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P1020383Now that I have your attention! This past week was college tour time with our youngest. I took the photo above during our college tour of William and Mary College(W and M), founded 1693, second oldest college in our nation, in Williamsburg, VA.  W and M is a state school. Our tour group is in the picture.  Needless to say, I was struck by the poster in the foreground.  Thomas Jefferson was a graduate of W and M.  The main building, designed by Christopher Wren, is the oldest college building in the USA and it has a chapel in it.  Maybe you heard the controversy of cross on the altar which is considered offensive to other religions.  It was decided to move the cross to the side and put it in a glass case, as a kind of an artifact:

Wren Chapel cross

Unusual for a college tour, we had two tour guides, a sophomore and a freshman. When we went to see a dorm room,   the very perky freshman explained that at the beginning of the year, her floor gathered together to set rules for themselves by a process of “self-determination”.  She thought this kind of awesome.

 

Three pieces of a puzzle:

  1. “I love female orgasm”
  2. Cross in  a glass case
  3. “Self-determination”

Oh, and one more piece of the puzzle:

4. Twice during the tour, we were regaled with the highlight of the year at W and M which is in December, ostensibly the Christmas season:  the yule log ceremony.  Every year a large “yule log”, a big piece of timber is brought in. Every participant in the ceremony is given a sprig of evergreen with which they strike the yule log, for “good luck” and then it is thrown into the fire to “burn away all our worries” over the upcoming final exams.  Then the President of this prestigious college is dressed up as Santa Claus and he reads “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.  And they say there is no religion in a state school!

Back to the puzzle pieces and you have probably put them together.  Note, that in the bulletin board poster, orgasm is singular, well, as if the female orgasm is substitute for say, Jesus, as in “I love Jesus”. It’s all about SELF-determination.  It’s all about ourselves in the yule ceremony. Christianity is an artifact. Yes, there is religion at this state college and it is the religion of the mirror:  the self and the sacrament of the self is uninhibited and ‘free’ coitus.  The self rules in the self-confident omni-competent culture  which gives us everything we need:  from toilets to smartphones to air travel.  Christian religion can get in the way of  that…or should.  Religion itself, especially Christianity, is assimiliated to the society to go with the flow.  

As the Church, we too are recipients of the technological marvels of our time…as was the Church in the time of the great technological marvels of the Roman Empire.  Then and now, something is missing, actually Someone and then the elites wonder about the rise of rape, murder and suicide.

The Christians of the medieval age, the so called dark age, started universities and colleges recognizing in humility the great gifts the Creator bestowed upon us to be taught and learned.   But when that humility goes…

Two more observations from college tours:

  1. At the University of Richmond (Richmond VA), founded by the Baptist church (but no longer associated with the Baptists) at one point in the tour, our able junior tour guide said we are at the heart of the campus.  “There is the Science building, over their the dining hall…”, etc…except right behind him was the sizable Gothic style Chapel, on possibly the highest point of the University of Richmond, but he did not mention that white elephant behind him.
  2. A few years ago, my wife went with our daughter to tour nearby Roanoke College, Salem, VA.  This is a Lutheran college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the college is the second oldest Lutheran college in the nation. The Virginia Synod  of the ELCA has it’s offices in the old chapel on campus as they built a larger one some thirty of so years ago.  On their tour, when it was question time, my wife  asked for verification of the fact known to her that Roanoke is a Lutheran school.  The  guide responded that yes, it was, but (don’t worry) you’d never know it.

Will our colleges and universities know the Church is there?  There are many orthodox Lutheran campus ministers and ministries fighting the good fight. Pray for them and support them.  We are living in the post-Christendom era.  Sometimes we have to fight the vestiges of a Christianity and it’s distortions  of the doctrine in the Bible.  Never the less…

The Gospel lesson for this Sunday (7th Sunday after the Epiphany, 2/23/14) is St. Matthew 5:38-48 in which our Lord teaches us to love our enemies and pray for those persecute us.  Unlike, say Cairo, Egypt or Saudi Arabia, none of us have ever been slapped in the face or our clothes stolen off our backs or our church buildings burned to the ground.  Yet He calls us to love our enemies,  and the cultured despisers of  the Faith, that is, serve them as He has loved and served us who have been  His enemies…of God ( Romans 5:10).  Now we must point out the false teaching of many and not put up with it but with love and service to those in the universities and colleges and we can do it in only way: In Christ Jesus. And so who will believe if we  point the finger at them and not point them to the Savior? I close with verses from this Sunday’s Gospel and Dr. Paul Kretzmann’s commentary (1924):

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you. The injunction receives its application at all times and in all places. The impressiveness of the passage is heightened by the contrast presented in each member of the saying. Cursing is met with blessing; hatred, which leads to injuries, with well-doing; and abuse of all kinds, culminating in persecution arising from religious hatred, with prayer and intercession. Whatever meanness the enemies may devise, love’s ingenuity will find a way of overwhelming them with goodness. For its object is always to find ways and means of winning the adversary, and, above all, of gaining him for the Lord.

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Almighty God, You called Boniface to be a witness and martyr in Germany, and by his labor and suffering You raised up a people for Your own possession. Pour out 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 Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 Scripture Readings

Psalm 115:1-8 or 31:1-5
Acts 20:17-28
Luke 24:44-53

Introduction: As Patrick was a missionary bishop to Irish people, sent from the Catholic Church in England by the Bishop of Rome (the pope), so was Boniface sent from the same by the Bishop of Rome to the German peoples.  Boniface was martyred on this date in the Year of our Lord, 754. He had returned to Frisia (present-day Holland).   June 5th of 754 was Pentecost.  At sunrise, reading the Gospel to a group of the newly Baptized, Boniface and the neophytes were attacked by a band of pagan Frisians.  All were massacred.  InFulda,Germany, are the remains of Boniface along with the purported Gospel book he was holding with slash marks.  It is becoming increasingly clear that the Church is under such attacks again in our day, for instance see this article.

Boniface has been called “The Apostle to the Germans” but it is historically inaccurate to call him the apostle to Germany

Historical Backdrop: 

  • European Nation states did not come into existence until the 17th century and after (If memory serves).  There were lands, countries and tribes:  see map
  • The Schism between the Eastern and Western halves of the Catholic Church into the Roman Catholic Church and theEasternOrthodoxChurchesoccurred in 1054. 
  • The Reformation began with the posting of the 95 Theses on October 31, 1517.  Boniface lived and ministered the Gospel and Sacraments in the 8th century!

 I recounted to a colleague that my understanding from seminary of early Church history is basically, our Lord ascended into heaven in A.D. 33, the Church became all fouled up and Luther straightened it out in the 16th Century and here we are.  My colleague responded, “Yeah, that’s about right”.  The point is that a lot went on in between those dates!.  If it had not been for the work of the Holy Spirit through the preaching, teaching and administration of the Word of God by Boniface and the catholic Church, there would have been no Christians in the German lands.

Biographical Timeline: 

  • ca. 675.  Born in Crediton, Wessex, England. His name was originally Wynfrid.   Note: that at the time of his martyrdom, Boniface was in about 79 years old. 
  • His father took ill and he was sent to the Benedictine school atExeterand then to the Benedictine Monastery in Nursling.  The monastery was noted for it’s learning and it’s concern for missionary activity and there he was ordained at the age of 30.
  • ca. 715: Wynfrid was given permission from his Abbot for missionary work in Frisia (Holland) Wynfrid was about 40 years old.  Missionary work had been done by (St.) Willibrord  (+11 November 739). After a year, Wyndrid realized the time was not ripe for mission work.
  • 717:  Wynfrid’s Abbot died and Wynfrid was elected his successor.
  • 718: Wynfrid resigned as Abbot and a trip toRome (Note: the distance between Holland and Rome; he probably walked) for a missionary assignment.
  • 719:  Pope Gregory II gave Wynfrid a broad missionary assignment in the German lands.  In a Letter to Wynfrid, Gregory II called Wynfrid, “Boniface”, “one who does good” and it may have been nickname or a term of endearment. Boniface went to Thuringia to reform the partly pagan clergy.  Boniface was not the first missionary to the German lands for there was an immoral and hertical clergy ‘ministering’ to the people.  Boniface returned to Frisia to learn Willibrord’s missionary methods.
  • 721:  Boniface went back to the German lands toHesse and established a monastery there
  • 722: Boniface baptized thousands, on Pentecost, according to his biographer, Willibald.  The Pope heard of the success, and so Boniface made a 2nd trip to Rome. On November 30th, the Pope ordained Boniface a Bishop with no fixed diocese in the German lands.
  • 723:   He returned to the mission fields to Hesseand one of the most spectacular events in his mission work occurred when Boniface, “…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)
  • 725-735: After he stayed for two years in Hesse,  Bishop (Bp.) Boniface spent a decade inThuringia where Frankish and Irish missionaries  had made a start. Bp. Boniface had a fruitful mission despite struggles with the pagan corruption of the clergy.
  • 731:  Pope Gregory II died
  • 732: Pope Gregory III made Boniface an archbishop in order to consecrate missionary bishops.
  • 737:  Boniface made his third and final journey to Rome, spent a year.  The Pope made him his legate to organize the Church.
  • 738: Boniface returned to the German lands, toBavaria,  establishing new bishoprics and abbeys. 
  • 741:   Pope Gregory III died, the new pope is Zachary (741-752)
  • 742-747:  Boniface reformed the Frankish Church
  • 744:  He established his most noted monastery in Fulda which became the center of spiritual and intellectual life in the German lands.
  • 1 April, 742:  Bp. Boniface convenes a church council
  • 1 March, 734: A second church council
  • 2 March, 744:  A third church council and again councils in 745 and 747
  • 745: Pope Zachary assigned Boniface the see (bishopric) of Colgne
  • 751:  Boniface is assigned the see ofMainz
  • 751: Pippin was consecrated King of the Frankish Empire. His son was none other than Charlemagne.  Pippin supported Boniface.  

Boniface wanted to return to active missionary work and it was on this date, as reported above, on a missionary tour of Frisia he became a martyr.

(Sources:  The Letters of St. Boniface, translated by Ephraim Emerton and Festivals and Commemoration by Philip Pfaitteicher)

 

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.

 

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