30 June 2011

Teach them to Your Children

Who says young children "can't" learn the Catechism by heart? That's a claim foisted on parents, teachers, and pastors by many who would rather leave such learning for later years and upper grades - the time when such learning by heart is much, much more difficult.

But this father shows that children - quite young children - can and do learn the Catechism by heart. Not only is this funny and cute, but it's also impressive and worthy of all imitation. And take special note of the great expressiveness with which this young lad recites the Catechism part on Baptism. While this little guy may not "understand" every term or concept which he speaks now, such learning and growing will take place for all of his life. Here he shows that the vessel is well prepared for being filled with the draft of God's meaningful Word.

HT: Pr. Michael Kumm

29 June 2011

Homily for St. Peter & St. Paul, Apostles

For this evening's celebration of St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles, the homily focused on St. Peter's confession of Jesus as "the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:13-19) as the way in which "Christ Builds His Church." After all, Jesus is the One who builds His Church, and He does so on the rock solid confession of faith revealed to and given by St. Peter.

To listen to "Christ Builds His Church," click on this link and download the audio file.

Pres. Harrison on Lutheran Malaria Initiative

Following up on the previous post, here's LCMS President Matthew Harrison joining in the launch of Lutheran Malaria Initiative at Historic Trinity Lutheran Church in Detroit:

28 June 2011

Positive Press for the LCMS

HT to Jessie Bogan over at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch - stltoday.com - for some positive press on the new LCMS initiative against malaria, and for mention of LCMS aid for Japan relief. Here's the article:

A St. Louis-based Lutheran organization is part of a $45 million fundraising campaign announced Monday to help fight malaria in the developing world.
Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and Lutheran World Relief are working together to raise the money by 2013. The United Nations Foundation is also part of the effort.
So far, $1.3 million has been raised.
 Malaria is a treatable disease, but it kills about 1 million people a year.   
The Missouri Synod, which has more than 2 million members, has given $2 million in recent months for relief efforts in Japan following the March 11 earthquake that caused widespread devastation.

Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/article_3be0226a-a0d9-11e0-917a-001a4bcf6878.html#ixzz1QbzuLLXg

Also check out the Lutheran Malaria Initiative website here.

26 June 2011

Homily for Trinity 1

There's so much on which one could preach in the story of Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). For this year's First Sunday after Trinity I decided to focus on how Jesus' story (parable?) in Luke 16 informs the Christian life - the holy life - as we enter "the green season." So Jesus' tale of Rich Man and Lazarus helps you see how you are "Created for Your Neighbor."

To listen to "Created for Your Neighbor," click here and download the audio file.

22 June 2011

Father's Day Treasures

This past Sunday brought not only celebrating the Blessed, Holy Trinity, but it also gave us a chance to celebrate Father's Day. Not only do I thank my heavenly and spiritual Father for my earthly and biological father, but I also thank Him for His gift of making me a father. What joys!

And then there are those "Father's Day Treasures." One of this year's treasures finds its beginning in a mass email promotion from Apple some weeks ago. It promoted and urged dutiful children to get dad an iPad for Father's Day. Great, I thought. (I'd love an iPad.) This will be fun, I also thought. So I forwarded the ad on to my dear, devoted, loving children. One is in college, and has absolutely no money. The other just graduated from high school, has some money in the bank, but that won't last long once he begins college in the fall. It was only a humorous little hint. Meant only to have some fun. Really!

Dutiful, devoted daughter simply replied, "Ha!" - as in "That will be the day, Dad." Dutiful, devoted son ... well, he didn't reply at all. (What did I say about the joy of being father?)

Until Father's Day! Here's the "iPad" that my son gave me for Father's Day (with, I'm told, the helpful suggestion from one Pr. Alan Sommer, good friend since our own college days in the mid-80s):

Something tells me that I won't have to worry about calling tech support, and it would seem to have a great anti-theft system.

And the second Father's Day treasure this year finds its origin at the top of the St. Louis arch on Tuesday, June 14. Enjoying the arch experience with the Sommer family, we happened to see a gentleman wearing a T-shirt with a slogan from one Mark Gungor, who is known for his "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage" seminars. As Mark Gungor aptly points out, we men have something called a "Nothing Box" and we love to retreat to it as often as possible. (Check out this 5 minute video for Mark's introduction to men's brains, women's brains, and the "nothing box." The "nothing box" comes at about 3:20, but the whole thing is well worth watching.) That's why when wife or children ask what we're doing, chances are pretty good that we'll answer, "Nothing." They may wonder how we can do "nothing," but we men know the joys of our "nothing box." So, my second Father's Day treasure looks like this:

Thanks, dear, devoted children for these wonderful treasures! Thanks, heavenly Father, for Your undeserved grace and mercy in giving me a father and making me a father!

Now, time for that nothing box ... at least for a couple of hours before this evening's Divine Service.

Homily for the Feast of the Holy Trinity

Call it both a joy and a perplexity - preaching on the Holy Trinity, that is. It's a joy to pause in the Church calendar and ponder this gracious, life-giving, sin-forgiving God who not only created us to be His own, but also entered our fallen world to redeem us from sin and death, and then, on top of that, stays with us to make us holy and sustain us for life with Him into all eternity. And yet it's also a profound perplexity. Just how do Father, Son, and Holy Spirit relate to each other? Just how can three Persons be one God, and how can one divine Essence be three Persons? Our addition-oriented minds, thinking in terms of 1 + 1 + 1 = 1?, just cannot fathom, much less handle, God's very different, "multiplication" way of thinking. After all, 1 x 1 x 1 = 1 is much different way of thinking (and computing). And yet that is precisely how God has revealed Himself to us: One in Three and Three in One.

At any rate, this past Sunday we celebrated our gracious, life-giving, sin-forgiving Holy Trinity, and my homily for the day focused on the Gospel reading from John 3:1-17. Perhaps more perplexity, as this reading seems to be chosen more for its connection to the octave of Pentecost than for Holy Trinity Sunday. And yet Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all make a glorious appearance in Jesus'--the Son's--conversation with Nicodemus. So I chose to include the line from the Athanasian Creed and titled the homily, "Whoever Desires to be Saved."

Click here to download "Whoever Desires to Be Saved" and listen to the audio file.

13 June 2011

Hope Clergy and South African Deaconesses

It was a great honor yesterday to welcome to Hope two deaconess students from South Africa. Nancy and Esther are students of Dcs. Grace Rao as they learn to serve in the Lutheran Church of South Africa. What a great way to celebrate Pentecost with the Gospel of Jesus' death and resurrection uniting us and bringing us together from our respective nations!

Grace took this picture of our honored guests with clergy from Hope, St. Louis, MO, USA.

Pictured here: (back, L to R) Rev. Stephen Rosebrock (Kantor), Rev. Daniel Preus (Asst. Pastor; Executive Director, Luther Academy), Rev. Randy Asburry (Pastor);
 (front, L to R) Esther Mathulwe, Nancy Sephai (Deaconess students), Rev. Tom Egger (Professor, Concordia Seminary)

12 June 2011

Transformed by the Holy Spirit

It can easily be shown from examples both in the Old Testament and the New that the Spirit changes those in whom he comes to dwell; he so transforms them that they begin to live a completely new kind of life. Saul was told by the prophet Samuel: "The Spirit of the Lord will take possession of you, and you shall be changed into another person." Saint Paul writes: "As we behold the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, that glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit, transforms us all into his own likeness, from one degree of glory to another."

Does this not show that the Spirit changes those in whom he comes to dwell and alters the whole pattern of their lives? With the Spirit within them it is quite natural for people who had been absorbed by the things of this world to become entirely other-worldly in outlook, and for cowards to become people of great courage. There can be no doubt that this is what happened to the disciples. The strength they received from the Spirit enabled them to hold firmly to the love of Christ, facing the violence of their persecutors unafraid. Very true, then, was our Savior's saying that it was to their advantage for him to return to heaven: his return was the time appointed for the descent of the Holy Spirit.

Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, Commentary on John [cited in J. Robert Wright, Readings for the Daily Office from the Early Church, 228-29]

Homily for the Feast of Pentecost

"Come, Holy Spirit, come, and fill the hearts of Your people. Alleluia. Alleluia."

On this great festal day of Pentecost we brought Eastertide to a close and began to move into the non-festival half of the Church Year. Through it all the Holy Spirit comes to fill our hearts with the words of and works of our Lord Jesus Christ. As He did with St. Peter, the Holy Spirit also leads us to speak and hear the wonderful works of God in our own tongues (languages).

Today's homily, "Speaking the Wonderful Works of God," took us beyond the Epistle Reading of Acts 2:1-21 to include the fullness of St. Peter's Pentecost sermon. After all, the Feast of Pentecost misses the crucial point if it does not bring to our remembrance what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us (John 14:26).

Click here, download the audio file, and listen to today's homily.

08 June 2011

"The Truth About Greenhouse Gases"

Here's a great article in First Things by William Happer, the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University: "The Truth About Greenhouse Gases."

Is carbon dioxide (CO2) really a "pollutant," as the U.S. Government has declared via its far left-leaning EPA? If so, then we'd better reconsider the whole matter of us human beings performing that little act of breathing. As Happer states, "Carbon is the stuff of life. Our bodies are made of carbon. A normal human exhales around 1 kg of CO2 (the simplest chemically stable molecule of carbon in the earth's atmosphere) per day." The rest of the article is quite enlightening.

Not only that, but green plants actually thrive on CO2. We may just want to increase our "carbon footprint"!

Oh, and by the way, this whole CO2 as "pollutant" thing reminds me of another one-liner that some might use to scare an unsuspecting public: Did you know that 100% of the people who consume "dihydrogen monoxide" eventually die after consuming it? Check it out here and here.

Dirty Spending Secrets

WARNING: Political Content Ahead!

It's sure to make your stomach turn, your hair curl, your eyes fill with gunk, and perhaps even make you just plain mad as..., but you really do need to check out www.dirtyspendingsecrets.com. Just how are the self-serving and corrupt politicians in Washington D.C. overspending our hard earned money that they confiscate from us? Check out their dirty little secrets.

And then they claim we need to pay more, or that some don't pay "their fair share"?

And somehow they cannot bring themselves actually to cut spending?

Oh, and by the way, it's not hard to figure out the answers to the questions. I got every one of the correct simply by "thinking big."

And then remember all of this dirt when it comes election time ... again and again and again.

Homily for Seventh Sunday of Easter

For Sunday's homily on the Seventh Sunday of Easter (Exaudi), I focused on Jesus' words to His disciples in John 15:26-16:4 (specifically, 15:26-27) that they would also - in addition to the Holy Spirit - bear witness to Him. With the theme and title, "Yes, You Will Bear Witness," I chose to use and expand on a favorite quote from Dr. Robert Kolb about how we Christians can never lay aside our call to witness; we can only practice it better or worse. Here's the full quote from Dr. Kolb:
"Believers are also called to give witness to their faith and the hope which lies within them. As a matter of fact, we cannot do otherwise. Our peace is reflected in our actions and raises questions from those who do not have it. when it is not reflected in our actions, we still are giving witness. Those who know we are Christians form impressions of Christ from our lives, whether good or bad. Those who do not know we are Christian still see some glimpse of what gives us our ultimate sense of identity, security, and meaning, and whether it is working or not. Our call to witness is one which we can never lay aside or avoid. We can only practice it better or worse." (Dr. Robert Kolb, Teaching God’s Children His Teaching, 8-10)
To listen to "Yes, You Will Bear Witness," click on this link and download the audio file.

03 June 2011

You Go, Introverts!

Some time ago, though not too long ago, someone recommended that I read the book, The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World, by Marti Olsen Laney, PsyD. I was actually on a hunt to understand someone else whom I love dearly. However, as I read that great book, it quickly occurred to me that I was also reading about myself in those pages. Yes, "my name is 'RAsburry' and I'm an introvert." The marvelous "problem" is, I've become proud of that fact. You go, Introverts!

Well, here's another source which extols and explains the life that we introverts call "normal" and "sane" over at The Atlantic. The article, by Jonathan Rauch, is titled "Caring for Your Introvert." While I might quibble with using the terms "condition" or "orientation" when referring to an introvert's natural, God-given qualities and characteristics, it's a helpful article, especially for those extroverts who still need to understand us introverts. Here's a little sample from Rauch:
Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn't antisocial. It isn't a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: "I'm okay, you're okay—in small doses."
But perhaps the best snippet of Rauch's article - again notwithstanding his references to introverts has having a "condition" or an "orientation" - comes toward the end:
The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us [introverts] through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves. Still, we endure stoically, because the etiquette books—written, no doubt, by extroverts—regard declining to banter as rude and gaps in conversation as awkward. We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts' Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say "I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush."
You go, Introverts! :-)

Homily for the Ascension of Our Lord

"Where's Jesus?" That was the title and theme of last evening's Festal Divine Service on the Ascension of Our Lord. Contrary to appearances when He is taken up into heaven, our risen Lord Jesus is not absent. He's merely hidden from sight - hidden from the sight of His disciples by the cloud and certainly even now hidden from our physical sight. However, our Lord of glory, our Savior from sin, our Victor over death is still with us. Remember, "Immanuel" from Christmas? Remember Matthew 28:20, spoken by our resurrected Lord?

So, "Where's Jesus?" Right where He has promised to be: with His Church in His Gospel proclaimed and His Sacraments delivered. Click here to download the audio file and listen to the homily.

Ascension Day on KFUO

Yesterday morning I again had the privilege of being "Guest Host" with Paul Clayton on KFUO's "Morning Essentials" program. In this audio clip Paul and I interviewed Pr. William Weedon on the Ascension of Our Lord. Thanks much, Pr. Weedon!

Homily for Sixth Sunday of Easter

As we continue celebrating our Lord's Resurrection, we also live out His gift of our resurrection life in this fallen world. On the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Rogate, we consider the praying Church and how we, God's redeemed people, exercise our faith via prayer. As I point out in this day's homily, based on the Epistle reading, 1 Timothy 2:1-6, prayer really is "Faith at Work." Thus St. Paul exhorts us to pray "for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life."
Click this link to download the audio file and listen to "Faith at Work."

Homily for Fifth Sunday of Easter

The Fifth Sunday of Easter, Cantate (20 May 2011), drew our attention to the singing Church as we not only continue to celebrate the Lord's Resurrection, but also as we begin looking forward to the gift of the Holy Spirit. In the Holy Gospel from John 16:5-15, our Lord also addresses the sorrow that fills our lives. In the text, the disciples were sorrowful at the prospect of their Master leaving them. We have our many sorrows as well in this fallen world. So, our Lord's victory over death and His gift of the Holy Spirit lead us "From Sorrow to Singing." After all, our risen Lord Jesus heals our sorrow-filled hearts in order that we may sing His song of salvation.

One note on a specific detail in this homily. With great sadness and angst, Hope Lutheran Church in  St. Louis has had to close its Lutheran day school after 88 years of operation. Quite simply, due to declining enrollment (along with changing community, etc.) we could no longer afford to operate a day school. So this day, 20 May 2011, also brought the special event of an "Open House" in the afternoon. Many alumni of Hope Lutheran School - from as far back as the 8th grade class of 1960! - came to join us for the Divine Service and then to visit their beloved school one last time. Hence the greetings at the beginning and the application of the Lord's joyous song of salvation to us who sorrow at the close of our day school.

To listen to "From Sorrow to Singing," click on this link and download the audio file.