Monday, March 31, 2008

Oldest recorded voices sing again

In 1860, a Parisian scientist named Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville (1817-1879) "recorded" the human voice with a needle on soot-covered paper (a "phonautograph") for visual graphical analysis.

Little did he realize that nearly 150 years later, technology (digital scans of the soot-covered paper and a computerized "virtual stylus") would advance to the point where those recordings could be decoded and brought to life. The recorded voice of a woman singing "Au Clair de la Lune" on April 9, 1860 has been heard for the first time ever. Here is the article.

And here is a link to the MP3 file itself. It is very crude, but unmistakably a lady's voice singing the folk tune.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sermon: Quasimodo Geniti (Easter 2)

30 March 2008 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA
Text: John 20:19-31 (Ezek 37:1-14, 1 John 5:4-10)

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

The ancient Christian document known as the Didache speaks of the Christian life in terms of two ways or roads: One of life, and the other of death. People today really resist such simple talk of only two paths that lead in only two directions – preferring to speak of many paths that all lead to the same place.

But there is great wisdom in the early church fathers. For even the mightiest computer only works because there is a difference between a zero and a one, because a switch can either be on or off. Even the data encoded in your MP3s and DVDs are all comprised of digitized zeroes and ones.

Similarly, we are either alive or dead. We are either in the church or out of it. We are either redeemed by Christ or not. There is no middle ground. There really are two roads, and only two roads. And they lead to opposing places.

We fallen sinners can’t seem to help ourselves. We make stupid choices. Left to ourselves, we head on down the road of death, knowing full well that our sins condemn us, that this path leads to misery and pain, and at the end of the road is an open grave. But we choose this road anyway.

We would all gladly jog along the broad road that leads to destruction were it not for our Lord Jesus Christ choosing the road of life for us. He trod the road of death in order to defeat death. And His resurrection is the path of life.

Life, victory, communion with God, peace, love, and joy are found on the trail blazed by our Lord Jesus Christ. Death, defeat, separation from God, disharmony, hatred, and distressed are found on the choice made by Adam and Eve at the behest of Satan.

The prophet Ezekiel stood at the intersection of these two roads when he watched dead, dry bones act utterly contrary to their nature and connect themselves into ordered beings. He further watched life triumph over the grave as the Spirit, the breath of life was breathed into these bones. He was told by God to preach this vision of life to his listeners, and that through this preaching, God’s people would find their graves opened, and they would suddenly be bumped from the road of death to the road of life.

We who are “by nature sinful and unclean” have been likewise brought to life by the Holy Spirit, breathed on us through preaching and sacraments. We have been plucked from the way of death and safely returned to the way of life from which we wandered.

What Ezekiel saw was a preview of a Greater Resurrection, the one we proclaim and celebrate this Easter season.

For the disciples had seen Jesus dead. They placed his corpse in the tomb. They even brought embalming supplies to the grave, thinking that the body of Jesus would decay and rot like the bodies of sinners. But Jesus was not to remain on the road of death. He twisted that highway like a cloverleaf and inserted an exit. “I am the way and the truth and the life” He proclaimed. And he backed up His preaching by rising from the dead. And suddenly, the way of life was open to fellow travelers with our Lord.

The fearful disciples were huddling like “dead men walking.” They thought death had won, that the road that leads to life was nowhere to be found. But something happened on the “first day of the week,” that is, a Sunday, the Lord’s Day. The Lord Himself appeared physically and stood in the midst of his deathly-frightened disciples. “Peace be with you” He blessed them, as he offered proofs of His triumph over death and the grave: His holy wounds, His leftover mortal scars, the physical vestiges of the holes where His lifeblood was drained unto death.

“Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” One has to wonder if John is almost comically understating the exhilarating joy of the Eleven. For consider that their friend, their master, their Messiah who died, has now risen. And think of what this means for all of us who walk the way of death! We are liberated. We are put on a new road, a road of life that has no end.

And how does our Lord do this? He breathes on them, just as God breathed life into the dry bones in the valley. Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit and the authority to forgive sins into his ministers. Just as Ezekiel was authorized to proclaim God’s Word for the purpose of freeing travelers from the way of death, bringing them once more to the way of life – so now are these New Testament preachers given authority, and the command, to breathe life and forgiveness into the dry bones of sinners.

By the grace of God, St. Thomas missed the first appearance of our Lord. And his reluctance to believe is of great comfort to us. For even Thomas, one of the Eleven, was not immune to doubts, not exempt from the weariness that treading along the path of death brings. Heartbroken Thomas would not believe unless he received sacramental evidence, the physical touch of our Lord’s risen, glorious body – in such a way that Thomas would come into fleshly contact with the body and blood of the once-dead Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanks be to God that our Lord is patient with Doubting Thomas! He appears to Thomas and presents His holy wounds, “those dear tokens of His passion.” And along with millions of Christians throughout the centuries who prayed Thomas’s prayer as the pastor elevates the consecrated host at the Eucharistic celebration, Thomas prays, praises, and confesses: “My Lord and my God!”

No-one but God alone can bring life from death. No-one but Jesus has ever walked out of His own grave under His own power after having been dead. No-one other than the Triune God creates us, saves us, and makes us holy through the Holy Spirit’s breath upon our dry bones.

For as our Lord’s Beloved Apostle, the same Apostle whose testimony about Thomas has been given to us under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, teaches us in our epistle lesson: “whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.” This verse is inscribed over the door of our church to be read as you walk out to the road that leads to your home.

Jesus has placed us, by faith, onto the road of life. His victory over death isn’t just a check mark in the win column, it is the ultimate victory of life over death.

For He has overcome by water and blood – which poured from those same wounds touched by Thomas, water which pours over our heads at baptism and blood which pours into our mouths in the Holy Supper. And the Spirit, the live-giving breath of God, bears witness.

The Father, the Word, and the Spirit bear witness in heaven. And yet this is not enough for Thomas, or for us. In His mercy, God gives us earthly witnesses, fleshly manifestations of the Triune God in space and in time, coming to us as we traipse across death’s road. For as we march toward death, God bears witness on earth, in the form of the Spirit, the water, and the blood. God’s physical manifestation in our midst not only allows us to join Thomas by saying: “My Lord and my God,” but also brings us to the way of life, carried along with our Lord unto an eternal resurrection of the body.

Easter is about our Lord’s conquest of life over death, of a physical, historical, literal resurrection from the dead as well as a physical, historical, and literal resurrection for us who believe the witness of Thomas, of Ezekiel, of our Lord and the apostles; of the Spirit, the water, and the blood. “For there are three that bear witness in heaven.” “My Lord and my God.” Life brought forth from dry bones.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Amen.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sermon: Wedding of Stephen and Brandi Levet

29 March 2008 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA Text: Eph 5:1-2, 22-23

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

Stephen and Brandi, today you are about to do the most radical and politically incorrect thing in your lives.

By being married in a Christian Church, by standing before this altar, by participating in this service, you have repudiated the world’s understanding of love and marriage.

Brandi, listen again to what St. Paul says to you today.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the Church, His body, and is Himself its Savior. Now as the Church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

The world tells us there is no head of the household – certainly not the husband, anyway. The world tells women to be bossy, disrespectful, and that she is entitled to make decisions equally with her husband. However, in being married in this place, Brandi, you are publicly submitting to Stephen. He is the boss of the household, just as Christ is the head of the Church. That’s a pretty radical notion. For submission is not an easy thing to do in this day and age – especially for women when the headship of the husband is under such fierce attack.

Stephen, listen again to what St. Paul says to you today:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her…. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the Church, because we are members of His body.”

The world tells men that they are free to slack and let their wives bear burdens that the husbands are supposed to bear. The world tells men that being the head of the house means being bossy and arrogant, that being the leader means being a tyrant, being free to come and go as you please. Not so. For when Jesus gave the disciples an example of what it means to be a leader, to be a real man, he took out a towel and washed His disciples’ feet like a common slave. Now that is also a radical notion. Just as Jesus gave everything for His Bride, Stephen, you are to place your bride before everything. You are to give up everything and anything for her. You are not free to go out with your friends, to spend money as you please, or to withhold anything from her at all. You are to submit to God as our Lord did, and if need be, to die for Brandi, as our Lord did for us.

That’s also a radical notion, the idea that your family comes before your own desires, that your wife is more important than your friends, that you would rather die than to see your dear wife put to shame even for a moment.

Christian marriage is not worldly marriage. In the eyes of the world, marriage is a cheap, temporary business and sexual arrangement that may or may not involve children. Holy Matrimony, however, is just that – it is holy, and it is matrimony – which is a Latin word that refers to motherhood. Holy Matrimony is for life. It is a radical submission of children to parents, wife to husband, and husband to God. It is the spiritual and physical merging of two people into one flesh. It is the subordination of the self to those more important than you.

In short, Christian marriage is the ultimate expression of love. It is unselfish, it is bound in service and obedience, and it creates a place where children also learn love. In Christian marriage, both spouses outdo each other in their acts of affection and respect to each other.

A Christian home is a place of gentleness and kindness. Christian spouses do not speak ill of one another to their friends. Christian spouses set the example to their children how to be godly men and women.

Stephen, you are the spiritual head of the household. It is your job to teach your children to pray, to get them ready for church on Sunday, and to set the example of Christian manhood. Brandi, it is your job to follow your husband’s lead, to teach your children the faith, and to come together as a family to worship. You are to call one another to accountability, with gentleness and submission to our Lord.

And just as Paul tells us that marriage is a picture of Christ’s love for the Church, you have come to the church to seek Christ’s blessing upon your marriage. The Lord Jesus Christ will see you through difficult times – which are certain. Seek His guidance in prayer. The Lord will speak to you and advise you in every struggle in life – and there will be many. Seek His guidance in Holy Scripture. The Lord will nourish you and prepare you for whatever future you face – whether many children or few, whether health or sickness, whether in abundance or want. Seek His guidance in the Holy Sacrament. You will need to forgive one another, and you will need forgiveness from one another. We are all sinners, and people sin against us. That is why we pray in the Lord’s prayer that our Father forgive us, just as we forgive others. Married life is a life rooted in that forgiveness of the Gospel.

You both have agreed to a daunting, lifelong task – to commit to each other, to serve each other, to create a Christian home for your children and any other children the Lord may bless you with. But with any task, keep in mind that the Lord will grant you His grace and His Spirit. Lifetimes are lived out one day at a time.

It is my prayer and the prayer of everyone else in this family and in this church who love you that you will always remember St. Paul’s words in Scripture that you have heard today, and that come what may, you will love and serve each other without compromise and with no thought of giving up, no matter what lies the prince of this world may tell you.

You are doing a noble thing today, but your nobility is not a one-time ceremony, rather it is a noble life that you are committing to live out as one flesh against the whole world if need be.

Steve and Brandi, the peace of the Lord be with you always. Welcome to the radical life of Christian marriage!

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Amen.

The Issues (Etc.) Won't Go Away!

If you haven't signed the petition yet, you can join more than 5,400 other Christians of every stripe from all over the world and do so now, or after watching this video.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Christian Parents Need to be Christian Parents!

The sexualization of children is becoming an increasing problem.

Being both a pastor and a junior high teacher, I see what a terrible effect this cultural shift is having on both boys and girls - but especially the girls. My school began last year to ask the parents to restrict the TV and media input of their children. We have seen unseemly things being brought into our school, ranging from MP3s with raunchy lyrics, to rude language and gestures, to trashy novels, to discussions about the latest R-rated movies. We found this to be not only distracting educationally, but at odds with the Christian environment we foster at our school. Over all, the parents have worked with us, and are thankful for the restrictions we place on what their children may bring to school.

Obviously, this problem is widespread and cultural. The Age of Innocence seems to be falling every year, as children (especially girls) are being encouraged to "tramp up" at younger ages. What used to be seen on college campuses has moved to high schools, and from there to middle schools, and even to grade schools. In some cases, parents seem at best oblivious, and sometimes even encourage their daughters to look and act like pint-sized streetwalkers and their sons to imitate the misogyny they see in movies and hear in music.

A few examples of how bad things are getting...

A vending machine at Toys R Us is selling fake "lower back tattoos" (aka "tramp stamps") to grade school girls. Here's the article.

Not only are ten-year old girls being targeted as consumers for scandalously skimpy bikinis, now a British toy company is selling the same demographic a "stripper pole kit" with the selling point:

"Unleash the sex kitten inside...simply extend the Peekaboo pole inside the tube, slip on the sexy tunes and away you go! Soon you'll be flaunting it to the world and earning a fortune in Peekaboo Dance Dollars."

According to a review: "The kit, which costs about 50 British pounds, includes an extendable [sic] stripper pole, a "sexy dance garter," and a DVD that teaches the viewer how to remove their knickers. Sexily."

Indeed, that's just the kind of skills our ten year old girls need to have.

Well, perhaps parents could write it off on taxes as vocational training, at least in Texas, where a strip club had a 12-year old girl employed as a nude dancer - and the powers that be are powerless to close down the club!

Of course, these are pre-teens. The high school kids get more advanced training - at least in England. A field trip to the Netherlands for teens as a "fact finding mission" to do research on sex and drugs includes visits to the Red Light District in Amsterdam, where drugs are legal and where prostitutes "advertise" in the windows.

So, how is the Christian Church responding to this bombardment of young people with sexuality?

Well, there is a school of thought that teaches that traditional Christianity has become "irrelevant" and doesn't "speak to" the postmodern "emerging generation" and so the Church must adapt to the youth culture - which is exactly the philosophy of the Ablaze!(tm) program in the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.

Perhaps one way to be relevant might be to incorporate Scripture, specifically 1 Corinthians 13, into a "tramp stamp" tattoo (note: this is a cropped version to save some degree of modesty). Nothing dispels the curse of being old fashioned and "irrelevant" faster than having Scripture tattooed on your buttocks and then exposing them on the Internet. There is great irony here, as St. Paul repeatedly exhorts the Corinthian women to modesty, to the point of telling them they sin when they come to church with even heads uncovered by a veil just two chapters before the chapter tattooed on the woman's backside.

Here are some other examples from around the world of how the Church is dealing with this cultural shift: sex sermons, explicit billboards, "Pete the Porno Puppet," "Wally the Wiener," contemporary "Christian" music featuring girls dressed in lingerie, Roman Catholic Masses with dancing girls wearing skirts with slits cut so high you can see their panties, Christian "sex toys," and even a special erotic service celebrated at a 600 year old church in which the preacher says (according to the article) that "eroticism and lust are not taboo areas pushed aside by God," but rather (a direct quote from the preacher), "lust has to be lived out."

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of Lutheran response to this disturbing attack on the innocence of our young girls (and boys). It all seems to be something we don't talk about, or worse yet, label it a "matter of Christian freedom" and look the other way.

There is a Reformed Church ministry called Vision Forum that is dealing with this problem, and helping Christian parents help their children navigate these shark-infested waters.

Mrs. Hollywood is reading a book published by Vision Forum entitled Raising Maidens of Virtue (by Stacy McDonald).

A couple quotes:

"Unmarried young women are often referred to by young men as chicks, babes, or even hotties! Why aren't we shocked - and why aren't young ladies insulted? Why aren't fathers and brothers grabbing their shotguns?" (page 35)

"Unfortunately, many times we cannot see much difference between the daughters of the world and the daughters of the Living God. Scripture teaches us that as Believers, we are the Bride of Christ (Eph 5:31-32). Can you imagine the Lord Jesus Christ returning to a Bride who has purposely adorned herself in ripped, form-fitting jeans or short skirts; navel rings; immodest, sloppy tops; and heavy makeup?" (page 36)

"How can we show the world a pure and spotless Bride if the Bride looks, talks, and swaggers like a strumpet? We are to be set apart. (Matt 5:13)." (page 37)

There is a lot of wisdom here.

LCMS in the Wall Street Journal

A thought-provoking analysis of the latest Missouri Synod scandal and crisis, the cancellation of Issues, Etc. in an article written by Washington, DC journalist Mollie Ziegler Hemmingway, a member of an LCMS church and a former member of the board that oversees KFUO. Read it here.

Also, some additional commentary at First Things and at Get Religion. As of now, there are 5,239 signatures on the online petition.

This is not going away, folks.

Davey and Goliath

When I was a kid, Davey and Goliath was a popular children's TV show. Some of you may remember the program. If not, you have probably seen it spoofed on The Simpsons. It was a stop-motion claymation series from the late 50s and early 60s done by the same animator as Gumby. It featured a young boy named Davey Hansen, his talking dog Goliath, as well as his mother, sister, and various friends. The show reflected conservative values and traditional American family life. The program usually has some kind of a lesson or moral - though Jesus was seldom specifically mentioned.

The show was, however, a great commercial for Lutheranism - as it was produced by the Lutheran Church in America (now part of the ELCA). The opening and closing sequences prominently displayed Luther's Seal, and the theme music was A Mighty Fortress is our God. The family's pastor, "Pastor Miller," appears in the show, always in a black suit and clerical collar. The family's church appears as well, with an altar, candles, a cross, and Pastor Miller wearing alb and stole during services.

Like I said, when I was a kid, D&G was popular. It was watched by Lutheran kids, Protestant kids, Catholic kids, and non-church-going kids as well. The show was (obviously) clean, uplifting, and had a lesson about kindness, compassion, obedience, etc. One of the episodes (Good Neighbor) is actually a retelling of our Blessed Lord's Parable of the Good Samaritan.

I was gratified to run across two DVD collections of D&G at the local Big Lots store. I paid a dollar or two for them. My three-year old Lion Boy loves Davey and Goliath. He knows all the episodes, and navigates his way around the DVD menu to watch them. They are by far a better alternative to the garbage that passes for "children's programming" these days.

The ELCA is planning a renaissance of Davey and Goliath. In fact, they did recently reintroduce the characters in a special. It goes without saying that the old LCA traditionalism and conservatism has given way to the new ELCA universalism and politically-correct agenda (there are new Jewish and Muslim characters now). Here is a clip produced by the ELCA showing their big plans for D&G.

I'm glad that Leo only has access to the "legacy" episodes.

I can just imagine what future shows will reveal about the Hansens under the auspices of the ELCA. Let me go out on a limb here:

Mom and Dad have gotten a divorce, as Dad revealed he is a gay, a cross-dresser, and now lives with Davey's "second dad," a Wiccan minister and hair dresser (which explains dad's dreadlocks). Mom has just been released to a halfway house, but unfortunately is now addicted to meth and is turning tricks for "Officer Bob" - who was fired from the police force for brutalizing minorities and stealing coke from the evidence room. Davey's sister Sally is now a lesbian pro-abortion activist and "performance artist" with a full-body tattoo who is paying her way through college by pole dancing. The Hansen's church is, of course, "progressive" and "emerging" and has a woman pastor, liturgical dancers, a coffeehouse, and U2 services. Pastor Miller is now the bishop, and appears on the show at Christmas and Easter to debunk the incarnation and the resurrection, and to pontificate on the fact that all religions worship the same god. Being the only character with any sense, Goliath has run away from home, and become the family pet of a certain LCMS pastor who was inexplicably fired from his successful and popular radio show during Holy Week. Thus Goliath is no longer ever mentioned in the new series, and in fact, is now a pariah to both ELCA and LCMS officials.

"Oh, Davey!"

But thanks to the miracle of the DVD, we can join the Hansen family before their disintegration into hedonistic antitraditionalism and their church's slide into full-blown heresy.

Another way to sing the Lord's Prayer

Wow! You can't start the catechism too soon, and singing it really works (Zoei is two years old)!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Χριστός ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!

A blessed Easter to all as this Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord comes to an end (though the Feast Himself is eternal!).

Please find below a beautiful post on Rev. Cwirla's Blogosphere in honor of our Blessed Lord's Resurrection and the universal ramifications of that historic event for the life of the world. The Rev. William Cwirla has posted the ancient Resurrection greeting in several languages, beginning with the original Greek (our Orthodox brothers and sisters celebrate the Resurrection this year on April 27) and with the (almost-original) Latin right below.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen!

Rev. Larry Beane

Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

Posted At: 8:43am by Rev. William M. Cwirla

Χριστός ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!
Christus resurrexit! Resurrexit vere!
Christus ist auferstanden! Er ist wahrhaftig auferstanden!
Christus is opgestaan! Hij is waarlijk opgestaan!
Kristus er opstanden! Sandelig Han er Opstanden!
Kristus er opstanden! Sandelig Han er Opstanden!
Kristus er oppstanden! Han er sannelig oppstanden!
Kristus är uppstånden! Ja, Han är verkligen uppstånden!
Christ est ressuscité! Il est vraiment ressuscité!
Cristo è risorto! È veramente risorto!
Cristo ressuscitou! Em verdade ressuscitou!
Hristos a înviat! Adevărat a înviat!
¡Cristo ha resucitado! ¡En verdad ha resucitado!
Христос воскрес! Воистину воскрес!
Kristus (ir) augšāmcēlies! Patiesi viņš ir augšāmcēlies!
Tá Críost éirithe! Go deimhin, tá sé éirithe!
al-Masīḥ qām! Ḥaqqan qām!
KrÍstus tÉlah Bangkit! Benár día têlah Bángkit!
Kristus prisikele! Jis tikrai prisikele! (via Pr. Charles Evanson)

Any way you say it, the news is good:

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

Sermon: Easter Festival

23 March 2008 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA
Text: Mark 16:1-8 (Job 19:23-27, 1 Cor 5:6-8)

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

After his monumental struggle with abandonment, with tragedy, with pain, with being tormented by Satan, and with death, he remains faithful to God. This faithful one is Job. And though he isn’t Christ, we see a preview of our Lord Jesus Christ in Job. And it is revealed to him that the coming Christ will be a Redeemer: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth.”

Job’s prophecy is fulfilled on Easter morning, when Job’s Redeemer, when our Redeemer, when the Redeemer of all creation plants his blood-stained foot upon the dirt floor of the grave, pushes His once-lifeless body off of the stone-cold slab, and stands at last on the earth, the earth He called into being with His Word, the earth He redeemed by His blood, the earth He sanctified by His Spirit.

The Redeemer indeed stands at last on the earth. He walks victoriously out of His own tomb, and awaits the coming of His faithful followers to lovingly tend to the body they still believe is dead.

It was “very early in the morning, on the first day of the week,” writes the holy evangelist, “when the Sabbath was past.” The Marys have come to the tomb – out of devotion to their Lord, out of love for their friend, out of duty to their obligations to the community. Even in their sadness, they know what they must do. Even with their hopes crushed, like Job centuries before them, they still cling to hope against all hope. They still know what they are bound to do. And so they make the sad journey to the dark, cold grave. There, they expect to find a corpse. Instead, they find an angel.

“Do not be alarmed,” this holy messenger tells them. “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.”

And notice the angel is not merely giving information. He is preaching. He is telling them not to be alarmed. He is giving them pastoral care. Notice he tells them that they are seeking Jesus “who was crucified.” As St. Paul identifies true Christian preaching: “We preach Christ crucified” – and this is what the holy angel is doing. He then preaches to the women to, in turn, confess the truth of what they have seen and the preaching they have heard, and bear witness to the Eleven. For these apostles will, like the angel, preach Christ crucified and risen, unto the salvation of the world.

For now, everything has changed. Jesus has conquered death by death, and He has risen in victory over the grave and the devil. In the blink of an eye, death became a paper tiger, and the faith of our Lord’s earliest disciples has been vindicated. The unbelieving world has been thrown into confusion, and the demons now have an eternity to howl and mourn. Every moment of our lives ought to be defined by this Easter reality. Everything else pales in comparison.

It is precisely because Jesus has risen that Paul preaches: “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” For we have the truth. We have the risen Christ. We have been baptized into His death, and we shall be resurrected in the flesh like Him unto eternal life – all as a free gift of the Crucified One. Everything has changed. We have been remade and reborn. Since the tomb could not hold the flesh of Jesus, the grave has lost its power, death has lost its sting, and our bodies are exalted into holy temples, eternal vessels of the glory of God. And so, how can we coexist with evil any longer? How can we tolerate and excuse wickedness within ourselves as a result of this first Easter? How can we abide false doctrine and scandalous living?

“Therefore purge out the old leaven,” says St. Paul, “that you may be a new lump…. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” St. Paul is preaching Christ crucified just as the angel was. And he continues: “Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

The Old Adam was placed into the tomb with our Lord, even as our sins were crucified with Him. We keep the feast by repentance. How can we celebrate the joy of the Easter feast if we cling to “malice and wickedness?” How can we glory in the risen Lord when we glory in petty infighting, holding of grudges, gossip, and jealousy? Our Lord Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, dear brothers and sisters, so what does anything else matter?

This call to repentance is part and parcel of our Lord’s resurrection as well as the angelic and apostolic preaching of Christ, “who was crucified” and who “is risen.”

We know that our Redeemer lives. The Angel told us so. The Marys witnessed it. The Apostles preached it. The Scriptures proclaim it. The Church has confessed it since 30 AD. And we believe it 1,978 Easters later.

And that belief, that faith isn’t merely the acknowledgment of past history. The fact that the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is a historical fact, that it happened at a specific time and place, was witness, recorded, and discussed by contemporary historians, is useless to us if that is all that it is.

For the tomb is still empty, and we are still called to repentance. Our altar, however, is not empty, and we are still called to receive His holy gifts.

And notice how Job takes the historical reality and draws a spiritual conclusion: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another, how my heart yearns within me.”

The resurrection of Jesus is a pointer to Job’s resurrection to come. Just as Jesus was raised in the flesh, Job confesses that he too will be raised incorruptible. His flesh and bones will be renewed, he will stand on his feet, and his eyes, once closed in death, will open to gaze upon the very face of God – the merciful face of His Redeemer, the Almighty face of Him who was crucified, and yet lives.

This “resurrection of the body and the life everlasting” is what it means to be redeemed, to be bought back, ransomed from the devil, reeled in from the clutches of death, and rescued from the pit of hell. And to be redeemed, we must have a Redeemer. Which is how it is we can join our song with Holy St. Job:

I know that my Redeemer lives;
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives who once was dead;
He lives my ever-living head.

He lives, all glory to His name!
He lives, my Jesus, still the same.
Oh, the sweet joy this sentence gives;
I know that my Redeemer lives. Amen.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Amen.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sermon: Easter Vigil

23 March 2008 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA
Text: John 20:1-18 (Gen 1:1-2:2, 1 Cor 15:1-11)

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

On the first day of the week, light came out of darkness, order emerged from chaos. God did the impossible, bringing forth something from nothing. His creative work began.

On another first day of the week, light came out of darkness, order emerged from chaos. God did the impossible, bringing forth life from a corpse. His creative work began anew.

“In the beginning God created…” is how the book of Moses’s Law begins. “In the beginning was the Word…” is how the book of John’s Gospel begins.

In the creation, God works in six days. And then He rests on the seventh. In the coming of our Lord Jesus, His work is complete (even as He pronounces His work “finished” from the cross) on the sixth day, on Good Friday. And then he rests on the seventh.

Our Lord Jesus takes His rest on that unique Sabbath day, a high holy feast, abstaining from work as he lies dormant in the tomb. For indeed, His work in the Old Creation was completed when He defeated the devil, when He destroyed death through death, when He became the sacrificial offering to redeem all of mankind on the cross. Jesus, the Word of God, lay that Sabbath Day in death’s dark bands, in a tomb, awaiting the next first day, just as on the very first day when God, through His Word, commanded: “Let there be light!” The Sabbath darkness of the tomb was to be dispersed by the first day illumination of the tomb on the morning of Easter.

“Let there be light. And there was light.” The light of Christ. Thanks be to God!

On the first day of the week, light came out of darkness, order emerged from chaos. God did the impossible. The lifeless body of the eternal incarnate God who had been killed was once more restored to life. The Sabbath rest having ended, it is time once more to work. The Lord’s work is creative work. The Lord’s work is restorative work. The Lord’s work is to take darkness and chaos and replace it with a glorious paradise.

On this, the day after the seventh day, the eighth day, a new first day of a new week, is the first day of a New Creation. Jesus Himself promised that the old heavens and earth would pass away. The corrupted, sin-tainted, death-ridden universe is running down. The first day of the new creation brings forth the light that herald’s the New Paradise. And the first fruits of that creation is the flesh and blood of Jesus, emergent triumphantly from the grave, the bread of Life Himself, given for you; whose blood was poured out as wine shed for you.

Even as the redemptive work of our Lord was completed as He breathed His last on the cross, His new work of re-creation began as He drew His first breath in the sepulcher. The darkness of the old creation’s terminus gave way to the new creation’s genesis.

God’s work that began that second first day continues to this first day. The Lord’s ministry of re-creating that which is corrupted and revivifying that which is mortal still goes on today – through His body the Church.

St. Paul refers to his work in the holy ministry of preaching this Good News of our Lord’s resurrection to be “labor.” It is a new kind of work in the Lord’s vineyard. For when Adam and Eve lived in Paradise, work was not a curse. Work was not a burden. The earth opened forth and provided its fruits as free grace, a love offering from Creator to creature. But after the fall into sin, work became a curse. It became toil. It became drudgery, as man would now have to browbeat the earth and wage battle against thorns and weeds “by the sweat of his brow” in order to eat. Our Lord’s work on the cross was also drudgery. It was a curse. It was by the “sweat of His brow” – a brow encircled by thorns, that he labored on our behalf. And the result of this labor is death.

But dear friends, we Christians labor in the Lord’s vineyard. Jesus has done the drudgery and borne the heat of the noon day. He has given us His labor, His blood, sweat, and tears. And He has rested in the grave. The labor that leads to death is done. “It is finished.”

Since that new first day, the “labor” of the Lord’s apostles became something different. It became the work of extending a kingdom “not of this world” – through preaching and proclaiming. This is the kind of yoke and burden that our Lord tells us is “easy” and “light.” The work we do in the Lord’s kingdom is really His work. And just as the work in Paradise was as simple as seeds falling into the ground and rising into maturity without blood and sweat and tears – so too the work in the Lord’s kingdom happens when preachers sow the seed of God’s Word, and the Word of the Lord Himself grows the seed into faith. Like the Lord’s body, the Seed, promised in Genesis, emerges from the earth of the grave, growing into a vine that encircles the world, rising as a shrub in which the birds of the air perch, towering into a mighty and eternal Tree of Life that gives shade and bears glorious fruits in a New Paradise.

That is the Lord’s work. That is the Church’s labor. That Good News, that Gospel is what pastors preach and what Christians confess. That is the work that begins anew this first day. That is the work that has no end. This work is a joy. This work is not a curse, for this work overcomes the curse.

For just as the first day was the dawn of creation, this New and Greater First Day is the dawn of a re-creation. The Genesis of old has become a re-generation – literally in the language of the New Testament, a re-birth. The old generation, the old genesis, passed away as our Lord gave up His spirit and rested in the tomb on the seventh day. The new generation, the new genesis was spawned that first glorious Easter Day, as the Lord reclaimed His spirit, rose, and went back to His gardening on that new first day.

The labor of St. Paul and the apostles in the Lord’s fields has been handed to us. It is the Gospel, the Lord’s labor “which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which you are saved.” This work, this proclamation of the Gospel, this participation in the risen body of Christ is a new creation – and that new creation includes you, dear brothers and sisters of our most glorious Risen Lord! The resurrection of Jesus is a foretaste of the resurrection of all who, in St. Paul’s words, “hold fast that word which I preached to you.” And the “labor” St. Paul speaks of is truly the Lord’s: “yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me…. So we preach and so you believed.”

We believe because witnesses have proclaimed it. We believe because the Holy Spirit has planted the seed into our hearts even as the Seed Himself was planted into the tomb. We believe because He rose from the dead.

We believe because the Risen Lord stands outside of the grave, mistaken by Mary for a gardener, even as His work has begun anew on the first day of the week creating a New and Greater Garden, a garden in which the fruits of the earth come to us purely by grace with no cursed labor or painful thorns; no blood, sweat, and tears – save those of our Lord on the cross. But all of those things are of the Old Creation. There is to be no more cursed work, pain, the wages of sin, that is, death – rather only blessed work, the work of the Lord’s vineyard, the Lord’s garden, the Lord’s kingdom which has no end.

On the first day of the week, light came out of darkness, order emerged from chaos. God did the impossible. Today is a new first day of this New Genesis!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Amen.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sermon: Good Friday

21 March 2008 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA
Text: John 18:1-19:42 (Isa 52:13-53:12, 2 Cor 5:14-21)

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

When God created the universe, He gave us everything. And when our first parents sinned, we lost everything. We lost our perfect existence, our eternal health, our unchallenged position of dominion over the world. Worst of all, we lost the communion we had with our Creator.

And when we lose something, often the way to find it again is to retrace our steps. Sometimes we must run through everything we have done, every place we have been, back through time, until we recover that which we lost.

The problem for us poor, miserable sinners is that we are so lost, no matter how often we revisit our history, we can’t go back to Eden. No matter how much we may regret our sins, we cannot undo them. No matter how much we resist and fight against death, even the most heroic medical care and technology are but delaying actions against the inevitable.

We not only need to retrace our steps, we need someone to retrace those steps for us. Like a father fixing his child’s broken toy, we need our Father to fix our broken creation.

It was through an act of rebellion of the few involving the eating of a fruit of creation that the many became lost. And on Maundy Thursday, that step was retraced, as eating and drinking the fruits of creation through an act of obedience by one that the many became rescued. The forbidden fruit became the forgiving fruit. The grain produced with labor as a result of our sin becomes a bread of grace that takes away our sin. Maundy Thursday, the first of these three holy days, begins the great unraveling of the mess we have made of creation.

On this, the second of the three holy days, a sad Friday we are so audacious as to call “Good,” our Lord once more retraces our steps of rebellion and punishment for sin in order to obediently redeem us from sin.

Our original sin involved a tree and a serpent, and led to death. However, on this day, the tree is not an enticement to sin, but rather the holy altar upon which sin is atoned for. On this day, the serpent isn’t the victor, but rather he is the unholy victim, conquered by the Holy Victim. The tree the serpent had used to wound man, in fact, a tree upon which the Son of Man was wounded, has become the cudgel with which the dragon has been pounded, his bloody head crushed by the One who promised to smash it with His bloody foot. And though the first time, the tree, the serpent, and the man conspired to bring death in the world, on this day, this Good Friday, the Man dies on the tree to conquer and overcome death by the tree, mortally wounding the serpent, and bringing life to mortal men who had been led to death by the serpent in the first place.

The steps have been retraced. The lost have been found. The loving Father has repaired the damage of His children.

This is what Good Friday is all about. This is why the Christian faith makes no sense to the world. For in order to retrace one’s steps, one must go backwards, swim against the stream, do things in a less than logical order. God doesn’t do what we expect. He doesn’t behave the way our sinful nature would predict. Instead, He acts out of divine, selfless, unpredictable love. This is the Christian life! Good Friday reveals the supreme act of love, the act of One who would die for His “friends.” And what’s more, He would die for us “while we were yet sinners!” And having received this re-creation, this redemption, having watched our doting Father repair the creation we had wrecked by our rebellion, disobedience, and folly – we can say with St. Paul “the love of Christ compels us.”

We are under compulsion, dear brothers and sisters. We are, as St. Paul calls himself, “slaves of Christ.” We formerly lost and condemned people have been redeemed, repaired, restored, and reborn. We have been found!

“Now, all things are of God,” as the apostle proclaims, “who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself… For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

This is the very story and the very meaning of Good Friday. The steps have been retraced. And God is the one retracing those steps on our behalf. As a result, there is the “happy exchange” in which the sinner becomes the saint, the victim becomes the victor, the lost becomes found, the dead become alive, and the condemned become the redeemed.

This is what the holy prophet Isaiah proclaims as well, using the word “Servant” that is, a lowly slave, in the same sentence as words like “exalted” and “extolled.” This is how it is that the Man of Sorrows brings about the happiness of the universe, and the One who is “despised and rejected by men” becomes the One who reconciles men to the God they “despised and rejected.” This is how it is that the violence done to Him, the “stricken, smitten, and afflicted,” the one wounded and bruised and chastised, the One led to the slaughter – becomes the bearer of “our peace.” It is He who will “justify many.” In the aftermath of this prophesied Friday, the Lord Himself uses words like “prosper,” “satisfied,” and “pleasure.” For listen to the words of the prophet in light of this Good Friday: “Because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

The Lord has retraced our painful steps as He trod the via dolorosa to the cross. The Lord has retraced our painful steps as he suffered the results of our iniquity in His passion, bearing the stripes that were given for our healing. The Lord has retraced our painful steps as he “poured out His soul unto death” on the Place of a Skull, bearing our sins, in fact, being sin for us, “that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

The steps were also retraced as blood and water issued from his riven side. For blood and water issues when sinful men are born, as our mothers suffer Eden’s curse of pain in childbearing. Instead of a birth, this blood and water from the side of our Blessed Lord is at His death. Blood is what came out of righteous Abel as he lay dying at the hand of His angry brother. Water became the instrument of death of everyone in the world, except for eight righteous people, at the hands of a righteously angry God. But on this Good Friday, this blood and water from the body of Christ are physical manifestations of death. And by this death, we have life. For in baptismal water, we partake our Lord’s death so that we might have life. In the blood of the New Testament, we proclaim the Lord’s death for our redemption as we drink this blood and eat the Body of Christ for the forgiveness of sins. The water and the blood have become manifestations of life.

Again, the steps have been retraced. Death has been undone and converted to life. The lost have been found. The broken have been restored.

Finally, our Blessed Lord is laid in a tomb, the most unnatural place in all of creation. The tomb is a location of death, of decay, of sadness. But we can see where this great divine retracing of steps is headed.

For just as the cross, a symbol of pain and death, is today a symbol of renewal and life, the tomb will likewise be transformed after our Lord spends His Sabbath rest in victory over the serpent, having not only retraced our steps, but having stepped upon the head of the devil, finding the lost, and drawing life out of death.

In our sinfulness, we lost everything. We lost our perfect existence, our eternal health, our unchallenged position of dominion over the world. Worst of all, we lost the communion we had with our Creator. And yet, Good Friday saw all of that undone. In Jesus Christ, creation once more has a perfect Man, an eternal Man, One with an unchallenged position of dominion over all things. And through that one Man, we again have communion with our Creator.

The steps have been retraced. The lost have been found. The loving Father has repaired the damage of His children. And as good as this day is, the best is yet to come. Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Amen.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sermon: Maundy Thursday

20 March 2008 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA
Text: John 13:1-15, 34-35 (Ex 24:3-11, 1 Cor 11:23-32)

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when His body was handed over to sinful men in order to shed His blood, our Lord Himself handed over His own body and blood to us sinful men in order to be saved by His blood.

On this night when He was betrayed, the night before His crucifixion, our Lord re-establishes the Lord’s Supper for several reasons: for remembrance, for proclamation, for self-examination, and most of all, for the forgiveness of sins.

He re-establishes the old Passover meal, not for the sake of a nice ritual, but as the living fulfillment of the old Holy Supper. For look at this Holy Communion in the Old Testament: the Word of God is read, and the people respond with their “Amen.” They gather around an altar. Moses officiates at the distribution of the Lord’s gift of the lamb’s blood, saying: “This is the blood of the covenant.” It is distributed to the people. The priests and the elders (which is the word used in the New Testament for “pastors”) stand in God’s presence. “So they saw God, and they ate and drank.”

This New and Greater Passover, this fulfillment of the old covenant into the New Testament, this meal in which our Lord is not only the Master of Ceremonies but also the food and drink itself, is a miracle. For we too see God as we eat and drink. This Holy Supper gives us not only a special fellowship with God (who shares the table and a meal with us), but also the forgiveness of sins, the holy presence of Him who has died and risen for us, placed directly into our mouths to become part of our very fiber of being.

In eating and drinking this miraculous meal, we indeed proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes, a proclamation that goes beyond talking about it, but right to our very being. In Holy Communion, we have “communion,” as the very incarnate body and blood of God creates a holy union with us poor miserable sinners.

We, who deserve to starve, are given a feast. We, who deserve to die, are given life.

And just as the blood of the old covenant cleansed the people of their sins, so too, the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, the New Testament, cleanses us. Before He miraculously fed His disciples with His body and blood, our Lord first cleansed them with water. He prepared the disciples to be fit for the Lord’s table by physically washing them with water to make them clean – an act very different than the hollow ritual pre-meal washing of the Pharisees. For this baptismal washing actually makes one clean, even on the hidden soles of the feet, even of our shameful, hidden sins. And our Lord administers this cleansing water not as a mighty Lord but as a lowly servant, a minister.

He then bids His disciples, the men He would ordain for preaching, to likewise minister to others, even as Aaron and his sons Nadab and Abihu ministered as priests of the old covenant along with Moses.

Not only are these New Testament preacher-priests to wash us with water, not only are they to read the Word of God to us, not only are they to preach and proclaim that Word, they are also to administer the Holy Supper as a proclamation of the Lord’s death, which like the sacramental blood of the old covenant sprinkled on the people, is given to the people for the forgiveness of sins.

And like the people of the Old Testament, this meal is a Passover, a passing over from death to life, a marker for God’s remembrance of His promise, a marker of separation between the passing world that is secure in its sins vs. the Lord’s own redeemed and priestly people who are repentant of their sins, whose sins are covered by the blood, those who have been given life without end.

Just as the angel of death was powerless to cross the thresholds marked by the blood, the devil is not permitted to seize those who have passed through the threshold of the cross by being washed in the ministerial water of Jesus, and through being transformationed by the Holy Supper of the Lord’s body and blood.

And while we must die in this flesh – for we still live in the flesh – we are given a New and Greater Flesh, a flesh untainted by sin, a flesh that is immortal, that is the very flesh of God, “the body of Christ, given for you.” This is the same flesh born of Mary, nailed to a cross, risen from the grave, and given for you to eat in the miraculous meal we call the Lord’s Supper, the Mass, the Holy Communion, the Mystical Meal.

And as sinners, we are accountable in blood – for we still sin daily and much – and yet we are given a New and Greater Blood, a blood that has power over sin, a blood that contains life, the very same blood that flowed from His five holy wounds, the same blood poured into a chalice and given to you as wine to drink, “the blood of Christ, shed for you.” This is indeed the same blood that flowed in the veins of God, the same blood that atoned for the children of Israel, now given to us to drink in the miraculous meal we call the Lord’s Supper, the Mass, the Holy Communion, the Mystical Meal.

Dear brothers and sisters, we are “poor, miserable sinners” whose blood deserves to be shed, whose lives deserve to be ended. We have no claim to worthiness to see God, let alone eat and drink with Him.

But thanks be to our Triune God that God has taken on human flesh, sheds His blood, gives up His body, shares Himself with us in a Holy Meal, and gives us His worthiness to stand before the sapphire throne. Thanks be to God that He does indeed use priestly ministers to wash us with water, to proclaim the good news of the Word of God, to preach the forgiveness of sins in a New Testament, and distribute the body and blood of Christ to us as this holy meal established on the night when He was handed over to sinful men.

Let us see God. Let us eat and drink. Let us proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. Let us examine ourselves, let us repent, and let us be forgiven – even as we have been given a bread-and-wine feast and a body-and-blood life that will have no end. Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Amen.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sign the +Issues, Etc.+ Petition!

There is an online petition that is catching on like wildfire. It only takes a few seconds.

Now is the time to make a good confession before God and men, before kings and princes, before popes and presidents.

Unholy Events on Holy Tuesday

Pr. William Weedon broke the news that the very popular Lutheran radio program Issues, Etc. was suddenly canceled yesterday. The irony is that it was canceled at the behest of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod - who owns the radio station (KFUO) on which the program aired (it also went around the world through podcasts over the world wide web).

The host (Pr. Todd Wilken) and producer (Mr. Jeff Schwarz) were summarily fired with no warning. It is perhaps only a coincidence that the Issues, Etc. program was less than supportive of some of the pet projects of our church body, and instead chose to focus on deeper theological issues. Surely, that must be merely coincidental. It must be.

The bottom line is that Pr. Wilken has suddenly been fired from his Gospel-spreading work during holy week. He also has a family to support. I wonder if the LCMS will be sending this faithful pastor a card wishing him a Happy Easter? Mr. Schwarz's position is also dire. His wife is suffering from a neurological condition. She is scheduled to go to Mayo Clinic at the end of the month. What is the status of the family's health insurance?

Ironically, the Gospel reading for Holy Tuesday included the following:

Mark 14:18 Now as they sat and ate, Jesus said, "Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me." 19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to Him one by one, "Is it I?" And another said, "Is it I?" 20 He answered and said to them, "It is one of the twelve, who dips with Me in the dish. 21 "The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born."

The cancellation and firings have been met with outrage. Both the Synod and KFUO offices are being swamped with calls and e-mails, but are being very tight-lipped about the matter. Synodical officials seem to have hunkered down and are saying nothing.

The program was not merely a local St. Louis radio show, as it was syndicated on radio stations all over the U.S., as well as being made available around the world via the web and in podcast form.

Here is a reaction from a Lutheran in the African nation of Zimbabwe:

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Garikai Deredza <>
Sent: Tuesday, March 18, 2008 3:02:54 PM

Subject: Re: [pericope] Issues etc -- no more!

I am very much disappointed by the decision to end issues etc. It has been a source of knowledge, comfort, encouragement and truely an effective and comprehensible tool for reaching out to the world that did not realise the works of the slanderer against the church.

I leave in Zimbabwe, Africa, where there are no Christian (Lutheran) literature and Issues etc was my fountain from which I tapped and drank.

Peace be with you servants of Christ who are troubled on everyside by the slanderer. Don't despair. Yes it's painfull. Imagine how it feels for a new born baby to find their mother dad the next morning. With Jesus in the vessel we shall indeed smile in the storm as we are sailing home.

why was such a powerful Lutheran voice taken off air. I shall fast and pray to the Lord to help me understand, and if not his will that the program was terminated, that the programme be returned to the air.

I can't find the right diction to express my pain and loss emanating from such a decision. My heart really bleeds and I am only holding my tears from flowing but I am weeping like canned 5 year old.

Thy will be done.

In christ,

Garikai Deredza

Martin Luther Deanery
Youth Representaive

Harare North Luther League Fellowship

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe.

gariedee@yahoo. com
+263 91 2 290 886 / +263 4 2 926 223

Garie Dee

Before I became he Has ever been. Let Him who is always there take
charge and failure will never be known.

If you'd like to join the effort to make the officials of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod explain their actions, please consider contacting some or all of the following:

Rev. David L. Strand Executive
Board for Communication
(314) 996-1200

(314) 822-0000

Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

1333 S. Kirkwood Road

St. Louis, MO 63122-7295

(888) 843-5267

(314) 965-9000

FAX: (314) 996-1016

KFUO Radio Station

(314) 725-0099

(314) 725-3030‎

(314) 721-2969

Rev. Dr. Gerald Kieschnick

Synod President

(314) 996-1402

(314) 842-7110

LC-MS Board of Directors

(314) 996-1350

Finally, if you would like to provide financial assistance to the Wilken and Swartz families, send checks to:

St. Paul Lutheran Church
Box 247
Hamel, IL 62046

and mark it Wilken/Schwarz Fund.

For further information, contact the pastor of St. Paul's, Rev. William Weedon at