The following sermon, which was delivered today (April 9, 2014) in chapel at the LCMS International Center, is adapted from a sermon written by Chaplain William Weedon. The sermon is one of many included in a Lenten series published by Concordia Publishing House (CPH) in 2009 titled Sacred Head, Now Wounded. Find this resource (which includes a CD) here.
How many the wounds we inflicted upon our Savior in His Passion, suffering and death! And yet of all the wounds that our Lord received, none so struck, so terrorized and so weighed on Him as the one we ponder this morning. We did not inflict this one. It came from His Father — the wound of abandonment.
From out of the unspeakable depth of His agony on the cross, our Lord cries the words of Psalm 22:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
The great Lutheran preacher, O.P. Kretzmann, ponders this cry of agony:
“Suddenly on a Friday afternoon a man was forsaken of God, cut off from the land of the living and the dead, utterly and ultimately alone. … The sudden emptiness in those shadowed eyes … . It was then, much more than afterward, that he died. … You see, this is sin. … It is not merely a matter of murder and adultery and gossip. … Something to do or not to do! … It is always loneliness. … It is cutting yourself off from God. … It is deliberate turning away from truth, from goodness, from heaven. … You see, this is redemption. … All this He took into Himself alone there in the dark. … He became sin for us” (The Pilgrim, CPH 1944, p. 47).
People loved by God, as all the sin of the world is laid upon the Lamb of God, as He owns it as His very own, He experiences in Himself what every one of those sins demands: “Leave me alone, God! Go away! Leave me be!” This is the bitterest dregs of the cup that He will drain down for us in its entirety. He will taste hell. He will taste it for us all. He will know the loneliness so profound that its pain is unutterable for us. How can we begin to understand what it was like for Him in that moment — the eternal Word who had delighted in the Father’s presence before the ages came to be; the eternal Word who took on flesh from the Virgin without ever leaving the presence of His Father; the Word made flesh who lived among us constantly as all men were meant to live: conscious of His Father’s never-failing love and the presence of His guiding hand. And all of this is now withdrawn, and He is alone. All alone.
People joke about hell, saying, “Well, at least I’ll have a lot of company there.” Wrong. Utterly wrong. Think of the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. In that story, the rich man is all alone. Lazarus has angels for company and Abraham to whom he is so close that he lays his head in his bosom. The rich man hungers and thirsts for a human touch.
“Send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.”
But no visit relieves the terror of his solitude. He is alone. All alone. And will be alone forever. You ponder that and you will begin to understand the reality of hell. You ponder that and you will see its true terror. You ponder that and you will bow in love before the Savior whose love for you was so great that He chose to enter that Himself and to endure it in your place that you might be set free from it forever. Never alone. Never again.
Because He endured the wound of abandonment that our every sin demands of God, because He drained the cup down to this, its last and bitterest dregs, you can look to your Savior and pray with the confidence of being heard.
Do you see it now? You will never have to know what He went through in those darkest hours. Not that you won’t suffer. No, He flat out tells you that you will. But you will never have to face life or suffering or death alone. He has made sure of it. He will be with you. He will walk with you every step of the way, and so hell itself is undone, death destroyed, sin forgiven. Your Savior, your Shepherd, He attends you through the valley of the shadow of death so that you fear no evil, for you are not alone, but He is with you. His rod and His staff, they comfort you. He brings you out from that darkest of valleys into the sunshine and the bright light of the day that never ends in the Kingdom of your Father.
Let’s let O.P. Kretzmann have the final words on this meditation on the wound of abandonment:
“Above His ‘Eli, Eli’ was the sound of tearing veils, of falling walls, of the glad crying of those who now had a home again after the long loneliness of sin. … They would continue to wander, groping, stumbling, falling, in all the black ways which man will walk when they turn away from God. … But there was a way back now, beyond Jerusalem and beyond thought and hope to the place where the open arms of the cross had become the gates of heaven” (The Pilgrim, p. 47).
LCMS International Center chaplain
5 April 2014 — For Immediate Release
The Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill, Dean of International Studies at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne (www.ctsfw.edu) and Director of Theological Education for the LCMS Office of International Mission (www.lcms.org), fell ill on Wednesday, April 2, in Adelaide, Australia. Quill was taken to Royal Adelaide Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm (subarachnoid hemorrhage). An immediate procedure (craniotomy) to relieve the pressure was followed within twenty-four hours by surgery to repair the aneurysm (surgical clipping). The first week after the surgery is critical and he is being carefully monitored by the medical team. Quill remains in the Intensive Care Unit.
Dr. Quill was traveling with Mr. Darin Storkson, LCMS South Asia and Oceania Regional Director, to visit Australian Lutheran College (www.alc.edu.au) in Adelaide. After Australia, Quill along with CTS Professor Robert Roethemeyer, Director of Library and Information Services and Director of Institutional Planning and Assessment, were to travel to Papua New Guinea to visit Timothy Lutheran Seminary in Birip and Martin Luther Seminary in Lae for the Chemnitz Library Initiative.
Mr. Storkson, along with Rev. Neville Otto, Secretary and Mission Director for the Lutheran Church of Australia, found Dr. Quill unresponsive on Wednesday before Lenten Vespers and called the ambulance. Professor Robert Roethemeyer, who was enroute to Australia, joined them on Thursday morning before the surgery. Rev. Dr. John Kleinig, professor emeritus of Australian Lutheran College (ALC), prayed with Quill before his surgery. Rev. Dr. Gregory Lockwood, professor emeritus at ALC, and Rev. Dr. Andrew Pfeiffer, Director of Pastoral Education at ALC, also visited Quill in the ICU. Pastors of the Lutheran Church in Australia (LCA) have been wonderfully supportive and helpful during this trying time. Quill’s wife, Annette, and daughter, Katie, arrived in Adelaide on Friday morning after the surgery, followed by Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations/Regional Operations, and Missionary Jeffrey Horn, Papua New Guinea.
Quill remains at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Doctors are currently establishing a timeline for his convalescence and his return to the United States. Dr. Quill, his family, Concordia Theological Seminary, and the LCMS Office of International Mission are grateful for the care provided by the Royal Adelaide Hospital, by the Lutheran Church of Australia, and the many people around the world who have expressed concern and offered prayers on his behalf.
(From the Canadian Lutheran)
APRIL 3, 2014 NO COMMENT
The Rev. Hans-Jörg Voigt, Bishop of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany
EDMONTON—The Rev. Hans-Jörg Voigt, Bishop of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (SELK), will receive the honourary Doctor of Divinity degree at Concordia Lutheran Seminary’s Sacred Convocation in late May. News of the seminary faculty’s action in granting this honour was recently announced by Dr. James Gimbel, CLS president.
Bishop Voigt, a native of the former communist East Germany, served as a parish pastor for 13 years before his election as SELK leader in 2006. In 2010 he became chairman of the International Lutheran Council (ILC), an association of confessional churches around the world. Despite the modest size of his church body, he has become prominent – especially in the past year – for his very courageous witness in support of historic Christian teaching on marriage, and in opposition to abortion on demand. His 2013 Pastoral Letter “Discovering Marriage and Family as Gifts of God” and other public actions won him recognition as “2013 Bishop of the Year” by an interdenominational Christian news service in his country, and more recently a “Declaration of Respect” by the Association of Christian Publicists.
”Concordia Lutheran Seminary is grateful for the opportunity to publicly acknowledge the courageous leadership and ministry of Bishop Voigt,” noted President Gimbel, in announcing this recognition. “In our global age, partnerships are critically important for a faithful adherence to and proclamation of God’s Word for our world. The presence of the Missionary Study Centre at our seminary, and the extensive work done by our faculty in delivering theological education to Ukraine, southeast Asia, and elsewhere testifies to our love of Christ’s mission, not only in Canada, but throughout the world. We hope to form a new generation of pastors as courageous servants of Christ in season and out of season, wherever God has placed us. We thank God for partners and models like Bishop Voigt, and appreciate this chance to highlight his leadership and witness.”
The Sacred Convocation, at which Bishop Voigt is to be honoured, begins at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, May 30 at the Tegler Centre of Concordia University College of Alberta, directly next door to the seminary. This annual event marks the close of the academic year, and is highlighted by the conferral of academic degrees, as well as the distribution of vicarages and candidate calls. It is a public event, to which pastors, deacons and lay people from LCC congregations are invited.
Concordia Lutheran Seminary, one of the two theological schools maintained by Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC), was founded in 1984 and has taken a leading role in the academic and spiritual preparation of pastors, especially in the two western districts of LCC.
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But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19:14
Last week I had the privilege of attending the groundbreaking of Concordia International School in Hanoi, Vietnam. During my trip, I had the opportunity to speak with parents and school board members who expressed their deep appreciation for the LCMS’ work in Vietnam. It was an experience that I will always remember and cherish.
Most memorable, however, were the teachers called to teach and lead the students of this school and others in the region. Their dedication to the Gospel, to the Church, and to the children they disciple humbled me. They are but a small sample of the men and women who serve in hundreds of parochial schools across our nation and the world — men and women who are shaping the next generation of our church.
The Lutheran ethos of our Synod is always in the hands of those who disciple the next generation of church leaders, and our teachers are often at the center of that activity. Their faithful years of service and long hours of work, in and out of the classrooms, sustain the Synod’s most precious resource, the children who will someday teach, preach, evangelize, and care for the Church.
Their work is truly an investment in the future — with phenomenal dividends; yet, children in our society, and in our Synod, face ever-growing spiritual challenges with eternal consequences. Satan is not a respecter of persons, at any age. Can there be a more sinister plan of attack than to strike at the children of the Church?
Jesus suffered the little children to come unto Him. These words from Matthew’s gospel resonate with profound meaning today. The Savior rescued children from sin and death by His atoning work on the cross. It is the Church’s privilege to nurture these young believers in the faith at the earliest age less they fall victim to the ploys of the devil.
Parents, pastors, and teachers all have vital roles to play in caring for the spiritual wellbeing of our children. Each brings the gospel to children in their respective roles. Teachers, in many cases, spend more hours with children than do parents. Can we not but pray for and encourage these teachers? May it always be so.
God grants His grace and mercy to the Church. He gifts His Church with teachers. May our Lord Jesus Christ continue to call faithful teachers to nurture and prepare our children for faithful lives in service to Him. Amen.
Gregory K. Williamson
Chief Mission Officer
Is there really a uniquely LCMS approach to mission?
That question is at the heart of the Journal of Lutheran Mission, a new e-publication available for your use from the Synod’s Offices of National and International Mission.
The scholarly journal, published digitally, exists to encourage discussion between you and those you serve, pastors, colleagues and social media friends on the interwoven nature of mission and Church.
Why take the time to read this journal? “The journal matters because mission matters,” said Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the Office of National Mission. “Christ has given all things to the Church, and the Church shares those gifts with the world.”
In addition, “The desire of the Journal of Lutheran Mission is to move beyond words (a missiology of rhetoric) to reflect the work of Christ through His Church globally,” explains the Rev. Randy Golter, executive director of the Office of National Mission. “His words are performative, and so the mission exists, is ongoing and is accomplishing His purpose. In this lies the confidence of Lutheran mission and every Lutheran missionary.”
The journal’s list of contributing editors is extensive, including faculty from both seminaries; clergy from Germany to Madagascar, Ethiopia to Siberia; Synod staff as well as two district presidents. Day and Golter serve as executive editors.
The debut issue of the journal features papers from the Synod’s Summit on Lutheran Mission, held in San Antonio, Texas, in November 2013. A first-of-its-kind event, the conference served as a venue to discuss the question, “What is our Lutheran identity when it comes to mission?”
Published three times a year, the journal can be downloaded in a variety of formats at www.lcms.org/journaloflutheranmission. Individual articles from the journal are also available so that you can share them – and continue the conversation – through social media.
“It is our desire to follow the tradition of mission that led to the founding of the Missouri Synod, to highlight and expound good examples of Lutheran missiology and to raise the height and breadth of discussion on mission so that every member of the Missouri Synod prays for the mission of the church, engages in it him/herself and supports it each according to their vocation,” explained LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison.
We hope you’ll join in the discussion. Download the journal, share it with your friends and email your thoughts to the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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