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Archive for February, 2012

Expand Your Organ Music Library . . . for 33 days for $3.33 cents

February 29th, 2012 Comments off

For 33 days*, more than 100 organ collections are available for only $3.33 each. Hymn preludes galore are available for every season of the Church Year.  No congregation or organist should miss out on this unique opportunity!

Call 1.800.325.3040 or visit cph.org/333 to expand your collection today!

*offer ends April 1, 2012

Categories: CPH Resources

Why Not Infanticide?

February 29th, 2012 14 comments

For a number of years, when debating abortion, I’ve challenged those who defend the mother’s right to choose to end her unborn child’s life to tell me why the mother should not have the right to kill her newborn? After all, a newborn is no more able to sustain his/her own life than the unborn child is….so why not?

Well, apparently, a group of bioethicists have reached the conclusion that infanticide should be an option. Their conclusions have been published in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

You can read more about this here.

Abstract
Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

As the authors note, an examination of 18 European registries found that between 2005 and 2009 only 64% of Down’s syndrome cases were diagnosed through prenatal testing, leaving about 1,700 infants to be born with the condition. Since the mothers would have likely killed the child in utero, why should we not permit them to kill the child afterthe birth?

Sadly, this is not a reductio ad absurdum intended to show the illogic of abortion but a serious philosophical argument made in defense of infanticide: “. . . we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be.”

This article—which, it should be noted, was published in a respected journal—shows that once we discard the Christian principle of inherent dignity of humans, anything we decide to do to an infant becomes “ethically permissible.”

HT: Gospel Coalition

Categories: Sanctity of Life

Take a Stand for Religious Liberty — How Pastors Can Organize Grass Root Efforts in Their Congregations

February 28th, 2012 4 comments

I was greatly encouraged to receive a copy of a letter a Lutheran pastor in Indiana has sent out to his fellow pastors in that state. He is encouraging them to organize grass-root protests and actions in their local congregations. I strongly encourage all parish pastors to do something similar in their congregations and encourage their fellow pastors to do likewise. There has rarely before been in our country such a serious threat to religious liberty. We can not simply sit back and expect, or wait, for somebody else “to do something” about it.

February 27, 2012

Dear Brothers in the Office,

In his February 3 letter, Synod President Matthew Harrison wrote, “I encourage the members of the LCMS to join with me in supporting efforts to preserve our essential right to exercise our religious beliefs.” I am writing in response to this call.

A recent federal Health and Human Services Department “mandate” requires all healthcare plans to include “preventive care” that includes even abortion-inducing drugs. It also mandates several other practices that violate sincere and long-held moral teachings of other major Christian denominations. Although religious institutions are not required to list these “services” explicitly in their insurance policies, their insurance carriers must provide them to all persons covered by their health plans at no additional charge. This so-called “accommodation” announced on February 10 merely enables the pretense that those who have profound, faith-based moral objections can avoid providing these services. In fact, the rules were adopted with no change whatsoever from the version published months earlier.

It is not only religious institutions that are forced to violate their beliefs and their consciences. Faithful Christian employers who acknowledge the sanctity of life are not permitted even the fig leaf of pretending they are not implicated in these abortions or other practices that violate the teachings of their faith.

Our own LCMS healthcare plan is among the few that have a “grandfather” exemption. For the moment we are exempt from this requirement. Our exemption is, however, very fragile. Already our costs are higher than necessary because we have been unable to adapt our plan to changing circumstances and possibilities. As soon as we make any substantial change, our exemption vanishes. Even if we ourselves were totally unaffected by this mandate, however, we ought to stand with those whose freedom of conscience and free exercise of religion are being violated. Unless we defend religious liberty, we shall surely lose it.

Saint Paul’s has agreed to sponsor a “grassroots” effort to respond to President Harrison’s call. This plan grew out of conversations among members of several area congregations, and especially the CTS community. Further discussions followed President Harrison’s February 14 letter, in which he urged again that we “.fight for constitutional sanity against secularizing forces..” We are encouraged and strengthened by his clear and courageous stand before Congress on February 26.

The plan is an Internet-assisted effort to educate our members concerning the real and present danger to the religious liberty we have thus far enjoyed, and to encourage them to take at least a small step to stand in defense of this most valuable freedom. Although American Lutherans have traditionally avoided involvement in affairs of the State, today the State is invading the realm of the Church. This violates both our Constitution and our American traditions, as Pastor Harrison has noted in issuing his call to action.

The plan is quite flexible. Each congregation can adapt it to its own situation and interests. It is interactive in that some aspects are yet to be finalized, depending on the response from our pastors and congregations. The proposed general approach is as follows:

* Saint Paul’s is in the process of gathering, preparing and posting extensive background materials and resources on an Internet site and a Facebook page. These are meant to facilitate congregational and individual study of this and related issues. This material is now beginning to be posted at www.scandhouse.org/liberty<http://www.scandhouse.org/liberty> and on the Facebook page www.facebook.com/sureLiberty<http://www.facebook.com/sureLiberty> ). The website offers the advantage of stability and organization, while the Facebook permits quick, if somewhat chaotic, response. Particularly if a reliable moderator emerges, a forum feature may be added to facilitate discussion and interaction – based either on Facebook or the website. * More in-depth resources and analysis will be added in the coming days (and weeks). This is an interactive effort: members may offer additional high-quality materials that may be added to the site (as time and stamina permit). These resources are being developed under leadership of Chris Barnekov, a St. Paul’s member with a doctorate in economic policy and four decades’ experience as a senior policy analyst for six different federal agencies. In recent years, Dr. Barnekov has focused almost exclusively on issues of Church and State (a brief bio will be posted on the site). * Congregations are encouraged to discuss these issues in adult classes or other appropriate forums. The resources are meant to facilitate these discussions, gathering background information and analysis in one place, with several layers of depth. * Each congregation is encouraged to send a letter signed by as many individual members as wish (a sample letter is attached and posted on the website, but of course congregations may write their own: we simply urge that letters be kept succinct and positive in tone). * For strategic reasons, we suggest that the letters be addressed to Fort Wayne’s Roman Catholic Bishop Kevin Rhoades. The main reasons for this are (1) Catholics are currently the main target (we’re next), and (2) the letter can be positive and encouraging in tone, rather than negative (as a letter to HHS would have to be – but we’ll send copies to appropriate government officials). See the sample attached to this email. * Congregations are encouraged to send their letters to St. Paul’s by shortly after Easter. They will be presented in a public event including as many pastors (and members) as wish to participate, with media invited. * A precise date will be set and announced on the website and Facebook page, depending on how many wish to take part in person (they may choose to bring and present their own letters at that time). This event may include congregations from the wider Christian community (parallel efforts are being considered in some other denominations). * The tone of this event, as of the letters, is meant to be joyful, a celebration of thanksgiving to Our Lord for His gracious blessings of liberty. We do not, of course, have in mind a public worship service (it will involve other denominations), rather a celebration that will have the effect of a demonstration, but not the tone of a protest. * The more precise details of the proposed event will depend largely on feedback from pastors and congregations. Many interesting possibilities have already been mentioned. We will use the Internet site and Facebook to have a “conversation” about this.

The media is falsely portraying this controversy as a concern of only a few “reactionary” Catholic bishops, and claiming it is all about contraception or an assault on women’s rights. The true issue is religious liberty, and this is a serious concern to all believers. We want to demonstrate this by standing, literally, with those who are currently the main target of this unprecedented assault on Freedom of Religion.

It is our hope that, if the Lord wills, we can shock the media by the unusual sight of Lutherans and other denominations rallying in support of our Roman Catholic brethren. This falls into the category of a “man bites dog story,” which the media generally finds irresistible (even though they might otherwise choose to ignore us). We wish to counteract the negative image the media typically presents of Christians, and get past the usual media filter to help Americans understand the significance and danger of this assault on liberty.

More importantly, we wish to educate our own members and raise their awareness of these increasingly important issues of relations between Church and State. In past years, we could safely ignore these issues because in America the ‘Kingdom at the Left Hand’ largely remained within its own ‘bounds.’ Sadly, this is no longer true today, and we now face the unprecedented need to “defend” our boundaries. We hope to do so with the means provided by our Lord, the Gospel and the Sword of the Spirit.

We invite you to consider joining with us in this most atypical excursion into public policy, and helping us bring a Christian perspective into this controversy. I would appreciate your feedback and thoughts.

Sincerely in Christ,

Pastor Peter C. Cage Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church Fort Wayne, Indiana

Categories: Uncategorized

Satan in the Public Square

February 28th, 2012 5 comments

 

A great article by Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto, which he sent to me with permission to share . . .

FAITH MATTERS: Santorum was right to mention Satan

By Uwe Siemon-Netto
On the eve of the Republican primaries in Michigan and Arizona I would like to direct an urgent appeal to Sen. Rick Santorum: “Please keep talking about Satan; somebody’s got to do it!” This is not meant facetiously. Even though I am neither a U.S. citizen nor a Roman Catholic I am pleading with Mr. Santorum not to waver in his civil courage, as the martyred German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer would have described Santorum’s intrepid display of faith.

The effete snobs of this world, to resuscitate one of Spiro Agnew’s priceless observations, poured barrels of rancor over the Senator when Matt Drudge discovered a thoughtful and erudite lecture Mr. Santorum had given at Ave Maria University in Florida discussing a 200-year assault by the “Father of Lies” on the institutions of the United States – first academia, then the Church, the culture and politics.

He was slammed from all sides, and perhaps most annoyingly by Father Edward Beck, a befuddled Catholic priest and television commentator who appeared on the O’Reilly Factor with ashes imposed cruciformly on his forehead. Clearly neither he nor O’Reilly had bothered to listen to all of the Senator’s theologically coherent remarks. Beck said Santorum’s words did not “appeal to people more in the middle;” Santorum was “to the right of most Catholics.”

One wonders at what seminary Rev. Beck had studied systematic theology and what his grade was in this discipline. Maybe he missed the part about the Devil as a real being locked in a cosmic struggle with the Creator. Maybe he followed liberal German and American theologians who had reduced Satan to mere allegory, no more than a symbol for the unpleasant things occurring in our era, the holocaust, for example, or – dare we mention it? – the wanton slaughter of 56 million unborn babies since Roe v. Wade in 1973?

If it seems unstylish to discuss this Father of the Lie, why then bother with Christ’s redemptive work on the cross? Was this indeed “divine child abuse,” as some feminist theologians liked to opine over a decade ago? In that case, why call yourself a Christian? Why, for some fluffy Higher Being’s sake, have your thinker’s brow contaminated with cruciform ash on the first day of Lent?

It’s not for me as a foreigner to say whether, politically speaking, Mr. Santorum is the best Presidential candidate for my host country. But there is a reason why this decent man, whose campaign is woefully underfunded, appeals to so many voters, Catholics, evangelicals and traditional Protestants alike, though perhaps not Protestants of a certain mainline genre. The reason is a deep-seated sense among ordinary people that something has gone very wrong with this once so decent society, and similar civilizations in Europe and Down Under.

The mass infanticide, the destruction of orders of creation, such as marriage as defined as a union between one man and one woman, and the appalling greed, are testimony to what Helmut Thielicke, another German theologian who defied Hitler, described as of “a fatality of guilt [Schuldverhängnis] brooding over the world, over its continents and seas,” in other words, the work of Satan. To mock this fatality of guilt, as liberal clerics such as Father Beck do, is theological malpractice of the worst kind, especially in Lent. They might not see it that way, but ordinary people do.

Back in 2008, Sen. Santorum correctly defined the current state of America – and, one might add, the entire Occident – as one of war: “not a political war, not a cultural war, but a spiritual war.” And then he asked, “If you were the Devil where would you attack?” Well, where? At the institutions that had made this country great. And the second of the institutions he listed was the Church, primarily the Protestant Church because it was instrumental in shaping America; actually with this remark Santorum paid implicit homage to Protestantism’s outstanding role in the history of this nation. But of course he was deliberately misunderstood as being “judgmental.”

Listening to him, I did not sense a hint of Schadenfreude in his rueful statement, “We look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country, and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.” Who could argue with Santorum on this point? He might have mentioned that in his own church, too, the Devil had been at work, to wit its sex scandals and the eagerness with which many Catholics are following Protestantism’s bad example. However, Santorum certainly has the support of as illustrious a Protestant as Archbishop Peter Akinola, the former Anglican primate of Nigeria, who called the consecration of an openly homosexual cleric as Episcopal bishop of Concord, N.H., a “Satanic attack upon the Church of Christ.”

Is Santorum right to stress faith matters of faith in his campaign? Of course he is. He is not imposing any kind of religion upon state the but honestly informing the voters where he stands. Four years ago, he quoted from a newspaper interview with then-Senator Barack Obama where he was asked: “What is sin?” Obama answered: “Being out of alignment with my values.” This prompted Mr. Santorum to tell his audience bluntly: “So now we have the first truly presidential candidate. Clearly defining his own  reality.”

This is in synch with the motto of Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), the fearsome grand master of postmodernism: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” Of course, Mr. Obama has said nothing illegal, but surely it is Sen. Santorum’s right and obligation to lay open to the voters the profound chasm gaping between him and the contemporary elites, including evidently the reigning President. One of these two views is Christian, the other ethically scarily ambiguous; this is Crowley’s belief system, which has led us to the societal brink we are staring at today

Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto, a veteran foreign correspondent, is director of the Center for Lutheran Theology and Public Life in Capistrano Beach, Calif.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Joy of Modern Publishing Software

February 27th, 2012 2 comments

Back when I was editing books in the 1980s, I thought it was amazing I could process words on a computer. But now I can work in documents as they appear in “real time” and in print. For instance, I’ve been reviewing the first quarter of Portals of Prayer, 2013, using our publishing software system, inCopy/inDesign. It allows me to make real-time edits on the document as it is going to to print, and then share those changes with colleagues in our editorial, design and production control departments before it goes off to the printer. This may seem really geeky to you, but…this is awesome stuff, trust you me. The photo looks pretty stinko, since there was so much light from the monitor, but it gives you an idea of how it looks.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Closer to Van Eyck – Amazing Look at Ghent Altarpiece

February 27th, 2012 2 comments

Another incredible Internet tool: an amazing look at the Ghent altar piece. You can zoom in on the painting in ultra high definition and see, quite literally, each brush stroke.

Check it out here.

 

Categories: Art

My 50th Birthday Present

February 25th, 2012 7 comments

Thanks to monetary gifts from: son, wife and mother, and to a nice discount from Cabelas, I purchased a Ruger Vaquero, chambered in .45 Long Colt, a single action good old fashioned cowboy style pistol. And wow, is it fun, and accurate, to shoot.

Here’s a picture:

 

Categories: Shooting Sports

LCMS Seminary Faculty Responds to HHS Mandate

February 24th, 2012 3 comments

Press release is followed by faculty statement:

CTS Faculty Response to Healthcare Mandate

For Immediate Release
February 24, 2012

FORT WAYNE, IN (CTS)—On Thursday, February 16, 2012, several clergy members were invited to respond to the Health and Human Services (HHS) recent mandate requiring employers to provide access to health insurance that covers most forms of birth control, as well as drugs that induce abortion.

Rev. John T. Pless, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, accompanied Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, to Washington D.C. as he testified in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee concerning the mandate.

“The HHS health care plan over reaches the divide of separation of church and state and President Harrison did a wonderful job of articulating our Synod’s opposition to the HHS policy on the basis of the Lutheran understanding of the Two Kingdoms,” commented Prof. Pless.  “Lutherans have no choice but to resist this intrusion of the government into the internal life of religious communities. Rehearsing LCMS contributions to the welfare of our nation, Harrison noted that the HHS would impair this involvement to the detriment of our nation’s citizens.”

In a previous statement President Harrison said, “This action by HHS will have the effect of forcing many religious organizations to choose between following the letter of the law and operating within the framework of their religious tenets. We add our voice to the long list of those championing for the continued ability to act according to the dictates of their faith, and provide compassionate care and clear Christian witness to society’s most vulnerable, without being discriminated against by government.”

CTS President, Dr. Lawrence R. Rast Jr., acknowledges this issue will certainly affect the seminary’s students as they prepare to minister to those in need across the world. Further, he stated, “We Americans have been blessed from our beginnings with freedom from government intrusion into our religious expression. We deeply appreciate the firm stand and bold witness of President Harrison and look forward to a continuing partnership with the President’s Office as we address matters crucial to the church and its mission.”

A Whole New Can of Worms

Standing before an assembly of princes at the Diet of Worms, Martin Luther famously said, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against my conscience. May God help me. Amen.” When he spoke those words, the blessed Reformer knew that his life was on the line. His strong defense embodies not only the courageous spirit of Lutheranism but of Christianity throughout the ages. Indeed, the apostle Peter himself, upon threat of imprisonment and death proclaimed, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). This means that while we honor those in authority, our first allegiance must be to our Creator. This means that Christians understand their duty is to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. (Luke 20:25)

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

Team LCMS – A Missional NASCAR Venture

February 24th, 2012 9 comments

Categories: Humor

Inclusive Language Excludes God

February 23rd, 2012 4 comments

Pastor Larry Peters posted a very well done blog post on inclusive language, and I’m passing it along here.

I did not come up with that title.  I borrowed it from someone more creative.  But it is a powerful statement of the problem with most inclusive language.  It does not stop with the inclusion of women with men in those places where men clearly is inclusive of all people.  Inclusive language is most dangerous when it seems either a balance of male/female terms for God or it seeks to remove God from any terminology which might be considered gender specific (never mind that God in His gracious wisdom has chosen to have Himself addressed in gender specific terms all the while reminding us that this does not presume all the freight of human anatomy — except with respect to the Incarnation).

I had occasion recently to peruse in more depth the ELCA hymnal Evangelical Lutheran Worship and found the most distressing part of it was the awkward wordings assigned to mask how we formerly addressed God:  He, Him, His, Lord, Son, etc.  Although this hymnal is certainly not alone in its attempt to either balance or remove entirely the personal pronouns which imply gender.

Example from the Preface:  It is right to give our thanks and praise. OR even worse:  It is right to give God thanks and praise.

Example from the Gloria in Excelsis:  Glory to God in the highest and peace to God’s people on earth.

Example from the Venite:  O Come, let us sing to the Lord, Let us shout for joy to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before God’s presence with thanksgiving, And raise a loud shout to God with psalms.

Example from the Benedictus:  You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way… (skipping His makes it all clearer, right?)

Example from the Creed:  Nicene Creed from “his only Son” to “God’s only Son”  (which also eliminates the linguistic reference to the relationship between the Father and the Son)

Hymn examples abound:   Praise the Almighty! Lord, I adore you! (all to remove one silly little Him yet other hymns are spared some of the more radical surgery — perhaps because they are too well known?)

So much inclusive re-wording in hymnals makes for awkward singing and removes the beauty from the language.  We ditch the poetry in order to embrace the twisted syntax of political correctness.  Once upon a time we all knew and understood  the use of the words “man”, “mankind”, and “he”, and were not offended by them. Now, it seems, we would rather risk subverting the wonderful texts of the poets of the past and distorting the way we speak about God in order to please those who look to be offended by language that does not honor the stilted values that deny the privilege of speaking of God as He has spoken to us.  Over the course of time we will be accustomed to the awkward sound of politically correct praise to God but God Godself will never get over our foolishness and idolatry.

Why is it that we think we have the authority to change the Word of God to fita political agenda?  Although God is certainly not male in a physical or biological sense, He has chosen to reveal Himself as Father and as the only begotten Son of the Father. When we feel uncomfortable with the way God has defined and made Himself known to us, we are ultimately uncomfortable with God Himself.  Our inclusiveness is rather exclusive toward God — suggesting to Him that His own revelation is not good enough for us.  “Lord, we just don’t like some things about You, namely, the way You have revealed Yourself to us.  It make us uncomfortable to address You as You have revealed Yourself to us so will avoid the vocabulary of Scripture in order to address You in ways that do not offend our sensibilities.”

It appears that the most forbidden words are the words which God has given us to speak of Him and to Him.  It violates the very nature of His revelation and the most constructive principle of worship, namely, that saying back to God what He has said to us we repeat that which is most sure and certain…

Categories: Uncategorized

Amazing Digital Archive of Lucas Cranach Paintings

February 23rd, 2012 Comments off

I just discovered a truly amazing digital archive of the paintings of Lucas Cranach. The collection is extensive and the digitized images are all in ultra high resolution, allowing you to zoom in and really study the detail in the paintings. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Here is the link to it. They even have different scanning techniques in place to allow you to examine corrections or earlier versions underneath the final version.

Categories: Art

Return to the Lord Your God

February 22nd, 2012 3 comments

Today in our chapel service at Concordia Publishing House were were blessed by a sermon delivered by Rev. Hector Hoppe, Senior Editor of our Multilingual Department. I am passing it along to you.

Ash Wednesday – February 22, 2012

Text: Joel 2:12-14

12 “Yet even now,” declares the LORD,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the LORD your God?

You may have heard the expression: “Look what you have done!” This expression may bring you some memories. I can recall my mother saying that, not to me but to the wild dog we had at home when he messed up my mother’s plants. . . . She also said it sometimes to my brother. . . . When we hear this expression we may want to run away, because we don’t like to see the wrong we did or because we know we will get punished.

Did you know that the expression: “Look what you have done!” appears more than 1000 times in the Old Testament? I doesn’t appear exactly with all these words, but rather as a single word: “Return” or “Repent.”

During this Lenten season God is calling us to repent, to look at what we have done; to look at what we have done with the gifts that he gave us, to look at what we have done with the resources that he gave us; to look at what we have done with our lives, at what we have done in our relationships. God is calling us today to look at the ways we have despised his Word, and to look at the ways we have offended him with our sinful thinking and our sinful deeds.

Now, look at what you have done, and tell me if you don’t want to run away from God. Look deep in the secret places of your heart, and remember that your Father in heaven sees in secret, as Jesus pointed out in the Sermon on the Mount. What will the heavenly Father see in the secret places of your heart? Something that will make you run away?

You and I are no different than the Israelites to whom the prophet Joel addresses these words. In chapter 1, Joel tells the people of God that there is an impending locust plague that is going to hit the land. Punishment is on its way! Punishment for what they have done!

It is in this context that the words of Prophet Joel are spoken. “Return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” God is calling us to return to him, not to run away from him. It doesn’t matter what we have done. We cannot hide anything from him; he knows exactly what is in the secret places of our heart. It is for this reason that God expects us to rend our hearts. That hurts. It doesn’t hurt us when we rend our garments, because garments are just stuff. Our hearts, on the other hand, are precious. Our garments cannot hide any of our secrets before God. Besides, Jesus died to mend our hearts, not our garments.

The words that follow make this call from God look more like an invitation. “Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful.” Why run away from a God that is gracious and merciful? Can you see how God, after saying, “Look what you have done,” invites you generously, “Come, because I am ‘slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love’?”

When God calls us to look deeply inside us, it is because he wants us to see how much we need him. He also calls us to look at him to see how much he cares for us.

The season of Lent calls us also to “Look what God has done!” He has done everything for us. He didn’t spare even his only Son in order to bring us back to him! He is not a vengeful God, but a God that is “slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.” He is a God that leaves “a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering.” Jesus ascended into heaven after conquering sin, evil, and death, but he has left behind a blessing: His Word and the sacraments. In the grain offering and the drink offering, the Lord Jesus himself is there, to forgive us, to embrace us, to accept us the way we are, to assure us of his love. What a blessing the Holy Supper is, that grain and drink offering that Jesus left behind for us.

There is no better blessing than God’s Word. Sometimes we count as blessings the Christian friends that we have close to us, our families, the congregations we are part of, our jobs, our good health, but when all these are gone, we are still blessed by God because we have the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life.

Luther explains in just a few words what it is to be blessed: “Let it happen that others are rich and we poor, they powerful and we weak, they happy and we sad, they admired and we despised, they alive and we dead, they everything and we nothing—what of it? . . . You have God’s Word; they don’t!” [TLSB note for Psalm 147:20].

Count your blessings this season of Lenten by looking at what you have done and by looking at what God has done for you in his Son Jesus. Amen.

Lenten Greetings and Blessings from Pastor Matthew Harrison, President of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

February 21st, 2012 Comments off

Categories: Uncategorized

How to Miss the Point of Lent

February 21st, 2012 8 comments

Offered without comment…

 

Ecumenical News International
Daily News Service
21 February 2012

Lenten reflections focus on water as God’s gift and a human right
ENI-12-0097

By ENInews Staff
21 February (ENInews)–A series of weekly reflections are available during Lent focusing on the “economy of water,” offering suggestions for how people can work toward water justice in their communities.

The Seven Weeks for Water began 20 February, with additional resources produced for 22 March, which is World Water Day and Maundy Thursday.

The reflections have been produced by the Ecumenical Water Network, an international group of churches coordinated by the World Council of Churches, promoting people’s access to water around the world, based on the understanding that water is a gift of God and a fundamental human right.

“Water is the lifeblood of the planet as well as the economy,” said EWN coordinator Maike Gorsboth in a news release. “It is crucial for sustainable development in regard to health, food security, energy and poverty–issues that affect and engage churches around the world in different ways.”

The weekly meditations, found on the EWN website, are accompanied by links and ideas for activities encouraging individuals and congregations to get involved.  The reflections offer biblical responses to issues including wasteful consumption and production, agro-ecological production and climate change adaptation.

The campaign is also paying special attention to the emerging and controversial “Green Economy” concept, according to the news release. The Green Economy aims at reconciling economic development with environmental and social well-being. It is one of the key topics for debate in the run-up to the United Nations’ “Rio+20″ Conference on Sustainable Development.

More information on the Seven Weeks for Water, including worship plans and a World Water Day tool kit can be found at www.oikoumene.org/7-weeks-for-water. More information on the Ecumenical Water Network can be found at http://water.oikoumene.org.

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See http://www.eni.ch/rss/

All articles (c) Ecumenical News International
Reproduction permitted only by media subscribers and
provided ENI is acknowledged as the source.

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Tel: (41-22) 791 6088 – 6111
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Email: eni@eni.ch

Categories: Uncategorized

Fastenzeit is Here!

February 21st, 2012 12 comments

Our Lord Christ tells us that when we fast we are to do so without making a show of it, or big deal about it, nor to disfigure our faces, nor to make sure others know we are fasting, but simply just to do it.Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, begins the Lenten fast.

Christ assumes we do fast “when you fast,” he said, not “if you fast.” If this is so why did fasting fall out of favor among Lutherans? Probably, like most things like this, out of fear of Roman errors associated with it, and of course there are many such errors lurking and skulking about, but as the old saying goes, “Abuse does not negate use.”

And so, friends, let’s consider that in our Lutheran Church we do still confess that fasting is a “fine outward bodily discipline” as we say with Small Catechism. In fact, the Lenten season has been known since the Reformation with the word “Fastenzeit” which means, “Fasting time.”

And, while “giving up something for Lent” has become a popular substitute for fasting, let’s be sure we are clear on what fasting is. Fasting means not to eat as much. To forego a meal, or a portion of a meal, and to do so with intentionality and to let that time of hunger pain remind us to watch and pray, to remind us that our hunger should not be for bread alone, but every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Fasting is simply to be an aid for our devotional life in the Word and prayer.

Here is a great article on the Lenten fast from Pastor Weedon.

Categories: Lutheranism