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wolfy Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller of Hope Lutheran-Aurora, CO


Bryan Wolfmueller’s Germany Tour

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Fickenscher Dr. Carl Fickenscher of
Concordia Theological
Seminary-Ft. Wayne, IN


Concordia Theological Seminary-Fort Wayne

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2. The Democratic Party Platform and Abortion – Kristen Day, 7/25/16

  Posted:Jul 25, 2016 By Issues Etc. (Issues Etc)

kristin Kristen Day of Democrats for Life

Democrats for Life

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Show # 381: Full Body Transplants? How About A Full Episode Transplant! Sweet!!!!!

  Posted:Jul 25, 2016 By Table Talk Radio (Table Talk Radio)

On this edition of Table Talk Radio, after sneaking in a quick game of Answer The Question As we will discuss the buzzwords Sacerdotalism and Means of Grace. Then we will play a game of 10 Commandments In The News which will allow us to discuss full body transplants and authority. Finally, we dust off Bible Bee and see which pastor can score the most Table Talk Radio points!!

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Morning Chapel from Kramer Chapel, 7/25/16

  Posted:Jul 22, 2016 By Issues Etc. (Issues Etc)

chapel July 25, 2016

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Higher Things is pleased to announce the next set of Daily Reflections for the weeks of Trinity 11 through 16, August 7 through September 17, 2016.

Download the Trinity 11 through Trinity 16 Reflections as a booklet by clicking here or in a variety of other formats at higherthings.org/reflections .

In Christ,

Rev. Mark Buetow
buetowmt@higherthings.org
Media Executive

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Another Encylical. . . notably less provacative. . .

  Posted:Jul 25, 2016 By Pastor Peters (Pastoral Meanderings)
Read the Encyclical of the Holy and Great Orthodox Council here . . .

There is much to laud and affirm, much to consider and contemplate, and much that challenges.  The fathers of this great document have succeeded in writing an eloquent document filled with the kind of rich words and elegant constructions that I envy (example:  The Orthodox Church sets against the “man-god’ of the contemporary world the ‘God-man’ as the ultimate measure of all things.)   Yes, it is a committee style document that does not address certain things as clearly as one might desire and there is enough wiggle room in some of the phraseology to allow many to confess it comfortably, but the Orthodox have presented us with a very insightful and thoughtful confession.

Addressing everything from marriage and family to science and technology, the document presents us with a challenge to the modern penchant for equating capability with virtue or moral imperative.  That is a good thing.  Perhaps the best achievement was simply holding the Council, writing an encyclical, and speaking together as an Orthodox voice (though not the full voice).  There were many who did not think it would come off and perhaps some who had bet on it.  In the end the bishops met and they conversed and came to an accord, of sorts, that represents the first such endeavor in my lifetime.  Whether or how what was said will affect the life of the Orthodox mission and identity is something that no one can answer at this time.  There is surely enough in this statement worthy of Orthodoxy and yet enough to challenge Orthodoxy as well.

One of the statements that I truly appreciated was this article on dialogs and ecumnism:

It also knows that the Orthodox Church has never accepted theological minimalism or permitted its dogmatic tradition and evangelical ethos to be called into question. Inter-Christian dialogues have provided Orthodoxy with the opportunity to display her respect for the teaching of the Fathers and to bear a trustworthy witness to the genuine tradition of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. 

To quote a final paragraph. . .

Proclaiming the Gospel to all the world in accord with the Lord’s command and “preaching in His name repentance and remission of sins to all the nations” (Luke 22.47), we have the obligation to commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God and to love one another, confessing with one mind: “Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Trinity consubstantial and undivided.” Addressing these things in Council to the children throughout the world of our most holy Orthodox Church, as well as to the entire world, following the holy Fathers and the Conciliar decrees so as to preserve the faith received from our fathers and to “uphold good ways” in our daily life in the hope of the common resurrection, we glorify God in three hypostases with divine songs:

O Father almighty, and Word and Spirit, one nature united in three persons, God beyond being and beyond divinity, in You we have been baptized, and You we bless to the ages of ages. ( Paschal Canon , Ode 8.)

By ending with the call to proclaim the Gospel to all the world in accord,  “preaching in His name repentance and remission of sins to all the nations” (Luke 22.47), the Orthodox have concluded where the life of the Church begins.  We do not exist for ourselves but for Him and He for the sake of the world.  Until and unless Orthodoxy takes this as seriously as their ethnic and cultural backgrounds, the world will see in Orthodoxy a quaint church and not one as seriously intent upon addressing the world with the mystery of salvation as it is preserving and maintaining an ancient tradition.  Clearly this is not unlike the challenge facing Lutherans who continue to pit mission against maintenance as if either were secondary to who we are and what we are about as the people of God, confessing with one mind: “Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Trinity consubstantial and undivided.”
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Sermon: Stewardship Sunday – Luke 16:19

  Posted:Jul 25, 2016 By Bryan Wolfmueller (The Wolrd Wide Wolfmueller)


Download Audio: http://www.hope-aurora.org/podcast/?name=2016-07-24_trinity092016.mp3

from Hope Lutheran Church, Aurora CO, Podcast
SUBSCRIBE TO THE PODCAST: http://www.hope-aurora.org/podcast/

 

Here’s a draft of the text:

INJ

Luke 16:1-9 | “Stewardship Sunday”
The Ninth Sunday after the Feast of Trinity | 24 July 2016

Dear Saints,

This parable of Jesus, when you first hear it, sounds troubling. It sounds like Jesus is giving the okay to deception and theft and all sorts of wrong doing. But a look at some of the words Jesus uses shows us that this is not the case; in fact, it is the opposite of what Jesus is doing.

There is a steward, and he is caught by his master wasting his goods, so the master comes to him and asks for the books, and then he’s fired. He says to himself, “I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m too proud to beg.” He’s doesn’t know how he will work to provide for himself when he’s out of a job, so he comes up with a plan. He calls in all the people who were in debt to his master. In the text we only hear about two of them, but I think we can take these as examples, and there would have been more. He pulls out the receipts and has the debtors reduce the debt, some by this much, others by another amount. All to win the good favor of the debtors, so when they see him out of work they will, as friends, take care of him, and give him a place to sleep and something to eat.

The parable ends, “The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness,” (Luke 16:8). The word “dishonest” is stronger in the Greek, I think “unrighteous” would be better, and this is important, because this steward is not being put before us as a moral example, someone to emulate. The opposite is true. What he does is wrong; his motivation is wrong and his actions are wrong.

So why is he commended? And why is Jesus telling us this parable? Jesus explains it.

For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. (Luke 16:8-9)

This guy was shrewd, and, says Jesus, we are not. He could see the trouble coming, he had a plain assessment of the situation, including his own limitations, and he knew that there was value in money (even if it wasn’t his), and he used it to make friends. And he worked, probably harder than he had worked in years, to make sure that his future had some hope in it.

Jesus looks at this little scoundrel, running around, cheating his master, pulling out all this paper work, staying up all night, thinking about what to do next, plotting, sneaking around, and all this, and he says, “Look at this thief, see how hard he’s working at his thieving? See how he’s plotting, planning, thinking, all for what? To have a few friends that will toss him some bread? And what are the Christians doing? Sitting around with all sorts of treasures, and they give no thought to them.”

The example of this unrighteous steward is a rebuke to us, to the Christians, what Jesus calls the “sons of light.” “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.”

This all has to do with the 7 th Commandment, You shall not steal. The twin vices against the 7 th Commandment are greed and laziness. (The virtue of the 7 th Commandment, by the way, is generosity, and that is what the Holy Spirit wants to stir up in us, generosity.) But to the vices of laziness and greed, this unrighteous steward was greedy, that’s what got him into trouble in the first place, he was stealing from his master. And he was lazy. He said, “I’m too weak to dig.” But when it was time to be fired, everything changed. He had a little motivation, even if it was self-preservation, and now he was the hardest working guy around, calling people in to meet with him, scrambling, writing, working, planning and so-forth, and he is also, all of a sudden, the most generous guy in town, giving all sorts of things away. Do you see it?

It is a strange truism that the sinners work harder at their sin than the Christians work at their love for their neighbor. Proverbs describes the evil doer, “For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.” Imagine if the opposite was true for the Christians, “They cannot sleep unless they have done something right and good. They eat the bread of righteousness and drink the wine of kindness.”

I don’t think it even has to be in service to sin, there is an energy to worldliness. (“Worldliness” is probably a word we’ve forgotten. Do you remember the old preachers talking about the “worldlings”?) We give lots of thought and effort to the things of this world. I drive to church pretty early, and I can see the people setting up for soccer tournaments, pulling out with their campers. People are serious about their recreation; they work hard at relaxing. But 9:15 seems too early for church to start.

You get the contrast, and this is what Jesus is after. The children of the world pour their mind and body into making the future a little better for themselves, while we, the Christians, who in fact have a glorious future, the promise of eternal life with Christ, the hope of the resurrection of the righteous, we hardly think of it. So Jesus rebukes us. He says, “Think of the future. And use the resources you have at your disposal for these purposes.”

And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. (Luke 16:9)

You’ve got a mind, meditate on good things, ways to love and serve your neighbor. You’ve got a body, use it to serve and bless your neighbor. You’ve got various resources, use them to care for the people around you, to be friendly, to make friends who will be your neighbors in the resurrection.

And Jesus instruction here is specifically about money. “Make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth,” Jesus says. Spend your money to make eternal friends.

This is why this Sunday, the 9 th Sunday after Trinity Sunday, is the best Sunday to talk about stewardship. Jesus would have us ask the question, “Are we spending our money to make eternal friends? Are we spending our money for the preaching of the Gospel and for the love of our neighbor?”

My thinking about stewardship is very simple, maybe simplistic. We spend money on the things we need and the things we love. And the Christian knows they need the Gospel. And the Christian loves the Gospel. So the Christian spends their money to support the preaching the Gospel. That’s all. Fairly simple.

And it’s not that spiritual. Sometimes you hear stewardship sermons says, “You give to church because it is good for you.” I suppose there is a grain of truth in there. We are always tempted to the idolatry of greed, so when we give our money away we are fighting against that idol and putting it to death. But I think it is better to understand our giving as a good work of service, and it’s not a service to God. He doesn’t need our money. It’s mostly a service to your pastors. Most of the offering goes to support the pastors’ families, the building, and then all the other stuff that’s going on around here.

Now, we have to remember that the Gospel is free. If the devil came along tomorrow and took all the church’s money and all your money and the building collapsed, we would still have the preaching of the Gospel, we would still have the preaching and the Lord’s Supper and the liturgy. We understand all of these other things as ways of making eternal friends, we have a place to invite our friends and neighbors to hear the Gospel. Pastor Flamme and I can spend our time studying and visiting and praying along with you so that the resurrection will be crowded with our friends and family.

“Now pastor, you’ve been talking about the preaching of the Gospel, but this sermon has been all law.” Good point! It’s probably an all law passage. But we remember that Jesus is telling this parable to the Pharisees and to us because He loves us. He sees the great danger of greed and laziness. He knows our weakness and our sins, and He warns us, rebukes us, calls us to repentance. And we repent. We repent of our laziness and greed, of the thoughtlessness with which we live our lives, the lack of concern for our neighbor and the resurrection. We repent of our foolishness and of our idolatry. And we hear the good news, the promise of the Lord’s mercy and grace, the generosity of His forgiveness.

When St. Paul was writing to the Corinthians to remind them to send money to Jerusalem, he says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich,” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Jesus came down from heaven for you, was born in a manger, wandered around the earth, suffered as a criminal, was hung in shame on a cross, all this is His poverty which is your treasure, your hope and life and confidence. Your riches.

You are rich in Christ. You have eternal life. You have the blood of Jesus which forgives all your sins. You have the Word of God, more precious than gold and silver. You have the name of God, blessed above everything in heaven and earth. You have God’s kingdom, the kingdom of life and righteousness. You have Jesus, and Jesus has you, and He has promised never to leave you or forsake you. In life and in death, in joy and in sorrow, you have the confidence that you are a child of God. You are, as Jesus called you in the parable, “a son of light.” And you are free to use your mind and your body and your money to make friends, eternal friends, even as Jesus has been pleased with His blood to call you His friend, and to make for you an eternal dwelling with Him.

Be shrewd, Jesus says, because by my death you have a life that will never end. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

+ + +

Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller, Hope Lutheran Church | Aurora, CO

The post Sermon: Stewardship Sunday – Luke 16:19 appeared first on World Wide Wolfmueller .

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Mini-Hymnal 2.0, Comfort Book Draft

  Posted:Jul 25, 2016 By Bryan Wolfmueller (The Wolrd Wide Wolfmueller)

Mini-Hymnal 2.0

I noticed years ago that people often did not have anything helpful to read or help them pray at the hospital. After leaving about a dozen hymnals with people, I thought it would be helpful to have a “mini-hymnal” that I could use and leave behind. You can find the original Mini-Hymnal here . That was in 2005.

It’s time for a re-boot. The Mini-Hymnal 2.0 is the same idea. This is something to use in visitation, and leave with people in the hospital. It includes the entire Gospel of John, 19 Psalms, 21 hymns, a few canticles and prayers, along with the daily prayers from the catechism. The melody for each hymn is included.

Everything in the Mini-Hymnal 2.0 is in the public domain, so it can be printed, copied, and distributed freely. (See the acknowledgments on page 4.) The Mini-Hymnal 2.0 will be free to download and print.

I also plan to make the Mini-Hymnal 2.0 available through print-on-demand, so you can have a professionally bound copy of the book. Keep an eye out for this in the next few days.

There are still a few tweaks needed (including the melody for “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee”), but I thought I would submit this draft to the internet for editing.

So, download, print, use, and have at it:

MiniHymnal2.0Comfort BookDraft

Let me know what you think, if you notice any typos or needed corrections, etc. And subscribe to the blog and you’ll get the notification when the final is ready, and when it is available to order through print on demand.

Thanks, PrBW

 

Here’s the table of contents (if you’re not sure it’s worth downloading):

A BRIEF ORDER OF DEVOTION 7

PSALMS 8
PSALM 1, Blessing of God’s Word 8
PSALM 2, The Lord Laughs 8
PSALM 8, The Lord’s Excellent Name 9
PSALM 16, In Thy Presence is Fullness of Joy 9
PSALM 20, God Will Save Us 10
PSALM 23, The Lord is My Shepherd 10
PSALM 27, The Lord is My Light and My Salvation 10
PSALM 32, Blessed are the Forgiven 11
PSALM 38, Make Haste to Help Me 12
PSALM 46, A Mighty Fortress is Our God 13
PSALM 51, Create in Me a Clean Heart 13
PSALM 55, Protect Us from Our Enemies 14
PSALM 56, Thou Hast Delivered Us 15
PSALM 62, God is a Refuge for Us 16
PSALM 95, We are the People of His Pasture 95
PSALM 102, A Prayer of the Afflicted 17
PSALM 118, O Give Thanks Unto the Lord 18
PSALM 130, Out of the Depths 19
PSALM 143, My Soul Thirsts for God 20

THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 21

CANTICLES 59
NUNC DIMITTIS 59
BENEDICTUS 59
MAGNIFICANT 60
GLORIA IN EXCELSIS 60
TE DEUM LAUDAMUS 61

HYMNS 63
GOD THE FATHER BE OUR STAY 63
A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD 64
WHY SHOULD CROSS AND TRIAL GRIEVE ME? 65
HE THAT BELIEVES AND IS BAPTIZED 66
CHRIST, THE LIFE OF ALL THE LIVING 67
O LITTLE FLOCK, FEAR NOT THE FOE 68
LORD, KEEP US STEADFAST IN THY WORD 69
PRAISE GOD, FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW
BEHOLD A HOST, ARRAYED IN WHITE 70
LORD JESUS CHRIST, MY LIFE, MY LIGHT 71
BE STILL MY SOUL 72
I KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVES 73
ON MY HEART IMPRINT THINE IMAGE 74
PRAISE TO THEE AND ADORATION
IF THOU BUT SUFFER GOD TO GUIDE THEE 75
THE KING OF LOVE MY SHEPHERD IS 76
ABIDE WITH ME, FAST FALLS THE EVENTIDE 77
ONCE HE CAME IN BLESSING 78
REJOICE, MY HEART, BE GLAD AND SING 79
JESUS, THY BLOOD AND RIGHTEOUSNESS 80
LORD, THEE I LOVE WITH ALL MY HEART 81
PRAYERS 83

The post Mini-Hymnal 2.0, Comfort Book Draft appeared first on World Wide Wolfmueller .

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Sermo Dei: Trinity 9, 2016

  Posted:Jul 24, 2016 By Pastor Esget (Esgetology)

God made man to give him gifts. God made the world out of nothing, and He made it for man. Man is the crown of God’s creation. God gave man everything in the creation. He gave it for Adam’s enjoyment and nourishment. He also gave man a vocation, a calling: He called Adam to be steward of the earth. As God’s steward, or chief manager, the man would exercise dominion, Godly rule in the earth.

Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it , have dominion over every living creature. One thing alone was held back from the man: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Why? Because God wished the man to know good alone, and not evil. As you parents wish to shield your children from the horrors of the world and the wicked designs of men, until they can bear them, so God wished for His steward to know nothing of evil.

250px-Tree_of_Knowledge

But the man was beguiled by this thought: the Lord is not a good Lord. His Word is harmful to me, a lie intended to oppress me.

Thus not content with his stewardship, the man sought by his action to overthrow his Lord. His sin was not eating fruit. His sin was a rebellious plot by which he would become as God.

So did our first father the steward squander his inheritance. Adam was the first unjust steward . He misused what God had given him. He squandered his inheritance and so was removed from the stewardship.


Well, not removed entirely. For although he was called to give an account of his stewardship, and the Lord pronounced death upon our first parents at that reckoning, still the Lord forgave.

He covered their naked bodies, now filled with shame, with the skin of a sacrificial victim. Blood was shed to cover their shame. And He promised an offspring, a seed, a male child of the woman who would be the Steward Adam had failed to be. This Steward would be a just steward, a righteous steward, an honest steward who perfectly carries out His Lord’s will.


To be a steward is to have a lord. Today we heard a story about a steward who lost his lord. Today’s Gospel reading (Luke 16:1-13) is a parable, which is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. It’s often called the Parable of the Unjust Steward, or the Parable of the Dishonest Manager. He has squandered his master’s goods, and has been caught. About to lose his job and be humiliated, he devises a plan to make friends with money in hopes they will help him. He’s even commended for being shrewd, for exercising cunning in preparing for his future. Smart people, even corrupt ones, plan for the future. So why don’t you? That’s the first point of this parable: You are a Christian, you know the truth, so why are you not wise and careful about how you plan and prepare for eternity? And the second point is this: You have been an unjust steward, you are unwise because your attention is on all the wrong things. Thus Jesus concludes with the simple declaration, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” 

Which are you serving? Which is most important to you? What do you care about?

The unjust steward cares nothing for his lord. Nor does he care about those under his care. He cares only about himself.

And so he loses his lord.


Does that sound liberating to you, to be without a lord? It certainly sounds American.

Our country was born from the idea of throwing off oppressive rule. Many look at Christianity as coming back under oppression, a system of superstition designed to prey on the weak, subjugate the meek, take your money, and destroy your joy.

But genuine Christianity is not tyranny. To have God as your Lord is not to come under His oppression but His protection. Not to be enslaved but redeemed. For this Lord rescues lost sheep, welcomes home prodigal sons, forgives the woman caught in adultery, welcomes Lazarus the starving beggar to His banquet.


To be a steward is to have a lord. To be God’s steward is to have Christ Jesus for your Lord. Our Small Catechism puts all of this beautifully when it says, “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with His precious blood and His innocent suffering and death, that I 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.”

To be a steward is to have a lord. To be God’s steward is to have Christ Jesus for your Lord, to be rescued from death. You are not brought into bondage but into blessedness.


The Bible speaks about pastors as stewards in God’s household, with a solemn charge to administer the gifts of Word and Sacrament as the Lord has instructed.

Stewardship, however, encompasses everything we have and do, even the seemingly smallest decisions, like should I step on this ant, or spend time watching that video. What has God given me my foot, my eyes, my time and money for?


When Blake and Katie received a daughter, a gift from God, they also received a stewardship. Children are not ours, trophies of genetic accomplishment, or garbage to be discarded. Each human being from the womb is a gift from God, and parents are stewards charged with their nurture and protection. The first act of stewardship is to bring the little child back to the Lord. Born into this corrupt world full of death, we bring our children to the Lord of life saying, “Receive this child who is Yours to begin with; love, care, forgive, do what we cannot. And when her last hour comes, receive her to Yourself. Be her Father, give her the birth from above, and let her be Yours unto the ages of ages.”

Parents have a calling to teach their children. They, not the government, are stewards of their children’s education. Because this is difficult work, and because the government would often mislead our children about the truth of the world, the law, the meaning of the human person, even now which bathroom is the right one to use – because of all this, the church helps in this stewardship by providing schools for children to be taught the truth, taught by Christians who glorify the Creator in all they do.


Everything you have is given to you to exercise your stewardship of the world. How will you account for the way you spent, or gave, or hoarded, your money? How will you account for the way you used your words? How will you account for the way you used, or abused, your body, which is a temple of the Holy Spirit?

I don’t like ticking clocks, they distract me. But I was struck by what the Baptist author and seminary president Al Mohler said about ticking watches and clocks: as each second audibly clicks by, he is reminded of the shortness of his life and the responsibility to use his time according to God’s will. How are you stewarding your time? How will you give an account of it before God?

Even your vote is an exercise of stewardship. Use this gift as an exercise of the conscience, rather than a quest for power.

You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and mammon, God and money.


Repent. Repent, and rejoice that you have a Lord who rescues lost sheep, who finds lost coins, who welcomes home prodigal sons. You have a Lord who welcomes Lazaruses to His Supper, who takes unjust stewards and makes them just, forgiven, righteous, even to the point of raising their dead bodies when they fail, and receiving them into everlasting habitations. To be a steward is to have a lord. So confess with the Catechism, Jesus Christ … is my Lord, who has redeemed me. Jesus the just steward exercised His stewardship like this: He gave everything away, even His own life, on the cross for you.

In the Name of + Jesus

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What's in a name?

  Posted:Jul 24, 2016 By Pastor Peters (Pastoral Meanderings)

Furthermore, an official ecclesiastical function is a modern day term and not one ordinarily used by the early church where such practices originated.

Now that the Pope has brought up the idea of studying the idea of female deacons (deaconesses), the internet is abuzz with voices about what this means. Some of the same tired old ideas of the past have been trotted out to suggest that female deacons were the "norm" in the early church and that they had a status the same or similar to male deacons. The problem for those both for and against deaconesses is that the early history is somewhat vague and confusing. That said, the reality is that no form of deaconesses had "holy orders" as such nor were they the functional equivalent of the male deacons -- something more clearly true as the diaconate evolved into a step on the ladder to priestly ordination but no less true in the earlier days as well.

There seems to be little question that some women deacons, even so-called "ordained" women deacons, performed what might be described as an official ecclesiastical function for many centuries in the early Church. The problem lies in figuring out what that function was.  Neither the terminology nor the descriptions of these women and what they did were uniform or explicit.  Nor was the practice ever normative or ordinary -- it appears to have been localized and only limited. 



The Phoebe, “deacon of the church,” whom Paul mentions in his letter to the Romans, may or may not represent a female deacon since the Greek “diakonos” that Paul uses more typically meant “servant” at the time Paul wrote. For example, John used the same noun in reference to the servants who filled the stone jars of water at the wedding feast at Cana.  Though the Acts of the Apostles references the seven men chosen to feed to the poor (tend the tables) so that the apostles would be free to focus on prayer and preaching, it does appear that Stephen did preach -- was it in a liturgical context or was it in public witness only?

Early Christian literature provides a little more detail.  Women began to assume more formal roles (from widows to the female deacons). Some of these documents use the term deaconesses (“diakonissai”), and it is possible to find a rare reference to the bishop’s ordination ("laying his hands") on these women. That said, there is nothing to suggest that this was normative and could have been an aberration.  From the East there are some women named as “deaconesses” but those so named were nearly always widows (referencing St. Paul's mention of this class or order) or some form of early nun or women who chose the celibate life. We do know that their primary duties and role consisted mostly of charitable works (similar to the male deacons but directly toward women) and work both assisting in the catechization and baptism of adult women.  This is certainly understandable when baptism was by immersion and cultural prohibitions and a sense of modesty would have made it hard for males to act alone with respect to the instruction and baptism of women. Whether these deaconesses assisted priests in the liturgy is a different matter.  While it was certainly conceivable within monastic communities of nuns who had contact with males only through their priest (similar to cloistered orders still to this day), this did not appear to have taken place within the ordinary parish exercise of the liturgy.  Furthermore, the women who did assist were most likely the leaders of their communities (abbesses).

In other words, how many and what these deaconesses did does not automatically translate into the debate for the ordination of women or even the wider role of women within the church.  In fact, it contributes little since the issue before us is not whether or not to have women serving officially in caring roles in the work of the church but directly the question of whether or not women may be ordained to the diaconate with equal status to either permanent deacons or the transitional deacons heading toward priestly ordination. 

In fact, much to the chagrin of those who champion the priestly ordination of women and who therefore are encouraged by the discussion of deaconesses, the very nunnishness of these early Christian women who were called deaconesses is often considered both demeaning and a hindrance to the cause of women's ordination.

The argument for the ordination of deaconesses to an office the exact counterpart to the male diactonate and as a first step toward priestly ordination is still without clear precedent and an invention of a modernity sifting through history for anything and everything that might justify this departure from clear apostolic and consistent catholic practice.

I say this not to disparage what we in the LCMS call deaconesses -- not at all -- but to distinguish this godly service with the same name from what those pursuing the ordination of women are looking for from any evidence for or prospect of an ordained female diaconate.  Indeed, the Lutheran history of deaconesses is a heroic legacy of women who served in places where others refused to serve, in conditions that tried and tested their lives and faith, without recognition or material reward.  But this is a different story than those who are using Francis' words to make a big jump between the mercy work of the Gospel and the ordination to the pastoral office.


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A great post out of our archives — note that the discussion on the original post is worth re-reading. I’ve included some of the comments below.

This post was originally penned by Dr. C.F.W. Walther in 1846 .. a reminder that nothing is new under the sun.

 

“In America no denomination has suffered any deeper fall than this fellowship that is called “Lutheran.” All the sects of this land are more zealous to preserve the false doctrines upon which they’ve been founded, and that give them their unique character, than the present so-called Lutherans intend to hold fast to the holy and pure doctrine which is founded upon the clear Word of God, that was entrusted to her through God’s unspeakable grace. Yes, we see the American Lutheran Church is not only dominated by negligence and indifference, but even by enmity against the true Lutheran Church. She has retained nothing but the name. She has lost the ancient truth and the ancient spirit of witness. Yet we also see that we have no reason to despair over the condition of the Lutheran Church in America. God has obviously once again picked up his winnowing fork to beat his threshing floor and to sift his wheat. God has obviously resolved to no longer sit back and watch the hidden mice, those false saints, those fish in muddy waters. God has once again begun to open eyes here and there, who fearfully acknowledge the apostasy of which the Lutherans have become guilty. Here and there God is awakening men who are loudly demanding those who have abandoned their first love to return. God be praised! After a long winter the turtledoves are again heard in our land. (Song of Songs 2.11-13)

“Rise, get up then dear brothers! Let us not idly watch as false brothers band together ever more tightly to bury the foundation of our church and create another beside it. Since these do all this while still fraudulently fighting under our name, they are more dangerous than our declared enemies. They are their compatriots even while they bunk in our camp. He who dwells in heaven surely laughs at them and the LORD mocks them, for “even if the sea billows and rages, and the mountains erode in their storm, yet the city of God remains vibrant and well with her fountains, where are the holy dwellings of the Highest. God is with her, so she will remain well. God will help her early.” But as impossible as it is for Luther’s doctrine, that is, God’s Word to be driven out of the world, yet it is just that easily possible, if we do not hold on tightly to it (Tit 1:9–11) and fight for it (Jude 3) to lose this gem, (2 John 8.9) and someday be rejected as unfaithful stewards.

“Therefore, if we do not wish be called hypocritical Lutherans, but want to be and remain Lutherans in deed and truth, let us walk together and again gather around the banner of the ancient, unchangeable doctrine of our church; pleading together that the LORD awaken and create help that comfort again be taught; together fighting against all deceptions with the sword of the Spirit and together bearing the shame by which the LORD strives to designate his servants. We dare not hope that the church in these latter, horrible times will be established again in a condition of glorious bloom, yet we may also not abandon hope that our witness and our battle will not be completely in vain, but rather will give way to praise of the LORD and convert many souls from the errors of their way.”

Source:
C.F.W. Walther
Der Lutheraner
Volume 2, Number 11
January 1846, pg. 42-43
Translated by Joel Baseley


 

Here are excerpts from a few of the comments from the original post :

I think once more people begin to read and study the Lutheran Confessions again, they will realize the Lutheran Confessions are true to Scripture and support what we believe. Then they’ll want to be Lutherans again. (some don’t realize they haven’t been taught what Lutherans believe, so think they are truly Lutheran) Many lay people today have never even heard they even exist. (Except maybe the Small Catechism and the Creeds) And they don’t realize that they are still relevant for today. There is truly nothing new under the sun!

Sadly, I think most Lutherans growing up in our confession see no need to go beyond their reading of the Small Catechism. Is this a problem with pastors being sold a bill of goods, thinking that the Book of Concord is passe and is otherwise not interesting? That it will not pull people in, so why bother?

CPH has a few workbooks that are good introductions to parts of the Book of Concord, such as the Augsburg Confession. I really wish pastors would seriously consider jump starting confessions reading in their parishes by using the CPH materials which will help make reading the Book of Concord more accessible for some

With the new accurate and easy to read edition of the Book of Concord put out by Concordia Publishing House there are no more excuses. The easy to read “Readers Edition” also has some great Lutheran art in it.

It is now up to the pastors, district presidents and our good SP’s in the LCMS, WELS and ELS to make the push for folks to read the BOC.

There is no better way to grow as a Lutheran than a deep study in the BOC and the Bible. We should not just assume that the laity won’t read it.

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