Thursday, April 28, 2011

Time for a Brat Fry!!!

Alrighty friends and neighbors, it's time for a good old fashioned, Sheboygan style brat fry featuring Johnsonville brats and Coors beer. The latter is not my favorite. I prefer a tasty Polygamy Porter or Guinness. But this is war!

"Dateline Milwaukee: Grocers prepare for anti-Walker stickering--Among products targeted for stickers are Johnsonville brats, AngelSoft toilet paper, Sargento cheese and Coors beer."

It's a lot like Luther's take on adiaphora, when somebody is forcing an issue under false claims of sin and offense, it's time to confess by promoting the exact thing against which they are demagoging.

So let's all enjoy a sizzling Johnsonville brat and an ice cold Coors this weekend.

And when you're through,

don't forget to wipe.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Witness of Womb and Tomb

He is risen!


If you would like to hear the sermon preached at Trinity Lutheran Church in Layton, Utah for the Resurrection of Our Lord, "The Witness of Womb and Tomb," click on this MP3 audio link.

The audio begins with the the Alleluia! Hymn, “Alleluia, Alleluia! Hearts to Heaven” LSB #477, and includes the reading of the Easter Gospel of St. John. The sermon begins at the 9:55 mark.

A blessed Eighth Day to you as the risen Christ lives in you and you in Him--now by faith in His resurrection, and even forevermore as we await our own.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday Prayer, Devotional Reading & Catechesis


O God, creator of heaven and earth, grant that as the crucified body of Your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with Him the coming of the third day, and rise with Him to newness of life, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Devotional Reading

Ephraim Syrus, 4th century theologian and hymnist writes of our Lord's burial in the sealed tomb:

They sealed you up within the tomb, and set guards, that Your resurrection might be believed among those who deny You. It was... for You that they sealed the tomb and set guards, O Son of the Living One! If they had neglected You and left You and gone after they buried You, there would have been room to lie and say that the disciples stole You. O Quickener of all! When they craftily sealed Your tomb, they made Your glory greater.

Daniel was a type of You, so also Lazarus; one in the den, which the Gentiles sealed up, and one in the tomb, which people opened. . . .

If they had left Your tomb open, their mouth [could have remained] open. But they went away because they had shut Your tomb and sealed it and closed their own mouths. Yea, they closed it, and when they had senselessly covered Your tomb, all the slanderers covered their own heads.

But in Your resurrection You persuade men concerning Your birth. You were pure in the womb that was sealed and alive in the tomb that was sealed. The womb and the tomb, being sealed, were witnesses to You [and to Your divinity].

The belly and hell cried aloud of Your birth and Your resurrection: The belly, which was sealed, conceived You. Hell, which was closed up, brought you forth. Nature did not cause either the belly to conceive You or hell to give You up! . . . Thus do they proclaim that You are of heaven.

Sealed was the tomb to which they had entrusted You, that it might keep You dead, that is, safe, and virgin was the womb, which no man knew. Virgin womb and sealed tomb, like trumpets, proclaimed Him in the ears of a deaf people.


Luther's Large Catechism
V. The Sacrament of the Altar

Further Admonition and Encouragement Regarding the Sacrament as we prepare for the feast of the Resurrection of our Lord for those asking why, if we have already been forgiven, one needs to receive the Lord's Supper.

64 In the second place, there is besides this command also a promise, as we heard above. This ought most strongly to stir us up and encourage us. For here stand the kind and precious words, “This is My body, which is given for you.… This is My blood … shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” 65 These words, I have said, are not preached to wood and stone, but to me and you. Otherwise, Christ might just as well be silent and not institute a Sacrament. Therefore consider, and read yourself into this word you, so that He may not speak to you in vain.
66 Here He offers to us the entire treasure that He has brought for us from heaven. With the greatest kindness He invites us to receive it also in other places, like when He says in St. Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” 67 It is surely a sin and a shame that He so cordially and faithfully summons and encourages us to receive our highest and greatest good, yet we act so distantly toward it. We permit so long a time to pass ‹without partaking of the Sacrament› that we grow quite cold and hardened, so that we have no longing or love for it. 68 We must never think of the Sacrament as something harmful from which we had better flee, but as a pure, wholesome, comforting remedy that grants salvation and comfort. It will cure you and give you life both in soul and body. For where the soul has recovered, the body also is relieved. Why, then, do we act as if the Sacrament were a poison, the eating of which would bring death?
69 To be sure, it is true that those who despise the Sacrament and live in an unchristian way receive it to their hurt and damnation [1 Corinthians 11:29–30]. Nothing shall be good or wholesome for them. It is just like a sick person who on a whim eats and drinks what is forbidden to him by the doctor. 70 But those who are mindful of their weakness desire to be rid of it and long for help. They should regard and use the Sacrament just like a precious antidote against the poison that they have in them. Here in the Sacrament you are to receive from the lips of Christ forgiveness of sin. It contains and brings with it God’s grace and the Spirit with all His gifts, protection, shelter, and power against death and the devil and all misfortune.
71 So you have, from God, both the command and the promise of the Lord Jesus Christ. Besides this, from yourself, you have your own distress, which is around your neck. Because of your distress this command, invitation, and promise are given. This ought to move you. For Christ Himself says, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” [Matthew 9:12]. In other words, He means those who are weary and heavy-laden with their sins, with the fear of death, temptations of the flesh, and of the devil. 72 If, therefore, you are heavy laden and feel your weakness, then go joyfully to this Sacrament and receive refreshment, comfort, and strength [Matthew 11:28]. 73 If you wait until you are rid of such burdens, so that you might come to the Sacrament pure and worthy, you must stay away forever. 74 In that case Christ pronounces sentence and says, “If you are pure and godly, you have no need of Me, and I, in turn, no need of you.” Therefore, the only people who are called unworthy are those who neither feel their weaknesses nor wish to be considered sinners.
75 But if you say, “What, then, shall I do if I cannot feel such distress or experience hunger and thirst for the Sacrament?” Answer, “For those who are of such a mind that they do not realize their condition I know no better counsel than that they put their hand into their shirt to check whether they have flesh and blood. And if you find that you do, then go, for your good, to St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. Hear what sort of a fruit your flesh is:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and things like these. [Galatians 5:19–21]
76 Therefore, if you cannot discern this, at least believe the Scriptures. They will not lie to you, and they know your flesh better than you yourself. Yes, St. Paul further concludes in Romans 7:18, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.” If St. Paul may speak this way about his flesh, we cannot assume to be better or more holy than him. 77 But the fact that we do not feel our weakness just makes things worse. It is a sign that there is a leprous flesh in us that can’t feel anything. And yet, the leprosy rages and keeps spreading. 78 As we have said, if you are quite dead to all sensibility, still believe the Scriptures, which pronounce sentence upon you. In short, the less you feel your sins and infirmities, the more reaso79 In the second place, look around you. See whether you are also in the world, or if you do not know it, ask your neighbors about it. If you are in the world, do not think that there will be lack of sins and misery. Just begin to act as though you would be godly and cling to the Gospel. See whether no one will become your enemy, and, furthermore, do you harm, wrong, and violence, and likewise give you cause for sin and vice. If you have not experienced this, then let the Scriptures tell you about it, which everywhere give this praise and testimony about the world.
80 Besides this, you will also have the devil about you. You will not entirely tread him under foot [Luke 10:19], because our Lord Christ Himself could not entirely avoid him. 81 Now, what is the devil? Nothing other than what the Scriptures call him, a liar and a murderer [John 8:44]. He is a liar, to lead the heart astray from God’s Word and to blind it, so that you cannot feel your distress or come to Christ. He is a murderer, who cannot bear to see you live one single hour. 82 If you could see how many knives, darts, and arrows are every moment aimed at you [Ephesians 6:16], you would be glad to come to the Sacrament as often as possible. But there is no reason why we walk about so securely and carelessly, except that we neither think nor believe that we are in the flesh and in this wicked world or in the devil’s kingdom.
83 Therefore, try this and practice it well. Be sure to examine yourself [1 Corinthians 11:28], or look about you a little, and just keep to the Scriptures. If even then you still feel nothing, you have even more misery to regret both to God and to your brother. Then take this advice and have others pray for you. Do not stop until the stone is removed from your heart [Ezekiel 36:25–26]. 84 Then, indeed, the distress will not fail to become clear, and you will find that you have sunk twice as deep as any other poor sinner. You are much more in need of the Sacrament against the misery which, unfortunately, you do not see. With God’s grace, you may feel your misery more and become hungrier for the Sacrament, especially since the devil doubles his force against you. He lies in wait for you without resting so that he can seize and destroy you, soul and body. You are not safe from him for one hour. How soon he can have you brought suddenly into misery and distress when you least expect it!
85 Let this, then, be said for encouragement, not only for those of us who are old and grown, but also for the young people, who ought to be brought up in Christian doctrine and understanding. Then the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer might be taught to our youth more easily. Then they would receive them with pleasure and seriousness, and so they would use them from their youth and get used to them. 86 For the old are now nearly past this opportunity. So these goals and others cannot be reached unless we train the people who are to come after us and succeed us in our office and work. We should do this in order that they also may bring up their children successfully, so that God’s Word and the Christian Church may be preserved. 87 Therefore, let every father of a family know that it is his duty, by God’s order and command, to teach these things to his children, or to have the children learn what they ought to know [Ephesians 6:4]. Since the children are baptized and received into the Christian Church, they should also enjoy this communion of the Sacrament, in order that they may serve us and be useful to us. They must all certainly help us to believe, love, pray, and fight against the devil.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 439n you have to go to the Sacrament to seek help and a remedy.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Holy (Good, i.e. God's) Friday Prayer, Devotional Reading & Catechesis


Almighty God, graciously behold this Your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, to be given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death on the cross; who now lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Devotional Reading

Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria & confessor of the faith after whom the Athanasian Creed is named, writes of the Crucifixion of our Lord:

But if any honest Christian wants to know why the Lord suffered death on the cross a...nd not in some other way, we answer thus; in no other way was it expedient for us, indeed the Lord offered for our sakes the one death that was supremely good. He had come to bear the curse that lay on us; and how could He “become a curse” otherwise than by accepting the accursed death? And that death is the cross, for it is written “Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree. [Deuteronomy 21:23, Galatians 3:13]”

Again, the death of the Lord is the ransom of all, and by it “the middle wall of partition” [Ephesians 2:14] is broken down and the call of the Gentiles comes about. How could He have called us if He had not been crucified, for it is only on the cross that man dies with arms outstretched?

Here again, we see the fitness of His death and of those outstretched arm: it was that He might draw His ancient people with one and the Gentiles with the other, and join both together in Himself. Even so, He foretold the manner of His redeeming death, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Myself. [John 12:23]”


Luther's Large Catechism
V. The Sacrament of the Altar

Admonition and Encouragement Regarding the Sacrament for those asking why, if we have already been forgiven, one needs to receive the Lord's Supper.

We have, in the first place, the clear text in Christ’s very words, “Do this in remembrance of Me” [Luke 22:19]. These are inviting and commanding words by which all who would be Christians are told to partake of this Sacrament. Therefore, whoever wants to be Christ’s disciple, with whom He here speaks, must also consider and keep this Sacrament. They should not act from compulsion, being forced by others, but in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, to please Him. 46 However, you may say, “But the words are added, ‘As often as you drink it’; there He compels no one, but leaves it to our free choice.” 47 I answer, “That is true, yet it is not written so that we should never do so. Yes, since He speaks the words ‘As often as you drink it,’ it is still implied that we should do it often. This is added because He wants to have the Sacrament free. He does not limit it to special times, like the Jewish Passover, which they were obliged to eat only once a year. They could only have it on the fourteenth day of the first full moon in the evening [Exodus 12:6, 18]. They still must not change a day.” It is as if He would say by these words, “I institute a Passover or Supper for you. You shall enjoy it not only once a year, just upon this evening, but often, when and where you will, according to everyone’s opportunity and necessity, bound to no place or appointed time.” 48 But the pope later perverted this and again made the Sacrament into a Jewish feast.
49 So you see, it is not left free in the sense that we may despise it. I call that despising the Sacrament if one allows a long time to elapse—with nothing to hinder him—yet never feels a desire for it. If you want such freedom, you may just as well have the freedom to not be a Christian and not have to believe or pray. One is just as much commanded by Christ as the other. But if you want to be a Christian, you must from time to time fulfill and obey this commandment. 50 For this commandment ought always to move you to examine yourself [1 Corinthians 11:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5] and to think, “See, what sort of a Christian I am! If I were one, I would certainly have some small longing for what my Lord has commanded me to do.”
51 Since we act like strangers toward the Sacrament, it is easy to see what sort of Christians we were under the papacy. We went to the Sacrament from mere compulsion and fear of human commandments, without natural longing and without love, and never thought about Christ’s commandment. 52 But we neither force nor compel anyone. Nor does anyone have to do it to serve or please us. This should lead and constrain you by itself, that the Lord desires it and that it is pleasing to Him. You must not let people force you to faith or any good work. We are doing no more than talking about and encouraging you about what you ought to do—not for our sake, but for your own sake. The Lord invites and allures you. If you despise it, you must answer for that yourself [2 Corinthians 5:10].
53 Now, this is to be the first point, especially for those who are cold and indifferent. Then they may reflect upon it and rouse themselves. For this is certainly true, as I have found in my own experience, and as everyone will find in his own case: if a person withdraws like this from the Sacrament, he will daily become more and more callous and cold, and will at last disregard the Sacrament completely. 54 To avoid this, we must examine our heart and conscience [1 Corinthians 11:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5], and we must act like people who desire to be right with God [Psalm 78:37]. The more this is done, the more the heart will be warmed and enkindled, so it may not become entirely cold.
55 But if you say, “How can I come if I feel that I am not prepared?” Answer, “That is also my cause for hesitation, especially because of the old way under the pope.” At that time we tortured ourselves to be so perfectly pure that God could not find the least blemish in us. For this reason we became so timid that we were all instantly thrown into fear and said to ourselves, “Alas! we are unworthy!” 56 Then nature and reason begin to add up our unworthiness in comparison with the great and precious good. Then our good looks like a dark lantern in contrast with the bright sun, or like filth in comparison with precious stones. Because nature and reason see this, they refuse to approach and wait until they are prepared. They wait so long that one week trails into another, and half the year into the other. 57 If you consider how good and pure you are and labor to have no hesitations, you would never approach.
58 Therefore, we must make a distinction here between people. Those who are lewd and morally loose must be told to stay away [1 Corinthians 5:9–13]. They are not prepared to receive forgiveness of sin, since they do not desire it and do not wish to be godly. 59 But the others, who are not such callous and wicked people, and who desire to be godly, must not absent themselves. This is true even though otherwise they are feeble and full of infirmities. For St. Hilary also has said, “If anyone has not committed sin for which he can rightly be put out of the congregation and be considered no Christian, he ought not stay away from the Sacrament, lest he should deprive himself of life.” 60 No one will live so well that he will not have many daily weaknesses in flesh and blood.
61 Such people must learn that it is the highest art to know that our Sacrament does not depend upon our worthiness. We are not baptized because we are worthy and holy. Nor do we go to Confession because we are pure and without sin. On the contrary, we go because we are poor, miserable people. We go exactly because we are unworthy. This is true unless we are talking about someone who desires no grace and Absolution nor intends to change.
62 But whoever would gladly receive grace and comfort should drive himself and allow no one to frighten him away. Say, “I, indeed, would like to be worthy. But I come, not upon any worthiness, but upon Your Word, because You have commanded it. I come as one who would gladly be Your disciple, no matter what becomes of my worthiness.” This is difficult. 63 We always have this obstacle and hindrance to encounter: we look more upon ourselves than upon Christ’s Word and lips. For human nature desires to act in such a way that it can stand and rest firmly on itself. Otherwise, it refuses to approach. Let this be enough about the first point.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 436

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy (Maundy) Thursday Prayer, Devotional Reading & Catechesis


O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your passion. Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us; for you live and reign witht eh Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Devotional Reading

C.F.W. Walther writes:

"The apostle [Paul] wishes to say: Consider, beloved Christians, that when you receivethe blessed cup and the blessed bread, each one partakes of the body and blood of Christ; they are both common to ...all of you. You come into body-and-blood fellowship with one another. For just as many grains become one bread, so in the Holy Supper, you, though youa re many, become one Body, one mass, because you are partakers of the one bread and with it one and the same body and blood of Chrsit.

"Because of the presence and praticipation of the body of Christ, the Holy Supper is a meal of the most intimate fellwoship and therefore, at the same time, the highest love-meal. Just as fervent love is demanded, so fervent love is delivered. We all come together, as children of the same family, to the table of our common, heavenly Father. As great as the distinction between communicants in civic life may be, in the Holy Supper all distinctions evaporate. We are all the same, in that we each eat the same earthly and heavenly drink the same earthly and heavenly drink. In this Meal, the subject and his king, the slave and his master, the beggar and the rich, the child and the old man, the wife and the husband, the simple and the learned, truly all communicants stand as the same poor sinners and beggars, hungry and thirsty for grace. Although one may appear in a rough apron while another in velvet and satin, adorned with gold and pearls, when they depart, all take with them that for which they hunger and thirst: Christ's blood and righteousness as their beauty and glorious dress. No one receives a better food and better drink than the other. All receive the same Jesus, and with Him, the same righteousness."


Luther's Large Catechism
V. The Sacrament of the Altar

Who receives this Sacrament worthily?

Since this treasure is entirely presented in the words, it cannot be received and made ours in any other way than with the heart. Such a gift and eternal treasure cannot be seized with the fist. 37 Fasting, prayer, and other such things may indeed be outward preparations and discipline for children, so that the body may keep and bring itself modestly and reverently to receive Christ’s body and blood. Yet the body cannot seize and make its own what is given in and with the Sacrament. This is done by the faith in the heart, which discerns this treasure and desires it. 38 This may be enough for what is necessary as a general instruction about this Sacrament. What may be said about it further belongs to another time.
39 In conclusion, since we now have the true understanding and doctrine of the Sacrament, there is also need for some admonition and encouragement. Then people may not let such a great treasure—daily administered and distributed among Christians—pass by unnoticed. So those who want to be Christians may prepare to receive this praiseworthy Sacrament often. 40 For we see that people seem weary and lazy about receiving the Sacrament. A great multitude hears the Gospel. Yet because the nonsense of the pope has been abolished and we are freed from his laws and coercion, they go one, two, three years, or even longer without the Sacrament. They act as though they were such strong Christians that they have no need of it. 41 Some allow themselves to be hindered and held up by the excuse that we have taught that no one should approach the Sacrament except those who feel hunger and thirst, which drive them to it. Some pretend that it is a matter of liberty and not necessary. They pretend that it is enough to believe without it. For the most part, they go so far astray that they become quite brutish and finally despise both the Sacrament and God’s Word.
42 Now, it is true, as we have said, that no one should by any means be forced or compelled to go to the Sacrament, lest we institute a new murdering of souls. Nevertheless, it must be known that people who deprive themselves of and withdraw from the Sacrament for such a long time are not to be considered Christians. For Christ has not instituted it to be treated as a show. Instead, He has commanded His Christians to eat it, drink it, and remember Him by it.
43 Indeed, those who are true Christians and value the Sacrament precious and holy will drive and move themselves to go to it. We will present something on this point so that the simpleminded and the weak who also would like to be Christians may be more stirred up to consider the cause and need that ought to move them. 44 In other matters applying to faith, love, and patience, it is not enough to teach and instruct alone. There is also need for daily encouragement [Hebrews 10:24–25]. So here also there is need for us to continue to preach so that people may not become weary and disgusted. For we know and feel how the devil always opposes this and every Christian exercise. He drives and deters people from them as much as he can.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 435

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Holy Wednesday Prayer, Devotional Reading & Catechesis


Merciful and everlasting God, You did not spare Your only Son but delivered Him up for us all to bear our sins on the cross. Grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in Him that we fear not the power of sin, death, and the devil; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Devotional Reading

"'Through [Christ] we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God' (Rm 5:2). Christ died for us, reconciled us, brought us to Himself, and gave us unutterable grace...What grace is this? It is being counted worthy of the knowledge of God (2Co 10:5), being forced from error and coming to a knowledge of the truth (1Ti 2:4), and obtaining all the blessings that come through baptism (Tit 3:4-7). He brought us near that we might receive these gifts. For it was not that we might have only remission of sins and be reconciled; but also that we might receive countless blessings beside. Nor did He even stop at these, but promised others, namely, those unutterable blessings that surpass both understanding and language (Phil 4:7). This is why Paul has set them both down also. For by mentioning grace he clearly points at what we have at present received, but by saying, 'And we rejoice in hope of the glory of God,' he unveils the whole of things to come.

"Paul rightly said, 'in which we stand.' For this is the nature of God's grace. It has no end, it knows no bound, but evermore is in advance of greater things, which in human things is not the case. A person who has become a ruler and possesses glory and authority, yet he does not stand in it continuously, but is quickly cast out of it. If another does not take it from him, then death comes and is sure to take it from him. God's gifts are not of this kind. For neither man, nor occasion, nor crisis of affairs, nor even the Devil, nor death can come and cast us out of them. Even when we are dead we then have greater possession of them, and go on enjoying them more and more. So if you feel in doubt about the things to come; believe in them on the basis of those things now present, which you have already received.

"Paul says, 'And we rejoice in hope of the glory of God,' that you may learn what kind of soul the faithful ought to have. It is not only for what have been given, but for what is to be given, that we ought to be confident, as though it were already given. For one 'rejoices' in what is already given. The hope of things to come is even as sure and clear as that which has already been given. In that way also we 'rejoice.'

"For this reason he also called them to 'glory.' For if it contributes to God's glory, come to pass it certainly will, though it does not for our sakes, yet for Him it will. The blessings to come are worthy of being gloried in. Even the evils of this present time are able to brighten our countenances, and make us find in them even our rest."
John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans


Luther's Large Catechism
V. The Sacrament of the Altar

How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things? / Who receives the pwoer and benefit of this Sacrament?

28 But here our wise spirits twist themselves about with their great art and wisdom. They cry out and bawl, “How can bread and wine forgive sins or strengthen faith?” They hear and know that we do not say this about bread and wine. Because, in itself, bread is bread. But we speak about the bread and wine that is Christ’s body and blood and has the words attached to it. That, we say, is truly the treasure—and nothing else—through which such forgiveness is gained. 29 Now the only way this treasure is passed along and made our very own is in the words “Given … and shed for you.” For in the words you have both truths, that it is Christ’s body and blood, and that it is yours as a treasure and gift. 30 Now Christ’s body can never be an unfruitful, empty thing that does or profits nothing. Yet, no matter how great the treasure is in itself, it must be included in the Word and administered to us. Otherwise we would never be able to know or seek it.
31 Therefore also, it is useless talk when they say that Christ’s body and blood are not given and shed for us in the Lord’s Supper, so we could not have forgiveness of sins in the Sacrament. Although the work is done and the forgiveness of sins is secured by the cross [John 19:30], it cannot come to us in any other way than through the Word. How would we know about it otherwise, that such a thing was accomplished or was to be given to us, unless it were presented by preaching or the oral Word [Romans 10:17; 1 Corinthians 1:21]? How do they know about it? Or how can they receive and make the forgiveness their own, unless they lay hold of and believe the Scriptures and the Gospel? 32 But now the entire Gospel and the article of the Creed—I believe in … the holy Christian Church, … the forgiveness of sins, and so on—are embodied by the Word in this Sacrament and presented to us. Why, then, should we let this treasure be torn from the Sacrament when the fanatics must confess that these are the very words we hear everywhere in the Gospel? They cannot say that these words in the Sacrament are of no use, just as they dare not say that the entire Gospel or God’s Word, apart from the Sacrament, is of no use.
33 So we have covered the entire Sacrament, both what it is in itself and what it brings and profits. Now we must also see who is the person that receives this power and benefit. That is answered briefly, as we said above about Baptism and often elsewhere: Whoever believes the words has what they declare and bring. For they are not spoken or proclaimed to stone and wood, but to those who hear them, to whom He says, “Take, eat,” and so on. 34 Because He offers and promises forgiveness of sin, it cannot be received except by faith. This faith He Himself demands in the Word when He says, “Given … and shed for you,” as if He said, “For this reason I give it, and ask you to eat and drink it, that you may claim it as yours and enjoy it.” 35 Whoever now accepts these words and believes that what they declare is true has forgiveness. But whoever does not believe it has nothing, since he allows it to be offered to him in vain and refuses to enjoy such a saving good. The treasure, indeed, is opened and placed at everyone’s door, yes, upon his table. But it is necessary that you also claim it and confidently view it as the words tell you. 36 This is the entire Christian preparation for receiving this Sacrament worthily.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 435

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Holy Tuesday Prayer, Devotional Reading & Catechesis

Almighty and everlasting God, grant us by Your grace so to pass through this holy time of our Lord's passion that we may obtain the forgiveness of our sins; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Devotional Reading

"'[Jesus our Lord] was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification' (Rm 4:25). See how after mentioning the cause of His death, he makes the same cause likewise a demonstration of the resurrection. For why, he means, was Jesus crucified? Not for any sin of His own. This is clear from the resurrection. For if He were a sinner, how would He have risen? But if He rose, it is quite plain that He was not a sinner. If He was not a sinner, why was He crucified? He was crucified for others, and if for others, then surely He rose again. Now to prevent your asking, 'How, when He became liable for such great sins, did we come to be justified?' Paul points out the One who blots out all sins, using both Abraham's faith by which he was justified, and the Savior's suffering and death, by which we were freed from our sins to confirm what he said. And after mentioning His death, he speaks also of His resurrection. For the purpose of His dying was not that He might hold us liable to punishment and under condemnation, but that He might do good to us. For this cause He both died and rose again, that He might accomplish righteousness."

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans


Luther's Large Catechism
V. The Sacrament of the Altar

What is the benefit of this eating and drinking?

...20 So we have, in a brief way, covered the first point that deals with this Sacrament’s essence. Now examine further the effectiveness and benefits that really caused the Sacrament to be instituted. This is its most necessary part, so that we may know what we should seek and gain there. 21 This is plain and clear from the words just mentioned, “This is My body and blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” 22 Briefly, that is like saying, “For this reason we go to the Sacrament: there we receive such a treasure by and in which we gain forgiveness of sins.” “Why so?” “Because the words stand here and give us this. Therefore, Christ asks me to eat and drink, so that this treasure may be my own and may benefit me as a sure pledge and token. In fact, it is the very same treasure that is appointed for me against my sins, death, and every disaster.”
23 On this account it is indeed called a food of souls, which nourishes and strengthens the new man. For by Baptism we are first born anew [John 3:5]. But, as we said before, there still remains the old vicious nature of flesh and blood in mankind. There are so many hindrances and temptations of the devil and of the world that we often become weary and faint, and sometimes we also stumble [Hebrews 12:3].
24 Therefore, the Sacrament is given as a daily pasture and sustenance, that faith may refresh and strengthen itself [Psalm 23:1–3] so that it will not fall back in such a battle, but become ever stronger and stronger. 25 The new life must be guided so that it continually increases and progresses. 26 But it must suffer much opposition. For the devil is such a furious enemy. When he sees that we oppose him and attack the old man, and that he cannot topple us over by force, he prowls and moves about on all sides [1 Peter 5:8]. He tries every trick and does not stop until he finally wears us out, so that we either renounce our faith or throw up our hands and put up our feet, becoming indifferent or impatient. 27 Now to this purpose the comfort of the Sacrament is given when the heart feels that the burden is becoming too heavy, so that it may gain here new power and refreshment.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 433

Monday, April 18, 2011

Holy Monday Prayer, Devotional Reading & Catechesis


Almighty God, grant that in the midst of our failures and weaknesses we may be restored through the passion and intercession of Your only begotten Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Devotional Reading

‎... it is the sweetest comfort that sin, which made its habitation in human flesh, was condemned in the same human flesh, in the person of Christ. Our body is the body of death, but in that same body of ours which the Son of God assumed from us, death was again destroyed. Although our sins have separated us very far from God (Is. 59:2), so that we have been alienated from the grace, righteousness, and life of God (Eph. 2:12), yet the Son of God has brought very close to us those heavenly blessings which had been removed far from us (Eph. 2:13-19), laying them before us through His incarnation in the flesh which is of the same substance with our own, so that of His fullness we have received grace for grace (John 1:16). This is the most comforting and salutary exchange, that the Son of God has received from us a human nature and sanctified and blessed and exalted and glorified it in His own person.

Moreover, in His Holy Supper He joins Himself to us in that flesh, so that we may be strengthened by this most certain pledge of the salvation and glorification of our nature; for He does not blush to call us brothers. Therefore, because we are such, He also joins Himself to us in that flesh and blood (Heb. 2:14). Flesh brought death into this world and, again, the flesh of the Son of Man was given for the life of the world in order that he who eats the flesh of Christ may have eternal life. (John 6:54)

– Martin Chemnitz, second-generation Lutheran theologian, reformer, churchman, and confessor. In the Lutheran tradition he is known as Alter Martinus, the "Second Martin": Si Martinus non fuisset, Martinus vix stetisset ("If Martin [Chemnitz] had not come along, Martin [Luther] would hardly have survived") goes a common saying concerning him.

Luther's Large Catechism
V. The Sacrament of the Altar

1 Just as we have heard about Holy Baptism, so we must also speak about the other Sacrament, in these same three points: What is it? What are its benefits? and Who is to receive it? And all these points are established through the words by which Christ has instituted this Sacrament. 2 Everyone who desires to be a Christian and go to this Sacrament should know them. For it is not our intention to let people come to the Sacrament and administer it to them if they do not know what they seek or why they come. The words, however, are these:
3 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 is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
4 Here also we do not wish to enter into controversy and fight with the defamers and blasphemers of this Sacrament, but to learn first (as we did with Baptism) what is of the greatest importance. The chief point is God’s Word and ordinance or command. For the Sacrament has not been invented nor introduced by any man. Without anyone’s counsel and deliberation it has been instituted by Christ. 5 The Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Creed keep their nature and worth, even if you never keep, pray, or believe them. So also this honorable Sacrament remains undisturbed. Nothing is withdrawn or taken from it, even though we use and administer it unworthily. 6 Do you think God cares about what we do or believe, as though on that account He should allow His ordinance to be changed? Why, in all worldly matters everything stays the way God has created and ordered it, no matter how we employ or use it. 7 This point must always be taught, for by it the chatter of nearly all the fanatical spirits can be repelled. For they regard the Sacraments, unlike God’s Word, as something that we do.
8 “Now, what is the Sacrament of the Altar?”
Answer, “It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in and under the bread and wine, which we Christians are commanded by Christ’s Word to eat and to drink.” 9 Just as we have said that Baptism is not simple water, so here also we say that though the Sacrament is bread and wine, it is not mere bread and wine, such as are ordinarily served at the table [1 Corinthians 10:16–17]. But this is bread and wine included in, and connected with, God’s Word.
10 It is the Word, I say, that makes and sets this Sacrament apart. So it is not mere bread and wine, but is, and is called, Christ’s body and blood [1 Corinthians 11:23–27]. For it is said, “When the Word is joined to the element or natural substance, it becomes a Sacrament.” This saying of St. Augustine is so properly and so well put that he has scarcely said anything better. The Word must make a Sacrament out of the element, or else it remains a mere element. 11 Now, it is not the word or ordinance of a prince or emperor. But it is the Word of the grand Majesty, at whose feet all creatures should fall and affirm it is as He says, and accept it with all reverence, fear, and humility [Isaiah 45:23; Philippians 2:10].
12 With this Word you can strengthen your conscience and say, “If a hundred thousand devils, together with all fanatics, should rush forward, crying, ‘How can bread and wine be Christ’s body and blood?’ and such, I know that all spirits and scholars together are not as wise as is the Divine Majesty in His little finger” [see 1 Corinthians 1:25]. 13 Now here stands Christ’s Word, “Take, eat; this is My body.… Drink of it, all of you; this is My blood of the new testament,” and so on. Here we stop to watch those who will call themselves His masters and make the matter different from what He has spoken. It is true, indeed, that if you take away the Word or regard the Sacrament without the words, you have nothing but mere bread and wine. 14 But if the words remain with them, as they shall and must, then, by virtue of the words, it is truly Christ’s body and blood. What Christ’s lips say and speak, so it is. He can never lie or deceive [Titus 1:2].
15 It is easy to reply to all kinds of questions about which people are troubled at the present time, such as this one: “Can even a wicked priest serve at and administer the Sacrament?” And whatever other questions like this there may be. 16 For here we conclude and say, “Even though an imposter takes or distributes the Sacrament, a person still receives the true Sacrament, that is, Christ’s true body and blood, just as truly as a person who ‹receives or› administers it in the most worthy way.” For the Sacrament is not founded upon people’s holiness, but upon God’s Word. Just as no saint on earth, indeed, no angel in heaven, can make bread and wine be Christ’s body and blood, so also no one can change or alter it, even though it is misused. 17 The Word by which it became a Sacrament and was instituted does not become false because of the person or his unbelief. For Christ does not say, “If you believe or are worthy, you receive My body and blood.” No, He says, “Take, eat and drink; this is My body and blood.” Likewise, He says, “Do this” (i.e., what I now do, institute, give, and ask you, take). 18 That is like saying, “No matter whether you are worthy or unworthy, you have here His body and blood by virtue of these words that are added to the bread and wine.” 19 Note and remember this well. For upon these words rest all our foundation, protection, and defense against all errors and deception that have ever come or may yet come.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 433

Sunday, April 17, 2011

He Came to Die

If you would like to hear the sermon preached at Trinity Lutheran Church in Layton, Utah for Palmarum, Palm Sunday, "He Came to Die," click on this MP3 link.

The audio begins with the the Hymn of the Day, "A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth," LSB #438. The sermon begins at the 5:03 mark.

A blessed Holy Week to and yours as you join all the baptized children of God who cry, "Hossana!". For Jesus came to die for you that you might live forever.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Will You Never See Death?

If you would like to hear the sermon preached at Trinity Lutheran Church in Layton, Utah for Judica, the Fifth Sunday in Lent, "Will You Never See Death?," click on this MP3 link.

The audio begins with the the Hymn of the Day, "My Song Is Love Unknown," LSB #430. The sermon begins at the 3:15 mark.

Have a blessed week as you keep the Word of God in faith even as that Word, and Him made flesh to dwell with His people keeps you with God in the kingdom of heaven.