Inconsistency Kills

As this editorial proves, if churches such as the Church of England or the Episcopal Church think they can get away with ordaining men and women(!) who are not celibate, and then tell them they can’t get “married,” they will not long be able to survive with the inconsistency. It is either stand firm and take the fire, or concede ground and lose the war. There can be no compromise with unrepentant (that’s the key word here) sinners who want the full rights and benefits of leaders in the church. I predict that the elcA will also lose this battle, namely, trying to have it both ways.


Flags in the Nave (or Chancel, or Sanctuary)

Interesting article here on flags in church buildings. While I think that talk of “empire building” is rhetorical nonsense, the point about having the American flag (or a silly “Christian” flag; sorry!) in church buildings is well-taken. I understand that those flags can be sensitive issues, especially if they were provided by a member of the congregation who is a veteran. However, if they must be somewhere in the building, put them in the narthex or something.
This also goes with my opinion that Independence Day celebrations should not include many patriotic songs. Songs that are prayers for the country are good; “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” is not. This goes for the other side as well: “Amerika” bashing does not belong in the pulpit.


Sermon for Pentecost 11

Pentecost XI, July 31, 2005

ďYou Give Them Something to EatĒ
Matthew 14:13-21

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

During this past year, Iíve had the opportunity to see what the daily life of a pastor is like. I have visited people in the hospital and people who are not able to leave their houses. Iíve visited many who were sick and some who were dying. Iíve been present at weddings and funerals, baptisms and confirmations. Iíve prayed with many of you and for you. I assisted Pastor T. in giving into your hands and mouths the precious Body and Blood of our Savior, Jesus. I have shared Godís Word with you from this pulpit and in Bible studies. I have experienced the challenge of dividing time between my ďjobĒ and my wife and daughter. I have learned from you what it means to be the people of God in a particular place; what it means to be at the same time saints and sinners, family, the Body of Christ.

And I have also learned that there never is, nor will there ever be, enough time to do everything that a pastor is expected to do, or even everything he would like to do. The role of a pastor is, in its essence, delivering forgiveness of sins through the preaching Godís Word and through the Sacraments. There are things that go along with that, like bringing Godís Word and Holy Communion to those who cannot receive it in the church, or bringing comfort and peace to those in the hospital or those who have lost loved ones. In order to do those things, the pastor continually has to be studying. Jesus says in Matthew 13:52, ďTherefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.Ē Bringing out the new and the old from the treasure of Godís Word requires that a pastor be engaged in continual study of that Word. Beyond that, there are fellowship meals, meetings, counseling, and above all, prayer. And with all of those things, the pastor still needs time for his family. I have learned that it is not easy, and yet the joy of the Lord runs deep.
Continue reading

Good Music ZwŲlf

[See some previous entries: 11, 7, 6, 2, 1 ]

What’s good recently? (Is that sentence grammatically correct?)

1. The new Starflyer 59 cd, Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice. Their last few cds do not differentiate themselves in my mind. This one sticks out. Strings? Horns? Yes, this is Starflyer, and Jason Martin rocks. They have reissues of their classic Gold and Silver albums here.

2. I know I’m late here, but Iron and Wine is good! I just picked up Our Endless Numbered Days, and I can’t stop listening. Get it!

3. At the same time that I got Iron and Wine, I got Sufjan Stevens‘ new one, Illinois (or: “Sufjan Stevens invites you to come on, feel the Illinoise!”). Genius. As far from mainstream as it gets. Amazing. It’s so popular it’s out of stock at Asthmatic Kitty (see link above). If you like Sam Beam’s voice (Iron and Wine), you should like Sufjan.

4. Finally (for this edition), am I glad that Chris Staples didn’t stop making music! If you know who twothirtyeight is, you know who Chris Staples is. If you know who twothirtyeight is, I don’t need to tell you to get Discover America, Psychology. While you’re at it, get this one too.

[By the way, I’m looking forward to this.]


Two Fears

The account in Holy Scripture concerning the crossing of the Red Sea provides an outlook on two types of fear. As the Israelites shook in their sandals as Pharaoh and the Egyptian army chased them to the water, Moses addresses God’s people: “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today” (Ex. 14:13a, ESV). God’s people were not to fear this enemy.

And then the rest of Scripture provides similar admonitions–“Fear not…” (Isaiah 41:10), “I will fear no evil…” (Psalm 23:4), “whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1), “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7), and “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18a).
Continue reading

The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel: Thesis VI

“In the second place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the Law is not preached in its full sternness and the Gospel not in its full sweetness, when, on the contrary, Gospel elements are mingled with the Law and Law elements with the Gospel” (C.F.W Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel reproduced from the German edition of 1897 by W.H.T. Dau (St. Louis: Concordia, 1986), 1).

The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel: Thesis V

“The first manner of confounding Law and Gospel is the one most easily recognized–and the grossest. It is adopted, for instance, by Papists, Socinians, and Rationalists and consists in this, that Christ is represented as a new Moses, or Lawgiver, and the Gospel turned into a doctrine of meritorious works, while at the same time those who teach that the Gospel is the message of the free grace of God in Christ are condemned and anathematized, as is done by the papists” (C.F.W Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel reproduced from the German edition of 1897 by W.H.T. Dau (St. Louis: Concordia, 1986), 1).

Black and White According to a Mormon Leader

Where did they come up with this stuff?

“There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantages. The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here, and were obedient, more or less, to the laws that were given us there. Those who were faithful in all things there received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less” (Joseph Fielding Smith in Mormonism 101: Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints eds. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 237).

Three Hours Until…

Will President Bush leave a positive mark on the Supreme Court? Or will his pick be compromising and spineless? I can think of nothing better than another Scalia, but will politics trump conviction? We’ll find out at 9:00 EST tonight. The positive impact of the President’s nominee will undoubtedly be in inverse proportion to the shrillness of the Democrats’ response. But no matter how “moderate” the nominee, does anyone really expect the Kennedy and Pelosi-type Democrats (is there any other kind?) to allow the President to pick anyone without a drawn-out and bitter fight? We’ll have the answers to those questions in the next few months.

I consider this decision to be more important than anything else in these four years (except, perhaps, another Supreme Court nomination).

UPDATE: President Bush has nominated Judge John G. Roberts for the Supreme Court. I don’t know anything about him, except, it’s got to be good if Dick Durbin says, “The president had an opportunity to unite the country with his Supreme Court nomination, to nominate an individual in the image of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Instead, by putting forward John Roberts’ name, President Bush has chosen a more controversial nominee and guaranteed a more controversial confirmation process.” Bring it.