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Archive for September, 2015

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?

(From Festivals and Commemorations by Rev.Philip Pfatteicher:  Published 1980 by Augsburg Publishing House)

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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. John1: 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, 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 remains were eventually taken to Rome. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

Reflection:  We make much ado about miracles in the Bible as well we probably should, but there are some miracles that go totally unnoticed, as in:

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

and

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

From the least of the tribes and nations of earth comes forth the Word of God and specifically, the Word made flesh, “…to every nation and tribe and language and people.”   He has made known to all His Law and Gospel.  And there was a priest of Jesus Christ, one Jerome,  translating the Bible into a language by which all of Europe for 1,000 years could listen to the Word of God.  Vulgate Latin become the lingua franca, the common language of the Church.  It was not God’s language for God’s language, His Word, His tongue are the mighty deeds in Jesus Christ, as it clear in Acts 2:7-9, but they heard it  in  their own “native language”.  This is the Pentecost of translation begun in Jerusalem.  It has not stopped. The Bible is the perennial best seller in the world.  The Pentecost of His published Word was continued by Jerome and many others.

The Lord brought forth His Word out from Zion. This is the Lord’s great deed by which He civilized a world in, through and by  His Word as we await for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in glory.   Jerome facilitated the greatest publishing event in the history of the world that had already begun: The Holy Bible.  It is the Word alone which testifies God’s will for us.  If it was not, then Jerome would have translated human tradition for the world to read, but he did not.

It is a high vocation to be a Translator of Scripture.  The Bible or portions thereof have been translated into some 2, 287 languages.  This is a good day to pray for all translators, missionaries, seminarians and Biblical professors.  

The King James Version renders Mark 13: 10: “And the gospel must first be published among all nations”, and Isaiah 52:7 that blessed are the feet which, “publisheth salvation”. The word “publish” is from same Latin root as our word “public”. “Vulgate” from “vulgur” meant in Latin “public” as well.  The Lord makes public His Word.  It is not merely a private thing but for the whole world and our nation.  He calls His Church to continue this work till the consummation of all things so that many may call upon the Name of the Lord and be saved.

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What is the [angels’] attitude toward men? This the Lord Christ reveals with one word when He calls them “their angels,” that is, the angels of the little ones, the servants of the children and all believers…. They render this service to every Christian in manifold ways. While we are children, God assigns our angels to us, as Christ tells us inthe holy gospel. When we grow older and go our own way, that is, walk in the ways of our calling, God also assigns angels to us (Ps. 91:11,12). When we sleep, the angels watch and protect us against the devil. When we die, they carry our soul to Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22). Their protection is ours through life….

Why is that the angels readily serve the believers though they are much nobler and higher than we?

(1) Because they are confirmed in the good and therefore gladly and fully obey God’s will. God’s will and order is that they serve us (Heb. 1:14). The army of the heavens—sun, moon, and stars—maintain their order given them by God for man’s sake. All the more will the heavenly army of the holy angels maintain its order.

(2) Because our nature is raised in Christ above all angels and archangels (Eph. 1:20, 21; Heb. 1:4). Therefore the angels do not refuse to serve us men, in honor of the human nature assumed by Christ. As an entire race is brought to honor by a marriage, so the marriage of the Son of God with humanity has restored the human race to honor (Matt. 22:2). What wonder, then, that the angels serve us, since the Son of God, the Lord of the angels, came to earth that He might serve us?

(3) Because love is pure and perfect in them, the angels joyfully serve us, as does the Lord, who Himself is Love (1 John 4:8), in whose image the angels were created, and who declared: “I will rejoice in doing them good” (Jer. 32:41).

(4) Finally, because we shall someday be with them in heaven and join their choir in praising God, the angels are happy to serve us here on earth.

—Pastor and Professor Johann Gerhard (October 17, 1582 – August 17, 1637), as quoted in The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House

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Here is a little quiz to see what you know about angels. All the answers are true/false and you can find out the answers tomorrow, right here:

1)      The most reliable source about angels is Jewish folklore. 

2)      The word “angel” literally means  a woman with wings.

3)      Angels are created.

4)      Angels are ministering spirits to serve us.

5)      Human beings can “earn their wings” and become angels.

6)      Angels are dumb.

7)      There are ranks of angels, kind of like in the army.

8)      Lucifer, or the devil, is a fallen angel.

9)      We are to pray to angels because they are heavenly beings.

10)  There was war in heaven.

11)  Angels usually provoke fear in people.

12)  This is the best quiz on angels I have ever taken!

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Go to this link:  “When Jesus Knocks”

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Artwork, such as this statue from St. Michael’s Church, Hamburg, Germany, portrays St. Michael casting out Lucifer, aka Satan, Father of lies, Devil etc., as recorded in Revelation 12: 7-12. Artists have added the Cross to the Scripture passage, though not recorded in Holy Writ in the Revelation passage. Yet, it is true: by Christ’s death and resurrection, the devil is put to flight in the Lord’s mercy toward us sinners.

Prayer 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. 

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)

LessonsDaniel 10: 10-14  Psalm 91   Revelation 12: 7-12  St. Matthew 18: 1-11 or St. Luke 10: 17-20

Reflection on Revelation 19:   The angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

and

Hebrews 1: 14: Are they (angels) not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

God’s Word is clear.   The Greek word for “angel”, literally means “messenger”.  In many icons, John the Baptist is portrayed with wings to remind us that John as the angels brought God’s Word to people on earth. Yet when angels bring God’s Word to mortals, there is knee-knocking fear because they reflect the glory of God.  This is why Gabriel first had to say to Mary, Fear not.  

The Scripture is equally clear:  angels are humble.  As it is written in Revelation 19, when John wants to worship the angel, the angel bluntly states, “You must not do that!”  Angels and saints in heaven are not to be worshiped, that is, prayed to and invoked, as too many churches do to this day.  I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God. Prayer is organically part of worship.  Since an angel did not want worship and prayer from John, since only the Lord is to be so worshiped and invoked in prayer,  then it would follow that the saints in heaven do not and should not be named in prayer.  Yet, the saints  as the angels are in the communion  around the throne of the Lamb  and as a whole, do pray for us, His Church, and those prayers are compared with incense ascending to the Lord, cf.  Revelation 5:8,Revelation 8:3,Revelation 8:4.   

It is also clear from the Bible:  Angels hold to the testimony of Jesus.  Further, we read in Hebrews angels serve us mortals.  Mortals, who by God’s grace in Jesus Christ, received through faith in the work of the Holy Spirit, are inheritors of salvation. Angels  are luminous servants and messengers of the Most High, are our fellow servants holding to the  witness of Christ!  In Greek, “Gospel” literally means  good message, the Gospel of Christ Jesus:

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

We are not alone: I think when popular articles about UFOs and ETs, begin with, “we are not alone”, it is strange and sad science fiction comfort that is sought:  we are not alone in the vast universe. But the Lord has told us this for  centuries, the millenia:  we are not alone. This is God’s own truth.  His angels keep us safe and watch over us, serving us frail mortals.  The angels know they did not die for sinners.  The angels saw what happened when one of their own wanted to be worshiped as God, that is, Lucifer (literally, light bearer).  The angels know that God’s own Son did not die and rise for them, but for the Sons of Adam and the Daughters of Eve, who fancy themselves as ‘stars’, wanting to be “like God”, following the angel hosts’ fallen brother’s lie (see Genesis 3). Again, the name  Michael means,  “Who is like God?”  Answer: not Michael, but the Son of Joseph, the Son of God: Jesus. The angels know they can not bring another Gospel (see Galatians 1:8), but they give witness to the Gospel of the Son’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, the “eternal Gospel”,  for us all to see and come to faith, see Revelation 14:6.

We are not alone. This is comfort to the Lord’s redeemed people that God is One, yet the Lord Himself is not alone.  “Glorious is God with His angels and saints, O Come, let us worship Him” (invitatory for daily prayer).  The Lord, the blessed and holy Trinity, wants His kingdom filled with the redeemed.  Every Holy Communion the pastor prays with the Congregation from the liturgy the Sanctus, the thrice-holy:   The Biblical insight is that when we tally how many were at worship on a given Sunday, we can not count, as the Congregation sings in the Sanctus (holy):

Pastor:   ” with angels and archangels and all the company heaven, lauding and magnifying Thy Holy Name, ever more praising Thee and saying,

Congregation: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, LORD GOD OF SABOATH , HEAVEN AND EARTH ARE FULL OF THY GLORY. HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST.” (part of the prefaces in the Divine Service).

We are not alone, we are baptized into the  Holy Communion, not by an angel from heaven, but from one of the Lord’s messengers, your pastor, in the  communion of the whole Church on earth and angels and archangels and  all the saints in heaven!

A blessed Feast Day to all!

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For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9

 

READINGS:  Numbers 11:4–6, 10–16, 24–29 Psalm 104: 27-35  James 5: 13–20 Mark 9:38–50

The Lord’s concern in response to the disciples’ question about the man casting out demons in Christ’s Name is like Moses’ response about Eldad and Medad receiving the Holy Spirit outside the Tent of Meeting:  Would that all people be prophets and the Lord’s Spirit be upon them! The Lord’s will is all people to be saved in the sheer gift of Himself to know Him and love Him and love our neighbors aright. 

“As a true servant of God, who was not jealous for his own honor, but desired only the extension of God’s influence and power, Moses wished only for a further extension of the Lord’s gift of grace. A little more of this same Spirit in our days would help to solve many of the problems of the Church.” (From The Popular Commentary (1924), by Dr. Paul Kretzmann, Lutheran Pastor and Scholar)

The Lord’s solution of political problems is not pastors, ministers and priests offering political solutions to people who suffer from the spiritual problem of sin.  The Lord’s solution is salvation in teaching and preaching Christ, His Cross, His resurrection and ascension, His Word of Law and Promise. Not a pope nor a president telling us pollution is bad, or abortion for that matter, but God’s Word and teaching thus sayeth the Lord from the  Bible.  The greatest apostolic ministry is not first casting out demons, that is, rare, but receiving a cup of water because, beloved in the Lord, “you belong to Christ”.  You belong to Christ. This means the person giving the cup of water to one of Jesus’ own, is beginning to believe through the grace of God in, through and with His Son Jesus Christ and that is quite a reward.

The one who has given the apostle a cup of cold water because He belongs to Christ, one of the little ones, like the child Jesus enfolded into His arms, and so Jesus is clear:  the greatest sin is to cause him or her believing in Christ to sin. So solemnly in a three-fold repetition

If your hand causes you to sin …

If your foot causes you to sin …

If you your eye causes you to sin

“Causes you to sin” in Greek is root of our word scandal, which was something that  causes you to stumble, into sin.  Now it is clear my hand does not think nor does the eye nor does the foot.  Oh, my hand hit you, now hand apologize and cut it out. That’s an absurdity as is sin.  Jesus knows what needs to be cut out.  He already taught earlier in chapter 7 the defilement comes out of the heart:  “evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, etc.”.   Cut it out. Arduously keeping the Law of God will cut out some outward behaviors, which is good, but the heart condition remains. The Lord by His Law shows us the true source of the offense:  the heart, that is, the will.  He has cut out the blockages of sin and death and hell.  He cut it out in His Body upon the Cross. Salt stings in order to preserve.

“Christ here mentions some other members that are very apt to offend, to commit sin, to lead others into sin. The law of sin is always active in our members. Here it is necessary that a person keep these members in subjection. For the Lord speaks figuratively and does not want to be understood, as Luther says, that He here advocates physical mutilation or dismemberment, since that would obviously not take the sin and the desire to sin out of the heart. It is the heart which must be controlled by the spirit of love toward Christ and our neighbor, in order that the hand, the foot, the eye do not perform that which sin desires them to do.”  (From The Popular Commentary (1924), by Dr. Paul Kretzmann, Lutheran Pastor and Scholar)

Cutting it off is called confession, cutting it out to be healed in His forgiveness. His Word like a surgeon’s scalpel cuts to heal. “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;  There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul.” The costly balm is Christ’ blood.

Churches have greatly watered down the Word of God to make it palatable for ourselves and the results have been disastrous, tolerating all sorts of sin, as in marriage, thus causing one of the little ones who believe in Christ to sin. Look at what the rampant sexual immorality of our time has cost children in divorce, abuse, pornography…and so let’s water down the saltiness of the Law of God  which mean  no repentance, no return to the Lord your God for He is merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Still:  “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole; There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul”.

Jesus is clear:  the result is hell, where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. We have watered down hell.   Hell has been watered down for people who don’t believe it, but note that it is still in full force for someone I don’t like! Then the belief is quite strong!  Hell is not merely fictional frightening children’s tale to scare, “…rather, they are true reason publicly proclaimed with a straightforward voice.” (St. Basil).    Hell is where the stink of putrefying sin always feeds the worms, the maggots.  Such is a world which harvests aborted infants’ body parts, commits genocide, beheads Christians and others, says nothing to “hooking-up”, or getting ahead at all costs using people is okay, its called being a “winner”.  Hell is a Biblical doctrine.  The Lord wants no one in hell, but all to be saved and come to the knowledge of Christ.

The list of ingredients on a food package always begin in descending order with  ingredient that is the most and salt is not usually the main ingredient.  In the Church, and proclaimed throughout the world, the main ingredient is the Name of Jesus Christ for us and our salvation.  When salt becomes more important than the main ingredient then there are problems.  When our theological solutions become more important than Christ our Lord, not interpreting truly the Scriptures, the Word of God, then men follow manmade doctrines such as the office of the pope, as the head of the church. He’s not, Christ is, as the Bible makes clear.  During the Pope’s visit, they had a canonization Mass in D.C.  As one reporter said, The pope made a new saint today.  No, he did not, most emphatically, none of the 266 popes ever made a saint.  The church does not make saints, Christ Jesus does.  The saints in Christ are His baptized, His little ones, not the great ones.  Salt does not make salt. The Lord does.  You are the salt of the earth. Not you should be, you must be, you can be, or we’ll make you salt.  You ARE.  Not by your doing, nor your works, but by the gracious work and word of Jesus Christ, whose we are, is who we are.    

The lesson ends with Jesus speaking of salt.  He did this early, Matthew 5:  Y’all are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost it’s saltiness what is it good, except to be thrown out and trampled on by men.  Funny thing though:  salt, sodium chloride, is quite the stable compound and does not lose it’s saltiness.  You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant  with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt. Leviticus 2: 13.  The Lord’s covenant, His testaments, old and new endure as salt, stable.  His promises fulfilled in Christ are there, His Word for us and for our salvation.  The very Word wounded for our sin.

Salt is a cheap grocery item in our day, but not back in the time of Christ.  Salty ocean water had to dry out and the salt gathered which could be filled with impurities. The impurities would dissipate the saltiness of salt and so salt loses is saltiness and becomes worthless.   So does the  impurities of  false doctrine, and unrepentant sin.

“Where the salt loses its saltiness, and the Gospel is spoiled with doctrines of men, there the old Adam no longer can be spiced, there the worms will grow. But salt is sharp; therefore it is necessary to have patience and peace in the salt.” (Martin Luther)

And sayeth the Lord, “ You will be salted with fire:   the fire of His Law and judgment, the fire of His mercy for sinners the fire of the Holy Spirit purging and renewing His Church;  the fire of His love for you and our neighbors to know the peace of God surpassing  human understanding.  His Word is our salt, preserving and flavoring our lives, making us thirsty for the draught of His Baptism and His Word. The word “salary” comes from the Latin for “salt”.  Roman soldiers received a stipend for salt.  My Dad told me that in the army, part of the rations was a salt tablet because it was indispensable to stay alive and keep on going.  His Word is the salt of the testament in Jesus. Have this salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another, the salt of the new and everlasting covenant in His Body and Blood. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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