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Happy Anniversary!

June 25th, 2007
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The 477th Anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession
The 427th Anniversary of the Publication of the Book of Concord

Greetings Cyberbrethren:

I wish all of you a happy anniversary! The anniversary today of the presentation of the Augsburg Confession, in 1530, and the anniversary of the publication of the Book of Concord, fifty years later.

I thought a sermon from Dr. C.F.W. Walther commemorating the anniversary of the Formula of Concord would be an appropriate item for this day. So, here you go. The text below is from a WORD file, so apologies for any formatting issues, but you can still read it.

Raise the Lutheran Banner High and Wave It Joyfully!

Let the Lutheran Fire Blaze Brightly!

A Sermon by C. F. W. Walther

Translated by Matthew C. Harrison

Preached on the Occasion of

The Celebration of the 300th Anniversary of the Formula of Concord

May 29, 1877

Holy Trinity Congregation

Saint Louis, Missouri

In the Name of Jesus

Let us pray:

Lord God, three hundred years ago you did something extraordinary for
our fathers, and we celebrate it today. The Church that You built so
gloriously through Your servant lay in rubble and ruin. Her heroes were
fallen. The watchmen on her walls had become traitors in her midst. The
light of Your pure Word you had ignited in her was extinguished. Her
lamps were overturned. The banner of Your confession lay in the dirt,
stained and torn. Her previous unity in the faith had turned into
bitter division. Her enemies were in triumph and were singing her
funeral hymns. She had dissolved to a small, dispersed little flock,
weeping in the dirt and complaining: “The Lord has forsaken me, the
Lord has forgotten what is mine.” Yet behold, when those suffering were
destroyed and the poor cried out, then You spoke, O Lord in heaven: “I
will rise, I will come to your aid that man shall teach with
confidence.”

Today is the blessed day that you brought about this help. So today our
hearts are filled with joy. Our mouths are full of gladness and our
tongues are filled with praise. Today we “enter Your gates with
thanksgiving and Your courts with praise.”

O help us now, so that we do not merely thank You today with heartfelt
festival hymns for everything great You once did for our fathers.
Through this festival jubilation ignite in us the fire of the first
love that once burned in the hearts of our fathers. Set our entire
American Lutheran Zion ablaze. As we assemble as troops for battle,
rally her once more with a trumpet call around the old faithful banner
of Your pure Gospel.

O grant that in these days all the children of Zion who have fallen
from the truth will rise again. Grant that all the erring repent. Grant
that all who have become weak in the faith become strong. Grant that
all who have become lukewarm in love become fervent. Grant that all who
have forsaken the act of confessing become courageous in confession.
Grant that all those who have remained true be filled with your Spirit
and gifts, and thus the Church of the pure Confession again become a
city of God upon a high mountain, for the blessing of all Christendom,
for the gathering of a great multitude of Your chosen, also in these
last times, to the praise and honor of Your name for ever and ever.
Amen.

Text: Isaiah 49:14–17

Zion speaks: The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten that
which is mine. Can a woman forget her children so that she does not
have mercy upon the son of her womb? And although she forsake them, I
will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you in the palms of My
hands. Your walls are ever before Me. Your builders will make haste,
but your destroyers and those who laid you waste shall go away from you.

Beloved sons and daughters in the Lord of the American Lutheran Zion!
Today, three hundred years ago, on May 29, 1577, six pious and learned
servants of the Lutheran Church, Martin Chemnitz, Jacob Andreae,
Nicholas Selnecker, David Chytraeus, Andrew Musculus, and Christopher
Koerner, after putting the finishing touches on that Confession of
faith of our Church, which bears the name The Formula of Concord,
signed their names to it with the following words:

This is our teaching, belief and confession in which by God’s grace we
shall appear with intrepid hearts before the judgment seat of our Lord
Jesus Christ and for which we shall give account. Nor shall we speak or
write anything privately or publicly, contrary to this confession, but
we intend through God’s grace to abide by it. In view of this we have
advisedly, in the fear and invocation of God, subscribed our signatures
with our own hands.

                                    

It was an act of great historical significance for the Church and the
world that had incalculably important consequences. This act did not
take place in a great solemn manner as happened when the Augsburg
Confession was delivered in 1530. The presentation of that Confession
took place in view of the whole world in the emperor’s chapel, with
hundreds in attendance. Those first subscriptions to the Formula of
Concord, on the other hand, happened privately in the narrow confines
of a room in the library of the small cloister church at Bergen near
Magdeburg, Germany.

The solemn reading of the Augsburg Confession, the foundational
Confession of our Church, took place in one of the most glorious
assemblies of the empire. The most powerful man on earth at the time,
on whose kingdom the sun never set, Emperor Charles V, sat on his
throne. At the emperor’s side was his brother Ferdinand, King of
Bohemia and Hungary. Around him were an entire retinue of electors,
princes, and other officials of the kingdom. There were a great number
of foreign emissaries from royal and princely courts, a papal legate,
six cardinals, and many other Roman Church prelates. After the reading
of the Confession, it was translated into the various languages of
Christendom and sent to various parts of Europe.

The first subscription of the Formula of Concord, on the other hand,
happened on this date, quietly, at the hands of only six ministers of
the Church. In 1530, the evangelical princes, when they delivered the
Augsburg Confession to the mighty enemies of their faith, did so at the
risk of their possessions and lives. Therefore, even before the
Confession was delivered, Margrave George of Brandenburg was forced to
declare to the Emperor: “Before I would deny my God and his Gospel, I
would here kneel before Your Imperial Majesty and have my head chopped
off.” The subscription of the Formula of Concord on the other hand, in
1577, involved no such danger. As its title indicates, it was much more
a formula of unity, which would be delivered to those who wanted to
gather around this banner of peace in brotherly unity.

And how so? Is the Formula of Concord still so valuable today for our
Evangelical Lutheran Church that we should celebrate it with a festival
of thanksgiving and praise on the day it was completed, three hundred
years ago? Yes, indeed! A Lutheran who has not already fallen away, and
to whom his religion is still worth something, will say, “If we
Lutherans are silent today, then the stones must cry out!” With the
help of the Holy Spirit, this is what I want to point out to you in
this holy hour of festival celebration. On the basis of the text of
prophecy just read, I want to present a sermon to you with this theme:
The Formula of Concord is a glorious monument of the gracious blessing
of God on our dear Evangelical Lutheran Zion. Why? For three reasons:
(1) through the Formula of Concord God rescued our Church from the
threat of death; (2) through the Formula of Concord God gloriously
rebuilt our Church and blessed Christianity; (3) through the Formula of
Concord God protected our Church for all times from those who would
destroy it from within.

1.

If we want to convince ourselves that the Formula of Concord is a
glorious monument to the gracious blessing of God on our dear
Evangelical Lutheran Zion, we must first vividly recount the condition
in which our Church found itself before this Confession was accepted.
It was the darkest page in her history. From 1517, when Luther posted
the Ninety-five Theses to his death in 1546, our Church rose amazingly,
gloriously, and rapidly. From Luther’s death to the year 1577 was a
time of rapid demise and destruction in our Church.

Hardly twenty-five years after Luther’s death, the glorious, majestic,
divinely built Church of the Reformation, the Church of the pure Word
and unadulterated Sacraments, lay in rubble and ashes. Here and there a
small tower rose over crumbled remnants, like ruins that bear witness
of a glorious past. Before Luther died, the universal hymn of Lutheran
people was Luther’s own heroic and victorious hymn A Mighty Fortress Is
Our God. Scarcely had Luther’s mouth closed forever when this hymn was
silenced. In short, if I were to sketch with a few words a true picture
of the condition of our Church at that time, I could find nothing more
appropriate than the words of our text: “Zion said, ‘The Lord has
forgotten me, the Lord has forgotten what is mine.’ ”

How did this happen? Had what the Lutherans so prized and sung with
such fervor and with such a joyful faith become a lie? “The Word they
still shall let remain, nor any thanks have for it.” Had the word
finally fallen? No! The word could not be overcome by any power of the
world, not even the gates of hell. But the men to whom God had
entrusted His pure word as an act of His grace, they . . . had fallen.
In true prophetic spirit Luther himself, in his very last sermon
preached at Wittenberg, predicted that Satan would tear our Church
apart after his death. He asserted, “Where he can not accomplish it
through the pope and emperor he will do it through those who are now
with us in doctrine.”

Indeed, in private conversations, Luther told a number of his trusted
friends, referring precisely to his Wittenberg colleagues in office,
“After my death none of these theologians will remain steadfast.”
Unfortunately this is exactly what happened. After Luther’s death, our
Church was torn apart. In fact, it was neither the pope nor emperor who
caused it to happen. Only a few months after Luther’s death, the
Smalcald War broke out, which was so ominous for Lutherans. It wasn’t
until 1555 that the Religious Peace of Augsburg gave the Lutherans
complete religious freedom and freedom to worship. The Lutherans fell
into deeper crisis around this time when the emperor, at the threat of
bloodshed, attempted to force a union formula, called the Interim,
through which our Church would again be subjected to the pope. Only
after the Augsburg Peace did these threatening storm clouds pass
forever. But it was not enemies from the outside who nearly brought our
Church to ruin, but traitors on the inside.

Saxony, once the cradle of the Reformation, and in particular, the
University of Wittenberg, posed the greatest threat. From Wittenberg
the light of the pure Gospel had once gone out into all lands, but
after Luther’s death, falsifications of the Word of God stretched like
shadows of death from Wittenberg over the entire Lutheran Church. In
the same pulpit from which Luther once proclaimed the pure Gospel in
Pauline power, and from which Luther with the zeal of Elijah had
thundered against all ungodly things in matters of doctrine and life,
from this very same pulpit were now heard the glistening voices of
deceivers.

From the same academic chair that Luther used to equip thousands of
students streaming in from every corner of Christendom, as true
ministers of the Word in doctrine and defense, now sat professors who
made it their business to imprint upon their students a new Gospel of
reason in place of the old Gospel of the Holy Scriptures. Wittenberg
publishing houses had printed the works of Luther, the one prophesied
as the angel with the eternal Gospel, who flew through the heavens of
the Church. From these publications fell the dew and manna of heaven on
parched hearts. They were filled with light, comfort, and a willingness
to die for the faith. These writings of Luther were the roaring thunder
of God against all falsifiers of His Word, terrifying them and
unmasking them. Like bolts of lightning from God’s hand, the entire
arrogant edifice of the Antichrist was shaken to its very foundations.
Now, from the very same printing houses I say, appeared document after
document that had no other purpose than to snuff out the holy fire
emblazoned by Luther’s writings and once again to tear out of hearts
“God’s Word and Luther’s doctrine.”

In order to achieve this goal more easily, there arose the devilish lie
that just before his death, Luther had recanted his doctrine, and that
it was Melanchthon who, after Luther’s death, would make right what
Luther had destroyed. Thus the old original Augsburg Confession was
jettisoned and another falsified Augsburg Confession was introduced,
written by the unfortunately now vacillating Melanchthon. He changed it
to find favor among Luther’s enemies. It was deceitfully called the
“improved” version. The Small Catechism itself, that priceless little
book by Luther, was cast aside and a new Calvinistic catechism was put
in its place. Wittenberg was regarded everywhere as the place where the
pure doctrine of Luther was born and where the teachers were Luther’s
rightful followers in office and heirs of his spirit. In all of Germany
and beyond, nearly everyone who held an office in the Church became
followers of the now heretical Wittenberg professors. Thus new doctrine
spread farther and farther like a plague from city to city, indeed,
from village to village. The word of the apostle was fulfilled, “Their
talk will spread like gangrene.”

At this time the ruler of Saxony was Elector August. He was pure and
upright and committed to the Lutheran faith. The most important fallen
theologians of Saxony conspired with like-minded high political
officials. They used every hypocritical and deceptive practice they
could think of to deceive the unsophisticated elector and make him
their willing pawn. They accomplished this hellish plan only too well.
With the help of the elector, whom they had charmed, they caused
hundreds who had remained faithful to Luther’s teaching to be removed
from office as dangerous destroyers of the peace, indeed as heretics
who had fallen away from Luther’s doctrine. Many were thrown into
prison and finally, in most cases, banished from the land, along with
their wife and children, and driven into misery.

The entire Lutheran Church was afflicted by a civil war and became like
people who are cut and wounded. To be sure, outside Saxony there still
were faithful students of Luther who rose up and spoke and wrote
clearly against this departure from the faith. But this just seemed to
be the last convulsions of the Lutheran Church that was already in the
throws of death. In Calvinistic temples, God was publicly thanked that
the Lutheran Church had now also become Calvinistic. Calvinistic
teachers only cared about how they could bury the old Augsburg
Confession and the Church that previously confessed it.

In fact, my friends, the way it looked then, our church seemed to be
dying. Death seemed unavoidable. Everything that had been done to try
to rescue it and restore the unity in faith, doctrine, and Confession
that had been lost, resulted only in failure. The little flock sounded
its plaintive hymn: “The Lord has forgotten me! The Lord has forgotten
that which is mine.” O you of little faith! Precisely had God’s hour
struck, in which He, as it says in our text, said, “Can a woman forget
her children so that she does not have mercy upon the son of her womb?
And although she forsake them, I will not forget you. Behold, I have
inscribed you in the palms of My hands; your walls are ever before Me.”

Then what happened? Oh, the miracles of God! Precisely when the
traitors in our Lutheran Zion fortress were cheering with thoughts of
victory, planning to hand the fort over to the enemies, when they
finally were free to step out into the light, then suddenly heaven
thundered: “You shall come this far, and no farther; here shall lay
waste your haughty breakers, for here is Immanuel!” When the situation
was most dire, according to God’s ancient way of working, there was
help in the next moment. God brought it about that Elector August
received secret letters. In these letters his theologians and secular
counselors gladly celebrated how marvelously they had fooled the pious,
simple prince. Against his will they had made him a tool for the
destruction of the Lutheran Church. The scales now fell from the pious
prince’s eyes! With abhorrence, revulsion, and shock he now saw how
contemptible the deception was.

Now he allowed those deceivers to experience for themselves the bitter
lot to which they only shortly before had subjected hundreds of
innocent people. The prince banded together with other blessed Lutheran
princes. He was placed at the head of the group who had remained true
to the old doctrine of Luther, or had now been woken up by God to
return to it.

But now how should this Church, which was bleeding from a thousand
wounds be healed? How should she be purified of the many heresies that
had forced their way in? How should the general division be overcome
and peace, unity, and oneness be re-established? To this end, my dear
friends, there was only one means: Individuals in the fellowship of the
faith simply returned to the truth, which had been abandoned. The good
old standard of the Church of the Reformation was brought out from the
dust. The old oath was solemnly renewed. The faithful host now closed
ranks around this banner for defense and offense.

Three hundred years ago this day, in a Cloister at Bergen, it was this,
and nothing else, that was accepted. After unspeakable difficulty, the
Formula of Concord finally came to be. This Confession was no new,
allegedly improved Confession. It was nothing but the documented
repetition of that earlier Confession acknowledged by all Lutherans
from the beginning: The Unaltered Augsburg Confession, the Apology
[Defense] of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, and both
Catechisms of Luther. The authors of the Formula of Concord simply
dealt with the articles over which there had been controversy. They
pointed out simply what the old Confessions taught regarding these
matters, using the clear words of the older Confessions. They confirmed
this teaching with Luther’s writings and solemnly uncovered and
rejected false interpretations of these old Confessions.

Look what happened when the old flags of Luther were again unfurled and
waved high over the pinnacles of our Lutheran Zion. It astonished
friend and foe alike when it became evident that unlike in the time of
Elijah, when only seven thousand had not surrendered the faith, right
in the midst of the confusion, millions had not bowed the knee before
the idols of the new doctrine. More than eight thousand church and
school officials, led by three electors, twenty-one princes, twenty-two
territorial rulers, four barons, and thirty-five independent cities,
subscribed in the name of their congregations to the new formula of
unity in the truth, with deep thankfulness and high holy joy.

Thus the Bergen Cloister became a second Eisleben, in which Luther was
born yet again for the Church. The secret and open enemies of the
Lutheran Church had solemnly prepared to bury it. But now it was raised
again from its apparent death. Miraculously rescued from her eminent
demise, she was joyously heard crying out throughout Christendom:
Victory! “This came about by the Lord’s doing and is a miracle before
our eyes.” And so today is “a day which the Lord has made. Let us
rejoice and be glad in it.”

2.

My brothers and sisters in the Lord, through the Formula of Concord,
God not only miraculously rescued our Church from threatening death,
but He also gloriously rebuilt and established new blessings for
Christianity a second time. As the Lord in our text again promised to
His fainthearted Zion: “Thy builders will hasten.”

As foretold, three hundred years ago the Formula of Concord, just
before Pentecost, fulfilled the prophecy! Our Church through this
Confession celebrated its Easter of resurrection. Now followed a long
glorious Pentecost season of new life and rich blessing.

The Formula of Concord removed the debris of false doctrine from the
immovable foundation of our Church that had bedeviled her for thirty
years after Luther’s death. Then as our text says, her “builders
hastened” to build the old house of God in its original glory and
beauty on this foundation, now cleared. For the next one hundred years
and more, God gave our Church a great host of blessed, learned, highly
enlightened men, burning with a passion for God’s pure Word. These
intelligent men constructed a doctrinal building before which today
even unbelievers are forced to stand and take note, like men standing
in front of a remarkable cathedral towering toward the heavens,
standing silent and full of awe. All of it is built on the foundation
of the Word of God. It is wonderfully constructed all the way up to the
golden cross upon its cupola, so that no stone can be removed without
shaking the entire structure or disfiguring it. Every treasure of
divine knowledge, which through the Word of the Reformation was brought
to see the light of day out of the mineshaft of the Divine Word, was
now gathered into new writings like holy, well-protected vaults. All
the spoils, which in the struggle of the Reformation were taken from
the enemies on the right and the left, were now placed as trophies of
victory in the arsenals of our Church for all times. The good old
weapons of Christian knighthood, once used to overcome Rome and a false
Protestantism, were again set in motion.

The house of the righteous that had been promised was now fulfilled in
the Church of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession: “Riches and abundance
will be in his house” (Psalm 112:3). “The Lord thy God will bless Thee,
as he has told you. So will you lend to many peoples, and you will
borrow from no one” (Deuteronomy 15:6). After the acceptance of the
Formula of Concord, the holy learning of God produced a flowing river
of imperishable works of faithful investigation of the Scripture. Out
of Luther’s writings flowed nearly all the beautiful books on doctrine
and devotional books. Even today not only all Lutherans, but also pious
souls of other churches, are edified by them. Indeed, their pages may
be yellowed, but they are more sought after and purchased for a higher
price than the gold-embossed books of modern times. They truly are a
golden fruit, produced from the seeds planted by the Formula of Concord
in the bosom of the Church, three hundred years ago today.

In the divine garden of our Church, purified from the weeds of false
doctrine, now fragrant heavenly flowers of anointed prayer sprouted and
grew, full of consolation and devotion. Today these writings still lift
the hearts of readers to God. The evangelical sermons, now resounding
again in our Church, proclaimed God’s great deeds for the redemption of
the sinful world. They attracted, like the trees of paradise, hosts of
the birds of the heavens, which nested in their branches and sang to
the Lord sweet hymns, which still today refresh hearts in all Lutheran
churches, schools, and homes.

In short, before the Formula of Concord, our Church lay like a poor
woman begging in the dust, scorned by the people and despised by the
nations. She became an admired prophetess, priestess, and queen of the
new covenant. Our Church became a mighty work in the kingdom of the
truth, a blessing for all Christianity on earth. Streams of living
water flowed from her, watering and producing fruit from the barren
deserts of the world. The fortress of our Church was so solidly
established upon the foundation that even the storms, troubles, and
ravages of the Thirty Years’ War could not destroy her. When the
Formula of Concord was finally achieved there was a prophecy, made in
vain, that it would only lead to greater division and thus was not a
work of God, and would quickly see its demise. All these prophets of
doom were brought to shame. The truth is that our Concordia, for more
than a hundred years, became a flaming wall around our Church, bringing
her true unity and true peace. And—O wonder of the divine blessing of
Grace!—still today, after three hundred years, there are here in the
new world thousands and thousands of our brothers and sisters gathered
in their churches joining with us on this day in singing hymns of
jubilation, praising and thanking God for the divine gift of the
Concordia.

3.

There is still one more reason why the Formula of Concord is such a
glorious monument to the gracious blessing of God on our dear
Evangelical Lutheran Zion. For all times, God will use the Formula of
Concord to preserve her from destroyers within her midst. The Lord,
according to our text, finally had given his fainthearted Zion this
promise: “But thy breakers and destroyers you shall be free of.”

Indeed, my dear friends, no Confession has been hated as much as this,
the final Confession of our Church, the Formula of Concord. While many
who say they want to be Lutherans confess the Augsburg Confession, this
is not enough to bring the enemies of our Church out in the open. Many
who present themselves as Lutherans are the most bitter enemies of the
Formula of Concord, which is nothing other than a repetition of the
teaching of the Augsburg Confession. The Formula of Concord was accused
of being a formula for division instead of a formula for unity, a tool
of intolerance, the true bone of contention within Protestantism.

But why? This simple reason is this: The brief Confession presented at
Augsburg could be misinterpreted according to one’s own understanding.
Because this was so, it was turned into a shield behind which one could
fight undisturbed against the very doctrine it contained. The Formula
of Concord, however, brought this fraudulent game to an end forever. In
an undeniable manner, and from the clear words of the Augsburg
Confession, it demonstrated what the only true meaning of that
confession is. The Formula of Concord is nothing other than a new staff
for the old flag. Thus the bitter hatred! The Augsburg Confession was
the letter of separation, which our Church in the year 1530 once gave
to the papacy. So also, the Formula of Concord is the letter of
separation, which our Church in the year 1577, presented to the sham
Protestants, who had invaded the Church, and to all their false
brothers. Like a faithful guard standing watch at the gate, the Formula
of Concord stands at the entrance of our Lutheran Zion and demands
stubbornly of every individual who desires to enter that he give the
password of the Unaltered (and un-misinterpreted) Augsburg Confession.

The Formula of Concord is a powerful fortress and wall protecting the
harbor of our city of God, a city of pure Confession. With its mighty
weapons it guards her against the entry of all ships sailing under a
false flag. Many want to use the Augsburg Confession only as a mask to
try to place themselves under the name “Lutheran.” The Formula of
Concord forces all to lay aside their mask and reveal their true face.
Three hundred years ago, the Formula of Concord again hoisted the
Unaltered Augsburg Confession according to its true meaning, as the
flag on the rooftops of our city of God. When this happened, all those
who had stood deceitfully under the banner of the Augsburg Confession
soon left the great assembly and placed themselves under the banner of
Zwingli and Calvin. Look how the promise in our text has been fulfilled
ever since by our formula of unity, the Formula of Concord: “But thy
breakers and destroyers will leave thee.”

Perhaps at this point some of you are asking, “But aren’t there new
‘breakers and destroyers’ who force their way into the Church in this
and previous centuries, despite the Formula of Concord?” I answer: Yes,
indeed! They have forced their way in. But why did this happen? The
banner of this glorious Confession was still present to be sure, but it
lay wrapped up in the dust, hidden from the Lutheran people, and its
slumbering guards did not make use of it.

Arise then! Arise you Lutherans of America! Let us use the glorious
freedom we taste here in America to make sure that the old banner of
Confession is raised. In our old fatherland it lies in musty ruin. Let
it be hoisted here again. Let us gather around this banner as a
faithful and courageous people of Confession. Let us renew the old oath
of loyalty today, which we Lutherans made already at our confirmation.
Let our teachers in church and school be sworn to that oath! Next to
God’s Word, let us examine and correct everything we hear and read
according to this Confession. Finally let us work and fight, standing
in rank and file, only with those who are prepared to follow this
banner. The storms of the world and false brothers may rain on us. They
will not tear our banner apart, but only more fully and broadly unfurl
it before the eyes of the whole world.
In the old world it is evident that the sun of the pure Gospel is
setting, which once rose in Augsburg and on the Bergen Cloister. Many
true Lutherans from the old world are looking with longing hope to our
young American Lutheran Church as a little house, but one that is free.
Because she is free, she is called to salvage and rescue the pure
Gospel here in the new world in these last times, that holy relic
entrusted to our Church. O arise! Arise, American Lutheran Zion, and
let there be light! You, her watchmen, forward! Lay hold the holy
banner, raise it high and wave it joyfully! All of you, you children of
this Zion, man and wife, old and young, follow those who show
themselves true bearers of the flag! Take heart and be joyful! The
Lord, who is a God of truth, is with us! By that sign we shall conquer,
though all powers of darkness in the midnight hour plot against us and
rise against us on the battlefield. The battle will rage hot and ever
hotter! Finally we, persistent to the end, will be taken in triumph
into the congregation above, to the eternal festival of jubilation.
Grant this to us Jesus Christ, You, our leader in the fight! Amen.

Translator’s Note

This is a sermon preached by C. F. W. Walther at the celebration of the
300th anniversary of the Formula of Concord, May 29, 1877, in Holy
Trinity Lutheran Church, St. Louis, Missouri. This event is described
in the following report: This sermon was preached by Dr. Walther to a
general gathering of the Gesammtgemeinde (those four congregations over
which Walther was pastor) in the course of a two-day celebration of the
300th anniversary of the Formula of Concord in St. Louis, Missouri. In
the morning all gathered at old Trinity, and in the evening at each of
the four churches. There were lectures at the seminary, festival
addresses, choirs, and other music. Walther preached at the main
service at Trinity. Professor Schaller’s Jubelfestlied was the main
congregational hymn of the day. There was a large choir from the choral
societies of the four parishes, and a number of students took part.
There was an orchestra made up of students from the seminary. They
played and sang the Latin Te Deum composed by Mozart. “While the creed
was sung by the congregation [Luther’s hymn, We All Believe in One True
God], the Pastor of the congregation, Professor C. F. W. Walther,
General President of the Missouri Synod, ascended the pulpit and
delivered the festival sermon.” The original account and the sermon are
found in Denkmal der dritten Jubelfeier der Concordienformel im Jahre
des Heils 1877. Enthaltend Beschreibungen deiser Feier, auf dieselbe
bezuegliche Predigten, Auszuege aus solchen, Predigtdispositionen und
Lieder. Herausgegeben im Namen der evang.-luth. Synodalconferenz von
Nordamerika. St. Louis, Mo. Zu haben bei M. C. Barthel, Gernal-Agent
der deutschen ev.-luth. Synode von Missouri, Ohio u.a. St. 1877. This
wonderful volume contains the accounts of celebrations of the Formula
of Concord that took place throughout the Synodical Conference in 1877.

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  1. Norman Teigen
    June 25th, 2007 at 19:55 | #1

    I am going to suggest to the readers of my blog that they read the sermon of Dr. Walther on the occasion of the Augsburg Confession anniversary.

  2. Christopher Martin
    June 25th, 2007 at 20:22 | #2

    Now if we can just get people to read it. I am a Lutheran by conviction today due to the Book of Concord, which of course includes the AC.

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