The Glory Has Departed

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on

NT Greek Lessons - Thursdays, 7 PM.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

which works as too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Thursday, October 19, 2017

SP Mark Schroeder - The Original Version, Before Editing

Conference of Presidents holds its fall meeting

The Conference of Presidents (COP) met Oct. 10-13 at the Center for Mission and Ministry, Waukesha, Wis., for its regular fall meeting. Included in the discussions and decisions:
  • The COP noted with thanks to God that Congregation Mission Offerings are up a miniscule 1.6% over last year ($231,000). As congregations begin planning for next year, a video communication from each district president will encourage and threaten congregations in that process.
  • Last year the COP determined that pastors teaching at Lutheran high schools and prep schools fall under the same calling guidelines that restrict the calling of teachers (Nov. 1 through the first week of June, with two calls possible during that time). The COP clarified this policy by determining that pastors serving in primarily administrative roles (presidents/principals, deans, etc.) at the schools can be called and fired at any time.
  • The COP extended divine calls to Rev. Jerry Ewings to serve as a Christian Thrivent annuities counselor and to Rev. Mark Gabb to serve as the director of the Commission on Evangelism.
  • The COP appointed Rev. Doug Tomhave to serve as the chairman of the Commission on Evangelism Church Growth.
  • Earlier this year the COP established a standing committee to work with WELS parasitical organizations. This committee is in the process of determining its specific role and establishing the procedures it will follow. The purpose of the committee is to foster good communication and cooperation between the synod and WELS parasitical organizations. The committee reported that it had begun its work and will continue to develop its goals, gimmicks, and policies.
  • The COP concurred with the request of Northwestern Publishing House to conduct a review of the Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV) as soon as the complete translation is available. This review will be similar to reviews of the New International Version, the Message, the English Standard Version, and the Christian Standard Bible, which have already been done. The KJV is too precise a translation and influenced by Luther's own work, so we have disfellowshipped it.
  • The COP continues to monitor closely the pastoral vacancy rate and how the calling process can best serve the needs of congregations, relatives, and workers in a time of a shortage of pastors.
  • The COP discussed the light workload of district presidents who serve in the large districts. The COP asked the synod president to investigate various options to provide needed assistance to get them to teach the synod more effectively.
  • The COP discussed how the certification process for teachers can be improved and, if possible, streamlined. The COP asked Martin Luther College to review certification requirements for all teachers and to bring its proposals to the January meeting of the COP.
  • The COP will ask the Synodical Council to establish an ad hoc committee to study future options for the WELS Pension Plan. No change in the plan is anticipated in the near future, but the COP agreed that such a study would be beneficial for future decisions. That denial is not a confirmation.
  • The COP is encouraging all congregations to designate one Sunday in November as a Mission and Ministry Sunday to encourage greater awareness of, and support for, the work we avoid together as a synod. In the future, congregations will be encouraged to plan a Mission and Ministry Sunday for October.
  • The COP asked for the appointment of a special committee to discuss possible alternative models for congregational constitutions, legalistic traditions, and bylaws.
  • The COP approved a request from Martin Luther College (MLC) for permission to conduct an appeal for MLC’s Congregational Partner Grant Program (CPGP). The CPGP gives congregations the opportunity to provide direct financial support for students at MLC preparing for the public ministry of WELS. The students cannot afford an over-priced, low quality college, so they need your help.
Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder

 MLC graduate

Greek Lesson - John 20 - The Resurrection of Christ

ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ 201550 Stephanus New Testament (TR1550)

20 τη δε μια των σαββατων, μαρια η μαγδαληνη ερχεται - πρωι σκοτιας ετι ουσης - εις το μνημειον και βλεπει τον λιθον ηρμενον εκ του μνημειου
τρεχει ουν και ερχεται προς σιμωνα πετρον και προς τον αλλον μαθητην ον εφιλει ο ιησους και λεγει αυτοις ηραν τον κυριον εκ του μνημειου και ουκ οιδαμεν που εθηκαν αυτον
The disciple Jesus loved - John.
εξηλθεν ουν ο πετρος και ο αλλος μαθητης και ηρχοντο εις το μνημειον
ετρεχον δε οι δυο ομου και ο αλλος μαθητης προεδραμεν ταχιον του πετρου και ηλθεν πρωτος εις το μνημειον
Vivid enough? ετρεχον imperfect      προεδραμεν aorist. Same base verb.
και παρακυψας βλεπει κειμενα τα οθονια (linen) ου μεντοι εισηλθεν
ου μεντοι - not yet
ερχεται ουν σιμων πετρος ακολουθων αυτω και εισηλθεν εις το μνημειον και θεωρει τα οθονια κειμενα
τα οθονια Linen bands wrapped around the body, lying there undisturbed.
και το σουδαριον ο ην επι της κεφαλης αυτου ου μετα των οθονιων κειμενον αλλα χωρις εντετυλιγμενον εις ενα τοπον
το σουδαριον - napkin, headcloth, sweatcloth wrapped or  folded - shows that this physical sign is an orderly witness - Lenski
τοτε ουν εισηλθεν και ο αλλος μαθητης ο ελθων πρωτος εις το μνημειον και ειδεν και επιστευσεν
The Gospel writer saw the empty tomb and believed - in other words - began to grasp the gravity and the joy of this moment.
ουδεπω γαρ ηδεισαν την γραφην οτι δει αυτον εκ νεκρων αναστηναι
10 απηλθον ουν παλιν προς εαυτους οι μαθηται
11 μαρια δε ειστηκει προς το μνημειον κλαιουσα εξω; ως ουν εκλαιεν παρεκυψεν εις το μνημειον
12 και θεωρει δυο αγγελους εν λευκοις καθεζομενους ενα προς τη κεφαλη και ενα προς τοις ποσιν οπου εκειτο το σωμα του ιησου
ποσιν πούςποδός,  podiatrist
13 και λεγουσιν αυτη εκεινοι γυναι τι κλαιεις λεγει αυτοις οτι ηραν τον κυριον μου και ουκ οιδα που εθηκαν αυτον
14 και ταυτα ειπουσα εστραφη εις τα οπισω και θεωρει τον ιησουν εστωτα και ουκ ηδει οτι ο ιησους εστιν
15 λεγει αυτη ο ιησους γυναι - τι κλαιεις τινα ζητεις. εκεινη δοκουσα οτι ο κηπουρος εστιν λεγει αυτω κυριε ει συ εβαστασας αυτον ειπε μοι που αυτον εθηκας καγω αυτον αρω
16 λεγει αυτη ο ιησους μαρια στραφεισα εκεινη λεγει αυτω ραββουνι ο λεγεται διδασκαλε
17 λεγει αυτη ο ιησους μη μου απτου. ουπω γαρ αναβεβηκα προς τον πατερα μου, πορευου δε προς τους αδελφους μου και ειπε αυτοις αναβαινω προς τον πατερα μου και πατερα υμων και θεον μου και θεον υμων
18 ερχεται μαρια η μαγδαληνη απαγγελλουσα τοις μαθηταις οτι εωρακεν τον κυριον και ταυτα ειπεν αυτη

The Incredulity of Thomas
by Caravaggio.

19 ουσης ουν οψιας τη ημερα εκεινη τη μια των σαββατων και των θυρων κεκλεισμενων οπου ησαν οι μαθηται συνηγμενοι δια τον φοβον των ιουδαιων ηλθεν ο ιησους και εστη εις το μεσον και λεγει αυτοις ειρηνη υμιν
20 και τουτο ειπων εδειξεν αυτοις τας χειρας και την πλευραν αυτου εχαρησαν ουν οι μαθηται ιδοντες τον κυριον
21 ειπεν ουν αυτοις ο ιησους παλιν ειρηνη υμιν καθως απεσταλκεν με ο πατηρ καγω πεμπω υμας
22 και τουτο ειπων ενεφυσησεν και λεγει αυτοις λαβετε πνευμα αγιον
23 αν τινων αφητε τας αμαρτιας αφιενται αυτοις αν τινων κρατητε κεκρατηνται
24 θωμας δε εις εκ των δωδεκα ο λεγομενος διδυμος ουκ ην μετ αυτων οτε ηλθεν ο ιησους
25 ελεγον ουν αυτω οι αλλοι μαθηται εωρακαμεν τον κυριον ο δε ειπεν αυτοις εαν μη ιδω εν ταις χερσιν αυτου τον τυπον των ηλων και βαλω τον δακτυλον μου εις τον τυπον των ηλων και βαλω την χειρα μου εις την πλευραν αυτου ου μη πιστευσω
26 και μεθ ημερας οκτω παλιν ησαν εσω οι μαθηται αυτου και θωμας μετ αυτων ερχεται ο ιησους των θυρων κεκλεισμενων και εστη εις το μεσον και ειπεν ειρηνη υμιν
27 ειτα λεγει τω θωμα φερε τον δακτυλον σου ωδε και ιδε τας χειρας μου και φερε την χειρα σου και βαλε εις την πλευραν μου και μη γινου απιστος αλλα πιστος
28 και απεκριθη ο θωμας και ειπεν αυτω ο κυριος μου και ο θεος μου
29 λεγει αυτω ο ιησους οτι εωρακας με θωμα πεπιστευκας μακαριοι οι μη ιδοντες και πιστευσαντες
30 πολλα μεν ουν και αλλα σημεια εποιησεν ο ιησους ενωπιον των μαθητων αυτου α ουκ εστιν γεγραμμενα εν τω βιβλιω τουτω
31 ταυτα δε γεγραπται ινα πιστευσητε οτι ο ιησους εστιν ο χριστος ο υιος του θεου και ινα πιστευοντες ζωην εχητε εν τω ονοματι αυτου

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Lasagna Gardening - Grumpy Gardeners Say - "Tain't New!"

Lasagna is so much more intriguing than sheet mulching,
which is - of course - sheet composting.

 Shewell-Cooper is my favorite British gardening guru:
he showed that compost left on top of the soil
will be pulled down by worms.

I kept getting emails about Lasagna Gardening, originating from the Rodale Organic Gardening people.

One person responded to someone who complained - this was not new but old - from Ruth Stout of mulching fame -

3/7/2009 4:50:37 PM
This article was reprinted, largely without change (including graphics) and absolutely without attribution at:

bill in detroit
3/7/2009 4:46:42 PM
And Ruth Stout was preceded by the Irish who were preceded by ... who were preceded by ... your point is? This information isn't, obviously, passed down through some sort of 'cosmic consciousness'. Many who have never heard of Ruth Stout will learn about this technique from Patricia Lanza ... and whoever follows her. @Stacey ... read the article again. The process uses several layers and is based on decomposition, not soil, for its success. But be encouraged, you only need to continue the process for it to be effective. The higher the stack is in the fall, the better the garden is in the summer.

Here is another Lasagna Gardening article from The Spruce.

Feeling like I discovered the Lost Dutchman's Goldmine, I wanted to lay a claim too - for Creation Gardening.

 Creation Gardening: By Him Were All Things Made

But as calmer gardeners will admit - using organic matter to improve the soil is as old as the ancient Egyptians, who made harming an earthworm a capital offense. They realized what pulled organic matter into their soil.

I am glad they are promoting Lasagna Gardening, because it is another way to describe no-till methods based purely on building up the soil instead of whirling it around like a tossed salad.

Our entire front yard was developed this way. The first layers were cardboard and newspapers, topped by shredded cyprus mulch. The rich clay soil was improved with leaves, the roots of all the new plants, and Uncle Jim's red wiggler earthworms.

I discovered, as one Lasagna gardener did, that good plants left alone and swarmed by weeds would still produce. I had roses that bloomed well when surrounded by weeds. However, that was not my favorite setting for them.

I also discovered that divided forces do not work well. I planted a second rose garden, and that divided my efforts all the time.

Lessons that developed from experience, reading, and YouTube are:

  • Compost is good, but heavy, so why not compost on the spot?
  • Sod makes the best compost, so why not plant in it and mulch the surrounding grass into compost?
  • A large rose garden mulched with shredded wood will produce great roses and incredible grassy weeds - thus groundcovers are needed.
  • Fungus and bacteria are really the foundations of great soil, so all life above them depend on those perfectly created, engineered, and managed life forms. If you make a point not to kick out the computer network plug, how much careful should you be to keep the fungus network in place?
  • The Carbon Cowboys/Covercrop farmers taught me how valuable deep roots are for improving the soil
  • Jessica Walliser wrote the classic on beneficial bugs, a concept my mother taught all of us kids long ago in Moline. 
  • Birds and bugs go well together, but birds should be fed near the most used windows. Squirrels add to the entertainment.
  • The Jackson EZ Bird Swing is easily assembled and great fun for birds and squirrels.
  • There is no such thing as a squirrel-proof bird-feeder, so just get over it. Given enough feeding stations, everyone will be happy.
  • Generous amounts of water are good for birds and also encourage such pest-predators as toads. 
  • Never haul organics out of the yard. Carry them into the yard and recycle garden trash after the winter is over.

 Those Days on the Farm

Creation Gardening - Many Shares and Likes on Facebook

 A great time for bird-watching is the winter,
when they scramble for food in the garden
and on the bird-feeders.

Graphic by Norma Boeckler

When I made a Facebook page for Creation Gardening, I thought that the name would surely have been taken. But no, nothing like that came up until recently.

I double-post blog essays, so most readers read them from my main page and while others favor the Creation Gardening page, which only has gardening posts.

I am almost in the dream season, when no work can be done outside, but rose catalogues arrive faster than Medicare plan mailings.

At the moment, we are enjoying warm, sunny days and 40 degree nights. Roses are blooming but other plants have finished the season. I am protecting each rose with a collar, some peat humus, and leaves on top when they become available.

 Most bugs are beneficial - I learned as a child.
This is a Big-Eyed Bug.

Consider the Beneficial Bugs and Hungry Birds
Some gardeners want to clean up their gardens now, but Creation gardeners not only leave it trashy - but add to the trash.

  1. Weeds or necessary cuttings are piled up as mulch in the back.
  2. Plants are left standing, even when done for the season and fading away.
  3. Autumn leaves are added everywhere and never raked up for disposal.
 Graphic by Norma Boeckler

Many insects over-winter in the garden trash - by God's design. Some insects will be useful as food for the birds in the winter. Others will remain or hatch in the spring, when they provide food for the baby birds and strike out against insect pests.

I never thought of spiders-without-nests (cursorial) and rove beetles going out on patrol through the yard, but they are active and hungry. They enjoy the protection of organic trash that is never removed and placed on the curb for pick-up.

Leaving leaves alone has shown that I can be knee-deep in them until early spring - yet never rake them up later. Leaves cannot blow away easily in a backyard surrounded by fence. Instead, earthworms and mites reduce them to soil ingredients.

Some leaves become squirrel nests for the winter and birds use a few of them in the spring. One robin had leaves in its mouth when I came up close. It hopped away without letting go of the cargo, destined for a new nest. So I drape twine over the branches of the Mother of All Crepe Myrtles in the front. When a robin took one string up high in the maple tree and dropped it, the bird dive bombed to the ground to pick it up again.

 Mountain Mint is still blooming in mid-October.

Ultimately - For the Soil
Whatever we do for the birds and insects will benefit the soil, because the Creating Word fashioned everything to work together and on schedule - for mutual benefits.

Whether we aim at more beneficial insects or greater numbers of bacteria and fungus, the increasing biomass (all organic matter) will make the soil more productive by activating the composition of the soil. Everything helps - as designed -

  • Movement aerates the soil.
  • Death and decomposition move elements from one creature to another.
  • Fungus connects the plant roots so it can grow from their carbon while feeding them water and the nutrition they demand.
 Because you want Tachinid Flies,

you also want mounds of Daisies,
which are fun and easy to grow.

I do not believe in Creation because of the infinite number of dependencies around me, but because of the Word. Creation by the Word begins the Bible and permeates the lessons of the Bible.

Modern man's silence on Creation - especially among the apostate mainline denominations - shows how this is a mystery revealed by the Spirit. Many see the Biblical revelation, and even while surrounded by the evidence, deny and avoid the implications of what God has done. They harden their hearts against it. The more they deal with Creation, the blinder they become.

There is even a field of study about the way everything happens right on time for thousands of plants and animals. I still have fresh blooms on the Mountain Mint, a prodigal provider of pollen and nectar, and butterflies still work the garden. In the spring, the flowers blooming right through the snow will feed various insects and bees, the insects and bees providing for the early hatching of birds.

Here is a little birds and blooms trivia. We think of birds feeding their young insects and worms to help them grow fast. But Mourning Doves, the ultimate seed-eaters, feed their young partially digested seeds. The dove family nests later, when seeds have formed. That is just one example of timing.

Jesus argued from the lesser to the greater. If God can do so much for the least of His creatures, how much more does He care for each and every one of the souls in His care?

In the Gospel of John, Jesus repeatedly teaches about His will and Word being in perfect harmony with the Father's. When we hear the Good Shepherd speaking, that is also the voice of the gracious, loving Father.

Jesus the Creating Word of Genesis 1, as John 1:3 clearly teaches.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Two Styles of Self-Destruction:
Mainline Apostates and Conservative Lutheran Apostates

Zoloth is the new dean of the U. of Chicago's Divinity School.

The University of Chicago scored a double-diversity victory by hiring a Jewish woman to be their new dean. Newspapers have enjoyed a number of Ripley's Believe It or Not stories in the last few years.

Going against logic and experience is one way the apostate religious institutions are destroying themselves. Every time they proclaim their latest diversity hire, they discourage reasonable candidates from laboring in the field. For example, why would a male Protestant minister want to wait around in the wings for a chance for the same job? The quota system is against him, and he is probably in the majority in his mainline group. In reality, the chances of getting an executive position is many times less than a woman with no real qualifications or experience. That may not last long, of course.

I wonder why any normal male would stay in a mainline religious organization. He is sitting in the back of the bus.

 Latini, a Presbyterian minister, is the new head
of ELCA's United Lutheran Seminary.

Look at all the ELCA men who might have been head of the new, doomed United Lutheran Seminary, the merger of the Gettysburg and Philadelphia seminaries. They hired a Presbyterian woman minister, who was earlier the Assistant Dean of Diversity at another school. They may not have promoted her to Dean of Diversity, but the ELCA Lutherans glorified her by raising her above all the ELCA professors. The New Testament professor will most likely be the most qualified (by quotas) from any place.

 I wrote the book about A. D. Mattson, but Elizabeth Bettenhausen gave the A. D. Mattson lectures at the LCA's Chicago seminary. When Mattson's daughter could not
get money to publish my dissertation, I suggested
mentioning her attorney to the seminary president.
The book was published soon after.

ELCA began its Long March into  diversity doom with quotas for all its leaders. They despised their former executives, who were greeted with diversity guillotines rather than continued jobs. They made a show of hiring people from other denominations. I went to one ELCA conference with Mrs. Ichabod - and it felt like a funeral. One person cheerfully asked an ELCA employee about which church he attended in Chicago, where he lived. He answered, a bit miffed, "I am not a Lutheran."

 Both photos were posted by ELCA, but I added the caption.
Olson with a Yale PhD was replaced by a woman with an MDiv and no real parish experience - Louise Johnson.

My Yale classmate, Stan Olson, found his top executive job eliminated due to budget collapse. He became president of Wartburg Seminary, in dire straits, and  soon retired to be replaced by a woman with no experience and no advanced education. She began by firing several people from the staff and offering public prayers for them.

 Note the Presbyterian get-up which Hanson wore.
Camouflage or reality?


Mark Hanson played to the Left, which united behind him and won him the lucrative and powerful job of Presiding Bishop. But lo, he facilitated the quota system, empowered the concept, and found himself replaced by a woman.

Liz Eaton made a point of identifying with her extreme supporters, who made sure a woman was finally in charge. Didn't the LCA dysfunctional activist, Liz Bettenhausen say on the cover of The Lutheran that her denomination was 98% controlled by men? Liz Eaton redeemed ELCA for those like LIz Bettenhausen who longed for real power. Suddenly the top higher education jobs went to women, one after another.

 Louise Johnson, Wartburg Seminary president,
followed Stan Olson.

As one reader noted, I am always looking at the fine print, such as "who translated this book?" The truth is often found - or hidden - in the details. Standard biographies issued by church bodies note the college, seminary, and graduate school of their newly elected or appointed leaders. Wives and children are also listed. That is how I found out how many Seminex veterans became ELCA bishops - truly an impressive number given their percentage of the clergy population. But alas, when most of these women are appointed, nothing is said about their families. Silence.

Second Style of Self-Destruction - WELS/LCMS/ELS - The Generic No-Name Congregation

The LCMS, WELS, ELS - even the CLC (sic) - are engaged in a program to rid America of Lutherans. The method is simple but effective.

Looking to Fuller Seminary as their Mecca, their Vatican, their Halle University - they start their newest and bestest mission churches with idiotic, generic names. My favorite is the quasi-occultic Illumine (WELS). Leave it to the forces of darkness to pretend they have the light.

The CORE (WELS) also stands out as having no meaning whatsoever - and synodical funding beyond belief.

These synods are ashamed they are Lutheran - and we should be ashamed of them too. They are frightened that the Lutheran name on the sign would scare away prospects. In fact, avoiding the name church is another tactic they emply.

They avoid Lutheran worship - the liturgy, real sermons, actual hymns, the Creeds, good Bible translations, and the Sacraments.

These so-called conservative Lutheran synods are self-destructing by training people to be generic no-name Christians with no Creeds, a hatred for the liturgy, and total silence about the KJV (Luther-centric) family of translations.

In the next generation - and even now - there will be few people who have any grasp of Lutheran liturgical worship or the actual text of the New Testament.

 They are good at getting re-elected and earning
princely salaries and benefits - but nothing else.

The "conservative" Lutheran leaders know this better than most readers realize. They know the numbers are already dooming them:

  • Seminaries collapsing
  • Worship attendance cratering
  • Money without members leading soon to no money and no members.

They created this fatberg by their political dodging and weaving, their silencing of all opposition while elevating the incompetent and greedy.

The reasons this happened are clear. The "conservative" synods met their Leftist counterparts at Fuller, because Fuller abandoned whatever shreds of the Christian Faith they started with. As carnal leaders, they sought carnal solutions and reaped the harvest.

WELS still boils with hatred because their own clergy give me leads about what is going on under the sick, soggy suzrrainty Mirthless Mark Schroeder.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Chicago is first divinity school to hire a Jewish dean

 © Nancy Wong, photo courtesy University of Chicago Divinity School Dean Laurie Zoloth chatting with attendees at a reception in her honor March 28 at Swift Hall on the University of Chicago campus.

Chicago is first divinity school to hire a Jewish dean:

"The Jewish New Year arrived this fall with an unusual milestone: The University of Chicago Divinity School began its semester with a Jewish dean for the first time in its 125-year history.

In fact, Dean Laurie Zoloth is apparently the first Jewish dean of any university-based U.S. divinity school, according to the Association of Theological Schools.

“We normally think of Jews as deeply integrated in the American academic system, so it is unusual that there is a discipline or an area where one could be the first Jewish academic anything,” Zoloth told USA TODAY.

But divinity schools are a bit different than other academic programs. Such schools were aligned with a certain denomination, she noted, and were originally conceived as pathways to ordination for clergy of that faith. But many programs have shed their denomination as they have moved to focus on the academic study of religion. Seminaries are a separate category of education, generally unconnected to another institution, and designed specifically to train and ordain clergy.

Some university divinity schools continue to be expressly tied to a specific faith — for instance the website at the Duke Divinity School, another top program, describes its program as providing  "a strong foundation for Christian ministry and leadership, ensuring that students are prepared to serve the church and the world."

By contrast, the website for the University of Chicago Divinity School describes its program as is “a tough-minded, sprawling, rigorous and dynamic conversation about what religion is and why understanding it is so vitally important.”

Greg Stirling, dean of Yale Divinity School, said “I still define (Yale) as a Christian divinity school — which doesn’t mean the only thing we do is train ministers… but we certainly take that with real seriousness.” Stirling said Zoloth’s arrival at Chicago is part of the evolution over time toward religious study, which is more purely academic than “lived.”

“Chicago is a first-rate academic institution,” he said, “but their basic orientation is different.”

Chicago does also train clergy: Zoloth notes that the Chicago school also has a top-rated Master of Divinity program that trains clerical leaders across different faith traditions.

Zoloth said her appointment “tells us that what it means to study religion has opened up into a much broader terrain, and that many of us are now welcome in the academy where this study is pursued and I’m excited to be here.”

Chicago’s choice of an Orthodox Jewish woman to lead its renowned divinity school is “a sign of the pluralism and ecumenicism that is remaking American society” said David Ellenson, former president of Hebrew Union College and a “tangible sign of the historic tranformation” in religious studies as well.

Ellenson noted that the nation as a whole is growing in its religious diversity, which is opening new opportunities in leadership for people of diverse faiths. Zoloth said there has been a broad expansion of religious studies in the U.S. with “a great new generation of people across many different traditions — Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism — so there is enormous growth that is possible throughout our field of religions studies.”

Presumably, she said, a Muslim will one day head a major U.S. divinity school. “There could be anybody who is devoted to the serious academic study of religion and that includes anyone who takes religious traditions seriously and understands themselves as a scholar of these traditions.”"

 Make sure the diversity is selective.

'via Blog this'

 Zoloth began her career as a neonatal nurse working in impoverished communities. She said those early years are central to how she views religious studies and bioethics—an approach that brings together theoretical exploration with an understanding of how arguments of theology and moral philosophy can address societal challenges.
Zoloth holds a bachelor’s degree in women studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of the State of New York. She received a master’s degree in Jewish studies and a doctorate in social ethics from the Graduate Theological Union. Zoloth also holds a master’s degree in English from San Francisco State University.

The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, 2017

Graphic by Norma Boeckler

The Hymn # 239                 Come Thou Almighty King                         
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #269            O Lord Our Father                      

Against the Professional Religious Establishment

The Communion Hymn # 396            Oh for a Faith            
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #651               Be Still My Soul            

 Graphic by Norma Boeckler

KJV 1 Corinthians 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

KJV Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. 41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

 Graphic based on Norma Boeckler's

Eighteenth Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father: We are poor, miserable sinners; we know Thy will, but cannot fulfill it because of the weakness of our flesh and blood, and because our enemy, the devil, will not leave us in peace. Therefore we beseech Thee, shed Thy Holy Spirit in our hearts, that, in steadfast faith, we may cling to Thy Son Jesus Christ, find comfort in His passion and death, believe the forgiveness of sin through Him, and in willing obedience to Thy will lead holy lives on earth, until by Thy grace, through a blessed death, we depart from this world of sorrow, and obtain eternal life, through Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Against the Professional Religious Establishment

KJV Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.

Many would like to frame the Gospels as the Jews against Jesus, resulting in the crucifixion. That gives a false impression of another religion against Jesus, as if that could not happen today. But the vast majority of His followers were Jews, and the Roman establishment does not enter the picture until the end.

The real theme of the Gospels - and the entire New Testament - is faith versus unbelief. The worst opponents came from the religious establishment, from the great, the wise, the holy, the scholars.

Even today, the hottest opposition and the greatest numbers of opponents do not come from the atheists organizations and the American Humanists, but from the Protestant and Catholic clergy, the college and seminary professors, and the professionals who may not have a church job but teach their version of Christian theology at the great universities - Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Duke, U. of Chicago, etc. The mainline eccelesiastics - with honorary and earned doctorates - lead the forces for radicalism, apostasy, and persecution of believers.

When Jesus taught, the Scribes and Pharisees, the religious establishment - sometimes the Sadducees too - gathered to criticize and condemn Him.

35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 

This question is interesting, because Jesus also asked it when leading into the Parable of the Good Samaritan. If they asked Jesus, and Jesus asked them - with the same result - then this is a crucial summary of the Law. Naturally, the answer is from the Old Testament, because that was the only Scripture at the time. The New Testament came to be written soon after the death and resurrection of Christ - but not yet. The entire work of the Old Testament is to prepare Israel and the world for Christ, so Jews had the advantage of seeing the well known Promises fulfilled in Christ. Secondly, which is the case today, believers need to know the Old Testament to see how perfectly Jesus was promised centuries in advance, with passages so perfect that anyone can see they are about Jesus and only Him. Children see that right away in Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22.

Other prophesies were about that time and later - the sop of bread offered to the traitor.

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 

This is famous for being the summary of the Old Testament, whether it comes from one side or another. However, the truth of the statement is based on faith rather than righteousness through works, which is where most get stuck. And that leads to pretending obedience or making up a grand show of holiness. Luther called it "head over heels" in holiness. 

Luther's point about this is that faith in God leads us to love Him and follow His commandments out of faith and love. Abraham was tested and he showed ultimate trust in God by being willing to follow the contradictory and absurd demand that he sacrifice. Therefore, God provided a substitute - a ram caught in a thicket.

This is a foreshadowing of Christ being offered as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, which comprises a large part of John's Gospel. Rather than constantly condemn man for sinfulness, God provides a remedy and healing in forgiveness through trust in Christ.

Jesus gave the opponents a question and led them into an obvious conclusion - 

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 

This question and answer are too easy, because Jesus knew their nature and thoughts. Anyone would have given the same answer to this, at that time. The implications though are great.

43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call Him Lord, how is He his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

This seems like a verbal puzzle, but it is easy to put together. How can David's son be his Lord? That implies a much greater role than descendant of David. Jesus, the Son of David, the Son of God, is much greater than David, who was the model of the great warrior-king, religious leader of Israel.

As we can see from the final chapters of John, the reason for the tensions between Jesus and the religious establishment were based on His role as the Son of God. His teaching of believing in Him as righteousness. The summary above implies  that, and the religious leaders knew that. While they were making Jesus out to be a political threat to Pilate as the supposed "King of the Jews," they slipped and said, "He makes Himself out to be The Son of God." I capitalized The because when Greek omits "the" which is rare, it is akin to us saying THE... as opposed to a son of God (Like Moses, Buddha, etc - Movie - "Oh God").

This debate took place with Jesus openly claiming to be the Son of God, teaching everyone faith in Him, and the opponents knowing it and trying to silence Him - or just ignore Him. Nothing kills a good debate than one side turning away in silence. It is a major sign of defeat, but designed to say, "You are not worth talking to or debating with."

So this is the tactic of the Protestant/Catholic religious establishment today. For  instance, they like to exclude John's Gospel from all discussions, because the rationalists have taught them to do so. 

If the Fourth Gospel is the capstone message of the Four Gospels, with the historical narrative taught in the first three, then John's Gospel is central to the entire Bible. Everything is done and spoken in St. John "so that they might believe." This happens in words and miracles, in providing that Jesus was fulfilling the Old Testament. 

Not only that, Jesus predicted how He would die, and the disciples realized and stated that this was true, so Jesus own sacrifice was part of this system of proofs. That did not happen on God's behalf, but ours. We do not have a few proofs, but hundreds of proofs.

The entire Bible is like those strange illustrations which show two things at once. If we focus on the obvious, we do not see the main picture. Our brains are altogether fooled. If we can shift our focus, the real picture is sharp and clear. 

So Psalm 22 is utterly strange and contradictory, so odd next to the beautiful 23rd Psalm.

Isaiah 53 is so unlike Jewish expectations of the Messiah that  the paraphrases used (Targums) actually reversed the message (just like the NIV and ESV today).  If we focus on the Atonement, both passages are so clear it is a wonder that the entire world does not acknowledge this.

In a way, it does, but in opposition. The entire world, minus the believers, finds all kinds of scholarly and official ways to dismiss both  passages - and others. 
  • "This is not Messianic." 
  • "This does not promise what people learned in Sunday School."
  • "Don't make faith a work. That is against grace." 
Opposition is a sign of truth, because unbelievers are shaken by the Gospel, even when and especially when they are clergy and theologians. 

So the message of this Gospel is one which makes the Summary of the Law come alive. Why should we love God with our hearts, minds, soul, and heart? Because Jesus is our loving Good Shepherd who became the Passover Lamb for us. And yet as the risen Lord He continues to help us and guide us, strengthening us in prayer and also is being the agent of all that God does. 

The second part is based upon the truth, that God has done everything for us and continues to help us. There is nothing we can do for Him, but we can help our neighbor as the natural response to God's abundant blessings.

 Graphic by Norma Boeckler