Dear friends in Christ,
We continue our survey of Church History from the book of Professor E.A.W. Krauss from our St. Louis seminary of a century ago. This month we continue our look at founding father of our Missouri Synod, C.F.W. Walther. We find him in his student days where he had great joy in being introduced to the Christian faith. But even here was a danger that Satan worked—Walther and his fellow students were led into a legalistic understanding of Scripture. It placed the emphasis on feeling and what we think is our work toward God. This leads to despair and hopelessness. Who can ever do enough? But even here God was at work. Through this emphasis on Law and feeling and the despair it worked, the Lord worked through faithful Christians to bring Walther the glorious comfort of the Gospel—that for Christ’s sake we are forgiven our sin and righteous before Him through faith. This peace of the Gospel that Jesus brings is the peace the angels sang about that first Christmas. In Jesus is our peace.
44.1 [part 2] Dr. Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther
However, by God’s gracious leading, the young Walther came into a circle of students which he later described this way: “This little group assembled on certain days each week to pray together and to read Holy Scripture together for edification and for mutual conversation over that one thing that is necessary. For a time, imitating A.H. Francke, Professor Lindner also privately gave them a so-called collegium philobiblicum. This is where he interpreted the Scripture in an edifying manner and gave instruction on how to develop practical sermon themes from the Biblical texts.” Several believing lay people belonged to this group, as well as candidate Kuehn, Walther’s older brother Otto Hermann, others who would later become well-known pastors in Missouri Synod circles: J.F. Buenger, O. Fuerbringer and Th. J. Brohm, as well as many others. Of course they were ridiculed as ones who tried to hinder knowledge, Pietists, fanatics, as well as hypocrites; “but they remained inwardly joyful in their God and Savior. In the years to come all of them who remained faithful thought back on this time of their first love as the most blessed time of their entire life. At first there was no discussion in this group on the differences in doctrine between the various churches since the faith which the precious book of the Bible had ignited in these disciples, was, of course, none other than the Lutheran. Yet it did not remain. After some time, as they grew in knowledge, the question arose (partly by itself, partly by the old candidate Kuehn, who was well grounded in doctrine): What faith are you? Lutheran? Reformed? Union? This certainly brought about a thorough examination. Most soon recognized that it is none other than the Lutheran faith which God the Holy Spirit sealed in them as the true faith; it alone stood firm in trial, even before they knew which church it was the faith of. Only a few of them left. The impression made on the young believers went deeper when Candidate Kuehn tried to lead this awakened group in the same way that God had led him: he tried to convince us that our entire Christian faith could not rest on firm ground until we had found a great degree of repentance and true terrors of hell in hot struggles of repentance—like he did. The result of this was an overall change from a Christianity that was evangelical and joyful into one of law and gloom.” The edifying literature that the young students of that time preferred to use was the writings of J. Arnd, Spener, A.H. Francke, Bogatzky, Fresenius, also J.J. Rambach—thus the writings of the Pietists. “The less a book drew us to faith and the more legalistic it was on insisting on the contrition of the heart and complete killing of the Old Man that came before, the better we thought the book to be. Even of the works we read, we mostly only read in so far as they described the pains and exercises of repentance; if, afterwards, the of faith and trust for the repentant was then also described, we then usually slammed the book shut because we thought that it wasn’t anything for us.” Yet they naturally wished for something more and considered fasting also to be a Means of Grace to produce true preparation. At this time Walther instructed an innkeeper’s two sons. When one day he came to the house to give his lesson, the wife asked him whether he had already eaten. He was shocked, but in order not to lie said, “no.” The wife was happy at this and placed a semolina dumpling before him. Not wanting to appear unthankful, he had to eat it but he did it “with heavy heart.” As wonderful as the dumplings tasted, he still lived under the self-tormenting delusion that “such a meal was an obstacle to his sanctification.” Then in great spiritual trials, longing in body and soul, uncertain of his salvation, wrestling with despair, he received sweet, blessed and true comfort in the family of the tax auditor, Barthel, who opened his house to him and his friends. In this house Jesus was all in all and His heavenly peace poured out upon all members of the family. Here he found “a father in Christ and a mother in Christ.” He held the funeral for her in 1881 in St. Louis and, among other things, said: “Terrified by the law, this verse continually sounded in my heart day and night:
Only this one thing concerns me:
That I cannot know
Whether I am a true Christian
And You are my Jesus.
It was then in particular that this beloved woman, who has now fallen asleep, carried me upon her motherly heart. Her mouth overflowed with evangelical words of comfort for me--and not only when I entered her house but also by her fervent prayers of intercession, she wrestled with God day and night for me, the foreign youth. And behold! God heard her pleas: I finally came to peace in Christ, and now a bond of holy fellowship with Christ embraced us so that nothing until death was able to tear apart. Oh, how I rejoice to be able to testify of this publicly here! But one day above, I will rejoice even more when, before the throne of the Lamb and before all the angels and elect, I can, with a perfect heart, thank her for what she once did for me, the least.”
Walther found another comforter and helper in his spiritual distress at that time—Pastor Martin Stephan, the later leader of the Saxon emigration. He turned to Stephan asking him for counsel and advice from God’s Word. “When [Walther] got the answer, he did not open the letter until he had fervently called upon God to preserve him so that he would not accept false comfort if any was contained in the answer he received to his letter. But when he had read it, it was for him nothing else than if he had suddenly been transferred out of hell into heaven. The tears of anguish and distress that had been cried so long then changed into tears of true heavenly joy.” (Buenger’s Lebenslauf, pg, 29)
At Easter 1833 Walther left the university. On account of a severe chest illness, he had to recoup at his parents’ house during the winter semester of 1831-1832. There, in his father’s library, he found Luther’s works, which he began to read and become absorbed in.
So far Professor Krauss
OUR ADVENT SERVICE IS WEDNESDAY, 05 DECEMBER AT 7 PM.
LWML NEWS: A sign-up sheet for coffee hours in 2019 will soon be posted for the new year. The December coffee hour, 16 December, will be our cookie exchange. Everyone is asked to bring 2 or 3 dozen cookies and we will have a redistribution of the cookies. Hope you can join us. Our Epiphany dinner will be after service on 06 January 2019. Be sure to plan now to attend.
BRING YOUR POINSETTA TO CHURCH DAY! You can help beautify our sanctuary on Christmas Eve by bringing a poinsettia to church with you. Then bring it home with you to enjoy and beautify your home as you celebrate Jesus’ birth. Remember our Christmas Eve Service is at 7 pm.
THE SEASON OF ADVENT— THIS YEAR ADVENT BEGINS SUNDAY, 02 DECEMBER
THE SEASON OF ADVENT: The color for Advent is violet, which marks Advent as a penitential season. This color is reflected in the paraments used during this season, specifically in the altar frontlets. The Advent wreath, or candles, provides another reminder of the seasonal time of penitence and waiting. The traditional use of the Advent Candles or Wreath originated in eastern Germany even prior to the Reformation.
As this tradition came down to us by the beginning of this century, it involved three violet candles and one pink.
The season of Advent is a time for preparation for the coming of Christ, both His coming in the incarnation at Christmas and for His second coming at the end of the world as King and Judge. That preparation, as in Lent, is a time where the services of the Advent season reflect that spirit of penitence and waiting. Advent is a season of preparation for something greater.
THE ADVENT WREATH: The Advent wreath, a ring of evergreens calls to mind a crown or victory wreath. An Advent wreath is our show of confidence that Jesus is the royal Victor who will lead us into the light of heaven.
The wreath is made with four candles rising from a circle of branches. It can be placed on a table or hung over it with wide ribbons. A single candle is lit every evening during the first week of Advent, beginning Saturday night, December 02 [for the Church, the day begins liturgically at sundown]. Two candles are lit during the second week, three during the third, and all four on 23 and 24 December. This blessing can be prayed before the first candle is lit:
By day and night, and through every season, You watch over us, Lord. We praise You for this Advent wreath. It is the evergreen crown of Your royal purple, and it shines with the promise of eternal victory. By the light of this wreath we shall wait in patience for Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who will comfort our fears and bring hope to the world. All glory be Yours, now and forever. Amen.
REMEMBER TO DRIVE SAFELY TO CHURCH—ESPECIALLY IN INCLEMENT WEATHER
"Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming," Says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3:1 (NKJV)
In the Church Year, the final herald of Christmas is the Fourth Sunday of Advent. This year it falls the day before Christmas Eve. Something similar is in the verse of our text. In this prophecy the coming of the herald and the One announced are mentioned in the same breath.
Strictly speaking, the prophet speaks of two angels who are to come because the Hebrew word that he uses here means both “angel” and “messenger.” Who the first messenger/angel is that is to come, Jesus Himself tells us [Mt. 11.10). John the Baptizer was, if we so want, the most peculiar “angel” that the world has ever seen. But it was not an angel with wings would prepare the coming of the great “Messenger of the Covenant”, but the final messenger/angel of God would. And then He, the “Messenger/ Angel of the Covenant”, came—again in human form, without radiance and glory. He came to His temple because He is the God whom Israel from ancient times had worshipped. He is the Messenger who set up a new covenant with His people. This new covenant made the sacrificial animals and the temple in Jerusalem unnecessary. The temple of Christ is His Church. As His Messenger/Angel of the Covenant, as the best Messenger/ Angel God the Father sent Christ also to you.
Each person who takes to heart the preaching of repentance of the first Messenger/ Angel, St. John the Baptizer, will also from the heart desire the coming of the second Angel/ Messenger. St. John calls to you “Repent!” Jesus came to show you what true repentance is: turning to the Savior who forgives your sins.
Jesus Christ, come I pray also to me. I need Your help and forgiveness. Amen.
By Pr. Michael Mueller in God Is For Us, 22 December 2017
When they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.
Zech 12:10 (ESV)
The seasons of Advent and Lent are seasons of repentance, but Advent has a completely different voice. With its candles, lights and many Advent customs it has more of a pleasant and almost festive character. But Advent is also a time of preparation in which we are called upon to purify our hearts in true contrition and repentance. This should happen just as much today as in Lent which comes before Good Friday and Easter.
Our gaze in Advent is, above all, directed to the little Child in the manger of Bethlehem. This Child is the only begotten Son of the eternal Father. What a wonder and what a grace that this Child was born for us! But for His birth really to be a blessing for us He had to die a cruel death. The prophet Zechariah directs us to His death. On the cross of Golgotha, the Lord was pierced with a spear. The holy Evangelist St. John explains this event with the words: For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: …“They will look on him whom they have pierced.” [John 19:36-37 (ESV)]
The sorrow of death on the cross follows the joy of His birth. But this is the wonderful thing about the death of the Lord—this sorrow was changed into joy on Easter day. Each heart that becomes aware of its guilt can experience joy and find in Jesus Christ its Savior and Lord. Advent and Lent serve us in by helping us always to recognize this.
Lord, please always lead us to repentance so that we can increasingly rejoice in Your birth, Your death and Your resurrection. Amen
By Pr. Joerg Kubitschek in God Is For Us, 19 December 2017
Luther notes: “To find Christ in such poverty, and what His swaddling clothes and manger signify, are explained…that His poverty teaches how we should find Him in our neighbors, the lowliest and the most needy; and his swaddling clothes are the Holy Scriptures; that in actual life we should incline to the needy; and in our studies and contemplative life only to the Scriptures; in order that Christ alone may become the man of both lives and that He may everywhere stand before us.”
The Christmas epistle is Titus 2. 11-14: 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
St. John Chrysostom preached on those verses: “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us” (vs. 4-5). How? “Not because of works done by us in righteousness but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” (vs. 5) Strange! How were we drowned in wickedness so that we could not be purified but needed a new birth? For this is implied by the word regeneration. As when a house is in a ruined state no one places props under it, nor makes any addition to the old building, but pulls it down to its foundations and rebuilds it new, so in our case God has not repaired us but made us new. This is the renewal of the Holy Spirit.
He has made us new. How? By His Spirit; and to show this further, he adds, Whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior (vs. 6) Thus we need the Spirit richly.
So that being justified by His grace—again by grace and not by obligation—we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life (vs.7).
At the same time, there is an encouragement to humility and a hope for the future. If we were so ruined as to require to be born again, to be saved by grace, since we have no good in us, if then He saved us, how much more will He save us in the world to come?
(Homilies on Titus, 5, quoted in: [A Year with the Church Fathers: Meditations for Each Day of the Church Year, CPH 2011, 35]
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” [St. John 8.12]
What helps against the darkness? A candle, a flashlight, a light switch—a the light goes on. The darkness must flee.
The contrast between “light” and “darkness” plays an important role in the Bible and also at the beginning in St. John’s Gospel. It says of Jesus, the eternal word of God who became flesh: “In Him was life and the life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. [John 1.4ff] In Jesus Christ God Himself comes into the creation which has been darkened by sin and death. And the forces of darkness move heaven and earth but they cannot conquer the light. They cannot extinguish it. To the contrary: where there is light, darkness must depart.
The light conquers the darkness. As in the beginning when God spoke: “Let there be light!” So powerful is the word of Jesus who says of Himself: I am the light of the world. Hold on to Me and you have the light; then your heart darkened by sin will be bright.” The darkness will be cast out—absorbed by God’s light; illuminated by His forgiveness; immersed in His grace.
And this means: You do not have to hide anymore. You can leave the imagined protection of darkness. Jesus does not only know what it looks for you. He makes it so that your darkness departs: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” [1 John 1.7]
Thou art mine; I love and own Thee. Light of joy, Ne’er shall I From my heart dethrone Thee. Savior, let me soon behold Thee Face to face—May Thy grace Evermore enfold me! [TLH #523 st.8]
[By Pr. Andreas Drechsler in God Is For Us, 01 August 2018]
Nunc Dimittis—“We join with Simeon in recognizing God’s peace in the Christ Child who has opened our eyes to His salvation in the breaking of the bread, ‘My own eyes have seen’ Christ in the flesh on the altar, as Simeon did in the baby Jesus, who is ‘the salvation…prepared in the sight of ev’ry people’ [LSB p.165]. Not only is the tone of peace sounded—a theme that we have observed throughout the liturgy from Kyrie to Gloria in Excelsis to Pax Domini—but the inclusivity of the Gospel as incorporating both Jew and Gentile is also proclaimed. The table is a table of unity for all who confess the true faith and repent and who believe that Jesus is present bodily to offer the gift of Himself in bread and wine. Eyes have beheld His salvation from invocation to communion, as He recreates us through His Word and Sacrament.”
[From: Heaven on Earth: The Gifts of Christ in the Divine Service, Arthur A. Just Jr., p. 234]
St. Augustine: “Of His own will He was born for us in time that He might lead us to His Father’s eternity.” [St. Augustine, Sermon, Christian Prayer, p. 1964]
IN HONOR OF OUR JEWISH FRIENDS CELEBRATING THEIR HOLIDAY OF HANUKKAH:
A visitor to Israel attended a recital and concert at the Moscovitiz Auditorium. He was quite impressed with the architecture and acoustics. He asked the tour guide, "Is this magnificent auditorium named after Chaim Moscovitiz, the famous Talmudic scholar?" "No", replied the guide. "It is named after Sam Moscovitiz, the writer." "Never heard of him," said the visitor. "What did he write?" "A check," replied the guide.
FROM OUR SYNOD’S STEWARDSHIP DEPARTMENT:
Throughout his epistles and his preaching recorded in the Book of Acts, St. Paul refers, in one way or another, to thanksgiving and thankfulness nearly 50 times. Whether vertically toward God, or horizontally toward the neighbor, thanksgiving is a major theme within St. Paul’s body of work.
What does this mean? It means thankfulness is intrinsic to the life of those baptized into Christ. In other words, giving thanks is what Christians do as they live out their lives in this world.
The problem is that we often forget this. Consider your average, run-of-the-mill, normal day. When you get home, and your parents, your spouse or your children ask about your day, what first comes to your mind? After 99 percent of things went right, went exactly as planned, were enjoyable and blessings, we tend to focus on and remember the 1 percent of things that went poorly, that didn’t go as planned, and that were nuisances.
We remember the bad things. We focus on discontent. And we fail to give thanks in all circumstances for everything (Eph. 5:20) and to rejoice in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4).
Thankfulness and contentment go together. We are content with things for which we are thankful. St. Paul could be content with having plenty or when in need because He gave thanks to the Lord for all things. He thanked the Lord for those who had prayed for him and listened to his proclamation of the Gospel. He gave thanks for their good works in and for the Church of Christ. He gave thanks for the grace of God in Christ Jesus and found that God’s grace was sufficient for him.
So, give thanks for all things and in all circumstances dear brothers and sisters in Christ. For you have been saved from sin, death, and hell by the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. You have been added to the very family of God in an adoption of grace through Holy Baptism. God is your Father. Our Lord, Jesus Christ is your brother.
But He not only provides for your spiritual well-being, He cares also for this body and life. Your Father in heaven provides food and clothes, house and home, husband, wife, and children. He gives you reason and all your senses. He has given you the raw talents that you have developed into careers. Everything you are and everything that you have is a gift from His fatherly divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in you.
Give thanks for these things. Make a list – every morning if you must. Say them out loud. Sing about them within the congregation of the saints. And remember this: God has given you these things so that you may be of service to those around you – your family, your neighbors, your brothers and sisters in Christ. For to whom much is given; much shall be required (Luke 12:48).
www.lcmsfoundation.org 800-325-7912 Ext 1684
Invasion is a word that recalls huge impact for all of us. The thought of ‘invasion’ stamps vivid images that etch experiences and memories into our lives.
My father experienced the fear and protection of a military invasion when he was not yet 20, as his US Army forces pushed across France toward the Eastern Block European countries in the second major wave against the Evil Axis that was formed to end Hitler’s madness. His stories were of atrocities, suffering and grace that only a solider knows.
If a home has ever been invaded, the owner knows how exposed and fear-filled vulnerability such emotions are that few other circumstances match. Personal invasion of sexual, physical or emotional boundaries leaves the victim violated in ways that are profoundly singular yet, sadly, far too common for many.
Financial language speaks of ‘invasion’ when referring to a reduction of principal assets such as with a trust or account. Invasion of corpus is typically an undesirable objective, unless it is a planned occurrence that is managed to handle unforeseen ‘what if’’ scenarios. The LCMS Foundation was created to determine such decisions. The thing about invasions is that they can be initiated to protect and provide!
A surgeon invades the body to remedy a physical issue that requires the medical operation. When such invasion is needed, the risks are weighed against the benefits. It is determined that the benefits outweigh the risks toward the objective of healing.
Privacy and identity ‘invasion’ is another hot button issue for contemporary government, health management and digital worlds. Typically, these invasions present risk that creates unwanted vulnerability for all consumers and citizens.
Invasions usually are associated with circumstances that involve important and critical issues; often life or death. When God planned to invade a world that He created with His Goodness but had gone rogue. This plan of invasion required not only a sacrificial lamb without blemish, but it would fulfill the only spiritual promise of immortality ever given with an unbreakable seal.
God’s invasion penetrated and conquered the thresholds of evil with good; darkness with light; death with life! Bitterness, envy, malice and hatred were covered up with compassion, love, peace and forgiveness. The Good News for all mankind is that God, in Christ, has invaded His Creation to reconcile it (and us) back to the God who made it.
God’s invasion brought the Savior. His Holy Spirit continues to sustain faith daily in the Word and Sacraments of the Church. Having been so invaded by God, we also can direct and plan His love for the people and ministries we care about, that they might spread the news. For more information, contact Robert Wirth, LCMS Foundation Gift Planner @ firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-863-4427.
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This week on KFUO.org, hear midweek Advent service broadcast live from Village Lutheran Church in Ladue, MO, on 12/12 at 12:00 p.m. CT, continue studying the book of Revelation on Thy Strong Word (weekdays at 11:00 a.m. CT), and hear from Deaconess Heidi Goehmann about discouragement in ministry on The Coffee Hour (12/11 at 9:00 a.m. CT). Hear programs on demand at kfuo.org or wherever you get your podcasts!
A MOBILE LUTHERAN BIBLE STUDY...Issues, Etc. is a radio talk show and podcast produced by Lutheran Public Radio in Collinsville, IL and hosted by LCMS Pastor Todd Wilken. This week's topics include: 4th Century Pastor Saint Nicholas of Myra, The Movie "Fantastic Beasts 2," 16th Century Ruler Philipp of Hesse, The Book of Amos, 8th Century Hymnwriter John of Damascus, The Birth of Jesus Foretold and more. You can listen at your convenience at www.issuesetc.org and on the LPR mobile app.
 In the booklet, Kurzer Lebenslauf des weil. Ehrwuerdigen P. J. Fr. Buenger, St. Louis, 1882.
 I still met one of them, the old shoemaker, Goettsching, living on Kleine Fleischergasse in Leipzig, in 1872 when, as a student, I visited him. I heard him speak with joyful emotion about this “little group.”
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