30 June 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

“And from that day he took her unto his home.” If she had a husband, a home, children, she would return to her own home and not to someone else’s.—St. Epiphanius of Salamis


If I forgive, then my forgiving assures me that my faith is genuine, and it seals and proves my faith, that God also has forgiven me and daily forgives me; but if I do not forgive, then I may at once conclude that I am lacking in faith.—Church Postils IV:103 (Sermon 1 for Trinity IV)

Catechesis: Marriage of Priests

Canon law itself says that the old rigor ought to be relaxed now and then, in these latter times, because of human weakness. We wish this would also be done in this matter. We expect that at some point churches will lack pastors if marriage continues to be forbidden.—AC XXIII.16,17

29 June 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

The woman who “appeared in heaven clothed with the sun” and crowned with “twelve stars” and with the moon as her footstool, “travailing in birth and in pain to be delivered”…is properly and in the exact sense of the term our mother, a power herself distinct from her children, whom the prophets have, according to the aspect of their message, sometimes called Jerusalem, sometimes the Bride, sometimes Mount Zion, and sometimes the Temple and God’s Tabernacle.—Bishop of Methodius of Olympus

Catechesis: Marriage of Priests

Therefore, those who are unable to lead a single life ought to marry. No human law, no vow, can destroy God’s commandment and ordinance. For these reasons the priests teach that it is lawful for them to marry wives.—AC XXIII:7-9

*Fitting upon the Festival of Sts. Peter and Paul. St. Peter was regarded as the first bishop of Rome, and we know for a certainty from Scripture that he was married and that his wife travelled with him. When a human tradition clashes with the Sacred Scriptures…so much the worse for the human tradition! The Church is bound to what the Word reveals.


So we should also do: when we wish to ascend to God, we should come with Isaac alone, that is, with Christ through faith; the servants and the ass, that is, our works, we should leave below.—Church Postils IV:100 (Trinity 4)

28 June 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

By the “woman clothed with the sun,” he meant most manifestly the church, endued with the Father’s Word, whose brightness is above the sun.—Hippolytus


Here my conscience must be disposed toward God as a gracious, merciful father, and in harmony with this, go out to my neighbor and be also merciful to him. I must bring faith into my heart and up to God; and works out of my heart down to my neighbor.—Church Postils IV:99 (Trinity 4; 1523)

Catechesis: Both Kinds

The laity are given both kinds in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper because this practice has the Lord’s command, ‘Drink of it, all of you.’ Christ has clearly commanded that all should drink from the cup.—AC XXII:1, 2 

*This is directed against the Roman prohibition (at the time) of the cup to the laity; it is not without import for modern deviations from the institution either.

27 June 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

This seventh trumpet is the messenger of the eternal sabbath and of the victory and dominion of the true King.—The Venerable Bede on Rev. 11:15


[On St. Luke 14:23] Compelling and constraining them to come in means, to force anew the sins into the conscience, that thereby man may acknowledge, that he is nothing, that all his works are sinful and damnable, and thus quickly receives a despairing conscience and a bashful and terrified heart, in which every refuge and help are taken from him and everywhere he is unable to find any comfort in them, and finally despairs of all help in himself.—Church Postil, Sermon for Second Sunday after Trinity (HT: Pr. Gernander)

Catechesis: Worship of the Saints

But the Scriptures do not teach that we are to call on the saints or ask the saints for help. Scripture sets before us the one Christ as the Mediator, Atoning Sacrifice, High Priest, and Intercessor.—AC XXI:2

*And please note, as Pr. Heath Curtis pointed out some time ago, that this is the conclusion of the article on which they expected agreement, and it is NOT included among the abuses. 

26 June 2022

Script for Making the Case Hymn Sing 2022: Hymns of Cross and Comfort

Besides the reference to our Lord Jesus singing with his disciples on the night of His betrayal, there is only one place in all of holy Scripture that says God sings:

Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV) The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

God sings over his beloved children a lullaby (albeit a loud one) to comfort their hearts. And so Christians have ever taken up the same method of singing to comfort to one other in the spirit of St. Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians: “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” The hymns we look at today fall into an old category that has disappeared from our modern hymnals but that used to be called hymns of “cross and comfort.”

Our first hymn just so happens to be my favorite. My wife knows that she has to have this sung at my funeral, and so as not to forget that, she had its opening line tattooed upon her back! Well, okay, it just might also be her favorite hymn too. How many of you find #708 is your favorite hymn too? Raise your hands. Excellent. The rest of you are wrong. Repent.

Pastor Martin Schalling (d. in 1608) first penned these stunning words shortly after he had been dismissed from his parish in Amberg and turned out from his home with wife and children, during Holy Week no less (Holy Tuesday treachery, anyone?), in 1568 at the insistence of the Calvinist elector who could not abide Pr. Schalling’s unswerving Lutheran confession. Pastor Schalling, clearly meditating upon Psalm 73, turned his heartache into a prayer and set it to music and that prayer has held a special place in the heart of so many of God’s people ever since. J. S. Bach famously borrows the third stanza to close out his monumental St. John passion, and that same stanza has found a place in our rite for the commendation of the dying. Let’s stand to sing this.

#708 Lord, Thee I Love

Sigh. We can all go home now, right? Come, Lord Jesus! Our next hymn was written by Catherina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel (d. 1768) and is also a meditation upon a psalm, this time the Reformation Psalm, 46, specifically verse 10: “Be still and know that I am God.” So here the Christian speaks to her heart the sweet promises of God: that God is for us unchangeably. That He knows what’s up with the twists and turns of our earthly pilgrimage and we can trust His leading. That He is the comfort in the face of the departure of dearest friends and family. That at the end, we will be forever with the Lord. The tune is Sibelius’ profoundly moving Finlandia.

#752 Be Still, My Soul

Whenever I think of our next hymn, I think of an Advent sermon of Dr. Luther’s in which he said: “It is well with a man who belongs to an eternal kingdom. He can dance through life forevermore.” That sentiment is captured perfect by Cantor Johann Lindemann (d. 1631) in his marvelous “In Thee Is Gladness.” You see, in Jesus, the Christian will always have a reason for joy, even “amid all sadness” and so we join in all heaven’s rejoicing. And, by the way, I challenge you to keep your feet from moving and your body from swaying as you join in Giovanni Gastoldi’s jaunty tune. You’re going to end up dancing, I know you are. How could you not? You too belong to an eternal kingdom!

#818 In Thee Is Gladness

Told you; you ended up dancing, didn’t you? Next up is a very different flavor of comfort. It comes to us from the pen of the immortal Paul Gerhardt, another Lutheran pastor who ended up knowing quite a bit about suffering and cross-bearing. He lived through the ravages of the 30 years war; he, like Schalling, lost his parish in Berlin because he would not swerve from his ordination vows, he ended up burying his beloved wife as well as four of his five children. Yet from this man like from none other rose up a body of hymnody of a quality that still astounds even centuries later. Of his 134 German hymns, 29 are hymns of cross and comfort, and this perhaps the greatest in that collection. I should note that with all the sorrows, he was blessed to have a great working relationship with two outstanding musicians: first, Johann Crüger and then, Johann Ebeling. This tune is by the latter.

#756 Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me

Well as you just sang: “for I am His dear lamb” and the next hymn will rejoice in that beautiful imagery. It’s one of several English paraphrases of Psalm 23, which is THE psalm that Christians have sung to themselves and to each other through many valley of the shadow of death. This paraphrase is by Henry W. Baker (d. 1877), an Anglican clergyman, and he was the driving force behind the very famous Anglican hymnal Hymns Ancient and Modern. Of this setting, another famous Anglican priest, John Ellerton noted, that this really is the best of the paraphrase of the psalm. And it even captures a little bit of the LXX or Vulgate translation of the Psalm with “Your cup of inebriation; how pleasant it is” coming through with “and oh, what transport of delight from Thy pure chalice floweth.”

#709 The King of Love My Shepherd Is

Divine comfort indeed. Now for a contemporary hymn of cross and comfort, written by Joyce Anstruther (though her published name is Jan Struther, d. 1953). She actually started with the Irish melody SLANE and wrote the words to fit, by imaging how they’d impact a child sitting in the pew. It is a child’s comfort that rings through this that runs through the day as an image of our life, our earthly pilgrimage, which has its dawn, its day, its evening, and its sleeping.

#738 Lord of All Hopefulness

I’ll not forget the day that Stormy Greer walked into my office with that look on his face. I was pastor of a small parish at the time, and Stormy’s family was one of our cornerstones, his wife was also my organist. And he began by saying: “What God ordains is always good.” You see, they were moving and we were going to lose them and it would be very hard on our whole parish family. That Stormy turned immediately to this hymn and rattled off its opening lines shows how deeply Samuel Rodigast’s words sink in. He had written it originally for a friend whom he thought God was taking away with serious illness, but the ailing musician improved and actually wrote the tune for this text upon his sickbed. How amazing is that? Pachelbel’s partita on this tune is one that I look forward to hearing every year at our parish, and Gunter Stiller claims that Bach used this hymn in his Cantatas more than any other. Let’s stand and belt it out to our good and gracious Lord God!

#760 What God Ordains Is Always Good

“This is my comfort in my affliction; your promise gives me life.” Psalm 119:50. A huge thank you to Professor Jonathan Kohrs for his leadership on the organ and to Pastor Leonard Payton for the fine work upon the piano. Let’s give them a nice round of applause!

Must Read Homily

From my friend, Pr. Gernander. I was so blessed to read this today:

Sermon #1,555: St. Luke 14:15-24 (Historic Gospel)

6-26-22, Trinity 2, Hope-Leander TX


Sermon Text, St. Luke 14:15-24 (v. 16-17). 16 [Jesus] said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ ”

Lord, this is Your Word and these are Your words. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. By Your Word of truth, lead us on the way of truth to be eager to sit at Your feast of salvation, Make us eager to invite others, and bring them too. Amen!

Dear people loved by God in Christ: Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

This week the big news was that the Supreme Court decision was announced, overturning Roe v. Wade. It cancelled the so-called constitutional legality of abortion. But there was a reaction that was heartbreaking to see: people threatening violence and shouting in favor of keeping the “right” to kill the weakest and littlest. A deafening chorus of angry people, effectively saying to children in the womb: “We don’t want you.”

How opposite of that is what we see from Jesus in this parable. The words Jesus puts in the mouth of the master, who represents God, are about how He wants everyone. Not just the ones who have it all together, but the downtrodden and the ones who are nothing but trouble, “the poor and crippled and blind and lame.” He wants them too. He wants everyone.

That’s what it means to be invited: to be wanted. All through this parable the master is inviting.

Jesus says he “invited many.” The word for invited here is actually “called.” The first thing we learn about the Holy Spirit in the catechism is that “He has called me by the gospel.” When God calls you, He’s just inviting you. It means He wants you. The Gospel is the way you know that He wants you. So He makes sure you hear this loud and clear, that you are wanted,

Invited, By the Gospel

I. His invitation can be rejected. Jesus’ parable starts out as an answer to this man at the table who says, rather smugly: “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” He seems to be expecting a pat on the back from Jesus. Instead Jesus tells this parable which is a warning. A warning not to reject the invitation and lose the kingdom.

Jesus seems to be implying that this man is in danger of rejecting the invitation. Which seems odd because he’s there at the table with Jesus. But if you think that “accepting” the invitation is something you get credit for, then it isn’t grace, which means it isn’t true saving faith. That would be rejecting God’s gift. Jesus isn’t being hard on the man. He tells this parable because He cares about him. He cares about you too.

So, the invitation. Jesus says: “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.” Actually He says the man “made” this great supper, prepared it, and tells his servant to tell the “many” who are invited that “everything is now ready.” This is Jesus’ first point, the preparing. It’s about the salvation God’s prepared. The Father so loved the world that He gave His only Son. Christ came down from heaven and did all the work to save us. Then the Holy Spirit does His part: to call (invite) people by the Gospel, by Word and Sacrament. The standard ELS invitation to the Lord’s Supper is for the pastor to say this verse from Jesus’ parable: “Come, for all things are ready.”

So this is all beautiful, the careful preparing of our salvation, but then in Jesus’ story we see a sad result. All we hear are excuses. One doesn’t come for this reason, one doesn’t come for that reason. Now, we get exasperated with these people, but the truth is it’s exactly how we are, how we are by nature.

If you find this hard to believe, if you love to come to church, you love Jesus and His Word, you think it’s just natural. But it isn’t. The fact that you feel this way is a sign that the Holy Spirit is leading and guiding you, that He has success in changing and melting your stubborn heart. But if you get bored with God’s Word, if you find other things to do, if you get embarrassed by the Bible’s teaching, if you lose patience with people, make excuses – that’s how we naturally are!

We cannot by our own reason or strength believe in Jesus or come to Him. All we are able to do is reject the invitation. What we’re good at is excuse-making! Now, this frustrates us about ourselves and it frustrates us when we see it in others.

Because this frustrates us, we’re tempted to use the Law to overcome it. God’s way of invitation seems weak. So for some people even a religion like Islam or Mormonism looks attractive at this point, at least some elements of it. Because these religions use threat and guilt and force to produce godliness. Their results look better. But it’s only outward righteousness. It doesn’t produce confidence before God, or give peace.

But we’re tired of the excuses people make, we’re tired of the excuses we make, we’re tired of shoddy Christianity. So we turn to the Law. We guilt others, we guilt ourselves, into better behavior. We look to what we do. Where we are lacking, we depend on our determination to do better. See how the devil gets you to force your way into God’s kingdom, not to be content with God’s inviting. He makes a new god for you: your own obedience. But in the end, we’re fooling ourselves. Your works of the Law aren’t the way in; they would leave you outside. But now for the truth that does comfort:

II. His invitation is His declaration that He wants you. This is the Gospel. It’s the only way He brings people in, keeps us in.

The part of Jesus’ story where this comes out is when the master sends His servant to “bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.” These are people who can’t bring themselves. They’re helpless. That’s how we are, Jesus is saying. It’s consistent with the rest of Scripture that teaches that you are totally unable by your own ability, reason, or strength to come to faith in Jesus or even to keep and hold onto this faith.

Now for the big finish: We hear the master say: “Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in.”

Now this sounds wrong. Dragging them in, it sounds like forcing, exactly what God doesn’t do! But it isn’t an outward forcing, like dragging someone to church. It isn’t the work of the Law that does this. Jesus is here describing the power of the Gospel. That’s what the invitation is: only gospel. The message of the Law, of obedience to the commandments, can never bring someone into the kingdom. It can only prepare you to hear the Gospel. Only the Gospel can convert someone, and it isn’t a message of anger but purely a message of God’s love.

But the Gospel is not just magic, as if you just speak it and all this will happen. The Gospel has power, but it is the power of God to bring salvation. God is involved. The Holy Spirit is a hard worker. So this “compelling” is the hard work of speaking the Word to a heart that doesn’t want to hear it.

It’s the work of “forcing the sins into the conscience” (Luther: Church Postil), so that you’re forced to acknowledge your sins, and your conscience is weighed down and burdened and finding no peace, and all this is so that you are ready to hear that there is a Savior for you, Christ who has done it all, paid it all, to free you from your sin, to lift your load, to forgive it all!

You never would believe it. You never could believe it. But Christ looks at you in your sins and through His called servant He says He wants you. You! He invites you to be with Him. His invitation is something that He brings you to accept. It’s grace!

The Gospel that you hear is Jesus inviting you. All the time. That’s what life in His kingdom is: always being invited. There is no time when He’s not inviting you. In Your baptism He invited you,so each time we begin “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” the baptism words, it’s a sign that He’s inviting you, He wants you, you’re His child.

When you hear His Word, hear what He your Savior did, He did it for you! He’s inviting you as you read or hear His Word.

In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus’ words “This is My body …” etc., certainly do something to the elements; through the words the bread is now also His body and the wine is His blood. But His words of institution also do something to you, and I love how speaking the words behind this altar, facing the congregation, it’s obvious that as you hear “this is My body given for you … this is My blood shed for you for the remission of sins,” Jesus, who is speaking in the Lord’s Supper, is inviting you.

He’s always inviting you. So this is how to think of yourself: you are “the invited one.” You are one who is wanted, by God! This is really how heaven sees you. This parable is showing us a preview of heaven, which Scripture pictures as a great supper, where we’ll see all the people He’s invited and brought in.

This teaches us to see everyone else as “an invited one.” Not as people who are better or worse than you. Not as people who irritate you or who are irritated by you. That’s all gone, see, if we all are invited, wanted, by Him!

He calls you to see the other person as one invited by Him, one to whom He speaks the Gospel, which removes sin. His invitation is not for you alone, to remove your sin. It also removes everything that stands between you and others. His invitation calls you to not give up on anyone, but emblazoned on them you are to see: “Invited!” Which is emblazoned on you. You are the same. We are united. By His invitation. All, together, wanted by Him. Amen!

Well…that was fun…

…and exhausting! The 2022 Making the Case Conference is over…and its schedule was smashed to smithereens (without even seeming to bother my boss…even when I helpfully pointed it out to him…again and again and again). Personal highlights this year were hearing my friends, Chris Rosebrough and Bryan Wolfmueller. They’re both so very good as teachers of God’s precious Word. But of course, my absolute favorite is the hymn sing. The conference was in exceptionally fine voice this year as we sang our way through various hymns of cross and comfort, with Professor Jonathan Kohrs on the organ and Pr. Leonard Payton on the piano. To quote one of my favorite Christmas hymns “tiding of comfort and joy” indeed. This year my pastor (Pr. Benjamin Ball) served as the celebrant at the closing Divine Service, at which Pr. Wilken preached a wonderful sermon on the Gospel reading from Matthew 10 (we were celebrating the Anniversary of the Augsburg Confession on Saturday). When the Divine Service was all over, I was shocked that Pr. Ball was planning to go out with friends! Then I remembered something Pr. Bill Cwirla taught me years ago: Extraverts energize through socializing. I knew he was getting up early to get back to St. Paul’s for late service! Yikes!!!! Trust me, by the end of the conference, this introvert was DONE with people. Cindi and I decided to try to find a Brazilian Steakhouse (that was a mistake; memo to self: don’t try to find anything around Chicago at night!!!) so nearly an hour later, we made our way back to our hotel where we finally got to order dinner and a glass of wine sometime after 9:30 p.m. Whew. We were both starved and so we each ate two one-half pound burgers topped with cheese and bacon. We woofed it down (I know, Thomas Aquinas says that’s gluttony). Cindi quipped we were “channeling our inner Krauser” since my friend Jim Krauser (New York!) often eats so very late. When we finished dinner, we headed straight to bed and next thing we knew it was morning. We had a rather uneventful trip home (with some slight backups on 55, but nothing like Friday’s trip TO Chicago). So at long last this hobbit is back home and in bliss again. It was wonderful to meet folks up there and to hear some stories, particularly of those new to our Lutheran Confession (one of whom gave me a chaplet that I’m eager to learn how to pray). Glory be to God!!!

25 June 2022

Ann Sexton’s poem

Somebody who should have been born
is gone.

Just as the earth puckered its mouth,
each bud puffing out from its knot,
I changed my shoes, and then drove south.

Up past the Blue Mountains, where
Pennsylvania humps on endlessly,
wearing, like a crayoned cat, its green hair,

its roads sunken in like a gray washboard;
where, in truth, the ground cracks evilly,
a dark socket from which the coal has poured,

Somebody who should have been born
is gone.

the grass as bristly and stout as chives,
and me wondering when the ground would break,
and me wondering how anything fragile survives;

up in Pennsylvania, I met a little man,
not Rumpelstiltskin, at all, at all…
he took the fullness that love began.

Returning north, even the sky grew thin
like a high window looking nowhere.
The road was as flat as a sheet of tin.

Somebody who should have been born
is gone.

Yes, woman, such logic will lead
to loss without death. Or say what you meant,
you coward…this baby that I bleed.

24 June 2022


I was 12 when it happened. I am so thankful at 61 to see the insanity overturned. Thank you, Lord Jesus! Please help us always to love and treasure the most vulnerable among us!

Patristic Quote of the Day

By the “woman clothed with the sun,” he meant most manifestly the church, endued with the Father’s Word, whose brightness is above the sun.—Hippolytus, On the Antichrist

Catechesis: The Cause of Sin

Our churches teach that although God creates and preserves nature, the cause of sin is located in the will of the wicked, that is, the devil and ungodly people. Without God’s help, this will turns itself away from God, as Christ says, “When he lies, he speaks out of his own character.”—AC XIX


God is such a Craftsman that He has the skill to make those things that would harm and hinder us help and further us. What would do us to death must serve us unto life; what would bring us into sin and condemnation must serve to make hope and faith firmer within us, to make prayer stronger and more richly answered.—Exposition, Jn xv

23 June 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

However, since the veil of the ancient temple and the wall of partition have now been torn asunder by the sword of the blood of the Lord, in the church, the temple of the living God, whose citizenship is in heaven, the ark of his incarnation is laid open to all the world.—The Venerable Bede on Rev. 11:19


He sometimes lets a conscience be afraid and troubled, in order that the soul, even in the happy days, may not forget the fear of God.—Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer 

Catechesis: Ceremonies

Our churches teach that ceremonies ought to be observed that may be observed without sin. Also, ceremonies and other practices that are profitable for tranquility and good order in the church (in particular, holy days, festivals, and the like) ought to be observed.—AC XV

21 June 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

The number of months signifies not only the time of the last persecution, but also the entire time of Christianity.—Primasius on Rev. 11:2


Thus God acts in all His works. When He wills to bring us to life, He puts us to death; when He wills to make us saintly, He smites our conscience and makes us first sinners; when He wills to raise us up into heaven, He casts us first into hell, as the Scriptures say: ‘The Lord killeth and maketh alive, He bringeth down to hell and bringeth up.’ (1 Sam. ii.6)

Catechesis: Confession

Our churches teach that private Absolution should be retained in the churches, although listing all sins is not necessary for Confession. For, according to the Psalm, it is impossible. “Who can discern his errors?” (Ps. 19:12)—AC XI


Well, it’s not yet 8… But up early to catch the planets in alignment:

And then did my puzzles (did Nerdle last night, but Wordle and Quordle and Knotwords this a.m.), as I started sipping coffee. But Cindi suggested we walk out to see sunrise, so I carried coffee along. We greeted the longest day of the year at the old Uelsmann farm (always makes me think of Dorothy, Eileen, and LaVern; may they rest in peace!):

And then we came back, prayed from Treasury, and I did my usual Matins, Jesus Prayer, reading from Luther, from Book of Concord, and from Lewis. Went to the basement and did ten minutes of high intensity interval training with Jamie Ray on Apple TV. Finally, headed outside again to join Cindi (she’d been walking while I did HIIT) and we strolled about the neighborhood as the day was heating up. Came in a few minutes ago with 10,000 steps already under the belt for day. Now ready for the day’s work to begin, after I get a second pot of coffee on. Cindi will be heading to Highland shortly to pick up our half cow from Steve and Dana, and I’ll be digging into Revelation. 

20 June 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

“And it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.” This means that when you receive it, you will be delighted by the sweetness of the divine speech and by the hope of the promised salvation and by the sweetness of the divine justice; however, you will then sense bitterness when you begin to preach this to the pious and the impious. For when the preaching of the divine judgment is heard, some are turned by the bitterness of penance and are changed for the better, while others are offended and become yet more hardened and bear a bitter hatred toward the preachers.—Primasius on Rev. 10:10


And what have all the saints? They have the knowledge that their sins are forgiven. They have comfort and help promised them through Christ in every kind of need against sin, death, and the devil. And I have the same, and you, and all believers have.—Sermons, 1530


Our churches teach that one holy Church is to remain forever. The Church is the congregation of saints [German: the assembly of all believers] in which the Gospel is purely taught and the Sacraments are correctly administered.—AC V:1

16 June 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

…for the wicked spirits desire the death of humankind at every hour and moment of time. These will be permitted to rage more freely so that the church might be made stronger, but at the proper time, they themselves shall be destroyed. And what do you think [such spirits] will do when they are released, when they work such devastation even now when they are bound?—The Venerable Bede, on Rev. 9:15


Where faith in Christ is, on the other hand, there the Holy Ghost pours both comfort and childlike confidence into the heart. And the heart no longer doubts God’s gracious Will and help, because He has promised both grace and help, fulfillment and comfort, not because of our own worthiness, but because of the merit and Name of Christ, His Son.—Exposition of Romans viii.12ff.

Catechesis: Preface to AC

We will at least leave you a clear testimony. We are not holding back anything that could bring about Christian concord, such as could be effected with God and a good conscience.—Preface 13

15 June 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

I think the image of these locusts depicts rather evil demons who are prepared for war against us and who wear upon their heads crowns as of gold in expectation of victory against us. Whenever we submit to these demons and win an evil victory through pleasure, we believe ourselves also to be crowned with such crowns. That their hair is like that of women reveals their love of luxury and their arousal to fornication. The teeth like those of a lion signifies their murderous and poisonous character.—St. Andrew of Caesarea on Rev. 9:7,8


And that Christ dwells in our hearts means nothing else than to know who He is and what we may hope of Him, and that is, that He is our Saviour through whom we have been brought into that state where we can call God our Father, and receive through Him the Spirit who gives us courage in the face of all calamities.—Sermons, 1525

Catechesis: Preface to AC

As your edict shows, we are all under one Christ and do battle under Him. We ought to confess the one Christ and do everything according to God’s truth. With the most fervent prayers, this is what we ask of God.—AC Preface 11

14 June 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

The first trumpet of the [church’s] preaching reveals the universal destruction of the impious by fire and hail… The foretelling of these plagues is rightly compared with a trumpet, which is the signal for battle. For, the Scripture says, ‘Lift up your voice as a trumpet; declare to my people their transgressions.’—The Venerable Bede on Rev. 8:7


Of a truth, we ought to teach of God’s unsearchable and unfathomable Will, but to take upon ourselves to understand it is a very dangerous thing, through which we may stumble and break our neck. It is my habit to restrain and direct myself by the word which the Lord Christ spoke to Peter—‘What is that to thee? Follow thou me.’…Yet above all these things, practice faith in God’s promises and the works of His commandments—Table-talk

Catechesis: For All in Common

The commandments…are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” 

Let each his lesson learn with care, and all the household well shall fare.—Table of Duties, For All

By joining together the commandment to love the neighbor as the self with the commandment that prayers (including thanksgivings) be made for all, we learn that essential part of loving our neighbor as ourselves, is to lift our heart to God on his or her behalf, both in intercession and thanksgiving. You cannot truly love the one whom you do not intercede for; and conversely, by interceding and offering thanks for your neighbor, you come truly to love him or her.

13 June 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

Nor ought we to pay too much attention to the order of what is said. For the sevenfold Holy Spirit, when he has passed in revue the events to the last time, to the very end, returns again to the same times and supplements what he had said incompletely. Nor ought we inquire too much into the order of Revelation. Rather, we ought inquire after the meaning.—St. Victorinus of Petovium


Thus we must not search God’s nature and His hidden will. For therein we have nothing to do with Him, nor does He desire to have anything to do with us. God is at work in many ways which He does not reveal to us in His Word. Likewise He has many intentions which He has not revealed to us in His Word. Therefore, we should behold the Word and leave the unfathomable Will alone, for we have received no command about it.—On the Enslaved Will

Catechesis: Introduction to Table of Duties

Certain passages of Scripture for various holy orders and positions, by which these people are to be admonished, as a special lesson, about their office and service.—SC Table of Duties

Note: thus, holy orders in the SC embraces not just the clergy of the church, but the hearers, government and citizens, domestic relations (husband, wife, parents, child), economic relations (employers, employees), and social relation (the young in general, widows, and finally all in common). All are to be thought of as holy order and positions, with Scripture informing them how their special service is to be carried out.

11 June 2022

Today is St. Barnabas’ Day…

…and that means it is also the birthday of this young man: Joshua Flynn Herberts. He’s my second-oldest grandson and today he turns seven. He is fearless (in whatever he’s doing: swimming, running, climbing). He is fascinated by bugs and reptiles. He loves to work with tools (last year, he asked for a real drill for his birthday), and he dearly loves his Opa. We’ll be celebrating his birthday next weekend. Happy birthday, Flynn!!! We love you big time!

10 June 2022


I wonder at this stranger,

staring from the glass,

hoarfrost thickening upon his pate,

presaging the advent of winter.

Blessed be the name of the Lord…

…Job 1:21 (KJV) The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

Our beloved Principal, Joseph Gerth, shared a book with me that I’ve been slowly savoring, Eugene Vodolazkin’s latest: Brisbane. As with Laurus, this one probes the depths as Russian works are wont to do. A world famous musician, at the height of his powers, able to move people to tears with his guitar and voice, comes down with Parkinson’s. Too many echoes there of my friend, Henry Gerike. 

In the novel, a mad man (like the medieval fool) speaks truth: “Life is the long habituation to death.” And our lives consist of many “deaths” along the way, that is, gifts that God gives and then takes away. I’ve watched it up close and personal with my wife, who had the voice of an angel of God. Simply stunning in its clarity and simplicity and seeming to have no stopping point at the height. She could soar and it would take my breath away. 

But God has taken that gift from her. Oh, she’s still more musical than almost any person you’d meet. But the effortless voice is gone, and she grieves it. I grieve it with her. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Or when God brings people into our lives and gives them to us as companions for a while on the journey. To quote from Vodolzkin, again, “Any gift is undeserved.” I remember when Carlo was playing for us at St. Paul’s and leading choir. I thought I was in heaven. Such joy. But then he moved on. I grieved, I truly did. I knew I had been given a grace undeserved in that experience. But how foolish and stupid would it be for me in that sad moment not to realize that He who took it away had more gifts to give that would also bring joy. So first, Kate, then Kantor. It was all good in the end.

Of course, it is so much harder when it’s not someone moving onto other things, but someone dying. But every little death along the way is given to prepare us for that, for the loss of those whom we can’t imagine being able to live without. Dr. John Kleinig put it like this: Throughout our life He keeps taking away people and things, but He always says, “But you still have Me and I am enough.” Indeed, as Francis Thompson portrays it in his delightful The Hound of Heaven

All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’

And so it seems to me that the art of living gracefully is to learn gratitude toward God for the gifts given and then taken, for the memories created and cherished, for the moments which in retrospect shine with a heavenly happiness that we may not even have heeded as they transpired. C. S. Lewis in his space trilogy notes how prone we are to destroy a present joy because it is not the joy we had anticipated or expected. “The fruit you are eating is always the best fruit.” Rather than moaning that the apple tastes not like the orange I had anticipated, I must learn to savor the apple for what it is, for it is also a gift, for which I can bless God.

O Lord God, help us to see all as gift. Help us to become habituated to all the deaths of life and to the death when You shall even take away our breath. Fill us all with gratitude for each undeserved joy. Help us to fearlessly clasp your hand, and walk with You the road to home with gratitude for all You give and for all You take away, but above all for all that awaits us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Patristic Quote of the Day

When Christ offered Himself to the Lord as an agreeable and acceptable sacrifice, he made the sorrows of the hearts of the saints acceptable.—The Venerable Bede, Apocalypse 8:3-4.


Only the Christians recognize the Word of God and deem it to be the highest treasure on earth; they only perceive the dignity and power of His great divine works, although even they never sufficiently marvel at them and praise them as they should.—Sermon on the Ascension, 1527

Catechesis: A Rejected Teaching

[Of the Schwenkfeldians]: The ministry of the Church—the Word preached and heard—is not a means by which the Holy Spirit teaches people and works in them saving knowledge of Christ, conversion, repentance, faith, and new obedience.—FC XII:30

09 June 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

With a loud voice [the martyrs] sing of salvation from God, since they recall with great thanksgiving that they have triumphed, not by their own virtues, but with his help, in the struggle with the tribulations assailing them.—The Venerable Bede (on Rev. 7:12)


For He (our Lord Jesus) gathers His Church through the preaching of the Gospel, and adorneth her with His Holy Spirit.—Sermons, 1537

Catechesis: Guarding the Deposit

We desire, by God’s grace, to persevere constantly in this confession [The Augustana] until our end. And as long as it depends on our ministry, we will not overlook error or be silent, lest anything contrary to the genuine sense of the Augsburg Confession is introduced into our churches and schools, in which the almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has appointed us teachers, doctors, and pastors.—FC SD XII:6

08 June 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

He did not say, ‘After this I saw another people,’ but ‘ I saw a people,’ that is, the same people that had been seen in the mystery of the 144,000, which he now sees without number from every tribe and tongue and nation. For by believing, all nations have been engrafted into the root.—St. Caesarius of Arles


…the Holy Ghost cannot remain outside. And when He comes He makes the heart joyful, willing, and gay, so that it freely goes and gladly and with good heart does all that is well-pleasing to God, and suffers what has to be suffered, and would gladly die. And the purer and greater the knowledge, the deeper grows the bliss and joy. Thus the Lord’s command is fulfilled and all is done that should be deon; and thus you are made just.—Sermons, 1523.

Catechesis: Conclusion of Controversial Articles

We willingly advance unity where nothing of the divine truth of the Holy Gospel is surrendered, no room is given to the least error, and poor sinners are brought to true, genuine repentance, raised up by faith, confirmed in new obedience, and justified and eternally saved alone through the sole merit of Christ.—SD XI:96

07 June 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

[On the 144,000 of Rev. 7:4] By this finite number is signified the innumerable multitude of the whole church…—St. Bede the Venerable


As regards His Godhead, He [the Holy Ghost] is of indivisible divine essence with the Father and the Son; but to us He is called a Comforter, and a comforter is one who makes a sad heart glad and joyful towards God and tells you to be of good cheer for your sins are forgiven, death is slain, heaven is open, and God smiles on you. Whoever could grasp this definition rightly would have already won the victory and would not find or see anything but sheer comfort and joy in heaven and on earth.—Exposition, John xiv

Catechesis: Election

Furthermore, this teaching gives no one a cause either for despair or for a shameless, loose life. By this teaching, people are taught that they must seek eternal election in Christ and His Holy Gospel, as in the Book of Life. This excludes no penitent sinner, but beckons and calls all poor, heavy-laden, and troubled sinners to repentance and the knowledge of their sins. It calls them to faith in Christ and promises the Holy Spirit for purification and renewal.—FC SD XI:89

06 June 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

The preaching of the Old Testament joined with the New reveals the Christian people singing a new song, that is, the proclaiming of their public confession. It is new that the Son of God became man; it is new that he was given over into death by men; it is new that he rose again the third day; it is new that he ascended in the body into heaven; it is new that he gives the forgiveness of sins to men; it is new that men are sealed with the Holy Spirit; it is new that they receive the priestly service of supplication and await a kingdom of such immense promises.—St. Victorinus of Petovium 


Thus Christendom began with the word of the poor fishermen, and with the despised and disdained work of God, which is called Jesus of Nazareth, nailed to the cross.—Sermon for Whitsunday, 1534

Catechesis: Election

So the holy apostle also introduces the example of Pharaoh for no other reason than to prove God’s justice by it, which He exercises toward the unrepentant despisers of His Word. By no means, however, has the apostle intended or understood this to mean that God begrudged salvation to him or any person. He doesn’t mean that God ordained Pharaoh to eternal damnation in His secret counsel so that Pharaoh should not be able, or that it should not be possible for him, to be saved.—FC SD XI:86

05 June 2022

And a fine dinner out for our anniversary…

…at 1818 Chophouse. Flank steak skewers for appetizers with a bottle of wine. And then blue cheese crusted 18 ounce ribeyes for the meal. And a cup of decaf Goshen coffee and cream for dessert. Ah, wonderful! I’m a poorer man, but my tummy is very happy. 

Well, today’s the day: 40 years!

And as I look back over them, I am so thankful for the countless blessings that have attended us along the way, through the joys, through the sorrows, through the tears, through the laughter, and, yes, through losing Liverpool more times than I can even begin to count….

Thank You, Lord, for my beautiful and sweet wife, her smile, her music, her industriousness, her ability to whip up feasts for who knows how many people in a matter of minutes…

Thank You, Lord, for our sweet children, for Lauren and for David and for Rebekah…

Thank You, Lord, for the godly spouses you have granted them: for Dean and for Meaghan and for Andy…

Thank You, Lord for each one of our grandchildren: for Kloe, Sawyer, Annabelle, Lydia, Flynn, Henry, Felicity, Oliver, Evangeline, Griffin, and Chancellor…

Thank You, Lord, for our parents, for Stuart and Mildred, for Dave and Jo, and for the years of their love and nurture, and thank you for allowing us to still be enjoying Dave’s presence, even as we cherish the others’ memories…

Thank You, Lord, for the dear friends you have never failed to provide us both through the years…

Thank You, Lord, for the parishes we’ve been part of and all the wonderful members of God’s family we’ve come to know and treasure…

Thank You, Lord, for the joy of making this pilgrimage in each other’s company, and always looking forward to whatever adventure awaits around the next bend in the road…

Thank You, Lord, above all for giving us Yourself to be our Savior, for being the Forgiveness of all our many sins, and the Destruction of death itself; and for preparing for us a place in the home to which we are journeying, where we shall see Your face with our own eyes, and sing our praises to You unto the ages of ages...

Glory to God! Glory to God for all things!

03 June 2022

So very worth it…

…this new tool: a little robot that vacuums the pool bottom:

And there’s what it sucked off the floor:

Patristic Quote of the Day

For no law is called a testament, nor is anything called a testament, except that which is made by one who is about to die. And whatever is within the testament is sealed until the day of the death of the testator. And therefore rightly it is unsealed by the Lamb slain, who, as a lion, destroyed death and fulfilled that which had been foretold of him, and had freed man, that is flesh, from death, and received as a possession the property of him who was dying, namely the human race. For as through one body all people had come into the debt of death, so through one body all who believe might rise to eternal life.—St. Victorinus of Petovium


Certainly, not reason, but the Holy Ghost, must convince people, and He is called the Spirit of truth because He strengthens and upholds the heart against such appearance and feelings. Without Him no man would have believed, or would believe now, that Jesus Christ is true God, sitting eternally at the right hand of the Father, He who was thus shamefully nailed to the cross by His own people, like a thief.—Exposition, John xvi

Catechesis: Election

Also, Paul teaches this in a very consoling way. He explains that God in His purpose has ordained before the time of the world by what crosses and sufferings He would conform every one of His elect to the image of His Son. His cross shall and must work together for good for everyone, because they are called according to God’s purpose.—FC SD XI:49

02 June 2022

Patristic Quote of the Day

When the animals resound with praise, that is, when the Evangelists preach and celebrate the dispensation of Christ… the twenty-four elders, that is, the whole church, that is, the leaders and the people, immediately fall on their faces and adore him who lives forever and ever… By casting their crowns before the throne, they are ascribing to God whatever they possess of virtue and dignity.—St. Victorinus of Petovium 


For where the Spirit of grace is, He quickens our hearts, so that we can, and may, and must begin to pray.—Exposition of John xiv

Catechesis: Election

Few receive the Word and follow it. Most despise the Word and will not come to the wedding. The cause for this contempt for the Word is not God’s foreknowledge, but the perverse human will. The human will rejects or perverts the means and instrument of the Holy Spirit, which God offers it through the call. It resists the Holy Spirit who wants to be effective, and who works through the Word, as Christ says, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under wings, but you would not!”—FC SD XI:41