Thursday, September 30, 2010

St. James the Hoosier: The Importance of Confessing

St. James the Hoosier: The Importance of Confessing: "Until you can truly confess what God's Word says about you, you can never truly confess what God's Word says about Christ. I think I may ha..."

I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression by Todd Peperkorn

Free copies (both electronic and physical) of I Trust When Dark My Road by Todd Peperkorn are available by clicking here. It's a quick read and very helpful. The book is written by a Lutheran pastor who suffers from depression and written especially to pastors but provides a good introduction to depression in general. Rev. Todd Peperkorn is very open and honest about his own journey and provides a way of dealing with depression through the lens of the theology of the cross. He provides helpful advice and various options. He regards depression as a real illness and offers advice both to the depressed and those who are close to the depressed person. Our knee jerk reaction as Americans is to tell the depressed person to snap out of it and pull himself up by his boot straps but this is not what Christ has called us to do. Those who believe that "real" Christians do not suffer depression do not understand Christianity, do not know the cross, and have a false understanding of Christ.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Michaelmas: A Devotional Commentary

Daniel 10:10-14, 12:1-3 Behold, a hand touched me, which set me on my knees and on the palms of my hands. He said to me, Daniel, you man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright; for am I now sent to you. When he had spoken this word to me, I stood trembling. Then he said to me, Don’t be afraid, Daniel; for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard: and I have come for your words’ sake. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; but, behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me: and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what shall happen to your people in the latter days; for the vision is yet for many days...The word of Yahweh also came to me, saying, Son of man, you dwell in the midst of the rebellious house, who have eyes to see, and don’t see, who have ears to hear, and don’t hear; for they are a rebellious house. Therefore, you son of man, prepare your stuff for moving, and move by day in their sight; and you shall move from your place to another place in their sight: it may be they will consider, though they are a rebellious house.

Revelation 12:7-12 There was war in the sky. Michael and his angels made war on the dragon. The dragon and his angels made war. They didn’t prevail, neither was a place found for him any more in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, the old serpent, he who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world. He was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, the power, and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ has come; for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night. They overcame him because of the Lamb’s blood, and because of the word of their testimony. They didn’t love their life, even to death. Therefore rejoice, heavens, and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil has gone down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has but a short time.”

Matthew 18:1-11 In that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to himself, and set him in their midst, and said, “Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn, and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever therefore humbles himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever receives one such little child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him that a huge millstone should be hung around his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of occasions of stumbling! For it must be that the occasions come, but woe to that person through whom the occasion comes! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the Gehenna of fire. See that you don’t despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man came to save that which was lost.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Michael and all angels. In the Gospel lesson we see the disciples were arguing about who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. If the question were asked today, many might answer Mother Theresa or Billy Graham or the Pope or Joel Osteen or Rick Warren. But the argument over who is the greatest misses the point entirely. Jesus picks up a little child and says that if they rely upon their own striving to enter the kingdom of heaven, they will not receive the kingdom of heaven. They must become like children. You can only receive the kingdom of heaven by being like a little child.

Children were viewed as a blessing by many at the time of Jesus but nobody would have used them as a model for greatness in the kingdom of heaven. They were simply incapable carrying out the work and teaching that needed to be done. Today, things are worse. Children are viewed as a curse and absolutely useless. They are useless because they do not contribute. Fewer are involved in farming, so there is no longer a need for a large family to work the farm. They don't produce anything but dirty diapers and when they get a little bit older they tear your house apart. Our culture has become less and less centered around the family and more and more centered around the individual. But a little child has a better understanding of his own life than most adults have of their own lives. As adults we think we are self-sufficient and can get by on our own. We compete to do better than our neighbor. In Biblical times, begging was a legitimate vocation but now we look down on the beggar and are convinced that he just needs to pull himself up by his bootstraps. But in reality, we are all beggars. Little children know that their life is not about doing but receiving. Little children know they are beggars. The kingdom of heaven is not about doing but receiving God's good gifts. Children who receive food from their mothers' breasts would never try to argue that they earned that food or that they are the best breastfeeders of all.

These "little ones"--actual babies and others like you who know that the kingdom of heaven is all about receiving--are so loved and so important to God that He sends His holy angels to guard and protect them. God sends His holy angels to keep us from stumbling and to protect us from evil. Woe to that person who causes one of us little ones to stumble. Woe to pastors who preach something other than Christ-crucified. We "little ones" are not insignificant to God. He washes us in the waters of baptism and overcome the dragon with the blood given to us in the Lord's Supper by the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And He sends His angels to protect us.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Canon of St. Andrew: A Lutheran Revision

I love the Canon of St. Andrew. It is sung during Great Lent by the Eastern Orthodox church. It takes the person praying it through the Scriptures, placing him where he does not like to be placed but where he really is--as the worst of sinners. Most of the prayer is completely Biblical and is a good example of what Lutherans would consider the proper distinction between Law and Gospel. But some of the prayer is not Biblical. This is my attempt to remove the unbiblical elements from the prayer. Most of the prayers to Mary and the saints have been replaced with the Jesus Prayer, a few have been modified in some other way. We know from the Scriptures that the saints do pray for us but we have no promise that they hear our prayers to them. I have retained the proclamations of Mary's blessedness, perpetual virginity, etc. She is the Mother of God after all. But I have removed or edited certain sections that seem to refer to her as a co-redemptrix. The Canon of St. Andrew interprets "Jacob's" ladder as a ladder by which we ascend to God. I have altered the section dealing with the ladder to show that we do not ascend to God but God descends to us. Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions. In some passages I may have gone too far. In others I may not have gone far enough. In some of my revisions I was not entirely happy with the way I worded things but couldn't think of a better way at the time. This is my first attempt at anything like this and I wouldn't be surprised if I've made a giant blunder somewhere.

Song 1.

He is my Helper and Protector, and has become my salvation. This is my God and I will glorify Him. My father's God and I will exalt Him. For gloriously has He been glorified. (Exodus 15:2, 1; Psalm 117:14)

Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

1. Where shall I begin to lament the deeds of my wretched life? What first-fruit shall I offer, O Christ, for my present lamentation? But in Thy compassion grant me release from my falls.

2. Come, wretched soul, with your flesh, confess to the Creator of all. In future refrain from your former brutishness, and offer to God tears in repentance.

3. Having rivaled the first-created Adam by my transgression, I realize that I am stripped naked of God and of the everlasting kingdom and bliss through my sins. (Genesis 3)

4. Alas, wretched soul! Why are you like the first Eve? For you have wickedly looked and been bitterly wounded, and you have touched the tree and rashly tasted the forbidden food.

5. The place of bodily Eve has been taken for me by the Eve of my mind in the shape of a passionate thought in the flesh, showing me sweet things, yet ever making me taste and swallow bitter things.

6. Adam was rightly exiled from Eden for not keeping Thy one commandment, O Savior. But what shall I suffer who am always rejecting Thy living words? (Hebrews 12:25; Genesis 3:23)

7. I have willfully incurred the guilt of Cain's murder, since by invigorating my flesh I am the murderer of my soul's awareness, and have warred against it by my evil deeds. (Genesis 4:8)

8. I have not resembled Abel's righteousness, O Jesus. I have never offered Thee acceptable gifts, nor divine actions, nor a pure sacrifice, nor an unblemished life. (Genesis 4:4)

9. Like Cain, we too, O wretched soul, have likewise offered to the Creator of all foul deeds, defective sacrifice and a useless life. Therefore we too are condemned. (Genesis 4:5; Hebrews 11:4)

10. In molding my clay into life, O Potter, Thou didst put in me flesh and bones, breath and vitality. But, O my Creator, my Redeemer and Judge, accept me who repent. (Genesis 2:7; Jeremiah 18:1-10; Romans 9:21)

11. I confess to Thee, O Savior, the sins I have committed, and the wounds of my body and soul which murderous thoughts like robbers within have inflicted upon me. (Luke 10:30)

12. I have sinned, O Savior, yet I know that Thou art the Lover of men. Thou strikest compassionately and pitiest warmly. Thou seest me weeping and runnest towards me as the Father recalling the Prodigal. (Luke 15:20)

13. In old age even, O Savior, do not cast me out empty to hell as I lie prostrate before Thy gates. But before my end, in Thy love for men, grant me release from my falls.

14. I am the one by my thoughts who fell among robbers; and now I am all wounded by them, full of sores. But stand by me, O Christ my Savior, and heal me. (Luke 10:30)

15. The priest saw me first and passed by on the other side. Then the Levite took a look at my sufferings and disdained my nakedness. But stand by me, O Jesus Who didst dawn out of Mary, and have compassion on me. (Luke 10:31-33)

16. O Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of all, take from me the heavy yoke of sin, and in Thy compassion grant me tears of compunction (John 1:29)

17. It is time for repentance. I draw near to Thee, my Creator. Take from me the heavy yoke of sin, and in Thy compassion grant me tears of compunction.

18. Abhor me not, O Savior, cast me not away from Thy face. Take from me the heavy yoke of sin, and in Thy compassion grant me release from my falls.

19. All my sins, voluntary and involuntary, obvious and secret, known and unknown, forgive, O Savior, for Thou art God; be merciful and save me.

20. From my youth, O Christ, I have rejected Thy commandments. I have passed my whole life without caring or thinking as a slave of my passions. Therefore, O Savior, I cry to Thee: At least in the end save me.

21. I have squandered in profligacy my substance, O Savior, and I am barren of virtues and piety; but famished I cry: O Father of mercies, forestall and have compassion on me. (Luke 15:13. ,17)

22. I fall prostrate before Thee, O Jesus. I have sinned against Thee, be merciful to me. Take from me the heavy yoke of sin, and in Thy compassion grant me tears of compunction.

23. Enter not into judgment with me, by recording my deeds, demanding an account of my words, and examining my motives and desires. But in Thy compassion disregard my terrible past and save me, O God All-Powerful.

Song 2.

Attend, O heaven, and I will speak, and will sing of Christ who came to dwell among us in flesh which He took from the Virgin.

Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

1. Attend, O heaven, and I will speak; O earth, give ear to a voice repenting to God and singing praises to Him.

2. Attend to me, O God my Savior, with Thy merciful eye, and accept my fervent confession. (Proverbs 15:3; Psalm 33:15)

3. I have sinned above all men, I alone have sinned against Thee. But as God have compassion, O Savior, on Thy creature. (I Timothy 1:15)

4. A storm of passions besets me, O compassionate Lord. But stretch out Thy hand to me too, as to Peter. (Matthew 14:31)

5. The tears of the harlot, O merciful Lord, I too offer to Thee. Be merciful to me, O Savior, in Thy compassion. (Luke 7:38; 18:13. )

6. I have darkened the beauty of my soul with passionate pleasures, and my whole mind I have reduced wholly to mud.

7. I have torn my first garment which the Creator wove for me in the beginning, and therefore I am lying naked. (Genesis 3:21)

8. I have put on a torn coat, which the serpent wove for me by argument, and I am ashamed. (Genesis 3:4-5)

9. I looked at the beauty of the tree, and my mind was seduced; and now I lie naked, and I am ashamed. (Genesis 3:7)

10. All the demon-chiefs of the passions have plowed on my back, and long has their tyranny over me lasted. (Psalm 128:3)

11. I have lost my first-created beauty and comeliness; and now I lie naked, and I am ashamed.

12. Sin which stripped me of my former God-woven clothing has also sewn on me coats of skin. (Genesis 3:21)

13. . I am wrapped in a garment of shame as with fig leaves, in reproof of my selfish passions.

14. I am clad in a coat that is spotted and shamefully bloodstained by the flow of my passionate and pleasure-loving life.

15. I have stained the coat of my flesh, and soiled what is in Thy image and likeness, O Savior.

16. I fell under the burden of passions and corruption of matter, and from then until now I am oppressed by the enemy.

17. Having preferred a possessive and pleasure-loving life to spiritual poverty, O Savior, I am now harnessed with a heavy yoke. (Matthew 5:3)

18. I have adorned the idol of my flesh with the many-colored clothing of shameful thoughts, and I am condemned. (I John 5:21)

19. I have been anxiously concerned only about outward adornment, and have neglected the inner temple made in the image of God. (I Peter 3:3-4)

20. Having formed by my pleasure-loving desires the deformity of my passions, I have marred the beauty of my mind.

21. I have buried with passions the beauty of the original image, O Savior. But seek and find it, like the lost coin. (Luke 15:8)

22. Like the harlot I cry to Thee: I have sinned, I alone have sinned against Thee. Accept my tears also, O Savior, as perfume. (Luke 7:37-50)

23. I have slipped and fallen like David through lack of discipline, and I am covered with filth; but wash me too, O Savior, with my tears. (II Kings 11:1-4)

24. Like the publican I cry to Thee: Be merciful, O Savior, be merciful to me; for no child of Adam has sinned as I against Thee. (Luke 18:13. )

25. No tears, no repentance have I, no compunction. But as God, O Savior, grant me these.

26. Close not Thy door to me then, Lord, Lord; but open it to me who repent to Thee. (Matthew 25:11)

27. O Lover of men, Who wishest all to be saved, in Thy goodness recall me and receive me who repent. (I Timothy 2:4)

28. Give ear to the sighs and groans of my soul, and accept the drops of my eyes, O Savior, and save me.

Refrain: Most holy Jesus, save us.

Spotless Lamb of God, born of the Virgin Mary, save us.

See, see that I am God, Who rained manna and made water spout from the rock of old for my people in the wilderness, by My right hand, and by My strength alone.

29. See, see that I am God: give ear, my soul, to the Lord Who is appealing to you, and tear yourself from your former sin, and fear Him as the Avenger, and as your Judge and God. (Deuteronomy 32:35; Hebrews 10:30)

30. Whom do you resemble, O most sinful soul? Surely the first Cain and that wicked Lamech. For you have stoned your body with evil deeds, and you have murdered your mind with irrational appetites. (Genesis 4; 4:23)

31. Running through all who lived before the Law, my soul, you have not been like Seth, nor imitated Enos, nor Enoch by translation, nor Noah. But you are seen to be bereft of the life of the righteous. (Genesis 5)

32. You alone have opened the cataracts of the wrath of God, my soul, and have flooded as the earth all your flesh and actions and life, and have remained outside the Ark of Salvation. (Genesis 6-8)

33. "I have killed a man to the wounding of myself," said Lamech, "and a young man to my own hurt," he cried out wailing. But you, my soul, do not tremble, while polluting the flesh and defiling the mind. (Genesis 4:23)

34. O how I have emulated that old murderer Lamech! By my pleasure-loving cravings I have killed my soul as the man, my mind as the young man, and my body as my brother, like Cain the murderer. (Genesis 4:23)

35. You would have contrived to build a tower, my soul, and erect a stronghold for your lusts, had not the Creator confounded your plans and brought your schemes crashing to earth. (Genesis 11:3-4)

36. I am struck and wounded! See the arrows of the enemy with which my soul and body are pierced all over! See the wounds, the sores and the mutilations that cry out and betray the blows of my self-chosen passions!

37. The Lord rained fire from the Lord of old, and burnt up the wanton wickedness of Sodom. But you, my soul, have kindled the fire of hell, in which you are about to be bitterly burnt. (Genesis 19:24)

38. Know and see that I am God, Who searches hearts, punishes thoughts, reproves actions, and burns sins, and judges the orphan, the humble and the poor. (Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalm 67:5)

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: Unoriginate, uncreated Trinity, indivisible Unity, accept me who repent, save me who have sinned. I am Thy creation, despise me not, but spare me and deliver me from the fire of condemnation.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Spotless Lamb of God, hope of those who run to thee, and haven of those in distress, grant me grace, O Son of God and Creator.

Song 3.

Establish Thy Church on the unshakable rock of Thy commandments, O Christ,

Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

1. The Lord rained fire from the Lord, my soul, and burnt up the former land of Sodom. (Genesis 19:24)

2. Escape to the mountain like Lot, my soul, and make Zoar your refuge in time. (Genesis 19:22)

3. Run from the burning, my soul! Run from the heat of Sodom! Run from the destruction of the divine flame. (Deuteronomy 4:24; Hebrews 12:29)

4. I confess to Thee, O Savior, I have sinned, I have sinned against Thee, but absolve and forgive me in Thy compassion.

5. I alone have sinned against Thee, sinned above all men. O Christ my Savior, spurn me not.

6. Thou art the good Shepherd; seek me, Thy lamb, and neglect not me who have gone astray. (John 10:11-14)

7. Thou art my sweet Jesus, Thou art my Creator; in Thee, O Savior, I shall be justified.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: O Trinity, Unity, God, save us from delusion and temptations and distressing circumstances.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Rejoice, God-receiving womb! Rejoice, throne of the Lord! Rejoice, Mother of our Life!

Establish, O Lord, my unstable heart on the rock of Thy commandments, for Thou only art Holy and Lord.

8. In Thee, the Conqueror of death, I have found the Source of Life, and from my heart I cry to Thee before my end: I have sinned, be merciful, save me.

9. I have imitated those who were licentious in Noah's time, and I have earned a share in their condemnation of drowning in the flood. (Genesis 6)

10. I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned against Thee. Be merciful to me. For there is no one who has sinned among men whom I have not surpassed by my sins.

11. You have imitated Ham, that spurner of his father, my soul. You have not concealed your neighbor’s shame by returning to him looking backwards. (Genesis 9:20-27)

12. You have not inherited Shem's blessing, wretched soul, nor have you received that vast possession like Japheth in the land of forgiveness. (Genesis 9:26-27)

13. Come out, my soul, from sin, from the land of Haran! Come into the land of eternal life flowing with incorruption which Abraham inherited. (Genesis 12:4)

14. You have heard, my soul, how Abraham of old left the land of his fathers and became a nomad. Imitate his resolution. (Genesis 12:1)

15. At the Oak of Mamre the Patriarch entertained Angels, and inherited in his old age the spoil of the promise. (Genesis 18:1)

16. Knowing, my wretched soul, how Isaac was mystically offered to the Lord as a new sacrifice and holocaust, imitate his resolution. (Genesis 22:2)

17. You have heard of Ishmael (be watchful, my soul!) who was driven out as the son of a slave-girl. Beware lest you suffer something similar by your lusting. (Genesis 21:10)

18. You, my soul, have become like Hagar the Egyptian of old. You have become enslaved by your own choice and have a new Ishmael - stubborn self-will. (Genesis 16:15)

19. You know, my soul, of the Ladder shown to Jacob reaching from earth to Heaven. Why have you not clung to the sure step of piety? (Genesis 28:12)

20. Imitate that Priest of God and solitary King who was an image of the life of Christ in the world among men. (cf. Melchizedek: Hebrews 7:1-4; Genesis 14:18)

21. Do not be a pillar of salt, my soul, by turning back; but let the example of the Sodomites frighten you, and take refuge up in Zoar. (Genesis 19:26)

22. Run, my soul, like Lot from the fire of sin; run from Sodom and Gomorrah; run from the flame of every irrational desire. (Genesis 19)

23. Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy on me, I implore Thee, when Thou comest with Thy Angels to requite us all as our actions deserve.

24. Reject not the prayer of those who praise Thee, O Lord; but have compassion on us, O Lover of men, and to those who ask with faith grant forgiveness.

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

I am hard pressed by the waves and billows of my sins, Jesus. But now bring me safely through, and lead me to the haven of divine repentance.

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

O Jesus, open to me the divine right of entry.

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Grant me release from my debts, O Jesus, Son of God, for thou hast paid my debts through the mystery of Thy death.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: Simple, uncreated Unity, unoriginate Nature praised in a Trinity of Persons, save us who with faith worship Thy power.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

O Mother of God, unwedded thou gavest birth in time to the timeless Son of the Father, And - O strange wonder! - thou remainest a Virgin while suckling Him.

Establish, O Lord, my unstable heart on The rock of Thy commandments, for Thou only art Holy and Lord.

Little Litany:

Deacon: Again and again in peace let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy

Deacon: Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.

Choir: Lord, have mercy

Deacon: Calling to remembrance our most holy, most pure, most blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us commit ourselves and one another, and all our life unto Christ our God.

Choir: Lord, have mercy


Priest: For Thou art our God and unto Thee do we send up glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

Choir: Amen.

O Light of the world, enlighten us in the darkness of life, that we may walk honestly as in the day, routing the passions of the night with the lamp of temperance and continence, and may see Thy glorious Passion, rejoicing.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

Lord Jesus Christ, grant that we may all finish the course of the Fast, completing the prayers with compunction, and zealously practicing the virtues, that we may attain to see Thy glorious Resurrection, offering Thee glory and praise.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Incomprehensible Son and Word of God, Who beyond understanding was ineffably born of the Theotokos, bestow true peace on the world, and before our end grant us forgiveness of sins, and in Thy extreme goodness make Thy servants fit for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Song 4. Tone 8.

I have heard, O Lord, the mystery of Thy plan, I contemplate Thy works and glorify Thy divine nature.

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.


1. Having lived in continence, the enlightened Apostles of Christ make easy for us the time of continence by their divine intercessions.

2. Like a twelve-stringed instrument, the divine choir of the Disciples sings the song of salvation, and confounds the racket of the evil one.

3. With showers of the Spirit the all-blessed Apostles have watered everything under the sun and banished the drought of polytheism.

Refrain: Most holy Son of God, save us.

Humble and save me who have lived high-mindedly, O pure Jesus, who was born of the virgin and exalted our humbled nature.

I have heard, O Lord, the report of Thee, and am afraid. I contemplate Thy works and glorify Thy power, O Lord.

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

4. The holy choir of Apostles, prays to the Creator of all and asks Him to have mercy on us who sing His praises.

5. As workers who cultivated the whole world with the word of God, O Apostles of Christ, you always offered Him your fruits.

6. You were a vineyard for the truly beloved Christ, for from you the wine of the Spirit gushed into the world, O Apostles.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: Eternal, co-equal, all-powerful Holy Trinity; Father, Word and Holy Spirit; God, Light and Life, guard Thy flock.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Rejoice, fiery throne! Rejoice, luminous lamp! Rejoice, mountain of sanctification, ark of life, tabernacle, holy of holies.


Song 4.

The Prophet heard of Thy coming, O Lord, and was afraid that Thou wast to be born of a Virgin and appear to men, and he said "I have heard the report of Thee and am afraid." Glory to Thy power, O Lord. (Habbakuk 3:2)

Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.


1. Despise not Thy works and forsake not Thy creation, O just Judge and Lover of men, though I alone have sinned as a man more than any man. But being Lord of all, Thou hast power to pardon sins. (Mark 2:10)

2. The end is drawing near, my soul, is drawing near! But you neither care nor prepare. The time is growing short. Rise! The Judge is near at the very doors. Like a dream, like a flower, the time of this life passes. Why do we bustle about in vain? (Matthew 24:33; Psalm 38:7)

3. Come to your senses, my soul! Consider the deeds you have done, and bring them before your eyes, and pour out the drops of your tears. Boldly tell your thoughts and deeds to Christ, and be acquitted.

4. There has never been a sin or act or vice in life that I have not committed, O Savior. I have sinned in mind, word and choice, in purpose, will and action, as no one else has ever done.

5. Therefore I am condemned, wretch that I am, therefore I am doomed by my own conscience, than which there is nothing in the world more rigorous. O my Judge and Redeemer Who knowest my heart, spare and deliver and save me, Thy servant.

6. The ladder of old which the great Patriarch saw, my soul, is a model of Christ descending to us. By your condescension activate my soul, increase my knowledge and make me contemplate and be renewed. (Genesis 28:12; Romans 12:2; Titus 3:5)

7. Because of his crying need the Patriarch endured the scorching heat of the day, and he bore the frost of the night, daily making gains, shepherding, struggling, slaving, in order to win two wives. (Genesis 29:16-30; 31-40)

8. By the two wives understand action and direct knowledge in contemplation: Leah as action, for she was given many children, and Rachel as knowledge, which is obtained by much labor. For without struggle, my soul, neither action nor contemplation will achieve success.

9. Watch, my soul! Be courageous like the great Patriarchs, that you may acquire activity and awareness, and be a mind that sees God, and may reach in contemplation the innermost darkness, and be a great trader. (Genesis 32:28; Luke 19:13. -15)

10. The great Patriarch, by begetting the twelve Patriarchs, became a ladder of Divine descent, having been given his children as rungs.

11. You have emulated the hated Esau, my soul, and have given up your birthright of pristine beauty to your supplanter, and you have lost your father's blessing, and have been tripped up twice in action and knowledge. Therefore, O wretch, repent now. ( Genesis 25:31; 27:37)

12. Esau was called Edom for his extreme passion of madness for women. For ever burning with incontinence and stained with pleasures, he was named Edom, which means a red-hot sin-loving soul. (Genesis 25:30)

13. . Have you heard of Job who was made holy on a dunghill, O my soul? You have not emulated his courage, nor had his firmness of purpose in all you have learned or known, or in your temptations, but you have proved unpersevering. (Job 1)

14. He who was formerly on a throne is now naked on a dunghill and covered with sores. He who had many children and was much admired is suddenly childless and homeless. Yet he regarded the dunghill as a palace and his sores as pearls. (Job 2:7-8)

15. The opulent and righteous man, arrayed in royal dignity, crown and purple, abounding in wealth and cattle, was suddenly shorn of his riches, glory and kingdom and became a beggar.

16. If he who was righteous and blameless beyond all did not escape the snares and nets of the deceiver, what will you do, my soul, who are sin-loving and wretched, if something unexpected happens to you?

17. My body is defiled, my spirit is sullied, and I am all covered with sores. But as the Physician, O Christ, heal, wash and cleanse both body and spirit with repentance, and make me, my Savior, purer than snow.

18. Thou didst lay down Thy body and blood for ail, O crucified Word: Thy body in order to renew me, Thy blood in order to wash me, and Thou didst surrender Thy spirit, O Christ, in order to bring me to the Father.

19. Thou hast wrought salvation in the midst of the earth, O merciful Creator, that we may be saved. Thou wast voluntarily crucified on the Tree: Eden that was closed is open; things on high and below, creation and all peoples are saved and worship Thee. (Psalm 73:12)

20. May the blood and water that wells from Thy side be a font for me and a draught of forgiveness, that I may be cleansed, anointed and refreshed by both as with drink and unction by Thy living words, O Word. (John 19:34; Acts 7:38)

21. I am bereft of the bridal hall, I am bereft of the marriage and supper. My lamp has gone out for want of oil, the door has been locked while I was asleep; the supper is eaten; and I, bound hand and foot, am cast outside. (Matthew 25; Luke 14:7-35; Matthew 22:1-14)

22. The Church has acquired Thy life-giving side as a chalice, from which gushes forth for us a twofold torrent of forgiveness and knowledge as a type of the two covenants, Old and New, O our Savior.

23. Brief is my lifetime and full of pain and wickedness, but accept me in penitence and recall me to awareness of Thee. May I never be the possession or food of the enemy. O Savior, have compassion on me. (Genesis 47:9)

24. Boastful I am, and hard-hearted, all in vain and for nothing. Condemn me not with the Pharisee, but rather grant me the humility of the Publican, O only merciful and just Judge, and number me with him. (Luke 18:9-14)

25. I have sinned, I know, O merciful Lord, and outraged the vessel of my flesh, but accept me in penitence and recall me to awareness of Thee. May I never be the possession or food of the enemy. O Savior, have compassion on me.

26. I am become my own idol, and have injured my soul with passions, O merciful Lord, but accept me in penitence and recall me to awareness of Thee. May I never be the possession or food of the enemy. O Savior, have compassion on me.

27. I have not listened to Thy voice, I have disobeyed Thy Scripture, O Lawgiver, but accept me in penitence and recall me to awareness of Thee. May I never be the possession or food of the enemy. O Savior, have compassion on me.

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: I confess Thee to be undivided in essence, unconfused in persons, One Triune Divinity, co-enthroned and co-reigning. I sing Thee the great song thrice sung on high.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokos, thou givest birth and livest a virgin life, and in both remainest a virgin by nature. He Who is born of thee renews the laws of nature, and a womb gives birth without travail. Where God wills, the order of nature is overruled; for He does whatever He wishes.

Song 5.

Out of the night watching early for Thee, enlighten me, I pray, O Lover of men, and guide even me in Thy commandments, and teach me, O Savior, to do Thy will.

Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.


1. I have passed my life ever in night, for the night of sin has been to me thick fog and darkness; but make me, O Savior, a Son of the day. (Ephesians 5:8)

2. Like Reuben, wretch that I am, I have planned an unprincipled and lawless act against God Most High, having defiled my bed as he defiled that of his father. (Genesis 35:21; 49:3-4)

3. I confess to Thee, O Christ my King: I have sinned, I have sinned, like Joseph's brothers of old, who sold the fruit of purity and chastity. (Genesis 37)

4. Righteous Joseph was given up by his brothers, that sweet soul was sold into slavery, as a type of the Lord; and you, my soul, have sold yourself completely to your vices. (Genesis 37:27-28)

5. Imitate, wretched and worthless soul, righteous Joseph and his pure mind, and do not be wanton with irrational desires, ever transgressing. (Genesis 39:7-23)

6. If Joseph of old also occupied a pit, O Sovereign Lord, yet it was as a type of Thy Burial and Rising. But will I ever offer Thee anything like it? (Genesis 37)

7. You have heard, my soul, of Moses' ark of old, borne on the waters and waves of the river as in a shrine, which escaped the bitter tragedy of Pharaoh's edict. (Exodus 1:22 - 2:3)

8. If you have heard of the midwives, wretched soul, who of old killed in infancy the manly issue and practice of chastity, then like the great Moses, suck wisdom. (Exodus 1:16; 2-9; Acts 7:22)

9. You, wretched soul, have not struck and killed your Egyptian mind, like great Moses. Say, then, how will you dwell in that desert solitude where the passions desert you through repentance? (Exodus 2:12)

10. Great Moses dwelt in the wilds, my soul. So go and imitate his life, that you too may attain by contemplation to the vision of God in the bush. (Exodus 3:1)

11. Imagine Moses' staff striking the sea and fixing the deep as a type of the divine Cross, by which you too, my soul, can accomplish great things. (Exodus 14:16)

12. Aaron offered to God the fire pure and undefiled; but Hophni and Phinehas, like you, my soul, offered to God a foul and rebellious life. (Leviticus 9:21-24; I Kings 2:12-34)

13. . How heavy in character I have become, in soul and body, like Jannes and Jambres in Pharaoh's bitter service, and my mind has sunk low. But help me, O Lord. (Exodus 7:11; II Timothy 3:8)

14. I, wretch that I am, have rolled my mind in mud. But wash me, O Lord, in the bath of my tears, I pray Thee, and make the robe of my flesh as white as snow.

15. When I examine my actions, O Savior, I see that I have gone beyond all men in sins; for I have sinned with knowledge consciously, and not in ignorance.

16. Spare, spare, O Lord, Thy works. I have sinned; forgive me, for Thou alone art pure by nature, and apart from Thee there is none without defilement. (I Peter 3:21)

17. Being God, for my sake Thou didst take my form, and didst work miracles, healing lepers and bracing paralytics; and Thou didst stop the flow of blood of the woman with hemorrhage, O Savior, through the touch of Thy hem. (Philemon 2:6; Matthew 4:24; Luke 8:43-48)

18. Imitate, wretched soul, the woman with hemorrhage. Run to Christ and hold His hem, that you may be healed of your maladies and hear from Him, "Your faith has saved you." (Matthew 9:22)

19. Imitate, my soul, the woman bent earthward; come and fall down at the feet of Jesus, that He may straighten you to walk upright in the footsteps of the Lord. (Luke 13. :11)

20. Though Thou art a deep well, O Lord, pour on me streams from Thy immaculate wounds, that like the Samaritan woman I may drink and thirst no more; for from Thee gush rivers of life. (John 4:13. -15)

21. May my tears be for me a Siloam, O Sovereign Lord, that I may wash the eyes of my soul and mentally see Thee Who art that light which was before creation. (John 9:7; Genesis 1:2-19)

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

O Tree of Life, make us also worthy to attain to the glory on high.

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: Thee, O Trinity, we glorify, the one God: Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou, Father, Son and Spirit, simple Being, Unity ever adored.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

From thee, O maiden, Mother and Virgin, God Who created the worlds and ages was clad in my clay and united to Himself human nature.

Song 6.

I cried with my whole heart to the merciful God, and He heard me from the lowest hell and raised my life out of corruption.

Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

1. I sincerely offer Thee with a pure intention, O Savior, the tears of my eyes and groans from the depths of my heart, crying: O God, I have sinned against Thee; be merciful to me. (Luke 18:13. )

2. You, my soul, have revolted from the Lord like Dathan and Abiram. But with all your heart cry, "Spare!" that a yawning gulf of the earth may not swallow you. (Numbers 16)

3. Like a stampeding heifer stung to madness, my soul, you have resembled Ephraim. Winged with action, resolve and contemplation, save your life like a gazelle from the noose. (Hosea 4:16)

4. Let Moses' hand assure us, my soul, how God can whiten and cleanse a leprous life. So do not despair of yourself, even though you are leprous. (Exodus 4:6-8)

5. The waves of my sins, O Savior, as in the Red Sea recoiled and covered me unawares, like the Egyptians of old and their charioteers. (Exodus 14:7-31)

6. Like Israel of old, my soul, you have had a foolish affection. For like a brute you have preferred to divine manna the pleasure-loving gluttony of the passions. (Numbers 21:5; I Corinthians 10:9)

7. The wells of Canaanite thoughts, my soul, you have prized above the Rock with the cleft from which the river of wisdom like a chalice pours forth streams of theology. (Genesis 21:23; Exodus 17:6)

8. Swine's flesh and hotpots and Egyptian food you, my soul, have preferred to heavenly manna, as of old the senseless people in the wilderness. (Exodus 16:3; Numbers 11:4-7)

9. When Thy servant Moses struck the rock with his staff, he mystically typified Thy life-giving side, O Savior, from which we all draw the water of life. (Numbers 20:11; I Corinthians 10:4)

10. Explore and spy out the Land of Promise like Joshua the Son of Nun, my soul, and see what it is like, and settle in it by observing the laws. (Joshua 2)

11. Rise and make war against the passions of the flesh, as Joshua did against Amalek, and ever conquer the Gibeonites - illusive thoughts. (Exodus 17:8; Joshua 8:21)

12. Pass through the flowing nature of time, like the Ark of old, and take possession of the Land of Promise, my soul: It is God's command. (Joshua 3:17; Deuteronomy 1:8)

13. As Thou savedst Peter when he cried, "Save me!" forestall and deliver me from the beast, O Savior; stretch out Thy hand and raise me from the depths of sin. (Matthew 14:25-31)

14. I know Thee as a calm haven, O Lord, Lord Christ; but forestall and deliver me from the innermost depths of sin and despair.

15. I am the coin with the royal image which was lost of old, O Savior. But light the lamp, Thy Forerunner, O Word; seek and find Thy image. (Luke 15:8)

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Knowing thee to be the shepherd of the Church and intercessor for the world, O Jesus, I run to thee and cry: Deliver me from the depths of sin.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: I am the Trinity, simple and undivided, divided Personally, and I am the Unity, united in nature, says the Father, the Son, and the Divine Spirit.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokos, thy womb bore God for us Who took our form.

I cried with my whole heart to the merciful God, and He heard me from the lowest hell and raised my life out of corruption.

Deacon: Again and again in peace let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy

Deacon: Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.

Choir: Lord, have mercy

Deacon: Calling to remembrance our most holy, most pure, most blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us commit ourselves and one another, and all our life unto Christ our God.

Choir: Lord, have mercy


Priest: For Thou art the King of Peace and Savior of our souls, and to Thee we send up the glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

Choir: Amen.

My soul, my soul, arise! Why are you sleeping? The end is drawing near, and you will be confounded. Awake, then, and be watchful, that Christ our God may spare you, Who is everywhere present and fills all things.

Seeing Christ's healing temple opened, and how health Streams from Him to Adam, the devil suffered and was stricken. Then he wailed as if in mortal danger and to his friends raised a bitter howl: what shall I do to the Son of Mary? The Bethlehemite is killing me, Who is everywhere present and fills all things.

Then we sing the Beatitudes:

In Thy Kingdom remember us, O Lord, when Thou comest in Thy Kingdom.

1. Thou didst make the Robber a citizen of Paradise on the Cross when he cried to Thee, O Christ, "Remember me!" Make me, unworthy as I am, also worthy of his repentance. (Luke 23:42,43)

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

2. Have you heard, my soul, of Manoah of old who saw God in a waking vision and received from his barren wife the fruit of God's promise? Let us imitate his piety. (Judges 13. )

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

3. You, my soul, have emulated Samson's easy-going laxity; you have shorn the glory of your deeds, and by love of pleasure have surrendered to the Philistines a chaste and blessed life. (Judges 14)

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

4. He who conquered the Philistines with an ass's jawbone is now found to be a dissolute slave of passionate intercourse. But avoid, my soul, his example, his action, his laxity.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

5. Barak and Jephthah, military leaders, with manly-minded Deborah, were promoted to be Judges of Israel. Learn courage from their heroic deeds, my soul, and master yourself. (Judges 4:11)

Blessed are the merciful, for the shall obtain mercy.

6. You know, my soul, of Jael's bravery, who impaled Sisera of old and wrought salvation with a tent-peg, by which (are you listening?) the Cross is typified to you. (Judges 5)

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

7. Offer the sacrifice of praise, my soul, offer action as a daughter purer than Jephthah's, and slay your carnal passions as a sacrifice to your Lord. (Judges 11)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

8. Think, my soul, of Gideon's fleece. Receive the dew from Heaven; stoop down like a dog and drink the water that flows from the Law by the pressure of study. (Judges 6-8)

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

9. You, my soul, for lack of understanding have drawn upon yourself the priest Eli's condemnation, by allowing the passions to act sinfully in you, as he allowed his children. (I Kings 2-4)

Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely and on My account.

10. The Levite among the Judges, by negligence, divided his wife among the twelve tribes, my soul, in order to blazon the lawless outrage of Benjamin. (Judges 19-20)

Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven.

11. Chaste Hannah when praying moved her lips in praise, while her voice was not yet heard; but yet, though barren, she bears a son. (I Kings 1)

Remember us, O Lord, when Thou comest in Thy Kingdom.

12. Hannah's child, the great Samuel, was reckoned among the Judges, and he was brought up in Arimathea and in the House of the Lord. Imitate him, my soul, and before judging others, judge your own actions. (I Kings 16:13. )

Remember us, O Master, when Thou comest in Thy Kingdom.

13. . David was chosen to be king, and he was royally anointed with the horn of divine oil. So if you, my soul, desire the Kingdom on high, be anointed with the oil of tears.

Remember us, O Holy One, when Thou comest in Thy Kingdom.

14. Have mercy on Thy creation, O merciful Lord; have compassion on the work of Thy hands, and spare all who have sinned, and even me who above all have ignored Thy commands.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: Unoriginate both by generation and procession, the Father Who begot I worship, I glorify the Son Who is begotten, and I hymn the Holy Spirit, co-effulgent with the Father and the Son.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokos, we marvel at thy supernatural childbirth, without dividing the natural glory of thy Child, O Mother of God. For He is confessed to be one in Person and twofold in Nature.

Song 7.

We have sinned, transgressed, done wrong before Thee, we have not watched or done as Thou hast commanded us. But do not give us up utterly, O God of our Fathers.

Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.


1. I have sinned, offended and rejected Thy commandment, for I have advanced in sins and added wounds to my sores. But in Thy compassion have mercy on me, O God of our Fathers.

2. I have confessed to Thee, my Judge, the secrets of my heart. See my humility, see also my distress, and attend to my judgment now. And in Thy compassion have mercy on me, O God of our Fathers.

3. When Saul of old lost his father's asses, besides getting news of them he incidentally found a kingdom. But watch, my soul, lest without noticing it, you prefer your animal cravings to the Kingdom of Christ. (I Kings 10:2)

4. If David, the father of our Divine Lord, doubly sinned of old, my soul, when he was pierced with the arrow of adultery and struck with the spear of remorse for murder, yet you have a sickness graver than deeds in your will and appetites. (II Kings 11; 12:1-23)

5. David once joined sin to sin, for he mixed adultery with murder, yet he immediately offered double repentance. But you, my soul, have done things more wicked without repenting to God.

6. David of old composed a song, painting it as in a picture by which he exposes the deed he had done, crying: Have mercy on me, for against Thee only have I sinned, Who art God of all. Cleanse me. (Psalm 50)

7. When the Ark was being carried on a wagon, and when one of the oxen slipped, Uzzah only touched it and experienced the wrath of God. But avoid, my soul, his presumption and truly reverence divine things. (II Kings 6:6)

8. You have heard of Absalom, how he rose against nature. You know his accursed deeds and how he insulted the bed of his father David. But you have imitated his passionate and pleasure-loving cravings. (II Kings 15; 16:21)

9. You have enslaved your free dignity to your body, my soul, for you have found in satan another Ahitophel and have consented to his counsels. But Christ Himself scattered them, that you may at all events be saved. (II Kings 16:20)

10. Wonderful Solomon, who was full of the grace of wisdom, at one time did evil in God's sight and fell away from Him. And you, my soul, have resembled him by your accursed life. (III Kings 11; Ecclus 47:12-20)

11. Carried away by the pleasure of his passions, he defiled himself. Alas, the lover of wisdom is a lover of loose women and estranged from God! And you, my soul, have in mind imitated him by your shameful pleasures. (III Kings 3:12; 11:4-12)

12. You, my soul, have rivaled Rehoboam who would not listen to his father's advisors, and that vicious slave Jeroboam the apostate of old. But shun such mimicry and cry to God: I have sinned, have compassion on me.(III Kings 12:13. -20)

13. . You have rivaled Ahab in defilements, my soul. Alas, you have been a lodging-place of fleshly pollutions and a shameful vessel of passions. But groan from your depths and tell God your sins. (III Kings 16:30)

14. Elijah once burned a hundred of Jezebel's flunkeys when he had destroyed her shameful prophets as a proof and rebuke for Ahab. But avoid imitating these two, my soul, and master yourself. (IV Kings 1:10-15; III Kings 18:40)

15. Heaven is closed to you, my soul, and the famine of God has reached you, for you have been disobedient as was Ahab of old to the words of Elijah the Tishbite. But be like the woman of Sarepta, and feed the Prophet's soul. (III Kings 17)

16. You have piled up sins like Manasseh by deliberate choice, my soul, setting up your passions as idols and multiplying abominations. But now fervently emulate his repentance and acquire compunction. (IV Kings 21; II Chronicles 33)

17. I fall down before Thee and bring Thee as tears my words: I have sinned like the harlot, and transgressed as no other on earth. But have compassion, O Lord, on Thy work, and recall me.

18. I have buried Thy image and broken Thy commandment. All my beauty is darkened and my lamp is extinguished by my passions, O Savior. But have compassion and restore to me, as David sings, joy. (Psalm 50:14)

19. Return, repent, uncover what is hidden. Say to God Who knows everything: Thou knowest my secrets, O only Savior; but have mercy on me, as David sings, according to Thy mercy. (Psalm 50)

20. My days have vanished like a dream on waking. Therefore I weep on my bed like Hezekiah that years may be added to my life. But what Isaiah will come to you, my soul, except the God of all? (IV Kings 20:3; Isaiah 38:2)

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Strengthen me on the rock of faith by thy intercessions, O Jesus, and wall and fortify me with an awed sense of the divine indwelling, and grant me repentance, O Christ, now. And I implore thee to deliver me from the snares of foes actively seeking my life.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: O Trinity simple and undivided, of one essence and one nature, Lights and Light, three Holies and one Holy, God the Trinity is hymned. But sing, my soul, and glorify the Life and Lives, the God of all.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

We sing of thee, we bless thee, O Mother of God, for thou gavest birth to one of the inseparable Trinity, the one Son and God, and to us on earth thou hast opened the heavenly realms.

Song 8. Tone 8.

The Eternal King of Glory, before Whom the Hosts of Heaven are thrilled with awe and the Orders of the Angels tremble, praise Him, O priests, and exalt Him, you people, throughout all ages.

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

1. Like coals of immaterial fire, burn my material passions, and kindle in me now, O Holy Spirit, a longing for divine love.

2. Let us honor the tuneful trumpets of the Word, through whom the rickety walls of the enemy fell and the battlements of the knowledge of God were built.

3. Smash the passionate idols of my soul, as you smashed the temples and pillars of the enemy, O Holy Spirit.

Refrain: Most holy Son of Mary, save us.

Thou didst contain Him Who is uncontainable by nature, thou didst carry Him Who carries all things, O pure Virgin, thou didst suckle Him Who feeds creation, Christ the Lifegiver.

The Eternal King of Glory, before Whom the Hosts of Heaven are thrilled with awe and the Orders of the Angels tremble, praise Him, O priests, and exalt Him, you people, throughout all ages.

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

4. Having built the whole Church with the Spirit as architect, O Apostles of Christ, bless Christ in it throughout the ages.

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

5. By blowing the trumpet of the dogmas, the Apostles have overthrown all the delusion and error of idolatry, and exalted Christ throughout all ages.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: Triune, all-radiant God, co-glorified and co-enthroned Nature, Father Almighty, Son and Divine Spirit, I sing of Thee for ever.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion: Let us, O you peoples, unceasingly sing of the Mother of God, as an honored and sublime throne, who alone after childbirth is Mother and Virgin.


Song 8. Tone 6.

Him Whom the heavenly hosts glorify and before Whom Cherubim and Seraphim tremble, let every breath and all creation praise, bless and exalt throughout all ages.

Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

1. I have sinned, O Savior, have mercy! Awaken my mind to conversion, accept me who repent, have compassion on me as I cry: Against Thee only have I sinned and acted lawlessly; have mercy on me.

2. Elijah the charioteer once ascended by the chariot of the virtues as to heaven and was carried above earthly things. Consider then, my soul, this ascent. (IV Kings 2:11)

3. Jordan's stream of old was made to stand still on either side by Elisha by Elijah's sheepskin. But you, my soul, have not shared this grace owing to incontinence. (IV Kings 2:14)

4. Elisha received double grace from the Lord when he took up Elijah's sheepskin. But you, my soul, have not shared this grace owing to incontinence. (IV Kings 2:9)

5. The Shunammite woman of old with right good will entertained the righteous man. But you, my soul, have taken into your house neither stranger nor traveler. Therefore you will be cast out of the bridal hall wailing. (IV Kings 4:8)

6. You have always imitated the vile mind of Gehazi, O wretched soul. Rid yourself of his love of money, at least in old age; escape from the fire of Gehenna by leaving your evil ways. (IV Kings 5:20-27)

7. Having emulated Uzziah, my soul, you have his leprosy in you doubled. For you think disgusting thoughts and do outrageous things. Let go of what you are holding and run to repentance. (IV Kings 15:5; II Chronicles 26:19)

8. Have you heard, my soul, of the Ninevites, who repented before God in sackcloth and ashes? You have not imitated them, but appear to be more crooked than all who have sinned before and after the law. (Jonah 3:5)

9. You have heard of Jeremiah in the mud pit, my soul, how he cried out with lamentations against the City of Zion, and was seeking tears. Imitate his life of lamentation and you will be saved. (Jeremiah 38:6)

10. Jonah fled to Tarshish, foreseeing the conversion of the Ninevites; for, being a Prophet, he was aware of God's compassion, and was anxious that his prophesy should not prove false. (Jonah 1:3)

11. You have heard, my soul, of Daniel in the lion's den, and how he shut the beasts' mouths. You know how the Children who were with Azariah extinguished the flames of the burning furnace by faith. (Daniel 6:16-22; 3:23)

12. I have reviewed all the people of the Old Testament as examples for you, my soul. Imitate the God-loving deeds of the righteous and shun the sins of the wicked.

13. . Just Judge and Savior, have mercy on me and deliver me from the fire and the threat which I shall justly incur at the judgment. Forgive me before my end by virtue and repentance.

14. Like the robber I cry, "Remember me!" Like Peter I weep bitterly, "Release me, O Savior!" I croak like the publican; I weep like the harlot. Accept my lamentation as once the Canaanite woman. (Luke 23:42; Matthew 26:75; Luke 18:13. ; Luke 7:37-38; Matthew 15:22-28)

15. Heal, O Savior, the corruption of my debased soul, O only Physician. Apply the compress to me, and the oil and wine - works of repentance, compunction and tears. (Luke 10:34)

16. Imitating the woman of Canaan, I also cry, "Have mercy on me, O Son of David!" I touch Thy hem like the woman with hemorrhage. I weep like Martha and Mary over Lazarus. (Matthew 15:22; Mark 5:27; John 11:33)

17. The alabaster jar of my tears, O Savior, I pour out on Thy head as the perfume, and like the harlot I cry to Thee, seeking Thy mercy. I offer prayer and ask to receive forgiveness. (Matthew 26:7; Luke 7:38)

18. Though no one has sinned against Thee as I, yet accept even me, O compassionate Savior, repenting with fear and crying with love: Against Thee only have I sinned. I have done wrong, have mercy on me.

19. Spare, O Savior, Thy own creation., and seek as Shepherd Thy lost sheep; snatch the stray from the wolf, and make me a pet lamb in Thy sheep pasture. (Psalm 118:176; John 10:11-16)

20. When Thou sittest as Judge and in Thy compassion showest Thy dread glory, O Christ, O what fear there will be then, when the furnace is burning and all shrink from Thy inexorable Tribunal! (Matthew 25:31-46)

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Let us bless the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Lord:

To The Trinity: Eternal Father, co-eternal Son, gracious Comforter, Spirit of Truth; Father of the Divine Word, Word of the Eternal Father, living and creative Spirit, Trinity Unity, have mercy on us.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

As from scarlet silk, O spotless Virgin, within thy womb the spiritual purple was woven, the flesh of Emmanuel. Therefore we honor thee as in truth Mother of God.

Let us praise, bless and worship the Lord, sing and exalt Him throughout all ages.

Him Whom the heavenly hosts glorify and before Whom Cherubim and Seraphim tremble, let every breath and all creation praise, bless and exalt throughout all ages.

Song 9. Tone 8.

O pure Virgin, we confess thee to be truly Mother of God, and with Bodiless Choirs we call you blessed.

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

1. O Living Water, bedew my soul that is racked with thirst by sin.

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

2. Swimming in the sea of destruction as I am and already under water, save me like Peter with Thy right hand, O Lord.

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

3. Since you are the salt of the teachings of health, dry the decay of my mind and dispel the darkness of ignorance.

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

O Joy who was born of the Virgin Mary, grant me mourning through which I shall be able to find divine consolation in the coming day.

As the vessel by which heaven condescended to earth, all generations bless thee. For there dwelt in thee bodily, O Virgin, the fullness of the Godhead.

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

4. O glorious company of the Apostles, you are the bright lights of the world that banish delusion and error.

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

5. Ever catching rational fish with the net of your Gospel, you continually bring them as food to Christ, O blessed Apostles.

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: Of Thee, the Tri-Personal Unity, I sing; Father and Son with the Spirit, One God of one essence, Trinity one in power and without beginning.

All generations bless thee as the Child-bearer and Virgin, since through thee we have been redeemed from the curse, for thou didst bear for us the Lord, our Joy.

Song 9. Tone 6.

Ineffable is the childbearing of a seedless conception, unsullied the pregnancy of a Virgin Mother, for the birth of God renews natures. So in all generations we bless thee in orthodox fashion as the Mother and Bride of God.

Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

1. The mind is wounded, the body is feeble, the spirit is sick, the word has lost its power, life is ebbing, the end is at the doors. What then will you do, wretched soul, when the Judge comes to try your case?

2. I have reviewed Moses' account of the creation of the world, my soul, and then all canonical Scripture which tells you the story of the righteous and the unrighteous. But you, my soul, have copied the latter and not the former, and have sinned against God.

3. The Law has grown weak, the Gospel is unpracticed, the whole of the Scripture is ignored by you; the Prophets and every word of the Just have lost their power. Your wounds, my soul, have multiplied, and there is no physician to heal you.

4. I am bringing before you examples from the New Scripture, my soul, to lead you to compunction. So emulate the righteous and avoid following the sinners, and receive Christ's grace.

5. Christ became man and called to repentance robbers and harlots. Repent, my soul! The door of the Kingdom is already open, and the transformed pharisees, publicans and adulterers are seizing it ahead of you. (Matthew 21:31; 11:12)

6. Christ became a babe and conversed in the flesh with me, and he voluntarily experienced all that pertains to our nature, apart from sin; and He showed you, my soul, an example and image of His own condescension. (Matthew 1:25)

7. Christ saved wise men, called shepherds, made crowds of infants martyrs, glorified old men and aged widows, whose deeds and life, my soul, you have not emulated. But woe unto you when you are judged! (Matthew 2:12; Luke 2:9-12; Matthew 2:16; Luke 2:2 5-38)

8. When the Lord had fasted for forty days in the wilderness, He at last became hungry, showing His human nature. Do not be despondent, my soul, if the enemy attacks you, but let him be beaten off by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 4:1-11; 17:21; Mark 9:29)

9. Christ was tempted, the devil was tempting Him, showing Him stones to be turned into bread; and he led Him up a mountain to see all the kingdoms of the world in a flash. Dread, my soul, the scene; watch and pray at every hour to God. (Matthew 4:3-9; 26:41)

10. The desert-loving dove, the lamp of Christ, the Voice crying in the wilderness sounded, preaching repentance; while Herod sinned with Herodias. See, my soul, that you are not caught in the toils of sin, but embrace repentance. (Mark 1:3; Matthew 14: 3)

11. The Forerunner of grace dwelt in the desert and all Judea and Samaria ran to hear him; and they confessed their sins, and eagerly received baptism. But you, my soul, have not imitated them. (Matthew 3:5-6)

12. Marriage is honourable and the bed undefiled, for Christ earlier blessed both, eating in His flesh at the marriage in Cana and changing water into wine, and showing His first miracle so that you, my soul, might be changed. (Hebrews 13. :4; John 2:1-11)

13. . Christ braced the paralytic and he carried his bed; He raised up the dead young man, the son of the widow, and the Centurion's servant; and by revealing Himself to the Samaritan woman, He traced in advance for you, my soul, how to worship in spirit. (Matthew 9: 2-7; Luke 7:14; Matthew 8:6-13. ; John 4:26; Joshua 4:24)

14. The Lord healed the woman with hemorrhage by the touch of His hem, cleansed lepers, gave sight to the blind, and cured cripples; the deaf and the dumb and the woman bent earthward he healed with His word, that you, wretched soul, might be saved. (Matthew 9:20-22; 10:8; 11:5; Luke 13. :11-13. )

15. Christ the Word healed diseases, preached the Gospel to the poor, cured cripples, ate with publicans, conversed with sinners, and He brought back the departed soul of Jairus' daughter by the touch of His hand. (Matthew 9:11; Mark 5:41-42)

16. The publican was saved, the harlot was made chaste, but the pharisee through boasting was condemned. For the first said, "Be merciful," the second, "Have mercy on me," but the last boasted and cried, "O God, I thank Thee," and then some foolish words. (Luke 7:36-50; 18:9-14)
17. Zacchaeus was a publican, but yet was healed, and Simon the Pharisee was disappointed, but the harlot received the release of full forgiveness from Him Who has power to forgive sins. Obtain His forgiveness yourself, my soul. (Luke 19:1-10; 7:36-50)

18. You, my wretched soul, have not emulated the harlot who took the alabaster jar of perfumed oil and anointed with tears and wiped with her hair the feet of the Savior, Who tore up for her the handwriting of her old accusation. (Luke 7:37-38; Colossians 2:14)

19. You know how the towns to which Christ offered the Gospel were cursed. Fear this example, my soul, do not be like them; for the Lord compared them to the Sodomites and condemned them to hell. (Luke 10:13. -15)

20. Do not let despair make you worse than the Canaanite woman, my soul, for you have heard of her faith through which her daughter was healed by the Word of God. Call to Christ like her from the depth of your heart, "Son of David, save me." (Matthew 15:22)

21. Have compassion and save me, have mercy on me, O Son of David, Who didst heal with a word the demoniac. And let Thy voice of tender compassion speak to me as to the robber, "Truly I tell you, you will be with Me in Paradise when I rise in My glory." (Luke 9:38-42; 23:43)

22. A robber accused Thee, and a robber confessed Thee to be God, for both were hanging on a cross with Thee. But open even to me, O most compassionate Savior, the door of Thy glorious Kingdom as to Thy faithful robber who acknowledged Thee to be God. (Luke 23:32-42)

23. Creation was in anguish, seeing Thee crucified; mountains and rocks were split with fear, the earth quaked, hell was emptied, and the light grew dark in the daytime, beholding Thee, Jesus, nailed to the Cross in Thy flesh. (Matthew 27:51-53; Luke 23:44-45)

24. Do not require of me fruits worthy of repentance, for my strength is spent in me. Grant me ever a contrite heart and spiritual poverty, that I may offer these gifts to Thee as an acceptable sacrifice, O only Savior. (Matthew 3:8; 5:3; Psalm 50:17)

25. O my Judge and my Light Who alone knowest me and art coming again with Thine Angels to judge the whole world, regard me then with Thy merciful Eye and spare me, O Jesus. And have compassion on me who have sinned more than all mankind. (Matthew 25:31-32)

Refrain: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: Trinity of one essence, Tri-Personal Unity, we sing Thy praise, glorifying the Father, magnifying the Son, and adoring the Spirit, Who art truly one God by nature, Life and Lives, Kingdom unending.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Ineffable is the childbearing of a seedless conception, unsullied the pregnancy of a Virgin Mother, for the birth of God renews natures. So in all generations we bless thee in orthodox fashion as Mother and Bride of God.

Little Litany:

Deacon: Again and again in peace let us pray to the Lord.

Choir: Lord, have mercy

Deacon: Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.

Choir: Lord, have mercy

Deacon: Calling to remembrance our most holy, most pure, most blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us commit ourselves and one another, and all our life unto Christ our God.

Choir: Lord, have mercy


Priest: For all the Powers of Heaven praise Thee, and to Thee we send up the glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

Choir: Amen.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Trinity 17: A Devotional Commentary

Proverbs 25:6-14 Don’t exalt yourself in the presence of the king, or claim a place among great men; for it is better that it be said to you, “Come up here,” than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince, whom your eyes have seen. Don’t be hasty in bringing charges to court. What will you do in the end when your neighbor shames you? Debate your case with your neighbor, and don’t betray the confidence of another; lest one who hears it put you to shame, and your bad reputation never depart. A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover to an obedient ear. As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to those who send him; for he refreshes the soul of his masters. As clouds and wind without rain, so is he who boasts of gifts deceptively.

Ephesians 4:1-6 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love; being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all.

Luke 14:1-11 It happened, when he went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees on a Sabbath to eat bread, that they were watching him. Behold, a certain man who had dropsy was in front of him. Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” But they were silent. He took him, and healed him, and let him go. He answered them, “Which of you, if your son or an ox fell into a well, wouldn’t immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?” They couldn’t answer him regarding these things. He spoke a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the best seats, and said to them, “When you are invited by anyone to a marriage feast, don’t sit in the best seat, since perhaps someone more honorable than you might be invited by him, and he who invited both of you would come and tell you, ‘Make room for this person.’ Then you would begin, with shame, to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes, he may tell you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Pharisees were watching Jesus. Pride watches closely to see what others are doing. Sometimes it does so in the name of holiness or purity. It watches to see what others are wearing or how they are acting. It tries to see how "sincere" other people are and catch them in something. Our pridefulness distracts us from our sins and looks for sin in our neighbor. If our pride can find some sin in our neighbor that we don't do or don't think we do or that we think is worse than the sins that we commit then we are filled with a feeling of superiority. We desire to be looked upon as holy and wise.

But Jesus tell us not to do this. If we do this we will be exposed for the fools that we are. Instead we are to take the place of humility and when others seek our advice we to humbly give it to them. Our wisdom comes from knowing how little we really know. Our holiness comes from a recognition of our own utter sinfulness. By a proper examination of ourselves we come to see that we are sinners and worthy of God's temporal and eternal punishment. We see that any righteousness that we have is not our own but is Christ's. We do not fight for the highest seat at the table because we feel humbled to have ever been invited to the table to begin with. To feast at this table--the table of Lord's Supper--the table where Christ gives us His very body and blood--is not where we go to declare our holiness. It is the place we go because we are unholy and desperately need to receive forgiveness for our sins.

Even our humility is not our own, it is only through our union of Christ that we are given the Spirit of humility. Christ's humility is a mystery that no man can possibly understand. The Second person of the Trinity took on a human nature and was born of the Virgin--God was incarnate as an embryo in the womb of a human mother. In His baptism, Jesus took our sins upon Himself, washing the waters of baptism. He continued to carry your sins to the cross and bore the wrath of God for your sins. Jesus suffered humiliation for your sins. God hung dead on a cross for your sins.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tortured For Christ by Richard Wurmbrand

Free copies of Tortured For Christ by Richard Wurmbrand can be obtained by clicking here. The book is an autobiography and tells the story of the tortures that the founder of the Voice of the Martyrs received for the faith while spending 15 years in a Romanian prison. I had a couple problems with the book. Wurmbrand was a Lutheran minister but seemed to be a supporter of decision theology and at times throughout the book regards theological disputes as irrelevant. Still, the book is extraordinarily valuable.

The book gives us a glimpse into the lives of Christians suffering real persecution. The Bible presents us with a picture of persecution as being part of the ordinary Christian's life but we don't feel it as much in America. In America people think they are being persecuted if the lady at the check-out doesn't with them a Merry Christmas. But throughout much of the world, Christians still suffer persecution. We should support them both in our prayers and in other ways.

The book reminds us of the real evils of communism. In a more general way the book shows the danger of civil religion. As the book shows, communism was helped along by the church. For various reasons, they saw communism as beneficial. So leaders within the Baptist, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and other churches supported communism. American civil religion seems to be on the rise. American civil religion seems to center around free market capitalism rather than communism but exchanging Christ for either is still idolatrous and dangerous. We could be headed for a dangerous "revival" where churches that support American civil religion will grow and grow and the Bible will be quoted more and more in the public square but historic Christianity will not be tolerated.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Feast of St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist: A Devotional Commentary

Ezekiel 2:8-3:11 But you, son of man, hear what I tell you; don’t be rebellious like that rebellious house: open your mouth, and eat that which I give you. When I looked, behold, a hand was put forth to me; and, behold, a scroll of a book was therein; He spread it before me: and it was written within and without; and there were written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe. He said to me, Son of man, eat that which you find. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat the scroll. He said to me, Son of man, cause your belly to eat, and fill your bowels with this scroll that I give you. Then I ate it; and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. He said to me, Son of man, go to the house of Israel, and speak my words to them. For you are not sent to a people of a strange speech and of a hard language, but to the house of Israel; not to many peoples of a strange speech and of a hard language, whose words you can not understand. Surely, if I sent you to them, they would listen to you. But the house of Israel will not listen to you; for they will not listen to me: for all the house of Israel are obstinate and hard-hearted. Behold, I have made your face hard against their faces, and your forehead hard against their foreheads. As an adamant harder than flint have I made your forehead: don’t be afraid of them, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house. Moreover he said to me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears. Go to them of the captivity, to the children of your people, and speak to them, and tell them, Thus says the Lord Yahweh; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.

Ephesians 4:7-14 But to each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Therefore he says, “When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” Now this, “He ascended,” what is it but that he also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error;

Matthew 9:9-13 As Jesus passed by from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax collection office. He said to him, “Follow me.” He got up and followed him. It happened as he sat in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw it, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but those who are sick do. But you go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ for I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

St. Matthew was a sinner and he knew it. He was a tax collector. As much as people hate the IRS today, they had even more reason to hate tax collectors when Jesus walked the earth. Tax collectors not only collected money for the pagan emperor, they made their own money by charging more than the emperor demanded. Matthew was a professional extortioner. When Jesus had a meal, most of the time He chose to eat with the professional extortioners and sinners, rather than the "righteous." The righteous had not need for Him. The righteous may have found Jesus' knowledge of the Scriptures intriguing and may have enjoyed some theological debate with Him, but they didn't need Him. Jesus simply says to Matthew, "Follow me" and Matthew is up and running. Matthew sees his need for Jesus. Matthew knows his need for Jesus.

Jesus told the Pharisees that He desires mercy, not sacrifice. The Pharisees and dedicated their lives to the study of God's law. They had sacrificed their free time so that they could be experts in the law. They had given their lives to the Lord. They weren't like these "nominal" Jews who continued to live in sin. They were "real" Jews. They had no mercy for sinners because they had no knowledge of how bad their own sin was. They could not allow themselves to be influenced and tainted by having fellowship with these sinners.

We act the same way. We look down on those who struggle with sins that we don't struggle with. We convince ourselves that we might make mistakes but we're not "sinners" like they are.

But Jesus came for sinners. Jesus came for sinners like Matthew and you and me. Jesus is God's mercy for you. Jesus does not come and give you a list of things to do so that you can improve your life and be fit for the kingdom in the company of the Pharisees. Jesus takes your sins upon Himself. Jesus forgives you.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Trinity 16: A Devotional Commentary

1 Kings 17:17-24 It happened after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so severe, that there was no breath left in him. She said to Elijah, “What have I to do with you, you man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to memory, and to kill my son!” He said to her, “Give me your son.” He took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into the room where he stayed, and laid him on his own bed. He cried to Yahweh, and said, “Yahweh my God, have you also brought evil on the widow with whom I stay, by killing her son?” He stretched himself on the child three times, and cried to Yahweh, and said, “Yahweh my God, please let this child’s soul come into him again.” Yahweh listened to the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the room into the house, and delivered him to his mother; and Elijah said, “Behold, your son lives.” The woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of Yahweh in your mouth is truth.”

Ephesians 3:13-21 Therefore I ask that you may not lose heart at my troubles for you, which are your glory. For this cause, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that you may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strengthened to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to him be the glory in the assembly and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Luke 7:11-17 It happened soon afterwards, that he went to a city called Nain. Many of his disciples, along with a great multitude, went with him. Now when he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, one who was dead was carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. Many people of the city were with her. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said to her, “Don’t cry.” He came near and touched the coffin, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” He who was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. Fear took hold of all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited his people!” This report went out concerning him in the whole of Judea, and in all the surrounding region.

All men fear death and death is what we deserve. Death is what we receive as the payment for the life that we live. Death is what we earn for all our accomplishments. But Jesus is far more powerful than death. Elijah stretched out his body in the form of a cross over the widow's son and the boy was given life. Through baptism we are united to Christ in His death. On the cross, Jesus took our death upon Himself and gave us His life. Christ took our sins and gave us His righteousness. Because we have died with Him, we will also be partakers in His resurrection.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Theology is For Proclamation by Gerhard O. Forde

Augsburg Fortress sent me a complimentary copy of Theology is For Proclamation by Gerhard Forde. In it, Forde argues that theology should not be discussed as a series of abstract concepts but should be proclaimed. Our theology should be shaped by proclamation rather than the other way around. Forde builds on Luther's theology of the cross and the distinction he makes between the hidden God and the revealed God. Many systematic theologies concentrate their attention on the hidden God in His Divine majesty. Forde argues that preaching and systematic theology should not be considered as independent from one another and should both center around the revealed God. The hidden God is not safe and does not bring us the comfort that the revealed God does. Forde shows how both conservatives and liberals misss the point when they focus their attention on the hidden God. Overall, I thought the book was excellent and well-argued. There were a few times that Forde questioned the reliabilty of Scriptural passages and it did not seem to serve his argument. The book also seemed unnecessarily complicated. I think it could have been written at half the length and in much simpler language. It seems to be targeted at the seminary student, but I don't think it benefited in any way from the technical language. I have heard preaching by more than a few Lutheran pastors (including my own) that measure up to Forde's criteria. I don't know if this due to Forde's influence on Lutheranism in general or something that had always been there. But it's wonderful to hear preaching that centers on the revealed crucified-God rather than trying to probe inside of God's head either to discover what social movements he wants us to be a part of or simply to do mental gymnastics. As Luther is quoted as saying, "The only God I know is the hairy one."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Feast of the Holy Cross: A Devotional Commentary

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are dying, but to us who are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, I will bring the discernment of the discerning to nothing.” Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the lawyer of this world? Hasn’t God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For seeing that in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom didn’t know God, it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save those who believe. For Jews ask for signs, Greeks seek after wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Greeks, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

John 12:20-33 Now there were certain Greeks among those that went up to worship at the feast. These, therefore, came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn, Andrew came with Philip, and they told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Most certainly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life will lose it. He who hates his life in this world will keep it to eternal life. If anyone serves me, let him follow me. Where I am, there will my servant also be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. “Now my soul is troubled. What shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this time?’ But for this cause I came to this time. Father, glorify your name!” Then there came a voice out of the sky, saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The multitude therefore, who stood by and heard it, said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice hasn’t come for my sake, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world. Now the prince of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” But he said this, signifying by what kind of death he should die.

Today, we commemorate the discovery of the original cross of Jesus by Helena in 320. The cross is an offence to all religious ideas. Even among Christians, the cross offends. Some Christians are offended by crucifixes because we worship the risen Christ. But even an empty cross is a symbol of the crucifixion. The cross would still be empty even if Jesus never rose from the dead. Some believe that focusing on the crucified Christ is a denial of the resurrection. But the Apostle Paul said that he preached nothing but Christ-crucified and he certainly did not deny the resurrection.

Through baptism we become partakers of the crucifixion with Christ and have the hope that because we are partakers in His crucifixion we will be partakers in His resurrection when He returns. But it is a huge mistake to act as if we are already resurrected. There can be no resurrection without death and in this present life we are partakers in the crucifixion by our own experience. We are given faith to believe that we will be partakers in the resurrection but most of the time the crucifixion is the only thing that we experience. Those who pretend to live the resurrected life right now are living in a fantasy world where "now I am happy all the day." They refuse to bear their own crosses and will certainly not help bear the crosses of others. How can they bear their crosses when they don't believe they exist?

We all do this. We embrace the resurrection without death ideology of Americanism and teach that anyone can do whatever they want if he just believes in himself. If you want to be rich and famous all you have to do is try harder. Anyone who can't get a job or make enough money to support his family just isn't trying hard enough. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and say, "Yes I can!"

The cross says "No you can't!" If you could, God wouldn't be hanging dead on a cross for you. The cross is a denial of any crazy ideas you might have about trying harder. The cross says, "This is how bad you really are. You are so, so terribly bad that God had to die because of you and your good deeds."

That is why the cross is so offensive. The cross is the judgment of the world. The cross tells every single person, "This is how bad you really are!" We hated God so much that we killed Him. But God loves us so much that He died for us, even for the sin of killing Him. Could you imagine doing that for anyone? How about everyone? Imagine that everyone in the world hated you, not because you had done something wrong to them, but because they had done many wrong and horrible things. Why on earth would you want to die for these ungrateful people who want nothing more than to kill you? The cross is absolute foolishness.

In the sacrament of the altar Christ feeds us the very blood from His side. Christ gives Himself for you because Christ loves you.