Monday, April 30, 2007

Worship Always Teaches Something: What will it be among US?

I came across this salient observation in today’s "Patriot Post,"
"No matter what, the law will teach. It will either teach that marriage exists as a natural institution with public purposes and meanings, centered around bridging the gender divide, and bringing together one man and one woman to share their lives as husband and wife and to become father and mother to their children, or it will teach that marriage is a mere creation of the state, recognizing and condoning the private sexual choices of adults, and intended merely to fulfill adult desires. There is no other option; one or the other will become normative... We can only hope that judges and policy makers will heed... [these] warnings before it is too late." ——Robert George & Ryan Anderson

Now let me take the liberty (if such liberty is not reserved only for Contemporary Worship, Church Growth, and open Communion advocates) to paraphrase:
No matter what, the worship service will teach. It will either teach the mysterium fidei that Christ is present to lead us to receive His very body and blood at His table, and unites us in His death and resurrection; or it will teach that worship is a mere creation of the church and her people, recognizing and condoning the private idolatrous choices of free will, and intended merely to fulfill whatever free will desires. There is no other option; one or the other will become normative... We can only hope that our pastors and congregations, if not our elected and appointed officials, will heed... [these] warnings before it is too late.

Salvation Belongs to Those Who Hear

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father; and from His Son, our risen Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ -- the Good Shepherd of the sheep who says:

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand." John 10:27-28

Welcome to the Shepherd's fold!

What a joy it is to see you assembled here today to hear the voice of our Shepherd on this Sabbath day - a day that is sometimes referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday because of the lessons commonly celebrated within the Divine Service of the church catholic (that is, the ecumenical or universal church in the true sense) on this Fourth Sunday of Easter.

Do you know why our Lord tells us to "Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy?"

Because by keeping the Sabbath day holy, the Sabbath day keeps US holy -- that is, it keeps us for God by keeping us with God.

[Jesus] said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath." Mark 2:27-28

And wherever you see or hear the word "Lord," you would do well to understand it to mean "Shepherd." For in the Sabbath day you hear the Shepherd's voice, the voice that calls you to faith and gives you reason to believe.

As we learn in from Luther's Small Catechism, "We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it" because in holding preaching and God's Word sacred, in gladly hearing and learning it you hear the Lord Himself. In this preaching and His Word the Lord is calling, gathering, enlightening, and making you holy along with the whole Christian church on earth. This is the definition of the ecumenical or catholic church, this is live orthodoxy, where God daily and richly forgives you all of your sins and the sins of all who hear His voice, keeping them with Jesus Christ in The One True Faith.

That is why Paul is bold to proclaim, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17;
. . . and He is even confident to guarantee with his fellow apostle, Peter and the words recorded in Scripture by the Lord's prophet, Joel, "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:13, Acts 2:21

But Paul also asks the obvious question, the one we should ask ourselves -- if we haven't already: "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" Romans 10:14

Though posed in the form of a question, Paul is really telling us that no one can be saved unless they are hearing the Word of God that delivers the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This fact is brought clearly into focus for us by Christ Himself in the interchange recorded in today's Gospel text: Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, "How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly."Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." John 10:24-27

What does this say about those who rarely, if ever, remember the Sabbath day by hearing the proclamation of God's Word for the forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus?


You are here today because the Shepherd has called you to hear His voice -- and in order that you can continue to hear His voice throughout the tribulation of your everyday life. You are here today because you have been baptized and washed in the blood of the Lamb just as certainly as those of whom John speaks in our Revelation text:

"These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them." Revelation 7:14

Every time you remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy -- every time you hear preaching and God's Word- that is Christ and Him crucified and risen speaking to you:
  • to take you out of the tribulation that you face every day of your life in this fallen world and your own sinful flesh
  • to walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death that is your everyday life of temptation and persecution of the evil one
  • to continue to drown and kill all those sins and evil desires that, if followed would drown and kill you by keeping you from hearing His voice
  • to raise and deliver you into the righteousness of His presence where Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, [are His] forever and ever. Revelation 7:12

  • Yes, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!" Rom 10:15 -- because such preaching is none other than the voice of your Shepherd calling His sheep home to green pastures, still waters, paths of righteousness, a table where the food never runs out and the cup overflows with goodness and mercy to restore your soul whenever and wherever you hear His voice. Where the Gospel is heard, there the Lamb sits on His throne to dwell with His people and Shepherd them to eternal life.

    Can you hear your Shepherd?

    Throughout the Divine Service, our Lord is speaking to us and we are speaking to Him. That means He is here with us! And every time you remember the Sabbath during your workaday life by hearing an echo of that Gospel word of Christ from the liturgy, the sermon, a hymn, the Lord's prayer, the Creed - you are hearing the voice of your Shepherd and He is with you.

    And when you leave here today, He is sending you out with the Word that lives in you by its hearing to call others that they may hear Him too. For He "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:4

    The less a person hears the Word of God on the Sabbath in the Divine Service, the less likely that person is to remember it day to day, the fainter the Shepherd's voice becomes, and the less chance the person has of remaining in the faith - for again, "how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?"

    So you see the Lord, our Shepherd, doesn't call us to "Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy," just because he wants to see how many little automatons He can get to dress up and scurry to one place at one time at His command. It is more like He is ringing the dinner bell for a feast that never ends.

    And at this feast you join and are joined by "the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. And you Therefore are [with them] before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among [you also]. [To lead you to that place where you, with them] shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Revelation 7:13-17

    For "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" -- who is here today to forgive you all your sins and give you eternal life - in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

    In der Liebe Christi,
    Rev. Kurt Hering, Pastor
    Trinity Lutheran ChurchLayton, Utah

    Saturday, April 21, 2007

    Best Bumper Sticker/Billboard Sign

    When we see a Lutheran Church with one of those signboards, we ought to see . . .

    + a message like this proclaimed on the marquee for the community outside to see . . .

    + doctrine like this preached from the pulpit and taught in the classroom for the assembly inside to hear . . .

    What is the Sacrament of the Altar?
    It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and the wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.
    Where is this written?
    The holy Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul write:
    Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night wehn 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, "Drinkf of it, all of you, this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
    -- Martin Luther's Small Catechism

    + and practice like this that reflects the marquee and delivers the doctrine at the altar for the faithful to receive the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation that is found where and only where the Word, and Him Incarnate in His holy Christian and Apostolic Church . . .

    • The Mass is held among us and celebrated with the highest reverence.
    • No one is admitted to the Sacrament without first being examined.
    • The Mass is for the purpose of giving the Sacrament, we have Communion every holy day, and if anyone desires the Sacarament, we offer it also on other days, when it is given to all who ask for it.
    • The pastor "stands . . . at the altar , inviting some to the Communion and keeping back others."
      -- Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV. The Mass

    If you can't find Jesus in the bread and wine, it is neither the Lord's Supper that you eat nor a Holy Communion in which you participate. [1 John 4:3]

    So why eat bread and drink wine (or grape juice) that delivers nothing but perhaps some vague feeling of peace and unity with Protestants? Or why eat bread and drink wine ( or watch the priest drink wine) that pretends to deliver what man has accomplished for and given to God?

    "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons." [1 Corinthians 10:21]

    Whether signboard, doctrine, or practice, please give us Jesus, please -- every time!

    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    Clown Ministry

    Another "Reason for Closed Communion"

    Pastor Dale Radke and Chapel of the Chimes at Wisconsin Memorial Park help "Low Sunday" in the Lutheran Church reach a new low, including:
    • An invocation of prestidigitation in aluminum
    • An amateur hour sermon of Henny Youngmanesque punch lines

    To which the journalist describing it added his hearty, "Amen . . . or, rather, ba-da-bing!"


    Ba-da bing! Ba-da boom! Presto, chango, the Divine Service has become divine comedy, . . .

    or is it human tragedy?

    Lord, deliver us from this evil!

    For the full story in all its ignominy go to

    Sunday, April 15, 2007

    Quasimodogeniti Sunday

    The second Sunday of Easter is also known as Quasimodogeniti Sunday. Quasimodogeniti being Latin for "Like newborn babes," it is the opening phrase of the Introit appointed for the church's worship today -- "Like newborn babes desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby." (1 Peter 2:2-3)

    The Gospel appointed for reading in the Divine Service of the Church on Quasimodogeniti Sunday is the 8th day Resurrection appearance of Jesus to His disciples, of which the following is a portion.

    And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing."

    And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
    Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

    Through these Means of Grace . . .
    • the Word of God
    • Baptism
    • the Lord's Supper

    . . . God the Holy Spirit brings us to faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and keeps us with Him in the one true faith.

    Therefore, with Thomas we confess before God, each other and the world, . . .

    "My Lord and my God!"