Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Meme of the Day

“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.” Mother Teresa

Concordia and Koinonia

In 1994, Mother Teresa visited the United States.  This quote is from the speech she gave at the National Prayer Breakfast.  In attendance were President and Hillary Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore and Tipper Gore. At the end of the speech she received a standing ovation from the audience…except from the President and his party.  In this quote she cited Elizabeth:

And God loved the world so much that he gave His Son. God gave His Son to the Virgin Mary, and what did she do with Him? As soon as Jesus came into Mary’s life, immediately she went in haste to give that good news. And as she came into the house of her cousin, Elizabeth, Scripture tells us that the unborn child – the child in the womb of Elizabeth – leapt with joy.

While still in the womb of Mary, Jesus brought peace to John the Baptist…

View original post 934 more words

“You… who live in the Tabernacle of the Lord, that is, in the Holy Church, if you cannot fill up the goblets with the teachings of holy wisdom, as well then as you can, as far as the divine bounty has endowed you, give to your neighbors spoonfuls of the good word!”

Concordia and Koinonia

 One of the great leaders in Europe at the close of the sixth century, Gregory served in both the secular and sacred arenas of his era. As mayor of Rome, he restored economic vitality to his native city, which had been weakened by enemy invasions, pillage, and plague. After he sold his extensive properties and donated the proceeds to help the poor, he entered into full-time service in the Church. On September 3, A.D. 590 , Gregory was elected to lead the church in Rome.

As Bishop of Rome he oversaw changes and growth in the areas of church music and liturgical development, missionary outreach to northern Europe.  From Festivals and Commemorations by Pr. Pfatteicher:

Gregory’s use of monks as missionaries to the Anglo-Saxons was his single most influential act in determining the future of Christian culture and institutions. In 597 he sent Augustine of Canterbury and forty monks to evangelize Britain. The story…

View original post 591 more words

“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
    but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
    for not by might shall a man prevail.

1 Samuel 2: 9, from The Song of Hannah

Hannah was the favored wife of Elkanah, the Ephraimite, and the devout mother of the prophet Samuel. He was born to her after years of bitter barrenness (1 Sam 1:6–8) and fervent prayers for a son (1:9–18).After she weaned her son, Hannah expressed her gratitude by returning him for service in the House of the Lord at Shiloh (1:24–28). Her prayer (psalm) of thanksgiving (2:1–10) begins with the words, “My heart exults in Lord; my strength is exalted in the Lord.” This song foreshadows the Magnificat, the Song of Mary centuries later (Lk 1:46–55). The name Hannah derives from the Hebrew word for “grace.” She is remembered and honored for joyfully having kept the vow she made before her son’s birth and offering him for lifelong service to God. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection:  In high school (I graduated in ’72),  I was the president of the social science club (I was a class-A nerd!) and the club went  to hear Dr. Paul Ehrlich speak at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on his huge best seller Population Bomb in which he argued Malthusian horrors of overpopulation, decreased productivity and rising prices resulted in a global crisis bar none.  His book has been reprinted 20 times.  None of his predictions came true.  Just think how many ‘scientific’ doomsday scenarios grip the public media.  He argued for ZPG:  zero population growth, that is replacement breeding, 2 or less children. I even remember in high school being relieved it was only my sister and I in our family.  This thinking has permeated Western civilization to the point Biblical scholars debunk the Lord’s imperatives to be fruitful and multiple in Genesis 1.  When in a liberal Lutheran church body (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)I heard in an evangelism presentation that we can not count on families (or what’s left of them) filling the church.  Such a ‘tactic’ was derided as “bedroom evangelism”.   As if having children is no way to fill a church:  how else can a church be filled?  Spontaneous regeneration?  I don’t think so. 

I thought of these terrible reminiscences in reading in Hannah’s brief bio above about her “bitter barrenness”.  “Bitter barrenness” surely described Hannah’s soulful plight and ours as well.  When Elizabeth was greeted by her kinswoman Mary, she exclaimed blessed is the “fruit of your womb”. The Visitation is sheer joy.  Mary was filled with the  Lord, body and soul. We want wombs to be no longer fruitful.  We want barrenness, bitter barrenness as a way to ‘solve our problems’, but it has not.  ZPG in Europe will result in the demise of those once Christian populations, and it will also  be part of the reason of the demise of life and joy.  Pro-life is more than no abortion.  Pro-life means children.  Our solutions to problems both actual and perceived become even greater problems.  

In Hannah’s bitter barrenness, she prayed to the point that the priest Eli thought she was drunk because she was so overcome. The Lord answered her prayer and she conceived and named her son Samuel, literally God hears.  There was good news in the bedroom of Hannah and Elkanah and in the bedroom of Joseph and Mary.  We must take the Lord at His Word of promise to be fruitful because, parenthood is the highest vocation in creation which is blessed by the Lord with His Word in the 4th Commandment: Honor your father and your mother.  No children means no honor.  We live in a shameful age.  Christians must be as Hannah and be Samuel, trusting in the Lord: He hears.

The Lord also heard more that Hannah may had not heard:   Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas were scamming worshipers of their offerings (1 Samuel 2:  12-17) and committing adultery with the women serving at the temple in Shiloh (1 Samuel 2: 22-25).  Hophni and Phinease were priests as their father.We are told Hophni and Phineas were “worthless men”(1 Samuel 2: 12) and Eli knew about it but did little.  Sounds like headline ripped from our news about churches in our day.   There was a greater bitter barreness in the land:  “And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.”  (1 Samuel 3: 1)We are also told this about Hophni and Phineas:   “They did not know the Lord”(1 Samuel 2: 12). The lack of the Word of God is the possibility of eternal barrenness, that is, hell. Priests who do not know the Lord nor follow in His ways sound like the bitter barreness of churches advising abortion, non-fecund same sex false marriages, wombs never knowing life as ‘planned parenthood’,  divorce and remarriage, winking at adultery and masturbation, always thinking about money, preaching a false prosperity ‘gospel’ of your best life now.  What went on in Israel happened over years as well in this land.  We decry the terror abroad but not the terror in our barren pews and hearts.  Yet the Lord raised up Samuel:  God hears.  He has heard and calls out to repent:  Christ died to take away your sins and fill you ever with Himself as you are freed.  Samuel anointed the first kings of Israel, David and Solomon and from the seed of David came the King anointed with the Holy Spirit: the Christ.

God the Father Almighty, maker of all things, You looked on the affliction of Your barren servant Hannah and did not forget her but answered her prayers with the gift of a son. So hear our supplications and petitions and fill our emptiness, granting us trust in Your provision, so that we, like Hannah, might render unto You all thankfulness and praise, and delight in the miraculous birth of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

An Offensive Sign

sign

This sign started cropping up at churches and homes here in Lexington, Virginia a few months ago.  I totally agree with it as it is very much a Biblical understanding:  “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12: 18).  We are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves.  If a Pakistani, or a Mexican, or a Hindu or an atheist, or a gay couple or a white supremacist,  move next door I would be glad as a Christian to have them as my neighbor.  If  a Christian would not, then he’s not worth his salt (St. Matthew 5: 13).  If I was asked about the faith, or Christian morals, or the Biblical understanding of government, I would state what we believe as truth but I pray to do so with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3: 15). 

The offensive nature of this sign is the implication that if we as the Church want our nation to obey, for instance, it’s own immigration laws that automatically means that we do not want neighbors of other nations and faiths or no faith, next door, and we would not welcome them or be glad they are our neighbors.  This sign demonstrates an elitist and supremacist attitude of the leftists and it is blatantly false.  I may be reading more into this sign that was not intended but I think it was intended.  In Christ’s humility, we are not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think (Romans 12: 3).

Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld’s (1794-1872) depiction of the Israelites cross the Jordan River on dry ground as priests hold the Ark of the Covenant in the center of the river. From the Pitt Theological Library, Digital Archives, Emory University. Scripture Reference: Joshua 3

Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. Joshua 3: 11

About Joshua:  Today we remember and thank God for His faithful servant, Joshua. Joshua, the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim, is first mentioned in Exodus 17 when he was chosen by Moses to fight the Amalakites, whom he defeated in a brilliant military victory. He was placed in charge of the Tent of Meeting (Ex. 33:11) and was a member of the tribal representatives sent to survey the land of Canaan (Num 13:8). Later, he was appointed by God to succeed Moses as Israel’s commander-in-chief. He eventually led the Israelites across the Jordan River into the Promised Land and directed the Israelites’ capture of Jericho. He is remembered especially for his final address to the Israelites, in which he challenged them to serve God faithfully (Josh 24:1–27), concluding with the memorable words, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord”(24:15). (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection:  Some may know he was “Israel’s commander-in-chief”. Some may know that the 6th book of the Bible is named after him.  Most people might know that “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho.”  The Battle of Jericho is recorded in chapter 6 and then follow 18 chapters of the Conquest of the Land.   Joshua and the Israelites fought against the seven nations:

the Canaanites, Amorites, Jebusites, Hittites, Hivites, Girgashites and the Perizzites.

Joshua and the Israelites fought many a bloody battle. Modern/post-modern ‘sensibilities’ do not like the Book of Joshua because it is so ‘militaristic’ and violent.  The Promised Land was given by the LORD but the people fought for it.  We think enemies can be won over to be  ‘nice’ like us. Give me a break.  The seven nations had “detestable practices” , such as “child sacrifices, the practice of divination or sorcery, and occult activity.  In addition, Leviticus 18 and 20 detail the rampant sexual depravity among the Canaanites.” (“The Peoples of Canaan, The Lutheran Study Bible, page 345). Joshua and the Israelites had passed over into an occupied promised land.

What follows after the entrance into the Land, the Crossing of the Jordan, the first circumcisions and Passover therein, and then the Battle of Jericho, in the next 18 chapters is quite a slog.  They,  and only the Israelites, then were engaged in both physical and spiritual warfare, physically killing the enemies.  Spiritually we must kill enemies, 

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, againstthe spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6: 12, from the Epistle Reading for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B (9/2/2012)

Yet they are enemies, the cosmic powers, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, even in the Church, giving their consent to sexual immorality   and covetousness. This blind world does not see it but we can see the breaking of every commandment every day on our favorite television programs. We have seen it in ourselves by God’s Law and we cry out, Kyrie Eleison, Lord, have mercy.    By God’s grace alone in Jesus Christ, we see the 7 Nations’ occupation of our own souls.  The name “Joshua”, literally means “God Saves”.  Joshua in Hebrew is pronounced, Yeshua and transliterated into Greek it became Iesus, the very Name in the New Testament, then transliterated into Jesus.

Joshua of old led the Israelites through the waters of the Jordan into the promised land for the conquest.  Jesus Christ leads us through the waters of Holy Baptism into the promised land of eternal life and leads, “the pioneer and perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 12: 2) for our struggles, the crucified and risen Lord before us, beside us, within us, around us. He is the new and living covenant of the Lord of all the living who went through the waters for us and our salvation.

We are living in an occupied land.  The 7 Nations of Idolatry, Profanation, Restlessness, Greed, Adultery, Anger and Covetousness hold sway and with everyday occupied more of the land and that means her people.  And it all looks good on our various screens. The Church of the New Testament went into a Roman world and they fought, not with Caesar’s swords but the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6).  The Lord’s orders are clear:  “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them ” (Rom. 12: 14) and “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”.  There are so many other Scripture verses on how to live as the Church in occupied land and the point is that those who are held captive can see the way of Jesus Christ in our life together and come to the joyful repentance.

It is a long campaign and it is a slog.  It is a slog when we see politicians approving abortion and the abortions of their conscience.  It is a slog when we see church bodies emasculate even the mention of  spiritual warfare as “too militaristic” so that a man and a woman does not stand in the battle and fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6: 12) . It is a slog when in our lives we see so many fighting and fears within and without.  It is a slog when we are overcome by the evil around us and think no one is with us: that is what the enemy wants us to think.  Joshua took a stand with his house:  we will serve the Lord.  Jesus Christ took His stand and served the Lord to us all, the LORD God of Sabaoth for our battles and struggles to defeat the Hittites, the Canaanites etc.and now by His grace alone won over to the Lord.  He made us His own, forgiven and drafted into His army. Joshua declared as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. In Baptism we renounce the devil and all his empty and false promises.   More than ever, we need the conscientious decision of every family, every father and husband to say as Joshua did, “as for me and my house we will serve the Lord”, and not the false gods and practices of those around us, not only for our salvation but others to come to faith in Jesus Christ. 

Lord Jesus Christ, Your servant Joshua led the children of Israel through the waters of the Jordan River into a land flowing with milk and honey. As our Joshua, lead us, we pray, through the waters of our Baptism into the promised land of our eternal home, where You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

%d bloggers like this: