31 August 2023
29 August 2023
28 August 2023
Are you a sinner? Do not despair; rather, enter, presenting repentance. Have you sinned? Tell God, “I have sinned.” What is the labor, what the period of time, what the expense? What kind of hardship is it to say, “I have sinned”? You have an advocate with the Father who said, “Be the first to confess your sins so you may be justified.” Say the sin to obliterate it. For this, there is no toil, no expense, no need of deep arguments, no need of philosophical reasoning, say, “I have sinned.” —St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Repentance
27 August 2023
26 August 2023
25 August 2023
24 August 2023
Upon the Festival of St. Bartholomew. We not only remember today this holy apostle of Christ, but also the numerous French protestants surprised and killed by their Roman Catholic fellow countrymen on the Eve and day and week following St. Bartholomew in 1572. The numbers of those killed has not be ascertained with certainty but runs from 5,000 up to 30,000.
“And take they our life, goods, fame, child and wife. Let all these all be gone! They yet have nothing won. The kingdom ours remaineth.”
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Ps cxvi
23 August 2023
22 August 2023
21 August 2023
The priest stands fulfilling the outward form, uttering those words, but the power and grace of God are at work. "This is my body," he says. This word accomplishes the things set before us, just as that voice saying, "Increase and multiply, and fill the earth," was spoken once, but continually, throughout all time, empowers our nature for procreation. In the same way, this voice spoken once at every table in the churches, from that time until now, and until His own coming, accomplishes the sacrifice. Therefore, let no one be deceitful, let no one be wicked.—St. John Chrysostom, Prod. Judas 1:6 (PG 49,380)
20 August 2023
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Is there anyone so lonely as a Pharisee? Is there anyone so lonely as the man who stands apart from others when he prays? Is there anyone so lonely as the man who must put up the big façade, pretending that all the good deeds he does makes him acceptable to God, when he knows in his heart of hearts that he’d far rather be doing quite different things than what he boasts about? To be such a Pharisee is to be very alone, even when standing in the crowded temple, even when standing in a church.
The Pharisee HAS to keep a distance from other people, because if they got too close, if they came to know him too well, then they’d see behind the façade, and the entire pretense would crumble. Then others would find out the real truth about the Pharisee, that he really wasn’t set apart from others at all. That he shared the exact same temptations and trials, and that inside him lived the same rebellious and stubborn soul that lived in all the rest. Far from marching from one victory to another, he too stumbles from one failure to the next.
The Pharisee, then, behind the pretense to holiness and the looking down on others, is intensely alone. Most of all, lonely because separated from the God who dwells only with sinners.
Are you a Pharisee, then? I think when we first hear this parable that we know so well, we immediately place ourselves into the person of the tax-collector, and we shake our heads at those silly folks who think they can curry God’s favor with their good works. How dumb can you be, we think. But dig a little deeper in the text, and I think we all start to squirm. Do you try to keep others at a distance so they don’t really get to know you in your sin and in your struggles? Do you stand apart when we gather in this room for prayer – not asking intercessions for the things you really struggle with for fear of what others would think of you? Do you want others to know all about the good things you do so that they can look up to you and praise you? Do you try to hide from others the very real sin that lives inside your heart and rebels against God’s commands, wanting to do your own thing? Do you even at times give into that, but try to keep your giving in “hush-hush” so that others continue to think of you in a way that does not match the truth about you?
Sadly, I find myself far too often in the place of that Pharisee. And so far too often, alone. All alone, praying with myself, maybe even just to myself.
But if the Pharisee is alone, the tax-collector is not. True, he stands afar off. True, he won’t even lift up his eyes. True, he beats his breast. But listen to what he prays: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” He is not alone because he stands before God with empty hands. He knows the evil that lives in heart. He knows the evil that he has done in his life. He knows the words he’s spoken that have cut other people and hurt them. He knows the times real burning hatred has been a guest in his breast. He knows how often he has burned with desire for what God has not given him and how he has grumbled about what God has seen fit to bestow on him. He can plead only for mercy; he’s deserved nothing but wrath, and he knows it.
And he doesn’t just know it in his heart. He says it with his mouth. He confesses before everyone there that he is a poor, miserable sinner who has deserved nothing but God’s temporal and eternal punishment. And yet he asks for mercy.
Interesting word there in the Greek. His prayer is not the word we expect: eleison. As in, Kyrie eleison. Lord, have mercy. Instead, he prays: O God, be propitious to me! O God, provide a sacrifice of atonement for me! O God, don’t give me what I deserve!
Think who is telling this parable. He is the answer to the tax-collector’s prayer. He is the One sent to serve us sinners by exchanging places with us. He is our Propitiation, our Atonement, the Sacrifice that secures and delivers to us the forgiveness of all sins.
This tax-collector, says Jesus, went down to his house justified, declared not guilty. And so, no longer alone. Because he was nothing but a sinner before God, he made the wondrous discovery that Jesus came to be the friend of sinners, that He came to take our sin upon Himself, that He came to bear on His cross what we could never bear, in order that we might become even as He is. No longer separated and cut off from God, but exalted to be the very children of God and heirs of His eternal kingdom.
To stand with the tax-collector means to be known as a sinner, as one who stands by nature under the dreadful wrath of God, as one who needs a propitiation. But oh the freedom of being done with the facades! Oh, the freedom of no longer having to pretend! Oh, the joy of speaking the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about yourself: “God have mercy on me, a sinner.” Humbling, indeed. But the very humiliation is exalting!
And then the joy of discovering that not only do you have the Lord Jesus, the friend of sinners, but you have sisters and brothers. They stand around you, beating their breasts, not lifting their eyes, pleading for the same mercy, and like you, they are given that mercy for which they plead.
A family of sinners through and through. Coming together to this table where the One who is your propitiation, your sacrifice of atonement on the cross, now gives Himself to you, to impart to you His forgiveness by the very Body and Blood that won that forgiveness for you. All around you, sisters and brothers who kneel with you and confess the same thing as you: that they are but a family of sinners who know what it is live from the free grace of God in Christ, and who have no need then to pretend to be anything other than what they are: forgiven. And so a family where there is no looking down on another, as though some were worse than others. A family where each says with the humility of Paul: “Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
That is what the Church is all about, or it is not the Church that Jesus founded. Not people who have their act together, but poor sinners, pleading for mercy, and then living together from the mercy they receive from the hand of God. Together with Christ. Together with one another. Not alone anymore. Amen
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Let us pray for the whole Church of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs. Brief Silence
Holy Father, Your Son died upon the cross that He might be our righteousness and was raised as the guarantee of our forgiveness. By Your Spirit free Your own from pride and grant grant the grace of humility, that we may be free from contempt of others, and that each regard himself as chief of sinners. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
Lord of glory, remember all pastors sent to proclaim peace and reconciliation through Your Son’s blood, especially Matthew our Synod President, Timothy our District President, John our Circuit visitor, the pastors of this parish and of our Synod. Keep them faithful to Your Word and through their proclamation fill Your people with everlasting joy. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
King of kings, remember all who have been entrusted with authority in our land and throughout the world. Make them a blessing of Yours. Hinder everything in our common life that opposes Your will, and strengthen our civil authorities in everything just and true. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
O Lord, You are our rock! Hear us now when we cry for Your help on behalf of all who are in prison, the hungry and ill-clad, the poor and the lonely, those who travel, the sick, the sorrowing, and all who have asked for our prayers, especially Your servants: Ken, Chloe, Melony, Dave, JW, Pat, Bob, Sonya, Lynn, Candy, Austin, Charlie, Carly and her twins, Keith, Phil, Art, Shirley, Jessica, Kathy, Otto, Sarah, Connie, Dean, Jed, Steve, Linda, Mara, Linda, Paul, Matthew, Molly, Tomiko, Thomas and Tina. Grant, O Father, that Christ ever be their Joy in sorrow, their Health in sickness and their Life in death. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
Father of our heavenly Bridegroom, receive our praise for Pastor and Cindy as they give You thanks for 42 years of holy marriage. We praise You for them, their children, and grandchildren. Sustain them all in Your love and in the holy faith. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
God of all mercy, we praise you for Baby Gerth (10 ONLY Margaret Norma) who will be brought to (10 only: who has received) the washing of rebirth this weekend. Grant that clothed in Christ, she may grow to lead a godly life to the glory and praise of Your holy name. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
God of our salvation, remember all who approach Your holy altar today. Grant that in worthy manner, we may feast on Your Son’s true body and blood, receiving the remission of of all our sins and rejoicing in the sure and certain proof of Your unfailing love for us. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
Giver of life everlasting, we praise and thank You for all Your servants who have fallen asleep in the saving faith, and even now in heaven await the glorious day of the Resurrection of all flesh. Grant us to share their joy when our pilgrimage ends, and bring us all at last to the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which has no end. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
19 August 2023
18 August 2023
17 August 2023
16 August 2023
I love it when I get feedback from listeners to The Word of the Lord Endures Forever. This letter was waiting for me today. What a blessing!
Dear Pastor Weedon,
Some time has passed since meeting you at Emmanuel Lutheran at Lancaster, Ohio. We were thrilled to meet the man behind the voice that brought us the Word of the Lord to us daily for those sixteen days in the hospital with COVID. My husband stayed with me throughout and we made certain to listen at that time to the Book of Ephesians and also Mark.
Our youngest daughter Anne was in constant contact with a doctor outside the hospital who was helping so many with COVID. He told her to tell me to sit in a chair with my feet on the floor and sing. And we did, singing hymns. My singing voice was so terrible and I apologized to my main caregiver for disturbing the floor. He said not to worry and go ahead and sing. By the way, Anne has a beautiful voice.
So many blessings. Ron stayed with me and our two daughters were allowed to visit on opposite days, and Pastor Raddatz was not considered a visitor so he could come whenever. We were able to comfort several nurses and listen to their stories. One of my doctors was an Orthodox Christian from Syria, and the other was a Sikh who saw the open Bible and asked what I was reading. I said: healing words (at the time Mark 1:29-34).
My sister was also in the hospital at the same time back home where my family lived in northwest Ohgio and her family was told to prepare for a funeral, but she bounced back two days later. Also, a close friend had her husband die from COVID on Christmas Day. Having COVID we couldn’t go to the funeral that was held.
So you see how much your voice carrying healing words calmed a major storm in our lives. We thank and praise the Lord for working through you to bestow blessings on so many.
Our oldest daughter Maggie had told us about your Bible Study and we have all been blessed. The study brings us all together to discuss the text even though we live far apart. The trip home from church was always chatter on the lesson taught in Sunday School. Such a blessing to continue that tradition, although in a different mode.
Blessings upon blessings!!
Thanks be to God,
Ron and Rebecka C.
Thank you all for the very kind words. It was wonderful to meet you!
P.S. The above arrived in a wonderful CHRISTMAS card: “In the Christmas season that lasts throughout the year, may His love fill your heart with everlasting joy.” And then “He has risen indeed!” As one who delights to listen to Christmas music pretty much year round, I said a hearty AMEN!!!
15 August 2023
14 August 2023
And even where the planners fail and someone is left physically by himself, the wireless* has seen to it that he will be—in a sense not intended by Scipio—never less alone than when alone. We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy; and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.—Business of Heaven, p. 207.
*If he thought that about the radio, I wonder what on earth he’d say to us today about social media on the internet and texting and such!