Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009


A Day of Theological Reflection
11th in the series

“A Man after My Own Heart”
The Christology of David
(A Consideration of I Samuel)

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Hosted and led by Rev. Burnell Eckardt, Ph.D., at St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kewanee, Illinois.

For directions to the church click here.

If you'd let us know you're coming we'd appreciate it too (309-852-2461), but if you should decide at the last minute, just come anyhow.

Here's the

8:30 - 9:00 registration

9:00 Mass: Tuesday of Whitsun Week

9:30 Session 1:
David replaces Saul,
I Sam. 9 and 16

10:50 Break

11:00 Session 2:
David and Goliath,
I Sam. 17

11:50 Break

12:00 Noonday prayers (Office at Sext)

12:15 Lunch

1:30 Session 3:
David and Saul,
I Sam. 18-26

2:20 Break

2:30 Session 4:
Saul dies, David coronated,
I Sam. 31- II Sam. 2

3:15 Midafternoon prayers (Office at Vespers)

Preparation: To be best able to benefit from this day of reflection, it is recommended that you take the time to read the appointed material ahead of time, namely I Sam. 9 through II Sam. 2, particularly the following:

David replaces Saul, I Sam. 9 and 16
David and Goliath, I Sam. 17
David and Saul, I Sam. 18-26
Saul dies, David coronated, I Sam. 31- II Sam. 2

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Exaudi, the Sunday after the Ascension

Sermon for Exaudi Sunday, from St. John 15:26 -- 16:4

Ascension Day

Sermon for Ascension Day, 21 May, 2009:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

And the Winner is Cheney

That was amazing.

First the President speaks on national security, and then, within five minutes, comes the rebuttal, from the former Vice President. Already the spinmeisters on the left are in overdrive, feverishly working to discredit Mr. Cheney, all the usual suspects screeching that what he said was "outrageous." What's really outrageous and, if I'm not mistaken, unprecedented, is a sitting President sitting in moral judgment on his predecessor, making accusation after accusation against him that his values are out of whack. He did it again this morning, and it was refreshing to see a rebuttal come so quickly afterward.

It was the President himself, incidentally, that set things up this way; Mr. Cheney's speech at the American Enterprise Institute had been planned for weeks.

Such a rare and precious moment. If you haven't heard or read both speeches yet, you should take the time, one right after the other, to get the full effect (here, then here).

My favorite part of Mr. Cheney's speech was this:

"Even before the interrogation program began, and throughout its operation, it was closely reviewed to ensure that every method used was in full compliance with the Constitution, statutes, and treaty obligations. On numerous occasions, leading members of Congress, including the current speaker of the House, were briefed on the program and on the methods.

"Yet for all these exacting efforts to do a hard and necessary job and to do it right, we hear from some quarters nothing but feigned outrage based on a false narrative. In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists.

"I might add that people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about 'values'. Intelligence officers of the United States were not trying to rough up some terrorists simply to avenge the dead of 9/11. We know the difference in this country between justice and vengeance. Intelligence officers were not trying to get terrorists to confess to past killings; they were trying to prevent future killings. From the beginning of the program, there was only one focused and all-important purpose. We sought, and we in fact obtained, specific information on terrorist plans."

Wow. Does that ever need repeating.

And what is truly morally wrong is feigned indignation. I believe the theological term for it would be hypocrisy.

It is also reprehensible for people who have behaved bravely and admirably in the service of their country to be castigated for it. Mr. Cheney defended their honor well, honor that was in sore need of defense.

When Is there Too Much Ceremony? and What about the Pentecost Vigil?

Too much ceremony? Can there be too much?

I believe there can be.

[Pause, to let the shock of hearing this from the editor of Gottesdienst sink in]

Luther did too, actually. As I recall reading, he nixed a number of the baptismal ceremonies, even while retaining a great many of them, as he felt some of them distracted from the meaning of Baptism itself.

And our Confessions also warn against-what is it?-the baptizing of bells, I think, and other such superfluous ceremonies.

This brings me to the subject of the Vigil of Pentecost.

According to the traditional Western Rite, as I understand it, the Vigil of Pentecost contains a number of rituals not normally seen in Western churches these days, to say nothing of Lutheran churches.

At the third (baptismal) part, the rubrics call for a number of elaborate ceremonies sometimes said to be "of high antiquity" (whatever that means).

The Paschal Candle is in use for this, having returned since its removal after Ascension Day (memo: after the Ascension Gospel is read, the Paschal Candle is extinguished, and after the mass, it is removed altogether).

So among the ceremonies, which take place at the font, the candle is dipped three times in the water, the pastor blows upon the water in the form of a cross and of an upsilon (a very awkward thing to do, it seems to me), and the pastor takes water from the font and casts some in each of the four directions. And there are words and prayers which accompany all this.

So here's my question. Is this a bit too much? Frankly, right now I think so. I have done this in the past, and even then I wondered.

I'm beginning to think that these things strike as adding too much ceremony, to the point of distraction. Using baptismal water for things other than Baptism is problematic, it seems to me. On the other hand, one does use baptismal water to make the sign on one's forehead when this option is available (as, for instance, at the Fort Wayne seminary). But one could argue that in this case the water is being used as a physical reminiscence of actual Baptism.

But in the case of exsufflation on the font, and casting the waters here and there, I think the connection is more difficult to make.

So here I am in the middle. Protestants would recoil at the ceremonies simply becuase they are lavish. And I recoil at the thought of being labeled a Protestant. In the end, I want to do what's right.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sundry Sermons

Here are some of the audio files of sermons I couldn't get uploaded in the past few weeks. (fwiw . . .)

Rogate, the Fifth Sunday after Easter

Actually this upload contains two sermons, one for Rogate Sunday (St. John 16: 23-30), and the other for Rogation Tuesday (St. John 17:1-19).

Figuring out the Update Thing

When we switched computers, I lost some capability to upload files, for the simple reason that I didn't know what I was doing. Finally (I hope) this has been straightened out, so now I can begin uploading audio files again, as was done throughout Lent.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Grammarian, XVI

Here's a tough one, boys and girls.

First, get out your Lutheran Hymnals. I don't have Lutheran Service Book ready at hand, so I don't know if they preserved the language or not, but in any case, we're going to have a look at the well-loved Charles Wesley Easter hymn, "Christ the Lord is Risen Today." It's #193 in TLH.

Now then.

Let's have a look at the fourth stanza, which in TLH is the last. It runs like this:

Hail the Lord of earth and heaven!
Praise to Thee by both be given!
Thee we greet triumphant now:
Hail, the resurrection Thou!

Now, here's a question for you: to whom does "Thou" in that last line refer?

It could be Jesus, of course, and since in our version it's capitalized, at least the editors thought so. Does anyone see why that might not be the case?

See, it's "Thou," not "Thee." Thou is subject, not object.

What this means is that perhaps it's meant to be written (i.e., edited) thus:

Hail, the resurrection, thou!

That is, a comma follows "resurrection" so that what we get when we parse the sentence and put things in a common order is this:

Hail thou the resurrection!

But there's another problem. Do you see it?

Look at line three:

"Thee we greet triumphant now:"

This would mean that if the number is matched, we might have had to render the fourth line grammatically as

Hail ye the resurrection!

Moreover, in the third line Christ ("Thee") is being addressed, so naturally we would attach the singular again to Him in the fourth line.

What this would mean is that Christ is being addressed as "the Resurrection Thou" in the fourth line, which seems to be adding a philosophical note to the hymn right at the end (Christ the Eternal Subject, rather as the great I AM, etc.)

That, however, seems a bit of a fremdkörper.

So what's the answer?

One needs to find the author's poetic license here, and the weight of selection seems to me to be on the side of "Hail thou the resurrection," thus:

Jesus, we greet you, triumphant now!
(aside, to the worshiper): Hail the resurrection!

In fact, I checked out some sites on this hymn. This site has it as I have suggested, putting 'thou' in lower case. Here is another site which does the same.

Interestingly, this one and this one change the lyrics to "Hail the Resurrection day" which doesn't even rhyme.

So it would seem that our esteemed TLH editors may have goofed, then, as I suspected. They either wanted to make of Mr. Wesley too much of a philosopher, or they got their thees and thous mixed up. And that is something thou shalt not do.

Here endeth the lesson.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Oh Dear, the Money's All Gone . . .

I'm double-posting this, which was actually seen first at Gottesdienst Online.

Gottesdienst Online is now, suddenly, merrily chugging along, as anyone familiar with the site can see. But trouble is lurking in the shadows. Read on, dear Gottesdienster.

In the meantime, if you haven't kept up, listen, you really ought to take some time. Five marvelous posts since the beginning of May, which is almost a post a day. Honestly, just grab a cup of coffee, and start reading: here, here, here, here, and here. And that leaves out the first posts, in late April, which are also top drawer, here and here.

Now then. Trouble in the shadows, I said. Yes, as it turns out, there is the mundane but necessary matter of funding for all this. We don't do telathons here; we aren't a TV series, after all. But in lieu of that, I have to say, we are in a spot. We just sent out the latest renewal notices, and when people renew that will help a little. But we're going to need more than that, I'm afraid to say, if we don't want to go the way of Chrysler. They, you will recall, are being bought out by Fiat. OK, how'd you like to see Gottesdienst get bought out by, say, Christian News?

I'm telling you, something needs to be done. The coffers are getting low, and I hate fund raising with a passion. But it's either that or Chapter Eleven. Heck, we can't even do Chapter Eleven, since we aren't incorporated. I think for us it'd be Chapter Eighty-Six (as in Hey, eighty-six on the cole slaw, heard emanating from the kitchen at your local greasy spoon, and nobody gets cole slaw for the rest of the day, 'cuz it's all gone).

So then, I'm going to hope and pray that there's some philanthropist among you readers who can help in a flash, with a simple couple of keystrokes. Or, perhaps you know a philanthropist that's only a cellphone call away, who can help us in the hour of need.

Just click here you'll see how easy it is to donate.

Perhaps, if we get an outpouring of love and hugs and a few bucks (rather, lots of 'em), I can report to you on the wild success of this appeal. And then we won't have to resort to selling indulgences, which would undo the Reformation, and plagues would cover the land, etc. etc.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

In my father's house are many mansions

Tonight as I prepared to preach on St. John 14, and I stumbled upon something I hadn't noticed before: Jesus' reference to his father's house is in all probability not a mere reference to heaven, though I had glossed over it a thousand times with that thought firmly embedded in my mind. But it dawned on me: Jesus never refers to heaven as "my father's house." Rather, the only other reference I can think of is in the Gospel of his lingering behind in Jerusalem at the age of twelve. His response to his mother is, "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house." There, it certainly is not a reference to heaven, but to the temple. That is Jesus' Father's house.

What, then, are the many mansions? Many rooms -- what are these? The context is the upper room, and the extended discourse deals with immediate future, Jesus' going to his Father, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. All this has to do, ultimately, with the inauguration of the Apostolic Ministry.

Thus, in short, a shift occurs at the completion of Jesus' ministry, culminating in his death and resurrection. The shift may be explained this way: no longer is there one temple. No longer is Jesus preaching and ministering in one place at a time. Now his Father's house has many rooms. Wherever Jesus is preached by his Apostolic Ministers, there is a mansion, and there is the way, the truth, and the life.

St. Paul's on the Air

Lately I've been having some issues posting audio files, so in the meantime I'll provide this link to St. Paul's on the Air, which we recorded today, a discussion of St. John 16 and the work of the Holy Ghost.