the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit.Amen.
October of 1913 a crowd of thousands gathered together on 40 acres in River
Forest to dedicate Concordia Teachers College.Almsgiving, you might say, gifts above and beyond tithes and offerings,
had been gathered and helped construct the campus.The Word of the Lord was preached.The faithful responded in prayer.It was a great day.
five months later, tragedy struck, as President William Kohn was making his
night rounds and discovered a fire.The
frustrating things was the fire hoses were discovered to be too short to reach
from the hydrants to the administration building.The building was gutted.
from the midst of ashes, the Lord raised up the school.Immediately they decided to rebuild,
undeterred by the fire and ashes.The
destruction of the college -- the "death" of the building, if you
will, would not crush them.Life and
hope came from Christ.
often see ashes simply as the remains of death and destruction.But they are also reminders of a fresh
start.A new birth and rising, such as
that of the mythical Phoenix.Ashes can
be signs of cleansing too, as throughout history they have often been an
ingredient in the making of soaps and cleansers.
are like the ashes; sad, charred, used up remains of what you were created to
be.Death has laid its grip on you.Yes, no matter how young or healthy you are,
you are dying.
he we are, a bunch of defiant dead people.Here we are; ones who like our stuff, and would rather not give too much
away.Here we are, people who are happy
to spend hours each night in front of a TV or on the Internet, but are simply
too busy for prayer.Here we are, ready
to gorge ourselves on Fat Tuesday, to make up for anything we might resentfully
"give up" for the next 40 days.Here we are, warm, dry, and comfortable, trying not to even think on the
unpleasantness and sheer evil of this fallen world -- like the struggle of
Christians who are persecuted elsewhere. In repentance and grief, we remember
21 Egyptian Christian martyrs this week, calling on Jesus as the unbelieving
agents of the devil did their wicked work.
do you think you stand before God, with all of this baggage?You were right; each one of you is a "poor, miserable
sinner." The value of your wretched, rebellious, commandment-breaking,
human self is less than that smudge of ash on your forehead.
our dear Lord does not want you to
be "ashes to ashes and dust to dust." He is heartbroken that He ever
had to tell our Father Adam, "Dust you are, and to dust you shall
return."He knows it is a
dreadful reminder of mortality for anyone to see the 90-year-old grandma, the
40-something cancer survivor, or even the toddler with ashes on their
foreheads, reminding them all of their mortality.His heart goes out to you, as the Law crushes
you into realizing you damning sin, and the death you face.
our sweet Savior also gives forgiveness.He climbed the hill of Calvary and laid down His life for you.He gave to you in your need as He allowed His
body to be broken and His blood shed to remove your sin.Jesus prayed for His persecutors,
executioners, indeed for you and me as He hung there, dying.And He fasted from the wealth and splendor of
His heavenly, divine power, permitting Himself to be sacrificed for you.
now, He gives cleansing.He did it at
the font.And He renews that cleansing
with Holy Absolution.Ashes are a common
ingredient in simple and ancient soap recipes.The charred cross on your forehead is a reminder not only of your
mortality, deserved at that, but also a reminder that our Lord Jesus cleanses
you!He washes away the guilt of
breaking His Ten Commandments.He
purifies you from all unrighteousness.
thoroughly cleanses you as His own, so that with boldness and confidence, you
also may have precious words like, "My Lord, Jesus," "Jesus,
help me!" on your lips when you face your mortality on this earth and
breathe your last.He will take and keep
your dust and ashes until the day that He gathers you together in perfection
and glory, to be resurrected and live with Him forever.In the mean time, Jesus Christ lifts you up,
cleanses you, and makes you His holy and righteous disciple.And He bids you to come and feast on the Body
broken and Blood shed, which are the very gifts that cleanse you from
Peter Bender, arguably one of our Synod’s foremost experts on the Small Catechism, is fond of saying that
one of the functions of fixed terms, translations, and figures of speech in our
regular liturgy and the Small Catechism
is having “a common language” to understand the Lord and His Word, and the
faith He gives.
learn language even before they can speak it.They soak it up like sponges!This happens even more so when certain phrases and responses are in
patterns and can be anticipated.The
most basic example is a two-year-old picking up on responding to a prayer with
a hearty “Amen.”
course, we have had challenges even in our hymnals.In the 1970’s and 80’s, there was a movement
to give fresh translations to even basic phrases.The “salutation” and response that precede
some prayers is a good example.The
Latin phrase spoken by the pastor was, “Dominus
responds, “Et cum spiritu tuo.”In German, the excellent translation is, “Der Herr sei mit euch.” “Und mit deinem
Geist.”For centuries, the English
of this was the precise, “The Lord be with you.” “And with your spirit.”Sadly, committees in the later 20th
century felt the language of the response was outdated, and wanted to jump on
the Vatican II band wagon.They changed
it to: “And also with you.”Sure, that
is the “gist” of it, but it is more paraphrase than translation.
while Lutheran Service Book was being compiled and edited, Rome returned to the
translation, “And with your spirit,” while LSB kept a mixed bag of using one
response in some services, and the other for the rest. The result is we have
mixed, garbled responses even within the same congregation, since no one is
sure from memory which way to respond.People are confused.The elderly
who have learned one way are frustrated, while the very young are confused by
said in his preface to the Small Catechism that pastors should choose a
translation and stick with it, for multiple generations.This serves the Church in caring for her
people and serving them God’s Word with the repetition of it in preaching,
teaching, and liturgy.In 1986, a new
translation of the Catechism was produced.In a number of ways, it is not as strong as the 1943 translation that
many of us grew up with.Still, over 90%
of our Synod uses the 1986 edition.So
for the sake of this common language, we use it, and simply incorporate some
explaining into catechesis, to be sure our people understand it better.
Serving Your Neighbor
I was in confirmation instruction, my home parish purchased the 1982 hymnal,
Lutheran Worship.LW had changed a great
number of hymns to push for updated language, and in the process, often changed
the entire poetry and rhyme scheme.A
few of us in the youth group took pride in singing the older Jacobean/Elizabethan
English, while everyone else was singing the new words.At the time, we felt we were being more
authentically “Lutheran,” and took pride that we sang hymns the “right” way.
back, I see that we were not serving
our neighbors.Even though it may have
been more helpful to our understanding
of those hymns, it was confusing (or at least distracting) to those in the pews
around us.Singing “you” rather than
“Thee” in a particular hymn may feel right, but if it is delaying the
pre-schooler from learning it by heart, or throwing off the grandmother whose
sight is failing, is not helpful.Rather, it is selfish.I had been
wrong.And I repent.
Repetition is the Mother of
“new” translation of the Catechism is now 28 years old.The “new” hymnal is now eight years old.The “new” translation of Scriptures in our
midst, the English Standard Version, is now 13 years old, and many pastors like
myself have been preaching from it for at least 12 years now.No translation is perfect.Still, we have agreed to “walk together” as a
Synod, and part of walking together is using that “common language.”Use it.Speak it.Again and again.The Holy Spirit uses this to nourish and sustain
you, and builds you up with your neighbors to receive Christ’s forgiveness and
life.Treasure the tools the Lord has
given for that common language: The Scriptures, Lutheran Service Book, and Luther’s
Small Catechism.Learn them by
heart, according to your ability, and the Lord will use that as a blessing to
you and your neighbors.And when you
fail, or when you have moments of speaking in other “dialects,” that are not
helpful in walking together, remember your loving and forgiving Lord has rescued
and redeemed you, His baptized child, washing that guilt away, that you ”may be His own and live under Him in
His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and
blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all
eternity.This is most certainly true.”
Thank you, Rick Arndt, for nominating me to list 15 Movies
That Have Stayed With You!We are
kindred spirits with the enjoyment of many of the movies you listed, and yet, I
will go off on some different tangents.
I will nominate Matt Pahnke, Jacob Tomaw, Mark Zanders, Sr.,
and Ben Heinz.
Naming the best film ever, or even limiting the list, has
always been difficult for me, as well.I
have so many, and for just as wide a variety of factors.So here we go…
1. Indiana Jones and the
Raiders of the Lost Ark.What do you
get when you bring George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Harrison Ford together
in one film?Absolute magnificence!This thrilling adventure was amazing.I still remember the moms of our 6th
grade class dropping us off at the theatre that May, and a group of us feeling
all grown up watching this action-packed classic unfold!
Other Action Films
2. Star Wars: Episode IV –
A New Hope.I actually love all
six.Yes, prequel haters can hate me,
but I must confess I even enjoyed Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan more than Sir Alec
Guiness.But this is where it all
began.This is where modern cinema was
revived, and science fiction grew up into a legitimate category of film.From the very first moments of “A long time
ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a great adventure took place” scrolling up the
screen, this entire mythology was absorbed into my imagination!
3. Batman Begins (or
again, the whole Christopher Nolan trilogy) is brilliant!Christian Bale has become the consummate
Batman.Michael Caine simply IS
Alfred.The story swept us into a
believably corrupt Gotham, with a hero who is greater than we deserved.
4. Inception.Along with the Dark Knight films, this
displays Nolan’s extreme talent in directing.With each layer of dreaming, I felt sucked in more.The intensity is amazing!The effects marvelous.The cast tremendous!You will feel tired when the film is
finished, since your heart has been pounding the entire time.And yet, you cannot fall asleep.Not because you are scared to do so, but
because your mind is racing, trying to analyze what happened at what level of
dream, and what *really* became of each member of the team.Does the top keep spinning, or no?!
5. Pirates of the
Caribbean.This is a film that
Kristi and I left the theatre saying, “We will own this one!”Non-stop action.Great comedic timing.Fun storyline.And a soundtrack that I could listen to for
days!Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow
is one of the most amazingly “stick with you” characters ever developed, and he
plays him magnificently!
Three honorable mentions need to be made here in the “Action”
Star Trek II: The
Wrath of Khan.This film drew me
into the Star Trek universe.I became a
fan of 2,3, and 4, and then The Next Generation even more so.
Star Trek IV: Save the
Whales.Okay, that wasn’t its real
name.And it definitely is not one of
the strongest of those films.Yet the
comedic one-liners have definitely “stuck with me.”Spock’s use of “colorful metaphors” are full
of laughs.The old lady giddy in her
wheel chair in the hospital, after Bones has helped her: “Doctor gave me a pill
and I grew a new kidney!!!”And Scotty,
dealing with the primitive 1980’s computer, talking into the mouse: “Computer?Hello, Computer!?”“Just use the keyboard.”“A keyboard! How quaint.”
Super 8.Perhaps because the boys in this film are the
age I would have been in that era.This
was a fabulous story of creativity and imagination, as well as helping
something unknown, while pulling together to help your neighbors.
For those who are secure enough in their masculinity, guys
can admit that they like some romantic comedies or dramas.
6. The Princess Bride.Inconceivable? It’s the consummate quotable
film.Every quote you’ll ever need,
packed into one movie.It is an action
film, as well.Sword fights, magic, and
7. Sleepless in Seattle.“You don’t want to be in love; you want to be
in love in the movies.”Tom Hanks and
Meg Ryan tug at your own heart as you root for this pair who keep crossing
paths without meeting, and yet you *know* they belong together.
8. The Notebook.There.I said it.This is a touching
film about love and devotion across the years.Perhaps it is the Alzheimer’s in my own family that makes this strike a
chord.But it is well done,
I love comedies.I
enjoy them, laugh at them, and would watch them repeatedly.But many don’t make their way onto such a
list of greats.Except…maybe... one.
9. Young Frankenstein.Mel Brooks directs a hilarious, but irreverent
reboot of the Frankenstein story.Gene
Wilder, Madeline Khan, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman, and many others come
together with splendid humor, lines, timing, and a classic black-and-white
filming that lend to the power of this humorous tale.
I love classic films.There are no two ways about it.
10. Aladdin.Disney films have so many classics among
them.And I love so many of them!I guess Aladdin appeals to me as one of the
few Disney animated films with a male lead.Being authentic to who you really are, and people loving the real person,
not the phony façade, is at the heart of this movie’s message.
11. Casablanca is one
of the greatest ever!Humphrey Bogart
and Ingrid Bergman give splendid portrayals of this would-be couple in the
Second World War. The ensemble cast with
Claude Rains, Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre draw your eyes and ears to
each line and minute detail.True love
and the sacrifices it makes, especially in wartime, are well played throughout.
12. Holiday Inn.This is another “oldie but goodie.”Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire pair up for one
of the greatest song and dance films of the 1940’s. A year full of “red letter” days is portrayed
at the inn. Maybe this is even more special than some other Bing Crosby greats,
since I stole my first kiss with Kristi during “Thanksgiving” the first time we
watched it together.
13. It’s a Wonderful Life.I love Jimmy Stewart!He is the most awesome “everyman.”This tale of love and loss, dreams that are
dashed, and finally realizing the amazing qualities of “ordinary” things in
life, will touch you.
14. The Ten Commandments.This great epic, directed by Cecil B.
DeMille, is the greatest old-time biblical epic.Charleton Heston will always be the image
burned in my mind for Moses.The cheesy
lines and artistic liberties do add some caution in taking this as biblical
history, and the special effects are SO dated, but it’s a beautifully portrayed
film, and will always be dear to me.
15. I Confess.This gem of film noir is one of the best kept secrets of Alfred Hitchcock’s
career.The tale is of a Roman Catholic
priest in Quebec in the 1950’s.By doing
the right thing and keeping the seal of the confessional, he ends up being the
chief suspect in a murder.Will he die
for another man’s sins, or not?True to
form, Hitchcock provides twists and turns to the very end!I show this in every year’s catechism class,
as we talk about individual confession!
There are so many others!But since Rick’s challenge was to list 15, I will stop.