Thursday, July 31, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
For those of us who were raised in Saskatchewan there is a love of the Saskacthewan Roughriders Football team that goes beyond description or explanation. The joy we feel when they win and the pain we feel when they lose is deep. Without exaggeration the atmosphere in Saskatchewan after a win or a loss is noticeably different. We Roughrider fans are unique in the CFL. Most other teams just recognize this and do not even bother to argue it. It might be because the Canadian Football league is the only professional sport in the province. It could be that we are often seen as underdogs both as a province and often as a football team. For example - most experts were picking the Riders to finish last this season. And now we are 5-0! The best start for the Riders in modern history!
FYI for my American friends: The CFL is made up largely of players that you likely watched play College ball but were not quite good enough to make the NFL. Many of the Defensive Linemen and Linebackers play up here who would be considered too small for the NFL but fit well in our game because it is more a game of speed. Same goes for some of the smaller running backs. The field is much bigger and some of the rules (i.e having to give a yard from scrimmage when lining up) lend itself to smaller quicker players.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
(HT: Pastor William Cwirla's blog - http://blog.higherthings.org/wcwirla/article/3740.html)
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Read it and tell me what you think.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Drew Brees (NO - QB), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Cin - WR), Lee Evans (Buf - WR), Joseph Addai (Ind - RB), Selvin Young (Den - RB), Alge Crumpler (Ten - TE), Santana Moss (Was - WR), Justin Fargas (Oak - RB), Jon Kitna (Det - QB), D.J. Hackett (Car - WR), Jerramy Stevens (TB - TE), Kenton Keith (Ind - RB), Shaun McDonald (Det - WR), Jason Hanson (Det - K), Patrick Kerney (Sea - DL), Sammy Knight (NYG - DB), DeMarcus Ware (Dal - DL), Adewale Ogunleye (Chi - DL)
Monday, July 21, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Today is my day off. Grass cutting and some other chores around the house. I did a litle work on the sermon for tomorrow morning and also my sermon for my brother's ordination tomorrow afternoon in Melville. The Riders play tonight at 5:00 - I hope it will be televised! Also UFC is on free tonight. Plus I am reading the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth - World Without End. Should be a good day!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
But since everybody else is having fun with Wordles....so will I. Maybe I will post the Wordle of each sermon each week. See if you can guess what I was preaching on. Click on the Wordle to make it bigger. I guess I am giving it away this week. :-)
Saturday, July 12, 2008
1. We love to snoop around in the bedroom or council chamber of God. But when God takes his wife to bed to make a new Christian, he does not want everyone looking in on that. We want to find out the secrets of God's will. How does he choose? How does he give his love? And so we do all sorts of theological snooping around, setting up spiritual laws and principles on how God will work. But when God wants to tell you what is on his mind and heart about you and me and the world, about the curse removed and the blessing given, he gives that Man, Jesus Christ, to be crucified on the cross, buried, raised from the dead. He sends out preachers of that Good News. He gives his vote—his will, mind, and decision, in Christ for us. Christ is elected, chosen for this work of the Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except this Son, and whosoever he chooses to reveal him to.
2. What happens in Baptism is not a payoff for our decision for God, a public profession of a prior possession. Rather, God takes us to himself in Christ. The action is suffered by us for he, not we, crucifies us with Christ, kills us, and buries us. The big death happened at the baptismal font, not at the cemetery. And God is the one who raised us from the dead with Christ.
3. The authority by which the pastor does this work of bishop in the congregation is the authority of the word of God. Let us not be hucksters, salesmen, clever, skillful, innovative agents of intentional change. With a clear conscience let us speak the word of God and suffer in agony with it.
4. To take another instance: we have lost our clarity on justification by grace through faith as the central doctrine of the proclamation because we have unbuckled it from Holy Baptism, despite the fact the section on the Baptism is the only place in the Small Catechism where justification by grace through faith is mentioned. [It is an informative exercise to ask a group of pastors where justification is treated in the Small Catechism.]
5. The "amen" belongs to the whole company in whom, with whom, by whom, and for whom the leader is praying. And if the church has fallen asleep or wandered off in wool-gather (the church's or yours), then you lead them. You turn to them and ask, "What is wrong? Did I pray heresy that you refuse your 'amen'? Are you God's church? If so, then roar the 'amen,' faithful and full-throated, until the devil himself shudders."
6. Asking for his will to be done is not like a wrestling match where he (the stronger) pins you down until finally you cry, "Uncle. You are bigger than I. You get your way," and yet secretly wishing it could be different, thinking, "If I had my way. . ." No; listening and responding are learning to want what he wants. "Unite my heart to fear thy Name."
My son, Noah (5 1/2), had his first sleep over last night. It is strange that he is not home right now. I realize that this is one first among many that I will experience as my oldest child grows and matures. It is at the same time both gratifying and terrifying. As a parent we want them to grow and mature and most of our energies are directed to that end. When we see indicators of development and maturity we become proud and happy. Yet, at the same time, there is an ache in the heart. How strange? Why, I wonder?
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
1. If, in all this, I tend to get a little cranky, I would like you to do a Montana thing: take out your lariat rope and lasso me. Wrap the other end around the saddle horn of your cow pony. When he sets his feet there should be an abrupt ending to crankiness. Sometimes I tend to be cranky, partially because of what I am, and partially because of my story. While I am not in the class of Thomas a Beckett, his statement in a diminutive way speaks also about my thinking: "When I had the yoke put on my neck at ordination, holy church was tied to my back and I do not intend to untie her until I go down." I want to be tied to this mother who has borne me, fed me, and cared for me. I love her. She will not do me wrong. Indeed, I may get cranky at times about the way she acts, or the way others treat her. But Christ's Bride, our Mother, is not to be pimped, threatened to get something from her. She is to be loved, honored, and cared for.
2. Do you remember the story of Odysseus? He was the doubting Greek, the great warrior, the husband absent from Penelope, his wife. He was sailing back to her. But he had to sail between the islands where the Sirens sang the most beautiful tunes, one this way, and another that way. Nobody made it past the Sirens. After they had seduced a sailor, they destroyed him. Odysseus had himself tied to the mast. [Interestingly enough, the mast on the Greek ship was in the form of a cross.] In addition, Odysseus had his ears stuffed with wax. He instructed his sailors not to follow his orders if he commanded them to sail other than straight through. Ordination is where the priesthood of believers sets a man among them, saying to him, "Stick to your business. If we blow the siren signal, beat you up, starve you, or what not, do not listen to us. Do not change course." That it is when the priesthood ordains. God makes priests. The church makes pastors.
3. Consider, for example, the propensity to dissolve the "and" in "Word AND Sacrament." In the evangelical, catholic confession, the AND must remain. If, however, the intellectual meat clever slashes between them, eventually both will be lost. The "word" without the sacrament becomes rationalistic. Remove the Sacrament from the word and superstition cannot be far away.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I was nervous. I was excited. I felt inadequate. But strangely I was not terrified. I was.... in awe. What was about to happen has happened over the centuries to countless men. But now I would be put into the Office that was instituted by God Himself. The vows I would speak before God and these people would form who I was to be. But I had a sense of peace. Not in myself. No, not at all. But I truly believed that God would give me what I needed to fulfill the Office. I had been formed at the seminary to at least be able to adequately fulfill the basics of the Office. I believed that over the years God would continue to form me.
In seven years I have learned much - more than I learned at the seminary. That is in no way meant to speak ill of the seminary. I believe that I learned what I could at the seminary and they did what they could with me. I was prepared as best as a rookie pastor could be prepared to begin serving a parish. They can't teach you everything at the seminary. They can teach you how to study and "do" theology. What I mean is that in the seven years since graduation from seminary I have continued to learn as I served the parish. I have learned much from books. I have learned much from other pastors. I have learned much as I teach bible study. I have learned much from the people I teach. I have learned much in becoming a father to my children. I continue to learn forgiveness and grace from my wife.
It is great to be a Pastor in Christ's Church. I cannot dream of doing anything else. It is my honour. It is my privilege. It is my joy. I am still in awe.
Monday, July 7, 2008
October 15-17, 2007 (Winnipeg, MB)
“Could a Layperson Consecrate the Elements for Holy Communion?”
The Reverend Michael L. Keith
The question under consideration is “Could a layperson consecrate the elements for Holy Communion?” I will be presenting the answer: NO.
The fundamental issue is: Has Christ established an order by and through which the Word and Sacraments are to be distributed to God’s people? As we heard Augsburg Confession Article V reads: “In order that we may obtain this faith, the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments was instituted.” Augsburg Confession Article XIV reads: “Our churches teach that nobody should preach publicly in the church or administer the sacraments unless he is regularly called.” It is clear from the Augsburg Confession that the Reformers believed that our Lord had established an order by and through which the Word and Sacraments are to be distributed.
In accord with Articles V and XIV of the Lutheran Confessions, Lutherans have never allowed the administration of the Lord’s Supper by a layperson (until recently in some isolated circumstances). As William C. Weinrich points out in a recent article in Concordia Theological Quarterly: “Despite all the discussion within our Synod of the rights and powers of the congregation, Walther did not allow this practice, nor did he provide justification for it in circumstances where such a practice might have been in existence.”
It has often been said that the Office of the Holy Ministry was instituted solely for the purpose of good order - that all Christians have the Office of the Ministry but for the sake of good order one is entrusted with carrying out the duties of the Office publicly. This however is false, and is not the teaching of the Lutheran Confessions, of Luther, nor of the Holy catholic and Apostolic Church. Luther wrote:
I hope, indeed, that believers, those who want to be called Christians, know very well that the spiritual estate has been established and instituted by God, not with gold or silver but with the precious blood and bitter death of his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ [I Pet. 1:18–19]. From his wounds indeed flow the sacraments. He paid dearly that men might everywhere have this office of preaching, baptizing, loosing, binding, giving the sacrament, comforting, warning, and exhorting with God’s word, and whatever else belongs to the pastoral office. For this office not only helps to further and sustain this temporal life and all the worldly estates, but it also gives eternal life and delivers from sin and death, which is its proper and chief work. Indeed, it is only because of the spiritual estate that the world stands and abides at all; if it were not for this estate, the world would long since have gone down to destruction.
Luther, here, is not saying that every man everywhere has this Office but that every man everywhere is to have the Office among them so that they might receive the gifts of God. It is for this that our Lord paid dearly – that the Office be present through which He would distribute His gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation in Word and Sacrament in His Church.
Weinrich points out: “Luther imbeds the ministry of preaching and the sacraments within the ‘order of salvation.’ Within this order the pastor is given the tasks to preach and administer; the people are given the tasks to hear and to receive.” Weinrich asks: “Are we really to believe that Christ said ‘He who hears you hears me’ (Lk. 10:16) and ‘As the Father has sent me, so do I send you” (Jn. 20:21) in order to ensure that there is no raucous in the assembly?”
The necessity of the Office of the Holy Ministry is not only a question of public, outward order in the church but arises from the necessity of faith for the justification of the sinner. The necessity of the Office arises out of the will of God that there be a royal priesthood as a result of the means of grace that the Office of the Holy Ministry was instituted by God to administer.
The Office of the Holy Ministry is derived from Christ alone and is not derived from the Priesthood of all Believers but is instituted for the benefit of the Priesthood of all Believers. Bishop Jobst Schone writes: “It is not Luther who says that every Christian is a minister, but that for certain reasons a group of individuals makes a pastor by transferring their authority to one man to be a pastor. Luther’s position is that Christ calls a man out of the multitude of believers. Christ prepares men and calls them to be his servants to the royal priesthood.”
Luther makes it clear that people are not born into the Office of the Ministry, but men are “taken” from the “ranks” of the priesthood of all believers to fill the Office. He states: “For none of us is born as apostle, preacher, teacher, pastor through baptism, but we are all born simply as priests and clerics. Afterward, some are taken from the ranks of such born clerics and called or elected to these offices which they are to discharge on behalf of all of us” (AE 38:188). Luther is not saying here that the Office of the Ministry is derived from the priesthood of all believers, but simply that the priesthood of believers is from where candidates for the Office of the Ministry are drawn. Qualified men are “taken” from the priesthood of believers and placed into the Office of the Ministry by Christ for the benefit of the priesthood of believers. Baptism does not make a man a pastor, call and ordination do. Likewise, ordination does not make a man holy, baptism does. In other words: Priests are born, that is through baptism, while ministers are made, that is through call and ordination.
When Luther was dealing with preachers who were coming into the various communities who were neither called nor ordained he wrote Infiltrating and Clandestine Preachers (1532). In this he states: “So we say, either demand proof of a call and commission to preach, or immediately enjoin silence and forbid to preach, for an office is involved--the office of the ministry. One cannot hold an office without a commission or a call” (AE 40:386). This statement contradicts the idea that all Christians are in the Office of the Ministry and only some are chosen to be pastors for the sake of good order. Luther continues:
“If the interloper can prove that he is a prophet or a teacher of the church to which he comes, and can show who has authorized him, then let him be heard as St. Paul prescribes. Failing this let him return to the devil who sent him to steal the preacher’s office belonging to another in a church to which he belongs neither as a listener nor a pupil, let alone as a prophet and master.” (AE 40:388)
Luther also wrote: “The call, therefore, is not to be despised. For it is not sufficient if a man has the Word and the pure doctrine. He must also have the assurance of his call, and whoever enters without this assurance enters only in order to kill and destroy (John 10:10). For God never prospers the work of those who are not called. Even if they teach something good and useful, it does not edify.” (AE 26:19, 20)
Therefore it is clear that the Office of the Holy Ministry has been established by Christ. It is through this Office and this Office alone that the Word and Sacraments are to be administered. It is incompatible with our Lord’s institution of the Office of the Holy Ministry to have a layman consecrate the elements of the Sacrament. The Office of the Holy Ministry exists because of our Lord’s institution and command. For a layman to consecrate the elements of the Sacrament is to step outside of our Lord’s institution, His Word, and His promise. We are not free to substitute the bread and wine of the Sacrament with coffee and doughnuts or beer and pretzels. If we were to do so it would be an invalid Sacrament because it was not done in accord with our Lord’s command and institution. Therefore, to have a layman consecrate the elements is likewise contrary to our Lord’s command and institution and invalidates the Sacrament.
Indeed, the distribution of his body and blood in the sacred supper is to be attributed to Christ himself, although no longer immediately as at the first supper, but it is executed mediately through the ministers of the church, through whose ministry the power of his promise is efficacious. When they distribute the consecrated bread and the consecrated wine, then he himself at the same time distributes to those partaking of his own body and blood in, with, and under the consecrated bread and wine. Indeed the action of Christ and of the minister neither can nor ought to be separated.
In a well known and often mentioned quote in this context, Luther said:
I do say that even if the devil himself came (if he would be so pious that he wanted to or could do so), and let us suppose that I found out afterward that the devil had inveigled his way into the office by stealth or, having assumed the form of a man, let himself be called to the office of the ministry, and publicly preached the gospel in the church, baptized, celebrated mass, absolved, and exercised and administered such offices and sacraments, as a pastor would, according to the command of Christ -- then we would for all that have to admit that the sacraments were valid (AE 38:200).
Many have used this quote to validate the belief that a layman could administer the sacrament since Luther said that if even the devil did so it would be valid. However, the point that Luther is making is missed since Luther is pointing to the Office and not to the man. Luther is pointing out that if the devil somehow assumed the Office of the Holy Ministry such things would be valid. It is only through the Office that such things would be valid and not because the words happened to be said correctly.
An illustration: a person may say all the words correctly through a wedding ceremony, may even speak the words “I pronounce you husband and wife,” but if that person has not been given the office and the authority that comes with it to say these words – they are meaningless and accomplish nothing. If the speaker has no authority to pronounce the man and woman husband and wife, even if the words are said correctly, they are not made husband and wife just by the speaking of the words. The same is applicable to the Sacrament. If a man who has not been called and ordained to the Office of the Ministry speaks the Words of Institution they accomplish nothing because he has not been authorized to do so. Weinrich writes that among Lutheran theologians “there is no abstract reference to God’s ‘absolute power,’ that is, to the divine power inherent in the Word. Reference is always made to the ‘ordered power’ of God, that is, to the means and instruments that God has in fact placed in the church, and to which he has attached his promises.”
When the Lutheran theologians discussed cases of extreme circumstances when there were no called and ordained ministers available it is important to note how it was handled. Weinrich writes, “when no ordained minister is available for the foreseeable future, Christians may assign the functions of the public office to one not called and ordained. It is important, however, to note that even in these cases, the Lutheran divines made it clear that the one who is functioning as the de facto pastor needs to be called and ordained as the pastor.” Walther when addressing this issue wrote, “in the case of the Lord’s Supper no genuine case of emergency can arise.” Walther went on to say “almost all orthodox Lutheran theologians declare that no layman should administer holy communion.” Weinrich notes that Walther was merely reflecting the common opinion of Lutheran exegetical and dogmatic tradition.
It is not in keeping with the historic Christian Church nor with the practice of the Lutheran Church to have a layman consecrate the elements in the Lord’s Supper. Indeed, it is contrary to our Lord’s will and institution of the Office of the Holy Ministry. This innovation of practice to the Christian Church would bring into doubt the sure Word and promise of our Lord. A legitimate call and ordination locates where God has willed to place his voice and hands and lends assurance and comfort for those seeking His grace and forgiveness.
In closing Luther wrote:
For we must believe and be sure, that Baptism does not belong to us but to Christ, that the Gospel does not belong to us but to Christ, that the Office of preaching does not belong to us but to Christ, that the Sacrament does not belong to us but to Christ, that the keys, or forgiveness and retention of sins does not belong to us but to Christ. In Summary, the Office and the sacraments do not belong to us but to Christ, for He has ordained all this and left it behind as a legacy in the church to be exercised and used to the end of the world; and He does not lie or deceive us. Therefore we cannot make anything else out of it but must act according to His command and hold it. However, if we alter or “improve” on it, then it becomes a nothing and Christ is no longer present, nor is His order (AE 38:200).
Tappert, T. G. (2000, c1959). The Augsburg Confession : Translated from the Latin (The Confession of Faith: 2, V, 1-4). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
Tappert, T. G. (2000, c1959). The Augsburg Confession : Translated from the Latin (The Confession of Faith: 2, XIV). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
 William Weinrich, “Should a Layman Discharge the Duties of the Ministry?,” Concordia Theological Quarterly (July/October 2004): 208.
 Departments of Systematic Theology. The Office of the Holy Ministry (July 2007): 243.
Luther, M. (1999, c1967). Vol. 46: Luther's works, vol. 46 : The Christian in Society III (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (Vol. 46, Page 219-220). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
 Weinrich, 210-211.
 Weinrich, 212.
 Weinrich, 214.
 Joel P. Okamoto, The Office of the Holy Ministry, Concordia Theological Quarterly (April 2006): 98-99. Also: David N. Jackson, Dr. Martin Luther and the Office of the Holy Ministry, unpublished paper.
 Jobst Schöne, The Christological Character of the Office of the Ministry and the Royal Priesthood (Plymouth, MN: LOGIA Books, 1996) 18; emphasis added.
 Johann Gerhard, Loci Theologici, ed. Eduard Preuss (Berolini: Gust. Schlawitz, `867), 4:10. Locus 21, “Concerning the Holy Supper,” Chapter 4, “Concerning the Minister or Dispenser of this Sacrament,” Paragraph 16.
 Weinrich, 219.
 Weinrich, 221.
 C.F.W. Walther, The Congregation’s Right to Choose Its Pastor, trans. Fred Kramer (Fort Wayne: Concordia Theological Seminary, n.d.), 107.
 Weinrich, 213.
 Naomichi Masaki, “Augsburgh Confession XIV: Does It Answer Current Questions on the Holy Ministry?” Concordia Theological Quarterly (April 2006): 160.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Friday, July 4, 2008
However, my grandparents parents came over from Scotland and there is the Scottish way about my family. It has become clear, since I have become a Lutheran and I married a beautiful woman of German descent, that I am not German nor Scandinavian! Sauerkraut is terrible and lutefisk is less than delicious.
So my background is Scottish but in truth I am Canadian and would find myself longing for Canada if I were to spend much time in Scotland I am sure. So, the blog will remain Scottish Lutheran - but I am proudly Canadian.
To my American friends - Happy Fourth of July! Who was it that won the war of 1812 again? :-)
Thursday, July 3, 2008
OK.....then perhaps the next recipient of the Order of Canada ought to be a strident pro-life activist? It might be stated this way: "John Smith was awarded the Order of Canada for his commitment to increased health care options for the unborn (namely to live), his determined efforts to influence Canadian public policy, etc." Think that will happen?
The Order of Canada has become a political statement. It is just a piece in the big game. It no longer recognizes excellence in Canada but is being used to forward a particular viewpoint. It is now....an embarrassment.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
I am re-reading Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet . I read Pillars about 12 years ago (before Oprah had heard of it) and I loved it. Now there is a sequel coming out (or maybe it is already out) and so I thought before I bought and read the sequel I would re-read Pillars. I have hardly made a dent in the 1000 page novel but it is as good as I remember. If you have not read it I highly recommend it. I look forward to getting to the sequel!
I am also just beginning the new Confessional Dogmatics series Law and Gospel & the Means of Grace by David P. Scaer. I have appreciated the other volumes in the Confessional Dogmatics series and I have heard good things about this latest offering.
I have recently finished reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It was a very quick read (1 day) and I enjoyed it. Well, I am not sure I can say I enjoyed it as the subject matter is very bleak and chilling (a post-apocalyptic setting). I was moved to read it by a review of the book in a great journal called Touchstone.
And just before I read The Road I read A Seminary in Crisis by Paul A. Zimmerman. This book was a history regarding the events of the early 70`s in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the controversy at Concordia Seminary - St. Louis, MO. A good read and it is an especially important for people today who are not familiar with those events to be familiar with the happenings as they still effect the Lutheran Church to this day.