Ignatius of Antioch Quote: “As for me, my charter is Jesus Christ, the  inviolable charter is His cross and His death and resurrection, and faith  thr...” (7 wallpapers) - Quotefancy

“Glorious is God with His saints and angels: Oh, come let us worship Him.”

 About Ignatius: He was the bishop of Antioch in Syria at the beginning of the second century A.D. and an early Christian martyr. Near the end of the reign of the Roman emperor Trajan (98–117), Ignatius was arrested, taken in chains to Rome, and eventually thrown to the wild beasts in the arena. On the way to Rome, he wrote letters to the Christians at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, and Smyrna, and also to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. In the letters, which are beautifully pastoral in tone, Ignatius warned against certain heresies (false teachings). He also repeatedly stressed the full humanity and deity of Christ, the reality of Christ’s bodily presence in the Lord’s Supper, the supreme authority of the bishop, and the unity of the Church found in her bishops. Ignatius was the first to use the word catholic to describe the universality of the Church. His Christ-centeredness, his courage in the face of martyrdom, and his zeal for the truth over against false doctrine are a lasting legacy to the Church.  (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

The Apostle Paul was probably martyred between A.D. 64-67. Ignatius became the 2nd Bishop of Antioch in A.D. 69.   Antioch was the city from which Paul and Barnabas began their great missionary journey as recorded in Acts 13-14.  Ignatius is a direct link to the apostles and the apostolic doctrine.  (information from The Apostolic Fathers, edited by Jack Sparks)

From Ignatius Letter to the Romans: “From Syria to Rome I am fighting with wild beasts by land and sea, night and day, bound to ten leopards—that is, a company of soldiers—and when they are treated well they become worse. I become more of a disciple because of their mistreatment of me, “but not by this am I justified” [1 Cor. 4:4]…The prince of this age wants to abduct me and corrupt my mind set on God. None of you present must help him; instead, be on my side, that is, God’s. Do not speak of Jesus Christ and desire the world.

The journey of Ignatius was a long one during which he wrote many letters.  He was imprisoned and under guard.  He was considered to be an enemy of the State in which Ignatius loved his enemies and prayed for those who persecuted him. Yet, he knew by justifying faith in Jesus that this did  not justify and save Him: Christ’s Body and Blood did so and for y’all as well.  Ignatius also knew that the “prince of this age”, that is, the devil want abduct him and corrupt his mind.  We need to know that today for ourselves:

Media, television, radio, print, and now social media, are massaging, actually educating us, catechizing and deforming us in ways that are opposite of the Lord’s instruction, but now in cyber-speed. It’s the junk food of the devil. It only gives a placebo:  it feels good and then doesn’t heal.  Politics don’t save and remember the first thing about politics is that politics is not the first thing (Neuhaus). The “powers and principalities” rule in the media and we are taught atheism, materialism, “the dictatorship of relativism”, all  under the lure of hedonism and narcissism, that the old Adam craves, raves and all of it never saves. These are symptoms of the sickness unto death and the world offers the narcotics of false hope.

St. Ignatius was right that we not speak of Christ and desire the world.  Christ has put His Word, the sword of the Spirit to sever us from the desire of the world. The word “martyr” is literally witness. This is the Lord’s continuing work in us that we may give our “martyr”, witness to Christ alone.

Let us pray…Almighty God, we praise Your Name for Ignatius of Antioch, pastor and martyr.  He offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts so that he might present to You the pure bread of sacrifice. Accept the willing tribute of all that we are and all that we have, and give us a portion in the pure and unspotted offering of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever

How to Make an Interesting Art Piece Using Tree Branches | eHow | Art, Lucas  cranach, Renaissance artists

Sermon Text: St. Matthew 22: 1-14

Once again, a parable in Holy Week and a pointed one, and this time the setting is not a vineyard but a wedding banquet. 

Now we do not use the phrase “wedding banquet” but the more ordinary, “wedding reception”, nevertheless, a wedding reception is probably the most elaborate, joyful, and traditional of any dinner to which we are ever invited.  It is probably the only time any of us are invited to a feast by an engraved invitation. If a United States President has marriageable children, the greater wedding feast would be the President’s invite to his son or daughter’s marriage in the White House.  Wow! What an invite! I give it to the Brits and their monarchy:  the broadcast of a wedding around the globe! And given the disdain and disgrace the old Adam has brought to marriage still, it is still a joyful feast. Invited to a royal wedding: What an invite that would have been! 

Once again, one of our Lord’s parable, The Parable of the Wedding Feast, may have been misnamed. It is the parable of the King Who Invites.  In the Lord’s parable, he does not invite to just a usual banquet, but the highest, more celebrative and magnificent feast imaginable:  a wedding feast and of the King’s own Son! What an invite that would have been!

From Luther’s Sermon on this Gospel reading:

Isn’t that a sweet proclamation? a magnificent, royal wedding feast? a more lavish and delectable meal than the choicest banquet on earth? What could possibly be a more gracious, sweet, and comforting message than the gospel’s proclamation to me, that God wants to be my gracious God and take me into heaven and that in His kingdom I am to sing and leap for joy forever? Shouldn’t a person hurry to get there? and be happy about the fellowship of the gospel and say, Praise and thanks be to God who has invited me to his royal, heavenly wedding!

Then those invited to give their excuses to the King why they can’t attend, no less! You would rearrange your life to attend, That would be just crazy and then criminal: some of the King’s servants are beaten and killed because of an invitation to a wedding banquet…and that’s part of the point of the parable of the King’s invitation to His Son’s wedding. Such behavior is plain nuts!

“…while the rest seized his servants, treated them SHAMEFULLY and killed them.” I think “shamefully” is a good translation of the Greek The Greek root word of shamefully  is “hubris” and from it we have the word Hubris, meaning pride. Now in ancient Greek hubris meant  the intentional use of violence to humiliate or degrade…Aristotle in his Rhetoric:

“Hubris consists in doing and saying things that cause shame to the victim…simply for the pleasure of it. Retaliation is not hubris, but revenge…Young men and the rich are hubristic because they think they are better than other people.”

Hubris fit into the shame culture of archaic and Classical Greece, in which people’s actions were guided by avoiding shame and seeking honor.  Sinful pride is active in thinking I am better than others to shame them. Those invited brought humiliation, degradation and even violence and murder to the King’s servants.  The shame!  No honor of the King, no honor to whom honor is due, no respect to those whom respect is due. In the Lord’s Parable of the King Who Invites, it is obvious that the King is no human King of his vineyard: the King is the Lord God.  He invites us and so many of his servants who bring the invitation are set upon.  In Shakespeare Macbeth messengers are killed because they bring a bad message but here in this parable, and in the life of our Lord:  a good message is brought, of utter joy in wedding and the messenger is killed! Insane.

Yet the King will have His banquet hall for the wedding feast of His Son filled. But first the King orders those who killed and shamed his servants who bore the joyous message of the wedding feast, that those who refused His invitation destroyed along with their city. Harsh?  On a human level, you’re all excited about some joyous news, great news, happy news and you tell someone who should share in the joy and are met with a shrug of the shoulders, and your friend or family member excuses himself, that’s nice, I got to baste the roast. He doesn’t even feign joy.  But to refuse so great a salvation by His grace filled invitation and calling alone to the King’s son wedding, then, “… how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. Hebrews 2. Truly many are called but few are chosen. Refusing the Lord’s so great a salvation already means destruction. Acceptance means the joy of faith and love because He has invited us and clothed us in His Son by His grace alone in Holy Baptism and faith.

What does it mean NOT to have a wedding garment?

 “You have invited me, O King, to the wedding feast of your son. But I’m not going into your son’s wedding feast the way you want me with a wedding garment.  I go through life just the way I am and You want me to be myself, don’t you? The real me?  What’s wrong with what I am wearing? I don’t need your Son to be saved, though He was very fine spiritual teacher. I’m pretty good.”  “You are wearing the clothes of your own works, wrong, wrath and hubris.  Look at the shame you bring not only upon, but on yourself.  You are all puffed up.  Clothe your self in My Son.  He is true and faithful Bridegroom.  But you refuse, you’ll be cast off into, “… the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (St. Matthew 22)

The Bridegroom Himself, the Son of the King will be cast out as we heard the Lord say again and again leading up to Holy Week and the Cross.  Here we are entering the mystery of so great a salvation. St. John Chrysostom preached from a wedding sermon:  (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.  He bore the shame of our wrong and wickedness.  We think the Lord’s sheer physical suffering was the worst, no, it was coupled with the shame and contempt of our hubris, bearing our weight of wrong to be our Redeemer.

Those, good and bad, those who don’t need a physician and those who do, are invited, waiting for the invitation, knowing they are not worthy. The proud think they are worthy and so are not. Now, as C. S. Lewis wrote, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” Mr. Lewis was right on target but to be thinking of yourself less means our thoughts and feelings need to be thinking about something else. The Lord has told us so in so many ways and shows us what we can think of, from today’s Epistle Reading, Philippians 4

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Walter Hooper, literary advisor of the estate of C.S. Lewis, lived with Lewis advising him and Mr. Hooper wrote this anecdote about him:

‘Who is Elizabeth Taylor?’ asked C. S. Lewis. He and I were talking about the difference between ‘prettiness’ and ‘beauty’, and I suggested that Miss Taylor was a great beauty. ‘If you read the newspapers,’ I said to Lewis, ‘you would know who she is.’ ‘Ah-h-h-h!’ said Lewis playfully, ‘but that is how I keep myself “unspotted from the world”. ‘ He recommended that if I absolutely ‘must’ read newspapers I have a frequent ‘mouthwash’ with The Lord of the Rings or some other great book.

Amen.  We need the wash of whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable , excellent, anything worthy of praise, please think about these things especially after watching the news, reading the angry, the trite and the trivial on twitter or facebook and especially participating in fits of rage.  There is still so much that is good in this world and it’s worth thinking about, praying about it, and learning it, fighting for. Even more so in God’s Holy Word, the Scriptures by which the Lord speaks to us deep in the soul alive in faith in the Bridegroom who paid the dowry completely of our salvation by His blood of love, shed for us, but not the love of blood. And we need to be as His Christians in fighting trim by steadfastness in His Word.

This woodcut by Lucas Cranach the Elder shows us the contrast between the true church and the false church and between the Feast of the Lord’s Supper and the feasts of the world and it’s pantheon of idols:

How to Make an Interesting Art Piece Using Tree Branches | eHow | Art, Lucas  cranach, Renaissance artists

Note that portrayed is Martin Luther preaching and note his hands: his right hand points to the Cross of Christ, the Bridegroom who dies for His wayward bride. His right is toward the false church but notice it’s position: downward, as if to say, take hold of my hand and hear the Word of God at the wedding feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9). You are invited by the King’s Son. See the contrast between the cleanliness and order of the Lord’s House compared to the chaos threatening to devour the church (s) of this world. There are people under the Pulpit going from the false church to the true church. The Lord invites us week after week and after week. We can invite others to His House again and again and again. There will come the Day of Judgment when the door is closed, but today it is open to all believers and seekers to be clothed in Baptism, our wedding garment.

Yet, in the Holy Communion on the left side, we can not stay but follow the Way and go into the world…the world the Lord created and redeemed. There to think and act on those things which are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise in our vocations.

And note the Bible on the Pulpit: oddly, it is not pointed to the Preacher but to the world. God’s Word is pointed not only to us, but to the world and that Word can be prayed, spoken, read, and lived in the world and the world needs it so. The King Son invites us weekly to His Feast. Brought from the busy-ness of the world to the business of the King’s Son’s feast and that is to invite and invite and invite again.  

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4: 7)

The Crazy Story of the Ethiopian Eunuch: A David Wantland Sermon – The  Episcopal Church of the Advocate

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank You for Your servant Philip the Deacon, whom You called to proclaim the Gospel to the peoples of Samaria and Ethiopia. Raise up in this and every land heralds and evangelists of Your kingdom, that your Church may make known the immeasurable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About Philip the Deacon:  Philip, also called the evangelist (Acts 21:8), was one of the seven men appointed to assist in the work of the twelve apostles and of the rapidly growing early Church by overseeing the distribution of food to the poor (Acts 6:1-6). Following the martyrdom of Stephen, Philip proclaimed the Gospel in Samaria and led Simon the sorcerer to become a believer in Christ (Acts 8:4-13). He was also instrumental in bringing about the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39), through whom Philip became indirectly responsible for bringing the Good News of Jesus to the people on the continent of Africa. In the town of Caesarea, he was host for several days to the apostle Paul, who stopped there on his last journey to Jerusalem (Acts 21:8-15). (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, cph.org)

Acts 8: 26- 39

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place.And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. 33In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation?For his life is taken away from the earth.”

And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Biblical Reflection Points on Philip in Acts 8: 26-40

  1. Philip, like Stephen, was called to be a Deacon to serve the widows and like Stephen also preached and served the Gospel.  Philip administered the measurable riches of man for the widows and the poor and also the “immeasurable riches” of Jesus Christ and both are crucial stewardship.
  2. There are two Biblical Greek words for time: kairos and chronos.  The latter is measurable time.  The former is immeasurable time, the time of fulfillment, the eternal moment of God’s “today”.  Philip preached to the Ethiopian Eunuch but Philip did not button-hole the court official so he could give his “witness”.  It was the kairos, God’s time.  True preaching of the Word is according to God’s time. He knows best.
  3. The court official is reading Isaiah 53, prophesied some 500 years before Christ.  The chapter is almost a biography of His Passion.  I read a conservative rabbi’s understanding of Isaiah 53.  Basically, it made no Scriptural sense to him, because a veil was over his heart and eyes.  It won’t be removed  until the Gospel is preached and he so somes to faith in Christ Jesus.  It was removed for the eunuch. Isaiah 53 is preaching Christ and Him crucified.

 Some people wrongly think that the Old Testament=Law and New Testament=Gospel.  This lesson, among thousands of passages, disproves those false equations!

The Ethiopian did not understand the Scripture.  This is a perfect illustration of Romans 10:   14:  “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Once again:  this was the right time.

Please note the sequence:  Word, then Sacrament, specifically the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. The court official asks what is to prevent Baptism. Indeed!  The Greek verb for “prevent” is the same one Jesus used when the disciples rebuked the parents from bringing their children to Him for a blessing, when the Lord said, Do not prevent them from coming to me, for to such belongs the Kingdom of heaven.  This high court official of Queen Candace received the kingdom, freely given, in Baptism as a child.  Indeed, all baptisms are baptisms of children and infants, even for an adult. The man went away “rejoicing”. This old song illustrates the eunuch’s rejoicing:   “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so, little ones to Him belong, they are weak and He is strong. Yes!  Jesus loves me. Yes! Jesus loves me! Yes!  Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so.”  Philip preached and the Holy Spirit told the Ethiopian so from the Bible!

“For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:3

 About Abraham:  Abraham (known early in his life as Abram) was called by God to become the father of a great nation (Genesis 12). At age seventy-five and in obedience to God’s command, he, his wife, Sarah, and his nephew Lot moved southwest from the town of Haran to the land of Canaan. There God established a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:18), promising the land of Canaan to his descendants. When Abraham was one hundred and Sarah was ninety, they were blessed with Isaac, the son long promised to them by God. Abraham demonstrated supreme obedience when God commanded him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. God spared the young man’s life only at the last moment and provided a ram as a substitute offering (Genesis 22:1-19). Abraham died at age 175 and was buried in the Cave of Machpelah, which he had purchased earlier as a burial site for Sarah. He is especially honored as the first of the three great Old Testament patriarchs—and for his righteousness before God through faith (Romans 4:1-12). (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, cph.org)

Reflection: Abraham’s genealogy is stated in Genesis 11:  24—31 and the narrative proper of Abraham commence in Genesis 12: 1.  Up until this point in Genesis, in chapters 3-11,  everything is fairly well screwed-up after the Fall when Adam and Eve bit into the serpent’s lie, “you will be like God” (Genesis 3:  ff):   

murder (Genesis 4:7-9)  vengeance (Genesis 4:23-25)     

first murderer builds first city  (Genesis 4:17)                                                                                                                                                                                                             

violence (Genesis 6:11)  

God’s judgment: The Flood 

drunkenness (Genesis 9:21)     

 skyscrapers for security and by that: “making a name for ourselves”  (Genesis 11:4)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

We can read Genesis chapters 3—11 every day, not only from the Holy Scriptures, but also in the so-called daily ‘news’, but it is really the ‘olds’: murder, vengeance, violence, drug abuse.  It’s as “old as Adam”.

With the Lord’s Call to Abraham, what was violent, vengeful and idolatrous, is replaced by what is human and humane in Abraham. And it is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes! Not our doing!  The Lord does something new beginning in chapter 12, verse 1:   He calls Abram.   Why is the Lord’s Call the beginning of humanity and humaneness?  Here was a man, Abraham, who did not want to be like God.  He had faith.  He knew he was created and not the Creator:   Abraham was truly a man by faith alone. How does faith come?  It comes by preaching and teaching of the Word and the Word is Christ.  The Lord was with Abram and he heard and he believed.  Abraham never saw the fulfillment of his offspring as the stars in the sky: only one son, Isaac.  One son is enough.  Still Abraham did not see for he walked by faith and not by sight, as we all do. He did not found a new religion but Abraham is called the father of Faith. In fact, he was not a Jew, but a believer in the God Who called him. In fact, one of his descendants, Joseph, would also be a man of faith, not having faith in himself.  After Joseph is reconciled with his 11 brothers, after 20 some years of bitter family envy, lies and estrangement, he declared to them:  “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?” (Genesis 50:  19)  I think Abraham could have asked that question as well.

I will go out on  limb here. A rough and tumble older guy said to me in the locker room at the “Y”, knowing I am a pastor:  “I don’t think we were made to behave.”  His statement took me aback but I wanted to agree.  I did not say anything in response at that time.  I think he was right.  Behaving has to do with Law, after sin entered the world.  The key verb in the guy’s statement was “made”, “created”, the Lord’s purpose for men and women, made in His image.  We weren’t made to behave but we were made to believe.  What the serpent sold Adam and Eve with was unbelief: “to be like God, knowing good and evil”, no longer trusting, hoping and loving their Lord, but only seeing themselves, and so separation from God and each other began, that is, sin which is death.  Thus they were ashamed of their nakedness.  Abraham believed.   Abraham certainly did not behave too well!  In order to insure a descendant, when Sarah could not conceive, she  gave Abraham her slave Hagar with less than satisfactory results until the Lord intervened. As He has for us all, in the descendant of Abraham according to the flesh:  Jesus.  As the Lord crossed the chasm to Abraham, now in Jesus Christ He has crossed the chasm of sin and death by His death and resurrection by His promise or Gospel alone.

Lord God, heavenly Father, You promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, You led him to the land of Canaan, and You sealed Your covenant with him by the shedding of blood. May we see in Jesus, the Seed of Abraham, the promise of the new covenant of Your holy Church, sealed with Jesus’ blood on the cross and given to us now in the cup of the new testament; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Meditation on a Psalm

Political, Theological, and Social Commentary Westminster Presbyterian

Psalm 80, Restore Us, O God

To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. A Testimony. Of Asaph, a Psalm.

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
    you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
    Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh,
stir up your might
    and come to save us!

Restore us, O God;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved!

4 O Lord God of hosts,
    how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears
    and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us an object of contention for our neighbors,
    and our enemies laugh among themselve

Restore us, O God of hosts;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved

The Church is grafted into Israel Romans 11:24 and she is the “Israel of God” Galatians 6:16, woven into the very narrative of God’s Covenant with Israel and her stories (see 1 Corinthians 10: 1-5: note that the Apostle refers to Moses, etc. as “our fathers”).

We know that we are part of Israel more and more these days as the Lord makes, “…us an object of contention for our neighbors/and our enemies laugh among themselves”. We know of this contention for a Supreme Court nominee to the worker who is derided as being “close-minded” when she tells her co-worker that she is a Christian. Since the Lord makes us “an object of contention“, then this means the Lord’s will is for the Church, as Israel, to be so for our neighbors. The true prophets of Israel, e. g. as Jeremiah, Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, were likewise a contention for their neighbors. Then we know that we are in the godly company of the patriarchs and prophets blest when we are derided. Our neighbors, as ourselves, all need to hear God’s saving truth and it will be contentious as the Lord contends for our salvation. Yet, as the remainder of the Psalm sings that the Lord planted His vine and those round about, “…burned it with fire; they have cut it down; may they perish at the rebuke of your face!” (vs. 16) But, “let your hand be on the man of your right hand,
    the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
18 Then we shall not turn back from you;
    give us life, and we will call upon your name!
(vss. 17-18)

He has planted the eternal vine, the vine stock of Jesus Christ, Son of Man, God’s beloved Son: I am the Vine, you are the branches (See John 15). This Psalm’s subtitle identifies it as a “testimony”: Lord open thou our lips to make the good testimony of the Savior in our neighbor. So as Israel, with Israel, that only in the Lord is our salvation and so we pray for the third time in Psalm 80

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts!
    Let your face shine, that we may be saved

How Do Squirrels Remember Where They Buried Their Nuts? | Live Science

I have stored up your word in my heart,/ that I might not sin against you. 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 in the soul.  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 in the churches. When the Word is not heard in its fullness, it can be read and prayed.  During the times of famine of the Word of God, we need His Word stored up, “hid” (King James translation) so we may have sustenance in faith in the Lord and love for one another. Storing up the Word of the Lord suggests 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).

 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, 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.

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.

Collect 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, Translator of Holy Scripture:  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,o00 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 remins were eventually taken to Rome. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

Reflection:  Jerome is remembered for the translation of the Bible into Latin, but he was also rigorous as to the way the clergy minister the Scripture and Sacraments to Christ’s people in a culture with great wealth and poverty. 

A clergyman, then, serving Christ’s church, must first understand what his name means; and then, when he realizes this, must endeavor to be that which he is called. For since the Greek word kleros means “lot,” or “inheritance,” the clergy are so called either because they are the lot of the Lord, or else because the Lord Himself is their lot and portion. Now, one who in his own person is the Lord’s portion, or has the Lord for his portion, must so bear himself as to possess the Lord and to be possessed by him. He who possesses the Lord, and who says with the prophet, “The Lord is my portion,” (Ps. 16: 5; 73: 26) can hold to nothing beside the Lord.

Jerome continued in this letter to a fellow priest, Nepotian, that a pastor should not hold on to riches and the favors of the wealthy.  The pastor will then hold onto desiring the favor of the world, rather than serving the Lord’s people with His Word.  Favoring the wealthy, the pastor forgets the poor. The pastor holds the Lord as his portion and that includes His Word, especially the Holy Scriptures.  In a sense, a seminary has only one book it’s library:  the Bible. The remainder of the library emanates from Sola Scriptura, Scripture alone.  Jerome did not translate the Bible into Latin because he considered that language holy.  Future generations would incorrectly consider Latin as such.  Jerome translated the Bible into common language of the Roman Empire which stretched across the Mediterranean.  Jerome knew the call of the Lord to spread “the eternal Gospel”:

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

If pastors do not hold the Lord and His Word as their portion then neither will the congregation.  If pastors do not study His Word, then the congregation will not be fed the Word, but be susceptible to eat the junk food of  the world. I have been told that at one time one of the requirements for a bishop was to memorize the Psalms.  When pastors have at the ready the Scripture, then they can counsel the flock so prone to wander.  May the Lord raise up in our time faithful pastors of the Word and faithful translators of the Scripture so that the Holy Spirit wields the sword of the Word to defend His people and so that others may hear the Word of Christ and be saved (cf. Ephesians 6: 17/ Romans 10:  14-17)

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?

Sermon for the Feast of St Michael & All Angels | Strands of Life

Collect of the Day: Everlasting God, You have ordained and constituted the service of angels and men in a wonderful order. Mercifully grant that, as Your holy angels always serve and worship You in heaven, so by Your appointment they may also help and defend us here on earth; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Appointed Scripture Readings: Daniel 10:10–14; 12:1–3 Psalm 91 (v. 11) Revelation 12:7–12 Matthew 18:1–11 or Luke 10:17–2

About St. Michael and All Angels:    The name of the archangel St. Michael means “Who is like God?” Michael is mentioned in the Book of Daniel (12:1), as well as in Jude (v. 9) and Revelation (12:7). Daniel portrays Michael as the angelic helper of Israel who leads the battle against the forces of evil. In Revelation, Michael and his angels fight against and defeat Satan and the evil angels, driving them from heaven. Their victory is made possible by Christ’s own victory over Satan in His death and resurrection, a victory announced by the voice in heaven: “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come” (Revelation 12:10). Michael is often associated with Gabriel and Raphael, the other chief angels or archangels who surround the throne of God. Tradition names Michael as the patron and protector of the Church, especially as the protector of Christians at the hour of death. (The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)


A person dies and then has to earn his wings and thus becomes an angel.  Since all angels are female, even a man on earth once he has earned his wings becomes female and then sprouts huge wings.  Then the angel spends most of the time playing the harp surrounded by little cupids.

The previous paragraph is pure bunk, but it is the stuff of popular reimagining of the Biblical reportage of angels. Man mythologizes, God only tells the truth. Nowhere in the Bible is it ever written that a person dies and then earns his wings becoming an angel and sprouting wings. Here’s is some of God’s own truth in the Bible about angels:

1.. The only angels who have wings are the seraphim with six wings (Isaiah 6: 1ff) and the cherubim who are portrayed with wings on the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25: 19).  The seraphim and cherubim are not necessarily a higher rank of angel but a special kind.  Given the Biblical reportage, the seraphim and cherubim surround the presence of God, the Holy One in the Holy Place (e.g. The Ark of the Covenant). Because the seraphim and cherubim have wings, does not mean that all angels have wings. 

2.  Angels are never reported as playing harps but they do worship the Lord (Rv 7:11–12).

3.  The Hebrew and Greek words for angels are masculine.

4. They are spiritual beings but when the Lord sends them, they have bodies and when they come to man, they are not cute but terrifying and this is the reason when the angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary, he first had to say, Fear not!

This is the most important point for us:  5. The word “angel” literally means messenger.  They bring God’s Word to man.  In Orthodox icons, John the Baptist is portrayed at times with wings (!) to tell us he had a very important message/Word of God to bring us:  The Messiah is around the corner. The angels were present when God gave Moses and Israel the Law on Mt. Sinai:  Acts 7:53 Hebrews 2:2.  The angel(s) were present to give the greatest message in the history of mankind:  The Savior would be conceived in the Virgin’s womb(St. Luke 1: 26-38);  Angels gave the message to shepherds that the Savior is born in the city of Bethlehem (St. Luke 2: 8-20);  Angels told the women at the tome that the Savior is risen from the dead!( St. Matthew 28: 1-8) and the angels will accompany the Lord when He comes again in His glory (St. Matthew 25: 31).  

The angels were key in the Lord giving His one Word of Law and Promise to His crown of creation, man and woman.  You can learn more about angels here and here.

We can do angel’s work here below when we tell of Jesus Christ in opening our mouths and giving the Good Message of the Savior and their salvation and then when joined together with the angels in the Divine Service, the Holy Communion of His Body and Blood:

It is truly good, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Through Him Your majesty is praised by all the holy angels and celebrated with one accord by the heavens and all the powers therein. The cherubim and seraphim sing Your praise, and with them we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying:

Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth; heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He, blessed is He, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest. Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might: heaven and earth are full of Your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

“What Are You Doing, O Man?”

By Larry Beane on Sep 25, 2020 02:46 pm
As a postscript to my post “I Promise to Get You Out of Here…”, here is an excerpt from a sermon by St. John Chrysostom (hat tip: Eric Obermeyer):
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Tales from a Mother: God's Mercy - Jonah 4:6-7 | Prophet jonah, Book of  jonah, Jonah bible

Collect of the Day: Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Jonah, 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.

About Jonah:

A singular prophet among the many in the Old Testament, Jonah the son of Amittai was born about an hour’s walk from the town of Nazareth. The focus of his prophetic ministry was the call to preach at Nineveh, the capital of pagan Assyria(Jonah 1:2). His reluctance to respond and God’s insistence that His call be heeded is the story of the book that bears Jonah’s name. Although the swallowing and disgorging of Jonah by the great fish is the most remembered detail of his life, it is addressed in only three verses of the book (Jonah1:17; 2:1, 10). Throughout the book, the important theme is how God deals compassionately with sinners. Jonah’s three-day sojourn in the belly of the fish is mentioned by Jesus as a sign of His own death, burial, and resurrection (Matthew12:39-41). (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, published by Concordia Publishing House)


Many years ago, when I first read Jonah on my own, no longer in Sunday School, I was amazed by it!  Now if you have not read it (it’s short, more like a short story), this is a spoiler alert. IF you have not read/re-read Jonah, then drop what you’re doing and read it!

Notice that in chapters 1-3, we are not told why Jonah runs away when the Lord called him to preach to the great capital of the Assyrian Empire, Ninevah.  Oh, Jonah was reluctant prophet, we were taught.  Yes, he was, but  reluctance is the result, not the cause.  We are not told why he was reluctant.

When Ninevah, from the King down, repents, the Lord forgives and changes His mind about His judgment towards them.  The Lord takes no pleasure in  the death of the wicked but that the wicked turn from their evil to the Lord and live (see Ezekiel 33:11).  So Jonah, after Ninevah’s repentance unto life in the Lord’s grace, parks himself outside of the great city and we are told he is angry. Dr. Reed Lessing (professor OT, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in his commentary Jonah), points out that  the 4 times the word anger appears (really:  infuriated),it is in the last chapter and it’s subject is Jonah!  Why was he angry?  Finally, after all the action in the first 3 chapters we find out that his anger is coupled with the reason why he fled to Tarshish and away from  the Lord’s call, from Dr. Reed’s translation:  “For this reason I previously fled toward Tarshish because I knew you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abounding in loyal love, and changing your verdict about evil.”  Jonah fled because of God’s grace! After all, like Jonah, we want to see the bad guys get it in the end!  So Jonah fled because He did not destroy the Gentile Assyrians!  Jonah’s true confession of the Faith (“…you are a gracious and merciful God, etc.) becomes in Jonah’s heart and mouth his accusation against the Lord! Is your evil because I myself am good? (see  Matthew 20:1:  literal translation of the second question!). Yes.  Ask any congregation, ‘do you want to grow?’ and the answer is yes.  But I would maintain we may  not want this to happen  to the point of those people joining who don’t deserve it like we who have “…borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat”  (Matthew 20: 12) and they receive the same, even the most wicked and at the 11th hour:  the Lord’s free gift of grace to all who hunger and thirst, and repent and turn to the Lord (see Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, Matthew 20: 1-16).  From Dr. Lessing’s commentary:

We simply stand under God’s overflowing grace like rain, allowing its cool refreshment to fill our dry cracks. Then we pick up the bucket and dump it on someone else. Grace flows from Yahweh not on those who attempt to earn it, but on those who confess their need for it. The Spirit-empowered response is then to share it. But Jonah is like the angry older brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:28-30): he views God’s lavish welcome for undeserving sinners who repent as an insult to his “deserving” self. The prophet has yet to embrace the Law and Gospel character of God expressed in James 2:13: “For judgment is without mercy to one who has not shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

One last thought:  Jonah ran away twice.  The Lord never runs away and He sought Jonah twice.   Blessed Jonah’s Day!