Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Words of Institution

I am currently reading Luther's Confession Concerning Christ's Supper.

One of the things that strikes me is the fact that Luther continuously and constantly returns to the Words of Institution to make his case.

He always points to the plain simple meaning of the text. Thus when Jesus Christ says "This is my body" the burden of proof lies with the person who declares that what Christ said must be otherwise understood.

It is no wonder why then in the small catechism he relies on the Words of Institution for promise and blessing in the Supper. As he says
It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself.

And further speaks,
[The benefit of eating and drinking] is shown us in these words: Given, and shed for you, for the remission of sins; namely, that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.
What a gift and a blessing that our Lord has so simply and plainly laid out for us such wonderful Words of promise that even a Kindergartner of 1st grader can understand what Christ says when He speaks the Word of Institution.

Feel free to read again Christ's Word in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul.

Luther's work here in Confession Concerning Christ's Supper is truly one of Luther's more excellent writings, to the extent that you'll find portions of it in The Formula of Concord concerning the person of Christ.

O Lord, we praise Thee, bless Thee, and adore Thee,
In thanksgiving bow before Thee.
Thou with Thy body and Thy blood didst nourish
Our weak souls that they may flourish.
O Lord, have mercy!
May Thy body, Lord, born of Mary
That our sins and sorrow did carry,
And Thy blood for us plead in all trial, fear and need:
O Lord, have mercy!

+Kyrie Eleison+

Monday, September 20, 2010

New Look - New Start

As you've noticed (or haven't), I have not posted in a while.

Lots of things were going on in my life. I got engaged, started wedding planning, moved back to the seminary, and started classes.

Now, two weeks into classes, I have a hankering to start blogging at least once a week again. I need once again to write on topics that are on my mind.

In the meantime, pray that in my studies God would guide my heart and mind to life and salvation in Jesus Christ in such a way that I might repeat such mercies to the flock that He may one day place me over.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hiatus

I took a hiatus from posting despite my intent to post throughout June. I did this mainly because the end of my vicarage was extremely busy and it came to a quick end, then I've been traveling ever since I got back to Oklahoma.

Here's a brief look at what I've been doing for this past month:

The end of vicarage was busy. I preached two of the last three weeks. I had something going on every evening for the last twelve or so days of vicarage. Thankfully, my love Angelyn came to Michigan to help me move. I don't think I could have packed as efficiently alone. :D

When I got back to Oklahoma I spent a couple days in Tulsa visiting my sister Betsy, her husband Tim, and their baby (my niece) Kaytlyn.

From there I went home to Meno for a day, only to leave for Winchester, TX for my cousin Christopher's wedding. After getting back, I spent a couple days in Norman, OK with Angelyn. Then I headed back to Meno.

A few days later I headed to Tulsa for Kaytlyn's baptism. I am a proud baptismal sponsor. :D

Finally, this past weekend I went down to Richardson, TX to spend some time with Angelyn and her family. I was a great weekend.

That's about it. Now I think I'll have a few weeks of stability. Hopefully I'll be able to post a bit more frequently.

+Kyrie Eleison+ (Indeed, He has as He's protected me in all my travels.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Christians are Like Vuvuzelas

If you've seen any part of the 2010 World Cup broadcast from Africa thus far, you have noticed the pleasant sound of the vuvuzela rising from the crowd to produce the most incorporating and relaxing sound which helps one assimilate into being part of a "football" match in South Africa.

And if you have watched any of the matches, you certainly know that the vuvuzela makes no such sound. Instead, the sound which these large plastic horns makes is annoying, loud, and sounds - as many have said - like a hive of buzzing bees. The broadcasters said the noise is even worse being at the matches in person than that which we spectators receive across the live airwaves.

Now the sound of these vuvuzelas is so incredible annoying that almost every country has complained and many of the players as well. It got bad enough that the FIFA World Cup suits were considering banning the vuvuzelas from every stadium. They discussed it and decided that the annoying instruments would not be banned. The reason they gave in defense of the instrument was this: that the vuvuzela was a uniquely South African way of celebrating football matches and to take away the vuvuzela would insult the South African host nation and its long tradition of using the vuvuzela. Despite its annoyance to the rest of the world, the vuvuzela was staying.

Perhaps we should learn a lesson from the vuvuzela. As Christians, we stick out in this world like a vuvuzela during a World Cup match, and we can be just as annoying to the world. With our Godly ethical system - e.g. the way we protect the sanctity of life, and uphold marriage - and the way in which we proclaim Jesus Christ as the only way by which a man can obtain heaven, we are the greatest annoyance to the world and they cannot bear it. Jesus Christ is the ultimate vuvuzela stumbling block for our World Cup world. (Sorry Jesus, just making a point.)

But seriously, we Christians are in the world, not of it. We look and act like others, yet we stick out simply because Jesus Christ has called us to himself. He has made us His baptized and forgiven children. He is forming us through repentance and forgiveness, confession and absolution into His own image even now. We are God's people and our lives reflect this.

This I think speaks to another point.

In the World Cup the South Africans were allowed to blow their vuvuzelas because it was inherently part of their football worship. If you took it away from them, it would be taking away from them part of who they are . It is the same with Christian worship. If we are told that we must take away part of the way in which we rightly worship the Lord, and if we are told we must change because others will be annoyed and put-off by the way the Divine Service is ordered, then we lose a part of ourselves. We lose a part of our identity. Yet, we don't lose it because it is our tradition, no, we lose a part of who we are because we take away the way in which God gives us his magnificent gifts and makes us who we are. If we remove the means by which God deigns to give us forgiveness, by word and sacrament, then we lose the very means by which we are God's people.

Who knew the vuvuzela could be a catechetical tool.

P.S. If you have an iSomething, you can download a vuvuzela as an app. Get it here.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Monday, June 14, 2010

Amish Grace

I was bored Saturday night, so I flipped on the TV and started watching the lifetime movie Amish Grace.

The movie Amish Grace is based on shootings that took place at a one-room Amish schoolhouse on October 2, 2006. A man entered the schoolhouse and killed 5 young girls before committing suicide. It was tragic. All the people involved - shooter, children, and all the families - belonged to Christian communities of faith. The story in the press was highlighted by the outpouring of love, compassion, and forgiveness by the Amish people on the shooter's family - to the amazement of many.

The movie did a great job portraying the hatred that was felt by both the victims' families and the shooter's wife. What it did not do was accurately portray what forgiveness was. Forgiveness was boiled down into a "letting go" of negative emotions. It was also very law oriented. Scripture itself was lightly employed and the only verses I recall being quoted in the entire movie was Matthew 6:14 and the reading of Psalm 23. The idea of forgiveness was watered down to emotional blather. At one point one of the Amish elders said that forgiveness was, indeed, not pardon. So much for that "whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" spoken by Jesus.

I'm not sure if that idea of forgiveness is really what the Amish believe. It'd be hard to believe that, though I guess it could be true. And while emotional release isn't the purpose of forgiveness, I guess it still can begin that process to mental and emotional recovery. Though, that is only secondary.

In regard to this, let us always be mindful that we are justified by Christ by the forgiveness of our sins. We truly are pardoned of our many sins because Jesus himself took our punishment. Because of that, we know that even for the most horrible of sinners, even the shooter's sins in this tragedy, were taken to the cross by Jesus so that in Christ there is always hope for salvation.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Blessings of Technology

My niece was born yesterday.

Yesterday evening, Craig sent me a picture of my niece by cellphone. I skyped with my niece. I let people know by facebook that she had been safely born into the world. I wrote a blog telling anyone who would like to know that my niece was a beautiful healthy baby to the glory of God. After I did all that, I marveled for a minute about the blessings that technology brings.

A mere 25.75 years ago, I was born. If someone had wanted to see me as a newborn baby, they had to come to the hospital. If they wanted to tell others about me, they had to call another person almost definitely on a hardline hoping that someone was around to pick up. A person if they were away from that birth would miss out on a lot of the celebration.

I was away, yet I can tell my niece when she's older that I was able to celebrate with everyone on the day of her birth. I got to see her and hear her, even though I was not able to hold her. Praise the Lord that He has blessed men and women in this world to dream and create this kind of technology for the benefit of His children.

Now you can argue about the dangers of technology and it's dismal effects on society. But we cannot downplay the blessings that it provides as well. As a vain exercise, I think about what it would be like if Paul would have had Skype to talk with Peter and Apollos. What if Athanasius had blogged during his exiles and all the people of the world could have read what he had written? What if the Cappadocian Fathers had had Facebook? I know, I know. Feel free to mock this vain exercise. God did not ordain it to be, so perhaps I should not think this, but it is still fun.

We cannot deny that there are many blessings to technology. And I thank God that I was able to utilize that which He has given to bring joy to my life.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Kaytlyn Grace Fleming


My niece!

I am blessed to be the uncle of a healthy 7lbs 6oz, 20 1/4" beautiful little girl named Kaytlyn Grace. She brings me so much joy and I haven't got to hold her yet. However, I have gotten to see her. When she was only about 6 hours old, my niece and I "skyped" each other. She's wonderful. I love you Kaytlyn!

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. - Psalm 127:3

+Kyrie Eleison+

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ignatius to Polycarp


I picked up my copy of the Apostolic Fathers today. I was intending to glance through the Didache in order to do a little early church teaching with the Thursday evening Bible class. Instead, I wound up reading the letter from Ignatius of Antioch to Polycarp of Smyrna.

With all the talk of "relevance" today in the church, they should take a page from Ignatius' letters and realize that Christ and His Word is relevant simply if it is kept unadulterated and taught purely.

You can tell by the way Ignatius exhorts Polycarp to be a good pastor, that there is clear concern for God's people founded solely on the grace of God in Christ Jesus. And those exhortations bring joy to the heart because in those exhortations he continually points us back to grace. For example, Ignatius exhorts Polycarp,
"Bear with all people, even as the Lord bears with you."

"Please the one whom you serve as soldiers, from whom you receive your wages. Let none of you be found a deserter. Let your baptism serve as a shield, faith as a helmet, love as a spear, endurance as armor."
It's quite remarkable what Ignatius does with His exhortations. I realize this is a letter and not a sermon, but would that I could exhort with as much grace as Ignatius did, better yet, with as much as our Lord Christ did. Thorough the grace of Jesus Christ, indeed, we can rejoice at Godly living that He has worked in us and through us.

What a remarkable letter! And I pray that one day as I finish my studies another pastor would say to me as Ignatius said to Polycarp,
"For by grace I trust that you are ready for a good work in the service of God."
+Kyrie Eleison+

Monday, June 7, 2010

101.1 - Woodward, OK


Tonight I listened to K101 out of Woodward, OK. Country music at its best.

It's been a while since I've listened to the station. I had forgotten that I could - online. It's my favorite radio station. It plays the mainstream stuff, but it also plays a lot of music that isn't mainstream.

It was probably the most relaxing evening I've had in a while. I read about the Athenian's slow decline in naval power while listening to Easton Corbin belt out Roll With It. Fun. Just Fun.

Alright, good night.

Psalm 3:5
I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Friday, June 4, 2010

Why are you clapping?

When I am sitting in church, there are a few things that make me want to slam my forehead into the pews in front of me. But recently, there is nothing that makes me want to do this more so than clapping during church?

The Divine Service (and indeed any service) is one where we first of all receive what God gives us in His Word and Sacraments. As of second import we respond to what we are given in calling upon the name of God, prayer, praise, and giving thanks. The entire service is a back and forth flow between God giving and us receiving and responding.

So, into which part of the service does clapping fit? Why are you clapping? The people who clap likely have not even considered this. Are you clapping in response to what God has done for you?


Or... are you clapping for the group of kids who just finished singing a song about how they love Jesus? Are you clapping for the trumpeter who has just played the descant to "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" in the grandest fashion? Are you clapping for the choir who has just sung a grand piece at a most appropriate time of the year?

Why are we clapping for people who are presenting their gifts and talents in works of service to the church? Why have we turned our attention off of our Lord during the service and put it on men? Why do we so often cheer and applaud the works of men, rather than keep our attention on the greatest work ever done for us by God - the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins?

It astounds me.

I guess the sinful flesh will have its way with us and rebel against God, especially during the time when God is trying to give us His most precious gifts.

Holy Spirit work in us to focus our attention on the true center of God's Divine Service, Jesus Christ.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Lords of the Sea

I am reading a fantastic book. It is called Lords of the Sea written by John R. Hale. It chronicles the correlation between the rise of democracy in Athens and the ascent of the Athenians to "Lords of the Sea."

I once took a class at the University of Oklahoma called Freedom in Greece by the great professor Dr. J. Rufus Fears. In that class, though we covered many aspects of Grecian power, we studied extensively the Athenians and the Spartans (bitter enemies of one another). They had an intense desire for liberty that no man would take from them. This was my introduction to Ancient Greece and her exploits.

I also took two other classes there, The Ancient Art of War and The History of Sparta. Both of these classes were taught by Dr. Alfred S. Bradford. He was a kind-hearted professor who also happens to have served in Vietnam. In these classes I was able to dive more intensely into the warfare culture that had developed in ancient Greece, especially in Sparta.

Now with this book, I am getting the strictly Athenian side of the history of the Greek world. It is interesting to see the difference in perspective when reading this book as compared with The Spartans. It is clearly more sympathetic to the Athenians, though it does do a fair job at not demonizing the Spartans.

The book covers a timeline from about 480 BC until c. 320 BC a period of roughly 160 years. That is less time than the U.S. of A. has been around. It is incredible to see the dynamics of government go from oligarchy, to democracy, to oligarchy, to tyranny, to oligarchy, to democracy, and never remain stable AND how it ultimately resided upon the success of their maritime activities. Simply incredible. As I near the end of the book, I begin to realize how quickly these changes took place within Athens, and how comparable some of the Athenian situations are to the current government of the United States.

Immigration, taxation, disappointing government officials, allocation of state funds - all of these things which were problems and instigators of change in Athens are current problems in America. Sure we are much larger than Greece, but the problems remain. Perhaps it is only a indicator that changes are coming, but they will only come more slowly.

Athens was the superpower of the Ancient World. It was the most technologically advanced civilization. It was the leader among its allies, and its allies aided the greater Athenian seafaring forces in battle. Yet, how quickly the tides could turn. Athens quickly went from superpower to subservient city-state. What lessons can we learn from them? I think that may be still up for debate. But, I am afraid that the U.S. is on a collision course with history, and if we don't yield and learn from that great passing ship, we might end up like the Athenians and find that we have become but a small vessel drifting helplessly against the out going tide of time.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The "Gospel" According to Starbucks

I am reading "The Gospel According to Starbucks".

It is not a good book.

It is well intentioned, but it is way off track. It makes unreliable claims about the personality of Jesus and has a blatantly negative view of all things historical in worship. Okay, maybe not blatantly, but you can still see that the author of the book clearly thinks that if Christians are to be REAL Christians, they must be exciting.

I'm about half done. I'll render a more thorough review after I am done with it.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Month of 30+ Posts


Friends and all, I am going to attempt something I have yet to do - post on my blog each day for an entire month. Since I made a post yesterday, I have decided to post every day for the course of June.

My reasons for doing this?

1) Discipline. This in part will be an exercise in discipline. Am I disciplined enough, committed enough, to blog every day for the month of June. We shall see...

2) Forced expansion of theological horizons. I have been lax in disciplined reading this year. I have read large pieces of books here and there, but I intend for the month of June to do much more. Thus some of those thoughts from reading will be the subject of my blog posts.

3) Things are wrapping up on vicarage. A little more free time should allow for me to do this.

So, if you read my blog, that is fantastic. If not, well, no "if not", because you aren't reading this anyway.

Blessings and lets see where my endeavors take us.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Gustavus Adolphus

For the next two weeks Angelyn and her family will be in Scandinavia traveling through Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. That got me thinking about Gustavus Adolphus, a great hero of the Thirty Years' War.

Why? First, because with a name like Gustavus Adolphus, you simply must be awesome. Second, as a the King of Sweden he was a superb general (often credited with furthering military strategy), an excellent governing authority (bringing order and stability to the economic well being of Sweden), and a devout Christian. Both his parents were Reformed of the Calvinistic strain, yet he was highly influenced by Lutheranism.

Angelyn has been across the Atlantic more than a few times. She mentioned to me that in some places the residents tended to memorialize certain characters, ranging from the mythical to the historical. I am hoping that Gustavus Adolphus is one of these characters that the people of Sweden have chosen to rally around.

You see, it was Gustavus Adolphus who gave great hope to the Lutheran/Protestant side during the Thirty Years' War. Though the Lutheran side was eventually gravely defeated and great concessions were made on their part, for a time due to Gustavus Adolphus' leadership and skills as a general they were inspired to make headway during that war. It has been said that as a leader he was truly devout and tried to lead a truly Christian army, if that could indeed be done.

As it is, I am hoping that Angelyn can find something "Gustavus Adolphus" to bring back for me. That would be fantastic.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Mother's Day Thought

I realize that this post is early for Mother's Day, but I found it necessary to post this to have a catharsis of some of my sermonizing thoughts from this week.

I was thinking about how I can incorporate Mother's Day into my sermon. As a vicar, I'll never hear the end of it if I don't. However, the tragedy of sin in the world prevents me from preaching the happiness of motherhood superficially in my sermon, while still concentrating on another main point of the text. The reality that motherhood is tarnished by sin and Christ's redemption of motherhood is a whole sermon in itself. If you're going to touch upon mothers on Mother's Day: don't. You'll do injustice unless you devote sometime to it.

The problem lies in, as I mentioned, sin. Yes, motherhood is joyful. It is a wonderful blessing to be a mother. But you cannot simply talk about the joys of motherhood. What about all the women who are infertile, and unable to conceive? If you preach only the blissfulness of mother, you inevitably take a John Henry hammer to the railroad spike already driven into the heart of that sin-stricken woman. A broken family, a motherless child, a mother whose child has died, the loss of the familial matriarch - there are so many who, if we do not recognize the effects of sin in the world, will be utterly crushed by taking Mother's Day as the commercialized feel good day it is urged to be.

I'll say it again, motherhood is joyful. We should rejoice in this amazing economy of God and this vocation by which He cares for and brings children to adulthood.

So if you're going to preach on motherhood, preach it all. But most importantly, preach Jesus. For in His death, there is life: life for the barren, life for the dead, and life for the separated. By that forgiveness in Christ Jesus, He makes all things new. Perhaps now, perhaps not now, but certainly He promises it in eternity. Take your joy and your comfort in Christ Jesus our Lord.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Monday, May 3, 2010

An Interesting Observation


As I was working on a sermon for Sunday, I began to think of the freedom we have as Christians.

Before conversion our souls are bound to Satan, and afterward we are bound to God in Christ Jesus. Yet, now as Christians because God is our Lord and Master, when presented with a decision between two choices, we have the freedom to choose either. So long as both are good and Godly, reason may decide the choice because each are good choices and God can work through you despite the choice you make.

First there is bondage, then there is freedom!

Yet, when I began to think about other "Christian" theologies, the role seems to be reversed. In this particular theology, it is supposed that there is freedom of the will before conversion. One can make a choice for God. Yet, afterward when they are Christians, they try to bind themselves to deciphering God's will - I must discern God's will for my life, for my church, and for my ______. For them, when presented with two decisions which are equally Godly and good, there IS a wrong choice and therefore they must try to bind themselves to what they think is God's will and they fret and worry and despair.

First there is freedom, then there is bondage!

What a joy to have the Gospel ringing in my ears telling me: Jay, the Lord is with you. Make your choices, I am still with you. By the blood of my Son, Jesus Christ, I am always with you. Boldly make your choices, and I will produce good fruit whatever you choose.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Monday, April 12, 2010

"Oh Man!" Moments

Well, I preached a sermon yesterday on the peace of God. That was a good thing. However, I had two "Oh man!" moments during the course of yesterday.

The first was a pleasant surprise. During the 8:00am service yesterday while I was about 3/4 of the way through preaching my sermon, I spied my fieldwork pastor from Fort Wayne in the congregation. It caused my first "Oh man!" moment and I proceeded to lose my train of thought and become completely self-conscious. I lost my place on my manuscript, and once I found it my brain was on auto pilot for the rest of the sermon. It was nerve wracking. No one said they noticed, but I like to think they are just being nice to the vicar. :) Nevertheless, it was a pleasant surprise to see him there and briefly chat with him after the service.

The second was not so pleasant. I received a phone call last night about one of the people I have in bible class. It was delivered secondhand to me that this person would not be returning to bible class because what I taught and the way I taught were too difficult to understand. "Oh man," right? That was disheartening, since one of the few "ability" qualifications Paul gives for pastors is that they are "able to teach".

+Lord have mercy, on me+

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Unity in the Supper


In the Treasury of Daily Prayer, C.F.W. Walther has an excellent writing concerning the Lord's Supper. If you have the Treasury, I would highly suggest this.

C.F.W. Walther tells us that when we gather to receive the Lord's body and blood in the Supper, there is none greater than another. All are sinners hungering and thirsting for righteousness, desiring to be relieved of the guilt of sin. It reminds me also of Paul's passage from Galatians 3,
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
So not only at the Lord's Supper is there no distinction between those who come to Christ, but also in Baptism. We are all sinners covered by the robe of Christ's righteousness. There is none greater than another.

Which reminds me also of another passage from John 19,
Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. (emphasis added)
This Jesus Christ was for all men. Holy Writ has set in many languages that the Word of God, God made flesh, our Savior Jesus Christ is for all mankind. He is not simply for the Jews. He is not simply for the Greeks. He is for the world. The sacrifice that He made for the sins of all men was given so that we might be joined to the cross and empty tomb of Christ in Baptism, joining in the blessings of suffering, life and salvation. Christ made that sacrifice so that we might receive the blood from the very wounds of Christ in the Supper; a Supper instituted in order that we might receive that forgiveness all the more, being assured that we are Christ's and Christ is ours through that forgiveness of our sins.

Tonight as we celebrate the Supper, as we celebrate the night upon which our Lord instituted His blessed meal for our benefit, know that you are a sinner with sinners. We are all one in Christ Jesus desiring His flesh and blood for our salvation.

A Blessed Holy Thursday to You!

+Kyrie Eleison+

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Last Name Is...


Part of my family is in town this week, so I figured I'd briefly post about family.

Call it God's law. Call it love toward your neighbor. Call it the table of duties. Call it vocation. Whatever you call it we are put into relation to other people. We are placed into an "office" (an established position in which God works) and we are to carry out the duties of that office in love and service. For example, I am placed into the office of "son" which means that I am to honor my father and mother and I am to love and respect them in all Godly decisions. I am a neighbor (to all mankind), thus I am in the office of "neighbor" and as such I am to (insert Luther's explanation for commandments 5-10).

I'm not sure how I am to entertain my family while they're here, but I guess I don't really have to do that. I need not worry about how to keep them excited while they're visiting. Why is this? Because God has placed me into an office in which I need only show love to them and they will be happy. They are happy that I spend time with them, that I provide for them and make them feel welcome in my (small apartment) home.

That is the freedom of vocation. And vocation is really the freedom we have in the forgiveness of sins. When God brings to me forgiveness, I am free from the oppression of the law, to abide by the law knowing that because of Christ my sin is blotted out and the law has no power to condemn, but only to guide me. That is, the law now put in it's proper place now serves to benefit both myself and particularly my neighbor by teaching me the good and right will of God. Again with forgiveness in Christ Jesus, I now can love and serve my God, father, mother, brothers and sisters without the fear of condemnation.

Familial vocation, founded on God's forgiveness, is truly freeing.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Watchmen of the Church

How can I preach the whole counsel of God?

I am a 25 year old man. God willing, I'll be either 26 or 27 when I am ordained. I'll preach around 75 sermons each year, give or take. Let's say God grants me a situation where I am with the same congregation 40 years and I retire at 67. Let's do the math 75x40= 3,000 sermons. Not a bad number.

Looking at this week's pericope and context for Lent 3 Series C, the OT text is from Ezekiel 33:7-20. Particularly focus on these words from verse 7, as I believe, they apply to the pastor very distinctly.
So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.
The words here and the words from 33:1-6 echo what was said to Ezekiel in 3:16-21.

But how can I do this? Of all the sins that are in the world. How can I possibly preach on them all? How can I give warning to men about transgressing the whole Law of God where he has given "a word from His mouth"? I have only 3,000 sermons and that only if I am at that congregation for 40 years that those particular people might hear the whole counsel of of what God warns them about. How might they know of every sin that is harmful to them that they are committing?

Alas, I think that it is not possible.

However, I think there is hope in Christ Jesus, for he has put an end to sin. As the pericopes guide the Pastor to faithfully preach Christ, they do not necessarily lend themselves well to preach against sins that are everywhere in society and that people can easily fall into. Yet, it is that faithful preaching of Christ that ultimately is triumphant. As sins are denounced and declared forgiven since they were shouldered by Christ himself, we are made anew.

A good tree bears good fruit, says Matthew. A good tree bears good fruit. The daily recognition that we are sinners, sinful people until the day we die, carries us in a cycle of repentance and forgiveness. A daily drowning of the Old Man and rising of the New Man. As forgiven men and women, we do walk in righteousness before our God and are being renewed daily by the Holy Spirit working through His Word to keep us from sin and live a God pleasing life, even against sins that, perhaps, the pastor has not preached upon.

I'd like to think that the Holy Spirit is more powerful than my preaching. I'd like to believe that His Word regenerates the hearts of man through the forgiveness of sins and leads them to lead a new life, even when I can't warn them of every sin out there.

God have mercy on me as I speak Your Word. Let me be a faithful servant.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Monday, March 1, 2010

New Month

It is a new month. March is here. The sun was out today, and the first signs of "spring" are here. Apparently, being up north a couple winters has driven me to see even slightly above freezing temperatures as the end of winter and the coming of spring.

This is going to be a good month and my tie on this first-day has set the theme. I have a lot going on this month. A friend is coming this weekend, and part of my family in two weeks. It's going to be fun.

Have a good month everyone.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Monday, February 22, 2010

It's snowing... again. :)

When I went to bed last night, it was raining.

When I got up this morning, there was about 2.5 inches of snow on the ground.

But this was not the deep cold snow, that we all have been used to as of late. This snow was heavy and wet. It put a nice covering on everything. It stuck nicely to everything it touched. And it left the road slushy, rather than overly slick and hazardous. The winter is losing it's icy grip on the frigid north - at least here in Saint Joseph. The wet and heavy snow signals that a final melting will occur. Maybe not today, maybe the wind will blow and the temperature will drop and winter will make another futile attempt to freeze us. Still, the end is in sight. The change in the snow signals winter's impending demise.

Is this not the way of the Christian today? Because of Christ, sin has lost is stranglehold on humanity. He has melted sin's icy grip with the outpouring of his warm blood. His blood shattered sin and continually washes over us and makes us clean. And though sin may make it's inlets into our lives; it may overtake us and drive us to dismay that there is no end to suffering in this life. The end is in sight. And Christ's continually tells us we are forgiven and gives us that forgiveness that we might not despair, but instead that we might know that Christ has freed us from sin and will bring us through life's harsh winter to a warm land, flowing with milk and honey.

+Kyrie Eleison+

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pastoral Ways

I've not posted in a while. It's not because I've been too busy to blog, but simply because I haven't wanted to lately. I've not had enough energy to post anything constructive lately and it would have been rant had I posted before now.

However, all my internal and external ranting has finally brought about, perhaps, a sense of growth into a more pastoral mindset. Perhaps it's part of that oratio, meditatio, tentatio Luther talks about?

Anyway, it boils down to something Pastor Batsky told me a couple months ago: act like a pastor today. I thought originally how incredibly pietistic and moralistic that sounded. But now as I understand it, it has a much broader scope.

I have a gentleman that I speak with regularly who delights in the law of the Lord, too much - at the expense of the Gospel. It ultimately shapes his view on the end times (Historic Premillenialist-ish), and the way He interprets Scripture (with a bias where he is always correct, that he might never contradict himself). He often is spot on on some details, and it is enjoyable to listen to him. But lately it has gotten harder to have conversation with him. He gives me back-handed compliments, belittles me when I disagree with his interpretation of passages, and can be vociferously belligerent if I tend to agree with the Lutheran Confessions (which he claims makes so many wrong conjectures).

I have seen strife and anger first hand. People who have become upset and angry over something that could have been avoided. People who are unwilling to understand before acting. People for whom forgiveness is not the answer to redeem and bring to Christ a broken world.

And, on the positive side, I have seen Pastor Roth handle a very delicate situation with incredible Pastoral Care. A situation in which I would have failed miserably.

Act like a pastor today.

Speak with love and with understanding to the people you wish to guide and teach. Be encouraging, slow to become angry, and patient. Always patient. Be repentant and forgiving, and ultimately trust in the Gospel. Trust in the Gospel, that the Good Pastor Jesus Christ has been the perfect Pastor for you, and has forgiven every one of your sinful pastoral failures with His precious blood.

+Kyrie Eleison+