That Which Comes on Sundays

I have found myself contemplating the Lord’s Supper quite frequently as of late, and have been doing more than a little reading on the subject.  From the Book of Concord to Pieper (Christian Dogmatics) to Luther’s Small Catechism, there are so many places to pursue information about the wonders of Communion.  Yet, in the end, it comes down to the institution of simplest of words to the meal which give the strength of faith and the hope of life eternal, and most important part of all, the forgiveness of sins:

“Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said:  ‘Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you.  This do in remembrance of Me.’  

In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sings.  This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.'”

Christ gives us forgiveness, life, and salvation in His Supper.  The whole of the services on Sunday lead to this one point in the liturgy.  It is the focal point of the Divine Service, the critical mass, when we approach the Lord’s table in faith, kneel before Him, and receive into our mouths His Body and His Blood in the bread and wine.  We do not make the action come about, the Pastor does not instill the elements with Christ on his own, but in that moment, the Words of Christ bring Him to us in the Sacrament, and we receive Him and all that His gives to us.  Christ comes to us.  Amen, and amen.

Joy Cometh in the Morning

Peace and joy to you from God, our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who has seen fit for us to wake this morning and breathe a deep breath, and go about the wonderful business of our day.  How joyous it is that we may move about on this glorious creation, which is awesome and inspiring.

Now, I know that many of you are wondering if I am feeling okay.  You probably think that I’m a little out of it, being late July, with all of the heat of mid-summer baking the brain, the drudgery of another work week finally completed, and the dull existence that we all travel though each day.  Or so it seems.

Instead, I would like to take this opportunity to tell you all to stop, for one moment, whatever you are doing, and listen.  Maybe you hear the noise of a busy office space, the rustling of a computer lab, or the shuffling of your roommate or spouse around the room.  Or maybe you have it as lucky as I do, with my wife and son asleep, and the room being quiet, except for the whirring of the computer and the soft breathing of a sleeping loved one at 1 AM.

But, nonetheless, stop and listen.  Listen to your own breathing, your heartbeat, the gentleness of life around you.  Is not our God great and amazing for giving us this gift of life?!  Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!”

YES!!!!  Rejoice, be glad, sing if you want.  Take a moment, not more than two minutes of your day (which I think we all can spare), and truly think of something that the Lord has given you.  Your answer cannot be: “At least it isn’t Monday….”  NO!!!  Instead, think about your family, friends, health, life, and the love with which God blesses us.  Say a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord.

Life will get you down.  There is no question about that.  Sin will drag and claw at you.  It will prowl around you like a roaring lion looking for something to devour (1 Peter 5:8).  But instead of following it aimlessly down the spiral, fight, punch, and kick as it tries to depress and degrade you and tear you limb from limb.  Remember John 3:16 and the message it has.  Relish the Words of your Baptism, which brings you to new life in Christ and the joy of eternal salvation.  Enthrall yourself in the glory of God.  Take a few moments every day and ponder the wonder of the life God has given you through faith in Christ Jesus.

Even though we do live the troubles of Psalm 54, 55, and 56, we must remember that God watches over us, and will take care of us.  And because of this knowledge, we must turn to Psalm 66, and “Shout with joy to God!”

Every once in a while, stop and remember the wonderful, glorious, awesome, amazing, and inspiring life that we have.  God wants us to enjoy it as loving children enjoy any gift a father gives them.  Don’t forget to be happy!!!

Rejoice (!) in the following:  Romans 5, Ephesians 1:15-2:10, Psalms 117, 118, 23, 9, Luke 1:46-55 (The Magnificat), Luke 1:68-75.

Ten Second-Graders are Missing at School…

So, I was listening to Issues, Etc. (yes, I know, you hear that a lot on this blog), and I heard a message from the Susan B. Anthony List.  It’s a group that works to elect Pro-Life female candidates to political office.  This blog’s purpose is not political, it’s to spread the message of Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.  But what I heard made me stop and do a little math.

1.25 million abortions occur in the United States every year.  There are 124,000 schools (public and private) in the U.S.  My son is starting the second grade, and he has a class of 16.

There are ten children missing from his class…

There are ten children missing from every single class in the United States…

That’s 110 children missing from my son’s school, a private Lutheran school with funding problems directly related to low attendance.

I’m not blaming mothers who “choose” to abort their children for the school’s financial problems.  I’m pointing the finger at myself, someone who “stayed out of the argument” in college because “it is the law.”  I’m accusing myself of a lack of support for his school because I didn’t make a point to say that it was wrong to take away ten of his friends and classmates.  I’m expressing my contrition over the fact that I haven’t considered 110 little sets of ears which could hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, 110 children who could learn about, live with, and love each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.  I am the sinner.  And my son is suffering the ill effects of my sin.  God forgive me.

50 million people have died because of abortion since 1973.  The oldest would have turned 38 this year, and would have had their own children, who would also be in my son’s class.  More voicing singing God’s praises on Sunday morning…

So, consider this.  I once heard this from a man who is much more thoughtful and faithful than I:

“Image that a politician stepped up to the microphone and said the following:

‘A woman has the right to choose if she should have to live with her second-grader.  A woman should be able to decide if her second-grader should be allowed to talk and whine and ask questions and want to play and be fed and clothed.  A woman has the right to choose who should be around her own body.  A woman should have the right to choose to abort her second-grader.’

We would call that politician insane!  We would run him out of town and call for his head!  And yet, we elect individuals who are saying the same things, only about children 8 years younger.”

There will be ten second-graders missing at school next month…

Gospel of the Week – July 31st

Matthew 14:13-21 – Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

This story is so important, it’s mentioned in all four Gospels…that says quite a lot.  This miracle is also the example of the Lord’s fulfillment of our petition in His Prayer “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Be sure to read the Fourth Petition in the Small Catechism and the explanation.  The Gospel for the week gives it so much more meaning.

Out of Darkness, Into His Marvelous Light

Dear Christian Friends,

Have you ever had that murky, ugly feeling inside, where you know that you’ve done a few things that weren’t right? You know, when you’ve said something behind the back of someone, been mean to a friend, or just been hurtful, mean, or cruel to yourself?

I can say with a heavy heart that I’ve done all these things and more. I’ve doubted God, been angry with friends, lied to my family (they can usually tell though), and just been a bad person. It sucks, and as Paul says in Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do do.” How depressing is that? Even Paul was a bad guy.

DC Talk says in their song, “In the Light”:  “What’s going on inside of me? I despise my own behavior.” We do not understand what’s happening to us. We hate what we do. And yet, we cannot stop it.

So, many of us walk through life with that heavy feeling that we cannot make up for the bad things that we do. What follows then? We are a sinful, horrible people who do these things. What next?

Matthew 11:28, “‘Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.'” The words of Jesus Himself come to us as a comfort and strength in our times of trouble. He is there for us, for He has taken away our sins, and we are made sinless in God’s sight. We are washed in His blood and made white as snow.

Our prayer can be taken directly from Psalm 51:10-12, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presense or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

That is so powerful! We are forgiven and blessed by God, as horrible as we may think our deeds. He still loves us, and will watch over us. Romans 6:11, “Count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Remember, as DC Talk says, “All I want is to be in the Light.” And we are, in the love of Jesus Christ.

Read also: Psalm 51, Eph. 2:11-22, Matt. 11:25-30, Romans 6, and 1 Peter 2:9.

Did you hear Michele Bachmann hates Catholics…?

Colleen Carroll Campbell had a fantastic editorial in the Post-Dispatch on Thursday about Michele Bachmann. For full disclosure, Bachmann drives me up a wall, but that’s neither here nor there. In the editorial, Bachmann’s former membership at a WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) church is dragged through the mud because 500 years ago, Martin Luther called the pope the Anti-Christ, which, of course, makes Bachmann an Anti-Catholic (That’s not a confusing line of reasoning to follow, is it?). You can imagine how well this has gone over in the media. Needless to say, I found the editorial to be an interesting read.

Click Here for the Editorial.

Why is it my wife is always right…?

My wife is reading the book Forgotten God:  Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, by Francis Chan with Danae Yankoski.  In it, the author discusses the lack of attention to the Holy Spirit by Evangelical preachers and churches.  There was one quote, in particular, that she read to me and caught my attention.  And it was on the second page of the book.

From the Introduction:

“The benchmark of success in church services has become more about attendance than the movement of the Holy Spirit.  The ‘entertainment’ model of church was largely adopted in the 1980s and ‘90s, and while it alleviated some of our boredom for a couple of hours a week, it filled our churches with self-focused consumers rather than self-sacrificing servants attuned to the Holy Spirit.”

I may have to borrow this book from her when she’s finished.  Consumers…that’s a word to think about the next time you’re in church.  And that’s not referring to the consumption of the Lord’s Supper, or taking in the Gospel of Christ.

I find this quote especially intriguing after reading a post over at Gottesdienst Online, entitled “Bait and Switch.”  The link in the post is something to take a look at, if you listened to Contemporary Christian Music in the ’80s and 90’s.

Quote of the Week

The quote of the week comes from the interview by Issues, Etc. on January 14, 2011, of Dr. Dan Gard of Concordia Theological Seminary-Ft. Wayne, IN, a military chaplain.

“God called me as a pastor.  My job, regardless of whether I’m in uniform or out of uniform, is to proclaim the Gospel to any human being that will listen to me.  I’ll go to hell itself to proclaim Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.”

Now THAT’S dedication to the Mission!

Gospel of the Week – July 24th

Matthew 13:44-52 – Jesus tells four parables to the disciples.  He’s building them to be the Apostles (yeah, I know, they sound like a rock band…), and teach others about the kingdom of heaven.  This is the importance of the summer season in the church year (aka “The *insert number here* Sunday after Trinity”).  It’s when we look to the coming Christ and the End of Days, when Christ returns.  Advent to Easter is the life of Christ and Easter back to Advent is the Works and Teaching of Christ in the Lectionary (the list of assigned readings for the year).  It’s why every Sunday is another parable or lesson of Jesus.  We’re learning about Him while we wait.  During this time of year, the words of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come,” mean all the more.  We wait in patience, working through the Gospel lectionary for the year, preparing for the return of Christ.

And, to be honest, I like the Gospel lessons this way.  If you read through the middle of Matthew, it’s story after lesson after parable after story after…you get the idea.  This way, we can stop and consider the Words of Christ each week.  We can meditate on the Gospel reading.  Seven days is almost enough time to work through the meaning, to let the lesson wash over us and as we begin to dry and settle in, we get doused again with another Gospel reading!  How wonderful it is!  And then we get another parable to think about for the next seven days!  Praise the Lord!