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Ezekiel 17 » The Warehouse » Bible Commentary by Chapter

Ezekiel 17: 22 Thus says the Lord God: “I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and will set it out. I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. 23 On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest. 24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.”

This lesson from Ezekiel is a similar parable to Jesus’ parables about seeds, esp. the mustard seed parable, cf. St. Mark 4:26–34. A sprig planted in Israel which becomes “a noble cedar” (Ez. 17: 23), also for all the birds of the air to nest in like the mustard seed.  This parable is preceded by two similar parables in Ezekiel.  The first one a sprig is taken by a great eagle from the land and planted in  “… a land of trade and set it in a city of merchants”, that is Babylon (Ez. 17: 4).  Israel was carried off by the great eagle, Nebuchanezar of Babylon, into Exile. In the second parable, Ez. 17: 7 and following a vine was transplanted in Israel from Israel in order to grow and flourish. This was Zedekiah, a son of David, planted by the Babylonian king.  Zedekiah would have flourished but the Lord said he despised the Lord’s covenant as Zedekiah made a deal with Pharaoh and Egypt for his armies to protect Judah.  It did not turn out well at all for Zedekiah and Judah.  Pharaoh gave tepid support and Zedekiah would die in Babylon. Then today’s third parable points to the Messiah, the Christ, growing so that “birds of every sort will nest”.

We cannot trust power politics to save the day. We were never suppose to.  We must speak the Word, live the Word, pray the Word, love the Lord and in His Word serve and love our neighbors. For, “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.” Psalm 84:3

Further, there may be a strong allusion to the exile in Psalm 1, chosen for the Third Sunday after Pentecost, to the exile in Babylon. He has planted you by streams of living water as the Lord said in Psalm 1.  One English Biblical scholar said in a lecture that Psalm 1 was written during the Babylonian exile.  The “streams of water” (vs. 3) is the Hebrew also for canals, as in the canals coming off the Tigris and Euphrates. Even there, in His Word, God’s people can live and flourish in His Word. The Church can as well, as her history in and under the Lord, attests. It’s not easy. Israel could live even in a foreign land.  As for the Church and Her Christians, “Every foreign land is their home, and every home a foreign land” (From The Letter to Diognetus, 2nd century).  And the foreign nature of a sinful world will affect and infect even a family, a nation, a church and that should not stop us from going out to sow, as the world needs ever more the good seed cast upon the earth as we do day by day. And the Church does NOT need to transplant our selves into false doctrines and ways to thrive.  All in the seed is all the power of God to grow and grow us, watered by God’s almighty hand, fed by every Word of God to be His noble vine, noble cedar.

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About the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, AD 325:  The first Council of Nicaea was convened in the early summer of AD 325 by Roman Emperor Constantine at what is today Iznik,Turkey. The emperor presided at the opening of the council. The council ruled against the Arians, who taught that Jesus was not the eternal Son of God but was created by the Father and was called Son of God because of His righteousness. The chief opponents of the Arians were Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, and his deacon, Athanasius. The council confessed the eternal divinity of Jesus and adopted the earliest version of the Nicene Creed, which in its entirety was adopted at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Collect of the Day:

Lord God, heavenly Father, at the first ecumenical Council of Nicaea, Your Church boldly confessed that it believed in one Lord Jesus Christ as being of one substance with the Father. Grant us courage to confess this saving faith with Your Church through all the ages; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

“We believe in one Unbegotten God, Father Almighty, maker of all things both visible and invisible, that has His being from Himself. And in one Only-begotten Word, Wisdom, Son, begotten of the Father without beginning and eternally; word not pronounced nor mental, nor an effluence of the Perfect, nor a dividing of the impassible Essence, nor an issue ; but absolutely perfect Son, living and powerful (Hebrews 4:12), the true Image of the Father, equal in honour and glory. For this, he says, ‘is the will of the Father, that as they honour the Father, so they may honour the Son also’ (John 5:23): very God of very God, as John says in his general Epistles, ‘And we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ: this is the true God and everlasting life’ (1 John 5:20): Almighty of Almighty. For all things which the Father rules and sways, the Son rules and sways likewise: wholly from the Whole, being like the Father as the Lord says, ‘he that has seen Me has seen the Father’ (John 14:9). But He was begotten ineffably and incomprehensibly, for ‘who shall declare his generation?’ (Isaiah 53:8), in other words, no one can. Who, when at the consummation of the ages (Hebrews 9:26), He had descended from the bosom of the Father, took from the undefiled Virgin Mary our humanity (ἄνθρωπον), Christ Jesus, whom He delivered of His own will to suffer for us, as the Lord saith: ‘No man takes My life from Me. I have power to lay it down, and have power to take it again’ (John 10:18). In which humanity He was crucified and died for us, and rose from the dead, and was taken up into the heavens, having been created as the beginning of ways for us (Proverbs 8:22), when on earth He showed us light from out of darkness, salvation from error, life from the dead, an entrance to paradise, from which Adam was cast out, and into which he again entered by means of the thief, as the Lord said, ‘This day shall you be with Me in paradise’ (Luke 23:43), into which Paul also once entered. [He showed us] also a way up to the heavens, whither the humanity of the Lord , in which He will judge the quick and the dead, entered as precursor for us. We believe, likewise, also in the Holy Spirit that searches all things, even the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10), and we anathematise doctrines contrary to this.”–Athanasius of Alexandria (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

DEATH OF GOD | US GOD'S DEATH | image tagged in jesus | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

The Council of Nicaea offered the counsel and consolation of Scripture and the Gospel because a bishop, Arius, was teaching there was a time when Christ was not. Maybe Arius’ teaching is the origin of the understanding that Jesus was good teacher alone but He did not leave that option open to us. So for Arius, the Scriptures were like Wikipedia article today: anyone can add or subtract the words of God one likes or dislikes. Only the utter weight of God in man dying on the Cross, bearing our sin can lift us up to the Lord Himself.We can not do the heavy lifting of our sins.  Arius was not capable of that either and neither are you nor I.

The Scriptural Basis of the Nicene Creed:

God the Father:

I Believe
Rom. 10:9Jas 2:19John 14:1

In one God,
Deut. 6:4Is. 44:6

The Father
Is. 63:162 Pet 1:17Matt. 6:9

Gen. 17:1Ps. 91:1Rev. 4:8

Job 4:1735:10Is. 17:754:5

of heaven
Gen 1:18

and earth
Ps. 104:5Jer. 51:15

and of all things
Gen 1:31

visible and invisible.
Ps. 89:11-12Amos 4:13Rev. 3:5Col. 1:16

God the Son

And in one Lord
Eph. 4:5

Jesus Christ,
Acts 10:3611:17Rom. 1:75:11 Cor 1:26:112 Cor. 1:28:9
Gal. 1:36:14Eph. 1:23:11Phil. 1:23:20Col. 1:32:61 Thes. 1:15:9,
2 Thes. 1:12:141 Tim. 6:3142 Tim. 1:2Philemon 1:325Heb. 13:20,
Jas. 1:12:11 Pet. 1:33:152 Pet. 1:814Jude 1721Rev. 22:20-21

the only-begotton,
John 1:18

Son of God,
Matt 3:17John 3:16

Begotten of His Father,
Heb. 1:5
Before all worlds,
John 1:1Col. 1:171 John 1:1

John 1:1Heb. 1:5

Not Made,
Mic. 5:2John 1:1817:5

Being of one substance with the Father,
John 10:3014:9

By whom all things were made;
1 Cor. 8:6Col 1:16

Who for us men
Matt 20:28John 10:10

and for our salvation
Matt 1:21Luke 19:10

came down from heaven
Rom. 10:6Eph. 4:10

and was incarnate
Col. 2:9

by the Holy Spirit
Matt 1:18

of the Virgin Mary
Luke 1:34-35

and was made man;
John 1:14

and was crucified
Matt. 20:19John 19:18Rom. 5:682 Cor. 13:4

also for us
Rom. 5:82 Cor. 5:15

under Pontius Pilate.
Matt. 27:2261 Tim 6:13

He suffered
1 Pet. 2:21Heb. 2:10

and was buried.
Mark 15:461 Cor. 15:4

And the third day
Matt. 27:6328:11 Cor. 15:4

He rose again
Mark 16:62 Tim. 2:8

according to the Scriptures
Ps. 16:10Luke 24:25-271 Cor. 15:4

and ascended
Luke 24:51Acts 1:9

Into heaven
Mark 16:19Acts 1:11

and sits at the right hand of the Father.
Ps. 110:1Matt. 26:64Acts 7:56Heb. 1:3

And He will come again
Jn. 14:31 Thes. 4:16

with glory
Matt. 16:2724:3025:3126:64Mark. 8:38Col. 3:4

to judge
Matt. 25:31-46Acts 17:31

both the living and the dead,
Acts 10:421 Pet. 4:5

whose kingdom
John 18:362 Tim. 4:118

will have no end.
Luke 1:33Rev. 11:15Ps. 145:13

God the Holy Spirit

And I believe in the Holy Spirit,
Matt. 28:19Acts 13:2

The Lord
2 Cor. 3:17

And giver of life,
John 6:63Rom. 7:68:22 Cor. 3:6
who proceeds from the father
John 14:16-17

and the Son,
John 15:26Rom. 8:9Gal. 4:6

Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped
Luke 4:8John 4:24

and glorified
John 4:241 Tim. 1:17

Who spoke by the prophets.
1 Pet. 1:10-112 Pet 1:21

And I believe in one
1 Cor. 10:16-1712:12-13

Eph. 3:16-175:271 Pet. 2:9

1 Cor. 1:2

and Apostolic
Eph. 2:20Rev. 21:14

Acts 20:28Eph. 1:22-23Col. 1:24Heb. 12:231 Pet. 2:9

I acknowledge one Baptism
John 3:5Rom. 6:3Eph. 4:5
For the remission of sins,
Acts 2:381 Pet. 3:21Tit. 3:5
And I look for the resurrection of the dead
1 Thes. 4:161 Cor. 15:12-131652

And the life of the world to come.
1 Cor 15:54-57Rev. 22:5

Ps. 41:132 Cor. 1:20

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Readings: Isaiah 42: 5-12  Psalm 112  Acts 11: 19-30; 13: 1-3  St. Mark 6: 7-13

Collect of the Day: Grant, O God, that we may follow the example of your faithful servant Barnabas, who, seeking not his own renown but the well­-being of your Church, gave generously of his life and substance for the relief of the poor and the spread of the Gospel; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Bio:  St. Barnabas was a Levite from Cyprus who sold some land and gave the proceeds to the early Christian community in Jerusalem (Acts 4:36-37). St. Paul informs us that hewas a cousin of John Mark (Colossians 4:10). Barnabas was sent by the Jerusalem Church to oversee the young Church in Antioch (Acts 11:22). While there, he went to Tarsus and brought Paul back to Antioch to help him (Acts 11:25-26). It was this Church in Antioch that commissioned and sent Barnabas and Paul on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:2-3). When it was time for the second missionary journey, however, Barnabas and Paul disagreed about taking along John Mark. Barnabas took Mark and went to Cyprus; Paul took Silas and headed north through Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:36-41). Nothing more is known of the activities of Barnabas, except that he was apparently known to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9:6). Tradition relates that Barnabas died a martyr’s death in Cyprus by being stoned. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

David Chytraeus (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH):

“St. Barnabas was a Levite from Cyprus who sold some land and gave the proceeds to the early Christian community in Jerusalem (Acts 4:36-37). St. Paul informs us that he was a cousin of John Mark (Colossians 4:10). Barnabas was sent by the Jerusalem Church to oversee the young Church in Antioch (Acts 11:22). While there, he went to Tarsus and brought Paul back to Antioch to help him (Acts 11:25-26). It was this Church in Antioch that commissioned and sent Barnabas and Paul on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:2-3). When it was time for the second missionary journey, however, Barnabas and Paul disagreed about taking along John Mark. Barnabas took Mark and went to Cyprus; Paul took Silas and headed north through Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:36-41). Nothing more is known of the activities of Barnabas, except that he was apparently known to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9:6). Tradition relates that Barnabas died a martyr’s death in Cyprus by being stoned.

“Barnabas was a Jew, a Levite born in Cyprus, one of the first disciples of the apostles, and Paul’s traveling companion until the sixteenth year after the resurrection of Christ. He is mentioned in [Acts] 4, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, 1 Corinthians 9, Galatians 2. Part of the sermons of Barnabas is recited by Clement [of Alexandria] in his Stromateis:

“Before we believed in God, the dwelling of our heart was corruptible and fragile; truly it was a temple made by hands, when it was full of idolatry, and was a house of demons. But behold! It has been built gloriously into the temple of the Lord. How? By receiving the remission of sins and by hoping in the name of Christ, let us become new and re-created,because God truly dwells in us. How? When these dwell in us: the Word of His faith, the calling of His promise, the wisdom of  justification, and the mandates of doctrine.”

“Barnabas is the same as “Son of consolation” (Acts 4), from bar, “son,” and nafesh, “recreate, revive, console,” and so on. Eusebius (bk. 1, ch. 14) writes that he was one of the seventy disciples.

Reflection: “Son of Encouragement”

In Acts 4, where we first meet Barnabas, he may have been encouraged by Peter’s preaching and his bravery and the fact that the scribes and Pharisees noted about Peter and John that,  “…they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished.” And,

“Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

This was probably quite encouraging to the early Church.  Later, Barnabas and St. Paul had a “sharp disagreement” over their missionary plans and especially who would accompany  them in the Lord’s work, see Acts 15:38-40. Yet later, it seems these brothers in Christ reconciled, see Colossians 4:10.    This too would have been encouraging.

Hebrews 3: 13, we are encouraged to be encouraging, to be Barnabas: “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

The Greek word for “encourage” is parakaleite.  It is also translated as comfort, help and exhort.  The Lord uses this Word to describe the Holy Spirit, Paraklētos. Please note the similarities between the two Greek words as they are related.

“But when the Helper (Paracletos) comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me” (St. John 15). 

Paraclete means Advocate, Counselor, Comforter and that is what encouragement does in our souls. Our English word encouragement has it’s root a French word, corage, cour, heart.  Encouragement means to hearten someone else.

Encouragement is a chain effect, spreading from person to person, in secular work and culture but especially in the Church.  In the Church, this is uniquely so.  Literally, parakaleo means “called alongside of”, as you are called alongside your family, your co-workers, strangers you meet and the like. The Holy Spirit is alongside of us with the weapons of the Spirit to strengthen one another in Christ Jesus in the glory of God the Father.  Pray that when the time is right, you are a Barnabas for someone else and may  you speak a word and parakaleo  and may it also be the Word!


For Barnabas we praise You, Who kept Your law of love/ And, leaving earthly treasures, Sought riches from above./ O Christ, our Lord and Savior, Let gifts of grace descend,/ That Your true consolation May through the world extend.

—By All Your Saints in Warfare  (LSB 518:17)

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“(The seed of God’s Word) is despised in the sight of those that prefer the philosophy and wisdom of this world. But when it comes to results, to spiritual life and strength, then human wisdom cannot even come into consideration. For the Word of God alone can take hold of a man’s heart and renew it entirely, change his entire life and manner of thinking. And the same effect may be observed in the history of the Church. A mere handful of disciples assembled in the upper room in Jerusalem has grown to a body whose size is such as to be known to God only, although even the number of those that profess Christianity is very large. That fact is a source of constant comfort to all believers, whether they be pastors or not: their labor cannot be in vain, since they have the living Word to deal with. (Dr. Paul Kretzmann)

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Almighty God, who called Your faithful servant Boniface to be a witness and martyr in the lands of Germany and Friesland, and by his labor and suffering raised up a people for Your own possession, pour forth Your Holy Spirit upon your Church in every land, that by the service and sacrifice of many Your holy Name may be glorified and Your kingdom enlarged; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Biography:  Boniface was born in the late seventh century in England. Though he was educated, became a monk, and was ordained as a presbyter in England, he was inspired by the example of others to become a missionary.  The 8th century the Church was international: Rome, England, Germany, Frisia (Holland) were all part of the Boniface’s bio and mission.   The Word created the uncommon common culture of the Church. Upon receiving a papal commission in 719 to work in Germany, Boniface devoted himself to planting, organizing, and reforming churches and monasteries in Hesse, Thuringia, and Bavaria. After becoming an archbishop, Boniface was assigned to the See of Mainz in 743. Ten years later he resigned his position to engage in mission work in the Netherlands. On June 5, 754,  Pentecost that year, and 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. According to reports, Boniface was carrying a Bible and it was stabbed. So his emblem is the one you see above. In Fulda, Germany, are the remains of Boniface along with the purported Gospel book he was holding with slash marks. Boniface died while catechizing. He was around 80 years old.

Reflection:  The movie clip is from “The Avengers”.  In this scene the Norse God Thor and Loki are battling and Captain America goes to fight them, but before he does he delivers one of my favorite lines of any from this movie genre:

Yes, this is a strange clip for a saint’s commemoration but the false god Thor has a connection with Boniface!  

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 it, the people would be punished.  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, one of his first acts, 

“…was to fell the sacred oak tree of Thor (a Norse god), 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)

Nowadays progressive Protestants and Roman Catholics would probably want to form a dialogue with Norse ‘theologians’, but Boniface and company preached the Gospel, the Bible, Christian morals and catechized and educated the people…without compromising to the pagan worldview nor the corrupt priests Boniface disciplined (1). Only Christ saves, not our religious works. 

The Church was built and the Lord was the builder.  Even a script writer for The Avengers got it right about Thor: “Ma’am, there is only one God and I’m pretty sure He doesn’t dress like that”. He dressed in our flesh in the fullness of time to bear our sin and be our Savior.  Boniface was dress in Jesus Christ so that many could hear the Word and be saved.  If you want to read more about Boniface read this.  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.  


(1)  From a letter from Bp. Boniface to Bp. Daniel of Winchester, “…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 divers sorts…that murderers and adulterers who persist in their crimes may nevertheless be priests of God.”

St Boniface of Mainz | Saint quotes catholic, Words of wisdom love ...

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protoevangelium | krausekorner

Introduction: The appointed Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday, 6 June 2021, The 2nd Sunday after Pentecost (Year B, Proper 5) is Genesis 3: 8-15. Verses 14-15 are called the “Proto-evangelium” or the first Gospel because in the conflict between the offspring of Eve, who is Jesus Christ, will crush the age old serpent, the Devil. I opine that all of Genesis chapters 1 and 2 are also proto-evangelium, but these verses from chapter 3 are the proto-evangelium, first Gospel after the Fall. This is the bright light of God’s promise of the hope of the Savior. This quote by Dr. Martin Justus Naumann, +1972, (Professor, Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, IN) is commentary on the Gospel hope:

“But it was not, as has been said, sometimes with tenderness, the first little star in the pitch-black darkness of the night of sin and death that had come on man. No, not a small light,
although a tiny light the clearer, the darker the night. Not just a glimmer, but rather the full burst of the sun of righteousness with healing in its wings. The promise of God did not grow from a germ of a seed to a-mighty tree. The promise of God and the grace of God was never a “more or less” matter. It is as great as God’s full majesty; indeed it is God’s glory. Soli Deo Gloria (God alone the glory) is sung not only of the majesty Isaiah sees in the temple but always includes also the absolution he receives in the same temple from the same vision. This is God in the fullness of His glory: “God who justifies the ungodly”(Romans 4: 5).

Adam and Eve, we see, had much more than a dim star of hope guiding them through life
till they finally arrived back in Eden, in the eternal Eden described in Revelation in so many terms borrowed from Genesis. Adam and Eve had the word, a light unto their feet, the daystar from on high. No dim theology theirs, to grow only gradually into a knowledge of a divinity. No constantly changing or ever evolving religious concepts for them. They had revelation.”

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Biography:  born at the beginning of the second century, Justin was raised in a pagan family. He was student of philosophy who converted to the Christian faith and became a teacher in Ephesus and Rome. After refusing to make pagan sacrifices, he was arrested, tried and executed, along with six other believers. They were beheaded.  The official Roman court proceedings of his trial before Rusticius, a Roman prelate, document his confession of faith. The account of his martyrdom became a source of great encouragement to the early Christian community. Much of what we know of early liturgical practice comes from Justin.

Justin’s search for truth is aptly summed up in the Collect of the Day that he was, “…wandering from teacher to teacher, searching for the true God.”  This is summed up in Scripture passages describing man’s reason, unaided by revelation and God’s Word, is not stable.  First, the Apostle Paul’s exhortation that we,

“…may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4: 14)

St. Luke’s observation of the philosophers in the Areopagus when the Apostle had his noted visit as recorded in Acts:

“Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.” (Acts 17: 21)

Then there is the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to his brother in the Holy Ministry, Timothy:

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”  (2 Timothy 2: 3-4)

This sounds like our time!  The only aspect of this futile search for instruction by ourselves, wandering from teacher to teacher, self-help book to guru, which has significantly changed since Justin’s days on earth is this:  going from religion to religion, teacher to teacher, preacher to preacher goes at break-neck speed with information technologies

 Our times are like quicksand.  As the prophet Isaiah preached:

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
    he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness,
and he will be the stability of your times,
    abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
    the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.

Friend in Christ: turn off your smart phone more and more!  Don’t be quick to post but to pray.  Turn off your TV more and more, don’t watch the boob tube but watch, say, the sunset with your husband or wife.  Don’t read the media, as they report facts that are questionable, with no truth, instead read a good book to cleanse your mind. Pray as the urge strikes to grab your phone, keyboard, or remote:

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
    and give me life in your ways. (Ps. 119: 37, ESV)


Justin Martyr is also the source of the pattern of the Divine Service we have to this very day: see here for quotes.

A Study of Church Hist ry Eras of

He and his fellow Christians, as we, do not live in a “virtual” church, but the real one, His Body, with the Lord at the Head and center of the Communion.  Christians at times had to worship clandestinely, at great risk, now we capitulate to soccer practices on Sundays and many false practices allowing the culture, even the state, to come after us.  The martyrdom of Justin was an important witness and encouragement to the Church, as it is for us today. The Lord has called us to where we be fed and lead. The Lord is the stability of our times, man is not, and in Christ, we are stabilized upon the Rock of Salvation.  This Rock is so sturdy that Justin faced martyrdom.  His martyrdom is itself an exhortation to abide in the Lord in His Church where He said He will be and is.  In these helter-skelter days, it is good to  rest in His unchanging grace and hearken to what Moses said to the people of Israel with Pharoah in hot pursuit, and the Red Sea in front of them:

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14: 14)

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Appointed Scripture Lessons: Isaiah 11: 1-5 Psalm 138 Romans 12: 9-16 St. Luke 1: 39-56

Collect of the Day: Almighty God, You chose the virgin Mary to be the mother of Your Son and made known through her Your gracious regard for the poor and lowly and despised. Grant that we may receive Your Word in humility and faith, and so be made one with Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About the Festival Day:  John the Baptizer and Jesus, the two great figures of salvation history, now come together in the Virgin Mary’s visit to Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-45), both of whom conceived their children under miraculous circumstances. Thus John is brought into the presence of Jesus while they are still in their mothers’ wombs.

This presence of the Lord causes a response by the child John as he leapt in Elizabeth’s womb. John’s response to the presence of Jesus, the Messiah, foreshadows John’s own role as forerunner. Already now, a new creation is beginning, and a baby still in the womb hails the new creation’s inception. Foreshadowed in John’s leap are the miracles of Jesus, who will cause all creation to leap at His presence: “The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them” (Luke 7:22). The incarnate presence of the Messiah also evokes a response from Elizabeth, who proclaims Mary’s blessedness. Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) provides the theological significance of this meeting as Mary sums up her place in salvation history. Mary’s song is a hymn to God for His gracious gifts to the least in this world, whom He has lifted up out of lowliness solely because of His grace and mercy.

“… it was that the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith.”—St. Irenaeus of Lyons (died AD 202)

Reflection:  The understanding from Irenaeus of the contrast between Mary and Eve has obviously been around for a long time.  It has become a liturgical and theological centerpiece of Eastern Orthodox churches.  This dovetails well into Martin Luther’s understanding that the greatest miracle is not that Mary conceived but she believed: through faith

Many years ago, everyone was all agog about WWJD bracelets:  What Would Jesus Do. So, as Jesus did, I should do miracles like raising the dead, preach to multitudes, and be crucified and rise again from the dead? Hardly. Or, just be a good moral person like Jesus in my actions.  We don’t need Jesus to be told that as we have God’s Law and I have not done that and left so much undone. WWJD was an example of self-righteousness. BWJD: Behold What Jesus Did!

Another take on this bracelet: A friend and colleague said those bracelets should have on them: WWMD, What Would Mary Do.  She believed as the Word of the angel came into ear and into her heart (Romans 10:17).  She received with the meekness the implanted Word (James 1:21). Mary and Elizabeth are the first Church as the Church is the body of Christ, so Mary bore the Christ. is the Church.  Mary bore the Word made flesh, as does the Church if she is faithful in all things to the Lord, as was Mary, even at times not understanding because of the weakness of the flesh (Luke 1:34). The Lord is sheer gift.  And so when Mary greeted Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s child, John, lept in her womb.  She was filled with the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit works through God’s Word alone.  The Church was there in the hill country of Judea that is temple of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  The Lord has visited us in Holy Baptism and makes at least weekly visits in the Holy Communion and every Word that proceeds from His mouth. We are visited by dear brothers and sisters in both our tribulations and our joy. We are made His through His Word alone in Holy Baptism and in faith.  In the most humble of homes, the beauty of holiness shone within and without.  St. Luke 1: 45: “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Indeed!  And so are you! As Elizabeth visited Mary and their Lord, so visit Him this day and every day in Word, in Holy Communion, in Prayer.  Blessed Festival Day! 

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Bede (673-735), was born in Northumbrian and was the last of the early church fathers and the first to compile the history of the English church. .

About the year 680, at the age of seven, a boy was sent by his parents to the monastery of Monkwearmouth, in the country known today as Ireland by his family to be educated later by Abbot Ceolfrith, recognized as saintly. The abbot and the boy  were at the monastery in Jarrow  and most likely the boy had become a monk. In 686, plague broke out at Jarrow. The only two surviving monks were capable of singing the full offices; one was Ceolfrith and the other a young boy, who according to the anonymous writer had been taught by Ceolfrith. The two managed to do the entire service of the liturgy until others could be trained. The young boy was almost certainly Bede.  In the middle of a lock down of a virus, the courage and bravery of the Abbot and Bede during a plague, should shame us today who want to stay away from Church. There is no ‘virtual Church’, only the Church, the Body of Christ, a body of virtue in the Holy Spirit.  The fruit of their faith in Christ endures. We thank the Lord for this pastor.

The most learned man of his time, he was a prolific writer of history, whose careful use of sources provided a model for historians in the Middle Ages. Known best for his book, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, he was also a profound interpreter of Scripture; his commentaries are still fresh today. His most famous disciple, Cuthbert, reported that Bede was working on a translation of John’s Gospel into English when death came, and that he died with the words of the Gloria Patri on his lips. He received the title “Venerable” within two generations of his death and is buried in Durham Cathedral as one of England’s greatest saints.

My times are in your hand (Ps. 31). We know what the Lord’s hands look like:  imprinted with nails as His feet. The Lord Himself in the flesh knew and knows the uncertainty of the times marked by trial and temptation, sore abuse and scorn of sinners, us.  By His hands He has delivered us and Bede and Ceolfrith. Another church body has as it’s motto, God’s Work, our hands but it should read, God’s Work, Christ’s Hands.  My times are in your hand.   This is a meaning of our Lord’s Ascension: His hands, the nail imprinted hands can now be everywhere at the right hand of the Father bringing the message of Savior and His so great a salvation by His forgiveness to the world, a timorous, prideful, fearful, vengeful world.

Bede died on the Feast of the Ascension, Thursday, 26 May 735, on the floor of his cell, singing “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit”. He was buried at Jarrow. Bede wrote the hymn, A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing, centered on our Lord’s Ascension.

Let us pray…Heavenly Father, when he was still a child You called Your servant Bede to devote his life to serve You in the venerable disciplines of religion and scholarship.  As he labored in the Spirit to bring the riches of Your truth to his generation, grant that we may also strive to make You known in all the world in our various vocations;  through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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