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Concordia and Koinonia

Bio:  Moving from the Old World to the New, Muhlenberg established the shape of Lutheran parishes for America during a 45-year ministry in Pennsylvania. Born at Einbeck, Germany, in 1711, he came to the American 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 in 1748. He valued the role of music in Lutheran worship (often serving as his own organist) and was also the guiding force in preparing the first American Lutheran liturgy (also in 1748). Muhlenberg is remembered as a church leader, a journalist, a liturgist, and—above all—a pastor to the congregation in his charge. He died in 1787, leaving behind a large extended family and a lasting heritage: American Lutheranism.

During the American War of Independence, Muhlenberg’s home in Trappe was full of fugitives; he wrote in his journal: ‘The name of…

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St. Mark show us two icons, two scenes of His teaching on marriage, divorce, children and baptism:

The first scene, Jesus teaching marriage between man and woman and divorce.   The sturdy orthodox Lutheran theologians speak of marriage and family, as in this first scene of today’s Gospel, as the order of creation.  Marriage and family are foundational in the Lord’s creation.   Government at its best is to serve families, not for families to serve the illiberal immorality of the denial of marriage. Marriage and family have two commandments:  the 4th and the 6th. The messing up of marriage has now happened in cyber speed.

Then  in the house in Capernaum, and the second scene: Jesus further teaches the future apostles, the centrality and indissoluble reality of marriage. Once again children are present with their fathers and mothers asking Jesus to bless their children.  The disciples were hindering them. St. Mark reports that Jesus literally snorted with indignation at them.  This Scripture is the one used at every Baptism in the Lutheran Church.

The First Scene:  The one flesh of marriage is denied in our day, even denigrated and forgotten. Divorce, living together, same-sex marriage, and abortion are the sinful symptoms of the denial and denigration of marriage, exacerbating the cause of that destruction of marriage. The Old Adam has hardness of heart.  Even if same-sex so-called marriage is civil law, as St. John Chrysostom preached: “God will judge you at the last day not by the civil law but by His law”.  While there is life, there is repentance on account of Christ, born in a holy marriage and a devout family in Israel.

What is the cause of the destruction of marriage?  There are many reasons but one seems innocuous and even reasonable. One gay commentator wrote that marriage is, “…primarily a way in which two adults affirm their emotional commitment to one another.” This sounds good but let’s look at that statement in the light of Scripture. If marriage is a emotional commitment, then it stands to reason the two adults can be any combination of genders.  No matter how you do the jigsaw pieces, only male and female can fit with one another.  Maybe with the availability of relatively easy contraception, marriage is seen more as an emotional commitment and that’s it.  It’s all about how we feel.

“Emotional commitment” as the basis of marriage is the operative cultural definition of marriage and is not limited to one gay commentator. In sitcoms, when there is a wedding, invariably the couple writes their own “vows”.   Those are not vows at all, but statements of emotional commitment. The phrase “emotional commitment” is bland and bloodless which has caused, as the Brits would say, bloody bad things. I have an emotional commitment to you and you to me, and to each other in Jesus Christ, but that does not mean we are married.  Even to say we have “emotional commitments” in the Church is likewise bloodless, that is, without the blood of Christ Who has bought us and brought us together.  “Emotional commitment” as the sum and substance of marriage is denial and even destruction of marriage.

We know what happens, “once the love has gone”. The primary divine purpose of marriage is the two become one flesh, not one soul or heart, ‘soul-mates’,  or other flights of spiritualized sentimentality and cultural rot.   Man and woman become one flesh to have children and for the continuation of life and love.  “(The Lord)  forbade men to marry their  sisters or  daughters, so that our  love  would  not be limited  to members of our families,  and withdrawn from the  rest  of the  human race”(St. John Chrysostom).    It’s not only incest that stops true marriage but all sexual relations outside of marriage and the resulting self- justifying false doctrines about marriage.

Another saying making the rounds is “love makes a family”.  Again, love is understood as only emotional commitment and warmth. Our warm feelings can quickly turn cold or burning hot.  Marriage makes the family, between male and female, as the Lord has created us.  Once “emotional commitment” becomes the sole reason for marriage then divorce becomes simply and supposedly “no fault”.   If marriage is based upon love, that is, loving feelings, those emotions  will soon fail.  Marriage is based upon God’s Word, vows, God’s and ours, so that we can learn to love even as we have first been loved.

The Second Scene:  Jesus teaches about divorce to the disciples and families present are overhearing this.  Divorce is not good for the family.  The Lord Himself protects marriage and the family.  In fact, He came to bridge the great divorce between man and his God and Lord. How?

When Jesus went back into the house, the movement is from the order of creation to the order of redemption in Jesus Christ.  Going into the house with the Lord it became the House of the Lord, Church.

In His House, fathers and mothers ask Jesus to bless their children.  The disciples were preventing them. St. Mark reports that Jesus literally snorted with indignation at them.  This Scripture of blessing the children is the one used at every Baptism in the Lutheran Church. This is the proof text that the Lord baptizes infants, a holy new family, h-o-l-y.  According the Gospel of Christ, there is no adult baptism.  All baptism is baptism of children.  Even an adult receives the Kingdom as a child.

Children and adults make a mess of so much, but in Him we are saved and receive like a child with His gifts, as a child receives from Mother and Father.  Children are by no means pure, but they trust. The Pharisees wanted to have an adult theological discussion about divorce, in order, well, to finally get their way in salvation, find out what is permitted.   They were looking for permission, Jesus speaks commandment. See how much one can get away with and then be good to go.  On our own we cannot be good to go. Jesus went all the way as He tasted death for us. He sanctified us and is our brother, and our Lord     He enfolded into His arms the children that day and blessed them. He still does and has for you. Jesus blessing the children finally and fully, met our breakage of the Law at an intersection:  His Cross.

Marriage is the Lord’s always new math: 1 + 1 equals 1.    Marriage is God’s gift to Adam and Eve.  Marriage begins the Bible and even as sin entered the world, the Lord did not abandon His gift of marriage to men and women.  The Bible is the history and story of marriage and families from the beginning to Abraham and Sarah  to Joseph and Mary and Christ and His Church and in the new creation when the heavenly Jerusalem descends as His bride. The stories of those families is checkered.  We can read for ourselves the messes the Patriarchs, Abraham and Jacob made of their marriages.  The Lord gave His promise through many of those families, by sheer grace, not because of their deeds.   The Lord came, and sought His bride and slipped the pure gold wedding ring of His saving love on our finger, in true faith.  What is Mine is thine and what is Thine is Mine, He said in His eternal vow. The hardest and best thing we can say in marriage is not primarily I love you, but I forgive you. The Lord’s forgiveness is as hard as nails.

“(In marriage) you  are sacrificing yourself for  someone  to whom you are already joined, but He offered Himself  up for the one who turned her back on Him and  hated  Him” (St. John Chrysostom)

All your brokenness of sin I have taken upon Myself and I give you all that I have:  grace, mercy and peace and the fidelity of love stronger than sin and death.  You divorce Me, but I will not divorce Thee. Seek and support marriage and the family.  Pray for Christ’s peace in our homes.  Protect the womb. Pray for marriages and families in the Church.  What God has brought together, let no man cast asunder.  “How is marriage a mystery?  The two have become one.  This is not an empty symbol.   They have not become the image of anything on earth, but of God Himself.” (St.  John Chrysostom)

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They tell you sex has become a mess because it was hushed up. But for the last twenty years it has not been hushed up. It has been chattered about all day long. Yet it is still in a mess. If hushing up had been the cause of the trouble, ventilation would have set it right. But it has not. I think it is the other way round. I think the human race originally hushed it up because it had become such a mess. (Mere Christianity, 1952)

On Marriage

Concordia and Koinonia

“All heretics have denigrated matrimony and have sought for and begun some newfangled and bizarre way of life.” 

Luther’s Sermon on John 2: 1—11, 1533, Luther’s House Postils, vol. 1

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Article of the Day

“Keep on doing the Same Old Thing”, from the Gottesdienst Website

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“To be a Christian is a great thing, not merely to seem one. And somehow or other those please the world most…please Christ least…. Christians are made, not born.”-St. JeromeSt. Jerome’s Vulgate Translation:

 St. John 1: 1 In principio erat Verbum et Verbum erat apud Deum et Deus erat Verbum:   In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God: and the Word was God.In ipso vita erat et vita erat lux hominum:   In him was life: and the life was the light of men. 

Prayer of the Day

O Lord, God of truth, Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light on our path. You gave Your servant Jerome delight in his study of Holy Scripture. May those who continue to read, mark, and inwardly digest Your Word find in it the food of salvation and the fountain of life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

 Jerome was born in a little village on the Adriatic Sea around AD 345. At a young age, he went to study in Rome, where he was baptized. After extensive travels, he chose the life of a monk and spent five years in the Syrian Desert. There he learned Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament. After ordination at Antioch and visits to Rome and Constantinople, Jerome settled in Bethlehem. from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, he used his ability with languages to translate the Bible into Latin, the common language of his time. This translation, called the Vulgate, was the authoritative version of the Bible in the Western Church for more than 1,000 years. Considered one of the great scholars of the Early Church, Jerome died on September 30, 420. He was originally interred at Bethlehem, but his remains were eventually taken to Rome.(From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

Reflection:  We make much ado about miracles in the Bible as well we should as they point to the very nature of Jesus Christ; but there are some miracles that go totally unnoticed, as in: 

For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Isaiah 2 

and

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. Revelation 14: 6

From the least of the tribes and nations of earth comes forth the Word of God and specifically, the Word made flesh, “…to every nation and tribe and language and people.”  This is the powerful deed of the Word of God to save souls and bodies in His forgiveness and mercy.   He has made known to all His Law and Gospel.  There was a priest of Jesus Christ, one Jerome,  translating the Bible into a language by which all of Europe for 1,000 years could listen to the Word of God. Vulgate Latin become the lingua franca, the common language of the Church.  It was not God’s language for God’s language, His Word, His tongue are the mighty deeds in Jesus Christ, as it clear in Acts 2:7-9, but they heard it  in  their own“native language”.  This is the Pentecost of translation begun in Jerusalem.  It has not stopped. The Bible is the perennial best seller in the world.  The Pentecost of His published Word was continued by Jerome and many others.The Bible or portions thereof have been translated into some 2, 287 languages.  This day and everyday is to have at the ready copies of the New Testament to give someone as the greatest gift and deed of all. As St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”.  For all of our information and knowledge, we are living in ignorant times. Jerome  loved and translated God’s Word, he did not attack it as so many ‘Christian’ theologians have done in our day. His translation has lasted for centuries, the writings of so many ‘theologians’ will only be fodder for the fires of hell.The Lord brought forth His Word out from Zion. We think we are civilized but when we look at war, greed and the murder of children in the womb by the millions, we are still pagans and barbarians.   The Lord sending is Word forth from Zion is the Lord’s great deed by which He civilizes a world in, through and by  His Word as we await for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in glory.  

Jerome facilitated the greatest publishing event in the history of the world that had already begun: The Holy Bible.  It is the Word alone which testifies to God’s will for us.  If it was not, then Jerome would have translated human traditions for the world to read, but he did not. It is a high vocation to be a Translator of Scripture.  This is a good day to pray for all translators, missionaries, seminarians and Biblical professors.  The King James Version renders Mark 13: 10: “And the gospel must first be published among all nations”, and Isaiah 52:7 that blessed are the feet which, “publisheth salvation”. The word “publish” is from same Latin root as our word “public”. “Vulgate” from “vulgur” meant in Latin “public” as well.  The Lord makes public His Word.  It is not merely a private thing but for the whole world and our nation.  He calls His Church to continue this work till the consummation of all things so that many may call upon the Name of the Lord and be saved.

Pray the Lord to give us opportunities to make public His Scriptures by placing into the hands of the spiritually destitute the life-giving Word of God!  Pray the Lord that all of the Baptized be fed the bread of Life from the Holy Scriptures!

Quote of the Day

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