Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September 29 - Gospel and St. Michael and all Angels

Dr. Brighton was on Issues, etc yesterday talking about Michael and the angels. And Pastor Stuckwisch has this excellent sermon for the day.

As for the Sermon on the Mount reading from Matthew 5:

1. It's amazing how the readings from TDP (often accidentally) throw you back to what you heard on Sunday in church (at least for us 3 year types, with the cutting off of that which causes to sin).

2. I posted these thoughts on anger in May. To them I will add this tidbit from Dr. Kleinig at Doxology in Naperville: if we stop ourselves from being angry, then we will also stop ourselves from loving. Love does not rejoice in evil (1 Corinthians 13:6), but neither is it neutral. Jesus is warning against the sinful side of anger.

3. It was a hard reading yesterday, looking into the mirror of the perfect law of God, and seeing again that I am not perfect as my Father is perfect. While searching for something completely different, I was glad to stumble upon this passage in "Minister's Prayer Book" by Doberstein (pg. 326-329):

Dear John:
So you want to be a pastor of souls? Absolutely necessary for this ministry is a mirror. But you, I know, are not fond of gazing into a mirror. And yet there are a lot of people who like to stand in front of a mirror because they are pleased with themselves. But you an I get no pleasure from looking into the mirror. I do not mean the mirror in the bathroom, but rather that unerring mirror of the Word of God that reflects the true picture of what we are. It reveals that latent anger within us as the source of murder. It exhorts us not to let the sun go down on our wrath (Eph. 4:26). And we take our hatred into the night and our dreams and drag it around with us for weeks. And our hard and heartless words? The Lord would have our hearts free of dust and dirt. And they are like an untidied drawer into which we stuff all kinds of rubbish to keep ourselves and others from seeing it. But we reproach others for their secret disorderliness. God's Word bids us to set our light on a stand that it may give light to all in the house (Matt. 5:15). But does our light shine in our own home? Sometimes in our homes one leaves the other to sit alone in the dark! How can one "who does not know how to manage his own household" (1 Tim. 3:5) sow and cultivate love in the congregation? A look into that mirror paralyzes one's joy in this ministry. "Sweep before your own door!" You say it to yourself, and I say it to myself too.
My dear friend, don't be trouble. Don't avoid this mirror. If you shun its judgment, your pastoral care of souls will die, no matter how zealously you busy yourself with it. Then the worm is gnawing at its root. If you stand before the person who seeks your counsel as a paragon, how is the poor duffer going to have any trust in you? And do you not arouse his trust when he senses the fact that you too have to struggle and fight, that you too have your falls and the Lord's grace must constantly be picking you up again? We do not need to wash our dirty laundry in public every day, but in certain cases we can let those who seek our counsel know that their sin is also our sin. How can we ever hear confessions rightly without confessing ourselves? The other person gives us the key to his heart when we give him the key to ours. At the close of the service the pastor does not urge the congregation to pray for him simply to make a show of the terrific strain of his office, but because he too is not only a sinful man in general but also has to fight against evil every day and, like all the rest of us, always needs the prayers of the congregation. There is a legend of a little girl who had an ugly hump on her back, so deformed that she was either ridiculed or pitied by everybody. But when she died it turned out that the ugly hump concealed angels' wings. May it not be that all the ugly things in our lives that dismay us have in them angels' wings? We can make everything, literally everything, the subject of our prayer. So a look into the mirror of God's Word can become a blessing for us and for those to whom we minister.
My dear friend, don't avoid the mirror of the Word of God. If you do, your pastoral care is done for. Then you have ceased to care for your own soul. After all, it is not merely our own nature but the face of our Lord Christ that gazes questioningly at us from this mirror. And what more salutary could happen to us than this? His gaze kills our pride. Only a humble man can really be a pastor. His Word summons us to resist all evil to the death. Only a fighter can be a real pastor. The Lord's presence promises us forgiveness and gives us the courage again and again to make a new beginning. But how could our spirits be glad without his promise: "Behold, I make all things new." His Word is a call of alarm that keeps us from stiffening into self-satisfied security and saves us from the danger of fleeing into a deceitful double life. How often we try to put our best wares in the show-window while back of the counter there is nothing but junk. The mirror of God preserves us from being phony paragons. Real pastoral care requires truth. And that's what God's mirror gives us, in order that we two may care for others with unflinching and joyful hearts.
So we two shall hold on, you, dear John, and your friend who greets you.
- Christian Lendi-Wolff, from "Von Mensch zu Mensch. Seelsorgerliche Winke" (1954).


  1. I bought it without really knowing what I was buying from the Concordia Irvine Library's used bookshelf. A few years later, when I was in John Pless's class at the Fort and he mentioned the book, I thought to myself, "Oh, I should buy that."