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 January 2008
  The Wurst of the BBOV

In case you wondered (or even if you didn't) where I've been, I haven't said anything recently because my computer rendered me speechless. In other words — IOW, for those who IM and text way too much — I experienced a major crash. The power supply went on the fritz, damaged the motherboard, and started a cycle of spontaneous rebooting that slowly got worse until I finally couldn't completely enter Windows. This, then leads to a classic "good news, bad news" paragraph.

First the good news: My system is fixed better than before (new dual HDs in RAID configuration that are each 75gb larger than the old, the old HD in a new case as an external USB drive, and 2 x 1gb of faster RAM replacing the older 1gb that wouldn't work with the newer, faster board). Now the bad news: An extended time of ordering and receiving the correct hardware, reconfiguring the OS, and adding back data files, etc. for essential programs  ... oh, and some six hundred + dollars in parts and service.

Since the final crash and resumption of computer services in the Burrow, I found another good entry to the BBOV. Therefore, I'm happy to introduce the newest member of the Big Blogroll O' Vark®™©, The Wurst Blog, the genius of Pastor Robert Wurst of Maple City, Michigan. Drop by, order a wurst and a beer, and tell him, "The Aardvark sent me."

And now, finally, at long last, I hope to get BBOV updates to those who've patiently (for the most part) waited and wondered where they were.

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27 January 2008
  + Saint John Chrysostom +
27 January AD 407

Saint John Chrysostom, Preacher, Bishop, and Theologian, was called Chrysostom (Greek for"golden-mouthed") by his hearers. He was a dominant force in the fourth-century Christian church.

Saint John ChrysostomBorn in Antioch around AD 347, John was instructed in the Faith by his pious mother, Anthusa. After serving in a number of Christian offices, including acolyte and lector, John was ordained a presbyter and given preaching responsibilities.

His simple but direct messages found an audience well beyond his home town. His title came from his legendary preaching abilities. An unsubstantiated by widely circulated tale is that pickpockets and cutpurses would flock to services because he held his audience so spellbound that they could easily rob Saint John's hearers.

In 398, John was made Patriarch of Constantinople, where His determination to reform the church, court, and city brought him into conflict with established authorities. Eventually, he was exiled from his adopted city. Although removed from his parishes and people, he continued writing and preaching until his death in 407. It is reported that his final words were: "Glory be to God for all things. Amen."

John Chrysostom was one of four Eastern theologians among the eight Doctors of the undivided Church. The other three were Athanasius, Basil the Great, and Gregory of Nazianzus. The four great early Western (or Latin) doctors were Augustine, Jerome, Gregory the Great, and Ambrose of Milan.

Lection

Psalm 49:1-8 or 34:15-22
Jeremiah 1:4-10
Luke 21:12-15

Collect

O God, who gave Your servant John Chrysostom the grace to proclaim eloquently Your righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of Your Name, mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellency in preaching and fidelity in ministering Your Word, that Your people shall be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Quote

The following excerpt is based on the passage, "[T]he letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:6)" It comes from his Sixth Homily On 2 Corinthians.
Yet he says these things not in one sense only, but in reference to those who prided themselves on the things of Judaism. By the "letter" here he means the Law which punishes those who transgress; but by the "spirit" he means the grace which through Baptism gives life to those who by sins were made dead.

In the Law he that has sin is punished. Here, he that has sins comes and is baptized and is made righteous, and being made righteous, he lives, being delivered from the death of sin. The Law, if it lay hold on a murderer, puts him to death. The Gospel, if it lay hold on a murderer, enlightens, and gives him life.
Quoted from The Lord Will Answer: A Daily Prayer Catechism © 2004 by Concordia Publishing House.

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26 January 2008
  + Saint Titus +
26 January, New Testament

Saint TitusSaint Titus, Pastor and Confessor was sent by Paul as bishop and pastor to Crete.

Along with his other duties, he was also to "appoint elders in every town (Titus 1:5)" — in other words, he chose and consecrated the first generation of Cretan pastors and appears to have been the island's de facto bishop. While there, he was to himself be a faithful shepherd for Christ's flock as he trained and placed others into the Office of the Holy Ministry.

Titus is mentioned as Paul's companion in some of the epistles: 2 Corinthians 2:13; 7:6, 13-14; 8:6, 16, 23; 12:18; Galatians 2:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:10.

The letters Paul wrote to Titus and Timothy are collectively known as the Pastoral Epistles. Much of Christianity's understanding and practice of the pastorate comes from these three relatively brief letters.

Lection

Psalm 71:1-14
Acts 20:28-35
Titus 1:1-9
Luke 10:1-9

Collect

Almighty God, You called Titus to the work of pastor and teacher. Make all shepherds of Your flock diligent in preaching Your hold Word so that the whole world may know the immeasurable riches of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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25 January 2008
  The Conversion of Saint Paul
25 January, New Testament

Spiritus GladiusToday celebrates the Conversion of Saint Paul through the revelation of the risen Christ to him on the road to Damascus. The zealous Pharisee Saul was traveling to arrest followers of Jesus. Instead of capturing Christians, Paul found Himself made captive by his Savior's boundless grace and became Christ's primary apostle to the Gentiles. Accounts of the event are in Acts 9:1-22; Acts 26:9-21; and Galatians 1:11-24.

Paul's normal symbol in ecclesiastical art is a shield with sword and open Bible. The Latin words Spiritus Gladius (sword of the Spirit) come from the apostle's words about the armor of God, where he urges believers to take up "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)"

Lection

Psalm 67
Acts 9:1-22
Galatians 1:11-24
Matthew 19:27-30

Collect

Almighty God, as You turned the heart of him who persecuted the Church and by his preaching caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world, grant us ever to rejoice in the saving light of Your Gospel and to spread it to the uttermost parts of the earth; 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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24 January 2008
  + Saint Timothy +
24 January, New Testament

Saint TimothyToday we commemorate Saint Timothy, Pastor and Confessor. The festival days for Pastors Timothy and Titus are set on either side of the day marking Saint Paul's conversion. This proximity reminds us of their connection with the apostle, including his establishing them in office and the letters he wrote to them.

Timothy grew up in the faith as taught by his mother and grandmother, Eunice and Lois. He was a companion of Paul for many of the apostle's travels and spent much of his own pastorate in Ephesus.

Timothy is mentioned in Acts 16-20, and appears in 9 epistles either as joining in Paul's greetings or as a messenger. Additionally, two of Paul's three "pastoral epistles" — 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy — were addressed to him and his congregation.

The letters Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus are collectively known as the Pastoral Epistles. Much of Christianity's understanding and practice of the pastorate comes from these three relatively brief letters.

Lection

Psalm 71:15-24
Acts 16:1-5
1 Timothy 6:11-16
Matthew 24:42-47

Collect

Lord Jesus Christ, You have always given to Your Church on earth faithful shepherds such as Timothy to guide and feed Your flock. Make all pastors diligent to preach Your holy Word and administer Your means of grace, and grant Your people wisdom to follow in the way that leads to life eternal; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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20 January 2008
  + Sarah +
20 January, Old Testament

Sarah, whose name means "princess," was wife (and half-sister) of Hebrew patriarch Abraham (Genesis 11:29; 20:12). In obedience to divine command (Genesis 12:1), she made the long and arduous journey west, along with her husband and his relatives, from Ur of the Chaldees to Haran and then finally to the land of Canaan.

She was originally named Sarai but the Lord commanded her change in name (Genesis 17:15). At the same time, He changed Abram's name to Abraham (from "exalted father" to "father of a people"; Genesis 17:5).

Sarah LaughedShe remained childless until old age. Then, in keeping with God's long-standing promise, she gave birth to a son and heir of the covenant (Genesis 21:1-3). When first promising Abraham and Sarah a son of their own, He told Abraham, "You shall call his name Isaac [he laughs]. (Genesis 17:19)" Evidently, the Lord anticipated both Sarah's celebration at his birth (Genesis 21:6) and her previous disbelieving laughter when she first heard she would become pregnant (Genesis 18:12-15). Thus, God reminds subsequent generations that He always "gets the last laugh."

We remember and honor Sarah as faithful wife of Abraham and the mother of Isaac, the second of the three great patriarchs. Thus, she became biological mother to the people of Israel and spiritual mother to all who believe in Jesus Christ, her greatest descendent. We also acknowledge her gracious hospitality to strangers (Genesis 18:1-8).

Following her death at the age of 127, Abraham laid her to rest in the Cave of Machpelah (Genesis 23), where he was later buried (Genesis 25:7-10).

Saint Paul used the example of Sarah bearing Isaac according to divine promise to illustrate the relationship Christians have with God through the Gospel's promise. Galatians 4:21-31 contrasts Ishmael, the child of the slave woman Hagar, with Isaac, the promised child of the free woman Sarah. The author of Hebrews was inspired by the Holy Spirit to record that even though she initially laughed at the Lord's seemingly impossible prediction, "By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. (Hebrews 11:11)

Scripture quoted from the ESV.

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18 January 2008
  The Confession of Saint Peter
18 January, New Testament

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.

Keys of the KingdomThus, 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.

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.

Lection

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

Collect

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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16 January 2008
  BBOV: The Chaplain Reappears

Thanks to Barb the Evil Genius, the new URL for the Chaplain to the World has been found and added to the Big Blogroll O' Vark®™©. Let cries of "Huzzah!" resound throughout the land.

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13 January 2008
  The BBOV: Did You Think I'd Forgotten?
The Big Blogroll O' Vark®™©

BBOV by St. CharlesToo many days have passed since the last update of the BBOV. However, the time has now come, so let's get on with addressing the changes to the Big Blogroll O' Vark®™© — meeting the newcomers, noting the changed URL, and saying "Sayonara," to our dear departed. Then you can kick back with me and wait for the next round of people to tell me that I forgot their blogs, so I can (again) ask, "Did you tell me?"

If you're not sure what to make of the BBOV or wonder about the benefits of being listed and of listing others' blogs, please read the first three links under Aurous Effluence in the sidebar. Those who'd like the Big Blogroll O' Vark®™© can either email me or copy the list from the Alley's source code (click View | Page Source or Control+U in Firefox or View | Source in Internet Explorer).

Finally, you can see how many blogs I ended up removing. If you own(ed) one of these, drop me a line if you start up again or begin a new blog. I'd be more than happy to list you again.

BRAND NEW TO THE BBOV

Included here are sixteen additions to two different sections of the blogroll.

  Confessional Lutherans
    The Abrahamsons
    Pastor Mason Beecroft
    Concordia TheoBLOGical Seminary
    Concordian Sisters of Perpetual Parturition
    The Crowned Ones — back after a break
    The 14th Warrior
    Lest Every Man Be Blind
    The Long and Crunchy Road
    Lvtheranvs Latine Profitens
    Mystery of the Faith
    Palm Sundays
    Simil Justis et Pecatur — dear old friends of Vark
    Socratic Stammtisch
    Super-Sonic Platonic — from the author of Our Seneca
    Rev. Tucher

  Other Blogs
    Melanie Francis' Blog: Here I Stand

CHANGED — BUT STILL RECOGNIZABLE

These have some differences in URL, blog name, or both.

    The Albino Peacock — new URL
    Cleveland Confessional Lutheranism — slight name change: added "-ism"
    Concordia Seminary Institute on Lay Vocation — was Uwe Siemon-Netto
    Crafty Wright's — URL and name change; was The Crafty Wright's
    Cranach: The Blog of Veith — new URL
    Cross+Wise — URL; drop "Blog" from name
    LSB Development Team — moved to Recommended Lutheran Sites
    NightlyKnitter's LotzaStitches — was LotzaStitches
    St. Antony's Cave — corrected spelling from Anthony
    Die Schreiben von Schreiber — corrected gender from Das
    Uvulapie's Girl — was Hoffman Homemaker

REMOVED

Here's one way to shrink an unwieldy list: The thirty-five (35!) members of this group have either gone missing or else they're extremely out of date. Dates listed show the most recent updates.

    Anxious Contentment — 19 October 2006
    Beckfest — hijacked
    Beefstew-inator's Blog — 22 May 2006
    By the Rivers of Babylon — 404
    Chaplain to the World — update: see next post
    Confessions of a Young Lutheran — 3 August 2006
    Date-Dabitur
    Bunnie Diehl: If you don't like it, just go away — she went away, instead
    Eating Words
    Etz's View of the World — 18 June 2007
    God Is the Pilot — 23 October 2006
    Life at Seminary — 28 September 2006
    Long Thoughts of a Confessional Lutheran — 11 February 2007
    Lutheran Man — 26 August 2007
    Lutheran Survivor — 404; Ironic, eh?
    Not Quite Art, Not Quite Living — not quite updated, either (12 January 2007)
    Post-Emergent — 25 May 2006
    Properly Speaking — 5 April 2007
    The Provincial Life — 22 August 2006
    Random Thoughts of a Confessional Lutheran — 9 April 2007
    The Ranting Reverend — 1 November 2006
    Render Unto Caesar — 404
    Return of the Prodigal Blogger — prodigal again (lapsed back into atheism)
    Sacred Meditations — 17 January 2007
    St. Charles Place — 404
    Christina Schellenbach — 31 October 2007
    Michael Schuermann
    Sethanized Propaganda — 16 February 2007
    Seward Snow Dog — 11 September 2006
    Ten Days Faithful — 29 May 2007
    Theologically - Incorrect — 8 November 2006
    Theophilus' Inferno — 10 May 2007
    Thoughts of Steven — 404
    Unaltered Lutheran — hijacked
    The Unknown Lutheran — privatized

TIMELESS, IF NOT TIMELY

I didn't want to remove this next batch. They're good references, good friends, or both, and I hope that they'll start blogging again. If World Magazine hadn't have completely dropped her, I'd have Bunnie Diehl listed among these fine folk.

    Blog My Soul
    Cantor's Padded Balcony
    Pastor Cota's Blog
    The Crazy Lutheran — illness in the family
    Διαθηκη — on hiatus, but see The Abrahamsons
    Euchrestos
    First British Lutheran Blog Ever
    Pastor Keith GeRue — good sermon archive
    The Grateful Christian
    Our Seneca — now he's into Plato

IN CONCLUSION

For these and all others enrolled in the BBOV, links back are certainly appreciated. And don't forget that all of those listed benefit when you use the entire blogroll. Also, if you'd like to graphically point to the Alley and the Big Blogroll O' Vark®™©, you may use the above design from St. Charles Place (from before St. Charles left our midst) or one of these blog buttons:
Each of these buttons measures 80x15 pixels. Should you choose to use one, please link back to either the main Aardvark Alley URL or else to the post What Is the BBOV.

Finally, if you own or know of a Lutheran blog demonstrating a quia confessional subscription and would like me to consider it for inclusion, please leave a comment. And again, for more information about why this stuff benefits confessional Lutheran blogging, morality, and other worthwhile endeavors, please check out the first three links under Aurous Effluence in the sidebar.

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  Need Wordpress Blogroll Advice
One of the members of the BBOV asks, "Is there an easy way to get your confessional blogroll to work using Wordpress?"

Would someone with this expertise either post a summary in the comments or else send me an email that I can pass on?

BTW, the updated blogroll is ready in the sidebar. The introductory and explanatory post shall, DV, soon follow.

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  The Baptism of Our Lord
The First Sunday after the Epiphany

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 3:17)"

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 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.

Lection

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

Collect

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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10 January 2008
  + 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 do well to remember their sister Macrina (Makrina), as well. The eldest child of their generation, she did much to support and encourage the brothers' theological studies, moral development, and later work.

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. Recently, Roman Catholicism has adopted 2 January. 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. The LCMS chose to remember Wilhelm Loehe on 2 January and translated Basil to an open day, also combining his commemoration with those of the two 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.

Lection

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

Collect

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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09 January 2008
  Well Render Me Speechless ...
at Least Render Me Something

Actually, I'm not speechless, and for at least one sense of the word, I'd rather not be rendered, either.

Nor do I wish to be ... well ... carbonated? No, that's a second cousin* of the word I seek, at best.

Carbonized? Ah, that's it!

Also, while the process takes place within me, I certainly hope to avoid having synthesis acted upon me — even after my demise. Unfortunately, should Mrs. Vark outlive me, my preferences could go by the boards.

By now, you're likely pondering the nature of the bush about which I've been beating, so I shall attempt a more forthright tack. Should I die before it comes, I do not desire awaiting the great Day of the Lord having my physical self stripped down to its carbon content and converted into a synthetic diamond.

Tiffany DiamondYet I could face this fate should Mrs. V desire to discover if I might be worth more dead than alive and moves to contact LifeGem®. Yes, their patented process could reduce the earthly dwelling of my sparkling wit to a "forever" bauble sparkling upon her finger or hanging from her neck.

I have no tangible evidence that such a fate awaits me through the machinations of my fair, beautiful, loving, talented, charming bride of many years (yes, dear, I know you occasionally venture a visit to my corner of the Burrow). However, I inherited a certain suspicious nature (thanks, Daddy Vark) that sometimes borders upon paranoia (you, too, Mommy V). Said nature keeps watch in a dark corner of my mind, pouncing upon any event or activity it perceives to be out of the ordinary and/or potentially harmful.

The nagging worries stem from her recent encouragement to my already amply sized self to "eat more" because she thinks I'm "looking a bit underfed." Now back in the Dark Ages of my formal education, logic was something they taught us. We learned the sequence, "If A=B and B=C then A=C." This can carry on to D's, E's, F's, and beyond. So please help me check my philosophical math: "If my increased food consumption (A) yields a larger me (B) and a larger me (B) yields a larger pile of carbon (C) while a larger pile of carbon (C) yields a larger stone (D), then my increased food consumption (A) equals a larger diamond (D)."

As I indicated, it's probably just the curse of possessing a Doubting Thomas nature, but I now think that forming and keeping a belated New Year's resolution to lose a fair bit of weight might be more prudent than I previously imagined.

*"Use the right word, not its second cousin." Mark Twain, Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses, 13th Rule of Literary Art

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06 January 2008
  The Epiphany of Our Lord
6 January, New Testament

Epiphany StarThe Epiphany season begins today, with the Feast of the Epiphany. This day celebrates the 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 Holy Cross Happenings blog. Ask the Pastor has several archived posts pertaining to the Epiphany: Unbiblical Christmas Carols, Jesus and the Wise Men, and Names of the Magi.

Lection

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

Collect

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.

Hymn

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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02 January 2008
  + Wilhelm Loehe +
2 January AD 1872

Wilhelm LoeheChristened 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 &mdash 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."

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, letters between C.F.W. Walther and Loehe About the Fort Wayne Seminary, and Loehe's Report of Walther's and Wyneken's Visit.

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01 January 2008
  The Circumcision and Name of Jesus
1 January, New Testament

Circumcision of Our LordThis 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.

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.

IHSFor 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, The Circumcision of Jesus Christ from Confessions of a Young Lutheran, and the 1 January 2007 entry from Jay Winters' Saints and Days: The Circumcision and Naming of Jesus.

Lection

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

Collect

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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