Dear friends in Christ,
We continue our survey of Church History from the book of Professor E.A.W. Krauss from our St. Louis seminary of a century ago. This month Professor Krauss includes excerpts from Pastor Muehlenberg’s diary to give us a glimpse of what life was like for a Lutheran missionary pastor and Lutherans in Colonial America. What is fitting for us in this issue, is that it covers the events of April and Easter 1762, 255 years ago. What’s fascinating about this is that while 1762 is 255 years ago, it is also about 250 years after the Reformation, which means it is almost exactly the midpoint between our day and the start of the Reformation.
43.5 [part 1] FROM MUEHLENBERG’S DIARY
Nothing gives a better insight into the bountiful and blessed work of H.M. Muehlenberg than does his diary that that was printed in the Halle News. His ability and willingness for work is astounding. No matter what year one chooses, the picture is the same. I copy here, with minor abbreviations, the reports of his activity from 26 March to 12 April 1762.
Friday, 26 March, P. W. came to me and made arrangements for his wife’s funeral. She had fallen asleep in the Lord yesterday. Afterwards I taught the confirmands from Germantown. In the evening, with my wife, I visited the school mistress J., who was sick. I conducted the service of Evening Prayer at the well- attended church. It was on Peter’s great fall and repentance according to the harmony of the four Gospels.
Saturday, 27 March. In the morning I meditated; besides other visits, I also received encouragement from a man from New York. I had discussed with him the affairs of the New York congregations. In the afternoon I went to the body and accompanied it to the church at 3 o’clock. I preached on Colossians 3.3: “For you died…” and spoke of the hidden life of the believers with Christ in God. Afterwards I accompanied the body from there to the Reformed cemetery and heard Pastor Steinert do the prayers.
Sunday, 28 March. Pastor Handschuh baptized a child. I preached from the harmony of the Evangelists on Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and John 18, and spoke of the proceedings of the Passion of our Savior before the Jewish Sanhedrin. I observed two main thoughts: 1. The absolute personal innocence of the Most High Savior; 2. The sentence of death that God, in His eternal counsel, allowed to come upon Him for openly confessing Himself to be the Christ, the Son of God, the Most High…. My colleague complained of having a chest cold and asked whether I would also preach in the afternoon. After the sermon I made the announcement that four couples would marry; I announced Holy Communion for the upcoming Easter, and that according to the decision of the church council, the communicants should announce the week before on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, morning and afternoon, to both preachers in the school house. I also invited the young people to come to instruction the following Tuesday and Thursday. I likewise announced that I would preach that afternoon to the young people. But because it had rained so hard, I assumed there would only be a few there. Nevertheless there was a large gathering, and I preached on Mark 14. 51, 52 about Jesus’ disciple who ran away naked. I took the opportunity to show that a theoretical knowledge without training and experience does not stand the test and in the hour of temptation it remains behind like the linen garment, and the person then seems to be naked and running away. The congregation was attentive. After the sermon, toward evening I rode out in wet weather two miles to the Swedish church in Wicaco because its Reverend Provost, Wrangel, had left a few days before to New Jersey and he wanted me to preach in English at the church Sunday evening. I found a large assembly, among which may have been many awakened souls. I had the pleasure to speak with some of them before the sermon in the Provost’s home. I had great anguish because until then I had very little practice in English and also because of age and many anguishes of mind I felt a noticeable loss of memory. I thus prayed all the more fervently in private that Jesus Christ, the Friend of people and sinners, would Himself speak, for the sake of His name, to the people through this thorn bush. After the sermon I still had to marry a couple for the Provost. At nine o' clock I again rode home. We are much too unworthy of all the mercy that God has shown us in preference to the many thousands of His better children in Germany who are sitting in ashes. We should also all the more earnestly and joyfully approach the throne of grace so that we may obtain mercy when help is most necessary for us. Hebrews 4.16
Tuesday, 30 March. in the afternoon I instructed the youth in the school house. My colleague had a committal so he could not teach with me. When I came home, several from the church council talked with me about conducting the church council, about payment of debts and about the arrangement of the pews. In the evening I taught two adult members. Finally, I received a visit from a man from Upper Dublin who recommended that I visit the vacant congregation there on the afternoon of Easter Monday.
Saturday, 03 April. Provost Wrangel informed me that on Good Friday he would preach once in English and once in German at Barrenhill and that I should publicize this. Afterwards I had a conversation with a blind woman regarding a contribution for a cure for her eyes. I also had a conversation with a man from Germantown who requested confirmation for his children. Then a poor widow announced for Holy Communion; and finally from two men from Germantown, full of sorrow over a dispute in the congregation with Mr. Rapp, asked for advice. I could not speak much to their matter. Afterwards a single man, who served with Dr. K, a native of Wuerttemberg, announced for Holy Communion. Although he has been in the country for ten years, he has never once partaken of Holy Communion while here. He faithfully read Arndt’s Wahrem Christentum [True Christianity] and speaks of practical truths.
Sunday, 04 April. had good weather. In the morning I served, baptized three children, and heard my colleague preaching on the Lord Jesus’ trial before Pilate and His Kingdom. In the afternoon I preached on Jesus, our Savior, being delivered up into the hands of the Gentiles. After such a sermon I read an account of a child’s life.
Monday, 05 April. Because the members of the congregation were instructed to announce for communion on Easter, I went to the school house where I found Pastor Handschuh. I was present for the announcements. When I came home I found, among others, a man from Raritan with whom I discussed various things about the New Jersey congregation. A woman announced for Holy Communion. In the evening we had strong, cold rain which made me feverish and ailing. Today in the afternoon between four and five, war was declared against Spain and during the action the Spanish flag was ridiculed. Strong storms of God’s judgment gathered over us. Lord Jesus, receive me to Yourself; I flee to Your wounds…
Wednesday, 07 April. I was present in the morning and afternoon for the announcement of the communicants in the schoolhouse and now and again found awakened souls.
Thursday, 08 April. In the morning we had strong and cold rain. My colleague gave the sermon but I could not be there. I gave the Holy Supper to P.L. from Yorktown in the presence of several witnesses. At 3 in the afternoon Provost Dr. Wrangel came here on his way to Barrenhill. But because it rained and was already late I asked him if he would stay the night with me and continue on in the morning.
Good Friday, 09 April. That morning I found myself very weak in body and mind. The provost set out early in order to ride the 12 miles to Barrenhill to preach in English to the Swedes and in German to the German Lutherans. After he had ridden two miles, he came back a mess; it was clear that his horse was stuck in the mud. He had hardly saved his own life on such a road that had become impossible to ride on. We helped clean him up a bit and the provost accompanied us to our church. I preached on the last part of the Passion History. It was a good showing and the congregation appeared very attentive and moved. At home I offered a man from New Hannover the holy Supper after confession. Around 2 o’clock the provost rode to Wicaco (today: Philadelphia); and I went to the church which I found well attended. Pastor Handschuh gave the sermon of preparation on our Savior’s silence before the Gentile judge, Pontius Pilate. I read the rite of confession and absolution. Afterwards I gave the holy Supper to a man from Pastor Kurtzen’s Conestorz congregation. After that some people from the distant country still came to announce. At seven in the evening I went with my wife to church. A great crowd of people had already arrived because I had announced in the morning that I would treat what took place after our Lord’s death. Afterwards, at home, we read Dr. Luther’s explanation of John 16.20.
On Sunday, 11 April, the First Day of Easter, I first went to my colleague’s home. Finding him busy with various preparations, I then set out for the church and began the worship service. I preached on the Festival Gospel: On the certainty of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The first warm weather and the large number of people caused some to become faint, which disrupted the prayers several times. After the sermon my colleague consecrated the Holy Communion. I offered the blessed bread and he the blessed cup to almost 400 communicants. In the afternoon before a great crowd I preached from the harmony of the Evangelists on Christ’s first appearance after His resurrection, the one to Mary Magdalene. After the sermon I announced that the church council would meet the following Wednesday afternoon. In the evening I found myself very feeble and weak; had a visit from an elder from Cohenzy who complained that it had been two years since they had been visited. I promised to make a visit as soon as possible. Then an elder from Barrenhill told me he would pick me up to conduct service there tomorrow morning. I arranged it for tomorrow morning. In the afternoon I was in the school house and saw 400 Easter verses given to the youth.
Easter Monday, 12 April, I went with the elder from Barrenhill. On the way we found two friends who rode along and showed us the dangerous spot on the large road where, on Good Friday, the provost’s life had been in danger and had almost sunk. At 10 o’clock in the morning we arrived in Barrenhill. The teacher was in full swing catechizing the youth. Pastor Slatter also came and had arranged to give Holy Communion to several Reformed members after my sermon. It was pleasant weather and such a crowd of people had come together from all areas that it became necessary to use the large, new church, which was not yet completely covered. We sang: Nun ist auferstanden [Now has arisen]. I preached on the words from the Gospel: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart…” [St. Luke 24.25]. God was with me. The whole congregation was very attentive and moved in spite of their discomfort having to sit on a rough floor, between stones, scaffolding, and without roof, doors and windows. After my sermon Pastor Slatter added a short admonition and impressed on them even more what they had already heard. After that he went with his congregation members into the common school house to administer the Holy Supper; whereas I conferred with several Lutherans from Germantown about their troubling strife and had to promise them that I would go to Germantown as soon as possible, preach to the well-intentioned members in the large common school house and again gather the scattered. I did not even have time for a little lunch before being brought by two elders eight more miles to Upper Dublin. We arrived there at two o’clock in the afternoon and found a great assembly. We immediately began the Divine Service with Easter hymns and I explained from 1 Corinthians 5 how we must rightly celebrate the New Testament Easter. Several English neighbors also expected an English sermon from me. Time and energy, though, did not allow it. Afterwards I went with a God-fearing elder to his house; but even there I did could not remain alone, but had company into the night. At 12 midnight, my host was awakened by a traveling, drunken Irishman. When he finally told him that a preacher was lodging with him, the man became quiet, laid down on the bare floor in the house and slept until it became day.
So far Professor Krauss
OUR BABY BOTTLE DRIVE: Last year we collected $303. Let’s try to top that this year. The Pregnancy Resource Center of the Valleys in Bath will use it in their efforts to save the unborn and help women in crisis pregnancies. On 25 March the Pregnancy Resource Center opened an office in Corning in the same building hosting the library.
LUTHER’S PREACHING OF EASTER LAW
And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 2 Corinthians 5:15 (ESV)
This dear, sweet preaching will not help you when you say: Christ died for the sinners and rose again, therefore I hope also for me. Yes, true. But if you will continue to remain in your old skin and use this preaching only as the cover for your shameful greed, arrogance, lust, it is written here: do not comfort yourself with this because although He has certainly died and rose for all, He is still not risen for you because you have not grasped such a resurrection by faith. You saw the smoke but did not feel the fire. You have heard the words but did not receive any strength from them.
[Wegweiser, 01 March]
First, when you hear Scripture speaking about the death of a human being, you must not only think about the grave and the coffin and the hideous way in which life is separated from the body and the body wastes away and comes to nothing. Rather, you must also look at the cause through which that human being is brought into death and without which death and what it brings cannot be. Scripture shows and teaches that this cause is sin and God’s wrath. This brings death with it, always adheres to it and appears with it, and works and drags along all bodily misery and misfortune on earth. Moreover, it separates man from God and all His grace and joy. So also in turn, when life is being discussed, you must also lay hold of the cause which brings and gives life. This must be the righteousness through which a human being is pleasing to God and in turn has pleasure, delight, and joy in God, and along with this receives everything good that he desires from God eternally.
[AE, vol. 79, pg. 137]
EASTER ALTAR FLOWERS: Since we have had such a beautiful display of flowers at Easter the past few years, we will again ask you to bring flowers with you to Easter Service to help beautify our sanctuary for our celebration of our Lord’s resurrection. After service, you will bring your flowers home with you to enjoy at home and be reminded of the Easter service.
SCRIPTURE OFTEN CONNECTS EASTER/ JESUS RESURRECTION WITH THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY BAPTISM [Romans 6. For example]. It does us well to ponder Baptism a bit this month of Easter—and in particular, the question of infant baptism. Long story short: nothing shows GRACE ALONE more than infant Baptism. All of us need God’s grace to be saved. But if we make Holy Baptism dependent upon us—our age, or reason—then it is no longer grace; Holy Baptism becomes a work we do for God and not what Scripture says it is: God’s work for us—pure grace.
“’The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remain on him’ [St. John 3.35-36]. Now in which of these categories do we place infants: among those who believe in the Son, or among those who do not believe the Son? In neither, some say, because, as they are not yet able to believe, so must they not be deemed unbelievers. However, the ecclesiastical rule does not indicate this, for it joins baptized infants to the number of the faithful. Now if those who are baptized are, by virtue of the excellence and administration of so great a Sacrament, nevertheless reckoned in the number of the faithful, although by their own heart and mouth they do not literally perform what pertains to the action of faith and confession; then surely those who have lacked the Sacrament must be classed among those who do not believe in the Son, and therefore, if they depart this life without this grace, they will have to encounter what is written concerning such. They shall not have life, but the wrath of God remains on them. How could this be the result for those who clearly have no sins of their own, if they are not held to be liable to punishment for original sin?” [St. Augustine, On the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins and the Baptism of Infants, 1.28, quoted in A Year with the Church Fathers, CPH, 2011 pg. 42]
“All are alike and equal, since they have once been made by God. Our age may make a difference in the size of our bodies, according to the world, but not according to God, unless more or less grace is given to the baptized, according to the age of the receivers. Whereas the Holy Spirit is given not with measure but by the love and mercy of the Father alike to all persons. For God, because He does not show partiality [Acts 10.43], does not accept age; since He shows Himself Father to all with well-weighed equality for the reception of heavenly grace.” [St. Cyprian, Epistle, 58.3 quoted in A Year with the Church Fathers, CPH, 2011 pg. 93]
From our Missouri Synod--Stewardship Newsletter Article
Easter is a moveable feast. Easter isn't on the same calendar date every year in the way that Christmas is always celebrated on December 25. The date for Easter each year always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring equinox. And once you find the date of Easter, everything else finds its place—Good Friday and Maundy Thursday, Ash Wednesday and the Transfiguration, the Ascension of our Lord and Pentecost.
All this is a long way of saying that Easter determines everything. Easter defines everything. It orders not only the entire church year, but it orders our very lives. It defines and gives meaning to our lives, as well to the things that happen in them. And since Easter defines everything, that means it changes everything too. It redefines who we are and where we stand with God and with one another. Easter makes all things new.
Without Easter, Jesus would not be raised from the dead. Without Easter death would still reign, we would still be in our trespasses and sins, and our faith and hope would be in vain. But Jesus is raised from the dead. Easter changes everything. It makes all things new. Therefore, darkness is overcome with light, wrath with peace, fear with hope, angst with rest, sadness with joy, hatred with love, sin with righteousness, and death with life. Easter changes everything, redefines everything, determines everything. Easter makes all things new.
Thus, Easter also changes our attitude about giving. For if God gave us His own Son into death so that we will live, how will He not give us everything else we need? He will, and He does. He provides for us. He even gives us the gifts that we give back to Him for service in the church. Easter demonstrates that we have a God who loves us, a God who provides for us, a God who presses us into His service, a God who has made us new in the death and resurrection of His Son.
For when you give to the church, you pass along those things that God alone has given to you. You pass along the message to others that Easter changes everything and makes all things new, even as it has done this for you. This is not a burden, but pure joy. For God has given you a part in the administration of His kingdom. He provides for the needy through your hands. He ensures that the Gospel is preached and the Sacraments are given out through the work of your hands and in the gifts that you give. And He honors and blesses this work and generosity as it redounds to those around you.
So when you sit down on the first day of the week to make your offering to the place where Easter is proclaimed and where the gifts of Easter are given out, remember: Easter changes everything. It makes all things new. More than that: Easter has changed you and made you new. Because Jesus who was crucified for our transgressions is raised for our justification.
From the LCMS Foundation
Many people do intentional planning in order to accomplish personal priorities. Examples of this include education, recreation, career, housing, vacations and worship. It rings true. When something is a priority, we usually plan for desired outcomes.
Economic outcomes require planning as well. Elements of such planning include working to produce income, budgeting, saving, debt reduction, insurance, education, and long-term concerns such as retirement or healthcare.
All these concerns require planning if goals are to be reached. Without planning, the future is left to circumstances that may miss the benefits that most people desire.
Planning shouldn’t be limited to finances or future. People often spend endless hours planning to improve their quality of life or planning vacations. We plan for recreation, entertainment, sporting events, weekends at the lake or walks in the woods. All this planning is done because these activities are important priorities for emotional, physical and social well-being.
Generosity is also an important element of life that requires good planning. People who give their first-fruits do so with planning and discipline. Those who practice such planning in response to the Lord’s kindness confirm their priorities for the Lord’s work and for other people.
Planning for the end-of-life transfer of a person’s material property is a component of life that has significant ramifications for others. A sad reality is that the average person spends little time planning for the responsible stewardship of their estate when they go to heaven.
Estate plans often fail to explore charitable benefits. Charitable estate planning can avoid unintended gifts to Uncle Sam, designating them instead for family and ministry.
For those who have generosity as a priority, smart planning involves a thorough exploration of charitable planning. Please ask us to help you be intentional about this area of life. For more information, contact Robert Wirth, LCMS Foundation Gift Planner @ firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-863-4427.
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