Voice

Text:  Mark 1:1-8

Theme and Title:  Voice

Hymn of the Day:  On Jordan’s Bank . . . (No. 344)

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The “voice crying in the wilderness” belongs to the Baptist, called the most blessed of men by Jesus.

And . . .

It is my voice.  It is a plea for rescue.  And to look at the Cross is to know we are John – the most blessed of men, crying for help.

I cannot speak for another soul, for I only know my own sinfulness.  Oh, I may not show it publicly, but I know it, because it is a part of who I am.  Not, mind you, what I supposed will be or will actually be, but it is what I am.  And so I long for the present Advent I will receive at that Altar in a short while in the Body and the Blood of my Lord,  but also, His coming Advent which will end time and introduce Eternity.

It is right there, saying such a thing, that results in the One Holy Faith being ridiculed.  We moderns know so much better than that!  We have the remarkable advances of science and technology and philosophy and all that is about us in this present world.  Why should we even accept such a “Voice crying in the wilderness?”

Because it is our ‘voice” nonetheless.  And we know it.  You know it is true.  Tell me I am wrong!  I am not.

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Those words in our “public” confession – the same words I use in my private confession to the Lord or to my Father Confessor – “Sinful and unclean” – are words I hate.  The modern in me, the human in me, the man in me – hates those words, because they mean I have missed the mark altogether.  And that is the literal definition of  sin – hamartia – missing the mark.  Tell me anything but that!  I hate hearing I have failed – either myself, or God.  And yet, sadly, I have and do so often.  With St. Paul I can only cry out – “O wretched man that I am, who will save me from this body of this death?”

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I have only the consolation Luther knew:

“So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: “I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!” 

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When we claim to think God won’t understand us and our failures, we fail to understand the one thing we cannot understand, or even grasp – perfection.  We do not have a clue.  And yet, John hails it, Christ brings it.  He does not yet demand it of us – but only that we accept it FROM Him.  And that, most all of the Church and the world refuses to do.

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We have this perpetual need, born of our first parents’ sin, to be “gods’ ourselves.  So “self-absorbed” – such idiots – and we imagine ourselves wise.  And therein lies our need in John’s words – “The voice of one crying in the wilderness.”  The Baptist cries out for each and every one of us!

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I shan’t spend long on this one.  One, it is not in me.  Two, we need to get that we are sinners, and belaboring that point does no good.  If in Christ you find no hope, I cannot hope for nor help you.  If you do – you own eternity already.  It is that simple.

John cried out expecting an answer.

Christ came.  He comes in the Eucharist.  He will come again.

Amen.

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Tired

Perhaps in a day or two, or a week or two, I will regain the old fire.  But at the moment . . . none.

Missouri seems destined to repeat its past – the past that has left us in the present turmoil.  Did that rodeo once.  Doing it again is sheer suicide.  And I am more than aware of all of the platitudes that might be forthcoming.  Spare me, please.  Give it a rest.

I shall do as advised: “Be an orthodox evangelical catholic, and find something you can live with.”

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This is a toughie.  Never quite been here before.  I have been a defiant catholic Confessional Lutheran for so long it even amazes me.  Never wavered, always LCMS right or wrong, hoping to make things right each time.  But Synod does not seem to want to be right.  Pulling necessary triggers seems to have been bred out of our Churchly DNA.  And any options are so very limited.  It ought not to be so.

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The Greeks and East are too far away – both in physical distance in the sprawling metropolis, and in their mysticism.  The Reformed have a bit of a clue about sacramentalism, but they refuse to pull the trigger.  The calvinists – fuggedabout them.  In the end they deny Christ as the Christ.

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So I am left with the Incarnation, and St. Loo, or Rome.  The only other option, is the Anglican Continuum, but so far away.  If several grand suddenly showed up, I could swing it.  But Dad had a saying for that one . . . heh!  Something about which hand would fill up first – the one with bucks, or the one with excrement.

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What would it cost me?  First, I would have to give up the “Divine Priesthood.”  I am legitimately ordained, but not through the Roman system.  And while some there are finding precedents for “bringing Luther back” as a real reformer, it won’t happen in my lifetime.  Two – I must deal with “justification.”  As my good bud Fr. Patrick said, find a safe place with a safe priest.  Luther had one in von Staupitz.  I simply cannot continue in what I called “slow-motion euthanasia.”  That is not good, right nor salutary.  Is “justification” being taught any better where I am at?  No.  I love the folks – I love the pastor – but he is purposely clueless.  He gave up long ago.  Why, I cannot divine.

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Yeah – that was a bit of a judgment, but he has made his decision.  I must make mine.  It is huge.  And I am more than a bit concerned.

It is what it is.

Pax

Tis All a Muddle

Dickens was spot on with that comment.

The political arena?  The whacko commie left has become unhinged.  Mueller is beyond the word “corrupt.”  Were he to actually be investigating “Russian collusion” he would have to recuse himself, since he covered for the Bammster and the Bee-yotch.  A very modest tax bill, and the left has gone “Full Armageddon!”  The entire sexual scandal . . . the news is little more than the dry heaves of those drunk on power.

Matters “Churchly?”  Arrrgh!  History is repeating itself in St. Loo.  Some Bro’s pulled back the curtain, and the very  “distinguished and upright” are somehow incensed?  Pope Frank is a rank commie, and rules like some South American dictator.  And the beat goes on . . .

Has sanity left us altogether? I suspect it has.  Scott’s famous line – “Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad” seems to be infecting all.

And yet, it is what it is.

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Tis all a muddle.  Those things once thought good, right and salutary have been trashed – for what we have now?  In everything?  One might be inclined to think the Lord God has completely pulled back from the world, as deists maintain, and left us to ourselves.  One could certainly make a case for such reasoning any more.  Maybe there is a rationale for monasteries.  Get out of the entire mess, and contemplate the things of God.

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Except . . . Jesus would have none of that idea.  To any and all ready to jettison everything for extreme asceticism, He uttered those words – those everlasting words – in John 16:

33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Three key words – in order – peace, tribulation, overcome – but with the qualifier . . . “In Me.”

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Of course, militant atheists would be all over that as well, and they are growing more militant.  I really don’t care, personally.  I leave everyone and anyone to their own thoughts and beliefs.  Judgement, beyond prudence as a situation might require, is not my domain.  Those who are about disparaging judgment are those most often guilty of it.  No real surprise.  I shall live my appointed days, and then die.  That much is inevitable.  I don’t rage against it (although I hate sin, death and the devil with a passion!).  It merely is what it is this side of glory everlasting.  Which is precisely why I love the Divine Liturgy!

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Bet you didn’t see that one coming!

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One can become immersed in the Divine Liturgy, and know a life beyond this mess.  It is a connection to the reality of this life, this Kingdom of the Left, and that of the Right – as Augustine framed it.  The intersection of both at the Holy Eucharist is beyond words.  To those to whom the word holy has no meaning, I cannot speak to your pain.  You may not even know you are in pain – most are not.  It is not “escapism” as some might term it, but that “peace in Him.”  It is as real as the back of your hand, if you truly seek it.

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The Faith is nothing but the discovery of the Savior.  That is justification, sanctification, theology – all the big words used to define the assurance that one has been redeemed in the eyes, and heart – of God.  Worship, through the Divine Liturgy, affords all the opportunity for such discovery.  To substitute the trivial, of-the-moment nonsense for the Liturgy is a mindless act in reality.  It is to reject the eternal for something far, far less worthwhile.

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It is to sell one’s soul.

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I dasn’t say that on any other forum but my own.  Not that it isn’t truth – but it would not be permitted.  Fine by me – it’s why I have this tiny corner of the net anyway.  I don’t sell anything.  I don’t ask for donations.  This is my little corner on evangelism – for putting the “In Me” – ‘Ο Χριστος’ – before others.   Politicians, or the bureaucrats of either the political or theological stripe – they either don’t understand or don’t get it.  Entirely their call.

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Life is, in the end, I Corinthians 2:2 –

Oὐ γὰρ ἔκρινά τι εἰδέναι ἐν ὑμῖν εἰ μὴ Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν καὶ τοῦτον ἐσταυρωμένον.

Pax

Well, Yeah . . .

I have limited service this evening.  A nasty storm, with several ‘nados touching down, knocked the crap out of Comcast.  I suspect their crews will be quite busy in the AM.

The tree is up and deco’d.   Needs some blue – I have the white lights and the green, gold and red ornaments, but I think I will try to find some blue garland tomorrow.  The crèche I got is beautiful – prolly spent too much, but sitting underneath the star on the tree – it just all fits.  In the mood and the mode.  Didn’t think I would be.

Oh, yes, I miss Sweet Mama Lou – she was as nuts about Advent as am I.  This was our season.  The anticipation of the season made her as giddy as I still get.  We used to “pretend mistletoe” just to share a kiss in front of the lit tree.  And, of course, after Divine Worship Christmass morning, the drive across H-Town to the kids and grand-kiddies.  Dear Lord – how she loved all of that!

But that’s all history.  SML is gone for good, save for at the Eucharist.  Her daughter is in SA with the grand-kiddies, pending the divorce and all of that, and I could/should/ought to be depressed.  But I am not giving in this time.  Melancholy – yes.  But I shan’t give the devil his expected due.

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What shall I do about my quandary with the Church?  “Be an evangelical catholic and find a place you are able to tolerate,” said my good buddy Fr. Patrick.  It might mean full circle.  Back to the Church of my youth.

That would be the end of any hope of returning to pulpit and altar.  Huge call.  East is mysticism, staying where I am is like euthanasia in slow motion.  I am at a loss as to what to do.

Need more than one night’s sleep on it.  But tonight will be a good beginning.  Tuckered.

‘Night, Sports Fans.

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi*

* The phrase in Latin literally means the law of prayer (“the way we worship”) is the law of belief (“what we believe”).

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“Too many of us, whether evangelical in style or traditional, prefer no rules, rubrics, or rights and wrongs than to standards of practice and a uniformity of theology of the Divine Service.  Until we resolve this and become at ease with who we are liturgically, doctrinal unity will not bind us together either.”

Fr. Peters words are in perfect keeping with the “Rule of Divine Worship,” with which I entitled this post.  Comments there at his piece only vindicate his words completely.  I recommend his entire article, and comments be read.  Lutheran catholicity, which Martin Luther staunchly defended, taught and practiced, is slowly being lost to the mish-mash train wreck of “evangelical” worship.  The orthodox hymnology of the Church is disappearing as pastors, unknowingly perhaps, but from all my experience – quite knowingly – which condition pastors impose upon their flocks by fiat.  And anything “divine” about the Divine Liturgy is being lost to the gods of time, entertainment of the individual, and the glorification of the various performers on stage.

Add to that, detractors of the Divine Liturgy display an ignorance that is incredible!  They cry – “Adiaphora!” without a clue as to the actual meaning and theological use of the word itself.  How can one prescribe without knowledge?  Yet the advocates of what has been termed “CoWo” – Contemporary Worship, are lying to themselves and others.  It is little but the age-old quest, begun in the Garden, that man might become like God.

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It must be among those I deleted in my great “purge” of my site last year, but I told the story of a woman in advanced Alzheimer’s who suddenly came around when I took the hymnal on which she had been raised, and in turn, raised her own.  A lifetime of “doing the Liturgy” was not in vain.  My then Senior Pastor, after hearing what I had experienced (and why I communed her!), took his old hymnal with him the following week on visitation.  He came back amazed!  And yes, he communed her, too.

And yet, we shouldn’t have been amazed.  In the Proper Preface we chant out loud of the very intersection between the whole company of Heaven and the Church on earth that occurs, in the Divine Liturgy, at the beginning of the Service of the Holy Eucharist.  It is real – not just some spiritual imagination or thought flowing through our mind or in our emotions.  And to treat it in any way less than what it is, is a heresy and abomination.  It is to “diss” God.

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Is this whole liturgical crises (which I hold it is) just some passing fad, or is there something sinister to it?  I very much hold to the latter view.  As always – lex orandi, lex credendi.  As Chesterton once said – “It is easy to be a madman: it is easy to be a heretic. It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one’s own.”  Indeed!  I think I will just close this minor Epistle with a kudo or several to Fr. Peters for his piece today, and the full context of Chesterton’s quote:

“People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy. It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad. It was the equilibrium of a man behind madly rushing horses, seeming to stoop this way and to sway that, yet in every attitude having the grace of statuary and the accuracy of arithmetic. The Church in its early days went fierce and fast with any warhorse; yet it is utterly unhistoric to say that she merely went mad along one idea, like a vulgar fanaticism. She swerved to left and right, so exactly as to avoid enormous obstacles. She left on one hand the huge bulk of Arianism, buttressed by all the worldly powers to make Christianity too worldly. The next instant she was swerving to avoid an orientalism, which would have made it too unworldly. The orthodox Church never took the tame course or accepted the conventions; the orthodox Church was never respectable. It would have been easier to have accepted the earthly power of the Arians. It would have been easy, in the Calvinistic seventeenth century, to fall into the bottomless pit of predestination. It is easy to be a madman: it is easy to be a heretic. It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one’s own. It is always easy to be a modernist; as it is easy to be a snob. To have fallen into any of those open traps of error and exaggeration which fashion after fashion and sect after sect set along the historic path of Christendom — that would indeed have been simple. It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands. To have fallen into any one of the fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would indeed have been obvious and tame. But to have avoided them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect.” 

(“The Paradoxes of Christianity” by G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy 1908)

If You Can Help

Below is a post from my friend Fran Porretto’s site – one of my daily stops.  I just copied and pasted the post he published last night.  If you understand, please do as he asks and send the e-mail of complaint.

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Outrage!

      I’ve just made an infuriating discovery.

     There’s a website, KISS Library, that’s selling my books – the ones that appear at Amazon — without my authorization. Moreover, they’re being sold at wildly inflated prices, no part of which is paid to me.

How are they getting away with this? More to the point, how can I put an end to it?

But wait: there’s more! I’ve searched that “library” for the names of several other indie writers I know, including John Conroe, C. J. Carella, Hans G. Schantz, Marina Fontaine, and Daniella Bova, and their works are listed there too! We’re all being robbed!

Spread the word. Make certain every other reader you know is aware of this theft of copyrighted intellectual property. Then write to KISS Library – mailto:contact@kisslibrary.com – and let them know their thefts have been detected!

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‘Nuff said.  pb

To New Viewers . . .

Thank you for taking a peek here at my humble site.

My readership has spiked in recent days, thanks to this dear lady, and of course, BJS.  They are among a select few I do include my site addy when posting at their sites.  I am out for neither fame nor fortune online.  I am mostly always about (save for my occasional political rant) this:

“For I determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

I Cor. 2:2

Been that way for over 31 years.  I am, on occasion, asked if I am “conservative.”  I believe that is an outmoded term, in that it has been so abused by both politicians and theologians as to render the term useless.  I am a Confessional Lutheran (Pastor by trade), which means I have taken a vow to up hold this Book, as the good, right, and salutary understanding of the critical teachings (doctrines  – Latin: doctrina – teaching) of Scripture.  I am well aware of the fact that saying so, along with 3-4 bucks, gets me a basic coffee at Starbucks (which I do not frequent, as I have said somewhere before.  I make a better cup myself).

I am what I am and I do what I do with nary an apology.  I do my best to apply the love of the Gospel and the compassion of Jesus Christ to any and all.   Any more, I think it has probably penetrated into my DNA.  I pray any visitors here find something worthwhile to apply to their own lives and/or situations.  Comments at the site are always welcome, I am already aware of the potential trolls (they are self-identifying), and if you are not one of those creatures, expect a timely response.

Again – thanks for visiting!

Pax – jb