Wednesday, January 27, 2010

St. John Chrysostom - January 27th

Today is the day the Church remember St. John Chrysostom. A brief biography can be found here:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The 5th Annual St. John Chrysostom Lutheran Preacher's Retreat

The 5th Annual St. John Chrysostom Lutheran Preacher's Retreat will be held June 7-9, 2010 at St. Michael's Retreat in Lumsden, SK Canada (just north of Regina, SK). The speaker will be the Rev. Klemet Preus from Glory of Christ Lutheran Church in Plymouth, MN and the author of The Fire and the Staff. (

More information will follow regarding the 2010 retreat. More information and audio files from previous retreats can be found at the retreat's website:

Monday, January 18, 2010

What do we call...

What do we call the tendency in the church to speak lots of words but ultimately say nothing?

In the realm of politics we call it "political correctness." There are other currents flowing under political correctness to be sure - but it does often lead to saying lots of words but in the end saying nothing and often being incomprehensible.

In the corporate world I have heard it referred to as "corporate speak" which is a mixture of political correctness and business. It is also rather incomprehensible.

But what do we call it in the church? The tendency to use lots of nice sounding words but to be so careful to say nothing that might be remotely offensive. The tendency to make statements that have words that are "fuzzy" and unclear and attempt to be profound?

I think I have coined a term. Ready?

Ecumenispeak. What do you think?

Let me tell you what I think clearly and perhaps even offensively.

I think it is brilliant. I think it is on the same level as Colbert's "truthiness." I think I should be interviewed on Issues, etc., because of the brilliance of coining this word.

Don't you?

Ecumenispeak. I think it sums it up. It sickens me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bonhoeffer's Life Together

Interesting how some things work out sometimes. The day before we left for five days vacation after Christmas I was looking through my books for a short quick read while away. I came upon Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Life Together. This was a book I read while in first year seminary in Dr. Dean Hempelmann's class - Introduction to the Pastoral Ministry. I don't know if it was because of the adjustment to life at the seminary or if I was over burdened with work or what it was - but I didn't "get" it at that time. I read the book but was not overly impressed. I read it over the Christmas break. It is a great book and speaks to our contemporary situation very well.

What is interesting is that I have recently been playing around with iTunes and seeing what it is all about. I went to iTunes U and looked around and found Concordia Seminary - St. Louis had begun a campus wide study of Life Together this past Fall and there are two convocations to download. How interesting! I am curious to see what the convocations are all about!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Christmas 2 Sermon: “Do and Done”


Christmas 2C/01.03.10/Fort Q & IH/Ephesians 1:13-14


·       Do and done.

o   The difference between these two words is the difference between your salvation and your damnation.

§  Seems too simple doesn’t it?

·       Do and done.

o   One grants you entrance into heaven and one sends you to hell.


·       One is a verb and one is a past participle.

o   One of the words indicates action needed and one indicates action completed.

§  Do and done.

·       The difference between these two words is the difference between Christianity and all other religions of man.

o   Do and done.


·       One word calls you to action – the other word calls you to trust.

o   One word calls you to look to yourself – the other word calls you to look outside yourself.

§  Do and done.


·       We naturally tend to be people of action.

o   We are doers.

§  We don’t like to be told we can’t do something.

·       You tell me I can’t do something and I will show you I can.

o   Anything you can do I can do better.

§  The rebellious nature in us all rises up against the cant’s of life.

·       I can do that. I want to do that. I will do that. Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do.

o   I will do what I want, where I want to do it, when I want to do it, and how I want to do it.

§  We are doers.


·       Every false religion of man is a religion for doers.

o   And that is why we find them so attractive, so seductive.

§  Every false religion is an attempt to bridge the gap between us and God.

·       In one way or another every false religion is an attempt to do something to appease God or earn His favour.

o   This plays to our pride. It gives us the false sense that we can do something.

§  Some Christians even get this wrong – they will say all you have to do is believe. All you have to do is make a decision.

·       Do, do, do.

o   All this doing will damn you.


·       You cannot do what is demanded.

o   You cannot do enough.

§  You can never bridge the gap.

·       You cannot do anything to appease God or earn God’s favour.

o   Even what you do “do” is tainted with sin.

§  The Buddhists have it wrong.

§  The Muslims have it wrong.

§  The Jehovah’s Witnesses have it wrong.

§  The Mormons have it wrong.

·       Some Christians have it wrong.

o   Some Lutherans have it wrong.

§  Do you?


·       If it is not done by Jesus it is left to you to do.

o   If it is left to you to do - you will fall short because of your sin.

§  This not a question. This is certain.

·       Your sin will damn you no matter what you do.

o   If the doing is left to you and not to Jesus you are damned.

§  That is what will be done with you if Jesus has not done it all for you.

·       Do and done.


·       Listen to what St. Paul writes in his letter to the Christians at Ephesus nearly 2000 years ago and hear it as if it were written to you:

o   “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (1:13-14)

§  Listen to what has been done by Jesus for you.

·       You were sealed with the Holy Spirit – this is baptism.

o   This is not something that you do.

§  This is something that is done to you.

·       This is something that has been done.

o   No “do” here. This is past tense.

§  Nothing left to do.

§  It is done.


·       The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Good News of the Christian Faith, is so foreign and so unnatural to us that we instinctively reject it

o   We are doers

§  And Jesus comes and says we can do nothing and He has done it all for us

·       Without the work of the Holy Spirit in us we spit in Jesus’ face

o   We become offended and angry at Jesus for telling us what we can and cannot do.

§  Without the work of the Holy Spirit we turn to the false religions of man and their false ways of “doing” to appease God and earn His favour.

·       Without the grace of God working through the Holy Spirit we are lost and dammed in our own doing.


·       But the Holy Spirit does come through the Word and Sacraments in the Church

o   Jesus does not leave you in your lost state of hopelessly doing. He sends the Holy Spirit, the comforter.

§  The Holy Spirit comes and does His gracious work in your heart

·       The Holy Spirit works in you to make you recognize your sin and your complete lack of ability to do anything for your salvation

o   The Holy Spirit works in you so you come to repent of your sin and seek forgiveness

§  The Holy Spirit turns you from looking at yourself and your “doing” to looking to Jesus and what He has done for you.


·       Do and done.

o   Take comfort dear Christian – it is done.

§  There has been nothing left undone.

·       There is nothing left to you to do.

o   It is done.

§  In Jesus all has been done.

·       You have been sealed and guaranteed it.


·       In Holy Baptism all that Jesus has done is given to you.

o   His perfectly lived life without sin or failure.

§  His death upon the cross for your disobedience.

·       His resurrection from the dead.

o   It is done.

§  Nothing for you to do.

·       It is something that is given to you – it is outside you.

o   It is done.


·       In the Words of Holy Absolution the removal of your guilt and sin is done to you by Jesus

o   There is no “doing” here.

§  It is based upon that which was done by Jesus.

·       Jesus grants you forgiveness because of His life, death, and resurrection.

o   It is done.


·       In the Sacrament of Holy Communion you come forward and receive the body and blood of Jesus

o   Nothing you do makes it so

§  It is done because Jesus promises to be here for you in His body and blood granting you strength and faith.

·       It is done.


·       This is the Christian Faith.

o   It is a “done” faith.

§  It is done by Jesus.

·       It is done to you.

o   It is done for you.


·       It is not something that is left “up in the air” as if we wonder how things will turn out in the end.

o   It is done.

§  The devil has been defeated. Death has been destroyed. Sin has been slain.

·       Jesus has done it.

o   He has done it for you.

§  It is done.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Eighth Day of Christmas

Merry Christmas! I know many have moved on and think Christmas is over - but it is the eighth day of twelve.

A couple years ago I had the idea (stolen from someone else) that we should try and observe the twelve days of Christmas in our family. To aid us in doing this we would give a gift to our three kids each of the twelve days. In a sense - spreading out the present opening madness from one day to twelve. Sometimes the presents are not exciting toys (socks, soaps, etc) and sometimes they are exciting gifts like Lego and Cabbage Patch Dolls.

As is often the case with my ideas it means that my wife has to implement it. I didn't realize how much work it would be - but she does it. She finds a gift for each of the three kids for the twelve days of Christmas. Figures out which gifts to give on which day depending upon where we may be on that day. Also, to "equalize" the gifts so that one child does not receive a pair of socks and another an exciting race car. She does a lot of work in planning and shopping and I am thankful for it.

I enjoy waking up each of the twelve days and having the kids excited to open another gift. They probably don't get any more than they would normally - we just spread it out. They enjoy it and so do I.

And at the end of it all is the Epiphany of our Lord on January 6th. At our church I started a few years back the tradition of having a grand potluck supper where people bring a dish from their cultural background - a lot of German and Scandinavian dishes show up. I brought a haggis one year. This to represent that Jesus has come for all people of all nations as the Magi were the first non-Jews to worship the Lord. After the Potluck supper we have Epiphany Vespers. It is a wonderful evening.

Merry Christmas! Enjoy the twelve days and look forward to celebrating the Epiphany!