30 March 2012

Holy Week Message from Pres. Harrison

What a great way to prepare for Holy Week--a 10 minute sermon/Bible study on the Gospel of Mark. Thank you, President Harrison!

Homily for Lent 5 Midweek

We wrapped up this year's series on "Thirsty for Living Waters" with two very familiar readings. In Exodus 17:1-7, the Israelites thirst for water, grumble against Moses and God, and then receive water from a rock. In John 19:16b-42 the living water gushes forth from the pierced side of our crucified Lord Jesus, the Rock Himself. Our crucified Lord came--and comes--by water and blood to quench our thirst for life with God Himself.

Click here, download the audio file, and listen to "Jesus Thirsts to Satisfy You."

Homily for Lent 4 Midweek

Our fourth installment in the Lenten series of "Thirsty for Living Waters" was titled "A Fountain Opened to Cleanse." The homily focused Zechariah 12:10-13:1 and John 18:28-19:16a. In Zechariah's day, God's people had just returned from exile in Babylon and wondered if God would yet provide them with a future and a hope. Yes, they would have a hope and a future, when they look "on Him whom they have pierced." So, Pilate brings Him out and invites one and all to "Behold the Man" (ecce homo). This Man, beaten and bruised because of and for our transgressions, is the fountain opened to cleanse us from sin and uncleanness.

To listen to "A Fountain Opened to Cleanse," click here and download the audio file.

Homily for Lent 4

The Fourth Sunday in Lent - Laetare - is one of my favorites for preaching. There's so much in that Gospel reading of John 6:1-15. If we focus simply on the physical Feeding of the 5000, we can point out the joys of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, providing for all of our bodily needs. Martin Luther certainly took this approach in his house postils for this Sunday. And yet when we include the context of the rest of John 6, Jesus the Bread of Life draws us into eating His flesh and drinking His blood in order to receive His eternal life. He certainly provides for our spiritual needs in the Eucharist.

This year, however, I must admit to becoming fixated on the fixations of Philip and Andrew--fixations that got in the way of their faith. Philip was obviously fixated on the enormous need of so many hungry people coming to Jesus. Andrew was fixated on the meager resources of the mere five small barley loaves (akin to sandwich rolls?) and two small fish. And so the homily focused on Jesus "Fixing Our Fixations."

Our Bread of Life, the living Lord Jesus, does indeed fix our fixations over enormous needs and meager resources. Not only does our gracious heavenly Father provide for our bodily needs (First Article), but He also gives us His Son (Second Article) to forgive us for our fixations that get in the way of faith. On top of all that, our gracious, saving God also brings us into His Church (Third Article), where He feeds us on Himself to strengthen our faith.

Click here to download the audio file and listen to "Fixing Our Fixations."

Homily for Lent 3 Midweek

The midweek homily for the third week in Lent, "Water to Restore Parched Souls," focused on the cleansing of Naaman in 2 Kings 5:1-15a and Peter's thirst for the living waters of Jesus in John 18:15-27. Both men were parched and dry--Naaman from his leprosy and misbelief, and Peter in his denials and self-preservation. For both men the cleansing waters of God's rich mercy and grace created new hearts and renewed their spirits (Psalm 51:10-12). Jesus' living water in Baptism also gives life to our souls parched with self-preservation. Our gracious Lord creates new hearts and right spirits in us as He works "forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation" in the waters of our Baptism.

Listen to "Water to Restore Parched Souls." Just click here and download the audio file.

Homily for Lent 2 Midweek

For the second week in Lent we continued the theme of "Thirsty for Living Waters" with a homily on Joshua 3:1-17 and John 18:1-14. This week's homily ran with the theme "Water That Ends Our Wandering" and showed how our Baptism brings us to the Promised Land of our Lord's forgiveness and salvation.

Click here, download the audio file, and listen to "Water That Ends Our Wandering."

16 March 2012

The Lord Bless "Chaplain" Weedon

Our good friend Pr. William Weedon is going to the LCMS International Center to serve as Director of Worship and International Center Chaplain. While the good brothers and sisters at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Hamel, IL, may consider this a "loss" for them, the church at large within the Missouri Synod may certainly consider this a large gain and blessing.

Here's the official press release (HT: lcms.org):
Weedon accepts call to LCMS Worship, IC chaplaincy post
The Rev. William C. Weedon of Worden, Ill., has accepted the call to serve as the Synod's director of Worship and International Center (IC) chaplain.
He will join the staff at the IC May 1. His installation is planned for May 7 at 10 a.m. in the IC chapel.
Weedon, 51, has been pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Hamel, Ill. -- just northeast of the metropolitan St. Louis area -- since 1992.
In his new position with the Synod's Office of National Mission (ONM) as the director of Worship, he will report to ONM Executive Director Rev. Bart Day. As IC chaplain, he will report to the Office of the President. 
In his director of Worship role, Weedon will be responsible for proposing and creating programs that will carry out the purposes and aims of the Synod in matters of worship. As IC chaplain, he will work with the President's Office in planning and supervising all chapel services at the IC and Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF), as well as rendering informal chaplaincy and counseling services to employees as requested.
Before the Synod's restructuring that was mandated by the 2010 LCMS convention, its worship and IC chaplaincy duties were carried out by separate staff members. An executive director reported to the former LCMS Commission on Worship, and chaplaincy services for the staff were provided part time by a retired pastor.
"The ONM is overjoyed that Rev. Weedon has accepted the call to support the Synod in her worship life," Day said. "Rev. Weedon brings deep knowledge and passion for the liturgical life of congregations. His evangelical spirit and ability to work with everyone lovingly in koinonia make him well suited to lead continued discussion on a matter that remains contentious in the Synod, but lies at the heart of our life together."
Concerning his worship responsibilities, Weedon said, "We have been blessed with an extraordinarily rich, intentional and beautiful liturgical heritage that fully accords with our Lutheran Confessions. We recognize that within that heritage we possess a wide range of freedom in how we receive together the Lord's gifts in our parishes, but that we have a responsibility to each other and, above all, to the world to make sure that the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ rings through loud and clear in all we do. Together, we'll grow in our corporate reception of the Lord's gifts in an authentically Lutheran manner that is not legalistic, but joyfully receives our living and ever-growing heritage."
"It is absolutely important to provide regular chapel services and ensure pastoral care for the people at the IC and at LCEF who daily make decisions on behalf of the LCMS," Weedon said of his chaplaincy responsibilities. "We're not in competition with the pastoral care these folks receive in their own churches, but we seek to supplement it by speaking the Word of God in the midst of our work, allowing that Word to permeate and shape our life together . . . in service to Christ's church."
Weedon has become familiar to Synod staff who have come to hear him preach through Luther's Small Catechism at Wednesday-morning chapel services from January through June, in 2011 and 2012.
A 1982 graduate of Concordia College - New York, in Bronxville, Weedon earned M.Div. and S.T.M. degrees from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 1986 and 1998, respectively. From 1986 until 1992, he was pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church, Burlington, N.C.
Weedon is a contributor for Concordia Publishing House's (CPH) upcoming The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition with Notes; a contributor to CPH's A Year in the New Testament (published in 2010) and a reviser and updater for Starck's Prayer Book (CPH, 2009). He also is the author of CPH's 2009 Bible study titled "Matter of the Heart" and of its book Lutheranism 101: All About Jesus, which is slated for publication in 2013.
He also has written articles published in church journals and magazines including Concordia Pulpit Resources and Higher Things.
In addition, Weedon served as a member of the working group of the Lord's Supper Liturgy in preparation for Lutheran Service Book.
In other service to the church, he currently is spiritual counselor for the Concordia Deaconess Conference. He was a regent for Concordia University Chicago until accepting the call from the Synod. Also, he has served as keynote presenter and chaplain for Higher Things youth conferences, as a facilitator for the Synod's PALS program, and as circuit counselor. He is a frequent guest on the "Issues, Etc." radio program.
Weedon and his wife, Cynthia, have three grown children: daughters Lauren Herberts, a Lutheran teacher in Overland, Mo., and Rebekah, a student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (Ill.); and a son, David, a graphic designer living in Worden. Cynthia Weedon is office manager for White Mountain Financial in Alhambra, Ill. She is an accomplished vocalist and frequent soloist -- particularly in church and with the Collinsville (Ill.) Chorale.
A blogger for a number of years, Pastor Weedon's blog can be found at weedon.blogspot.com.
Posted March 16, 2012

08 March 2012

Who Speaks for the Church?

Thank you, Pastor Peters, for this wonderful insight!

HT: Pastoral Meanderings

Divide, Distract, and Conquer

Who speaks for the Church?  As is so often the case, the media loves to point to those within the pews who dissent from or disagree with the teachings of their church.  Call them cafeteria Catholics or lunch line Lutherans or buffet Baptists, the issue remains that dissenters and those who disagree do not get to define what the Church believes, confesses and teaches.

The Obama administration has attempted to exploit the fact that there are Roman Catholics who do violate their church teachings and use birth control.  So what?  There are dieters that cheat at Weight Watchers and AA members that sneak a drink.  There are speeders who violate the speed limits and yet we do not allow them to define what is law and what is not.  It is a bogus argument that will certainly backfire on the administration and it is one that we need to address whenever established teaching is challenged.

Lutherans don't get to decide what Lutherans believe, confess, and teach.  That was decided for us when adopted the Book of Concord as our confessional standard.  Outside of the BoC, the individual resolutions of the various Lutheran bodies define where they stand -- not individuals, be they clergy or lay.

It is about time that we remember this fact and call the ad hominem arguments that appeal to dissent or those who disagree as justification for saying this is what this church or that believes, confesses, and teaches.  Who speaks for the Church?  Its confessors (in Rome, the Pope and his bishops), its councils (Orthodoxy), and its confessions (Lutherans).  No matter what we might like to think, these are not so vague or imprecise as to justify or allow broad diversity.  All three are fairly specific.  We know what Rome teaches, what Constantinople teaches, and what Wittenberg teaches.  Evangelicalism is a muddle and they will have to solve that but for the rest of us, we know who speaks for the Church.  Period.

07 March 2012

LCMS Campus Ministry's "Unwrapped"

A big event coming up for LCMS Campus Ministry: "Unwrapped." Coming to St. Louis in 2013. Go here for more information.


For those of us who liked superheroes when we were children (and, truth be told, still do in their newer, big-screen, live action versions) the notion of a man flying by himself, outside of an airplane, a helicopter, etc., well, it's quite intriguing and exhilarating. (Pr. Weedon: You need not view, if the heights and flights will get the better of you! :-)

Get a load of "Jetman"!
HT: Translogic

Homily for Lent 2

What do you do when you must "wrestle" with our Lord Jesus Himself? What do you do when the Lord Himself tests your faith? These questions come straight out of the Gospel reading, Matthew 15:21-28, for the Second Sunday in Lent (Reminiscere). So Sunday's homily focused on the theme "When the Lord Tests Your Faith."

To listen to "When the Lord Tests Your Faith," click here and download the audio file.

Homily for Lent 1 Midweek

This year's theme for our Lent Evening Prayer services is "Thirsty for Living Waters." We are tying together the Scriptural theme of water, the Biblical and Catechism teaching on Baptism, and the Passion readings from the Gospel of John.

Last Wednesday's homily was titled "A Little Water Fills the World" and focused on the readings from Ezekiel 47:1-2 and John 13:1-20.

To listen to "A Little Water Fills the World," click here and download the audio file.

Lutheran Satire: Where Are the Women?

06 March 2012

"Issues, Etc." Returns to KFUO

On Monday, March 12, the popular Lutheran talk radio show Issues, Etc. will return to KFUO (AM 850 in the St. Louis area, and kfuo.org), the radio station owned and operated by the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod. The show will air 3-5 p.m. Central Time.

After its unexpected and ignominious cancellation on March 18, 2008, by synodical officialdom (see here and here), Issues, Etc. returned to the air on June 30, 2008. Since that time Issues, Etc. has been broadcasting its two-hour show (3-5 p.m. Central Time) over the internet with the 4-5 p.m. hour also broadcasting on St. Louis area's KSIV 1320 (Bott Radio Network) on.

Issues, Etc. will remain independent of the LCMS and KFUO Radio as it simply buys airtime from the Synod's radio station. Lutheran Public Radio will maintain editorial and financial control of Issues, Etc. content and programing.

For more information here's the press release:
“Issues, Etc.”, a radio talk show produced by Lutheran Public Radio and hosted by Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Pastor Todd Wilken, will begin broadcasting live Monday, March 12 from 3-5 p.m. CST weekdays on KFUO, 850 AM in St. Louis. “Issues, Etc.” has been broadcasting on KSIV, Bott Radio Network in St. Louis since June 30, 2008. KFUO is owned and operated by the LCMS. The popular radio show aired for more than 15 years on KFUO. However, the LCMS cancelled the program on March 18, 2008.

“By purchasing airtime on KFUO instead of KSIV, we will be able to offer ten hours of live programming each week to St. Louis area listeners instead of five hours of programming. KFUO also provides a stronger signal for our listeners in southern Illinois,” said Jeff Schwarz, general manager of LPR.

“We will not become employees of KFUO or the LCMS,” said Pastor Todd Wilken, host of Issues, Etc. “LPR and KFUO are totally separate entities. When listeners donate to KFUO, they won’t be supporting LPR and vice versa. It is vitally important for us to have complete editorial control and financial independence from the LCMS.”

“We are extremely thankful to the Bott family and to the Bott Radio Network for providing us the opportunity to broadcast Issues, Etc. on KSIV,” Schwarz said. “Almost immediately after the cancellation, we were contacted by Rich Bott and presented with the opportunity to continue broadcasting on a terrestrial radio station in St. Louis.”

LPR will continue to produce “Issues, Etc.” from its studios in Collinsville, IL.
HT: Mollie over at "Steadfast Lutherans"

01 March 2012

Chuck Colson: Standing Up for Religious Liberty

HT: ManhattanDeclaration.org

"Mr. President, I Still Believe"

The good folks over at ManhattanDeclaration.org are putting forth a petition to send to President Obama regarding his Administration's assault on religious liberty via the healthcare law and the recent HHS mandate compelling religious organization to provide drugs and services that go against their faith. The petition asks the President to reconsider his recent decisions and actions and actually to return to upholding the U.S. Constitution as he swore to do.

I just signed the petition, and I highly encourage you to sign it as well. To sign the petition, "Mr. President, I Still Believe," go here.

Here's the text of the petition in its entirety:
Dear President Obama,

I am deeply disappointed at your recent failure to protect religious liberty in the context of the HHS preventive care mandate. As Americans we are used to having political and religious disagreements. But we should all be able to agree that the government should not force religious people and institutions to provide drugs and services that violate their faith.

The recent statement from HHS that it will give religious objectors one extra year to change their religious views added insult to injury. It is as if you are saying to religious people "We respect your religious views so much that we'll give you one extra year to abandon them." Religious principles have no expiration date. True protection for religious liberty--the kind required by the Constitution you swore to uphold and the federal laws you are obliged to enforce--requires a broad religious exemption, one that protects any person or institution from being forced to provide services in violation of sincerely held religious beliefs.

Please reconsider your administration's actions and order HHS to provide the kind of broad protection for religious liberty that our laws require. Doing so would honor the sacrifices of those who fought and died to give us our freedoms. It would allow religious employers across the country to stay in business and keep offering health insurance to their employees. And it would pay tribute to the great heritage of religious diversity upon which this great nation was built.
Again, to sign Manhattan Declaration's petition to President Obama, go here.

To read and sign the Manhattan Declaration itself, go here.

(It is something to watch the ticker keep going up as it indicates a steady stream of signers!)