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The War of the Nuts Commences - Garden Weasel

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psalm 119: 11

As we are in autumn, the squirrels are storing up acorns and nuts for the winter, so they have food when there is none.  According to this Psalm verse, it sounds as if we are to be spiritual squirrels storing up God’s Word in our hearts. I think so.  Sinning is starving to death the soul in the winter of the world. 

Squirrels forage for food in the autumn.  They are all over our foraging.  We do not have to forage high and low for soul food:  looking in this book or that, listening to that guru or sage, looking into our hearts and minds. The Lord’s soul food is in the Bible, in plain sight:  every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God which is faithfully and carefully preach and taught, read and prayed.  The Lord’s food is on the Communion Table, the Sacrament of the Altar:  The Word made flesh, This is my Body and This is the new testament in my blood.

God’s Word alone, written and Incarnate, can keep us safe from sin.  Further, we may be living in a time which the word of the Lord is rare (see 1 Samuel 3:  1):  rarely preached and taught, rarely obeyed, and routinely derided and this occurs not only in the worldly culture but even in the churches. During the times of famine of the Word of God, we need His Word stored up and  “hid” so we may have sustenance in faith in the Lord and love for one another. The winters may get real bad.  

Storing up the Word of the Lord means memorizing the Word:  verses and passages of both Law and Promise so the Lord guide us by the light of His Word in these dark days. “We should daily be engaged with God’s Word and carry in our hearts and upon our lips.” (Luther’s Large Catechism); for, Thy Word is lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Psalm 119: 105). Be a spiritual squirrel!  Now I don’t know if squirrels share the bounty they have hid with each other, in lean times, but we do.  You have just the right nut of Lord’s Word to share with someone else.

Hiding His Word in our hearts does not mean being spiritual survivalists.   Survival food is only for myself and my family in a terrible time and so we wouldn’t share our bread with someone dying of starvation?  Hiding His Word in our hearts is so in Christ’s forgiveness one may not sin and yet sing His praises and speak His Word for others who are dying to hear.  And in the junk food of vain philosophies, many think they are being fed, but are starving to death.

 O holy and most merciful God, You have taught us the way of Your commandments. We implore You to pour out Your grace into our hearts. Cause it to bear fruit in us that, being ever mindful of Your mercies and Your laws, we may always be directed to Your will and daily increase in love toward You and one another. Enable us to resist all evil and to live a godly life. Help us to follow the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Words of God hid in our hearts and to walk in His steps until we shall possess the kingdom that has been prepared for us in heaven; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Lessons for the Day: Psalm 147:1-7 Isaiah 35:5-8 2 Timothy 4:5-15 St. Luke 10:1-9

Almighty God, our Father, Your blessed Son called Luke the physician to be an evangelist and physician of the soul. Grant that the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments may put to flight the diseases of our souls that with willing hearts we may ever love and serve You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

St. Luke, the beloved physician referred to by St. Paul (Colossians4:14), presents us with Jesus, whose blood provides the medicine of immortality. As his traveling companion, Paul claimed Luke’s Gospel as his own for its healing of souls (Eusebius). Luke traveled with Paul during the second missionary journey, joining him after Paul received his Macedonian call to bring the Gospel to Europe (Acts16:10-17).  Luke most likely stayed behind in Philippi for seven years, rejoining Paul at the end of the third missionary journey in Macedonia. He traveled with Paul to Troas, Jerusalem, and Caesarea, where Paul was imprisoned for two years (Acts 20:5-21:18). While in Caesarea, Luke may have researched material that he used in his Gospel. Afterward, Luke accompanied Paul on his journey to Rome (Acts 27:1-28:16). Especially beloved in Luke’s Gospel are:

the stories of the Good Samaritan ( Luke 16:29-37),the prodigal son (Luke15:11-32), the rich man and Lazarus  (Luke16:19-31), and the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). Only Luke provides a detailed account of Christ’s birth (Luke 2:1-20) and the canticles of Mary (Luke1:46-55), of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79),and, Simeon (Luke2:29-32).

To show how Christ continued His work in the Early Church through the apostles, Luke also penned the Acts of the Apostles. More than one-third of the New Testament comes from the hand of the evangelist Luke.  (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Four takeaways about Luke, the Gospel and the early Church history he wrote:

One:     Composed in flawless Greek, St. Luke’s introduction in  Chapter 1 gives Theophilus an accurate account of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ.  Luke knew the people who were eyewitnesses and he interviewed them.  We were not there from the beginning, but Luke was. He probably knew Mary, Mother of our Lord.  He knew the apostles, including Paul.   Luke tells us he did this carefully. He is also a brother in Christ.  A brother in Christ is honest and trustworthy.  It is clear Luke did not write his Gospel for personal financial gain at all.  What did he stand to gain from writing a dishonest narrative?  Nothing. He wanted Theophilus to know the certainty of the Way in which he had been “catechized”, taught the Way, because Jesus Christ is our Savior. Luke’s gain is only Christ’s gain:  a baptized and saved Theophilus and you as well.

“The ‘us’ among whom these ‘things which have been accomplished’ (1:1-4) would be all the Christians whose testimony is borne in the narrative.” (Dr. Just’s Commentary)

“For us and our salvation He came down from heaven”.

 Two:    Luke uses the word “catechized”.  The Gospels are history and as the history of our lives in Christ, there is meaning.  Theophilus was catechized, taught in the Way, as a “follower of the Way”, the meaning of the Word and Work of Jesus Christ.  Theophilus was taught God’s Word. The fruit of faith is shown in works of love.  “Theophilus” means “love of God”.  Many have asked, Who was Theophilus?  One answer:  all of us, the love of God.  We are all Theophilus. “Excellent” was term of respect for a high, noble official.  God’s Word is for the education of the poorest of the poor and the most elite of the elite!  God’s love in Christ had taught Theophilus and now Luke connects the dots for him and us. This history of Jesus is the good news, the Gospel which not only informs but forms us in His Word, sinners who are simultaneously saints by faith, given through grace.

“Paul says that in the Christian assembly, he prefers rational words, “five words of knowledge” than a thousand in tongues, so that he may “catechize” those present (1 Cor 14:19)…” (Dr. Just)

This faith comes through the gospel’s  catechesis  that assures of certainty of the facts narrated regarding Jesus. “Catecheo”  (“to catechize, instruct, inform”) occurs four times in Luke-Acts (Lk 1:4; Acts 18:25; 21:21, 24) and three times in Paul (Rom 2:18; 1 Cor 14:19; Gal 6:6). Acts 18:25 has the same meaning as here: Apollos “had been catechized in the way of the Lord.” We can know the facts of the way a bike works, which is important, but the way we learn a bike is to learn to ride it, catechized in the way of the Lord and His heart towards us, for us, with us.

Third:  We understand the truthfulness of Holy Scripture by Luke’s phrase, regarding the ministers of the Word,  “delivered these traditions to us…”  The use of the verb “delivered” is used by Paul (Luke was his companion on some of the Paul’s missionary journeys) for handing over the Words of Institution of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23) and the eyewitness accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3)  Traditions here are not man-made traditions, but rabbinic traditions precisely delivered:  verbatim. These were tools for memory but also pointing out that without all our information technologies, the mind can remember a lot.   These brothers had the highest regard for the written and spoken Word of God and were not going to mess around with it, because man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  In Dr. Luke’s second book, Acts of the Apostles, there are the “we” sections, in which Luke was with the apostle Paul.  Paul refers in his letters to “my gospel”.  Paul’s Gospel sure well have been Luke’s.  Both Paul and Luke knew the other apostles, Mary, James, brother of the Lord, the 70 Jesus had sent out.

Four: Luke wrote a travelogue, the Gospel and Acts of the Apostles.  He wrote a never-ending story, a true story.  Jesus and His Church met so many people of all walks of life, including you dear reader. Some in his two volume work we read about the following:  the first martyrs, others, unlikely born, like Paul, became an apostle but more than even that, called and baptized, along with prostitutes, tax collectors, centurions, slave and freemen, Pharisees, poor men and women, Roman officials and soldiers, tent makers, a business woman…in all walks and vocations of life, and in the Lord’s Name given new life. The sign post of our travels is the Cross and as He lives He points us ever to our citizenship in heaven.

Today’s Devotion

Deuteronomy 12:  29  “When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ 31You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.

Tales From The Girl's Bathroom: Mirror Mirror On The Wall – The Authored  Ascension

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s

the fairest one of all?

I guess the reason Israel went after the false gods of the “nations” is those gods seem to be so successful.  Maybe Israel reasoned we can have it both ways: the one true God and the others.  The gods of the nations, though, committed perversions, not only sexual immorality, but with such immorality, idolatry as, “…they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods”.  You may say, Oh, not us!  Yet we do burn up the next generation in abortion…after sex outside of marriage and it’s attendant birth control has failed or was not used in the heat of the moment.  In our day, children are offered up to the gods. But what god?!  One such god comes to mind:  the self. We are always inquiring after the god in the mirror: What is convenient?  What is in my best self-interest?  Even ‘enlightened’ self-interest?  How can I satisfy myself this day?  And all advertisements and commercials just stoke the fire of covetousness, teaching us to love yourself above all things. Perverted human reason thinks: ‘This pregnancy won’t fit into my ‘lifestyle’ now, it’s too bad, but it’s better for all’.  Even using love of neighbor as self-justification for murder compounds the breaking of the commandments.  We are directed inward and when the inward falls apart then the gnawing maw of Godless despair opens up with hell beneath.  The Lord seeks this lost generation, you and I.  “Still seeking not Himself but us.”  Return home to the Lord if you are in the distant country.  His grace precedes and leads us to guide us out of our selves to Him.  We have the guide Book:  the Bible which faithfully and without error points us to Jesus Christ.

Let us pray:   Blessed Lord, since You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

For us He prayed; for us He taught;/ For us His daily works He wrought,/ By words and signs and actions thus/ Still seeking not Himself but us

—O Love, How Deep (LSB 544:4)

(Except for the reflection, the above is cited in The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House, for this day}

Quote of the Day

The Imitation of Christ

So long as we live in this world we cannot escape suffering and temptation. Whence it is written in Job: “The life of man upon earth is a warfare.” Everyone, therefore, must guard against temptation and must watch in prayer lest the devil, who never sleeps but goes about seeking whom he may devour, find occasion to deceive him. No one is so perfect or so holy but he is sometimes tempted; man cannot be altogether free from temptation.

Yet temptations, though troublesome and severe, are often useful to a man, for in them he is humbled, purified, and instructed. The saints all passed through many temptations and trials to profit by them, while those who could not resist became reprobate and fell away. There is no state so holy, no place so secret that temptations and trials will not come. Man is never safe from them as long as he lives, for they come from within us—in sin we were born. When one temptation or trial passes, another comes; we shall always have something to suffer because because we have lost the state of original blessedness.…

The beginning of all temptation lies in a wavering mind and little trust in God, for as a rudderless ship is driven hither and yon by waves, so a careless and irresolute man is tempted in many ways. Fire tempers iron and temptation steels the just. Often we do not know what we can stand, but temptation shows us what we are.…

We should not despair, therefore, when we are tempted, but pray to God the more fervently that He may see fit to help us, for according to the word of Paul, He will make issue with temptation that we may be able to bear it.

              —Thomas Kempis (as quoted in The Treasury of Daily Prayer, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod)

Let us pray…

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 teaching of his holy life, give strength to pastors today who shepherd Your flock that, by Your grace 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. Amen.

Biography:  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. 

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 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:

Pastor Muhlenberg was sent to these shores to be a Gospel missionary in the wilderness of what would become the United States of America in 1774.  When Thomas Jefferson started to build Monticello, nor far from where I am, in Charlottesville, western Virginia was a wilderness, likewise Pennsylvania.  Further, as the Pastor’s ministry in Christ continued, so did the winds of revolution increase to eventually a hurricane.  It was a clash of pollical ideologies:  monarch or representative democracy, colonialism or freedom.  The print above shows Pr. Muhlenberg preaching in a barn.  As a pastor, in these days, I and others think we are in a tough time, rough times…even the threat of harder persecution of the Church. Pr. Muhlenberg also had his 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.

He had a rough time, as did most of the saints in Christ, over the centuries.  As a Lutheran commentator said in a podcast, let’s face it, we are living in Babylon.  As much as we want to be transported to some idyllic Christian past, it won’t happen because such has never existed.  Like Henry Melchior Muhlenberg we too are in the wilderness.  The Church is more and more St. John the Baptist:  the voice of one crying in the wilderness.  We must cry out the Word of God and cry for our sins as individuals and a nation. We are called to faithful not wistful.  Many heard the Gospel in this foreign land in the 18th century and will today. And like Pr. Muhlenberg, “…the dear God has …upheld me all this time with forbearance.”  We thank the Lord for this pastor…during pastor appreciation month! 

Guide me, O Thou great Redeemer
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou art mighty,
Hold me with Thy pow’rful hand.
Bread of heaven, Bread of heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more. -Guide me, O Thou great Redeemer (LSB 918: 1)

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 Thee (LSB 750:1)

TOS: S1 - E23: A Taste of Armageddon - Trek Report

The USS Enterprise travels to Eminiar VII, bringing Ambassador Robert Fox to establish diplomatic relations. Little is known about Eminiar VII, beyond the fact that they have been at war with a neighboring planet, Vendikar. Eminiar warns the Enterprise not to come as it would be dangerous.  Following Federation orders, they enter that planetary system, and they are told by Eminiar that the Enterprise is now a casualty of their war.  Spock had done a scan of the planets and reported there is no radiation, no bombed cities, no ruins…no physical war.  Spoiler alert:  It turns out that the two planets have been at war for centuries and their war is done by computers with the casualties reporting to “disintegration chambers”. Now the crew of the Enterprise is a casualty of their war  and ‘must’ report to the disintegration chambers according to their understandings of war. Kirk, the Ambassador and the landing crew become hostages of Eminiar and Anan, that planet’s First Counsel. Anan has said if the Enterprise does not report to the disintegration chambers, the landing party will die. Kirk is able to talk with Scotty and issues General Order #24: the destruction of both planets if Anan does not back down.

Kirk and company are finally able to destroy the war computers on Eminiar and now real war faces the two planets.  The First Counsel is not pleased, and he and Kirk have this conversation:

ANAN: You realise what you have done?
KIRK: Yes, I do. I’ve given you back the horrors of war. The Vendikans now assume that you’ve broken your agreement and that you’re preparing to wage real war with real weapons. They’ll want do the same. Only the next attack they launch will do a lot more than count up numbers in a computer. They’ll destroy cities, devastate your planet. You of course will want to retaliate. If I were you, I’d start making bombs. Yes, Councilman, you have a real war on your hands. You can either wage it with real weapons, or you might consider an alternative. Put an end to it. Make peace. 
ANAN: There can be no peace. Don’t you see? We’ve admitted it to ourselves. We’re a killer species. It’s instinctive. It’s the same with you. Your General Order Twenty Four.
KIRK: All right. It’s instinctive. But the instinct can be fought. We’re human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands, but we can stop it. We can admit that we’re killers, but we’re not going to kill today. That’s all it takes. Knowing that we won’t kill today. Contact Vendikar. I think you’ll find that they’re just as terrified, appalled, horrified as you are, that they’ll do anything to avoid the alternative I’ve given you. Peace or utter destruction. It’s up to you.

Comment: Yes, Kirk is right, “…the instinct can be fought”.  We can stop it.  For instance, we are not hopelessly racist. I won’t say anything racist today or even tomorrow. As a white man, growing up in the ‘60s, I still do not like the KKK.  I have never had the urge to wear white sheets or wear black face at Halloween. It’s offensive. The instinct can be fought. As so many of our instincts can be fought, at least in a civil society. The instinct can be fought and changed only in the human heart on account of Jesus Christ Who did not have ‘the instinct’, that is, sin. We do not have to say according the Word of Law and Gospel, that we are hopelessly racist or greedy or murdering and report to disintegration chambers for a false peace. I think what is being suggested today is more in line with the fictional Eminiar and Vendikar. For instance, just to say, we are racist and can’t do anything about, or if we just change the “system” to change us is suicidal. The ‘they’ will do the changing and it will be violent and oppressive and cold in it’s logic. The ‘good’ solution of those two planets was filled with cold evil.  We will not report  to the disintegration chambers. What we need to do is repent and return to the Lord our God. We can not only admit, but confess to the Lord we can murder and hate and so be forgiven. And the Lord knows us better than even Gene Roddenberry.

Protestant Reformation timeline | Timetoast timelines

People are also warned that the term faith does not mean simply a knowledge of a history, such as the ungodly and devil have [James 2:19]. Rather, it means a faith that believes, not merely the history, but also the effect of the history. In other words, it believes this article: the forgiveness of sins. We have grace, righteousness, and forgiveness of sins through Christ.—Augsburg Confession XX 19–26

Concordia Publishing House. Treasury of Daily Prayer (Kindle Locations 23698-23701). Concordia Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

Sermon Text: St. Mark 10:2-16

And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Let the Children Come to Me

13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

DEARLY beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocence, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.

First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.

Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continence might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.

Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined.

I just read the opening of the Matrimony service of 1662 Book of Common Prayer of the Anglican Church.  If it sounds even vaguely familiar, it should as the first paragraph and following became basis of many Protestant Church bodies’ rites of Matrimony in the English speaking world for the next 5 centuries.

History is part and parcel of the marriage service and marriage as our Lord makes clear, But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. From the beginning of creation, from Genesis chapters 1 and 2 and following.

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

The first scene is public:  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.   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, public:  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?  Would have ever thunk that the verse, But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female’ would become controverted and perverted?  It has.

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. I think this is insidious.  If marriage is primarily is viewed as an emotional commitment, not procreation, then it stands to reason the two adults can be any combination of genders. Also, marriage can be entered into lightly and supposedly, left lightly, that is divorce.  No matter how you do the jigsaw pieces, only male and female can fit with one another.  Maybe with the availability of 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. Here is a vow:

WILT thou have this Man to thy wedded Husband, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou obey him, and serve him, love, honour, and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?

I will. 

Now that’s a vow! Then comes the pledge of faithfulness:

I M. take thee N. to my wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faithfulness.

Nothing about what the man or the woman feel about each other as fallen human beings.  If marriage is based upon one’s feelings, that marriage will be a roller coaster ride, a sea voyage on a stormy sea, a wild ride. “It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”-Pr. Bonhoeffer (From his written sermon for his fellow pastor and father confessor, Eberhard Bethge who married Bonhoeffer’s niece Renate. The sermon was written when Pr.Bonhoeffer was imprisoned by the Nazis. He was awaiting execution.)

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 that doesn’t say much of anything.  I am not called here to have an “emotional commitment” to you, I am called to preach, teach, administer the Sacraments here and other places, and you (and I) are called to receive the Lord’s gifts in the Divine Service.  Saying we have “emotional commitments” is 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.

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, like marriage is an emotional commitment. 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.

The Second Scene:  In this scene when Jesus teaches about divorce to the disciples, 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. Divorce between man and woman, God and man shows our condition as Jesus said, “Hardness of heart” in the first scene.  How does the Lord heal the hardness of our hearts?  Not by accepting divorce, but by healing the great divorce of God and man.

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.  Even an adult receives the Kingdom as a child. There is no adult baptism.  All baptism is baptism of children. 

From creation in Genesis, be fruitful and multiply, after the flood, again, be fruitful and multiply, in the reign of God the Lord says be fruitful and multiply, in creation and redemption:  baptized. When it comes to the first reason for marriage, procreation, we spend so much time now on not having children.

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. They have no choice, they have to.  Receive the reign of God like child.   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.  “With your marriage you are founding a home.  That needs a rule of life, and this rule of life is so important that God establishes it himself, because without it everything would get out of joint.”   “Earthly society is only the beginning of the heavenly society, the earthly home an image of the heavenly home, the earthly family a symbol o the fatherhood of God over all men, for they are His children.” Thus the second scene in the Gospel fulfills the first.”  Marriage fulfils the new creation in Revelation, the marriage feast of the Lamb.

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. Those families’ stories are checkered, like our own.  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, yet the deeds of the Patriarchs flowed forth from the grace of God, grace’s fruit.   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)

He who to this day has fed me
And to many joys has led me
Is and ever shall be mine.
He who ever gently schools me,
He who daily guides and rules me
Will remain my help divine.

—All Depends on Our Possessing (LSB 732:2)

Prayer of the Day:

Eternal God, You counsel us not to be anxious about earthly things. Keep alive in us a proper yearning for those heavenly treasures awaiting all who trust in Your mercy, that we may daily rejoice in Your salvation and serve You with constant devotion; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


Concordia Publishing House. Treasury of Daily Prayer (Kindle Locations 23363-23365). Concordia Publishing House. Kindle Edition

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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. Jerome

St. 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)

Jerome Quotes | BukRate

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

Reflection: St. Jerome was an angel.  No, he did not have wings nor did he ‘earn his wings’.  Remember that the word “angel” in Scripture means a “messenger”.  An angel brings messages from the Lord (See Luke 1: 26).  Angels protect us.  They protect us with God’s Word.  So St. Jerome was an angel.  Like the angels from heaven, they bring fear to us mortals on earth. Likewise, Jerome was feared because of the Word He translated and taught…but only by those who fear it. 

You too can be an angel and a St. Jerome.  No, you won’t translate the Bible and that translation last a thousand years.  But by bringing the same “eternal Gospel” to one other person, for his saving faith, it will last an eternity for him.

If you want to read more about St. Jerome look here.

Pin on Wisdom from the Saints

A great quote from Jerome’s Letter to Heliodorus:

“The day will come when this corrupt and mortal body shall put on incorruptibility and become immortal. Happy the servant whom the Lord then shall find on the watch. Then at the voice of the trumpet the earth with its peoples shall quake, and you will rejoice. When the Lord comes to give judgment the universe will utter a mournful groan; the tribes of men will beat their breasts; kings once most mighty will shiver with naked flanks; Jupiter with all his offspring will then be shown amid real fires; Plato with his disciples will be revealed as but a fool; Aristotle’s arguments will not help him. Then you the poor rustic will exult, and say with a smile:

“Behold my crucified God, behold the judge. This is he who once was wrapped in swaddling clothes and uttered baby cries in a manger. This is the son of a working man and a woman who served for wages. This is he who, carried in his mother’s arms, fled into Egypt, a God from a man. This is he who was clad in a scarlet robe and crowned with thorns. This is he who was called a magician, a man with a devil, a Samaritan. Behold the hands, ye Jews, that you nailed to the cross. Behold the side, ye Romans, that you pierced. See whether this is the same body that you said the disciples carried off secretly in the night.”

O my brother, that it may be yours to say these words and to be present on that day, what labor now can seem hard?

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