Two Prayers: Last Minute Gift Idea!

Recently, I asked the members of synod to help me out. I was looking for a copy of The Lutheran Hymnal pastor books (Agenda, Altar Book, etc.) And, thanks to a very generous member of the synod, I now have those. I can’t repay them for their loving generosity, but I can pass on a favor.

In the Agenda, much to my delightful surprise, was a beautiful print of a Daily Prayer for a pastor. I scanned it, and replaced it with both of Luther’s prayers for pastors. So, here it is, ready for printing, framing, and presenting to your pastor, if you don’t already have a gift for him, and he doesn’t already have this for his own study. As I now have three parishes, I have a new study and a vestry to put these in, which I will do, as soon as I get the frames.

This will print on 8.5 * 11, but it’s set so you can trim it to 8 * 10.

As an added bonus, I’ve also included the initial scan, if you prefer the original prayer. Merry Christmas, and enjoy!

Luther’s Pastoral Prayer

Luther’s Sacristy Prayer

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This Years Christmas Dustup

Every year at Christmas and Easter there is some sort worldly attack on the faith. The “Jesus Marriage” fragement/forgery. The “Judas Gospel” big woop over nothing. They always end up amounting to less than a hill of beans. This year, however, a professor in Minnesota has said something that, for reasons inexplicable to me, seems to have offended many in the church: God didn’t ask for Mary’s consent before the spirit came upon her and Jesus was conceived in her womb.

How can this possibly be a surprise?

He didn’t ask for Elizabeth’s consent before sending the angel to her husband and promising a son. And going back a few thousand years, you see that it’s a long-term pattern of behavior. God didn’t ask Abraham if he wanted to leave his home and family and go to a foreign country. God didn’t ask Joseph if it would be OK to spend 13 years as a slave torn from his family before becoming ruler of Egypt. God didn’t ask for Moses consent before appointing him leader of Israel. He did it over Moses explicit objection. He didn’t ask the consent of Israel before delivering them. He didn’t ask if it was OK that their bodies be strewn across the desert. He didn’t ask David if he wanted to be king. He didn’t take no for an answer from Jonah. He didn’t ask Daniel and his friends if Babylon was acceptable for college, even though it wasn’t even on their list of safety schools. God doesn’t ask our opinions before going ahead with his plans.

I mean, who does this God fellow think he is, anyway.

Based on Holy Scripture, one gets the impression He thinks He’s God. He decides how things will be. We try to fight against that. So, children engage in adult behaviors, trusting their clumsy attempts to defy nature will be successful. If that fails, there is always the possibility of “taking care of things”. After all, isn’t it a woman’s right to choose?

A friend of mine took a college course in philosophy, and the professor argued that it was unethical to have a system which requires conduct that is unattainable. God does that very thing. Well, not at first; Adam and Eve had the option to be sinless. We don’t have that option. We can not avoid sinning. (Latin: non posse non peccare).  We can not keep the ten commandments. We don’t even make it to number 1. We can not have fear, love, and trust for God. Instead, we complain about how its unfair, he didn’t ask our opinion, and we should have a say in things.

We don’t get to choose to be born. We don’t get to choose whether we are male or female. We don’t get to choose nationality, or skin color, or native language. We don’t get to choose if our procreative activity will result in procreation. That’s up to him as well. We don’t get to choose how or when we die.

And yet, we fight against God in all of those things. We have seen people pretend to be of other nationalities, ethnicities, or genders. We see people try and either jump start or hit the brakes on procreation, we see people claiming the right to choose the time and place of their own death.

I’m writing this on the day that the US entered WW2 – unwillingly. And the response was for the government to take away from the people industry, agriculture, even career choices. Accountants ended up in foxholes because they were told to. Sure, some signed up willingly. Others did so because they were forced. A generation later, such activity would result in mass protests. “You can’t tell us what to do!” The cry of the spoiled child. I have been known to tell my children no, for the sole reason that they need to learn the answer is sometimes no. The entire reason for no, is “Because I said so.” When you talk about the authorities that God places over us – parents, government, we are now talking about he ability to compel against consent. God has that authority, and in limited ways, he gives the government and parents the authority to force us to do things we don’t want to do. (As long as those things don’t violate his other commands.)

But God gets to decide matters even beyond what government or parents can do. Life and death, and everything in between. And that includes whether the Blessed Virgin Mary was to be the Mother of God. In today’s MeMeMe culture, the amazing thing for us to ponder isn’t that God didn’t ask for her consent first, but that she willingly submitted to his will when asked. There might be a lesson in there somewhere. Maybe I’ll try and figure out what it is, after I finish telling others what they should buy me as gifts…


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Sermon for Advent 1, with introductory comments

Below is my sermon for the first Sunday in Advent. There were two versions. As of Advent 1, I am serving as the vacancy pastor for two additional parishes. It seemed like a good idea to say a few words specifically for them. So, the bold print was for my long-time parish in Wheatland. The italic print was for the new congregations in Pine Bluffs and Grover. The prayers (not included in the text) were from the rite of installation and Lutheran Prayer Companion, respectively.

The audio is from the third parish. This sermon is somewhat longer than my sermons have been, but I have no bible classes right now, so I’m trying to give a couple extra minutes of sermon time. Also, I think longer sermons would be a good thing in general – if they are properly prepared. The church can’t long survive on a diet of sub-ten minute sermons. A snack. We need solid food. Luther criticized know-nothings who get into the pulpit and run out of things to say after a quarter of an hour. In many places, that would be considered a long sermon. So, I’ve been working to increase my sermon length a little bit at a time. This was rather a dramatic burst. We’ll see if I can continue with it.

Continue reading

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Historic Lectionary: Must Have

If you are thinking about making the switch to the Historic Lectionary, you may be looking for resources to help you preach. There is none better than the sermons of Martin Luther. When I was first ordained, there was an excellent three volume set of his House Sermons from Baker, edited by Eugene Klug. Sadly, that’s out of print. (When we were under threat of fire recently, that set was one of about 10 books I put in a box in the car ready to go. Yeah. It’s that good.)

But, fortunately, Klug was not the first to translate his House Postils into English. That honor goes to Matthias Loy, who did it back in 1869. The copyright having expired, it is now available freely online, along with the Lenker edition of the Church Postils. They are also good, although not “In the box of 10 books I get to keep after a fire” good. The style is more formal – they were written as sermon studies for any pastor, rather than recorded sermons that Luther preached to those he knew so well in Wittenberg. But I did often refer to them in my early years of ministry.

Online, and free, the whole deal is available at For whatever reason, there are two editions of Loy. A two volume, with the Sundays etc, and a Three volume, with Passion Account sermons included. I have the two volume set in print. The website above has the first two volumes of the Three volume set. Weird. But Google has it HERE. I didn’t know about the passion sermons until about five minutes ago. I don’t have them in print at all, and to my knowledge, haven’t seen them in print anywhere. So this will be a huge help to me this spring during Passiontide.

I hope this helps, if you are making the journey over to the historic lectionary. I’ve loved it for many years. I’ve even grown to appreciate the Gesimas somewhat.

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One Year Series: Speaking to the People

One of the benefits of the Historic Lectionary over the 3 year series is how catechetically tight it is. By that I mean that the readings are all very focused. If you follow the readings, preaching on the text, over the course of the year you WILL cover all major doctrines. The 3 year is more broad. The readings are a bit more open to picking and choosing a theme. You could accidentally miss an important point of doctrine one, or even several years in a row.

One of the drawbacks of the Historic Lectionary over the 3 year series is how very focused the readings are. Congregations are not doctrinal textbooks, where you just plug in the appropriate doctrine at the correct place on the page. Congregations are people living in the world. And it is a world of sin. That means that problems arise that must be addressed. The Historic Lectionary often does not leave much room for that to happen.  So, what to do?

I joked about it a few weeks ago, but Luther gives a great example of how to use the lectionary if a specific problem arises. In his sermon for the sixteenth Sunday after Trinity (Widow of Nain’s Son), Luther makes the point that we are comforted by the Resurrection. And that, because of that, we show mercy when we spank children. Now, I don’t know what was going on in Wittenberg that week. But something was going on in Wittenberg that week. Because 0% of the theme of the day is devoted to discipline of children. Epiphany 1 is a good day to talk about discipline of children. But Luther must not have been able to wait for Epiphany 1. To say it feels shoehorned into the sermon is an understatement. And yet, he is correct on the doctrine. He says nothing false. He just does not really hew to the theme of the day.

So, pastors switching to the Historic Lectionary, follow the example of the blessed Reformer: Use the Lectionary as a guide and help to cover the entirety of Christian Doctrine throughout the year (as he recommends in the Large Catechism). But if you have a great need in the parish, use the Epistle, or Old Testament, or a parallel reading, or even just grab the pastoral shoehorn and speak God’s Word with reckless abandon.

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Sermon for Trinity 25

I’m always impressed on snowy days by the members who go above and beyond to make it to church. I remember one day years ago, snow drifts had almost blocked the parking lot. A saintly old member was just grinding the tires on her Ford Taurus through the drift. I cheered her on from the front of the church as she finally broke through and managed to park and walk in without incident. Today, we had members from Glendo (30 miles to the north) and Hartville (up a small mountain past the purview of snowplows) make it through the ice and snow to hear the Word of God. And a rancher dug out of the drifts down by the river to arrive only a few minutes late. I really thought no one would hear my sermon, but attendance was pretty good, all things considered. Of course, snow meant a number of older members stayed in – as it should be. I’d rather see them in church next Sunday than in the hospital today. Here is the sermon from today, for those who couldn’t get out of the house, despite their good intentions.

Text is after the jump, but the audio is here:

Continue reading

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One Year Switch

Many pastors are considering switching to the Historic One Year series, and Advent 1 is probably the most common time to make the switch. If you are a pastor about to switch, good for you. The stated reason of the three year series, to increase biblical literacy, has been an abject failure. The historic lectionary has a track record of success – it sustained the church for over a thousand years – as well as being far more ecumenical – in use by Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Episcopal, and others until the 20th century. There is no universal three-year series. They are all unique to a certain theological outlook.

The challenge that pastors find when making the switch is the multiple readings. Oh, not in the historic one year. But the LSB version is only mostly-historic. There are quirks. Throughout the year, the Epistle readings have two options. And it isn’t always obvious which of them is historic. (For the Gospel readings, the first one listed is always historic.)

The real shame of the options-approach to printing the lectionary, is that on a couple of occasions (Epiphany and Trinity) the historic one-year Epistle readings are actually lectio-continua (one of the supposed selling points of the 3 year series).

Oddly, I don’t remember ever hearing that in my seminary days. I don’t remember ever reading it in my early years as a pastor. And when LSB was released, I just went with the first reading in every case. Which is sometimes the historic reading, and sometimes not. What is absolutely ruined with this approach is the lectio-continua. Because in the two or three cases where it occurs, this is where the editors of the lectionary for LSB tinkered.

Below are some pics I snapped from The Lutheran Liturgy. (TLH is copyrighted, and I didn’t want to get in trouble. TLL – the pastor’s book for TLH – is in the public domain.) So, if you are working your way through the church year and aren’t sure which reading is historic, you can check it out here.

One more thing: You’ll notice there are no OT readings. Those aren’t a part of the historic lectionary anyway, so if there are two options, pick whichever one you prefer.

I hope this helps, if you’re moving to the one-year series. I’ve been doing it for over 20 years, and it’s been a great help in teaching the faith.


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