Monthly Archives: May 2016

Will God, Really? or Does the Church need to be there?


 

Will God, Really?

1 Kings 8

† In Jesus Name †

May the grace and peace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen your dependence upon Hi m and help you pray, knowing God is here.. for you dwell in His presence.

Is it good enough for…

Twenty-seven years ago, I was looking in display cases in a store in San Dimas, Ca.  I had already spent a lot of time in other stores, trying to find the perfect ring to go on Kay’s hand, when we got married on July 1st.

Although I didn’t have a lot of money, that wasn’t the issue as much as finding a ring that would make her smile, that she would proudly wear and that she would show off, saying, look!

I found it, got out my life savings… (which was last week’s paycheck) and purchased the ring.  I remember thinking, until the time I saw her smile, will she find it good enough?  Will it be good enough!

I have to think my anxiety was nothing compared to what Solomon was going through as he dedicated the temple. Can you imagine the pressure, for the dream was not just his dream, but King David’s dreams, and the fulfillment of a promise that went all the way back to Egypt and Moses, and even before that 4 centuries to the time when God made a covenant promise to Abraham, having him look up into the sky, to see the number of his descendants.

All of the Israel was there, to dedicate a sanctuary, the temple, to be the place where God would dwell with man.

And as he looks out on the people of God, his nervousness causes him to ask a question.

But will God really live on earth? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built!

We could, no, we should ask the same question here today, for this place, as we stand in this place, where God has put His name.

How can Concordia contain the presence of God, who cannot even be contained?

The answer is found in why the Temple was dedicated as the house of God, and to see this place dedicated to the same purpose!

Why Solomon had Faith God Would hear.

It is amazing to me sometimes, when people take a question like Solomon’s and only read the question, assuming that God would not answer, or that because Solomon asked, it meant the issue would be in doubt.  I’ve heard people say that churches and sanctuaries dedicated to being the place where God meets people are no different than a forest, or a beach.  Because God is everywhere, and therefore, any place is as good as another.

But Solomon doesn’t ask this in a rhetorical manner.  He asks it because he knows the answer, the very character of God is to dwell with His people.  He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden, and was close enough to know Cain and talk to him.  Enoch walked with Him, as did Noah, and of course Melchizedek, the prince of peace who would help Abraham know the prophecy about Jesus, the incredible Prince of Peace. He walked with Isaac and wrestled with Jacob.  He met Moses, and dwell on Mount Sinai, and led His people as they struggled to be faithful in the wilderness.

And as Solomon mentions, God kept the promises made to David, Solomon’s father. That God always keeps the promises He binds himself to in covenant.

God always shows love to those He calls to be His own; that is why we are devoted to Him.  It is because He doesn’t fail us.

And he doesn’t’ fail us because He dwells with us, not just because He is everywhere.  He makes His home with us, in our midst, to care for us, love us, reconcile us to Himself

That we struggle to believe that is the nastiest side effect of sin, the belief that God won’t care about the people He created to be His own.

Which is why we put up buildings like this one, it is why Solomon built the temple; it is why Jesus cleared out the money changers and those who made a profit selling sacrifices in the temple.

Because these places where God has said, “My name is there”, where He urges us to call upon His name, is to be a place of peace, a refuge, a sanctuary.

Which is why we can pray here, which is why we feel at peace here at the rail, as God strengthens us, for He hears our cry, as He hears our Kyrie…our plea for His love and mercy.

Will God Really Hear my Prayer?

It took me a while to understand this passage, this prayer of Solomon.  Because the very first thing he asks for is that God would hear all of the prayers prayed in the Temple – actually within the temple courtyards, and area 8 times the size of our Concordia property!  A million people could easily fill the courts, and can you imagine how they would sound singing the Nunc Dimittis?  How they praises would ring as they realized that God was welcoming them, drawing them into His presence!

What is so amazing, what needs to be realized is that when the people of God pray, the promise isn’t to give us the American Dream of Life, liberty, wealth, fame and the pursuit of happiness, the promise is to give us…

Mercy

Forgiveness,

Pardon,

To give us the loving comfort of realizing God doesn’t walk away from us, that He will cleanse us up, that he won’t bar us from heaven, but He will make us as clean and share His glory with us!

If we are devoted to Him, this only ensures a deeper devotion. A more single-hearted adoration of the God who comes and dwells among us. There is no great answered prayer than this,

You are my children, and I will love you and care for you, by the stripes Christ wore on His back, you are healed!

Will God Really Hear Theirs?

That is there in the prayer of the heathen that Solomon would have God really hear as well.  We get distracted by the “grant whatever they ask”, in fact, I sometimes wonder if I can be a unbeliever for a day, get 400 or 500 prayers answered, and then believe again. ( We’ll talk about that in Bible Study!)

But they are to pray so that they can be in awe of God’s presence as well, so that can know and fear God, even as His people do.  That is what Solomon prays for those who aren’t the people of God, who aren’t in the covenant, that are drawn to God by the work of the Holy Spirit.

That they would know Him, and come into this relationship, this wonderful relationship where God answers Solomon question with smoke so thick that they priests can’t do anything.

Smoke that testifies to His presence, just as the bread and wine, body and blood testify to the presence of Christ in this place.

Solomon asks, “will God really dwell on earth?”

God answers, “Be at peace, I am with you…”  AMEN!

Incredible, Precious Long-forgotten Wisdom


Devotional Thought fo the Day:

 My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials. 2 Be sincere of heart and steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of adversity. 3 Cling to him, do not leave him, that you may prosper in your last days.  4 Accept whatever happens to you; in periods of humiliation be patient. 5 For in fire gold is tested, and the chosen, in the crucible of humiliation. 6 Trust in God, and he will help you; make your ways straight and hope in him.  (Sir 2:1–6  NAB-RE)

13 Thus you can easily understand the nature and scope of this commandment. It requires that man’s whole heart and confidence be placed in God alone, and in no one else. To have God, you see, does not mean to lay hands upon him, or put him into a purse, or shut him up in a chest.  14 We lay hold of him when our heart embraces him and clings to him.
15 To cling to him with all our heart is nothing else than to entrust ourselves to him completely. He wishes to turn us away from everything else, and draw us to Himself, because he is the one eternal good.

Too late loved I Thee, O Thou Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! too late I loved Thee! And behold, Thou wert within, and I abroad, and there I searched for Thee; deformed I, plunging amid those fair forms which Thou hadst made. Thou wert with me, but I was not with Thee. Things held me far from Thee, which, unless they were in Thee, were not at all. Thou calledst, and shoutedst, and burstest my deafness. Thou flashedst, shonest, and scatteredst my blindness. Thou breathedst odours, and I drew in breath and panted for Thee. I tasted, and hunger and thirst. Thou touchedst me, and I burned for Thy peace.

292      You should repeat very often: Jesus, if ever a doubt creeps into my soul, setting up other noble ambitions in place of what you are asking of me, I tell you now that I prefer to follow you, no matter how much it costs. Do not leave me!

Bear with me, as a share some background to this post…. Growing up, my first full Bible was a white “leatherette” Bible with a silver cross imprinted on it.  Like the one in the picture, though the leatherette was cracked, and the pages worn…

I remember reading and being asked by Father Alex questions each week about what I read.  I was probably not more than my son’s nine years old then, and I remember reading the book of Ecclesiasticus, or  Sirach, or properly the Wisdom of Ben-Sirach.  Do I remember what I read sitting on the couch against the bay window? No, I just remember it was a book of the Bible that gave me peace. Peace I needed then, as I dealt with a few serious issues in life. The deadly threat of Marfans, often being sick with Asthma, trying to work through the idea I that was adopted, and possibly what would now be known as Aspergers. For by no means did I “fit in” at school, nor could I understand why “they” didn’t fit in with me.

Every year I pick a different translation to read through, thanks to one of my computer programs, and this year it is the New American Bible, Revised Edition.  What replaced my beloved first “full” Bible.  As such it has Wisdom/Sirach in it, as it is a Roman Catholic translation.    First time I’ve probably read this section of the Bible in 30 years or more.

Now I know why I recall the peace that came from it, sitting in my living room – it talks of what Luther calls faith, it identifies what Augustine burned for, what Escriva says we should often repeat, crying out for the Lord to help us remember and stayed focused upon.

This is faith, to cling to God no matter what assails us, to trust God, to do so recognizing His Majesty, His mercy,  His love.  For as we trust in Him, as we depend upon Him, He will make our ways straight,  He will not just give us hope; He will be our Hope.  Maybe as a child I understood that better than I do today, maybe there was less theology, less human insight.  This is what scripture said – cling to God…do not leave Him, trust in Him….

A message I need to hear today, as new problems arise, as even as I serve Him, I find Sirach right – there are so many trials, so many heartaches, so much that challenges my embrace of the Lord, who embraces me.

Probably as some of my Protestant friends are reading this, their mind is going to throw a stumbling rock in the way!  Sirach isn’t scripture, and all the side conversations of what that means.  Perhaps my Catholic friends will be wondering why I can quote Luther next to Augustine or Escriva (some Catholics might question that as well! )

Drop it.  Drop all that crap now!  

Hear the words of Sirach’s wisdom, wisdom that is not only in harmony with three of my “heroes”, or role models, but is in accord with all of scripture.  This is what the covenant means, this is what the promise of God declaring that we are His people, that He is our God. This is faith; this is why we are declared just, why we are made holy. Whther you think this is pure scripture, or a good book, you can’t argue with the fact it is scriptural in its teaching, it is what all of scripture proclaims, and urges us to believe.

That we could know the peace of God being our sanctuary, where we find rest and peace, peace that goes beyond all understanding, that guards our broken hearts and minds, and makes them whole.

Cling to God, no matter what happens as you serve Him. Know His love, know He holds you… even as you cry out,

Lord, have mercy!

You will find He will strengthen your faith, and He will be your hope.  AMEN!

 
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 366). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.

Augustine, S., Bishop of Hippo. (1996). The Confessions of St. Augustine. (E. B. Pusey, Trans.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1189-1191). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Simple Christian’s Life….



Devotional Thought of the Day:
19  And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, 20  so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. 21  But as for those who long for vile images and detestable idols, I will repay them fully for their sins. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!”   Ezekiel 11:19-21 (NLT)

295      Any time is the right time to make an effective resolution, to say “I believe”, to say “I hope”, to say “I love”.  (1)

 A god is that to which we look for all good and in which we find refuge in every time of need. To have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe him with our whole heart. As I have often said, the trust and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol.
3 If your faith and trust are right, then your God is the true God. On the other hand, if your trust is false and wrong, then you have not the true God. For these two belong together, faith and God. That to which your heart clings and entrusts itself is, I say, really your God.
4 The purpose of this commandment, therefore, is to require true faith and confidence of the heart, and these fly straight to the one true God and cling to him alone.  (2)

This morning, my devotional reading contained the green and blue quotes above.  They are simple, they describe a simple life, they describe the Christian life.

I wish they described my life more, I long for that to be my reality.

Or rather, I desire that to be my only reality.

Like Paul, there seems to be a war within me, as various things compete to be my “god”. Or should I say, I choose to allow things to compete for that role.  It is hard to admit, but I want leaders I can trust in, in whom I can entrust my life, my

It is hard to admit, but I want leaders I can trust in, in whom I can entrust my life, my family’s and my church’s future.  I want them – both secular and church leaders who will be just and righteous, gracious and merciful.  Yet I become cynical when they don’t provide when they don’t comfort; when they are proven to be as broken.  For these “gods” I would entrust myself to fail.

But even more dangerous is for me to rebel from them, and make myself my God.  It is an easy thing to do as well, encouraged by the world that tells me I have to look out for myself.  The world that teaches us that we are the captain of our fate, that if we have the right attitude, and a strong enough world, we can achieve what we desire. The same world that laughs, or worse, ignores me, when I fall on my face, and can’t get up on my own.

Enough failures and my heart will become hard, crusted over with by scars and bruises.  I want to become immune to the failures, and I become offensive, assured that it is better than being on the defensive.  But the offensiveness offends, and I can’t endure my own heart, my own attitude, my own life.

It is amid these moments of not just being broken, but being shattered that I come across Luther and Escriva and so many others, men who knew their own brokenness, and battled it on their knees, and in the scriptures,   Men who found incredible hope, and when all is said and done, the answer was simple.

Flee to God.

Cling to Him,

Believe Him and the promises He made us.  Depend on them.

Find the hope for our healing in the new Spirit given us, and

Adore the God, who works in our lives. He who always cares for His people.  My friends, you and I need, desperately need to believe in, find hope and live this God, who comes to us in our brokenness and replaces our broken hearts with one’s that find great joy is singing His praises.

This is the simple Christian life; one lives depending on God, clinging to Him. for He is our God.

It may seem too simple, but it is walking humbly with our Father, our God…..

Because of that, it is a life lived in sanctuary, and in great peace….

Lord Have mercy on us!

 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1199-1201). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

(2)  Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 365). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.

 

Curious..& could you help.


For four years I have had this blog up, and I have statistics that WordPress gives me that I do not understand.
According to WordPress, some 29000 times the blog has been visited, by 19000 people.   There are other oddities, like the other day I had a number of people like it on FB and others on LinkedIn – but the number Word Press gave me was half that amount. And I have 320 subscribed readers, but there are days where I have only 4 visitors….

So I am curious about what kind of readership I do have, and where from.

So if you have ever read my blog and it has been helpful – even once – could you hit like on this post today?

Thanks

pastor Dt

The Ministry is Not About the Clergy!!!


Devotional Thought of the Day:
11  Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13  This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
Ephesians 4:11-13 (NLT)

5  I left you on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you. 6  An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. 7  For an elder must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money. 8  Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. 9  He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.
Titus 1:5-9 (NLT)

11 If ordination is interpreted in relation to the ministry of the Word, we have no obligation to calling ordination a sacrament. The ministry of the Word has God’s command and glorious promises: “The Gospel is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith” (Rom. 1:16), again, “My word that goes forth from my mouth shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:11).
12 If ordination is interpreted this way, we shall not object either to calling the laying on of hands a sacrament. The church has the command to appoint ministers; to this we must subscribe wholeheartedly, for we know that God approves this ministry and is present in it.  (1)

. Since only general laws can be made where there exists a wide variety of nations and regions, a special “program of priestly training” is to be undertaken by each country or rite. It must be set up by the episcopal conferences, revised from time to time and approved by the Apostolic See. In this way will the universal laws be adapted to the particular circumstances of the times and localities so that the priestly training will always be in tune with the pastoral needs of those regions in which the ministry is to be exercised.  (2)

This summer, there will be a lot of talk in my denomination about the ministry, and in specific the ministry of the diaconate, (Ministry in Greek is diakonos) .  Our problem is somewhat in semantics and somewhat an issue of ignorance. Ultimately, it is a misunderstanding of the ministry, and what it means to be divinely called to serve the church.

Without a doubt, those who serve the Church are a gift to the church.  Yes ,there is a divine call to not just pastors and priests, but to deacons and I believe any who teach in the church. The need to be trained and examined, and prayed over and for as they take up their roles, their vocations.

But the ministry isn’t about them.  The ministry is about serving the needs of those they are called to serve.  The people God would call to be His people, His children.

You see that clearly in the Ephesians passage, as we are called to minister, and even a point to which the job is complete.  (GULP)  But we see it as well, as the Titus passage describes our roles, again using the idea of building up, encouraging, being a Paraclete.

We see this in the idea early Lutherans (the quote in blue from the Apology of the Augsburg Confessions) as ordination is considered a sacrament if the ordination is setting them apart for this ministry of teaching God’s word.  (The first president of my Lutheran denomination included in this group all those the pastor delegated such work to as well!) This is why there was a time where ordained clergy not in dedicated full-time parish ministry was not considered “in the ministry”.  It’s about the care of souls, about urging them to cross, where they will find mercy and love and peace.

We see as well in the Catholic Church’s cry (the quote in Vatican II) to make seminary training about being in tune with meeting the spiritual needs of the people in the area they are to serve.  They clearly understand that what is important is what we do, and our personal identity is to be lost, so that we speak as stewards of the mysteries of Christ.  if our training is merely academic, merely the recitation and repetition of the experts who have gone before, and not tailored to give people what they need to know about Jesus, then the seminaries and universities have failed in their mission.  (as have pastors who train up Deacons and Sunday School Teachers, and all who have part of our ministry.)  What is true fo the clergy is as true for all those who will serve in the church?

It’s about the people being drawn into the presence of God. Our identity as ministers is that of the servant making sure his Master’s guests arrive.   The focus then has to be on the guests, their needs, being met by the church, being served by those who have been called and examined and placed there, because God wants them to be.

This is their ministry, God’s gift to them.

AMEN.

 

 

 
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 212). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.Catholic Church. (2011). Decree on Priestly Training: Optatum Totius. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

Catholic Church. (2011). Decree on Priestly Training: Optatum Totius. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

Has the Church Given Up?


Devotional Thought fo the Day:
20  Now may the God of peace— who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— 21  may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.     Hebrews 13:20-21 (NLT)

8  In every church service I want the men to pray, men who are dedicated to God and can lift up their hands in prayer without anger or argument.   1 Timothy 2:8 (TEV)

372      If you persevere in your prayer, with “personal perseverance”, God Our Lord will give you all the means you need to be more effective and to spread his kingdom in the world. But you have to keep faithful: asking, asking, asking… Are you really behaving this way?

16 Ultimately, if we should list as sacraments all the things that have God’s command and a promise added to them, then why not prayer, which can most truly be called a sacrament? It has both the command of God and many promises. If it were placed among the sacraments and thus given, so to speak, a more exalted position, this would move men to pray

The first quote, from the book of Hebrews, is how we often end our service.  It is a benediction, a blessing, but it is also a prayer.  Interestingly enough, it is not a suggested to be used in most of the liturgies I have seen over the years, as I’ve researched liturgy and worship.  There are others; the Aaronic Blessing is popular, so is one in a Trinitarian format,  but not this one from Hebrews.

It popped into my mind, as I read St Josemaria’s words this morning, (the quote in green) And as I contemplated this blog, I started to think about prayer, especially prayer for God’s people to .. well be the people of God. To live life with Him in a way that brings God great joy.

I thought of the prayers that begin most of Paul’s letters and the prayers of Christ for the church.  You see, this prayer/blessing of Hebrews does not stand alone. I also thought of a great book on Church Revitalization, and the author’s insistence on the prayer team, noting it is more importance than vision casting, or those who work the change.  (I’ve seen that part often dropped as churches adapt the book to their own need)

Then I thought of the articles I read yesterday.  Articles that talked about churches closing, and another about the dwindling numbers of seminarians, and church attendance.  I thought of as well recent conversations with pastors, who talk of dry lives, and as well, struggle to see any benefit to prayer. Is there a correlation between our lack of prayer, and our observation of a church that is weak, sick, and even dying and our lack of persistent prayer?  If we judged the effectiveness of the church based on the prayers of pastors and people, would we have to say the church has given up and surrendered?

Luther would say that we pray, not that God is hindered by its lack, but because we are. Our lack of prayer results in a supernatural pessimism, and even apathy. We know that prayer and faith go together, as we pray, so we depend on God to see those prayers addressed and answered in our lives, in our communities.

So why don’t we pray, and why don’t we pray as this passage and so many others indicate?  Is it because we don’t see prayer as a sacramental act, a blessing where God comes and communes with us?  If we did, as the Lutheran Confessions advise, and see Prayer truly as a sacrament, would it make a difference?

I think it would.  It would stop us from seeing prayer as a duty, and see it as the wonderful blessing it is, we would persevere, not because it might manipulate God, but because of the peace that comes from knowing God is dealing with it.  As we pray, the anxiety is reduced, our trust and dependence on God grows, and we become sure of God’s wisdom and strength at work.  What a blessing this is!  What a comfort!

if we would see the church grow, if we would encourage men to become pastors and encourage people to serve in the church and its ministries, prayer is the key.  Fellowship with God that breeds and magnifies the trust that knows the transformation God works in us, and celebrates our union with God.

This is when ministry is at its strongest, when we are relying and depending on God, and we truly see His work in us, and the joy it creates.

My friends, hold up your holy hands, depend on God and ask Him to bless His people everywhere.  AMEN.

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1462-1465). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 213). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.

 

 

The Glory of God and Human Worth


The Glory of God and Human Worth

Psalm 8

†  IN the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit †


May the Holy Spirit make us more and more like Jesus Christ, causing us to reflect His glory into our broken world.

 A precious lesson to remember

I’ve been doing a bit of thinking since I realized that this summer will make it 30 years since I was a pastoral intern.    Some of that pondering has been in awe of what God has done, other moments have brought tears.  It has been especially rough as this year has seen some dear people pass away at each of the churches I’ve served at.  Nor does it help that in my devotions I’ve read Job recently, and presently am reading Ecclesiastes, where Solomon’s chorus seems to be,

All is meaning-less.

And there are days that I hear this!

Over the thirty years I’ve also learned to disregard that attitude, to know that even when I don’t see how everything will work out, that I am assured of God’s promises, and can rest secure knowing He is faithful.

That’s not where this sermon on Psalm 8 is going, well, not directly, but that is part of the background.  Thirty years ago, actually thirty-three years ago, a phrase was drummed into my mind.  It took 3 years to make sense, and a lifetime to implement.  It is a great guideline for theologians and preachers, and it helps those who listen to sermons and try to apply it to their lives.

These are those words,

You cannot fully understand any Biblical truth until you have reduced it to a corollary of the idea of Covenant.

or to put it in the way I came to understand it,
You can’t clearly understand any doctrine, in Christianity until you understand it in view of the relationship God calls us into with Himself, as described in the New Covenant.

Which includes the incredible glorious mystery we celebrate today, that God is One, and God is, simultaneously three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  What we call the Trinity the merger of the words Tri and Unity.   Until we understand that in view of God’s relationship with us, His relationship that He calls us into, the result is meaningless.
Failure to Understand the Relationship

So how does this work?  Why can’t we understand the idea of the Trinity, the doctrine that God is Triune, if we don’t include our relationship with God in contemplating it?  Why is understanding the Covenant necessary to understanding this?

The answer is somewhat simple, we can’t understand the Trinity until we are actively involved with it.  To understand the Trinity, we must move and live in unison with God, in sympathy with God.  It is as if we are dancing with Him, moving as His partner.

And if we don’t understand this, it is as if we are standing in the corner of life, just observing His glory, yet not able to understand it.

We end up with a partial picture of Psalm 8,
When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers, – the moon and the stars you set in place – what are people that you should think about them, mere mortals that you should care for them?

From a distance, this is how we see God, all the incredible beauty he creates, the skies, the mountains, a smile a joy filled laugh. It is glorious for sure, it is beyond the scope of our ability to describe, but we still don’t understand God, we still don’t know Him.  We think we know all about Him, but we do not know Him, and we cannot see the fullness of His glory, His majesty, His love.

It is as if we are a high school freshman, at his first dance, looking at an incredibly beautiful girl.  He can describe her dress, her beauty, but until he is dancing with her, looking in her eyes, he really doesn’t understand her beauty.

Neither can we understand the Father, Son and Holy Spirit until we are moving with God.  Our lives lived in Him, and He dwelling in us.  Until that point it is an academic exercise, one were we put ourselves in the place of judgment, as if we are the experts in judging His glory, because of our great understanding.  The understanding that is merely theological, that is merely from a distance.

Which means we read this psalm and say -God doesn’t think about us, He couldn’t care about us!  He has a universe to run!  Like desists we think that God is far off, that He isn’t involved, and that it is up to us to run our own lives.

That gives us freedom, to go after what we want, to do what seems good to us. It means we can justify our sin, thinking it doesn’t really matter to God, that He doesn’t really care, and that we should just enjoy life.

Ultimately, sin is nothing more than choosing to remain in the corner, distant from God, unengaged with Him.  We refuse to walk with God, preferring to stay at a great distance, able to describe Him, and creating explanations for what we do not understand.  Explanations that encourage sin, and encourage living life to what we think is the fullest.

That separation leaves us unfulfilled it doesn’t satisfy the hunger, it just makes it greater, and it enslaves us.  And once enslaved, with sin pulling us further and further away, our “expert” view of God becomes more blurred, and often more hostile.

Until we agree with Solomon, that all is simply meaningless.

Sure, God is three, and He is One, but what does that matter if my life is spent against the wall, alone with my speculation and philosophy and theology books?
Trinity understood through Covenant.

When we reduce the doctrine of the Trinity (not the Trinity itself) to a corollary of covenant, when we see this incredible mystery of Three in One from the point where we engage God, when we see it defining who we are, we begin to understand this,

This is my God, and I am His child!

It is like looking into the eyes of your beloved as you dance together.  You may not be able to describe what you see, heck, you may not be able to speak.  Eloquence evades you, but you know your beloved at a level that transcends truth.  This is when we begin to understand how much God does think of us, how much He truly cares.

It is when the Psalmist begins to understand the answer to his question,

what are people that you should think about them, mere mortals that you should care for them?

You made them only a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.  You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority.

The answer is simply understanding the Trinity in view of our relationship with God.

For we see the Trinity involved with us from the beginning, as God makes us just a little lower than Himself, making us in His very image.  In our creeds, as we describe this glorious Trinity, we see God the Father, the Creator at work,

And then God crowns us with glory and honor.  This is the work of Jesus, the Son. of the Father, and our Lord.  It is His redeeming us, pulling us out of the corner, bringing us to dance with God.  This is Jesus, our righteousness, whom we are untied to in baptism, made one with, as He cleanses us from all sin and all unrighteousness. His very birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension affect s our lives, from redeeming us to being our advocate, proclaiming us Holy and deserving of the crown and righteousness.

And then the Spirit sanctifies us, setting us apart, conforming us to the image of God’s son. We are revealed to be in Christ Jesus, the Spirit dwells in us, and gives us the role of God’s trusted children, trusted enough that He puts all things under our authority, our responsibility, as we walk with Jesus.   This is what it means to be holy, to be sanctified, to walk with God,

And so we see God, in all of His glory, working in our lives.  Creating us.  Redeeming us, Sanctifying us.  Making us His people.  That is what the creeds describe the Trinity doing, simply engaged with us, thinking about us, caring about us so much that God invests Himself fully in our lives. His is what we confess; it is what we believe.  It is our Credo – why we depend on upon God.

It is a description of our faith in God who reveals Himself in this way to us,

This is why Paul can preach as the He describes in Colossians,

 

For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too.  And this is the secret:  Christ lives in you.  This gives you assurance of sharing in His glory.  Colossians 1:27 (NLT)

This is how we are to understand God, not with high minded philosophy from afar, but moving in unison with God as our Father, our Lord Jesus Christ who died to save us, and the Holy Spirit who will bring to completion our transformation into the children of God.  He thinks about us, He cares for us, HE LOVES US!.

As we come to know the Trinity this way they share with us the peace that surpasses all understanding and will share the glory of eternity.  For this is true!
We are His people; He is our God… AMEN!

Theology that Truly Matters Meets Us….


Devotional THoguht fo the Day:
14  Let us, then, hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we have a great High Priest who has gone into the very presence of God—Jesus, the Son of God. 15  Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin. 16  Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.
Hebrews 4:14-16 (TEV)

290      Joy, and supernatural and human optimism, can go hand in hand with physical tiredness, with sorrow, with tears (because we have a heart), and with difficulties in our interior life or our apostolic work. He who is perfectus Deus, perfectus Homo—perfect God and perfect Man—and who enjoyed every happiness in Heaven, chose to experience fatigue and tiredness, tears and suffering… so that we might understand that if we are to be supernatural we must also be very human.  (1)

Tomorrow in church we will use the Athanasian Creed, an incredible wonderful set of words that describe the nature of God who is so much more than we can understand or conceive.  It first describes Father Son and Holy Spirit (or for us older folk Holy Ghost).  Mindblowing in both its simplicity and complexity.  Very appropriate as we dedicate the day to thinking about the Trinity, this majestic and glorious God, who has revealed Himself to us.

The second aspect I want to deal with here, well sort of…

It describes, as best as one can, the divine and human nature of Christ.  That he is 100% man, 100% divine.  Theologians will talk about this ad nauseum, with fancy Latin phrases and epic tomes which make us sound far more brilliant than we are.  Where it matters is where the saint who wrote Hebrews mentions above.

Christ has sympathy for us.  Not just a sympathetic ear, but true sympathy for us.  Or perhaps more accurately, empathy.   He’s been here, done this, and instead of having a t-shirt to wear, He has stripes on His back, a gaping hole in His side, and in his wrists and feet.  As the scriptures tell us, he endured the temptations we face, (and then some extras!)  He experienced the fatigue and suffering, the tears and emotional exhaustion.  his sacrifice was on the cross, but it was also His very life.  A life that was an offering for us, and to us, to show us the depth of God’s love.

Which is why, broken and weary, tired and drained, even doubting and in despair, we can turn to Him.  Or more precisely drawn to Him.  We don’t have to avoid the pain, and the sorrow, the tears and the grief.  For there, in the midst of the brokenness, we find Jesus, who was broken for us. We find in our Humanity, the Lord and Savior, who loved us enough to become human, and there, at that moment, we find the joy of His making us holy, and supernatural, as we share in His glory.

So if you are preaching tomorrow, remember to link the Trinity to their beloved, remember to mention the Birde of Christ.  If you are hearing a sermon, worship with great joy, knowing that God is with you… that He has chosen to share your life, and at that moment, know the peace and joy that is beyond all understanding.  For Jesus the Christ is with you, guarding you heart and mind.  AMEN!




 

 

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1181-1185). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Who are We to Judge God?


Devotional Thought of the Day:
4  “I have been the LORD your God ever since I brought you out of Egypt. You must acknowledge no God but me, for there is no other savior. 5  I took care of you in the wilderness, in that dry and thirsty land. 6  But when you had eaten and were satisfied, you became proud and forgot me.    Hosea 13:4-6 (NLT)

Being wise with someone else’s head … is, to be sure, inferior to being wise oneself, but it is infinitely superior to the sterile pride of one who does not achieve the independence of being wise himself, yet at the same time despises the dependence of one who believes on the word of another.” The same line of thought can be detected in Newman’s own comment on man’s basic relationship to truth. Men are all too inclined—the great philosopher of religion opines—to wait placidly for proofs of the reality of revelation, to seek them out as if they were in the position of judge, not suppliant. “They have decided to put the Almighty to the proof—with controlled passion, a total freedom from bias, and a clear head.” But the individual who thus makes himself lord of the truth deceives himself, for truth shuns the arrogant and reveals itself only to those who approach it in an attitude of reverence, of respectful humility.  (1)

Therefore it is the intent of this commandment to require true faith and trust of the heart which settles upon the only true God and clings to Him alone. That is as much as to say: “See to it that you let Me alone be your God, and never seek another,” i.e.: Whatever you lack of good things, expect it of Me, and look to Me for it, and whenever you suffer misfortune and distress, creep and cling to Me. I, yes, I, will give you enough and help you out of every need; only let not your heart cleave to or rest in any other.(2)

When we read something brilliant, and quickly begin to use ti to judge and condemn others, I pray we begin to first use the same standard to judge ourselves.

As I read Pope Benedict’s words this morning, (those are the ones in green) I immediately thought of those who dismiss scripture.  Some of those are outside the church, who look at stories of miracles and cannot believe them.  Others are those inside the church who examine scripture with a scientific mindset, looking to judge whether this passage is valid, or that passage is not really accurate historically. `Both place themselves as the final judge and jury over the word of God.

But that is a temptation for every person, conservative or liberal, confessional or missional.  We see it when we apply the text to others, and not to ourselves.  We see it when we treat the scriptures from a perspective that is academic, as if it is the greatest theological treatise.   When we want to create a system out of the scriptures and use it to put God in a box.

I see this in myself all too often, as I approach the incredible wealth of the scriptures, mining it, being in awe of the words, and forgetting their purpose, that they are the means, not the end.  For it is easy to focus on the study and not the prayer and times of intimacy with God that reflecting on them should create.  We can, in the name of God, studying His word, become proud, and forget Him, even as we study His revelation to us.

It is when we forget that He is revealed, His love, His mercy, His desire for us to be His people that we end up being proud, that we see ourselves as the authority, not the supplicant.

Luther catches us when we get to this point and reminds us of what it means for God to be God.  He tells us we can creep and cling to God, that we can approach Him in the sure knowledge of the hope He has given us, that He will respond, that He will love and cleanse, that He will heal us.

That’s the ends, for us to realize that He is our God, that we are His people.  In Him we find rest, and that is what the scriptures are there to teach us, to reveal to us, to assure us of.  That is what the covenants describe, it is what Law and Gospel drive us to, it is the reason for the cross.  There is no other end of the discussion that is valid.  For here is our hope:

We are His people.  HE is our God. And as scripture tells us,

But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name. “  John 20:31 (NLT)

AMEN!

(1)    Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (pp. 166–167). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

(2)  Martin Luther, The Large Catechism of Martin Luther, (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Part First: The Ten Commandments”.

THE L.C.M.S. and the Diaconate


In my denominations synodical convention this summer, one of the issues on the table is our programs for deacons.  In the past three years a committee was picked to research the issue, because at the last two convention we have considered resolutions that were made without any comprehensive work done of the matter.

I along with others from my district, met with the chair of that committee.  In that meeting I handed over to him some of my research.  Some of that reseach is copied here.  I am doing this because the report, I feel, doesn’t consider the historic use and backing of the diaconatee.  Their recommendations might quiet the issue for a generation, but then the issue will re-surface, and people will be without the services that historically have been provided by men trained and approved to assist their pastors. Chrcuhes served solely by supervised deacons will not be able to afford the SMP program for the future.  Pastors now assisted by deacons will have to use ordained and not called pastors who are hired for the day, and do not know the congregation to whom they preach and administer the sacrament.  Whereas deacons will only minister where they have been given the responsibility to, by the called pastor.  These quotes need to be heard, even as those in authority try to end a historic ministry to the people of God.

So here is my research.and some things I have drawn from the research.  I simply ask people to read it and consider, and make the right decision rather than the expedient one.

Discussion Points regarding the Diaconate

Note:  I came across most of these references in doing a short research thesis during my colloquy.  The entire thesis is accompanying this document, but this is by no means a complete study of the diaconate, yet it provides sufficient proof of the history and use of the office.


Authority to Delegate Sacramental Work to Deacons:

Describing a bishop, who according to 1 Tim. 3:5 is to take care of the church [congregation] of God, Luther observes: “Now, these are the men who should supervise all offices, that the teachers tend to their office, are not negligent, that the deacons distribute the gifts fairly and are not remiss” (St. L. XII:338). Again: “To whom ever the office of preaching is committed, to him the highest office in Christendom is committed: he may then also baptize, celebrate Mass [the Lord’s Supper], and perform all the cure of souls [Seelsorge]; or, if he prefers not to, he may tend only to the preaching and leave the baptizing and other auxiliary functions to others, as Christ did, and Paul, and all Apostles, Acts 6” (St. L. X: 1548).29 [i]

Here is how Walther states it in Church and Ministry


And a critical quote – as it places delegated ministry WITHIN the Office of Holy Ministry

Hence the highest office is that of the ministry of the Word, with which all other offices are also conferred at the same time. Every other public office in the church is part of the ministry of the Word or an auxiliary office that supports the ministry, whether it be the elders who do not labor in the Word and doctrine (1 Tim. 5:17) or the rulers (Rom. 12:8) or the deacons (the office of service in a narrow sense) or whatever other offices the church may entrust to particular persons for special administration. Therefore, the offices of Christian day school teachers, almoners, sextons, precentors at public worship, and others are all to be regarded as ecclesiastical and sacred, for they take over a part of the one ministry of the Word and support the pastoral office.[iii]

 
Regarding  Differing Order and Responsibility

Finally, since one minister does not suffice for a large congregation or an entire city, it is the duty of the church administrators to ordain and appoint others as deacons, pastors, or fellow ministers. Among these there should be a certain order or rank in order that, for the furtherance of the salvation of the believers and the strengthening of the kingdom of Christ, all things shall be done decently and in order ….[iv]

 

Regarding Need

Here then we are again assured that a Christian does not only have the right and authority to teach the Word of God, but also that he is in duty bound to do so at the peril of losing his soul and God’s grace. You may say: ‘But how? If he has not been called to do so, as you yourself have often taught, he dare not preach.’ To this I reply: Here you must place a Christian in two places. First, if he is where there are no Christians, he needs no other call than that he is a Christian, inwardly called by God and anointed. There he owes it to the erring heathen or non-Christian to preach and teach them the Gospel, moved by Christian love, even though no Christian has called him to do so. Thus St. Stephen did, as we are told in Acts 7:1–53; though the apostles had not entrusted him with the office of preaching, yet he preached and performed great miracles among the people (Acts 6:8). So also did Philip, the deacon, Stephen’s partner (Acts 8:5), though also to him the ministry had not been entrusted. So also did Apollos (Acts 18:25–26). In such cases a Christian out of Christian love has compassion on the distress of the poor, perverted souls and does not wait until he receives a command or letter from a prince or bishop, for necessity ignores all laws and recognizes no law. Hence Christian love makes it one’s duty to help, where otherwise there is no one who helps or should help.[v]

Note that Walther recognizes the historical nature of the office

Ignatius: “I exhort you to seek to do all things in divine concord under the direction of the bishop, [who serves] in God’s place, and of the elders, [who serve] in place of the apostolic council, and of the deacons, who are to me most precious as those to whom the ministry of Jesus Christ has been entrusted” (Ep. ad Magnes 6).

The same: “Which (the congregation at Philadelphia) is my everlasting and perpetual joy, especially if it agrees with the bishop, its elders, and its deacons, who have been appointed according to God’s will” (Ep. ad Philad., praef.).[vi]

 

Again, their ministry is considered distinct from the Presbytery/Bishop/Pastor – yet part of the office ministry

Ignatius: “For when you subject yourselves to the bishop as to Jesus Christ, you appear to me as such who live not according to human judgment but according to Jesus Christ, to Him who died for your sakes in order that, trusting in His death, you may escape death. It is therefore necessary, whatever you do, that you undertake nothing without the bishop, but that you subject yourselves to the elders just as to the apostles of Christ, who is our Hope and in whom we desire to be found living. Again, it is the duty of the deacons, who are the mystery of Jesus Christ, in every way to please all. For they are not servants of food and drink but ministers of the church of God. Therefore, they are in duty bound to guard themselves against every cause of accusation as against fire. Similarly, all should show due reverence to the deacons as commanded by Jesus Christ and to the bishop as to Jesus Christ, who is the Son of the Father; so also to the elders as to God’s council and to the co-laborers of the apostles. Without these there is no church that deserves the name” (Ep. ad Trall. 2.3).[vii]

Ordination was similar – yet connection to the ministry and office.

The apostles observed this rule also when appointing deacons, not only bishops and pastors. The election of deacons was done carefully and cautiously by the whole assembled congregation in order that someone unworthy might not be consecrated to the ministry of the altar and the office of a pastor; for unworthy persons are ordained according to human presumption and not according to God’s will.[viii]

Ordination included deacons – yet they aren’t the same

Apology: “If they wanted to call the sacrament of holy orders [des Ordens] a sacrament of the ministry and Gospel, we would not object to calling ordination a sacrament. For God has instituted and commanded the ministry, and it has His glorious promise (Rom. 1:16; Is. 55:11). If they wanted to understand the sacrament of holy orders in this way, we might also call the laying on of hands a sacrament. For the church has God’s command to appoint ministers and deacons. Since then it is very comforting to know that God desires to preach and work through men and those elected by men, it is well for us to praise and honor this election very highly, especially against the satanic Anabaptists, who despise and revile it as well as the ministry and the outward [leiblichen] Word” (Art. XIII [VII], par. 9–13; German text, Triglot, p. 310).[ix]

 

And Again Walther finds Patristics included deacons, not just pastors

The Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451 resolved: “No one should be absolutely ordained as a presbyter or a deacon or in general as an incumbent of any ecclesiastical office if the person to be ordained has not specially been designated for a congregation in a city or village or for the chapel of a martyr or for a monastery. The holy synod has decreed regarding such absolutely ordained persons to declare the laying on of hands as invalid and, to the shame of the ordained person, as absolutely ineffective” (Mansi, Nov. et ampl. coll sacr. conc., 7:361 [Dr. Walther’s translation]).[x]

 

A Deacon, under Luther’s Authority with the Office of the Keys

Because the prefect263 in his arrogance had ridiculed God, the ministers of the Word, the university, and the civil authorities, had tried to do many things in opposition to these, and had often been reprimanded in a fraternal way by Martin Luther, once again on October 15264 Martin Luther sent two deacons265 to him with a note, written in his own hand, as follows:

This is to inform the prefect, first, that the absolution given him the preceding Sunday266 by the deacon, Master Fröschel, is null and void because he did not examine himself inwardly. Second, that responsibility for receiving the sacrament in his sins, unrepentant, must be borne by him, not by me!” (These are hard words!) “Third, if he wants to be a Christian he must first reconcile himself with us preachers, pastors, the university, and the town” (because he had offended all of these by his tyranny). “So Christ said, ‘If you are offering your gift at the altar [and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift,’ Matt. 5:23, 24]. If he will not do this humbly, I shall be content, in place of the pastor,267 to let him seek salvation elsewhere, for I will not tolerate his wickedness, nor will I be damned on account of his sins. Let this be the second admonition according to Matthew 18 [:15–17], ‘If your brother sins,’ ” etc.[xi]

Luther Notes this as well:

16. To prove our point we have examples from the ancient fathers, of whom Cyprian is probably the most exacting observer of ecclesiastical censures and disciplines. In his Letter 17, Book III,14 he bids us give peace to those who are exposed to the danger of death, so they may come to the Lord in peace after they have made confession either to the presbyter or the deacon, as he says in the same passage. This giving of peace, however, is nothing more than that which is now called “plenary remission,” as anyone can see who has given any thought to this work.[xii]
Morlin was a deacon preaching under Luther

Today Master Mörlin81 pleased me very much [when he preached]. He instructed the common people about the duties of wives and maidservants[xiii]

 

See the Footnote regarding what Walther agreed to – that deacons would do sacramental work

A question was put to the doctor [Martin Luther]. “There is a chaplain124 who can’t baptize because his left hand is shaky or because he can’t use it for other reasons.” He [Luther] was asked whether the chaplain could have the verger hold the child and pour water with the other hand, which he could use. Luther replied, “If the chaplain preaches well and the congregation hears him gladly, this may be done, especially if the common people are not offended by it. If they approve of it, it’s permissible.”[xiv]

 

Again, a deacon doing the examination of conscience/Confession and Absolution

At present we have instituted no other ban than that those who live in public sins18 and do not desist are not admitted to the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood. This can be accomplished because no one among us receives the holy sacrament unless he has first been examined by the pastor or deacon. Further, we do not see how at this time another ban could be introduced, for many matters occur for which a preliminary investigation19 would be necessary[xv]
Some have said Luther saw deacons as assisting pastors – therefore part of what had been known as priests, yet, this article says they are neither fish nor foul

I pray you now to learn along with me from this that in John 6 Christ commands the administration of the sacrament in one kind, yet in such a way that his commanding means leaving it to the decision of the church; and further that Christ is speaking in this same chapter only of the laity and not of the priests. For to the latter the living bread of heaven, that is the sacrament in one kind, does not belong, but perhaps the bread of death from hell! But what is to be done with the deacons and subdeacons,18 who are neither laymen nor priests? According to this distinguished writer they ought to use neither the one kind nor both kinds! You see, my dear Tulich, what a novel and “Observant” method of treating Scripture this is.[xvi]

The same is shown here, where deacons and laymen are indicated as different

The duty of a priest is to preach, and if he does not preach he is as much a priest as a picture of a man is a man. Does ordaining such babbling priests make one a bishop? Or blessing churches and bells? Or confirming children? Certainly not. Any deacon or layman could do as much. It is the ministry of the Word that makes the priest and the bishop.[xvii]

Another quote showing deacons are in the Office of Holy Ministry, yet not the same as pastors
7. If service, in our serving. In Greek it reads διακονίαν, ἐν τῇ διακονίᾳ, that is, “in ministering.” “Ministers” are all those who serve in ecclesiastical offices, such as the priest, the deacon, the subdeacon, and all who have to do with sacred rites except the administration of the Word of God, and also those who assist a teacher, as the apostle often speaks of his helpers.[xviii]

________ 

Some other thoughts

Question:   Is the SMP program simply a better version of the licensed deacon program?

  • Vocationally, not necessarily
    I would use the illustration provided by the commissioned and non-commission officers of our armed forces.

    • The first group of officers are those commissioned (ordained) in the regular manner by going to a service academy (either West Point, Annapolis, the Air Force Academy or one of the schools like Norwich, VMI, Citadel. These officers serve regular unending commissions, usually with combat arms.  This would be equivalent to those trained in our two seminary’s and the Concordia Irvine CMC program.
    • The second group are products of various ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) programs. Some of them serve full careers, but as reserve officers in specific roles in support of combat officers.  For example, supply, communications, logistics.  They aren’t usually used in combat units, unless as cannon fodder.  They are however, full commissioned officers with the “command” responsibility. These would be the SMP trained and ordained pastors.
    • The third group are non-commissioned officers, warrant officers, sergeants, corporals, These have authority and responsibility delegated to them by officers above. They have no authority or responsibility, save that which is delegated.  They work with smaller specific groups to accomplish goals officers give them.  They may, in certain battle situations, be tasked with more, or less.  They serve as valued advisers to young officers, but again, do not have authority over them.  These are our deacons, men trained and called by the church.
  • Education
    I would again state here that the goal of the education is different, and has a different end. If the SMP and Residential Seminary programs are both academic and pragmatic as it would be at a military academy, the diaconate program is more like basic training and non-commissioned officer school

    • SMP candidates are taught at a academic level, by seminary chosen professors. They are learning not just practical matters, but the theory behind it. If you compare their education to seminaries around the world, it is superior, and what has been learned in developing the program is being deployed at St. Louis Seminary.
    • The diaconal training should be primarily pragmatic and often situational. They may get a little theory, but their focus is on a specific area of ministry that has been delegated to them.
      Example – In a Caregiving (basic pastoral care) the SMP pastor will be given theories of grief, tools for analysis and care. The deacon’s primary role will be understanding ministry of presence.   The deacon is trained by pastors who are in the field, regularly assisting. The trainers are different, because the needs are different.
  • Financial
    • The deacon program is approximately ½ the cost of one course of the SMP. There are many who will take the deacon program, who then, at the churches request, go on to the SMP program or the CMP program. Of those I’ve taught, eight men have done this, either to the SMP or the Concordia Irvine program.
      If the option of the deacon program were dismissed, this would cut off the feed of those who gained interest through the program.

——-

One last thought, which is that that while the diaconate could more cosnistent across districts, both in training and in consistent oversight, to declare the Synod will no longer support such a ministry puts church in deciding between Synod and our COnfessions:  Specifically

X. ORDINATION AND VOCATION

1 If the bishops were true bishops and were concerned about the church and the Gospel, they might be permitted (for the sake of love and unity, but not of necessity) to ordain and confirm us and our preachers,7 provided this could be done without pretense, humbug, and unchristian ostentation. However, they neither are nor wish to be true bishops.
2 They are temporal lords and princes who are unwilling to preach or teach or baptize or administer Communion or discharge any office or work in the church. More than that, they expel, persecute, and condemn those who have been called to do these things. Yet the church must not be deprived of ministers on their account.  (note: – ministers =diakonos – Not presbuteros) 
3 Accordingly, as we are taught by the examples of the ancient churches and Fathers, we shall and ought ourselves ordain suitable persons to this office. The papists have no right to forbid or prevent us, not even according to their own laws, for their laws state that those who are ordained by heretics shall also be regarded as ordained and remain so.8 St. Jerome, too, wrote concerning the church in Alexandria that it was originally governed without bishops by priests and preachers in common.  (Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 314). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.)
So should the synod, without due consideration, eliminate a program rather than bring it into alignment with scripture, the confessions and Lutheran tradition, those congregations now and in the future, that could be served by such ministers will be obligated to ignore the synod in favor or the confessions, and the responsibility they have been made stewards of God.

 

29 Cp. Walther on “The Ministry the Highest Office in the Church, from Which All Other Offices in the Church Stem,” K. u. A., p. 342 f. [Walther and the Church, p. 78 f.]).

[i] Pieper, F. (1953). Christian Dogmatics (electronic ed., Vol. 3, p. 462). St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[ii] Mueller, J. T. (1999). Christian dogmatics (electronic ed., p. 580). St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[iii]Walther, C. Church and Ministry : Witness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on the Question of the Churhc and the Ministry. electronic ed. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1987.

[iv] Walther, C. F. W. (1987). Church and ministry: witness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on the question of the church and the ministry (electronic ed., p. 60). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.

[v] Walther, C. F. W. (1987). Church and ministry: witness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on the question of the church and the ministry (electronic ed., pp. 163–164). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.

[vi] Walther, C. F. W. (1987). Church and ministry: witness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on the question of the church and the ministry (electronic ed., pp. 189–190). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.

[vii] Walther, C. F. W. (1987). Church and ministry: witness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on the question of the church and the ministry (electronic ed., p. 196). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.

[viii] Walther, C. F. W. (1987). Church and ministry: witness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on the question of the church and the ministry (electronic ed., p. 245). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.

[ix] Walther, C. F. W. (1987). Church and ministry: witness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on the question of the church and the ministry (electronic ed., pp. 248–249). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.

[x] Walther, C. F. W. (1987). Church and ministry: witness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on the question of the church and the ministry (electronic ed., p. 267). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.

263 Hans Metzsch. On his earlier troubles, see No. 1646.

264 The text mistakenly reads November 15.

265 Anthony Lauterbach, recorder of this entry, and Sebastian Fröschel were the two deacons.

266 The text reads: “the next Sunday.” The reference is to confession and absolution.

267 Luther was serving as pastor in Wittenberg during the absence of John Bugenhagen.

[xi] Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 54: Table Talk. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 54, pp. 315–316). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

14 This letter of Cyprian was addressed to the presbyters and deacons informing them of the action they should take in re-admitting the lapsed into the church.

[xii] Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 31: Career of the Reformer I. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 31, p. 112). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

81 Joachim Mörlin (Mörlein). The “today” suggests that this conversation took place on a Sunday, perhaps June 6. Mörlin (1514–1571) was deacon in the city church in Wittenberg.

[xiii] Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 54: Table Talk. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 54, p. 383). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

124 The administration of the sacraments was often left to the deacons or chaplains, who were assistants of pastors or rectors.

[xiv] Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 54: Table Talk. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 54, p. 460). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

18 I.e., people of whom it is publicly known that they live in vice. See also p. 24.

19 The text reads cognitio.

[xv] Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 50: Letters III. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 50, p. 64). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

18 These are the sixth and fifth of the seven grades through which elegy advanced to the priesthood. Some then-contemporary Catholic theologians (e.g., Gajetan and Durandus) doubted whether the Sacrament of Order was actually received by deacons. They were later overruled by the Council of Trent which decided that it was. The Catholic Encyclopedia (15 vols.), IV, 650.

[xvi] Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 36: Word and Sacrament II. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 36, p. 15). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

[xvii] Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 36: Word and Sacrament II. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 36, p. 115). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

[xviii] Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 25: Lectures on Romans. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 25, p. 446). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

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