Thursday, March 31, 2011

Excitement with Kinect

Auntie Brigitte has boxed and won a round.  She has also downhill ski-ed and screaming all the way ended up winning the race, too.  She also won a dance competition but she could not get the horse moving.  She also did not do well in Football, but still, at least, managed to lose her breath.  So obviously that was exercise.  

Now off to Badminton in a real life gymn.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lutheran Study Bible/ Pink and Blue

This is my third try at the Lutheran Study Bible because of the availability of various sizes and paper thicknesses.  I LIKE THIS ONE!-- This one, I can read with the glasses off by sticking it closer to the eyes.  It is really soft and flexible but durable on the outside--very nice feel.  This one you can cuddle with on the sofa, in the bed or take with you.  

It still would be difficult to underline or write notes.  But you can't have everything.  

Plus--it's pink and brown!  I like the funky look.  Kind of enjoyable.  One could have a his and her's in the house by going blue and pink.  You could give a set to a couple.  I ordered mine from CPH here.  

What's really nice is, you can have an instant devotion.  You have your reading and you can read the Law Gospel section below, or read something from the introduction to the particular book, and voila.  The commentary is very good and as has been shown the best you can get in a study Bible.  Very cool!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring Break

My sister's family is coming for a visit and this will be fun.

Since our 10 year old x-box literally went up in smoke (smoke did come out of it), I went out and bought a new one with the Kinect, plus exercise games.  May all of it find blessed use.  :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Some items about Luther's Small Catechism

We are almost finished reading Martin Brecht's:  Martin Luther:  Shaping and Defining the Reformation.

But we are backtracking a little bit.  What has stuck in my mind are the times when Brecht talks about the concern Luther had for the teaching of the simple and young, so that a new generation of well-taught people would grow up with benefits related both to their own faith and to the service of a peaceable and well-ordered community.

Because of the devastating, existing deficiencies and lack of basic knowledge, Luther emphasized most strongly the promulgation of the catechisms.  He returned to this subject most strongly over and over again.  No one was to refuse to learn it and no one should think too highly of himself to not want to teach it.  Those were the best who could teach the catechism well.  He stressed that he himself exercised himself in it daily.  This was basic knowledge needed to be a Christian.

The Christian education of youth and of the laity in general has never been a task that the church has found easy. The leaders of the young Reformation movement were aware that its success depended not least upon whether they would be able to convey to congregations, and especially to young people, a coherent knowledge of the evangelical faith that would consist of more than superficial and fragmentary information.  Therefore they addressed the subject of religious pedagogy in a new way and with far more energy than had earlier been customary.  Along with preaching the biblical Word, Luther himself began working very early on conveying a basic knowledge of Christianity to the congregation.  The laity should know and understand the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord's Prayer;  in addition they should be informed about the sacraments. Since 1516, as had been customary, he had preached again and again on these subjects, primarily during Lent.  Each time he began with the Decalogue;  he usually finished by treating the sacraments during Holy Week.  After Bugenhagen became the pastor at the end of 1523 he appears to have primarily assumed this responsibility.  This instruction was closely connected with confession and communion....  After 1524, in Wittenberg, it appears that an examination of one's knowledge of communion was connected with confession. (p. 273)
...A form of questions and answers--and Luther provided examples--would serve to make sure that what was learned was also understood.  For this purpose the material should be divided into two sections, dealing respectively with faith and love, which would correspond to the aspects of corruption and redemption, or to well doing and suffering.  Bible passages could be arranged according to these categories.  For Luther, this method certainly should not be deprecated as pedagogical "child's play."  It was the way preaching would be A"driving home to the hearts,"  and a great wealth of Christian people would grow up, "enriched in Scripture and in the knowledge of God."  At that time Luther did not mention the sacraments, but he was certainly thinking about them as well.
In the preface to his commentary on Zachariah, Luther complained about how few preachers were competent to give good catechetical instruction.  those who could, he ranked above the most subtle theologians.  "One ought, however, to regard those teachers as the best and the paragons of their profession who present the catechism well.... But such teachers are rare birds.  For there is neither great glory nor outward show in their kind of teaching;  but there is in it great good and also the best of sermons, because in this teaching there is comprehended, in brief, all Scriptures."  Luther was aware of how difficult any sort of elementary Christian instruction was.  Nevertheless, he considered it one of theology's most noble tasks.
In the preface to the German Mass, Luther had advocated regular preaching on the catechism on Mondays and Tuesdays.  Instructions for the Visitors also provided for regular catechetical sermons.  In Wittenberg it appears that Pastor Bugenhagen treated the catechism four times a year.  When he was in Brunswick in 1528, Luther substituted for him at this task and on 18-30 May, 14-25 September, and from 30 November until 19 December he preached on the entire catechism, each time four afternoons a week.  The last series contained an urgent appeal for whole families to take part.  Work was not a valid excuse, since the many saints' days had been abolished and people wasted a great deal of time--in drinking, for example.  One hour could well be spent in perfecting the knowledge of Christ.  Domestic servants who did not want to participate should be discharged.  Luther did not agree with their masters' argument that one should not compel them.  The master of the house was their bishop and pastor, who was responsible for their education both outwardly and inwardly.
Alongside Pastor Bugenhagen, Luther wanted to do his part through his preaching, "and more than we are obliged to do."  A similar appeal is found in a sermon preached in Kemberg in July 1529.  Luther had already expressed himself quite positively about evangelical catechetical instruction in September 1528.  A boy or girl of fifteen now knew more about the Word of God "than all the universities and doctors before,"  because the true catechism was being taught, namely, the "lord's Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, what confession, baptism, prayer, the cross, living, dying, and the sacrament of the altar are, and about what marriage, civil government, father and mother, wife and child, man and son, servant and maid are.  In sun I have brought a good conscience and order to all the estates int he world, so that everyone knows how he is to live and serve God in his estate, and not a little fruit, peace, and virtue has been produced among those who have accepted it."  The Catholic side could show nothing comparable. (pp. 274-275)

This last bit about the Catholic side being able to show nothing comparable makes me think because it seems to me now that the RC church is putting more energy into its RCIA classes than we are into instruction.

It is not often that one meets any adults who talk about exercising themselves in the catechism.   Sometimes, I've carried the pamphlet edition in my purse and brought up quotes in Bible studies and other places.  Sometimes, someone says: "Can I have that pamphlet."

Really great is the Small Catechism with Explanations because it lists many Bible verses to prove all the statements in the questions and answers.

The Small Catechism with Explanations can also be found on-line in a day by day project of posting to blog here.

It can also be found in the German in this Google Book, with the explanations provided by Johann Conrad Dietrich (1575-1639).

Getting back to RCIA classes, because I have a friend who went through the program, this is what I quickly googled:

The Second Vatical Council recommended that the Church renew its way of receiving Adult Candidates. A revised rite called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) was approved by Pope Paul VI in 1972 and has become the norm for the Church. RCIA stresses formation in doctrine, liturgy, Church life, and service and involves the larger Church community in welcoming, instructing, helping and praying for Candidates.
Read more:

I used to attend a church where we regularly went through a cycle of adult instruction, and regular members of the congregation would attend together with friends who were interested in joining.  Now I have not seen a class like that in some time.

I think I agree with Luther:  let us inculcate the catechism everywhere and let those be praised who can do it well.  They are our best assets. 

In looking for a picture to go with this post, I came across this pastor's blog entry.  The pastor belongs to a liberal church which does not know what to teach any more and thus he is not sure what to teach to his confirmation class.  Now that is a conundrum, if there ever was one.   Now this is a problem.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Funerals for German Lutherans in this area.

Today I attended and helped with a funeral in our congregation.  A dear, older, faithful member went to be with his Lord.  It was a good funeral for a wonderful gentleman originally from Silesia, where my father's family was also from.

What made me pause today was that this generation of refugees who came to this area and populated our local congregations are going to be all gone soon.  It is really a marker for me.  After that, more of our own generation will be called up.  That is another sobering thought.

How many more times will we hear stories like these:  they lived in such and such an area, they lived through the war in such and such a fashion, facing such and such tragedies or else were spared many, they became refugees/displaced, they suffered such and such deprivations after the war, they came to Canada.  These are the survivors, the emigrants, the hardy folk who taught us to save, work and sing, bake and cook.  They had many skills, or else were eager to develop them, and pushed us to succeed and make something of ourselves. They had much joi de vivre, they nurtured us, they took us camping, they were simple, good, solid folk, who kept the faith.  They had simple, down to earth but wonderful pleasures and gifts.  I am honored to have been reared by such people.  They also had traumas to overcome.  And we knew them also through our upbringing and adult life.  Some of these were never overcome. Life is good and life is very harsh.

One of the hymns of the funeral, upon insistent request, as at every other German Lutheran funeral of those who came through war, flight and emigration, was:  "So nimm denn meine Haende".  There is seemingly no funeral without this one.

I would like to type it out in English.  It is found in the Lutheran Service Book as #722.  "Lord, take my hand and lead me."   It seems to be owned by the Lutheran Book of Worship, so I will prepare my own translation for the blog, though I see that someone has put a video of it on YouTube.

1. Please take my hands and lead me
until my blessed end and to eternity.
I do not want to walk one step without you:
where ever it is you will go and stay,
please, just take me along.

2.  Please enfold my week heart with your mercy,
and make it wholly quiet in times of joy and in sorrow.
Let your poor child simply rest at your feet.
I want to just close my eyes and trust you blindly.

3.  Even when at times I might feel nothing of your power,
you are still leading me toward the goal, even through the night.
So, please, take my hands and guide me,
until my blessed end and to eternity.

It was the "even through the night" that got me today.  These people knew the night.  These people trusted those hands which held and led.  These people looked forward to their heavenly home to see the one held them in his hands.

I thank God for them and their faith.

Once more, below, my grandfather's drawing.

Monday, March 21, 2011

German Refugees in 1945

German TV documentary on the German refugees from the East in 1945.

My father was Silesian.  My mother-in-law and father-in-law were also refugees.

I have never seen such a documentary.  These fates have so far been rarely discussed.

Friday, March 18, 2011

How Concordia Publishing House's Copyrights affect me

I have been a huge fan and steady customer of Concordia Publishing House.  I have read and given as gifts innumerable "Treasuries of Daily Prayer", "Catechisms", and so on.  I am seemingly the lone promoter in this outpost, mostly giving things away for free, which is almost a joke around here.  Last month I shipped three boxes of books to Africa, all CPH products worth I don't know how much, hundreds and hundreds of dollars.  CPH products are my vice.

I am deeply grateful for the work of the editors and marketers.  Yet, there are some things I don't know how to deal with.

How "intellectual property rights"  affect me.  

The answers to these points may not  be simple--granted.  But the problems are real and what's involved quite profound.

1.  When I want to type out hymn verses, I have to check my hymnbook to see if they are in public domain.  Many of them are not.  So I can't post them here or discuss them.  Unless there is a way and I don't know what it is.

Often a Google search comes to this blog looking for Paul Gerhardt songs in English for example.  Guess what they are not all in public domain.  So I discuss them a little bit and tell people they have to buy a hymnbook from CPH.

2.  On YouTube you can get many beautiful Lutheran hymns in German performed by unnumbered choirs, congregations, bands, organists, etc.--a huge wealth.   In English--you can get practically nothing.  (And people want to promote good hymnody.  Something here gives.)

I have spoken with a major Lutheran choir director of a major Lutheran choir and suggested perhaps the choir could perform some hymns and post them to YouTube.  Your guessed it, it can't be done--the translations are all under copyright.

So on-line, we can mostly find hymns originally written in English.  The English hymns are beautiful, too.  Often I think a hymn originally written in English works better anyhow than those translated into English.  But if you want them, the translated German hymns are not there.  You can get Bach Cantatas and such, but they are not translated.  Or the translations are quite ancient and therefore are not copyrighted, and usually not appealing to modern singers.

3. I used to be able to send people to a link under the LCMS website where Luther's Small Catechism with Explanations (basically lists of Bible verses) was available for reading by anyone.  Now, it is no longer there because of "intellectual property rights".  This is a big, huge loss to the community world-wide.

Many of us do not live in places where you can pick up a catechism.  When I travel, I check the bookstores small and large in big cities and small, to see if there is anything available by Luther or CPH.  Generally, there is nothing whatsoever.  So, most of us, who want to look at a Small Catechism with Explanations, have to order one on-line or buy an e-version--granted that would be much quicker if a person likes to read that way (not me).  It takes considerable time to get a delivery.  (So, I usually have several available and give them away.)

I grew up and was confirmed in Germany and we never studied the catechism.  It bothers me now that nice versions should not be available on the internet.  Luther wrote them because there was such a dire need among the poor and the young and the old, especially in far-flung places and the villages.

So much junk can be picked up everywhere and is beamed around the world.  I think we need to be more free with our treasures.  Somehow.  Let's figure it out.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Luther on Aesop's Fables

The animal fables of Aesop (ca. 550 B.C.) were one of the testimonies to secular wisdom most treasured by Luther.  They were also used in instruction in the Wittenberg schools.  Since about 1480 there had been a German translation by Heinrich Steinhoewel, but crude stories that were not always suitable for children's ears had been added to it.  This was why Luther wanted to prepare his own translation,  which could be used by families,, around the table in the evenings.  However, the work was not finished.  Only the preface and about a dozen of the translations were completed.  It was not published until after Luther's death, but then it enjoyed a wide circulation in the terse and precise linguistic form Luther employed.  Among the selections were such familiar stories as "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse"  and the story of the dog with a bone in his mouth who snaps at his mirror image in the river and thus loses what he has.  According to Luther, the fables could teach one how to act in domestic and political life, "so that you can live wisely and peacefully among wicked people in the treacherous, evil world."  In fact, the fables and the "morals"  appended to them served quite prosaically to destroy illusions about the way people dealt with one another.  One must learn that the rules of the game are unfair.  What they emphasized was not the improvement of the world, but the proper evaluation of the world.  The otherness of the "carnival game" of animal fables could help in getting children to understand the world.  

(Brecht, Luther:  Shaping and Defining the Reformation, p. 380)

The reasons Luther liked the fables are interesting to me because Aesops Fables and many proverbs were taught to us as children.  Our grandparents were also always pouring forth proverbs.  I don't think the young people of this time, know many of them.

At times, I thought about the fable to do with the ant and the grasshopper.  I remember having to translate it once from Latin for a test.  The ant collects and has enough for the winter.  The grasshopper sits around and plays music and goes hungry.  The ant won't give him any saying:  "Why did you not do any work while you could?  It's your fault."

This one used to come to my mind when also on the other hand, Jesus instructed us not to worry about material possessions. The messages seemed contradictory to me growing up.  But it is good to keep both ideas in balance.  Work while you can.  Trust the Lord and do not worry.  Share especially with those who are needy and not those who are lazy.

These are all good things for young people to consider.  Many nowadays would know neither what Jesus said, nor what the fable said.

Perhaps people can learn some of these things from all the movies and drama they consume, but then Hollywood is generally not too realistic.  The good guy never dies;  the promiscuous never get pregnant or catch an STD;  money equals happiness, the ultimate goal...  While our media shows us all kinds of graphic images, destroys our innocence, it furthers naivite, rather than wisdom.

One might need to praise here some of the reality shows.  When they are not allowed to become too vulgar, quite a bit of the truth leaks out in those.  Also our stage comedians speak a lot of truth, though they too are often too vulgar.  My sister loves to watch comedians on CBC television and find she receives a lot of counsel from them.  --  It does happen.  She loves comedy.  Actually, I have had many memorable laughs, too.   Some of these people are brilliant, indeed.

Wisdom literature is something the ancients were known for.  "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" we hear from Solomon.   This is true.  Even ancients of other cultures had some faith in something above them.  Without  God you can be smart, cunning, successful, but not at the same time innocent as doves as well as wise.

The devil is about, also, seeking whom he may devour.  He is a liar and a murderer, and also, by the way, an adulterer.  (Luther explained in the books on  war against the Turk's aggression, see last post, that Islam exhibits all the marks of the devil in his religion:  lying about God, murdering in politics, dissolute about marriage disregarding women and children.  Though, what shall we say about ourselves?  Maybe those going around with placards saying that we are doomed because of our behavior, are doing the right thing.  But it must be remembered that it is not Jesus who teaches these things.)

This is kind of what we view in our movies, too.  Lies about God, murder and more murder, and adultery and fornication as a constant and very visual diet.

This is what we put into our heads.  It is not wise.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Brecht on Luther on the Turks

We have almost finished Martin Brecht's  "Martin Luther:  Shaping and Refining the Reformation".

Well, there is still chapter 10 on the "Diet of Augsburg" and Chapter 11 "From the Diet of Augsburg to the Nuremberg Standstill."  And there is Chapter 12 with miscellaneous subjects.

Chapter 9 dealt with the Reformation and Politics.  It was highly interesting full of things we don't usually hear  much about.  The latter part dealt with the threat of Turkish invasion.  The chapter finishes with these last  pages (366-368).

Luther considered the Army Sermon Against the Turks necessary, because no one had listened to On War Against the Turk and, now that the Turks had withdrawn, the Wittenbergers were relaxing once again.  In it, he wanted "first to instruct the consciences, then encourage the fists."  The vision of the four kingdoms of this world in Daniel 7 once again underlay the first part.  This gave his evaluation of the Turkish danger its eschatological coloration:  because the Roman Empire was the fourth and last kingdom of the world, the Turk could not be anything but a final episode within the history of the Roman Empire and not an independent epoch.  God's judgment would put an end to him.  Even though fixing a precise date was impossible, there were signs that they were in the final phase of history.  Although Luther saw the Turks--along with the pope--as one of God's ultimate enemies, he would not, as before, see a war against them as a Christian crusade, but rather as a secular struggle. If a Christian lost his life while fighting, he died for a just cause like a martyr.  Here a thought recurs that Luther had once used as encouragement in the Peasants' War.  If necessary, Christians should unhesitatingly and fearlessly risk their lives against the Turks, and also not let themselves be irritated by their atrocities against women and children.  With all his killing, the Turk could take away only one's temporal life, while he himself was lost eternally.  From an eschatological point of view, the war against the Turks was thus not a crusade, of course, but an apocalyptic struggle in which there truly was no longer a real solution of the conflict in the world.  Unlike the later confrontation with the pope, which also had apocalyptic overtones, this one did not prevent Luther from giving specific advice for politics, the "art of the possible." 
The "encouragement of the fist"  referred first to an exhortation to pay the necessary taxes.  All classes detested taxes;  Luther could sing his own song about the unwillingness of those who were selfish to pay church taxes.  But when they refused to pay the war tax, all of their possessions, and the populace as well, would fall prey to the Turks.  Because numerous Christians had been deported by the Turks, Luther also gave advice about how they should conduct themselves under Turkish rule.  Everything depended on holding fast to the second article of the Creed, which dealt with Christ.  In this way they could maintain their Christian identity even against the most impressive claims of Islam.  In general, imprisonment was to be tolerated patiently, and in such a case one would have to acknowledge that the Turk was one's authority.
Because of their timeliness, Luther's writings on the Turks were quickly and frequently reprinted.  The second Wittenberg edition of Army Sermon Against the Turks appeared before the end of 1529.  At the beginning of 1530, Luther published more information in Booklet concerning the Religion and Customs of the Turks, a book written in Latin in the fifteenth century by a Transylvanian Dominican who had lived among the Turks for a long time.  In his preface Luther emphasized the fervor of Islamic religiosity, which in many respects surpassed that of Christianity.  Precisely for this reason one had to make it clear that Christianity dealt with something other than ceremonies and practices, namely, faith in Christ.
The threat from the Turks continued.  In February 1530 there was already a rumor that the Turks were returning.  Thus Luther too could not get rid of this topic.  Right after arriving at the Coburg, he jumped ahead to Ezekiel 38-39 at the end of April, translated these chapters, and published them separately.  These two chapters deal with Gog's attack on Israel--also mentioned in Revelation 20--which God ultimately foiled.  Luther had previously identified Gog with the Turks.  The biblical and eschatological view of history was intended to provide comfort in the current danger, as well as to encourage reform and prayer.  Luther was unable to convert vast circles with his appeals, and this failure bothered him.  A new attack by the Turks would be punishment for impenitence and false security.  Yet the preachers of the Word dare not give up their task of admonition.  Therefore, at the beginning of 1532 he published John Brenz's sermons about the Turk with a preface of his own.  He did not treat this this theme again until years later.
Luther's relationship to the greater political situation in these years evidences an impressive consistency, both in its fundamental principles and in its details.  He persistently maintained the theological opinions he had worked out earlier.  He held strictly to the distinction between the earthly and the divine kingdoms, but without sundering them. He did not get mixed up in grand politics, and not infrequently he himself remained generally untroubled by major events.  He did not pursue the spread of the Reformation as a political strategy.  Persecution,k suffering, and death could ultimately have no effect on those who follow Christ and on their cause, he said.  Christians were forbidden to attack with force.  Nevertheless, the evangelical authorities could protect and defend their subjects.  In the face of aggression by the Turks, they were obligated to do so.  Self-defense reached its limits when it came to obedience to authority, and this pertained especially to the emperor, who could not be resisted in any case.  Luther's views were in no way merely the otherworldly theories of a theologian.  Although he himself regarded the results of his books on the Turks as negligible, it is difficult to evaluate their effect on the thinking of those who read them.  The imperial politics of Elector John, insofar as they concerned the Reformation, were substantially influenced by Luther's advice.  He also foiled the anti-Catholic and anti-Hapsburg politics of Philip of Hesse.  Both the Hessian-Saxon preemptive war and the Protestant alliance were thwarted.  Subsequent events appear to have vindicated Luther.  There were no obvious major disadvantageous consequences because of the Protestants' political weakness.  However, it remained to be seen how Christianity in Germany--and its divided camps--would fare theologically, ecclesiastically, and politically at the approaching Diet of Augsburg. 

Of interest to me here were these points:

1.  Luther's eschatological interest in the major events of his time linking them to Daniel and Ezekiel were quite thorough-going.
2.  The two kingdoms are applied consistently:  his role also was to "encourage the fists".  If the secular authorities were attacked (and only then) it was their duty to defend their Christian population with arms.  Necessary measures should be planned, taxed, undertaken by the secular government.  Any struggle against the attacking Turk was secular and arms should be used.
3.  He foiled several preemptive attacks by seeing them as unjust.  No bad consequences came of this. ("In quietness and trust shall be your strength"--Isaiah 30:15)
4.  The peasants' revolt was a bad mixing of the kingdoms.  Even more so measures had had to be taken against them.  The peasants wanted to revolt in the name of the Reformation and Christian freedom, as in a kind of war for the gospel.  This is not how Christian freedom works.  While he sought justice for the peasants he also encouraged the "fist" of the secular government against insurrectionists.

Now, we need to find the documents listed in this chapter:

Whether Soldiers, Too, Can Be Saved
On War Against The Turk
Concerning the Turks' Blaspheming and Murdering
Army Sermon Against the Turks

I only found the one link so far.  Perhaps, someone will help. :)

A short quote from "On War Against the Turk" explaining how war is never the church's work but purely secular defense;  this defense is still highly necessary.   It's a pretty interesting read, like all of Luther's writings.

  is not right for the pope, who wants to be a Christian, and the highest and best Christian preacher at that, to lead a church army, or army of Christians. For the Church ought not strive or fight with the sword; it has other enemies than flesh and blood, their name is the wicked devils in the air; therefore it has other weapons and swords and other wars, so that it has enough to do, and cannot mix in the wars of the emperor or princes, for the Scriptures say that there shall be no good fortune where men are disobedient to God.       Again, if I were a soldier and saw in the field a priests’ banner, or banner of the cross, even though it were a crucifix I should run as though the devil were chasing me; and even if they won a victory, by God’s decree, I should not take any part in the booty or the rejoicing. Even the wicked iron-eater, Pope Julius, who was half devil, did not succeed, but had to call at last on the Emperor Maximilian and let him take charge of the game, despite the fact that Julius had more money, arms, and people. I think, too, that this latest pope, Clement, whom people held almost a god of war, succeeded well with his fighting until he lost Rome and all its wealth to a few ill-armed soldiers. The conclusion is this: Christ will teach them to understand my article, that Christians shall not make war, and the condemned article must take its revenge, for it is said of Christians and will be uncondemned and right and true; although they do not care and do not believe it, but rush on more and more, hardened and unrepentant, and go to destruction. To this I say Amen, Amen.       It is true, indeed, that since they have temporal lordship and wealth, they ought to make out of it the same contributions to the emperor, kings, or princes that other holdings properly make, and render the same services that others are expected to render. Nay, these “goods of the Church,” as they call them, ought above all others to serve and help in the protection of the needy and the welfare of all classes, for they are given for that purpose, not in order that a bishop may forget his office and use them for war or battle. If the banner of Emperor Charles or of a prince is in the field, then let everyone run boldly and gladly to the banner to which his allegiance is sworn; but if the banner of a bishop, cardinal, or pope is there, then run the other way, and say “I do not know this coin; if it were a prayer book, or the Holy Scriptures preached in the Church, I would rally to it.” 

Saving a link to "Kirchenordnung" (church regulations) from 1569, Braunschweig und Lueneburg

Sunday, March 13, 2011

More Lent

Interesting one on Lent and some good reasons why "Evangelicals" might try it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ash Wednesday ashes, yes or no?

Found this link posted elsewhere:

Pastor Cwirla explains that he is a preacher of the gospel and dispenser of forgiveness and sacraments, not doer of man-invented rituals proclaiming death.  It's a beautiful post full of good news.  I see his point.

Yet, we had ashes for the very first time this year at our home congregation.  Below find, what the bulletin said about it.  

And I did find the event meaningful in that it brought home to me in a different way that I need Jesus.  I really, really need him because I am indeed dying, dying in my sin.  He is exactly the Savior I need.  A Savior from sin and death.  

This is what my church bulletin said in way of explanation:

"The seasons of the church year reflect differing moods, as does life itself:  overwhelming triumph, deep sorrow, quiet joy, eager anticipation, and even normal, ordinary life and growth.  Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent, a time of contemplative sorrow over our own sinfulness and special remembrance of the sufferings of Jesus Christ for our sin.  Ashes have been a sign of sorrow for millennia, and there are numerous biblical examples of people covering themselves with ashes.  Today we invite you who wish to participate to come forward at this time to receive the mark of ashes on your forehead as a vivid reminder of your own mortality (ashes to ashes) as an expression of repentance before God.  The ashes are the remains of last year's palm branches, thereby showing how fickle our praise to God often becomes.  But ashes also suggest cleansing and renewal, and they point to the gift of forgiveness God gives us in Jesus Christ."

What comes to mind also, is that monks placed skulls on their desks to remind them of their mortality.  But we are no monks, either.

In any case, I am not going to worry about it any more tonight, as long as no rule is made about it. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Beautiful and poignant image for the season and every day.

A picture for lent from my old Paul Gerhardt song book. (1921)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Luther and the congregation in Wittenberg

From Martin Brecht, "Martin Luther:  Shaping and Defining the Reformation", p. 292.

I have thought that Luther's lambasting of morals of the Wittenberg congregation was an emphasis perhaps unfairly placed by Roman Catholic so-called apologists (or some say "e-pologists").  But apparently, he was indeed quite disgusted with the congregation and refused to preach to it at times and for protracted periods because they were not listening.  All this lead to the emphasis on training the young, the catechisms and education, a good result in the end.

"The obvious difficulties that Luther and his message confronted in the congregations call for serious thought.  They cannot have arisen because of the quality of his sermons.  Both in form and in content the sermons are impressive still today and have scarcely been excelled.  Undoubtedly, the advice in them was both specific and understandable at that time.  Luther appears to have had less a problem with morality in the customary sense.  Cursing, excessive drinking, offenses against property, and sexual offenses did occur in Wittenberg, of course, but Luther was more offended by the lack of support for the preachers and the failure to perform acts of charity. We note that there was no mention of a group in the congregation that was decisively significant for the gospel;  the evangelical clergy, who apparently had a good collegial relationship, seem in their activity to have maintained a certain distance from the passive, receptive congregation.  In fact, there was no circle of those who "wanted to be serious Christians."  More intense didactic preaching of the law--as Luther, with Melanchthon's approval intended--could do nothing to change this situation.  Luther himself placed his hopes on winning the youth, but one could not anticipate what sort of new forms of congregational life would develop.  Evangelical preaching by itself apparently had limited possibilities.  The concept of the priesthood of all believers meant that the congregation, or segments of it, would have to assume a Christian responsibility in another way beyond the family or the state institutions, but there were not even the initial indications of such an undertaking.  Luther's new order opened no new possibilities here, inasmuch as the difficulties which were arising were caused by it, and these difficulties were ones that also could not be overcome by it."

It is very difficult to change adults with brains that are shaped.  The youth needs much proper attention.  What is the youth getting these days?

Pakistani Christian Minister in Government shot/Predicts his own Assassination

Government Minister Bhatti confesses his faith and expects to be killed.

These are his powerful words:

"When I am leading this campaign against the Sharia law for the abolishment of blasphemy law and speaking for the oppressed and the marginalized, persecuted Christians and other minorities, these Taliban threaten me. But I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ, who has given his own life for us. I know what is the meaning of cross and I am following of the cross. I am ready to die for a cause. I'm living for my community and suffering people and I will die to defend their rights." - Shahbaz Bhatti

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pakistani Christian Minister in Government shot

My brother e-mailed me this:

Pakistani minister shot dead  

Mar 02 - Christian Pakistani Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, who had called for changes to the country's controversial blasphemy law, has been shot dead in Islamabad. Marie-Claire Fennessy reports.

The definition of "blasphemy" is, of course, extremely loose and applied exclusively to non-Moslems.  It is blasphemy, for example, to state that Christ is the son of God.  Equally blasphemous is stating that Christ is above Mohamed.  What it amounts to is that belonging to another faith is blasphemy.

The mother of four, who is also mentioned in the clip, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy in December, was involved in a "village dispute."  I remember reading about what actually happened.  Village women, who knew she was Christian, came and challenged her to confess that Christ was not the Son of God.  Something along these lines. 
She refused to.  The other women became enraged and reported her for blaspheming.  This earned her a death sentence.  And Pakistan is not even run (not officially) by an Islamic oligarchy.  Once in a while stuff gets out, but these stories are just the tiny tip of the iceberg.  We can be assured of that.

Our moral virtue

"There is no moral virtue without either pride or sorrow, that is, without sin."

Disputation against Scholastic Theology #38.

"Arrogance cannot be avoided or true hope be present unless the judgment of condemnation is feared in every work."

Heidelberg Disputation #11.