Faith Lutheran Church Newsletter
Volume 28, Issue 10 [St. Michael Tide] October 2016
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. We have now come to what Prof. Krauss calls his “appendix.” This month as we remember the Reformation of the Western Church, we see Lutheranism making its way into America. We begin this month with a look at the life and work of the man called “The Patriarch of the American Lutheran Church”—Heinrich Melchior Muehlenberg. Coincidentally, his commemoration date is the 7th of this month. What’s fascinating for us living in the United States in the 21st Century is Prof. Krauss’ warning that our religious freedom is always in peril. His first paragraph is especially clear in pointing out that our religious freedom is a great gift of God’s grace—something the Church hasn’t always enjoyed and which may be disappearing before our eyes.
43 FROM THE LUTHERAN CHURCH OF NORTH AMERICA
The Patriarch Of The American Lutheran Church:
HEINRICH MELCHIOR MUEHLENBERG
1. God Led Him To America
God has richly blessed our dear Lutheran church, the church of the pure confession, in the United States of North America. Here today thousands of Lutheran congregations are built up in their most holy faith and no secular government, with all sorts of decrees and limitations, is hindering them from doing so. It was not always this way. At first, the Lutheran Church endured difficult times in America. There was no lack of persecution by papists, all kinds of measures by governors who were Reformed, various attempts to make the free exercise of religion as difficult as possible for Lutherans in the new world. But now that lies behind us. It is all past since the constitution of the United States guarantees the unrestricted freedom of religion. God’s grace alone can preserve to us this invaluable good of freedom of religion because in this country there is also no lack of enemies of religious freedom…
The man whom God had used above all others to bless the Lutheran Church in the 18th Century and to cause it to grow in our land of freedom was Heinrich Melchior Muehlenberg.
He was born on 06 September 1711 in Eimbeck, [Hanover] the child of a family that had once been prominent but by that time had already become impoverished. It was certainly his father’s desire that Heinrich study, but his father died early and the son found himself forced to pursue a difficult trade. But he could use the evenings for himself. He spent them playing organ and reckoning. At age 21 he began to learn Latin, and later also Greek. Later, when he entered the newly founded University of Goettingen, he could read the letters and speeches of Cicero; he read Caesar, Virgil, Horace and Terrence and could understand the New Testament in Greek. The city of Eimbeck saw to it that he received free meals while at university; his widowed mother provided for the initial costs that still remained. He also found other patrons who supported him with stipends. He had no spiritual experiences that he brought with him to the university. The “edification hours” at the home of Count Ernst von Wernigerode, in which other godly students and citizens also participated, became a great blessing to him.
In 1736 he, along with two other brave students, agreed to teach poor uneducated beggar children. They rented a room, procured books and devoted their free time to these poor children. This small institution soon came under the supervision of the theological faculty, found Christian patrons and expanded. Beginning in 1737, these children also had to go once a week to the university church and served there as live subjects at the appointed catechetical exercises.
From Goettingen he went to Jena and from there to Halle, where in Francke’s orphanage [see the March and April 2015 newsletters, also available on our Web site] he was “ordered to supervise eight students in one room. This helpful test practically convinced the poor beginner how little scholarly fraternity and true Christianity, in particular, he had experienced.” Afterwards in the large institutions he was entrusted with theology, Greek, and Hebrew classes; and he also was given oversight of a sick room where he found occasion to gain some insight into human diseases and medicine. Many supervisors informed Director Francke of Muehlenberg’s weaknesses and errors. He was being considered as a missionary to the East Indies but there was no money to send him out. Thus, in 1739 he accepted a call to Lausitz, where he faithfully worked in the preaching office and as superintendent of the Grosshennersdorf orphanage.
In 1741 he wanted to make a trip to Eimbeck to see if he could get some portion of his inheritance. Instead, Baron von Gersdorf brought him along to Halle and that is where his life took the turn that brought him to America. On 06 September 1741, Dr. Francke invited him to a supper where he unexpectedly proposed to him a call to the scattered German Lutherans in North America—but with the addendum: for a three year experiment. He immediately answered that if it was God’s will, he would and must follow. Francke’s wife was so overjoyed at this decision that she gave the poor deacon a dressing gown because it was her hope that the poor deserted fellow believers in Pennsylvania would be helped.
This hope was fulfilled. By H.M. Muehlenberg God would indeed help the deserted Lutherans in America.
This was the condition of these Lutherans: Several years before, three Lutheran congregations—in Philadelphia, Providence and New Hannover—had authorized a delegation to go to both Ziegenhagen, the Lutheran court preacher in London, and to August Hermann Francke’s son in Halle to request a collection to build churches and to send a qualified Lutheran pastor. G. A. Francke, especially, insisted above all that this pastor be assured a fixed salary, although the colonists stressed that this would first be dealt with successfully when the pastor himself is there.
In Pennsylvania there were plenty of spiritual wanderers, vagrants and imposters who tried to give themselves pastoral authority; but there was a great lack of pious and learned preachers. Immigration at that time was very strong. Every assurance of the three congregations—that if a true pastor would indeed come they would not let him suffer want—did not overcome Francke’s doubts. And who knows if he (since the three congregations had already given up all hope of Francke providing them with a pastor) would have even offered Muehlenberg this call, if he had not learned that Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf [see January-March newsletters] was in Pennsylvania at that very time and trying to bring the Lutheran congregations there into his fold and to Herrnhutism.
When Francke told Ziegenhagen, the court preacher in London, of Muehlenberg’s readiness, he was in full agreement with it. Although Muehlenberg’s congregation in Grosshennersdorf would have gladly kept him, he delivered his final sermon in December 1741. He then bid “with prayer a painful farewell to the rulers at the castle” and paid one more visit to his aged mother in Eimbeck. She lived with her other children and was very distressed when she heard that her son “would travel to another part of the world.”
H.M. Muehlenberg then traveled to London, where, on 09 April 1742, he came to Ziegenhagen to receive his call. When he heard a more accurate report about the conditions of the church in Pennsylvania from Ziegenhagen, naturally his heart became heavy. However, he lost neither his courage nor his reliance on God. He got the idea that before he would set out for his field of work in Pennsylvania he would first make a visit to Ebenezer, to the Lutheran Salzburgers who had immigrated to America because of their faith [see Nov. and Dec. 2015 newsletters]. The pastor there, Boltzius, could certainly give him good suggestions and valuable advice; perhaps Boltzius would even be ready to go with him to Philadelphia and help him set the congregations in order.
Among the lively travel companions on his journey over, was a family of Salzburgers bound for Ebenezer. After a long, difficult sea journey they arrived safe and sound in Charleston. From there it was on to Savannah, Georgia where on Sunday, 02 October, Pastor Gronau, an associate of Pastor Boltzius, came from Ebenezer to conduct the Divine Service with the German Lutherans. With great joy, he learned about the arrival of a family of Salzburgers and of a Lutheran pastor from Germany. After the newcomers had been refreshed by Pastor Gronau’s morning and afternoon preaching, they went right away in a small boat to Ebenezer, where that very evening Muehlenberg also greeted Pastor Boltzius in his home and presented him with his letters.
The relationship between Muehlenberg and the Salzburgers was very cordial and brotherly. The Salzburgers had already begun to turn the forest that they had been granted into a flourishing garden. Both their pastors, trained by Francke, directed and governed as spiritual fathers the four areas that belonged to Ebenezer: Jerusalem, Zion, Bethany and Goshen. To the amazement of the English settlers, the Salzburgers did not need a Justice of the Peace because their minor quarrels were easily settled by the pastors. They, who had been so harshly persecuted before, lived here as in an earthly paradise: unassuming, modestly, piously, content. “Their life was a life of faith, and their deathbeds were beds of victory.” It must have been good for Muehlenberg to be among such fellow Christians.
The congregation considered the question of whether Boltzius should participate in the trip to Pennsylvania. At that time a trip like this was no small undertaking. In any case, it could last a long time: Boltzius’ return was hardly possible before the following Easter, in fact before summer; and he would have to leave behind a weak wife and two sick children. Nevertheless the congregation gave its consent and Boltzius was ready.
When, on 11 October 1742 at 7 in the evening, accompanied by many congregational hymns, both men boarded the boat that would bring them to Charleston, Muehlenberg sang the verse:
Then let us follow Christ, our Lord
And moved by tears, they fell down on the shore and joined in singing:
And take the cross appointed
And, firmly clinging to His Word,
In suffering be undaunted.
For who bears not the battle’s strain
The crown of life shall not obtain. [TLH #421 st.5]
It was a loving, moving departure. In Charleston they had to wait for a ship to Philadelphia but there was not one for a long time, so Boltzius returned. Finally, after more than three weeks, Muehlenberg got an opportunity to sail on an old sloop with only one mast and after 13 terrible days, on Thursday 25 November at 8 in the morning, he arrived at his destination, Philadelphia.
It was characteristic of him not to idle away his time in Charleston; instead he used it to preach to the Germans he found and to instruct their children. Although the flow of news at that time was limited, a few publications still came into his hands in Charleston. They brought news from Pennsylvania that Count Zinzendorf was recruiting followers in Philadelphia, holding conferences with Lutherans and Reformed and that there had been some conflict between Zinzendorf’s people and them. Then Muehlenberg knew that he would find the enemy in his own congregation. That was not apt to make him happy.
So far Professor Krauss
We have a couple things this month-- first, we have Ladies’ Day Out MONDAY Oct. 10th noon.
Then, Oct. 30th we have a 5th Sunday Dinner after church. I will have a signup sheet around on Oct. 1st.
I hope we have a good turnout for both.
I pray you all have a blessed month.
FROM THE ZONE LWML:
Grace Lutheran in Vestal will host the LWML Fall Rally on Saturday 15 October. As many of you know, Grace Lutheran was totally devastated by a fire over a year ago, so our LWML program will be held at Memorial Park Baptist Church at 1013 Front St. in Vestal. Memorial Park Baptist Church has graciously provided their facility for Grace to use until the new church is built.
Among the items that will be presented at the rally are a brief description of Grace’s building plans and their hopes for the future. (Come and be among the first to know!) Registration will begin at 9.30. We will begin with Bible Study at 10, followed by a business meeting which will include election of officers, convention and retreat reports. Gifts from the heart will be collected and will consist of school supplies. The need for PENCILS cannot be stressed enough. Luncheon will be served by the Grace LWML and we plan to close with prayer at 1 PM.
If you have any questions, please contact Ruth
"Many hands make light work"
A few years ago there was a group of members who cleaned the church, each person taking a week. As time passed, those participating could no longer do it because of the stairs and moving the vacuum cleaner from floor to floor. I continued to clean each week.
To me this is an important job as I am taking care of God's house and trying to keep it in a manner it deserves. That being said, I would like to relinquish some of that responsibility. Ideally it would be good to have possibly 2 other people take weeks. The job takes 2 hrs. tops as I alternate what gets done. If you are interested please see me or call me and I can let you know how I do it. Thank you for considering sharing your time and talent in this effort.
From our elder emeritus:
What is symbolized here in this picture puzzle?
Envision a large courtyard in the shape of a triangle. It is enclosed all around by a high stone wall. In the center is a large white stone on which one can stand. A very bright light is shining down from above. All is peaceful except for a constant knocking and banging from under the floor.
Answer: Triangle=three---Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They form a solid wall of protection around me---from the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Besides that, I am standing on the Rock, Christ Jesus. But Satan is jealous, constantly pounding up from his prison in Hell to consume. I am not afraid, for God comforts me with the Light of His Word, Christ Jesus, Whom He sent to rescue me.
LUTHER AND COLUMBUS DAY
In his chronology Computation of the Years of the World, first published in 1541, Luther makes an unflattering observation about the rediscovery of the Americas: “a new disease, the French disease, otherwise known as the Spanish disease, which was brought to Europe, so it is said, from the newly discovered islands of the East. One of the great signs before the Last Day!” (A.E., I, pg, 207) This is interesting because Luther refers to the Americas as being “East.” Luther knew that the explorers sailed from Western Europe (Spain, Portugal, hence the “Spanish disease”), so how, then, could he call the islands East? Answer: Luther, like the vast majority of the people, knew that the earth was round. Thus, sailors sailing from Western Europe could reach islands in the east! The real question was a mathematical one: what was the circumference of the earth? Most people thought the circumference of the earth was much smaller than it really is. In fact, some may have been influenced by the Apocryphal book of 2 Esdras: “On the third day you commanded the waters to be gathered together in a seventh part of the earth; six parts you dried up and kept so that some of them might be planted and cultivated and be of service before you” (6.43). Columbus thought that the earth was 1/7 water and 6/7 land. Thus, the east coast of Asia couldn’t be all that far from Europe’s west coast. Thus, for Luther, the newly discovered islands west of Europe were the “newly discovered islands of the East.”
Beware of Reformation anniversaries!
“The great ecumenist and defender of confessional Lutheranism, Herman Sasse, once said, ‘Beware of Reformation anniversaries!’ He writes, ‘In view of the many Reformation anniversaries which we have celebrated…one might well ask whether we have now had enough of looking back to the past, whether we have heard enough speeches and read enough anniversary articles.’ The purpose of Reformation anniversaries rarely promotes the primary theme of the Reformation, which is encapsulated in Thesis 1 of the Ninety-five Theses: ‘When our Lord ad Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” [Mt. 4.17], he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.’” [Albert B Collver, Director of Church Relations—Assistant to the President LC-MS, CTQ, vol. 78, January/April 2014 pg.157]
REFORMATION CONVOCATION 2016
On Saturday, 29 October, join fellow Lutherans from all over our circuit at Trinity in Ithaca as we welcome Dr. James Voelz from our St. Louis seminary. Dr. Voelz leads the convocation “Newton & Einstein & Lutherans” at 9.30. At 11am he is the guest preacher at the Reformation worship service. After Divine Service a lunch will be served.
LUTHER ON TELLING THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT JESUS:
Christ says that the victory has been won, that all peril and anxiety have vanished. It is no longer necessary for us to wrestle and fight. All this has already taken place. The world, the devil, and death have been defeated and lie prostrate. Heaven, righteousness, and life are victorious. All that remains for us to do is to spread this news throughout the world and to intone the… song of victory and to sing joyfully “Christ is risen.” He has accomplished all this and has given complete victory to those who hear and believe this. But we must preach, confess, and speak highly of this news before the entire world… [AE, XXIV, 421]
THE REFORMATION IS ALL ABOUT JESUS
Luther comments: The true knowledge of God and of Christ has often been defined. It is not an idle, empty thought or dream, as reason is able to think of God and Christ on the basis of hearsay, and as it pictures Him and acts toward Him according to such thoughts of its own. No, it is the true and living faith, which understands the words of the Gospel, and, in accordance with those words, knows Him and the Father’s will and heart. It knows that the Father sent Christ, His Son, to deliver the world from sin, God’s wrath, and eternal death through His blood and death. It tells man that Christ accomplished all this, gained forgiveness of sins and eternal life, and surely bestows this on all who believe in Him. Thus the knowledge of God and of Christ are bound together and are one knowledge. As has been repeatedly said, the Father is known solely in Christ and will not and can not be attained and met or worshipped and called upon apart from this Mediator….
For all other doctrines stand and fall with this one [this article about Christ]; it includes all the others; it is all-important. He who errs in the others certainly errs in this one too. Even if he holds to the others, still all is in vain if he does not have this one.
On the other hand, if one abides by this article diligently and earnestly, it has the grace to keep one from falling into heresy and from working against Christ or His Christendom. For the Holy Spirit is surely inherent in it, and through it illumines the heart and keeps it in the right and certain understanding, with the result that it can differentiate and judge all other doctrines clearly and definitely, and can resolutely preserve and defend them. [AE, XXIV, 319-320]
STEWARDSHIP ARTICLE FROM OUR MISSOURI SYNOD
Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again. If you believe this gospel, if you stand upon it, and cling to it, you are saved. Trust in this is the dividing line. It defines, either positively or negatively, all men. It separates and divides Cain from Abel, Job from his so-called friends, Abraham from Abimelech, Isaac from Ishmael, Jacob from Esau, David from Saul, Daniel from Belshazzar, Joseph from Herod, Lazarus from the rich man, and the tax collector from the Pharisee. What defines men is not whether they are good or bad, but whether or not they believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.
The problem with man is his heart. Our hearts are fallen and predisposed to think that we can impress God. We think that if we do all the right things God will rewards us, and we will escape evil. We think that God will be impressed with our gifts, that our prosperity and goodness is evidence that God loves us or that it should motivate God to love us.
But we know better because God has blessed us with the faith of Abel, Job, and Abraham. We know that God's grace in Christ saves us, not our works.
We know that God is not impressed with our giving. He is not impressed when we give him that which is already his. God doesn’t benefit from our giving and He doesn’t need it. But our neighbor does need it. And God delights in us growing more and more like Him. He blesses us, and He invites us to bless one another with our giving: so that the Gospel may be proclaimed, so that the poor may be fed, so that all God's work through the Church may be done.
So consider God's priorities in comparison to your own. And be honest. Reevaluate where you are and where God has called you to be. Look into your own bank statement. Would any accountant think that the Church was your priority? He would see a spreadsheet filled with where your money actually goes: into house and clothing and cars, into eating out and beauty supplies and entertainment. Indeed, much of it wasted on frivolous things. But would he find great percentages going to the church? Figure up the percentage. Put it in relation to the proportion of your income. What percentage of your income do you give for the mission of the church: the preaching and teaching, the baptizing and communing, the help for the weak and poor brothers of Christ? Is it even enough for a deduction when you file your income taxes? The widow gave all she had and thought nothing of it. She was glad to do it. The rich man gave what to him was meaningless, trifle amount and desired a plaque in his honor. Why is it that the less we give the prouder we are and the more credit we expect?
All your works, even your monetary gifts, done in faith please God now for Christ's sake. No matter how great or small, frequent or infrequent. They are all washed and cleansed by grace through faith on account of Christ. Whatever you do from faith in God pleases him for the sake of the Son. So reevaluate your generosity in the light of the grace of Christ. Freely you have received, freely give.
Your favorite programs on your Lutheran Radio Station Worldwide KFUO.org.
Hear about bioethics, depression awareness, witnessing, and more thought-provoking topics!
Mon, Oct 3 --- Bioethics and the Christian Worldview: His Time @ 7:40am CST
Tues, Oct 4 --- Sacrament of the Altar in the Large Catechism: Concord Matters @ 2pm CST
Wed, Oct 5 --- Witnessing at the Laundromat: His Time @ 7:40am CST
Thurs, Oct 6 --- Depression Awareness: Faith & Family @ 10am CST\
Fri, Oct 7 --- Tackling the Theory of Evolution: His Time @ 8:45am CST
Archived at KFUO.org. Follow us on Facebook.com/KFUOradio.
From the LCMS Foundation:
Generosity in Your Own Words
How did you learn about being generous? Was it your parents who taught you or did you learn it by experience? Did you know that generosity is a gift from the Holy Spirit?
The Apostle Paul references it in his epistle to the Romans, chapter 12. He dictates these words from God, starting with verse 6. “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.” Verse 7c informs us that “the one who contributes, should do so in generosity.”
Generosity is a gift of the Spirit of God and we are to practice it. Whether you learned from a model or not, generosity is a gift that God gives to His Church for our own good and for the good of others.
However you express your generosity, if you had to put it into words, what would you write or say? What would you tell others?
Actions of generosity often speak for themselves. There is another gift that is associated with generosity. In Romans 12:8a, God’s Word tells us about the benefit of exhortation (encouragement) in generosity. Putting generosity in your own words helps accomplish this encouragement that often, if not always, precedes God’s gift of generosity in others.
Have you talked with your family or friends about generosity? This is not to suggest that you brag about it but rather that you ‘encourage’ or ‘exhort’ those under your care or influence to hear your own witness.
For more information, contact Robert Wirth, LCMS Foundation Gift Planner @ email@example.com or 716-863-4427.
Comments for this post have been disabled.