Posts tagged “Luther

Sermo Dei: St. Mark’s Day 2017

Posted on April 25th, 2017

Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana 2 Timothy 4:5-18 April 25, 2017 “The time of my departure has come.” Springtime at seminary prompts such thoughts. But your ministry will not be what you expect. For St. Paul, departure meant death. So it is for you. Your call is to go and die. It’s the call of Baptism. “Follow Me.” “Take up your cross.” Come and die. Paul summarizes his service as having been “the good fight.” More literally, “the beautiful, noble agony.” What is this good fight? What is the noble agony? The fight is not with the people God gives you to serve. Sure; we may find evil men fighting us. St. Paul mentions one, Alexander the Coppersmith. He hurt Paul. People will…

Sermo Dei: Reminiscere 2017

Posted on March 13th, 2017

“That was a nice prayer.” When people say that to me, I know I’ve failed. Prayer is not supposed to be nice. Prayer is confident desperation, shouted in the dark, or whispered while trembling. Our prayers are too nice. In fact, they are so polite, they are rude. What else do you call it when our prayer before meals is rattled off like an auctioneer? Do you say the Lord’s Prayer with the enthusiasm of a funeral director reading the phone book? Are your private prayers basically a Hail Mary pass – it probably won’t work but you might as well try it? Enough with polite, respectful, “nice” prayers! They betray an uncertainty that God is listening or will answer our prayer. This Canaanite…

Sermo Dei: Rorate Coeli (Advent IV) 2016

Posted on December 18th, 2016

Rorate Coeli – Fourth Sunday of Advent December 18, 2016 John 1:19-28 What is destroying your soul? As surely as rust causes metal to crumble, as surely as the acid burns holes in your esophagus, so do the vices lay waste to your soul. Vices are not simply bad actions, or habits; they are a state of mind, a world-outlook by which we see others as obstacles to walk over, objects to be possessed, or enemies to be defeated. The first vice we encounter in today’s Gospel is envy, the envy the leaders in Jerusalem have for John the Baptist and his success. This envy, St. John Chrysostom said, “Harms and wastes them … like some mortal venom deeply seated in their souls” (NPNF1,…

Sermo Dei: Reformation 2016

Posted on October 30th, 2016

The ghosts that haunt us are not the ones hanging from trees around our neighborhoods every October. We have our own Dickensian specters, the wraiths in our minds poking at our memories, haunting us with past abuse, wrong decisions, deeds that seemed pleasant but are now recognized as worthless, destructive, evil. A conscience not yet entirely seared is haunted by past sins. Worst are the besetting sins, the sins we return to like comfort food. These ghosts that haunt us whisper, “You will never change. You are my captive, and we will continue on this path that leads to destruction.” We grow to love our captors. The world is deep in the throes of Stockholm Syndrome. Are you in danger of joining them in…

Little apples for simpletons

Posted on July 19th, 2016

Browsing some commentary on the recently completed LCMS Convention, I came across a thread on the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau forum. An ELCA pastor, Brian Stoffregan (whom I do not know), makes an interesting statement there about Holy Scripture: “The academy is necessary to help us understand the meaning of the texts, which can be different from what they say.” Granted that he’s talking about the importance of understanding Scripture in context, I find this notion deeply troubling, and perhaps the single greatest difference between our church bodies. One of my axioms is if you have to add words to Scripture to explain why it doesn’t mean what it clearly sounds like, you’ve got the wrong interpretation. Today’s reading in the Luther Brevier takes a different approach: the…

Faith and Good Works

Posted on April 15th, 2016

A gem from Luther on faith and good works:   Faith is something living, something active…. Faith is not an idle, loose thought…. There is something busy, active, and powerful about Faith, so that it is impossible for it not to do Good Works without ceasing. Faith does not ask if Good Works need to be done. It has already done them and is still doing them before even being asked. Luther Brevier, p122

Bad preachers are lucky

Posted on June 23rd, 2015

From a letter of Dr. Luther to Phillip Melanchthon: Bad preachers are lucky because every one bears with them and puts up with their stupidity. Even if people immediately sense or see that these preachers are crass fools, it doesn’t bother them in the slightest and people think no worse of them for all that. But the opposite is the case for true teachers, people lie in wait when listening to their words or watching their works as if ready to pounce. And where they can find the smallest splinter (even if it is only an apparent one), they make a huge beam out of it. This is not a case of patience, but vain judgment, detraction and contempt. This is why the lot…

The greatest and most useful work

Posted on June 3rd, 2015

Dr. Luther on child-rearing: Married people should know that there is no greater and more useful work than they might do for God, Christendom, the rest of the world, themselves and their children than to bring up their children correctly. For this is the most direct path to Heaven…. But, likewise, there is no easier way to earn Hell than through your own children. There is no more damaging work that could be done by parents than to neglect their children, to let them curse, swear, learn shameful words and songs and to let them live according to their own will…. There is no greater scandal in Christendom than the neglect of children…. A false love of nature blinds parents, so that they give…

Faith wages war

Posted on March 26th, 2015

Luther is no ally of the reductionist “Lutheranism” that is again claiming his name as a cloak for vice. Here Luther comments on 1 Peter 2:11, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul”: Even is some one has been justified by faith, he will certainly not be free of evil desires. That is why the spirit has its work cut out in quenching and quelling the desires of the flesh. The spirit has to struggle with this area unceasingly and to take care that the spirit does not offend the faith. That is also why people are deceiving themselves when they say there is no danger if they obey the desires of the…

Contempt for the Gospel

Posted on February 24th, 2015

Doctor Luther on the misuse of the Gospel: It should be said and taught that the old leaven must be completely swept aside and that those who give into the whims of the flesh and deliberately and against their own conscience obstinately remain in their sins are not Christians nor do they have the faith. What is to be condemned all the more is when people do this in the name of and under the cover of the Gospel and of Christian freedom. For this shows contempt for and blasphemes against the name of Christ and the Gospel. Luther Brevier, p70