Monday, September 27, 2010

18 Pentecost

+ Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost +
September 26, 2010
“If they do not hear Moses”
The intent of Jesus’ parable is not to give a literal description of the after-life, a subject about which there swirls never-ending currents of curiosity, but to teach important lessons about how to prepare for that inevitable conclusion to our journey through this vale of tears.
1. The mercy of God in Christ Jesus our Lord determines our destination
a. Many live as if mercy were no concern of theirs – don’t need it
b. Those who receive mercy become merciful themselves
2. The time for concern about others is NOW.
a. I have five brothers – please warn them!
b. They have Moses and the Prophets – let them hear them.
2 Peter 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

Luther on Galatians

"As I have said, therefore, Paul is painting a picture of the whole of the Christian life in this passage: inwardly it is faith toward God, and outwardly it is love or works toward one's neighbor. Thus a man is a Christian in a total sense: inwardly through faith in the sight of God, who does not need our works; outwardly in the sight of men, who do not derive any benefit from faith but do derive benefit from works or from our love

Saturday, September 25, 2010

desert = people

"We have to remember that we look for solitude in order to grow there in love for God and in love for others. We do not go into the desert to escape people but to learn how to find them: we do not leave them in order to have nothing more to do with them, but to find out the way to do them the most good." Thomas Merton

Thursday, September 23, 2010

power of the Word

He shall break the power of the wicked, while the strength of the just shall be exalted. Psalm 75

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

how is it possible

But how is it possible for us to miss the impact of God planting His Church here in this place not only for our sakes but for the sake of the world around us? How is it possible to meet Christ where He has promised to be (Word and Sacrament) and then go home as if the most important thing on our agenda were finding something good to eat? Is this a matter of bad people or bad attitudes or is it a symptom of the fact that we have forgotten that the Church is not ours, we do not create it, and we are not the objects of the Church's existence. -- Rev. Larry Peters, Clarksville, TENNESSEE

a pure Christian symbol

To this Christian [pious] Augsburg Confession, so thoroughly grounded in God's Word, we herewith pledge ourselves again [publicly and solemnly] from our inmost hearts; we abide by its simple, clear, and unadulterated meaning as the words convey it, and regard the said Confession as a pure Christian symbol, with which at the present time true Christians ought to be found next to [which pious hearts ought to receive next to the matchless authority of] God's Word; just as in former times concerning certain great controversies that had arisen in the Church of God, symbols and confessions were proposed, to which the pure teachers and hearers at that time pledged themselves with heart and mouth. -- preface to Solid Declaration, Formula of Concord

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Schwenkfeldians: go away!

Erroneous Articles of the Schwenkfeldians.

22] 3. That the ministry of the Church [ministry of the Word], the Word preached and heard, is not a means whereby God the Holy Ghost teaches men, and works in them the saving knowledge of Christ, conversion, repentance, faith, and new obedience.

23] 4. That the water of Baptism is not a means whereby God the Lord seals the adoption of sons and works regeneration.

24] 5. That bread and wine in the Holy Supper are not means through and by which Christ distributes His body and blood.

25] 6. That a Christian who is truly regenerated by God's Spirit can perfectly observe and fulfil the Law of God in this life.

26] 7. That it is not a true Christian congregation [church] in which no public excommunication [some formal mode of excommunication] or no regular process of the ban [as it is commonly called] is observed.

27] 8. That the minister of the church who is not on his part truly renewed, regenerate, righteous, and godly cannot teach other men with profit or distribute genuine, true Sacraments. -- Epitome, Formula of Concord

Monday, September 20, 2010

17 Pentecost

+ Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost +
September 19, 2010
“One who is faithful”
And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. Luke 16:9 With these words, Jesus gives us the reason he told this strange story that leaves many people scratching their heads in confusion. Why would Jesus tell a story in which a worldly, dishonest man is commended? In order to make a point about how to use temporal things for eternal gain. As followers of Jesus, we are called to a higher standard of faithfulness, both with unrighteous wealth, and with true riches. And remember, my friends, God’s standard can only be met by complete reliance on the grace and mercy of God revealed in His Son.

Be faithful in a very little
a. Does God have a plan for handling money? Spend less than you have coming in, get out of debt in order to have savings and be generous in giving.
b. If you have not been faithful in that which is another’s – it all belongs to God! Attitude check!

Be also faithful in much – only those who have clothed themselves in Christ!
a. How do we see the faithfulness of Christ Jesus? We read in John’s Gospel:
Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do, for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner…I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge, and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me….I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me…When you lift up the Son of man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself, but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things…For I have not spoken on My own authority, but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak…Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority, but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.”
b. Those who love money will ridicule us, but Jesus has the last word: what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. Let them laugh. What qualifies as “your own”? What is in your heart! Love of God, love of your neighbor, your time and energy, your choices of how to give your time and energy to your family, church and community. This no one can take away from you. What a joy to serve God and play a part in filling those eternal dwellings with the souls Christ died to save!

We’re pilgrims on the journey of the narrow way
And all who come behind us light the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary,
Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who’ve gone before us Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness Passed on through Godly lives

Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful,
May the fire of our devotion light the way,
May the footprints that we leave, Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh, may all who come behind us Find us faithful

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone,
And our children sift through all we’ve left behind
May the clues that they discover And the memories uncover
Become the light that leads them To the road we all must find

Thursday, September 16, 2010

from the bisho's sermon

from the good Archbishop's homily at the installation of President Harrison:

The catholicity of the church is known by these marks:

The Holy ministry headed by the faithful ministers of the Word.

The Holy liturgy as has come down to us through the ages. The so-called contemporary - that I only compare with the spontaneous fashions in ladies dresses that appear in the market almost every six or even four months in Kenya - deviates from it.

The pure preaching of the Word – Law and Gospel.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

beward of Arius!

When it is taught, and the passage Matt. 28:18: All power is given unto Me, etc., is thus interpreted and blasphemously perverted, namely, that all power in heaven and on earth was restored, that is, delivered again to Christ according to the divine nature, at the resurrection and His ascension to heaven, as though He had also according to His divinity laid this aside and abandoned it in His state of humiliation. By this doctrine not only the words of the testament of Christ are perverted, but also the way is prepared for the accursed Arian heresy, so that finally the eternal deity of Christ is denied, and thus Christ, and with Him our salvation, are entirely lost if this false doctrine were not firmly contradicted from the immovable foundation of the divine Word and our simple Christian [catholic] faith.
-- Epitome, Formula of Concord

holy cross day

Again, as one preacher has said, if you were telling someone how to make a cross, you might say (at least to an English speaker), "Draw an I and then cross it out." As we make the sign, we first draw a vertical stroke, as if to say to God, "Lord, here am I." Then we cancel it with a horizontal stroke, as if to say, "Help me, Lord, to abandon my self-centeredness and self-will, and to make you the center of my life instead. Fix all my attention and all my desire on you, Lord, that I may forget my self, cancel my self, abandon myself completely to your love and service." -- anonymous via James Michael Thompson

Monday, September 13, 2010

personal union =

7. Hence we believe, teach, and confess that Mary conceived and bore not a mere man and no more, but the true Son of God; therefore she also is rightly called and truly is the mother of God.
-- Epitome, Formula of Concord

Thursday, September 9, 2010

true worthiness

We believe, teach, and confess that all the worthiness of the guests of this heavenly feast is and consists in the most holy obedience and perfect merit of Christ alone, which we appropriate to ourselves by true faith, and whereof [of the application of this merit] we are assured by the Sacrament, and not at all in [but in nowise does this worthiness depend upon] our virtues or inward and outward preparations.
-- Epitome, Formula of Concord

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

two kinds of music

by Cantor Philip Magness, Board of International Mission, LCMS:

The relatively new academic discipline called Sentics has demonstrated that music can independently generate two very different reactions and emotions, termed Dionysian and Apollonian. The first is emotive and turns one inward. It is self-gratifying and clearly anthropocentric. The second, while not denying the emotional impact of music, maintains control and gives room for the intellectual processing of the truth of the text. In the first type, the music dominates the text. In the second, the music is in service to the text. Christian Contemporary Music, a bad clone of popular music, is clearly Dionysian. Luther called Dionysian music “carnal” and he wrote his music to wean people away from the love ballads of his day.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

proper understanding of good works

For especially in these last times it is no less needful to admonish men to Christian discipline [to the way of living aright and godly] and good works, and remind them how necessary it is that they exercise themselves in good works as a declaration of their faith and gratitude to God, than that the works be not mingled in the article of justification; because men may be damned by an Epicurean delusion concerning faith, as well as by papistic and Pharisaic confidence in their own works and merits. -- Epitome, Formula of Concord

a time to be silent

"Just so with regard to the things of God. Should we desire to explain them by human wisdom, great derision will ensue, not from their weakness, but from the folly of men. For the greatest things no language can explain."

John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Corinthians, 4.2

Monday, September 6, 2010

words to live by

Our new president, Rev. Matthew C. Harrison:

There is nothing for any of us in the Missouri
Synod to be smug about. “For what do you have that you
have not been given?” Luther reminded the Germans of his
day that the precious Gospel can be and has, in fact, been
lost by whole nations.
Buy while the market is at your door; gather in the
harvest while there is sunshine and fair weather;
make use of God’s grace and word while it is there!
For you should know that God’s word and grace
is like a passing shower of rain which does
not return where it has once been . . . when
it’s gone it’s gone. . . . And you Germans need not
think that you will have it forever, for ingratitude
and contempt will not make it stay. Therefore, seize
it and hold it fast (Luther’s Works 45:352).
The good news is that the Lord delights in
having mercy upon sinners, just like us. In fact,
“Christ dwells only in sinners” (Luther).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Labor Day Sermon

+ Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost +
September 5, 2010
Loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him. Dt. 30:20
As we celebrate the annual Labor Day weekend, it would be helpful for us to reflect on the Biblical view and meaning of work. Where do we look for jobs? Do we look to the government? Do we look to major corporations? Or do we look to God. God speaks to us through his servant Moses even today: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.” What does this message have to do with work and labor? Well, think about it like this: our work can produce life and a blessing; or death and a curse. Work produces goods or services. So evaluate the goods and services that your work produces on the basis of life and death, blessings and curses. Let me sate the obvious: Please don’t stick around a work environment that is committed to producing death and curses! Listen very carefully! Our work, those 40 hours a week, more or less, represents the single most important opportunity believers have to be the ambassadors of Jesus Christ, people who let their light shine before men who can see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
1. Loving the LORD your God
a. We love, because He first loved us. Begin and end each day with this thought
b. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren…..
2. Obeying His voice
a. The written word; 10 commandments
b. The voice of the Church, the Holy Spirit through the means of grace
3. Holding fast to Him
a. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they kave not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them. (Isaiah 41:10; 42:16)
b. Like a little child in trust and confidence. Confirmation vows:
Do you intend to live according to the Word of God, and in faith, word and deed to remain true to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, even to death?
I do, by the grace of God.
Do you intend to continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?
I do, by the grace of God.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

reverence for reality

This is the title for the following reflection from Czeslaw Milosz, the Nobel Prize winning poet and writer. He was a Roman Catholic.
"Little animals from cartoons, talking rabbits, doggies, squirrels, as well as ladybugs, bees, grasshoppers. They have as much in common with real animals as our notions of the world have with the real world. Think of this, and tremble."
Perhaps we think of what takes place in our midst during the Divine Service, and tremble. Not timbrel, mind you, but tremble. After all, we gather at the Altar surrounded by the truly real world of the heavenly realms, with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. We are in the presence of the Most Holy Trinity, the Creator of heaven and earth. We are sinners in the presence of a Holy God. This should make us tremble like Moses, Isaiah, John. We should fall on our faces, only to get up and receive the mercy of our God in the living Christ's precious body and blood. If our liturgies do not begin to reflect the real world, then we will always remain fools in the cartoon world of these dark days. If we do not conduct ourselves with fear and reverence and respect and awe and devotion, then we do not believe in the real presence of Christ, except in some docetic spiritual sense. If we insist on the casual, relevant, popular, consumer-driven models of worship, banging our timbrels down the aisle and exalting ourselves, rather than trembling on our knees with thanksgiving, then we effectively deny the reality of our Lord deigning to be in our midst. If we are ever to be relevant to this cartoon world, then we must become irrelevant to it. In our worship, we must become irrelevant to the chimera that is this world, bearing witness to that which is truly real, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting that is ours through the incarnate, risen, and ascended Christ.
(thanks to Rev. Mason Beecroft for this post)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

our human brother

Moreover, the Son of God has assumed this human nature, however, without sin, and therefore not a foreign, but our own flesh, into the unity of His person, and according to it is become our true Brother. -- Epitome, Formula of Concord