Thursday, May 14, 2020

Will Things Ever Be the Same?

I have been seeing lots of articles asking how the Church will look after this pandemic is over. Will it be the same? Will it ever? Or will some things never be the same as they were?

Let me answer that question: We will be the same.

During this time we have adapted, we have adjusted, and we have in some ways expanded. What we have not done is change. Before, during, and after this pandemic, the Church is all about Christ and His gifts. Before, during, and after this pandemic, same Christ, same gifts, same Gospel. As it was before the pandemic, so it is now, and so it will be after.

Perhaps there are some churches which have lost their focus and for which being church meant something else. For them, maybe things will not be the same - and that would be a good thing! A return to a focus - or a re-focus - on Christ and what really matters. And maybe we have learned (or re-learned) this, too. And that’s a good thing.

But as far as delivering the gifts - nothing will change. We will still gather as God’s people. We will still sing. We will still confess and receive the absolution. We will still proclaim Christ and him crucified. We will still have baptisms. We will still give the Lord’s Supper - including using the chalice. We have not stopped, and we will not. For all this is the life of Christ given to us. And there is nothing more important.

So when this is all over, or at least restrictions are eased, and you come back to church, you know what you will find? The same church. You might sit farther apart for a while, maybe some of you will wear masks for a while. But those things aren’t what the church IS. What the church IS will not change. You’ll recognize it. You’ll hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. And you’ll rejoice in His goodness and mercy, that has brought us through this time - and all times - until He brings us home to Him.

Thanks be to God!

Monday, May 11, 2020

Graduation

So Saturday was my daughter's graduation from VCU . . . but, of course, without all the pomp and circumstance. She came up and we had our own celebration that day. It was nice to spend the day with her and recognize her achievement. Here are some pictures. Pretty good, I think! #ProudPapa







Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Recital

My last post mentioned the fact that my daughter's senior recital (violin performance major at VCU) had been cancelled by the school. She was required to video her pieces instead. She couldn't use them all because some were quartets and her fellow students are now scattered. So she had to make some substitutions. She also used some pretty creative techniques to compensate for the absence of accompanists. I won't spill the beans here - you'll have to watch for yourself!

Here is the link to her recorded senior recital. It debuted for us on Monday night, but is now available for viewing.

About half way through is her duet with her younger sister.

After that is some of her quite creative adaptations.

Make sure you notice the dedications. :-)

Hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

What Could Have Been


We were looking forward to this the day after Easter - the culmination of my daughter's Violin Performance major studies at VCU. We had lots of folks planning to come. But alas, it was a casualty of the pandemic. There was even going to be a "sister's" piece where my two daughters played a duet. This is a tough time for all graduating seniors, but especially, I think, performance majors. A lot of hard work was going into this. There was going to be a quartet performing some of my daughter's original work as well. Perhaps when this is all over, we can arrange for something else to celebrate her . . .

Saturday, April 11, 2020

At the Lamb's High Feast We Sing

At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing
LSB #633

v. 3: Where the Paschal blood is poured,
Death’s dread angel sheathes the sword;
Israel’s hosts triumphant go
Through the wave that drowns the foe.
Alleluia!

v. Mighty Victim from the sky,
Hell’s fierce power’s beneath You lie;
You have conquered in the fight,
You have brought us life and light.
Alleluia!

We’ve reached Holy Saturday. The day begins with Jesus’ rest in the tomb, we remember His descent into hell, and at the Vigil in the evening, get a taste of the Easter joy that will be ours in the morning. It has all come to this. This is why Jesus came. To conquer in the fight we couldn’t win. To bring us the life and light we lost in sin. To be the true and eternal Passover Lamb that causes death’s dread angel to sheathe its sword. That was true in Egypt at the first passover, and still true for us today. For we have gone through the wave that drowns the foe - not the Red Sea, but Holy Baptism. The sin and death that pursue us and hound us are drown there, so that though we are sinners, we are forgiven; though we will die, yet shall we live. And now there awaits for us a feast - the Lamb’s High Feast, the Paschal Feast, the Easter feast which breaks our Lenten fasting, and the Marriage Feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which will have no end. Soon, the Bridegroom will return for his Bride, the Church, and that Feast will begin. No wonder that Bride breaks forth with her Alleluias! tomorrow. Our Lamb has conquered in the fight! The victory is ours.

Friday, April 10, 2020

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
LSB #450

v. 1: O sacred Head, now wounded, With grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded With thorns Thine only crown.
O sacred Head, what glory, What bliss, till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

v. 7: Be Thou my consolation, My shield, when I must die;
Remind me of Thy passion When my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, Upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfold Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.

The focus of most people in our world is to live a good life. That means as many things as there are people, I suppose. But that is not what God wants most for you. That doesn’t mean you won’t have a good life. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. But far more important to God than you living a good life is that you die a good death - or as the hymnwriter put it, who dieth thus dies well. A good death is to die with faith in Christ and thus live well not just for 80 or 90 years here on this earth, but to live well forever. It is Jesus’ sacred head, now wounded, that provides that life for us. So when your last hour draws nigh - be it from coronavirus, old age, accident, or whatever - it is Jesus’ passion that will console and comfort you. He died your death to give you life. He paid for your sins so you are forgiven. He rose from the dead and will pull you up from the grave, too. With that faith, you can both live and die now in peace and joy. And with that faith, you will both die well and then live well. Well, and forever. 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Jesus, Greatest at the Table

Jesus, Greatest at the Table
LSB #446


v. 4: Can we fathom such deep mercy?
Do we see what God has done?
Who can grasp this great reversal:
Love that gives His only Son?
Christ, the sinless for the sinners,
For the many dies the One.

Today the Church enters the Sacred Triduum - the final three days of the Lenten season, the days of Jesus’ crucifixion and rest in the tomb. On these days, can we fathom such deep mercy? Truth be told, no. This mercy and love is greater than we can ever imagine. That God would offer up His Son for you and me - for the whole world! That the Son of God would willingly come and lay down His life for us. This is the great reversal: the Son of God becomes the sinner so that we sinners might be sons of God. Yet this is who God is. Always! Always giving, always loving, always serving. Not just these three days, but ever since the beginning and until the end. He supplies all our needs and then some. He is gracious and merciful. And especially as we remember on this day, He gives us His very own Body and Blood to eat and drink. Do we see what God has done? Yes, we see, we confess, and we thank and praise Him for such unfathomable love.