Thou to their prayers. Through them will I give Thee glory in return, for Thou hast hearkened unto their prayers and hast been generous to me and not disregarded my prayers.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #17.

Catechesis: Freed Will in the Baptized

For since (according to St. Paul’s teaching, Gal 3:27) “all those who have been baptized have put on Christ,” and are therefore truly reborn, they have arbitrium liberatum {a freed will or choice}, that is, as Christ says, “they have been made free again.”—FC SD II:67

12 March 2021


...today I finished up podcasts through April 1. I’m basically off from LPR till March 24. I still have services on Saturday and Sunday; and Cindi is watching grandchildren on Monday, but then off to beautiful Mexico for a joyous vacation with dear, dear friends. Soooooooo excited!!!

Gerhard and Walther

If all human tribulations were gathered into a single pile and placed into a shell or dish, and then were weighed against the vital glory and joy of eternal life, the two sides would balance out against each other in no other way than like a little grain of sand against the entire ball of earth.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:289

Man is not his own judge; God is.—C. F W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 291.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Lo, the rain nourishes the plants and the trees are crowned with diverse flowers. May the dew of Thy grace also enlighten my mind and may it adorn my heart with the flowers of contrition, humility, love, and patience.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #16

Catechesis: Free Will

Conversion is such a change in the human mind, will, and heart effected by the activity of the Holy Spirit that the human being, through this activity of the Holy Spirit, can accept the grace offered. Indeed, all those who stubbornly persevere in resisting the Holy Spirit’s activities and movement, which take place through the Word, do not receive him but instead grieve the Holy Spirit and lose him.—FC SD II:83

11 March 2021

Walther and Gerhard

God the Lord has ordained that those who hope to possess eternal life should be found in the pathway of His commandments and in a stance of good works.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:288.

God does not have and practice love; He is love itself. His whole being is love. He is a fire of love that is red-hot and blazing, both in heaven and on earth. He is a sea of love that is constantly flowing over everything. He has shown Himself, in particular, as an inexpressibly loving God of people.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 287, 288.

Patristic Quote of the Day

He who denies that Mary gave birth to God will not see the glory of His Divinity, and he who denied that He was clothed in sinless flesh will receive neither salvation nor the life which was granted through His body.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter, #15.

10 March 2021

Oculi Homily

Thanks to Peter Slayton for making this available. Here’s my sermon from this past Sunday.

Gerhard and Walther

Eternal life is a rich harvest by which all the toils and labors of true believers, which they endured in this life, will be rewarded. If they want to share in this harvest, we must not forget to sow the seeds of good works in this life.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:285,86.

But when man fell into sin, a great, lamentable change took place. The love of God as the highest good and the love of his neighbor as himself ceased. Man retained his created heart with its longing, but he now filled his heart with another love: the love of the creature, of the perishable things of the world, even of sin itself.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 285,286.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Praise be to the Good One Who descended for our sake, became like unto us, and healed our sores by His all-sanctifying flesh and His all-sanctifying blood! May all sing praises to Him!—St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #14.

Catechesis: Free Will (synergy in sanctification)

It follow from this, as has been said, that as soon as the Holy Spirit has begun his work of rebirth and renewal in us through the Word and the holy sacraments, it is certain that on the basis of his power we can and should be cooperating with him, though still in great weakness.—FC SD II:65.

09 March 2021

Gerhard and Walther

In this life the believers at times receive a foretaste of the heavenly blessings, but soon after that there once again follows anxiety and pain. It will not be like that in eternal life. Instead, the heavenly joy and blessedness will endure side by side unfettered and indestructible.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:281.

To suggest that God is not angry against sin is a terrible error. That so many hypocrites or nonbelievers who still consider themselves Christians hold this belief proves that they have fallen even farther than the heathen world had already sunk. For all heathens believed there is a God who is angry against sin, and they thus wanted to appease Him with certain sacrifices.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 283.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Thanks be to the Father who sent Thee, O our Savior! For by Thee we who are guilty are vindicated. Thou hast taken away our sins by Thy cross; take away our guilt also in Thy coming.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #13.

Catechesis: Free Will

Therefore, neither the preacher nor the hearer should doubt this grace and activity of the Holy Spirit, but they should be certain that when the Word of God is preached purely and clearly according to God’s command and will and people listen to it seriously and diligently meditate upon it, God will certainly be present with his grace and give, as has been said, what human beings otherwise could neither receive nor take on the basis of their own powers.—FC SD II:55

For Christ, in whom we are chosen, offers his grace to all people in the Word and in the holy sacraments, and he earnestly desires that people should hear it.—FC SD II:57

08 March 2021

Gerhard and Walther

At the resurrection to life on Judgment Day, there shall immediately ensue apart from any means the entrance into the heavenly Paradise, the complete possession of eternal blessings, the granting of the gracious, eternal, heavenly joy and glory. This joy and blessing of eternal life is indeed an incomprehensible and inexpressible joy.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:274.

However, Christ compels no one by an irresistible grace, and He doesn’t retrieve anyone from Satan’s kingdom by outward power. Rather, He says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!” This shows that the means He uses to rescue souls out of Satan’s kingdom is the Word of God, for alone by this is the finger of God, the Holy Ghost, inseparably bound.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 281.

Patristic Quote of the Day

May Thy cross accompany me during that dreaded crossing, may it drive the powers of darkness away from me; may it be for me the key that opens the gates of paradise, that I may enter into bliss, rejoice and glorify Thy compassion, O most merciful One!—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #12.

Catechesis: Free Will

All who want to be saved should listen to this proclamation. For the proclamation and hearing of God’s Word are the Holy Spirit’s tools, in, with, and through which he wills to work effectively and convert people to God and within whom he wants to effect both the desire for and the completion of their conversion.—FC SD II:52.

07 March 2021

An interesting morning

Church had no electricity for 1.5 liturgies! And you know what? No problem. As pastor said so well: the church has been without electricity for most of her existence. Truth. And so we sang the liturgy and hymns. We are blessed with some amazing musical talent in the parish, so we had some string accompaniment at the first liturgy and at the second. But when the power came back on in the middle of the homily, Pr. Daenzer was ready to go on the organ bench. Aside from the lights being off for half the service and on for the second half, not a beat was missed. I was very glad though to have the power back for the last liturgy, though; my voice is nowhere near able to project like it used to. I’ve grown dependant on the amplification crutch! 

A visitor

Who turns out to have been injured. The wonderful folk from Grafton’s “Tree House” came and did a rescue on him. He’s headed home with them now, hopefully for his wing and foot injury to heal. 

06 March 2021

Patristic Quote of the Day

 For what have you that you have not received? And if you have received it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?  And it was chiefly by this testimony that I myself also was convinced when I was in a similar error, thinking that faith whereby we believe in God is not God's gift, but that it is in us from ourselves, and that by it we obtain the gifts of God, whereby we may live temperately and righteously and piously in this world.  For I did not think that faith was preceded by God's grace, so that by its means would be given to us what we might profitably ask, except that we could not believe if the proclamation of the truth did not precede; but that we should consent when the gospel was preached to us I thought was our own doing, and came to us from ourselves.—St. Augustine, On Predestination, Book I, Chapter 7

After six months...

...the six of us were able to be together again. What a joyous time! Thanks be to God!

05 March 2021

Gerhard and Walther

If a blessed resurrection is to ensue, then it first must be preceded by a blessed death—that one especially die to sin.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:271.

Woe, therefore, to those who, after they have come to faith in Christ, think they have no received a license freeing them from the earnest pursuit of sanctification.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 274.

Patristic Quote of the Day

My repentance has not even made a good beginning as yet; yet there is no end to my wicked negligence. I have become a slave to my passions and to the evil will of the enemy who destroys me.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #10

Catechesis: Free Will

But before people are enlightened, converted, reborn, renewed, and drawn back to God by the Holy Spirit, they cannot in and of themselves, out of their own natural powers, begin, effect, or accomplish anything in spiritual matters for their own conversion or rebirth, any more than a stone or block of wood or piece of clay can.—FC SD II:24.

04 March 2021

Gerhard and Walther

If the government becomes godless and self-assured, then it is just as if poison has been poured into the well-spring from which the entire state could easily be poisoned.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:269.

The Christian should be a person of progress. He should never stand still, but always seek to go forward. he should always be found actively doing the will of God, always in battle for the treasure, always in the race for the crown of glory.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 271. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

From my mother’s womb I began to grieve Thee, and utterly have I disregarded Thy grace, for I have neglected my soul. Thou, O my Master, according to the multitude of Thy mercies, hast regarded all my wickedness with patience and kindness. Thy grace has lifted up my head, but daily it is brought low by my sins.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #10.

Catechesis: Free Will

When the Fathers defend the free will, they mean that it is capable of being free in the sense that it can be converted by grace to the good and become truly free in the way it was created to be originally.—FC SD II:23 (citing Luther)

03 March 2021

Gerhard and Walther

Those who properly teach and alongside live in evil, tear down with one hand what they have built up with the other.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:264.

Scripture testifies in countless places, that all people without exception are sinners and remain so until their death.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 269.

Patristic Quote of the Day

What a great multitude of gifts hast Thou bestowed upon me and yet dost Thou bestow them upon me, a sinner, O Master; but I who am wretched have always been and continue to be consciously ungrateful before Thee! Thy grace comforts me, enlightens me and strengthens me, but I in my negligence turn my attention to vain things and I always sink once again into the bile and bitterness of my passions.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #9.

Catechesis: Free Will

In addition, after God has made his beginning through his Holy Spirit in baptism and has ignited and effected true knowledge of God and faith, it is necessary to pray unceasingly day by day that, through this same Spirit and his grace, he strengthen this faith and preserve his heavenly gifts in us by means of daily exercise in the reading and use of God’s Word, and preserve us until the end.—FC SD II:16

02 March 2021

Sine dominico non possumus

When one of the 49 Abitanae martyrs was questioned before being executed about why they had not obeyed the Emperor Diocletian’s edict forbidding Christians from gathering and celebrating the Eucharist, he answered simply: Sine dominico non possumus. Without this thing of the Lord we cannot exist.

Sunday we were blessed to have LCEF photographer Lee Rohlf in our assembly witnessing Christians STILL living from this thing of the Lord some 1717 years later, and joining in that anonymous martyr’s testimony: we cannot live without the Eucharist.

Gerhard and Walther

Self-assurance is a harmful, indeed a lethal, sleep of the soul.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis I:258

We cannot think that man, by his works, earns either the beginning of his justification and salvation or his preservation in them.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 266. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

To Thee, O Victor pierced by nails on the cross Who calleth out to sinners saying: come, receive forgiveness freely—to Thee I unrelentingly pray. O my Savior: turn Thine eyes away from my lawlessness, and by Thy sufferings heal my sores that I may glorify Thy kindness.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter #8