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 we conclude Professor Krauss’ look at the Patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America, Pastor H.M. Muehlenberg. It includes his assessment of Pastor Muehlenberg. About a quarter century after Muehlenberg’s death, Confessional Lutheranism’s great champion in America, C.F.W. Walther was born. This month, on 07 May, we will remember Dr. Walther on the anniversary date of his death in 1887. In next month’s newsletter we begin a look at another champion of Confessional Lutheranism in America, Pastor F. K. D. Wyneken.
43. 5. From Muehlenberg’s Diary [conclusion]
The excerpt from Muehlenberg’s diary shows him exactly how he was: full of zeal for the salvation of souls, untiring, self-sacrificing, pressing on, caring for the congregations. But, unfortunately, it also shows him to be unionistic and to have a deplorable indifference toward the great doctrinal differences between the Lutheran and the Reformed. (Strong beginnings were seen in Halle with the younger Francke.) We are not including the two faiths using the same church buildings; that always brings so many difficulties with it. When it came to the administration of the Lord’s Supper, we see that at least here the separate churches remained distinct. But his pulpit fellowship with the Reformed (Muehlenberg occasionally allowed Reformed pastors to preach in his church and they allowed him in theirs), his participation in their church festivals, his cordial and familiar interaction with them and the like, all gave true offense to more conscientious Lutherans and were an evil worm in the otherwise very beautiful flower of Muehlenberg’s church organization in Pennsylvania.
In many pastoral virtues H.M. Muehlenberg stands out as a great example: he is an example simply in by having inoculated his synod against everything from Halle. But he is not an example in his unscriptural unionism with those who have a different spirit than we have; nor is he an example when he almost everywhere classifies souls using Pietist categories, and as he may have frequently missed the mark. He had a sharp natural view and was expert in people; thus it was fascinating to read about the characteristics of his 22 mostly adult confirmands that he confirmed on 17 April 1762. But what is fascinating is what he writes of their actual history rather than his spiritual assessment of them. For example, in his spiritual assessments he says of one: “She is in the midst of conversion, as the fruits show;” or of a 25 year old young man: “He received a beautiful awakening in the last two days;” or of a 15 year old girl: “She has certainly learned well and also desires the experience.” Such fragments sufficiently show the Pietistic yeast.
We must still mention a note that H. M. Muehlenberg added to a letter to Dr. Freylingshausen on 06 December 1782. In it, as Muehlenberg reports of the state of the church in Pennsylvania he shows his characteristic humility: “Today, 06 December 1782, exactly 40 years ago I arrived in Philadelphia for the first time. And I believe that my end is not very far off. If in these 40 years I was as faithful as Jeremiah to my Lord and Savior, I could expect a joyful end. But now I must consider it the greatest grace and mercy when the good Redeemer, on account of His all sufficient merit, overlooks my mistakes and weaknesses and receives me in grace.”
He lived almost five years longer, even doing the main work to prepare a hymnal which the synod had resolved to publish. It was printed in 1786. Two years before he was named Doctor of Theology. He accepted the title but he did not want his friends using it. He continued his diary until 29 September 1787.
In his final years he was housebound because his feet were swollen and he had frequent spells of dizziness.
The swelling worsened. When Pastor Voigt visited him and found the patient apparently somewhat better, Pastor Voigt expressed his joy. But the old man knew his condition. He said good-bye to his visitor for this life and then spoke with the words of the hymn of the Church:
Far off I see my fatherland,
Where through Thy blood I hope to stand.
But ere I reach that Paradise,
A weary way before me lies. (TLH, #148 st. 2)
His condition worsened already by the following day and with great pain and much groaning he lived out the week. On Saturday evening his powers were exhausted. He expected to die at midnight and asked those standing around whether it was 12 o’clock yet. After he was brought to bed, he spoke:
Give, Lord this consummation
To all our heart’s distress;
Our hands, our feet, e’er strengthen,
In death our spirits bless.
Thy truth and Thy protection
Grant evermore, we pray,
And in celestial glory
Shall end our destined way. (TLH #520 st.12)
Then he breathed one more deep breath and fell asleep in the first hour of 07 October 1787. (Graebner, 521)
On 10 October his body was buried on the east side of the church in Providence. So numerous were the mourners that Pastor Voigt’s funeral sermon had to be given in the open. In Philadelphia and Lancaster the mourning bells sounded on the day of the funeral. And all the congregations of the Pennsylvania Synod confessed by their services of mourning how much blessing the Lutheran Church received by this great one in Israel. Even in New York Dr. Kunze gave a funeral sermon that was published and distributed among the member congregations. The greatest man whom God had given the Lutheran Church in America in the 18th Century was gone.
So far Professor Krauss
NEWS AND UPDATES
April has five Sundays this year and you know what that means—a FIFTH SUNDAY DINNER. Our Fifth Sunday Dinner will follow service on the 30th. Be sure to sign up and bring your favorite dish to share and enjoy some of the great cooking of your fellow members at Faith.
CATECHISM REVIEW: Beginning 18 June we will begin the review of Luther’s Small Catechism during the Sunday morning service. The catechism can never be studied enough. It has in simple form the basic teachings of the Christian faith. We target our review of the catechism during the Sundays after Trinity because this is the half of the Church Year we focus in on our Lord’s teaching [the first half of the Church year has as its focus the life of our Lord]. We encourage you to take your bulletin home with you each week and use that portion of the catechism that we reviewed on Sunday as part of your devotions in your home.
SUMMER SUNDAY MORNING BIBLE STUDY:
This summer before service we will again have a Summer Sunday Morning Bible Class. Our discussions this year will be more doctrinal. Because of pastor’s schedule at Zion, it is uncertain at press time whether we will meet every Sunday or only on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Sundays. We plan on starting on 04 June and ending on 03 September.
HELP HOSPICE AND BEAUTIFY YOUR GARDEN: Once again I will be selling geraniums for Care First (Hospice). You have your choice of five stunning colors to beautify your garden. Last year thousands of dollars were raised to enable services to be rendered in the Schuyler, Steuben and Chemung county areas. Please see me if you want to order flowers. Thank you in advance. Susan
REMEMBER: THE CHURCH STILL NEEDS YOUR OFFERINGS EVEN WHEN YOU ARE AWAY THIS SUMMER
WHY GO TO CHURCH?
A man asked an Orthodox priest: "If God is everywhere, what do I go to church for?"
To which the priest replied: "The whole atmosphere is filled with water; but when you want to drink you have to go to a fountain or a well."
The point—although the earth is filled with the goodness of the Lord [Psalm 33.5]—He gives us His greatest gift of forgiveness of sin and eternal life in the word and Sacrament which we hear and receive in church. We go to church because of the blessings we receive there that we can’t get anywhere else.
TELL THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT JESUS
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Ephesians 3:8 (ESV)
Many respond in horror when they are given a task. “I can’t do that,” is the reaction. “I’ve never done that before.”
The Apostle Paul was given an important task. In His divine grace, God Himself was the giving the task. And the task was the most important and greatest. Paul was to spread the best of all news to people, to enlighten them—even before kings and other nations. By it, his hearers were to have the greatest joy: Jesus Christ has redeemed you and reconciled you with God. God Himself had equipped His apostle with His divine power. In view of this Paul knew how unworthy, small, trivial he was. He is not only insignificant but the most insignificant among all believers. And nevertheless such great honor is given to him. Unfathomable!
Is it the same with us? Do we recognize the greatness of the task God has given us? Do we know how insignificant we are in view of this greatness? And nevertheless God gave you His grace. To you He has given faith in Jesus Christ. You He has commissioned to share the most glorious of all news. Can we say back to God: “I can’t do this?” No! Because He also gives you the power to tell of the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ to your children, parents, colleagues, friends, relatives, neighbors. It is immaterial how significant or important you are. You can do it! With God’s help.
Gracious God, You made me to be Your instrument. Thank You! Daily give me the power to speak of You. Amen.
[Pr. Uwe Klaerner in God Is For Us 17 February 2014]
The Fifth Sunday After Easter, this year on 21 May, is called “Rogate Sunday.” “Rogate” means to ask or pray in Latin. It comes from the day’s Gospel reading: Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you… Ask, and you will receive, that Your joy may be full [St. John 16.23-4].
“The three days following have been, since early times, known as the Rogation Days. Upon them the faithful would meet in the churches, and, after psalms and prayers, proceed in solemn processions out into the fields, chanting their Litanies. Arriving there, prayers would be offered for the growth of the fruits of the earth, the husbandman, the tiller of the ground, etc. The probable origin of this custom, and it is worthy of perpetuation, was due to the desire to ask God’s blessing upon the rising plants at the time of the spring awakening. The association of this with this Sunday, which usually falls in the springtime, whose Gospel is our Lord’s instruction to ask in His name, is most natural. The procession to the fields is usually traced back to Mamertus, Bishop of Vienna in 452, who, because of pestilence and famine, made this Sunday and the following days the occasion for solemn petitions in the country round about.” [Strodach, The Church Year, pg. 166-167]
In honor of Rogate Sunday and the Rogation Days, here are devotional thoughts on prayer:
PRAYER THROUGHOUT THE DAY
St. Basil of Caesarea, c. 330-79 writes: When you sit down at table; when you take your bread, thank Him who has given it to you; when you are satisfied, bless the generous hand that has provided for your subsistence; while you are putting on your garments, elevate your heart with love to him who furnishes you with means to defend yourself against the inclemency of the seasons. At the close of the day render thanks to the this same Providence, who has placed the sun in the midst of the firmament, to give light for your daily labors; and who has created the stars to dissipate the darkness of the night. When your eyes are raised to heaven, to contemplate the beauty of those stars which decorate it, adore the universal Creator, whose wisdom is manifested in all his works; and when night has wrapped all nature in silence and repose, celebrate, by your praises, the Divine benevolence which sends us sleep, even in despite of ourselves, to suspend our cares and repair our strength.
Pray then, I repeat it, without ceasing; not in mere words, but in so living united to God, in your affections and thoughts, that your life shall be one long and continued prayer.
[From The Lord Will Answer: A Daily Prayer Catechism, CPH 2004, pg. 126]
LUTHER NOTES ON THE CONNECTION BETWEEN PRAYER AND THE HOLY SPIRIT/ PENTECOST
…pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV)
Wherever there’s a Christian, there the Holy Spirit is present, who does nothing else than pray constantly. Whether or not the person is moving his mouth or saying words, the heart is still unceasingly moving and beating [just like the pulse and heart in the body] with sighs such as: Ah, dear Father, may Your name still be hallowed, Your kingdom come, Your will be done with us and everyone, etc. And when afterwards blows or trials come upon us and oppress us all the more, then such sighing and praying becomes even stronger, and are even expressed by words. A Christian, then, can be without prayer just as little as a living person can be found without a pulse. It never stands still but is always in motion and beating whether the person is sleeping or doing something else so that he is unaware of it.
A MEDITATION AND EXPLANATION OF THE OUR FATHER: [by Philip Melanchton]
OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN,
You, almighty, gracious and good Father, You are everywhere around us and with us; You created You; You nourish and protect us:
HALLOWED BE THY NAME.
Your name is rightly made known by true doctrine and faith and worshiped and glorified by it.
THY KINGDOM COME.
Rule us by Your Holy Spirit because when we are forsaken by You, we fall into every sin, come into shame and disgrace, as it is written [St. John 15.5]: “without Me you can do nothing.”
THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
We would like that everything be done according to our will and that we could live without the cross, but, O Lord, carry out Your will on us and give us obedience and patience.
GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD
O Lord, take care also of our body. Give us nourishment, wisdom, a good call health and everything necessary for the body, as You have promised [St. Mt. 6.33]: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you.”
FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO SIN AGAINST US
You know, Lord, that we daily sin much. Cast all our sins and guilt behind You so that we do not lose Your forgiveness by impenitence.
AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION
Do not let us fall when we are tempted because without doubt the devil wants to destroy us, as St. Peter says [1 Peter 5.8]: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. We cannot protect ourselves by our own powers, therefore, Lord protect us!
BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL
Help us out of every distress and offense, and especially rescue us from death!
A VITAL ARTICLE FROM OUR SYNOD’S STEWARDSHIP DEPARTMENT:
“It is more blessed to give than to receive,” said St. Paul, quoting our Lord (Acts 20:35). How can this be?
Jesus and His disciples withdrew to a mountain by the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The crowds followed them, for the Lord had just showered upon them the gift of His teaching, the gift of His Word. But the day was waning; the sun was setting, and it was getting late. Looking upon the crowds, Jesus had compassion on them and asked, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat” (John 6:5)? Philip said that two hundred denarii (a day’s wages for two hundred men) could not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.
But Andrew, Peter’s brother, brought a young boy forward, who had five barley loaves and two small fish. “But,” Andrew asked, “what are they for so many” (John 6:9). Jesus replied, “Have the people sit down” (John 6:10).
Then Jesus, the Son of God, gave them a second gift, a gift from what only He could give—a gift from above. He took the bread and the fish, gave thanks, blessed them, and distributed them to the crowd. Then came the miracle. As these five loaves and two fish were given out, they multiplied. He fed the hungry crowd until they were all full. And twelve baskets full were left over.
But Jesus was not the only one who gave that day. There is one person who also gave from what he had. It was the boy with the five loaves and the two fish. All the others, including the boy, received the gift of a miraculous feast. And they would look back on it with wonder. But the boy, when he would look back on it, would look back and remember not just what he received. He would look back with wonder and delight when the Son of God made his gift into something miraculous. For it is more blessed to give than to receive.
This our Lord does for each of us. He presses our gifts, no matter how big or how small, into His service and works wonders with them. He provides through what we give: water for baptism, bread and wine for the Lord’s Supper, a man called and sent for the preaching of the Gospel and Absolution. He provides a building in which we can gather as His children, lights so that we might not gather in darkness. He provides funds for the care of the poor and struggling, for missionaries who preach and teach beyond our borders. He makes Christians, disciples of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in our midst by bringing them to faith and nurturing them in that faith. He takes our gifts and turns them into something miraculous.
Indeed, it is more blessed to give than to receive. Thus we give. We give of what we have. And the Lord works His wonders.
5. BLESSING OF BEER from the Roman Missal
V. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.
V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
Bene+dic, Domine, creaturam istam cerevisae, quam ex adipe frumenti producere dignatus es: ut sit remedium salutare humano generi: et praesta per invocationem nominis tui sancti, ut, quicumque ex ea biberint, sanitatem corporis, et animae tutelam percipiant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen
P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.
Let us pray.
Lord, bless this creature, beer, which by your kindness and power has been produced from kernels of grain, and let it be a healthful drink for mankind. Grant that whoever drinks it with thanksgiving to your holy name may find it a help in body and in soul; through Christ our Lord. All: Amen.
It is sprinkled with holy water.
Charitable Planning Shares the Vision of Life
The famous renaissance artist, Michelangelo, had a vision of life. He painted and sculpted the visions of what he saw with unmatched beauty. He left a legacy that has inspired and been enjoyed for millennia.
History tells us that Michelangelo died a pauper. His one-line last will and testament reads, “I die in the faith of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, with a firm hope of a better life to come.” He was a generous man. Martin Luther tells us that the famous artist used his vocation or calling to give untold treasures that serve mankind and the cause of Christ beyond measure.
Like Michelangelo, you have been given gifts from the heavenly Father. Each baptized believer has been given the Father’s Spirit and gifts from His Anointed Son, Jesus Christ, to serve the Church and world. These gifts are ours not because we earned them, but because God loves His creation and He loves you.
Whether it is recognized or not, each person has a vision of life. For some, that vision serves to guide aspirations, hope and action. For others, vision may be unrealized as one never reaches their potential.
Each person has a call to vocation to serve God and serve others. This encompasses many possibilities. Charitable gift planning is one such opportunity that promises joy to those who serve.
Charitable planning shares a vision of life that includes thankfulness for God’s love and enables others to know that the Lord’s love abides for them as well. For many, charitable planning promises to positively impact their world and other people’s worlds like few other visionary actions. We can help you. For more information, contact Robert Wirth, LCMS Foundation Gift Planner @ firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-863-4427.
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