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 as we remember the Reformation of the Western Church, we see an unfortunate and unpleasant result of the Reformation and one in which our Lord surely does not delight: hostility between Christians. Very often, though, those involved just use religion as a pious “cloak”. In other words, the same people would still be hostile to one another even if there were not a religious difference. Here, for example, as Professor Krauss points out the one side was from the educated class, the other from the working class. Couldn’t that, too, have been a cause for the hostilities? Don’t be surprised at the riots and unrest that often fill up the news today. People will always find reasons to dislike someone who is “not them.” Sadly, here it is done under the guise of religion.
39. THE DAY OF TERROR IN THORN, 1724
Roman Catholics and Lutherans lived together in the Polish city of Thorn [Torun]. The Peace of Olivia (1660) granted Protestants in Poland the free exercise of religion. They were granted the Church of St. Mary in the center of the city and a church in the suburb while the Roman Catholics used the other churches. The Protestants made up the educated class of the city—they even had a Lutheran secondary school; the working class was made up of the Roman Catholics, over whom the Jesuits exercised a great influence. When they too founded a school, there was soon much friction with the Protestant school.
In 1716 the Lutheran professor, Ahrend, gave an academic lecture on Good Friday that the Jesuits and their friends maliciously distorted. Ahrend used strong expressions to describe the conduct of the Jewish High Priest [Pontifex maximus], Caiaphas. What Ahrend had said against Caiaphas, the wicked mind of the Jesuits interpreted as being intended and spoken against the Roman Pontifex maximus, the Pope. An investigation was begun but although Ahrend could not be convicted of any wrongdoing, he ended up having to leave Thorn and immigrating to Danzig. This was only the run-up to a far more serious matter.
On 16 July 1724, the Jesuits held a solemn procession. During it they required by-standers, including Protestants, to genuflect before the monstrance; this was considered an act of veneration. When several of them refused, they were insulted and abused by the Jesuit students.
One of the more violent and unruly students during this was arrested. Vehemently the Jesuits demanded his release but were refused. Then the Polish Jesuit students grabbed swords, wildly went through the streets and entered houses of Lutheran citizens. They quickly seized a Lutheran secondary student, who was peacefully standing in his dressing gown in the doorway of his dwelling. They dragged him away with them as a prisoner into the Jesuit college all the while mistreating him.
A crowd made up of all sorts of people gathered and surrounded the Jesuit college. His fellow students finally rescued the prisoner. It did not stop there. The outcry of that angry crowd could no longer be calmed because, using their college as a solid stone bulwark, the Jesuits threw things on the people; several, in fact, had fired guns from the windows. The mass of people that was already stirred up to fight back became even more inflamed. The uncontrolled rabble took the college by storm, smashed everything that fell into their hands, and, in an open area, burned a bunch of household items, but also some pictures of saints.
This was then called a “blasphemy and rude derision of the Catholic religion;” all Protestants, but the councilmen, in particular, were blamed. The councilmen had used all their influence to try to dissuade the riotous crowd from committing any sacrilege and to disperse them. Since it had become difficult to discover who the actual culprits were, the councilmen were held responsible for everything and were make amends for everything.
The king of Poland at the time was August II. Before he had only been the Elector of Saxony. He was a man as large as a giant and so strong that he broke a horseshoe and hard large silver coin with his hand and dragged wild bulls down to the ground by their horns. He was a debauched man without rival and plunged his small country into the deepest debts by his splendid festivals. He put on the festivals mainly to please his numerous mistresses. He was the most detestable hedonist and begat over 300 children with his mistresses. This man called himself “Evangelical.”
When the King of Poland, Sobieski, died in 1696, August vied for the Polish throne but since it would only be given to him under the condition that he was Roman Catholic, he instantly became a Roman Catholic and publicly renounced the Evangelical faith. The Poles had previously offered their crown to the Elector of Brandenburg under the same stipulation but he said, “God forbid that I deny my Savior, give up the free word of God and bow my head under the pope’s tyranny.” But of course, what did the word of God, the Savior and the heavenly crown matter to such a vile, debauched person like the Saxon elector! The Jesuits requested this apostate man, who continued to live in his vices just like he did before, to punish the “blasphemy and rude derision of the Catholic religion” that took place in Thorn. A tribunal of 21 members, which was made up entirely of Catholics, mostly of Polish bishops, was seated. Prince Lubomirski, as president, opened the session of the tribunal with the words: “Welcome, lords, to God’s proceedings!” The 66 year old mayor, Roesner, who until then had faithfully served his king, was placed before this court of blood and was sentenced to death; and so were his vice-president, Zernecke, together with nine other citizens. The vice-president, whose only crime was his unwillingness to sell his house (it adjoined the Jesuit college) to the Jesuit order, could ransom his life for 60,000 Gulden. The sentence was carried out on the others in the most gruesome way. Eight widows and 28 orphans mourned their murdered. Many others were most painfully punished in terms of their freedom, their honor and property. In vain the Protestant powers of Prussia and Sweden interceded to the Polish king, August II; even Russia interceded but in vain.
It did not stop with the execution of these individuals; with this execution, Lutheranism in Thorn was to receive the deathblow. The Church of St. Mary was taken from the Lutherans and the Evangelical secondary school moved outside the city.
When, under the pretense of granting clemency, the Jesuits and Dominicans visited the mayor, Roesner, in prison in order to move him to convert, he answered: “Satisfy yourself with my head; Jesus shall have my soul.” His head fell under the executioner’s hand. When one of those sentenced, a man named Haertel who was the tanner, was led to his death passing the corpse of the executed, he said, “Praise God! Our innocent father conquered. We will gladly follow him.”
The Jesuits, however, celebrated a loud triumph and when their executioner, von Plozk, returned home they escorted him before the gate with brass music.
So far Professor Krauss
I can’t believe summer is over. It sure went by fast. We have a meeting next week, 04 October, after Church. Our Ladies’ Day Out is Columbus Day, 12 October. We are planning on going to “Jelly Beans,” however they do not take reservations. They said though that they could accommodate us. Hope to see you all next week.
God Bless and have a good month,
LUTHER AND COLUMBUS DAY
Luther was born in 1483. Nine years later Columbus sailed the ocean blue. The time that Luther lived was an age of discovery. Luther doesn’t mention the discoveries of the explorers too much. However, in a sermon for Ascension Day, 1522, Luther said: “A question arises over this verse, ‘Go into all the world.’ How is this verse to be understood and taken since the apostles did not come to the whole world? No apostle came to us. Also, in our time many islands have been discovered on which there are heathen and no one has preached to them. Yet Scripture says, ‘Their voices have gone all over the earth’ (Rom. 10.18). Answer: Their preaching has gone out into all the world although they themselves have not come to all the world.” (St. L. XI 950).
0n 29 September the Church remembers the work of the holy angels on the FEAST OF ST. MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS: Luther notes on the angels and their work:
Therefore [the holy angels] also have an excellent name being called Angeli, Messenger or Message, since they are sent by God.
Scripture does not call them according to their natural essence but rather according to their office.
Therefore the name “angel” is very sweet to me.
They rule, guard and protect us from all evil and they do it diligently and with joy.
The angels, messengers between God and us, faithful servants, continually ascend and descend.
We should know that in this world we are not forsaken and that we shall, as God desires it, also have bodily protection by them.
The angels then again take our prayers above to heaven and bring us the message that our prayer is heard.
Also for this day: Send me Your holy angel who turns away from me the evil enemy’s power, wiles and attack and holds me in good care, and who also in the end will carry me to rest in heaven. [Heinrich Albert 1642]
The part of the Church Year we are in begins about the time of the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. We are here reminded that there is a real battle going on for our souls but the holy angels are with us in this battle and fighting for us. In the devotion below Luther reminds us of God’s mighty work for us in this battle for our souls.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. [Psalm 23.5]
God’s word is almighty—faith and spirit are busy and restless—and is always doing something and is in battle. God’s word cannot, then, have the weakest enemies, but rather the most powerful enemies—these four allies are flesh, world, death and devil—over which it can show its glory according to its great power. Therefore Christ is called Lord of Sabaoth, a God of armies, who is always waging war and bringing us to the battle. He also gives us His body and blood for food, which is not merely a gracious sign but is a food with which we are to be refreshed and strengthened—all of us who are with Him in His army in the field—and is really the pay and provision with which He pays and feeds until they at last devote themselves and hold the field with Him. O, it is a good money, precious red gold, pure white silver, very beautiful bread and good sweet wine and that in full rich abundance, so that it is lovely to be in this military campaign. [Luther]
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13.44-46
In these parables, to whom is Christ comparing the merchant who sells everything in order to get the one pearl? Who is the farmer who finds the treasure in the field? Usually these parables are interpreted in such a way that man finds the treasure or the pearl—that is, the message of the Kingdom of God. This find is more important to him than everything else. He wants to become a child of God. Understood this way these parables urge us to risk everything in order truly to get the treasure.
However, if we read the chapter with the parables of the kingdom of heaven in context, it is clear that in the other parables God is the one doing the work. God sows the seed and sends out the harvesters. What if with these two parables Jesus also reminds of God’s working? Then another, but just as Biblical, meaning emerges: God sells everything in order to buy the field or the pearl. Then we do not stand in the center—how we seek and strive—but God. And precisely that is the message of the Gospel: God has spared not effort and no sacrifice in order to redeem the treasure. You know “that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” [1 Pt. 1 18-19]. God did not spare his Son in order to pay for my sin. Read this way, Jesus compares me then with the treasure in the field or the precious pearl. It sounds quite humbling: I am worth so much to him that He sacrificed everything for me. Therefore I can only thank Him.
Lord, I can hardly believe how important I am to You. Amen
[Pastor Jonas Schroeter, in God Is For Us, 28 August 2015]
REFORMATION DAY DEVOTION
For in [the Gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1.17
The “righteousness of God”—these two words plunged Martin Luther into great despair for a long time because Luther had always understood them to mean the righteousness that God Himself has and, in the end, also demands of us. This greatly troubled the young monk because he felt and knew that he could not produce this righteousness—and he was even very severe to himself. He fasted and prayed more than all his brother monks in the Augustinian cloister at Erfurt.
At some time during his countless hours he spent over his opened Bible, God opened the eyes of the young monk. He brooded over our verse. Suddenly Luther understood what is really meant by “the righteousness of God.” Here God demands nothing of us. He only gives. This passage is no law, no demand. Here it is about the Gospel, good news: the good news of the power of God which saves people; the good news in which the righteousness of God shows itself. God gives this righteousness as a gift. Whoever believes it will live eternally. Brother Martin was excited about his discovery. This Bible verse became for him a key to other passages which also speak about the righteousness of God and caused him anguish.
No person must anguish over the righteousness of God. Whoever recognizes Him who gives him this righteousness, Christ, can comfort himself every day in the immeasurably great power of God; such a person may always again be given the righteousness of God.
My Lord and God, I thank You that You have given me the righteousness which stands before Your strict judgment. Amen.
[From: God Is For Us, 11 February 2015, by Pastor Michael Mueller]
FROM OUR CRACK RESEARCH DIVISION—WHILE RESEARCHING THE HISTORY OF OUR BUILDING:
The 26 June 1908 edition of The Evening Leader reports:
Grape Nuts a Perfectly Balanced Food
No chemist’s analysis of Grape-Nuts can begin to show the real value of the food—the practical value as shown by personal experience.
It is a food that is perfectly balanced, supplies the needed elements of brain and nerves in all stages of life from the infant, through the strenuous times of active middle life, and is a comfort and support in old age.
“For two years I have used Grape-Nuts with milk and a little cream, for breakfast. I am comfortably hungry for my dinner at noon.
“I use little meat, plenty of vegetables and fruit, in season, for the noon meal, and if tired at tea time, take Grape-Nuts alone and feel perfectly nourished.
“Nerve and brain power and memory are much improved since using Grape-Nuts. I am over sixty and weigh 155 lbs. My son and husband seeing how I had improved, are using Grape-Nuts.
“My son, who is a traveling man eats nothing for breakfast but Grape-Nuts and a glass of milk. An aunt, over 70, seems fully nourished on Grape-Nuts and cream.” “There’s a reason.”
Name given by Postum Co., Battle Creek, Mich. Read “The Road to Wellville,” in pkgs.
Ever read the above letter? A new one appears from time to time. They are genuine, true and full of human interest.
Also a few days later the headline:
RAINED IN CORNING BUT NOT AT POST
PAINTED POST, July 30. –A number of Painted Post people have come to the conclusion that the Lord looks with greater favor on Corning than on Painted Post, on the grounds that the nearby city had a heavy shower yesterday morning while this village did not even know it was raining within a dozen miles.
PUTTING CHRIST BACK INTO CHRISTIAN RADIO...You can listen to teachings for laypeople on topics like: Eastern Orthodoxy, Defending the Truth Claims of Christianity, The Birth of Moses, St. Michael & All Angels, Translator of Scripture Jerome and more. Issues, Etc. is a radio talk show hosted by LCMS Pastor Todd Wilken and produced by Lutheran Public Radio in Collinsville, IL. You can listen at your convenience at www.issuesetc.org and on the new Lutheran Public Radio mobile app.
FROM OUR MISSOURI SYNOD
The reason we come to Church on Sunday morning, as opposed to Sunday afternoon or Monday evening, is because it is the first day of the week. The first thing you do this week, before you do anything else, is come to Church. You begin your week with the Word of God, Prayer, and the Holy Communion. You give the first seventh, off the top, of your time to the Lord. He blesses that time. In that time, He forgives your sins, cleanses, and purifies you. He then sends you out into the world, into the week, as His in all your days and hours and life.
This is also the reason we pray before we eat. We want to establish that food is a gift from God and that He provides for us through it. Before we eat, we pray. This also blesses the food and makes it holy food because you are holy people.
Nonetheless, we have a tendency to compartmentalize our lives, to separate the spiritual and the secular, to put on different masks at work, with our friends, or at home. This is a fantasy. We are who we are wherever we are. We are the baptized and we never go anywhere alone. Everything we do is spiritual — including our use of time and food and money.
Now, you have a Christian duty to support the Church, to give of your time, money, and abilities so that the ministry would be conducted among us and that the Gospel would be preached beyond us. How much you are to give is not dictated in the New Testament, unless it is everything. But how you are to give is clear. It is sacrificial, generous, first fruits, and proportional. You are to give a percentage offering—not an amount, but a percentage.
In the Old Testament ten percent was the norm. It’s hard to imagine that St. Paul was thinking that “being generous” would be anything less than this. But whatever it is, the point is to set your offerings in comparison to your total income. That is what makes it a sacrifice, a spiritual gift. How much of what the Lord provides do you return?
Next, it is to be first-fruits giving. It comes off the top. You write the check, or pay your offering, before you pay any of your bills. It is your first obligation and sets your priorities. You don’t pay your other bills and then give the leftovers to the Church. You make your offering first, in accordance with whatever promised percentage you made. This is not only first fruits, it is also sacrificial.
And you can always give more. Start with your commitment, with your percentage-based, first-fruits weekly offering, then as you have leftovers, give them out as it pleases you. But start with the Biblical model or percentage, first fruits.
That is how money is to be used and given by Christians. It is to be pressed into the service of the Gospel. It is not actually that hard. Start where you are and work toward greater faithfulness. Start now. Just take what you give now and figure out the percentage of your income and commit to keep that pledge for the year. Over time you can increase that commitment, that percentage. As your income fluctuates, going up or down, so will your offering amount. Set the percentage, then take that out of your check first each week. Make it a priority. It is the most important thing you do with your money. It is a spiritual exercise.
It will feel a little scary at first. Just do it. Take the risk. Set the money aside for the Lord and trust that He will provide. And over time you will find that you really can give more than 1% or even 10%, and even do so without regret. This kind of Biblical, disciplined, first fruit giving takes the unease out of it. It creates cheerful givers because when they drop the offering in the plate, they are already committed. They decided beforehand what to give. They don’t think about it. They are glad to fulfill their promise and to be in God’s house where He receives them according to grace.
From the LCMS Foundation:
Generosity In Your Own Words
How would you put it? How could you tell others about generosity? Would you, like St. Paul did, communicate to people you love that we should not keep the grace of God to ourselves?
Saint Paul framed his generosity teachings through a discovery that came late in his life. Rather than fuming with a hatred for sinners, as Paul was taught to do from childhood on, he found out that God actually loved him in his fallen humanity. Wow!
Paul writes about God’s generosity to the Corinthian church. “For the love of Christ compels (controls) us, because we have concluded that one has died for all, therefore all have died.” This Jewish leader had been led to believe that the Jews, especially the ones who kept God’s law zealously, were in the privileged line. He was surprised to learn that we “all have died.”
This discovery shed new light on his understanding of generosity. “. . . And He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.” Paul realized how true generosity can’t be understood in an earthly way of thinking. Paul now looked at being generous through the lens of Christ, and his entire life was changed. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. . . . All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. . . and is entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
What Paul learned from God is that generosity is about God’s love for others and our opportunity to share that love. Paul found a renewed purpose in living as an ambassador of God. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God is making his appeal through us.”
Have you ever thought about sharing such generosity with the people you love and the ministries you care about? For help, consult God’s Word in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 and 6:1. Also contact Robert Wirth, LCMS Foundation Gift Planner @ firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-863-4427 for help.
Silent Auction & Trivia Night Do you know a lot about… a lot?! Exercise those brain muscles by playing trivia in the Southern Tier Pregnancy Resource Center’s Annual Trivia Night! It will be on October 23rd from 7pm-9pm at New Life Assembly of God. Register a team of four or register individually. Do you enjoy handmade items and local shopping? Get a jump on giving for Christmas or birthdays by participating in the Southern Tier Pregnancy Resource Center’s Annual Silent Auction! It will be on October 23rd from 7pm-9pm at New Life Assembly of God. There is a suggested entry donation of $10 and free dessert. Contact the STPRC for more information at 607.732.2111 or go to www.friendsoftheprc.org. All proceeds directly support the STPRC.
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