As we prepare to celebrate the Holy Triduum, I want to share the writing that appears in the Treasury of Daily Prayer for today. C.F.W. Walther writes the following and it is a great piece to read on this day.
The apostle [Paul] wishes to say: Consider, beloved Christians, that when you receive the blessed cup and the blessed bread, each one partakes of the body and blood of Christ; they are both common to all of you. You come into body-and-blood fellowship with one another. For just as many grains become one bread, so in the Holy Supper, you, though you are many, become one Body, one mass, because you are partakes of the one bread and with it one and the same body and blood of Christ.
Because of the presence and participation of the body of Christ, the Holy Supper is a meal of the most intimate fellowship and, therefore, at the same time, the highest love-meal. Just as fervent love is demanded, so fervent love is delivered. We all come together, as children of the same family, to the table of our common, heavenly Father. As great as the distinction between communicants in civic life may be, in the Holy Supper all distinctions evaporate. We are all the same, in that we each eat the same earthly and heavenly bread and drink the same earthly and heavenly drink. In this Meal, the subject and his king, the slave and his master, the beggar and the rich, the child and the old man, the wife and the husband, the simple and the learned, truly all communicants stand as the same poor sinners and beggars, hungry and thirsty for grace. Although one may appear in a rough apron while another in velvet and satin, adorned with gold and pearls, when they depart, all take with them that for which they hunger and thirst: Christ’s blood and righteousness as their beauty and glorious dress. No one receives a better food and better drink than the other. All receive the same Jesus, and with Him, the same righteousness.
From Treasury of Daily Prayer © 2008 Concordia Publishing House,www.cph.org. Used by permission.
I skipped a couple days ahead in the Treasury of Daily Prayer to a devotional reading for December 13 (pages 1008–1012). It happens to include some of my favorite scripture readings and hymn, and highlights the Commemoriation of Lucia martyred in AD 304. The name Lucia means “light” and this devotion has depth and thoughtfulness that brings light to the connection between Adam and Eve with Mary and Joseph. It is great to be repeated throughout Advent. Enjoy!
From Treasury of Daily Prayer © 2008 Concordia Publishing House. Used with permission. www.cph.org.
13 December — Lucia, Martyr
Psalmody: Psalm 89:20–29. Additional Psalm: Psalm 143
Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 29:15–30:14
New Testament Reading: Revelation 1:1–20
Luke points out that the pedigree which traces the generation of our Lord back to Adam contains seventy-two generations, connecting the end with the beginning, and implying that it is He who has summed up in Himself all nations dispersed from Adam downward and all languages and generations of men, together with Adam himself. Hence also was Adam himself termed by Paul “the figure of Him that was to come,” because the Word, the Maker of all things, had formed beforehand for Himself the future dispensation of the human race, connected with the Son of God; God having predestined that the first man should be of an animal nature, with this view, that he might be saved by the spiritual One. . . . In accordance with this design, Mary the Virgin is found obedient, saying, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Your word.” But Eve was disobedient; for she did not obey when as yet she was a virgin. And even as she, having indeed a husband, Adam, but being nevertheless as yet a virgin . . . having become disobedient, was made the cause of death, both to herself and to the entire human race; so also did Mary, having a man betrothed [to her], and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, become the cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race. . . . For the Lord, having been born “the First-begotten of the dead,” and receiving into His bosom the ancient fathers, has regenerated them into the life of God, He having been made Himself the beginning of those that live, as Adam became the beginning of those who die. Wherefore also Luke, commencing the genealogy with the Lord, carried it back to Adam, indicating that it was He who regenerated them into the Gospel of life, and not they Him. And thus also it was that the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith. —Irenaeus of Lyons
Of the Father’s love begotten
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore.
— Of the Father’s Love Begotten (LSB 384:1)
Prayer of the Day
O Almighty God, by whose grace and power Your holy martyr Lucia triumphed over suffering and remained ever faithful unto death, grant us, who now remember her with thanksgiving, to be so true in our witness to You in this world that we may receive with her new eyes without tears and the crown of light and life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (1126)
One of the victims of the great persecution of Christians under the Roman emperor Diocletian, Lucia met her death at Syracuse on the island of Sicily in AD 304. Known for her charity, “Santa Lucia” (as she is called in Italy) gave away her dowry and remained a virgin until her execution by the sword. The name Lucia means “light,” and, because of that, festivals of light commemorating her became popular throughout Europe, especially in the Scandinavian countries. There her feast day corresponds with the time of year when there is the least amount of daylight. In artistic expression, Lucia is often portrayed in a white baptismal gown, wearing a wreath of candles on her head.
Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord: Large Catechism, pages 103–111
Recently I have spent time skimming through some of the historical convention proceedings of our Synod. I found an interesting report in the 1917 Convention Proceedings that is very similar to current events. Back in 1917, President Pfotenhauer established a committee to look into the impact of recent federal legislation that made it impossible for pastors in some states to secure communion wine. In June 1917, the Post Office Department of the United States issued an opinion based on recently passed legislation in the Congress that made “unmailable all matters containing advertisements or solicitation for order for intoxicating liquors without exception.” Based on the committee’s recommendations, the convention delegates, in the summer of 1917, agreed to send a letter to the president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, referring to the new legislation as “interference with the religious liberty, constitutionally guaranteed to our and other Churches”. The convention also developed a “protest” that was prepared and forwarded to members of Congress. Additionally, 9,000 copies of the protest were printed and distributed at convention so that each delegate had three copies for each congregation in his circuit. Here is a link to read the pages from the 1917 Convention Proceedings.
The concept is simple. By working together we can do more than we could do individually. This is the underlying concept in my family’s often used motto: “many hands make for light work.”
Lutheran Services in America has used this tagline for many years. Google “Together We Can” and you’ll find the tagline is used by many not-for-profit organizations, for-profit businesses and advocacy groups for fundraising campaigns, community events and other kinds of activities meant to bring people together around a common goal.
When President Harrison’s transition team first began its restructuring work, it felt to me like we stood looking at a huge mountain that needed to be moved. It is clear to me that the “critical moments” of the restructuring effort so far have happened when tasks, projects and goals were tackled by a group rather than the efforts of one person. The transition team, the Restructuring Work Group, the Change Network, the Administrative Team, the Operations Team, each department, various teams within the departments and all the participants in the National Mission Conference held in September 2011 are just a few of the examples of people joining together to solve a problem, consider next steps and “move the mountain” a few inches.
I ran across an older video on the Internet that is a great visual of the power of “Together We Can.” “Together We Can” is powerful, proactive, inspiring, energizing and often absolutely mind blowing. Watch this video and see what these people did together.
We remember on this day, 70 years ago, when the Japanese attacked the United States naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On December 7, 1941, the country was devastated by the surprise attack by the Japanese, the loss of 1,177 crewmen of the USS Arizona Battleship, and the many more who were injured.
A year after the attack, in December 1942, the Lutheran Witness remembered the event and included this telegram message sent two days after the attack. The message was sent from Pres. Behnken to the President of the United States. In the telegram, Pres. Behnken shares this message:
“We, the President and Vice-Presidents of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and other states, in session in Chicago, assure you of our prayers in this hour of national emergency cause by the treacherous attack of the enemy, and on the basis of Romans, chapter thirteen, pledge to you the loyal support of our people in the defense of our country. ” – J.W. Behnken, President of Synod
Gracious God and Father, Your Son, Jesus Christ, came to bring us heavenly peace. Yet we are reminded on this anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks that violence and conflict still rage among Your children on earth. Grant that we all may live together in unity and peace, and let all hatred and ill will be remembered no more. Give us that peace which the world cannot give, and grant us grace that, delivered from all conflict and strife, we may live in harmony and safety and finally, having gained the eternal rest of the saints in glory, may praise and bless, worship and glorify You forever; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen