Wednesday, December 25, 2013 

For Unto Us A Child Is Born



Isaiah 9:6-7

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

 

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 02, 2013 

Facebook Quote Of The Day



I know I'm about three weeks behind on my social networking but here's today's Facebook quote of the day is from the host of my favorite Lutheran radio program Issues, Etc. Todd Wilken who writes: 

I don't understand why King David's impromptu dance before the ark is supposed to be an example of how we ought to worship today, but the reverence of the Temple liturgy (something actually instituted by God himself) isn't.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 

Facebook Quote Of The Day

Today's Facebook quote of the day is from the host of my favorite Lutheran radio program Issues, Etc. Todd Wilken who writes: 

"Don't you wish the Bible were clearer on the six-day creation issue? If only there were a verse that said something like: "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.

No, wait... never mind
"


Exactly...

Monday, August 19, 2013 

The Body Of Christ Is Under Attack In Egypt


The Body of Christ is under attack in Egypt. We would do well to remember in our prayers our Coptic brothers and sisters as they bear witness to Christ under persecution by peaceful Mohammadians.

The above picture was taken yesterday as a Coptic congregation gathered to receive Christ's gifts of Word and Sacrament in a building that was firebombed a few days before.  

Wednesday, April 03, 2013 

Jesus Is Out, And He’s After You


The absolute best sermon I have heard this year on the Easter Resurrection of our Lord Jesus was from Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller at Hope Lutheran Church out in Aurora, CO. The sermon is titled “Jesus is Out, and He’s After You” and it needs to be heard.

A portion of the text:

What do you do with a man who won’t stay dead? Perhaps the better question is: What does a man who can’t stay dead do with us? This, dear friends, is the questions that will define our life and death. And the answer is: this Man loves you. He forgives you. He befriends you, and speaks kindly to you.
 
Because this Jesus who is dead and raised, this Jesus who is after you is after you with His resurrection. Pursuing you with His life. Chasing you down with His forgiveness. Coming to you with His truth, tearing away the delusions and the lies and comforting you with His love and promises, giving you His life.

This Jesus is after you with the gifts of the cross, seeking you like a Good Shepherd who leaves His flock to find the wandering sheep, and finding it lifts it, lifts you, on His shoulders and carries you to safety. Seeking you to save you, to deliver you, to rescue you, to bring you to His eternal dwelling where the angels are rejoicing without end.

Now, it is also true that the devil is after you, tempting and troubling you. But dear saints, what of it? Jesus has stomped the devil under His feet. He descended into hell and preached a sermon to the devil, a sermon of victory. He is risen, broken free from the devil’s grasp, and made a public spectacle of the devil in His cross and tomb. Jesus is the stronger One, who has taken the cords that the devil used to tie you up, that is, the fear of death, and unwrapped you and bound up the devil, and looted His house, the grave.

Pastor Wolfmueller gives us the Jesus that Scripture reveals. A Jesus that does what He says He will do. A Jesus that is just as active in going out and rescuing His flock as He was two thousand years ago. A Jesus that will use what ever Means of Grace that He wants to do His gracious work.

Pastor Wolfmueller does not give us a passive Jesus who sits off to the side waiting for us to make a decision to accept Him into our hearts. Pastor Wolfmueller rightly preaches to us a Jesus who runs the verbs; an active Savior that still rescues those He calls His children... the Jesus of Scripture!

Pastor Wolfmueller's Easter sermon this year might just be my favorite Easter sermon ever, it's that good and you should read or listen to it. Read the sermon here or listen to it here in iTunes.

Sunday, March 31, 2013 

A Blessed Easter!

Lent is over. The Great Vigil of Easter has been observed. Our Lord and Savior has conquered death and the grave. Once more alleluias fill our sanctuaries. A blessed Easter to all.

John 20:1-18

Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.


But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher) Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that He had spoken these things to her.

Saturday, March 30, 2013 

The Easter Vigil Explained With The Help Of An Ent


Later tonight I will attend my congregation's Easter Vigil. It's one of the most beautiful services in Church's liturgical year and it's one I always look forward to since attending my first vigil almost ten years ago.

The Easter Vigil starts outside in the dark with a single candle lit and slowly moves into the sanctuary as the congregation sings, chants, and listens to the Scripture being read. Usually the Vigil transitions to the Service of the Sacrament as the alleluias that were absent during the season of Lent return with the breaking of the Easter morning. 

The Easter Vigil can be a very long service.

I was listening to my favorite radio program, Issues, Etc. earlier in the week and Pastor Will Weedonbrought up a wonderful quote from Brian Helge to give a glimpse of what the Easter Vigil is to those who have never attended one or even heard of it... with some insight from an Ent. Yep, an Ent. Here's the quote:



To those who are not of the household of faith, what we are about to do must look very peculiar.  We are about to stand in the dark, carry candles about, sing lengthy and sublime religious tests, read stories from the Bible.  What does this all mean?  What is going on here in this community?

I think that I first came to understand what this was all about and why I came to think that this was the most important thing in my life when I read The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.  In their wandering and meandering, two of the main characters, called hobbits, meet a talking tree, called an Ent, and they introduce themselves and the conversation proceeds:

          "I'm a Brandybuck, Meriadoc Brandybuck, though most people call me just Merry."

          "And I'm a Took, Peregin Took, but I'm generally called Pippin, or even Pip."

"Hm, but you are hasty folk, I see," said Treebeard.  "I am honored by your confidence; but you should not be too free all at once.  There are Ents and Ents, you know; or there are Ents and things that look like Ents but ain't, as you might say.  I'll call you Merry and Pippin, if you please - nice names.  For I am not going to tell you my name, not yet at any rat." A queer half-knowing, half-humorous look came with a green flicker into his eyes.  "For one thing it would take a very long while: my name is growing all the time, and I've lived a very long, long time; so my name is like a story.  Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to in my language, in the Old Entish as you might say.  It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time to say anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking along time to say, and to listen to."

To use Treebeard's mode of expression, we are not going to be hasty folk tonight, satisfied with glibly saying the name "Christian."  Tonight, you might say, is "Old Entish" night in the church.  Tonight we are going to tell our name - to ourselves, by way of reminder, to those who will become part of us this night through baptism and confirmation, and to those of the world who will listen, who will take the time to hear what our name is.

And our name is a very long one, one that has been growing since the creation of the world.  Our name is a very long story - of how we are made, of how God chose us from among all peoples, of how God liberated us from bondage, of how God planted us in the promised land, of how, in these last times, God has given a new twist, given our name meaning in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Because we have been here for so long, it takes a long time to tell who we are, to recount the story of our life as a people, and none of us would be here if we did not think that that name was worth telling and listening to.  Now the trick to this kind of name telling is to relax.  You cannot be hasty in this time ahead of us.  Haste will stop up your ears finally, and then you will not hear this lovely language and our beautiful name.

Relax and make yourself comfortable in the darkness and don't even try to "make sense" of the name.  Just hear it, let it roll over you in waves of meanings.  Tonight we are going to listen to a series of episodes, not write a theological treatise on the resurrection. A practical word about relaxing:  if you need to get up and move about, do so.  If you need a breath of fresh air, go out to get it. We'll still be telling the story when you rejoin us.  Whatever you need to do to stay comfortable, do it.  All of this will enable you to hear the lovely language in which we can really name ourselves as God himself has named us.

"Christian" is merely an inadequate abbreviation for what we are about to tell.


Quote from A Triduum Sourcebook, Gabe Huck

Nuff said.

Friday, March 29, 2013 

Good Friday

So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.”

This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

“They divided my garments among them,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

Thursday, March 28, 2013 

Tonight's Maundy Thursday Quote Of The Day



Tonight's Maundy Thursday quote of the day is from Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller who, unbeknownst to me until just recently” has one of those twitter accounts and tweeted out earlier this evening the following:

If you think washing the disciples feet is humiliating, wait until tomorrow.

Sublime brilliance.

 

Maundy Thursday

Today is one of my favorite days of the Church year; Maundy Thursday where the day where the historic church celebrates Jesus’ intuition of the Eucharist or the Lord's Supper. From the Gospel of Matthew 26:26-30;

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Our Lord gives us in His blessed Sacrament not mere symbols but His very Body and Blood for faith and the remission of our sins. In the Eucharist we actually receive the medicine of immortality because in it Christ’s bride, the Church, receives the very Body and Blood of Her Lord shed for her sins. Thanks be to God!

I can think of no more beautiful reflection on the wonderful gift of the Lord's Supper than one of my favorite communion hymns by Dr. Luther: O Lord We Praise Thee:

O Lord, we praise you bless Thee, and adore Thee, in thanksgiving bow before Thee. Thou with Thy body and Thy blood didst nourish our weak souls that they may flourish.O Lord, have mercy!


May Thy body, Lord, born of Mary, that our sins and sorrows did carry, and Thy blood for us plead in all trial, fear, and need.O Lord, have mercy!


Thy holy body into death was given, life to win for us in heaven. No greater love than this to Thee could bind us; may this feast thereof remind us!O Lord, have mercy!


Lord, Thy kindness did so constrain Thee that Thy blood should bless and sustain me. All our debt Thou hast paid; peace with God once more is made.O Lord, have mercy.


May God bestow on us His grace and favor to please Him with our behavior and live as brethren here in love and union nor repent this blest Communion!O Lord, have mercy!


Let not Thy good Spirit forsake us; grant that heavenly-minded He make us; give Thy Church, Lord, to see, days of peace and unity.O Lord, have mercy!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 

The Infancy Narrative During Lent?


Have you ever tried to teach a Sunday school class the Christmas narrative during Lent? You should try it, it's a wonderful exercise!

My Sunday morning class started studying the book of Luke back in November when our wrapped up our look at theophanies in the Old Testament. As we had a lot of background to go over we weren't even able to get to the Announcement in the Lukan account until the beginning of last month which means we didn’t get to the birth account of the promised Christ until smack dab in the middle of Lent.

That's OK I think as Jesus' birth in Bethlehem fits rather nicely in this season of the Church year. From the Light of the World being born in the dark of night in some backwater town no one in Rome ever cared about to the Good Shepherd being visited by shepherds who, while still supplying the locals their meat, will be out of a job soon enough if they supply the lambs for the temple sacrifice.

We can't read the infancy narrative without peeking ahead and seeing that this small child will, in just a few short years, be nailed to a cross as the propitiator of God's wrath for the whole world.

We can't look at the cloth bands the Christ is wrapped in and not think about a bloody body being pulled down from the cross at Golgotha and wrapped in His burial clothes before being placed into the tomb that three days later will be miraculously empty!

We cant look at the circumcision and not see that from the very beginning of time our Lord would be shedding His blood in order to fulfill the Law and redeem His people.

We can't look at the presentation of the Christ child at the temple and not see that His parents only having enough money to offer up two pigeons for His dedication because they could not afford a lamb and not see that the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world is the one who is entering the temple.

Yep, the infancy narrative fits rather nicely into the season of Lent. Perfectly in fact.

Monday, February 25, 2013 

Today's Quote Of The Day

Today's quote of the day is from my usual source of quotes on Facebook:

"Imagine if we each had individual debt clocks for our sins. I bet crucifixes would be a lot more popular."

I couldn't agree more.

Sunday, February 10, 2013 

The Lukan Case For Life

My new great nephew!
At the congregation I attend I enjoy the opportunity to teach the adult Sunday school class and we are currently making our way through Luke's Gospel.

Normally, in most Lutheran congregations, it is the pastor who teaches an adult class. Since my pastor serves two parishes he has to leave shortly after our class starts and therefore he, by necessity, turns it over to myself or if I'm not there an elder. Our pastor always leaves notes and a series of questions for us to go over and I pretty much stick to what he wants us to cover while interjecting fun stuff from additional materials that I find in my theological library.

One of the best resources around concerning the Luke's Gospel account is Rev. Dr. Arthur A. Just Jr.'s two volume contribution to the Concordia Commentary Series over at Concordia Publishing House. This is a wonderful resource that can be used by lay persons and clergy persons alike (the textual notes are mostly for the clergy persons and those with a working understanding of both Hebrew and Greek). I can't recommend Dr. Just's commentary highly enough and it's my go to resource when I teach!

Which brings me back to the subject of the post...

We are steadily working our way the infancy narrative and I came across this marvelous textual note concerning the word “baby” in the verse from Luke 1:41And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” Dr. Just writes:

41.
βρέφος—“Baby, infant” is used for babies both before and after birth, implying that an unborn child is a fully human person. The word occurs eight times in the NT, six of which are in Luke-Acts. It refers to John the Baptist while in his mother’s womb in Lk 1:41, 44; to Jesus after his birth in Lk 2:12, 16; to the young children brought to Jesus in Lk 18:15; and to newborn babies in Acts 7:19; 1 Pet 2:2. St. Paul describes Timothy as knowing the Scriptures ἀπὸ βρέφους, “from [the time he was an] infant” (2 Tim 3:15). The biblical usage of this term has important ramifications for human-life issues. It supports—even mandates—a concern for the sanctity of human life from conception onward and makes disregard for such life morally reprehensible.

It would be nice if our wicked culture understood what physicians knew two thousand years ago; that a infant hidden from our view by his or her mother's womb is still just that; an infant. Since infants deserve our love and protection after they are born, shouldn't infants who are not yet born deserve just as much love and protection against a culture that seems to celebrate their destruction in the name of choice, freedom, or whatever slick term the PR firm that organizations that brag that they terminate a life every ninety five seconds use? I think they should. Don't you?

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Friday, February 01, 2013 

Today's Quote Of The Day

A friend of mine on Facebook gets today's quote of the day:

"I was thinking the other day... about the "Footprints in the Sand" poem-thingy. It is so very individualistic. Never in a Christian's life are there "one set of footprints" because we're "catholic" (meaning: according to the whole). We're the body of Christ. Our neighbors and the great cloud of witnesses have left footprints too."

Exactly.

Thursday, June 23, 2011 

The End Of Putting Out The Fire

It's just time.

About me

  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
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