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 I.      From The Mayflower Compact, November 11th, 1620:

IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN.

We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland king, defender of the faith, etc., having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

II.      In May of 1787, some of the greatest minds in American history convened in Philadelphia for the Constitutional Convention, chaired by his Excellency, the General, George Washington.  The oldest delegate at 81 was Mr. Benjamin Franklin, Printer of Philadelphia.  He was twice the average age of the delegates and it must be noted that Mr. Franklin was a deist, not an orthodox Christian.   These greatest minds fell into rancorous and acrimonious disagreement during the ensuing hot summer months.  From a biography of Franklin by Mr. Walter Isaacson:

“Once again it was time for Franklin to try to restore equanimity, and this time he did so in an unexpected way. Ina speech on June 28, he suggested that they open each session with a prayer. With the convention “groping as it were in the dark to find political truth,” he said, “how has it happened that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings?” Then he added, in a passage destined to become famous, 

 “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?”

Post Script:  What happened to the resolution by Franklin?  It was tabled.Hamilton thought it would give the wrong signal by the necessity of prayer that things were not going well. But finally, there was not enough money for a chaplain. Mr. Franklin noted on the bottom of his speech” “The convention, except 3 or 4 persons, thought prayers unnecessary!”

III.      The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, 1787

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievance

IV. Quotes from James Madison’s 51st Federalist Paper, 1788:

 “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Then Madison wrote,  “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”  

V.       On his journey to Washington for his inauguration in 1861 President-elect Abraham Lincoln, spoke separately to each branch of the New Jersey legislature in the state capital of Trenton,. This is an excerpt from his speech to the state Senate of New Jersey: 

May I be pardoned if, upon this occasion, I mention that away back in my childhood, the earliest days of my being able to read, I got hold of a small book, such a one as few of the younger members have ever seen, “Weem’s Life of Washington.” I remember all the accounts there given of the battle fields and struggles for the liberties of the country, and none fixed themselves upon my imagination so deeply as the struggle here at Trenton, New-Jersey. The crossing of the river; the contest with the Hessians; the great hardships endured at that time, all fixed themselves on my memory more than any single revolutionary event; and you all know, for you have all been boys, how these early impressions last longer than any others. I recollect thinking then, boy even though I was, that there must have been something more than common that those men struggled for; that something even more than National Independence; that something that held out a great promise to all the people of the world to all time to come; I am exceedingly anxious that this Union, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people shall be perpetuated in accordance with the original idea for which that struggle was made, and I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great struggle.

 

VI.      Excerpt  from President George W.  Bush’s Remarks at National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, after the World Trade Centers were destroyed, at the National Cathedral, September 14th,  2001

Our purpose as a nation is firm. Yet our wounds as a people are recent and unhealed, and lead us to pray. In many of our prayers this week, there is a searching, and an honesty. At St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York on Tuesday, a woman said, “I prayed to God to give us a sign that He is still here.” Others have prayed for the same, searching hospital to hospital, carrying pictures of those still missing.

God’s signs are not always the ones we look for. We learn in tragedy that his purposes are not always our own. Yet the prayers of private suffering, whether in our homes or in this great cathedral, are known and heard, and understood.

There are prayers that help us last through the day, or endure the night. There are prayers of friends and strangers, that give us strength for the journey. And there are prayers that yield our will to a will greater than our own.

This world He created is of moral design. Grief and tragedy and hatred are only for a time. Goodness, remembrance, and love have no end. And the Lord of life holds all who die, and all who mourn.

 

Clement (ca. A.D. 35–100) is remembered for having established the pattern of apostolic authority that governed the Christian Church during the first and second centuries. He also insisted on keeping Christ at the center of the Church’s worship and outreach. In a letter to the Christians at Corinth, he emphasized the centrality of Jesus’ death and resurrection: “Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ, realizing how precious it is to His Father, since it was poured out for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to the whole world” (1 Clement 6:31). Prior to suffering a martyr’s death by drowning, he displayed a steadfast, Christ-like love for God’s redeemed people, serving as an inspiration to future generations to continue to build the Church on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, with Christ as the one and only cornerstone. (from The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod website, see Blogroll on sidebar)

Reflection:  In the bio above and in the quote below the word “fix” is employed.  In the Prayer of the Day for the 5th Sunday after Easter, the Church prays,

“Grant that we may love what You have commanded and desire what You promise, that among the many changes of this world our hearts may be fixed where true joys are found, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord…”

Our hearts, that is,  our wills are fixed, that is, guided and repaired in true repentance for the fruit of the joys of His crucifixion and resurrection by our hearts fixed on Him,  His forgiveness for us, in us, with us. His life is in our lives. His gift of life is His blood.  We can not repair our hearts, our wills on our own.  No one did heart surgery on himself, one needs a physician. We are fixed by fixing our hearts and eyes on Jesus Christ and that “fix” is prayer, the prayer of faith in the Lord, in Whom we are made one in Christian love and Pastor Clement made this clear. “Let us fix our eyes on the blood Christ…” In our land, and in all lands, the Lord needs His fixed people to live as Christians:

Image result for St. Clement of Rome Quotes

Walking in the Holy Spirit, this is done because as another Clement  said:

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, Your servant Clement of Rome called the Church in Corinth to repentance and faith to unite them in Christian love. Grant that Your Church may be anchored in Your truth by the presence of the Holy Spirit and kept blameless in Your service until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

 

The rage of our time bears witness to our idolatry.

Concordia and Koinonia

C.S. LewisI recommend a good yet all together too brief a biography of C. S. Lewis at Biography online:   C.S. Lewis Biography.

His literary output was large and has encouraged many a Christian, and probably led many a person, to, or back to Jesus Christ. In an especially lyrical passage in his Sermon, “The Weight of Glory”, he preached:

“These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your…

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Luther Tract GottesdienstThe blog’s header is the cover of Luther’s 1523 tract about worship which I am holding here at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA  (the artwork has been verified as designed by Lucas Cranach).  This tract is the first selection in Volume 53, Liturgy and Hymns in Luther’s Works.   In another post, I told about my excitement in looking at this tract, and three other Luther tracts in the possession of Washington and Lee University.  I comment on the 1523 tract’s content.

Luther was asked to provide evangelical guidance on the way the reformed worship services should be conducted.  Karlstadt,  the pastor in Wittenberg while Luther was protected for his own safety at the Wartburg Castle, proceeded with a violent reformation of the order of worship.  Karlstadt had done away with daily masses. Luther promised to respond and this tract was the first. 

Luther is responding to “three serious abuses which have crept into the service:

First, the Word of God has been silenced so that there is only reading and singing in the services without preaching.

Secondly, this void of the lack of God’s Word,  resulted in,”…such  a host of un-Christian fables and lies, in legends, hymns and sermons were introduced that it is horrible to see”.

Thirdly, the divine service became merely an external work to be performed that “salvation might be won” without faith.

When the Word of God is silenced because the Scripture is no longer considered solely authoritative and inerrant for the Lord to guide His Church, then Luther’s insight is keen in that something replaces the void.  Churches teach heretical theologies and made up stories of golden tablets or  the blessed Mother of God ascending into heaven.  Churches become religious social clubs.  Social action and social justice, i.e. our own self-chosen works, become the means of ‘saving the world’.  The criteria of a worship service becomes our “uplift” and “good feelings” instead of being filled with the Lord’s Word and gifts to live day by day in actual service for our neighbors in faith toward God and in fervent love for one another. “…such  a host of un-Christian fables and lies, in legends, hymns and sermons were introduced that it is horrible to see”. We can see and hear the silencing of God’s Word in the very Protestant Churches that boast as being “churches of the Reformation”! 

In this tract, Luther’s encouragement to address these grievances, was the replacement of daily Mass with Matins and Vespers.  Five hundred years later, these daily prayer offices have been retained in Lutheran worship books.  The guiding Scriptural principle for the daily prayer and all worship services was simple and over-arching:  the preaching of the Word of God.

“Now in order to correct these abuses, know first of all that a Christian congregation should never gather together without the preaching of God’s Word and prayer, no matter how briefly, as Psalm 102 says, “When the kings and the people assemble to serve the Lord, they shall declare the name and the praise of God.”  And Paul in 1 Corinthians 14: 26-31 says that when they come together, their should be prophesying, teaching and admonition.  Therefore, when God’s Word is not preached, one had better neither sing nor read, or even come together.” (emphasis added)

Luther was so centered on God’s Word preached and taught for the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people, then why bother getting together if the Word is not at the center? At the end of the tract:

And this is the sum of the matter: Let everything be done so that the Word may have free course instead of the prattling and rattling that has been the rule up to now.  We can spare everything except the Word.  Again, we profit by nothing as much as by the Word.  For the whole Scripture shows that the Word should have free course among Christians.  And in Luke 10: 42, Christ himself says, “One thing is needful,”, i.e., that Mary sit at the feet Christ and hear His word daily.  This is the best part to choose and it shall not be taken away forever.  It is an eternal word. Everything else must pass away, no matter how much care and trouble it may give Martha.  God help us achieve this.  Amen.”

The literal translation of the tract’s title is:  “An Order of God’s Service for the Community”.  Gottesdienst, God’s Service, is primarily God’s service to us not what we offer to the Lord and preaching is the way the Lord gets hold of us.  As a northerner in the south, a pastor is regularly called, “the preacher” and this is meet, right and salutary so the congregation hear the Word.  Luther’s sole goal in this tract is the restoration of the Service of God’s Word, and the preaching of the same,  in the services of the Lord’s holy Church.  This goes for us as well in the 21st Century.

 

 

 

Meme of the Day

I was just telling Craig this is what is happening!

A Must Read Article

How Public Shaming For Sexual Sinners Exposes The World’s Need For Salvation:  The more dirt we consume, the more of other people’s sin we gorge ourselves on, the more we want. The more we want, the more we seek. The more we seek the more we find.

The link is to an article in The Federalist.  The author has distinguished well Law and Promise and the inclusiveness of both.  Here is an important quote from the article:

The world has some idea of what sin is and loves to hear about everybody else’s. The world loves to point and laugh, shame, scorn, and condemn, but does not have a remedy, even for the sin of the pointers, laughers, and condemners. We Christians must resist the temptation to join in the chorus of condemnation and be the ones actually offering the only real solution there is. The world proves more and more clearly every day that it has no gospel. Since we have one, we may as well share it.

At one time, not so long ago, there was a battle over “sex and violence” in movies and the way movies should be rated for movie goers.  This battle almost seems antiquated these days but it is still here as we read the revelations of Hollywood and Washington and the current sexual abuse of women.

I work as a hospice chaplain for a non-profit hospice which is secular. The hospice employees are required to go on line to watch videos on all sorts of topics relevant to the post-modern workplace, and topics specific to hospice in terms of medical practice, e.g “bloodborne pathogens”.  As in probably most workplaces the number one training is in “Preventing, Recognizing, and Reporting Abuse”, especially sexual abuse.  I think this is necessary and good.

I realized today two missing aspects of this training to stop sexual abuse. 

First, the sexual abuser and those abused are never talked about as being married. A fellow employee starts “hitting on you” and you know John is married with 2 children.  The ramifications of his behavior not only affects you but also John and John’s wife Mary, his two children and even John’s own Father and Mother.  Besides saying, “No, this is inappropriate, so please stop”, but also to say, “Please remember John, you are a married man, you have children, think about what you are doing.”   This begs the question as to the reason why marriage is never mentioned.  I do not have a ready answer but maybe you do.

The second missing aspect is that sexual abuse is nothing new.  It is as old as Adam.  Remember the narrative of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, Genesis 39. The Church has always had sexual abuse manual for all sorts of sexual sins, the 6th Commandment:  You shall not commit adultery. Isn’t it devilishly convenient that there has been a philosophical and theological denial of moral law in our day as itself antiquated?  Isn’t it devilishly convenient that whole church bodies have rewritten this commandment to fit their desires?   Luther’s Large Catechism is a good manual for “Preventing, Recognizing, and Reporting Abuse”.  The 6th commandment is actually about marriage and isn’t it devilishly convenient that marriage between man and woman is denied and that we have no moral defense against pornography?  Isn’t it devilishly convenient that the 3rd use of the Law is denied to exhort Christians to live as Christ has redeemed us? Nevertheless, we see the rampant terror from the damage to marriage morality and in Christ, joy in marriage. From Luther’s explanation of the 6th commandment for preventing, recognizing and reporting sexual abuse: 

“…because among us there is such a shameful mess and the very dregs of all vice and lewdness, this commandment is directed also against all manner of unchastity, whatever it may be called; 203] and not only is the external act forbidden, but also every kind of cause, incitement, and means, so that the heart, the lips, and the whole body may be chaste and afford no opportunity, help, or persuasion to inchastity. 204] And not only this, but that we also make resistance, afford protection and rescue wherever there is danger and need; and again, that we give help and counsel, so as to maintain our neighbor’s honor. For whenever you omit this when you could make resistance, or connive at it as if it did not concern you, you are as truly guilty as the one perpetrating the deed. 205] Thus, to state it in the briefest manner, there is required this much, that every one both live chastely himself and help his neighbor do the same, so that God by this commandment wishes to hedge round about and protect [as with a rampart] every spouse that no one trespass against them.

I know this will not be cited in my next preventing sexual abuse seminar but this is taught in faithful seminaries and congregations and is a good place for the Church to prevent, recognize and report sexual abuse.  For the Church to “report sexual abuse” is to confess it before the Lord and a pastor for Christ’s forgiveness and amendment of one’s sinful life.

 

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