27 November 2022

This morning, getting ready for Church…

…it suddenly occurred to me that I am still using THIS:


Which happens to have belonged to my father; his handkerchief. And he’s been dead for going on 43 years this January. The little hanky that could, I guess. It’s a little yellowed with age, but it still serves. 

25 November 2022

Dear Mom,

Well, it’s been 28 years since your earthly sufferings came to an end. I still miss you more than words can say. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the details of that Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that year as it is this year. After I heard that they’d taken you to the hospital, I called and spoke to the doctor. He said that you were trying very hard to die, your poor heart just giving out. I remember telling him to please let you go. But I’m so thankful John and Tammy were there to see you that day!

I wonder if you remember how it was a Thanksgiving years before that we realized something was very wrong. You were staying with us, and Cindi and I had decided to teach you a new card game: sevens. After we explained the rules of the game, it became apparent to us that you didn’t remember numerical order any more. It took a while for that to sink in. How can someone forget the order of numbers? And then we thought back and realized that a year or two before you had given up doing your beloved crossword puzzles and your jigsaw puzzles. We should have known then, or at least gently asked what was up. 

Most of the family joined us that Thanksgiving down in North Carolina and we talked about what on earth we were going to do as we gathered on the porch, while Dawn, I believe, occupied you inside the house. We decided to let things alone and just watch for a while longer. Sissy, you remember, was still working at the FBI, as was Jimmy. But it wasn’t long, mom, before we realized that you being alone during the day wasn’t going to work. You called 911 about things that were very real to you, but that just weren’t there. Uncle Edgar came over to help out more than once, as did Doug. Finally, Sis got a sitter to stay with you during the day. That helped for a little bit, but nothing was stopping the change in you.

Cindi and I tried to take you to our home in North Carolina. Do you remember your time there that last time? I think we started with a hospital trip and getting your gall bladder out, of all things! Then the terrible allergic reaction to the medicine (Cindi is a saint!). I remember when I finally had to put a lock on your bedroom door so you wouldn’t wander about at night. I hated doing it, mom. It felt like a betrayal, but it was the only way we could think of to keep you safe. And then when Cindi ended up on bedrest before Rebekah was born, I had to call Sis to come and get you. And she did in an instant. She was such a help! She came and took care of some laundry and other household things before she packed you up to head back to Virginia. I remember telling her that it was getting worse. Mom, your hallucinations were so sad and so persistent. You seemed to be living in a nightmare that never got any better. And you’d reached the point you couldn’t really be left alone.

Still, mom, my heart breaks when I remember that one day. You were crying there in your bedroom at our house. I asked what was making you so sad. You said: “You’d be sad to if you were losing your mind.” It was a moment of lucidity, but what a horrid thing to be clear about! You knew something was seriously wrong. We’d long since ceased trying to argue with you about the things you saw. I just tried to distract you with memories from the past (which were always somewhat clearer, at least for a time). And that moment of weeping and sadness for what you were losing, is the sole instance I ever recall of you ever complaining.

I just commented to Butch and Sis the other day, that the thing that always amazed me about you was that despite your physical ailments, the constant pain from the shortened leg,  your headaches and whatnot, you just never complained. You never one time before that instance even referred to your suffering at all. And you certainly did not let it quench your spirit. You were always such a delightful tease! 

The last time I saw you, sadly,  you were pretty far gone in the loss of your memories. I am certain you had no idea who I was. I tried to feed you, mom, but you looked at me with nothing but suspicion and distrust. I remember I left that day in a very black mood; I stopped in Culpeper at Clore’s on the way home to Maryland and ordered a tombstone for Joe. I think Butch and Sissy helped me with the cost of that; it grieved me that his grave had never been marked; and now poor Maupin doesn’t even have a grave to mark! That was the summer before you died. I think Joe’s death probably did more to hasten your aging than even daddy’s. But a month or so before you breathed your last, do you remember who came to see you?

Yup, your beloved Tommy. He came with Aunt Emma. Emma told you: “Mibby (her special name for mom), Tommy’s come a long way to see you.“ (Tommy lived out in Cheyenne Wyoming.) Without missing a beat, you said: “Well, aren’t I worth coming a long way to see?” 

I had taken the call to Illinois by then, the year after Bekah was born. Leaving you wasn’t easy, mom. I remember the fall before you passed away, I read the children “I’ll Love You Forever” and I just lost it. I couldn’t keep the sobs in. I just wanted to go home to see you. But when I stopped the tears, there was still work to do and I had used up my vacation that summer. So I stayed here. I prayed for you. And to this day I feel terrible that I didn’t just pick up and head home right then for a visit with you. I hope you’ve forgiven me for it. I would dearly loved to have hugged you and kissed you one last time.

The day after Thanksgiving 28 years ago, we were expecting our friends, the Whaleys, to drop in for a visit. You remember, Linda, mom? That day Cindi had to go to the hospital for bedrest, it was Linda who came and sat with you. I will always be grateful to her for that. Well, she came through again that day. After her long drive, Linda arrived and set to work packing our car with distractions so that the kids (they were little back then) would have games to play and books to read on the long ride to Virginia. Yes, Linda to the rescue yet again! And so we headed off. 

I talked Sissy and Maup into getting you a cedar coffin. We all know how much you loved Cedar. And we did Christmas greenery for your funeral too. Do you remember how each year we’d go out into the woods  behind Granddaddy’s and gather the running pine and running cedar and slice some of the holly off of the tree that Ann Field planted by the old house? I can still see you hobbling to the woods, determined to gather the greens to take home to Maryland, cheerful as can be. It seemed fitting your coffin should be decked with them too. 

Mom, I remember too the horrible Christmas when you got shingles and you couldn’t wrap your packages the way you used to, always making your own beautiful bows. It was the start of a number of awful Christmases, wasn’t it? Then the year when Peggy almost died of that horrid virus, I think 1970. Then the Christmas daddy was dying, 1979. But you were always our rock. We knew we could count on you. You would laugh and swing your sweat towel and we knew the world was okay. Until it wasn’t. Until you began to be taken from us, memory by memory. 

Well, this has gotten a bit out of hand, but I wanted to write to you. 28 years is a very long time to live without seeing you, and I just wanted to tell you how very, very much I have missed you. But your words of wisdom have been and continue to be my constant companions, especially your words from Aunt Annie.

Love you, mom. Can’t wait to see you again.




Following our longstanding tradition…

…we put up the Christmas decor on the day after Thanksgiving. 






21 November 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

If you propose a choice between these two things, which is better, to laugh or to cry? Is there anybody who wouldn’t prefer to laugh? Because repentance involves a beneficial sorrow, the Lord presented tears as a requirement and laughter as the resulting benefit. How? When He says in the Gospel, “Blessed are those who cry, because they shall laugh.” So crying is a requirement, laughter the reward, of wisdom. He wrote laughter to mean joy.—St. Augustine, Sermon 175.2

Luther

That (Matthew XXV:41) ought to be a strong and earnest warning that we as Christians should so study and live that we shall be able to stand with honour and unafraid at the right hand of this Lord of Majesty, where there will be no fear or terror, but only pure eternal comfort and joy.—Sermon on 26 Trinity, 1544. 

Catechesis: Monastic Vows

Paul speaks of faith differently than the philosophers. He does not assign faith to those who have mortal sin. So he says that people cast off faith who do not care for their relatives. In the same way he also says that unchaste women cast off faith.—Ap XXVII:68

15 November 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

The nature of an envious person is such that he makes the praises of others the food for his disease and is wickedly maddened by their reputation.—St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 23 on St. Luke

Catechesis: Monastic Vows

The Gospel does not advise about distinguishing clothing and meats and giving up property. These are human traditions, about which it has been said: “Food will not commend us to God” (1 Cor. 8:8). Therefore, they are neither justifying services nor perfection. Indeed, when they are presented covered with these titles, they are mere “teaching of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1).—Ap XXVII:26

Luther

The Prophet Isaiah speaks the truth about Him, for He hides His omnipotence, His wisdom, power, and strength, and makes it appear as though He could do nothing, know nothing, understand nothing, or does not wish to. Now He lets our enemies do as they like with His Word, Sacraments, and Christians; He lets us call and cry, and keeps silence.—Sermons, 1531

14 November 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

For if grace comes from penitence, surely the one who scorns penitence renounces grace. Those who make themselves out to be holy will be wounded. The Bridegroom is taken from them.—St. Ambrose, Exposition of Luke 5:20-22

Catechesis: Monastic Vows

Therefore, this blasphemy, which appears in Thomas, also cannot be tolerated, “The monastic profession is equal to Baptism.” It is insane to make a human tradition, which has neither God’s command nor promise, equal to Christ’s ordinance. Baptism has both God’s command and promise, which contains the covenant of grace and of eternal life.—Ap XXVII:20

Luther

Thus it is written in Psalm cxlix: ‘Let the saints hold a two-edged sword in their hands.’ Those are not material swords, but spiritual swords of the mouth of Christ. With these swords and with their wisdom Christians must rush into battle and smite down heathen nations and kings, with all their visions of holiness, and take them prisoner and subject them to Christ. Such is the honour of God’s warriors and saints.—Day by Day, p. 389.

11 November 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

So the Lord prays, not to entreat for himself but to intercede for me. Although the Father placed all things in the power of his Son, yet the Son, in order to fulfill the form of a man, thinks that the Father must be entreated for us, because he is our Advocate… If he is an Advocate, he must intercede on account of my sins.—St. Ambrose, Commentary on Luke, Homily 23

Catechesis: Monastic Vows

“Another one,” he [the monk, John Hilton] said, “will come in 1516. He will destroy you and you will be unable to resist him.” Later, his friends found this very prediction about the declining influence of the monastic orders and the very date written in his surviving commentaries dealing with certain passages of Daniel.—Ap XXVII:3

Luther

For where God through His Word and faith has gathered together a Church, the devil cannot be at peace, and where he cannot achieve her destruction through sectarianism he strikes at her with persecution and violence, so that we must risk body and life in the fight, and all we have.—Sermon for Trinity 3, 1544

10 November 2022

Patristic Quotes of the Day

He has not called those who, wishing to establish their own justice, have not been made subject to the justice of God. He calls those who, being conscious of their weakness, are not ashamed to confess that we have all offended in many things. In them too is fulfilled his saying that he had not come to call the just but sinners. That is, he does not call the exalted but the humble. He does not call those puffed up about their own justice but those showing themselves devotedly subject to the one who justifies the wicked. Such people, when they are converted, bear witness with a sincere heart that they must not be regarded as just, but sinners.—The Venerable Bede, Homilies on the Gospels

Catechesis: Prayer for the Dead

Epiphanius declares that Aerius maintained that prayers for the dead are useless. He finds fault with this. We do not favor Aerius either, but we do argue with you because you defend a heresy that clearly conflicts with the prophets, apostles, and Holy Fathers. This is heresy is that Mass justifies by the outward act (ex opere operato), that when applied it merits the pardon of guilt and punishment even for the unjust if they do not present an obstacle. We object to these deadly errors…—Ap XXIV:96

Luther

Yet each Christian should be so armed that he himself is sure of his belief and of the doctrine and is so equipped with sayings from the Word of God that he can stand up against the devil and defend himself, when men seek to lead him astray, and so can help to fight the battle for maintaining the true doctrine.—Sermon, 1531

09 November 2022

The sunrise yesterday vs. today…


Very glad to be home and all, but we will miss the Caribbean big time. 


Patristic Quote of the Day

When the Savior says to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you,” he addresses this to humankind in general. For those who believe in him, being healed of the diseases of the soul, will receive forgiveness of the sins which they formerly committed.—St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 12 on St. Luke

Luther

The Word and doctrine will create Christian unity and fellowship. Where they reign all else will follow. Where they are not no concord will ever abide. Therefore, do not talk to me about love and friendship, if that means breaking with the Word, or the faith, for the Gospel does not say that love brings eternal life, God’s grace, and all heavenly treasures, but the Word.—Sermon, 1531

Catechesis: Prayer for the Dead

Regarding the adversaries quoting the Fathers about offering for the dead, we know that the ancients speak of prayer for the dead, which we do not ban.—Ap XXIV:94

31 October 2022

Reformation Day Homily for St. Paul Lutheran School


In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Boys and girls, we’re going to think together on this Reformation Festival only about the opening verse of today’s Gospel reading. Remember, it went like this:

From the days of John the Baptist until now
the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence
and the violent take it by force.

I think that in order to understand why this text was chosen for Reformation Day, you need to remember a couple things we way too often forget about the Church: first, the Church is the militia Christi, we are Christ’s army! And so when you are baptized you are enlisted in the Lord’s army, and given your marching orders, which include holding that little piece of earth you call your body and soul as the Lord’s territory where Jesus is acknowledged as the true King to whom you yield your obedience and to whom you give your loyalty.

And here’s another thing we forget: that we’re not in peace time. There is a spiritual battle raging all the time, all around and it reaches even down inside you. And at the heart of that spiritual battle is the attempt of Satan, the Rebel, to retake the territory he’s lost. That means, to get you to switch sides back to him, to return to his revolt and rebellion against God. Instead of bowing your knee to King Jesus, Satan wants you bowing your knee to HIM, of to YOURSELF which amounts to the same thing. It’s all fine with him as long as you don’t serve King Jesus. Anyone or anything else will work just peachy as far as he’s concerned. It puts you back in his rebellion, whether you realize it or not.

Now battle, He gives you weaponry. But the weapons we use are all spiritual. Listen to St. Paul on this: “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh, but the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience.” (2 Cor. 10) So Jesus gives you as a shield the gift of faith. He puts the promise of His salvation as a helmet over your head to protect it, and His righteousness as a breastplate to protect your heart. And He puts into your hands the most awesome weapon of all: the Sword of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God. You can see the depiction of it there with St. Paul. So being in Christ’s army doesn’t mean getting to take a wack at people like Peter did to poor Malchus in the garden, thinking he was protecting Jesus. No. It means armed with those weapons from Jesus, the attempt of the enemy to dethrone Him in our lives is bound to fail, even when it waxes violent. And it does wax violent.

The Kingdom has suffered violence from the days of St. John the Baptist. Wherever the message has spread, it has been opposed and people have tried to stop the Word about the true King, King Jesus, from spreading. Across the year’s they’ve locked up those who speak it and spread it, those who print Bibles and share them, and like with John, they’ve even chopped off heads to try to silence it. You know how they killed almost all the messengers Jesus sent, but how the message itself kept moving. The hatred couldn’t stop it. It kept advancing. Kept on capturing hearts for the King.

In the 16th century, Martin Luther experienced a joyous “aha” when he realized that the righteousness God demands from us in the Law is the righteousness He freely forks over to us in the Gospel. He gives us Jesus to be our righteousness, with His unbroken “yes” to His Father made our very own. That’s the big gift of Baptism. And when Luther tried to share this good news of King Jesus and how He spreads His reign through this good news that frees hearts from hating and fearing God and fills them with joy and peace and love, well, Luther found pretty quickly that it was still like Jesus said in the Gospel: from the days of John the Baptist until now…. That now reached all the way up to the 16th century. It reaches right up to today. The Kingdom still endures violence from those who hate the King and don’t want Him to be our Righteousness; and who above all don’t want us talking to others about Him, sharing His Word.

But even though the Kingdom suffers violence, WE, Christ’s army, WE are the violent who take it by force. That means, we ruthlessly put to death in ourselves anything and everything that opposes Jesus and His will and His reign. We seek to be loyal soldiers and hold this outpost for the Kingdom that is our life for Him. It’s an unending struggle to preserve this body and soul of ours as territory ruled by Jesus, since the attacks never stop. And we could never do it without the Spirit’s gifts in the Word and in the Sacraments, where He fires us for the fight, by constantly forgiving our sins.

Today when we celebrate His Supper, we come to receive Him who IS our righteousness. And we will kneel before our living and reigning King. And receive from His own lips, His forgiveness with His body and blood, and that’s how He strengthens us for the fight to keep our lives as His own territory, as His possession where what Jesus wills is the only thing that finally counts. To Him be glory with His Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

30 October 2022

Joys of Reformation

“A Mighty Fortress”…Buxtehude’s Every Word and Thought…Bach stanza of “Salvation Unto Us”…John Behnke’s “Thy Strong Word” on the Bells… “We All Believe in One True God”… “Isaiah, Mighty Seer”… “Lamb of God, Pure and Holy”… “O Lord, Look Down from Heaven Behold”… “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word







28 October 2022

Have you ever had one of those kids…

…who just never outgrew playing dress-up? That would be my David. To the delight of his children!



Mom’s family place


My brother Butch was back in Richardsville recently. He sent me this pic of our grandparent’s old house. My mom’s grandparents (see below) expanded it considerably right after the Civil War. The oldest (central) part of the house we think predates the Revolutionary War. It was originally the miller’s home on the plantation.







27 October 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

Being at once God and man, he both gives the Spirit to the creation in his divine nature and receives it from God the Father in his human nature. It is he who sanctifies the whole creation, both by shining forth from the Holy Father and by bestowing the Spirit.—St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 12 on St. Luke

Catechesis: Sixth Petition

Although we have received forgiveness and a good conscience and are entirely acquitted, yet our life is of such a nature that we stand today, and tomorrow we fall.—LC III:100

Luther

Out of love, Christ, with all His saints, takes on our form and fights with us against sin, death, and all evil, so that we, being kindled with love, take His form, trust ourselves to His righteousness, His life and blessedness, and so through the fellowship of the good that belongs to Him and the wretchedness that belongs to us, we become one loaf, one bread, one body, one drink, and all is common.—Sermon on the Sacrament of the Body of Christ, 1519

25 October 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

What clearer evidence is there of divine generation than that before speaking of Jesus’ generation, Luke has the Father himself saying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”?—St. Ambrose, Exposition of Luke

Catechesis: Fifth Petition

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

Luther

To them [the Christian people] is given the Gospel, Baptism, and the Sacrament to convert the people, to win souls from the devil, to snatch them out of hell and death, and take them up to heaven; and again to strengthen, comfort, and uphold the poor and instruct and advise afflicted consciences in their sore temptations; and again to teach all people in all occupations how to do their work as good Christians.—Exposition Jn xiv, xv

24 October 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

Adam brought death through the tree. Christ brought life through the cross.—St. Ambrose, Exposition of Luke 4.7

Catechesis: Marriage

Yet we do not make virginity and marriage equal. For just as one gift excels another…so virginity is a more excellent gift than marriage.—Ap. XXIII:38

Luther

The mysteries of God are those hidden things which God gives and which dwell in God.—Gaudete, 1522

23 October 2022

I love Sundays…

…and I’m only missing like nine others…
Lunch was bacon, sausage on the smoker, scramble eggs, minced ground beef, carrots and ranch dip, grapes, and an apple-peanutbutter-oats bake. 





20 October 2022

Weimarishsche Bibel-Werk, Matthew 11:13-15

Because all the prophets and the law have prophesied (that Christ should come) until John (who declared Christ to be present).

And if you can receive (and believe) it, he (that is, John the Baptist) is Elijah who is to come (he it is of whom Malachi prophesied that he should come in the spirit and power of Elijah, before the great and terrible day of the Lord—Mal. 4:5; Matt 17:12; Mark 9:13; Luke 1:17)

He who has ears to hear, let him hear (that is, note and hold it in his heart and so not wait like the Pharisees for Elijah the Tishbite to return in his own person to the earth or for the Kingdom of heaven to show up with worldly glory—Luke 17:20)

Patristic Quote of the Day

The fruit of repentance is, in the highest degree, faith in Christ. Next to it is the evangelic mode of life, and in general terms the works of righteousness as opposed to sin, which the penitent must bring forth as fruits worthy of repentance.—St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke, Homily 7

Catechesis: Two Kinds

It should not be immediately judged that the Church decides or approves whatever the pontiffs decide, especially since Scripture prophesies about the bishops and pastors in this regard, as Ezekiel 7:26 says, ‘The law perishes from the mouth of the priest.’—Ap XXII:17

Luther

And thus the Christian Church has held her own from the beginning until now among innumerable false spirits which have been from the beginning and may still come. And yet she goes on standing firmly by her Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Gospel, Christ, and Ten Commandments, and true and pure prayer, and thus she judges and separates herself from all false teaching which is opposed to her—yes, even though the devil should become an angel of light and as a beautiful and radiant figure should present himself as God.—Exposition of Jn xiv, xv

19 October 2022

Matthew 11:12 from Weimarische Bibel-Werk

But from the days of John the Baptist (from the time when he began to fulfill his office) until now the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence (the Kingdom of God will be preached through the Gospel and everyone attempt to force an entry to it, Luke 16:16. Men seize the Gospel with determination like men taking a city. Luther: The consciences which have taken the Gospel to heart will allow no one to wrest it from them!) and the violent (the repentant sinners who in true faith stand against temptations by the power of the Spirit, and crucify and bring to nothing the evil desires of their sinful flesh) take it by force (press into the kingdom of heaven, from which it is apparent that John’s teaching and baptism have had a great effect).

Patristic Quote of the Day

It is apparent to all who read that John not only preached a baptism of repentance but also bestowed it on some. Yet he was not able to bestow forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness of sins is granted us only in the baptism of Christ. We must note the words that he “preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” He preached a baptism that would take away sins, but he was not able to give it by himself.—Pope St. Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies 6.

Catechesis: Both Kinds

There is no doubt that using both parts of the Lord’s Supper is godly and in agreement with Christ’s institution and Paul’s words. For Christ instituted both parts, not for a portion of the Church, but for the whole Church. Not only the presbyters, but the entire Church uses the Sacrament by Christ’s authority, not by human authority.—Ap XXII:1

Luther

God speaks through the holy prophets and men of God, as St. Peter says in his Epistle: ‘Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost’. God and man must not be separated and severed from each other according to understanding and judgment of human reason; but we must immediately say, ‘Whatever this man, Prophet, Apostles, or sound preacher and teachers says and does by the command and Word of God, God Himself says and does, for he is God’s mouthpiece and instrument.’—Table-talk

18 October 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

And without a doubt we believe and hope that the one who saves us from sins is not failing to save us also from the corruptions which happen because of sins, and from death itself, as the psalmist testifies when he says, ‘Who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.’ Indeed, with the pardoning of all our iniquities, all our diseases will be completely healed when, with the appearance of the glory of the resurrection, our last enemy, death, will be destroyed.—The Venerable Bede, Homily on the Gospels

Catechesis: On the Scholastics

We ourselves have heard that excellent theologians desire moderation in the scholastic teaching. It contains much more for philosophical quarrels than for piety. Nevertheless, the older theologians are generally closer to Scripture than more recent theologians. Their theology has worsened more and more.—Ap XXI:41

Luther

The battle begins when men must decide which is the true Church. As long as we judge according to human words and understanding we cannot settle this quarrel, nor can we find the true Church, but we can reach certainty in the matter if we hear how Christ our Lord describes and portrays the Church. Here He christens and depicts her as the little company which loves Christ and keeps His Word (for thus is such love known and felt).—Sermon on Whitsunday, 1544

*The Holy Gospel for Whitsunday is John 14:23ff. Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word…”

13 October 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

In like manner also the Word is God and not flesh, though for the dispensation’s sake he made the flesh his own. But although the natures which came together to form the union are both different and unequal to one another, yet he who is formed from them both is only one. We may not separate the one Lord Jesus Christ into man and God, but we affirm that Christ Jesus is one and the same, acknowledging the distinction of the natures, and preserving them from confusion with one another.—St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke

Catechesis: Good Works

Faith does not remain in those who lose the Holy Spirit and reject repentance. As we have said before (Article XII 1) faith exists in repentance.—Ap XX:90

Luther

Where there is not the people of God, there are not the keys either. For Christ has left them behind so that there shall be a public symbol and sanctuary where the Holy Spirit can sanctify sinners and where Christians can bear witness that they are one holy people under Christ in this world. And those who will not turn away from their sins and be sanctified must be expelled from this holy people—that is, bound and locked out by the keys.—On the Councils and the Churches, 1539

11 October 2022

From the Weimarische Bibel-Werk on Luke 2:7

And she brought forth her firstborn Son (Christ, before whom and after whom she bore no child) und wrapped him (as well as she could in that strange place) in swaddling bands and laid him in a manger (in the stable); because they could not find any room in the hostel (in the apartments of the house where they had arrived due to the number of strangers present). 

(Republished in 1877 with a forward by Walther; originally published in 1640, under the auspices of Duke Ernst the Pious of Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg, under the theological leadership of Johann Gerhard; this amazing book never ceases to bless me, as I keep looking up new passages.)

Patristic Quote of the Day

Christ is mercy and justice. We have obtained mercy through him and been justified, having washed away the stains of wickedness through faith that is in him.—St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke

Catechesis: Free Will

We do not deny freedom of the human will. The human will has freedom in the choice of works and things that reason understands by itself.—Ap XVIII:70

Luther

The Word is not the Word of God because the Church says it, but the fact that the Word is preached constitutes the Church. The Word is not created by the Church, but the Church is created by the Word*.—On the Misuse of the Mass, 1521

*Those two sentences, in my opinion, constitute the unique ecclesiology of the Lutheran Church vis-a-vis Rome or the East.

10 October 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

Know that Christ is the Most High… What do those who neglect his divinity have to say? And why will they not understand that when Zechariah said, “And you child, will be called the prophet of the Most High,” he means “of God,” of whom the rest of the prophets also belonged.—St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke

Catechesis: Christ’s Return for Judgment

Christ will appear at the consummation of the world. He will raise up all the dead and will give eternal life and eternal joys to the godly, but He will condemn the ungodly to endless punishments with the devils.—Ap XVII

Luther

How could a man wish for anything more blessed than to come into this fellowship or brotherhood and be made a member of this body, which is called Christendom? For who can harm or injure a man who has this confidence, who knows that heaven and earth, and all the angels and saints will cry to God when the smallest suffering befalls him?—Sermons on Jn xvi-xx, 1528

08 October 2022

Check it out!

Great video about St. Paul’s school right here


04 October 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

He [Gabriel] appeared [to Zechariah] at the time when the priest was making an offering to express the fact that he was proclaiming the coming of the true and eternal high priest, who would be the true sacrificial offering for the salvation of the world.—The Venerable Bede, Homilies on the Gospels

Catechesis: Traditions

We should not add to God’s covenant, for God promises that He will be merciful to us for Christ’s sake. Nor should we add that we must first get such merit in order to be regarded as accepted and righteous through these [humanly instituted] observances.—Ap XV:12

Luther

Christ who is your righteousness is greater than your sin and all the world’s sin. His life and comfort are stronger and mightier than your death and hell.—Exposition of John xiv, xv

03 October 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

Whenever the soul continues to be fearful, it is the enemy who is present. The evil spirits do not dispel the fear of their presence, as the great archangel Gabriel did for Mary and Zechariah.—St. Athanasius, Life of St. Anthony

Catechesis: Canonical Government

The cruelty of bishops is the reason why the canonical government, which we greatly desired to keep, is dissolved in some places. Let them see how they will answer to God for tearing apart the Church.—Ap XIV:25

Luther

How often the Apostle uses the Greek word ‘plerophoria’*, which means such a certainty and fullness of faith that our hearts never waver but are full of certainty at all times. As I said before, Christians must know for certain what they believe, and must witness to their belief. Therefore, if you take away certain affirmation so that Christians are no longer sure what they believe, they have ceased to be Christians, and you have taken away their faith.—The Enslaved Will

*Note that St. Luke uses this also in Luke 1:1, but the KJV version only seems to pull the nuance that Luther is highlighting here. 

St. Paul’s Wartburg, TN

Well, this weekend Cindi and I were so very blessed to be part of the 175th anniversary of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wartburg, Tennessee. I got to preach at the outdoor Saturday Vespers (and we even had incense, yeah!!!!!), and then be celebrant at the 11:00 Divine Service the following day, for which Bishop Paavola preached, exhorting us to receive from our mother, the Church, the great treasure of the Word of God. Pr. David Graves and his congregation treated us like royalty! We will always treasure the gifts they gave us in memory of that joyous day (including the lovely ikon and cross you can see below). Hidden in those hills outside of Knoxville there’s a sturdy and staunch Lutheran parish, filled with saints that we came to treasure even in so short a time (including you, Deacon Dustin!)—and for which we give praise and thanks to the blessed Trinity. A few pics:








30 September 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

In the sight of God, who examines hearts, who scrutinizes thoughts, and who sees how minds operate, to be righteous does not derive from human achievement, but from a divine gift.—St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 89:5

Catechesis: Sacraments

But if ordination is understood as carrying out the ministry of the Word, we are willing to call ordination a Sacrament. For the ministry of the Word has God’s command and has glorious promises.—Ap XIII:11

Luther

You should follow the work you choose and not the suffering which you devise, but that which comes to you against your choosing, thinking, and devising. It is there that I call you.—The Seven Penitential Psalms, 1517

September Summary: Workout

Well, quite a bit shy of last month. This month: 2700 pushups; 294 pull-ups; 294 45 lb. kettle-bell swings; and 2 HIIT workouts. 

29 September 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

In view of such declarations on the part of our Lord and the apostle, I marvel, I say, how it is that men display such zeal and such intense absorption in the pursuit of goods that will come to an end and be destroyed but have no regard for that which will remain, especially charity, the greatest of all goods, the distinguishing mark of the Christian.—St. Basil the Great, Concerning Faith

Catechesis: Purgatory

If some of [the Fathers] mention purgatory, they interpret it neither as payment for eternal punishment nor as satisfaction, but as purification of imperfect souls. Just as Augustine says that “venial offenses are consumed,” that is, distrust toward God and other similar tendencies are destroyed.—Ap XIIb:167

Luther

When we suffer in respect of our body, or possessions, or honour, or friends, or whatever we have, let us ask if we believe… whether our sufferings and afflictions are small or great, God has graciously ordained them for us.—Luther, Sermon on Good Works, 1520

Michaelmas

We said our “Thank you, heavenly Father, for the protection of St. Michael and all the holy angels!” this morning with a joyous feast! Listen to the video (thanks, Meaghan!). I love to hear the kids singing that descant (the Tenor line) to the Gloria.




27 September 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

The Antichrist just mentioned by Paul will come when the destined period of the Roman Empire has run its course and the subsequent end of the world is drawing near.—St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 15.12

Catechesis: Rebirth

Rebirth itself happens by a continuous putting to death of the oldness of life.—Ap. XIIb:48

Luther

The bird sings and flies, builds its nest and rears its young ones; that is its work; but its work does not feed it…. In the same way man must work, but yet he must know that it is Another who feeds him, and not his work.—Exposition Psalm cxxvii, 1524

26 September 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

One may naturally inquire what is that which restrains the man of lawlessness, and in addition, why Paul expresses it so obscurely. What then is it that holds back, that is, that hinders, the revealing of the Antichrist? Some indeed say, the grace of the Spirit, but others the Roman empire. I agree with the latter position. Why? Because if Paul meant to say the Spirit, he would not have spoken obscurely but plainly, that even now the grace of the Spirit, that is the gifts, hold back the Antichrist. If not, he should have come by now, if his coming was to occur with the cessation of the gifts of the Spirit; for they have long since ceased. But because Paul said this of the Roman Empire, he merely touched the topic, understandably speaking covertly and darkly. For he had no need to create unnecessary enemies and useless dangers.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 2 Thes. 2.

Catechesis: Satisfaction

Here people imagine that they can keep God’s Law in such a way that they do even more than the Law requires. But Scripture shouts everywhere that we are far away from the perfection that the Law requires.—Ap XIIb 142

Luther

All that we achieve with our anxiety is that we stand in God’s way and hinder His work in us.—Sermons, 1527.

23 September 2022

What a wondrous gift!


Thank you Enid, and the Curry’s, for getting it to me. It will definitely be my “starting point” for all Biblical study henceforth. You can read about the creation of the work here if you do Deutsch: https://lutherische-studienbibel.de/weimarerbibel/






22 September 2022

Homily for the Commemoration of Jonah

Delivered at Concordia Seminary. Text: Jonah 3,4.


In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Well, if only our pouty prophet had been a graduate of this august institution, he would have learned well before graduating and being sent out that God’s opus alienum is ever and always in the service of His opus proprium. He’d probably have had to write a paper on the fact that in wrath he remembers mercy, as Habakkuk sung (3:2). God’s heart is never in the wrath, though it is very real and terrifying. His employment of the wrath seeks, so long as the day of grace perdures, to move to penitence so that He may come to His proper work, to show mercy, kindness, steadfast love.

But before we go feeling all superior to Jonah, if we stop and consider his words that we heard this morning, we might realize with a shock that he knew perfectly well all about the opus alienum and opus proprium, even if he didn’t use those terms. Think of what he said: “I know that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and relenting from disaster.” (4:2) And THAT was the problem in Jonah’s eyes. Jonah did not want God to be gracious and merciful to those nasty Assyrians. And by the way, the Ramseys of House Bolton had nothing on the Assyrians. If your city didn’t capitulate when they came knocking at the door, they’d happily flay your leaders once they took the place and hang their skin as a trophy and warning against not opening up when they first knock. They were awful, evil, wicked people. And Jonah wanted them to get their come-uppins; he was not doubt thinking “and it’s about time!” So he didn’t want to go on the mission because he was afraid that Yahweh would fall into His old habit of threatening wrath in order to move to repentance and then show mercy; and God forbid THAT happen, Jonah thought.

But, of course, it did. The Word of God is a hammer that can break the hardest of hearts. And when the hearts of the Ninevites were broken, Jonah was so angry he could spit nails. And so God does a children’s sermon with his grumpy prophet with the gift and then demise of that gourd. God asks: “Do you do well to be angry?” Jonah is defiant: “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And so the Lord gently takes His pouty prophet in hand: “You pity the plant, for which you didn’t labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. Now should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more the 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

Which is to say, God gave him something that he might have pity on (the plant), that he might learn a thing or two about the pity that goes in the heart of God for lost mankind. Pity from which Jonah actually lives, even when he forgets that he too is a poor sinner who is no better than the cruel and vicious Assyrians at heart. God’s mercy is what first sent him on his journey; God’s mercy saved him from the great fish; and all of this not just to save the Ninevites (though, that too) but most of all to save him. For salvation, my friends, is coming to know and believe and live from and share the mercy that beats in the very heart of God Himself.

Now our Jesus, famously lifts up Jonah as the great sign and type of himself. A friend of mine years ago floated to me the idea that it works all the better if Jonah actually died in that fish’s belly. For then Jonah becomes a powerful sign of the resurrection, which if you think about it, is exactly how Jesus used it. Raised from the dead and then sent out with an embassy of repentance and a gift of forgiveness even to the heathen, even to the worst of the lot of us. Glorious! But of course, because Jesus is the eternal Son of the Father, and is born of the Father’s heart “ere the worlds began to be,” He doesn’t have a “go get ‘em” God disposition, but rather the Father’s opus proprium, mercy, that’s His heart beats too. James and John, sons of thunder, were ticked at the Samaritans for not welcoming Jesus on the journey to Jerusalem and Jonah-like, they ask Jesus if He wanted them to call fire down from heaven to consume the wretches? Remember how Jesus turned and rebuked them and said: Luke 9 “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man came not to destroy people’s lives but to save them.”

Jonah’s three day stay in the great fish’s belly was like unto Jesus’ sojourn in the heart of the earth, but the heart of Jesus is not like the heart of Jonah, for Jesus shares the heart of His Father. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” No, for His way is to cry: “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55)

To lavish on mankind such abundant pardon Jesus followed the path of Jonah, but He did it with the heart of God. But did I really say mankind? What does one do with the almost Hindu ending? “And also much cattle?” His mercy on mankind spills out to embrace the critters that at the beginning God put under our dominion. And so even on the fasting cows of Ninveh, mercy pours from the heart of God. As St. Paul wrote: “in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” Look, we dragged creation down in the fall; but Christ will restore all that we have ruined. “Behold, I make all things new.” For from His heart flows pure mercy, mercy also for man’s animal companions; and much more so for any sinful man who will hear the threat of wrath, turn from sin in repentance, and turn back to Him in faith.

So, as we commemorate Jonah, people loved by God, we rejoice in a God whose overflowing compassion saves the nasty Ninevites, and even His own reluctant prophet. We glory in how Jesus’ death and resurrection reveals to us the staggering extent of mercy pouring out toward the most unexpected and unlikely of objects in the whole creation. From Nineveh’s cattle even to you, Even to me. Mercy, indeed, people loved by God, is our God’s very heart beat. And for that all glory, honor and praise to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Patristic Quote of the Day

And how, you say, can faith increase? It does so when we suffer something horrible for the sake of faith. It is a great thing for faith to be solidly established and not to be carried away by some sophistry. But when the winds assail us, when a violent storm is raised on every side and the waves follow upon one another, that fact that we are not shaken is proof that faith grows, grows abundantly, and becomes more exalted.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 1 on 2 Thess.

Catechesis: Confession and Satisfaction

If anyone despises private Absolution, he does not understand what the forgiveness of sins or the Power of the Keys is… The ministry of Absolution is favor or grace; it is not a legal process or law.—Ap XIIb 4, 6

Luther

Love fulfils the law in the sense that it is itself the fulfilling of the law, but faith fulfils it in the sense that it provides the doer and love remains the deed.—Sermon for Epiphany 4, 1525.

20 September 2022

On the Funeral…

…those who think the Authorized Version has no place in the Church’s worship at present in English-speaking Churches are hereby proven to be quite mistaken. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

All things are directed by the goodness of the Master. Nothing which happens to us should be received as distressful, although at present it affects our weakness. In fact, even if we are ignorant of the reasons for which each event is applied as a blessing to us from the Master, nevertheless, we ought to be convinced of this—that what happens is assuredly advantageous either for us as a reward for our patience or for the soul that was taken up, lest tarrying too long in this life it should be filled with the evil which exists in this world.—St. Basil the Great, Letter 101

Catechesis: Repentance

Therefore, we must accept the forgiveness of sins through faith before we do the works of the Law. Although, as has been said before, love follows faith because the reborn person receives the Holy Spirit and so begins to do the works of the Law.—Ap XIIA.82

Luther

I know and witness before all the world, that through the grace of God, I am able to believe in this Man, and mean to stay with Him, and to yield up both life and blood and everything, before I would betray Him; such is the faith in which I stand and live. After that I go out, eat and drink, sleep and wake, rule and serve, and work and act and suffer, and all in the faith in Him into whom I am baptised, and I know that in this manner I bear fruit which is good and well-pleasing to God.—Exposition Jn xiv, xv

19 September 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

Do not then cast all of the burden on your teachers, and do not cast everything on those who have authority over you. You are able to edify one another. He says this in writing to the Thessalonians, “Edify one another, just as you are doing.” And again “comfort one another with these words.” If you are willing you will have more success with one another than we can have. For you have been with one another a longer time.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 30 on Hebrews 

Cf. The Smalcald Articles’ words: We will now return to the Gospel, which does not give us counsel and aid against sin in only one way. God is superabundantly generous in His grace…. Also, through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, “Where two or three are gathered” and other such verses. SA III, IV

Catechesis: Repentance

But Peter also cites here in our issue the consensus of the Church, “To Him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.” The general agreement of the prophets is certainly to be judged as the general agreement of the Church universal. We admit neither to the pope nor to the Church the power to make decrees against this general agreement of the prophets.—Ap XIIA:66

Luther

Whoever wants to be a Christian must be born, and grow out of the vine which is Christ.—Exposition, Jn xiv, xv

15 September 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

Because the Holy Spirit is in faithful persons when they die, their death cannot be called death, but only sleep.—Philoxenus of Mabbug, On the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Catechesis: Repentance

For faith shows the distinction between the contrition of Judas and of Peter.—Ap XIIA 8

Luther

For if the saints did their good works in order to win the kingdom of Heaven, they would never win it. Rather, they would be counted among the wicked, for they would be considering with evil eyes their own good, and that in the highest spiritual things, even in regard to God.—Bondage of the Will

14 September 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

It is through grace that we not only discover what ought to be done but also that we do what we have discovered. That is, not only that we believe what ought to be loved but also that we love what we have believed.—St. Augustine, On the Grace of Christ

Catechesis: Confession

This regulation [Omnis utriuque] commands that we do the impossible—that we should confess all sins. However, it is clear that most sins we neither remember nor understand, according to Psalm 19:12, “Who can discern his errors?”—Ap XI:65

Luther

But this is giving alms secretly: when the heart does not reveal itself, wanting neither honour nor name, but gives the gift freely, regardless of whether it is seen and praised by men. Your gift shall be concealed under that simplicity of heart which never asks or considers whether it will earn gratitude or ingratitude, good or evil, but leave that to God.—Sermons, 1532

13 September 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

Even so he who is engaged in the service of Christ draws himself out of the turmoil and stormy billows of life and takes his seat upon secure and lofty ground. For what position can be loftier or more secure than that in which a man has only one anxiety, “How he ought to please God”?—St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 1 Thess. 4:1ff. 

Luther

Listen, thou wretched man, do you wish to serve God? You have Him in your home, with your servants and children; teach them to fear God and put their trust in Him alone, and love Him; go and comfort your sad and sick neighbors, help them with all your possessions, wisdom, and skill. Bring up your children that they may know Me, give them a good and saintly schoolmaster; spare no cost with them; I shall reward you richly.—Sermons, 1526

Catechesis: Lord’s Supper

In the Lord’s Supper, Christ’s body and blood are truly and actually present. They are truly administered with those things that are seen, bread and wine. And we speak of the presence of the living Christ, for we know that “death no longer has dominion over Him.”—Ap X:57

12 September 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

There is only one calamity for a Christian, this being disobedience to God. All the other things, such as loss of property, exile, peril of life, Paul does not even consider a grievance at all.—St. John Chrysostom, on 1 Thes. 4:1

Luther

And you should keep these two as far apart as heaven and earth, or day and night, so that your faith remains within your heart and conscience alone, but your works are drawn away from the conscience to the body. Faith belongs to heaven above; works must be related to earth. Faith is directed toward God; works to the neighbour.—Sermons, 1525

Catechesis: The Church

Ministers act in Christ’s place and do not represent their own persons, according to Luke, “The one who hears you hears Me.”—Ap VII/VIII:47

11 September 2022

Whirlwind weekend…

…Saturday morning, Cindi and I headed off to Grace Lutheran Church in Columbus, Indiana, where my classmate Pr. John Armstrong serves. I got to speak for their 17th annual Lutheran Heritage Festival. Such a great time with the folks of this congregation and some of the neighboring parishes. Then today I preached their two morning services and led Bible Class. We went out for lunch with two of their elders, Pastor Armstrong and his wife Harriet. It was truly a lovely time with fellow Lutherans, but I was definitely happy to pull into the garage and get out of the car this afternoon. Cin snapped a few pics:





09 September 2022

Rest in Peace, Your Majesty!

Her kindly smile and her small frame
Belied the steel resolve that lay
Beneath her corgis, horses, play,
The hunt and taste for her wild game.

With Paddington and President,
She dined and gave the world a taste
Of grace and whimsy interlaced,
For she would go where duty sent

And never murmur or complain,
But freely served her commonwealth,
Until at last her own poor health
Her vital energy had drain’d.

Thus now we bid our* Queen adieu
‘Til He shall come who makes all new.

*Our Queen, for we loved her too!






01 September 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

Blood, to be sure, has no voice, but innocent blood that has been spilled is said to cry out not by words but by its very existence.—Maximus of Turin

Luther

Thus it is not right that the magistrates should look on, leaving sin to rule, and that we should remain silent about it. Our possessions, and honour, and loss we should not regard, and should not be angry because of anything that may happen to them, but God’s honour and command we must defend, and the loss and injustice which our neighbor suffers we must redress, the magistrates with the sword, other people with words and penalties, yet always grieving over those who have deserved such punishments.—Sermon on Good Works, 1520

Catechesis: Justification

For “unprofitable servants” means “insufficient,” because no one fears God as much, loves God as much, and believes God as much as he should.—Ap IV:342

31 August 2022

August Totals

Had a great month, workout wise. In August I walked over 155 miles; performed 3800 pushups; and also 430 pull-ups and 430 kettlebell swings. Changed up the workout to go BACK to Monday to Friday workouts consisting of those three things, plus walking, and consequently in the middle of last month I dropped the HIIT (for the moment anyway)….and it feels GREAT. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

There were two reasons for his [Cain’s] annoyance: not just that he alone had been rejected but also that his brother’s gift had been accepted.—St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Genesis

Catechesis: Justification

Without this High Priest (Christ) we cannot approach the Father.—Ap IV:333

Luther

As I have said, therefore, any Christian is a supreme pontiff, because, first, he offers and slaughters his reason and the mind of the flesh, and, secondly, he attributes to God the glory of being righteous, truthful, patient, kind, and merciful. This is the continuous evening and morning sacrifice in the New Testament. The evening sacrifice is to kill the reason, and the morning sacrifice is to glorify God. Thus a Christian is involved, daily and perpetually, in this double sacrifice and in its practice. No one can adequately proclaim the value and the dignity of Christian sacrifice.—Great Galatians

30 August 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

For his [the serpent’s] punishment is that he had in his power those who despise the commandment of God. The words by which sentence is pronounced against him make this clear. The punishment is the greater because he rejoices over this unhappy power, whereas before the fall he was accustomed to rejoice in the sublime truth, in which he did not remain.—St. Augustine, Two Books on Genesis Against the Manichaeans.

Luther

Behold, thus springs forth from faith, love, and a desire for God, and out of love a free, willing, and cheerful life spent in free service to our neighbor.—On the Freedom of a Christian

Catechesis: Justification

We should not be regarded as teaching anything new in this matter. The Church Fathers have clearly handed down the doctrine that we need mercy even in good works.—Ap IV:325

26 August 2022

An oft heard comment…

…of those who have swum various rivers (let the reader understand): “Why would I trust the fathers on an arcane doctrine like the Trinity, but not on the invocation of the saints?” To which the proper response is: “I trust the fathers on the Trinity because they demonstrated this doctrine from the pages of Holy Scripture; I do not trust the fathers on the invocation of the saints, because they do not demonstrate this doctrine from the pages of the Holy Scripture.” Where is this written? That is the most important question we need to drill into the hearts and minds of our young people. Neglect it, and we open them up to a flood of nonsense that knows no bounds.

25 August 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

God, referring to the forbidden fruit, said to the first man whom he had established in paradise: “In the day that you shall eat of it, you shall die the death.” His threat included not only the first part of the first death, that is the soul’s deprivation of God; not only the second part of the first death, that is the body’s deprivation of the soul; not only the whole of the first death in which the soul, separated from both God and the body, is punished; but whatever of death is up to and including that absolutely final and so-called second death…in which the soul, deprived of God but united to the body, suffers eternal punishment.—St. Augustine, City of God 13.12

Luther

Holy Scripture has fine, clear eyes, and looks in the right way upon the worldly sword as that which must be merciless for mercy’s sake and exercise severity out of sheer goodness.—Sermon on the 5th Commandment, 1528

Catechesis: Love and Fulfilling of the Law

Nevertheless, scarcely a weak and feeble fulfilling of the Law happens even in saints.—Ap IV:290 

23 August 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

The gentle face of the earth, that is, the dignity of the earth, may be correctly viewed as the mother of the Lord, the Virgin Mary, who was watered by the Holy Spirit, who is signified in the Gospels by the term water.—St. Augustine, Two Books on Genesis Against the Manichaeans. 

Catechesis: Alms

We also grant this, that alms merit many favors from God, lessen punishments, and merit our defense in the dangers of sin and of death, as we have said a little before about the entire repentance.—Ap IV:278

Luther

But this is the town’s greatest and highest good, that it has many fine, scholarly, dignified, sensible, and honorable citizens, for they would be able to gather and treasure goods and keep them and use them aright.—To the Mayors

22 August 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

Just as the trees, the vegetation, the animals, the birds, and even humankind were old, so also were they young. They were old according to the appearance of their limbs and their substances, yet they were young because of the hour and moment of their creation. Likewise, the moon was both old and young. It was young, for it was but a moment old, but it was also old, for it was full as it is on the fifteenth day.—St. Ephrem the Syrian, Commentary on Genesis 1.24.1

Catechesis: Justification

The doctrine of repentance—because it not only commands new works, but also promises the forgiveness of sins—necessarily requires faith.—Ap IV:272

Luther

We Christians must understand that all worldly rule and power, until its time is run, is grounded in an ordinance or a commandment of God and in that prayer of Christians.—Exposition John xiv, xv

20 August 2022

Gleanings from Luther’s Postils, Trinity X

Epistle: 1 Cor. 12:1-12

When Paul here speaks of calling Jesus accursed, he does not only have reference to openly blaspheming or cursing Christ’s name or person after the manner of heathen and of ungodly Jews; with them Paul has nothing to do here, nor are the Corinthians supposed to be of that character. Paul refers rather to the Christian who, though boasting of the Holy Spirit, does not preach Christ as the ground of our salvation as he should, but neglecting this truth, points the soul away to something else, pretending that this substitute is of the Holy Spirit and is something better and more essential than the common doctrine of the Gospel. CP VIII:207

The tongue of a minister of Christ—the language he employs—must be of that simplicity which preaches naught but Christ.—CP VIII:207

For instance, they exalt Mary as the mother of Jesus and Anna as his grandmother. But they have they thus torn men’s hearts away from Christ, turning over to Mary and the saints the honor due to him alone, and teaching the people to invoke these as mediators and intercessory having power to protect us in the hour of death. This is substituting dumb idols for Christ. No saint has ever taught such things; still less does the Word of God enjoin them.—CP VIII:208

Gospel: Luke 19:41-48

For we learn here of the very terrible wrath and judgment that befell Jerusalem. From it we must conclude that whoever persists securely in his wickedness and sins should never think that he can outrun the punishment. For as God did not excuse that proud and privileged city—because it had his Word and did not repent—so each individual should take note, leave off his sinning, and repent, for there’s no escaping God’s wrath and punishment if he doesn’t.—HP II:375

To put it another way, Do not just listen to what God says and then fail to improve the way you live, sinning the same way you did before, regardless of what anyone says or does. The punishment for that sin will most certainly come, even it may be a long time in coming. No one who despises God’s Word escapes punishment.—HP II:366

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that God will overlook it if we continue to commit that same sin.—HP II:366

The sin which God considers the greatest sin of them all, the one that he condones or tolerates less than any other, is the sin of his people not acknowledging his Day of Judgment.—HP II:368

There is no advice or help for the person who refuses the forgiveness of sins and the grace of God.—HP II:370

But to those who accept God’s Word and change their ways, this account is a source of comfort and learning. They learn that when God delays punishment, he does this for their benefit and peace, that God wants to graciously forgive their sins, if they just repent by changing their ways, if they just fear and love God. It is not surprise that we are sinners, but if we defend our sins, stubbornly continue in them without repenting, that is something God will not allow. He would rather totally destroy such people, especially when he comes to them with the gracious warning of his Word, pleading for us to repent and we just stubbornly refuse to listen.—HP II:374

But if Christ be no longer with us, our hope will vanish; and wherever this beloved guest is rejected, and his Christians no longer tolerated, government, peace, and everything shall perish.—CP IV:330

And thus it will also go with the world; as its people despise and persecute God’s Word, and become so hardened and blinded, they will blame no one as the cause and merit of their destruction but the precious Gospel itself; which nevertheless alone preserves, thank God, what is still preserved; otherwise all things would long since lay in one common heap of ruins. And yet it must bear the blame for everything that the devil and his clans transact.—CP IV:334