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quod pro nobis traditum est

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lent 2015

Dear Readers,

I apologize for not writing regularly recently. In recent years there have been put pressures on me in my local area that I have not ever previously experienced. As time passed these pressures increased in intensity. Where they were coming from I was not sure although these pressures were certainly no accident. They have undoubtedly affected my work, family and even my peace of mind and freedom to write here. Unfortunately, there have been great losses to me in both my personal and professional life in the last year and a half. On the other hand, I am also concerned about greater issues affecting the holy ministry and congregations. There are obvious forces at work undermining any positive efforts on both fronts. Thoughts have arisen about freedom of religion in our country as well as freedom of religion now even with the sphere of Christianity. I say this because the greatest forces at work seem to want the pastor not to have a focus on or be about the work he is called to do but to focus on everything else, especially defending himself. So I might say the greatest loss I have experienced in the last few years, and especially the last couple of years is being close to Christ and His gifts, the Word and Sacraments, in the blessing of the Holy Trinity. In my personal opinion, I attribute this to a "theology" of functionalism (which is an oxymoron), and an attempt to work out the things that belong to God through legal means. Very man-focused and centered means. There is not much more to say except that using sin as an explanation, in some cases, is really only an excuse to do what one was intending to do all along. This type of sin is quite intentional.

These troubles will pass as do all things good and bad.

On a different note, the number "50" is quite popular today for other reasons. However, the number should be known at this time. In the traditional church year this past Sunday was "50" (Quinquagesima) and tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, begins the "40" days of Lent.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

idolatry and its casualties

When Christianity as culture and legalism converge the casualties are Jesus, the Holy Trinity, and gifts of mercy in Word and Sacrament.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

the temporarily blindsided faith

Briefly, I will attempt to explain why I do not write as often as I have in the past. The main inspiration behind this blog is belief in God, the blessed Holy Trinity, and Jesus Christ, God's Son, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Lord and Savior. This is the same inspiration that first brought me into the pastoral ministry and actually shapes my identity from the time of Holy Baptism. The Nicene Creed confesses clearly this faith and inspiration and connects the same faith with the blessed Sacrament in the liturgy. Within Lutheranism the faith is sometimes boiled down simply to God loves me and freely forgives my sins in Christ and for His sake. While there is nothing doctrinally wrong with a statement like that, the "boiling down," may detract from the mystery of the whole faith as we hear confessed in the Creed and places more of an emphasis on what God is doing for me (emphasis on "me"?). Again, this is not wrong in itself but it does put a limit on the mystery of the whole faith and shifts the attention to my needs and perceptions rather than on who God is and where I find my true identity.

In recent years, especially the last few years, it has become increasingly harder and harder to have focus on and inspiration in this faith. On the one hand society is always society and will in its own way(s) undermine the faith. This is commonly understood as secularism and is not something I seek to address in this post. For one thing, the constant tension with secular directions is a daily thing and is obvious to most people of faith. The more insidious attacks on a person's focus on Christ are those which come from places least expected. That is they can work to blindside the faith. These are not forces outside the church but within. They may wear a cloak of zeal. They may even be very powerful.

So the irony, or paradox, may be that some forces within the church may be more effective in undermining one's faith than any forces outside. At least, on the outside, intentions are clearer to spot. To keep this brief, if I am not as active in writing about the things of God here, it is because I have been successfully and temporarily blindsided. This is where Jesus' teaching of love for one's enemies, known and unknown, is so basic and why He gave His Church not only His Word but the blessed Sacrament.

Monday, September 29, 2014

services of angels and men

The collect reflects a two-fold direction of the angels. They stand before the Lord's face to do him service in heaven and they defend our life on earth. So we pray . . .

"And another angel came, and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God. And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel."

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

man and his clever ideas

Within the regional church political and financial pressures can be applied and pastors and their families can be put at risk, but this does not hide the fact that liturgical renewal is always needed, now more than ever. Liturgical renewal means passing on that which is given to us. Nothing to fear!

Since we are saved by God's grace through faith in Christ, we hold on to the sacraments, altars, liturgy, vestments, etc. What may appear as traditions of men to some are simply means through which we are gathered together in Christ and nourished in His Word and Sacraments.

We are conditioned by society to consider that that which is handed over to the Apostles and to us are man's traditions. We blind ourselves to put trust in "innovations" that do not seek to uphold the things of God but which say instead "Hey, look at us!" Are not these attacks on the church and the liturgy and this turning of worship into something pleasing to us, really the ideas and traditions of men? Liturgical renewal is needed now more than ever.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

God's mercy amidst darkness

What can one do about confessing Christians who spurn the gifts of God?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Will and Grace

This is a topic with much history going before even the time of Christ. Let me summarize my position as this. I do not doubt God's free will to save people/sinners nor do I doubt the grace people/sinners receive in the sacraments.