Freebies for Veterans Day

On this Veterans Day, let us honor those who served in the military not by pitying them because we think, rightly or wrongly, that they suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome, but by admiring them for their bravery, their patriotism, and their exploits.

And if you are a veteran, check out all the free stuff that companies are giving you to show their appreciation:  Go to Military.com for lists of retailers and travel and recreational offerings.

And in lieu of personally buying you dinner or a drink, after the jump I list a whole slew of chain restaurants. that will treat you on the house.  [Read more…]

How God preserves His church

We were on our own for several days in Copenhagen, so on Sunday we attended a service of the Church of Denmark.  Gabriel had invited us to a congregation in fellowship with the LCMS, but the service was at 4:30 p.m., and we had to meet up with our hosts around then.  We had earlier come across a magnificent church (“the Marble Church”) near the palace (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are all constitutional monarchies, like England).  We thought we would go to a service there.  So we set forth from our hotel for a trek of probably just over a mile or so.

When we saw it as tourists, we saw a sign that the building would be closed to the public during services, so we hoped that they would let us in.  We were graciously received by the usher.  There was a far bigger crowd than I was expecting, around 100 people.   We were given an English translation of the liturgy.  We could have probably followed it without the translation, since it was the basic service that we had in the United States.  The tunes of the hymns were some of the same that we sing.

There were certainly differences.  Pastors there wear a black gown with a cool 17th-century-style ruff.  There was no offering, since the government and church taxes support the churches financially.  (They did have a box that you could put coins in as you leave, which I think is an ancient practice, before the advent of pews and passing the plate.)  They also had no confession and absolution.  (I was told later that liberal congregations tend to leave out that part of the service, while conservative congregations retain it.  Later, in Norway, we went to an Inner Mission service, which did include the confession of sins, though not an absolution from the pastor.)  [Read more…]

The Pope’s sermon to America

Pope Francis addressed a joint session of Congress, taking the opportunity to preach against tenets of both liberalism and conservatism.  Liberals were zinged by his remarks opposing abortion, redefining the family, and infringing upon religious liberty.  Conservatives were zinged by his remarks on the necessity of supporting immigrants, measures to combat climate change, the elimination of the death penalty, tempering the excesses of capitalism, offering help for the poor, and (interestingly) opposing “fundamentalism.”

To his credit, the Pope twice mentioned “vocation” in a more or less Lutheran sense (as opposed to the medieval Catholic application of the term to church professions alone):

A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk.

“Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129).

Here is an annotated text of the speech (click the yellow highlights for the annotations).  After the jump, a detailed account of what the Pope said and how Congressmen and Senators reacted. [Read more…]

Covetousness and idolatry

In our Bible class last Sunday, in which we are studying the hymns of Martin Franzmann, this Scriptural text came up:

“For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Ephesians 5:5).

The question arose, in what sense is someone who is covetous also an idolater?  Think about that.  After the jump, I’ll tell you the quite illuminating explanation given by my son-in-law, Rev. Ned Moerbe.

[Read more…]

Labor & Leisure

Labor Day heralds the end of summer vocations.  Now the Fall begins and it’s back to work.  For students and teachers like me, it has always meant getting serious again and going back to the classrooms for another school year.

This year, for me, the holiday is hitting me in a completely different way since I am retiring.  All summer I have been madly busy finishing up my job, so Labor Day is heralding the beginning of my not laboring, at least in the same way I have all of my life. [Read more…]

Sanctified by marriage and children

Rev. Bruce Timm reflects on how his wife and children have made him a better person.  That is, how they have contributed to his sanctification by acting as “law” in his life.  His thoughts are about the vocations of marriage and parenthood, but they have wider implications for how the Law functions within vocation and how God uses our multiple callings to form us according to His will. [Read more…]


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