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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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. 


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


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


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