Μεγαλύνει ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν Κύριον [Luke 1. 46b]

Sunday, March 31, 2013


Saint Mark 16. 1-8
 31 March Anno Domini 2013
Father Watson SSP


In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost

   There was a woman; a very fallen and sad woman. She was doomed. She had not lived her life the way Her Creator and loving Lord had made her so to do.

   Mother Eve had spit on God and His good food to eat the dragon poison. Think of the guilt that she and her mate shared over dooming the entire race of men to tears, pains, deaths and burials.  Think of the anguish to know that YOU have caused the death of your children and grandchildren.

   There was a woman; a very fallen and sad woman.  She was doomed. She had not lived her life the way Her Creator and loving Lord had made her so to do.

   Mary Magdalene may have been a prostitute. But whether fallen “that” way in body, she nonetheless had fallen in wantonness and spiritual lust to such a degree that she had been possessed by the dragon with seven demons.  Her tears and gut-wrenching, and brain-aflame pain must have been horrible—Eve’s sin her sin; Adam’s guilt—her guilt.

   There was a woman; a very fallen and sad woman. She was like you—a sinner; she was like you—doomed to die in her sin. But thanks be to God she had been given the Word of God in Hebrew Scriptures; Holy Prophecies which God the Holy Ghost spake by the prophets. She like many others was waiting for the coming Redeemer promised to Mother Eve all those years before.

   The Lord came to this woman, and took flesh from her flesh and blood from her blood and dwelled in her womb for nine months as He, the Second Person of the Trinity became a man—born of a Virgin.

   This perfect and spotless and obedient and loving Son of Mary was also the Son of the Most High. He came and began fixing all the brokenness and the hurt.  He filled His mother’s life with light and life and she believed He was the eternal heir of David and that His kingdom would last forever. Her supernal joy in her son was tempered only by that strange prophecy of Saint Simeon that her soul would be pierced through with sadness like no other, or no others.

   This God/Man waxed strong in spirit and wisdom, being one with the Paraclete and the Father. This Nazarene Rabbi ushered in a preaching and teaching ministry such as the world had never seen.  This Christ of God named Jesus—Savior, was to announce the arrival of God’s Kingdom.  He called for repentance and good works.  He assembled to His side 12 Apostles and many more devoted followers and disciples.  One who would follow Him forever was the that Mary from Magdala—the Magdalene.  Was she also known as Mary of Bethany?  We will know all identities in heaven. What we do know now is that the Lord healed her from her demonic torture; restored her to a new life and light and joy IN HIM.  Where Christ’s ministry took Him, these faithful women, the Magdalene and the Blessed Virgin were no doubt very close.  The retinue of the “12” may have been in His presence just about every moment, but the faithful women were with Christ during the course of just about every week, if not every day during His three years of service and seeking and saving.

   And then after the joys and thrilling expectations of His heralded entrance to King David’s city on Palmarum, as joyous as was your own experience this Monday past—THE SAME BODY AND BLOOD, the same words from His Godly mouth and hands—it all fell apart.

   He was arrested and bound. He was unjustly and corruptly convicted by agents of Satan. He was mocked, spit upon, slapped around, and punched. He was treated poorly by Government and Church and sentenced to die like a common criminal, between two thieves. But first He was scourged within an inch of His life and had a horrible crown of long razor thorns pressed into His sacred Head.

   Blessed Mary, both of them, were no doubt there when He was marched through the streets to Calvary.  His Mother, the one who had suckled Him and tucked Him in, and played with Him, saw Him nailed down on the wood.  His dear friend the Magdalene who owed Him her life and soul and…everything, heard Him cry out in pain and agony.

   They saw Good Friday and they saw the darkness. They saw His death—the death of God, and they beheld His lifeless corpse.  They saw what Eve’s sin and what your Sin did and meant.


   Augsburgers: Listen, Hear, Believe…HE IS ALIVE, He is not in the tomb, He is in the room—THIS room!  He is not prone and cold but upright and warm, affectionate, smiling, and joyful.  He is not inert and still but moving, teaching, preaching, washing +, clothing, feeding, giving to drink, and embracing. 

   Saint Mary Magdalene saw Him with her own swollen, red, and wet eyes!!!  He talked with her, she touched Him…she touched the same God/Man that will be placed on your very tongues!!!  She, the first missionary of the Gospel, the first trumpeter of the Resurrection, told the “12,” told every creature she could find on that First Day of the Week!  Her story is forever preserved in the Holy Evangels and will be celebrated for eternity in eternity.  He is alive, He is raised, He is victor, He has triumphed over sin, death, the grave, the devil, and all that is broken and lost. Abel now is alive and Jacob’s hip is mended. Both Isaac’s dimming eyes and Samson’s burned-out eyes are restored with 20/20 eagle-eye clarity. Stephen is un-bruised, while the Baptizer, Peter and Paul have heads connected that they might bow to their Risen Head! Rachel weeps no more but chants Holy, Holy, Holy with Sarah, Rebecca and Ruth.  Mother Eve with a smile so broad it makes Noah’s rainbow pale, sings the Hallelujah. The Blessed Virgin’s Magnificat is joined by the celestial choir of Paul, Peter, John, Abraham, Moses, Elijah and the others.  And the Magdalene, she sees Jesus sitting glorified between the Virgin and the Baptizer, reigning, glorified and resplendent, Body and Blood, breath and eyes gleaming, teeth shining, cheeks rising to laugh with joy, and she weeps all the more in pure release and peace and Easter Passover.

   The Magdalene is not in a garden this morning. She is not at a tomb or a place of death. St. Mary of Magdala walks with Christ to this Feast of Life to be with you and yours, as you too, like her, are forgiven, exorcised, strengthened, given joy and embraced with peace which passes understanding.

   For a little while longer you may feel like you are still in a dark garden looking at a cave-side mausoleum, but at This Table, at this banqueting dawn, He touches you; He wipes away your tears; He opens your eyes of faith to His real presence and says: I love you; I am with you always to the end of the age.  


In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost

Saturday, March 30, 2013

EASTER VIGIL: Homily - - -

Saint Luke 23.54 - - 24.10
HOLY SATURDAY VIGIL: 30 March Anno Domini 2013
Father Jay Watson SSP

In The Name + of Jesus

   There’s a crackling in the air. The horizon will be turning pinkish aquamarine shortly.  You can begin to smell a hint of spiced fragrance and faintly hear a trilling that might be choral singing…but more beautiful and unworldly than your memory would suggest—the most accomplished songbirds merged with some kind of distant cosmic winds?

   But you are not huddled together in some secret upper room with the doors locked for fear. The Paraclete has unlocked your defensive barricades to loving and sharing with your neighbor.  Continue to allow the Spirit to open your fortress of self to forgive your enemies and adversaries.  On this Vigil, you can indeed forgive even the Pharisees, High Priests and Scribes—even that unholy triad within your own heart. 

   You huddle together but not with the frightened eleven for, (as the Holy Ghost spake by the prophets) one has gone and hanged himself, rather you bustle and scurry with excitement with the Myrrh-bearers—the holy women accompanying Saint Mary Magdalene.

    You have brought your little lights to follow His great Paschal Light into the empty tomb. You have exited into the breathing, healing, expanding universe of The Garden restored and recapitulated.

    You are not barricaded inside a locked house with Blood splattered on the doorposts and lintel—REAL wet, sticky, warm blood from a dead lamb.  But you are gathering around the Words of He Who has opened your prison house to free you and restore you.  The Passover has occurred.  The angel of death has seized its victim. Christ has died. The angel of death—God’s wrath against not the first-born of Egypt, but THE FIRST BORN ADAM and all his scion—fallen mankind—has been satisfied in the death of THE FIRST AND ONLY BEGOTTEN, and eternally existing Son.  You are about to again be indwelled, not with the angel of death but The Angel of Life.  This Paschal Lamb is alive and will cover you with His REAL and TRUE Blood.  Warmth! Security!

    You don’t need the ointment to swathe a dead body, you can burn it joyously with incense of prayer and thanksgiving.

    Look with faith for the stone has been rolled away and in 13 short hours or so, you will receive the real Rock of Ages in an Easter banquet greater than ham or lamb—for it will be Jesus’ Body and Blood. Squint hard to see Him, and with faith you will behold the light growing ever more bright hovering like a pillar of fire upon This Altar, This Throne. And with the faithful women of Easter Morn, join the throng of Easter Eve and receive PEACE.

In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost

Friday, March 29, 2013

GOOD FRIDAY: Homily - - -

Saint John 19. 17-42
GOOD FRIDAY: 29 March Anno Domini 2013
Fr. JW Watson SSP

   It is finished; He is not!  

   One can smell death. One can smell sweat, and dirty bodies. One can smell blood—drive by a cattle yard or a slaughter house.

   Were you there when they crucified The Lord? No.

But you are WHY they crucified the Lord; or better yet and more accurate, you are the ones that crucified the Lord Christ Jesus. Jews are not the reason that God died on Calvary. Roman soldiers are not the reason that the Nazarene was butchered on the Cross.  Sin suffocated the Savior to death. Jesus choked to death, as if on vomit, on your daily trespasses and on your original condition of fallen traitor.

   The sky darkened at noon and remained black till 3:00 pm.  Your words of hate and selfishness blocked the sun; your thoughts of lust and greed dulled the eyes of the Son of God; and your actions of stealing and coveting torque those nails and spikes all the tighter.

   There is no point, absolutely no point or purpose at all to be a Christian, to celebrate the Third Day, the Lord’s Day of Resurrection if you don’t weep, and grieve from the very soul over this day, this Good Friday, and every day.

    Every day is Good because God loved you enough to lose His only begotten beloved Son.  Every day is Good because Jesus loved you with Body and Blood, and Will and Desire.  You should have been hanged on that tree; but because Christ stepped into the gap, and bridged the awful chasm between your sin and the Father’s almighty wrath and punishment for sin, that was the best, the “Goodest” Fridays in all of history.

    He was whipped and slapped—you can smite your breast in contrition that His pain and humiliation was for your crimes.  He was spit upon—you can trace the Holy Cross which was applied to you in not only His spittle, but the very water which gushed from His pierced side into the Blessed + Font.  He was bathed not just in the darkness of three hours of climactic neglect and Fatherly abandonment.  You can weep over your foul misdeeds; you can weep over the fact that you struggle to weep over your cause of this great, this Good effect.

   Two guilty thieving goats crucified with the Innocent Lamb.  Behold the two ways for one to receive the atoning gift and sacrificial fruit from His crucifix.  One can either look with the eyes of the world and the “old Adam” at the black sky and dead Galilean, split open, bled out, dead and reject the Word to rely on sight.  Or one, by the Spirit, can look with the eyes of faith at the Word and remember His words: “…destroy This Temple, and in three days I will raise It up.” [Jn. 2. 19]  Grace has given you faith to look beyond the foul shroud of sin and night to the rising Son on the wing.  By faith you look to the superscription above His sacred head, first wounded, then killed: JESUS OF NAZARETH KING OF THE JEWS.  You believe He is Jesus, Savior, your Savior, you believe He is King of the New Israel, and of you.  This God will triumph…He loves you too much to stay dead.

   You depart with Mary, and Mary, and Salome, and Susana, and Joanna, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. And you wait in trembling anticipation…and in faith…It is finished; He is not.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rescued by Tridentine Catholics & John Ankerberg: My Life in the Lodge: Part Last

   So I went home that night after my initiation and really, didn’t give the whole thing much more thought.  You see, that was the last meeting until mid-Autumn.  Without air-conditioning, I was told, the upstairs confined, windowless, meeting room, would be well over 100 degrees in a matter of weeks, if not days.  It can get Hades (well, there, I did bring Hades back into this J ) hot here in Kansas. 

   I had participated in about 90 minutes of Masonic life.  And that would be the high-water mark and total duration of my Lodge career.

   I took a job in the State Capital and moved out of the small community in early August.  I was told by my Lodge sponsor that I could remain a member there (commute to Lodge meetings I guess) or transfer my membership   (LCMS lingo perked up my ears) to the Lodge in Topeka.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.

   Until a couple of my close friends and associates (one of whom had been my Legal intern and assistant) who were both Roman Catholics told me: “JAY! You can’t be a Mason, they are an anti-Christian cult!”   These two Catholic gentlemen, two of the finest and most decent men I have ever known, were incidentally, NOT your typical namby-pamby, modern, Vatican II, squish Catholics, but rather manly, militant, and traditionalist Romanists.  Probably the only reason they and I didn’t quarrel over my Lutheranism was that I was such an invisible, quiescent Lutheran at the time.  But they plied me with all sorts of Catholic literature and tracts (and books) condemning the Masonic Lodge, its teaching and traditions from both historical and Scriptural sources.  This led me to start my own research, but before I could even get a copy of the LCMS’s “How to Respond…” I chanced upon a cable Television show featuring Protestant Fundy John Ankerberg (he of the Phil Donahue silver coiffeur).  He was broadcasting (late-night) a three-part expose on the Masonic Lodge featuring a former Grand Master “spilling the beans” and denouncing the satanic truths of the World Wide Lodge.  The show was both illuminating and totally “spot-on” insofar as the rituals described and re-enacted were virtually identical to the ones I had experienced a few months earlier. 

   I had made a HUGE mistake, but I knew what to do.  I prayed to the Lord for forgiveness not just for my blunder, but for my hubris, sloth, and indifference in not knowing what my own Denomination taught.  I was most sorry that I had given a false testimony to the men of the Lodge, a “black-eye” if you will by incorrectly letting them believe that I was an average example, in my lassitude and lukewarm-ness, of Walther’s true legacy. 

    I wrote a letter (actually quite polite) of resignation and sent it to the Lodge back in the small farming community.  I received a nasty, curt, and unfriendly reply, essentially saying “you as an LCMS Lutheran should have known better!”  INDEED! How ironic that they knew ahead of time that I should never have joined in the first place, but let me affiliate nonetheless.  Maybe my dues trumped their better judgment. 

   I dumped into the trash my “apron” but kept the membership card so that I could use it as a prop in showing people how moronic and dupable I was.

   I am convinced that throughout the country, in the hundreds of little hamlets and villages where the Lodge still clings to “life-support,” that the average “Joe” Mason is relatively harmless and is neither a member of the Illuminati or the New World Order of the Bilderbergs.  I do think the organization has geriatrified and “grayed” almost to the point of non-existence.  They have a tougher time getting young blood than many Parishes.

   I have not had much contact with Masons in my public or private ministry over the last two decades, because I just have not run into any men who are Masons. 

   And then again, while I still remember the secret handshake, the fact that I was essentially a 90 minute Lodge Brother, sort of takes away my bona fides into their “speculative mysticism,”  faux fraternity, and all-around general “goof-ball-ness.”

   I also did some penance.  I joined the I.L.L. for awhile before I went to the Sem.  Little did I know what they were going to do years later to Rev. Wallace Schulz.   But that’s another story.  Dartball is just hard to resist.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"TOGA, TOGA,TOGA!" My Life as a Mason: Part Deux

   Even though my sponsor George (who really was a great guy; crusty, Polish, conservative as a Cro-Magnon) had told me just a little about the “ceremony” I was not really prepared.

   The memory work was a “snap” although I did make one or two minor mistakes.  But it was the ritual initiation that made the evening so memorable.

   The key in this whole sordid (three-part) anecdotal filler (Holy Week is too stressful upon me to produce anything new and, well, good J ) turned out to be where the local Lodge met to hold their secret Masonic meetings.  It was in the third floor of a building right on main street (one of the five or six blocks of main street…small, small hamlet)  This was an old (30’s or 40’s?) square stone and mortar building that had no working windows in the upper floors—also no air-conditioning.  My initiation was in early May as I remember. It was already getting hot (remember that; and no, no “type” of Hades is intended)

   I was waiting in the anteroom, a small square vestibule where there was a chair and a desk and some Mason armorial posters adorning the walls.  Say what you want, but coats-of-arms and cool “Knight-like titles” appeals to the 11 year old in every man (sadly, I was 32).

   I was met by the Door-Keeper/Sgt. of Arms; I think his official title was “Tiler.”  He told me to strip to my skivvies (undershorts, t-shirt and socks) and put on the toga.  Yes, it was a toga like Belushi made popular in ANIMAL HOUSE…well, okay, that’s kind of cool I thought.  I also had to be girded with a cincture like thing (before I knew what a liturgical cincture was) around my waste.  The Tiler (and he too was also a super-nice and friendly local guy) then blind-folded me and led me by the cincture into the large hall—after some knocking, pass-word giving, and other hokum.  “Boy, I thought, this is right out of some Frat “pledge.”” 
   The whole initiation lasted about 30 minutes and was a re-enactment of the Masonic goof-ball myths of Hiram Abiff the made-up Builder of King Solomon’s Temple (not the real Scriptural personages that we don’t know much about).  I was being “symbolically” led from the “darkness” of non-Masonic mundanity, to the “light” of Masonic brotherhood, wisdom, fraternity, and…well, cheesy, soupy, syncretistic, one-world, universalism.  It was the “Fatherhood of God” (however you choose to denominate Him; Allah, the Jewish god, Cochise, or a Methodist Surfer Jah-eee-zus) and the “brotherhood of man.”  In reality, it was about a bunch of older, rural, gentlemen, who wanted to play mystic-order club house without their nagging wives.  That would have been one thing.  What bothered me and sent me to further research, was the ritual “dying and raising” that they did to me.  I was standing there blind-folded listening to some hocus-pocus about compasses, squares, and seeing eyes of the “architect,” when the guy in front of me pushed me very hard on the shoulders.  The push was no big thing but there was somebody bent over right behind my calves (you remember this gag from the 3rd grade school-yard) I fell backwards --- but, was caught as gentle as a cloud by a bed sheet that I later found out was held tightly by three men on each side.  They slowly and delicately laid me down on the ground.  I was now “symbolically dead” and entombed.  After some more mystic Monty Pythonish drivel I was then “raised” to new life in the light of Masonry.  Even then, in my back-slid, poor attending, un-Catechized Lutheranism, I thought it was blasphemous.

    I was welcomed into the Lodge, given a membership card (okay, that too was pretty cool) and my own cloth apron.  Just think of an Amice only tied around your waste---yeah, the whole Knights Templar mojo seems not as cool when they expect you to wear a carpenter’s apron.    Also, NO BUFFALO or Beefeater hats, dang!  The Exalted Leader was wearing a goofy looking bowler, like a gay Jeeves.  And where was the beer and brats???   They served coffee and Bundt cake with cookies at the conclusion of each Lodge meeting.  Wot???

[ End of Part Two; Final Part Tomorrow *]


* Boy, am I “milking this”

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

At Least I've Never Been A Member of The Knights Of Columbus

   I’ve wanted to be in a secret “men-only” club ever since I was a kid.  I mean, growing up in the early 60’s I had the great role models of Fred & Barney in their Royal Order of Water Buffalos; Ralph & Norton (Gleason and Carney) in their Order of the Raccoons; and of course the one and only “OUR GANG” (Spanky & Co.) with the best club of all: “The He-Man Woman-Haters Club!”

   As a commuter student back in college I did not join any frats.  The two “honorary” academic groups that I was allowed to join were neither secret nor exclusive (though I did think the candle-light initiation of the SDX; the Society of Professional Journalists, was pretty cool.)

    So there I was living in a brand new community of less than a few thousand people.  The whole county was far smaller than any city I’d ever lived in.  I was the new County Attorney and I wanted to both “belong” and be in the “right group(s).”  As the chief prosecutor, it did not escape my laser-like vision ( J ) that the sheriff, under-sheriff, and magistrate judge were all Masons.  Hey! I knew something about the Masons.  Actually I didn’t.  My uncle had been a Mason.  He had had a neat ring with the compass square “thingie” on his ring.  They had secret handshakes—I liked that.

    So I did some research (this was pre-internet and pre-PC) and found out just enough to give my own “will” and “ego” the ammunition that it needed.

   Oh, did I say that I wasn’t a very active Church-goer at this time.  I was LC-MS (sic) of course, and a member of a parish in a larger community about 35 miles away, but I was only going to Sunday’s Services about twice a month.  Somewhere in the back of my mind (I had received horrible catechesis as a 7th & 8th grader; but, blame the old ALC for that) I seemed to remember that my synod and my pastor would not be too keen on the Masons.  So, instead of getting an official and clear “NO” from Pastor “R,” I just avoided him and continued my own autodidact research.  Wow!  George Washington (my then favorite president and maybe favorite American ever) had been a Mason.  The “rough-rider” and “bully” T.R. (my then second favorite President/American) had been a Mason.  Lots of Supreme Court Justices had been Masons.  And best of all, the Lodge didn’t let girls join!  Ha-rumph!   For the record, my view on T.R. has changed 180% since 1986/87 (the years this story deals with).

    Now, all of the above is not because I was a misogynist, but rather because at that point in my young, conservative, republican, political, neo-con, life…I was just damn sick and tired of all the rabid feminism that was intruding everywhere on the America that I still remembered from my early 1960’s youth.  I was then, and am now, a firm believer in the salutary separation and segregation of the sexes in many areas: ONE BEING—social clubs and service groups.  But I digress.

   So, after asking the under-sheriff about joining, I was visited by  a delegation from the local lodge.  They were small town gentleman/farmers and seemed sensible, restrained, polite, and welcoming (if not, very powerful…this was not going to be C. Montgomery Burns and Count Chocula’s STONE CUTTERS).  

  The under-sheriff ended up being my sponsor and catechist.  I had tons of memory work to, well, memorize, for the three rituals to be passed.  One joining the Masons had to take memory tests for the 1st, 2nd, and then, 3rd degrees.  After passing the 3rd degree, one was in the Lodge as a Blue Mason, or Master Mason.  All of the other degrees, 4th through 32nd, were honorary and entirely voluntary.

   What’s sad and tragic to say, now in retrospect, was that I studied my Masonic memory crap a whole lot harder than I ever had to study my Small Catechism for Pastor “R” (a different pastor “R”) back in 1969.   Even for my final “test” before confirmation, the Pastor gave our entire class the choice of memory work questions, OR, putting on a public demonstration of “what the Faith meant to ‘me.’ ”   Can you guess what every single one of his 30 catechumens opted for?  J

    Well. I studied my Masonic catechism very dutifully, and in short-order was ready for the ceremonies.  All of the language in the memory work about having “my tongue cut out” and “my throat slit,” and “my bowels removed while my body would be left at the…something in the ocean…” was dismissed by me as just cool, hyperbolic, “college-rush” ceremonial mumbo-jumbo.  After all, didn’t even Beaver Cleaver and Larry Mondello have the same kind of imprecatory oaths and solemn promises in the episode featuring their two kids’ gangs: “The Bloody Five,” and the “Fiends?” 

    Well, it was time to go to the Lodge and be tested!


[ End of Part One]

Sunday, March 24, 2013

PALMARUM: Homily - - -

Saint Matthew 21. 1-9
PALMARUM: 24 March Anno Domini 2013
Father Jay Watson SSP

In The + Name of Jesus

   And when you drew nigh unto 67th and Pflumm, and were come to Shawnee, unto the “mount” of Augsburg, then sent Jesus two disciples. And these two servants of the Lord were named Law and Gospel.

   If employed only as empty terms to score debating points with sectarians, they can be less than useful, and possibly harmful. But the Law and the Gospel are NOT stereotypical, “buzz-words” or empty catch-phrases—they are the very breath of the Spirit giving The God/Man’s Person and Work.  They are sharper than any two-edged sword when wielded by the Good Shepherd or one of His under-pastors. And for you His disciples they are His very words of truth. They light your way and show your path. The path is Christ Himself; it is The One entering with you and for you today.   Because…

    You, fallen, sinful, are not always here on the journey with the Christ. You are not daily praying to His Father and petitioning His will be done; interceding for His kingdom and your fellow disciples, neighbors, and enemies. You are not always bridling your tongue but instead too often braying gossip, slanders, and insults. You are not always helping your neighbor to improve his business and property or to keep his wife and honor. Many times you simply leer and lust, envy and covet, malinger and steal. Many times you resent and hate.  Your law-breaking doesn’t just make you “like everybody else,” but rather condemns you as a traitor, a Judas, an ungrateful spy, coward, and convicted criminal. The Law sentences you with God’s full approval to confinement and bondage, to fetters of iron and cages of steel.  One who acts like a wild beast is put into a corral and bound tightly.

   The Lord’s other servant; His Word of Gospel is a sweet, (aromatic, fragrant) free, gracious, smiling, warm, and tender word of love and mercy. The evangel word speaks now to you all:

    “I love you because I chose to love you. Though there is nothing now in you that merits My favor or attention, I of my own nature of love and sacrificial giving deign, elect, decide to simply love you and make you Mine. I give you food and drink, pure beautiful raiment to wear, a family that will never abandon you, and the joy and peace that comes from health, rest, and fellowship with eternity. You are now My disciples; My friends; My brothers and sisters; and My Royal Priests.  You are now freed from your bonds and shackles, and liberated from your dark prison cells. You are out of the darkness and into the Light which comes from My smiling face of care and shelter—for you!”

   And thus with Messias, you In Him, and with Him, the Palmarum journey continues.

   Messias says unto you: “come into Augsburg’s nave, over against you, and straightway ye shall always find a beast of burden, a servant of Mine.  For with the seminary’s training, internship, and certification; and with you own parochial twin disciples of calling and ordaining/installing, this servant will assist you all this day.  For My entry into your midst, into your city of sin, sorrow, tears, and constant Lenten twilight and dusk, must now be, IS NOW, broken and open this glorious morn, this 8th day of the week, the 1st day of the new week—the Holy Week, the Week of My Passion!”

    “Today is not a memory or an anniversary or a scholastic, intellectual tutorial,  today IT IS fulfilled that which My Prophet Zecharias spoke by My Spirit: ‘YOU, daughter of Zion, YOU, New Testament Israel, behold your King comes to you, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and the colt of an ass.’  I The Christ sit upon the Old and the New—upon the Hebrew prophecies and the Greek preachings (which soon were scribed as the fulfilled Gospels and Epistles); upon the Mysteries of Washing & Absolution, and Eucharistic Eating & Drinking.”

   You came, you will come, and you do as your Jesus commands you. The Holy Ghost has gathered you by This Word, enlightened you, and keeps you around the Messias’ Body, Blood, and Word.

    Placed upon a donkey, are the clothes of HIS office—in the stead and by the command.  The beast of burden carries a burden which is no weight, but rather a joy that makes the yoke easy to bear. The beast brings you + invocation, collect, pericopes of Evangel, words of + absolution, and hands and tongue to invite and feed you Your Master the very guest of honor at this parade of life!

   In this banquet throng, in this celebratory entrance to the very throne-room of the Blessed Trinity, your own repentance, good works, and joyous thanksgiving, coupled with your alms and hymns, are the most fitting and salutary garments and palm branches.

   Hear Him ye His martyr band:

   “I ride in to your company as your Lord and God. I process in through your aisle to My chancel and sanctuary of salvation. I mount My New Testament Hilltop to feed you once more with that which I suffered and gave for you on My altar crucifix.

    This day of Palms I spread My punctured palms, my wrists split by spikes of sin, and I cover you with forgiveness and life.

    Hosanna for I AM the Son of David, the Son of My Father and yours.”

    And you join with your brothers and sisters and all the pilgrim multitudes and repeat: “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna; blessed is He Who is my Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”


In The Name of The Father and + of The Son, and of The Holy Ghost

Saturday, March 23, 2013


   I am not an expert on Frank Schaeffer and his writings.  Years ago I read his book “Sham Pearls for Real Swine” and loved it; or, I should say, loved his railings against fundamentalists and no-nothing sectarian “evangelicals.”  I still admire much in his past quest for historic, serious, sacramental, incarnational, and genuine Christianity.  I have followed his conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy and his writings since, only in a casual way.  I do not seek to misquote him or put words in his mouth.

     But, I recently watched a video of a three-part lecture series he made in 2005.  He is a charming, entertaining, and very funny speaker.  He is clever, and even with his public self-effacing comments of sin and failure, He knows “it.”  He is also very triumphalistic in his Greek Orthodoxy, as most converts tend to be.  He speaks much truth, but from my Lutheran perspective (i.e. the Rule and Norm of all faith being Holy Scripture) he also speaks much that I find error with.

     The one thing that “jumped out” at me was his description of how Eastern Orthodoxy views the whole topic of “Salvation.”  I agree with some of the words he used: “organic,” a “holy mystery,” and something entirely based on God’s “mercy.” 

     A confessional Lutheran can understand “organic” in a proper sense—after all; Our Lord’s parables were very organic and earthy in their agricultural metaphors and bodily comparisons.  The doctrine of the “mystical union;” the “IN CHRIST” language, the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work through the Sacraments and the Preached Word, are all BOTH declarative and transformative.

    The one word, though, that jumped out was “Journey.”  Schaeffer said that for the Orthodox, “salvation is a journey; a long walk, along a long way, where we participate in our salvation [“syn-ergia” he said] by our works and obedience.”

     And there you are; once again the stumbling block between Saint Paul’s (i.e. God the Holy Spirit) clear teachings on how one is saved (“Salvation”) and a synergistic, cooperative, works-infused mutated version of the “Way” of Christ.

   From the Western view, and by that I mean the pure Gospel which Saint Paul and Saint Peter delivered to the Church of the West—first to Rome and then to the Iberian Peninsula, Europe, Scandinavia, and the British/Irish isles—is NOT about cooperating on a journey, but of BEING ON/IN the God/Man Who IS “THE” Journeying One—Himself!

    Reading King David’s Psalms and the Epistles to the Romans, Ephesians, and Galatians, the Trinity makes it abundantly clear that Salvation is Christ Crucified for the forgiveness of sin and sins.  Salvation is the saving work of Christ both active and passive; both in Law keeping and in blood atoning for guilt and just punishment.  The blessed Scriptures teach that this Salvation is “extra nos” (outside of ourselves) and entirely HIS work.  The saving of the sinner (of all those who are Christ’s) was objectively wrought by His obedient life and His passion and death on Calvary.  The subjective application of Christ’s Salvific Work and Merit is brought also “extra nos” to the sinner/saint through the preached Evangel and the physically-applied Evangel (the Sacrament of Holy + Baptism and the Sacrament of The Altar).  This Christ “for us,” is declarative, forensic, juridical, and real.  It is all these things because God says so.  The Word of the Lord not only “endures forever,” but It does what It says!  We are Holy because The Lord says we are—in His washing, absolving, and feeding. 

     Our lives are a journey IN/with/under/through the Good Shepherd.  The sheep are lead, guided, pushed, moved, cajoled, and smacked on the head, by the Shepherd as they traverse through this vail of tears to the great Sheepfold and greenest pastures of Heaven.  But we are not journeying toward salvation we are already IN the Pierced and scarred arms of Salvation—The “Saving One.”

Friday, March 22, 2013

I Also Love Saying "Liveth and Reigneth"

   I love TLH (the Lutheran Hymnal, 1941). I grew up with it and have used it almost exclusively now for 17 years as a pastor.  Is it a perfect hymnal?  Not hardly.  Many (far more than I thought years ago) of the hymns are so weak as to be methodistic (one or two may be heterodox), and the type font is microscopically small.  And of course, "page 5" is an "unding" and should be ripped out of every pew copy.
   But oh how I love the Jacobean English.  Every parish which uses the AV for the pericopes (as I do) does itself a great complimentary and harmonic blending favor by also using the common service of "Page 15."
   Of course by utilizing the AV I am permitted two of my chief joys: 1) being able to say "ass" in church twice a year [the Holy Gospel for both Ad Te Levavi & Palmarum) and 2) being able to say "Sexagesima."     Of course, I say "ass" in Bible Class all the time.     :)

   This brings me to two recent other observations for the current Season of PassiontideTLH also has the Jacobean translations in the "propers" for the Sundays.  I am simply overjoyed that we will hear the people say this coming PALMARUM in the "Introit": "...and deliver me from the horns of the unicorns."  [TLH p. 64]  Take "that" you pernicious relevant, scientific, modernism!

    But what is even more serendipitous, and really quite amazing, is that the "Tract & Verse" for Maundy Thursday uses the language of John 6 for the pre-eminent service during the Church Year in which to talk about the Sacrament of the Altar.  Notwithstanding the fact that the appointed Evangel deals (per John's non-synoptic eye) with Our Lord's footwashing and NOT with the Verba, it still is wonderful to have the following being said during the Mass: "My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed: he that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood dwelleth in Me and I in him."  [TLH p. 66]

   It may not be Latin, but there's nothing for English speaking American Lutherans that bespeaks "tradition" quite like the good ol' Jacobean language of TLH.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Midweek Homily (Week of Judica)

The Institution Narratives of Sts. Matthew, Mark, and Luke
Lententide Midweek Vespers: Six
21 March Anno Domini 2013
Father Jay Watson SSP

In The Name + of Jesus

   On Holy Thursday one talks about why that day was Holy and why this celebration this Thursday eve is equally as Holy.

   God saves. Jesus saves. There is a saving activity. If one desires to be a Gnostic, fine, good riddance. If you seek only theories, hidden knowledge, and esoteric wisdom for the elite, then you are not a follower of the Suffering Servant, the bruised and bleeding Lamb.

   You may incorrectly think that heaven will be gossamery, feathery and spiritually diaphanous, but you’re wrong. Heaven will be as real, solid, corporeal, and delightful as the feasts and banquets would have been in Eden had there been no fall.  God is the great I AM, to be sure.  The Holy Trinity amongst itself is a Divine mystery which cannot be plumbed.  But that’s not where it ended; where it stands. There’s Genesis 1, and the following history of God’s creative acts.  The Lord, the Logos/Word Son, created “stuff,” matter: physical, touchable, eatable, drinkable, concrete, creation.

   Rather than interact with His beloved children in only dreams and “imprinted” thoughts, the Lord walked with them in the cool of the day. The angel of the Lord, the malek Adonai, Christ before His incarnation, meets and interacts multiple times with His dear flock in the pages of Hebrew scripture.  God is always physical, hands-on, messy, earthy, tactile, hard & wet & cold & warm & bright & in ones face!

   Wrestling angels, smoking pots, talking & burning bushes, angels saving & eating, pillars of fire & billowing clouds, fiery-furnace companions, bronzed figures, eyes within eyes, a following rock producing water, quail & manna, stuff and more stuff, and in much of it not only the hand of God, but a pre-incarnate Christ typifying what was to come in the upper room on the night of Maundy.

   God had hitherto fed His people with their daily bread and with His Holy Word: Torah, the Prophets, the good Kings, and the Psalms. He kept both Moses and Elijah alive with not but His Word for their forty day fasts…but then He fed Elijah by the ravens, by baked bread and a cruse of water by his head.

   Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist, the youngest of the “12” and the last to be taken to dwell safely with the Lord until the Eschaton, was that beloved disciple who rested his head on Christ’s chest during the Last Supper—which is really the FIRST Lord’s Supper, the initial and instituting Sacrament of the Altar and Holy Eucharist!  He had the closest eyes and the most alert ears to everything that happened in the upper room, at the Table, by the Messiah!  And yet, and yet, where is the VERBA, where the institution narratives?

   The Lord the Holy Spirit had the eye-witnesses Peter and Levi also preserve for the Catholic church the words of institution in the first two Gospels of Matthew and John Mark. Saint Luke and the Apostle also give us the Verba and the Sacramental Supper as well.

   Saint John the Evangelist shows you the very Body and Blood that was given to eat, that you will eat and drink, and what it is—The living, working, sacrificing, washing, servant Body and Blood of God—for you!

   “And supper being ended…He riseth from supper.” 

   Yes, the Passover meal came first. But it was no Passover Meal. It was the Holy Eucharist, and everything Dr. Luther gives you in the 6th chief part happened because it is all taken from the Holy Bible.

   It is the true Body and Blood of your Lord under bread and wine for you to eat and drink. It’s not a symbol it’s the actual and real Body and Blood born of the Virgin, Sacrificed on the Tree, Risen on The Sunday of Easter, Ascended ot the right hand of Majesty, and present in Chalice and Ciborium to be placed on your tongues to be eaten and drunk.  Because GOD says so: IS MEANS IS!

   The benefit is God’s benefit for you and it does not matter that you might not totally understand, comprehend, or feel comfortable. The benefit comes from the words of the Word: “given and shed for you for the remission of sins.”  Life and salvation are given you through these words.  As a seal and testament to the Words of the Word, you are also given that SAME Body and Blood which won forgiveness, life, and salvation for you from upon the Crucifix.   

   Where the Head goes the Body follows.  When the Head washes you in Baptism, anoints your head in the thrice-fold + Body and Blood of Calvary, the body is clean. You belong to the Head: Christ Jesus, but your daily walk is still tainted and stained by filthy sins of commission and omission. Your feet, like the feet of Petros need to be daily washed.  You need the water of life which Is Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar. You need His meal every week at the least, and multiple times during the week at the optimum. 

   The Body and Blood of God, the Christ, after filling not only the stomachs of the “12” with bread and strong wine, but also filling them with His Body and Blood, through their lips, tongues and teeth, showed forth what Sacramental eating does. He laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.  He showed both His crucifixion and His continual cleansing flood til He come again.

   Jesus the God/Man came to serve and not to be served. He cleaned the stinking feet of poor, miserable sinners. You, after eating and drinking Your God/Man and Redeemer, clean and wash, and remit the stinking feet of poor miserable sinners, for you “chief of sinners” have been so washed, cleansed, fed, and strengthened. 

   When John quotes Jesus saying “you have been given an example,” he is showing that Christ has also given them THE EXEMPLAR, THE ANTITYPE, THE CONTENT ITSELF.  You have within you the Body and Blood of God.  And ye do, as He has done for you.

In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost