Lord, Be With

A prayer by Herbert Brokering from “Lord Be With.”

Lord,
be with those who go out after a storm
picking up the pieces;
those who after the fight
Look for loved ones among the wounded;
those who after the high wind
look for personal belongings
strewn shamefully among the public;
Those whose trees are uprooted,
whose water is polluted,
Whose fences are broken, and
whose hope is shattered.

Lord,
be with the broken hearted,
whose refrigerators are robbed by wind and rain,
whose beds are soaked by by storm,
whose picture windows are crushed by hail,
whose rugs are covered by mud, and
whose privacy is invaded by searchlights.

Lord,
be with the flooded,
the rained out,
the uprooted,
who who are refugees of fierce weather.
Give to them, in these frightened times,
such people who can help them
pick up the pieces
and put life back together.

Jesus Christ, show us how to begin again;
let all ravaged life be made new.
Amen.

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Monica, Mother of Augustine

 

 

Monica (Monnica) lived with her husband Patricius in a farming village in North Africa.  Patricius worked in the Roman Administration of the village.  Monica bore with patience his unfaithfulness and temper tantrums.   Neighboring wives were instructed by her Christian self-control and forbearance.  Her patience bore fruit when Patricius was baptized shortly before his death in 370.

 

She also prayed for their gifted son, Augustine, who spent his early life going from one religion and philosophy to another in search of the truth.  In his Confessions*, Augustine writes of his mother, “She had mourned me as one dead, but also as one who would be raised to you.  She carried me out on the bier of her thoughts, that you might say to the widow’s son, “Young man, I say to you, arise!”  Monica followed her son to Rome and then to Milan, Italy

 

When God brought Augustine to faith in Christ, “she leaped with joy triumphant; and she blessed You, who are ’able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.’”

 

After his baptism, they were returning to Africa when she fell ill.  It was apparent she would not make it back home.  Asked if she dreaded being buried so far from her own city.  She said, “Nothing is far from God.  I do not fear that, at the end of time, he should not know the place whence he is to resurrect me.”  She died in 387 at the age of 56.

 

O Lord, who strengthened Monica in offering her love, prayers and tears for the conversion of her husband and their son. Deepen our devotion, and use us to bring others, even our own family, to acknowledge Jesus Christ, as Savior and Lord. Amen

 

* an online English translation of Augustine’s Confessions is available at the Project Gutenberg website, Gutenberg.org.

 

For all the faithful women

Who served in days of old,

To You shall thanks be given;

To all, their story told.

They served with strength and gladness

In tasks Your wisdom gave.

To You their lives bore witness,

Proclaimed Your Pow’r to save.

For All the Faithful Women

St. 1, 855 LSB, 419 ELW

Death and Violence in the Cemetery

 

Early this past week I was walking our dog in the cemetery when I came across some scattered grey and white feathers.  I thought, “An owl or hawk has been at work on a pigeon.”  Further on, three cawing crows perched on tall tombstones.  They believed they had one of our local air born predators in their sights to harass.

What a metaphor for the death and violence we have seen in Barcelona and Charlottesville, Virginia.  Yesterday, the bodies of four people, man, woman, her 20-year-old and a Ten-year-old boy were found murdered in their north St. Louis County home.  This was not murder-suicide.

Are we not made a little less than the angels? (Psalm 8:4) Yet, the blood of Cain runs through our human veins.  Are we not saved by Jesus Christ, who died and shed his blood on the cross?  Yet, we seem to be children of those who cried “Crucify him.”

What an abomination that some use the cross and torches as their banner of hatred and violence toward their fellow human beings.  What utter ignorance of history and an insult to the creator/savior God that some would raise the banner of a swastika the Nazi’s as their hope.  Have white nationalists ever studied their own genealogy? Home grown terrorism is bearing its awful fruit.

And then an internet headline wants me to care that Kim Kardashian went braless in a tank top and joggers.

Then Becky interrupted my writing and asked me to sit out on the front patio with Adam while she went grocery shopping.  Out there, a neighbor returned from jogging, another mowed his lawn.  High in the blue sky a jet cruised while below 4 hawks (?) playfully circled on invisible air currents.  As I sat with a cup of coffee starting a new book, I noticed some ripening tomatoes on the vine and out of planter populated with dead marigolds eight new self -seeded plants had sprouted.

And I remembered that during world War ii, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, even while in prison, found opportunity to offer God’s love and grace to his guards.  Helmut Thielicke continued to preach on the Lord’s Prayer in July 1944 as allied bombs destroyed his church and the city of Stuttgart, Germany.

Psalm 8 begins, and ends with, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.”  Tomorrow we gather in the name of our majestic triune God.  We will hear, “But my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed. (Is. 51:6) And in Matt 16:16, Peter will confess, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Cross burning and Swastika bearing idiots will perish, but the Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, will lead to eternal life for all who trust in him.  Such is the nature of God’s patience, love and grace.

 

Whose Sin is the Greatest

Thy Strong Word

I found the story behind one of our churches favorite hymn interesting.
To us new seminarians in 1963, Walter Buzsin was just a too old boring professor. It was only after several decades that I learned of his importance to Lutheran music. Ah, the ignorance of know – it – all college graduates with a BA degree.

“Thy Strong Word”
The tune for “Thy Strong Word” is called “Ebenezer,” and it is named after Ebenezer Chapel in Rhos, a village in southern Wales. But the tune is also known as “Tôn-y-botel” (“tune in a bottle”). Legend says that the tune was first found in a bottle that washed ashore on the Welsh coast!

When musicologist and professor Walter Buszin first learned of the tune, he ran across the yard of Martin Franzmann’s home and asked Franzmann to write a text for it. Franzmann wrote “Thy Strong Word” to go with the tune.

The processional hymn for our class graduation from the seminary was, “Thy Strong Word.”

Ploughing through Ezekiel

 

Ezekiel almost did me in, in my effort to read through the Bible.  Ezekiel reminded me of an organ recital I attended at Valparaiso University years ago.  The recital featured J.S. Bach’s 14 or 17 variations on a theme.  By the time we got to the no. 10, I thought, “alright Johann, I get it, now you’re just showing off.”  Well, by the time I got to about chapter 30 in Ezekiel I was ready to say, “Enough, already, Ezekiel.”

Reading Ezekiel is something like ploughing a field on our home farm.  Every once in while we would find an arrow head or a nice Lake Superior Agate.  Occasionally, Ezekiel reveals a nugget, like the valley of the dry bones, or that the Lord himself will be our shepherd, or the vision of a river running out of the temple like the rivers out of Eden and developed in Revelation 22.

Then at the end of the last furrow in the field of Ezekiel came the biggest find of all.  Yahweh-Shammah.  The name of the new Jerusalem (Jahweh’s peace) is The Lord is There, (Yahweh – Shamma.)  Yahweh is not only in the temple in this new city, but in the whole city.  All twelve tribes of Israel have a gate by which to enter into the presence of the Lord.

We too all have a gate giving access into God’s presence, that gate has multiple names, Immanuel, (God with us), Jesus, (God’s Savior), Christos, (Anointed One), Uios Theos, (Son of God) to mention a few.  The gate is always open.

 

Mary, Mother of Our Lord

 

 

On August 15, the church remembers Mary, mother of Jesus.  St. Paul writes in the epistle for the day, Gal. 4:4-7, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman.”

“The fullness of time,” was the time in the history of the world and the history of God’s plan for redeeming the world from sin that He said to the Son, “Okay, now go!”

For Mary, “the fullness of time” came nine months after the angel Gabriel told her that she had found favor with God.   She would conceive in her womb and bear a son whom she would name Jesus.  In “the fullness of time” when her womb was filled with God, she sent forth from her womb her and God’s Son.  God, born into human flesh was completely obedient to God’s demands in His commands.  He suffered death on the cross as the price for buying us back from captivity to our disobedience of the demands of His commands.

We remember Mary, the girl from Nazareth, who had the singular privilege of giving birth to God’s Savior, Jesus Christ, our Lord.  No wonder Elizabeth loudly exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”

Because of that “blessed event” we too are among the blessed.

 

We sing of Mary, mother,

Fair maiden, full of grace.

She bore the Christ, our brother,

Who came to save our race.

May we, with her, surrender

Ourselves to Your command

And lay upon Your altar

Our gifts of heart and hand.

LSB855 st. 8  For all the Faithful Women

Martin Luther on Preaching

 

Classmate Bob Kolb has an article on Luther’s preaching in the Winter/Spring issue of the Concordia Journal.

“It is true that a preacher ought first to ascend through prayer in order to receive the Word and teaching from God, and then ought to study, learn, read and meditate.  Thereafter he ought to descend and teach others.”

I usually tried to begin that conversation with God and the Word on Sunday evening and continued it through Thursday or Friday.  Descending to write and preach took up Friday-Sunday.  Then the cycle began again for the next week.

I also find something else that Luther said to be true: “I have often wanted to spit on myself when I left the pulpit ‘Pfui on you!  What did you preach?’  But just this sermon the people praised the most, that I had not preached so wonderful a sermon in a long time.”

 

Let us Sing

 

This morning in Worship we sang the Venite from the order of Matins.  “O Come, let us sing to the Lord, let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation…” And so we did, opening the service with “Precious Lord, take my hand…I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.”  In my head the voice of Elvis Presley sang along.  But we also sang some less familiar hymns.  I always enjoy the challenge of the newer hymns, “Church of God, elect and glorious, Holy nation, chosen race…Royal priests and heirs of grace…”  but then back to Matins singing a newer version of the Te Deum Laudamus: “We praise you and acknowledge you, O God to be the Lord.”  That is exactly what the disciples did after Jesus rescued Peter from his fear caused sinking in the Sea of Galilee.  “Truly, you are the Son of God,” they confessed on the quieted waters as dawn crept in from the East.

These were hymns which called for not only full voiced singing but full- bodied singing as well, driving the music upwards from the soles of the feet through the calves of the legs and on up to finally sound forth from the mouth.  The Matins service begins with a prayer: “O Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise.”

We went out into our week singing, “How firm a foundation, O saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith in His excellent word.”

Next Sunday we get to do it again.  Thanks be to God.

Job, Jesus and Me

 

Tomorrow, Job 38 is the Old Testament lesson.  God asks Job, “Tell me if you’re so smart…Who slammed the door on the sea when it burst from the womb…caged it’s behind bars and told it, “This far and no farther…here is where your proud waves will be stayed?”  (My paraphrase).

In the Gospel Matthew 14:22-33, this same God, contained within Jesus,’ body walks upon the proud waves of the Sea of Galilee.  Dawn was creeping in from the East.  The waves were pounding against the disciples’ boat as they made their nighttime crossing.   But suddenly they notice an apparition. “It’s a ghost,” they cried in terror.  The Lord of the waters said, “It’s me.  Nothing to fear.”

Peter said, “Lord, command me to come to you on the water.”

Jesus said, “Come.”

Peter climbed over the gunnels and walked on the water toward Jesus.  What faith!  But when he saw the wind and waves, he lost his courage and began to sink.  He cried out, “Save me.”  Jesus reached out and caught hold of him.

Then Jesus asks a pertinent question for all of us to consider, “How little you trust me. Why did you doubt?”  That’s a question that hangs over some of Jesus’ parables in chapter 13 of the treasure and the pearl.

The disciples bowed down before Jesus confessing, “Truly you are the Son of God.”  When we make our confession of faith tomorrow, the question to ask ourselves is, “What is the measure of our trust in Jesus who has saved us and beckons us to come to him.”