Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Beck Bites Connecticut Attorney General

Wow, did Glenn Beck school the Connecticut AG over the government's handling of the AIG bonuses. The government goes after AIG for the bonuses they gave, and while we may raise an eyebrow about the size of those bonuses, on the other hand a contract is a contract, and AIG was following the contract, in accordance with the law. Now they are being punished by the government for this, and it turns out it's the government which is being lawless: AIG did nothing illegal; how can they be punished by the government? I worry that a tyranny is developing before our eyes. Beck is right: the Attorney General is an insult to George Washington. Here's the exchange:

Two Trials

Jesus was arrested by the chief priests, scribes, and elders, and tried before them, whereupon he was handed over to Pilate, and tried again, in a Gentile court, since the Jews were under the thumb of the Roman empire. Thus He was tried twice, once by His people, and again by the Gentiles, to whom He was handed over. Why? Both Jews and Gentiles are responsible for His death, thus all the world is represented in this injustice; moreover, as the Jews handed him to the Gentiles, so also, upon the rejection of the Gospel by the Jews, the Gospel is handed over to all the world, from Pentecost. Today's (Tuesday) Gospel is St. Mark 15:1-15. The sermon:

Monday, March 30, 2009

Jesus in Gethsemane while the Disciples Sleep

Today's (Monday) Gospel is from St Mark 14:32-42. Jesus chides His disciples for sleepeng when they should watch and pray, but when He returns the third time, He says, "Sleep on now and take your rest," while in the same breath saying, "Rise, let us be going." It seems clear that the rest of which He speaks here is the rest which He gained for us by His perfect obedience. See, He watched and prayed; He endured His great Passion, for us and for our salvation.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jesus Hid Himself

The Fifth Sunday in Lent is the first day of Passiontide, the last two weeks in Lent. We veil the images and statuary (this photo shows another church which has done the same), as a grim reminder of the fact that when the Jews resisted and opposed Jesus, unwilling to hear His rebuke, He "hid himself, and went through the midst them, going through the temple, and so passed by." Thus we are warned to take to heart His rebuke, and the pricks of conscience, to repent, and turn again unto Him who is Himself the Almighty, who here identifies Himself as the "I am." The Gospel is from St. John 8:46-59. Today's audio file has the choral stanza of the Hymn of the Day spliced between the Gospel reading and the sermon:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Woman with the Alabaster Box

The Gospel for today (Saturday) is from St. Mark 14:3-11, of the woman who breaks the alabaster box to anoint Jesus with the costly ointment. She is scorned for this by some, but Jesus defends her, saying that what she has done (anointed His body for burial) will be told wherever this Gospel is preached in all the world. A comparison of this to two accounts in St. John's Gospel and one other reveals that this woman is Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus, and is herself none other than Mary Magdalene, out of whom Jesus had driven seven demons. She loved much because she was forgiven much. Contrast this against those who scoffed, which, according to the parallel accounts, included Judas, and Simon the Leper, at whose house this event occurred. Possibly this Simon is the father of Judas, since the latter is called the son of Simon in the Johannine version. The sermon:

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Fulfillment of David's Cries

Today's (Friday) Gospel was from St. Matthew 27:39-49. His enemies blaspheme, wag the heads, and mock, and Jesus cries, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me," all in fulfillment of the experience of David against his foes, recorded in the 22nd Psalm. The sermon:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Good Counsel of Pilate's Wife

Pilate does not heed the good counsel of his wife, and we see a reversal of the evil counsel of the woman in Eden, which her husband wickedly obeyed. But the greatest reversal is the redemption won for us by the innocent Man condemned, and our fault is undone. Today's (Thursday) sermon, from St. Matthew 27:11-26:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Annunciation

Today we celebrate the greatest miracle of all, the binding of the eternal God to His creation in the flesh of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Two masses, two sermons:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Seeds of Betrayal; Bitter Herbs Fulfilled

This (Tuesday) morning's Gospel, from St. Matthew 26:14-25, contains Jesus' announcement that one of His disciples will betray Him, and each of them, sorrowful, asks, "Lord, is it I?" Such honest introspection is needful for all of us. But more than that, we note Jesus' awareness of Judas' treachery, which is a great bitterness to Him (cf. Psalm 55), as it is written, eat the Passover with bitter herbs. In spite of this He does not thwart it, but causes it to be parcel of His plan of our redemption. The sermon:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Weep for Yourselves and For Your Children

This (Monday) morning's Gospel is from St. Luke 23:27-31. The vindication of Jesus against the atrocity against Him is not only seen on Easter, but expected at the Day of Judgment. Since this day is coming, all must repent, in order that His blood, rather than being the cause of their judgment, may cover them against judgment.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Feeding of the Five Thousand

Neither the manna for the Israelites in the wilderness nor the bread which fed the 5,000 (John 6:1-15, today's Gospel, Lent IV) were ends in themselves. Both were divine illustrations wanting fulfillment, which Christ gave on the night when He was betrayed. Now there is no manna (which means "what is it?"), but Christ Himself, the very Bread of Life, who says, "This is my body." Whoever eats His body and drinks His blood has eternal life, and will be raised up at the last day, as He said. The sermon:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Happy Inference

Today (Saturday) the Gospel reading was from St Luke 23, the portion of the passion in which Pilate seeks to have Jesus released, but the crowd asks Barabbas. It is implied that there is a double injustice here, both of Barabbas' pardon and of Jesus' sentence. So also, we may take a double inference from this Gospel, namely, that Jesus the innocent is condemned, and we sinners, the guilty, are recipients of mercy.

I also reloaded yesterday's Gospel, which failed when I tried to get it up yesterday. This time, success. So here are both:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sleeping for Sorrow

Today (Friday) the Gospel was from St Luke 22, Jesus praying in Gethsemane. Something went wrong with the recording, so I'll just recap.

Why did the disciples fall asleep? For sorrow. But after the resurrection, they never so sorrowed. Hence their knowledge of the resurrection changed things for them. After the resurrection there was no betrayal, no denial, no flight in the face of danger. There was only unflinching courage, in persecution, and even unto death.

So let the knowledge of the resurrection bolster your own prayers in the midst of challenges, trials, and sorrows. For this knowledge changes everything. It means Christ was victorious in all his trials, which were for our redemption. None of it was in vain; nor, therefore, are any of your struggles in vain.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

St. Joseph, March 19

Kudos to the people responsible for bringing back to Lutherans the Feast of St. Joseph, now restored to its rightful place, March 19, in Lutheran Service Book. Though I still find The Lutheran Hymnal a superior hymnal in many respects, it's hard to excuse the glaring omission of St. Joseph, not only from its calendar, but from the hymns. In all the 660 hymns of TLH, there is but one reference to Joseph, a passing nod in #84.

At St. Paul's, we actually celebrated twice, once last night (since we get a larger crowd then), and again this morning. Hence I preached two (different) sermons:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The God of the Living

This (Wednesday) morning's Gospel, from St. Luke 20:27-44:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

On Lazarus and St. Patrick

Sermon on the Gospel from this (Tuesday, St. Patrick's Day) morning's mass, St. Luke 19:1-10:

Monday, March 16, 2009

What It Means to Receive the Kingdom as Little Children

This (Monday) morning's Gospel, St. Luke 18:15-17. Applied to the words, "This is my body," the faith of little children simply believes:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Strong Man Undone

Today's Gospel, for Oculi, Lent III, is from St. Luke 11:14-28, on Jesus' healing of the mute, the accusation that he does it through Beelzabub and his reply, and his discourse on the overcoming of the strong man.

As a bonus, I've spliced the choir's rendition of "Jesus, Refuge of the Weary" between the Gospel reading and the sermon. They actually sang it during distribution today, but it serves well here as a segue, as if it were the hymn of the day. The arrangement, incidentally, is my own, a chorale setting.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

He Will Avenge Them Speedily

This (Saturday) morning mass, the Gospel (St. Luke 18:1-8) and sermon:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Why Jesus Sent Apostles

Today's (Friday) Gospel, from St. Luke 17:1-10, preached at mass:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

On Prestige. Wealth, and Power

This (Thursday) morning's Gospel and sermon at mass: Luke 16:10-18. "That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jesus Casts out a Violent Demon

Tonight's Gospel and sermon, from St. Mark 9:17-29. The demon Jesus' disciples could not cast out of a man, whose father replied to Jesus' rebuke, "Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief."

The Prodigal Son

From St. Luke 15, this (Wednesday) morning's Gospel, on the prodigal son:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sorrow and Patriotism

This article is also posted at Gottesdienst Online, and appeared in the Kewanee Star Courier this morning. The funeral of Sgt Schuyler Patch was held in Kewanee on Saturday.

On Thursday afternoon I stood among those lining the street waiting for the motorcade which brought the body of Seargeant Schuyler Patch back home.

Gathered at Veterans’ Park, several hundred strong, we waved our flags and made small talk as we waited. People milled about as the KHS band came out to play, and some TV newscasters from the Quad Cities showed up.

Finally, when the long motorcade came down the street, all the chattering stopped, and there descended a sudden and thick quiet upon the multitude. We watched as the family emerged in silence. No chatter, no shuffling of feet, not even the twittering of birds. The air was still, and the sun hid behind the clouds. The gravity of the moment descended like thick darkness upon us, and we stood speechless as our hearts heaved, ready to burst.

The band began to play some patriotic music, which seemed to brighten the day for a moment, but when they ceased, and a lone bugler in the distance began to play taps, the family broke down and began to weep for their son; and so did Kewanee. All around me I heard sobbing, and saw red eyes, on the faces of young and old alike. The Apostle Paul bids us to weep with those who weep, and all at once it seemed the entire town was doing just that, willing the Patch family to know that they were not alone in their sorrow.

This was Kewanee embracing her own.

And yet what I thought I saw, or felt, in this moment of grief was something more. People die every day, some of them young; and we grieve their losses too, when we know them. But the feeling of emotion felt that hour, at the loss of this soldier serving his country was more than simply grief. It was a palpable recognition of honor and loyalty, and a swell of patriotism. This was America.

And this, I’d suggest, revealed the beating heart of Kewanee. This town is a mix of varying political persuasions, as the voting patterns indicate. But there are no debates among us about the nobleness and valor that attends military service. Death on the battlefield somehow takes on an additional meaning, and when we gather in droves to honor one who has died in this way, though we certainly do so in sympathy with the family that has suffered so great a loss, we also do so because in this we are brought to terms with the reality that this great nation requires sacrifice, and we find ourselves in the perpetual debt of those who have made that sacrifice.

A rare and wonderful outpouring of community solidarity, sorrow, and love has emerged, because we all seem unquestionably to know that Schuyler Patch has become, at the age of 25, a hero, for no other reason than that he gave his life for his country. In the midst of our grief we know that there is something very inspiring and enduring in that. Kewanee at her best is America at her best, standing shoulder to shoulder, one nation under God. The value of this nation soars when it is measured in sacrifice, and words can scarce express our gratitude over those whose lives, like the life of Schuyler Patch, have been weighed in that measure.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Canaanite Woman

The Gospel for the Second Sunday in Lent, on the Canaanite woman of St. Matthew 15:

On the reason for tragedy

This (Monday) morning's sermon was on St Luke 13:1-5:

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

And the sermon:

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Receptionism on the Run, II

Perhaps I ought simply to relent.

Perhaps I should say,

"The authors of the Solid Declaration Article VII 87 went into some detail to point out the abuse of consecrated bread and wine in adoration. I wonder if they would as silent as our theologans (sic) are today toward the practice of left over consecrated wine settled in plastic cups setting (sic) in parish sacristies in garbage bags waiting to go to the dumpster. Does the Synod defend this practice?"

And then perhaps I should answer:

"First, to clarify the point of the Formula of Concord, Article VII, paragraph 87, we do well to include paragraph 86 (and interested readers will benefit from going back farther than than, at least to paragraph 83). The primary point is that consecrated elements are not to be separated or diverted from the rest of the 'usus' or 'actio' that includes 'distribution and reception or oral eating' that Christ commanded when instituting the sacrament.

"The so-called 'nihil' rule or principle is being presented, namely, that no action or emphasis (nihil= "nothing") that is beyond the sacramental practice (consecration, distribution, reception) is to be regarded as part of the sacrament.

"'Left-over consecrated wine' that remains in used vessels and to be discarded is thus wine that is beyond the sacramental practice. It is not going to be received or orally drunk by the communicant. It no longer has the nature of the sacrament and is comparable to elements that were being misused by the medieval Catholic Church as stated in paragraph 87. (We do note an important difference, of course: having left-over elements is not a sinful departure from Christ's institution, but simply an inevitable outcome of valid sacramental practice). We really do not know how much bread and wine were left over in the Upper Room when Christ instituted the Lord's Supper, nor do we know how it was disposed of. Scripture is silent on this. It is beyond the sacramental focus.

"So, to put it plainly, the left-over wine is considered and treated differently than during the sacramental practice because we are now beyond the sacramental practice. It would be unnecessary speculation to say much more about the nature or qualities of such left-overs. Our theologians . . . do not normally say much about the disposal of left-overs (sometimes called the reliqua or reliquae) for that reason."

Would that be acceptable? Examine the quotation, which comes from our friends at the Wisconsin Synod, and you might be able to see some rather glaring deficiencies for yourself. For starters, take note of how the Confessions seem to have become a norma normans here.

In other words, to return to the original notion: No. Perhaps not. I still see no reason to relent on the question.

On the leaven of Pharisees

This (Saturday) morning's Gospel, from St. Luke 12, wherein Jesus warns his disciples of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy:

Friday, March 06, 2009

On Jesus' Condemnation of the Pharisees and Lawyers

This (Friday) morning's sermon, from St. Luke 11: Woe unto you Pharisees, etc.:

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Two sermons: on self-exaltation and on repentance at the sign of Jonah

Last night's (Wednesday) midweek mass had as its Gospel the dissension among the disciples in Luke 22, which of them was greatest, and Jesus' consequent rebuke. This morning's (Thursday) mass had St Luke 11, Jesus' warning regarding the sign of Jonah. Both follow here:

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A friend needing three loaves

This is one of my favorite Gospels, from St. Luke 11. It comes immediately after the Our Father, and is, I believe, a parable about the Our Father and its function in the canon of the Mass. The three loaves, the friend of the friend, the midnight hour, the children in bed, the door closed are all details not to be missed. Preached this (Wednesday) morning at St. Paul's:

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Receptionism on the Run

Who says this conversation has come to an end? My own involvement in the discussion is sometimes limited, but it seems to me that in the course of its ebb and flow, it has been developing right along. The number of comments now exceeds 200. I've been posting some audio files of sermons meanwhile, but that ought not discourage the continuation of this important topic.

Now, as Venkman has astutely pointed out, we have begun to surround and hem in the error of receptionism, which, I hasten to remind you, happens to have been a major impetus behind the building of a tabernacle here.

I have long suspected that there are many whose reason for consuming everything is so they would not have to face their own refusal to believe that the simple words of Jesus abide forever. They may not have monstrances, but they do seem to have hours of adoration, not of the Sacrament, but of Melanchthon and his eucharistic errors (q. v.).

Evidently they have deleted from Galatians St. Paul's warning, "though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Either that, or they believe the Book of Concord carries more weight than the apostles and angels. Don't get me wrong, I don't think the BoC is guilty of the Melancththonian error, but they do, though they call it a truth. But if I did interpret the BoC as they do, I would sooner reject it than the words of Christ.

Verbum Dei manet in aeternam.

Satan Falls from Heaven

Sermon from this morning's (Tuesday) mass, on St. Luke 10, the sending of the seventy who returned with joy, and Jesus said, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven . . .":

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Disciples Want to Call Down Fire from Heaven

This morning's (Monday) mass had as its appointed Gospel the reading from St. Luke 9 in which Jesus tells his disciples not to forbid a man for casting out demons in his name ("He who is not against us is for us") and rebukes them for wanting to condemn the Samaritans who did not receive him ("because his face was set to go to Jerusalem").

I forgot to turn on the PA system today, so no recording. Oops.

The sermon, briefly, explained that neither the man who was independently casting out demons nor the Samaritans had it right. The independent exorcist was wrong, even as those who were not Levites who attempted to offer sacrifices were wrong, and the Samaritans were wrong for rejecting Jesus.

But the disciples misunderstood him because they had yet to grasp the truth that his coming was divided in two, which no one expected. Divided in two: once in mercy, and the second time in judgment.

And this fact is wonderful, for had he not divided his coming in two, no one could be saved. Not only the independent exorcist and the Samaritans, but we ourselves are beneficiaries of the lovingkindness of Jesus in coming first in mercy. And so merciful is he that he absorbs the divine wrath of which the Scriptures so frequently speak, and of which the disciples were so acutely aware. He absorbs it, and the very means by which he absorbed it, his crucified body and the blood he shed, are given to you here from the altar, against the day of judgment which is to come.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Invocabit, Lent I (Jesus in the Wilderness)

Sermon at St. Paul's this (Sunday) morning, with Gospel reading spliced in before it: