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Archive for April, 2013

Mercy and Sending

God sent Paul and Paul found out how much he would have to “suffer for the sake of Christ”.  Paul feels “compelled” to preach because he is an Apostle, one who is sent.
I have been going back and studying Romans and I am constantly confronted with this “decision theology” that lurks all around.  It is in all of us and hard to get rid of.  We want to contribute to salvation.  I was struck by Romans constant refrain that it is all the “power of God”.  God send His Word, He sends  His Son, He sends His Spirit and He sends preachers.  God is the sending God.
Romans 10:14, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” The assumption is that if one is to must be preached to in order to believe, then one must also make a conscious decision to believe. Luther takes a different approach to the interpretation of this passage, focusing on where the process ultimately begins. “These four points are so interrelated that the one follows upon the other, and the last is the cause and antecedent of all the others, that is, it is impossible for them to preach unless they are sent; and from this, that it is impossible for them to believe if they do not hear; and then it is impossible for them to call upon God if they do not believe; and finally it is impossible for them to be saved if they do not call upon God. Thus the whole root and origin of our salvation lies in God who sends.
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Mercy and the Apostle’s Creed

Apostles Creed

From Luthers Large Catechism as he comments on the three articles of the Creed

Although the whole world has sought painstakingly to learn what God is and what he thinks and does, yet it has never succeeded in the least. But here you have everything in richest measure. In these three articles God has revealed and opened to us the most profound depths of his fatherly heart, his sheer, unutterable love. He created us for this very purpose, to redeem and sanctify us. Moreover… we could never come to recognise the Father’s favour and grace were it not for the Lord Christ, who is the mirror of the Father’s heart. Apart from him we know nothing but an angry and terrible judge. But neither could we know anything of Christ, had it not been revealed by the Holy Spirit.

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Recital at Zion. Not Quite 25 years of beautiful music but counting.

A few days ago I wrote about Dawn Jensen Rathmann and the fact that she has the Minnesota connection and has been in music ministry for 25 years at one church in St. Louis.  Laura Allensworth hasn’t been alive for 25 years but she has her own music ministry of sorts.  She graduates this year and will be going to UND to study music and Education.  She has been singing since she was in grade school and has a magnificent pure soprano voice.  She sang many times at the Lutheran Sunset Home and has been a part of many productions and musicals.  It was because of Laura that I became acquainted with the “Harp Lady”.  I wrote a blog about her on the 17th of April of 2012 which is something of a coincidence.  It is called the Harp Lady and Life Together.  Check it out.

Laura is going to have a recital at Zion English Lutheran Church in Grafton tommorow, April 27th at 2 pm.  You are all invited.


Laura Allensworth

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LMI Day and Prayer……..

This is from the Lutheran Malaria Initiative Website –

One child in Africa dies every 60 seconds from malaria. In a single 24-hour period – one day – 1,440 people in Africa will succumb to this disease. World Malaria Day offers an opportunity to raise awareness of the devastating effects of this disease and encourage people to join in the worldwide effort to end malaria deaths in Africa.

Please join us in a moment of prayer today at 2:40 p.m. (14:40 on a 24-hour clock) as we consider the 1,440 Africans who die each day from malaria and remember in prayer all who suffer from malaria or will lose a child or other family member to the disease.

Here is a prayer you could offer at that time:

Lord God, our most merciful Father, in this fallen and sinful world death is the constant and impartial enemy of all. We humbly ask you to show mercy on all those who are suffering from malaria today. If it be Your will, restore the afflicted to full health. Surround them in their time of illness with Your love, especially the children who are weak and afraid, through the family and friends who minister to them. Comfort those who have already lost a loved one to malaria or will, especially the parents of young children. By Your power, end this disease. Bless the education and relief efforts of the Lutheran Malaria Initiative. Grant that LMI’s educators, physicians, health care providers and missionaries are powerfully and fully equipped to bring an end to the human suffering and death in Africa caused by malaria. Through the Gospel of Your Son Jesus, proclaimed through Word and Sacrament, strengthen our faith and lead others to see that a life in His grace leads only to an eternal existence in Your loving presence. Through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Savior. Amen.


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Mercy and teaching

Children at Motango

Children at Motango

Gerhard Uhlhorn said “God enjoined on us Christians the sacrifice of Mercy not because he needs them but that we may not be unfruitful and unthankful. The gifts that we give to one another, and the care we show for the poor is a teaching tool. We learn the true meaning of the petition in the Lords prayer that we receive our daily bread with Thanksgiving. Uhlhorn said “the whole life of a Christian is a festival, the continuous sacrifice, and the sacrifice consists on the one side in prayer and Thanksgiving, on the other in imparting of our substance to the needy”. This is a beautiful example of witness, mercy, and life together. As our witness to Christ in word and deed takes place, to the proclamation of the Gospel and the giving of the sacraments, Christians learn of the marvelous sacrifice of Christ for them. This impels them and teaches them to give of what they have to others.  This leads to a life together of care and concern for each other in the body of Christ. This is the true circle of life. We learn of God’s great love for us through the church’s proclamation. We share the new life we have in acts of mercy and sacrifice for one another and those who are in need. The circle expands, the witness continues, the teaching is widened, the body of Christ becomes leaven and light in a world of darkness.

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Christianized Pharisees

grumpy Pharisees

One of the leading Democrats thought it was all right that the Tea Party and other conservative groups were set on by the IRS.  They are “admittedly racist” he said which is a calumny in itself, but then he went on to equate them with the “Taliban”.  Funny how socialists and fascists and other “ist’s” can’t help with the name calling.  The problem that everyone is having is the age old issue of people who say one thing and do something else, or who tell you to do something that they won’t do.  Sort of like those who passed the health care law and know that they are beginning to understand what is in it want to be exempt from it.  Jesus ran up against this type constantly.  They are called Pharisees in the Bible.

It is noteworthy that the most vehement words ever written by Paul are written in the same religious context, directed against the intrusion of the Christianized Pharisaism into the church, against men who, though they apparently denied not a single positive tenant of Paul’s teaching, nevertheless made man once more the religious center of gravity. Jesus and Paul are at one in their anathema on all such. Galatians 16 to 9; 512

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25 Years of Beautiful Music …. those Minnesota Connections.

Dawn Rathmann35 year ago I came to Grafton and Drayton ND and became acquainted with Dawn Jensen.  She, like my wife and I had attended Concordia St. Paul and had been active in music and still was.  She was about to marry Rodney Rathmann.  Dawn is a part of the “Schumacher clan” that we write about occasionally in this blog.  Anyway she went on to marry Rodney, they moved to St. Louis and Rodney became an editor with Concordia  Publishing House.  Dawn became the music director at Christ Memorial Lutheran Church in St. Louis and has been doing so for 25 years.

On April 20 and 21 the church celebrated her 25 years of ministry, led by the senior Pastor, Rev. Greg Smith who served with me on the Board of LCMS World Relief and Human Care.  The Associate Pastor at Christ Memorial is the Rev. Jeff Cloeter, who is the son of Rev. Paul Cloeter in Sauk Rapids and another class mate of mine.  Dawns accomplishments were publicized and a wonderful worship service of thanksgiving was celebrated.  You can read about that in other places.

In my conversations with Dawn over the years I am always amazed at the depth of her theological understanding of hymns and choral music.  Her deep love and knowledge of music is evident, but she is also able to be deeply moved by simple songs and hymns that are sung with a humble thankfulness to God.   The words of Luther come to my mind………….

“I, Doctor Martin Luther, wish all lovers of the unshackled art of music grace and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ!

I truly desire that all Christians would love and regard as worthy the lovely gift of music, which is a precious, worthy, and costly treasure given to mankind by God.

The riches of music are so excellent and so precious that words fail me whenever I attempt to discuss and describe them…. In summa, next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits…

Our dear fathers and prophets did not desire without reason that music be always used in the churches. Hence, we have so many songs and psalms.

This precious gift has been given to man alone that he might thereby remind himself that God has created man for the express purpose of praising and extolling God.

However, when man’s natural musical ability is whetted and polished to the extent that it becomes an art, then do we note with great surprise the great and perfect wisdom of God in music, which is, after all, His product and His gift; we marvel when we hear music in which one voice sings a simple melody, while three, four, or five other voices play and trip lustily around the voice that sings its simple melody and adorn this simple melody wonderfully with artistic musical effects, thus reminding us of a heavenly dance, where all meet in a spirit of friendliness, caress and embrace.

A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.”

– Martin Luther

Thanks Dawn for 25 years of sharing the precious gift that has been given to man for the “express purpsose of praising and extolling God”.

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Luther on the Gospel

For at its briefest, the Gospel is a discourse about Christ, that he is the Son of God and became man for us, that he died and was raised, that he has been established as a Lord over all things. This much St. Paul takes in hand and spins out in his epistles. He bypasses all the miracles and incidents [in Christ’s ministry] which are set forth in the four Gospels, yet he includes the whole Gospel adequately and abundantly. This may be seen clearly and well in his greeting to the Romans [1:1-4], where he says what the Gospel is, and declares, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the Gospel of God which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the Gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,” etc.

There you have it. The Gospel is a story about Christ, God’s and David’s Son, who died and was raised and is established as Lord. This is the Gospel in a nutshell. Just as there is no more than one Christ, so there is and may be no more than one Gospel….

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Repost for Good Shepherd Sunday

This is a repost from Al Colvers post on Witness, Mercy and Life Together blog spot.  I have added one other petition.


O Savior, our Good Shepherd, You taught us that the thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy, but that You have come to bring life in abundance. Remember in Your divine pity those who have endured the terror attack in Boston, and comfort them with Your presence and promises. Receive our thanks for the care provided by the first responders and all who have ministered to those suffering. Continue to grant to the afflicted Your healing and to those who mourn, grant the peace that can come only from Your victory over death. Thwart the desires of those who would sow fear and discord among us and lead them to repentance. We also ask your belessings upon those who suffered and continue to suffer from the explosion in West Texas.  Grant your peace and healing touch to this community torn apart and broken.  We make these prayers to You in confidence, for You have known in Your own flesh the irrational hatred and violence and overcome them with divine compassion and love; had have compassion and are compassion to all who suffer, and  You who live and reign with the Father and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


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What’s in a name??


So in the Bible giving someone a name means things.  God renames people and they become what he calls them.  Abram becomes Abraham.  He goes from exulted Father to the Father of many nations.  Sarai goes from “my Princess” to “Princess”.  These two become the parents of a great movement of God.  These are the two through whose offspring, Jesus, all the nations of the earth are blessed.

So I sit today and listen to the hand wringing and blame giving as to the Boston bombers.  Were they radicalized because America is such a bad place that even peaceful Muslim boys become bomb throwers and murdereres?  We have the blame America firsters, the blame American education crowd, the blame American immigration policy group, and the blame the American government club.  The only group I guess we can’t blame are Muslims or Islam.  We don’t want to offend them.

I am of the “blame our own ignoranace of history, be it our own or anyones elses” crowd.  I wondered this morning if anyone would have asked questions if the boys names would been Adolf Hitler Tsarnaev, or Joseph Stalin (oh never mind that one – too many people in this country think he was a pretty cool dude), or Lee Harvey Tsarnaev.  But no one asked the question about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, not even the FBI who interviewed him a few years ago.

Did anyone ever think to look up the names Dzhokhar and Tamerlan and see what they could mean?  Try it.  Dzhokhar was a Russion airforce officer that broke away and was killed by Russian missiles.

What’s in a Name?  You might want to look up and read a little bit about Tamerlane.  His real name was Timur the Lame.  You might want to read about what he did and why and then ask the question – why would parents call a child by that name?


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