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9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7: 9-10

Our Confession approves honors to the saints. For here a threefold honor is to be approved.

  • The first is thanksgiving. For we ought to give thanks to God because He has shown examples of mercy; because He has shown that He wishes to save men; because He has given teachers or other gifts to the Church. And these gifts, as they are the greatest, should be amplified, and the saints themselves should be praised, who have faithfully used these gifts, just as Christ praises faithful business-men, 5] Matt. 25:21, 23.
  • The second service is the strengthening of our faith; when we see the denial forgiven Peter, we also are encouraged to believe the more that grace truly superabounds over sin, Rom. 5:20.
  •  The third honor is the imitation, first, of faith, then of the other virtues, which every one should imitate according to his calling.  These true honors the adversaries do not require. They dispute only concerning invocation, which, even though it would have no danger, nevertheless is not necessary.

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Psalm 3 English Standard Version (ESV)

Save Me, O My God

A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.

O Lord, how many are my foes!
    Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
    there is no salvation for him in God (1).

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
    my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
    and he answered me from his holy hill.

I lay down and slept;
    I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
    who have set themselves against me all around.

Arise, O Lord!
    Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
    you break the teeth of the wicked.

Salvation belongs to the Lord;
    your blessing be on your people!


(1) St. Mark 15:  “So also  the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself.”

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Collect of the Day

O God, enkindled with the fire of Your love, Your servant Bernard of Clairvaux became a burning and a shining light in Your Church. By Your mercy, grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline and may ever walk in Your presence as children of light; through Jesus Christ. our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About Bernard: A leader in Christian Europe in the first half of the twelfth century AD, Bernard is honored in his native France and around the world. Born into a noble family in Burgundy in 1090, Bernard left the affluence of his heritage and entered the monastery of Citeaux at the age of twenty-two. After two years, he was sent to start a new monastic house at Clairvaux. His work there was blessed in many ways. The monastery at Clairvaux grew in mission and service, eventually establishing some sixty-eight daughter houses. Bernard is remembered not only for his charity and political abilities but especially for his preaching and hymn composition. The hymn texts “O Jesus, King Most Wonderful” and “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” are part of the heritage of the faith left by St. Bernard. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Addendum:   His zeal for the truth of the Gospel and the faith quelled many heresies.  But, “…in 1146-1147 Bernard led the preaching of the second Crusade and was sharply disappointed by its failure.” In historical retrospection, his eloquent preaching of the Crusade was misplaced.  Yet, “In his zeal he attacked the luxury of the clergy, the persecution of the Jews, and the abuses of Roman Curia.  Renowned as a great preacher, he brought to an end the pre-scholastic era, and he is sometimes called ‘the Last of the Fathers.’” (quotes from Festivals and Commemorations by Rev. Philip Pfatteicher)

Man can do many impressive things, after all we are created in the image of God.  Man’s reason and capabilities still have the broken fragments of the image of God in them and do great things, that people marvel at human ingenuity and invention, but they save only in time and for a time. Applauding our creations is finally clapping at a mirror. There is an intimate urgency in man that cries:  there must be more. That cry results either in pride or despair, better despair to hear the Gospel for our repair.  Pride in the abilities we have is wrong as we think our talents come from our selves.    We have called our selves “Homo Sapiens”, “Wise Man” and “Homo Faber”, “Creator Man”.  We are not self-created. As a species, we humans think more highly of ourselves than we ought (cf. Romans 12:3). The Lord holds before our eyes and hearts the perfect icon or image of Himself: His Son upon the Cross (cf. Colossians 1:15). 

Bernard of Clairvaux wrote of this:  

We must hate and shun that presumption which would lead us to glory in goods not our own, knowing that they are not of ourselves but of God, and yet not fearing to rob God of the honor due unto Him…. Ignorance is brutal, arrogance is devilish. Pride only, the chief of all iniquities, can make us treat gifts as if they were rightful attributes of our nature, and, while receiving benefits, rob our Benefactor of His due glory…

We do need to fear “…to rob God the honor due unto Him”, because in faith in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, everything we see, hear, touch and smell we know by true faith are His gifts toward us and in the fullness of time our redemption in Christ.  Bernard continued:

The Father of Christ, who makes all things new, is well pleased with the freshness of those flowers and fruits and the beauty of the field that breathes forth such heavenly fragrance. And He says in benediction, “See, the smell of My Son is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed” (Gen. 27:27). Blessed to overflowing, indeed, since of His fullness have we all received (John 1:16).

Be Thou my consolation,

My shield, when I must die;

Remind me of Thy passion

When my last hour draws nigh.

Mine eyes shall then behold Thee,

Upon Thy cross shall dwell,

My heart by faith enfold Thee.

Who dieth thus dies well.

—O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

(LSB 450:7)

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In the daily lectionary at this time in August is the continuing lection of the Apostle Paul’s arrest, trial and then sent as prisoner on board a ship, bound for Rome, for another trial, this time as a Roman citizen.  As many of you know, the voyage ended in storm and shipwreck in the last chapters of Acts of the Apostles.  An aside:  one of those perennial questions is, if you were a billionaire (cost of living means no longer imagining to be a millionaire!), what would you want?  I would invest in Netflix style multi episode series, such as filming the short stories of Flannery O’Connor, the space trilogy by C. S. Lewis…and Acts, as it is in the Bible, and the last chapters are the obvious climax.  If you have not read the last chapters of Acts in sometime, I encourage you to do so.

In today’s episode, Acts 27, Paul is on board, with 276 passengers, and the ship hits a “northeaster” (27: 14), a “tempestuous wind” (a “nor’easter still is!) and they could not tack into the wind, but were blown by it along the coast of the island of Cauda.  They had to jettison ship gear to lighten the load and ride the waves.

18 Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. 19 And on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.

Paul is visited by an angel who tells him none of the ship’s manifest will be lost, but the ship will be wrecked.  This goes on for fourteen days and today these verses stood out:

33 As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. 34 Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength,[f] for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.”35 And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. 36 Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves.

In the middle of the storm Paul broke the bread giving thanks to God as the Apostle cared for them. In John’s Gospel, after the feeding of the 5,000, John reports, after Jesus comes to the other side of the Sea of Galilee:

23 Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.

In the middle of the deserted place, the Evangelist wants to tell us again:  “…the Lord had given thanks”.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and the Apostle Paul tells us, “In the night in which He was betrayed, He took bread and when He had given thanks…”

In the midst of storm, desert and betrayal, Jesus and His people give thanks to the Lord for His gifts to them, their “daily bread”.  Maybe a bigger part of the mighty deeds in the Bible is that people give thanks to the Lord in the midst of situations that they know they are at the end of all things.  They know again Who is the Lord Who gives all.  In the midst of storm, desert and betrayal, giving thanks not only for what we have, but Who has us.  This is Christian courage and encouragement.  I am not sufficient for this things on my own, we in Christ are and so the Apostle Paul, “ in the presence of all he broke…” the bread.  This seems to have made quite an impression on the centurion, Julius (vs. 1).  After all:

The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape. 43 But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. 

Again the Apostle, 1 Thessalonians:

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

And once more, Philippians 4:

11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

The Apostle learned Christ, in the midst of a storm, and so many other times.  We have a whole bunch of learning left to us! 

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I know this is not Jeremiah, but the question from Nehemiah is certainly prophetic and in keeping with all the prophets–Pr. Schroeder

Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Jeremiah, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Biography:

The prophet Jeremiah was active as God’s prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah ca. 627 to 582 B.C. As a prophet he predicted, witnessed, and lived through the Babylonian siege and eventual destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. In his preaching he often used symbols, such as an almond rod (Jer. 1:11-14), wine jars (13:12-14), and a potter at work (18:1-17). His entire prophetic ministry was a sermon, communicating through word and deed God’s anger toward his rebellious people. He suffered repeated rejection and persecution by his countrymen. As far as can be known, he died in Egypt, having been taken there forcibly. He is remembered and honored for fearlessly calling God’s people to repentance. (LCMS Commemoration Biographies)

Jeremiah 5:  When I fed them to the full,
    they committed adultery
    and trooped to the houses of whores.
They were well-fed, lusty stallions,
    each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.
Shall I not punish them for these things?
declares the Lord;
    and shall I not avenge myself
    on a nation such as this?

Jeremiah 2:  Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
    be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Our nation, and many denominations, like Israel, have “hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water”, such as abortion on demand, now marriage between same sexes as a “right”, trying hard not to keep and ignore God’s Law.  When God’s people, and I do not mean all Americans, but Jews and Christians forsake the Lord, then the Lord is appalled.  The Lord told Jeremiah when He called him:

 And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land.19 They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.”

In other words, the preaching would not be received, but he had to preach for the Lord wanted to save His people from themselves.  Jeremiah would on more than one occasion feel very much alone and sorry for himself to the point he was sad he was even born (Jeremiah 20:14).  “When you have the truth, you are a majority of one.”  I think that statement is correct, but like Jeremiah it can be a lonely way for us as well, as Christ’s Church, when the spirit of the age is so spiteful and hateful.  Yet, the Church is called to preach Christ for the life of this world dead in it’s sin. Even when the majority of a Supreme Court, or the electorate or a Church denomination vote against God and His Word, they can not change His Word.  Jeremiah was a majority of one (and by the way, he others helping him) because finally and fully:

Jeremiah 1:

 “…for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”

More on Jeremiah can be found here.

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Prayer of the Day

Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe, remember now in mercy the justices of our Supreme Court. Strengthen them with sound reason to defend the institution of marriage against every dilution of Your plan that it be the life-long union of one man and one woman. Hear us, we pray, in Your holy Name. Amen.                                        

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

Timeline

30

Crucifixion of Jesus; Pentecost

65

Peter and Paul executed

70

Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus

100

Justin Martyr born

165

Justin Martyr dies

180

Irenaeus writesAgainst Heresies

For Christians, such as this Lutheran pastor, the order of service from the 2nd Century, as described by Justin Martyr is quite familiar:

On the day called Sunday there is a gathering together in the same place of all who live in a given city or rural district. The memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits. Then when the reader ceases, the president in a discourse admonishes and urges the imitation of these good things. Next we all rise together and send up prayers.

When we cease from our prayer, bread is presented and wine and water. The president (or Presiding Minister, that is, Pastor/Bishop) in the same manner sends up prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people sing out their assent, saying the ‘Amen.’ A distribution and participation of the elements for which thanks have been given is made to each person, and to those who are not present they are sent by the deacons.

Those who have means and are willing, each according to his own choice, gives what he wills, and what is collected is deposited with the president. He provides for the orphans and widows, those who are in need on account of sickness or some other cause, those who are in bonds, strangers who are sojourning, and in a word he becomes the protector of all who are in need.

In an excellent article by Pastor Mark Surburg, They worshipped when?!?, also quoted the Roman, and pagan, historian Pliny, who lived 50 years before Justin the Martyr, the following about Christians:

They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when   called upon to do so.

Please note, as  Pastor Surburg commented that the early Church met “before dawn” and Justin says they met as long as time permits because Sunday was not a day off!  They seem to have lived in a 24/7 world. Our brothers and sisters in the Lord back 1,900 years ago woke up really early for the Divine Service on Sunday befodre they would go off to work.  As our culture and society becomes increasingly antogonistic to the Church, it will take faithfulness to receive His Word and Sacraments. Pr. Surburg:  

As the era of the post-Christian world continues to advance in our culture, we are encountering more and more situations that reflect the experience of our early Christian forefathers.  Sporting events, school activities and a growing list of other endeavors are scheduled for Sunday morning.  The faithful practice of the Christian faith will require an ever greater commitment.  It will require sacrifice in order put Jesus Christ first as the Lord of our life.  The saints who have gone before provide both a model and an encouragement.  They show us what Christians have done in order to be faithful, and they demonstrate how by his grace God enabled them to do this.

No wonder that the “memoirs of the Apostles” that were read would have included this Scripture from the Apostle Peter, 1 Peter 2:  111-12:

“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 

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1 Corinthians 3: 16-17:

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

The “you” in these verses is the second person plural, as “y’all”.  The Church is the Body of Christ filled with the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:  12-13) and the Christian’s body. The word “temple” in the Greek is naos which designated the Holy of Holies.  The Temple can be destroyed by desecrating the Temple with the practice of sinning without contrition and repentence. The Corinthians were ‘hooking-up’ with prostitutes and justifying themselves that this was okay.  The ravages of sexually transmitted diseases, though not mentioned in 1 Corinthians, were known back then, and yet pales in comparison to the spiritual ravaging.  Such sin desecrates the Temple, body and soul.  The Apostle Paul is emphatic in his Gospel statement: “…you yourselves are that temple”.  We have been made sacred by the blood of Christ preached into these bodies and souls by the Holy Spirit through the Word of the Cross.  

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6)

“…you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1)

Below is a quote from Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “A Temple of the Holy Ghost” and is a great illustration of the Scripture above.     The quote is from the beginning of the story in which a mother and her daughter go to pick-up  two younger female cousins from their convent school, Mount St. Scholastica. The girls are into boys and clothes and are quite silly.  On the car ride, in the back seat, the two cousins  keep on giggling as they keep on calling each other, “Temple One” and “Temple Two”.  When the daughter and her cousins are conversing about someone else, the Mother has finally had enough with this silliness coming from the back seat:         

                 “…she said, “That’ll be about enough out of you,” and changed the subject. She asked them why they called each other Temple One and Temple Two and this sent them off into gales of giggles. Finally they managed to explain. Sister Perpetua, the oldest nun at the Sisters of Mercy in Mayville, had given them a lecture on what to do if a young man should—here they laughed so hard they were not able to go on without going back to the beginning—on what to do if a young man should—they put their heads in their laps—on what to do if —they finally managed to shout it out—if he should “behave in an ungentlemanly manner with them in the back of an automobile.” Sister Perpetua said they were to say, “Stop sir! I am a Temple of the Holy Ghost!” and that would put an end to it. The child sat up off the floor with a blank face. She didn’t see anything so funny in this…

            Her mother didn’t laugh at what they had said. “I think you girls are pretty silly,” she said. “After all, that’s what you are—Temples of the Holy Ghost.”

The two of them looked up at her, politely concealing their giggles, but with astonished faces as if they were beginning to realize that she was made of the same stuff as Sister Perpetua.  Miss Kirby preserved her set expression and the child thought, it’s all over her head anyhow. I am a Temple of the Holy Ghost, she said to herself, and was pleased with the phrase. It made her feel as if somebody had given her a present.”

O Lord, stir up the hearts of Your faithful people to welcome and joyfully receive Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, that He may find in us a fit dwelling place;  who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

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‘And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?

New Testament Reading: Luke 18:1-17

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

‘And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3  And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary! ‘For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, ‘yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.”‘ ‘And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. ‘And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 11 tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will find faith on earth?”

“…everything has been heard, even though one does not know what has been heard. Even when Christ asked for His life, He was heard.  But the flesh does not recognize how the hearing takes place. Therefore every prayer is heard, and whatever we ask for happens, even though we do not recognize in what ways it happens… God sometimes hurls us into greater evils in order that He may put an end to the evils. And thus He has heard our prayer.” (Luther)

O Lord, almighty and everlasting God, You have commanded us to pray and have promised to hear us. Mercifully grant that Your Holy Spirit may direct and govern our hearts in all things that we may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of  Your name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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The Acts of the Apostles 1:  …they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers,(emphasis my own)

In the Roman Catholic Church, a “novena” is any designated 9 day period of prayers for “special intentions”. “Novena” is a Latin cognate of the number 9 from the number of the days of prayers  from the Ascension Day to Pentecost:  nine days.  The Apostles, the women, Jesus’ brothers and the Mother of Jesus “…with one accord devoting themselves to prayer”.  “Novena” describes this special period prayer before the 3rd great Feast Day of the Church, Pentecost, the first two being Christmas and Easter.  Christmas centers on God the Father sending His only-begotten Son to be born of Mary and fathered by Joseph.  Easter centers on God the Son.  Pentecost on the Holy Spirit poured out onto the Church in her mission to follow the Savior’s outstretched arm as His witnesses, “…  in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1: 8b)  In, with and under the Name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit the Church lives and points to Christ.

We are within the novena before Pentecost.  The world needs, “…light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).   We need to pray for Christ’s Bride the Church.  The Lord sent out the Apostles into the world. He full well knew what they would be against.  He sent them out into the world but not to be of the world nor “out of this world”, so that the world hear the saving Word. He sends the Church to pray, so let us say…

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds;  through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her,
And for her life He died.

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