Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Meme of the Day

Not Again

This is a frightening video about Jewish college students facing a resurgence of anti-Semitism from liberal professors and anti-Zionists.  I think being against the state of Israel is just a disguise for anti-Semitism.  This is occuring in  the land of the free. Pr. Schroeder 

Psalm 122:  6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
    “May they be secure who love you!
Peace be within your walls
    and security within your towers!”
For my brothers and companions’ sake
    I will say, “Peace be within you!”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your good.

 Lord God, heavenly Father, You promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, You led him to the land of Canaan, and You sealed Your covenant with him by the shedding of blood. May we see in Jesus, the Seed of Abraham, the promise of the new covenant of Your Holy Church, sealed with Jesus’ blood on the cross and given to us now in the cup of the new testament; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

About Abraham Abraham (known early in his life as Abram) was called by God to become the father of a great nation (Genesis 12). At age seventy-five and in obedience to God’s command, he, his wife, Sarah, and his nephew Lot moved southwest from the town of Haran to the land of Canaan. There God established a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:18), promising the land of Canaan to his descendants. When Abraham was one hundred and Sarah was ninety, they were blessed with Isaac, the son long promised to them by God. Abraham demonstrated supreme obedience when God commanded him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. God spared the young man’s life only at the last moment and provided a ram as a substitute offering (Genesis 22:1-19). Abraham died at age 175 and was buried in the Cave of Machpelah, which he had purchased earlier as a burial site for Sarah. He is especially honored as the first of the three great Old Testament patriarchs—and for his righteousness before God through faith (Romans 4:1-12). (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, cph.org)

Reflection:  With the war, and the previous wars in the Middle East involving Islam, many assert that since Abraham is the father of faith, there are three Abrahamic religions:  Islam, Judaism and Christianity.  In Romans 4: 16, the Apostle Paul calls Abraham, “…the father of us all”, that is Jew and Gentile. The problem is that there is a stark difference in understanding the nature of faith between Christianity on the one side, and Judaism and Islam on the other. The distinction is read in this Scripture passage:  

For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.(Galatians 3: 18)

The basis of Judaism and Islam is law, or even man-made law. Keep it, you are saved, except the Law of God is whittled down into man-made rules and regs which appear strenuous and strict…. and keepable.  Faith is based upon the promise.  “For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:3 The law had not been given at this time. When the Lord showed the stars in the sky to Abraham, the sign of the promise that Abraham would conceive a child, then did he believe.  Abraham seized the promise, God’s faithful Word of promise. Faith comes by the Word of promise,not the law.  Law is about no. Promise is about Yes, that finally and fully all the promises of God find their Yes in Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:20).  

When it comes to the Law of God, we do not keep it.  We usually do not have to go further than the first commandment to see in our wills that we worship and adore other people, place, things and devils as more important than the one true God. After the fall of Adam and Eve, murder, vengeance, violence, sexual immorality and idolatry entered the world.  Genesis chapters 3-11 are the sad news and it reads like a the daily news.  Then in chapter 12: 1, out of nowhere, the Lord calls Abram (as he was known then):  

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”So Abram went, as the Lord had told him

This is the Lord’s promises one after another:  four “I wills”.  Abraham obeyed by faith, not by the law, for faith comes by the Word of promise.

Abraham was truly a man by faith alone. How does faith come? Faith can not come by the Law. Law, even God’s Law, shows us His will, what is not permitted.  Law takes no faith. It’s spiritual use focuses inward upon our souls. True faith does not look inward, for then I see nothing but sin and death,but outward to the One who forgives and gives life.  It comes by preaching and teaching of the Word and the Word is Christ.  The Lord was with Abram and he heard and he believed.  Abraham never saw the fulfillment of his offspring as the stars in the sky: only one son, Isaac.  One son is enough and the one Son is more than enough. Still Abraham did not see for he walked by faith and not by sight, as we all do. He did not found a new religion but Abraham is  the father of Faith. In fact, he was not a Jew, but a believer in the God Who called him, and that is why the Lord renamed Abram, Abraham, literally, father of a multitude, of all those who believe in the Lord who forgives in the Seed of Abraham, Jesus and are now children according to the promise:  

15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed,who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

The Gospel reading for this coming Sunday (12 October 2014), the 18th Sunday after Pentecost (year A) is St. Matthew 22: 1-14, The Parable of the Wedding Feast.  The quote is from Dr. Luther’s sermon on this text,  these verses:  

Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business

Everyone yammers about the enormous unfaithfulness and the greed now prevailing in the world—how much peasants burghers, and noblemen wrangle, scrimp, steal, and rob. This is not a minor matter and cannot, in the long run, be left unpunished. But worse still, surpassing all the rest, is that we who have the gospel snore away during the sermon and then in the same hour amble off to the marketplace by the gate, then into the alehouses, or sit and loll around in the amusement park. Our fellow citizens are steeped in sin up to the ears, despising not only the Word, but also scoffing at the preachers and saying, Our pastor preaches about nothing else but faith, about love, about the cross! And meanwhile they shuffle off to destruction. It breaks my heart to see this happening. God will surely punish them horribly because of this, letting false doctrine and factious spirits engulf them, causing dissension and defection of countless people from God’s Word. This has happened in Greece and other countries, where Mohammed now is in control, who teaches them to believe the rubbish offered by the devil, where before they had God’s Word but despised it.

Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd  of Your people, we give You thanks for Your servant Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, who was faithful in the care and nurture of the flock entrusted to his care. So they may follow his example and the teaching of his holy life, give strength to pastors today who shepherd Your flock so that, by Your grace,Your people may grow into the fullness of life intended for them in paradise; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Bio:  Pastor Muhlenberg was born in Einbeck, Germany in 1711, the seventh of nine children.  He graduated from Gottingen University and studied also at Halle, serving as schoolmaster.  Halle was the center for Pietism under August Hermann Francke who sent Muhlenberg to the new world. First he went to London for study and there had a gown made which became the pattern for English Lutheran clergy in America.

Pastor Muhlenberg came to the colonies  in 1742.  A tireless traveler, Muhlenberg helped to found many Lutheran congregations and was the guiding force behind the first American Lutheran synod, the Ministerium of Pennsylvania, founded Sunday, August 14, 1748 in Philadelphia.  At this synod Muhlenberg submitted a liturgy which was ratified and remained the only authorized American Lutheran liturgy for 40 years(1). He valued the role of music in Lutheran worship (often serving as his own organist)  The transition from the state church of Germany to the free churches of America brought challenges and Pastor Muhlenberg wrote a model congregational constitution in 1762 which became the basis for local church government.  He preached in German, Dutch and English and it was reported with a powerful voice.  And during his pastoral ministry, Muhlenberg kept a journal of his travels and service, remembering that Pennsylvania was practically the frontier in those days.  From his journal:

1748. November 5.I am worn out from much reading; I am incapacitated for study; I cannot even manage my own household because I must be away most of the time. The Reverend Fathers called me for only three years on trial, but the dear God has doubled the three years and upheld me all this time with forbearance. I write this not out of any discontent of slothfulness, but out of the feeling of spiritual and physical incapacity and a yearning desire to achieve a little more quietude where I could gather my thoughts better, spend more time with my wife and children, and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Muhlenberg and his sons were also leaders in American public life. His son John Peter Gabriel left his pastorate in Woodstock, Virginia and became a general under Washington and later in life served as congressman and senator from Pennsylvania.  He announced his intention to serve in the Continental Army and the cause of political freedom from the pulpit when he took off his preaching robe to reveal his uniform saying there is a time to pray and a time to fight.  One of Pennsylvania’s statues in Statuary Hall in the U. S. Capitol depicts this moment .  It might be legend but it illustrates that we are called to serve as citizens in the two kingdoms, the temporal, that is, our nation and the eternal, the reign of God in Jesus Christ. John’s brother, Frederick Augustus Conrad,  also a Lutheran pastor became a member of the Continental Congress and became the first speaker of the House of Representatives in the new nation under the new Constitution.

Muhlenberg established the shape of Lutheran parishes for America during a 45-year ministry in Pennsylvania. Muhlenberg is remembered as a church leader, a journalist, a liturgist, and—above all—a pastor to the congregation in his charge.  He and has family also reflect the beginnings of our nation and service to the Constitution.  If your high school son or daughter needs to do a paper on the beginnings of our nation, the Muhlenbergs would make fine subject matter!   Pastor Muhlenberg died in 1787, in Trappe, Pennsylvania, leaving behind a large extended family and a lasting heritage: American Lutheranism. (Sources:  Festivals and Commemorations by Rev. Philip Pfatteicher and The Treasury of Daily Prayer)

Reflection:  October is pastor appreciation month.  Pr. Muhlenberg had a hard go of it in the new world.  In a reflection today by Pr. Scott Murray (Memorial Lutheran Church, Houston, TX), he writes about melancholy.  We call this emotion depression.   His reflection is not about pastors per se but the melancholy we can all feel as did the pastor we commemorate today.  Pr. Murray then quotes Martin Luther:

God tests us not to determine if we will be faithful to Him, because He knows the answer to that question. He tests us so that we learn faith and confidence in Him. He is the hidden God who rescues under signs of weakness and humility. He Himself has worked that way in Christ, who though God of God also died a humiliating death with no sign of God’s promise apart from the Word of God to Him, “You are my Son, today have I begotten You” (Ps 2:7). There is nothing about His earthly life and death that would prove this promise either to Christ or to us. He had nothing upon which to depend but the promise of God. Should we expect more for we who are sons by adoption? What would be more than what God worked for His Son? Just when we are brought down into the Sheol of despair are we truly able to trust the promise of God. Our trust is in nothing but the promise itself.

Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, 22.1-2

“Nearly all people are tempted by despair, and the godlier they are, the more frequently they are attacked with this weapon of Satan. What else should you do in this situation than say: ‘I know that I am baptized and that God, for the sake of His Son, has promised me grace. This promise will not lie, even if I should be cast into utter darkness. Therefore what Satan suggests to me is not God’s will; but God is testing me in this manner, that it may become manifest what is hidden in my heart. It is not that God does not know this, but that I do not know it. He Himself wants to make use of this occasion to crush the head of the serpent in me (Gn 3:15). For the heart of man is unsearchable; and the mind of the flesh, is enmity against God’ (Rm 8:7). Nor does man perceive this except through the word of the law, through which the head of the serpent is killed, in order that we may be made alive, as Scripture says (1 Sa 2:6): ‘The Lord brings down to Sheol and raises up.'”

Lord God, heavenly Father, You have revealed Yourself in the promises of Your divine Word. As you send me trouble, send also your life-giving Spirit to me that I might trust Your promises and in the midst of my darkness see Your light. Amen.

Pray today for your pastor and all pastors, for missionaries in dangerous and lonely posts, for  those who are suffering in the darkness, that they might have confidence in the divine promise

If thou but trust in God to guide thee/And hope in Him through all thy ways,

He’ll give thee strength, whate’er betide thee/And bear thee through the evil days.

Who trusts in God’s unchanging love/Builds on the rock that naught can move.

—If Thou But Trust in God to Guide, #750, stanza 1,  Lutheran Service Book

(1) One of the great hopes and goals for American Lutheranism has been a unified liturgy and this was almost realized in the 1970s with the publication of the Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW), a project initiated by The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod  (LCMS).  But major doctrinal differences caused the then 3 Lutheran Church bodies to part ways, especially over the authority of Scripture.  The LCMS, champion of Biblical authority, did not authorize the LBW.  Two of  the more liberal Lutheran Church denominations who participated in the LBW, and another breakaway denomination from the LCMS, merged in 1988 to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  The ELCA is noted for its implicit and explicit denial of Biblical authority.  Yet in both the LCMS and the ELCA there has been a fragmentation of the liturgy to the point each congregation can, or has its own ‘style’ of worship which can vary widely and even wildly.   Pr. Muhlenberg’s work of a unified Lutheran liturgy has been undone by our own narcissism in the age of the “selfie”. Lord, have mercy. 

“The surest way to suppress our ability to understand the meaning of God and the importance of worship is to take things for granted…Indifference to the sublime wonder of living is the root of sin.
― Abraham Joshua Heschel

What is most frightening in this Calvin and Hobbes comic is that the writer/artist does not bother to even consider a third way:  it is true we are not alone because the Lord with His angels is ever near that we may call upon Him. These cartoon characters are as bereft of wonder as is modern man that they can not even look at the stars and wonder at the wonder of it all and say, There is a Creator.  What is even more frightening is a materialistic universe without God. If this is a universe without the Lord, only matter, it means the universe is self-created which makes no sense. Creation only occurs by the hands of another.  The creation is made by Another:  the Lord God.  

“In beginning God created the heavens and the earth…”  Genesis 1: 1

(The Lord) determines the number of the stars;
    he gives to all of them their names. Psalm 147: 4

Meme of the Day

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 146 other followers

%d bloggers like this: