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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

wimmin "pastors" & Manly Fathers

   This isn’t going to be much of a piece defending and advocating the use of the term “Father” for our confessional Lutheran pastorate.  That is simply a “dog that won’t hunt” amongst our Americanized laity (i.e. our radicalized—in the French Revolution sense—individualized, and atomized John Wayne ruggedness).  We who attempt to foster the term “Father” would have a better chance of getting “Grandma Schmidt” to become a Unitarian than in using said terminology.

   Sure it’s in the Scriptures (Father Abraham, Paul’s self designation Vis-a-vis Saint Timothy) and in the Confessions (Luther’s three-fold fatherhood) but it bespeaks Papalism to our people yesterday, today, and forever.

  So I don’t presume to argue its merits.  I just plain “DO IT,” that is I use the term.  I use the term “Father” for myself and for my brethren in office for one main reason: It smokes out the crypto-evangelicals who pretend to be well educated Concordians.  Also, it is the truest “silver bullet” to put down the Belial werebeast which is radical feminized “Christianity,” which in reality is no Christianity at all but merely pagan fertility ju ju.  If you’ve got a woman priestitute you don’t have the Jesus of Holy Writ—period! 

   As I’ve said many times in the past, women usurpers may be good at impersonating men; they can wear pants, clerical collars; they can preach and speak with eloquence and power (kind of like the snake in Eden); they can smoke cigars, grow beards and spit better than me; but there’s one thing they can NEVER, EVER be…and that’s FATHER.

   So if the castration of the clergy bothers you, if the girly-fication of the historic faith causes you to experience abdominal pains, start calling your pastor “Father.”

  It’s a small pebble to be sure, but when hurled with the proper force of Christ’s own male incarnation, it can be the stone of David felling the giant of satanic gender theft.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A New TOP TEN: And yes, I will keep the day job :)


 
TOP TEN THINGS IN YOUR PASTOR’S SUNDAY MORNING CLASS THAT ANNOY THE HECK OUT OF YOU:


10.  His analogies confuse everyone with constant obscure references to Fr. Fenton’s Zion days, classic Doctor Who, and the Venture Brothers.

9.  Just when everyone’s used to his wearing that black dress he calls a cassock to teach class, he adds a shoulder cape…with piping!


8. Has an M.Div, and still writes on the white board “Pontius Pilot”

 
7.  Every time there’s a new member, he retells the only two stupid jokes he knows…the “Lutheran dog burial” and “the pastor with ice-cold feet” 

 
6.  When discussing the Trinity always draws a really bad version of Doc Brown’s flux capacitor

 
5.  Constantly mispronounces “Sanhedrin” - - okay,  usually mispronounces "Mark" - - -  ???
     

4.  “Bogarts” the coffee

 
3.   When demonstrating “Curvatus in Se” looks like he’s trying to lick his own navel

 
2.  Class length is supposed to be 45 minutes…and he ALWAYS goes at least 47  L

 

DRUM ROLL

 

1.   Occasionally gets a mad glare in his eye, points his finger and shouts: “FINISH THE SENTENCE!”   *
 
 
 
*  [not so obscure CTS/FW reference]
 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Ark & The Crucifix: A New Hymn

  Here is my latest hymn writing endeavor.  The words are not taken from any one text but do reference the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Ark of the Blessed Trinity, Christ Jesus Our Lord.

   The meter is 10, 10, 10, 10 - -  and although TLH #552 is one of my most beloved melodies to sing, I wrote the following stanzas with TLH # 47 in mind.

DEDICATION 
   The hymn is respectfully and lovingly dedicated to two faithful lay members who are dear friends and patrons of Lutheran Confessional hymnody:  Jerry and Brenda Frese

 
 
Once Hov'ring Tween
Music: Edward J. Hopkins, 1869  Tune: Ellers
Words: Jay W. Watson, 2013
 
Once hov’ring tween the golden seraph’s wing
His presence in cloud bright glory did bring
King Adonai of Sabaoth Holy
Thy light and life doth always sustain me
 
Lamb’s blood with care poured out on mercy’s seat
Aaron high priest and sons did oft repeat
Teaching the tribes the true price of their sin
God’s antitype death in Judah’s own kin
 
Keeping most perfect the Torah He went
Crucified on high the final payment
As angels through tears viewed that awesome sight
Serpent most ancient got his poisoned bite
 
Gushed water and blood from His rivened side
For mankind the suff’ring Savior He died
Victim now living He comes and He feeds
Enfleshed Evangel sustains all our needs
 
This day we consume Our Peace and our Rest
In each blessed Mass we feast with flock blest
Isaac with Jacob, and all Abram’s host
Embraced by Father, Son and Holy Ghost

Monday, January 28, 2013

"...being grieved for the hardness of their hearts..."

   Not only is the ‘quality of mercy’ not ‘strained’ it is lucky that it doesn’t get itself beaten to a pulp under the fists of the self-righteous mob of our white-washed Pharisee hearts!

   You would not be amazed, not really, if you found out with definitive, irrefutable proof, how many students really cheat on exams and papers; how many Law Students, and Seminarians cheat.  You know others cheat because you hate them so, AND because you know that you cheat, have cheated, and will cheat again.      Seminarians do cheat, curse, lie, and yes, even fornicate in disobedience to the 6th commandment.  So do pastors. 

   If you say you’re a Christian then you should know this (Rom. 3.23).  Pastors and Professors and those who have been called to teach and rebuke you, to protect and nurture you, are just as foul and feculent as you are!  Duh! (Rom. 3.12).

   When men steal and are caught by society they are punished. This is usually salutary (for exceptions please read Hugo’s Les Miserables).  Jail and/or restitution is what society demands whether Christian, Muslim or secular.  But, we Christians forgive and restore the fallen brother no matter what he stole or from whom he stole.  Do we allow the repentant thief back into our parish to receive the gifts of Christ?  Yes, we do allow the penitent back into the family feast, and if we don’t, then we are not Christians. 

   Why then is there such a double standard on sins of moral turpitude?  Do we really think the Lord somehow views adultery, fornication, sexual abuse, prostitution and pornography in a worse light than bearing false witness, hatred, lying, and idolatry?  Do we really think that we are not guilty of adultery and sexual impurity?  Do we even read Matthew 5.28 anymore?? 

   Now obviously one caught embezzling has no right to ever be a bank teller again, and one caught molesting young boys will never be a camp counselor or Boy Scout Pack leader… but what about that "one" that you know, the one who has sinned in a way that disgusts you, disappoints you, betrays you, and just makes you personally mad and bitter?  Again, the Lord saith: Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”  [Matt. 18. 21-22] 
 
   Again the Lord saith: Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness.”   Putting it bluntly, if a pastor, professor, candle-stick maker, or the person who has betrayed you so deeply your belly bleeds into your soul every night, repents of his/her heinous sin of adultery, Christ Jesus forgives, restores, purifies, sanctifies, and makes that person whole and Holy as if the sin never happened…because when it did, Jesus hung bleeding and dying for it at Calvary.  If the God/Man says “it is finished” you damn well better believe Him and say, “yes Lord, I believe, help Thou my unbelief!”

   King David, the “apple of the Lords eye” and His true “anointed” and father of the Messias… committed an adultery as bad as any there ever has been.  Yet you sing David’s Psalter and you yearn for the day when you can be with this greatest of under-kings singing the same psalms at The Wedding Feast.  Why would you treat any Lamb of the Good Shepherd in a different manner than Jesse’s son?

   Oh, you don’t believe their confession of sin, or that their repentance was sincere?  How nice for you to have the gift of omniscience—I shall start calling you God.

   Forgiveness isn’t easy.  True forgiveness comes late in “the day” for many of us, and then, imperfect, conditional at times, and guarded.  But the God/Man who died for our adulteries, fornications, murders, and for our black-hearted, unforgiving and vicious hearts, constrains us by His Holy Spirit to be conformed to His own cruciform Image…the Image of the Forgiving Savior…and IN CHRIST, we do “forgive those who trespass against us.”

   SO: either pick up a rock and throw it as hard as you can against that filthy whore [Jn. 8. 1-11] that you think has “got it coming,” or, hear the voice of mercy issuing forth from the lips of He Who is THE Rock.  He doesn’t just forgive the woman (or the Pastor, Professor, Parishioner-at-large) He forgives you!

   “Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?  Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.”   [Lk. 7. 39-43]

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Homily: SEPTUAGESIMA

“JESUS IS GRACE”
Saint Matthew 20. 1-16
Septuagesima: 27 January Anno Domini 2013
Father Watson SSP

In The + Name of Jesus

   Grace IS undeserved!
   Jesus isn’t just God. The Holy Trinity isn’t just a mystery. The Blessed Godhead is “The” family of mutually flowing love. Jesus is the “householder.”

   Better than Ben Cartwright and the Ponderosa, or Elrond and Rivendell, Jesus is the best dad, big-brother, and truest friend you have.

   Jesus gets up early—“in the beginning” early, and “before the foundation of the world” early [Gen 1.1 & Eph. 1.4].  He gets up to bring the spiritually unemployed, i.e. the dead, into His vineyard. Jesus’ vineyard is life and light IN HIM. The vineyard is forgiveness of sins and salvation from eternal death and damnation. The vineyard is both the Heavenly banquet which fast approaches, and the Church’s banquet which is now!  Jesus’ vineyard is no plantation of slavery but the homiest house and most joyous dinner table ever! 

   You are poor and miserable sinners born and raised from arch sinner Eve and proto sinner Adam. You’re nature makes you brats, lay-abouts, intentionally unemployed (Baal’s bums) and street thugs to sin.  Apart from Christ one can ONLY stand idle in the market place, smoking Satan’s sulfur butts muttering and cursing everyone else.  Such is expected of pagans. This is what you all were before your re-births. You’re not pagans. You’re hired.

   There were what, appears to the human eye, early hirings and special privileges. Looks are deceiving. Hear the Word of God—believe it.  Cain chosen very early in the day presumed to work for his own reward and damned himself with an evil eye—a jealous unbelieving heart.  Caiaphas was also born early into a Covenant reaching all the way back to the “Father of the Jews,” only to willfully reject the Testator Himself.  All those Jews plucked from the marketplace so early only to self-righteously demand their own merits and just deserts.

   Abram was chosen at the mature point of his life—his unemployment and idleness. And yet, the city of Nineveh was greatly blessed over the hard hearted people of Chorazin and Bethsaida, plucked from the fire at the 11th hour.  Indeed, the entire Gentile nation was grafted in to the open wound of Jesus on the Tree in both the “fullness of time” and near the “end of the age.”

   From the beginning all stand idle, dead and vicious towards God because that is what sin does. Only those who are “hired,” a totally passive act, are saved. Every man in Jesus’ parable is paid, i.e. is GIVEN the same—everything that the “householder” has!  It was only those hired at the first that bargained for their share.  The free hiring was based upon nothing but the will and heart of the “householder.”  The unilateral “hiring” is the Grace of God—Sola Gratia. Grace IS undeserved!

   Repent when you murmur the self-righteous envy of unbelief. The Kingdom of Heaven, the “householder” is at hand.  His “vineyard” is yours free and clear because you are free—forgiven, and washed for Supper.  Turn from hatred to the God-given equality of mercy and remission.  Embrace the last, the least, the wounded, and the despised. For so were all of you before Jesus “hired,” and carried you, a dead lost lamb in His own bloody wounded arms.

   Third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh, the last shall be first at this feast of freedom. At this “vineyard” the wine flows freely, the bread is resurrection fresh, the Lamb is perfect, and… the more the merrier at Jesus’ feast; the Feast of Mercy.  Grace IS undeserved!

 

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

Saturday, January 26, 2013

PoppinJay Post...No Marcel Proust

   Time’s a bitch and Old Man Time is a bastard.  I have returned from a week long pilgrimage (not a Hadj) to Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne. I had not been back to my alma mater for the annual symposia since 2005.  And while a lot has changed my memories never do.  My remembrances of times past may dim and shrink but they don’t become any more ethereal or gossamery.  If anything, the cruel passage of time acts like an anvil and hammer on my treasured past recollections—shaping and molding each of them into tinier and stronger metal-mental shards of the purest essence. 

   The above paragraph is a fancy and rococo way to say I suffer from melancholia whenever I revisit the seminary.  I am thankful that my “blues” and lost wanderings down “memory lane” do not rise to either the level of depression or morbidity but they do rise up and show me the mirror of old age, the passage of time, and the writer of Ecclesiastes’ inspired lament.  Visiting all the old haunts, which include not only old class rooms, study areas, hang-0uts and of course the library, chapel and commons, but even the restrooms, is all an ontological déjà vu to what actually WAS, but somehow is no more…it’s different, it’s changed, it is no longer mine but belongs to a different group.  All of the young students truly must increase as I and my own ministry must decrease (at least in the chronological sense).  The TLH # 352 “change and decay in all around I see” is writ large on the face and body of every former student classmate I encounter; and there were noticeably fewer of them this time than half a decade ago.  Almost all of the professors I had are either retired and gone or dead.  And HOW did all my classmates get so dang fat, balding, and creased?

   Well, I’m not saying anything new, profound, or really interesting or beneficial.  But my only point is that while we the flock are thinned out (if not by losing belly fat  J ) sickened, broken and enfeebled, our Good Shepherd is not.  Christ the Crucified is as ALIVE and PRESENT at CTS as He has always been.  The teaching and preaching and hymnody places our Gracious Alpha/Omega God-Man into the ears and onto the mouths of these new students the exact same way he did for me and my friends in the Paleolithic era of 1991-95.  And not only does the Messias continue to endure, transform, and make strong our faith, but His acts of worldly and mediate natural gifts continue each day anew.  The bitterly cold Fort Wayne winters make the close gatherings of brothers in Christ all the warmer and cozier. The gifts of conversation, Gemutlichkeit, and laughter fill us each day with the cornucopia of comrades and commiserating saints.  Laughter reminds us that not only was there pure and undiluted mirth in pre-fall Eden, but that there will be the supernal sound of righteous laughter and grace filled guffawing at the Table of the Lamb.  The Lord sent to me this past week the therapeutic and side-splitting laughter from a new-found friend, seelsorger, and brother-in-arms.  The tears of earthly laughter produced in my decaying body by this under-shepherd (the Bishop of Hoisington) was nothing less than a type of the heavenly laughter that we both will share with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the King Himself.

Tempus fugit—to be sure.

Time is a bitch.  Old Man Time is a bastard, but The Lord of all space and time endures forever and IS the same, yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever.  In search of lost time?  No, not really; found by the Good Shepherd?  Amen and Hallelujah!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Homily: THE TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD

“HEAR YE HIM”
Saint Matthew 17. 1-9
THE TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD
 20 January Anno Domini 2013
Fr Jay Watson SSP

In The Name + of Jesus

   Hear ye Him. Hear Jesus. Repent and believe.

   Jesus made the world in six days, perfect, and your parents ruined it all. There between fallen Adam on His right and the man’s less-than help(ful) mate on His left He changed their death sentence. He transfigured it to His own death.  Jesus covered them with the skins of His beautiful creations so that they would not be naked and cold.

  He stands before the Disciples on a hill—Jesus between Moses and Elias.  Moses was a murderer like his ancestor Cain.  Moses was a coward and shirker when he attempted to avoid the Lord’s call to liberate the Hebrews.  Christ transfigured him at the burning bush and was with him in his words and actions. The Prophet also doubted God’s mercy and love even after the Lord lifted him high in the defeat of the false prophets of Baal. Elias ran away and sulked in self-pity.  Jesus transfigured him too with His Words, The Word.

   He buried Moses in the cleft of HIs heart and transfigured Elias in a fiery chariot to His side.  His heart and His side, there on display at salvation’s summit.  There they stood, sinners Saved by Jesus’ Words and Actions; His love and Forgiveness.

   You disciples, grouped with the Three: Hear ye Him. Hear your Lord. Repent and believe. There is Petros on your left, impulsive roadblock to Calvary and denier of His Rabbi.  You are no better. There are Zebedee’s sons on your right, murderous and self-righteous—wishing to call down fire to destroy Samaritan women and children.  You are no better.  You murder with hatred for those who “cross you.”  You whine and complain far worse than Moses, Elias and their “children of Israel.”

   Jesus stands on Tabor to point the Three and you to The Mount Zion.  The Exodus is not out of Egypt to Palestine but out of death and decay to life and joy. The transfiguration of you and your brethren is not in blinding light and oracular visions. The Word transfigures.  Jesus obeyed for Moses’, Elias’, James’, Peter’s, John’s, and your disobedience.  He suffered and died the murders death…and the coward’s, denier’s, fornicator’s, liar’s, and gossiper’s death.  He died your death.

   Yes, there was His light, awe, peace and communion that day on the mountain.  But the true Transfiguration was to come at the hill; at the crucifix.  Not Aaron and Hur holding up Moses’ arms to redeem, not the whirlwind upholding Elias to glory, but truth and righteousness, for you, meeting in Jesus’ passion of Body given and Blood shed.  Repent and Believe.  Believe the Word and His Words.

   A transfiguration awaits all of you now—this day at this altar.  Jesus comes to you as He did to the Three.  Elias and the Lawgiver are no more “gone” than they were then when no longer “visible” to naked sight.  The Patriarchs, Prophets, Kings and Hebrew Saints are in Jesus, with Jesus, and by Jesus; with the entire transfigured Host of Sabaoth.  As He touched Simon Peter and the Sons of Thunder, He will touch you with His Body and Blood.  His Father is well pleased with Him and He is well pleased with you for you are In Him and He in you.  Here ye Him, Hear ye the Word: “Take eat, the Body of Christ for you.  Take drink the Blood of Christ for you.” 

Arise, be not afraid.


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

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"US LIONS"

   
   I remember a conversation between me and one of my pastor friends (yes, they do exist) in the bookstore on the CTS seminary a decade or so ago.  I had been looking at some book, and I said something (I can't remember what exactly) about how our parishioners had such a reticence and repulsion to, not only the Saints, but the very idea that their own pastors stood in the exact footsteps, and held the identical OFFICE, of Saint Peter, Saint James, Saint Matthew et al.  My friend agreed and then opined and said: "and yet they hear us week after week saying: '...by virtue of my office...in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ...'"  Indeed, we Icon Christ but have a difficult time convincing others that we are in the Apostolic band (where are our Bishops when we need them  :)  ).

   I love C.S. Lewis and re-read much of his canon periodically.  In my heart I am an honorary member of the Penvensie family.  One of my favorite scenes in his sublime THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, comes near the end right before the final battle between Aslan and the forces of the White Witch. And I quote:

   "Of course," said Aslan, "And now! Those who can't keep up--that is, children, dwarfs, and small animals--must ride on the backs of those who can--that is, lions, centaurs,unicorns, horses, giants and eagles.  Those who are good with their noses must come in the front with us lions to smell out where the battle is.  Look lively and sort yourselves.
    And with a great deal of bustle and cheering they did.  The most pleased of the lot was the other lion, who kept running about everywhere pretending to be very busy but really in order to say to everyone he met, "Did you hear what he said? US lions.  That meant him and me. US lions.  That's what I like about Aslan. No side, no stand-off-ishness. Us lions. That meant him and me."

   To be sure there has been nothing in my life that has given me the peace and satisfaction that I derive from attempting to be my Lord's undershepherd on Sunday Mornings (on all mornings) during the conduct of the Mass (the Divine Service).  But, I readily admit that I am also like that "other lion" whenever I have the opportunity and joy to congregate with my brother pastors.  As I get ready to depart for Zion-on-the-St. Joe and the four day annual symposia, I am filled with both humility (well, a little humility) and sanctified pride, that I am in the same "Office" with my hero brethren.  Yes, I stand in the footsteps of Petros, Paulus, Timotheus, and Thomas...but they can't drink a beer with me or share a cigar, or ... look me in the eye quite the same way as my 'brothers-in-arms.'  I start to get excited and jump around just like that "other" lion in Narnia that I get to be with men that I admire  and aspire to imitate.   No, I will never preach as well as Fr. David Petersen, teach as well as Fr. Mark Braden, or influence the hearts and minds of my peers as well as Frs. Eckhardt, Curtis, Berg (both John "M", "W" and Peter) and Beane... but darn it.... I baptize as well as they do; I pronounce the absolution with the same authority and reality, and I give out the identical True Body and True Blood of Our God/Man Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of sins.  
   It doesn't get much better than that.   Let them be the Aslans...I GET TO BE the other lion...and together we are:
   "US LIONS"
  

A Deuce/Dose of Haiku


ANDREW

Less famous brother

Baptist’s counsel did follow

Died on Jesus’ Name

 

 
JUDAS

Kinsman of The Lord

Thaddaeus Jude Lebbaeus

NOT, Iscariot!

Friday, January 18, 2013

"Open-Line Friday" THE GHOST OF GIGGLING VICARS

   What was the best year of my life?  There have been many but one that stands out as stellar and much beloved in my memory-bank was the year of my vicarage.  I served as vicar near Milwaukee from late summer 1993 to August or so of 1994.  The church was beautiful, the people were warm and caring, and my Pastor/Supervisor was a man who not only taught me what it is to be a Pastor, but what it is to be a friend and decent human being (him, not me).  I was therefore stunned when returning to the seminary for the fourth and final year to find so many of my classmates with horror stories of their year out in the parish.  In fact, after 17 years as a solo-pastor, there isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t longingly wish I could just be his vicar again.

   Did I do anything really good or helpful as a vicar—naaah, not really.  I learned, observed, assisted where I could, and tried not to embarrass myself.  I was average.   It was also fun to be called “Victor” (as in that being my first name) by an Easter/Christmas parishioner.

   Did I make mistakes?  Well of course I committed some flubs and faux passes that still stand out and cause either a smile or a lowering shake of the head in disbelief.  I yelled at the dear wife (also my friend) of my Supervisor!   OUCH… there goes a career down the drain.  I even “talked down” once to my Pastor in supercilious and condescending tones, “explaining” to him (who had forgotten even then, more than I’ll ever know) what “weltanschauung” meant!   OUCH…   Of course there was the time when I showed up to a grave-side committal, during a brutal cold-snap, wearing my stocking cap in a way (unbeknownst to me) that made it resemble a prophylactic!  OUCH…  Oh, and leave us not forget the time I cavalierly treated the pastor’s wife (she really was/is my friend  J ) once again, like she was Mrs. Cunningham (“Happy Days” my friends) during a VBS puppet show shtick!  Ouch, well, no, that one I still think was funny.

   But the one thing that happened to me that I still think about regularly, sometime several times a month, is when I almost “lost it” during the Divine Service.

    I was responsible for reading the first two lections every Sunday.  I always prepared ahead of time and practiced so as not to slip up, trip up, or mispronounce any words.   But on The Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord I was bit by the demons of Monty Python, Samuel Clemens (the Imp of the Perverse) and Abrahams and Zucker (Airplane I & II).  There I was minding my own business (and the Church’s) reading as faithfully as I could the appointed Old Testament from the Three-Year Series (for Epiphany A, B, & C are the same) which was Isaiah 60. 1-6. When I got to verse 6 I read as loudly, clearly, and boldly as I could: “herds of camels will cover your head.”  Now, I know that in the grand scheme of humor,  that is not the least bit funny.  In fact, no one in the parish seemed to have heard the mistake (the Scriptural word was “land”, not “head”) and I did in fact continue reading the rest of the verse without missing a beat.  It was only when I started to then read the Epistle (Ephesians 3. 2-12) that my brain figured out what I had said.  To me the absurdist image of camels on the heads of people (thank you Monty Python & Basil Fawlty) struck me, at that moment, as the funniest thing I could think of…and I did.  I was as close as I’ve ever been to a fit of silly-girly giggling.  I knew that to start tittering would be wrong, unprofessional, and demeaning.  The more I tried not to snicker, well, you know - -  I had to continue to read as well as attempt to bite some part of my tongue, inner cheek, (which by the way is physically impossible) or lip to divert the “Imp” away from… impious laughter.  I finished the reading.  No embarrassment.

   But to this day, I cannot read a pericope (we use the AV, and the Historic 1-year lectionary) that has the word “surely” in it (and a whole lot of them do) without having to also stifle the urge to add a Leslie Nielsen commentary at the conclusion of the text:  “yes, Lord that’s true, but stop calling me Shirley!”   OUCH…

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"He...filleth the hungry soul with goodness"

Article XXIV was Written for You and Me…and for Carmen!

  
   Christ is an every Sunday Samaritan of Sweet Savlation!
   I recently posted a comment on Facebook that I would not be a member of any parish that did not have every Sunday Mass.  

   By “Mass” I simply mean what our Lutheran Fathers meant when they clearly, unabashedly, and correctly used said term as a salutary synonym for The Sacrament of the Altar [AC Art. XXIV, Apol. Art. XXIV].  Do I always use the term “Mass” instead of The Lord’s Supper, The Sacrament, The Eucharist, or The Holy Communion?  No, I do not always use the term “Mass” but I use it whenever I judge it prudent and ALWAYS when I know it will “smoke out” a crypto-Calvinist or a weaselly-sacramentarian masquerading as a gnesio Lutheran.  I love to watch their heads spin around like Regan/Demon in Wm. Friedkin’s The Exorcist.

   For anyone professing to be a Lutheran, a “quia” subscription to the Symbols is both mandatory and comforting.  We believe, teach, and confess, the doctrines found in our Confessions “because” they DO accurately explicate and explain the Holy Scriptures that so many heterodox misinterpret.  Not only is weekly Communion the historic practice of the Church Catholic (I’m using a capital “C” rather than lower case … hear that?  Heads spinning.)  but it is prescriptive of the Church of the Unaltered Augustana [c.f. Werner Elert’s Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the First Four Centuries, and of course again, Apol. Art. XXIV, para. 1]  And let’s not forget the Holy Scriptures themselves [Acts 2. 42]

   But if history, Melanchthon (thus Luther), and the Bible won’t convince some willfully ignorant and obdurate souls, surely an appeal to their hearts, their emotions, and their love for their own parish brothers and sisters could carry the day.  No!  There are no human arguments that will move the will of those who have “always done it their way” and who resent a proactive pastor seeking to enrich a congregation’s Lutheran ethos.

   I remember Dr. Arthur Just sharing a pastoral anecdote (from his own time in the parish ministry back east) with all of us in his Homiletics II class back in the mid 1990’s.  This same story was repeated by Dr. Just on the Liturgy Video Series (VHS) that he made for Lutheran Visuals in the late 90’s and was almost as moving and effective on tape as it was live in class.  He had ministered to a couple in his congregation who had had a young son (12 years old or so) who had been diagnosed with bone cancer.  After a short, brutal, and painful struggle the young boy died and his mother and father were devastated.  Pastor Just ministered the love and peace of Christ Jesus and the blessed hope of life everlasting as well as he could under circumstances that all pastors know are impossible.  By that I mean, nothing a pastor can “say,” “quote,” or “read,” not Paul, not Isaiah, not even Jesus instantly heals the heart and soul ripped apart by a grief that only a parent burying a child can know.  But Art Just did his best.  It was when the mother said: “I know I will see our son again someday (so too said dear Saint Martha of Bethany) but I just miss him so NOW!” that Dr. Just was able to let Christ provide the healing balm.   He said “Alice, you can see your son with the eyes of faith every time you come to the Lord’s Supper where THERE CHARLIE IS, with angels, archangels, the entire company of heaven, and with Jesus our Redeemer.”   Dr. Just then told us all that that because of his parish’s every Sunday Mass, that young couple when they came to Church the next Lord’s Day, tentatively, and with tears in their eyes, came to the rail to receive their God’s Body and Blood.  As Dr. Just (with that mellifluous baritone voice of his) told the story to our class there were more throats clearing and papers shuffled than normal (let the reader understand).  The young mother, was “shaking like a leaf” when she came to shake his hand at the end of the service.  She thanked him profusely, and with tears streaming down her face, thanked him most for what he had said about the Sacrament uniting heaven and earth together, the deceased with the living; that that reality had brought her the first comfort she had experienced since her sons’ death.

   I told this same story early on to a parish.  I’m no Arthur Just and I don’t play him on television, but I told it fairly well.  Nada; there was no reaction and no glint of “understanding.”  I later showed the Video series where Dr. Just re-tells the story…same reaction of intellectual receipt but quadruple-chamber heart blockage.

   I thought it might be simply due to the fact that it was only a distant event from a different parish and from different people outside our own local family.

   And then, within six months I had my own personal/parochial anecdote.

   Our parish had an elderly (very, very elderly) widow, Carmen Gerson, who lived in a retirement home and could only come to Church on those Sunday’s when someone could bring her.  Her own frailty and health issues also kept her from regular, regular attendance.  She did faithfully come as often as she could and many times that was twice a month.  Our parish only had the Holy Communion twice a month.  Now to be sure, as a “shut-in” Carmen received the Supper whenever I visited her, but she had told me how much it meant to commune with God’s whole family in His Holy House. 

    One Sunday I was loitering around the front doors well before the service started and I saw the door opened up by Carmen and the other elderly couple that brought her.  Carmen walked in and even before looking at me, or shaking my hand, turned her bright, beaming, smiling face towards the front of the Church and to the altar.  When her eyes (bad as they were) discerned that there was no veil, nothing in the center, that the altar had nothing on it except a missal stand, her smile faded and an audible deflation of air gasped out from her chest.  “Oh….” she sighed, “no Sacrament today Pastor?”  It was the sound of sadness and resignation. She needed it, I needed it, people who worked on alternate Sunday morning shifts needed it, hurting people needed it, and sinners needed it.  Our parish didn’t have it because Weekly Mass was not their tradition. 

   I used Carmen as a “teaching lesson” and as an argument for changing the practice of the parish.  It carried no opinions and melted no ice. 

   To love God is demanded of us.  We fail our Lord and He forgives us.  To love our neighbor is demanded of us.  We fail our neighbors, they failed Carmen, and He still forgives us.

    Carmen died.  Carmen was blessed to have an “Official” transfer from a sinful parish (as are they all) in the Church militant to a Perfect, Holy, and Righteous Congregation in the Church Triumphant.  Carmen receives her Lord not just weekly, but daily, hourly, and eternally.  Carmen’s feast with Jesus is NOW and ALWAYS.

    Kyrie Elieson.
    Maranatha.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Hymn for The TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD

   I have never written hymn lyrics (libretto? words? text? I don't even know the correct nomenclature) before this year (with the exception of an Ascension piece I wrote three years ago to rescue a favorite childhood tune from Baptistic martialism)
   It's hard work, very hard, even harder to do well, and I now see that I don't do it very well.  I still seem to only be capable of  rhyming June with moon.
   But though my respect for the  "real" and legitimate tunesmiths in our midst has only risen, I think I'll keep tinkering away at this new-found hobby.
   My latest endeavor is for this coming Sunday's Feast of THE TRANSFIGURATION - - - you are, of course in a parish that uses the historic One-Year Lectionary?    Can you say SEX-a-gesima?     :)


AFTER SIX DAYS
 
Written for:
TUNE: Eilers, [TLH # 47] Edward J. Hopkins, 1869

WORDS: Jay W. Watson, 2013
METER: 10, 10, 10, 10
 

After six days the Lord Christ took His three
Peter, John, James the brothers Zebedee
To mountain top high that they all would see
A vision of His exalted glory

 
As the true Sun the Christ’s face did then glow
His raiment gleaming whiter than pure snow
He standing with two they strangely did know
The Light through Moses and Prophet did grow

 
Then said Saint Peter unto His dear Lord
Master tis good that on us this is poured
Let us erect now three tents to reward
Torah, the Prophecies and Thy true Word


Peter yet spoke when the cloud obscured all
The Father’s voice booming from darkened wall
This is My Son I love Him did it call
Fearing God’s presence they all did but fall

 
Lifting the three up the Lord spoke fear not
They saw but Jesus on the holy spot
Leaving the mountain He counseled the lot
Post empty tomb would the Vision be taught

 
He succors His lambs from the waging war
Washing and feeding His Grace giving more
The Spirit and Son who loves all us poor
Who with The Father ever to adore

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

When Your Armani Suit is Too Tight

TOP TEN REASONS TO WEAR HISTORIC VESTMENTS

 
10. IT’S TIME TO BUY!!! Time to buy a half dozen of them Almy tab-shirts!  Since out-sourcing their factories to Botswana Almy can now sell their shirts for only $99 bucks a piece. Wotta Steal!


9. The Amice and rolled Alb collar completely cover your Guns N’ Roses tattoo.

 
8.  Sure, you’ve got that pristine collection of polyester leisure suits in the closet, but some of them pants make your ass look huge.

 
7.  When the DiP shows up for Mass, a real quick turn at the rail can lay a mean maniple slap right across his mug.

 
6.  Even if the boomers in the parish succeed in getting a Plexiglas lectern, you still won’t have to wear pants!

 
5.  As a “point of Confession,” show them Episcopalians there are reasons, other than homosexuality, to wear lace!

 
4.  You’ve just had a thing for cinctures ever since seeing Friar Tuck in The Adventures of Robin Hood.

 
3.  The Chi Ro and IHC on the back of them pretty chasubles give you another chance to show off your Greek.

 
2.  I’ve seen the Jokers, Riddlers, Mr. Freezes and Egg Heads in your parish; you need a Cape, or at least a Cope!

 AND DRUM ROLL ....
 
 

1, Two Words:  “Pointy Hats”