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Lutheran Aardvark

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

28 September 2008
  + Wenceslaus, Kníže of Bohemia +
28 September AD 935

The Good King Wenceslas of whom we sing is also known as Wenceslaw, Wenceslaus, Václav, Wenzel, and by other variations on his name. Wenceslaus actually wasn't a king; he was Kníže (Duke) of Bohemia. However, we still reckon Wenceslaus I as "good" because of his fidelity to the Christian Faith.

His grandfather, Bořivoj I, Kníze (Duke) of the Czechs and his grandmother Ludmila (Ludmilla) were converted by the Lord working through Saints Cyril and Methodius, the noted missionaries to the Slavic people. After his father Wratislaus (Wratislaw, Vratislav) I died in battle against the Magyars, Wenceslaus was in line for succession. His grandmother's teaching slowly led him into following the teaching of the Christian Church rather than that of his mother Drahomíra the Arrogant, who was a token Christian while her husband lived but then reverted to the old religion upon his death. Wenceslaus's (twin?) brother Boleslaus I (the Cruel) apparently followed his mother's pagan ways. Their sister Střezislava received the appellation "the Pretty."

Death of LudmillaAfter Wratislaus died, Wenceslaus was raised by Ludmila, who reared him in the Faith. Wenceslaus was a minor, so Ludmila governed as regent. A dispute between the fervently Christian regent and Drahomíra drove Ludmila to seek sanctuary near Beroun. Evidently, Wenceslaus's conversion had enraged his mother, who was also trying to gain support among the pagan nobility. Drahomíra purportedly gained revenge by having Ludmila killed by two nobles at Tetin on 15 September 921.

The regency passed to Drahomíra, who evidently gave good account of herself in that area. She strengthened Czech borders against foreign incursions and suppressed the rival Slavnik clan. However, she still worked to reconvert her son to paganism, but Wenceslaus continued practicing Christianity in secret.

Upon attaining his majority, Wenceslaus assumed the rule and exiled Drahomíra. He aided Christianity's spread throughout Bohemia by building churches and cathedrals and also by accepting the influence of the Holy Roman Empire. To the nobles, such behavior threatened both their pagan traditions and Czech sovereignty. He became a vassal of Henry I (the Fowler) of Saxony in 929. This submission, whether by choice or by force, further increased the hostility of his non-Christian lieges.

Wenceslaus' DeathBoleslaus gathered some of these disaffected nobles around himself for several overlapping purposes. First of all, Wenceslaus was a threat to their paganism (unlike Wenceslaus, Boleslaus completely agreed with his mother's beliefs). Secondly, they considered Wenceslaus a "sell-out" if not an outright traitor to Czech heritage and governance. Finally, Boleslaus was next in line for the throne — something he strongly coveted.

These factors led the younger brother to invite the elder to a celebration of the Feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian. On the way there, Boleslaus or his henchmen murdered Wenceslaus — the most commonly purported venue being at the very doors of the church toward which they traveled. Bolesaus claimed the title "Prince" — "Duke" being considered recognition of vassalage to the Holy Roman Empire.

Upon the death of Boleslaus I, his son Boleslaus II became Duke of Bohemia. Contrary to the father's nickname "the Cruel," the son embraced Christianity and became known as Boleslav the Pious. Included among his accomplishments was the establishment of the Bishopric of Prague.

King WenceslausMeanwhile, the legend of Wenceslaus continued to grow in the telling. His piety and refusal to abandon Christianity remain part of the story of the Faith. The Church considered him a martyr and purported miracles followed his invocation. Thus, he was canonized as Saint Wenceslaus and remains primary patron of the Czech people and the Czech Republic. The carol Good King Wenceslas connects him with the earlier Saint Stephen and is based upon the general perception of his piety, humility, and desire to serve. Whether or not grounded in an actual event, it reflects the esteem in which the Czech people hold him.

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24 September 2008
  Last Minute Blogroll Surge
The Big Blogroll O' Vark®™©

As I mentioned in the previous post, there's often a rush of submissions and recommendations after an update. I've added ten eleven more to the confessional Lutheran blogroll and also went through the whole list of links, where I made some additions, corrections, and deletions. After I finish a bit of pastor work, I'm going to send off new copies of the BBOV to those who've asked.

NEW CONFESSIONAL BLOGS

  §  Blogosphere Underground
  §  Four and Twenty Blackbirds
  §  House of Many Blessings
  §  Learning How to Climb
  §  A Long Walk with Martin Luther
  §  Priestmanship
  §  Save the LCMS
  §  Theological Organ
  §  Try 2 Focus
  §  Wartburg Castle Court
  §  With Fear and Trembling

ADDITIONS TO OTHER BLOGS & LINKS

  §  Lutheran Heritage Foundation
  §  The Wittenberg Trail

CHANGES TO OTHER BLOGS & LINKS

  §  Louisiana Conservative — New URL
  §  Lutheran Service Builder Blog — New URL

DORMANT or DEAD BLOGS & LINKS

  §  A Little Aardvark Never Hurt Anyone
  §  One Apostolic and Catholic Church
  §  Reformation Today

As always,if you own or read a blog you think should be added or if you know of any other additions or changes, please tell me. And if you want a copy of either the confessional Lutheran blogroll or the full set of Aardvark links, please 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).

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22 September 2008
  One Good Update Deserves Another
The Big Blogroll O' Vark®™©

Almost every update sparks comments and emails from blog owners and readers with new or updated listings. And so, less than 24 hours after the BBOV's Autumnal Update, we find ourselves with a pocket full of new or changed sites.

NEW LISTINGS

  §  Babylon Falling
  §  The Bi - Coloured - Python - Rock - Snake
  §  Planet Augsburg

NEW BEGINNINGS

  §  My Babblings

NEW URLs

  §  Lutheran Logomaniac
  §  Revvin' Rev

I'm going to wait another day to send updated blogrolls to those who've requested them, so if you know of any other additions or changes, please let me know. And if you want a copy of either Lutheran blogroll or the full set of Aardvark links, please 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).

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  Finally ... BBOV ... Really
The Big Blogroll O' Vark®™©

BBOV by St. CharlesIt's been quite some time since the last update but it seems that the BBOV is a zero sum game. Below, you'll find twenty brand-spankin' new additions to the list and twenty others who've either quit blogging, quit posting, gone private, or simply asked to be dropped. Meanwhile, three blogs moved from the inactive list while four others changed either name or URL. So here are the first day of fall changes to the Big Blogroll O' Vark®™©.

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).

NEWLY DEPLOYED

  §  Acromaticus
  §  The Brothers of John the Steadfast
  §  The Cruciform Confession
  §  Epistles from Exile
  §  Ex Tenebris Lux
  §  Fine Tuning
  §  Gladius Spiritus
  §  k heinz designz
  §  Holy Holy Hymnody
  §  It's Time for More Coffee
  §  Just and Sinner
  §  Kyrie Eleison
  §  The Lamb on the Altar
  §  A Lutheran Beggar
  §  A Man with Only a Word in His Pocket
  §  Meditations
  §  A myHT Fortress
  §  The Old Parson
  §  Scottish Lutheran
  §  Synodical Conference Breakup

RETURNED TO ACTIVE DUTY

  §  Blog My Soul
  §  GeRue Blog
  §  Our Seneca

REASSIGNED

  §  The Boy's Own Paper — was Kicking Against the Pricks
  §  Busy Nothings — was The Moose Report
  §  Gnesio Lutheran Network — was Sinner and Saint
  §  I Trust When Dark My Road — New URL

RETREATED or RETIRED

  §  Alliance of Evangelical Lutheran Laypeople
  §  The Blair Church Project
  §  Pastor Cota's Blog
  §  Euchrestos
  §  The 14th Warrior
  §  Die Heilige Kirche
  §  Horn+Swoggled
  §  Hot Lutheran on Lutheran Action
  §  A Left Hand Blog
  §  Little Loci
  §  Lutheran Conversion Stories
  §  The Lutheran Logomaniac
  §  Mossback Meadow
  §  Muddy Boots
  §  My Babblings
  §  Mystery of the Faith
  §  Photos Never Sleep
  §  Revvin' Rev
  §  The Wittenberg Catholic
  §  Women Among Disciples

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 (created 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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21 September 2008
  + Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist +
21 September, New Testament

One day Jesus was walking and saw a tax collector named Matthew sitting at a tax collection post, and said to him, "Follow Me." Matthew stood up and followed Him, becoming one of His twelve apostles (see Matthew 9:9-13; parallels Mark 2:13-17 and Luke 5:27-32).

Saint MatthewTax collectors in those days were social outcasts. Devout Jews avoided them because they were usually dishonest (they were expected to make their profits by cheating the people). Nationalistic Jews hated them because they were agents of the Roman government and doubly hated them if (like Matthew) they were Jews, because they had gone over to the enemy, betraying their own people for money.

Throughout the Gospels, we find tax collectors (publicans) mentioned as a standard type of sinful and despised outcast. Matthew brought many of his former associates to meet Jesus. They — as well as social outcasts and sinners in general — were shown that the love of God through His Son extended even to them.

The word Gospel comes from the Old English god-spell, or good tidings. The New Testament's Greek speaks of the euangelion (ευαγγελιον), a "good message." In English, this "Evangel" gives us words like evangelism and evangelist. From it we also received "Evangelical," which means "of or pertaining to the Gospel," via Germany. There, it was first applied to Martin Luther and his compatriots and later co-opted by the Calvinists and others.

Certainly Matthew and his companions freed of sin and guilt by Jesus experienced this Good News — as do all others who trust in the forgiveness of sins for Christ's sake. The word angel is related, for an angelos (αγγελος) is a messenger.

The name "Matthew" means "gift of the Lord." Mark and Luke, in the story of his calling, name him "Levi." Perhaps this was his original name, and he received a new name from Jesus when he became a disciple. Perhaps he was a member of the tribe of Levi. Of Matthew's life after Pentecost, the Scriptures tell us nothing. Later accounts vary: Some report that he was martyred, others that he died a natural death. The Christian community since early times has commemorated him as a martyr.

Matthew's symbol in religious art is often a winged man, such as shown here. This representation comes from the visions of Ezekiel and John of the four living creatures around the throne of God (see examples in Ezekiel 1:5-14 and Revelation 4:6-11). While there is some variation in Christendom, we most often find the man standing for Matthew since his narrative begins with Jesus' human genealogy of Jesus. Also, Matthew often quotes Christ speaking of Himself as "the Son of Man." The lion represents Saint Mark, whose narrative begins with John the Baptist crying out in the desert, perhaps as a lion roars in the wilderness. The ox, a sacrificial animal, stands for Saint Luke, whose narrative begins in the Temple and is woven throughout with Jesus pointing Himself toward His own sacrificial death. Finally, the eagle often represents Saint John. John begins his narrative in Heaven with the eternal Word of God while also writing the Fourth Gospel in a soaring style.

Lection

Psalm 119:33-40
Ezekiel 2:8-3:11
Ephesians 4:7-16
Matthew 9:9-13

Collect

O Son of God, our blessed Savior Jesus Christ, You called Matthew the tax collector to be an apostle and evangelist. Through his faithful and inspired witness, grant that we also may follow You, leaving behind all covetous desires and love of riches; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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20 September 2008
  + Samuel, Judge and Prophet +
20 August, Old Testament

Samuel and EliSamuel was the final Old Testament judge. He is the first prophet mentioned after Moses, although we could consider some of the other judges among the prophets. He lived during the 11th century B.C. Samuel's mother Hannah was unable to have children and she prayed desperately before the tabernacle that the Lord would grant her to bear children to her husband Elkanah, an Ephraimite. Because the Lord heard and answered, Hannah called her son "Samuel," which can be translated "heard by God." This account is in the first chapter of 1 Samuel.

In response to His love for them, Samuel's parents dedicated him to the Lord's service: "And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli [the priest in the Lord's house]. And she said, 'Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.' (1:24-28)" He entered sacred service and trained in the house of the Lord at Shiloh under Eli.

Samuel Anoints DavidGod called Samuel to speak for Him in a series of night messages and established him as His prophet. One of Samuel's most difficult assignments came immediately after his call. Eli was allowing his sons to abuse their priestly offices and through the young man, the Lord condemned their behavior and pronounced God's judgment upon them (see chapter 3).

Samuel's own life didn't always go smoothly. Just as Eli's sons had betrayed their sacred trust as priests, so also Joel and Abijah, the sons of Samuel, became unrighteous judges who "took bribes and perverted justice. (8:1-2)" Perceiving this as a problem in God's leadership as well as that of Samuel, Israel demanded that they be given a king such as the surrounding nations had. Samuel warned them that this would lead to even more problems and woes, but when they kept insisting, the Lord told him to do as the people requested.

Samuel anointed Saul to be Israel's first king (10:1). Because of Saul's continuing, flagrant disregard for God's Word, Samuel repudiated Saul's leadership and traveled to the house of Jesse, where he anointed David to be king in place of Saul (16:13).

Samuel's loyalty to God, his spiritual insight, and his ability to inspire others made him one of Israel's great leaders. When he died, "all Israel assembled and mourned for him, and they buried him in his house at Ramah. (25:1a)"

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15 September 2008
  + Saint Mary, Mother of God +
15 August, New Testament

The Virgin MaryThe honor paid to Saint Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus Christ our Lord, God, and Savior goes back to the earliest days of the Church. Indeed, it goes back farther: Even before the birth of her Son, Mary prophesied, "From now on all generations will call me blessed. (Luke 1:48 ESV)" Confessing her as "Mother of God" also confesses that the One whom she bore was and is, indeed, true God.

The New Testament records several incidents from the life of the Virgin: her betrothal to Joseph, the Annunciation by the angel Gabriel that she was to bear the Messiah, her Visitation to Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist, the Nativity of our Lord, the visits of the shepherds and the magi, her Purification and the Presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple at the age of forty days, the flight into Egypt, the Passover visit to the Temple when Jesus was twelve, (Matthew 1:16,18-25; Matthew 2; Luke 1:26-56; Luke 2); the wedding at Cana in Galilee and the performance of her Son's first miracle (at Mary's intercession, see John 2:1-11), the occasions when observers basically said of Jesus, "How can this man be special? We know his family!" (Matthew 13:54-56; Mark 6:1-3; Luke 4:22; see also John 6:42); an instance when she came with others to see Him while he was preaching (Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21); and her presence at His crucifixion, where Jesus commended her to the care of His Beloved Disciple (John 19:25-27). Mary was also present with the apostles in Jerusalem following the Ascension, waiting for the promised Spirit (Acts 1:14). Thus, we see her present at many of the chief events of her Son's life.

Besides Jesus, only two people are mentioned by name in the Creeds. One is Pontius Pilate, Roman procurator of Judea from 26 to 36 AD. Knowing that Jesus was crucified by Pilate's order pins down the date of His death within a few years, certifying that we are not talking "once upon a time," like worshipers of some mythical god. His death is an historical event, something that really happened.

The other name in the Creeds is that of Mary. They say that Christ was "born of the virgin Mary." That is, they assert that he was truly and fully human, born of a woman and not descended from the skies like an angel. Jesus was not a spirit temporarily cloaked in a robe of human-seeming flesh.

Telling us that His mother was a virgin excludes the theory that Jesus was an ordinary man who was so virtuous that he eventually, at His baptism, became filled with a "Christ Spirit" by God. His virgin birth attests that He was always more than merely human, always one whose presence among us was in itself a miracle, from the first moment of His earthly existence. In Mary, Virgin and Mother, God gives us a sign that Jesus is both truly God and truly man. Emphasizing this point, the Council of Ephesis in AD 431 officially titled her Theotokos (God-bearer) and rejected and condemned the title Christotokos (Christ-bearer). Ask the Pastor comments on the distinction in Blessed Virgin Mary: Mother of God.

We know Little of Mary's life except as it intersects with the life of her Son; this is appropriate. The Scriptures record her words to the angel Gabriel, to her kinswoman Elizabeth, and to her Son on two occasions. The only recorded saying of hers to "ordinary" hearers is her instruction to the servants at the wedding feast: "Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you. (John 2:5 ESV)" Perhaps this should be the summation of her message to the world. To this day, she reminds us, "Listen to Jesus. Pay attention to my Son. Do as He says."

She didn't seek the regard of others on her own behalf. If our honor for the Blessed Virgin doesn't turn our attention from her to the One whom she bore and suckled, to the Word made flesh, then we may be certain that it is not the blessing that she seeks. A right regard for Mary always directs us to Him who made her womb His first earthly dwelling-place.

In different parts of the Church, the date is remembered in various ways. Roman Catholicism celebrates the Assumption of Mary and claims that she was taken, body and soul, to heaven. However, I've found contradictory teachings in the Roman Church, arguing whether she was translated in the manner of Enoch or Elijah, if she died and was resurrected on earth and then taken to heaven, or if her dead body was taken and then rejoined with her soul in heaven.

Meanwhile, Eastern Orthodoxy celebrates the Dormition of the Theotokos. It claims that Mary certainly died but that when Thomas visited three days later, her body was gone from the tomb. As to whether the body will be kept in heaven until the general resurrection on the Last Day or already rejoined with her spirit, Orthodoxy will not make a final dogmatic pronouncement.

In the rest of Christendom that follows a sanctorial calendar, the general belief seems to be that she likely died and awaits the resurrection with all others who departed in the Faith. See Jesus, Mary, and Martin for more on Lutheran teachings concerning the Virgin, including citations from Martin Luther and the Lutheran Confessions.

Lection

Psalm 34:1-9 or Psalm 45:10-15
Isaiah 61:7-11
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 1:46-55

Collect of the Day

Grant, we humbly pray, O Lord, to Your servants the gift of Your heavenly blessing that, as the Son of the Virgin Mary has granted us salvation, we may daily grow in Your favor; 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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09 September 2008
  Ethics 101
It Came to Me in an Email

John Edwards was banned from making a speech at the democratic convention for having had an affair and lying about it.

Bill Clinton spoke in his place.
 
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