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Friday, October 31, 2008

What the Reformation is all about

Faith Alone

Here I Stand

God's Friendly Heart

A Reformation Sermon from Dr. Armin Wenz

Reformation Festival - 31.10.2006 - Galatians 5,1-6 - Oberursel - Armin Wenz

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.

Dear congregation!
,,The Open Society and their Enemies,” is the title of a book by the English philosopher Charles Popper. Inside the scholar sits apart with the enemies of freedom on a political level. Since freedom is a lofty estate, it is necessary, always again to truly engage and repel what endangers freedom.

It is a hallmark of dictators, that they lull the people while they say: ,,Simply trust us with your needs; do not be concerned about the risk to your freedom.” In the Church, one also encounters this under the devout clothing, when the impression is awakened, that whoever shall warn against heresies that alter the gospel must not have any faith in God.

Paul and Martin Luther proceeded differently. For they heard the mission-task of the Lord Christ to His Church to faithfully teach only the gospel. And furthermore Paul and Luther were uncompromising in their quarrels against the enemies of the freedom of the gospel in the Church.

The Reformation thereby came about when Luther, charging through the holy Scriptures, calls out to the Church of his time, about the same sorrowful temptations he had experienced: You have lost Christ. Like Paul, Luther was not arbitrary with his unrelenting criticism, but reminded them about the reason of salvation for the lost: For freedom we have been released by Christ!

Reformation, therefore, means: Discovering again the freedom that we have from Christ as a gift. Reformation means: Discovering again Jesus Christ and His salvation. If the Son now sets you free, then you really are free; so says Jesus in John’s Gospel (8,36).

There rings with that freedom that Christ gives it as a present or gift, and it must not be added to. Freedom is lost to us if we attempt to obtain it through our own mighty works instead of receiving the gift. Whoever the Son has made free, he is really free.

Luther has summarized it with the famous solus Christus - Christ alone. He alone is the reason of our salvation and our freedom. However, adversaries surely then arise who endanger this freedom, in that they want to add to the work of Christ.

Against these enemies of freedom, Paul holds firm about a certain salvation, that we can only have salvation in Christ, if He alone comes to us by grace. And secondly he remains firm against the enemies of freedom, that we can receive the salvation in Christ alone by faith. With the Latin phrases it says: The solus Christus is inseparable from the sola gratia, that is: by grace alone, and likewise it is inseparable from the sola fide, that is: faith alone.

We come to the first argument of Paul against the enemies of freedom: Solus Christus stands only if sola gratia stands. That is: The salvation of Jesus Christ for us is grace and nothing but grace. Paul cries out to these same Galatians: You have Christ lost; you have fallen from grace.
What brings the apostle to speak these piercing words? It is the piety of the Galatians that has brought them to this serious danger. The Galatians had not all of a sudden reversed and become atheists. In the end, one must take ,,by faith” seriously.

Christ has released us from the yoke of sin and death. They believed that also. However they experienced just as we do that sin and death are still a painful reality. This is the temptation.
Was the sin really forgiven if you must still ask for forgiveness? Was one now really a child of God with eternal life when you still had to suffer painful sickness and death?

What could be more appropriate than the visible signs of faith which help his own deeds? Jesus, however, had been a Jew. And Christians should nevertheless model their lives after Him. If it was so difficult to live as righteous and holy as He could, then at least one could let himself be circumcised.

Such regulations like the law of the circumcision can at least clearly redeem someone. If one is circumcised, then one has, so to speak, a mark of certainty on his body. What’s the objection? Paul doesn’t exaggerate here, when he exclaims: If you allow yourselves to be circumcised, then Christ will be of no use to you? For Paul, freedom is at stake here. You have lost Christ, if you want to be justified through the law, and you have fallen from grace.

He says that you cannot secure freedom by your own power and discretion. You may not help Christ. Whomever Christ has made free, is completely free; no additional mark of this freedom is needed, for Christ is the proof of this freedom.

Do not put on again the yoke of slavery! What does this mean for us? What does this mean for us, when we waver, become uncertain, and before long we are unsure whether we really belong to God? The question is then: Where do we look for help?

The answer to these questions is clear when Paul says, either you are looking for your salvation in Christ alone, or you have lost Christ. In medicine, many diseases simultaneously need different medications and treatment methods. Not so with freedom.

The answer to the question: ,,Who will I call on to help me when my faith wavers?” is: Christ alone. As soon as we join Christ ,,and” fill-in-the-blank, then we have lost our freedom and will become enslaved. Such examples of this enslavement are: Christ and circumcision or Christ and Buddha, Christ and the Anthroposophy, Christ and my holiness, Christ and my good works, Christ and my sacrificial life to family and career.

The whole system of relics and the countless works of penance in the Middle Ages go back to this desire of the Christian to reassure himself by imagining that God approves of me, and He does so rightly. Anyone can see it, because I have obtained it.

Luther’s Reformation turned itself against this mania beginning with his 95 Theses against indulgences. Whoever grounds his freedom and Christianity on own performances or on the performances of others, builds on sand. Why must Christ die, if we can achieve freedom with our works? Christ wants to give away His freedom, but if we want to even partially obtain this freedom by our own works, then aren’t we guilty of making Christ a liar?

Grace is not a measurable thing, that we can supplement or multiply. The grace of God in Christ is rather our recent acquittal in the court by virtue of the power of Baptism, because Christ bears eternal death for us and we have been reconciled with God. And that works itself also out of the question, how we properly receive the grace of Christ.

Again, the solus Christus, that is ,,Christ alone” shall not be encroached upon. Therefore, the second argument of the apostle against the enemies of freedom is: Solus Christus stands only if grace alone is received by faith.

For what applies for grace also applies for faith: it is not a work of the people, by which we complete or supplement God’s work or make it valid for us, but faith is entirely and truly a gift of Jesus Christ through the proclamation. In the third chapter Paul asks the Galatians: I just want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the preaching of faith? (3,2) As the acquittal stands by grace alone, so also faith as a gift of the Spirit is contrary to any notion that we are justified by the law.

This justification, which you still miss and cannot see, says Paul, is not fabricated through your chosen works, but by trusting on it, that God will accomplish what He has begun in you, as He has planted the seed of the word God into your hearts. Therefore he says: We wait in a spirit of faith for the justification on which we must hope.

We are completely justified for Christ’s sake, because He has acquitted us from our sin. At the same time, our justification is still hidden, it still waxes, because we repeatedly fall into sin. But in such situations our works don’t compensate, but our only help is that we take refuge in Jesus, receive His Absolution, and strengthen our faith through His holy meal.

The life from the Sacraments and from the proclamation is the only right answer for all temptations and doubts. It is no wonder that when the works of man and the pride in them become important, then one gives little respect to the work of God in preaching and the Sacraments. But this was exactly the situation that Luther interrupts at the end of the Middle Ages. Only in the intense life from God’s Word and Christ’s Sacraments do we remain in freedom, because we only receive Christ’s grace. The freedom must always be received anew and strengthened by the rescuer.

The tension is over now, so that only the right fulfillment of the law in the form of love becomes possible in us. Because if I am exempt from the necessity to achieve my salvation, then Christ makes me free to love the neighbor. I must now no longer devote my life’s strength to the purchase of my salvation. Circumcision is not necessary; an indulgence is not necessary. I must no longer be like a humming-top that is only spinning around for myself. So I find time and freedom in the works of life, that I don’t do so I will be saved, but I do them because I am saved and I want my neighbors to also find and experience this freedom.

Just as by faith, we put our hope in God alone and our relationship to God is repaired, so also faith that is active in love repairs the damage of our relationship to our neighbors.

The soul breathes because it is free from the coercion that it must continually prove something before God and the world, just what it always means, that we believe that we are obedient to God and man. With Christ’s forgiveness and grace, a person therefore also gladly and freely gives to the neighbor so that he can also breathe, in that he grants forgiveness and love to him, he also gladly gives everything as a gift, just as what he has received from God.

Luther had uniquely described this life of Christian freedom as: ,,The Christian lives in Christ by faith, and lives in the neighbor by love. By faith he runs to God, and from God he runs again by love and remains always in God and divine love. This Christian freedom, which makes the heart free, surpasses all other freedoms, just as heaven surpasses the earth.” Amen.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What a difference 3 points make!

Going into Saturday's game (10-25) against VfL Wolfsburg, Bayern Muenich was in 11th place and in desperate need of a win to stay near the top. The match started badly, with Bayern getting behind by two scores and finally being only one score down by halftime, and finally beating Wolfsburg 4-2 at home to a cheering crowd. These three points moved Bayern from 11th place to 5th place, putting them only 4 points behind first place 1899 Hoffenheim.

An English recap of the match is here:


Bastian Schweinsteiger had been wanting more playing time for Bayern. He started the game and played for about 75 minutes, when the coach substituted him out. They didn't make eye contact on the sideline. Hopefully, Schweinstiger will get quality playing time as he is a key player on the German national team and always brings excitement in Bayern's matches.

This match capped off a three match victory run. Bayern fans were getting a bit unnerved with the team's lackluster performance this year, especially at the backfield defense. Bayern has won the championship 7 times in the past 10 years, with an impressive championship last season. We Bayern fans have high expectations for this great team, and I am happy to see them on the road to winning again.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Matthew 22.34-46

In the Name of Jesus

Matthew 22.34-46
Pentecost 24A (Proper 25) -- Reformation Day (observed)
26. October 2008

Our sermon text this morning, dear brothers and sisters, is from St. Matthew’s Gospel, where the holy apostle writes: And having heard that Jesus made the Sadducees speechless, the Pharisees gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him: ,,Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And Jesus said to him, ,,You will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your life and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You will love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." This is our text.

Martin Luther considered his most important writings to be his translation of the Bible into German, his Large and Small Catechisms, and The Bondage of the Will. This last writing was Luther’s 1526 response to Erasmus’ tract On the Freedom of the Will. Luther understood the issue of the human will to be the core of the Reformation. Erasmus was primarily interested in morals, whereas Luther was more concerned about whether doing right, even if it is possible, can affect a person’s fate (Bainton 196).

This theme is found in our Gospel Reading for today. Isn’t it interesting that out of everything in the holy Scriptures, the lawyer asked Jesus what is the great commandment in the Bible. It seems to me that given this question was asked during the week of Passover, why didn’t this lawyer ask Jesus what is the great redemptive act in the Bible? Clearly the great gospel act in the Law and the Prophets is God leading Israel out of Egyptian slavery and leading them into the Promised Land.

Jesus answers the lawyer’s question as he had asked it. The great commandment of the holy Scriptures is to love God with all your being which leads to loving your neighbor as yourself. Everything from Genesis to Deuteronomy and from Joshua to Malachi hang on these two commandments. God expects, yes, He demands, that we love Him and our neighbors.

The next question would then be: Do we then love God and our neighbors, or is it even possible to love God and our neighbors? We do not love God and our neighbors as God commands us. We curse with God’s Name. We hoard our treasures and only give God a pittance in offerings compared to how greatly He has blessed us. We hurt, steal from, and slander our neighbors. Such actions are not done out of love, but they are done out of depravity. Because of our sins, we deserve God’s wrath, displeasure, physical death, and eternal damnation.

The great commandment, therefore, convicts us to be sinners, for this is the primary function of the Law and the Prophets. The Pharisees (as seen through the lawyer’s question) believed that they could really and truly keep the Ten Commandments. Even today this pharisaical approach infects Christianity. Some Christians actually think that we need a second reformation that is based on behavior. ,,Deeds, not creeds" is their Siren call. With their emphasis on the law, such Christians are really proclaiming that we are going to stand before God on the basis of our works and thereby prove that we are Christians. As such, a Christless and a cross-less proclamation sounds forth from their lips. In Greek mythology, the Sirens lured sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast, and so do Christian preachers who preach that we must reassure ourselves of salvation based on our works of the law to love God and our neighbors.

True proclamation follows the premise of the Apostle Paul, »For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord« (Romans 6,23). All along Luther had declared that the contest of the Reformation was over the faith and not over the life, and that if the morals were amended the teaching would still be unsound (Bainton 191). The focus must be creedal and doctrinal, and the foremost teaching is ,,faith alone".

God’s law shows us to be sinners who do not love God and our neighbors. Such imperfect obedience deserves eternal damnation. The whole point of the Law and the Prophets is to show us that we cannot keep the great commandment, and to then direct us to the promise that God is going to send someone to us who will keep the great commandment. The great commandment, therefore, is first and foremost about Jesus Christ; He is the only person who keeps the law perfectly. He loves God, He loves His neighbors, and the gospel tells us that He fulfills the great commandment in our place. Jesus Christ loved God with all His heart and He loved His neighbors as Himself. His love and obedience was shown by His suffering and death on the cross for the redemption of our sins.

Philip Melanchthon (who was Luther’s right hand man during the Reformation) put is very succinctly, writing ,,For in the Christian Church this is no minor article, but it is the highest and chief article, that we receive the forgiveness of sins through Christ without our merit, and that not our works, but Christ’s work is the atonement for our sins, as Peter says: »All the prophets give witness to Jesus that whosoever believes in Him receives the forgiveness of sins« (Acts 10,43)" (BKS 313; Apology 20.2 [33-42]).

The law is about Christ. The gospel is about Christ. Christ fulfilled the law for us. Christ suffered and died for us. Christ rose again for us. Christ has sent the Holy Spirit who creates our faith in Jesus. Christ is the active agent and we are the passive recipients. This faith alone refreshes and sustains us in the great struggle with death and in the violent fears (BKS 314-15; Apology 20.85 [5-7]) for when we face our final end, we want to die in the confession of these articles, that we obtain the forgiveness of sins by faith through the blood of Christ, and that we do not obtain the forgiveness of sins by our merit and work (BKS 314; Apology 20.84 [52-55]).

So how does the great commandment fit in with the gospel that declares we are saved by faith alone in Christ alone? ,,We receive the forgiveness of sins and become righteous before God by grace for Christ’s sake through faith, so we believe, that Christ has suffered for us and that it is His will to forgive sins, righteousness and eternal life are a gift. Then God preserves and imputes this faith for righteousness in His sight (BKS 56; AC 4 [6-13]). This means that when God looks at us, He sees us as having perfectly done the great commandment because He sees Christ’s merit and obedience imputed onto us.

Justification leads to sanctification. Faith leads to good works. Apple trees produce apples. You don’t have to go out and tell an apple tree to bear apples. The apple tree automatically bears apples because it is an apple tree; that is what an apple tree does. Likewise, good works follow faith. ,,For Paul says, »we do not make void the law, but we establish the law« (Romans 3,31). Because when we have received the Holy Spirit by faith, thus good fruits follow, because we grow in love, in patience, in virtue, and other fruits of the Spirit" (BKS 316; Apology 20.92 [38-44]).

Faith comes first, then the fruit follows. The gospel creates faith in Jesus Christ, and then the gospel nurtures the love of God and our neighbors to sprout forth from us. The gospel changes our lives, and it does it gradually. Young apple trees do not produce the best apples right away. As apple trees mature and grow they produce bigger and better apples. So it is with Christians. The gospel creates faith in Christ. The gospel then begins to create fruit in our lives. The good works that stem from our faith now may not be the best, but the Holy Spirit continues to work in our lives through the gospel to strengthen our faith and to bring to fruition the love of God and neighbors.

»The righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, for we are justified by faith alone apart from the works of the law« (Romans 3,21.28). The Holy Spirit tells us, ,,We live in Christ because we have been baptized, we live in Christ because His absolution covers us in His righteousness, we live in Christ because He is with us and always joins with us in the Lord’s Supper. That’s enough, that’s enough without any ,and’ without any ,ifs and buts’" (Martens).

We live by Christ alone, we are justified by Christ alone, we enter eternal life by Christ alone. It is not by our will or our merit, but only by Christ. Such is the proclamation of the gospel today, such is the theme of the Reformation, the Apostle Paul, and Christ Himself, for Jesus is the fulfillment of the great commandment and His righteousness is imputed to us for salvation. Believe it. Amen.

Let us pray. O Holy Spirit, who proclaims Christ alone to His Church through the Word and the Sacraments, calm our fears with the truth of God, that it is our Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom, so that we may confidently live as Christians who are justified by faith alone on account of Christ alone through grace alone. Amen.

One Message--Christ!

All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the New Testament Greek Manuscripts, Matthew © 1995 by Reuben Joseph Swanson.

All quotations from the Book of Concord are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, 12th Edition © 1998 by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Bainton, Roland H. Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther. Copyright © 1978 Roland H. Bainton.
Martens, Gottfried. A sermon preached on Galatians 5,1-6 for the Commemoration of the Reformation, October 31, 2006. Copyright © 2006 The Rev. Dr. Gottfried Martens. Translated by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind, 2008.

Nagel, Norman. Selected Sermons of Norman Nagel: From Valparaiso to St. Louis. Frederick W. Baue, Ed. Copyright © 2004 Concordia Publishing House.

Warren, Rick. Spoken at the Global Day of Prayer on May 15, 2005. http://www.discernment-ministries.org/NLJulyAugust_2005.htm

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Reformation History

Below is an insert I put in the bulletin for October 26: Reformation Day (observed):

What was the Reformation all about?
The Reformation was not only about Martin Luther and Germany. The movement spanned a number of years and countries. Here are only some of the many important people and ideas.

John Wycliffe (1320 – December 31, 1384)
Wycliffe was an English theologian and early proponent of reform in the Catholic Church during the 14th century. He made a hand-written English translation of the Bible in one complete edition and is considered a precursor of the Protestant Reformation. His family was of early Saxon origin. Wycliffe was born at Yorkshire, England, and died at Lutterworth (near Leicester).
Wycliffe’s doctrines

+ the Bible alone was authoritative

+ people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language

+ people should oppose the tyranny of the Roman church that threatened anyone possessing a non-Latin Bible with execution

+ justification by faith, though not in fully worked out form as Luther achieved. In Christ stilling the Storm he wrote: "If a man believe in Christ, and make a point of his belief, then the promise that God hath made to come into the land of light shall be given by virtue of Christ, to all men that make this the chief matter."

+ attacks upon the papacy and the entire hierarchy of his times; in his last years he identified the papacy with anti-Christianity

+ he fought his hardest against the Roman-scholastic doctrine of its transformation. The sacrament of the altar is rather natural bread and wine, but sacramentally it is body and blood.

John Hus (1372-1415)
John Hus was an pastor and reformer in the 15th century in the Czech Republic and Bohemia. He refused to recant of his doctrines, was summarily burned at the stake on July 6, 1415, and his ashes were thrown into a lake. However, Hus’ beliefs had already taken hold in Bohemia.

Hus’ doctrines:
+ regarded the Scriptures as an infallible authority and the supreme standard of conduct.

+ people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language (Wycliffe taught this, too).

+ people should oppose the tyranny of the Roman church that threatened anyone possessing a non-Latin Bible with execution

+ the Church is not that hierarchy which is generally designated as Church; the Church is the entire body of those who from eternity have been predestined for salvation. Christ, not the pope, is its head. It is no article of faith that one must obey the pope to be saved. Neither external membership in the Church nor churchly offices and dignities are an infallible sign of election.

+ approved the communion under both kinds to the laity, but did not oppose the doctrine of transubstantiation.

Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Luther was an Augustinian monk, a pastor, a doctor of theology, and the reformer of the 16th century. He produced the first substantial German Bible; the New Testament was published in 1522 and the Old Testament in 1534. He transitioned the liturgy and worship from Latin to German, marking the first use of the vernacular language in the Church after 1000 years.

Many think that the Reformation began on October 31, 1517 when Luther posted his now famous 95 Theses for a debate on indulgences. However, Luther’s reformation work began much earlier. Already in 1509 the “righteousness of God” was on his mind. Early on, Luther struggled on how to see God’s mercy rather than His fierce wrath. He followed the prescribed rituals and practices that the Church prescribed; none of them allayed his guilty conscience and the terrifying fear of God’s wrath over his many sins.

In 1545 Luther described when the gospel finally opened his eyes: ,,At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, »In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written: ,,He who through faith is righteous shall live.”« There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written: »He who through faith is righteous shall live.« Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. There a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me. Thereupon I ran through the Scripture from memory. I also found in other terms an analogy, as, the work of God, that is what God does in us, the power of God, with which he makes us wise, the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God.”

Luther wrote many hymns (at least 25), was a prolific writer in German and Latin (54 volumes of his writings have been translated to date, and another 10 volumes are due to be published in the upcoming years). Luther once remarked, “We are all Hussites.” paying homage to Hus’ influence in the Church.

Christian III (1503-59)
The Danish King, Christian III, was at the Diet of Worms in 1521 and heard Luther defend himself before the Holy Roman emperor; he soon became a Lutheran. He ordered the introduction of the Lutheran reformation in Denmark and Norway in 1536. A Norwegian church council officially adopted the Lutheran reformation in 1539. Norway had no university of her own; the Norwegian clergy received their education at the University of Copenhagen. Martin Luther wrote him and congratulated him on his success of peacefully bringing the reformation to Denmark and Norway. Christian remained political and theological allies with the German Lutheran princes during his reign.

Gustavus Adolphus (1594 - 1632)
The Lutheran reformation reached Sweden in 1529. Adolphus was a Swedish king and he is one of the greatest examples of a Christian ruler. He was known in his lifetime as “the Protector of Lutheranism” and “the Deliverer of Germany”. His timely intervention stopped the onward march and devastation caused by the Catholic League and the Austrian Empire. This Thirty Years War (1618–1648) was waged between Lutheran and Roman Catholic princes and armies with the intention of conquering and forcing Lutheran territories to return to Roman Catholicism. Adolphus answered the call for help from Lutheran princes, and his leadership ensured that the Lutheran territories in Europe remained Lutheran.

The Four Solas (Alones)
The Reformation can be summarized by this four-fold phrase: grace alone, faith alone, scripture alone, and Christ alone which reveals that we are saved by justification alone.

The Chief Article by which the Church stands or falls
Our (Lutheran) churches teach that people cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. Rom. 3 and 4 (Augsburg Confession, Article 4).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Which Set of Readings?

I have been meditating on this since Sunday afternoon: Do I go with the readings for Proper 25 or for Reformation Day this Sunday (sincer there will be no service on Friday)? Next year is a whole other situation with Reformation Day falling on a Saturday and the likelihood of an afternoon worship service!

The readings for Proper 25 continue the theme from the last couple of Sundays, namely, Jesus' increasing Anfechtung (spiritual attack) at the hands of the chief priests and the Pharisees as they seek to question Him so as to find a legal reason to arrest Him and kill Him.

The readings for Reformation summarize some of the key themes of the movement, namely, that we are justified by faith in Christ and not by doing the works of the law.

Either way, this Sunday will be a celebration of the Reformation at church. I am leaning toward using the readings for Proper 25 to keep the lectionary continuity going as the church year draws to a close. The Matthew 22.34-46 reading has some good themes that can easily be tied into the work of the Reformation.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

,,I was a good monk." - Luther

I have been trying to find the source of the following quote all day. Does anyone have a reference in Luther's Works where he says this?

,,I was a good monk, and I kept the rule of my order so strictly that I may say that if ever a monk got to heaven by his monkery it was I. All my brothers in the monastery who knew me will bear me out. If I had kept on any longer, I should have killed myself with vigils, prayers, reading, and other work."

Friday, October 10, 2008


Saturday's match (18. October) between Karlsruher SC and FC Bayern is a must win for FCB. With 7 matches down and 10 to go before the winter break, FCB is having a disappointing and challenging season after winning both the German Cup and the Bundesliga Championship last year (they missed out on taking the triple crown when they were knocked out early in the Champions League).

FCB's mid-field defense seems to be the team's weak point this year, but with all the great players on this team it is hard to imagine why this is so.

Fortunately, FCB is only 7 points down from first place Hamburger SV, but that puts FCB 11th place out of 18 teams in Bundesliga I.

I have to say, UEFA knows how to run a football program, juggling league matches, Euro or World Cup qualifiers, Champions League matches, and friendlies throughout a ten month season. Right now their playing World Cup 2010 Qualifiers in Europe. This is what makes European football so exciting!

Friday, October 03, 2008

German Unification Day: 3. October

On 3. October 1990, the five states of East Germany joined the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and Berlin was united into a single city-state. What a great day! I remember celebrating this in 1990 with my neighbor next door in the college dormitory: Andy was from West Germany and we sang and laughed and rejoiced that fall night in Valparaiso, IN. Below are some good links for this special day.

German National Flag

Berlin Civil Flag



And let's not forget Bavaria!


Deutsche Welle has a good article entitled ,,Opinion: At 18, Germany Has Come of Age"


What's Left of the Berlin Wall?