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“…for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Concordia and Koinonia

Collect of the Day: Triune God, whose very Name is holy, teach us to be faithful hearers and learners of Your Word , fervent in the Spirit as Apollos was, that we may teach it correctly against those who have been led astray into false and error and that we might follow the example of Aquila and Priscilla for the good the Church You established here and entrusted into our humble care;  for You, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, now and forever. Amen.


About Aquila, Priscilla, Apollos: Aquila and his wife Priscilla (Prisca), Jewish contemporaries of St. Paul, traveled widely. Because of  persecution in Rome, they went to Corinth where they met the apostle Paul, who joined them in their trade of tentmaking (Acts 18:1-3). They, in turn, joined him in his mission of proclaiming the Christian Gospel. The couple later traveled…

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From Today’s Daily Lectionary New Testament Reading, St. John 4:  13Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

The Well of living water reminds me of Jeremiah 2:13,

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” 

All the watering holes in the world finally can not hold water!  Come daily to Jesus for His Word, the words of eternal life, which never end.

More reflections on the Gospel reading for today:

From Martin Luther: “The sun is not dimmed and darkened by shining on so many people or by providing the entire world with its light and bright splendor. It retains its light intact. It loses nothing; it is immeasurable, perhaps able to illumine ten more worlds. I suppose that a hundred thousand candles can be ignited from one light, and still this light will not lose any of its brilliance. Likewise, a learned man can educate a thousand scholars without forfeiting any of his own learning. The more he shares with others, the more he has himself. Thus Christ, our Lord, to whom we must flee and of whom we must ask all, is an interminable well, the chief source of all grace, truth, righteousness, wisdom, and life, without limit, measure, or end. Even if the whole world were to draw from this fountain enough grace and truth to transform all people into angels, still it would not lose as much as a drop. This fountain constantly overflows with sheer grace. Whoever wishes to enjoy Christ’s grace—and no one is excluded—let him come and receive it from Him. You will never drain this fountain of living water; it will never run dry. You will all draw from it much more than enough, and yet it will remain a perennial well.”

Hymnody, and if you cannot sing it, pray it!

Come, Thou Fount of ev’ry blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace; Streams of mercy, never ceasing, Call for songs of loudest praise. While the hope of endless glory Fills my heart with joy and love, Teach me ever to adore Thee; May I still Thy goodness prove. —Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing (LSB 686:1)

Prayer of the Day:  Lord God, heavenly Father, You have called Your Church to worship Your Son in Spirit and truth. Through the Spirit of Jesus, keep us faithful to the one who is the way, the truth, and the life, so that we may be partakers of His divine life and inherit the kingdom promised for those who drink from the water of life; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Most of the above from Concordia Publishing House. Treasury of Daily Prayer, Kindle Edition.

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This is my confirmation class photo, 1968, at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church (LCMS), Mt. Prospect, Ill. Mt. Prospect is a northwest suburb of Chicago. If I correctly counted there are 74 confirmands pictured. (If you are interested my mug is in the lower left hand corner.) A VMI cadet told me she just loved looking at this photo. It is of a time gone by.

1968 was a bad year in the United States: race riots, two political assassinations, anti-Viet Nam war protests and riots, the ‘summer of love’ in San Francisco (1967), the TV Age, the beginnings of the gay pride movement, marijuana was in the air, the Pill, the “new morality”, and in ’68 the violent protests in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention by the various leftist groups. The Republican candidate for President, Richard M. Nixon ran on a law and order platform.

Yet, coming off the post-World War II, churches were full.

The Vicar that year was all excited to show my confirmation class the new youth room, called “Snoopy’s Dog House”, all done in Peanuts cartoons.

By this time, us thirteen year olds were already making fun of the use of the word, “groovy”.

The Churches were full because all the GIs from WWII were coming home, getting mostly free college, marrying and having families: then myself and many others, The Baby Boom Generation.

I do not write this for a nostalgic stroll down memory lane or a recitation of history that you may already know. In fact, I have no nostalgia for this, but I write for these reasons:

  1. I want to forget about all this history but I can not and well I should not. It is good to be reminded of history for learning about it and about our time. Even to understand our history through the lens of the 10 Commandments, and repent.
  2. Let us make no mistake about the ’60’s various revolutions have won, especially the sexual revolution (as it was called). Sodom and Gomorrah is in our libraries, on televised award ceremonies and on our screens.
  3. It was the beginning of an age of unprecedented wealth that we think is our birthright. It’s not.
  4. Now in 2023, all these revolutions promising to bring about the Age of Aquarius for our bliss are now a huge miss, as domestic tranquility is almost a joke.

But it is this lesson that I write and I think is important for the Church: the Church and churches, and their large worship attendance is gone with the wind. The ’50s and ’60s, and into the ’70s are an aberration in church life. We think this is normal and keep beating ourselves with notions and nostrums to fill the pews. Let’s stop beating ourselves up over this. With all the success of Christian denomination church life, we were also selling away the saltiness of doctrine and living in Christ for a piece of the American and Aquarian pie.

Now we are wondering what happened. I have only done a thumb-nail sketch of our decline. Growing up in that time period, I thought it was so exciting. It was but it was not. We bought into decadence and its idolatry and with it despair.

But I also knew by faith in what I heard at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church through the hymns, the Holy Communion, and the prayers that Jesus is Lord. The same Vicar who showed us Snoopy’s Dog House also told us the Te Deum Laudamus of Matins is one of the oldest hymns in the Church. I thought that was groovy! St. Paul’s with three services on a Sunday was rightly proud that at one of them every Sunday was Holy Communion. Holy Communion every Sunday. Only in the Lord we will get through.

The Remnant is a reality of especially Old Testament history that the prophets foretold a national catastrophe for Israel, God’s judgment of immorality and idolatry, but there would be a Remnant faithful to her Lord. The Anchor Bible Dictionary describes the Remnant as “What is left of a community after it undergoes a catastrophe”. We are in the midst for some time now an ongoing catastrophe. With the ever shrinking Church on our continent (not Africa!), there may come a time, after we are long gone, with small Remnant congregations faithful to Biblical teaching scattered about like seed, and some unworldly worldling will stumble into a Remnant congregation and a fire will be lit in his soul. Let us be true to true teaching as taught by true teachers and all taught by the greatest teacher: The Lord.

Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus, come.

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“Gifts of price are the evidence of affection, the greatness of the surrender of the greatness of the love. God, who loved the world, gave not an adopted Son, but His own, His Only-begotten. Here is personal interest, true Sonship, sincerity; not creation or adoption or pretense. Herein is the proof of His love and affection, that He gave His own, His Only-begotten Son.” —St. Hilary of Poitiers

“God loved the world so that He gave His only Son the lost to save, That all who would in Him believe Should everlasting life receive. —God Loved the World So That He Gave (LSB 571:1)

Prayer of the Day

O God, You see that of ourselves we have no strength. By Your mighty power defend us from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

(All the quotes are from: Concordia Publishing House. Treasury of Daily Prayer (Kindle Locations 36737-36741). Concordia Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)

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Appointed Scripture ReadingsActs 9:1-22 Psalm 87  Galatians 1:11-24 St. Matthew 19:27-30

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, You turned the heart of him who persecuted the Church and by his preaching caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world. Grant us ever to rejoice in the saving light of Your Gospel and, following the example of the apostle Paul, to spread it to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About the Day: St. Paul’s life-changing experience on the road to Damascus is related three times in the Book of Acts (9:1-9; 22:6-11; 26:12-18). As an archenemy of Christians, Saul of Tarsus set out for Damascus to arrest and bring believers to Jerusalem for trial. While on the way, he saw a blinding light and heard the words: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Saul asked, “Who are You, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” In Damascus, where Saul was brought after being blinded, a disciple named Ananias was directed by the Lord in a vision to go to Saul to restore his sight: “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). After receiving his sight, Saul was baptized and went on to become known as Paul, the great apostle.(Source for the above: The Treasury of Daily Prayer)

Reflection on the Feast Day: Saul of Tarsus persecuted the Church as a Pharisee. Saul boasted in his own self-righteous works. It seems to me that the Church is initially persecuted by the church  What self-chosen works persecutes the Church today?  All forms of sexual thoughts and acts outside of marriage between a man and a woman.  All forms of greed.  All forms of anti-Nicene heresies. The list can go on and has grown tragically long within the Church.  And Saul, after his conversion, Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles saw such in Roman Empire and within his own congregations where he had preached the saving Gospel.  Today we wonder: why doesn’t the Church grow?  How can we make it grow?  We have the answer:  the Church will not grow with the doctrinal and moral rot we allowed into the Church. We have become decadent.  Solution?  Repent and return to the Lord your God, Who sent His Son to Saul of Tarsus and the Jews, and  the nations, that is the Gentiles. St. Paul was Apostle to the Gentiles.

Some fifty years ago, on my vicarage in a well-to-do north side Chicago suburb, the congregation had  a great honor.  The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) was having their global meeting in Chicago.  It was arranged the President of the LWF was to preach at Vespers at my vicarage congregation.  The President was a Lutheran pastor in Kenya.  In his broken English he preached that he was thankful that in age of colonialism and imperialism missionaries and pastors preached and taught the Gospel of Christ in Africa, very thankful; but the Pastor said, I look around at your country and see its problems, its immorality, and I begin  to think that the day will come that the Church in Kenya, “…will be sending missionaries to your country”.  The all-white congregation did not like that sermon.  I think that time has come for a new evangelization.  We need missionaries and evangelist to our decadent country in which everyone thinks they know what Christianity is.  We also need catechists who can teach sound Lutheran doctrine.  We need more Christian schools not beholding to the age.  We need to know that only in Christ’s death and resurrection we, like Saul of Tarsus, can have conversion from all our perversions, all the breaking and smashing of the 10 Commandments. We need to be saved.  Lord, have mercy. Lord, save Your people.

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Pray for your pastor(s), rejoice in the Holy Ministry of the Church and your pastor feeding you the Word of God in Biblical teaching, praying, preaching and administering the Sacraments to all sorts of people in so many situations of life.

Concordia and Koinonia

I Timothy 1-15 Photograph by Lea Rhea Photography

The Collect of the Day

Lord Jesus Christ, You have always given to Your Church on earth faithful shepherds such as Timothy to guide and feed Your flock. Make all pastors diligent to preach Your holy Word and administer Your means of grace, and grant Your people wisdom to follow in the way that leads to life eternal; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

The Appointed Lessons: Acts 16:1–5 Psalm 71: 15–24 (v. 6) 1 Timothy 6: 11–16 St. Matthew 24: 42–47

Bio:St. Timothy had Christian believers in his family. His mother, Eunice, was a Christian woman and was the daughter of a Christian woman named Lois (2 Timothy 1:5). Acts records that St. Paul met Timothy on his second missionary journey and wanted Timothy to continue on with him (16:1-3). Over time, Timothy became a dear friend…

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Psalm 27  Of David

The LORD is My Light and My Salvation

Note:  Much of the historical background of the Psalms of David is in the Story of the Two Kings, the rejected King, Saul, and the newly anointed King, David, and the struggle to death of the Two Kings.  This is recorded in 1 Samuel 16: 1-1 Samuel 31: 13.

  1. Why do you think this Psalm was chosen for a Sunday after the Epiphany and especially for today, the Third Sunday after the Epiphany?
  • There are two Sections in the Psalm: vss. 1-6 and vss. 7-14  There is a difference between the two sections: What is it?
  • Vs. 1:  Is this verse Law or Gospel?  Vs. 1b:  What hymn does this Psalm share a similarity?  What other Psalm(s) are similar to this verse?

How is this verse fulfilled in the New Testament? Which NT Bible verses bear witness to the fulfillment?

  • Vs. 2:  Do evildoers assail you to “…eat up” your flesh?  What does that expression mean? 
  • Vs. 3, see vs. 11-12:  In what ways does the light of the Lord help or prevail in the battle(s) and struggles(s) that David and we go through?  What is the light at the end of the tunnel? 
  • Vss. 4-6:  What is David’s ardent desire in the midst of struggle and battle? What is the “beauty of the Lord”?
  • Vs.7:  What does the Face of the Lord signify? See Numbers 6:  22-27; 2 Corinthians 4:5-7
  • Vs. 5:  What is “the tent”?
  • What words does David employ as he correctly understands  his opponents? What do his opponents want to do to him?
  1. What is the opposite of trust in the LORD?

From Interpretation—A  Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching:  Psalms by James L. Mays (1994)

“The Psalm in its present form is a text to each and express trust for a way of life whose living will again and again be misrepresented, misunderstood, and put in question in the cultures in which it is undertaken.”

“When trust is kept a private matter, unspoken and unshared, it becomes a personal project and may decay into no more than our own resolution and willpower.  Trust needs the stimulus and renewal  that comes from confronting and contemplating religion’s representation of God in liturgy, architecture, and proclamation.

“In this Psalm, the opposite and counterpart of trust in the LORD is fear of human beings.  They are dangerous because of what they do through language.  By slander and lies they can place the self and the life of the faithful in an environment of falsehood. This psalm is  a refusal to let falsehood become the language world of existence.  In it praise and prayer it evokes the reality in whose life faith choses to live—the salvation of the LORD.”

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Collect of the Day

Heavenly Father, You revealed to the apostle Peter the blessed truth that Your Son Jesus is the Christ. Strengthen us by the proclamation of this truth that we too may joyfully confess that there is salvation in no one else; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Readings: Acts 4:8-13 Psalm 118:19-29  2 Peter 1:1-15  St. Mark 8:27-9:1

Confession of St. Peter

The confession of St. Peter did not arise in the imagination of Peter’s heart but was revealed to him by the Father. The reason this confession is important is seen in Jesus’ response: “You are Peter [Greek Petros], and on this rock [Greek petra] I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18). As the people of God in the Old Testament began with the person of Abraham, the rock from which God’s people were hewn (Isaiah 51:1-2), so the people of God in the New Testament would begin with the person of Peter, whose confession is the rock on which Christ would build His Church. But Peter was not alone (the “keys” given to him in Matthew 16:19 were given to all the disciples in Matthew 18:18 and John 20:21-23). As St. Paul tells us, Peter and the other apostles take their place with the prophets as the foundation of the Church, with Christ Himself as the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). The confession of Peter, therefore, is the witness of the entire apostolic band and is foundational in the building of Christ’s Church. Thus the Church gives thanks to God for St. Peter and the other apostles who have instructed Christ’s Holy Church in His divine and saving truth. (The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

This quote is from Pr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Sermon in1933, on the Confession of St. Peter, preached in Berlin’s Trinity Church:

“In the midst of the creakings and groanings of a crumbling and tottering church structure, which has been shaken to its very foundations, we hear in this text the promise of the eternal church, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail; of the church founded on a rock, Christ has built and which he continues to build throughout all time…Pay no heed to views and opinions, don’t ask for judgments, don’t always be calculating what will happen, don’t always be on the lookout for another refuge! Let the church remain the church! But church, confess, confess, confess! Christ alone is your Lord, from his grace alone can you live as you are. Christ builds.”

Peter’s Confession of faith is revealed to him by our Father who art in heaven. The Confession of Peter is not for Peter alone but for the Church and the world: In the world, but not of the world at all, so others come to Christ and know His salvation. Pr. Bonhoeffer cried to the Church in a soon to become Nazi Germany: “But church, confess, confess, confess!” The confession of faith is not for the mind alone but also for the tongue and His Word sanctifies our speech so that others may hear and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. The confession of that Jesus is Lord is embodied in our lives, as Jesus is, and will be in new creation at the Resurrection. Many are dying to hear. Many are dying to live. May the Lord give you an opportunity to zero in on this confession and so throw out the eternal life-line to those who are drowning as He has for you and your salvation. The Lord fishes us out of the depths into the depths of His love.

Romans 8: 38-39

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


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Ears You Have Dug

The appointed Psalm for the Second Sunday of Epiphany, Year A (2023, 15 January) is Psalm 40: 11. In verse 6 the ESV translation is of part of the verse, “…you have given me an open ear”. In Hebrew, it is literally, “…ears you have dug”. Did you your Mom ever tell you when you were a kid, “You need a cleaning of the earholes”? Luther, in his commentary below, has some to teach us from the mines of Scripture about hearing and the speaking.

Luther’s Commentary on Psalm 40:6: But thou hast pierced the ears for me. Or, ears you have dug

Why not the eyes or the tongue? In the first place, he commends obedience and, second, faith, for faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10:17), not by seeing. And here is a golden word that we might learn to have ears. And it is to be noted with regard to the individual words that “ears” are plural, “thou hast dug through” (pierced) is a compound, and “for me” is singular. We have two ears, first, so that we may be more apt to learn than to teach, to hear than to be heard, to yield to one speaking rather than to speak. For we have only one tongue, and this is enclosed by 28 teeth, of which the first four are sharp, and besides by two lips, while the ears are out in the open.

Second, (we have two ears) in order that only one might listen to the detractor and accuser and the other might serve the other side, for otherwise a person will often err, and be led astray, as happened to David through the detractor Ziba.[1]

Third, [we have two ears] in order that a person may not be irked or tired of hearing the same good word frequently, for there are two ears and this means that one should hear the same thing twice or more often.

Fourth, on the left side, evils, reproaches, and disparagements should be heard for Christ’s sake, but on the right-side good things concerning Christ and heavenly matters. Now you search out many other things.

[1] Cf. 2 Samuel 16: 1-4; 19: 24-30

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The Lamb of God is also the Good Shepherd. Lamb and Shepherd are two aspects of the one Office of Christ. He bore our sin as the Lamb of God and so leads His people as the Good Shepherd of His flock.. The slaughtered lamb is the wounded Shepherd:
and with his wounds we are healed (Is. 53).

Concordia and Koinonia

Text:  John 1:29-42, especially the italicized verses

29 The next day (John the Baptizer)  saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizeswith the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked…

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