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18 January 2017
  The Confession of Saint Peter
18 January, New Testament

Keys of the Kingdom Today we celebrate God's blessed revelation to the disciples that Jesus was more than a good man, a holy man, an outstanding teacher, or an awesome miracle worker: Thus, we also celebrate that through the Apostles and Evangelists, we also know and believe that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:16)"

Flesh and blood still don't reveal this to us; faith is still a gift of the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God. However, with the primary means of the Gospel Word, God uses the secondary means of flesh and blood to proclaim and teach each new generation this central confession of the Christian Faith.

Thus, once the Father, working through the Holy Spirit, created faith in Peter and the others that Jesus was the Anointed One promised by the prophets, Jesus commissioned them to minister in His Name. Yet they weren't to begin immediately. Peter's great Christological "aha!" would sit in silence until after the Son of Man went to Jerusalem to "suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. (Matthew 16:21)"

After the Resurrection, the Apostles received the fullness of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and immediately put this confession into the world. Preaching, teaching, baptizing, and absolving sinners, the original disciples discipled others. The Good News of the suffering, dying, and risen Messiah led thousands, then millions to the Faith.

Office of the Keys Using the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven — the binding of unrepentant sinners' trangressions to them and the remission of sins for those who believe in Jesus as their Savior — remains the Church's mission. Their exercise is through the divinely created Office of the Holy Ministry, wherein Christ's called pastors continue to forgive sins on behalf of their Lord.

Through the pastoral office, Jesus continues to breathe His Spirit upon His appointed messengers. They continue the apostolic practice of forgiving sins in His stead and by His command while still firmly declaring the unremitting wrath of God against those who will not repent and believe: "If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld. (John 20:23)"

The Lutheran Confessions are replete with many instances and expressions of this gracious office. One brief and clear section is in the Small Catechism in the writing on Confession.


Psalm 118:19-29
Acts 4:8-13
2 Peter 1:1-15
Mark 8:27-35 (36-9:1)


Dear Father in heaven, You revealed to the apostle Peter the blessed truth that Your Son Jesus is the Christ. Strengthen us by the proclamation of this truth that we too may joyfully confess that there is salvation in no one else; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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10 January 2017
  + Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa +
Basil the Great of Caesarea, 1 January AD 379
with Gregory of Nazianzus, 9 May AD 389
and Gregory of Nyssa, 9 March AD 395

Saint Basil the GreatSaints Basil and the two Gregorys, collectively known as the Cappadocian Fathers, were leaders of Christian orthodoxy in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) in the later fourth century. Basil and Gregory of Nyssa were brothers; Gregory Nazianzus, Patriarch of Constantinople, was their friend. All three were influential in shaping the theology ratified by the Council of Constantinople of 381, which is expressed in the Nicene Creed.

Their defense of the doctrines of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Trinity, together with their contributions to the liturgy of the Eastern Church, make them among the most influential Christian teachers and theologians of their time. Their knowledge and wisdom continues to be heard and known in the Christian Church today.

Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of NyssaWhen we commemorate the brothers, we also do well to remember their sister Macrina (Makrina). The eldest child of their generation, she did much to support and encourage the brothers' theological studies, moral development, and later work. Gregory of Nyssa wrote a Life of Macrina, one that actually focuses more on his sister's last days and death.

Please note that this day of celebration was chosen by The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod for its list of commemorations. Basil is remembered in the East on his heavenly birthday (death date) while the West traditionally celebrated him on 14 June, the anniversary of his consecration.

The occidental Church doesn't commemorate him on his date of death because of its conflict with the Western celebration of a major Christological feast, The Circumcision and Name of Jesus. Recently, Roman Catholicism adopted 2 January for the commemoration. The LCMS chose to remember Wilhelm Loehe on that date and transferred Basil to an open day, combining his commemoration with those of the two others with whom he worked so closely.

Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus were two of the four Eastern theologians among the eight great Doctors of the undivided Church. The other two were Athanasius and John Chrysostom. The four great early Western (or Latin) doctors were Augustine, Jerome, Gregory the Great, and Ambrose of Milan. When the commemoration falls on the Baptism of Our Lord, it is normally transferred to the next open day.


Psalm 139:1-9 or 34:1-8
Wisdom 7:7-14
1 Corinthians 2:6-13
Luke 10:21-24


Almighty God, who revealed to Your Church Your eternal Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in a Trinity of Persons, give us grace that, like Your servants Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa, we may continue steadfast in the confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; who live and reign one God, now and forever.

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08 January 2017
  The Baptism of Our Lord
The First Sunday after the Epiphany, New Testament

Baptism of JesusThe Baptism of our Lord (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:4-11; Luke 3:15-16, 21-22) is always celebrated on the first Sunday after the Epiphany. Christians remember how John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. The Holy Spirit assumed the form of a dove and came down to rest on Jesus' head while the voice of the Father spoke from the heavens, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. (Mark 1:11)"

His Baptism marks the first adult appearance of our Lord recorded in Holy Scripture. Prior to this day, the last we hear of Him was following His return from the temple as a twelve year old boy. Luke records, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. (2:52)"

Baptismal StarFollowing His baptism, "The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. (Mark 1:12)" There He remained for forty days of fasting and temptation by Satan. Once the time of temptation was over, Jesus entered into His public ministry as He called the disciples, worked miracles, preached and taught, forgave sins, and prepared Himself for the suffering and death awaiting Him.

With John, we might wonder why Jesus came to be baptized (see Matthew 3:14). However, Jesus told him, "It is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. (Matthew 3:15)" Jesus' baptism publicly marked Him as God's Anointed One (Messiah or Christ). He had nothing for which He needed to repent, so His entry into Baptism's waters was not to wash away sins. Instead, He took all the sins of mankind upon Himself. He identified Himself as one of us by being baptized and spent the rest of His earthly life fulfilling our righteousness, keeping the Law perfectly.


Series A

Psalm 29
Isaiah 42:1-9
Romans 6:1-11
Matthew 3:13-17

One Year Lectionary Cycle

Psalm 85
Joshua 3:1-3, 7-8, 13-17 or Isaiah 42:1-7
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Matthew 3:13-17


Father in heaven, at the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River You proclaimed Him Your beloved Son and anointed Him with the Holy Spirit. Make all who are baptized in His name faithful in their calling as Your children and inheritors with Him of everlasting life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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07 January 2017
  + Jakob Andreae, Theologian +
7 January AD 1590

Jakob Andreae Born 25 March 1528 to blacksmith Jakob Endriß and his wife Anna (née Weißkopf) in Waiblingen in the dukedom of Württemberg, Jakob Andreae (also Andreæ or Andreä) came from a family seemingly too poor to support any higher education. However, it was his good fortune to come of age at a time when Duke Ulrich began Evangelical reform in the duchy. Württemberg's mayor, aware of the young man's potential, procured for him a ducal scholarship.

In 1539 Andreae attended a preparatory school in Stuttgart, and two years later he entered the University of Tübingen — at the tender age of thirteen years. In 1545 he began his study of theology under the Tübingen faculty. He stayed only briefly. Württemberg was critically short of pastors and he was placed in the parish after one year of study. His enemies found ample ammunition for their opposition of him due in part to his arrested academic career.

The religious sea change that Martin Luther began with the German Reformation had spread through Europe. In many parts of the continent, the changes went much deeper than did those of the Lutherans. New ways of thinking and of doing theology led to new sects and confessions within Christendom. With all the change around them, some Lutherans began following other ways of thinking, although many remained orthodox followers of Luther.

The signing of the Augsburg Confession in 1530 appeared to signal full doctrinal consent among the Lutherans but agreement was brief. The interpretation of the Scriptures and the roles of the Augsburg Confession, its Apology, the Smalcald Articles, and the Catechisms became controverted. While Philipp Melanchthon and others were already altering the Confessions to suit their shifting interpretations of Scripture, Luther's death in 1546 hastened Lutheran disunity. Into the turmoil of the middle and latter Sixteenth Century stepped Jakob Andreae.

Book of Concord Andreae began this time in theology's public sphere with the intention of conciliation among Protestant Christianity. Yet even at his most irenic, Andreae never forsook fidelity to orthodox Lutheranism. Convinced that it was God's will that the Church would be one (cf. John 17:11-12, 20-23), he sought to reach out to those outside the Lutheran party while also challenging errorists within. The hardliners among the Gnesio-Lutherans unswervingly believed that anyone teaching falsely deserved immediate and absolute condemnation.

This caught Andreae in a bind: He could continue his gentle methods in dealing with errorists, including John Calvin and invite the wrath of the staunchest Lutherans or he could be more forceful with the false teachers and alienate them completely from Luther's heirs.

The actions of others finally led him to give up hope of full unity. A 1570 meeting of theologians in Zerbst in agreed to espouse unity based upon the Augsburg Confession, the Apology, the Smalcald Articles, and the Catechisms. Initially elated with the agreement, Andreae soon saw the Wittenberg theologians qualifying their confessional subscription according to Melanchthon's revisions. This was followed by a series of Crypto-Calvinist reinterpretations of the Lutheran Confessions and led Andreae to realize that it would be impossible to build and maintain a truly Lutheran Electoral Saxony with such errorists in place.

With the entire spectrum of Germanic Protestantism calling upon the Augsburg Confession to support wildly contradictory theological positions, Andreae began arguing for a new confession around which true Lutherans could gather and which could be used to screen and reject errorists. Need for such a confession became even more apparent after Andreae visited Wittenberg and discovered for himself the depth of their Christological differences and found that on their home turf, these theologians had no interest in the unity he desired.

Finding himself stymied by these least Lutheran Protestants, Andreae turned his attention to those who still wanted to fully follow the reforms and the theology of Luther. He finally took of the gloves and started forceful condemnation of the Philippists and Crypto-Calvinists through the series Six Christian Sermons. Martin Chemnitz, David Chytraeus, and others read the copies sent them by Andreae, which asked that the sermons be used as the basis of the new confession. While they agreed with Andreae's theology, they didn't think that sermons were the proper means of making a confessional statement. They asked instead for a thesis-antithesis form.

Jakob Andreae Andreae responded by writing the Swabian Concord, built on the foundation of his Six Sermons. The finished document became the first draft of the Formula of Concord. After Chemnitz and Chytraeus read the document, they worked it into a revision known as the Swabian-Saxon Concord. Into this was assimilated Württemberg's Maulbronn Formula. Next came the Torgic Book, followed by the Bergic Book, developed in the years 1576-1577. The Bergic Book became the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord.

The Formula was included in the Book of Concord, which was published on 25 June 1580, the fiftieth anniversary of the presentation of the Augsburg Confession. Included with the Solid Declaration was the Formula's Epitome, the Augsburg Confession, the Apology, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, Luther's Catechisms, and the three Ecumenical Creeds. Finally, German Lutheranism had the theological consensus which Andreae had so long desired.

Andreae's efforts for church unity based on doctrinal agreement didn't end with the Formula of Concord. In his later years, he continued to espouse pure Lutheran theology and to oppose all who denied or compromised it. This included his 1586 debate on the ubiquity of Christ with Calvinist theologian Theodore de Beza in Mömpelgard, Württemberg (now Montbéliard, France).

In addition to his tireless work on behalf of Lutheran unity, Jakob Andreae also found time for a large family. He married Anna Entringer in Tübingen in June 1546. She bore him twenty children between 1547 and 1579. Of these, eleven reached adulthood. Anna died in 1583. In 1585, he married Regensburg widow Regina Reitter, nee Schachner. Andreae died on 7 January 1590, followed 2 ½ years later by Regina.

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06 January 2017
  The Epiphany of Our Lord
6 January, New Testament

Visit of the Magi The Epiphany season begins today, with the Feast of the Epiphany. This day celebrates the Wise Men bringing their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ Child.

The word Epiphany means "showing" or "manifestation" and the entire season from today until the beginning of Lent deals in one way with the ways in which Jesus was shown to be the Christ, either by His own words and deeds or by the actions of the Father and the Holy Spirit (as in His baptism). The hymn Songs of Thankfulness and Praise (printed below) praises many of these manifestations and anticipates that last, great Epiphany, when Jesus manifests Himself visibly before all mankind and brings His Church home to eternal glory.

In much of the world, Epiphany, not Christmas, is a day for giving gifts to family and friends. Rather than using the day in which the Father gave His Son to a sin-darkened and unexpecting world, many nations choose the day celebrating the gifts the Wise Men brought the Christ Child as a day of giving gifts to their own children (and to others). This Wikipedia article details some of the religious and cultural practices of the day. Of course, some countries are done with the presents before Christmas; they choose Saint Nicholas Day on 6 December as the time of giving gifts.

The Wise Men Traveled from Afar, another Epiphany hymn, is posted at the Happenings and Ask the Pastor blogs. Ask the Pastor also has several archived posts pertaining to the Epiphany: Unbiblical Christmas Carols, Jesus and the Wise Men, and Names of the Magi.


Psalm 72
Isaiah 60:1-6
Ephesians 3:1-12
Matthew 2:1-12


Epiphany Star O God, by the leading of a star You made known Your only-begotten Son to the Gentiles. Lead us, who know You by faith, to enjoy in heaven the fullness of Your divine presence; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


Songs of Thankfulness and Praise
  1. Songs of thankfulness and praise,
    Jesus, Lord, to Thee we raise,
    Manifested by the star
    To the sages from afar,
    Branch of royal David's stem,
    In Thy birth at Bethlehem.
    Anthems be to Thee addressed
    God in man made manifest.

  2. Manifest at Jordan's stream,
    Prophet, Priest, and King supreme,
    And at Cana, Wedding-guest,
    In Thy Godhead manifest;
    Manifest in power divine,
    Changing water into wine.
    Anthems be to Thee addressed
    God in man made manifest.

  3. Manifest in making whole
    Palsied limbs and fainting soul;
    Manifest in valiant fight,
    Quelling all the devil's might;
    Manifest in gracious will,
    Ever bringing good from ill.
    Anthems be to Thee addressed,
    God in man made manifest.

  4. Sun and moon shall darkened be,
    Stars shall fall, the heavens shall flee;
    Christ will then like lightning shine,
    All will see His glorious sign;
    All will then the trumpet hear,
    All will see the Judge appear;
    Thou by all wilt be confessed,
    God in man made manifest.

  5. Grant us grace to see Thee, Lord,
    Mirrored in Thy holy Word;
    May we imitate Thee now
    And be pure as pure art Thou
    That we like to Thee may be
    At Thy great Epiphany
    And may praise Thee, ever blest,
    God in man made manifest.

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03 January 2017
  + Charles Porterfield Krauth, Pastor and Theologian +
2 January AD 1883; transferred to 3 January*

Charles Porterfield Krauth Charles Porterfield Krauth was born in Martinsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia), on 17 March 1823. He was son of the noted Lutheran pastor Dr. Charles Philip Krauth. However, young Charles wasn't named for his father but for grandfathers Charles James Krauth and Robert Porterfield Augustus Heiskell.

In 1839, Krauth graduated from Pennsylvania (now Gettysburg) College. His father was the college's president at this time and also served on the theological faculty of the city's Lutheran Theological Seminary, so it's no surprise that young C. P. Krauth attended this school for his pastoral education. He graduated in 1841 and was ordained the following year, after which he served as parish pastor in Baltimore, the Shenandoah Valley, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Krauth was called to St. Mark's Church, Philadelphia in 1859 and served there for two years. However, his dissatisfaction with American Lutheranism led him to resign and assume editorship of the Lutheran and Missionary, a journal espousing a return to the theology of the Augsburg Confession. His movement away from his father's church seems to have been triggered by ... his own father! This wasn't the result of family strife but because Charles James Krauth had given Charles Porterfield Krauth the gift of Chemnitz.

The more he read from "the Second Martin," the more he was convinced that the General Synod and most of Americanized Lutheranism had departed the ways of "the First Martin"; i.e., Luther himself. C. P. Krauth became increasingly uncomfortable with Lutherans who were so concerned with ecumenism that they would downplay, abandon, or deny the theology of the Augsburg Confession and the rest of the Book of Concord. He recognized the strains of "Socinianism ... Universalism ... Unionism, Pietism, Moravianism, and Methodism"* and other non-Lutheran, even unchristian, philosopies and theologies that diluted and corrupted pure Evangelical Lutheranism away from what he was ever-increasingly growing to know, to believe, and to love.

Charles Porterfield Krauth As he ventured farther into the "old" Lutheranism of the Reformation and the Age of Orthodoxy, Krauth started speaking more harshly about the "new" Lutheran leaders who were following the lead of Samuel Simon Schmucker. He claimed that the General Synod had become the playground of "moral weaklings." These "amiable inanities" only played at "neutrality and conservatism," ignored major theological differences, and generally espoused a healing through "a cataplasm of soft words and soft soap, or an ointment of love and lard."† Needless to say, the other side hated these criticisms and the cracks between their conflicting confessions quickly expanded to a major rift.

This new conservative and confessional wing of English-speaking American Lutheranism found itself needing its own organization and theological institutions. The confessional party established Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia in 1864 and asked Krauth to lead their new school and become its professor of systematic theology. In 1867, Krauth was instrumental in the establishment of the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America. He wrote the General Council's position papers and the foundational document and then drafted its constitution. Three years later, he was elected the Council's president, in which office he served for a decade, until 1880.

Krauth composed a series of theses on pulpit and altar fellowship under the title the “Akron-Galesburg Rule.” The summary is simple: "Lutheran pulpits for Lutheran pastors only, and Lutheran altars for Lutheran communicants only." While the Galesburg Rule permitted exceptions based on pastoral discretion, it still strongly repudiated the nearly blind ecumenism of the General Synod.

Krauth's theological arguments and personal appeal stood him in good stead. Over the course of time, both his own father and Beale Melanchthon Schmucker (Samuel Simon's grandson) joined him in a literal reading of the Scriptures and a quia adherence to the Lutheran Confessions. He also drew William Passavant, the pioneer of the American Lutheran deaconess movement, into the confessional camp.

C. P. Krauth Krauth's scholarship and academic influence went beyond Lutheranism. He became a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, serving from 1865 to 1868. He was made Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy in 1868 and held that position until his death in 1883. From 1873-1882, he was also Penn's Vice Provost.

Over the course of his life, Charles Porterfield Krauth saw more than one hundred of his works in print. Chief among these was The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology: As Represented in the Augsburg Confession, and in the History and Literature of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (1875). His reputation as one of the great American Lutheran theologians remains secure. In fact, we might drop the "American" and name him as one of the great theologians throughout all Lutheranism.

Pastor David Jay Webber leads us to think thusly, claiming that if C. F. W. Walther justly deserves the title, of "the American Luther," then Krauth is the best candidate for "the American Chemnitz."†† Walther himself noted a Chemnitz-like mix of confessional theology and a conciliar nature in calling Krauth "the most eminent man in the English Lutheran Church of this country, a man of rare learning, at home no less in the old than in modern theology, and, what is of greatest import, whole-heartedly devoted to the pure doctrine of our Church, as he had learned to understand it, a noble man and without guile."†††

Finally, a few notes on his family: C. P. Krauth was married to Susan Reynolds from 1844 until her death in 1853. In 1855, he married Virginia Baker. He was blessed with five children through his two wives.

*Commemoration moved from 2 January (the LCMS calendar's remembrance of Wilhelm Loehe) to today. His birth date of 17 March conflicts with the commemoration of Saint Pádraig.

† "The General Council Before Its First Anniversary," The Lutheran Church Review, Vol. XXVI, No. 4 (October 1907)
†† David Jay Webber, Charles Porterfield Krauth: The American Chemnitz (2004)
††† Walther, Lehre und Wehre XXIX:1 (January 1883)

Sources and extended reading suggestions: Christian Cyclopedia, Wikipedia, Penn Biographies, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology at Google Books, and, especially, David Jay Webber's Charles Porterfield Krauth: The American Chemnitz.

Suggested Lection

Psalm 46
Isaiah 55:6-11
Romans 10:5-17
John 15:1-11


O Lord God, heavenly Father, we pray that, as You raised up Charles Porterfield Krauth to lead Lutherans in American into a renewed appreciation of their confessional heritage and to a fuller confidence in the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, so You would continue to provide us with faithful pastors and leaders, keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, defend us against all enemies of Your Word, and bestow on Christ's Church Militant Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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02 January 2017
  + Wilhelm Loehe, Pastor and Theologian +
2 January AD 1872

Wilhelm Loehe Christened Johann Konrad Wilhelm Löhe, he established a reputation already as a young pastor for being "too" theologically conservative and "too" politically progressive. This led to his being moved to at least twelve positions until he received his own parish in Neuendettelsau, Bavaria in 1837. Beginning his career with difficulty, he accomplished much from such a small place. Even though he had aspirations of a more prominent position in a major city, church and government officials never allowed that to pass.

The Catholic king of Bavaria was de facto leader of the Lutheran Church. His main desire was to keep the churches from becoming places of political unrest. Thus arose strict restrictions, such as an assembly of more than five people needing a police permit. He prohibited mission circles and other "subversive enterprises," thus relegating church activities to not much more than Sunday services only.

In 1840, Loehe read a newspaper account from America by Pastor Friedrich Wyneken. It told of German emigrants not having church or pastoral care — nobody could baptize their children, teach, visit the sick, or bury the dead. Pastor Loehe felt compelled to aid the German Lutherans in America and published an article in a church periodical asking for help. Beginning in the spring of 1841, several young men responded to Loehe's letter, expressing the desire help the settlers with their own skills and occupations. In the summer of 1842 he sent them to America at his own expense. He called them Nothelfer ("helpers in need") or "auxiliary saints", and trained them to be "emergency pastors."

Wilhelm Löhe
Even while he had no theologians to assist his plans, Loehe published a map entitled "Overview for the German Lutheran Mission Work in the United States." It illustrated a system he developed for advancing pastoral care and outreach among German speakers in the United States. More young men followed and by his death, at least 185 came to America. Loehe paid for many of them himself and was always trying to raise money.

After only six years of marriage, Loehe's wife died, leaving him to raise their four children alone. Even among such hardships, his dreams remained clear and his desire to serve the Lord strong. Indeed, recent years have brought recognition for his farsightedness. This contrasts sharply with the handed-down opinions of many contemporaries who, while recognizing him as a founder of social institutions and mission education in Neuendettelsau, regarded him as divisive, narrow-minded, or combative. Changes in attitude began taking place especially after 1985, when several thousand of his letters were published, many previously unknown to scholars in Germany.

Seeking to support and strengthen missions and pastoral ministry in the United States, Loehe established a large parish cooperative throughout Germany. As support grew, he could publish his 1845 "Letter from the Home Country to the German Lutheran Emigrants" which 946 people, including 350 theologians, signed.

With the home churches finally behind him, he could at last send pastors! Loehe saw to the training of twenty-two pastors for work in America. Due in large part to his direct influence a seminary was established in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1846 as well as a teachers' institute in Saginaw, Michigan. Some of the men he sent to the U.S. helped to establish The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod. Today, two LCMS seminaries, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri continue equipping and forming men to send out into the Savior's harvest fields.

Besides his interest in the United States, Loehe also assisted in training and sending pastors to care for emigrants in Brazil and Australia, both of which still have relatively small but vital Lutheran populations. He will continue to be remembered for his confessional integrity and his interest in liturgy and catechetics. He also never forgot the physical needs of those less fortunate and his works of Christian charity include the establishment of a deaconess training house, homes for the aged, an asylum for the mentally ill, and other caring institutions.

Please see Loehe etexts translated through Project Wittenberg for his Sonntagsblatt Appeal, his 1842 Instructions of Adam Ernst and Georg Burger, a letter from C.F.W. Walther to Loehe About the Fort Wayne Seminary, and Loehe's Report of Walther's and Wyneken's Visit.

Suggested Lection

Psalm 46
Isaiah 55:6-11
Romans 10:5-17
John 15:1-11


O Lord God, heavenly Father, we pray that, as You led Wilhelm Loehe to establish and support Lutheran missions and ministry in the New World, so You would continue to raise up faithful Lutheran pastors and missionaries that the Gospel might be proclaimed in its truth and purity, the Sacraments rightly administered, believers ministered to, and unbelievers converted by Your saving Word and the power of the Holy Spirit, who lives and reigns with You and Your Son Jesus Christ, one God, now and forever.

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01 January 2017
  The Circumcision and Name of Jesus
1 January, New Testament

Circumcision of Our Lord This major feast day of the Christian Church marks the infant Jesus' eighth day of life. At this time, the Law required all boys of Israel to be circumcised (cf. Genesis 17:9-14; Leviticus 12:1-3).

On this day, our Savior also received His name (Luke 2:21). This fulfilled the command given to both Mary (Luke 1:31) and Joseph (Matthew 1:21) during their angelic visitations.

Circumcision Christ's circumcision placed Him fully under God's Law. His name Jesus, from the Hebrew "Joshua" (meaning "Yahweh saves" or "He saves"), bespeaks the purpose for which He assumed human flesh and came to live among us.

For more on this Christological feast, including the reason for using this particular date for the remembrance, please see On the Eighth Day of Christmas and Christianity and New Year's Day at Ask the Pastor.


Psalm 8
Numbers 6:22-27
Galatians 3:23-29
Luke 2:21


Lord God, You made Your beloved Son, our Savior, subject to the Law and caused Him to shed His blood on our behalf. Grant us the true circumcision of the Spirit that our hearts may be made pure from all sins; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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31 December 2016
  New Year's Eve
31 December
also The Eve of Jesus' Name

IHS On this day, we prepare to celebrate the name chosen by God for His dear Son, who came in the flesh to save His people from their sins. It is also a time to take stock of our lives, ponder our brief time spent on earth, and prepare for eternity with God through faith in Jesus Christ.


Psalm 90:1-12
Isaiah 30:(8-14) 15-17
Romans 8:31b-39
Luke 12:35-40


Eternal God, we commit to Your mercy and forgiveness the year now ending and commend to Your blessing and love the times yet to come. In the new year, abide among us with Your Holy Spirit that we may always trust in the saving name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Lord God, heavenly Father, because You sent us Your only-begotten Son for our salvation and gave Him the name of Jesus, grant that we may begin the New Year trusting in His saving name and live all our days in His service and praise to the glory of His holy name; who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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29 December 2016
  + David, King of Israel +
29 December, Old Testament

David and Goliath David, son of Jesse, went from tending his father's flocks to being the greatest of Israel's kings. He ruled from about 1010 to 970 B.C. He was chosen by the Lord and anointed by Samuel to replace the apostate King Saul, for whom David had provided years of faithful service. The events of his life are found from 1 Samuel 16 through 1 Kings 2 and in 1 Chronicles 10 through chapter 29. David's son Solomon succeeded him as king.

David was also gifted musically. Skilled in playing the lyre, he wrote at least seventy-three of the Psalms, including the beloved Psalm 23 and several Messianic prophecies, including the foreshadowing of Christ's crucifixion in Psalm 22.

David's public and private character displayed a mixture of good, for example, his defeat of the giant Goliath, (1 Samuel 17) and evil, as in his adultery with Bathsheba, Uriah's wife, followed by his murder of Uriah, (2 Samuel 11). David's greatness lay in his fierce loyalty to God as Israel's military and political leader. For example, under his leadership, the people of Israel were united into a single nation with Jerusalem as the capital city.

This devotion to the Lord and to the people was coupled with his willingness to acknowledge his sins and ask for God's forgiveness, as recorded in 2 Samuel 12.* The great penitential outpouring of Psalm 51** came as a result of his sins against Uriah, as did the thoughts and emotions expressed in Psalm 32.

David's standing before the Lord and his place in the Messianic line are mentioned in many places. Of all of these, Paul's words in Acts 13:22-23 provide a fitting summary: "[The Lord] raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, 'I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.' Of this man's offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised."

*You Da Man! — a sermon on 2 Samuel 12
**Mercy Me! — a sermon on Psalm 51

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28 December 2016
  + The Holy Innocents +
28 December, New Testament

Reni: Holy Innocents This day commemorates the slaughter of Bethlehem's children by Herod the Great (Matthew 2:16-18), as he attempted to destroy the Usurper to his throne.

Herod, his jealousy inflamed by the account given by the Wise Men (Matthew 2:7), sent his soldiers to kill all the town's boys two years old and younger in order to protect his throne and lineage. This was one of the last major decisions made in a life filled with vainglory and increasing insanity. His plan went awry, since the Lord sent an angel to warn Joseph, who led Jesus and Mary to safety in Egypt, where they stayed until the tyrant's death.

Holy Innocents The commemorations of Stephen, John, and the Innocents remind us that not all receive the Gift of Christmas with joy. However, God's plan of salvation spreads in spite of hatred. Even today, much of the world actively rejects the Gospel and persecutes those who preach and live it.

Yet through all the years, the Church has continued to proclaim Christ — Christ incarnate, Christ crucified, Christ resurrected, Christ ascended, Christ returning. The very resistance of the Devil, the hard-hearts of others, and the testimony of our own sinful natures all provide ample evidence of the world's desperate need for His forgiveness. God grant that we faithfully believe and steadfastly confess this saving message, the Good News of forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus.


Psalm 54
Jeremiah 31:15-17
Revelation 14:1-5
Matthew 2:13-18


Almighty God, the martyred innocents of Bethlehem showed forth Your praise not by speaking but by dying. Put to death in us all that is in conflict with Your will that our lives may bear witness to the faith we profess with our lips; through Lord Jesus, our Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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27 December 2016
  +Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist +
27 December, New Testament

St. John Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist, a son of Zebedee, was one of the twelve apostles. With his brother James and Simon Peter, he formed an inner circle among the Twelve: Those three beheld the Great Catch of Fish (Luke 5:10), the healing of Peter's mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31), the raising of Jairus' daughter(Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51), the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28), and Gethsemane's agony (Matthew 26:37; Mark 14:33).

He expressed willingness to undergo martyrdom (Matthew 20:22; Mark 10:39) — as did the other apostles (Matthew 26:35; Mark 14:31). However, ancient testimony says that even though he was imprisoned and exiled, he was eventually released and died a natural death in Ephesus.

According to Mark 3:17, Jesus gave James and John "the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder." He is credited with the writing three epistles and one Gospel. He is also the probable author of Revelation, although this identification is less certain.

His symbol in ecclesiastical art is usually the eagle. This and the images used for the other evangelists come from the visions of the four living creatures around God's throne in heaven. See the biography of Saint Matthew for the specifics of each.


Psalm 11
Revelation 1:1-6
1 John 1:1-2:2
John 21:20-25


Merciful Lord, cast the bright beams of Your light upon Your Church that we, being instructed in the doctrine of Your blessed apostle and evangelist John, may come to the light of everlasting life; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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26 December 2016
  + Stephen, Protomartyr +
26 December, New Testament

St. StephenSaint Stephen's Day remembers the first recorded martyr of the Church. Stephen knew the gift of Christmas: His Lord came in human flesh to bring forgiveness and as Jesus forgave His killers, so Stephen forgave those whose stones smashed away his life. The account of his calling, witness, and death is in Acts 6:1-8:2. Notice how closely the martyr's responses echo those of His Savior as each approached death.

In art, Stephen is often represented by the stones which took his life and by the palm branch, an ancient symbol of triumph and, especially in Christianity, of martyrdom. Both stones and branch are prominent in this Carlo Crivelli painting from the Demidoff Altarpiece.

Stephen's feast day supposedly occasioned of a great act of charity by the later martyred Wenceslaus, Kníže of Bohemia. Wenceslaus (or Václav) is remembered in the carol Good King Wenceslaus.


Psalm 119:137-144
2 Chronicles 24:17-22
Acts 6:8-7:2a, 51-60
Matthew 23:34-39


Heavenly Father, in the midst of our sufferings for Christ grant us grace to follow the example of the first martyr, Stephen, that we may also look to the One who suffered and was crucified on our behalf and pray for those who do us wrong; through our Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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23 December 2016
  O Emmanuel
O God with Us
23 December

O Emmanuel We now arrive at the seventh and final O Antiphon, including related Scriptures, Latin text and English translation, a Latin hymn stanza, and the English versification from the hymn known as O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. (The English language renditions are from the Lutheran Service Book.)

O Emmanuel, Rex et legisfer noster, expectatio gentium, et Salvator erum:
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster.

℣ O Emmanuel, our King and our Lord, the Anointed for the nations and their | Savior:*
Come and save us, O | Lord our God.

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)" See also Isaiah 8:6-8; Matthew 1:23; Haggai 2:7 (KJV).

Veni Veni, Emmanuel Captivum solve Israel,
Qui gemit in exsilio, Privatus Dei Filio.

O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Read the final daily meditation from the O Antiphons by Pastor Weedon.

Ero Cras!

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are quoted from the ESV®

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22 December 2016
  O Rex Gentium
O King of the Nations (King of the Gentiles)
22 December

O Rex Gentium This brings us to the sixth O Antiphon. Again, we have the Latin text and English translation, a Latin hymn stanza, and the English versification from the hymn known as O Come, O Come, Emmanuel are included. (The English language renditions are from the Lutheran Service Book.)

O Rex gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unem:
veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

℣ O King of the Nations, the Ruler they long for, the Cornerstone uniting all | people:*
Come and save us all, whom You formed | out of clay.

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)" Also, "He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4)." See also Revelation 15:3; Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 28:16; Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; Ephesians 2:19-21; 1 Peter 2:6.

Veni, Veni, Rex Gentium, Veni, Redemptor omnium,
Ut salvas tuos famulos Peccati sibi conscios.

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease, And be Thyself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Read today's comments on O Rex Gentium from William Weedon.

Scripture quoted from the ESV®

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21 December 2016
  O Oriens
O Dayspring (alternately, Dawn of the East, Rising Dawn, etc.)
21 December

O Oriens Here follows the fifth of the seven O Antiphons, with Latin text and English translation, a Latin hymn stanza, and the English versification from the hymn known as O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. (The English language renditions are from the Lutheran Service Book.)

O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentis in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

℣ O Dayspring, splendor of light ever- | lasting:*
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the sha- | dow of death.

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. (Isaiah 9:2)" See also Luke 1:78-79; Malachi 4:2.

Veni, Veni O Oriens, Solare nos adveniens,
Noctis depelle nebulas, Dirasque mortis tenebras.

O come, Thou Dayspring from on high, And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Continue by reading this from Pr. William Weedon

Scripture quoted from the ESV®

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  + Thomas, Apostle and Martyr +
21 December, New Testament

The Apostle Thomas (Hebrew or Aramaic for "twin") was also called Didymus (Greek for "twin"); either his parents gave him a most peculiar name or else he consistently went by his nickname.

Thomas and JesusAbsent when the Risen Lord appeared to the other apostles on the evening of Easter Day, He refused to believe that Christ had indeed risen until he had seen Him for himself. When he saw Him the following week, he said to Jesus, "My Lord and My God."

Because of this, he has been known ever since as "Doubting Thomas," although "Disbelieving Thomas" or even "Faithless Thomas" probably would be more accurate. See John 20:19-29 for the full account.

We also remember his earlier words, when Jesus announced His intention of going to Jerusalem, even though His life was in danger there: Thomas said to the others, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." (John 11:7-16) Thus, we see that Thomas was sturdily loyal.

At the Last Supper, Jesus said: "In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going." Thomas was the one who responded, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" To this Jesus answered: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (see John 14:1-6)"

Saint Thomas John 21 records Thomas as one of the seven disciples fishing on the Sea of Galilee when the Lord appeared to them. Aside from these Biblical accounts, he appears only as a name on lists of the Apostles.

A few centuries later, a story circulated in the Mediterranean world that he went to preach in India; a community in the Kerala district claims descent from Christians converted by the preaching of Thomas. Among Indian Christians, tradition claims that Thomas was speared to death near Madras, and accordingly is often pictured holding a spear.

Since he was credited with the building up of the Church through his missionary journeys, a carpenter's square also is a regular symbol of the apostle.


Psalm 136:1-4
Judges 6:36-40
Ephesians 4:7, 11-16
John 20:24-29


Almighty and ever living God, who upheld and strengthened Your apostle Thomas with sure and certain faith in Your Son's resurrection, grant us perfect and unwavering belief in Jesus Christ, our resurrected Lord and God, that our faith may never be found wanting in Your sight; through this same Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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20 December 2016
  O Clavis David
O Key of David
20 December

O Clavis David This is the fourth of the seven O Antiphons with Scriptures, Latin and English texts of the antiphon, a Latin hymn stanza, and the English versification from the hymn we know as O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. (The English language renditions are from the Lutheran Service Book.)

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel: qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit:
veni et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

℣ O Key of David, and Scepter of the House of Israel, You open and no one can close, You close and no one can | open:*
Come and rescue the prisoners who are in darkness and the shad- | ow of death.

"I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. (Isaiah 22:22)" "Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:7)" See also Revelation 3:7.

Veni, Clavis Davidica, regna reclude caelica,
fac iter tutum superum, et claude vias inferum.

O come, Thou Key of David, come, And open wide our heav'nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high, And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!

Here's more from Pastor Weedon.

Scripture quoted from the ESV®

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  + Katharina von Bora Luther +
20 December AD 1552

Katie Luther Financial and marital circumstances led Katharina von Bora's (b.1499) parents to place her in a convent when she was but a child of five. In 1515, she became a nun. Later, she and some of her associates heard clear proclamation of Gospel through the Lutheran Reformation. This Gospel message soon changed their beliefs and their lives.

Convinced that the vows they had taken were contrary to God's word, Katharina joined eight other nuns who desired to renounce the cloistered life. In April 1523 they were rescued from the convent and smuggled away to Wittenberg among empty herring barrels. Martin Luther and his associates helped some of these women return to their former homes while placing others with good families. Most of them were soon married.

However, Luther and friends found that dealing with "Katie" was no easy task. She rejected a number of prospective husbands, finally declaring that she'd marry either Martin or Nikolaus von Amsdorf — and nobody else. While he worried that a violent death would soon part him from any bride, Martin gave in to the stubborn young woman. They were married on 13 June 1525. Their happy marriage was blessed with six children. Katie skillfully managed the Luther household, which seemed to grow ever larger because of his generous hospitality.

Martin Luther Martin and Katie certainly butted heads at times. Perhaps that's why Luther sometimes called her kette (chain). However, the reformer truly adored his bride, also naming her "my Rib" and "my lord Katie." The freedom and joy that he experienced in his marriage received testimony from his 1535 Commentary on Galatians, which Luther lovingly called, "My Katie von Bora."

After Martin's death in 1546, Katie remained in Wittenberg. Sadly, she lived most of her remaining years in poverty. Her 1552 death came after an accident she suffered while traveling with her children to Torgau in order to escape the plague.

Katharina Luther remains a wonderful example of godly womanhood, beautifully portraying the "excellent wife" celebrated in Proverbs 31:10-31.

For more on Katie Luther, visit the online exhibit at Concordia Historical Institute. These portraits of Martin and Katharina Luther were painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder during the first year of their marriage. The originals are in the Wartburg Collection in Eisenach.


Psalm 128
Proverbs 31:10-31 or 31:10-12, 17, 20, 23, 25-31
1 Corinthians 7:1-9
John 3:25-30


Dear heavenly Father, You establish marriage to bless and benefit all mankind and to testify to the world of the marriage of Christ and His Bride the Church. Grant that, as You led Katharina von Bora to become the wife of Martin Luther and, through her, blessed not only him but all Christendom, so You would also seal and protect marriages in our day, that families, society, and Church would be strengthened, stabilized, and nurtured until You call us to the wedding feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which has no end; through this same Bridegroom, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Hymn Stanza

  A world that disregarded The gift of married life
  Saw God call saintly Katie As Martin’s faithful wife.
  Her self she gave completely To him, who loved his Rib;
  Submission, strength, and courage, Her testaments, still live.

Commemorative hymn stanza from Ask the Pastor is © 2006 by Walter P. Snyder and used according to permission granted.

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19 December 2016
  O Radix Jesse
O Root of Jesse
19 December

O Radix Jesse Here follows the third of the O Antiphons with Scriptures, Latin and English texts of the antiphon, a Latin hymn stanza, and the English versification from the hymn we know as O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. (The English language renditions are from the Lutheran Service Book.)

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur;
veni ad liberandum nos, iam noli tardere.

℣ O Root of Jesse, standing as an ensign before the peoples, before whom all kings are mute, to whom they will do | homage:*
Come quickly to de- | liver us.

"There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1)" "In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples — of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10)" Jesse was the father of King David; Micah prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David's city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). See also Romans 15:12; Revelation 5:5.

Veni, O Jesse Virgula, Ex hostis tuos ungula,
De spectu tuos tartari Educ et antro barathri.

O come, Thou Branch of Jesse's tree, Free them from Satan's tyranny
That trust Thy mighty pow'r to save, And give them vict'ry o'er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!

Please see also what Pastor Weedon wrote.

Scripture quoted from the ESV®

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