22 February 2011

Preparing for Lent

A big "Thank you" to Pr. Weedon for his thoughts on Gesimatide and preparing for Lent (and for plugging our joint Lenten series - titled "Cover Up" - on Confession and Absolution)! Here's what Pr. Weedon offered over on his blog to help us do some "warm up exercises" for the marathon of Lent:


Using Gesimatide to Prepare for Lent

Okay, the days of Gesimatide are upon us.  The Gospels for these Sundays teach us that our salvation is a gift, not the result of our efforts; that it is accomplished by the power of God's Word; that by faith in our Jesus, we will go up to Jerusalem with Him, having our eyes opened to see that He is indeed the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  With this wonderful theological grounding, we also remember the wise words of Adolf K√∂berle:  "At all events even asceticism can be described by the paradoxical statement:  Its exercise can give salvation to no one but its neglect can corrupt anyone."

So as not to fall into that corruption, the Lenten disciplines are set before us.  Not as though they are tools we ought use only during the Lenten days, but as training for all our days of battling the old man in the power of the Holy Spirit and with the joyful concurrence of the new man.

* Prayer - can I spend more time intentionally in prayer this Lent?  Here's a prayer that might be of use:


Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy On Me a Sinner
Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal Word of the Father,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, the Word through whom all things were made,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, foretold by the prophets in signs and words,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, in the fullness of time conceived by the Holy Spirit,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Holy Virgin,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, hymned by the angels,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, adored by the shepherds,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, worshipped by the Magi,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, held by St. Simeon,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, praised by St. Anna,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, obedient to your parents,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to a sinner's baptism,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, fasting in the wilderness,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, driving out demons,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, cleansing the lepers,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, giving sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, teaching the precepts of the kingdom,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, raising the dead,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, walking on water and changing water into wine,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, praised by the little children,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, riding into Your city as the sacrifice appointed,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, giving your body and blood to be eaten and drunk,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, praying in the garden,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, bound and mocked,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, stripped and beaten,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, innocently condemned to death,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, opening Your hands upon the cross to embrace the world,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, knowing the loneliness of our exile and our sin,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, trampling down death by death,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, pouring forth water and blood to save the world,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, sanctifying our graves by lying in a tomb,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, harrowing hell and releasing the prisoners,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, rising in victory over death and corruption,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, appearing to the disciples in the broken bread,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, ascending in triumph,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, seated at the right hand of the Father,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, High Priest who ever lives to intercede for us,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, coming on the clouds of glory to renew all things,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, dread Judge at the Last Day,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

* Almsgiving - can I find ways to increase my giving to the poor and suffering in this world?  Can I grow in my experience of the profound truth of our Lord's words:  "It is more blessed to give than to receive"?  What can I do to concretely bless the poor this Lententide both in my own local community and in the world (LCMS World Relief is a good place to start for the world!)?

* Fasting - can I limit my intake of food during these days?  One tradition of the Western fast would encourage you to eat only 1/4 meal at breakfast, a regular lunch, and 1/4 meal in the evening.  No one who has a medical condition that would endanger their body (or is pregnant) should fast in this way; but others might find it a very fruitful and useful reminder that "man does not live by bread alone; but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God."

* Confession - before you head into Lent, why not schedule a time with your pastor to confess your sins and receive forgiveness?  This wonderful gift is far too underutilized in the Church - Luther professed that he was so blessed by it, that he'd never let anyone deprive him of it.  Sadly, we've been depriving ourselves far too often.

* Commitment to attend the extra services - make a commitment to be present when the Word of God is preached, His praises sung, His sacrament distributed during the Lenten days.  The Lenten midweeks are a great blessing as we follow our Lord's Passion.  The sermons at St. Paul's (and Hope in St. Louis - Pr. Asburry and I wrote our series together) for the Lenten Midweeks this year will focus on Confession and Absolution.  It is the Word of God that transforms us, and so the more richly we let the Word of Christ dwell in us, the more our joy in the Kingdom will increase.

Just a few thoughts as we prepare to launch into the great days of Fastenzeit - Holy Lent!

15 February 2011

What do you get...

...when you cross a bona fide sinner with a pastor who knows his Bible and teaches it with gusto with a president of a church body, namely the LCMS?

Watch and find out! It's only about 30 minutes, but well worth every second. Enjoy and be edified as President Matt Harrison speaks to the LCEF Fall Leadership Conference on the emphasis of "Witness, Mercy, and Life Together."

13 February 2011

Homily for the Transfiguration of Our Lord

For those of us who use the One-Year Lectionary according to Lutheran Service Book, today marked the Transfiguration of Our Lord and the conclusion of the Epiphany season. (Three-Year Lectionary folks in the Lutheran Church will celebrate this great feast in three weeks, and others in Christendom will celebrate it on August 6.) The Gospel reading from Matthew 17:1-9 gives so much on which to preach--the Lord's transfigured appearance; the "exodus" of Jesus' imminent suffering, death, and resurrection (cf. Luke 9); Peter's response; and the Father's voice from the cloud proclaiming Jesus His "beloved Son" with whom He is well please (a nice bookend to our Lord's Baptism in Matthew 3).

Today's homily focused on the "Glimpse of Glory" that our Lord gives us when He Himself is transfigured in brilliant, radiant glory. When we "see" Him transfigured in this Gospel account, we do get a foretaste - a glimpse - of the glory which He bestows on us purely by His grace and favor. Focusing on this "glimpse of glory" flows from the Collect of the Day in which we prayed, "Mercifully make us co-heirs with the King in His glory and bring us to the fullness of our inheritance in heaven."

Listen to the audio file of today's homily - "A Glimpse of Glory" - by clicking on this link and then downloading the audio file.

08 February 2011

A Must View!

Especially if you text while driving, or - I'll be bold and add it - if you like to chat on your phone while driving. This 11 minute documentary is a good, sobering wake up call!



Thank you, AT&T for making this available!

Homily for Epiphany 5

On this very rare occasion when we have a full compliment of Sundays after Epiphany, it was actually delightful to preach on the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds (tares) from Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. In keeping with Article VIII of the Augsburg Confession, our Lord does prepare us for and comfort us, as Church and in the spiritual realm, to deal with the very real presence of evil in the world and in the Church. With our Lord, the Sower, completely in control of His field (the world) and His crop of wheat (His Christians), it really is "Time to Do Nothing" - that is, we need not seek to eradicate evil but can learn to suffer hypocrites and the ungodly in the ranks of the Church. Oh, and be sure to listen for the "Gospel handle" on how "forgiveness" fits in with this parable! (An idea not original with me, but I'm glad I came across it.)

To listen, click on this link for "Time to Do Nothing," download the audio file, and listen away.

04 February 2011

Homily for the Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord

Wednesday, 2 February 2011, saw not only the fruits of a severe winter storm complete with freezing rain, sleet, and snow (affectionately called "snowmaggedon" or "snowpocalypse"), but it also gave us the privilege of celebrating the feast of The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord. Nine of us, including the Kantor and the Pastor, braved the elements and gathered to celebrate our Lord's presentation in the temple forty days after His nativity. The homily, "Great Promises in a Small Package," focused on Simeon holding the Infant Savior, his now immortal song, and what it all means for us in the Lord's Church.

Click this link (or the title link), download the audio file, and listen to "Great Promises in a Small Package."

Homily for Epiphany 4

One of the great themes of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not only the forgiveness of our sins, but also the restoration of all creation. That focus comes out in the readings for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, especially Romans 8:18-23. When Jesus calms the storm, He reveals Himself as the Lord of creation and promises to restore it, along with us, on the Last Day.

This homily for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, on Gospel reading from Matthew 8:23-27, was delivered on 30 January 2011 with the title "Even the Winds and Sea Obey Him!"

Click on this link (or the title link), download the audio file, and hear the homily.

Homily for Epiphany 3

This homily for the Third Sunday after Epiphany was delivered on 23 January 2011, along with a focus on Pro-Life Sunday. The Lord Jesus reveals Himself as the Lord of Life when He touches the leper and speaks healing for the centurion's servant (Matthew 8:1-13). He is "Lord of Life in Deed and Word." What a great text to connect with the sanctity of human life in our day!

To hear the homily, click on this link, download the audio file listen.