A myHT Fortress

Monday, April 20, 2009

Higher Things Radio...Alleluia!

A little "plug" of self-promotion. :-)
I was a guest for Higher Things Radio, discussing the Easter Gospels with Pastor George Borghardt.

Click on the link and listen in!
Higher Things Radio, Episode 33

Better yet, subscribe to
Higher Things Radio on iTunes! :-)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Holy Wanderlust: Funeral Homily for Martin Voelker

Martin Eduard Voelker was born of the flesh on the 1st of March in the Year of Our Lord 1917 to Friedrich Johann and Anna Zollmann Voelker.

He was born again of water and the Spirit on the 25th of March, 1917, at Saint John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lanesville, Indiana, at the hand of the sainted Reverend Carl Schleicher.

Martin was catechized in the Christian faith as taught by the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and confirmed in that faith on Palm Sunday, the 13th of April 1930, and first received the Holy Body and Precious Blood of Jesus in the Sacrament of the Altar later that week, again at Saint John’s, at the hand of the sainted Reverend George Baumgart.

On the 18th of April, 1948, Martin was united in Holy Wedlock with LaVerne Day. To this union were born five children: Donna Christine, Ronald Edward, Raymond Martin, Marvin Albert, and Susan Ruth.

The Risen Lord Jesus welcomed Raymond Martin to his heavenly home at the tender age of two weeks.

On the 8th of September, 1979, LaVerne fell asleep in Jesus.

On the 20th of May, 1985, Martin was again united in Holy Marriage, this time to Alda Fay Stilger. She also preceded him in death.

On the Vigil of the Resurrection of Our Lord, the 11th of April, in the Year of Our Lord 2009, Martin fell asleep in Jesus, and now awaits the resurrection of all flesh.

John 20:1-18

Wednesday after the Resurrection of Our Lord

15 April 2009

Funeral of Martin E. Voelker

St. John’s, Lanesville, IN

In Namen des Vaters und des Sohns und des Heilige Geistes. Amen.

Martin loved to travel! He could tell you about his travels to every corner of the United States. He would remind his family that he had been to every province of Canada, except Labradour. The kids have spoken of the trip to the 1964 World’s Fair, and the daring journey to the remote stretches of Alaska and the Northwest Territory, long before the conveniences and safeguards of cell phones and GPS’s. He crossed rivers and borders, even getting to Germany. He loved the thrill of these journeys. The German word is Wanderlust – a passion for travelling!

Now Martin’s Wanderlust has taken the ultimate step: his travelling has just passed over to the next world. Our friend, our father, our Uncle Martin now has the amazing joy of exploring the heavenly realms in the joy and peace of our Risen Savior.

We all love to wander. Our fallen nature wants to follow after our mother Eve and wander from the holy and righteous will of God. The wide and easy road of sin and death are always beckoning us. Left to ourselves, we are completely lost, wandering rebelliously, and rejecting our Lord.

Martin was born with that kind of a wandering spirit, just as we were. But at just over 3 weeks of age, Herr und Frau Voelker brought their son to this Holy Font, where he was cleansed of all rebellion. Here he was rid of the false wandering, and the holy desire to be led in paths of righteousness began.

Pastor Schleicher began Martin’s journey with that Baptism and the early catechesis. Pastor Baumgart was the next servant of the Lord to continue the preaching and teaching that led Martin in travels following the Good Shepherd. Jeder Sonntag der Familie Voelker ihren Kinder nach Gottesdiesnt gebracht. Every Sunday the Voelker family brought their children to the Divine Service. There, they were forgiven and nourished by our dear Lord. There, they responded in musical thanks and praise.

Every journey needs some music – a soundtrack, if you will. Martin was ready and willing to jump in and provide the travelling music. If it had strings, he could play it. Whether joining in a group, such as his “Polecat Holler” friends, or simply playing the fiddle for family, Martin loved music.

An earlier Martin, that is, Dr. Luther, said that next to God’s Word, music was his greatest gift. The joy that was shared through our Martin’s playing bore witness to that gift.

His love of music was especially fond of Easter music. Some fine hymnody and sentimental songs accompany the Easter season. It was known in the family that he would enjoy going to his heavenly home around Easter time, as this provided some wonderful music. Indeed, today we are amazingly blessed in that.

This morning we heard again one of the Easter Gospels. We hear of Saint Mary Magdalene, travelling to the empty tomb. She tells Saints Peter and John, who also travel to the empty tomb. They do not find the body of the Lord Jesus. They find only linens lying there.And then Jesus appears to Mary and tells her not to cling to Him the way He stood before her. Now she and all others would cling in a different manner. Now we cling to His Body, when it is unwrapped from the linens on the altar, and placed on our tongues. We cling to His Blood as it pours forth from His chalice.

The Body and Blood of Jesus make Him present as He forgives, and gives life and salvation. We no longer need travel to some tomb to find him, He travels to us, coming through the simple gifts of water, Word, Body and Blood. And in Jesus’ travelling to us, we have a blessed reunion with Martin, as well. So this morning, Martin would encourage you to keep travelling to Christ’s pulpit and altar, that you may receive these gifts, and in addition, have a brief communion with him.

This morning, Martin is enjoying a holy and righteous Wanderlust, travelling around the heavenly realms, with no worries about breaking down and riding with strangers like on a trip to California, or coming to a literal end of the road, as in Alaska. Instead, he can joyfully go about, relishing those words he so recently heard: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter into the eternal pleasure of My Father.”


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Cemetery Sunrise Service

The following is a poem by Chad Bird, M.Div., S.T.M.
Chad is a gifted poet and hymnist.

Ten acres of frigid rural soil

Thickly frosted in Easter’s pre-dawn
Subterranean saints,
quilted in earth
Smile warmly at the band of believers
Huddled above to catcall verses of victory

Into the mocking mien of chiseled stones
The rocky trophies of mortality’s coup

North, south, west, and east of Eden

Wizened hags, pimpled teens, snotty-nosed kids

All dust to dust, prey of the funereal broom

Swept beneath this rug of grass and weeds

Most forgotten by man, yet all remembered

By Him whose lungs breathed mud into man

Each fruit of a womb, the apple of His eye

Each soul, a priceless pearl, purchased

With crimson coinage minted in divinity’s veins

These wooden suitcases of rotting raiment

Sepulchered beneath the worshipers’ feet

Travel on, transported by time not space

From the hour of death to the day of judgment

Ever ready to spill their contents upward

No longer as bags of bones and soiled flesh

But resculptured clay pulsating with life

Lazaruses wiping graveyard dust from their feet

Like champagne corks, grave-stones shall pop

As unbottled bodies after long fermentation

Bubble upward with fresh blood and skin

Ready for their vintage soul waiting above

And joined by that ragtag band of believers

Who awoke early to go to the place of sleepers

Defying death and mocking mortality

Early one Easter morn.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Tonight Ben completed his swim test for Boy Scouts!

As a youth, I was always in the "Beginner" category. For that, you need to swim at least 25 yards. For "swimmer" you need to swim 100 yards, the last 25 have to be back stroke, and then tread water.

Ben swam 50 yards, and thought he reached his limit. So he got the "beginner" level. After his good friends got "swimmer," he decided to try again. This time he completed it!

When you go to Boy Scout camp, a board is posted at the pool. It has a circle cut out of white card stock, but color coded. If it is left white, you are a non-swimmer, and MUST stay in the shallow end of the pool. If half is colored in red, you are a beginner, and may go in the shallow or middle of the pool. If you are a swimmer, half is colored red and half blue. You
may then go to the deep end as well.

No, Ben is not ready for the "Mile Swim" award, but man! He did great!

Congratulations, Ben, for becoming a "swimmer!" This also completed some requirements for rank advancement!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Taste and See

In our cards to the confirmands this morning:

"Today you tasted a miracle!
Jesus -- in the flesh -- for you!"

Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is He
who comes in the Name of the LORD!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Triduum: Tri-what?!!!

Triduum. What in the world is that?! Triduum is an ancient Latin word that the Church uses even today. It means, “three days,” and refers to the holy days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.

So what’s the big deal? Why talk about them together. Each day has its own focus to remember and observe, right? Well, yes, but at the same time, it is wrapped up in the one event of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection!

On Holy Thursday (also known as Maundy Thursday), we hear of Jesus’ Last Supper with the apostles. He gathers them in the Upper Room and institutes the Sacrament of the Altar. After this monumental event, He endures the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

On Good Friday, we hear of Jesus before Pilate, and the crucifixion itself. The Suffering Servant gives Himself as the Lamb of God, taking away the sin of the world. And after a few excruciating hours, the Sacred Head now wounded is laid in a tomb.

At the end of Holy Saturday, after the rest in the tomb, the Lord of Life bursts from the sepulcher! Death cannot hold Him; it has been crushed and defeated. So as we enter the darkness of Saturday night, we have the paradox of celebrating the Light of the World, risen on Sunday! This becomes the first celebration of the Resurrection for parishes all over the earth!

But aren’t these things each separate events? Yes and no. Our minds are shaped by Western civilization – many of us with German backgrounds at that – so our thinking has been shaped by specific categories and order. Sometimes we even divide and categorize when we don’t need to.

The name Triduum reminds us that even when we have these separate events in Jesus saving work for us, they all come together in His amazing salvation! There can be no crucifixion without a resurrection. Nor can there be a resurrection without a crucifixion! There can be no Body and Blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper without the Lamb of God sacrificed to take away the sins of the world. Yet the offering of His Body and Blood is the purpose of the cross all along!

It all works together. Even liturgically. On Thursday and Friday, there is no blessing at the conclusion of the services. On Friday and Saturday, there is no invocation at the beginning, since the beginning was in Thursday’s Divine Service. That is because the Church sees this as one service, recessing briefly for the night, and gathering again to continue.

The Church desires that all her children would come together and receive Christ’s Word and Sacraments at all of these times, experiencing them as one big event. That’s how the apostles saw it. That’s how Jesus experienced it. Dear baptized friends, join us as we gather for the great Three Days, celebrating and thanking God for the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ!