30 March 2011

Homily for Evening Prayer of Lent 3

Sins Covered: For Even the Worst
2 Chronicles 33:1-13 &
Matthew 26:57-75 (Passion Reading III. Palace of the High Priest) 

Johann Gerhard, the great Lutheran theologian, wrote once that the devil has two trick mirrors.  He uses “the minimizing mirror” when he’s attempting to lure us into sin; to make us think that the sin is “not that big, not that bad.”  Then, after he’s snared us into the sin, he whips out his “maximizing mirror.” With that mirror he makes the sin look magnified in order to make us despair of God ever being able or willing to forgive sinners as terrible and awful as we are. 

No doubt the devil tried that out on Manasseh.  Manasseh’s father was the good king, Hezekiah.  But as so many sadly discover: godly parents are no guarantee of godly children.  As good and wise, as devout and kind as Hezekiah was, Manasseh was as stubborn and wicked – yes, downright evil.  I don’t doubt that it started little by little – toying around with idolatry, moving into the occult and practicing Satanic arts, finally fighting against the true faith and seeking destroy everything that his father had done to restore that faith in Judah.  The writer of 2 Kings even says that Manasseh was so depraved that he ended up burning his own son as an offering to some demon parading as a “god.” Manasseh was responsible for filling Jerusalem with all kinds of blood shed.  You get the picture of this guy?  He was bad news.  Surely, if ever there were a person that God would simply have given up on, washed his hands of, let go straight to hell, it was Manasseh. 

But the Lord’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  As the Psalmist sang:  “The LORD is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made” (Ps. 145:9). All?  Yes, all.  In mercy and unspeakable love, the Lord let Manasseh experience some unspeakably hard times.  His enemy at the gates, he was captured and carried away with hooks and shackles into a foreign land, to Babylon. 

And as his own life had come crashing down all around him, a remarkable thing happened to the evil king.  He remembered everything his father had taught him about Yahweh—how He is gracious and merciful, and how He delights in forgiveness and steadfast love.  Did he dare to hope? 

No doubt, Satan pulled out that maximizing mirror and pointed it directly at old Manasseh.  “No way!  There’s no way that someone as evil as you can have hope!  You’ve murdered people left and right.  You’ve been down on our face worshipping other gods. You’ve consulted necromancers and mediums and done every abomination that the Lord says he hates. You’ve even killed your very own child! You’re toast.  You’re going to roast with me forever.  Hang it up!”

But through a miracle of God’s grace, Manasseh didn’t believe Satan’s accusations.  Oh, he knew he was sinful, bad to the bone, evil to the core.  He knew he deserved absolutely nothing.  But in hope against hope, he prayed to the Lord.  His prayer is actually a book of the Apocrypha.  Listen in to part of it: 

“O Lord Almighty, God of our ancestors, of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and of their righteous offspring… your glorious splendor cannot be borne, and the wrath of your threat to sinners is unendurable; yet immeasurable and unsearchable is your promised mercy, for you are the Lord Most High, of great compassion, long-suffering, and very merciful, and you relent at human suffering. O Lord, according to your great goodness you have promised repentance and forgiveness to those who have sinned against you, and in the multitude of your mercies you have appointed repentance for sinners, so that they may be saved.  …You have appointed repentance for me, who am a sinner. For the sins I have committed are more in number than the sand of the sea; my transgressions are multiplied, O Lord, they are multiplied! I am not worthy to look up and see the height of heaven because of the multitude of my iniquities. I am weighted down with many an iron fetter, so that I am rejected because of my sins, and I have no relief; for I have provoked your wrath and have done what is evil in your sight, setting up abominations and multiplying offenses. And now I bend the knee of my heart, imploring you for your kindness. I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned, and I acknowledge my transgressions. I earnestly implore you, forgive me, O Lord, forgive me! Do not destroy me with my transgressions! Do not be angry with me forever or store up evil for me; do not condemn me to the depths of the earth. For you, O Lord, are the God of those who repent, and in me you will manifest your goodness; for, unworthy as I am, you will save me according to your great mercy, and I will praise you continually all the days of my life. For all the host of heaven sings your praise, and yours is the glory forever. Amen.” (Prayer of Manasseh 1, 5-15)

Now isn’t that an amazing prayer?  We heard in our reading today that Manasseh in his distress humbled himself greatly before the Lord and prayed. We also heard that God was moved, heard his prayer, and restored him. “Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.”

He experienced first hand that the greatest filth of human wickedness is but a spark that is soon extinguished in the vast ocean of divine mercy and love. Then He knew that the Lord was God. Satan’s mirrors are tricky, but when we lift our eyes from our sin to God’s vast ocean of mercy, we soon see the truth.

I’m sure Peter had his experience with the mirrors too.  No big deal, right.  Just say:  “I don’t know him.”  And then when the rooster crowed, Peter remembered.  He remembered exactly what our Lord had said would happen.  Suddenly Satan was holding up the magnifying mirror:  “You think he could possibly forgive a man who swore that he’d stand by Him even if he had to die with Him, and who then caved at the question of a little servant girl?  Your sin is too big, Peter.  Despair and die.”  Peter’s bitter tears witness how the sight in the mirror terrified and saddened him—just like Manasseh.  But also like Manasseh, Peter would find in the Man whom he denied a forgiveness deeper than all his sin, a love wider than all his denials.

You can find that too.  “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”  Dear friends, the mercy that awaits you in your Lord is simply and unbelievably huge – far bigger than your sin, far mightier than your betrayals and denials of Him – immeasurably and unspeakably firm and steady and unshakable. 

So when Satan would use his “maximizing mirror” on you, when he would suggest to you that YOUR sin is just way too big, too bad, too awful, too ugly, too hopeless, remember Manasseh, remember Peter. Most of all, though, remember Him who came into the world to save precisely such honest-to-God real down-and-dirty sinners:  Jesus Christ, whose blood has indeed blotted out the sin of the whole world.  No sin is the match for His grace.  No sinner is so far gone that His love cannot reclaim and restore.  Confess to Him, and you will see!  Amen.

A Bit More on Complaining

Last Wednesday's homily for Lent Evening Prayer - "Uncovered Cure: Look and Live" - focused on the complaining of the Israelites, which resulted in the fiery serpents as per God's judgment. Mr. Roland Letter, host of "Studio A" on KFUO Radio (kfuo.org), read that homily (posted here on this blog) and decided to discuss the topic a bit more. And so we did on yesterday's edition of "Studio A." Check it out here.

27 March 2011

Homily for Lent 3

Today's homily, "Healing for Houses Divided," drew from the Gospel reading of Luke 11:14-28 (Lutheran Service Book, One-Year Series) in which Jesus heals a man with a mute demon. When He is accused of casting out demons in the name of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, Jesus says, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls." Jesus Himself is the "stronger man" who invades the realm of "strong man" Satan and thus heals us from our "divided houses," our various divisions and separations.

To listen to the audio file of today's homily, click here and then download the audio file.

25 March 2011

"Veteran Broadcaster"?

Yesterday I had the great privilege of being the "Guest Host" with Paul Clayton for his "Morning Essentials" show on KFUO radio (AM 850). Not only that, but I also had the equally great privilege of interviewing Dr. Harold Senkbeil, Executive Director for DOXOLOGY. Talk about a double-treat - getting to join Paul on the air and getting to interview my mentor and friend!  What's even better, though, is that the word of DOXOLOGY - its program and its excellent benefits - is getting out more and more. Here's the audio of that interview segment.

Oh, and notice that it was Paul Clayton - not yours truly! - who used the term "veteran broadcaster" ... and tongue in cheek, I'm sure. (I'm sure my interview technique can stand some work! :-)

23 March 2011

Homily for Evening Prayer of Lent 2

Uncovered Cure: Look and Live

Impatient! The people grew impatient—impatient with the way God was leading them.  If only He would get with the program and do it their way!  And so the response was grumbling, complaining, kvetching.  And it’s actually kind of funny:  “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?  For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food!”  Wait, I thought there was no food?  Hmm.  He had indeed faithfully led them…and fed them.

The people had first griped about the water.  They were convinced that God had really screwed up.  He’d led them into a dead-end, out in the howling, barren wilderness where there was not a drop to drink.  And then God told Moses to walk out in front of the people and strike a certain rock.  Strike it he did, and the waters gushed and gushed.  Um, no.  God had not misled them; He had led them directly to gushing, overflowing waters—waters enough for all of them to enjoy.  They just didn’t believe it because they couldn’t see it—at least, not at first.

Have you been there?  Have you been griping to the Lord about the way He’s been leading you?  Have you doubted His loving care for you?  Have you wondered if that verse—“all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28)—is just a nice-sounding fairy tale that only a fool could actually believe?  Have you thought that God has led you into your equivalent of the dead end alley?  And have you insulted and rejected the gifts He has given you because they weren’t exactly the ones you wanted Him to give you?  “Manna?  I’m sick of it. If I can't have a filet mignon, at least give me a cheese burger!”

Their griping did not please the Lord.  He thought they needed something to really complain about.  Enter the fiery serpents.  Their bite wasn’t just an irritation, not just an inconvenience, not even something to gripe about over the back yard fence with your neighbor.  No, the bite brought death.  And suddenly everything is put into perspective.  Death can do that.  It sets things in the harsh light of reality.

Faced with death, the people see their sins and they confess:  “We have sinned for we have spoken against the Lord and against you, Moses.”  Here’s a confession brought by terrified hearts—hearts that realize the cold, hard reality: beyond all the journeying of this life, there comes an end, a time for leaving this pilgrim way, a time for facing the One who sits upon the throne—naked, face to face with Him who knows us from the inside out.  And what hope do we have then?

The people beg Moses to pray for them.  He does, and the Lord who is gracious and merciful beyond any of our deserving, He commands one of the oddest things recorded in all of Scripture:  His mercy, His forgiveness, His amnesty of the people’s rebellion and sin. It isn’t just spoken.  It’s spoken and shown.  A promise is made, but that promise is attached to a very physical thing.  Moses is to make an image of that which is killing them, a fiery serpent. He’s to lift it high on a pole, atop a piece of wood.  The promise is one of sheer grace:  “everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.”  Look up, and be healed.  Look up, and then the deadly snake venom is rendered powerless.  That’s it!  Just a look!  The promise of life attached to a visible sign: believe it, and you look up, and you are healed.  Don’t believe it, and you don’t bother to look up, and you die.

Remember John chapter 3. Jesus says that that image of the snake on the pole is just like Him, and He is like that snake on the pole.  HE would be lifted up—raised on a cross, on a pole of wood. He would give the gift of life, real life, eternal life, to those who will only believe, look up at Him, and be healed. 

That is what’s facing Him in tonight’s Gospel.  He’d known all along that this is where He was headed—just like you’ve known since you were a child that you’re going to die.  But it’s entirely different when that moment is facing you down and you realize that it’s not some hypothetical event out there in the distant future; it’s suddenly your here and now reality.  So Jesus sweats and trembles before the cup from His Father reaches Him.  He begs for another way out besides this horror of being left to die alone with the sins of the world upon Him.  And yet unlike us with our grumblings and complaining about the way God leads, our Lord finally and fully submits to His Father’s direction and plan, praying:  “nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.“ He prays it again and again.  And then He goes forth in peace to fulfill it.  He has spoken His firm “yes” to His Father’s great plan—that plan from the foundation of the world that He would be raised on that tree of the cross for us, so that we, who have been stung by the serpent’s deadly bite, might look up and not die—so that we might see and believe and live in Him, with Him forever.

Remember, then, our theme verse for this Lent: “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)

Dear saints, many times God will use disasters in your personal lives, in your community or nation, in the world - remember Japan - to bring you to repentance and confession—just as He did to the Israelites.  He will use heart-wrenching troubles to open your eyes to see your sins, especially the sins you’ve thought of as “no big deal”—such as your sins of grumbling against Him! But in that very moment when you confess your sins, in that very moment, He will invite you to turn your eyes from your wretched condition and look instead—look in wonder and awe—at His free and gracious remedy. He invites you to see and be healed by a love that will take your breath away—to behold your Savior upon the Tree giving to you the promise of a life that never ends.  That’s how He’s loved you, my friends, with a love immeasurable, deep, and divine!  He’s given you an eternal life that is utterly free to you, but quite costly to Him. 

Yes, we who confess our sins have “obtained mercy,” mercy beyond anything we could imagine. And for all that, glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever!  Amen.

22 March 2011

Why People are Forsaking Church in Droves?

HT: to Anastasia over at "Kyrie, Eleison!" for composing and posting this pithy, and accurate, little poem on why people are forsaking church, that is, "neglecting to meet together" (Heb. 10:25) to receive the Lord Jesus and His life and forgiveness of sins in the Divine Service. All I can say is: "Spot on!" Thanks much, Anastasia! (Reprinted here with her permission.)

Why are People Forsaking Church in Droves?

One reason for people’s churchly severance
Is, they miss good old-fashioned reverence,
Which doesn’t fit well at services
With balloons and whirling dervishes.

To fix your soul you must face what’s wrong,
Which is hard to do to a happy-clappy song.
You won’t even see where you’re not so great
If all you do is celebrate, celebrate.

Celebrations will draw them for the short run,
For people love playing and music and fun.
But you need ever more to keep getting those highs,
Inevitably you crash, and what’s left but sighs?

Entertainment grows wearisome, feelings go flat,
You have to give people much more than that.
Sentiment sours and pleasures aren’t joys,
And church-going folk are not all girls and boys.

Adults want substance and not just feeling,
But wisdom and truth and meaning and healing
In short, they’re searching for things profound
That have little to do with clowning around.

Fun is for picnics, church camps, and youth meets,
Ditto, dancing and movies and magical feats.
In church, theoretically, God is right here;
If so, then with love, awe, and reverence draw near.

If not, there’s your trouble; go back to square one.
You’ve but ethics to offer, and feelings and fun,
And people will seek the deep Mystery elsewhere,
Or give up and pretend they no longer care.

The secret attraction is Himself, Jesus Christ,
By Whom, more than anything, folks are enticed.
Dearer than all else, all our Hope, all our Heart,
With decorum receive Him, before more depart!

16 March 2011

Homily for Evening Prayer of Lent 1

This evening's homily, "Covered by Mercy," was the first in this year's series: "Cover Up: A Lenten Series on Confession and Absolution" (co-authored by Pr. Weedon and myself). Tonight we focused on Daniel's prayer of confession for the collective sins of his people, the nation of Israel, in Daniel 9:1-19. What does Daniel's prayer teach and exemplify for us regarding Confession and Absolution, especially corporately for the whole people of God? Read on:

God says: “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” (Prov. 28:13) “Yes, yes,” we say. “Sounds good,” we think. But do we live it? After all, each of us would much rather cover up our sins and hope no one will notice. That way we can appear decent, look honorable, and even seem devout to other people, or at least that person in the mirror. We are like the young boy who took his grape juice into the living room. He knew he shouldn’t, especially on the nice furniture and white carpet. But then he spilled his juice on the white carpet. After sopping it up, he chose to cover it up—move the couch over just a few inches. Better than admitting he had done wrong!

Welcome to “Cover-Up: A Lenten Series on Confession & Absolution.” This Lent we will explore how we sin, how we try to cover up our sins, and how we do better and live longer if only we will uncover our sins, if only we will confess them so that God can cover them with His absolution. You see, if we cover up our sin, it will be exposed in the End. But if we expose our sin and our sins, God graciously covers them up, and in a way that can never be uncovered.

Tonight we begin with Daniel. The people of Israel had gone into exile. For 70 years they lived with the shame of disappointing and disobeying the God who had loved them and saved them. In centuries past, God had called Abraham, had rescued them from Egypt and sent Moses to lead them through the wilderness, had brought them into the Promised Land with General Joshua leading them, and had given them kings such as Saul, David, and Solomon, along with great peace, great prosperity, and great acclaim.

But they thumbed their collective nose at God. Through the centuries they decided they knew best. They decided that they could trust themselves, their prosperity, and their crowd-pleasing worship that appealed to the unbelieving peoples around them. They decided they did not need to listen to God’s prophets calling them to repentance and confession. They thought they could do no wrong. But God sent His own people into exile in Babylon. Imagine Christians trying to live, pray and worship under the watchful eye of a communist nation such as China or the old Soviet Union, and you get the idea.

Along comes Daniel, with his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Daniel and his friends showed their faithfulness to God. They ate their own God-given diet and showed themselves more fit than others in the king’s service. They worshiped the Triune God rather than the golden image of the king. And despite being thrown into a blazing fiery furnace, they were saved by One who “is like a son of the gods”—the Son of God Himself. Daniel interpreted dreams of kings and revealed God’s saving plan for all nations. And when the king’s advisors snuck through a law that said, “Pray only to the king; only he can help and preserve you,” Daniel remained faithful to the true God in his prayer life. He prayed to God and suffered the consequence of being thrown into a lion’s den. Daniel trusted and relied on God’s goodness and mercy; and God rescued him from hungry lions.

In all of this Daniel knew something that we must learn and live: you cannot cover up sin, even the sin of a whole nation. He was stuck in Babylon not because of his sins, but because of the sins of others—sins from times long gone and a land far, far away. Their sin was now his sin, just as his sin was surely their sin.

Dear friends, your sin is my sin, and my sin is your sin. We don’t sin merely as individuals. We sin as a people, as a nation, as the whole people of God. My sins affect you and your sins affect me. When I don’t fear, love, and trust in God above all things, it rubs off on you. When you don’t call upon God’s name, pray, praise, and give thanks, neither do I. When some of us don’t listen to God in His Word, hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it, the rest of us are also hampered in hearing and believing.

So Daniel prayed to the Lord God and confessed: “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but… To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you.” Daniel does not try to cover the sins of his leaders or his people. He does not try to explain them away. He simply puts them out for all to see, and he joins himself to them. “Yes, Lord, we – we all – have sinned against You.” It’s the exact opposite of what Peter tried. Jesus said, “You all will fall away.” Peter contradicted Him with a false bravado: “Though they all fall away … I will never fall away.” Let none of us say, “Though they sin, Lord, I will never sin.” Let’s learn from Daniel to confess all together and for our corporate shame.

Daniel continues: “To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.”  We also sin against God and the messengers He sends. They tell us we’ve sinned, but we ignore it or rally against that unwelcome news. They show us specific charges and clear evidence, but we deny and obfuscate. We even obfuscate with forgiveness assumed: “Yeah, well, that doesn’t matter. I know God forgives me.”

Daniel keeps praying: “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us.” Our Lord does turn His anger and wrath away from His city and His holy hill, but only because He first directed it at His holy Son on that holy cross, perched on that holy hill. Jesus gave His blood “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Not just forgiveness for individual sins, but also corporate forgiveness for corporate sins. And by making His own Son a byword among the nations, our gracious God frees you, His people, to be accepted once again by Him.

Daniel comes to the climax of his prayer for his whole people: “Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.”  Let’s pray the same! Let’s pray and confess not only for our individual selves, but also for our whole congregation, our whole synod, and the whole Church. After all, we don’t pray, we don’t confess, and we’re not forgiven “because of our righteousness, but because of [God’s] great mercy”—mercy in His Son who goes to the cross for us. When we uncover our sins, individually and corporately, God is quick to cover those sins with His blood-bought mercy.

So we pray, with Daniel and with the psalmist: “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” (Dan. 9:19) “O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with Him is plentiful redemption. And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” (Ps. 130:7)

11 March 2011

Prayer for Those in Japan!

In light of today's earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the resulting and massive devastation, we commend all affected to our gracious God:

Lord, have mercy!
Christ, have mercy!
Lord, have mercy!

Almighty God, merciful Father, a very present help in time of trouble, again we are brought to realize that Your thoughts are not our thoughts, Your ways are not our ways.  In Your wisdom You have permitted the disastrous earthquake and tsunami to be visited upon Japan and surrounding nations.  We implore You, let not the hearts of Your people despair, but sustain and comfort them.  Heal the injured, console the bereaved and afflicted, protect the innocent and helpless, and deliver any who are still in danger, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

09 March 2011

Another Quilt Rack Made ... and Sold

Ah, what a joy it is to cut wood, make some sawdust, shape the red oak with decorative details, stain and finish it (and enjoy the smell?), and then do the final assembly. From plain old red oak comes a quilt rack, this time sold to the lady who cuts my hair. Nothing like seeing the fruits of one's labors!

Homily for Ash Wednesday

"Yet even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning" (Joel 2:12). So our gracious God calls us to come to Him as we begin this Lententide. This evening's homily - "Return to the Lord" - tied this call from God together with Proverbs 28:13: "Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy." Not only is this call to return to the Lord by confessing our sins the perfect theme for Ash Wednesday all by itself, it also introduces our coming theme for this year's Lenten Evening Prayer services: "Cover Up: A Lenten Series on Confession and Absolution."

Just in case what you hear in the sermons I post here sounds an awful lot like what Pr. Weedon may post on his blog, it's because we developed and wrote the homilies for this series together.

To listen to this evening's homily, click this link, download the audio file, and hear the Lord's call to return to Him by exposing your sins with the promise that He will cover them with His Son's blood-bought forgiveness and righteousness.

The Litany for Lent

Here's a good, right, and salutary greeting from LCMS President Matthew Harrison as we begin the solemn season of Lent. He also urges us to pray the Litany throughout the season.

08 March 2011

Discussion on Holy Baptism

Check out the post over at "Lutheranism 101" called "Holy Baptism, Regeneration, and Faith." Yours truly has been privileged to respond to some very important and frequent questions on the relationship between Baptism, repentance, and being "born again." Until now this discussion has transpired in the Comments section of another post, but as ScotK says, this vital discussion deserves a post of its own.

06 March 2011

Homily for Quinquagesima

Today's homily for Quinquagesima (50 Days Before Easter) focused on the Gospel reading of Luke 18:31-43 and is titled "Christ's Cure for Your Blindness." What a great reading with which to prepare for Ash Wednesday and the whole season of Lent. As He did with His disciples, Jesus must remove our blindness - of sin, that is - so that we can see with the eyes of faith and follow Him to Jerusalem, to the Cross, and ultimately to the joyous festivity of Easter and celebrating His victory over death. After all, only our Lord Jesus can open our eyes to see that His sacrificial death on the Cross brings forgiveness and life for us.

To listen to the audio file, click on this link and then download the audio file.

02 March 2011

Homily for Sexagesima

Sunday's homily, based on Luke 8:4-15, focused on Jesus' own interpretation of the Parable of the Sower, specifically the "interpretive key" that "The seed is the Word of God" (Luke 8:11). What happens when we take that "Word of God" in light of John 1:14 - "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us"? The Father plants His Seed - His only-begotten, beloved Son - in the field of the world, and His saving words and works are heard and received in different ways (the four soils). Thus, Sunday's homily was titled "The Divine Seed." Click here to download the audio file and listen.

Johann Gerhard gave a marvelous way of introducing this take on "The Divine Seed":
In His Creation, God the Lord not only made the earth fruitful with various and multitudinous seeds, but He also sowed a noble Seed into the heart of the first two people--it was, of course, the image of God. From this Seed within their hearts there was supposed to sprout up and grow forth the noble fruits of divine knowledge, as well as perfect love for, and heartfelt praise to, God. Indeed, the fruit of eternal life was to grow forth from this Seed in their heart. (Postilla, 199)