29 April 2021
27 April 2021
26 April 2021
25 April 2021
24 April 2021
23 April 2021
22 April 2021
21 April 2021
20 April 2021
19 April 2021
True and worthy communicants, on the other hand, are those timid, perturbed Christians, weak in faith, who are heartily terrified because of their many and great sins, who consider themselves unworthy of this noble treasure and the benefits of Christ because of their great impurity, and who perceive their weakness in faith, deplore it, and heartily wish that they might serve God with a stronger and more cheerful faith and a purer obedience.—FC SD VII:69
18 April 2021
16 April 2021
When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.
Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love....
Sing on, sing on you gray-brown bird,
Sing from the swamps, the recesses, pour your chant from the bushes,
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines.
Sing on dearest brother, warble your reedy song,
Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe.
O liquid and free and tender!
O wild and loose to my soul—O wondrous singer!
You only I hear—yet the star holds me, (but will soon depart,)
Yet the lilac with mastering odor holds me....
15 April 2021
14 April 2021
13 April 2021
LDL: 415 (Non HDL)
Triglyceride swing of over 120. In one month! I’d be willing to bet in a few hours. Given the outstanding Triglyceride/HDL ratio, THIS month and the horrific figure last month, my suggestion, folks, is not to have COFFEE before you go get your tests done, particularly not unfiltered coffee (which is what we usually drink).
12 April 2021
11 April 2021
10 April 2021
09 April 2021
08 April 2021
A form of daily praying: Merciful, eternal God, Comforter of the distressed, Healer of the sick: let our prayer come before You with whatever anxieties and needs we cry to You, so that all mankind may rejoice in Your help and thank You. May you also graciously forgive Your Christian people their sins, and rescue them from all error and evil. Keep them in true faith and obedience. Give them faithful teachers. May all authorities lead and rule to Your glory and for the common peace. Protect all heads of households along with their wives, children, and household members. Cleanse the air of all pollution, pestilence, disaster, sickness, fires, and war. Graciously avert all the aforementioned, well-deserved punishments from us—or otherwise sustain us through them with Your mercy. Give us fruits of the field and protect us. Take care of the imprisoned. Help those who have been shipwrecked back to land. Comfort the distressed. Grant the expectant mother a happy view of new fruit from her body. Grant health to the sick. Grant grace to sinners to better their lives. And show mercy to all believers in Christ. Impart Your Holy Spirit and eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:132.
Because of the fall, we have come under the cruel tyranny of sin and we willingly obey it. Our desire, by nature, is to serve sin. Each of us serves certain sins that have full power over us.... Nevertheless there is salvation for poor, imprisoned humanity. God created a means to free us from the power of sin. That means is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 353.
07 April 2021
06 April 2021
05 April 2021
03 April 2021
Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
P.S. HERE is the best explanation of Easter Vigil ever written, by Pr. Brian Helge:
To those who are not of the household of faith, what we are about to do must look very peculiar. We are about to stand in the dark, carry candles about, sing lengthy and sublime religious tests, read stories from the Bible. What does this all mean? What is going on here in this community?
I think that I first came to understand what this was all about and why I came to think that this was the most important thing in my life when I read The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. In their wandering and meandering, two of the main characters, called hobbits, meet a talking tree, called an Ent, and they introduce themselves and the conversation proceeds:
"I'm a Brandybuck, Meriadoc Brandybuck, though most people call me just Merry."
"And I'm a Took, Peregin Took, but I'm generally called Pippin, or even Pip."
"Hm, but you are hasty folk, I see," said Treebeard. "I am honored by your confidence; but you should not be too free all at once. There are Ents and Ents, you know; or there are Ents and things that look like Ents but ain't, as you might say. I'll call you Merry and Pippin, if you please - nice names. For I am not going to tell you my name, not yet at any rat." A queer half-knowing, half-humorous look came with a green flicker into his eyes. "For one thing it would take a very long while: my name is growing all the time, and I've lived a very long, long time; so my name is like a story. Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to in my language, in the Old Entish as you might say. It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time to say anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking along time to say, and to listen to."
To use Treebeard's mode of expression, we are not going to be hasty folk tonight, satisfied with glibly saying the name "Christian." Tonight, you might say, is "Old Entish" night in the church. Tonight we are going to tell our name - to ourselves, by way of reminder, to those who will become part of us this night through baptism and confirmation, and to those of the world who will listen, who will take the time to hear what our name is.
And our name is a very long one, one that has been growing since the creation of the world. Our name is a very long story - of how we are made, of how God chose us from among all peoples, of how God liberated us from bondage, of how God planted us in the promised land, of how, in these last times, God has given a new twist, given our name meaning in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Because we have been here for so long, it takes a long time to tell who we are, to recount the story of our life as a people, and none of us would be here if we did not think that that name was worth telling and listening to. Now the trick to this kind of name telling is to relax. You cannot be hasty in this time ahead of us. Haste will stop up your ears finally, and then you will not hear this lovely language and our beautiful name.
Relax and make yourself comfortable in the darkness and don't even try to "make sense" of the name. Just hear it, let it roll over you in waves of meanings. Tonight we are going to listen to a series of episodes, not write a theological treatise on the resurrection. A practical word about relaxing: if you need to get up and move about, do so. If you need a breath of fresh air, go out to get it. We'll still be telling the story when you rejoin us. Whatever you need to do to stay comfortable, do it. All of this will enable you to hear the lovely language in which we can really name ourselves as God himself has named us.
02 April 2021
Crucifixes make us uncomfortable. We squirm before them, and no, it has nothing to do with any anti-Catholic bias. Nor does “well, he’s not on the cross anymore” cut it. I mean, come on. He’s not in the manger anymore either, and yet you have no problem with seeing the Baby Jesus placed there. No. It is the crucifix that is the issue. It is simply painful to look upon your Lord suffering like that, and to know the reason. But we need to look, to look long and hard. “I was determined” St. Paul once told the congregation at Corinth “to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” And in Galatians: “Before your eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed (pictured!) as crucified.”
Yes, the image of the Crucified One: We do well to tremble before it. We sing:
“Mine, mine was the transgression,
But Thine the deadly pain.”
In the darkness of that Good Friday the totality of human sin – from the first sin of our first parents to the last sin of the last human being alive – all of it was gathered up, pressed together, and then off-loaded onto this Man. He bore the whole weight of it and owned it His own, and with that He also bore its penalty – both temporal and eternal death, all sickness, all suffering.
So gaze steadfastly upon His cross, people loved by God. See His wounds, the nails fixing his hands and feet. Observe the blood running down his face from the thorns. Ponder the quivering mass of his mutilated back as he is forced to rub it against the tree, pushing up from the nails, just to catch one more breath. Look, stare, realize: this Wounded Man, dying in agony, is not suffering for a single wrong that He has done. His whole life was only love, the only human being who completely loved the Father with His all and His neighbor as Himself. And yet it is because He is love that He nailed to the Tree. Love will not leave the sinner in his sin. Love takes that sin upon Himself. Love is wounded to grant you and me healing. He is offering atonement for all the wrongs that WE have done.
Yes, it’s hard to look a crucifix in the face, for it’s hard to accept the truth we sing:
“Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
Tis I deserve Thy place.”
Yet it is salutary to look. Salutary to drop to our knees before His bleeding image and to ponder it. To even beg Him to imprint that image on our hearts so that we can carry it with us wherever we go, and so that it can be before our eyes above all in the moment of death. You see, when death is near the devil shows up. He will seek right then to snatch you away from God forever; it’s his last chance, and he has a powerful weapon to use on you. The cunning serpent has a DVD player and make you watch. He will plop in the DVD of your life, and he will make you see the things you’ve done that you’re ashamed of, and even the many things you’ve all but forgotten all about. He will trot them all out and taunt you with them. Tell you that you are no Christian. He will declare you unfit for the kingdom of God. He will tell you are his and that you willed to be his with every sin, spurning God and His will. And all those sins will be playing all the while in vivid detail and color before your eyes as you are struggling in death. You will see your life as a whole.
But that is why it is vital NOW to train yourself in life to look from your sins to the Crucifix, to behold your Savior’s wounds, and to hold them tight in your heart, and count them your dearest treasure. In the hour of your death, they are the only weapon that can conquer despair.
Having gazed upon the Crucifix, you will be able to face down the truth of that DVD and you will be able to acknowledge its hideousness and its testimony to your countless rebellions. Yet you will not despair. You will set against it the other image: the image David set forth in Psalm 22 “they have pierced my hands and feet; I can count all my bones.” The image that John held forth for you in the tonight’s Passion. “There, they crucified Him.” And so we sing, we pray earnestly:
Remind me of Thy passion
When my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee
Upon Thy face shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfold Thee,
Who dieth thus, dies well.
The image you want before your eyes as they are closing in death is the image of the Son of God in His last agonies, fully owning and answering for your every sin, and in love pouring out His blood to blot out every accusations the Evil One hurls your way. Awful as are your sins and mine, they have every one been accounted for, covered over with innocent blood, swallowed up by the blood of your Lamb. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”
And here’s that testimony. In that hour, you will say with boldness: “You, my Lord Jesus, are my Righteousness; I am Your sin. You have taken from me what is mine and have given me what is Yours. You become what You were not and made me to be what I was not.” (Luther)
That’s how you prepare for death with the image of the Crucified before your eyes and in your heart. His unfailing love, your righteousness. His death, your forgiveness. His wounds, your healing. His sufferings, your crown and glory. The sign of divine love.
“It is finished” He cried. Atonement made. So don’t be afraid to look at that Atonement. Look intently upon the Crucifix; look boldly at it today. Do it tomorrow too. And every day thereafter. Learn to look and see God’s love for you. Learn to look and realize: “It is finished.” Really and truly. Forever.
We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You for by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.
When he heard this, Satan, the cunning serpent ran crawling and said, “What is it, hell? Why do you groan for no reason? Why produce these wailings? This Tree, at which you tremble, I carpentered up there for Mary’s Child. I suggested it to his enemies for our advantage, for it is a Cross, to which I have nailed Christ, wishing by a tree to do away with the second Adam, just as I did away with the first one. So do not be afraid. It is dry and barren. It will not harm you. Keep hold of those you have. Of those we rule, not one will escape again to Paradise.”
Hell replied to Satan, “You have lost your senses–you, the cunning snake of old! All your wisdom has been swallowed up by the cross, and you have been caught in your own snare. Lift up your eyes and see that you have fallen into the pit you dug! Behold that Tree, which you call dry and barren, bears fruit: a thief tasted it and has become heir to the good things of Eden. Moses’ rod led the people out of Egypt, but this tree brings mankind back again to Paradise.”
Satan answered, “Wretched hell–cease this cowardly talk! Your words reveal your thoughts. Are you afraid of a cross and of the Crucified? Not one of your words has shaken me, for these deeds are part of my plan. I will also open a grave and entomb Christ, so that you may enjoy your cowardice doubly–from his tomb as well as from his cross. When I see you, I will mock you. For when Christ is buried I will come to you and say, “Who now brings Adam back again to Paradise?”
Then hell spoke back, “Now is the moment for you to listen, Satan. Now you will see the power of the Cross and the great authority of the Crucified. For you, the cross is folly. But the world sees it as a throne, on which, as though seated, Jesus is nailed and hears the thief cry to him, ‘Lord, remember me in your kingdom.’ Listen now as he answers, kingly, ‘Today, poor beggar, you will reign with me. For with me, you will go in again to Paradise.”
At these words, Satan began to wilt, and what he heard he saw: a thief witnessing to Christ crucified. And so, amazed, he struck his breast and said, “Christ did not answer his accusers, and yet he speaks to a thief? To Pilate he never spoke a word; but now he addresses a murderer, saying, “Come, live in pleasure”? What is this? Who has seen words or deeds done by this thief, by means of which he goes again to Paradise?
Again the devil called out, “Receive me, Hell. I turn to you; I submit to your views, I, who did not believe them. I saw the Tree at which you shuddered, made red with blood and water. And I shuddered, not, I tell you, at the blood, but at the water. For the blood shows Jesus’ slaughter, but the water shows his life, for life has gushed from his side. For it was not the first but the second Adam who carried Eve, the mother of all the living, again to Paradise.”
Now Hell and Satan cried out together, “Let us lament as we see the Tree which we planted transformed into a holy trunk, beneath which thieves, murderers, tax collectors and harlots will find shelter, and reap sweet fruit from what seemed barren. For they cling to the Cross as the Tree of Life. Pressed against it and swimming, through it they escape, and come again as to a harbor, again to Paradise.”
Hell said to Satan, “Swear, tyrant, finally to crucify no one.” And Satan replied, “You take an oath to kill no one. We have had our experience, let us draw back our hand. Let neither of us ever again tyrannize the race of Adam, for it has been sealed by the Cross, it has been given life, like a treasure of a precious pearl in a fragile pot; life, which a thief, well-suited to his trade, took on the Cross. For stealing he was nailed up to die ; and having thieved he was called again to Paradise.”
O most high and glorious, God of fathers and of youths, your willing outrage has become our honor. For in your Cross, we all may boast. To it we have nailed our hearts, that on it we may hang our instruments and sing to you, the Lord of all, from the songs of Zion. The ship from Tarshish once brought gold to Solomon; but to us your Tree gives back, every day and every moment, wealth beyond price. For it brings us all again to Paradise.