The Pastor's Perch

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Black Mouth Cur

No, it is not a racial epithet. The Black Mouth Cur is a hunting dog, and apparently we have one, or at least a mixture of one, possibly with a Labrador Retriever, similar to our previous hound, Sparky. 

Clifford, the BMC as aforementioned, is one happy hound, that always needs something in his mouth, like some sort of canine pacifier. If not, he will force in his huge maw large (up to 4") branches, bricks, wooden blocks, stones, my forearms or legs--anything--to assuage whatever anxiety he has. 

Because of this malady, our BMC has girdled one of our larger oaks, killing it, and now I and a hapless friend, must secure the means to fell the tree. Clifford also hunts above and below ground. Birds, squirrels, moles, voles, cats, raccoons, hamsters, gerbils, octopuses, nurse sharks and whatever else that happens into the yard--they are all toast to the BMC. And he does all of this dispatching with joy and glee. Lord, have mercy.

Our BMC is much like our BFF, as our Ascension sign lady currently has posted on our outdoor sign. The BFF is of course Our Lord Jesus, who with joy has swallowed death forever, crushed the powers of the evil one who dares trespass into our lives, and guards and keeps us in His One Holy Church. He has ruined the forces of evil and has turned to mush all the things that line up to harm us and accuse us. And while we still live on this side of heaven and are subject to the effects of sin, our BFF has disarmed their ultimate control over us by His Good Spirit through Word and Sacrament. Upon the tree of the cross He was placed, but now it is rotted and He lives, and so do we through Him. Lord, have mercy. 

We live in this wonderful estate with our Lord Jesus, as Luther describes it in his meaning of the Second Article of the Apostles' Creed: 

I believe that Jesus Christ is true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary; and that He is my Lord, Who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood, and with His inno­cent suffering and death; in order that I might be His own, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness; even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

Colossians 1:16 For by [Jesus] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Amen.

To Mask or not to Mask

When this COVID-19 thing hit and the walls came down, I remember being given conflicting warnings: Mask up! Then, Don't Mask Up! Then, Keep on Your Masks! I am sure that the powers that be were simply making their way through a novel pandemic. And I have seen over the months some really interesting masks: Zorro, Mickey, Minnie, Death, Anarchy, Mona Lisa, the "Have a Nice Day" smiley and all sorts of individualized masks. My wife sewed all of ours so they are different colors--mostly plain, which I like--so it is a moot subject now. We all resemble what the Asian continent populace has worn daily for years in the midst of their air pollution. We are becoming a society of the Mask. If I were an evolutionist--and I am not--I imagine if we continue this practice, we might someday be born with Mask-Face, a genetic placement feature on all our faces that allows for some sort of facial covering.

In the Bible, one such "masking" took place: Moses wore a veil to protect the ancient people from seeing the brilliance of the Lord fading away, when he would go to the tent of meeting unmasked, to commune with the Lord. The fading glory kept them in suspense as to the temporary nature of the facial glow, which terrified them. It was to make them dependent upon him, and by extension, the Lord, but its effect was that Moses became the one who delivered them. They trusted in the Law to free them. The Law drives us to despair unless the Gospel of the coming Savior Jesus comes into view unveiled. Paul speaks to this in his second letter to the Corinthian Christians:

2 Corinthians 3:12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 

We have had that veil lifted so that we, who have been called into God's kingdom of grace in Christ Jesus, see not only the Law we cannot fulfill, but Christ, who is the end and fulfillment of the Law, find peace with God in Christ through the forgiveness of our sins, as Paul continues: 

16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Lord God, grant us the freedom from the guilt and bondage of sin though the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, who is the exact ikon of You; grant us in this freedom to serve and love daily, as the old self continues to die and the new self rises, more and more like Him. Guide us by Your Spirit daily with unveiled faces. Amen.

In Trouble

Well, it goes without saying that preachers are always in trouble, whether they do something wrong or right. I am no exception to that rule; however, I need to choose my fights. So when a well-meaning person suggests that I partake of a heretical teaching or teacher, I will tell them no, despite their predilection to an emotional connection and a mystical union with heresy. I will not go into it, but I will warn people of this, especially those of the flock of Jesus I serve. And if they continue in this practice, it reminds me of ancient Judah, the southern kingdom, where faithful kings remove the outward, public altars, but the people secretly keep their personal altars, against the clear command of the Lord to have no other gods.

Scandalous, seditious and secessionist, these actions go against proper teaching and faith, causing people to think that anything goes in the Church. It does not. I have spoken of this privately to various people, but when it comes to devotional books, I recommend those that do not make Jesus into an example, a new Moses or any such thing that diminishes His office of Savior and King. We cannot go up and find Him, nor can we go down to bring Him up. He is found with His Church, whom He called. We do not date Him or turn Him into one who "gets us", but accept that He knows us already, and knew us from eternity. He wants us to follow Him, not just fall in love with Him. He wants us to receive His free gift of forgiveness and life daily and from that we serve Him according to His Word of life.

2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

Lord, cause us to walk by the Spirit, according to Your Word. Nourish us with the true Word and Sacraments, with Christ as the center and the Life of the world, for He is the Bread of Life to all. Amen.

Slower than...

I'm really slow in getting these out lately; slower than a snail stuck to fly paper in January. That's slow. I wanted to catch up over Labor Day, but other activities took place and that is that.

As we look ahead, we are allowing come Bible Study startup's, albeit with proper distancing:

Tuesdays at 10--St. Matthew's Gospel;

Wednesdays at 10--Video Bible Study

Fridays at 10--Romans

We do this knowing that Bible Study is essential to spiritual growth as we walk by faith and not by sight.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Luke 10:38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

O Lord, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Amen. Psalm 119:105.

Covidgate

After visiting with a mentor and leader, I wondered how long will this pestilence continue. I have not looked at the MO health site in a long time, but just checking quickly i saw that the earlier percentages way back in June (!) still stand: 77% of the deaths reported up to this date from the beginning of COVID-19 being tracked in MO are in the population of 70+ in age. How many of these deaths that are attributed to COVID-19 exclusively we will never know, but I imagine that many of them are among an elderly population that carries with it disease, illness and other health factors that have plagued this population already, with this horrible virus serving the coup de gras on these poor unfortunate people. Looking at the mortality rates for MO for the last few years, you see a similar pattern: having a preexisting detrimental health issue shortens and ends a life, sometimes by months, or years. Not that this present pestilence is some blessing in disguise. Any form of death is a major affront to God who made us to live forever, but sin wrecked everything. And we see how fragile and fleeting our lives are on this side of heaven. 

Psalm 90:9 For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. 10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span[c] is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. 11 Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?

Now the good news:

1 Corinthians 15:50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

O Lord, teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. 13 Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. And grant us an eternity free of all affliction due to sin. All of this in the name of Jesus Christ, Who has given us the victory over sin, death and hell. Amen.

Fading Past

Two of my four siblings passed through KC the other day, on their way to a family pilgrimage to the yesteryear lands of our youth. I think I may have alluded to this type of journey we, as the whole clan, undertook over seven years ago. It was a journey fraught with disappointment, as vital landmarks were not found and old family stories turned out to be fabrications, tall tales and lies. It hurt to know that our forebears were less than honest with us, and the stories we so clung to were merely...stories.

I hope my siblings will not be too disappointed in that the markers of our family's background have been by time, seasons, fire and other misfortunes, erased and gone forever. Family farms no longer found, schools closed and razed to the ground, at least one church we were associated with burned to the basement and other tragedies. It all passes away and we just watch as the sun goes down on a new and yet old world that also passes away.

Revelation 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Lord Jesus, You have won for us eternal life and You take us through this life, this vale of tears, and You remind us to not hold to this earth, doomed to perish. Because of You, we have a hope, we have a life and we will go from this place to the place of Your permanent dwelling, a new heaven and new earth, a place made just for us. Help us to hold to You and Your word, for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Press On in Christ

While listening to the radio this morning, I discovered the DJ and I had similar childhoods. He was recalling a certain St. Louis cable station, and forgot the call sign. I wanted to call in and tell him "KPLR TV, Channel 11", but I was driving. Sometimes I miss those days, but I am glad they are gone. Cable, satellite and whatnot aside, it was a treat to be able to get good, clean pictures, but unless you had a good plan, it cost you through the roof. Now, with wireless, even satellite is so yesterday. But many of us dwell in the yesterdays of our youth. And that is the problem: we often dwell in the past, even making dwelling in the past a goal. It is not.

St. Paul chucked his past as a goal, but used the gifts given him to promote the Lord Jesus; he no longer desired to live in the past of hating Christ and trying to destroy His holy Church, but now wanted the Church to grow and grow in Christ. 

Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Lord, guide us to press on in the power of the Spirit bathed in our Baptisms daily, nourished by Your Word and Sacraments. Amen.

 

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