Posts tagged “Reformation

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: 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…

Sermo Dei: Reformation 2014

Posted on November 1st, 2014

“What drunken German monk wrote these?” That was Pope Leo X’s response when he was shown a copy of Luther’s Ninety-five Theses, posted on the door of the Schloßkirche in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. Perhaps those were your mental words about some of the songs we’ve sung so far this morning. “What drunken German monk wrote these?” I love these songs, but admittedly they can be an acquired taste. They come from a different time and place, and we cannot help but be affected by our own language and culture. But liturgy is not about taste – or at least, liturgy should not be about taste. We live in a unique time, a tragic time when Christian worship has degenerated into shallow pop…

Colorful bickering [updated]

Posted on November 23rd, 2011

I find the kerfluffle over colors among the guardians of the Reformation to be positively hilarious. (See here, and then here.) LCMS pastor Joshua Genig suggests using purple instead of red for Reformation, and the poor fellow gets his shins kicked repeatedly. (Genig’s got a few things seriously wrong, mind you – I won’t defend his position.) It’s no fun being on the receiving end when the ecclesial brute squad takes issue with your colors. Or so I’ve been told. But what’s so terribly humorous about the whole thing is this is the same crowd that thinks nothing of changing the color for a whole season (Advent) to follow—whom again? oh yeah—the Papists! Snigger. Of course, anybody who digs just a smidge into the…

Reformation Sunday 2011 sermon

Posted on November 2nd, 2011

From October 30, 2011. There was a baptism at the beginning of the Divine Service for this day. It’s lonely being a Lutheran. One of the great twentieth century theologians, Hermann Sasse, resisted the Nazis and was forced to flee to Australia. A collection of his essays has been published under the title The Lonely Way. It’s called The Lonely Way because of this quote from a 1943 essay: As Luther once went the lonely way between Rome and Spiritualism, so the Lutheran Church today stands alone between the world powers of Roman Catholicism on the one hand and modern Protestantism on the other. Her doctrine which teaches that the Spirit is bound to the means of grace is as inconceivable to modern people…

Luther, the Roman Mass, and the Lutheran Liturgy

Posted on October 26th, 2009

Another gem from Sasse, as we reflect this week on the Reformation: Although in his book on the Babylonian captivity of the church and in the Smalcald Articles, [Luther] unmasked and condemned the idolatry which had crept into the Mass, he admitted that the Roman Mass was still a valid Eucharist. And so he did not, like Zwingli and Calvin, introduce a new liturgy. The Lutheran liturgy was merely a Mass without the invocation of the saints and [without] the Roman conception of sacrifice. To Luther it was unthinkable that the unity of the Western church might be forever destroyed. He wanted to recall this church to what he was convinced was the pure teaching of the Gospel and, at the same time, the…


Posted on October 25th, 2009

Text: Romans 3:19-28 +++ An adult was also confirmed at this service. The problem with the church today is that Luther’s problem has stopped being our problem. Luther’s problem was the original problem of all true theology: How can mankind be redeemed – rescued from his sins, and the death and hell they have merited? For Luther, the question became a very personal one: “How can I be redeemed?” This question is really a question about God: “How can I find a God of mercy?” Today’s questions about God – if they are about God at all – are throughly self-absorbed: How can I find a God who can give me my best life now? How can I have a life of purpose? How…

The modern man's conception of God, compared to Luther's

Posted on October 24th, 2009

The God of Kant, Schleiermacher, and Ritschl is no longer a consuming fire. If the modern man believes in God at all, he believes in him as the guarantor of his happiness. And so the thought of the existence of God has become, since the eighteenth century, a comforting thought. For Luther it was a most disturbing one. In bitter moments of grave temptation he often wished that God did not exist. For if God exists, and if he really is God, then man is lost. Created to do God’s will, and incapable of its fulfillment, he is guilty of the judgment [of God]. And how can man hope to stand before the God of heaven and his unerring judgment? –Hermann Sasse, from “Luther…

Reformation sermon

Posted on November 17th, 2008

  For those of you new to Lutheranism, it is our custom to celebrate Reformation Sunday on the last Sunday in October. Despite the fact that we have a picture of Luther preaching on the cover of the service folder, the Reformation really isn’t about Luther, and the Lutheran Church isn’t about Luther. Luther was merely – well, there really isn’t anything “mere” about Luther. His personality was larger than life, which can overshadow his real importance: that he was merely a humble instrument of God, a preacher of the kingdom of heaven. On Oct. 31, 1517, Luther nailed the Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. These theses begin, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ He…

A Reformation thought from the sainted Dr. Barry

Posted on October 31st, 2008

With great joy, we Lutherans have never understood ourselves to be a ‘new church,’ but the church of the Apostles, restored, cleansed, and reformed.  Luther realized that the Roman Church had departed from the church catholic. -Rev. A. L. Barry, late president of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod