Friday, May 29, 2009

Binding and Loosing Satan

A footnote in a paper I have be reading has this wonderful interpretation of the "binding and loosing of satan" in Revelation 20. Ever wonder why God would suddenly, someday loose satan into the world? Read on, my friends . . .

"Christ binds Satan not with chains of iron but with none other than what He accomplished in His ministry, death, resurrection and ascension communicated now through Word and sacraments. The Word, the holy name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, strikes a blow at the Devil. And Holy Baptism wraps another chain about him. When in the last days these means of grace are derided, not only in the world but even in institutional churches so-called, that binding must consequently be loosed." (Rev. Thomas Aadland, A Straw in God's Hand: The Doctrine and Practice of Holy Baptism)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

One Flesh

The ancient heresy of Gnosticism is a thorn in the side of the Church. It seems to keep rearing its ugly head in the Church across the centuries. There are many modern day incarnations of it, but one that particularly gets under my skin is the setting against one another the body and soul of a person. This is heard when one speaks of death as being set free from the body. Or, by the positing of ones soul against ones body (i.e., a woman trapped in a man’s body). Or, by the pro-homosexual marriage movement, which states that the body doesn’t matter, its the person inside. And then, the nauseating offshoot of that, the idea of “soulmates.”

When God created male and female, He created them body and soul - not one or the other. We are neither simply physical or spiritual beings, we are both, and quite simply, you are not human if you are not both.

Now, why am I writing about this? Because as I was thinking about the Word of God for the sermon on Sunday, Jesus prays “that they may all be one.” Which spurred in my mind what Jesus also said of marriage: “they are no longer two, but one flesh.” The word “flesh” is distinctly used, so that marriage is not just the uniting of “soulmates” (yuck!), but of whole persons.

What implications does this then have for Jesus’ prayer in the reading for Sunday? The Church is the Bride of Christ, and Christ has become one flesh with us in His incarnation. But it is in the Sacrament of the Altar - the foretaste of the feast to come, the foretaste of the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom - it is in the Sacrament of the Altar where “we who are many grains become one loaf.” In the Sacrament of Christ’s body and blood, we are truly made one: united with Christ and in Him, with one another.

My thoughts right now. We’ll have to see if I can “flesh this out” into a sermon. (Ouch! Sorry for that pun!)

The Ascension of our Lord

Happy Ascension Day!
Our brother and Saviour is enthroned for us
and rules all things for us and for His Church.

Here is a link to a sermon by Martin Luther on the ascension of our Lord. Enjoy!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Mental Side of Preaching

Preaching is hard work. Exegeting a text, exegeting your congregation, and then crafting a proclamation of Law and Gospel that will neither bore your congregation nor sail far over their heads, is hard work. Sometimes I hit the mark, but often times I do not. At all times, I take refuge in the promise of God that His Spirit working through His Word will "achieve that for which He sends it" (Is 55:10-11) - so whether or not I "feel" good about a sermon is irrelevant. It is God's Word proclaimed, and God has promised to work through that Word in the hearts of His people. Often in ways I will never know.

But then there is also the actual preaching of the sermon. There are all different styles of preaching and delivery, and I am not writing here to critique any of them. I simply want to point out that for me, there is a definite "mental side of preaching" - the concentration and attention involved in proclaiming the sermon I have written this week to the congregation. It is the reason why I am usually tired on Sunday afternoon - preaching is not hard physical work, but it is very hard mental work.

This comes to my mind because of what happened to me yesterday - I flubbed in the middle of the sermon. Not a major breakdown, but an important reversal of what I wanted to say. I realized it, stopped, and corrected myself. No big deal. But my concentration, my attention, my "mental side of preaching," was broken. I write out my sermons and try to learn them to preach them, and I had the whole text of my sermon right before me (which I finished preaching), but I could not get myself back mentally. The rest of the sermon I felt "disengaged" rather than "engaged." Which was quite frustrating.

I thought later in the day of gymnasts. Sometimes you see these athletes "fall off the beam" in the middle of their routines, and what do they have to do? Get right back up and finish. The best in the world are able to do so, and finish well. I have never appreciated what mental toughness that must take until today. I got back on the beam, but did not finish so well. Thanks be to God that the sermon does not depend on my "performance" but on the Word and promise of God! Nevertheless, I have learned something from this, and the next time it happens (for surely it will!), I will be better prepared and hopefully finish more strongly. The saints of God deserve my best.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pastoral Messages

Rev. Matt Harrison has begun posting some short video messages on his "mercy" blog. They are only about 5 minutes each (so not long to listen to) and filled with Scripture, Confessions, and pastoral wisdom. Here is a man who was a pastor and remains a pastor, even though he is no longer serving as a parish pastor, but as the Executive Director of LCMS World Relief and Human Care. Go watch these (click here, here, and here - or go here and scroll through his whole blog) and you will see why so many would like to see him elected as our next Synodical President. Will he be? We'll leave that in God's hands. But watch these little clips, and check back often for more. You will appreciate them.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tomorrow's Sermon

I decided to "wordle" my sermon for tomorrow. Not sure what possessed me. I have never done this before, though I've seen it on other blogs. Kind of cool, and cool that in this Easter season the word "life" wins! (The text is John 15:1-8.) You are cordially invited to come and hear this Word proclaimed tomorrow.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Seminar Audio Posted

The audio files from our Good Shepherd Seminar have now been posted on our church web site. Click here to go to the page. The presentation was recorded in four segments, to make it easier to listen to it a segment at a time.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Good Shepherd Seminar

We had a great seminar yesterday with Professor Pless. Attendance was good, interest was high, and the presentation excellent. We will have the audio of this seminar available on our web site very soon, so if you were not able to attend, you can still listen and learn. One tidbit from yesterday, just to whet your appetite: "Theologies that start with human freedom end up in bondage. Lutheran theology begins with bondage and ends in freedom."

Friday, May 1, 2009

Yes, I'm Still Here

I haven't blogged for a while (a week). That's not all that unusual for me, though I'd like to be more frequent.

This week started with my last Circuit Conference as Circuit Counselor. I was actually quite excited! I am happy someone else will be taking over for me so that I can devote the next three years to my Ph.D. studies. I turned down nominations to other offices also. The next three years will be as father and husband, pastor, and student. Then we'll see after that.

The Circuit meetings are always good. Not that the agendas and presentations are always good - but it is good to be with my brothers in office and talk with them. I don't know how many of these conferences I will be able to go to the next three years (with my class schedule) - but I will definitely try to make the time to be with my brothers somehow.

I arrived home on Wednesday night (our Circuit meetings are multi-day, since we live so far apart in a non-geographical circuit). Thursday and Friday were devoted to installing a drain in my yard. We were getting lots of standing water in front of our door and in the yard when it rained, so hopefully this new drain will take care of a lot of that. Boy, was it a lot of work! The trench I had to dig was 8-12 inches deep for about 40 feet, with lots of rocks to dig up and roots to hack and chop out. I am quite sore and tired now, but the drain is in and working, new grass planted, and the yard looking good again. I sincerely hope I do not have to do that ever again!

Now, you may be asking, when will you have time to work on your sermon? Well, this weekend is my congregation's annual Good Shepherd Seminar. Professor John Pless from our Ft. Wayne Seminary is coming in tonight to give us a seminar tomorrow, and then he will lead Bible Class and preach for the Divine Service on Sunday. The topic this year is "Pastoral Care and the Sacraments" and will focus on the role of pastoral care in pre- and post-baptismal catechesis, pastoral care and private absolution, and pastoral care with regard to the Lord's Supper and the practice of close(d) communion. It should be good!

Next week is going to be very busy, so I am glad for a bit of a break this weekend. Now you're caught up . . . whoever "you" are!