Monthly Archives: February 2014

Luther: We Should Be Bold, Clamoring Beggars

Under the papacy we held such praying in low esteem, thinking, If others do not pray for us, we will get nowhere. That’s exactly what a Christian ought not to do. Rather, as soon as trouble presses him, he should go directly into the church or his closet, fall on his knees, and say, Lord, here I am; I have need of this or that, although I am unworthy; however, look upon my misery and need, and help me for thy honor’s sake. So, learn to petition boldly and do not doubt that God will for Christ’s sake give you what is for your good. The promise is clear and sure: What you ask in Jesus’ name shall be yours! Only see to it that you don’t grow weary in prayer because God does not grow weary in giving. The more you persist in prayer, the better God likes it. He does not grow tired of your clamoring, yes, even when you petition him with strong insistence that he should hear and answer you this very moment in what you desire, as though he was delaying too long. He answers quickly because of importunate prayer. I hope the last day will not be long delayed but will soon come – earlier than we expect – because of the earnest prayers of Christians….

Prayer, therefore, serves to hasten something which otherwise would have been delayed longer. This example [in Luke 18:31-43] teaches us that we should be bold, clamoring beggars who do not grow weary but say, Lord, it is true, I am a poor, unworthy sinner, indeed; but nonetheless I have need of this and that. I have wife and child, and have nothing to feed them; Lord, give us food. I am desperate, and need your comfort, Lord, help me. It is not a question of whether I am a saint; only one thing matters, that I am in need, and that you gladly give what is needful for my body and soul.

When you pray in this manner, and firmly, then he will certainly say to you, as to the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you? Receive your sight! Your faith has helped you.” To pray and not to believe is to mock God. But faith rests alone on this: that God for the sake of Christ, his Son and our Lord, hears, shields, rescues, and saves. May our dear Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus, help us! Amen.

– House Postil for Quinquagesima (Luke 18:31-43)


Luther: I Listen Because God Is Speaking

This is the way with all of God’s words and works; at first speaking, before they happen, people don’t comprehend them. But once they have happened, then people know and understand…. Faith is the natural, divine correlative of the Word of God. For God’s Word speaks of, indeed cannot but speak, things which human reason cannot understand or conceive by itself. We should believe it, and that it is so, we will in due time find out that it is indeed true and that we rightly teach it.

Let me give an example. God’s Word teaches us concerning the resurrection from the dead, something human reason doesn’t understand. Accordingly, one sees that the worldly wise mock and hold us to be fools for believing that there will be a resurrection of the dead and a life after this life. Again, that God should become man and be born into this world of a virgin, human reason cannot admit, saying, “No” to it. Therefore, it must be believed, until we come to where we see and say, Now I understand and see that it is true, what before I believed. Again, that a person should have the forgiveness of sins, God’s grace and mercy, without having earned it, through the water of baptism and through absolution, seems like an utter falsehood to human reason. It argues, Christians who believe that are balmy and off-the-wall; if God is to be reconciled, there must be something higher and better, namely, good works, which demand pain and sweat from us. This harmonizes with the pope’s example, which we have before our eyes, and by his preaching he directs people to their own merits.

It does not even occur to human reason to believe that alone by baptism and faith in Christ, everything necessary for salvation is done. Reason holds that to be a falsehood. For it does not know what faith is, deeming faith in Christ a trifling thing. In the same way the Word is seen as a paltry thing and the one who urges and preaches it as a poor, miserable, and sinful creature. That one should trust and wager body and life for eternity upon faith and the Word, both such insignificant things, is ridiculous to reason. That’s the reason why, even though God’s Word is plainly spoken to people, human reason does not comprehend, does not believe, declares it to be untrue; and the precious gospel, the meanwhile, is labeled as heresy and a teaching of the devil by which people are misled, teaching them not to do good works. Human reason knows no other verdict.

For that reason we should learn to believe with ingenuous faith and say, If it’s God’s Word, I cannot doubt it in any way; and, even though I cannot see, touch, or feel that it is true, nonetheless, I listen because God is speaking. He is so great and mighty that he can make it true, so that in his good time, or in the life to come, I will be able to comprehend and understand it, yes, see and grasp it, even though I don’t understand it now….

This is the way it always is. God’s Word and work always are judged impossible before coming to pass. But once it does, then we see how easily and beyond all expectations it was done. Yet prior to its happening, we need simply to believe it, not know or understand it. For how sins are washed away through baptism and how we shall be raised from the dead at the last day, reason will never understand, especially when we see how many a saintly man has met his end eaten by the birds, torn by dogs and wolves, even burned to ashes and then strewn upon the water, as the pope did to the saintly Hus at Constance. Reason then asks, How will our Lord God restore the body again? But God has said that he will waken and raise our bodies again. Because it is but his Word, human reason, therefore, considers it not only incredible but also impossible. But we are to believe it, and know that it will be so. For this is the man who is almighty and can make all things out of nothing….

One ought not be concerned, therefore, whether a thing is possible but should rather say, God has said it; therefore, it will happen, even though it seem impossible. For although I cannot see or grasp it, God is the Lord who makes the impossible possible, and creates something out of nothing.

– House Postil for Quinquagesima (Luke 18:31-43)

Luther: Christ Blows Away All False Saints

Thus only those sinners belong in the kingdom of Christ who recognize their sin, feel it, and then catch hold of the Word of Christ spoken here: “I do not condemn you.” These people constitute the membership of Christ’s kingdom. He admits no saint; He blows them all away; He expels from the church all who lay claim to holiness. If sinners enter, they do not remain sinners. He spreads His cloak over their sins and says: “If you have sinned, I remit your sins and cover them.” To be sure, sin is there. But the Lord in this kingdom closes His eyes to it, covers it, forgives it, and does not impute it to the sinner. So a living saint and member of Christ stands here, made out of an adulteress who had been infested with sin but whose sin is now forgiven and covered. Even if sinners are knaves and criminals, their sins will be forgiven, as long as they feel them, repent of them, and ask God for forgiveness. If you have tasted the Law and sin, and if you know the ache of sin, then look here, and see how sweet, in comparison, the grace of God is, the grace which is offered to us in the Gospel. This is the absolution which the adulteress receives here from the Lord Christ.

Luther’s Works, Volume 23, page 318

Sexagesima – Luke 8:4-15

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

Saint Paul encourages the Corinthian church, Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. These words remain true today as they were almost 2,000 years ago. Self-examination to see whether we are in the true faith benefits us in two ways. First, it protects us from self-deception and from deception in the Christian faith. Do we really believe what Scripture says about our salvation? Do we believe that Scripture cannot be broken? Second, self-examination awakens and drives us to new earnestness, zeal, and greater fidelity in the Christian faith. If in examining ourselves we find that we have fallen away from the faith, it can bring us to repentance and faith once again.

So how do we begin such a self-examination, especially in the days leading up to Lententide? Don’t follow your reason or your own strength. Don’t listen to what the world says. Don’t even listen to the judgment of fellow Christians. Listen to the Scriptures. Faith comes by hearing the preaching of the Scriptures. The best way to examine yourself to see what you believe and how you practice what you believe is to ask the question, How have I heard God’s Word up to now?

Jesus is kind enough to give us crib notes on the parable of the soils that receive the seed of the Word of God. The seed is the Word of God. As a seed carries life from which new seeds emerge, so the Word of Scripture has a divine power in itself to awaken in those dead to sin a new spiritual life. God’s Word once called the world into being out of nothing. God’s Word in Christ’s mouth made the sick healthy, the blind see, and the dead alive. The Word is able to do what it is intended to do, just as Isaiah says in today’s Old Testament reading: For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

The Word of God wants receptive hearts. A seed can only bring new fruit if it is sown in well-prepared soil. It’s the same way with God’s Word. Man can prevent the working of the Word in his heart. The seed cannot do that. The seed is always good, for the Word is good. This is why Jesus says later in Luke chapter eight, Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.

Some seed falls on the path. The Word does fall in soil that has natural apathy, indifference, and prejudice against the Word. Sometimes the Word works, but the soil isn’t quite sure about the seed. Consider Felix the Roman governor in Acts chapter 24. He had a Jewish wife named Drusilla. He had an accurate knowledge of the Way. Nevertheless, Felix was looking for a bribe from Saint Paul. Felix instead received preaching from Paul. Instead of repentance when Felix was cut to the heart, Felix said to Paul, Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you. That opportunity never happened.

Consider also King Agrippa. Saint Paul preached to him as well. Paul one day said to the King: “Do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am–except for these chains.” Agrippa was ready to free Saint Paul, but not ready to repent and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord.

When you hear the Word like Felix or Agrippa, the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved…. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.

Then there are those on the rock. These are fickle and unstable hearers. They love to hear good things from Scripture. But when it comes to persecution and trials, then the whining begins. “How should this happen to me as a Christian? Everything was going along just fine. Now everything is wrong. If this is being a Christian, well, forget about it!”

Those among the thorns fall back into the ways of the world. Worse yet, they may associate with Christians, they may come to Divine Service, may pray often, and may even read their Bible. But after time worldly things suffocates them. The next thing they know, they have another god. Consider Judas Iscariot, who went to the wrong place to receive forgiveness. Then there’s the rich man in Jesus’ parable in Luke 16. We find out after he dies that he thought his fortune would be enough to put him in God’s good graces. Then there’s the unjust servant, who had his unpayable debt forgiven, yet would not forgive a trifling sum of another. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.

This leaves us with hearers who are eager for salvation. They hear rightly. They receive the seed and do not hinder its work in them. They diligently learn, devoutly hear the Word with desire. They ponder the Word, keeping it as Mary did by reflecting on what this Word of grace means for them. They live in the Word so that they might grow in grace and in believing Jesus Christ as Savior of the world from sin, death, and hell. They hearken to the words of Moses in Deuteronomy chapter six: These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. They live the words of Saint Paul in Colossians chapter three: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

What is more, they also bear fruit in patience. Daily you die to sin and to the world. Daily you worry less about trivial, earthly matters. Daily you rejoice in what is good for your soul, reflecting the words of Philippians chapter four: whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

These things Saint Paul mentions is actually one thing: Jesus Christ, Whose blood pleads your innocence before the heavenly Father. The Word made flesh is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Jesus is the Seed of the woman Who stomps the head of the servant, costing Him the bruising of His heel. The Seed of the Word of God is planted in you in preaching, in your Baptism, and again today in His true Body and true Blood.

Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away. Take care to hear Christ for you, for in hearing His Word of everlasting life you are blessed in Him.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

More Capon on The Parable of the Sower

A look at the word karpos (fruit) as Jesus and the New Testament writers use it provides insight. The concordance citations are too numerous to list here, but two in particular stand out. The first is the discourse in which Jesus calls himself the true vine and characterizes his disciples as branches (John 15). The point he makes is complementary to the parable of the Sower: as the branch is not able to bear fruit unless it remains in the vine, so they cannot bear fruit unless they remain in him. In other words, the response most needed is that of simply abiding in the power of the Word himself – which means, in terms of the Sower, neither putting obstacles in the way of the seed nor involving ourselves in the search for other, more plausible responses to it.

The other passage that reinforces the lesson about response in the parable of the Sower is the famous one of Galatians 5:16-26 in which Paul distinguishes between the works of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit. The works are a list of disastrous character traits that the apostle says result from our trying to achieve the fullness of life in our own way: that is, according to the flesh (not just the body, please note, but the entire range of human responses – be they physical, mental, or even spiritual – that proceed from our inveterately right-handed wrongheadedness). They are a grim shelf-ful of products, hazardous not only to our health but also to our education and welfare: among other things, they include fornication, witchcraft, strife, envy, and murder. The fruits of the Spirit, however – those results that are not manufactured by our plausible and deliberate efforts but simply allowed to grow unimpeded under the guidance of the Spirit who takes what is the Word’s and shows it to us – are, every one of them, truly human traits: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. They are not results of, or rewards for, our frantic efforts to make ourselves right; rather, they are the very rightness for which our nature was made, bestowed upon us as a free gift.

It is in the light of such passages as these that the parable of the Sower needs to be seen. It does indeed call for a response from us; but that response is to be one that is appropriate not to the accomplishing of a work but to the bearing of fruit. The goal it sets for us is not the amassing of deeds, good or bad, but simply the unimpeded experiencing of our own life as the Word abundantly bestows it upon us. And that, as I said, is entirely fitting; because the parable is told to us by none other than the Word himself, whose final concern is nothing less than the reconciled you and me that he longs to offer his heavenly Father. He did not become flesh to display his own virtuosity; he did so to bring us home to his Father’s house and sit us down as his bride at the supper of the Lamb. He wills us whole and happy, you see; and the parable of the Sower says he will unfailingly have us so, if only we don’t get in the way.

Robert Farrar Capon, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus

Capon on The Parable of the Sower

You should read the whole thing in Kingdom, Grace, Judgment. For now, here’s a lagniappe.

[T]he supreme act by which the Word declares the kingdom in all its power is not an act at all but a death on the cross inflicted on him by his enemies. Therefore, whatever else needs to be said about hostility to the Word – about its power and function in the Gospels or about the presumed menace it poses in our own day – the first thing to be insisted on is that all the antagonism in the world has already been aced out by Jesus. Not overcome by force as we would have done – not bludgeoned into submission or out of existence – but precisely aced out: finessed, tricked into doing God’s thing when all the while it thought it was doing its own thing.

Robert Farrar Capon. Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus (Kindle Locations 830-834). Kindle Edition.

Stöckhardt on “Hardening” or “Verstöckung”

The people of Galilee had hardened themselves against the bright and clear testimony of the truth, so it was a just judgment of God that dark pictures and riddles, which they could not solve, were now preached to them. The words “that seeing they might not see,” etc., the Lord took out of the prophet Isaiah. There the complete sentence as quoted in full by Matthew and Mark reads: “Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” Is. 6:10. The prophet had the commission from God to harden “this people,” this unbelieving, stiff-necked people, with his preaching. And thus also Christ’s preaching, especially that of His parables, finally served to harden the unbelieving generation of His time. Wherein the judgment of hardening consists, one sees from that very same passage. Luther here remarks: “We need not go to the extreme, so as to say, God blinds effectively, in an active manner. When God withdraws His Spirit and leaves the wicked to Satan, that is enough to harden them.” “God permits that those are blinded who will not believe the Gospel.” Luther. Lat. Exg. Works., Erl Ed., Vol. 22, p. 74. God does not blind and harden in such a manner that He exerts a positive and direct blinding and hardening influence on the heart and mind of the wicked. No, when God hardens a man, He withdraws His Spirit from him, while still permitting him to hear His Word outwardly. Thus a man can, of course, not understand what he hears, but must the longer the more stumble and take offense at the Word. God gives man over to the power of his perverted hardened mind. Thus God deals with those who harden their hearts against His Word. The Galilean people had long heard the preaching of Christ in vain, abused the grace of God to perform their sinful lusts, resisted the Holy Spirit. So it was a just punishment that God withdrew His Spirit, so that with seeing eyes they did not see, and with hearing ears they did not hear, and with their hearts did not understand. Those who by no means will hear and understand, they then also shall not hear and understand.

The double fact expressed here in plain and clear words, “to you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God,” and “to the others in parables; that seeing they may not see,” this we should acknowledge and take to heart well, but also let the matter rest there and search no further, search not for the last reasons. Here, of course, a mystery remains, that we Christians cannot fathom, and which God has not revealed to us. When we permit our thoughts to go beyond what the Lord here says, we arrive at the question: Why did God deal this way with the ones and the opposite way with the others? Why does He give to these “to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God” who by nature are just as blind and corrupt as the others? Why does He permit the others to remain in blindness and unbelief, and finally give them into the power of their perverted mind, which surely all had earned alike? Why does He not reveal or hide it to all in like manner?

God in His Word does not give us an answer to such questions and thereby forbids us to brood over them. Our Lutheran Confessions, the 11th Article of the Formula of Concord, on the basis of such passages as Luke 8:9, 10, confesses this fact: “One is hardened, blinded, given into the power of his corrupted mind, another, though being in like guilt, is again converted,” etc. But the reason and cause for this fact, the last reasons behind God’s wise counsel, the Formula of Concord puts on the docket of those things which God has buried in silence and which He forbids us to pry into. Luther, in one of the two sermons mentioned above, adds this remark to these two weighty verses of our text, Luke 8:9–10: “Therein the deep knowledge of divine providence is touched upon, that He hides and reveals to whom He will.” And he, too, manifestly here means, we should under no circumstances undertake to explore the lofty wisdom of divine providence or the mysteries of divine majesty. No, we should with our thoughts remain with what God’s Word, also our text, plainly and unmistakably testifies: To them that know and understand the mysteries of the kingdom of God it is given by God, in them God’s free grace glorifies itself. In the others, whom God gives over to their perverted mind, that they do not see and understand it, we should behold the severity and righteousness of God’s judgment, who will not let it go unpunished if men hear His Word and yet not heed it nor take it to heart.

An Analysis of the Gospel Read on the Sunday Called Sexagesima, 1889

Septuagesima – Matthew 20:1-16

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

Do you begrudge my generosity? It’s a smooth translation, but the English Standard Version doesn’t quite grasp the Greek. A better way to say it would be, is your eye evil because I am good? This brings out the fact that we have two ways about us. We have the old man, the flesh that makes misery and sorrow, strife and unrest among us. We also have the new man, born from the Spirit, born from God. The famous Latin phrase Luther used to describe the relationship between the old man and the new man in us is simul justus et peccator, simultaneously saint and sinner.

So let’s pose the question to ourselves: Is your eye evil because God is so good?

We must first answer the question yes with a contrite heart. God is so good. He is the Master of the house of the entire world. All earthly goods come from His Hand. God is also the Master of the house in His heavenly kingdom. We see this later in Matthew chapter 20 when James and John’s mother makes a request to Jesus that her sons should sit either side of Him in His kingdom. Their mother would not have asked that question had she not believed Jesus is true God as well as true man.

We live in God’s vineyard. We are not entitled to it. He calls us to labor in His vineyard. He calls at all hours, be it early or late. He calls because of His graciousness. He also distributes His goods in His kingdom according to His goodness. This answers the question why those who worked only one hour in the vineyard receive their pay first rather than those who worked twelve hours. He is good. The wages He pays are just that: HIS. He doesn’t have to pay His workers. He does so out of love, out of His grace.

No wonder why the old man in us hates His system of paying wages. We think that what we earn was ours from the start. We don’t want to live under grace. We’d rather live in the kingdom of merit. Those who work the hardest or the longest or the best should be paid more than those of less seniority or less hours or less effort. Because the Owner of the vineyard does not follow our way of thinking, we grumble against Him.

That’s the way of the old man. We are self-righteous. How easily we forget the grace of God amid our standing idle in the marketplace or amid bearing the burden and the heat of the day. We would rather point to our hard work or something else inside us that show we are more deserving of better wages compared to those hired to work one hour and receive the same pay we received for working twelve hours.

We are selfish. We love to sing hymns like “Salvation Unto Us Has Come” or “By Grace I’m Saved, Grace Free and Boundless,” yet hate grace with every fiber of our being. The Law of God makes us small. The Gospel tastes like poison because it requires us to do nothing. The words of grumbling in the Gospel, These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat, quite easily fall from our lips because, unless we watch over our heart, a true hatred of God’s Word of grace can spring up. Faith can be slaughtered; for all that mumbling can progress to overt rebellion.

We have often and long deserved to be expelled from the kingdom of heaven. We deserve to hear the words of the Master of the vineyard, Take what belongs to you and go. We deserve to be moved from first to last. The old man in all of us loves to give the stink-eye to God’s grace. It’s too free. It’s too easy. Something for nothing is bad business. However, it’s the way God operates in His kingdom.

Nevertheless, a different nature still lives in us. There is another answer to the question is your eye evil because God is so good? We answer from a believing heart NO, thanks be to God!

God is so good. So where do we stand? If God is fair, what would become of us? What have we earned from Him that He would prepare for us a heavenly kingdom, would summon us into it, and would endow us with good things in it? We stood idly in the marketplace, maybe even for the whole day. None of us has or would have come forward for inclusion in God’s kingdom. The Master is the only one who goes out to look for us. It’s true that He doesn’t need us. He could preach the Christmas and Easter Gospel without us just fine. He also doesn’t need our works, for His work is perfect and good. Our works are like filthy rages before Him. Without Him we can do nothing. Yes, God is so good. God’s goodness is our comfort.

Faith walks in the way of being given to, not in the way of earning from. The grace to find comfort comes only in believing in a merciful God Who sends His only-begotten Son to suffer and die for our sin on our behalf. God’s favor poured out upon us because of Christ means that we no longer have to mumble about grace. We no longer need to insist to live by our merit. We now live in knowing that we are completely unworthy of any gift given to us by God. Nevertheless, we take everything from Him as a gift without believing that we have done something better than our neighbor in receiving His grace.

The fight between the old man who loves his own merit and the new man who loves God’s grace will continue every day until our death. By God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, our evil eyes are made good by clinging to Christ for our salvation. All is fair in the Lord’s vineyard, for He has called us to labor here and receive what He has promised: eternal life in His kingdom.

My heart is glad, all grief has flown/Since I am saved by grace alone (LSB 566:6).

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

Pre-Lent. NOT AGAIN!

I keep a file for every Sunday in the Church Year. My sermons and bulletins go there, as do my catena of quotes taken from various sources about the text for that day. Sometimes I put pertinent emails from the heady days of email groups (everything seems to have migrated to Facebook these days). At any rate, my brother-in-office Robert Schaibley once posted these words in an email group about the season of Pre-Lent, aka Gesimatide, aka “those Gesimas”.

I’ve stopped trying to evangelize for the historic One-Year Lectionary, because I figure those who evangelize end up defending, and that’s the one-down position, which I do not like to take. “Itching ears” is discussed by St. Paul, and I’ll just let his testimony stand.

But, I will try to clear up a misconception, perhaps even a “misunderestimating” (as my favorite U.S. President, after Lincoln and right next to Reagan, puts it) of Pre-Lent. Pre-Lent is exactly “a time of preparation for a time of preparation.” Exactly! But certainly not redundantly — and those who mock this double preparation either haven’t given their charge serious thought, or they have a unlutheran bias against preparation/penitence/penance over against Luther’s observation in the first of his 95 Theses — “The entire Christian life is a life of penance!”


So, in what does this preparation consist? It consists in a three-week regime of the reason for, and assurance concerning, the preparitory (sic) season of Lent: this regime is a short-course on what makes contrition and repentance a compelling time for Christians: Grace Alone! (Septuagesima), the Word Alone! (Sexagesima), and Christ Alone! (Quinquagesima).

But of course, only Lutherans appreciate this, by virtue of the difference between our theology and that of the other options. Rome and Constantinople will get you to the cross, but they then keep moving ahead of you, leading you on to beatification or deification. Protestantism gets you to the cross, but as a grusome (sic) event to be noted, given thanks for, and then moved beyond, toward the upward call of sanctification and the glory of God. Lutherans camp out at the cross, for the entirety of this poor, sinful life, to view Jesus as Savior and, yes, as king — but with a kingship that shapes us for the cross in this present life. But, heck, there’s a new wind blowing in this present generation, even among Lutherans, and it needs no lifetime of kneeling beneath the cross of Jesus. So, it certainly doesn’t need an extra three weeks of penitence — ask your Protestant neighbor!

So I don’t defend Pre-Lent. I preach the texts and let the season defend itself. If you are a pastor, and you preach the Three-Year series, good on ya (as they say in Australia). As for me and my house, I’ll stay with the One-Year texts for the very reason Brother Schaibley gives. Oh, and if my One-Year brethren get all high and mighty about the One-Year series being the only right series, then I’ll migrate to the Eisenach series just to spite ’em.


The Supper…Or A Broken Hip?

I serve a gray congregation. The majority of my flock are over the age of 70, dare I say 75. We’ve had the most snowfall this winter since 1979, and we’re not even close to the snow total from 35 years ago!

That being said, I don’t blame those who choose not to venture out into the cold and snow to come to church. I don’t want them to suffer a broken hip or broken anything. We’re blessed to have Worship for Shut-Ins on cable and satellite TV here. A local radio station carries a Lutheran Divine Service tape delayed a week from a congregation in Central Illinois District. My sheep are covered as far as hearing the Word.

Lord willing, the thaw will come sooner than later. I know they will be back. I’d rather they be safe than risk injury to receive the Lord’s Supper.

UPDATE: I will be telephoning these dear saints this week to ask if they desire the Sacrament. If they can’t get here, I can get there.