Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent I

Advent I, St. Matthew 21:1-9, the triumphal entry. Today's sermon.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Inheritance is a Gift and Is Not Merited

Sunday's Gospel of the separating of the sheep from the goats, upon the ascertaining of whether they had fed Christ when He was hungry, gave Him drink when He was thirsty, etc., cannot be said to be an affirmation of the merits of work. Were it so, then He would not have said, "Inherit the kingdom . . ." Works are a demonstration of faith in Him, rather than an effort to buff one's own worth. Look to yourself and you will find reason to doubt; look to Him and you find reason to be comforted. The sermon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Kingdom of God Cometh Not with Observation

In St. Luke 17:18-33 Jesus gives us good reason to believe that the kingdom of heaven is hidden beneath its marks. Since it is hidden, all efforts to suggest it may be seen here or there, whether by pedigree, or by "glorious" manifestations of the Spirit, are misguided. Just as the glory of Jesus Himself was hidden when he suffered, so also the church's glory is hidden. The sermon.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Sabre of Boldness nominees?

Nominations for the 2011 Sabre Bearer are also invited. Please submit your nomination to Fr. Eckardt with "Sabre of Boldness" in the subject line.

Simply state the name, address, and telephone number of the nominee and the reasons why he or she is a fitting choice for Sabre Bearer. The degree of the adversity faced by the nominee, a demonstration of steadfast resistance to pressures to compromise the truth of the Gospel, heedlessness of threatened personal consequences, and a clear confession of the truth at stake are considered. The slate of nominees will close on Wednesday, January 19th, 2011. Then the editors of Gottesdienst will meet privately to make their selection.

The editors of Gottesdienst invite all seminary guests to come on over to La Quinta, right after the Symposium banquet, for this gala event.

Sabre of Boldness Recipients
1996 The Reverend Peter C. Bender
1997 The Reverend Jonathan G. Lange
1998 The Reverend Dr. Edwin S. Suelflow
1999 The Reverend Gary V. Gehlbach
2000 The Reverend Peter M. Berg
2001 The Reverend Dr. John C. Wohlrabe
2002 The Reverend Erich Fickel
2003 The Reverend Dr. Wallace Schulz
2004 The Reverend Charles M. Henrickson
2005 The Reverend Edward Balfour
2006 Bishop Walter Obare
2007 The Reverend Dr. Ronald Feuerhahn
2008 The Reverend Aaron Moldenhauer
2009 The Reverend Juhana Pohjola
2010 Rt. Rev. Dr. Paul Kofi Fynn

Sunday, November 07, 2010

There the Eagles Will Gather

Today's Gospel depicts the fall of Jerusalem, and so it remains appropriate to read the historical account of that fall, taken primarily from the historian Josephus. Jesus' enigmatic saying at the end of the Gospel, "Where the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together," appears on the surface to be a reference to the impending doom coming to Jerusalem, whose apostate residents have become as a dead body. But there may be a deeper, hidden meaning in His words, in view of the fact that He speaks of "eagles," not "vultures." St. Mark's version has "where the body is," a further indication of what may be a hidden reference to the gathering of Christ's people (the eagles) to feast on the body of Him who was dead but now lives and reigns forever.

And as His careful hearers were all spared the destruction of ad 70 because they heeded His warning then, so also today, His careful hearers who gather in faith to receive His body will be spared the eternal destruction of the Day of days.

The sermon

Thursday, November 04, 2010

A Christmastide Retreat

A Christmastide Retreat in Kewanee

St. Paul’s Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Kewanee, Illinois, is again preparing for two Days of Theological Reflection, starting with her annual Christmas Choral Vespers on the evening of Sunday, January 2, 2011.

On Monday and Tuesday, January 3 and 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., our Days of Theological Reflection, the thirteenth retreat in the series, will focus on the prophets Elijah and Elisha. This retreat’s theme is “Let a Double Portion of Thy Spirit Be upon Me,” led by Fr. Burnell Eckardt, pastor at St. Paul’s, who holds a PhD in historical theology.

The seminar will examine I Kings 17 – II Kings 13, with an eye to finding Christ there, as He Himself said of the Scriptures, “They testify of me.”

The annual Christmas Choral Vespers at 7 p.m. on Sunday, January 2, features our Mixed Choir singing an array of traditional Christmas carols. With the splendid acoustical setting under the Gothic arches at St. Paul’s, people have often commented that the choir sounds two or three times larger than it is. These are quality singers as well. Having sung together for many years, they are able to provide those in attendance with a real musical treat. The choir is under the direction of Pastor Eckardt, who has over twenty-seven years of experience as a choirmaster and composer.

The evening’s music is augmented by the parish’s wine and cheese reception in the school cafeteria, another annual tradition.

If there is inclement weather, a snow date is scheduled for Monday, January 3, at 7 p.m.

Admission for the retreat is free; a freewill offering will be taken. Lodging options for out-of-town guests are listed below.

AmericInn, 4823 US Hwy. 34 800-634-3444
Super 8 Motel, 901 S. Tenney (Rt. 78) 309-853-8800
Aunt Daisy’s B&B, 223 W. Central Blvd. 888-422-4148
Kewanee Motor Lodge, 400 S. Main St. 309-853-4000
Days Inn, I-80 & Rt. 40, Sheffield 815-454-2361
Holiday Inn Express, I-80 & Rt. 78, Annawan 309-935-6565

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

All Souls

Here are two sermons. The first, preached on Tuesday morning, is a simple word of comfort concerning loved ones who have departed in the Lord. In the second, preached tonight (as most people are unable to attend on Tuesday mornings), I chose for some reason to launch into a diatribe against purgatory. Aware that none of the hearers believe in it, I nevertheless found in this another way to talk about merit: the merit of Christ, received by faith.

It turns out that for Rome, the distinction between All Saints (Nov. 1) and All Souls (Nov. 2) is primarily that the former are in heaven, but the latter, still in purgatory. Thus it is fitting for us, contrary to this falsehood, to revert to the prior distinction between All Saints--recognition of all martyrs--and All Souls--recognition of all the faithful departed--who, according to the collect, abide "in joy and felicity" and not in purgatory.

For how could God refuse to welcome us--and our departed loved ones--at once into Paradise (as He did the thief on the cross), when we have received Christ's body and blood at the altar, and with that, His eternal merit as well?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010