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This morning when I went on facebook, this notice came up from the posting above from 2014. I have now joined the ranks of those who have a post taken down for not following the faceless facebook corporate “community standards” of a post that’s from 6 years ago! I can easily guess the reason the post was taken down: it’s a quote from the notorious Nazi Joseph Goebbels, minister of propaganda and closest friend/ally of Adolph Hitler. I am heartened that the facebook collective do not like Nazis, but the inhumanity is shown in the fact that their computers can not detect nuance. Further, not talking about the evils of history will only promote their retrieval in our history.

The quote is:

“I would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in face a circle. They are mere words, and words can be molded until they clothe ideas and disguise.”

I hope you can understand the reason I posted it. Not to promote Nazism but show from this fascist and murderer that words are manipulated daily now by all sorts of fascists, including leftist/liberal fascists and their propagandists. Words are bent into daily and subtle lies as Orwellian doublespeak to mold the reality to a totalitarian view point, e.g., the proliferation of pronouns to accept chemical and physical laceration of people’s bodies in transgenderism, including children, that is the tyranny of deified sexuality. Or the more blatant propaganda: keep on throwing mud and it will stick.

The only aspect of my original post that the facebook coders’ and planners’ algorithms probably read was Nazi. This is inhumane as the programs cannot discern the content. I would like to think these programs can so read the content and know that this was against the very faceless communities of totalitarian thought represented by facebook, twitter and their ilk, and this is the actual reason my post was taken down.

Mere words…that’s exactly what propagandists like Goebbels want us to think. Yet these “mere words”, to the person who is offended, turn out not to be so mere! So the use of “mere words” is a lie in and of itself, but an important lie and is directed to the Word of God. Yet, this degrading of the Word as “mere words” has been done now by illiberal liberals in regards to Scripture with increasing voraciousness for over a century now.

I think it was Judge Scalia’s comment that the response to bad speech is not regulating speech, but more free speech, but totalitarians don’t like that, right or left. We have been a politically and religiously vigorous nation because of first amendment rights. This has allowed the free course of freed and freeing speech: God’s Word of Law and Promise and the Bible. And totalitarians don’t want that either because they sense the Lord does free us from our idolatry of political leaders, right or left. We are in dark times, yes, but more specifically: devilish times.

What to do? One small thing: stop using the sewers of the social platforms. I only post now on facebook and twitter the articles from this blog. A few years back we were rightly concerned about NSA collecting data on us American citizens, but facebook etc. and ad nauseum do this on a minute by minute basis. Big Brother is watching and he/she/cis has data on you. Don’t submit. They rejoice in angry divisiveness by our never ending postings for one reason: so they collect the data for advertising and sell us products.

Face it on facebook: There is no “community” on facebook. There is only the community you are in right now. The only true spirituality is local. It is your town or city, your family and friends and the one we all share as Christians across the globe: Christ’s Holy Church, His Body, the communion of saints.

Hebrews 12 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (emphasis added)

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This screen grab is of Portals of Prayer, a daily devotional booklet, from The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod:

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LORD IF YOUR PEOPLE NEED ME I WILL NOTREFUSE TO SERVE YOUR WILL BE DONE SAINT  MARTIN OF TOURS OFEAST DAY NOVEMBER 11 November 11 Is the Feast Day of Saint  Martin

Three seemingly disparate events are associated together on this date: 

1.  On this date, Martin of Tours, Pastor and Bishop was buried in the city of Tours, France:

Born into a pagan family in what is now Hungary around the year A.D. 316, Martin grew up in Lombardy (Italy). When he was  fifteen, being the son of a soldier, he was drafted to serve in the army. He was apparently a good soldier and popular with his comrades. One winter night when he was stationed in Amiens, Martin saw a poor old beggar at the city gate shivering in the cold, and, having nothing else to give him, he drew his sword, cut his own cavalryman’s cloak in two, and gave half to the man to wrap himself in. The next night Martin dreamed of Christ in heaven wearing his half-cloak and saying, “Martin, still a catechumen, has covered me with his cloak.” The young soldier, however, found it increasingly difficult to combine his own ideal of a Christian life with the duties of the military. Eventually he decided to be baptized and asked to leave the army, since he was no longer willing to kill. Like his modern counterparts, this fourth century “conscientious objector” had difficulty proving he was not a coward, but finally he was released, now about twenty years old. Sensing a call to a church vocation, Martin left the military and became a monk, affirming that he was “Christ’s soldier.” Eventually, Martin was named bishop of Tours in western Gaul (France). He is remembered for his simple lifestyle and his determination to share the Gospel throughout rural Gaul.  (From Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

2.  On November 10th, 1483, Eisleben, Germany, to a miner and his wife a son was born.    Baptisms were done quickly due to infant mortality. The next day Hans and Margarette brought their son for Baptism on  St. Martin’s Day.  So they named him Martin, as was the custom, after the saint’s day he was baptized.  The son baptized today was Martin Luther. Martin Luther would be remembered for his determination to share the pure Gospel throughout the Roman Catholic Church and Western Europe.

3. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the armistice was signed ending World War I and today is the 100th year after the end of the most brutal and bloody war in history at that time, and this date became Veteran’s Day.  We remember all military, soldiers and sailors, who have defended our nation in war.  We thank them for their service and the best way to do that is: THANK A VETERAN TODAY and exhort our government and each other to give good service in the VA who have given good service for us!

What do these 3 commemorations have in common? They are all about being a soldier, faithful, true and bold. Soldiers who for church and nation fought for peace.

We are at this time of bitter political fighting. Fighting which is not only in words but a bricks and bats and wanton destruction of property. Neither Martin of Tours nor Martin Luther condoned such. Why? The Lord in His peace called them, baptized them, sent them. We are a long was off even from the ‘60s and “give peace a chance”. Instead, anarchy is in air in so many cities. No longer is the Beatitude extolled:  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”  We do not see many sons of God on the streets of Portland, Chicago, D.C., Kenosha, etc. It matters what has happened and is still occurring. And it matters as the Lord blesses those who make for peace both temporal and eternal:  we are called to do the same as sons and daughters of God.  So, the whole armor of God includes shoes of peace:

“…and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.”  Ephesians 6: 15

St. Paul probably had in mind the armor of a Roman soldier. A Roman soldier’s footwear looked like this:

Pin on The Eagle's Shadow - Romans

The Lutheran Study Bible footnote on this verse: “A Roman soldier wore half-boots studded with nails to help him stand firm.  The preaching of the Gospel of peace has, ironically, prepared us for battle.”

With those studs, like studs on running shoes, a soldier would have a grip to run and then take his stance. God’s peace of His forgiveness keeps us steady and ready. 

It is clear that this sandal is like no footwear sold at any store!  Likewise, peace in the Bible, God’s peace is not like what is literally sold out in the world. Books, gurus, ministers et. al. make money over their programs and nostrums to produce peacefulness. Usually, by ‘peace’ what is meant are “peaceful feelings” as being “at peace”. Good feelings in general are desirable:  they can tell us we are okay and so are bad feelings, as in pain, they  can tell us something is wrong.  A feeling is the result of something else, good or bad. Peaceful feelings are a symptom but not the cause.  One can take away physical pain but the cause of that pain is left untreated only causing trouble for another day.  Clearly, feelings of peace are not the cause of peace.  God’s Word clearly teaches us that peace may not produce  peacefulness, instead, readiness with the Gospel of peace, prepares us for battle!   

The usual definition of peace is  the absence of conflict, war, struggle.  This definition is only a negative, a lack of something.  This kind of peace, absence of conflict, can become home to a host of things far worse. As the Lord taught:

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.” St. Luke 11: 24-26

Having no struggle, conflict,  war, is an absence, and absence is emptiness. Our sinful lust for more, even for peacefulness, to fill that swept and empty house results in doing anything to fill the void and  feel peaceful and good again:   more drugs, more pleasures, more satisfactions.  The last state can become worse than the first.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace-Ephesians 2: 13-14

The Lord shows us that peace is not mere absence but Presence. Peace has a name: Christ Jesus. He is our peace and that comes from the Atonement and Reconciliation of His Body and Soul upon the Cross. He alone cures the fever in our blood by His blood shed for warring humanity.  Mao Tse-Tung (old spelling), once dictator of communist China wrote that peace comes from the end of a gun barrel.  In one sense, he was correct, tragically correct.  It will look like peace, but only being terror and tragic emptiness. Peace does not come from the end of a gun barrel but it has come from the foot of His Cross and fullness of His life, eternal life.   Peace is reconciliation through the blood of Jesus Christ in His forgiveness of the entire world received in faith as pure gift.  This is His Presence and as Lutherans say of the Holy Communion: His Real Presence. 

Peaceful feelings are usually only about the self, the person alone.  Christ, our peace, is for us and our salvation, that the “dividing wall of hostility” is  broken down in His flesh (Ephesians 2:13-15) between each other in Jesus Christ.  All Christians who cling as lambs to the Shepherd and as children to their Father, know each other.  They know each other as sinners.   Pr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote,  “In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner.” Sinners forgiven in Jesus Christ.  They know each other forgiven.

His peace then prepares us for battle.  His peace is for the “good fight of faith” 2 Timothy 4:6-8.  Again, Pr. Bonhoeffer:  ““When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the Spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.”  This is called “sanctification”, being made holy by the Holy Spirit in the work of Jesus through the Word and Sacraments.  It is the struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil.  The Apostle Paul makes this so clear in Ephesians 6 about the whole armor of God. Some 4 times, he uses the word  “stand”, to take a stand, to withstand, to fight against the powers and principalities.  It is not a struggle against someone else’s flesh and blood, only my own and yours.  But it is a struggle against the false doctrine and teachings of the world we see arrayed in commercials, say, to want and covet more and more; in the lusts resulting in an ideology that says if it feels good, do it and look what has happened to marriage and the family…we could sadly go on.  But like those Roman Soldier’s sandals, His peace is for us to take stand upright and firm in His grace and mercy for us and for others, to battle for  souls and lives. 

A Prayer for Peace

Heavenly Father, our hearts are heavy as eyes are overwhelmed with visions of violence throughout our world. Our fellow Christians are murdered without remorse in lands where the true faith once thrived. Believers are attacked, berated and humiliated as they stand for the truth of Your Word. Our streets teem with lawlessness, destruction and hostility. And many who confess to follow You abandon Your teachings.

In the midst of this harsh reality, teach us Your ways. Keep our feet firmly planted on the solid foundation of Your Word. Set our eyes on the cross of our Savior, Jesus. Let our ears be soothed with gentle words of the Gospel. Let our peace be found in the perfect life, death and resurrection of Your Son. Give us courage to stand up to all who deny You and would silence Your teachings. Give us wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent. Through the Holy Spirit’s power, let Your enemies hear and believe the truth, that they may be saved from their eternal destruction. And in all these things, let Your will be done.

In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus. Amen.

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About the cover art: “The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins” ca. 1799–1800, by William Blake: The wise virgins at left are elegant, palely luminous, and composed within a single plane, recalling classical low-relief sculpture. In contrast, their foolish companions at right are agitated and characterized by dark tones. A trumpeting angel flying overhead signifies that the moment of judgment has arrived. The drawing illustrates Matthew 25:1-13 used by Jesus to warn listeners to be spiritually prepared: Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them. (vss. 1-3)

Text: St. Mathew 25: 1-13

Virgins are unstained, they are pure. That ain’t me and I would be right.  Who are the virgins?  Christians are virgins that is, those  who are unstained from the worship of false gods that is envy, greed, covetousness, and the like. Knowing in humility they are not pure, but have been made pure, washed in the blood of the Lamb. “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” The hope of His appearing purifies us in as He is pure.

Too many Christians live as mere materialists.  Materialism is the philosophy that all life is only matter, emphasis on only.  We think matter is good, though, as God created it…but a materialist believes that matter is all there is.  It’s a closed system. Matter is self-created. It’s madness.  In all of our Lord’s teaching, from Genesis to Revelation, there is something outside of us, actually Someone outside of us.  The materialists, both capitalists and communists, want to beat back the voice of the One outside of us by the rant that this life is all there is, we will provide the utopia of wealth beyond belief or egalitarianism enforced by the elite, and so without hope. This closed system, locked down and locked up is the definition of hopelessness and despair.

The Bridegroom is delayed but he will be arriving, outside of our closed minds and philosophies. He did the first times: from the time He came to Abraham in  Haran to the time when  He was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem and once again, once and for all…and in between to us. Materialists and madmen do not doubt.  We doubt and that is the sign of faith and sound doctrine: will He come again?   The prospect of joy, of seeing again the One Who first loved us a sharp pang in the heart.  We were baptized for His arrival, clothed in the wedding garment of His sinless life.  So it is a good idea to be ready for the Bridegroom to arrive.  How do we make ready?

A marriage, as at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry and in many cultures, was a contract between two families.  Once the families agreed, the couple was considered married.  But the couple would go to their respective homes and the groom would build a house, or add to his parents’ house, awaiting and preparing for the consummation of the marriage.  The house was built:  the wedding Day!  The groom and his friends would go to the bride’s home.  She waited with her wedding party (today’s parable, the ten virgins) and she would not know when he would arrive: morning, noon or even midnight! The virgins had to prepared even for the dead of night and utter darkness.  Back then, the groom could not text about his ETA. The cry would come forth, the Bridegroom is arriving!  Make haste!  Sheer joy!  Contrary to the usual conception of our Lord’s coming as only a dread event, this Gospel is joy, sheer joy, joy, as in blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.  These wedding customs are the backdrop for this verse, John 14:

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

The bridal wedding party were to wait for the arrival of the bridegroom. The foolish virgins knew the groom was coming at any time, even at midnight.  Why oh why did they not have extra oil, for light in the darkness?  We trust all too often lesser lights for the darkness, but against the darkness of sin, death and the power of the devil, human flashlights of worldly wisdom will not do.  Foolish people have no self-control as they look to what they want right now.  (Proverbs) We do not know how to wait. We are not prepared as maybe we once were for the bridegroom to come.  

Looking at our bulletin cover a painting by William Blake of “The Parable of the 10 Virgins”, he depicts the foolish virgins as out of control, in a panic for they have no oil and such is the world.  The five wise virgins are in harmony, for as the lead woman points her sisters and us to the arrival of Christ for which our whole lives are pointed, as John the Baptist did as well.  Our hearts are empty until they are filled with the oil of faith, hope and love in Christ and He is leaven in this world. The wise virgins were prepared and so is the Lord:

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians
)

  • Jesus taught this parable that we may  watch for His coming. He taught this parable that we be the wise Church, not the foolish church.  The foolish church puts human opinions, theologies and the like center.  The wise Church knows Who is the Center of the Church:  Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom.  
  • He taught this parable for hope.   For in this hope we were saved (Romans 8: 24).  Hope is for us individually and together as His Body the Church. 
  • He taught the parable of the virgins for us, His teaching is the Word of God, the Scriptures, “…which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.’ (2 Timothy 3: 15).  He taught the parable that we be wise for salvation in Him, carrying the oil of faith in His Word of promise to us all. 
  • He taught this for hope in Him, who soon after He taught this parable in the Temple would be cast out of Jerusalem to bear the hopelessness of sin and death, yours and mine upon the Cross.  Paul wrote we Christians grieve but as those who have hope.  The hope is His salvation for the soul and the body, that when He comes all the living and the dead, judged and saved in Him, will be caught up with Him as He leads us home, the new heavens and the new earth.

The foolish virgins went out into the darkness, at midnight to buy more oil!  The dealers in the darkness and of the darkness, do not have the oil of God’s Word and with his word, faith, hope and love. The oil would have been given already!  You cannot buy God’s Word, you cannot buy salvation.  And then out in the darkness, the bridegroom says to the foolish virgins:

 “Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.”

“Harsh. But that’s the way it is. When our Lord returns, we know not. When our soul is required of us, we know not. And so, the key is to be prepared. It’s a lesson we take to heart in other areas of our life. A nation must be militarily prepared to defend itself. We should plan for our retirements. Whether it’s sports or business, preparation is key. A student will likewise fail apart from preparation. Why then are we so thoughtless about things eternal? So lackadaisical?”

How might we prepare? For number one, two, and three on the list, I’d say, go to church, go to church, go to church. And make it a good one. Not a self-help church but a church that preaches Christ Crucified. Oh, and yes, one where you actually confess your sins, and receive absolution. One that treasures Baptism, which is your wedding garment. (See Matthew 22:11) One that proclaims Christ’s death by partaking of his Supper.”*

His feast is not a buffet for us to pick and choose what we want.  Not a buffet but a banquet of what the King knows we need and it is bountiful. 

We need to be prepared even for the dead of night and utter darkness.  The oil was there for the giving to all ten virgins, the bridal party. The 10 virgins symbolize the Church. Someone amply supplied the oil for the virgins to meet the Bridegroom who came at an hour no one suspected. The oil was given for that purpose.

In that time, oil, olive oil,  was used for three purposes: 1. for lamps, as in today’s Gospel; 2.  for medicine, as we read that the Samaritan took care of the man robbed and beaten on the Jericho road by pouring wine and oil upon his  wounds; 3. for the face to make it shine, as it is written, Psalm 104: 15 , the Lord gives to us,

“…wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

Oil was used for lamps, for medicine, for the face, that is,  for light, healing and joy.  And oil was used for special and unique purpose:  the anointing with oil marked the investiture of the Kings of Israel, as Samuel anointed Saul and David as the Kings of Israel. God, your God, has anointed you/ with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; Oil was administered by anointing. Remember that the title “Christ” means “anointed one”.  Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew, Messiah. Behold, One is here who is greater than the prophets!  

  1. God’s Word is light:  His Law a light unto our path that may know His way and as Jesus is the Way, the only  Way, we are led by Jesus the Anointed, the pioneer and perfector of our faith. 
  2. His Word is healing and the balm of healing for broken and contrite hearts, which O Lord, you will not despise. Staupitz and Luther
  3. His Word is the joy, of not only knowing the truth, but knowing He who knows us better than we do ourselves.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  Ephesians 3:  20-21

*From a Facebook posting by Prof. Peter Scaer, Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, IN

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Sonderausstellungen

Johann von Staupitz (ca. 1469–1524), was vicar-general of the Augustinian Order in Germany and friend of Martin Luther, was born in Saxony. He studied at the universities in Leipzig and Cologne and served on the faculty at Cologne. In 1503 he was called by Frederick the Wise to serve as dean of the theological faculty at the newly founded University of Wittenberg. There he encouraged Luther to attain a doctorate in theology and appointed Luther as his successor to professor of Bible. During Luther’s early struggles to understand God’s grace, it was Staupitz who counseled Luther to focus on Christ and not on himself. (The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

Reflection:  When the publication of the 95 Theses spread throughout Europe, then Luther was in middle of a raging storm.  He corresponded with his father confessor. On the twenty-fifth of November he sent word to Staupitz:

I am expecting the curses of Rome any day. I have everything in readiness. When they come, I am girded like Abraham to go I know not where, but sure of this, that God is everywhere.

Staupitz wrote Luther from  Austria: 

The world hates the truth. By such hate Christ was crucified, and what there is in store for you today if not the cross I do not know. You have few friends, and would that they were not hidden for fear of the adversary. Leave Wittenberg and come to me that we may live and die together. The prince [Frederick] is in accord. Deserted let us follow the deserted Christ. (From Here I Stand by Roland Bainton)

Up until his death, Fr. von Staupitz, wrote to Luther and he to him.  We do not know if Luther’s dear father superior ever accepted the evangelical doctrine, but he sure seems to have known them and lived them. 

It is written in Proverbs 17: 17:A friend loves at all times,   and a brother is born for adversity. And from Proverbs 18: 24: A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Fr. Staupitz epitomized those Scripture passages.  In The Smalcald Articles, of the Lutheran Confessions, Part III, Article IV, “Of the Gospel”, Father Luther confesses the 4 ways the Lord gives us the Gospel:

1. The Preaching of the Word; 

2. Baptism;

3. the Sacrament of the Altar;

4. Confession and Absolution: “…through the power of the keys, and also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, Matt. 18:20: Where two or three are gathered together, etc.” (Book of Concord; emphasis added). 

The power of the keys, or absolution, are linked with “the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren” and rightly so, as the Lord did, recorded in Matthew 18.  I can only opine that Luther was taught this in the school of Holy Spirit, partly at least, because of his Father confessor.  Staupitz was obviously Luther’s mentor and with that Luther’s  friend and brother in Christ.

This is a good commemoration to thank and remember mentors in our lives, who have been closer than a friend, a brother born for adversity who hung in there with you.  A brother who has heard your soul’s confession and offered Christ’s absolution as did von Staupitz. All the Facebook friends in the world do not one dear brother or sister in Christ Jesus make.  Between Martin and Johannes stood Jesus Christ and the dear Father Johannes showed Martin Jesus Christ so that Martin could see Him in the clear Word of Scripture.  “Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word”, penned and sang Luther.  He probably knew he was kept steadfast by his dear father confessor as a mentor who has so done for you.  Fr. Staupitz knew the Word as he had been fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).

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Coronavirus: Why are we at war over face masks?

         How do these things begin? The historians say it began at the beginning of the Contagion.  The Contagion spread rapidly throughout the world and the only way to ‘stop’ it was by keeping distance from other people and wearing masks, staying indoors as much as possible without congregating with others, locked in.  Day after day, month after month, year after year, mandatory masking was enforced by the state more and more. 

There were mask rituals, such as, The Birth Mask Service and so the granting of the mask was a solemn time at birth.  Every child was fitted with his mask at birth, replacing baptism for many Christians and circumcision for many Jews:  “We cover to protect you, to hover over you until all is Safe, and the State alone secures your fate. We follow The Science and may all follow the Science and be silent.”  The masks became more and more elaborate, both in new technologies to keep it on at all times and more and more decorative. 

People began to think that this was the way it always was…but there was born in an obscure town, in an obscure nation, a nation that so many people hated, a child who was remarkable. His Father and Mother were told by the true doctors that their child could never contract the Contagion and the antibodies in his blood were unique to this one human being in all the world.  The true doctors said that his genetic makeup was not by manipulation or accident…and from neither the parents’ genetic heritage as they knew their long genealogy. The true doctors did not know from whence came this marvel, but they mysteriously said they did have an idea and later revealed the truth. The true doctors told the parents, he would never need to wear a mask.  Yet, from the counsel of the true doctors, the Father and Mother did mask him to protect him and themselves from being traced…the child became a man and he and his Father and Mother knew it was time. 

He left his home without a mask and went into his masked planet.  He taught people who had ears to listen, to go outside without their masks and fear not the good creation.  He pointed out that the birds of the air and all the creatures of the earth do not wear masks having no fear and the Unmasked One cares for them:  “Aren’t  you of more worth than the birds of the air?”  The man did not socially distance himself from others but ate in their presence and they with him and joy abounded.  Since masks had become full faced masks, in fear of contracting the contagion through the eyes’ tear ducts, they rejoiced seeing each other with unmasked faces. Families had forgotten their loved ones faces.  Strangers in the stores became friendly.  

The man was giving them life in his maskless face and by his unmasked message…but after the unmasked truth began to take hold, people began hounding the unmasked man and his followers with every chance they got.  The social platforms were burning with hatred toward him. When the man’s followers, without mask, would post comments about him inviting others to unmasked freedom, then the man and his followers’ comments were banned and deleted from all the social platforms.  When the unmasked man walked on a city street, people ran  helter-skelter away from him to avoid him, yelling at him: “We’re going to trace you!”  “Do you want to kill people!?” and “Murderer!”.

The Science was inundated by texts reporting the man not wearing his mask. Accused of murder, yet this man killed no people.  His followers were freed in the truth. They were no longer afraid of being killers…or dying. The unmasked man said, “If you abide in my message, you’ll know what is true and what is true will set you free.” The Science authorities, who dictated to government all their protective policies, decided that it is was medically expedient that this one man’s life functions cease so than the whole world to die.

  Since the State could not end a citizen’s life functions, The Science authorities then wrote out a “Prescription of Life” that the unmasked man be masked at once and his life functions ended so that others may “live”.  The ambulance came for him.  He did not resist and put on a mask and he was taken away to the hospital to fulfill the Prescription of Life.  Then something happened that no one in the State and the Science could have predicted:  the unmasked man contracted all contagion and all disease, yet his genetic structure was perfectly intact…he died, not by lethal injection alone but by the lethal contagion of the whole world of fear and death…they kept him in his room, awaiting autopsy.  They wanted to wait until the air was cleared of all contagion in the room for about three days till it was safe. And the room was heavily guarded to protect others…on the third day, they came into his room and he was not there! And his clothes, and his mask, were neatly folded on the gurney. Then began the message, the text that the unmasked man was seen by many others: 

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

“This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

(2 Corinthians 4: 6; 2 Corinthians 3: 18; St Matthew 8:17; 1 Corinthians 13: 12; St. John 1: 4-5; Numbers 6: 24-26)

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Almighty and gracious Lord, pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people. Keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and deliver us in times of temptation, defend us against all enemies, and grant to Your Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, we poor sinners confess untoThee that we are by nature sinful and unclean and that we have sinned against Thee by thought, word, and deed. Wherefore we flee for refuge to Thine infinite mercy, seeking and imploring Thy grace for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.

About Reformation Day: On October 31, 1517, an Augustinian monk posted ninety-five statements for discussion on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Dr. Martin Luther hoped that posting his theses would bring about an academic debate regarding repentance, the sale of indulgences, and other matters of concern within the Roman Catholic Church. However, Rome eventually excommunicated Luther, judging him to be a heretic. Luther’s reforms, centered on the teaching that a believer is justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, sparked religious reforms not only in the German states but also in many European countries. In 1667, Elector John George Il of Saxony standardized the custom of observing Luther’s October 31 posting of the Ninety-five Theses.

Psalm 46 is the Psalm Luther based his hymn A Mighty Fortress is Our God:
God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
    God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
    how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress

So the first verse is about the dangers of nature but,

“The danger with which the psalmist is really concerned comes from the nations, and he moves on to that one in the second and third stanzas. The nations in their raging and kingdoms in their instability produce a historical chaos more dangerous than the cosmic one. Indeed, historical insecurity seems to replace cosmic instability in Israel’s vision of reality; note that the same language is used about seas and nations: seas and nations “rage,” mountains and kingdoms “totter.” But the congregation knows that the LORD of hosts is also sovereign over national powers as well as cosmic. (Interpretation: Psalms by James Luther Mays)

The Lord showed this in particular to Moses and the People of Israel as they neared the end of their sojourn to enter into the Promised Land in a hymn (Deut. 31: 32) and then sung, 32: 1-43. The Lord compares His protection of a wandering Israel and the various nations which were beaten back by His Word. He compared Himself as the Rock with the numerous “rocks”, that is idols, of the nations and as you read this think of our day and time:

“For they are a nation void of counsel,
    and there is no understanding in them.
29 If they were wise, they would understand this;
    they would discern their latter end!
30 How could one have chased a thousand,
    and two have put ten thousand to flight,
unless their Rock had sold them,
    and the Lord had given them up?
31 For their rock is not as our Rock;
    our enemies are by themselves.
32 For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom
    and from the fields of Gomorrah;
their grapes are grapes of poison;
    their clusters are bitter;
33 their wine is the poison of serpents
    and the cruel venom of asps.

The nations are under God’s judgment as, is our nation.  We are tottering.  Fear is pandemic. There is historical chaos, as it was in the 16th Century when catholic Christians stood for the truth of salvation by grace alone through Christ alone received through faith alone were hounded. Christians today are hounded for standing up for marriage between man and woman alone, the sanctity of life from womb to tomb, for the Doctrine of the Atonement in Christ’s blood and for the 10 Holy Commandments from the Lord God.  We can smell and see the fear locked behind masks.  The tyranny of Godless Communism is arising in the east, torturing Christians and followers of other relgions in communist China as they plan their takeover of the world.  The wine of the world is the poison of serpents and the cruel venom of asps and we so readily imbibe such through the media and social media.

Into the wars and rumor of wars, and devastations of body and soul, The Christ has come and will come again.  “But the congregation knows that the LORD of hosts is also sovereign over national powers as well as cosmic powers.” There is no earthly city or fortress to which we may flee to lock down in safety.  As the Tabernacle led a wandering Israel through the forty years of the wilderness of the nations, God alone is our fortress:  “The song (Psalm 46) does not invite our trust in a place in a Presence who wills to dwell with people”.  And the hymn based upon the song of Psalm 46 is our prayer on this Reformation Day:

1. A mighty Fortress is our God,
A trusty Shield and Weapon;
He helps us free from every need
That hath us now o’ertaken.
The old evil Foe
Now means deadly woe;
Deep guile and great might
Are his dread arms in fight;
On Earth is not his equal.

2. With might of ours can naught be done,
Soon were our loss effected;
But for us fights the Valiant One,
Whom God Himself elected.
Ask ye, Who is this?
Jesus Christ it is.
Of Sabaoth Lord,
And there’s none other God;
He holds the field forever.

3. Though devils all the world should fill,
All eager to devour us.
We tremble not, we fear no ill,
They shall not overpower us.
This world’s prince may still
Scowl fierce as he will,
He can harm us none,
He’s judged; the deed is done;
One little word can fell him.

4. The Word they still shall let remain
Nor any thanks have for it;
He’s by our side upon the plain
With His good gifts and Spirit.
And take they our life,
Goods, fame, child and wife,
Let these all be gone,
They yet have nothing won;
The Kingdom ours remaineth.

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St. Jude Thaddeus And St. Simon The Zealot, Apostles
 Alleluia.  You did not choose Me, But I chose you. Alleluia.

Collect of the Day

Almighty God, You chose Your servants Simon and Jude to be numbered among the glorious company of the apostles. As they were faithful and zealous in their mission, so may we with ardent devotion make known the love and mercy of our Lord and Savior Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Scripture Lessons:  Jeremiah 26: 1-16; Psalm 43;  1 Peter 1: 3-9;  St. John 15: 12-21

About Saints Simon and Jude:  In the lists of the twelve apostles (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6: 14—16); Acts1:13), the tenth and eleventh places are occupied by Simon the Zealot (or ‘Cannanaean”) and by Jude (or “Judas,” not Iscariot but “of James”), who was apparently known also as Thaddaeus. According to early Christian tradition, Simon and Jude journeyed together as missionaries to Persia, where they were martyred. It is likely for this reason, at least in part, that these two apostles are commemorated on same day. Simon is not mentioned in New Testament apart from the lists of twelve apostles. Thus, he is remembered and honored for the sake of his office, and thereby stands before us—in eternity, as his life and ministry on earth—in the Name and stead of Christ Jesus, our Lord. We give thanks to God for calling and sending Simon, along with Jude and all the apostles, to preach and teach the Holy Gospel, to proclaim repentance and forgiveness, and to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (John 4:1-2; Matthew 10: 28:16-20; Luke .24: 46-49).

Jude appears in John’s Gospel (14:22) on the night of our Lord’s betrayal and the beginning of His Passion, asking Jesus how it is that He will manifest Himself to the disciples but not to the world. The answer that Jesus gives to this question is a pertinent emphasis for this festival day: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). Surely both Jude and Simon exemplified, in life and death, their love for Jesus and their faith in His Word. Not only are we thus strengthened in our Christian faith and life by their example, but, above all, we are encouraged by the faithfulness of the Lord in keeping His promise to them to bring them home to Himself in heaven. There they live with Him forever, where we shall someday join them.  (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection: The Prayer of the Day above speaks of the “glorious company of the apostles” but of course by any worldly standard they were not glorious.  As the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.” (1 Corinthians 4: 13)  Not exactly a job recruitment pitch for the apostolic Church, unlike the ‘ministries’ we see wearily promoted on TV. Simon and Jude have no extant writings, scant mention in the Bible, no founders  of  ‘great’ ministries,  but the Lord called them to the one holy, catholic and evangelical Ministry.  Their glory, like ours, is a borrowed one, a given one, one given to sinners: the love and mercy of Jesus Christ which by the Lord, the Holy Spirit, in prayer,  we can make known as His glory in clay jars (see 2 Corinthians 4:6-8).   The glory of God lasts forever.  “Sic semper gloria mundi”, this goes always the glory of the world. This old Latin saying is true. “The world seeks to be praised/And honored by the mighty/Yet never once reflects/That they are frail and flighty”  What is the Christians’ response?  The hymn stanza concludes:  “But what I truly prize/Aboe all things is He/My Jesus, He alone, What is the world to me!” (“What Is the World to Me”, Lutheran Service Book, #730)

It is Pr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer who provides a good commentary on the Apostles Simon and Jude and the apostolic Church from his book, The Cost of Discipleship, in this reflection on the Beatitude from St. Matthew 5.  Remember and note:  everything Bonhoeffer wrote was in the time in Germany of the rise of Nazism and the descent into darkness, yet most in Germany thought this was ‘light’ and ‘goodness’, the Nazis put men back to work, Germans were feeling good about Germany again and the like.  I am patriotic but we do not worship our country, and neither are we to despise it.  I find Pr. Bonhoeffer’s  writings prescient in that they are so relevant and close to the bone in our day:

“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted”…By “mourning” Jesus, of course, means doing without what the world calls peace and prosperity: He means refusing to be in tune with the world or to accommodate  oneself to its standards. Such men mourn for the world, for its guilt, its fate and its fortune. While the world keeps holiday they stand aside, and while the world sings, “Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,” they mourn. They see that  for all jollity on board, the ship is beginning to sink. The world dreams of progress, of power and of the future, but the disciples meditate on the end, the last judgement, and the coming of the kingdom. To such heights the world cannot rise.”

Simon and Jude did not follow the world, nor churches in captivity to the world, but the Church held captive to the Word of God, Jesus Christ and so also free, freed to follow Him and free to serve.  Reformation Day is this Saturday, 31 October (2020) and 500 years of apostolic preaching, teaching and serving: actually the continuation of apostolic preaching and teaching since AD 33 and Pentecost and the Lord’s command and promise to so preach and baptize and commune.    Luther and the Reformers clearly preached the Word, not following a worldly church and worldly doctrine which does not save.  Too many churches preach fake good news, such as, “Your best life now”, “The purpose driven life” etc. which are all worldly works righteous fake good news.  The Apostles preach the real good news of Christ Jesus for sinners, by grace alone, received through faith alone, known by Scripture alone.  Upcoming is All Saints Sunday, and the saints did not look to the world for their light and follow the glow of their “devices” but the light shining in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4: 6)

A blessed feast day to all in the Lord!

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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

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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)

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