19 March 2010

St. Joseph, Guardian of Jesus

Today the Church remembers and honors St. Joseph, the stepfather and guardian of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lutheran Service Book gives these readings for observing this day:

2 Samuel 7:4-16 – God will raise up David’s offspring and He shall build a house for God’s name.

Psalm 127 – “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”

Romans 4:13-18 – God’s promise of offspring for Abraham came through the righteousness of faith.

Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23 – Joseph protects the Infant Jesus in the flight to Egypt then returns to the land of Israel and settles in Nazareth of Galilee.

Collect of the Day:

Almighty God, from the house of Your servant David You raised up Joseph to be the guardian of Your incarnate Son and the husband of His mother, Mary. Grant us grace to follow the example of this faithful workman in heeding Your counsel and obeying Your commands; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Hymn Verse:

We sing our thanks for Joseph,

The guardian of our Lord,

Who faithfully taught Jesus

Through craft and deed and word.

Grant wisdom, Lord, and patience

To parents ev’rywhere

Who guide and teach the children

Entrusted to their care. (LSB 517:14)


“Oh, Joseph, of the great heart, wearing goodness and understanding. You are strong, Joseph, a man of toil, of gnarled hands and faith and wise judgment. For a short moment long ago, you hesitated before this child, but then, in fullest love, you battled for him mightily, and won.

“You will endure, Joseph, for out of homeless nights and weary journeys and strength and sacrifice for a child, you built not beams and trestles, but life. Old carpenter, it is said you died in Jesus’ early manhood, but the structure that you raised lives on beyond the best of wood. You did not know at first, Joseph. But that boy was yours because you wanted him, and is yours, even as he is all mankind’s who want him.” (George W. Cornell [1920-1995], They Knew Jesus; cited in For All the Saints, III:1316)

17 March 2010

St. Patrick

On this day the Church honors St. Patrick, Bishop of Ireland. This article comes from a newsletter article from a couple of years ago.

Who was St. Patrick?

When I say, “March 17,” chances are good that you think, “St. Patrick’s Day.” And once you think of St. Patrick’s Day, you probably think of all the green clothes and hats you can wear, the green food you will eat, and the green decorations that go up just about everywhere. You might even think of delicious corned beef and cabbage (Yum!), and perhaps even green beer. (Although that still doesn’t seem right. I mean why taint perfectly good beer by turning it green? ☺)

However, St. Patrick’s Day is about much more than that. March 17 is the Church’s day to commemorate the great bishop of Ireland and his tireless work to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ among people who were quite hostile to Christianity. Through the faithful and even life-threatening work of preaching the Gospel of Christ and founding many churches, God used St. Patrick to convert Ireland from pagan religions such as Druidism to Christianity. March 17, then, commemorates the death of St. Patrick in the middle of the fifth century.

The LCMS website gives this summary of St. Patrick’s life:

Patrick is one of the best-known of the missionary saints. Born to a Christian family in Britain around the year 389, he was captured as a teenager by raiders, taken to Ireland, and forced to serve as a herdsman. After six years he escaped and found his way to a monastery community in France. Ordained a bishop in 432, he made his way back to Ireland, where he spent the rest of his long life spreading the Gospel and organizing Christian communities. He strongly defended the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in a time when it was not popular to do so. His literary legacy includes his autobiography, Confessio, and several prayers and hymns still used in the church today. Patrick died around the year 466.

On one occasion, in A.D. 433, Patrick defied the orders of King Loegaire and refused to honor a pagan festival. The king, then, tried to assassinate Patrick, but Patrick and his coworkers were able to escape unharmed. Tradition says that God’s deliverance from this peril prompted Patrick to write his best-known hymn, known today as “I Bind Unto Myself Today.” This hymn is an excellent confession of the Holy Trinity and of God’s deliverance from sin and evil through Jesus Christ. Here’s the text from our hymnal, Lutheran Service Book, 604:

I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,
By pow’r of faith, Christ’s incarnation,
His Baptism in the Jordan River,
His cross of death for my salvation,
His bursting from the spiced tomb,
His riding up the heav’nly way,
His coming at the day of doom,
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today
The pow’r of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need,
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The Word of God to give me speech,
His heav’nly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile foes that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In ev’ry place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me those holy pow’rs.

I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three,
Of whom all nature has creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word.
Praise to the Lord of my salvation;
Salvation is of Christ the Lord!

So, this March 17, instead of merely donning the green and enjoying corned-beef for St. Patrick’s Day, we also thank God for the Bishop of Ireland and his faithful preaching of the Gospel and his confession of the Holy Trinity. No matter what opposition we face, we can also proclaim the goodness and mercy of our holy, Triune God, just as St. Patrick did.

16 March 2010

Sermons should be preached and not read.

Perhaps you've heard them too: sermons that are read and not preached. The content of the sermon may be good or even great. However, when the preacher's nose is stuck on the manuscript or notes and his eyes are diverted from the hearers, something is missing. And our hearers know it too.

Oh, I've also been guilty of this, especially when I'm not as prepared as I would like to be ... or truly should be. Or maybe I wanted to get just the right wording from my written words on the page into the spoken words for the faithful. However, I've started thinking differently about the preaching task and my growth as a preacher.

Sermons should be preached and not read!

Yes, the content of sermons needs to be well-prepared and absolutely faithful to the Scriptures, the Creeds and Confessions of the Church, and the faith once delivered to the saints. Yes, sermons need to edify and nourish the faithful sheep of Good Shepherd Jesus in His redeeming words and works. But let's also embrace and highly prize some good delivery in which the preacher actually engages the hearers--no, not with antics, jokes, or cheap gags, but with the simple courtesy of things like eye-contact and some conversational proclamation of God's Good News in Christ Jesus.

With this general concept in mind, I've gone to preaching more from outline notes than from a manuscript. Consequently, I can't really post "the sermon" here on the blog to be read. After all, the sermon is really meant to be a "heard word" rather than a "read word." Wasn't it Luther who quipped that the Church is not a pen-house but rather a "mouth-house"?

So now I'm making some audio files of sermons available. In the left hand column under "Sermons" you can now find a gadget with a link to the audio files of my Sunday sermons. These are sermons that I've preached since returning from my sabbatical last summer, beginning with Holy Trinity Sunday, 2009. Just follow the directions in the left hand column and you should be able to listen just fine.

I hope you will find this resource helpful, especially because sermons should be preached and not read.

12 March 2010


...here's my long lost blog!

Well, I wish I could claim that I had lost it, but I knew where it was this whole past year. I wish I could claim that I had forgotten just how to access it, but I did remember how ... and just didn't. I wish I could say that my year long hiatus (sabbatical?) from blogging was intentional, but it wasn't. I hadn't planned it out, and I certainly hadn't grown any aversion to it.

The truth is: life happened.

One year ago today I posted my last entry, though not with the intention to take any time off, let alone 365 whole days. After last year's final post, family things such as robotics competitions and high school graduations happened, sabbatical trips and private retreats were taken, and I got reacquainted with my basement woodworking shop. At this time last year Mrs. RAsburry and I also dove head first into Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace University" and can now very proudly and unabashedly scream: "WE'RE DEBT FREE!" (More on that down the road, I'm sure.)

Life just sort of happened.

Within this past year I returned to my parish duties after a much-needed and ever-appreciated sabbatical. I continued attending the most excellent sessions of DOXOLOGY and its advanced training in pastoral care and counsel. And I have thoroughly enjoyed (yes!) getting back into parish duties of preaching Christ crucified and risen, giving out His healing, life-giving Sacraments, teaching the Scriptures and the Catechism, and giving pastoral counsel and visits as needed. (However, the jury is still out on whether I've enjoyed getting back to things such as voters meetings! :-)

Life happened.

I wish I could say that I thought about making my return to blogging at the 3 month mark, but truthfully that milestone came and went before I realized it.

Just having to much fun with life happening last summer, I guess.

I did think about getting back the swing of blogging at the six-month mark ... and then again at the nine-month mark ... and, well ...

Yep, life happened again (not complaining about it; just enjoying it these days).

Suffice it to say that I couldn't resist diving back into the realm of blogging on this, the one-year anniversary of my last post. I guess it's time to stir, or fold, this blogging stuff back in with all of the other ingredients of life that gladly happens. There is something to *wanting* to get back into an activity such as this rather than doing it merely in order to keep up others or feeling as though "I must."

So, if there are still any who might read the posts at this spot in cyberspace, thanks for being patient ... or waking up ... or returning to paying attention ... or whatever. I hope you'll welcome me back into the "conversation."