Friday, December 24, 2010

Five Minutes Daily with Luther - December 24

(Reprinted with permission from Five Minutes Daily with Luther: Daily Lessons from the Writings of Martin Luther, by John Theodore Mueller.)

“And is this the custom of man, O Lord God?” 2 Samuel 7:19.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The truth that Christ is God and man is above human reason and understanding. For when we try to bring the two natures in Christ (the divine and human) into one person, then human wisdom, reason, and understanding are startled, and say: How can this be? We do not understand it. But it is not written that you should understand and comprehend it with your natural sense and wisdom, but you must yield yourself captive and believe the Word of the Gospel through the operation of the Holy Ghost, and give God the honor that is due Him, that He is true and cannot lie. St. Paul says: “The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him . . . . For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:14, 16). And Christ says: “if you shall ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in My name” (John 16:23). “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.” (Matt 21:22). “all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you” (Mark 6:24). Here Christ speaks as one who has all in His power, who can give everything which a man prays for in faith.
The everlasting Son
Incarnate deigns to be;
Himself a servant’s form puts on,
To set His people free.

27 comments:

WELS church lady said...

Reprinted with permission? I know Pastor Rydecki did not communicate with John Theodore Mueller. Our friend J.T. was against Spiritualists. "The cult is pagan and ungodly in its theology, and its chief exercise-communication with the dead-is forbidden in the Bible." The quote was taken from My Church and Others by John Theodore Mueller.(CPH 1926) Professor Mueller was not ashamed of being Lutheran. Take a look at the Kretzmann Project. The Forward was written by the faithful professor. It appears that My Church and Others was indebted to Dr. L. Fuerbringer of Guenter's "Symbolik", and Kretzmann also relied on Fuerbringer. What I found most interesting is the fact that Kretzmann, Symbolik, and My Church and Others taught Justification By Faith Alone. I could find no OJ/UJ language in any of the three works. However, Mueller used the term "Objective Justification" in his 1934 Dogmatics. In his "Dogmatics", Mueller relied on the works of Franz Pieper! The Justification teaching was never changed in newer editions of My Church and Others. Those editions updated the statistics of other church bodies.

I would like tho thank Pastor Rydecki for his Foward In Chist A Lutheran Voice article. Will the Intrepid leaders be a voice at the 2011 Synod Convention? January 11th is the deadline for submitting a memorial. The Church And Money Changers are ruining the Synod. They are the ones causing division and do NOT forget it! Happy New Year to all.

In Christ,
Rebecca Quam

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

True enough, Rebecca. No communications have taken place with the saints in heaven. The copyright holder for J.T. Mueller's collection of Luther's devotions is held by the (not deceased) Rev. Robin D. Fish, who has graciously permitted us to post them.

The FiCaLV article was a pleasure to write. I hope that more of our congregations are encouraged to offer the Sacrament to those who desire it on the Feast of the Nativity. (And I also hope that not a single one of our congregations would dare to consider cancelling services next year on Christmas Day - which falls on a Sunday.)

It would be interesting to know if any congregations added Communion to their Christmas service this year, or to know roughly how many of our congregations offer the Sacrament on Christmas Day. I know of only a handful.

I am not a delegate to the 2011 convention. If any of our subscribers or followers is a delegate, perhaps he could send us an e-mail so or comment to the same. Each circuit and district handles this differently, but I should think that most allow congregations an opportunity to meet with their area delegates before the convention. Once the Book of Reports and Memorials is published, we'll see what the issues are that will be addressed.

Would someone like to suggest a memorial?

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rydecki,
St. John's Ev. Lutheran Church, Newtonburg, WI, celebrated the Lord's Supper on Christmas Day. Newtonburg is rural Manitowoc, WI.

Scott E. Jungen

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rydecki,
Beautiful Saviour Ev. Lutheran Church, Carlsbad, Ca had Communion on Christmas Day. It was a beautiful service, and I was very thankful to celebrate our Lord's birth in history and His REAL presence at the table on Christmas. We will also have a Communion Service on New Years Eve.

Vic Knauth

Anonymous said...

First time poster, long time reader

Abiding Grace in Covington, GA celebrated the Lord's Supper on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We also had a Baptism on Christmas which was quite exciting.

Yours in Christ,
Nick Haasch

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Thanks for those encouraging reports. Keep 'em coming!

David Jay Webber said...

It would be interesting to know if any congregations added Communion to their Christmas service this year...

In view of the fact that we are, after all, talking about Christmas (Christ-Mass), a better way to have phrased this might have been that it would be interesting to know if any congregations decided not to omit Communion from their Christmas service this year.

By the way, our church did not omit it, and never does. But we probably don't count since we are ELS and not WELS. ;-)

Intrepid Lutherans said...

Thanks, Pastor Webber.

What would also be interesting is to compile a list, from both WELS and ELS congregations, of the excuses given for omitting Communion, not only from Christ's Mass and the Feast of the Resurrection, but half or more of the Sundays during the rest of the year.

As mentioned on this blog and also elsewhere, the question is not "why add it," but rather "why remove it?!"

I think many of us already know the excuses, both spoken and unspoken, but it would be good for congregations to go through the exercise.

And, just to be clear, this is not a matter of who is holier or better, but rather a matter of being honestly, historically, confessionally Lutheran or not.

Blessed New Year to one and all!

Pastor Spencer

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

That would have been a better way to phrase it.

We also did not omit Communion from the Christ Mass, nor do we omit it on Sundays.

LutherRocks said...

Motivation is always a defining factor to be sure. Scripture however does not define how it should be practiced...only that we should do it often. So what is often?

A wise pastor said to me once that the best place to be is on neither side of adiophora.

Happy New Year everyone!

Joe Krohn

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Joe,

You must separate your argument between the individual's practice and the congregation's responsibility. For the individual, "often" may not mean every Lord's Day and on festivals.

But a congregation's responsibility to provide the Means of Grace to those who desire it is not a matter of "however often you are motivated to provide it."

Our Confessions describe what the Lutheran position is on how often our churches offer the Sacrament. Who is motivated to commune and who is not motivated on a given day is entirely a different matter.

Happy New Year!

LutherRocks said...

"Our Confessions describe what the Lutheran position is on how often our churches offer the Sacrament."

Is this then a requirement?

Joe

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Is it a requirement? No one (at least here) pretends that it is part of God's eternal, immutable will (that is, his Law) that the Holy Supper be celebrated on such and such days.

However...

It is as much a requirement as when a hotel chain widely advertizes itself as offering continental breakfast to its guests. Is that hotel required by law to make such a gesture? Of course not. A hotel is free to offer free breakfast or not to provide breakfast at all for its guests.

But when a hotel chain, by common consent of the general managers, declares its practice to be that of offering continental breakfast, then one may say that it is required for the hotels in that chain to do so - not by law, but by its own decision (or call it "confession").

Now, let's say not all the guests take advantage of this offer. Let's say only 25% of them actually go to the dining room on any given morning. Would it be right for the manager of that hotel to tell the 25%, "I'm sorry, I know our hotel chain advertizes free breakfast, and we here in this hotel chain highly value breakfast as a meal and highly value you as our guests, but 75% of your fellow guests aren't interested (and you did just eat yesterday, didn't you? It's not like you're going to starve...), so our hotel, although it remains part of the hotel chain, will no longer offer free breakfast. Sorry."?

Obviously, it's not a 1=1 analogy. A hotel chain is not compelled to make free breakfast a policy. The Church is commanded to administer the Means of Grace to God's people. A hotel chain that offers free breakfast does it to attract customers. The Church offers the Sacrament out of love for souls who hunger and thirst for that communion with the body and blood of Christ, in which they receive also the forgiveness of sins and great consolation.

Here's how the churches of the Lutheran Confessions advertize their practice and belief:

The Mass is held among us and celebrated with the highest reverence. (AC XXIV)

At the outset, we must again make this preliminary statement: we do not abolish the Mass, but religiously keep and defend it. Masses are celebrated among us every Lord’s Day and on the other festivals. The Sacrament is offered to those who wish to use it, after they have been examined and absolved. And the usual public ceremonies are observed, the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments, and other such things. (Apology XXIV)

Therefore, the Mass is to be used for administering the Sacrament to those that need consolation. Ambrose says, “Because I always sin, I always need to take the medicine.” Because the Mass is for the purpose of giving the Sacrament, we have Communion every holy day, and if anyone desires the Sacrament, we also offer it on other days, when it is given to all who ask for it. This custom is not new in the Church. (AC XXIV)


There may be exceptions and emergencies, etc. But if a church with a quia subscription to the Augsburg Confession regularly omits the Sacrament from its Sunday and festival services for no good reason, then at worst, its beliefs have changed from the beliefs expressed in our Confessions. At best, it's guilty of false advertizing.

Intrepid Lutherans said...

Excellent point, Pastor Rydecki!

Allow me to put it another way:

The name Lutheran on the outside,
Means the Lord's Supper on the inside,
Offered every Lord's Day,
And Feast Day of the Church.

Again, I would love to hear from each and every Lutheran church - at least in the ELS and WELS - where this is not the case; an actual writen reason as to why, besides, "That's the way its always been up to now."

The leaders of these two synods should simply ask all their churches to explain their reasons. Let them say for all to see why they refuse to offer this Means of Grace as often as the Apostles and Confessors did.

Good project for 2011!

Pastor Spencer

Pr. Benjamin Tomczak said...

St. Mark Lutheran Church (Duncanville, TX) does not omit the Sacrament on Christmas Day or Easter.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rydecki,
To rephrase it, St. John's Ev. Lutheran Church, Newtonburg, WI (rural Manitowoc) did not omit the Lord's Supper either New Year's Eve or New Year's Day.

Scott E. Jungen

Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned the practice of Abiding Grace in Covington, GA (Atlanta, my hometown). They have the Lord's Supper on Christmas and Christmas Eve, but NOT on the Christmas Eve service to where they have a hundred-plus unchurched guests attend. The same holds true with Easter. Many churches in our district will hold the Lord's Supper in an Easter sunrise service, but NOT at the later morning service, to which hundreds of guests will attend.

That is a big reason churches will omit the Lord's Supper at times. It's a practical matter, one motivated by love. Why have it when many (or most) in attendance will not be able to receive it, and will not (without time for explanation) be able to understand the reason they may not receive it.

I believe this is common of all WELS churches in the Atlanta area, and I believe typical in our district. Communion is offered on festival days, but NOT at thee service on that day where the greater community is invited.

Yours in Christ,
Daniel Kastens

PCXIAN said...

Daniel Kastens make a very fine point concerning divine worhip services with the celebration of Communion.

No doubt some churches are better than others when it comes to celebrating the Lord's Supper with unbelievers present and are able to distribute the Sacrament without awkwardness and the appearance of being unloving.

For example, one way is to encourage all people to come to the table and, if they are unbelievers, to merely cross their arms instead of taking the Sacrament. The pastor then prays a blessing over those with crossed arms. Nonbelievers, more often than not, walk away feeling blessed and loved, not excluded and alienated.

Perhaps this very small jesture of love could be the unbeliever's beginning walk with Christ.

P. C. Christian

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Paul C.,

I sympathize with the practice Dan described (having two services on a festival, one with Communion, one without). That's far better than not offering the Sacrament at all, and I see nothing wrong with it.

But your suggestions are misguided on many levels. "Some churches are better than others when it comes to celebrating the Lord's Supper with unbelievers present." This is ridiculous and reveals a morbid infatuation with the unbeliever's sensibilities and a false understanding of the Church and of the Sacrament. The Church doesn't celebrate the Sacrament with the unbeliever in mind, nor should it. It celebrates the Sacrament with Christ and his institution in mind. This strange fear of giving the "appearance of being unloving" by celebrating Christ's Holy Supper is dangerous. It's not "love" to be ashamed of Christ's institution.

Your suggestion about inviting unbelievers to the Lord's Table is absolutely wrong. Coming forward to Communion is, as Luther says, a public profession of faith and a means by which a person may be judged by the assembly. What kind of blessing shall I pray over the one who still rejects Christ?

Seriously? You want unbelievers to walk away feeling blessed and loved? This is not the attitude of Christ, PC, but the attitude of the world. Christ sent the rich man away sad and excluded from the kingdom of God. He sent the Pharisees away condemned. He sent the crowds away often locked outside the doors of the kingdom of heaven as they stumbled over the Stone of Stumbling. There is no blessing for the unbeliever. There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.

A silly and harmful gesture of this kind of "love" will not begin anyone's walk with Christ. Only the Gospel can do that.

We ought never be ashamed of the Sacrament or embarrassed by it or feel unloving by celebrating it. This wrongly binds the consciences of God's people who are simply coming together to do what the Church has done for millenia - without worrying about offending unbelievers.

PCXIAN said...

Paul R.,

Please note that I did not say that unbelievers should receive the Sacrament, which would cause judgment on themselves (1 Corinthians 11:29), but rather receive a blessing from the pastor. I fully believe that the Lord’s Supper, the forgiveness of sins, is exclusively for believers in Christ Jesus alone.

I said, "Some churches are better than others when it comes to celebrating the Lord's Supper with unbelievers present." You said, “This is ridiculous and reveals a morbid infatuation with the unbeliever's sensibilities and a false understanding of the Church and of the Sacrament.”

No, this statement is not ridiculous because as a Christian, I do not have an infatuation for the unbeliever’s sensibilities, but rather a deep love and hope that they too would come to believe in Christ Jesus. I would hope that you share this same love.

“What kind of blessing shall I pray over the one who still rejects Christ?”

Very simply, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.” What more could we believers want or pray for than for an unbeliever to also have the grace, love, and fellowship of the Triune God that we have? What an appropriate and beautiful time for a believer (the pastor), through the work of the Holy Spirit, to invite the unbeliever to Christ.

“Seriously? You want unbelievers to walk away feeling blessed and loved?”

Yes, Paul, I want the heathen unbelievers to walk away knowing that because God loved the world, i.e., them/us, He sent His Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (the Gospel). This could very well be the beginning of their faith in the saving grace of our/their Savior. What a perfect time and place for the Holy Spirit to come upon this unbeliever’s heart because of this awesome (a word belonging only to God, Job 25:2) act of grace that we as believers are receiving.

“This is not the attitude of Christ, PC, but the attitude of the world” and “There is no blessing for the unbeliever.”

Really? Christ Jesus said, “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27). We are commanded to love, do good, bless, and pray for the unbelievers among us, even if they are persecuting us, much less standing next to us. Jesus did just that, didn’t He, while He was being nailed and sacrificed on the cross by unbelievers and we, too, can bless or say a prayer for the unbeliever standing next to us, even while we believers, at that same time, are receiving the forgiveness of our sins through the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

P. C. Christian

Daniel Baker said...

I cannot help but think of Saint Paul's warnings in 2 Corinthians 6 in light of this discussion.

The Church has restricted the unrepentant and unbelieving from the altar for a reason. To foster a faux sense of "love" and "unity" is not only dangerous, but it is counter-intuitive to the idea of withholding the Sacrament from these individuals in the first place!

Furthermore, praying for our enemies is not the same as publicly offering them a blessing that is in no way theirs. We have been given the Keys for a reason: "For those whose sins you do retain, condemned and guilty shall remain" (CW 308). Consider Paul's actions recorded in 1 Corinthians 5:5 in this regard as well.

We do not love as the world "loves." It's not about political correctness. When the "prophets" preached "peace, peace" to the spiritually decrepit Israelites, the entire country came to ruin. There is a time for peace, and a time for condemnation. Those without the Holy Spirit have no hope of His fellowship, the love of God, or the grace that comes through Christ Jesus our Lord.

LutherRocks said...

Well, you know, those unbelievers are already forgiven anyway...so what's the problem?

Joe

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Rebecca,

Thanks for reminding me of Mueller's My Church and Others. I had heard of it before, thought highly of it based on what I had heard at the time, but hadn't gotten around to ordering a copy until you reminded me of it. I am now awaiting its arrival -- we'll see if it lives up to my expectations!

To return to your question about Memorials, neither I nor my congregation is a delegate to the Synodical Convention, either. I could probably get a seat in the peanut gallery as an observer, if I had an invitation, but I doubt that will be happening -- at least not from anywhere in my District (that I am aware of). Maybe I could get an invitation as a "guest essayist?" This is not unprecedented. The Minnesota District had an actual layman -- a non-teacher/pastor -- read an essay in 2006 (as I recall, or maybe it was 2004). I highly doubt that will happen in my case, either, however. The gentleman who addressed the MN District had ~10 years of latin under his belt at Synod schools (so he humorously informed us in the course of delivering his essay), and a prominent family name; I, on the other hand, do not.

We do have a few ideas for Memorials, however, and at least one, maybe two, could still be composed before the January 11 deadline. As I understand it, delegates can bring Memorials with them to Convention, as well. We're discussing/working on it.

Douglas Lindee

Pastor Boehringer said...

Gethsemane Lutheran Church (Davenport, Iowa) does not omit the Sacrament on Christmas Day.

Cindy Ramos said...

St. Paul Lutheran Church (Green Bay, Wis.) does not omit the Sacrament on Christmas Day or Easter.

WELS church lady said...

Hello! Sorry Intrepids, but I had some incorrect information in my previous comment. In the Kretzman project, the term "objective justification" is used in the section under Romans.(see Romans 5 in the Project) I failed to read through the Romans section and only looked at the Justification and Election sections. These two parts were faithful and did not contain what the Intrepid leaders define as "sloppy language." I posted some direct quotes on Ichabod.(Jan 12) Brett Meyer alerted me and provided some good comments.

In Christ,
Rebecca Quam

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Rebecca,

I read the section in Romans 5. It all hinges on the correct exegesis of Romans 5:18-19. Modern Lutheran commentators insist that "many" must equal "all" in these verses, which is why Kretzmann says that "the many, all men, are placed in the rank, in the category of just and righteous people." But that is not how Luther or Augustine interpret this section. Sometime we'll do a post on Augustine's commentary.

To me, it seems that this passage cannot serve as a sedes doctrinae for objective justification, because its interpretation depends on the context of the preceding verses in Romans, which make it clear that justification is the benefit of Christ that is given through faith in Christ.

It is not wrong to say that justification has been "obtained for all men" by Christ. That is a true statement. As I've pointed out before (echoing Luther's words), forgiveness obtained for all, forgiveness distributed through the Means of Grace and applied to the one who trusts in Christ.

But there is a difference between that, and saying that all men "are placed in the rank of righteous people." That is an untrue statement, and the point of confusion that muddies Kretzmann's otherwise very solid commentary.

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