Monday, October 26, 2009

a little love

“Love little things, and strive for that which is modest and simple. The Lord watches over us, and He is pleased that you long for His peace. Until the soul is ready, He will only sometimes allow us to see that He is present everywhere and fills all things. At these moments the soul feels such joy!… But then the Lord conceals Himself from us again, in order that we might long for Him and seek Him with our hearts!”

­­—Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Philip, Johann, Paul

Nicolai, Heermann and Gerhardt, that is -- commemorated by our Synod today for their gifts to the hymnody of the Church. Here is stanza four of Paul Gerhardt's "A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth" (LSB 438):

Lord, when Your glory I shall see
And taste Your kingdom's pleasure,
Your blood my royal robe shall be;
My joy beyond all measure!
When I appear before Your throne,
Your righteousness shall be my crown;
With these I need not hide me.
And there, in garments richly wrought,
As Your own bride shall we be brought
To stand in joy beside You.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Reformation continued

+ Reformation Sunday +
25 October 2009
At the time of the Reformation, traditionally dated 31 October 1517, when Martin Luther
nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg Germany, the following
issues were of critical importance: grace, faith, scripture and Christ. These have become
known as the great Reformation slogans: grace alone, faith alone, scripture alone and Christ
alone, also the trademarks of our own Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. While recognizing
in one sense the timeless truth of these time-honored slogans, I think that there are other
pressing problems facing the church in our day that equally call for Reformation. God’s
Word for us points out the path for hope, healing and Reformation for the family, for the
faith and for freedom.

1. Reformation for the FAMILY Revelation 14:6-7
a. The eternal gospel is for every nation an tribe and language and people
b. Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come

2. Reformation for the FAITH Romans 3:19-28.
a. We are justified by grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
b. The Gospel preserved by the canon of catholicity: Vincent of Lerins (+ 434)
“I have continually given the greatest pains and diligence to inquiring, from the greatest possible
number of men outstanding in holiness and in doctrine, how I can secure a kind of fixed and, as it were,
general and guiding principle for distinguishing the true Catholic Faith from the degraded falsehoods of
heresy. And the answer that I receive is always to this effect; that if I wish, or indeed if anyone wishes, to
detect the deceits of heretics that arise and to avoid their snares and to keep healthy and sound in a
healthy faith, we ought, with the Lord's help, to fortify our faith in a twofold manner, firstly, that is, by the
authority of God's Law, then by the tradition of the Catholic Church.

Here, it may be, someone will ask, Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and is in itself
abundantly sufficient, what need is there to join to it the interpretation of the Church? The answer is that
because of the very depth of Scripture all men do not place one identical interpretation upon it. The
statements of the same writer are explained by different men in different ways, so much so that it seems
almost possible to extract from it as many opinions as there are men. … Therefore, because of the
intricacies of error, which is so multiform, there is great need for the laying down of a rule for the
exposition of Prophets and Apostles in accordance with the standard of the interpretation of the Church
Now in the Catholic Church itself we take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed
everywhere, always and by all. That is truly and properly 'Catholic,' as is shown by the very force
and meaning of the word, which comprehends everything almost universally. We shall hold to this rule if
we follow universality [i.e. oecumenicity], antiquity, and consent. We shall follow universality if we
acknowledge that one Faith to be true which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity
if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is clear that our ancestors and fathers
proclaimed; consent, if in antiquity itself we keep following the definitions and opinions of all, or certainly
nearly all, bishops and doctors alike.”

3. Reformation for FREEDOM John 8:31-36
a. Freedom means I don’t have to do what I want to do
b. Freedom comes in relationship with the Word and the Truth in Christ Jesus

Thursday, October 22, 2009

fasting from the fathers

For this healer of our souls is effective, in the case of one to quiet the fevers and impulses of the flesh; in another to assuage bad temper, in yet another to drive away sleep, in another to stir up zeal, in yet another to restore purity of mind and to set him free from evil thoughts. In one it will control his unbridled tongue, as it were by a bit, restrain it by the fear of God and prevent it from uttering idle and corrupt words. In another it will invisibly guard his eyes and fix them on high instead of allowing them to roam hither and thither, and thus cause him to look on himself and teach him to be mindful of his own faults and shortcomings. Fasting gradually disperses and drives away spiritual darkness and the veil of sin that lies on the soul, just as the sun dispels the mist. Fasting enables us spiritually to see that spiritual air in which Christ the Sun who knows no setting, does not rise, but shines without ceasing. Fasting, aided by vigil, penetrates and softens hardness of heart, where once were the vapors of drunkenness it causes a fountain of compunction to spring forth...we shall readily, with God's help, cleave through the whole sea of passions and pass through the waves of temptations inflicted by the cruel tyrant, and so come to anchor in the port of impassibility.
But without fasting, no one was ever able to achieve any of these virtues or any others, for fasting is the beginning and foundation of every spiritual activity.

--St. Symeon the New Theologian

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

freedom defined by love

The Letter to the Livonians (1525)
re: Martin Luther's famous letter to Christians in Livonia “concerning public worship and concord.” At the beginning of this writing, Luther described the situation in this Baltic territory thus (AE 53:45f.):

I have heard from reliable witnesses that faction and disunion have arisen among you, because some of your preachers do not teach and act in accord, but each follows his own sense and judgment. … This causes confusion among the people. It prompts both the complaint, “No one knows what he should believe or with whom he should side,” and the common demand for uniformity in doctrine and practice.
(46): “I hope that you still hold pure and unblemished the teachings concerning faith, love, and cross-bearing and the principal articles of the knowledge of Christ. Then you will know how to keep your consciences clear before God.”
(47): It is un-Christian to quarrel over such things and thereby to confuse the common people. We should consider the edification of the lay folk more important than our own ideas and opinions. Therefore, I pray all of you, my dear sirs, let each one surrender his own opinions and get together in a friendly way and come to a common decision about these external matters, so that there will be one uniform practice throughout your district instead of disorder—one thing being done here and another there—lest the common people get confused and discouraged.
(47f.): … even though from the viewpoint of faith, the external orders are free and can without scruples be changed by anyone at any time, yet from the viewpoint of love, you are not free to use this liberty, but bound to consider the edification of the common people, as St. Paul says, I Corinthians 14 [:40], “All things should be done to edify,” and I Corinthians 6 [:12], “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful,” and I Corinthians 8 [:1], “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” Think also of what he says there about those who have a knowledge of faith and of freedom, but who do not know how to use it; for they use it not for the edification of the people but for their own vainglory. Now when your people are confused and offended by your lack of uniform order, you cannot plead, “Externals are free. Here in my own place I am going to do as I please.” But you are bound to consider the effect of your attitude on others. By faith be free in your conscience toward God, but by love be bound to serve your neighbor’s edification, as also St. Paul says, Romans 14 [15:2], “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to edify him.” For we should not please ourselves, since Christ also pleased not himself, but us all. … This I said to the preachers so that they may consider love and their obligation toward the people, dealing with the people not in faith’s freedom but in love’s submission and service, preserving the freedom of faith before God. Therefore, when you hold mass, sing and read uniformly, according to a common order – the same in one place as in another – because you see that the people want and need it and you wish to edify rather than confuse them. For you are there for their edification, as St. Paul says, “We have received authority not to destroy but to build up” [II Cor. 10:8]. If for yourselves you have no need of such uniformity, thank God. But the people need it. And what are you but servants of the people, as St. Paul says, II Corinthians 2 [1:24], “We are not lords over your faith, but rather your servants for the sake of Jesus Christ.”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I ordered mine!

At Home In the House of My Fathers

G. K. Chesterton once famously said that the church is the ultimate democracy; saints are not disenfranchised just because they happen to be dead. Harrison's volume confirms this truth in spades. Great fathers of the LMCS speak also to us on a wide range of topics from the church's call to mission at a time of opportunity (Pfotenhauer) to her response to moral issues in society (Schwan on the temperance movement) to a touching discussion of the nature of women as human creatures within the church (Brohm). But "worth the price of admission" is the multifaceted and very personal piece of correspondence from Wyneken to Walther on Anfechtungen, depression, and church politics, including the difficulties of their own personal relationship. Read, appreciate, and learn!

Friday, October 9, 2009

not so highly-prized

"Obama's winning the peace prize shows these prizes are political, not governed by the principles of credibility, values and morals," said an Islamic Jihad leader, Khaled Al-Batsh.

"Why should Obama be given a peace prize while his country owns the largest nuclear arsenal on Earth and his soldiers continue to shed innocent blood in Iraq and Afghanistan?"

Issam al-Khazraji, a day labourer in Baghdad, said: "He doesn't deserve this prize. All these problems -- Iraq, Afghanistan -- have not been solved...The man of 'change' hasn't changed anything yet."

Liaqat Baluch, a senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a conservative religious party in Pakistan, said: "It's a joke. How embarrassing for those who awarded it to him, because he's done nothing for peace. What change has he brought in Iraq, the Middle East or Afghanistan?"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

timely advice from Boethius

"Boethius (480-524) is, after Plotinus, the greatest author of the seminal period [Late Antiquity], and his De Consolatione Philosophiae was for centuries one of the most influential books ever written in Latin... Until about two hundred years ago it would, I think, have been hard to find an educated man in any European country who did not love it."

Alas, what wretched ignorance leads
Mankind from the path astray!
Who looks on spreading boughs for gold,
On vines for jewels gay?
What man sets nets on mountain-tops
For feasts of rich sea-food?
What huntsman has the wild goat
Upon the sea pursued?
The very ocean’s depths men know
Beneath the waves on high;
They know which strand is rich with pearls,
Which shores with purple dye;
They know the bays for tender fish,
For shellfish where to try.
But in their blindness they do not know
Where lies the good they seak:
That which is higher than the sky
On earth below they seek.
What can I wish you foolish men?
Wealth and fame pursue,
And when great toil wins false reward,
Then may you see the true!

Monday, October 5, 2009

end the fed

The Fed should take to heart the words of consolation the American people
are given whenever a new government surveillance program is uncovered: if you’re not doing
anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.
The superstitious reverence that Americans have been taught to have for the Federal Reserve is
unworthy of the dignity of a free people. The Fed enjoys a government-granted monopoly on the
creation of legal-tender money. It is not an unreasonable imposition for Americans to demand to
know about the activities of such an institution. It is common sense. (Testimony before Congress of Thomas E. Woods, Jr.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

lutheran liturgy?

“The objection: "What would be the use of uniformity of ceremonies?" was answered with the counter question, "What is the use of a flag on the battlefield? Even though a soldier cannot defeat the enemy with it, he nevertheless sees by the flag where he belongs. We ought not to refuse to walk in the footsteps of our fathers. They were so far removed from being ashamed of the good ceremonies that they publicly confess in the passage quoted: "It is not true that we do away with all such external ornaments."”

From an editorial by Walther in Der Lutheraner, Vol. 9, No. 24, p. 163 (July 19, 1853)