You may now download, for free, an iCal Church Year Calendar, for the Lutheran Service Book Lectionary, for Series B and Series C. The pastor who prepared these is now working on the iCal files for Series A and the Historic/One Year Lectionary and we’ll get those posted as soon as we have them.
I have watched and listened and read, with increasing disgust, the story about Joe Paterno and his negligent handling of the sexual assault on young boys by one of his football team’s coaches. The story is sick enough in itself, the details of which will make you literally feel like vomiting, but nearly as revolting is the reaction of many people to Paterno’s firing. It points how utterly stupid the entire college sport scene has become and particularly, college football. But how can the Church learn from this situation? Kudos to Al Mohler for some excellent thoughts and reflection on the entire sick and sordid incident. Here are Mohler’s comments from his web site.
No one thought it would end this way. Joe Paterno, the legendary head football coach at Penn State University heard of his firing by the school’s board of trustees by phone last night. Just two weeks after achieving the most wins of any NCAA Division One football coach in history, Paterno was fired. His firing — a necessary action by the Penn State board of trustees — holds lessons for us all.
Almost a decade ago, a graduate assistant told Coach Paterno that an assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, had been observed forcing a young boy into a sexual act in the school’s football locker room showers. Sandusky was himself a big name in Penn State football, and he was considered a likely successor to Paterno if the head coach had retired. Sandusky also ran a non-profit organization for boys, and he brought the boys onto the Penn State campus. He continued to do so even after his own retirement from Penn State’s coaching staff.
After hearing the report, Paterno informed university officials of the accusation. At that point, little or nothing seems to have happened. The scandal broke into public view last Saturday, when Sandusky was arrested and charged with 40 felony counts of sexual abuse involving young boys. Penn State had been harboring a serial child sex abuser. Also arrested were the university’s athletic director and its senior vice president of business and finance. Both were charged with failure to report the abuse and with perjury.
What about Paterno and the university’s president, Graham B. Spanier? The Pennsylvania grand jury said that both men had knowledge of the 2002 first-hand report of abuse, and neither contacted the police. Furthermore, Sandusky was allowed some use of university facilities even long after this report. Paterno went back to coaching football. Spanier went back to raising money and building the school’s reputation. Jerry Sandusky had every opportunity to keep on sexually abusing young boys.
When the facts became known, the firings of both Paterno and Spanier were inevitable and necessary. Both men had credible knowledge that young boys were being sexually abused, and neither did anything effective to stop it. Most crucially, neither man did what they should have done within minutes of hearing the first report — contact law enforcement immediately.
Every single coach, athletic director, and college or university president awoke this morning to a changed world. Nothing will ever be the same again. The firing of Joe Paterno will send shock waves through the entire world of higher education. A man who a day before had announced under pressure that he would retire at the end of the season was told by phone that he would never coach another game. Penn State University will forever be associated with a scandal the likes of which college athletics has, thankfully, never seen before.
But the world has not only changed for college athletics. The detonation of the Penn State scandal must shake the entire nation into a new moral awareness. Any failure to report and to stop the sexual abuse of children must be made inconceivable. The moral irresponsibility that Penn State officials demonstrated in this tragedy may well be criminal. There can be no doubt that all of these officials bear responsibility for allowing a sexual predator to continue his attacks.
What about churches, Christian institutions, and Christian schools? The Penn State disaster must serve as a warning to us as well, for we bear an even higher moral responsibility.
The moral and legal responsibility of every Christian — and especially every Christian leader and minister — must be to report any suspicion of the abuse of a child to law enforcement authorities. Christians are sometimes reluctant to do this, but this reluctance is both deadly and wrong.
Sometimes Christians are reluctant to report suspected sexual abuse because they do not feel that they know enough about the situation. They are afraid of making a false accusation. This is the wrong instinct. We do not have the ability to conduct the kind of investigation that is needed, nor is this assigned to the church. This is the function of government as instituted by God (Romans 13). Waiting for further information allows a predator to continue and puts children at risk. This is itself an immoral act that needs to be seen for what it is.
A Christian hearing a report of sexual abuse within a church, Christian organization, or Christian school, needs to act in exactly the same manner called for if the abuse is reported in any other context. The church and Christian organizations must not become safe places for abusers. These must be safe places for children, and for all. Any report of sexual abuse must lead immediately to action. That action cannot fall short of contacting law enforcement authorities. A clear lesson of the Penn State scandal is this: Internal reporting is simply not enough.
After law enforcement authorities have been notified, the church must conduct its own work of pastoral ministry, care, and church discipline. This is the church’s responsibility and charge. But these essential Christian ministries and responsibilities are not substitutes for the proper function of law enforcement authorities and the legal system. As Christians, we respect those authorities because we are commanded to do so.
There may well be further arrests in connection with the Penn State scandal. One can only imagine the lawsuits that will consume the university’s time and treasury in years ahead. Christian institutions and churches looking at this scandal had better act immediately to ensure that all operate under adequate policies and guidelines. What would prevent this scandal at your school or church?
Church leaders and pastors must decide now — not later — that we will respond to any report of sexual abuse with immediate action and an immediate call to law enforcement officials. We must decide in advance what we will do, and not allow ourselves to think that we can handle such a challenge on our own. Every church and Christian institution needs a full set of policies, procedures, and accountability structures. As leaders, we must develop the right instincts for right action.
The leaders of Penn State University must have acted, or failed to have acted, out of many motivations. One may well have been to protect the image and reputation of the university. Well, we now see where that leads. A scandal reported and ended in 2002 would be horrible enough. A scandal that began there, was known by officials, and explodes almost a decade later is too horrible to contemplate.
We all need an immediate reality check. I discovered yesterday that the policy handbook of the institution I am proud to lead calls for any employee receiving a report of child abuse, including child sexual abuse, to contact his or her supervisor with that report. That changes today. The new policy statement will direct employees receiving such a report to contact law enforcement authorities without delay. Then, after acting in the interests of the child, they should contact their supervisor.
In a real sense, the whole world changed today. We all know more than we knew before, and we are all responsible for that knowledge. The costs of acting wrongly in such a situation, or acting inadequately, are written across today’s headlines and the moral conscience of the nation. The tragedy at Penn State is teaching the entire nation a lesson it dare not fail to learn.
I’ve received a number of new titles from Concordia Publishing House in the last two weeks, so many that I better tell you all about them now so as not to forget!
Holding Up the Prophet’s Hands: Supporting Church Workers, by Dr. Bruce Hartung
The Concordia Commentary Series: A Theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture is written to enable pastors and teachers of the Word to proclaim the Gospel with greater insight, clarity, and faithfulness to the divine intent of the biblical text. This landmark work will cover all the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, interpreting Scripture as a harmonious unity centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Every passage bears witness to the Good News that God has reconciled the world to Himself through our Lord’s life, death, and resurrection. The commentary fully affirms the divine inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture as it emphasizes “that which promotes Christ” in each pericope. Authors are sensitive to the rich treasury of language, imagery, and themes found throughout Scripture, including such dialectics as Law and Gospel, sin and grace, death and new life, folly and wisdom, demon, possession and the arrival of the kingdom of God in Christ. Careful attention is given to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek. Further light is shed on the text from archaeology, history, and extrabiblical literature. Finally, Scripture’s message is applied to the ongoing life of the church in terms of ministry, worship, proclamation of the Word, Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, confession of the faith–all in joyful anticipation of the life of the world to come. Isaiah is the Old Testament evangelist par excellence. The prophet’s saving message, soaring language, and unforgetable imagery are tightly woven into the fabric of Christian hymnody, liturgy, and prayer. This commentary expounds the text, theology, and Christology of “the fifth Gospel.” Price: $42.99; Order online, or call 800-325-3040 to inquire about subscribing to the series with substantial savings. Click here to view all the volumes presently available in the Concordia Commentary series.
Lord’s Prayer: Commentary on Luther’s Catechisms, by Albrecht Peters
For many years I’ve received the “Pastoral Ponderings” of Father Patrick Reardon, an Orthodox priest. I find them always thought-provoking. The one I received today struck me as particularly helpful. I thought I’d share it with you.
November 6, 2011
21st Sunday After Pentecost
Father Pat’s Pastoral Ponderings
Reading Paul’s list of the “gifts” the triumphant Christ confers on the Church (Ephesians 4:11), students of Holy Scripture may profitably compare it to the earlier list in 1 Corinthians. The differences are striking. Let us limit ourselves to two considerations: the content of the two lists and their contextual ascriptions in each case.
First, the content of the two lists: The earlier one, in 1 Corinthians, includes the ministries of Christians endowed with wise counsel, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, charismatic utterance, and the ability to interpret such utterance (12:8-10).
The details of that list—and Paul certainly did not regard it as exhaustive of the Spirit’s generosity—were determined by the immediate pastoral problems of the church at Corinth, chiefly the pretense of superior wisdom on the part of some of its members (cf. 3:18). Consequently, all the gifts listed were marked by a kind of “charismatic” flavor. The question of charism determined the context; they were gifts of “the same Spirit” (12:4,9,11).
In Ephesians 4, on the other hand, the listed gifts may be described as more—for want of a happier adjective—structural. Except for the prophets, the ministers mentioned in the later text seem to have an “official” standing in the Church: apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. These vocations, which exercise and oversee the evangelical and teaching ministry, are determined by the Church’s structure, its very constitution. They are more “official” than “charismatic.” For this reason, even the prophets in this list should probably be understood as “those whom the Church recognizes as prophets.”
Second, the contextual ascription of the gifts: Paul began the earlier list by asserting, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). In this text Paul initially ascribes the gifts to each of the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity.
Nonetheless, when he treats of the various ministries individually, the Apostle speaks only of the Holy Spirit (five times in 12:8-11).
This pneumatological ascription of the diverse gifts is consonant with Paul’s abiding concern in 1 Corinthians: the unity of believers in Christ. The integrity of the Corinthian church was threatened by all sorts of factions, not the least of which were occasioned by the sheer variety of the gifts. For this reason, Paul insisted that the Holy Spirit was the source of congregational unity, not disunion: “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one unto profit” (12:7).
With respect to the gifts listed in Ephesians 4, their ascription is both similar to, and different from, 1 Corinthians.
The similarity lies in an identical Trinitarian quality; just he did in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, Paul begins the list of the gifts in Ephesians 4 with the Persons of the Holy Trinity, speaking of “one Spirit . . . one Lord . . one God and Father (4:4-6).
Then, he narrows the ascription of the gifts, not to the Holy Spirit, but to the triumphant Christ: “to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (4:7). Whereas in 1 Corinthians 12 the accent was pneumatological, here it is entirely Christological: “He Himself gave some as apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” (4:11). Indeed, Ephesians 4 does not again speak of the Holy Spirit in the context of the gifts.
Since both 1 Corinthians and Ephesians are concerned with the unity of the Church as the body of Christ—and the spiritual gifts serving that unity certainly come from both Christ and the Holy Spirit—why the shift of emphasis to Christology in the Epistle to the Ephesians?
It is related, I believe, to Paul’s new awareness of Christ as the “head” of the Church. Since we do not find this idea in his thought until the Captivity Epistles—Colossians and Ephesians—I have always believed that the Apostle adopted this image from his discussions with Luke during the period of his imprisonment at Caesarea (cf. Colossians 4:14). From his beloved physician, he learned a new medical discovery: the head is the governing part of the body, the ruling principle of its unified activity.
The gifts listed in Ephesians were given “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (4:12). Through them Christ governs the teaching and pastoring of His people. By reason of His Ascension the Lord not only reigns over the saints in heaven; He also rules over the saints on earth.
We read Holy Scripture
Stir up, O Lord, the wills of Your faithful people that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may byYou be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Scripture Reading Summary: The Strength of the Lord Is Our Salvation from Sin, Death, and Darkness
A shroud of darkness engulfs us. Sin, death, and disease threaten to sever us from life’s fullest measure. Without new life in Christ Jesus, there would be no light to dissipate, dispel, or curb grief and sadness. But Jesus has qualified us “to share in the inheritance of the saints of light” delivering us from the dark domain (Col. 1:9–14). “I have put my words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of my hand,…You are my people” (Is. 51:9–16). The presence of Christ, in word, wine, bread, and water, confronts our sinful nature with forgiveness. In the sacraments, God claims us to be His very own children, creating, and sustaining our faith. So in Christ, we humbly receive the words, “your faith has made you well” (Matt. 9:18–26). On the last day God will surely awaken us also from slumber in resurrection glory.
Bach Cantata BWV 60 “O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort” for the 24th Sunday after Trinity
Cantata for the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity
|Dialog – Furcht (A), Hoffnung (T), Stimme von Himmel (B) 1. Choral A und Arie T
O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort,
O Schwert, das durch die Seele bohrt,
O Anfang sonder Ende!
O Ewigkeit, Zeit ohne Zeit,
Ich weiß vor großer Traurigkeit
Nicht, wo ich mich hinwende.
Mein ganz erschrocknes Herze bebt
Daß mir die Zung am Gaumen klebt.
– Herr, ich warte auf dein Heil. -
(“O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort,” verse 1)
|Dialogue – Fear (A), Hope (T), Voice from Heaven (B) 1. Chorale A and Aria T
O eternity, you word of thunder,
o sword, that bores through the soul,
o beginning without end!
O eternity, timeless time,
I know not, before such great sorrow,
where to turn.
My heart, completely terrified, trembles,
so that my tongue cleaves to the roof of my mouth.
– Lord, I await your salvation. –
|2. Rezitativ A T
O schwerer Gang zum letzten Kampf und Streite!
- Mein Beistand ist schon da,
Mein Heiland steht mir ja Mit Trost zur Seite. -
Die Todesangst, der letzte Schmerz
Ereilt und überfällt mein Herz
Und martert diese Glieder.
- Ich lege diesen Leib vor Gott zum Opfer nieder. Ist gleich der Trübsal Feuer heiß, Genung, es reinigt mich zu Gottes Preis. -
Doch nun wird sich der Sünden große Schuld vor meinGesichte stellen.
- Gott wird deswegen doch kein Todesurteil fällen. Er gibt ein Ende den Versuchungsplagen, Daß man sie kann ertragen. -
|2. Recitative A T
O difficult way to the final battle and struggle!
- My Protector is already there, my Savior indeed stands with me with comfort by my side. -
The fear of death, the last pain
overtakes and conquers my heart
and tortures these limbs.
- I lay this body down before God as a sacrifice. Although the fire of suffering is hot, so be it! it purifies me to the praise of God. -
Yet now the great guilt of my sins arises before my face.
- Yet God will impose no death sentence for these. He grants an end to the torments of persecution, so that they can be borne. -
|3. Arie (Duett) A T
Mein letztes Lager will mich schrecken,
- Mich wird des Heilands Hand bedecken, -
Des Glaubens Schwachheit sinket fast,
- Mein Jesus trägt mit mir die Last. -
Das offne Grab sieht greulich aus,
- Es wird mir doch ein Friedenshaus. -
|3. Aria (Duet) A T
My final bier terrifies me,
- My Savior’s hand will cover me, -
the weakness of my faith almost collapses,
- my Jesus carries my burden with me. -
The open grave appears horrifying,
- It will be only a house of peace for me. -
|4. Rezitativ A und Arioso B
Der Tod bleibt doch der menschlichen Natur verhaßt
Und reißet fast
Die Hoffnung ganz zu Boden.
– Selig sind die Toten; –
Ach! aber ach, wieviel Gefahr
Stellt sich der Seele dar,
Den Sterbeweg zu gehen!
Vielleicht wird ihr der Höllenrachen
Den Tod erschrecklich machen,
Wenn er sie zu verschlingen sucht;
Vielleicht ist sie bereits verfluchtZum ewigen Verderben.
- Selig sind die Toten, die in dem Herren sterben; -
Wenn ich im Herren sterbe,
Ist denn die Seligkeit mein Teil und Erbe?
Der Leib wird ja der Würmer Speise!
Ja, werden meine Glieder
Zu Staub und Erde wieder,
Da ich ein Kind des Todes heiße,
So schein ich ja im Grabe zu verderben.
- Selig sind die Toten, die in dem Herren sterben, von nun an. -
Soll ich von nun an selig sein:
So stelle dich, o Hoffnung, wieder ein!
Mein Leib mag ohne Furcht im Schlafe ruhn,
Der Geist kann einen Blick in jene Freude tun.
|4. Recitative A and Arioso B
But death remains hateful to human nature
hope almost completely to the ground.
– Blessed are the dead; -
Ah! But alas, how many dangers
arise before the soul,
walking the path of death!
Perhaps the raging of hell
will make death terrifying
as it attempts to devour the soul;
perhaps it is already condemned
to eternal damnation.
– Blessed are the dead, who die in the Lord; -
If I die in the Lord,
then is blessedness my portion and inheritance?
The body will indeed be the food of worms!
Yes, my limbs
will become dust and earth again,
since I am called a child of death,
it seems that I shall be lost to the grave.
- Blessed are the dead, who die in the Lord, from henceforth. -
If I shall be blessed from now on:
o hope, reappear to me!
My body may rest without fear in sleep,
while the spirit can cast a glance upon that joy.
Es ist genug;
Herr, wenn es dir gefällt,
So spanne mich doch aus!
Mein Jesu kömmt;
Nun gute Nacht, o Welt!
Ich fahr ins Himmelshaus,
Ich fahre sicher hin mit Frieden,
Mein großer Jammer bleibt danieden.
Es ist genug.
(“Es ist genug,” verse 5)
It is enough:
Lord, if it pleases You,
then release me!
My Jesus comes;
good night now, o world!
I journey to heaven’s house,
I go there securely in peace,
my great suffering remains behind.
It is enough.
|“O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort,” verse 1: Johann Rist 1642 and Psalm 119:166 (mov’t. 1); Revelation 14:13 (mov’t. 4); “Es ist genug,” verse 5: Franz Joachim Burmeister 1662 (mov’t. 5)|
If you are interested, this is a series of videos I shot a couple weeks ago, particularly for a friend who was interested. This is a tour of the Arnold Rifle and Pistol Club, where I do most of my shooting, five videos in all.
Pastor Weedon does a great job refuting a cherished myth among many Christians, unfortunately, too many Lutherans. tonight’s Bible Class. He writes:
We’re in Jeremiah, and did chapter 9 last night. Eleanor sometimes visits our class. She had the most disturbing comment to report this evening: some fellow Lutherans had actually said to her “I’m forgiven so it doesn’t matter what I do.”
THIS IS NOT LUTHERAN. This is purely devilish.
The first of the 95 must ever be remembered: When our Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to repent, he meant that the entire life of the Christian should be repentance.
Which is to say, the entire life of the Christian, powered by the forgiveness of God, is an ongoing war against the sin that remains in our flesh. There is no peace treaty with that sin because of forgiveness. The exact opposite.
You have a house infested with poisonous snakes and you make a treaty of peace with them? Heck no! You go after them with a vengeance each time one shows its ugly head. You do so in the joyful confidence that the final victory WILL be yours, not theirs!
It is absolutely true that this battle continues to our grave. The evil desires continue to pop up from our corrupted flesh and will. But the grace of the Holy Spirit is given us for this battle to wage on.
Do we do it perfectly? Of course not! We literally LIVE from the forgiveness of our sins. But because we do, we’re snake hunters. We watch for the wretches to show up and then we attack with a vengeance. We know they mean us death, and so we bring them to death. We most certainly do NOT feed them, coddle them, or excuse them with saying: ”But I’m forgiven, so they can stay.”
I had always turned to the Apology’s repeated assertions about the impossibility of faith existing outside of repentance, but Pastor Curtis pointed out that the Smalcald Articles are even clearer. Read for yourself III:III:40, 43-45. Luther is utterly clear.
“In Christians, repentance continues until death. For through one’s entire life, repentance contends with the sin remaining in the flesh. Paul testifies that he wars with the law in his own members (Romans 7:14-25) not by his own powers but by the gift of the Holy Spirit that follows the forgiveness of sins [Romans 8:1-17]. This gift daily cleanses and sweeps out the remaining sins and works to make a person truly pure and holy. . . . So it is necessary to know and to teach this: When holy people—still having and p 277 feeling original sin and daily repenting and striving against it—happen to fall into manifest sins (as David did into adultery, murder, and blasphemy [2 Samuel 11]), then faith and the Holy Spirit have left them. The Holy Spirit does not permit sin to have dominion, to gain the upper hand so it can be carried out, but represses and restrains it from doing what it wants [Psalm 51:11; Romans 6:14]. If sin does what it wants, the Holy Spirit and faith are not present. For St. John says, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning … and he cannot keep on sinning” [1 John 3:9]. And yet it is also true when St. John says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” [1:8].
Source: Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions, Edited by Paul Timothy McCain, 276-78 (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005).
Rant over. And thanks to Eleanor for bringing the matter up – for it surely is a wound that needs addressing on the body of Lutheranism.
This is what it would be like
What a great introduction to My First Hymnal, showing how valuable it is for little ones and their families! Check it out. You’ll love it, starring Elizabeth Pittman, a member of our team here at CPH, and her cute little guy, Christian. I think I used to be that cute. Maybe.