Aardvark Alley

Lutheran Aardvark

Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

31 December 2005
  The Eve of Jesus' Name
31 December, New Testament

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. God sent the angelic message to both Mary and Joseph, telling them that the Child would bear the name of Savior.

Lection
Psalm 8
Isaiah 51:1-6
Romans 8:31-39
Matthew 1:18-21

Collect
Lord God, heavenly Father, becaue 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.
 
29 December 2005
  + King David +
29 December, Old Testament

Young DavidDavid, the greatest of Israel's kings, ruled from about 1010 to 970 B.C. The events of his life are found from 1 Samuel 16 through 1 Kings 2 and in 1 Chronicles 10-29. Through the prophet Samuel, God called him from tending his father Jesse's flocks to shepherding the people of Israel. David was also gifted musically. He was skilled in playing the lyre and the author of no less than 73 psalms, including the beloved Psalm 23. His 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 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, coupled with his willingness to acknowledge his sins and ask for God's forgiveness (2 Samuel 12 and Psalm 51; Psalm 32 may also have its origins in these sins and his repentance).

David and GoliathUnder David's leadership, the people of Israel were united into a single nation with Jerusalem as its capital city. The Lord made a special promise to David through the prophet Nathan: "Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever. (2 Samuel 7:16)" Isaiah repeated the Lord's promise, focusing on the coming Messiah: "I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. (22:22)"

This was central to God's plan of salvation, as evidenced by Matthew 1:1. The evangelist begins the story of Jesus' life, suffering, and death by placing the promise made to David on the same level as a similar, much earlier promise made to Abraham: "The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." Luke 1 shows this twice. Gabriel told Mary, "The Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David. (1:32)" Zechariah prophesied concerning this at the naming of his son John, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old. (1:68-70)"

David with HarpAs Paul preached the Gospel, he also carefully maintained the connection between Jesus and David. He told the Roman Christians that he was writing them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who "was descended from David according to the flesh (Romans 1:3).

Paralleling the delight the Father had in His Son, Paul beautifully summarized God's delight in David. Preaching in the synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia, he told his hearers how the Lord said, "'I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.' (Acts 13:22)"

Dear God, for Jesus' sake grant that each of Your saints likewise be made worthy of this epitaph!

Commemoration taken and expanded from the sanctorial calendar of the upcoming Lutheran Service Book.

Scripture quoted from the ESV®.
 
28 December 2005
  + The Holy Innocents +
28 December, New Testament

Sword in the HeartThis day commemorates the slaughter of Bethlehem's children by Herod the Great, as he attempted to destroy the Usurper to his throne. Herod, his jealosy inflamed by the account given by the Wise Men, 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 decision made in a life filled with vainglory and increasing insanity.

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. But the Christian Church continues to proclaim the Good News of forgiveness in Christ because any people or places acting this way proves the need of the message we bear.

Lection
Psalm 124
Jeremiah 31:15-17
Revelation 21:1-7
Matthew 2:13-18

Collect
Almighty God, whose praise was proclaimed on this day by the wicked death of innocent children, giving us thereby a picture of the death of Your beloved Son, mortify and destroy all in us that is in conflict with You that we who have been called in faith to be Your children may in life and death bear witness to Your salvation; through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
 
27 December 2005
  + John, Apostle and Evangelist +
27 December, New Testament

Saint JohnSaint John, Apostle and Evangelist, son of Zebedee, was one of the twelve apostles. With Simon Peter and his brother James, 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 while, imprisoned and exiled, he was eventually released and died a natural death in Ephesus.

John is credited with the writing three epistles and one Gospel, as well as probable authorship of Revelation, although this identification is less certain.

His symbol in ecclesiastical art is usually the eagle.

Lection
Psalm 116:12-19
Genesis 1:1-5, 26-31
1 John 1:1-2:2
John 21:20-25

Collect
Merciful Lord, cast the bright beams of Your light upon Your Church that, being instructed in the doctrine of Your blessed apostle and evangelist Saint John, we 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.
 
26 December 2005
  + Stephen, Martyr +
26 December, New Testament

Saint StephenThe days following Christmas are sometimes called the "Witness Days." The Greek word for "witness" is "martyr," and these days remind us that this sinful world hates the Gospel message of forgiveness in Christ Jesus.

Saint 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.

In art, he is often represented by the stones which took his life and by the palm branch, an ancient symbol of triumph.

Lection
Psalm 31
Jeremiah 26:1-9, 12-15
Acts 6:1-8:2
Matthew 23:34-39

Collect
Heavenly Father, grant us grace that in our sufferings for the sake of Christ we may follow the example of Saint Stephen, that we may look to Him who suffered and was crucified on our behalf and pray for those who do us wrong; through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
 
25 December 2005
  From Little Emma to the Big Apple

Pastor Snyder's Ask the Pastor Christmas column is summarized in today's New York Daily News. See Dawn Eden's Blog On: Holiday Messages Cast a Wide Net.
 
  Working Ahead
Post-dated Hagiographies

The Ol' Aardvark plans to rest for a few days beginning with the Christmas Day recessional. Thus, I'm going to post ahead for St. Stephen's Day and St. John's Day.

Have a blessed Christmas.
 
  The Feast of the Nativity


Lection
Psalm 98
Isaiah 62:10-12
Titus 3:4-7
Luke 2:1-20

Collect
Almighty God, grant that the birth of Your only-begotten Son in the flesh may set us free from the bondage of sin; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
 
24 December 2005
  Blogroll Add-ons

As long as I was up, I thought I'd go ahead and share a few blogs I've started reading.

Confessional Lutheran Bloggers:
» Living Stones
» The Spirit Is Willing; the Flesh Is Weak
» Writ in Water

Religious Blog:
» Bulverist Online Chronicle

I hope you find one or more to your personal liking.
 
  O Tannenbaum
With Thanks to H. C. Schwan

Christmas TreeThe Rev. Kevin Vogts wrote an article for the December 1998 Lutheran Witness wherein he detailed the Christmas tree's moving into American churches. Want to know more? Please see Henry Schwan's Christmas Tree for the story.

While you're at it, you should also read Bernard Raabe's Why Two Trees in the Chancel? — not that sounds like a custom to revive!

Of course, as we reflect on the beauty of our Christmas trees and enjoy giving and receiving gifts under them, we rejoice in the One who came to earth to hang on a tree to save us from our sins.

Merry Christmas!
 
23 December 2005
  O Emmanuel
O God with Us

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

O Emmanuel, God with us, Our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Saviour: Come to save us, O Lord our God. Amen.

"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.


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

Read the meditation by Pr. Bill Cwirla.

Previous posts in the series:
Introduction to the O Antiphons
O Sapientia — O Wisdom
O Adonai — O Lord and Ruler
O Radix Jesse — O Root of Jesse
O Clavis David — O Key of David
O Oriens — O Dayspring
O Rex Gentium — O King of the Nations

Scripture quoted from the ESV®
 
22 December 2005
  O Rex Gentium
O King of the Nations (or Gentiles)

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

O King of the Nations and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one: Come, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth. Amen.

"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 9:5)" 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;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease, And be Yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!

Read the meditation by Pr. Bill Cwirla.

Scripture quoted from the ESV®
 
21 December 2005
  No Secret, Victoria
Mrs. Osteen Displays Less Than Model Behavior on Runway

Victoria and Joel OsteenThe Houston Chronicle reported yesterday evening that Victoria Osteen, wife of Joel Osteen*, "was asked to leave a plane after she failed to comply with a flight attendant's instructions." The FBI refused to elaborate on the specifics of Mrs. Osteen's disagreement which led to her expulsion from the Continental Airlines flight to Vail, Colorado. Continental had no statement at all.

Meanwhile, Don Iloff, a spokesman for Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church**, tried to put a positive spin on things with this rather tortuous quote: "In semantics, they might have been asked to be removed. Really, it was more of a mutual thing." What does this mean?

The Monday "incident" seems not to have caused any lasting trauma for Victoria or the Osteen's two children. They found another flight and, by Tuesday, were skiing the Colorado slopes.

Joel Osteen may be currently America's most "successful" preacher and player in the "God game." I disagree with almost every part of his theology and regularly take him and his ilk to task in Bible classes. Normally, I won't assail the spouse of a public figure with whom I disagree. However, Victoria isn't just a bystander. She regularly participates on stage (and what's a stage doing in church?) with her husband and serves (against clear the clear word of Scripture) as a pastor of Lakewood. Therefore, she is first of all a public figure and secondly — not to mention much more importantly — abuses the Office of the Holy Ministry in general by her false teaching and specifically by attempting to inhabit a vocation God gave only to men.

*That's Osteen, not Ostein, Ostien, Olsteen, Olstein, Olstien, or any other permutation of the name that may have brought you to the Alley via a search engine. Like him or not, agree or disagree with his doctrine — it's just good manners to spell his name correctly. As someone once said, "I don't care what the papers say about me as long as they spell my name right."

**Not Lakeside, etc.


NB: Post updated on 23 December 2007
 
  + Thomas, Apostle and Martyr +
21 December, New Testament

Saint ThomasThe 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.

Absent 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" is probably 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)"

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.

Lection
Psalm 126
Habakkuk 2:1-4
Hebrews 10:35-11:1
John 14:1-7 or 20:24-29

Collect
Almighty and everliving 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.
 
  O Oriens
O Dayspring (alternately, Dawn of the East, Rising Dawn, etc.)

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

O Dawn of the East, brightness of light eternal, and Sun of Justice: Come, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen.

"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.


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

Read the meditation by Pr. Bill Cwirla.

Scripture quoted from the ESV®
 
20 December 2005
  + Katharina von Bora Luther +
20 December AD 1555

Katie LutherKatharina von Bora (b.1499) was placed in a convent when still a child and became a nun in 1515. In April 1523 she and eight other nuns were rescued from the convent and brought to Wittenberg. There Martin Luther helped return some to their former homes and placed the rest in good families.

"Katy" and Martin were married on June 13, 1525. Their marriage was a happy one and blessed with six children. Katy skillfully managed the Luther household, which always seemed to grow because of his generous hospitality.

After Martin's death in 1546, Katharina remained in Wittenberg but lived much of the time in poverty. She died in an accident while traveling with her children to Torgau in order to escape the plague

For more on the woman whom Luther called "my rib" and also "My lord Katie," please see the online exhibit at Concordia Historical Institute.
 
  Having Issues with Pastor Snyder
KFUO Allows the "Askable Pastor" on the Air

Pastor Snyder of Ask the Pastor has been asked to set aside the keyboard for a time and go on the air. He's been asked to talk with the Rev. Todd Wilken, host of Issues, Etc, which airs on KFUO radio and streams over an internet near you.

Issues, Etc.They've asked him to go on for a half hour discussion of the O Antiphons (which this blog's readers have been seeing for the past few days). While Issues airs through much of the afternoon, Pastor Snyder will join the broadcast at 5:00 pm Central Standard Time (23:00 Zulu). If you miss the live show, check the Issues, Etc site later for archive and podcast info.
 
  HT Christmas Presents

If you haven't found them yet, it's not too late to take advantage of these offerings from the folks at Higher Things. See Veni Emmanuel! for Advent and Christmas resources.
 
  O Clavis David
O Key of David

O Clavis DavidO 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 Sceptre of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: Come, and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen.

"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), and "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.


Oh, come, O 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!

Read the meditation by Pr. Bill Cwirla.

Scripture quoted from the ESV®
 
19 December 2005
  Meditati-Os
Pondering the O Antiphons

Pr. Bill Cwirla is posting brief meditations on the O Antiphons at his Blogosphere. As they become available, I'll edit my postings to include references. The previous three have already been so marked with a link to the corresponding devotional material:

O Sapientia — O Adonai — O Radix Jesse
 
  O Radix Jesse
O Root of Jesse

O Radix JesseO 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, which stands for an ensign of the people, before whom the kings keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: Come, to deliver us, and tarry not. Amen.

"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.


Oh, come O Rod of Jesse's stem, From ev'ry foe deliver them
That trust Your mighty pow'r to save; Bring them in vict'ry through the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!

Read the meditation by Pr. Bill Cwirla.

Scripture quoted from the ESV®
 
18 December 2005
  Merry Carnival and Happy Blogidays:
Lutheran Carnival of Blogs #13

Introduction

Yep, folks. The Ol' Aardvark gets to host the (lucky?) thirteenth installment of the Lutheran Carnival. The last time I hosted, I neglected to introduce a famous (or not-so-famous) Lutheran personage. I'll not make that mistake again.

The Famous Lutheran Du Jour

Rehwinkel Family
The folks in the picture are Bessie Lee (Efner) Rehwinkel and her husband, the Rev. Dr. Alfred M. Rehwinkel, noted LCMS theologian, pastor, and professor, with their daughters Dorothy and Helen.

Yours truly spent part of his time at St. John's College, Winfield, Kansas in a dorm named for this former school president. Alfred also wrote The Flood, a book still on the shelves of many Lutheran pastors and lay people.

Dr. BessieHowever, our featured Lutheran isn't the (theological) doctor, nor either of the children, but Mrs. Doctor Rehwinkel, who was a doctor (medical) herself. Back in the days when hardly anyone had heard of a woman in medicine, Dr. Bessie practiced on the prairies of the U. S. and Canada. She was the real-life Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.

In their later years, after they'd moved into the the world of urban academia, the two joined to put together a thin book with a lengthy title: Dr. Bessie: The Life Story and Romance of a Pioneer Lady Doctor on Our Western and the Canadian Frontier. I'll not spoil it by giving any of the story away. However, it's a great read as history, biography, or romance.

And Now, On with the Carnival!

There are a number of entries this time around. I've grouped some of them around themes they share with other submissions, including Narnia, Lutheran-Calvinist differences including iconoclasm, church polity and politics, and the Advent – Christmas season. However, the "great unwashed" group with which we begin our excursion into confessional Lutheran blogging excellence is outstanding in its own right. Put things together, and you have a recipe for some great pre-Christmas reading and pondering.

A Little of This, a Little of That

Chalice§ Ask the Pastor generated a number of comments about alcohol being part of the Sacrament in his post on Communion Wine. He also answers a reader's question, Am I a Pelagian?

§ Dare to be a Sinner! says Be Strong in the Grace. The author shows how she was able to see herself, and the whole of earth, in a permanent sin condition. Once God worked this, He also showed her clearly from whence comes her help.

§ At A Beggar At The Table, Pastor Klages makes A Couple Observations involving politics and religion, all in one post! Includes his initial musings about producing the "Slapper Santa" doll in honor of the treatment Saint Nicholas gave the heretic Arius.

§ Yeah, we normally cap it with two submissions per blog, but Chaplain Dave's Newsletter has a three-part series answering the question What Do Chaplains Do Anyway? He writes that Chaplains Lead Worship, Chaplains Counsel People, and they practice regular Visitation.

§ At Cranach, Dr. Veith notes how one of his daughter's teachers shows what it means to believe in the Bible and the Lutheran confessions in Being Confessional When It Hurts.

§ In Lutheran Teachers Rock, GHP of Territorial Bloggings takes off on the above post by Dr. Veith to give his own props to those who faithfully fulfilled their vocations.

§ Here's one where the title removes any need for further commentary by the host: Theophilus' Inferno posts on "In Cold Blood," Capote, and the Human Capacity for Evil.

§ Cross Theology says that Pastors are Made, Priests are Born, which nicely distinguished between the priesthood of the baptized and the Office of the Holy Ministry.

§ Dan at Necessary Roughness, writing Cross Theology: Pastors are Made, Priests are Born, provides a series of follow-up comments to the previous entry. Then Dan looks into the circles of ecumenical "mission" work, where the Gospel sometimes doesn't make it to the ears of those targeted. In A Halftime Message, Dan offers a sample of a talk that could be given at, for example, a church basketball game.

§ Thanks to Pastor David Petersen Cyberstones for God's "Yes" to Rebellious Sons, a sermon wherein our poor stewardship of God's manifold gifts isn't met by an imperative for more and better stewardship. Rather, he uses the parable of the Prodigal Son to illustrate God's prodigious grace in Christ.

Freezing Rain§ I Think That Freezing Rain Is a Beautiful Thing, says David. Has he been playing with his little interlocking plastic blocks for too long? Find out at David Creates with Legos; God with Logos

§ Full Throttle & and Empty Gas Tank talks about a private "worship war" but he's really talking about the conscience, hopelessness, and fear in How I Feel.

§ And speaking of feelings, What You Do, Do Quickly complains in his finest Jack Webb/Joe Friday/"Just the facts" voice about bloggers letting us know their moods, meme and quiz posts, and otherwise not simply telling the reader what they are thinking in Current Mood | Annoyed.

§ Mollie Ziegler of Get Religion uses the Tookie Williams clemency case to examine how the kingdom of the left hand often finds itself using the language and coopting some of the divine order of the kingdom of the right in Talk about Mingling Church and State. The blog isn't strictly confessional Lutheran, but Mollie Z sure is.

§ Horn+Swoggled provides its normal heaping helping of parody in Satan to Workers: Do My Bidding on Halloween, reporting that megachurch volunteers aren't the only ones who need a little holiday family time. He then tells us how a Church Jettisons "Traditional" Schedule, showing how to some, even the "tradition" of regularly scheduled services is too traditional.

§ Elle the Intolerant notes the results of China's sexual revolution in China's Sexual Devolution.

Absolution§ Mrs. T. Swede of Journalistic Jargon tells us plainly — Private Confession in the LCMS: A Very Good Thing.

§ Here's another blogger where the two-post limit doesn't make sense. Kelly's Blog has been providing a series called Lord of the Vocations, wherein she examines how various characters in the film version of Lord of the Rings fulfill or fail their respective callings. Part I deals with a few of the women we meet. Dialogue between Eowyn and the hobbits contrasts their differing understandings and acceptance of their vocations in Part II. The vocations of Frodo are in Part III while Master Samwise is observed in Part IV and Part IVb. Part V is devoted to the Grey Pilgrim, Gandalf. Kelly promises more to come in the series.

§ Let's Look at Scripture for a Change! exclaims Caspar Heydenreich at Lutherans & Contraception as he examines Natural Family Planning in light of a grammatico-historical exegesis of 1 Corinthians 7:5.

§ Pastor Thomas Chryst of Preachrblog expands on an idea proposed by Dr. Veith and decries the removal of the line "If I should die before I wake" from the well-known bedtime prayer in Sheltering Children.

White Witch§ At Quicunque vult, Ste. Emily Carder the diaconatrix takes us back inside her classroom and shows how Joseph Reveals a Witch.

§ What's blogging without a rant or two? Especially Jason Peterson's Rants from a Disgruntled Lutheran in Middle-America, which involves yet another series, this one (so far) in two posts. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of Deliverance from Enemies by Grace: Evidence of Divine Monergism in the Pattern of the Kings of Judah.

§ Don't Have an Organ? Organists are hard to come by, and while we appreciate them when we have them, what do you do when they are not available? While the ideal solution is to train your own organists, the Revvin' Rev says that here is something you can do in the interim.

§ The Rev. David Juhl, aka the Uneasy Priest muses on Learning to Be Still, providing some thoughtful material and receiving comments in kind.

Sprinkle in Some Wittenberg vs. Geneva Spice

Luther Rose§ At Cyberbrethren, the Rev. McCain posits Where's Jesus? An Expression of Concern to my Calvinist Friends. However, Pastor McCain finds out that ecumenical dialogue isn't totally out of kilter when he discovers A Sane Voice in What Seemed a Pretty Wacky Calvinist Reformed World.

§ Are You Justified Because Christ Is in You, or Is Christ in You Because You Are Justified? asks Dawning Realm. The distinction provides some of the difference between many of the heirs of Calvin and Luther.

Shake in a Few Nibbles of Narnia

§ Na(r)nia Vortext Has Me Sucked In, Sort Of discusses getting sucked into the great pop culuture phenomenon of the movie Chronicles of Narnia. It also deals with some of the trepidation the disgruntled world citizen of Full Throttle experienced as he started reading the books.

Aslan§ Pastor Alms of incarnatus est laments that There Was no Blood when the Witch sacrificed Aslan and notes what a powerful theolgical statement was missed.

§ From Jottings and Such, Julie Stiegemeyer's Thoughts on Narnia also examine the books and Lewis, while comparing the Chronicles to Lord of the Rings and current trends in children's literature

§ The author of Katie's Beer provides A Peek into Narnia. The brewmistress first read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in 1978 and could only interpret the storyline through her teenage mind. In 1998, she read the book with her then 9 year old daughter and saw things through her eyes, also as a mother with strong evangelical interpretations of any book, song or movie. In 2005, she watched the movie as the mother of older children and as a confessional Lutheran Christian. She notices things this time that she never before realized. In particular, she sees the importance of well-catechized and well-educated children who are prepared to face life's battles.

Add a Dash of Doctrine and Practice

§ Several people express concerns with some of what passes for Lutheran preaching these days. Josh S, one of Here We Stand's contributors asks, Do You Ever Get the Feeling? and posits that too many sermons focus only on the basics of Law and Gospel, sin and grace and never proclaim the full council of God.

Preaching§ Meanwhile, Sean wants for real law and not some watered-down substitute as he asks (and answers), Too Much Gospel or Too Much Law? at Hot Lutheran on Lutheran Action.

§ Bob watersblogged! Waters targets what he thinks is an overall poor Lutheran understanding and application of Sanctification, saying, Surely This, Too, Is a Crisis!. He opines that not only could faulty preaching and teaching be culprits but also wonders if a later confirmation with transitional teaching moving from concrete to abstract thought wouldn't help.

§ The science-minded Dan gets into the numbers game with two posts from Random Thoughts of a Confessional Lutheran. First he parallels Five Point Calvinism with his own Five Point Lutheranism as he lists five gripes he has with the LCMS. He also tallies Three Things I Hate about Ablaze!™, making his case as to why Ablaze!™ isn't worth the trouble of starting up a fire.

§ Also questioning prevailing attitudes about outreach is Ryan Fouts of Little Loci as he asks, Missiology or Missiolatry?

Top with Warm Helpings of Advent and Christmas

§ How about keeping Advent going until Christmas Eve? Jeremy Abel of Living Among the Mysteries keeps the preparatory season alive with a look at John the Baptizer, The Unlikely Comforter.

§ From the Revvin' Rev, Pastor David Ruddat, comes Sermon — Advent 3. He refuses to point to or at stores which greet us with either "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays." Instead, he reminds us of the Christian way to "point": "When folks who are darkened with their sins or the sins they see around them say 'Look what this world is coming too!' We point to our Savior in humility and enthusiasm saying 'Look who has come to the World!'"

Christmas Day Service§ The mistletoe's not up yet here in the Alley. However, we're crunching the holiday numbers with Seasonal Math: Christ + Mass = Christmas. Here I argue that along with keeping the "Christ" in Christmas, we should remember to keep the "Mass."

§ In Putting the X Back in Xmas, Pastor Steven Billings reminds us that the "X" in Xmas stands for Christ as he discusses the greetings of the season.

§ I'm not all about theology (just mostly). Secular and sacred meet in The Unsinkable Charlie Brown, an essay occasioned by the 40th anniversary showing of the Peanuts classic.

§ Fa-la-la or folderol? The Rev. Walter Snyder's Ask the Pastor answers a question about Unbiblical Christmas Carols, showing how many of our Christmas "facts" are actually hymn writers' fictions. He also touches on The Meaning of Christmas as both word and holy day.

§ The myth of Santa Claus may no longer be a harmless part of the holiday. Many children know more about Santa than about Jesus. So says The Burr in the Burgh in I Saw Mommy Killing Santa Claus. Pastor Stiegemeyer also gives us It's Festivus for the Rest-of-Us, showing how the world celebrates "Christmas" but has neither Christ nor the Mass. He argues that they should call their holiday something else.

§ David at Cross+Wise writes that a Gospel Santa could teach us (and our kids) some valuable lessons about Christmas in Remaking Santa in the Shape of the Cross.

§ What sort of greeting were you expecting, anyway? The Old School Confessional could only say, Wow after reading the Christless "Christmas" card from his church's district office.

A Christmas Carol§ In a similar vein, Scott comments on the "Christmas Wars" at The Spirit Is Willing; the Flesh Is Weak. He correctly notes that whatever goofiness there is about greetings and public practice, what Christians face is annoyance, not true persecution as he reflects on the sermon preached Last Sunday, at Our Lutheran Church. Then, with Church Takes Purpose Driven Theology Too Far, he uses A Christmas Carol to point out yet another "ghost" providing no lasting comfort.

§ Want more on Christmas greetings? What You Do, Do Quickly provides just that in All I Want for Christmas, wherein he shows what diffences he expects between Church and state and between sacred and secular vocations.

§ Pastor Petersen of Cyberstones is similarly monomaniacal. However, the singular gift on his list isn't what you might expect. He lists All I Want for Christmas: Ambrosian Hymns.

§ So, This is Christmas, exclaims the disgruntled world citizen of Full Throttle & and Empty Gas Tank. He takes a moment or two to reflect on our proper reaction to the miracle of the Incarnation.

§ Here's a treat: A brand new blog (Pablo's Mind) offers its maiden post (Joy To The World), a brief musing about his new-found happiness surrounding Christmas.

§ Finally, at Wretched of the Earth, we find Thai New Year and Christian Thoughtlessness. Ryan uses, as a point of departure, the celebration in Thailand of a "new year" that doesn't correspond to the nation's calendar to discuss "holiday" trees, Christian cultural engagement, and the surrender of the mind.

Note: As you've seen, we received a lot of entries. If we accidentally omitted yours (or you believe it got lost in the earlier email shuffle) please notify me: aardvarkalley AT gmail DOT com
 
  O Adonai
O Lord and Ruler of the House of Israel

AdonaiO Adonai, et dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

O Lord and Ruler of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: come, and redeem us with outstretched arms. Amen.

"With righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins." (Isaiah 11:4-5 ESV); and "For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our king; he will save us." (Isaiah 33:22 ESV). See also Exodus 3; Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:6.

Veni, Veni, Adonai, Qui populo in Sinai
Legem dedisti vertice In maiestate gloriae.


Oh, come, oh, come, our Lord of might, Who to Your tribes on Sinai's height
In ancient times gave holy law, In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!

Read the meditation by Pr. Bill Cwirla.

Scripture quoted from the ESV®
 
17 December 2005
  On Washing One's Hands
Pay special attention, pastors and other visitors of the sick.

Washing HandsSamantha Burns commented on a Canadian MP who favo(u)rs paper towels over electric dryers. So do I, and I left the following comment as to why I support Monte Solberg in this:

Mrs. Vark is a Registered Nurse and has been one for well over half her remarkably young and vibrant (in case she's reading this) life. On top of her general training, she was Infectious Disease Control Nurse in a Texas state penal institution for several years.

I'm a pastor and have been one long enough to have been in many more hospitals than has the Mrs., albeit not for as long a time in most as she normally spends. I don't want anyone's germs for myself and certainly don't want to pass them on to people too old, too weak, or already too ill to properly fight them.

As the Dear Wife explains, if one has "poop hands," turns on the water, washes with plenty of soap, and then turns off the water, one has an excellent chance of picking back up the germs he just washed away. Blowing the hands dry will merely warm the little buggers without doing them any great harm. Pressing the button on the electric dryer or grasping the door handle will allow you to drop off a few of the bugs you're already carrying and pick up some deposited by others.

Hence, if you go into many hospital restrooms, you'll find a trash can beside the door. This allows you to do the following: Use the toilet; turn on water and wet hands; soap and scrub for at least 20 seconds (a slow singing of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" is a good timer); rinse hands; grasp paper towel(s) and dry hands; shut off water with a towel; open door with a towel; and drop towel in trash.

If the towel dispenser has one of those push bars or other items requiring contact, it's recommended that you run out a couple feet of toweling before beginning to wash your hands.

It seems silly, but considering some of the hospital-acquired, antibiotic resistant bacteria, rampaging rhinovirii, and various strains of influenza, a little silly sure beats a lot of sick.
 
  O Sapientia
O Wisdom from on High

O SapientiaO Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter, suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come, and teach us the way of prudence. Amen.

"And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord." (Isaiah 11:2-3), and "This also comes from the Lord of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom." (Isaiah 28:29). See also Proverbs 1:20; Proverbs 8-9 and 1 Corinthians 1:30.

Veni, O Sapientia, Quae hic disponis omnia,
Veni, viam prudentiae Ut doceas et gloriae.


Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high, Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show, And teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!

Read the meditation by Pr. Bill Cwirla.

Scripture quoted from the ESV®
 
  The First (Stanza) Shall Be Last

O AntiphonsWe count down the final days of Advent using the traditional monastic antiphons to the Magnificat. Most of Western Christendom knows these antiphons through their versification, Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel. Beginning in eternity, the antiphons move roughly chronologically through history until the coming of Emmanuel, "God with Us." Thus, the normal first stanza of the hymn is the last of the antiphons, sung on 23 December. By Vespers on the 24th, it's time to remove the final vestiges of Advent and enter into Christmas.

The order itself, whether by design or coincidence, forms a Latin reverse acrostic. The intial address for the coming Savior in each antiphon is as follows: Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, Clavis, Oriens, Rex, and Emmanuel. Taking each title's first letter and writing the result backwards yields "ero cras"; normally this is rendered, "I shall be [with you] tomorrow." Thus our Lord promises to return for us and so He leads us to pledge to join together in His worship while still on earth.

Through the next seven days, I'll post the appropriate antiphon, its translation, the Latin versification, and the corresponding hymn stanza from Lutheran Worship.

Posts in the Series:
O Sapientia — O Wisdom
O Adonai — O Lord and Ruler
O Radix Jesse — O Root of Jesse
O Clavis David — O Key of David
O Oriens — O Dayspring
O Rex Gentium — O King of the Nations
O Emmanuel — O God with Us
 
16 December 2005
  Final Call for Carnival Submissions
I really mean it ... sort of ... please?

The next Lutheran Carnival of Blogs appears on these very pages! Aren't we excited?

That the presentation might exceed the anticipation, we need submissions. That's where you come in: If you're unfamiliar with the process, please check the guidelines at the mother blog. I will accept third-part submissions; choose carefully and try to cap your suggestions at two. You may submit two of your own blog posts, as well. The edress for submissions is lutherancarnival AT gmail DOT com.

While any quality posts by confessional Lutheran bloggers are welcome, I certainly would celebrate entries on Christmas topics, especially since this is the final carnival before the Feast of the Nativity.

Please get a move on. The deadline is 7:00 pm (21:00 hours) Central Standard Time today, 16 December. For international comparison, it works out to 0100 UTC (aka GMT or Zulu) Saturday 17 December.

Don't quote me, but I believe that's 15 hectares metric.
 
  Troll th'Inaccurate Yule Tide Carol
Hark! What Babe in Yonder Manger Cries? or How Loud, Proud Cow?

Ask the Pastor compares the texts of favorite Christmas carols to the text of Holy Scripture and finds some of them wanting as he ponders Unbiblical Christmas Carols.

Fa-la-la-la-la, La-la-la-la!
 
  Seasonal Math: Christ + Mass = Christmas
Happy Holy Days!

Tree and PresentsMany Christians have problems with the world's celebration of Christmas. Baby dolls overwhelm the Baby Jesus in TV advertising. Violent video games replace "peace on earth" on too many wish lists. "Save Twenty Percent or More," drowns out mention of the Savior of the nations.

The characters in A Charlie Brown Christmas illustrate many of the wrong attitudes and actions: Crabby Lucy is in it for the presents. Snoopy glorifies himself by competing in (and winning) the home decorating contest. Schroeder looks at the pageant as an opportunity to show off his musical abilities. Linus sees the season through a lens of fear at standing on stage in the Christmas program. And Good Ol' Charlie Brown knows that something's wrong — something's missing — only he can't figure out just what.

Christians enjoy seeing Linus figure things out and recite the Christmas story from Luke 2. We smile as the arguing and misunderstanding disappear and the kids decorate the ratty little tree and sing "Hark! The Herald Angels." Finally someone "gets" Christmas!

We hear others (or ourselves) say, "Let's put the 'Christ' back in Christmas." Some even spell the word "CHRISTmas," with the capital letters pointing out the Savior. Nothing is wrong with increased emphasis on Jesus. Indeed, any proper focus on Him over worldly things deserves our attention. Yet when we get to the common name for the holiday ("holy" + "day" = "holiday"), we dare not forget also to keep the "Mass" in Christmas.

Christmas Day ServiceWhat does this mean? Only that the Christian holy day celebrating the Nativity of Our Lord deserves more than a tree and some colored lights. "Mass" is the ancient word for the Christian worship service, specifically, the Communion service. We cannot go to Bethlehem to find Christ, nor to Calvary or the empty tomb. We find Him where He says He will be, "in the midst" of the gathering, in His Word and His Supper.

"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14a)"

"He was incarnate [made flesh] by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary (Apostles' Creed, Second Article)."

"She gave birth to her firstborn Son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger. (Luke 2:7a)"

That Word, the eternal Son of God, gives us His forgiveness through the preaching of His Word, the Gospel. He who became flesh and was lain in the bin where the animals ate has become our food as we come to His altar. While we might stay home thinking nice thoughts about Jesus — we may even take time for Bible reading, devotions, songs, and prayers — it's only in His house, in His divine service, where we begin to see "his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14b)"

The NativityThe carol urges, "Come to Bethlehem and see Him whose birth the angels sing. Come adore on bended knee Christ the Lord, our newborn King." If you would do this, then come to His house. Come not merely to give gifts and honor, for He already has all things under His divine control. You can give Him nothing that isn't already His — including yourself, your life, and your love. Come instead to receive. Receive the Christ. Receive forgiveness. Receive peace and reconciliation with God and carry this peace into a strife-torn world. Receive the fullness of His grace and truth and receive eternal life. Ask God to help you keep the "Mass" and the "Christ" in CHRIST-MASS.

God isn't calling you to a cold, dark stable. Most likely, He's inviting you, your family, and your friends to a nice, warm church. You probably won't have to spend time with dusty hay or smelly animals; you can sit in nice, clean clothes among well-bathed people. Yet He still calls you to see and receive the same Savior those shepherds met during a Bethlehem night over two thousand years ago. Will you make excuses to stay away, or will you go "with haste" to meet Him and then make known what you are told "concerning this Child (Luke 2:16-17)"?

This Christmas Day, come see the Gift God gives you — not one under a tree, but One who was nailed to a tree, shedding His blood to set you free. Not a Gift you'll bury in a closet, but One who was buried in a tomb only to rise on the third day. Not a Gift you'll hasten to exchange for something better, but One who worked a great exchange, taking your sins and giving you His righteousness. How could Christmas be merrier than in knowing that God loves you so much?

Merry CHRISTmas. Merry ChristMASS. Merry CHRISTMAS!

Scripture quoted from the ESV®
 
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