In the wedding of words and tune, Jaroslav Vajda and Carl F. Schalk, tell the story of worship in one stanza. It may be my favorite hymn.
“Now the silence Now the peace Now the empty hands uplifted”
We have little silence in our world and little of peace. We come before the Lord with empty hands with nothing to offer other than our great need.
“Now the kneeling Now the plea Now the Father’s arms in welcome”
Blessed is the church which has kneelers that with bowed knee and head we make our plea, “Father forgive.” And for sake of Jesus’ our Father welcomes us home and prepares a feast.
“Now the hearing Now the pow’r Now the vessel brimmed for pouring”
We feast on the word heard from scripture and pulpit. Now filled with the word, the cup on the altar and the bread is prepared.
“Now the body Now the blood Now the joyful celebration”
Christ’s body is placed into our uplifted hands. Our taste buds rejoice at the wine/blood.
“Now the wedding Now the songs Now the heart forgiven leaping”
The bride of Christ leaves the communion table. The wedding has begun to be completed when we see his face and hear, “Come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.”
Now the Spirit’s visitation Now the Son’s Epiphany Now the Father’s blessing Now Now Now”
There is no period, no ending. We go into our week living in the eternal present and presence of the Spirit, the Son, and in the blessing of the Father. Let it be so among us.
In 1526, Martin Luther wrote an exposition on Psalm 130. Verse 5, “I wait for the Lord.”
“There are some people who want to show God the goal and to determine the time and suggest how they wish to be helped. If things do not turn out as they wish, they give up or look elsewhere for help. They don’t wait for God, rather God should wait for them and be ready at once to help in the manner they have planned. But those who truly wait for God ask for grace and they leave it to God’s good pleasure how, where and when he will help. They don’t despair, and do not name how the help should come. They leave it to God to baptize and name it. But whoever names the help does not receive it, for he does not wait and allow the counsel, will and tarrying of God.”
Luther’s remarks fit into Advent, the season of waiting, but I just couldn’t wait to share his wisdom.
The shortest book in the Bible is Psalm 117, “For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.”
The longest book is Psalm 119, “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.”
Psalm 118 is at the center of the Bible, 594 chapters preceding it and 594 chapters succeeding it.
Psalm 118:8 stands at the exact center, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”
Psalm 118 begins and ends with calls to thankfulness, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
That’s the long and short it, when it comes to centering our life.
The Prayer of the Day asks God to “Send forth Your Son to lead home His bride, the Church, that with all of the redeemed we may finally enter into His eternal wedding feast.” This is only “through Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.”
When I hear of an eternal wedding feast I think of things that have been on my “No, No,” list for 35 years. Pecan pies, well actually pie of any sort; Fudge ripple ice cream, or fudge of any kind or sort, that goes for ice cream too; Butter Finger candy bar; and of course, Dairy Queen Peanut Buster Parfaits. I’m sure the eternal wedding feast will have a well – balanced menu, but the dessert table will do as a start.
Am I being flippant? Perhaps. But consider Isaiah 25:6-9 and Matthew 22: 4 with their menus of well – aged wines, rich food, Beef Wellington and Veal Cutlets and sweet marrow in the bone.
Then we get to sing. That’s what the hymn tells us, “At the Lamb High Feast we sing praise to our victorious King, who has washed us in the tide flowing from His pierced side. Alleluia!”
Yes, Lord send forth Your Son to lead home his bride, the Church, to enter the banquet hall for the never-ending wedding feast. May I be part of that bride sitting with Christ. You wouldn’t my Lord, if I started at the dessert table, would you?
As I thought about the 10 bridesmaids waiting for the delayed bridegroom in Sundays’ Gospel lesson (Matthew 25:1-13), a long-ago love song by Connie Francis ran through my mind. “I will wait for you…For a 1,000 summers I will wait for you…Forevermore, I will wait for you.”
It’s been about 2,000 summers since Jesus told the parable of his return and we are stilling waiting, or are we? When I was in school I wished that Jesus would return when final exams loomed, and term papers were due. But otherwise, I don’t spend much time watching and waiting.
And yet, scripture is all about God’s coming. From His coming to create the heavens and earth, to his choosing Abraham; rescuing Israel from slavery in Egypt; returning them from exile in Babylon; His coming in the flesh in Jesus; to his resurrection; the promise of his return; to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, to our baptism; to his promise at the end of Revelation, “Surely, I am coming soon.”
We are waiting in readiness when we trust in and live by, “The grace of our Lord Jesus…” Throughout all our summers and winters.
Baptism of Martin Luther
November 11, 1483 was a big day for Hans and Margarette Luther. Their oldest child was born the day before. Today, Hans took him to church and he was baptized and given the name, “Martin.” Why “Martin?”
November 11 was the day the church set aside to remember Martin of Tours. Martin was born into a pagan family in what is now Hungary about 316 AD. He grew up in Lombardy, Italy. He came to the Christian faith as a young person. His first career was in the Roman army. But he sensed a call to a life in the church and left the military, becoming a monk. Eventually he was named bishop of Tours in western Gaul (France). He lived a simple life and shared the Gospel throughout rural Gaul. He died November 11.
Lord God of hosts, Your servant Martin embodied the spirit of sacrifice. Through your grace he became a servant of Christ and defended the catholic faith. Give us grace to follow in his steps so that when our Lord returns we may be clothed with the baptismal garment of righteousness and peace. through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Psalm 143: 1 & 10, Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness…Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!
I’m borrowing this from Jerry Kieschnick, past President of the LCMS.
A woman hurrying out of a pharmacy to her car discovered her keys locked inside. She found a coat hanger lying beside the car. She said, “I don’t know how to use this thing.”
She asked God to send help.
Within five minutes a beat-up old motorcycle pulled up, driven by a bearded old biker wearing skull rag. He asked if he could help.
The lady said, “Yes, my daughter is home sick. I’ve locked my keys in the car. Could you use this hanger to unlock the car?”
He said, “Sure.” And in less than a minute he opened the door. The woman hugged the man and through tears said, “Thank you, God, for sending such a nice man.”
The man heard her prayer and replied, “Lady, I’m not a nice man. I just got out of prison yesterday. I’ve been serving time for car theft.”
The woman hugged him again, praying, “Oh, thank you, God for sending a professional.”
One day I was walking on San Bonita near Concordia Seminary, when a bagel landed at my feet.
It wouldn’t be the first-time bread came from heaven. In the time of Moses, the Israelites came out of their tents one morning and found the ground was covered with some fine flake like things. “What is it?” Moses said, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.”
Psalm 78 makes the event sound like the flood. “God… opened the doors of heaven, and he rained down on them manna to eat… Man ate the bread of angels…”
In John 6, Jesus tells the people they should work for the bread that gives eternal life. That work is to “believe in him whom he (God) has sent.”
Jesus offers us something even more heavenly than a cinnamon crunch orb. “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Now that’s even better than a buttered bagel falling from the heavens.
The prayer of the Day for All Saints Sunday begins, “Almighty and everlasting God, You knit together Your faithful people of all times and places into one holy communion, the mystical body of Your Son, Jesus Christ.”
The almighty and eternal God begins his knitting project in the womb, as Psalm 139 puts it, “You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” St. Paul writes of God knitting his people together in Colossians 2, encouraging us to hold tightly onto Christ our Head because it’s from him the whole church is, “Knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.”
Our prayer extends God’s knitting project to include all who trust in Christ throughout the world and throughout time. The prayer continues that God would “Grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that together with them we may come to the unspeakable joys You have prepared for those who love you”
This would be a time to visit our cemeteries thinking of those who have lived exemplar lives leaving us a pattern to follow in our own lives. We might also consider those saints still alive who also influence our daily lives.
This is the time of year of haunted house, costumed ghouls, and carved pumpkins leering with eerie light. In the 16th century All Saints Eve was a time when people believed the ghosts of the dead rose from their graves for a night of haunting prior to All Saints Day. But of course, our neighbors yard and house which apparently has been invaded by purple spiders, nor the folks lying in repose in nearby St. Lucas cemetery are scary.
I’ve been reading in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans about God’s wrath. Now that’s really scary. “God’s anger is revealed from heaven against all the sin and evil of people…” (Rom. 1:18 TEV) We are in big time trouble. We receive what we have earned, and that is death.
I know, who needs such negative thinking. Well, here’s something positive. God gives us a gift. The wages of failing to be perfect in mind, word and deed may be death. But God gives us the death of his Son, Jesus, who lived the life we were intended to life. With Jesus’ death and resurrection comes the gift of life, not just for our years here, but in eternity in our resurrection. Thus, the day of God’s wrath is changed into the day of his forgiveness.
So, there really isn’t anything scary about All Saints Eve, though I still didn’t like the stink bug I found on the toilet seat last week. It suffered from my wrath.
Happy Reformation Day 500.