Thursday, April 22, 2010

Good Shepherd's sheep dogs

Now those sheep-dogs that afternoon gave me a much better address on the way in which pastoral work among souls should be done that I shall be able to give you. They were helping the shepherd to deal with a lot of very active sheep and lambs, to persuade them into the right pastures, to keep them from rushing down the wrong paths. And how did the successful dog do it? Not by barking, fuss, ostentatious authority, any kind of busy behaviour. The best dog that I saw never barked once; and he spent an astonishing amount of his time sitting perfectly still, looking at the shepherd. The communion of spirit between them was perfect. They worked as a unit. Neither of them seemed anxious or in a hurry. Neither was committed to a rigid plan; they were always content to wait. That dog was the docile and faithful agent of another mind. He used his whole intelligence and initiative, but always in obedience to his master’s directive will; and was ever prompt at self-effacement. The little mountain sheep he had to deal with were amazingly tiresome, as expert in doubling and twisting and going the wrong way as any naughty little boy. The dog went steadily on with it; and his tail never ceased to wag.
What did that mean? It meant that his relation to the shepherd was the centre of his life; and because of that, he enjoyed doing his job with the sheep, he did not bother about the trouble, nor get discouraged with the apparent results. The dog had transcended mere dogginess. His actions were dictated by something right beyond himself. He was the agent of the shepherd, working for a scheme which was not his own and the whole of which he could not grasp; and it was just that which was the source of the delightedness, the eagerness, and also the discipline with which he worked. But he would not have kept that peculiar and intimate relation unless he had sat down and looked at the shepherd a great deal.
[Evelyn Underhill, “The Teacher’s Vocation,” Collected Papers of Evelyn Underhill, Lucy Menzies, ed. (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., Inc., 1946), pp. 182-183.]

Monday, April 19, 2010

Remembering Stephen Onnen

"Before the Lord, death is not death at all. For us it is called and is death when we die. But before God it is a light sleep which could not be any lighter...If you can destroy my Christians, I can destroy you and recall them to life again." -- Martin Luther

Holy and righteous God!
Holy and mighty God!
Holy and all- merciful Savior!
Eternal Lord God!
Save us lest we perish:
In the bitter pangs of death,
Have mercy, O Lord!

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis!

Rest well, brother Stephen!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Are they listening?

Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, [we] must fall with them (Jedediah Morse, 1799).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lutheran Confessions

However, no one - unless he is an Arian heretic - can and will deny that Christ Himself, true God and man, is truly and essentially present in the Supper. Christ should be adored in spirit and in truth in the true use of the Sacrament, as He is in all other places, especially where His congregation is assembled. (FC VII:15)

Monday, April 12, 2010


+ Second Sunday of Easter +
April 11, 2010
Speak to the people all the words of this Life (Acts 5:20)

Alleluia! Christ is risen! C: He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!
As God’s people live more and more in the reality of Jesus’ resurrection, the very power of Jesus’ Life will be seen among and through us.
1. People are healed and added to the church
a. The even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. Bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed
b. Believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.

2. Opposition arises
a. Religious jealousy
b. It’s not about us

3. Prison doors are opened
a. God sends his angels to release us
b. God sends us out to speak boldly

Thursday, April 8, 2010

nominations are in

Official Notice
Nominations for President and Vice-Presidents

The nominations process for the offices of President, First Vice-President, and other vice-presidents of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod has been completed.

Of those receiving the highest number of nominating votes for the office of President, the following have given their consent to serve if elected:

Matthew Harrison -- 1,332

Gerald Kieschnick -- 755

Concordia was among those nominating Pr. Matthew Harrison. Matters now rest in the hands of the delegates. This delegate shall by praying for God's very best for the LCMS -- not presuming to know what that might be, but having definite ideas about what it is NOT:)

Monday, April 5, 2010

good news

+ Easter Sunday +
April 4, 2010
Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death! (I Cor. 15:24-26)

Alleluia! Christ is risen! C: He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!

1. The first enemy to be defeated is the devil
a. Prophecy fulfilled: the woman’s seed will crush the serpent’s head
b. A lion seeking whom he may devour, roaring his lies and deceptions and accusations

2. The second enemy to be defeated is sin
a. Psalm 32:1-2 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. Holy Baptism
b. Holy Absolution defeats guilt and doubt

Luther wrote in his Easter hymn: No son of man could conquer death, such ruin sin had wrought us. No innocence was found on earth, and therefore death had brought us into bondage from of old and ever grew more strong and bold and held us as its captive. Christ Jesus, God’s own Son, came down, His people to deliver; destroying sin, He took the crown from death’s pale brow forever; stripped of pow’r, no more it reigns; an empty form alone remains; its sting is lost forever. Alleluia! It was a strange and dreadful strife when life and death contended; the victory remained with life; the reign of death was ended. Holy Scripture plainly saith that death is swallowed up by death. Its sting is lost forever. Alleluia!

3. The last enemy to be destroyed is death!
a. All graves will be emptied. Matt. 27:51-53 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 28:6. He is not here, for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
b. Our bodies shall also rise. “O death, where is your victory? O grave, where is your sting?” Job said, For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

et resurrexit tertia die

O Death, where is your sting?
O Hell, where is your victory?
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown.
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen.
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen, and life reigns.
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead,
is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

+ St. John Chrysostom

holy saturday

From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday
Something strange is happening---
there is a great silence on earth today,
a great silence and stillness.
The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep.
The earth trembled and is still
because God has fallen asleep in the flesh
and He has raised up all who have slept
ever since the world began.
God has died in the flesh, and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep.
Greatly desiring to visit those
who live in darkness and in the shadow of death,
He has gone to free from sorrow captive Adam and Eve,
He who is both God and the Son of Eve.
The Lord approached them bearing the cross,
the weapon that had won Him the victory.
At the sight of Him,
Adam (the first man He had created) struck his breast
and cried out to everyone:
"The Lord be with you all!"
Christ answered him, "And with your spirit!"
and took him by the hand and raised him up, saying:
"Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead,
and Christ will give you light!"

"I am your God,
who for your sake have become your Son.
Out of love for you and for your descendants,
I now by My own authority
command all who are held in bondage to come forth,
all who are in darkness to be enlightened,
all who are sleeping to arise.
I order you, O sleeper, to awake!
I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell.
Rise from the dead,
for I am the life of the dead.
Rise up, work of My hands,
you who were created in My image.
Rise, let us leave this place,
for you are in Me and I am in you;
together we form only one person
and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son;
I, the Lord, took the form of a slave;
I, whose home is above the heavens,
descended to the earth and beneath the earth.
For your sake, for the sake of mankind,
I became like a man without help, free among the dead.
For the sake of you, who left a garden,
I was betrayed in a garden,
and I was crucified in a garden.

See on My face the spittle I received
in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you.
See there the marks of the blows I received
in order to refashion your warped nature in My image.
On My back, see the marks of the scourging I endured
to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back.
See My hands, nailed firmly to a tree,
for you who once wickedly stretched out your hands to a tree.

I slept on the cross
and a spear pierced My side
for you who slept in paradise
and brought forth Eve from your side.
My side has healed the pain in yours.
The spear that pierced Me
has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place.
The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise.
I will not restore you to that paradise,
but I will enthrone you in heaven.
I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life,
but see, I who am Life Itself
am now one with you.
I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded,
but now I make them worship you as God.
The throne formed by cherubim
awaits you, its bearers swift and eager.
The bridal chamber is adorned,
the banquet is ready,
the eternal dwelling places are prepared,
the treasure houses of all good things lie open.
The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

Friday, April 2, 2010

what we hand on

"I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, 'This is My body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way also the cup, after supper saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord unitl he come." I Cor.11:23-26.
When we start handing on things we have not received from the Lord Jesus and His apostles, His body the Church, we are building on sinking sand. We may gather crowds, but we are not building the kingdom of God, but something of our own imagination. Terrifying, actually.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

only God satisfies

Nothing in this world but God can fill our heart or fully satisfy our desires. A fire cannot be put out with brushwood and oil, because only water will put it out. In exactly the same way, the desires of the human heart cannot be satisfied with the goods of this world, because only the grace of God can quench the thirst of our desires.

+ St. Innocent of Alaska