Friday, December 31, 2010

Parental Cruelty and Reasons Not to Wash

By Larry Beane

Here is a link to some wisdom that just might make you laugh from the Hermeneutic of Continuity, the blog of Fr. Tim Finigan, a Roman Catholic priest in England.

HT: Dr. Tighe

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gottesdienst at LRC and the Use of Quoting Luther

Two of us Gottesdienst Online editors also occasionally write for Lew Rockwell's website of the libertarian persuasion. Even if politics is not your ball of wax, usually has an article or two covering topics of general interest. And, unlike many other political-economic-cultural websites, Lew often posts articles from an overtly Christian perspective. For example, here is one of Fr. Beane's articles and here is my latest article.

I mention that by way of introduction to the topic that was the seed of that article: Luther and Lutherans.

I don't really like Martin Luther all that much. Well, that's probably not fair since I've never met him. Doubly unfair since I have not read every word he ever wrote. Trebly unfair since I have not read more than four or five biographies.

But of the fairly extensive amount of Luther that every Lutheran pastor has to do in preparing for the ministry and in what I have read since - especially the latest two volumes of Luther's Works to come out of CPH - there is just an awful lot that I do not like. I don't like his encouragement of state violence. I don't like his approval of bigamy - which lead directly to war and bloodshed. And I don't like his personal doctrine of the ministry (which, after reading vol. 69's series of Quasimodo Geniti sermons, I am fairly sure is the Wisconsin Synod's doctrine - I think they have Luther right; I just don't think Luther is right).

I like his Catechisms and the Smalcald Articles and the Bondage of the Will and the Great Confession Concerning the Lord's Supper. These are the only writings of his that achieved status as Symbols of the Churches of the Augsburg Confession (the latter two really are given quasi- if not full-confessional status within the 1580 BOC). I also like the Great Galatians Commentary and the Genesis Commentary. And I like a whole slew of other things he said and did.

I think he would have been a hoot to hang out with. And I think he was more than a bit of an ego-maniac (see the latest sermons to come out, vol. 58). I think he was a genius. I think he was an amazing preacher and exegete. I think he shot from the hip way too much.

But I don't think quoting his writings - especially the sermons and Table Talk - has any more or less weight than quoting any other great thinker in our tradition.

I loathe appeals to Luther's example, Luther's personality, and Luther's quips as if they settled an argument by force of incantation.

The best trick the Roman party ever did was stick us with the name Lutheran. We are stuck with it, no doubt about it. There's no getting around history. But we should at least be a little savvy. We shouldn't pretend in our debates that quoting a non-Confessional work of Luther is some big trump card. We should not allow researches into "Luther's Doctrine of X" to trump the clear teaching of the Confessions. We should, in sum, recognize that he was a great but flawed teacher of the Church - just like Augustine, Leo, Jerome, etc. - not the founder of a sect or a guru whose ipse dicit is the end of the story for all his "followers."


Gottesdienst at the CTS Symposia

Don't ask me why the Fort Wayne seminary holds its Symposia in the middle of January: I'm a St. Louis grad and don't understand it either. Despite the horrid January weather of the Upper Midwest, it is definitely worth making the trip - they always put up great speakers, you get to see friends and colleagues from all over the continent, and, greatest of all, the Sabre of Boldness is awarded.

Gottesdienst takes seriously its unofficial role as "Backbone of the Missouri Synod" ®. Here is a full listing of Gottesdienst related events during Symposia week.

Monday, January 17th: Gottesdienst Editor Fr. David Petersen hosts a one-day free conference at his parish, Redeemer. Presenters include the Rt. Rev. Brian Saunders and Fr. Jonathan Fisk. This is always a great start to Symposia week - especially for those who can't do the second half of the week but can make it there for Monday.

Wednesday, January 19th: Two Gottesdienst editors will present papers during the morning sectionals. The Rev. Dr. Burnell F. Eckardt's paper sounds like a very interesting look at the Lord's Prayer (see the comments). I'm scheduled to present, "Right Hand or Left: In What Kingdom Does Matrimony Properly Reside?"

Thursday, January 20th: The Sabre of Boldness Ceremony, at the La Quinta directly following the Symposia Banquet.

Throughout Symposia week, stop by the Gottesdienst table for free copies of the print journal to hand out to your friends as well as to pick up copies of The New Testament in His Blood by Dr. Eckardt.

Daily Divine Service Book is now carried by the Seminary book store and can be purchased there during Symposia week.

Both books, however, are marked down 25% if you order online through January 5th with the coupon code WINTER.


DDSB Saint of the Day for Dec 29th

My fellow Gottesdienst Online editor, Fr. Beane, has a great post about today's saint which you can read here.

Full propers for the St. Thomas à Becket Divine Service are available in Daily Divine Service Book.


DDSB 25% off until January 5

Daily Divine Service Book is on sale for 25% off through the twelfth day of Christmas with the offer code WINTER.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

St. Stephen, St. John, and the Holy Innocents

The three days following Christmas are dedicated to martyrs of every stripe - the Innocents who died at the hand of Herod (martyrs "in deed"), St. John who willingly suffered for the Gospel but who died in exile and not violently (a martyr "of will"), and St. Stephen who willingly offered up his life for the opportunity to call Israel to repentance (a martyr "of will and in deed").

These days are also interesting for their significance to parish servants as they are the patrons of deacons, parish priests, and choir boys.

Many customs attend these ancient feasts - the best resource for learning about these is Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs by F. X. Weiser - which can often be had quite cheaply in online bookstores.

Of course, full propers for all these feasts are included in Daily Divine Service Book, which you can still purchase with up to 20% off with various coupon codes listed here.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

If you are still looking for that last minute Christmas sermon - you can do a lot worse than reading through the Martyrlogium for Christmas for inspiration.

And for the last minute Christmas gift, all your orders of Daily Divine Service Book are 25% off with coupon code DEC25.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

DDSB Saints of the Day for Dec 23 and 24

Saint Servulus of Rome, Beggar, is commemorated in Daily Divine Service Book on December 23rd and Sts. Adam and Eve are commemorated on December 24th. Both feasts are of the Simple class. In your busy run up to Christmas, do not forget these saints - as they are especially well chosen for these dates by the Church to prepare us in our thoughts for the story of Bethlehem and the mystery of our salvation.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

DDSB Saint of the Day for December 22

Saint Ischyrion of Alexandria shared the experience common to a great many martyrs in the mid third century: a government thug told him just burn a little incense to the emperor (what's the harm in that?), and when he wouldn't, he was killed.

Ischyrion's feast is of the Simple class, but he is certainly worthy of remembrance as the Church moves closer to the Nativity of The Martyr.

Lulu's special today on Daily Divine Service Book is a buy two books, get a third book free offer with code DEC22. That's one for the chancel, a paperback copy to keep in the car for shut-in calls, and one to give away. Or you can still use RESOLUTIONS305 for 15% off.


Monday, December 20, 2010

DDSB Saint of the Day for December 21

Saint Thomas the Apostle is commemorated on this day in the Western Church. Daily Divine Service Book gives both the traditional Western propers and those incorporated in LSB, the latter in square brackets.

Though the older system of the ranking of feasts (as used in DDSB) would appear to allow St. Thomas' day to outrank the fourth Sunday of Advent, the modern custom of leaving the Sunday of Lent and Advent inviolate is to be preferred. The next time December 21st falls Rorate Coeli, it would be appropriate instead to commemorate St. Thomas with a second collect.

Somebody at likes St. Thomas, too: enter code DEC21 for 15% off your order.


Liturgical Camelwreck

By Larry Beane

This is the kind of thing that happens when there is such a dearth of rubrical instruction in our churches.

The word on the street is that Fr. Curtis is working on a Liturgical Guide to Livestock Processions: A Lutheran Dromedarial (One Year Series Edition) - hopefully, coming to a living nativity scene near you some time before Christmas 2011. Stay tuned to Lulu and Gottesdienst Online, and for the time being, it's best just to stick with dogs and ponies.

Cantemus 'Te Deum'!

I am honored and blessed to be in the same communion as these dear Christians.

Our Siberian brethren are worthy not only of your prayers, but also of your and your congregation's financial gifts this Christmastide. Here is their website. Here is where to send a check.

SAN JOSE, CA 95126


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Guest Post: Rev. Fr. Jack Kerouac on Chasubles

“Dear Father Jack: My wife says I look hot in a chasuble. Is it a sin to keep on wearing one?”

Rev. Fr. Jack Kerouac replies: You dingledoodie! How could it be a sin to wear the historic vestments of our Church!? How could it be a sin to delight that gone little lady of yours? Neal and I were shambling along the sad and forlorn streets of Denver, just the other day, after Neal had hopped this old Hudson and I was following along as I do after the people who interest me and it was down by the meat markets in the old city where Ginsburg and all the hobos hang and we didn’t see Alan that day, even though we looked, or Neal’s wino dad who we’ve been looking for time out of mind but we do see this old jazzbo priest coming out of the most beat basilica you’ve ever seen; I mean, it looked like it had been there a thousand years, the dome all faded, frayed, and weathered with the years, having seen the kings and conquering emperors come and go while this little beat building stands dauntless still like an outpost from another age and the slanting rays of the fast fading sun are glinting green and gold sunlight off the priest’s chasuble and it’s like the streets of the new Jerusalem are shining just for you man, just a little proleptic glimpse of the eschaton, a gift for you, even you all strange and ragged like the Prophet out of the desert who has walked across the land to bring the dark Word and the only Word I had was “Wow” with the sun sinking in the sky like a huge, blood red Host and all that sad and blank and lost life of the East all behind and all Denver and all the West all ahead, all shining green gold, all offered up for you by the hand of the one the Master put there just for you just to give the gifts and how could that gift giving God offering holy making hand not be wrapped in the gold and green and sun of a chasuble--like the jazzbo priest’s reflecting the life of the last day in that fading Denver light--and how could chicks not dig that? How can you not dig that? How can you even ask such a stupid question? How square are you anyway? Oh man, the mad ones, the only ones for me, don’t ask questions like that, no, no, no they are mad to talk, mad to live, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everyone goes “Awww!”

Yrs. In Chrst.

Fr. Jacko

Saturday, December 18, 2010

DDSB Saint of the Day for Dec 19

Saint Abraham the Patriarch is commemorated on December 19 in Loehe's sanctoral calendar. While Abraham is a central Biblical figure, his feast day is of the Simple rank and, of course, does not take precedence over Rorate Coeli.

You can receive an additional 15% off of Daily Divine Service Book by using the code RESOLUTIONS305 at checkout.


DDSB Saint of the Day for Dec 18 (and coupon code)

Today, via Loehe's calendar, Daily Divine Service Book commemorates St. Winebald of Heidenheim, Abbot. While the name may be obscure to us today, Winebald is especially to be remembered among us for he was part of that amazing generation of Anglo-Saxons who went back to Germany with the message of the cross in the eighth century.

Today you can order the paperback edition of Daily Divine Service Book for an additional 20% off with the coupon code DEC18.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

DDSB Saint of the Day for Dec 17

(Note: Daily Divine Service Book is the number one selling book at in the Christianity category this week - today only use code DEC17 at checkout to receive 15% off.)

Saint Olympias, widow and subsequently deaconess, is commemorated today in Loehe's calendar and hence in Daily Divine Service Book. She is one of the few late antique women of whom we know quite a bit - this is due to some seventeen extant letters addressed to her from St. John Chrysostom. Her feast is a minor one, receiving the propers common for a Holy Woman not a Martyr. Her day also coincides with the beginning of the use of the O-Antiphons in Vespers (see your copy of the Brotherhood Prayer Book).

In the LSB calendar, St. Daniel the Prophet, and the Three Young Men are commemorated. Having no traditional mass propers, they are assigned the Common for Saints - but the Common for Confessors would most certainly also be appropriate, as would the singing of the Benedicite Omnia Opera which is included in DDSB in the Easter Vigil liturgy.


Great Gift Idea:

Recently Published: The New Testament in His Blood
. A Gottesdienst book by Burnell F Eckardt Jr. 118 pages, paperback. Available at for $18.00 + s&h. Order quickly to get it for Christmas.

The purpose of this manuscript is twofold: first, to present the Divine Liturgy in such a way as to highlight its beauty and dignity, and second, to show the liturgy's necessity by making the connection between Christ’s fulfillment of the entire Old Testament and the proclamation of this fulfillment by the liturgy. It is not accidental that the term “new testament” refers both to the canon of apostolic books arising after Christ’s ministry and to the Holy Sacrament of the Altar. There is an integral connection between word and worship, between faith and the reception of the incarnate Christ. And just as the written New Testament is the word of God, and therefore the ultimate norm and rule for all of Christian life, so the new testament as sacrament, in Christ’s blood, must be the heart of truly Christian worship, from which all other forms of devotion and piety flow.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

DDSB Saint of the Day for Dec 16

St. Adelaide of Burgundy lived in the 10th century and was rescued from a political imprisonment by a priest by the name of Martin - who happened to be good with both spade and rod and reel.

She is commemorated on this day in Loehe's calendar and in the Daily Divine Service Book she receives the common propers for a Holy Woman Not a Martyr. As a lesser observance ("Simple" class), St. Adelaide's Divine Service may appropriately be replaced by a Votive Divine Service for the day of the week or other occasion as listed in DDSB.


Guest Post: Rev. Fr. Jack Kerouac Answers Your Questions

A little known biographical fact about Jack Kerouac that has only recently come to light is that he was secretly ordained into the ministerium of the LCMS after a colloquy program arranged by his friend and classmate and sometime traveling buddy, the Rev. Dr. Norman Nagel. Gottesdienst Online has come into possession of some correspondence between Fr. Kerouac in which he answers questions from brother clergy.

You may leave other questions for Fr. Kerouac in the comments. But I can't promise he'll answer them. His missives appear in my inbox like the wind - it wends where it wilt.

WARNING: Full Strength Language.


“Hey Jack: I went to this church, St. John’s by the gas station, last week and the guy presiding didn’t even use a hymnal—just some crap he made up. Should I go back?”

Pastor Jack Kerouac replies: “Listen long gone daddy-o, the truly beat soul never goes back. We are not backtracking our way through this Christ haunted death dealing windblown western world. There’s no “back there” we want to get back to--no golden age, no time machine trip for you or me, hep cat... dig me here man, dig me solid and deep in the depths of that old jazzbo soul of yours: the fools for Christ, the mad ones, the sad ones, always yearning to be free are always going forward man, never looking back, but forgetting those things which are behind and pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus... did Neal and I ever go back? no man, when we hit the Road as I have written to you previously in these epistles, we sometimes returned to those places that called to us, spoke to us body and soul, places like Denver, San Fran, New York, St. Aloysius in New York especially in those later days after we’d met Nagel and Genzel and heard the Word, heeded the call, passed through the sad and blank and burned out years, but wereturned forwardgoing to those places like planets orbiting the sun never achieving escape velocity never wanting, never needing to and certainly never going back... I was staying once in those early days ON THE ROAD chasing after Neal with our friend Remy Bonceur a thoroughly beat guy who lived in a shack in Frisco near the Presidio... remember Remy who prepped with us at Horace Mann, got kicked out of Columbia the year before we did? he had a saying, a very wise one something like ‘unless you begged, borrowed, stole it, it is no true treasure, man. The real treasure is never yours never made by you, never forged by your fast clenched fists, but is always begged, borrowed, stolen empty handed, open hearted, from Christ... like President Truman says: ‘we must reduce the cost of living!’ and no better way than to beg, borrow, and steal your way through the windblown world’—so here’s the Word, hear the Word man: the beat way is always the way of the gifts, receiving the gifts, cherishing the gifts, getting the gifts only from the hands given to give them—it is this way with the holy liturgy—whatever is made up by some square in his office on Thursday night to show his “creativity” is no treasure because the gifts can only be handed on, begged on your knees from the Table; they can’t be created by you, made by you, man no, no, no the real Rock in the desert from which the living streams doth flow is made without hands and comes to beggars after all and only to such as they, such as we; if it is not the old Western Mass made up by no one, handed on time out of mind from the first hobo apostles of the Holy One from whom they begged it, then it is not for us—so beg, borrow, steal your way into heaven man, because the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, suffers the breaking in of the hobo hustler saints, crazy for the Word, who counted the cost in Christ and found it zero, free from Him who made them the faith mad forceful ones, the violent ones who bear away the Kingdom as they beg it of Christ, suffer it from Christ, steal it away on their knees at His Table from His priest who gives it not as he makes it up but only as he has received it from holy catholic apostolic hands time out of mind; ‘Oh, whither thou goest, thou lost American, in thy shiny car in the night?’ Alan once asked... and I say we’re not going back; no we never go back... no one likes bongos and *^&% like that more than me daddy-o, but not in the Divine Service, never in the Divine Service man, but only the begged, the borrowed, the stolen from Christ will do for us there, nothing but the ancient, old and apostolic will do for us what we can never do ourselves, so you don’t go back hep cat--if you want to catch up on the latest in American Christendom and get in touch with your feelings and feminine side and grow in self esteem until you’re so square you’re positively geometrical, by all means go back to the ^&% clown who makes it up himself each week and bangs on the bongos like a chimpanzee; but if you want to get you some Jesus, man, a man’s mass, something to hang your hat on, then come with me to St. Aloysius next time you’re in the city--where they do a proper plainsong mass and preach Christ Jesus with no pansy bull^%&$ added and you will see the Kingdom come, the Advent of our King...

Yrs. In Chrst.


Daily Divine Service Book: Free 2nd Day Shipping today only

You can still get the Daily Divine Service Book in your hands by Christmas - the publisher is offering free 2nd Day Shipping today only. Enter the code DEC15 when checking out. The code is good for both hardcover and paperback editions.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hardcover Daily Divine Service Book: 35% off today only

See the post below for how Daily Divine Service Book can help you celebrate the Ember Days this Advent. Today only, the publisher is offering an additional 25% off hardcover books - this is in addition to the 10% off sale on DDSB through Christmas. Enter the code DEC14 at checkout.


Advent Ember Days

Four times a year, the Western Church observes the changing seasons with prayer and fasting. These are the Ember Days - the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after St. Lucy's Day, in the First Week of Lent, after Pentecost, and after Holy Cross Day.

The word "Ember" is an English corruption of the Latin "tempororum" - the seasons. You can also see the word in "shrimp tempura" - a Portuguese dish fit for eating on these traditional Western fast days where no red meat is customarily consumed.

Besides observing the changing seasons with prayer and fasting, the Ember Days are also associated with the calling of faithful men into the Office of the Ministry - especially the Ember Days in the week of Pentecost. Therefore, it is most appropriate to offer prayers for the Church's ministers, candidates, and seminarists on these days.

Unique among Lutheran worship resources, Daily Divine Service Book - which, by the way, is still on sale through Christmas - includes full propers for Divine Service or personal meditation for all the twelve Ember Days of the year. This is another good example of how DDSB compliments the worship resources you already have - for the Treasury of Daily Prayer mentions the Ember Days, but you can only find Divine Service propers in DDSB. Below is tomorrow's set of propers.


The Ember Days in Advent

Ember Wednesday

Simple – Violet Vestments – Advent Preface

Beginning of the Divine Service: Turn to (A) Divine Service p. 394

(B) Introit


Drop down, ye heavens, from above, † and let the skies póur down ríghteousness: * let the earth open, and let them bríng forth sálvation (Isaiah 45: 8)


The heavens declare the glóry of God; * and the firmament shéweth his hándywork.

Glory be to the Fáther and tó the Son * and tó the Hóly Ghost.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and éver sháll be, * wórld without énd. Amen. (Psalm 19: 1)

Turn to (C) Kyrie p. 396

(D) Collect of the Day

Grant, we beseech Thee, Almìghty God: that the coming festival of our redemption may obtain for us the comfort of Thy help in this lìfe; and in the life to come the reward of eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, oùr Lord; who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Hòly Ghost: ever one God, world without end. Amen.

(E) First Lesson: Isaiah 2: 2-5

And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 5 O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.

(F) Gradual

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; † and be ye lift up, ye éverlásting doors; * and the King of glóry sháll come in.

Who shall ascend into the híll of the LORD? * or who shall stand ín his hóly place?

He that hath clean hands, ánd a púre heart. (Psalm 24: 7, 3, 4a)

Collect for Ember Day

Arise, O Lord, we prày Thee: and delay not to bestow upon us the succour of Thy heavenly mìght; that they, which put their trust and confidence in Thy mercy may be succoured by the comfort of Thy coming; who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Hòly Ghost: ever one God, world without end. Amen.

(G) The Epistle Lesson: Isaiah 7: 10-15

Brethren: Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, 11 Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. 12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. 13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

(F) The Gradual

The LORD is nigh unto all them that cáll upon him, * to all that cáll upon hím in truth.

My mouth shall speak the práise of the LORD: * and let all flesh bless his holy name for éver and éver. (Psalm 145: 18, 21)

Turn to (I) Gospel Preparation p. 397

(J) The Holy Gospel: Luke 1: 26-38

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gottesdienst on Issues, Etc., at 4pm CST

I've been invited to talk about St. Lucy on Issues, Etc. at 4pm.

I hope you were as fortunate as I and had Lussekatter for breakfast.

I don't know if we'll be able to get to it on the air, but here is Donne's famous poem.


by John Donne

'TIS the year's midnight, and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks ;
The sun is spent, and now his flasks
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays ;
The world's whole sap is sunk ;
The general balm th' hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed's-feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr'd ; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.

Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring ;
For I am every dead thing,
In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness ;
He ruin'd me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death—things which are not.

All others, from all things, draw all that's good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have ;
I, by Love's limbec, am the grave
Of all, that's nothing. Oft a flood
Have we two wept, and so
Drown'd the whole world, us two ; oft did we grow,
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else ; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

But I am by her death—which word wrongs her—
Of the first nothing the elixir grown ;
Were I a man, that I were one
I needs must know ; I should prefer,
If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means ; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love ; all, all some properties invest.
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light, and body must be here.

But I am none ; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
At this time to the Goat is run
To fetch new lust, and give it you,
Enjoy your summer all,
Since she enjoys her long night's festival.
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year's and the day's deep midnight is.

A useful discussion

When I posted the response from Rev. Dr. Torgerson I did not expect that Rev. Dr. Becker would himself stop by for a discussion. While I am saddened at the latter's insistence on his false doctrine, and frustrated by his continual obfuscation - the discussion was, I think, a fruitful one.

I have just posted another reply from Fr. Torgerson in the comments that he sent to me privately. I think it puts a good cap on that discussion.

However, several questions were posed to Fr. Becker that did not receive a response as they were just off the main course of the discussion. I think the questions are important, and do relate very closely to the question of women's ordination and the world-view that allows for that aberration. I list the questions below, and if Fr. Becker would like to answer them and engage in further discussion, I think that would be informative for all sides.

I asked: Does Fr. Becker believe that the Pastoral Epistles were written by St. Paul himself. Or are they, rather, deutero-Pauline or even pseudepigraphic?

Father Krenz asks: "Thanks for the clarification to my question... Please indulge me with one more: Do you believe our Lord Jesus Christ could just as well have become incarnate as a woman? Why or why not? Because it seems to me that this is more than just a practical question."

Several readers asked about the connection between the ordination of women and the approval of homosexuality. I think Fr. Ramirez was most to the point:

"I have talked to many NALC folks/conservative ELCA folks who are opposed to blessing homosexual sin, but support WO. Many in Missouri have pointed to the connection between the two issues, but I have never been satisfied with arguments of how one can support one and not the other.

"So anyway, how do you support one and not the other?"


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Liturgical Extremism

By Larry Beane

It has become cliché that there are two extremes for everything.  And this often leads to the conclusion that the answer to "extremism" is to be lukewarm.  In liturgical matters, the reasoning runs like this: In the LCMS, one can find both praise bands and dancing girls on the one hand, and Gregorian chant and "smells and bells" on the other.  And since these represent the "liturgical extremes" in our synod, they both must be "wrong"; the "right" answer must be a compromise position in the mushy middle.  There is an assumption of the equality of opposites.

In other words, if liturgical dancers are bad, so must liturgical incense.  If we are opposed to Amy Grant, we must equally decry Gregorian chant.  This reasoning is often hurled at those who are sometimes labeled "high church."  This logic equates the lady in the skin-tight leotard to the lady covered by the mantilla - and condemns them both as the same side of the extremist coin.

So, according to this line of thought, the "right" way to conduct a Lutheran liturgy is to be liturgical, but not too liturgical; reverent, but not too reverent.  Page 15 (or its modern incarnation,  page 184) is fine, but without all of the chanting.  A plain-vanilla recitation of the Words of Institution is encouraged, but without the genuflecting and elevating.  Stole and alb are good, but chasubles represent "extremism."  The goal is to become a raging moderate.

The Rev. Prof. John Pless once cited a quip (if memory serves) that the Rev. Dr. Norman Nagel advised, tongue in cheek, that pastors wear their stoles a little crooked lest they be accused of being "high church."

I believe the solution to the plague of our liturgical diversity in the LCMS does not lie in some kind of golden middle, a compromise position that equates tradition with innovation and tries to play to the majority (and ends up like the proverbial possum on the yellow line in the middle of the road).  Rather, I think we should consider what is being confessed and what our circumstances are.

Luther complained that, in his day, vestments and such were treated in a superstitious way - as though the vestments and candles were the beating heart of the church (e.g. SA Preface:13; LC 1:314).  And thus, canon laws developed that micromanaged such aspects as to what had to be worn for what service and how many candles had to be placed on the altar.  This represents the true extreme: not the existence of chasubles, but rather the notion that they add to God's Word.  On the other hand, Luther famously chastised Karlstadt for his iconoclasm - for his extremism was the same thing: making the rejection of traditional vestments and liturgical forms an equal and opposite superstition.

The "happy middle" is not necessarily a "bronze age" page-15 service that steers clear of both hand-waving and kneeling.  Rather, avoiding the extremes is essentially to avoid the superstitions and legalism, and to enjoy the rich heritage of the church without turning them into a kind of cult, to retain the old and steer clear of the innovative - as is the liturgical position laid out in the Augsburg Confession and its Apology.

By way of example, I just finished reading the now-sainted Richard Wurmbrand's In God's Underground.  It is a more complete and autobiographical account than his bestselling Tortured for Christ.  Wurmbrand was a Lutheran pastor who courageously spent many years in prisons in Romania (as did his wife and son) for his Christian witness and ministry behind the Iron Curtain.  He went on to expose Communism to the west, and with his wife and son, founded Voice of the Martyrs.

I highly recommend this book as a spiritual exercise.  It provides the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of confessing Christ, of the role of faith, and the inevitability of the cross as part and parcel of the Christian life.  The book has very little Scripture and almost no doctrine.  It is not a theological treatise.  Nor is it dry history or personal hagiography.  It is an account of the triumph of faith and love in the most horrific of real-world conditions.  It is a good thing for American Christians to read, especially given that with few exceptions among us, we do not suffer for the faith.  And it is written by a Lutheran pastor to boot.  We have the luxury of debating doctrine and practice, and then going out for a steak dinner with our families afterward.

Not so for Christians who labor under oppression.

One passage struck me as being of particular interest to Gottesdienst readers, and led me to ponder the matter of liturgical extremism.

On page 203, Blessed Richard writes about the Divine Services that he conducted in between his two periods of imprisonment, the brief time he had in leading his congregation as a free man outside of prison, after the church buildings had been confiscated.  He writes:
"Our services were as simple and as beautiful as those of the first Christians 1900 years ago....  Sometimes we met in open country.  The sky was our cathedral; the birds supplied our music, the flowers our incense, the stars our candles, the angels were the acolytes who lit them, and the shabby suit of a martyr just freed from prison meant far more to us than the most precious priestly robes."

What strikes me here is that Pastor Wurmbrand gives us a window as to what the Lutheran liturgy of his time and place looked like (before Communism seized the building and the implements of worship).  Notice, he speaks of these things as beautiful, but not necessary.  He does not attack such things as vestments and incense, and nor does he treat them as the very essence of Christian worship.  He is avoiding the extremism of both groups criticized by Luther: those who clung to the superstition of tradition as essence and those who clung to the opposite superstition of iconoclasm as essence.  The Word and the Sacraments are the substance, and beautiful reverence is a confession - whether the reverence manifests itself in the chirp of a meadowlark or the chant of a choir.  And yet, the Word endures, whether in a Romanesque cathedral or a Romanian torture chamber, whether amid the smells of living tree sap in the forest, or surrounded by the aroma of tree sap that has been collected and placed into a thurible to be burned in a church edifice.  All of these beautiful things serve to confess the Triune God, the Atoning Christ, and His Word and Sacraments among his holy people.  All of these things aid our worship in the very real world in which our Lord took human flesh and dwelt among us.

Note that Wurmbrand does consider beauty - however limited by circumstance - to be part and parcel of Christian worship.

By necessity, the liturgy in these extreme circumstances was conducted in simplicity - but always with reverence.  And the implication is that if Communists were not forcing Christians to worship in "basements, attics, flats" and "country homes" (p. 203), then the beauty of the sky, the birds, the flowers, the stars, and even the suit of the martyr would certainly manifest themselves as a cathedral, music, incense, candles, acolytes, acolytes, and priestly garb.

And how sad that so many among us are willing to surrender that which is beautiful and reverent not because of the force of Communism, but rather by surrender to freedom.

Let us continue to pray for our persecuted brethren and beseech the Lord that they may one day return to their peaceful cathedrals amid the beauty and bounty of reverent worship hindered neither by the sirens of the People's Police nor the siren song of popular culture.  And let us pray that we may likewise benefit by the example, courage, and prayers of all the saints who have been formed by the cross through Word and Sacrament.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

SELK: Reports of our demise have been greatly exaggerated

An outspoken advocate of of the "ordination" of women, Rev. Matthew Becker, recently published an account of certain conversations within our German sister church, the SELK, on this topic. His report made it sound like the SELK was on the verge of breaking with catholic tradition and Dominical command regarding the ministry. A reader from within the SELK, Rev. Wilhelm Torgerson, asked us to publish his response:

The article bristles with mistakes and unproven assumptions.

1: It was not "a special Synod of the SELK" in Hesse-North. Rather it was

a district convention in SELK. At the end they did not pass a resolution calling

for the introduction of women's ordination. Rather their vote was a personal

response to the presentations made, like "how do you feel about it?"

I know, that's embarrassing enough! But since when do we vote in district

conventions about what doctrine is to be valid in the church at large?

2: It is true that the (majority of) professors in Oberursel is in favour of the

ordination of women; one (Dr. da Silva, the Brazilian) is opposed, another

(Dr. Klän) believes it to be "possible" according to his reading of New

Testament evidence, but he also believes that the Church is at liberty to

decide either way.

3: Absolutely wrong is the assertion that "many of the seminarians" are in favour;

the contrary is true, by far most of the students are opposed -- God be praised.

4: On what factual evidence does Becker base the assertion: "Clear majorities

in the SELK" favour women's ordination? Fact is, the Church in convention has

at least 7 times (in words: seven times!!) rejected the introduction of women's

ordination. Our problem is that the proponents of WO keep coming back to

every pastoral conference and to every general synod.

5: It is right to point out that to change the SELK constitution (including Art. 7)

a 2/3 affirmative vote is needed. Never once has even a simple majority for WO

been achieved -- except recently that odd vote in the district convention in

northern Hesse.

6: Here I want to place my personal opinion, which is shared by many of the

SELK clergy young and old: Should a general synod of the SELK ever get to

a 2/3 vote in favour of WO, that would mean the end of SELK as we know

it! Even many of the proponents know that, they are aware this danger -- and

for that reason even some of them will not vote in favour of WO.

7: Last point -- Becker calls the consultation process on WO "cordial, civil,

evangelical, fraternal and serious". How does he know that? Was he part of

this process -- or did he have some Wikeleaks informant who gave him the

inside lowdown?

The consultation process was (perhaps) necessary, but it was at times diffi-

cult, heart wrenching and extremely time consuming. An east / west divide

became evident in our church. The mission outreach of SELK in Germany

and its confessional witness to the nation almost came to a standstill --

because we were so caught up in discussing internal church problems.

Relationships have suffered; friendships broke down. All because the WO

proponents held on to the issue like a dog biting his bone.

My conclusion: The church at large and many members in the parishes are

just fed up and sick and tired of what in most congregations is a non-issue.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Free Shipping on Daily Divine Service Book!

Now through December 12th - use code Holiday305 when checking out.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Correction to the Gottesdienst 2011 Calendar

There's an error in the recently-released Gottesdienst 2011 calendar. The readings listed for Christmas Day 2011 are supposed to be as follows:

Christmas Day
OT Isaiah 9:2-7
Epistle Titus 2:11-14
Gospel St. Luke 2:1-14

The readings erroneously put there are the readings for the First Sunday after Christmas.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Calendar Considerations for Christmas through Epiphany

As mentioned previously, the feast of St. Stephen is appropriately celebrated this year in lieu of the First Sunday after Christmas as St. Stephen's day is traditionally a feast of the first order and the First Sunday after Christmas a feast of the second order. In fact, according to the traditional Western ranking of feasts, the First Sunday of after Christmas is only celebrated on those years when Sunday falls on December 29th, 30th, and 31st.

If your parish observes a Divine Service on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, the propers for the Circumcision and Name of Jesus are appropriately used. If you have services on both days, consider using a votive Divine Service on one or the other of them - Divine Service for Peace, or Divine Service for the Heathen would be appropriate. (LSB does offer propers specifically for a New Year's Eve service. However, the theme of this service is something of a return to Advent with a "Watch" Gospel lesson; or rather, an intrusion of the civil calendar into the Octave of Christmas. For my part, I think the Circumcision and Name of Jesus propers are more fitting.)

Sunday, January 2nd is appropriately celebrated as the Second Sunday after Christmas which has as its Gospels Matt. 2:13-23 - the flight into Egypt. This is an interesting anachronism in the calendar, as the reading for Epiphany is Matt. 2:1-12, the visit of the Magi. It's rather like the backwards reading of John 14-16 in the Sundays leading up to Pentecost.

The celebration of Epiphany causes much calendar confusion and dislocation between parishes due to the fact that Epiphany will be transferred to Sunday the 9th in many places (please see the poll at right). Since the Sundays after Epiphany are, well, the Sundays after Epiphany, do you count from the 9th or the 6th? This is further complicated by the desire to celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord on a Sunday, which celebration appropriately replaces the First Sunday after Epiphany. Then which Sunday after Epiphany do you skip to get back on track with the actual calendar? Oh, and once again, are you counting Epiphany as having happened on the 6th or the 9th? All told, we may have different parishes celebrating Sunday, January 16th as any of the following: The Baptism of our Lord, the First Sunday after Epiphany, or the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany! This confusion could last all the way to Transfiguration when the date of Easter, not Epiphany, once again takes charge of the Calendar.

I recommend following these two principles. 1. The actual date of a feast should govern the Sundays that fall after it, even when the festival is transferred for local reasons. 2. The Baptism of our Lord is most appropriately celebrated on the next Sunday following a parish's observance of Epiphany.

This gives the following Calendars for parishes depending on their observance of Epiphany.

In parishes that celebrate Epiphany on January 6th
January 9: Baptism of Our Lord (transferred)
January 16: 2nd Sunday after Epiphany
January 23: 3rd Sunday after Epiphany
The observance that is skipped here is the First Sunday after Epiphany (Boy Jesus in the Temple)

In parishes that celebrate Epiphany on January 9th
January 9: Epiphany (transferred)
January 16: Baptism of our Lord (transferred)
January 23: 3rd Sunday after Epiphany
The observances skipped here are First Sunday after Epiphany (Boy Jesus in the Temple) and the Second Sunday after Epiphany (the Wedding at Cana).

Propers for all these days as well as notes on the traditional precedence of the various feast days of the Church Year are included in Daily Divine Service Book: A Lutheran Daily Missal.


Happy St. Nicholas Day!

The parish kids all received some chocolate coins yesterday after church, as did our own kids in their shoes this morning. We won't actually get a chance to celebrate a St. Nicholas Divine Service until Wednesday (transferred, obviously) - here are the propers from Daily Divine Service Book.

Nicholas of Myra, Bishop, Confessor

December 6

Double- White Vestments – Saints’ Preface

Beginning of the Divine Service: Turn to (A) Divine Service p. 394

(B) Introit


The Lord made to him a covenant of peace and made him a prince; that the dignity of priesthood should be to him forever. (Sirach 45: 30)


LORD, remémber Dávid, * and áll his afflictions.

Glory be to the Fáther and tó the Son * and tó the Hóly Ghost.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and éver sháll be, * wórld without énd. Amen. (Psalm 132: 1)

Turn to (C) Kyrie p. 396

(D) Collect of the Day

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Almìghty God: that the solemn feast of Blessed Nicholas, Thy Confessor and Bishop, may both increase our devotion and further our salvation through the reception of your gràce; through Jesus Christ oùr Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Hòly Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

(F) Gradual

I have found Dávid my sérvant; * with my holy oil have Í anóinted him:

With whom my hand shall bé estáblished: * mine arm álso shall stréngthen him.

The enemy shall not exáct upón him; * nor the son of wickednéss afflíct him. (Psalm 89: 20-22)

(G) The Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 13: 7-17a

Brethren: Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. 8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. 9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. 10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. 11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. 12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. 15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. 16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account.

(H) The Verse


The righteous shall flourish líke the pálm tree: * he shall grow like a cédar in Lébanon.

(Psalm 92: 12)

Turn to (I) Gospel Preparation p. 397

(J) The Holy Gospel: Luke 14: 26-33

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Job #1 Is Preaching

The first and foremost thing a pastor is called to do is preach Christ.

Such preaching is faithful when it is a confession of the Word of Christ.

This faithful preaching of Christ is catechetical, because it is the preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins in His Name.

This faithful preaching of repentance is always sacramental, because it is a preaching to and from the dying and rising of Holy Baptism, to and from the Body and Blood of Christ at His Altar.

This sacramental preaching is likewise liturgical, not so much because it is "about the Liturgy," but because it is a fundamental and constitutive part of the Liturgy. As the Holy Communion is the heart of the Liturgy, so is faithful preaching the lungs of the Liturgy.

Everything else the pastor does, in the Liturgy or otherwise, is (or ought to be) a continuation or an echo of his faithful preaching of Christ. Hence, everything the pastor says and does, as well as the way he says and does it, ought to be a faithful confession of Christ and His Word. The pastor also lives liturgically, that is, by repentant faith in the forgiveness of his sins, to and from his Baptism, to and from the Lord's Altar.

So, too, the rites and ceremonies of the Liturgy, in their own way, are to be a faithful preaching of Christ. They should confess His Word. They should catechize the people in repentant faith, that is, in the humility and confidence of the Cross of Christ. They should move to and from the font and the Altar in harmony with the evangelical heart and lungs of the Liturgy.

Where the preaching is not faithful, the rites and ceremonies of the Liturgy will falter along with it; they will fall short and fail to confess Christ, whether they are outwardly extravagant or impoverished. For it is impossible to confess Christ where His Word is not preached.

But where the preaching is faithful, there the rites and ceremonies of the Liturgy will also be lifted up and will rise to the high and holy occasion of Christ in His great high priestly service. Whether in simple or elaborate elegance, the rites and ceremonies of the Liturgy will serve as a reverent and courteous confession of repentant faith in that sacred Word and work of Christ.

Where the lungs and the heart are healthy and working properly together, the body also will live and move in the health and strength of Christ, not only surviving but thriving.