Monday, March 29, 2010

Ratzinger, Thomas a Becket, and the Abuse Scandal in the Catholic Church

The public is rightly outraged at the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. A priest in Wisconsin had abused some 300 boys and when the responsible church leaders thought that it should be dealt with before public scandal become publicly known, Cardinal Ratzinger (apparently) said that since the man had confessed and been absolved the issue was over.

Of course the institution was trying to protect itself. Smarting from what it thought was great anti-Catholic sentiment in the public community, the decision was to made the drop the proceedings against the offending priest.

What is at work here is not so much the failings of any individual bishop ('What did Cardinal Ratzinger know and when did he know it?') but an institutional failure to properly distinguish between church doctrine and practice and civic law.

The abuse of the 300 boys called out for justice, secular justice. By claiming that the issue had been resolved by confession and absolution the institution failed to properly distinguish between the secular and the religious.

This all sounds vaguely familiar and so I looked back in church history to England and Thomas a Becket and King Henry II. Talk about a full-fledged battle royal over the doctine of the two kingdoms, this was it.

In 1164 Thomas a Becket was Archbishop of Canterbury and Henry II was in the twelfth year of his reign. The issue under consideration was whether the king's justice should prevail over the priests who had committed civil crimes. The church said that there would be no civic jurisdiction over priests in any circumstance. The king thought otherwise.

The Constitution of Clarendon (1164) makes for an interesting historical study. The essential part of the agreement was this: "Clergymen charged and accused of anything shall, on being summoned to a justice of the king, come into his court, to be responsible there for whatever it may seem to be the king's court they should there be responsible for; and [to be responsible] in the ecclesiastic court [for what] it may seem they should there be responsible for - so that the king's justice shall send into the court of Holy Church to see on what ground matters are there to be treated. And if the clergyman is convicted, or [if he] confesses, the Church should no longer protect him." [source: Stephenson and Markham, "Sources of English Constitutional History A Selection of Documents From A.D. 600 to the Present," New York and London: Harper & Bros., 1937, p. 73-74)

Of course this was the basis for a great controversy in England. Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by soldiers of the King who thought that they were acting in the interests of the king. Becket's martyrdom is one of the great images of the medieval period. While Henry bears moral responsibility for the murder of the Archbishop, he was, in my opinion, right about the issues described at the Constitution of Clarendon.

The moral of the story is this: Pastors make poor kings, and kings make poor pastors.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Donkey - a poem by G.K. Chesterton

WHEN fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will,
Starve, scourge, deride me I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools, for I also had my hour,
One far fierce hour and sweet,
There was a shout about my ears
And palms before my feet.

BCP - The Sunday Next Before Easter

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, which, of thy tender love toward man, hast sent our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant, that we both follow the example of his patience, and be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Epistle [Phil. 2

Let the same mind be in you, that was also in Christ Jesu: which when he was in the shape of God, thought it no [sic] robbery to be equal with God. Nevertheless he made himself of no reputation, taking on him the shape of a servant, and became like unto man, and was found in his apparel, as a man. He humbled himself, and became obedient to the death, even to the death of the cross. Wherefore God hath also exalted him on high, and given him a name which is above all names, that in the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, both of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that all tongues should confess, that Jesus Christ is the Lord, unto the praise of God the Father.

For a sermon by Martin Luther on this text, please go to

The Gospel [Matt. 26

The entire chapter is too long to conveniently present in this format. Lectionary Central had no listing for a Martin Luther sermon on this occasion.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A final follow-up to the Texas Schoolbook case

Readers of this blog who have been following the case of the Texas Schoolbook Controversy will, I hope, find this Sam Tanenhaus essay to be a good read. I think that Tanenhaus puts the whole thing in perspective. He writes: "this controversy is the latest version of a debate that reaches back many decades and is perhaps essential in a heterogeneous democracy whose identity has long been in flux."

That's a long link and I hope that I got it right.

Friday, March 19, 2010

BCP-The Fifth Sunday in Lent - Judica

Gospels of Henry the Lion, 1175-88, German Miniaturist, Illumination on parchment, Herzog-August-Bibliothek, Wolfenbuttel

The Collect

We beseech thee Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people; that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Epistle [Heb. 9

Christ being an high priest of good things to come, came by a greater and a more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, and found eternal redemption. For if the blood of oxen and of goats, and the ashes of a young cow, when it is sprinkled, purifieth the unclean, as touching the purifying of the flesh how much more shall the blood of Christ (which through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God)purge your conscience from dead works, for to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that through death, which chanced for the redemption of those transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

Follow this link to a sermon by Martin Luther on this text.

The Gospel [John 8

Which of you can rebuke me of sin? If I say the truth why do ye not believe me? He that is of God, heareth God's words. Ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan and hast the devil? Jesus answered, I have not the devil but I honor my Father, and ye have dishonored me. I seek not mine own praise; there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham which is dead? And the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honor my self mine honor is nothing. It is my Father that honoreth me, which ye say is your God, and yet ye have not known him; but I know hin. And if I say I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you. But I know him and keep his saying. Your father Abraham was glad to see my day, and he saw it and rejoiced. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty year old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ere Abraham was born, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him, but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.

For a sermon by Martin Luther on this text go to

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The sphere of the Church is different from the sphere of the state-The Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms explained


by C. H. Little, D. D., S. T. D.

This is a question that pertains properly to the State, which has within its province the regulation of the outward lives of men and the making and execution of laws for the welfare of society and for the benefit of its citizens. It is not a question that properly pertains to the Church, the sphere of which is quite different. But inasmuch as many Churches have taken action on this question and have attempted to bind their members to a certain course of action in regard to it, this question comes into consideration here.

In fact, in many Churches this question is regarded as one of the major moral questions of the age, and anyone who dares to oppose prohibition is scarcely regarded as a Christian at all. Even Lutheran Churches with their clear-cut view of the separation of Church and State, have in many instances left their safe moorings on this issue. Many synods have their Temperance Committees, which are little else than Prohibition Committees, whose chief function is to draw up resolutions asking the State to enact or maintain prohibition laws. And this they do, not as citizens, but as a Church and in the name of the Church. The ground for such action is that the issue is a moral one, and as such comes within the Church's sphere.

No one will claim that the State has no right to enact and enforce prohibition laws if it conceives such laws to be for the benefit of its citizens. No one also will deny that many evils result from the abuse of alcoholic liquors, or that cases may arise that call for energetic action on the part of the governing body. But the Church in taking action upon this question is departing from its rightful sphere and entering upon that of the State. It is still more culpable when it goes to radical extremes and denounces all use of intoxicants as wicked and wrong, or even pronounces these things as evils in themselves; or when it perverts the Scriptures to prove its point, as is so often done.

The Church must bear unwavering testimony against drunkenness as a heinous sin. It must point out that drunkenness is classed with other sins of the flesh, such as fornication and adultery, which excludes its addicts from any inheritance in the kingdom of God. But when the Church quotes such passages as "Touch not, taste not, handle not," as referring to intoxicating liquors, or on the basis of such passages as Daniel 1: 8, or Jeremiah 35: 6, publishes "Drink no wine" as a Biblical or Divine command, it is wilfully deceptive. And when passages like Proverbs 20:1 and 23: 31 are quoted as proving that wine is in itself an evil thing which must be avoided at all hazards, the Scriptures are again perverted, as the context shows clearly that these passages are directed against the abuse of wine.

Many other passages might be cited which show that wine is a good gift of God, as, e.g., Ps. 104:14-15, and belongs to those things of which it is said, "Every gift of God is good, and nothing to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer." The rule to govern us Christians is that laid down in the apostolic exhortation, "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess."

The Church cannot go further on this question. It can warn against the dangers lurking in intoxicants; but it has no right to call upon the State to legislate these things out of existence, or to denounce all opposition to such a course as immoral. Members of the Church have a right as citizens to form and exercise their own judgment upon this matter without interference or dictation from the Church. The Church's only weapon of offense is the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit. Let her apply that, and her duty is done.

[source: Jay Webber's site

John Keble - hymnwriter -Was Keble a humble minister?

The title page of the Christian Year by John Keble published in 1886.

He was born on St Mark’s Day, April 25th 1792 at the family home in Fairford (now Keble House), the son of another John Keble who was Vicar of Coln St Aldwyns. He was taught at home by his father until in 1806 (not yet 15 years old) he won a scholarship to his father’s old Oxford college, Corpus Christi. In 1810 he took a double first in classics and mathematics: very few had ever managed this before (Sir Robert Peel being one of them) and Keble at just 18 was probably the youngest ever. In 1811 he was elected a Fellow of Oriel College, where the Senior Common Room at that time had a reputation for its outstanding intellectual abilities. He was ordained Deacon in 1815 and Priest the following year and was appointed curate of Eastleach Martin (or Burthorpe) and Eastleach Turville. In the university vacations he lived at Fairford and served his parishes from there: in term time, he and his brother Thomas took it in turns to go out from Oxford on Sundays, and their father looked after things during the week. He was a College tutor from 1817 to 1823 when his mother died. He took on Southrop as well as the Eastleaches and lived there taking in pupils.

In 1825 he went to be curate of Hursley near Winchester but next year returned home. His favourite sister Mary Anne had died and Keble served as curate to his elderly father until he died at the beginning of 1835.

In October 1835 he married; and at the end of the year he returned to Hursley as Vicar and remained there until his death on 29th March 1866.

Why is Keble important? We have mentioned his hymns. He was not actually a hymn writer but a poet and compilers of hymn books have generally selected verses from his longer poems. The best known collection is ‘The Christian Year’ first published in 1827. It contains poems for each Sunday of the year and the other Holy Days. Over 100.000 copies were sold in the first 25 years, many more after his death and it is still in print.

Lyra Innocentium followed in 1846, published to pay for the restoration of Hursley Church. It was the National Apostasy Sermon which Keble preached in 1833 in St Mary’s Oxford, that John Henry Newman took as marking the beginning of the Oxford Movement, where leaders (mainly Keble, Newman and Pusey) are also called Tractarians because of Tracts for the Times they published.

Many think the Oxford Movement was to do with ‘High Church’ and ‘ritualism’. It was not. It was the revival of theology, a re-discovery of our rootsi in the teaching of the ancient Church fathers (many of whose writings were translated by the Tractarians). It was a revival of discipline and holiness. They were men of great piety and earnestness which makes them seem humourless, which contemporaries tell us they certainly were not.

[source: John Hunt]

I found the following in The New York Times archive of July 11, 1903.

"Sun of My Soul"
The New York Times Saturday Review of Books:
In your issue of June 27 "Hymn Studies" concludes a very pleasant letter about some very fine hymns by asking: "Would like to know where the entire poem entitled 'Sun of My Soul, Thou Saviour,'can be found."

Compilers of hymn books have taken the liberty with this poem by giving it the name or title of the first line of the third stanza - "Sun of my soul, thou Saviour dear," and this has probably misled your inquirer.

The entire poem of fourteen stanzas is printed in "The Christian Year" by Keble, published by Cassell & Co, New York, under the simple title of "Evening," and begins with lines:

" 'Tis gone, that bright and orbed blaze,
Fast fading from our wistful gaze."

There are many other fine poems in this book, which will doubtless delight "Hymn Studies," but does he not make a mistake in calling Keble an humble minister? He was very High Church, and I think it a contradiction in terms to call a "High"-Churchman humble.

Birmingham, Ala., July 1, 1903

A favorite evening hymn by John Keble

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Texas School Book story cont'd

Today's Times had an interesting collection of letters on the Texas School Book selection story and subsequent controversy.

I thought that this writer made a lot of sense: "Many conservatives are simply unwilling to accept how much the writing and teaching of American history have changed over the last 40 years. They want an American history that ignores or marginalizes African-Americans, women, Latinos, immigrants and popular culture. They prefer a pseudo-patriotic history that denies the fundamental conflicts that have shaped our past.

"Rather than acknowledge that genuine disagreements over interpretation and emphasis are the lifeblood of history, they reduce it all to a cartoonish process of balancing “bias.” This sort of right-wing political correctness impoverishes our students and teachers."

That's just my opinion. Read for yourself.

Go to

Unbelief, Matthew 6:33, and the case of the ELS pastor's son

I was reading Michael Kinsley in The Atlantic and came across his comment that "These days everyone is disenchanted with civic institutions and government. They hate the press, they loathe Congress, and so on." I asked one of my acquaintances if he had noted, as I have, that there is disrespect for the government coming from the church and from church people. He said that that was true. And the reason, he continued, was that morality isn't the same today as when I was younger.

I thought about this for a while but had to concede that I couldn't get my mind around that idea. I was born in the 40s and attended school in the 50s and the 60s. I was in the Army in the late 60s and early 70s and somehow I just couldn't grasp that morality was better in those days than it is now. My recollection is that Bernard of Cluny wrote a hymn that the world is getting very evil and that a Christian should be prepared.

Of course if one sees that morality is in decline, there is a tendency, even among church people, to explain the reasons for the decline and then to do something about it. A reason to engender support for one's agenda is to assert that something is bad in the arena of public life and that the audience should act appropriately. The common idea is that morality is in serious decline and that the government is behind it. Christians, the message goes, should be aware of this and do something about it before it is too late.

I was quite surprised to see last week in a publication from a respected Lutheran theological seminary that a respected Lutheran theological professor had walked in the annual January Washington DC rally against Roe v. Wade. I also read on the internet of a Lutheran pastor's explanation of recent American history to the effect that America wasn't what it used to be because it had embraced secularism.

That same Lutheran pastor was so concerned about social issues that he had tied together European social practices in an unusual way with his confirmation class. He said to his class that old people were being euthanized in Holland and that problem babies are killed or left to die. He encourages his kids to act out some imaginary situations for him. He wrote that he had been doing this "for years." All I can say is that I am glad that my kids aren't in that confirmation class.

Of course if a seminary professor wants to walk in a rally, that 's his business and his right as a citizen. If a pastor wants to introduce crack-potty stuff in his confirmation class he can do that, too. He shouldn't be surprised, however, if his parishioners start to walk out on him.

It's OK if people have their own political beliefs, but it is not a good thing when they wish to impose the burden of their beliefs on to the consciences of others. This binding of consciences is a very serious thing for a Lutheran and is to be avoided as the Lutheran Confessions declare.

Finally, last week, I read about an ELS pastor's son who faces felony charges in the break-in [see comments for a clarification] at Congresswoman Landry's office in Louisiana. [I am an ELS pastor's son. When I was given orders to Viet-Nam I asked my Dad about it. He suggested that I read Luther's essay on whether a soldier could be saved and then fulfill my civic obligation, obey the law of the land, do my Christian duty, and get on the plane.] This PK was so caught up in the right-wing politics in his own mind that he did what he thought should be done to make things right. The idea of the extreme right wing is that it is OK to violate the law of the land so that a higher law might be obeyed. He broke in to the Congresswoman's office, was then arrested, and now he is in very serious trouble.

But what law is at stake? The idea of the right is to look beyond the law of the land to a higher law. The practical problem for those who live in the world is to determine who shall define this law. That's what law and politics is all about. It's not about what some medieval philosopher thinks or what some bishop declares. The idea that the world needs to be improved by the actions of the faithful is, pure and simple, unbelief.

With all of this unbelief going around last week, I found comfort in reading Luther's sermon on the Gospel for last week. He said: "In today's Gospel [the feeding of the five thousand] Christ gives us another lesson in faith, that we should not be overanxious about our daily bread and our temporal existence, and stirs us up by means of a miracle; as though to say by his act what he says by his words in Matthew 6,33: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." For here we see, since the people followed Christ for the sake of God's Word and the signs, and thus sought the Kingdom of God, he did not forsake them but richly fed them."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lutheran Study Bible - all about animal skins - Genesis 3:20

I am behind in my project of reviewing the two study Bibles. The Lutheran Study Bible (C) has been published by Concordia and the Lutheran Study Bible (A) has been published by Augsburg. I have deliberately refrained from saying that I prefer the one over the other as I would like to keep an open mind for as long as I am able to do so.

I invite anyone to submit comments to this blog for consideration.

A reader of this blog has this to say about the (C). The reference is to a note on page 20, Genesis 3:21. "It [i.e. the note in the (C)] says, 'Some commentators argue that God killed animals to provide a covering for Adam and Eve, thus anticipating the introduction of the sacrificial system (as providing a covering for sins), and so ultimately pointing to Christ. However, nothing in this verse necessarily implies that god killed the animals whose skins were used; they could have died of natural causes after the fall. Moreover, this verse is never treated as messianic elsewhere in the Bible. While it may be read by Christians as an allegory pointing to Christ, it is probably more accurate in this context to suggest that the verse demonstrates God's continuing care for Adam and Eve (ultimately for all creation) despite the judgment that He had pronounced on them.'

"I [i.e. the correspondent to this blog] believe whoever wrote this is entirely wrong. In fact, all of Scripture testifies of nothing else but Christ (Jn. 5:39). The fact that this passage isn't quoted directly in some passages of Scripture is irrelevant. We do not always need a direct quote in order to make a link from this or that passage to Christ. If the link can be made we should make it. Furthermore, why would God use the skins of dead animals to cloth [sic] Adam and Eve, especially given the fact that He later makes it divine law that anyone who touches the body of a dead animal that still has blood in it (which of course one that died of natural causes would) is unclean. Given the fact that 'without the shedding of blood there is no remission (Hb 9:22), and that those standing around the throne of God are 'they who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb' (Rv. 7:14), it seems to me that the natural conclusion to make with regard to Gn. 3:21, is that the clothing made of skin were provided by shedding of the blood of some beast of the field; and I can well imagine that it may even have been skin from a Lamb.

"I have naught, my God to offer,
Save the blood of Thy dear Son;
Graciously accept the proffer;
Make his righteousness mine own.
His holy life gave He, was crucified for me;
His righteousness perfect He now pleads before Thee;
His own robe of righteousness, my highest good,
Shall clothe me in glory through faith in His blood.

"No, Norman, I believe that those are exactly right who say that the skins provided for the clothing of Adam and Eve after the fall into sin, were provided by the shedding of blood; and that this is a metaphor of the robe of righteousness, the wedding garment provided for every believer in Christ by the shedding of His blood on Calvary's holy Cross."

[In my hymnbook, The Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, the verse is from #182.]

(A) has no note for Genesis 3:20.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

BCP - Lent 4 - Laetare

Lambert Lombard, The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, Rockox House, Antwerp

The Collect

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we which for our evil deeds are worthily punished, by the comfort of thy grace may mercifully be relieved; through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Epistle [Gal. 4

Tell me (ye that desire to be under the law) do ye not hear of the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. Yea, and he which was born of the bondwoman was born after the flesh, but he which was born of the freewoman was born by promise, which things are spoken by an allegory. For these are two testaments, the one from the Mount Sinai, which gendereth [generates] unto bondage, which is Agar. For Mount Sinai is Agar in Arabia, and bordereth upon the city which is now called Jerusalem, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that barest no children; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not; for the desolate have many mo [more] children than she which hath an husband. Brethren, we are after Isaac the children of promise. But as then he that was both after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the spirit, even so is it now. Nevertheless, what saith the Scripture? Put away the bondwoman and her son. For the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the freewoman.

For a sermon by Martin Luther, please go to the link:

The Gospel [John 6

Jesus departed over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias, and a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. And Easter (Passover), a feast of the Jews, was nigh. When Jesus then lift up his eyes and saw a great company come unto him, he said unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? This he said to prove him, for he himself what he would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth ($40.00) of bread are not sufficient for them, that every man may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew (Simon Peter's brother), saith unto him, There is a lad which hath five barley loaves and two fishes, but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the people sit down. There was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the break, and when he had given thanks, he gave to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were sat down, and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they had eaten enough, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the broken meat which remaineth, that nothing be lost. And they gathered it together and filled twelve baskets with the broken meat of the five barley loaves, which broken meat remained unto them that had eaten. Then those men (when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did) said, This is of a truth the same prophet that shoulde come into the world.

For a sermon by Martin Luther on this text please follow the link:

Choralphantasie by Nicolaus Bruhns

A nice prelude and fugue

Saturday, March 6, 2010

SALLUST 86 - 34 BC Roman Historian

Sallust was a well-known Roman historian and politician, a friend of Julius Caesar who made him governor of Numdia in North Africa. Sallust made a fortune there, then he returned to Rome where he became a writer of history.
Sallust concentrated in his writings on the critical stages in the decline of the Roman republic. He treated history as more than just a chronicle of events; he stated the reasons for each event. (Luther mentions Sallust in the Gospel Sermon for Oculi 3)

Major works are: 'The Jugurthine War', and 'The Cataline conspiracy'.

Luther Sermons for Oculi Sunday (Lent 3)

Follow this link to Lectionary Central for a sermon by Martin Luther on the Gospel for Lent 3.

Follow this link to a sermon on the Epistle.

How cool is Gabriel Faure?

more Gibbons

Orlando Gibbons

How about some Buxtehude?

I didn't know that . . .

Follow the link to an interesting and well-written article about the changing nature of church-state relations in Europe.

Friday, March 5, 2010

BCP- The Third Sunday in Lent

The Collect

We beseech thee Almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of thy humble servants, and stretch forth the right hand of thy majesty, to be our defense against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Epistle [Ephesians 5

Be you the followers of God as dear children, and walk in love even as Christ loved us, and gave himself for us an offering and a sacrifice of a sweet savor to God. As for fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as it becometh saints; or filthiness, or foolish talking, or jesting, which are not comely, but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, either unclean person, or covetous person (which is a worshiper of images) hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of such things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore companions of them. Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light, for the fruit of the Spirit consisteth in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth. Accept that which is pleasing unto the Lord, and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather rebuke them. For it is a shame even to name those things, which are done of them in secret: but all things when they are brought forth by the light are manifest. For whatsoever is manifest, the same is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and stand up from death, and Christ shall give thee light.

Follow this link to a sermon by Martin Luther on this text:

The Gospel [Luke 11

Jesus was casting out a devil that was dumb. And when he had cast out the devil, the dumb spake, and the people wondered. But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. And other tempted him, and required of him a sign from heaven. But he knowing their thoughts said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is desolate; and one house doth fall upon another. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall this kingdom endure? Because ye say I cast out devils through Beelzebub. If I by the help of Beelzebub cast our devils, by whose help do our children cast them out? Therefore shall they be your judges. But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed watcheth his house, the things that he possesseth are in peace. But when a stronger than he cometh upon him, and overcometh him, he taketh from him all his harness (wherein he trusted) and divideth his good. He that is not with me is against me. And he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad. When he unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places seeking rest. And when he findeth none, he saith, I will return again into my house whence I came out; And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he and taketh to him seven other spirits worse than himself;and they enter in and dwell there. And the end of that man is worse than the beginning. And it fortuned that as he spake these things, a certain woman for the company lift up her voice and said unto him, Happy is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which gave thee suck. But he said, Yea, happy are they that hear the Word of and keep it.

Follow link to a sermon by Martin Luther on this text

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

Prayer in time of difficulty and sorrow-'Herre Jesu Krist! Min Frelser du est'

Lord Jesus Christ, My Savior blest,
My Hope and my Salvation!
I trust in Thee; Deliver me,
From misery;
Thy Word's my consolation.

When sorrows rise,
My refuge lies
In Thy compassion tender.
Within Thine arm
Can naught alarm;
Keep me from harm,
Be Thou my strong Defender.

I have Thy Word,
Christ, Jesus, Lord;
Thou never wilt forsake me.
This will I plead
In time of need.
O help with speed,
When troubles overtake me!

Grant, Lord, we pray,
Thy grace each day,
That we, Thy law revering,
May live with Thee,
And happy be
Before thy throne appearing.

from The Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, #258, v. 1,5,6,7