You asked for it, you got it, Luther’s wonderful little treatise titled, A Simple Way to Pray, in a fresh new translation by Pastor Matthew Harrison, is now available as a Kindle title. Click on the picture below to buy it.
by Pastor William Cwirla
qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos,
jam noli tardareO Root of Jesse,
standing as an ensign before the peoples,
before whom all kings are mute,
to whom the nations will do homage;
Come quickly to deliver us.
Tonight is the third of the “golden nights” of Advent on which the
church sings her longing cry to Jesus to come and deliver her.
Tonight’s “O Antiphon” is the Root of Jesse, the promised shoot from
the stump of King David’s family tree that sprouted in the fulness of
time in the womb of the Virgin.
“In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples;
the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be
glorious.” Leave it to the Lord to make an homely root His banner at
which all kings will be silent and all nations will bow. Roots are
best left unseen, underground, invisibly drawing up nutrients from the
soil, feeding the branches which produce leaves and fruit. Expose the
root and the whole tree dies. But cut down the tree even to a stump
and it will return, so long as the root is alive.
The Root of Jesse is God’s Promise that David’s throne would stand
forever, that a son of David would establish his kingdom and sit on his
throne. That promise is the root of Israel’s existence. Even when the
tree was cut down, when Israel was reduced to a lifeless stump by her
Babylonian captors, the Promise lived in the Root. “Then shall come
forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of
I think about that image at this time of year when chopped down trees
are a commodity. We picked out the tree for the church and for our
living room this past week from a parking lot. Row after row of trees,
cut down by the chain saw of Christmas commerce, leaving a lifeless
stump in the ground somewhere. Those of you who have cut down trees
know what happens to those stumps. They sprout. It’s hard to stop
it. You have to kill the root, and when the root is the promise and
love of God in His Son, you simply can’t kill it. It always sprouts to
Just when King David’s family tree seemed as good as dead, reduced to a
stump with Israel carted like a Christmas tree to adorn Babylon’s
living room, the promise of God sprouted in Israelite soil, in the
obscurity of Nazareth with the word of the angel to the Virgin, “You
will conceive and bear a son, and you will call His name Jesus. He
will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the
Lord god will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He shall
riegn over the hosue of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there will be
no end.” King David greater Son, the promised Son and Successor . The
shoot, the branch, the tree – the King in His kingdom.
Our sin goes all the way to the root. Not only the fruit, but the
whole tree is bad, roots and all. The axe of the Law must be laid to
the root. We must die and rise anew. It’s the only way to save us.
We must be grafted to new rootstock. We must be joined to the stump of
Jesse, fed by the Root of Jesse, nourished by the Promise of God to
God grafted His Root to our sin, nailing it to a cross. The Root of
Jesse became a banner for the world to see. Jesus of Nazareth.
David’s son, David’s Root, David’s Lord. “”I am the root and offspring
of David,” Jesus said in the the last of His I AMs (Rev 22:16). He
was lifted up on the tree of the cross as a banner for the nations to
see. As Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness to be a
sacrament of healing, so the Root of Jesse was lifted up on the tree to
be the Sacrament of salvation. Here is how God saves from sin and
death. He sets the axe of the Law against His own Root, His Son, and
then joins you to His death. The cross is the meeting place of God and
man, Law and Gospel, wrath and mercy. There the Root absorbs your sin;
there He feeds you His righteousness.
When you make a graft into wood, you need to keep the graft moist. The
life’s sap of the tree must flow into the branches or the graft and the
branch will die. You were grafted to the Root of Jesse in your
Baptism. Don’t let the graft dry out; always keep it immersed in
baptismal water. Draw on His forgiveness, His life, His salvation.
You are living branches grafted to the living Root of Jesse. Jesus is
your Vine and your Root. Apart from Him you can do nothing. Joined
to Him, believing in Him, you bear much fruit.
Wait patiently on this Root of Jesse. He is the source of your life,
who feeds and forgives you, who nourishes and sustains you, and who
will come to raise you.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.
Exodus 3:1-15 / Philippians 2:5-11
O Adonai and ruler of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and gave him the Law on Sinai: Come with an outstretched arm and redeem us.
Adonai is Hebrew for Lord. Lord is the substitute term for Yahweh, the sacred, saving, Gospel name of God. “Say this to the people of Israel, ʻYahweh the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.ʼ” This is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” To say Adonai is to say Yahweh, the Name that saves.
“Whom shall I say sent me? What is His Name?” To have the Name of God is to have God Himself. “Tell them Ehyeh asher ehyeh sent you.” I am who I am. Ehyeh. I AM. YHWH. He is the One who is. The God whose saving Name is a verb. His Name is action.
Every day, in the morning and in the evening, the Name of the Lord was proclaimed:
Shema Yisra’el YHWH Eloheinu YHWH EḥadHear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD alone.
Where Godʼs Name is, there He holy ground. The Lord is present. Where His Name is, there is Gospel fire, fire that burns but does not consume. His burning love and passion to save. Where His Name is, there He is mighty to save. “I am Yahweh, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment, and I will take you for my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am Yahweh, your God.”
“Hail, O favored one, Yahweh is with you,” the angel said to Mary. “You will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, Yʼshua. Yahweh is salvation. Jesus incarnates the Name of God. He is YHWH in the flesh. “Before Abraham was, I AM,” Jesus said. To reject this Jesus is to reject the I AM of the burning bush, YHWH of Sinai and the Red Sea, the Lord of Israel, the Lord of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There is no other Name, no other Lord who saves you.
To have a Lord is to have a redeemer. Jesus is your Adonai, your Redeemer. You didnʼt make Him so. He became your Lord by dying and rising for you, and by baptizing you into His death and resurrection. He will come to raise the dead. And then you will confess with resurrection lips what you now confess by faith: Adonai Yʼshua Hamashiach. Lord Jesus Christ.
Reflection by Pastor William Cwirla.
This is a window on our society….Amazon’s top ten best selling books in 2012.
Amazon has announced the top 10 bestselling books of 2012 overall (print and Kindle combined), as well as the top 10 kids and teens books. Note: the first two Fifty Shades titles were not included because Amazon is counting them as being first released in 2011.
The top 10:
1. Fifty Shades Freed by E. L. James
2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
3. Fifty Shades Boxed Set by E. L. James
4. Bared to You by Sylvia Day
5. No Easy Day by Mark Owen
6. The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst
7. Reflected in You by Sylvia Day
8. The Racketeer by John Grisham
9. Defending Jacob by William Landay
10. The Innocent by David Baldacci
The top 10 best-selling Kids & Teens books are:
1. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
2. The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney
3. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
4. The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan
5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
6. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
7. While it Lasts by Abbi Glines
8. The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore
9. Wonder by R. J. Palacio
10. Nevermore: The Final Maximum Ride Adventure by James Patterson
Good words from Rev. Raymond Hartwig, Secretary of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
All of us find our emotions reeling this weekend in the aftermath of the horrible destruction of innocent childrens’ lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Random senseless shootings are awful every time. Random senseless shootings of young children too small to defend themselves strike us as even more awful. Without wishing to minimize in any way this terrible tragedy and this weekend’s suffering by parents, siblings, grandparents, and community . . . just an observation.
In the earlier days of ”legalized” abortion, there were warnings of the long-range effects on our society of wholesale abortion, of the careless destruction of the most defenseless among us, of its devaluation of human life. It was feared that a society that brutally takes the lives of its unborn children will become hardened and, in due time, reflect that brutality toward all human life.
There are, of course, many “dots” that can be connected to random killings–mental illness, violent video games and entertainment, etc. But can we sometime soon also connect the abortion dot? While violent killings are as old as Cain and Abel, random acts of violence against innocent human life continue to increase in number and horror, underscored by what happened on Friday. Brutality toward women and children, once shrugged off as a problem elsewhere in the world, now occurs too often in our own society not to connect this dot.
One of the great messages of this Advent Season is the coming of Christ again. We can only wonder how that will be. But the tragedy in Connecticult must also cause us to wonder how it will be if Christ does not come again soon. As Vice-President Mueller put it in his letter to the Council of Presidents on Friday, the evil one is ”thrashing about” on this earth. Things can and may get really ugly.
However that will be, one thing we know for sure. For those who are in Christ, even the ugliest events of this world and life are always followed by a final dot, announced by that wonderful three-letter word “but” in St. Paul’s words to the church at Corinth: “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57). It’s the final dot that counts the most.
A blessed advent to you and yours.
You asked for, you got it….click here to get Broken in Kindle format. [and remember...you can read a Kindle eBook format on nearly any and every smart phone/gizmo/widget/digital thing known to mankind].
(This comes from the Missouri Synod’s partner church The Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church [SELK] in Germany by The Rt Revd Dr. Jobst Schöne D.D., Bishop Emeritus, translated by Wilhelm Torgerson, shared by Dr. Al Collver on his blog.)
What is motivating the EKD? How an “ecumenical” project came to grief
A commentary by The Rt Revd Dr. Jobst Schöne D.D., Bishop Emeritus of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (SELK)
A new deluxe-edition of the Luther Bible is on the market, published – surprisingly – by the “Bild-Zeitung”, the tabloid newspaper with the largest circulation in Europe. It was presented to the public on 3 December 2012 in the Castle Church in Wittenberg in the presence of prominent representatives of Church and State. Yet, as things turned out, Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt of the SELK, who had been scheduled to address the assembly, was not even invited to attend.
All kinds of monkey games had been going on ahead of the event. The original plans called for this special edition of the German Bible to appear under the joint auspices of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the International Lutheran Council (ILC). This cooperation was to be indicated by Forewords written by both the President of the LWF, Bishop Dr. Mounib Younan from Jerusalem (Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land), and the Chairman of the ILC, Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt (Bishop of the SELK and member of the Presidium of the Association of Christian Churches in Germany).
Now the Council of the “Evangelical Church in Germany” (EKD, the federation of all Protestant territorial churches in Germany) holds the copyright of the 1984 edition of the text of the Luther Bible. Obviously, the EKD had a hard time granting the permission asked of it. In the end the EKD only gave its go-ahead when the cooperative venture on the part of the LWF and the ILC had been stymied. The Council of the EKD declared it “to be imperative and quite sufficient for the chairman of the Council to write the pre-face.” The Council insisted that pride of place should be given to a new preface by its chairman, President Dr. Nikolaus Schneider of the Union Church (!) of the Rhineland. They insisted also on the removal of the foreword by SELK-Bishop Voigt which had already been submitted. All this despite the fact that the Council of the EKD had not made any contribution to this publishing project; the Council could only insist on its copyright monopoly. On top of this, the introduction I wrote, “On how to get into reading Holy Scripture”, was to be unceremoniously axed. But at this point the Axel Springer Publishing House refused to play along, threatening to stop the entire project if need be.
At the end of the day, the Council of the EKD gave in, at least to some extent. My intro-duction could remain, but only under certain conditions. The head office of the EKD let it be understood that “there is consensus in the EKD that the Old Testament is a book entirely on its own and therefore it cannot and should not be read only and primarily as a witness to Christ…” If the project was to be rescued, a compromise would have to be found, albeit at a heavy price. The EKD would not allow the statement I had made to stand, “that according to the Christian understanding these writings (of the Old Testa-ment) all point to Him who reveals Himself as the Son of God, Jesus Christ….Therefore Christians read and understand the Old Testament in light of the New Testament.” I was informed that “if these sentences were to appear in print, considerable irritation would ensue in our EKD ranks.” Any indication that the New Testament opens up a proper understanding for reading the Bible is something the EKD would “consider most un-usual,” something that could “make absolutely no claim to objectivity.”
We yielded to the EKD’s insistence, simply in order to bring the Bible to people who otherwise would hardly have any access to it. And what could be more important than that?
This new edition of the Bible is now available. But in the process an entirely feasible piece of joint work was thoroughly nixed, and the SELK was cruelly duped. All of this did not display a very “ecumenical” attitude on the part of the EKD, even though President Schneider writes lyrically in his preface that “the Council of the EKD was extraordinarily glad to agree to the request to allow the use of Martin Luther’s translation (1984 revi-sion) in this edition of the Bible.” Who is going to believe him?
Bishop emeritus Dr. Jobst Schöne D.D.
For some reason our marketing department didn’t think this was the best image to use in a pre-Christmas e-mail from CPH. Party poopers!
LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison shares the following comments about Broken.
A great chapel sermon this morning here at Concordia Publishing House from our Senior Editor for Multilingual Resources, Rev. Dr. Hector Hoppe:
December 12, 2012
Hymn 825 Rise, Shine, You People
Topic: Languages and More Languages
To understand what follows, you need to have some knowledge of the German language. If you know nothing, pretend you know something, so you don’t feel left out. The German language is quite different than the English language, not only in vocabulary but also in grammar —in the way the language is structured. For instance, Germans can put five nouns together to form one word, or a good German writer will write a long sentence (I mean a three or four line sentence) and put the one and only verb at the end. This language structure makes the work of interpreters very difficult when they translate German into other languages.
Many years ago I took a class with a renowned German-American theologian . As a German professor, he would start every class at 8:00 am sharp. One morning I was about 10 minutes late, the was lecturing, and everybody in class was very attentive to his speech. I sneaked in and asked my friend, “Did I miss much?” To which he answered, “I don’t know, he hasn’t got to the verb yet!” See? I told you I had a good reason to talk about languages today.
To tell you the truth, I never took a class with that professor, but it is true that I had the privilege to attend the International Conference on Confessional Leadership, held in Atlanta at the end of October this year. This conference, sponsored by our LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations, brought together 120 Lutheran leaders from about 40 countries, representing 20 million Lutherans. We had the opportunity to listen and learn about the work of God in many different parts of the world. We also learned about the major challenges that the different churches are facing today. The bishop of the Lutheran Church in Ethiopia explained that one of their major challenges was to reach the more than four hundred groups that speak more than four hundred different languages in his country. Despite such a challenge, the Lutheran church in Ethiopia is committed to work toward the goal of reaching every tribe with the gospel of our Lord Jesus in their own language. I cannot imagine myself being the head of the multilingual department in their publishing house.
We also learned during those days in Atlanta that, according to the last census, in the United States of America there are more than four hundred languages that are spoken every day. Don’t we all speak English? Or some sort of English? In some way, most of the population of this country communicates in English. But the church still has the challenge of reaching out to the different ethnic groups that need to hear the Gospel in their own language. Why? There is something about our “own language” that is very important.
When our Lord confused the languages after the flood, because people, in clear disobedience to God’s command wanted to remain together, build a big tower, and become famous, a new chapter in history started. God did a great job in confusing people’s languages. Since then, many cannot communicate because of language barriers. God really messed us up; we are still confused today! As a church we still don’t know what to do with all the recent immigrants that arrived in this country. What a challenge we are facing!
Acts 2:4-8, 11
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?… —we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”
Many things happened on the day of Pentecost. The confusion that started in Genesis 11 somehow came to an end; there was a “mighty rushing wind,” “divided tongues as of fire,” the “filling of the Holy Spirit,” speaking in other tongues,” astonishment, amazement, perplexity. All these external signs of God’s action manifested at the same time! Although the coming of the Holy Spirit is central among all the other manifestations of God’s power, these sentences are also very important: “How is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?” and “We hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” Why was that fact so important? Didn’t they all speak Latin or Greek or Aramaic? What was God’s reason to deliver His message in their very own tongues, even though they had a common language?
When referring to a “native tongue,” I like the expression “mother language,” because our own native tongue is the one that was taught by our mothers. It is the language we learned while we were nursed; it is the language we learned to speak while our mothers hold us tight when we were afraid or sick. It is the language we learned when our mothers picked us up from the floor and healed our wounded knees as they used comforting words to calm us down. These comforting words do not mean the same thing if they are said in a foreign language, because they are not accompanied by mom’s caring attitude. God chooses to speak to people in a way that, through every word, he can communicate grace, comfort, love, compassion. God speaks our names in the same way our mothers called our names. It is for this reason that God decided to speak his mighty works in the tongue of every nation present at Pentecost. God wants to communicate with us the same way our parents did in our early years, in a language that is dear to us.
So, did Jesus speak four hundred languages? He could have, but I doubt He did. He left that challenge to the church. Jesus spoke only one language, the language you and I cannot speak. Jesus spoke the language he learned from his heavenly Father. It is called “body language” or “the language of the cross.” No one on earth spoke the mighty works of God more loudly, more clearly, and more convincingly than Jesus on the cross.
Jesus on the cross speaks loudly about our sin. He speaks directly into our hearts to wipe out any confusion we might have regarding our sinful nature. We are condemned creatures. Jesus on the cross also speaks loudly about the Father’s compassion towards us, about the Father’s mercy and grace for us. Jesus’ body language on the cross changed our life and our eternity without saying much verbally. From the cross God speaks words of comfort to our wounded hearts, calming us down.
Can we all learn four hundred languages? I cannot. But the church can. The Holy Spirit, central in Pentecost and responsible for the miracle of the languages and the conversions, is still active today. The congregation where I worship has around three thousand members. It took about one hundred and thirty years to get to where we are now. In Pentecost, through one sermon and many languages, God created a three thousand member congregation in one day. Do you see the possibilities?
God is still active today, sending the Holy Spirit there where His Word is being preached, studied, or read. Jesus is still speaking directly to our hearts from the empty cross and the empty tomb, to encourage us to go forward in the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life in heaven.
In the Christian church, Jesus is our common language. Amen.