Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education,
and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer
31 July 2006
Joseph of Arimathea31 July, New Testament
Saint Joseph is mentioned in all four Gospels. He come from a small village called Arimathea in the hill country of Judea and was a respected member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council in Jerusalem. Scholars presume that Joseph was a man of considerable means, since he owned his own unused tomb in a garden not far from the site of Jesus' crucifixion (Matthew 27:60).
A man waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, he went to Pontius Pilate after the death of Jesus and asked for Jesus' body (Mark 15:43). Along with Nicodemus, Joseph removed the body and placed it in the tomb (John 19:39). Their public devotion contrasted greatly to the fearfulness of the disciples who abandoned Jesus.
The perfume flask depicted here reminds us of Joseph's hurried work of preparing Christ's body for burial, which would have included rubbing the spices brought by Nicodemus on the body and the wrapping cloths.
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany29 July, New Testament
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were disciples with whom Jesus had a special bond of love and friendship. The Gospel According to Saint John records that "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus (11:5)."
On one occasion, Martha welcomed Jesus into their home for a meal. While she did all the work, Mary sat at Jesus' feet listening to his Word and was commended by Jesus for choosing the "good portion, which will not be taken away from her (Luke 10:38-42)."
When their brother Lazarus died, Jesus spoke to Martha this beautiful Gospel promise: "I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he life." We note that in this instance, it was Martha who made the wonderful confessions of faith in Christ (John 11:1-44).
Ironically, raising Lazarus from the dead made Jesus' enemies among the Jewish leaders more determined than ever to kill Him (11:45-57).
Six days before Jesus was crucified, Mary anointed His feet with a very expensive fragrant oil and wiped them with her hair, not knowing at the time that she was doing it in preparation for her Lord's burial (John 12:1-8).
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) is acknowledged as one of the most famous and gifted of all composers past and present in the entire western world. Orphaned at the age of ten, Bach studied with various family members but was mostly self-taught in music.
He began his professional career as conductor, performer, composer, teacher, and organ consultant at age 19 in the town of Arnstadt. He traveled wherever he received good commissions and steady employment, ending up in Leipzig, where the last 27 years of his life found him responsible for all the music in the city's four Lutheran churches.
Acclaimed more in his own time as a superb keyboard artist, the majority of his compositions fell into disuse following his death, which musicologists use to date the end of the Baroque Period and the beginning of the Classical Era. However, his compositional ability was rediscovered, in large part due to the efforts of Felix Mendelssohn. The genius and sheer magnitude of Bach's vocal and instrumental compositions remain overwhelming. Also, whether due to nature or nurture, he was but one of the giants in, perhaps, the most talented musical family of all time.
Christendom especially honors J. S. Bach, a staunch and devoted Lutheran, for his lifelong insistence that his music was written primarily for the liturgical life of the Church, glorifying God and edifying His people. For an overview of the Christological basis of his work and a strong argument that he was among the theological giants of Lutheranism, please read J. S. Bach: Orthodox Lutheran Theologian? by Pastor Walter Snyder.
Today we remember his "heavenly birthday," for it was on 28 July AD 1750 that the Lord translated Mr. Bach to glory.
Soli deo gloria — To God alone the glory! These words appear on most manuscripts of Bach's compositions as testimony to his faith and his idea of music's highest, noblest use.
James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John were among Our Lord's twelve disciples. Together with Peter, these two were privileged to behold the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28). They witnessed the healing of Peter's mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31) and the raising of the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51). Jesus called them aside to watch and pray with Him in the garden of Gethsemane on the night before His death (Matthew 26:37; Mark 14:33).
James and John may have been from a higher social level than the average fisherman. Their father could afford hired servants (Mark 1:20), and John (assuming him to be identical with the “beloved disciple”) had connections with the high priest (John 18:15).
Jesus nicknamed the brothers Boanerges — Sons of Thunder — (Mark 3:17), probably commenting upon their headstrong, hot-tempered, and impulsive natures. So they seem to be in two incidents reported in the Gospels. On one occasion, Jesus and the disciples were refused the hospitality of a Samaritan village, and James and John proposed to call down fire from heaven on the offenders (Luke 9:51-56). On another occasion, they asked Jesus for a special place of honor in the Kingdom, and were told that the place of honor is the place of suffering (Matthew 20:20-23; Mark 10:35-41).
In about AD 42, shortly before Passover (Acts 12:1-2), James was beheaded by order of Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great (who tried to kill the infant Jesus; see Matthew 2), nephew of Herod Antipas (who killed John the Baptist — Mark 6:14-29 — and examined Jesus on Good Friday — Luke 23:6-16), and father of Herod Agrippa II (who heard the defense of Paul before Festus — Acts 25:13-26:32). James was first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom, and the only one whose death is recorded in the New Testament.
James is often called "James Major" (also "the Greater" or "the Elder") to distinguish him from other New Testament people named James. Tradition has it that he made a missionary journey to Spain, and that after his death his body was taken to Spain and buried there. at Compostela. His supposed burial place there was a major site of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages, and the Spaniards fighting to drive their Moorish conquerors out of Spain took "Santiago de Compostela!" as one of their chief war-cries. (The Spanish form of "James" is Diego or Iago. In most languages, "James" and "Jacob" are identical. Where an English Bible has "James," a Greek Bible has Iakobos.
The sword (the instrument of his death) and the scallop shell are both traditional representations of the apostle.
Grant, O Lord, that as Saint James the apostle readily followed the calling of Your Son Jesus Christ, we may by Your grace be anabled to forsake all false and passing allurements and follow Him alone; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
O almighty God, whom to know is everlasting life, grant us perfectly to know Your Son Jesus Christ to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, that, following His steps, we may steadfastly walk in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Ezekiel, son of Buzi, was a priest, called by God to be a prophet to the exiles during the Babylonian captivity (Ezekiel 1:3). In 597 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army brought the king of Judah and thousands of the best citizens of Jerusalem — including Ezekiel — to Babylon (2 Kings 24:8-16).
Ezekiel's priestly background profoundly stamped his prophecy, as the holiness of God and the Temple figure prominently in his messages (for example, Ezekiel 9-10 and 40-48). From 593 B.C. to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 586 B.C., Ezekiel prophesied the inevitability of divine judgment on Jerusalem, on the exiles in Babylon, and on seven nations that surrounded Israel (Ezekiel 1–32). Jerusalem would fall, and the exiles would not quickly return, as a just consequence of their sin.
Once word reached Ezekiel that Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, his message became one of comfort and hope. Through him God promised that his people would experience future restoration, renewal and revival in the coming Messianic kingdom (Ezekiel 33-48).
The prophet Elijah, whose name means, "My God is Yahweh [the Lord]," prophesied in the northern kingdom of Israel, mostly during the reign of Ahab (874–853 B.C.).
Ahab, under the influence of his pagan wife Jezebel, had encouraged the worship of Baal throughout his kingdom, even as Jezebel sought to get rid of the worship of Yahweh. Elijah was called by God to denounce this idolatry and to call the people of Israel back to the worship Yahweh as the only true God (as he did in 1 Kings 18:20-40).
Elijah was a rugged and imposing figure, living in the wilderness and dressing in a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt (2 Kings 1:8). He was a prophet mighty in word and deed. Many miracles were done through Elijah, including the raising of the dead (1 Kings 17:17-24), and the effecting of a long drought in Israel (1 Kings 17:1).
At the end of his ministry, he was taken up into heaven as Elisha, his successor, looked on (2 Kings 2:11). Later on the prophet Malachi proclaimed that Elijah would return before the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5-6), a prophecy that was fulfilled in the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist (Matthew 11:14).
The Lutheran Carnival Charles Lehmann of Drowning Myself Whenever I Can begins Lutheran Carnival XXVII with a brief memorial for recently departed theologian Kenneth Korby and a short commemoration of Ruth. He follows up by pointing the reader to a number of notable posts from throughout the confessional Lutheran blogosphere.
Ruth, the subject of the book bearing her name, is an inspiring example of God's grace. Although she was a Gentile, God made her the great grandmother of King David (Ruth 4:17), and an ancestress of Jesus himself (Matthew 1:1-17). A famine in Israel led Elimelech and Naomi of Bethlehem to emigrate to the neighboring nation of Moab with their two sons. The sons marriend Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth, but after about ten years, Elimelech and his sons died (Ruth 1:1-5).
Naomi then decided to return to Bethlehem and urged her daughters-in-law to return to their families. Orpah listened to Naomi's plea, but Ruth refused, replying with the stirring words: “Where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (1:16). After Ruth arrived in Bethlehem, Boaz, a close relative of Elimelech, agreed to be Ruth's "redeemer" (3:7-13; 4:9-12). He took her as his wife, and Ruth gave birth to Obed, the grandfather of David (4:13-17), thus preserving the Messianic seed.
Ruth's kindness and selfless loyalty toward Naomi — and her faith in Naomi's God — have long endeared her to the faithful and redounded to God's praise for his merciful choice of one so unexpected.
"Time may change me But I can't trace time," sang David Bowie. However, I can trace this change: Our Little House on the Prairie keeps the same URL but gets a new name, This Pastor's Wife. The new picture's a hoot, too.
Evangelical Lutheran now redirects to insurance spam. If they've restarted with a new URL, would someone please leave a comment so I can re-add them?
"And a Half-dozen of the Other"
The newest blogs added to the BBOV run the gamut from lighthearted to extremely serious. I Trust When Dark My Road, written by a pastor personally involved in the struggle, deals with mental illness under the Theology of the Cross, "particularly depression, anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder." This could become an outstanding resource and sounding board for clergy and laity suffering under the afflictions of mental and emotional illness.
Thanks to TKls2myhrt, I discovered another ELS blogger, Norman Teigen of Norman's Demesne. For almost anyone who's seriously studied American Lutheranism, the name Teigen should start ringing some cathedral-sized bells.
The Thoughts of Steven come from a native of Conway, Arkansas who's "father of three incredible boys ... husband of one incredible woman, and a Lutheran Christian." He deals with various issues of faith and life but it looks like something may be messed up with the blog's archiving functions as there are no links to archived posts under the heading in the sidebar. If he reads this, I hope he can make the fix.
Finally, we come to QuipSpot — Drive By Blogging, the promised "lighthearted" addition, albeit with some serious content, as well. This submission came from another blogger who passed the suggestion on to a third blogger who sent it on to me. To save yourself (and me) the trouble in the future, just leave me a comment or send an email to the Alley and if the blog fits, I'll wear it.
Nice Guy Finishes First ... with a Last Place Team
Life-long Lutheran Toby Cook, currently a morning anchor with Fox affiliate WDAF-TV in Kansas City, was named the Vice-president of Public Relations for the Kansas City Royals. It looks like the Boys in Blue are continuing to try shedding a whole bunch of negative images, both on- and off-field, brought about by years of elevating (lowering?) losing to an art form, operating a seemingly directionless front office, and then capping things off by jerking the credentials of two reporters because of harsh questions asked during a recent news conference announcing the hire of new GM Dayton Moore.
Why does this matter to me? Well, the Royals are one of the teams for which I cheer the loudest — when they give me reason to cheer at all. And while he's not in my "inner circle" of dear friends, I've known Toby since he was still in school in Independence, Kansas — and he's a blood relative to the the inner circle. He's been active in church and community for years and helped Lutheran Hour Ministries teach media relations to Lutheran congregations in Kansas and Missouri.
Toby is truly also "nice guy" cited in this post's title. That won't, however, stop him from doing what's right, even if he might have to stand up to either his bosses or to local media. His years in local television as reporter and anchor should provide positive visibility for the team as he oversees the Royal's community and charitable activities.
Freshly Minted Golden Aardvarks Congratulations to another round of "winners" of the AARDIE (Aardvark Aaward for Raillery, Doctrine, or Intellect in Exposition) — a continuing response to the glut of awards shows and shallow "honors" bestowed by the rest of the world (and the corresponding dearth of similar commendations with which I agree).
Most of this group come from within confessional Lutheranism. One post comes from ProLifeBlogs.com, a site familiar to many of my readers, some of whom are also part of its blogroll (as is the Alley).
As noted in the inaugural post, honorees "are invited to display the coveted (but not in a 10th Commandment manner, please) Golden Aardvark on their own blogs.... [T]wo sizes are available, discreet (above) and "loud and proud" (right)." I leave it to you to decide whether and which to use and whether to place it in the body of the honored post, in a separate post, or in your blog's sidebar. If you do mention receipt of the Aardie, you may certainly link back to this post or to the Alley.
‡ Politics and religion, ever-uneasy bedfellows in America, collided not long ago in Colorado. Ted Harvey, Assistant Minority Leader of the Colorado House of Representatives, wrote about his reaction to the proposed honoring of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains' 90th anniversary and what he did about it in Stunning Rebuke of Planned Parenthood. Read it and weep ... maybe literally.
‡ One of my long-time online friends who I've had the great fortune to meet personally on more than once occasion writes Madre's Missives for Higher Things. She has an interesting and thought-provoking study of Joseph's words to his brothers in You Meant It for Evil.
‡ Der Bettler of Hoc Est Verum makes a clear, concise statement on behalf of true Christian headship, fatherhood, and patriarcy in The Partner.
‡ After a bit of a slow spell, Horn+Swoggled is running at full speed once again. It's hard to pick just one post of his several most recent, so I suggest you read 'em all. However, if David wants to mark one particular item as the Aardie's targeted post of honor, I chuckled loudest at Scientific Claims Destroy Youth Pastor's Faith, partially because I love the science angle and partially because the only "Jim Wilson" I know would never act in like manner.
‡ The problems of pain, suffering, and all evil continue to vex mankind and challenge the Church to a clear, Christocentric response. Pastor Petersen answers the challenge as he states Theology's Purpose at CyberStones. And while it's from way too long ago to be "Aardified," you might also read Pastor Snyder's 2005 post, How Can God Allow Evil to Happen?
‡ The misuse or hackneyed overuse of the word "winsome" triggered Pastor Beisel's Annoying Words That Are Used by Well-meaning Confessional Lutherans. The initial topic was well worth discussion, but the tangent along which discussion veered shows the dangers of making assumptions and the importance of understanding the Eighth Commandment. The good pastor actually receives a double-whammy Aardie twin-killing, since I was already intending to commend his series of posts on the Missouri Synod's Self Evaluation Tool (SET) for pastors. It begins back in the June archives with Jesus Fills out the SET ... Part One. Read it all and rejoice in One Lutheran ... Ablog!™
‡ Country music, politics, and religion ... what else do you need? How about patriotism and abortion? Who can bring 'em together and pull off one post on the whole enchilada? None other than Deaconess Carder of Quicunque Vult, who's right on target with Flags and Icons.
‡ If you've read this far, you may have snickered or sobbed. Perhaps you had to grab your blood pressure meds or an antacid. Anyhow, something just plain funny might be needed to cleanse the palate or calm the nerves. Thanks to David Yow's Blog we get exactly that in Bird Flu Hits Florida Trailer Park.
‡ Finally, we'll close with Mollie Ziegler's clear demonstration of how "The press ... just doesn't Get Religion." She holds Newsweek's feet to the fire for the crass editorializing and biased (could it be lazy?) reporting it allowed on the topic of women in the pulpit in We'll Tell You What to Think about Women's Ordination.
Keep on writing the good stuff, folks. I ordered the Aardies in bulk this time and they keep falling out of my closet. And again, please remember, winners are invited to link back to this post so more people can discover the wonderful breadth of fine blogging the Aardies seek to expose.
Tomorrow's Gospel Our congregation follows the Lutheran Worship Three-year Lectionary cycle and tomorrow for Pentecost 5, I'll be preaching on Job 38:1-11. However, I'll be also referring to the Gospel, Saint Mark 4:35-41. Newly blogrolled Agnus Day provided the following cartoon a few weeks ago (he follows the Revised Common Lectionary), touching both upon a major theme of the passage and one of pop culture's current Big Events. Click the pic to view it full size with accompanying text.
Isaiah son of Amoz is considered to be the greatest of the writing prophets and is quoted in the New Testament more than any other Old Testament prophet. His name means "Yahweh [the Lord] saves." Isaiah prophesied to the people of Jerusalem and Judah from about 740 B.C. to 700 B.C. and was a contemporary of the prophets Amos, Hosea, and Micah.
Isaiah was a fierce preacher of God's Law, condemning the sin of idolatry. He was also a comforting proclaimer of the Gospel, repeatedly emphasizing the Lord's grace and forgiveness. For this he is sometimes called the "Evangelist of the Old Testament." No prophet more clearly prophesied about the coming Messiah and his saving kingdom. He foretold the Messiah's miraculous birth (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6), his endless reign (2:1–5; 11:1–16), and his public ministry (61:1–3), but most notably his "Suffering Servant" role and atoning death (52:13-53:12).
The apostle John's description of Isaiah, that Isaiah saw Jesus' glory and spoke of him (John 12:41), is an apt summary of Isaiah's prophetic ministry.
Isaiah, Mighty Seer Isaiah, mighty seer, in days of old The Lord of all in Spirit did behold High on a lofty throne, in splendor bright, With flowing train that filled the Temple quite. Above the throne were stately seraphim, Six wings had they, these messengers of Him. With twain they veiled their faces, as was meet, With twain in reverent awe they hid their feet, And with the other twain aloft they soared, One to the other called and praised the Lord: "Holy is God, the Lord of Sabaoth! Holy is God, the Lord of Sabaoth! Holy is God, the Lord of Sabaoth! Behold, His glory filleth all the earth!" The beams and lintels trembled at the cry, And clouds of smoke enwrapped the throne on high. (from Isaiah 6:1-4)
If any of my paedobaptist readers decide to read Michael's post and make comment, please take to heart some of his prefatory words: "The BHT [Boar's Head Tavern] is overrun with infant baptizers of every variety. The Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and, of course, the Lutherans will lay aside their differences and beat me up together. I don't like to provoke their ire, because they are a nasty group that doesn't know how to fight fair, and they use bad language. (emphasis and bracketed text added)"
While some of the above may be hyperbole or tongue-in-cheek, I imagine that at least some of the I-Monk's fears are grounded in actual events. So go there, get your "save the sinful infants" word in as graciously as possible, and testify to the truth that Scripture's Lord calls us to baptize "all nations," including the babies, as lovingly as possible.
You can tell him the Aardvark sent you as long as you don't make [Warning: "Bad Language" Alert] an ass out of yourself or a demon out of Lutheran, Christian, catholic, orthodox, Scriptural paedobaptismal theology.
Four Down, One UpUpdating the Ever-Expanding Confessional Lutheran Blogroll
Before introducing the additions and changes, I've had some comments about running the confessional Lutheran blogroll (or all my links) through a service like Blogrolling. So far, I've not been happy with the flexibility it provides, especially in the free services. If anyone wishes to set a feed, etc., please feel free, but for now, I'm gonna continue doing manual edits and adds.
These are obviously the "four" I've written "down" this time. The "one up" belongs to a blog that's been listed among the Other Blogs but which I've decided fits better among its confessional brethren:
The Lutheran Carnival has a new host this time 'round. Michael P. O'Conner hosts Lutheran Carnival XXVII. Between summer vacations and the U.S. Independence Day holiday, bloggings been a bit light of late and the number of submissions may reflect that. However, they're of the usual quality, and that's what really matters. The Carnival's featured Lutheran is Bishop Bo Giertz, author of The Hammer of God. So swing by, check the links, and if you haven't already browsed Michael's blog, read through some of what he has archived.
An Inconvenient AttitudeDon't Bore Me with the Facts, Gore Me with the "Truth"
The Beach Boys' Endless Summer album was a bit of a sham. It was compiled by Capitol Records after the boys had moved on to the Reprise label and some of the cuts weren't the best available versions. However, it looks like pure gold compared the the "endless summer" of global warning threatened by presidential wannabe Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.
A tagline for the flick says, "Nothing is scarier than the truth." Actually, little spooks me more than someone speculating about what truth might be and not producing enough to back it up. However, as much as the film left me more than a little leery of totally buying into the global warming camp, the warm welcome it received from so many critics is even scarier.
If you seek to identify a cultural bias of the liberal lock-step variety, look no farther than the country's film reviewers. I was checking the cumulative ratings of some of this summer's films at Rotten Tomatoes in order to decide how to waste a few of the burrow's discretionary dollars. While there, I discovered the huge love that Mr. Gore and his propaganda piece cum "documentary" had received from the ink sniffing stained wretches masquerading as objective critics.
Not only do they blindly accept the "science" espoused by the film, they also ascribe vital, glowing, non-treelike attributes to Mr. Gore. And in the science arena, the film fails to prove its major premise, that there is long-term, global warming taking place which will only be reversed by almost shutting down the industrialized world. Because of this, the scare tactics of its minor premise — that such warming is largely a bad thing — shouldn't even come into play.
Yet it's this "We're all gonna die and then some really bad stuff is gonna happen" secondary point (along with its fronting and backing by liberal icon Gore) that seems to make An Inconvenient Truth such a media darling.
I don't have my head in the sand about all this. I'm still examining the reports of a wider array of scientists than the film dreamed of featuring. Personally, I try to be a true conservative and a good Christian steward of my world. As a youth, I even participated (with my staunchly conservative father) in activities of the first Earth Day. I recycle, reduce, and re-use whenever possible.
However, this film promotes too much class envy and tap dances too much on the Eighth Commandment (Lutheran and Catholic numbering, not Reformed; false testimony, not stealing; although being forced to pay for a ticket is robbery) to have earned the positive reviews and respect among the elite that have fallen to it. From one so versed in computers that he claimed (at least partial) credit for the development of the Internet, Mr. Gore should understand my review: GIGO.