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Concordia and Koinonia

Collect of the Day: Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Isaiah, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Isaiah’s ministry extended for at least 60 years (740-681). He began during the reign of Uzziah (785-733).  This was “the Silver Age of Israelite History” when both Judah and the Northern Kingdom of Israel reached the summit of their  material power, the height of their economic prosperity and the pinnacle of their territorial expansion, comparable only to the ear of David and Solomon, Israel’s “Golden Age.”  Uzziah died in 740 (6:1).  Then…

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Recently, in a podcast Victor David Hanson spoke about the “fluidity” of thought these days, especially amongst the liberal/progressivist  politicians, pundits, etc.  I will call it the “anything that goes” attitude that I, the autonomous self (AS), can reject or accept what I consider to be true.  Anything goes that I don’t like.  There is no authority external to the godlike self. Anything goes that I like, and this is acutely done and seen in particular in areas of sexuality.  An atomized self can even lie to him/herself that he/she is a he/she.

One large contributing factor to the fluidity of thought and the self-centered self is the use of drugs. Remember alcohol is also a drug, but in particular drugs with hallucinogenic properties from marijuana to LSD.

It seems to me that drug abuse is relegated to the fringes of our thinking, as it is in society.  This has become even more so since the much ballyhooed “war on drugs” has been lost.  The increase of opioids is something the lower classes do, this is the ‘fringe’.  But with the legal use of drugs on the rise, the drugs give to the user the opportunity to think whatever I want, as the drug induces.  It can be enjoyable and exhilarating, but it centers the whole experience in the self, heart, soul and mind with no external factors (seemingly) to ‘dictate’, conform or inform what I, the autonomous self am enjoying.  This fits in well with the neo-feminist/woke critique that there are no written norms norming our lives (e.g. the Constitution, civil law or the Bible) as they are all supposedly the result of white supremacy, racism, sexism and homophobia.  So with my mind I create the new world order which will not be a utopia but a dystopia as history, both national and ecclesial has demonstrated. This new world formation was the original temptation in the garden that the serpent promised Adam and Eve that would be like God, i.e., creating good and evil, the self’s own invention(s).

My conjecture that the centrality of drug use is a major  contributing factor  to the denial of any authority pertains to the Anonymous Self’s experiences as normative.  Even the use of the neutral word “experience” is crucial these days. “Oh, what an experience!”  Christians during the worship wars days used this word as in “worship experience”.  Now many congregations, usually mega congregations have perfected to an art delivering worship “experiences” for the  highs of the participants: a non-drug drug.  Sobriety does not only mean temperance.  

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5

The Greek word for “sober-minded” means both temperance and soberness of thought at the same time. From the Bible Hub Greek Interlinear website

“…free from illusion, i.e. from the intoxicating influences of sin (like the impact of selfish passion, greed, etc.)… (“be sober, unintoxicated”) refers to having presence of mind (clear judgment), enabling someone to be temperate (self-controlled). /nḗphō (“uninfluenced by intoxicants”) means to have “one’s wits (faculties) about them,” which is the opposite of being irrational.”

If I am wrapped up in myself, my drug induced illusions, however enjoyable, then I am still in the playground of the self-cut off from God, which is the state of sin, in the sinful self. I came across a series of kitchen towels in our town with clever and funny sayings. This one caught my eye: “I meditate, I do yoga and I chant, but I still want to smack someone”.  This is descriptive of original sin.  Only God can intervene.  With nothing outside of the ‘sacred’ Me, I am alone in the universe (I think the increase of UFO interest is proportional to the feeling of loneliness as in the UFO mantra: “We are not alone”).  The mind then can be a terrible place, instead of the place between the temples of our heads, meant for contemplating the endless wonder of the creation, all outside of me/us and then the ultimate anchor:  God, the wholly Other.  Then sin and evil can be seen in all their horror and terror:  Lord, have mercy!  That is then our prayer. The wonder and contemplation of the Divine is the only hope of being sober-minded…and simply not doing, at least, so many drugs. 

“That Jones shall worship the god within him turns out ultimately to mean that Jones shall worship Jones. Let Jones worship the sun or moon, anything rather than the Inner Light; let Jones worship cats or crocodiles, if he can find any in his street, but not the god within. Christianity came into the world firstly in order to assert with violence that a man had not only to look inwards, but to look outwards, to behold with astonishment and enthusiasm a divine company and a divine captain. The only fun of being a Christian was that a man was not left alone with the Inner Light, but definitely recognized an outer light, fair as the sun, clear as the moon, terrible as an army with banners.” G.K. Chesterton

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Jesus, as recorded in St. Matthew 11: 28-31

“Opinions, more or less serious opinions– but Jesus does not want to build his church on opinions. And so he addresses himself directly to his disciples: “But who do you say that I am?” In this inevitable confrontation with Christ there can be no “perhaps” or “some say,” no opinions but only silence or the answer which Peter gives now: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living: God.” Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Concordia and Koinonia

Prayer of the Day

Merciful and eternal God, Your holy apostles Peter and Paul received grace and strength to lay down their lives for the sake of Your Son. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that we may confess Your truth and at all times be ready to lay down our lives for Him who laid down His life for us, even Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Appointed Scripture Readings: Acts 15: 1-21 Psalm 46 Galatians 2: 1-10 St. Matthew 16: 13-19

The festival of St. Peter and St. Paul is probably the oldest of the saints’ observances (dating from about the middle of the third century). An early tradition held that these two pillars of the New Testament Church were martyred on the same day in Rome during the persecution under Nero. In addition to…

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“For error is plausible and bears a resemblance to the truth but requires to be disguised; while truth is without disguise and, therefore, has been entrusted to children.” St. Irenaeus

Concordia and Koinonia

Let us pray…

Almighty God, You upheld your servant Irenaeus, giving him strength to confess the truth against every blast of vain doctrine. By Your mercy, keep us steadfast in the true faith, that in constancy we may walk in peace on the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Bio: Irenaeus (ca. AD 130-200), believed to be a native of Smyrna (modern Izmir, Turkey), studied in Rome and later became pastor in Lyons, France. Around 177, while Irenaeus was away from Lyons, a fierce persecution of Christians led to the martyrdom of his bishop. Upon Irenaeus’ return, he became Bishop of Lyons. Among his most famous writings is Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies). This work condemned several errors but focused especially on Gnosticism, which denied the goodness of creation. In…

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COLLECT OF THE DAY

Almighty God, through John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, You once proclaimed salvation. Now grant that we may know this salvation and serve You in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

READINGSIsaiah 40:1-5 Psalm 85:(1-6) 7-13 Acts 13:13-26 St. Luke 1:57-80

Bio:  St. John the Baptizer, the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, was born into a priestly family.  His birth was miraculously announced to his father by an angel of the Lord (Luke 1: 5-23), and on the occasion of his birth, his aged father proclaimed a hymn of praise (Luke 1:67-79). This hymn is entitled the Benedictus and serves as the traditional Gospel Canticle in the Church’s Service of Morning Prayer. Events of John’s life and his teaching are known from accounts in all four of the Gospels. In the wilderness of Judea, near the Jordan River, John began to preach a call to repentance and a baptismal washing, and he told the crowds, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). John denounced the immoral life of the Herodian rulers, with the result that Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, had him arrested and imprisoned in the huge fortress of Machaerus near the Dead Sea. There Herod had him beheaded (Mark 6:17-29). John is remembered and honored as the one who with his preaching pointed to “the Lamb of God” and “prepared the way” for the coming of the Messiah. (The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH).

The faith and narrative of the Scriptures have a major theme of birth and birthdays.  The birthdays of Isaac, of Jacob, of Joseph and his eleven brothers.  The genealogies are about birth, so and so beget…fill in the blank.  Then in the fulness of time, today, the birth of the forerunner of the Christ, John.  Next is  the birth of all births, “…the Son of the Most High”. (St. Luke 1: 32).  The Bible is about nativity and our nativities, and even more, our new nativity in Jesus Christ in the power and gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. St. John 3; Romans 6: 1ff and Galatians 3: 27, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

Abortion kills the birthdays of so many millions. Birthdays are always  for celebration, and robbing the womb of women on purpose means sadness on account of sin, days of mourning, not joy. Abortion is the anti-Nativity.  Abortion stops a child from knowing the new nativity in Baptism.  God will watch over the children of Rachel who are no more.  But we are not called to willfully decide which child will be no more.  Even in the womb the child is a son or a daughter:

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
(Psalm 139)

John was called by the Lord, his birth prepared by the Lord (as our nativities), to be the one to announce the coming of the Christ.  And he did so, even in the womb, as John’s Mother, Elizabeth proclaimed to the Blessed Virgin Mary:

“’And  why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.’” (St. Luke 1)

And the Church remembers John’ Nativity everyday in Matins as she sings the Song of Zechariah, father of John: the Benedictus!

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind…”. Psalm 107:15 

And as I write this I just read this joyous headline from the Wall Street Journal:

“Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade, Eliminates Constitutional Right to Abortion”

And on the day we remember John the Baptist’s Birth!

Let freedom ring
Great God, our King
From sea to shining sea
Let freedom ring”

   

In The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church are both Martin Luther’s Small and Large Catechisms with six other confessional documents.  In the catechisms, we confess the Ten Commandments which is not in fashion these days.  Lutheran pastors in Ordination, vow the following by answering in the affirmative this question:

“Do you promise that you will perform the duties of your office in accordance with these Confessions, and that all your preaching and teaching and your administration of the Sacraments will be in conformity with Holy Scripture and with these Confessions?”

In the Large Catechism, the Ten Commandments, we confess the Fourth Commandment, and as Dr. Luther taught on it:

To this estate of fatherhood and motherhood God has given the special distinction above all estates that are beneath it that He not simply commands us to love our parents, but to honor them. For with respect to brothers, sisters, and our neighbors in general He commands nothing higher than that we love them, so that He separates and distinguishes father and mother above all other persons upon earth, and places them at His side. For it is a far higher thing to honor than to love one, inasmuch as it comprehends not only love, but also modesty, humility, and deference as to a majesty there hidden.

Please note, as Luther did, the commandment says “honor” and this is “a far higher thing”, for honor includes, “…not only love, but also modesty, humility, and deference as to a majesty there hidden.” Luther taught that parents are God’s representatives. In my readings from Judaism, we seem to be in accord in this interpretation.  This commandment is the segue from the 1st Table of the Law, about God’s relationship with us, to our very first neighbors, Father and Mother.  Indeed, parenthood and family are divine as the Lord has blessed parenthood with His Word of Law, and in the fullness of time His only-begotten Son would be born in a family to save all families in the Gospel.

We have lost the sense of honor.  Here in Lexington, with the Virginia Military Institute, and before when we lived in Norfolk, with the United States Navy, honor is still a crucial concept and way of life. People have no shame as they talk about being proud in perversions of body and soul.  As it is written in Romans 13, “Pay to all what is owed to them… respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” (Please reread this chapter in the face of the legal lawlessness of our day!)  Honor is then extended in this holy commandment to other fathers:

Thus we have two kinds of fathers presented in this commandment: fathers by blood, fathers of a household or those to whom belongs the care of the family, and fathers of the nation, those to whom belongs the care of the country. Besides these there are yet spiritual fathers…For those only are called spiritual fathers who govern and guide us by the Word of God.

The defamation of this commandment, especially in regards to fathers, has become acute in our day in derision heaped on “patriarchy”.  Yes, the commandment and the correct exposition of it is about patriarchy.  Patriarchy literally means the rule of fathers.  Now patriarchy, especially the racist interpretation of “white patriarchy”, is considered by the nihilists as a root of all evil (along with sexism, xenophobia, transphobia and homophobia). Yet, in this false interpretation there really is no “evil”, only oppressive structures, because good and evil are about a preexistent moral code which is denied because such indicates God our Father and they have to deny Him so they can get there way.  And in the popular culture, father knows best has been replaced by father knows least.  President Barack Obama knew the need of fathers in the black family:   

“…we can talk all we want here in Washington about issues like education and health care and crime; we can build good schools; we can put money into creating good jobs; we can do everything we can to keep our streets safe — but government can’t keep our kids from looking for trouble on those streets. Government can’t force a kid to pick up a book or make sure that the homework gets done. Government can’t be there day in, day out, to provide discipline and guidance and the love that it takes to raise a child. That’s our job as fathers, as mothers, as guardians for our children.”

For instance: It takes a father to bring his family to church.  Studies were done years ago that showed if Dad went to church, the children had a greater chance of going to church as an adult. It takes mothers AND fathers. And the absence of fathers is huge in black families, but no family is exempted

The prelude to this attack on patriarchy and fatherhood was inclusive language.  Change the language, down to the pronouns, so we don’t even refer to God as “He”, or Our Father, and we will then free people.  In my opinion, it has not worked and now we are burdened by chaos and pandemonium (literally, all the demons). So what do the nihilists want to replace patriarchy with?  Matriarchy, rule of mothers?  I personally have never heard nor read that idea.  I think the replacement is anarchy, literally “without rule”.  Yet we need order and in the anarchy, the nihilists will become the tyrannical new global order and to fuel this, let the drugs flow, let criminals be released, marijuana smoked, divorce with abandon, break up families, and let the corruption seep in so the nihilists can rule by fiat.

What do we do to the keep the Fourth Commandment?  Yes, vote for those who know the godly order upon earth which is the rule of the God who is love who hates sin but loves the sinner.  Even more, at the risk of redundancy:  honor your father and your mother! Honor those in authority but with discernment to point out that as they are legal, they may not be moral. The keeping of this commandment goes on on far from the citadels of ideological corruptions in schools, government and corporation every day. And it is broken everyday and we need the Lord’s forgiveness every day. The Lord Who perfectly kept the Law and honored His Father and Mother, and died for all families that they are forgiven to be saved by faith in Jesus Christ. And praise the Lord, the Gospel is heard and believed without the consent of those who hate the Word.  The Word of the Lord endures forever no thanks to foes who fear it.  

A Word to be Wise

A question that seems to be ageless, especially when young:  So what do you want to be?  So what do you what to be when you grow up? Answer: A wiseman.  I will guess that  the answer seldom comes up!  And the Lord teaches us wisdom so we can be wise unto salvation, and walk in His way.

We have information overload in our day.  On our phones, radios, TVs, internet, there is a non-stop deluge of things we can know about. If we have a discussion, and don’t know something, there is the refrain, Let me google that. But for all our reams of information, we don’t seem the happier, or society and culture calmer and quieter, just the opposite. If information alone saves, we would be so saved these days, just google it. Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice? Proverbs 8.  Yes, Wisdom calls us…because Wisdom knows another house that man frequents way too often:  folly’s. We follow our follies, the never-ending trivial pursuit which gets us nowhere. 

I think this quote gets at the problem:

“We can know so much, and yet not live.  Man will not perish for a lack of information, but for the lack of wisdom.  The conscience of the world was destroyed by those who were wont to blame others rather than themselves. Let us remember. We revered the instincts but distrusted the prophets. We labored to perfect engines and let our inner life go to wreck. We ridiculed superstition until we lost our ability to believe. We have helped to extinguish the light our fathers had kindled. We have bartered holiness for convenience, loyalty for success, love for power, wisdom for information, tradition for fashion.”

The quote is from a sermon by Rabbi Abraham Heschel he preached to a meeting of Quakers in 1938, in Germany, Nazi Germany, six weeks before the Nazi invasion of Poland and the beginning of World War II and the holocaust of the Jews.

Wisdom is not only to know what is wise, but to live it.  A Biblical example, Proverbs 29:11:  A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.  We’re venting 24/7.  But  wise man quietly holds it back.  Like Lincoln said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” “We can know so much, and yet not live.” “We can know so much, and yet not love.”  To refrain the tongue is the Lord’s wisdom and power to save. The Lord teaching us wisdom through His Word so that we can hold back, refrain and listen to learn from the Lord and each other, especially those who a wise in the way of the Lord. And in the Lord, wisdom is not only what we know and to live, but Whom we know and first, because He is the One Who knows us even from the womb for us and our salvation.

Illumine our hearts, O Master who lovest mankind, with the pure light of Thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of the Gospel teaching; implant in us also the fear of Thy blessed commandments, that trampling down all carnal desires, we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well-pleasing unto Thee: for Thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thy Father who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, good, and life giving Spirit: now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

(Priest’s prayer before reading the Gospel in the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom)

Pentecost Sunday SERMON Year C 2022 CLM: Text, Acts 2

Pastors can be asked the question, especially by church councils:  Why aren’t there more people in church?  Fair enough question. Many Christians ask that question as have I.  But a friend of mine, a pastor said: “I’m surprised there is anyone in church.” His point was that every Christian, no matter the church attendance, is witness to great deed come down this day that is, the work of the Holy Spirit in making faith. Ephesians 2: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Not our work but the Holy Spirit working, giving, inspiring, calming. Yes, calming…that is teaching Christ:  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”  Then 50 days after Easter so much had changed. Easter was when Peter and the apostles were in lockdown for fear of the religious and Roman authorities, Jesus comes into their locked room, and He breathed on them the Holy Spirit and ordained them to forgive or retain sin.  Now the doors are wide open, and Peter is not cowering in fear, but  calm, steadied in Christ, His peace and the Holy Spirit has come upon them all, the Church is born and Peter preaches.

How does the Holy Spirit work?  Acts 2: 14:  14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.  Answer: Preaching…and teaching, and translating, and serving…through the Word, Incarnate, Written, Spoken, that is Jesus Christ, the Bible and the Bible’s pure doctrine preached and taught.

Today is also the commemoration of St. Boniface who was martyred on this day in the year 754.  What do St. Boniface and Marvel Comics have in common?  I’m glad you asked. The greatest, most noted and spectacular event in Boniface’s mission work occurred in 723, when he returned to the mission fields in Hesse.  There was an oak that was considered to be “sacred” to the Thor.  The people thought that if anything happened to Thor’s tree, the people would be punished, they would die:  Thor’s hammer would fall on them!  This is superstitious but it really is the thinking of the Old Adam’s works righteousness that I better appease God or a god, so I don’t get it. When Boniface returned to the mission fields in Hesse, one of his first acts, 

“…was to fell the sacred oak tree of Thor at Geisman in the region of Hesse.  When Boniface was not struck down by the ‘god’, many people were converted and Boniface built a chapel in honor of St. Peter with wood from the tree.” (Festivals and Commemorations by Rev. Phillip Pfatteicher)

Even a script writer for Marvel Comics movie, The Avengers got it right about Thor. Black Widow is flying a plane with Thor and Captain America on board. Thor gets ticked about something, jumps out of the plane. Captain America decides to go after Thor.  Black Widow warns Captain America, ‘Cappie, you better watch out, Thor’s a god!’  Captain America responds: “Ma’am, there is only one God and I’m pretty sure He doesn’t dress like that”. The true God true enough does not dress like a Norse god or any god, or goddess,  but the Lord dressed in our flesh in the fullness of time to bear our sin and be our Savior.  Boniface was dressed in surprising garb, His Christening robe, in Jesus Christ so that many could hear the Word and be saved. No halo attended Boniface, not any saint, not even Christ, but the Holy Spirit descended when Boniface was baptized. You as well.  No halo but the holiness of God’s Word. It is so clear from the Bible, Church history, as it was in the ministry of Boniface, the mission work of our forebears to this land, who built churches, hospitals, orphanages, schools, colleges, seminaries, that the work of His Church is to build and edify through mortar and in mortals, because God so loved the world He gave His only-begotten Son. 

The great deed on Pentecost was, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” And  then, And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. The Lord gave the gift of translation in many languages, the lingua franca of Christ’s atoning death and resurrection for all nations. In St. Boniface we see Pentecost up close and personal and public.  He was born in England, was missionary priest in Frisia, present-day Holland, made trips to Rome to see the Bishop.  Pope Gregory sent Boniface as missionary Bishop to the German lands.  So England, Holland, Rome and what we call Germany.  Jesus sent the apostles to the end of the earth. Obviously, the Lord planted His Church in the German lands, and she grew.  Centuries later, another monk, as Boniface, began preaching the Gospel that the Church had shunted aside, Martin Luther.  Centuries later, in the 19th century, the Lutheran, or Evangelical church in Germany sent missionaries to other nations: West, the fairly new United States which would resulted 175 years ago with our church, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.  The German Evangelical Church sent missionaries south, their colonies Africa.  And now there are more Lutherans in Ethiopia than in the USA.  Many church bodies make much ado about apostolic succession that your pastor who had hands laid on him for ordination, those pastors likewise…tracing the line all the way back to the apostles. This history of those lists is suspect at best.  Yet, we can see the apostolic succession of DOCTRINE going back in my quick rendition of Church history in Germany and now here. The Holy Spirit is working.

The use of the color red in the Church year is to remind us of the Holy Spirit, as in Boniface preaching the Gospel.  His times were tough: 

“We have not only, as the Apostle says, “fightings without as well as fears within”, but we have fightings WITHIN as well as fears, caused especially by false priests and hypocrites, enemies of God, ruining themselves, misleading the people with scandals and false doctrines, and crying to them, as the prophet says, “Peace! Peace! when there is no peace.”  They strive to cover and choke with weeds or to turn into poisonous grain the seed of the Word which we have received from the bosom of the Catholic and Apostolic Church and have tried to sow.  What we plant they do not water that it may increase but try to uproot that it may wither away, offering to the people and teaching them new divisions and errors of diverse sorts…that murderers and adulterers who persist in their crimes may nevertheless be priests of God.” 

It’s clear in the 8th century, and the 22nd century, the church has so often sowed wild oats when she should be sowing the seed of God’s Word. We have fightings within the Church, in our souls, and fears. A hymnwriter knew this:   “Just as I am, though tossed about With many a conflict, many a doubt, Fightings within, and fears without, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!” This hymn is not only about conversion but coming to Christ our Lord every day.

I don’t want to merely present a slice of history here, but to show us in the history that the Scriptures, the Bible, God’s Word has calmed the Church, kept her steadfast throughout her history in and through the Holy Spirit teaching the Word, His Word. As we prayed a little while ago, from Psalm 143:

Hear my prayer, O Lord;
    give ear to my pleas for mercy!
    In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!

Bishop of Rome, Gregory II, the pope, did not want the Germans to be “Roman Catholic” and in the 8th century there were no orthodox or protestants As he wrote to Boniface: 

“You are to teach them the service of the kingdom of God by the persuasion of  the truth in the name of Christ, the Lord our God. You will pour into their untaught minds the preaching of the Old and New Testaments in the spirit of virtue and love and sobriety and with reasoning suited to their understanding.”

This is still the Holy Spirit’s mission. The Lord’s will for us, our salvation, the kingdom of God, repentance and forgiveness is an open Book, the opened Bible as Christ has opened the Kingdom of God to all believers. The Scriptures were opened to Peter and the Church was formed.

Boniface was martyred on this day, June 5th, Pentecost, anno Domini 754. He had returned to Frisia (present-day Holland), one of his previous mission fields. At sunrise, while reading the Gospel to a group of the newly Baptized, a band of pagan Frisians attacked Boniface and the neophytes.  Boniface and the neophytes were massacred.  In Fulda, Germany, are the remains of Boniface along with the purported Gospel book he was holding with slash marks. Boniface died while catechizing around the age of 80. His symbol is a knife cut through the middle of a Bible. Sadly, this is the way many people want the Bible: 

with a knife through it, dead.  As in an American WWII poster you see here: a knife through the Bible.  The Bible is an enemy to falsehood, like the Nazis and any spirit of our age. Even more sadly, so many bearing the name of Christ, have also wanted to kill the Bible or vivisect the portions they literally despise.  Doing such is a self-inflicted wound.  Many want to kill the Word of God, even kill God.  And they did and as He promised, He arose again from the dead.  St. Paul realized that the Word will endure no matter the foes who hate it: 2 Timothy: Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!

The Holy Spirit is multi-lingual. The Holy Spirit translates the Gospel into our lives in repentance and forgiveness thus transforming us.The Holy Spirit and God’s reign is multi-national and multi-racial.  The Holy Spirit, the Lord has a script He follows for us and our salvation:  the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit teaches through His lesson plan which has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, through the Word alone. And so, “…Pentecost is the celebration of a different Spirit, a Spirit that is something entirely different  than the spirit of creatures, the spirit of men and their creation…” So preached Pr. Sasse in 1940 in Nazi Germany.

Sasse: “Men who were filled with the Holy Spirit were by no means particular heroes of faith. It was quite to the contrary…It is not written anywhere in the Bible that Andrew, Thomas, Bartholomew, and Simon the Zealot believed more, hoped more, or had more love than other Christians. And still, “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” [Acts 2:4]. Pentecost doesn’t have the cultural attachments that remind us of its significance, like Christmas or Easter.” Without cultural traditions behind it, we may wonder how to celebrate Pentecost? Why do we observe Pentecost at all? Answer:  The Lord has called us as He wants us to do right now what are doing:  giving our ears to hear the Word of promise, sharing in the Lord’s Body and Blood, praying, singing, adoring. Every Sunday is Pentecost.

As the apostles, like Peter and Paul, Boniface had to deal in politics. Sometimes to protect the Church and her ministry.  The Holy Spirit knew that and knows that.  But Boniface did not look politics for anything akin to spiritual salvation.  But us?

“Politics has become so all-possessive of life (that) the only philosophy a person can hold is the right or the left… It assumes (we) live on a purely horizontal plane, and can move only to the right or the left… there are two other directions where a man with a soul may look: the vertical directions of “up” or “down.”― Roman Catholic Bishop Sheen, in 1947.

Pentecost is about the Holy Spirit coming down to teach us Christ and forgiveness, God’s Word, in His Church, His Body. No political party left or right gives the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes down so we can look up to the Lord in prayer to confess our sin and confess our faith. You have a soul and for you Christ has extended His arms on the Cross right and left.  Politics is unforgiving, the Lord is not. Look up to God in prayer, don’t look down on others, as Christ did not and look out for each other is living in the Lord’s three dimensions by His grace alone, through faith alone through His Name alone…In the Name of the Father, and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God.

Pentecost Eve

Lessons for Pentecost Eve:

Exodus 19:1-9  Psalm 113   Romans 8:12-27  St. John 14:8-21

From a Pentecost Sermon by Pr. Hermann Sasse, preached in Erlangen, Germany, 1940: 

 “…Pentecost is the celebration of a different Spirit,-a Spirit that is something entirely different  than the spirit of creatures, the spirit of men and their creation…

Men who were filled with the Holy Spirit were by no means particular heroes of faith. It was quite to the contrary. We remind  ourselves  of what was said about this in the sermon for Easter, and the Ascension Epistle. It is not written anywhere in the Bible that Andrew, Thomas, Bartholomew, and Simon the Zealot believed more, hoped more, or had more love than other Christians. And still, “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” [Acts 2:4].

“…there does seem to be a requirement for the reception of the Spirit. “They were all together  in one place” [Acts 2:1]. That is what it says at the beginning of this story. They had to be together in order for Pentecost to happen. If each remained in  their own house, each in their own rooms, there would not have been a Pentecost. Also, on the day of Christ’s ascension it was already said: “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer [and supplication]” (Acts 1:14). And what is here a prerequisite for Pentecost is also a consequence of Pentecost, an effect by the Holy Spirit. “And [they were] day by day attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes” (Acts 2: 46). (emphasis added)

About Pentecost: The miracle of Pentecost is not merely a past historical event. The Spirit’s wondrous activity goes on in the Church today.

The  Church has observed this day as one of the most important festivals of the year. But unlike Christmas or Easter, Pentecost doesn’t have the cultural attachments that remind us of its significance, like Christmas or Easter. Without cultural traditions behind it, we may wonder how to celebrate Pentecost. Why do we observe Pentecost at all?

   The Church celebrates the Festival of Pentecost as the fulfillment and conclusion of the Easter season. The name Pentecost, meaning “the fiftieth day,” originally referred to the Jewish Festival of Weeks, the time of thanksgiving for first fruits and the ingathering of the harvest (cf. Ex. 34:22).

   In the liturgical worship of the first fruits,

“…the farmers would present their baskets before the priests in the temple courts.  Each farmer would step forward and say the liturgy of recitation (Dt. 26:3: ‘I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.’). He would remove the basket from his shoulder and tip it toward the priest.  The priest took hold of the basket and the two of them swayed it back and forth as a “wave” offering. Then the farmer would recite in Hebrew, A wandering Aramean was my father” (Dt. 26: 5-10)  He would leave the basket, bow before the Lord, and make way for the next farmer.

   “But a controversy arose about the recitation. The priest would  have to lead the people who could not speak Hebrew. He would say a part in Hebrew, and the person making the offering would repeat it. This apparently embarrassed people. They stopped bringing their offering.  As a result, the priests decided that they would lead all the people in the recitation whether or not they knew Hebrew. In this way, they continued to receive everyone’s offering but also retained Hebrew as the language of temple services.” (Lutheran Study Bible)

 Now all those Jews, from those many countries cited in Acts 2, could now hear the mighty deeds of God in their own language as the Holy Spirit was the translator and become themselves the first fruits of Christ by faith and Baptism.

The Christian Church retained the name of Pentecost to mark the completion of the 50-day period after Easter—and the first in-gathering of believers into the Church.  The Pentecost Season is the longest one in the Church, this year ending on November 20, The Last Sunday of the Church Year-the 24th Sunday after Pentecost. The color is green during the Sundays after Pentecost, as in growing in faith and love.  Today it is red for the fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The color red is also color for the martyrs, but it does not stand for their blood, but their faithful witness in the Holy Spirit to Jesus Christ to encourage our faithful witness to Christ the Lord.

Almighty and ever-living God, You fulfilled Your promise by sending the gift of the Holy Spirit to unite disciples of all nations in the cross and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ. By the preaching of the Gospel spread this gift to the ends of the earth; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Memorial Day 2022

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