Sermon for Ash Wednesday 2016

The following sermon was preached by Dr Thomas Winger in the seminary’s Martin Luther Chapel for Ash Wednesday, 10 February 2016. The text is II Cor. 5:16–6:2.

“The times, they are a-changin’.” Bob Dylan was talking social politics; I’m talking liturgics. The colour has darkened from white to violet. We’ve put to bed the Alleluia and the Gloria in Excelsis and the Te Deum. The music is more sombre, the flowers are gone from our churches. And by one tradition or another the change of seasons has been marked also in our homes. Yesterday we had pancakes or jam-filled doughnuts—in theory using up the old yeast according to Paul’s injunction: “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed (I Cor. 5:7). Of course, there’s no yeast in our pancakes, and few of us have a lump of sourdough to use up. So the symbolism of yeast as persistent sin to clear out of our lives is lost. But, nonetheless, the feast marks the change of times, just as the mostly secular festivals of Mardi Gras and carnival still symbolise one last hurrah for the flesh before it’s denied for forty days.

After Christmas itself, Lent is the most programmed season of the church year, encrusted with customs to mark the time. It’s forty days till Easter (not counting the six Sundays, which aren’t part of the Lenten fast). And I think we all know that these forty days imitate Christ’s wilderness temptation. We’ll hear that story on Sunday, and we’ll perhaps conclude we should use this time to imitate Him in His victorious struggle against sin by the Word of God. Not such a bad sentiment. In times long past, Christians who’d denied the faith through immorality or false teaching could be restored to the church through this forty-day discipline. On the first day they exchanged their clothes for sackcloth and painted their faces with ashes to make their sorrow obvious. Forty days of repentance, and then restoration through absolution on Holy Thursday and Communion with Christ and His church on Easter Sunday. This was the yearly rhythm of Lent, an instrument for restoring the lost. And then the discipline was gradually softened and extended to all Christians, who, like us, marked themselves with just a little bit of ash, and re-committed themselves to the battle against sin.

Again, it’s not such a bad idea. In fact, it’s rather biblical. Remember Jonah, who preached, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4)? For wicked Nineveh it was a message of both Law and Gospel. In other words, they needed to repent, but God would graciously delay His punishment for a while. He gave them time. They repented, and He relented. So those forty days were a gift. Often, I think, we enter Lent as if it were not a gift but a demand: God’s call for visible signs of repentance through self-denial and prayer. Now, perhaps this is what we need to hear. But there’s still a part of me that resists being treated like a Ninevite unbeliever. It’s the same part that recoils at old Pietistic hymns that put me under a Ninevite deadline.

Delay not, delay not! The Spirit of Grace,
Long grieved and resisted, may take His sad flight
And leave thee in darkness to finish thy race,
To sink in the gloom of eternity’s night. (TLH 278:3)

Those words are in TLH! But is this what Lenten time is for?

St Paul’s words in our text break through such fogginess like a bright torch. Though the Corinthians were sinners in need of repentance, though their congregation was riddled with division and hatred, he still speaks to them as children of God. He recalls them to the grace that was first preached to them in Christ, which they believed, into which they were baptised:

We entreat you on behalf of Christ: be reconciled to God. He has made Him-who-knew-not-sin to be sin for our sake, in order that we might become God’s righteousness in Him. So working together with Him, we also appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.

And then Paul simply says, “now”: “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” If we’re thinking in the way of deadlines, this is bad news. Now? I thought I had 40 days! Give me more time!

But that’s not Paul’s message at all. Paul looks back to the days of prophecy, to the time of waiting, when Israel sat in exile for their sins, and Isaiah told them to be patient until the day of salvation. But Paul doesn’t simply repeat that call. Instead, he takes up that hopeful prophecy, and drawing on our Lord’s own words in Capernaum, he claims that in Christ it has now come true. No more waiting. For, “now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” I think Paul realises what a hard message this is, when all our senses seem to contradict it. It doesn’t look like God has redeemed or renewed the world, with all its violence and death. It doesn’t look like Christ has redeemed me and you, at least not entirely. Because our lives are still full of struggle and depression and weakness and illness and tragedy. There are sometimes faint glimmers of goodness and faithfulness and kindness and selflessness and love. But they’re unreliable enough to cast grave doubt on the reality of our new life in Christ.

Nevertheless—that great nevertheless of faith—Paul appeals to the promises of God. No matter what it looks like or feels like, “now is the day of salvation.” Not just “once in a while”. Not “in a little while”, but now. And so it’s a holy word, that “now”, for it proclaims that today has been redeemed for us by Christ. I suppose that “holy time” is the thought I’ve been grasping at with this sermon. It’s an idea that’s either unfamiliar to us or misunderstood. For time isn’t holy by our making it so. Sunday doesn’t become holy because we stay home from work or even go to church, any more than the Sabbath was once made holy by keeping it. Rather these days are holy because they’re God’s gift to His people. The Sabbath was holy because God first rested on it and made it His own, and then gave His Word and promises to His people on that day. And Sunday is only “holy” because of what God did and continues to do on it. On the first day He began to create the world, and on it He recreated it by raising Christ from the dead. Week in and week out, He now uses Sunday to remake us, to give us the Word and the Bread of Life.

So what of these forty days we’re now embarking on? I must confess that they almost always catch me unprepared. I’m never quite ready to “do Lent”. But I always find that I grow into it. For it isn’t a marathon to run, or a weight to be carried, that grows ever more wearisome with each step. It’s rather forty holy days, and if one holy day is a gift, then forty are a cornucopia. It’s a time when God is at work for us and in us, and we have the great freedom and joy to watch Him work. Forty days gives us time to savour the feast, to digest and absorb its nourishment, to contemplate the greatness of Christ’s achievement from Jordan to Golgotha, for those days and deeds to have their way with us and form us into His likeness. Paul once encouraged the Ephesians to “redeem the time, for the days are evil” (5:16). That’s what we’re doing, if we’re doing anything. In the name of Christ we lay claim to these days, for He has redeemed the world for us, with all its time and all its treasures. These days may well inspire us to deny ourselves some selfish pleasures. But it’s the selfless giving of Christ to us that makes it what it is. And we may rightly thank God that He gives Himself to us already now. Amen

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Sermon for the Presentation of Our Lord 2016

Presentation-of-Our-LordThe following sermon was preached by Rev. Dr John Stephenson in the seminary’s Martin Luther Chapel for the Feast of the Purification of Mary and the Presentation of our Lord (2 February 2016).

St Luke 2:22-40

The world is quite right to think that children are a costly proposition, though it oftentimes draws false conclusions from this sobering fact. Some young couples with high incomes are said to avoid parenthood because the price paid in time, effort, and especially money would put a dent in their affluent lifestyle. But financial outlay is only the tip of the iceberg. Morning sickness sometimes takes it out of a woman, and this condition is even somewhat misnamed inasmuch as it can continue on an almost 24/7 basis for months on end. Of course, as our Lord once said about labour pains, such sufferings are soon forgotten once a mother has the joy of a babe in arms. But what about the heartrending tragedy of stillbirth and miscarriage?

Mary and Joseph went through a considerable volume of suffering during the months leading up to Jesus’ birth: they didn’t take a helicopter from Nazareth to Bethlehem; as Augustus’ census was taken, David’s “city” was actually an overcrowded village with basically no guest accommodation available; nor was the flight to Egypt any kind of pleasure trip. But, you know, their emotional suffering quite eclipses the physical discomfort they went through: the gossips of Nazareth were not privy to Gabriel’s message to Mary or to Joseph’s angelic dream, so the holy mother of God was badmouthed as a shameless hussy and her husband was laughed at as a spineless cuckold. Those barbs had to hurt a lot.

But wait, it gets worse. …The sufferings associated with parenthood are penalties resulting from the Fall, though we wonder why some couples undergo more woe than others. Yet in the case of a firstborn son, Jewish families of biblical times were caught up in a phenomenon that any anthropologist would decry as the most dreadful primitive savagery. St Luke zeroes in on the fearful bottom line, which is much fiercer than it sounds: “every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the LORD.” For more hours than he later cared to remember, Abraham’s heart was impaled on this startling truth of God. No sooner did Moses formalise this directive than a substitutionary routine was established to make it bearable: redeem your son, buy him back, and do so by making a five-shekel payment to the first priest you run into.

You remember the last of the ten plagues of Egypt, which consisted in the slaying of the firstborn, both man and beast. The people of Egypt paid a horrible price for Pharaoh’s hardness of heart. Not that the children of Israel were all that much better than the average Egyptian. Their own firstborn were spared because the smeared blood of many passover lambs spoke on their behalf, staying the hand of the angel of death as he coursed through the land. Along the same lines, Abraham redirected the knife raised to kill Isaac to the throat of a ram caught in the bushes.

It’s an open question whether Elkanah forked out five shekels when Hannah bore him Samuel; he certainly did when that unkind woman Peninah first presented him with a son. Samuel needed redemption, of course, but he was given over unrestrictedly to the LORD’s service and in such a way that he became not only an honorary Levite but even an honorary son of Aaron, permitted to offer sacrifice, an act for which so lofty a personage as Uzziah son of David was most severely chastised.

Under exceptional circumstances, Samuel could offer sacrifice, but he could not be a sacrifice, at any rate in the sense of a propitiatory sacrifice that makes peace with God. The ram on Mount Moriah and the millions of passover lambs slain down the centuries were a picture and a preview of the one and only true Passover Lamb who is both priest and victim, that is, of Jesus who, as Paul so drastically puts it, “delivers us from the wrath to come.”

So I would bet my bottom dollar that Joseph did not thrust five shekels in the hand of one of the priests who happened to be in Bethlehem in the hours and days following the birth of the Christ Child. No, this Child would not be redeemed, He would do all the redeeming that is to be done between the start and close of time. Because He was born under the law, a sacrifice would be offered to purify that purest of women, His virgin mother. But from the moment blood first flowed from His body in His circumcision, this priest was marked out to be the “full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world.”

And what a dramatic moment it was when the LORD whom Israel sought suddenly appeared in His Temple, carried by His mother under the protective embrace of His foster father. No son of David had ruled in Jerusalem for five hundred and more years, and now enters the One who will reign over the house of Israel forever. No high priest had done more than chip symbolically away at the ever-growing mass of sin that weighs more than the entire world, but, “Thy blood, o Lord, one drop has power to win forgiveness for our world and all its sin”—Thomas Aquinas said something right, did He not?

Now the hidden king and priest could at this stage only be the future prophet who would put all other prophets in the shade, and this is where Simeon and Anna step in, Simeon to take over Mary’s catechesis at the point where Gabriel left off, and to provide the canticle that all Lutherans of the old school know by heart even before they enter confirmation class; Anna meanwhile shows us that there’s no better use for the tongue than for faith to blossom in confession and praise.

The Eastern Church fitly keeps the Presentation as Hypanti, the meeting between the Christ Child, on the one hand, and the true Israel of all times represented by Simeon and Anna, on the other. As the Church celebrates Holy Communion again this morning, that unique meeting between infant incarnate God and two old saints mushrooms into the supernatural sacramental Meeting that prefigures the life to come.

You and I come this day once again to be cleansed and fed by the sacrificial banquet of Jesus’ body and blood, the supernatural food that keeps us going through our earthly pilgrimage. But because in Jesus it’s always more and never less, in the Holy Communion and in the Christian life that flows from it we get to be not only receivers, which is always primary, but also givers. To my best knowledge, the only other place in the New Testament where the verb “present”, the aorist active infinitive parasth/sai, occurs is when Paul urges us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our rational worship. In this blessed sacrament we receive the pure gift of the full Atonement in Jesus’ body given and blood shed; we here give the solemn thanks that cause the Lord’s Supper to be also the Eucharist; and because, as He meets us in all His means of grace, our Lord strikes up a two-way relationship with us, we may respond here, and in the rest of our lives, to God’s love that we so sorely need with what C. S. Lewis might call a tiny portion of our “gift” love back to God.

The redemption of the firstborn, then, significantly omitted in the case of the infant Jesus, is not a matter of blunting a piece of primitive savagery that mankind has long outgrown. No, it flows from what the Son has always been in the bosom of the Father, which is an offering of total gift love back to Him. The Son remained the same Person when He took flesh in Mary’s womb, and during every moment of His earthly life He revealed in flesh and blood and through His human soul what He had always been. To Him, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all honour and glory, now and forever. Amen.

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Brotherly Visit from Down Under

TMW160126-04-2048pxAustralia may be a continent of curious flora and fauna (we’re thinking mainly platypuses and eucalyptus trees) and exotic culture and cuisine (didgeridoos and Foster’s), but after the pleasure of having Dr. Andrew Pfeiffer visit Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, our seminary community knows from first-hand experience that the same faith in Christ and his gospel exists in the land down under as well as.

A member of the faculty in Australian Lutheran College in Adelaide, South Australia, Dr. Pfeiffer is mainly working with students preparing for pastoral ministry in the Australian Lutheran Church. Enjoying his temporary leave, he had visited numerous theological and ecclesial meetings in North America until finally concluding his trip in St Catharines.

TMW160126-02-2048pxOn Monday the 25th of January, the faculty of CLTS was happy to change ideas and experiences with him in an unofficial but highly beneficial faculty meeting. The following day saw Dr. Pfeiffer deliver a presentation for the students and staff about their seminary and the Australian Lutheran Church.

Dr. Pfeiffer pointed out the similarities between Lutheran Churches in Canada and Australia—both being small churches in geographically vast countries with a high level of urbanization. Many of the challenges but also joys we encounter are similar in both churches, providing plenty of opportunities for us to learn from each other. Briefly touching the ongoing debate in LCA concerning women’s ordination in response to a question, Dr. Pfeiffer asked for the prayers of Canadian Lutherans in preserving the unity based on the truth of the Scriptures in their church—a request which we happily pass along to all the readers of this text as well!

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Sermon: Sending the Twelve

The following sermon was preached by Rev. Esko Murto in the seminary’s Martin Luther Chapel for a divine service on the 9th of December 2015. The sermon text was Luke 9:1-6.


The sermon today focuses on the verses 3 and 4 in today’s Gospel: Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.

Why does our Lord give this kind of a marching order for his disciples? These are the ones he is sending like sheep among the wolves – and to make things worse, so it seems to us, he specifically orders them not to take a staff for self-defence, no bag, bread or money to keep them sustained, not even two tunics to help them stay warm in case they would need to spend the night outdoors.

Perhaps he is setting an example here? Showing that those serving him ought not to expect much in the way of possessions and especially not to be greedy for worldly things, but should accept a humbler, more meagre standard of living, showing in their own lives that they do not gather treasures on earth, but rather seek only to increase their heavenly riches?

Yet none of the things Christ lists here could be considered particularly extravagant or luxurious. He is not talking about magnificently ornamented chariots or splendid robes, rich foods or money bags heavy with gold. All the things he lists are parts of ordinary travel gear, the kind of things any sensible man would take when heading out. The things our Lord denies are not some additional, extra comforts. He takes away the things to meet their very basic needs.

Why then such a commandment? The fourth verse gives answer to this: Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.

Our Lord did not intend that his disciples would not have bread during their mission, but he decided that this bread would not come from their own bags, but from the ladles of their hearers. Those people who heard and received the good news of God’s kingdom were meant to be the ones who supplied them with their basic sustenance.

The reason for this can be two-fold. Firstly, it gave the hearers a way of showing their faith and thankfulness in tangible, concrete works of service. Those whose hearts were filled with new hope, joy and peace, were thus invited to take part in the mission of Jesus. Not as preachers themselves, but as ones who supplied for the preachers by giving them a roof over their heads, a bed, a meal, warmth and friendship. As St. James exhorted, they were given the chance to show their faith through their works as they took care of the disciples.

Secondly, Christ here wanted to bring his disciples into closer contact with the ones who they were preaching to. The disciples would not form an isolated group that just conducts hit and run preaching assignments. Eating the same bread and sharing the table with their hearers made them part of the community they preached to, allowing, or even forcing them to get to know the people they served with the gospel.

During my years of ministry I have come to understand that there are two things that make it hard for Christians to show love toward each other. One of them is the obvious one: we struggle with selfishness, and are often slow to help when others need aid. The other is more easily missed and it is this: we are reluctant to allow ourselves to be helped by others. We strive for self-sufficiency and independence, and even if there would be someone who would be willing to help and give, we try our hardest to hide our needs and problems. This problem can occur with pastors, when they try to be as self-sufficient and self-reliant as possible, perhaps imagining that in this way they won’t burden the congregation, but actually by so doing, they are unwittingly isolating themselves from the people they serve.

So here Jesus prepares his future apostles for the time when they, as bishops of the early church, would need to devote themselves fully to prayer and preaching, and allow themselves to be cared for by their hearers. Even today, it is not only the duty, but also the holy and unalienable right of the Christian to care for their pastors, and those preparing for that office need to learn the art of receiving kindness as well as showing it to others, lest they deprive their congregations of this God-pleasing sacrifice they otherwise would want to give.

This is the manner with which God provides for his servants, he operates as if working from behind masks. The disciples returned, our Lord asked them: did you want anything while you were on the road? And they replied: no. They had everything they needed. But how did they receive it? They received their upkeep from other people, but this way they were also shown from first-hand experience that our Heavenly Father knows our needs and provides for us.

Yet all the love and service we can receive from fellow men pales in comparison to the loving kindness and grace our Lord himself shows to us. Whatever house you enter, He once said to his disciples, there you should remain, and eat what is offered to you. Today we have come to the Lord’s own house, and set before us is the food he has prepared, a meal that restores the traveller’s strength and strengthens our faith. This is the house where we will not be turned away, where we are invited to stay, eat and rest. This is where those without bread will come to eat the bread of life; those without gold will drink the blood of Christ and receive eternal life; those with soiled tunics will be clothed with the white garb of Christ’s righteousness; those with no strength will be defended by the rod and staff of our High Shepherd. So leave aside your pride and self-sufficiency, and allow yourselves to be clothed, fed, defended and made rich by the Lord Himself. Amen.

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Saviour of the Nations, Come!

advent service

The choir from Resurrection Lutheran Church, led by Dianne Humann

The traditional Lessons and Carols Advent Service in CLTS saw the chapel filled with music of joy and longing as the gathered congregation together with the choir from Resurrection Lutheran Church sang through advent hymns and choral pieces.

“Let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of of our disobedience unto the glorious Redemption brought us by this Holy Child; and let us make this chapel glad with our songs of praise.” Such was the admonition that led the members of the seminary community as well as Christians from the surrounding congregations to welcome the coming Christmastide with Scripture readings and hymns on the 6th of December.

The following day, true to the exhortation of the hymn “Go tell it on the mountain, students and staff visited the Shaver hospital across the street, bringing flowers and sharing the Gospel of Christmas through singing to the bedridden patients.

Christmas Carolling at Shaver Hospital

Christmas Carolling at Shaver Hospital

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St Andrew 2015

St Andrew iconThe following sermon was preached by Dr Thomas Winger in the seminary’s Martin Luther Chapel for the divine service in commemoration of St Andrew, 30 November 2015. The text is John 1:35-42.

Two nameless disciples stand talking with their teacher John, the Baptiser. At this point in the story, only two names matter: John the forerunner, and now Jesus, the One to Come. And here He comes again. John breaks away from his conversation with these two disciples to point out the One he was probably already telling them about. For there walking towards them was the One who’d revealed Himself to John just yesterday. And John declares, “There He is, the Lamb of God!” (1:36). That’s all it takes. The Word has its effect. The two disciples hear and believe. They follow after Jesus. They want nothing more than to know where He’s going and to be with Him. He invites them to walk with Him, to come and stay with Him. From then on it’s His words that have their way with these disciples. They hear Him and believe. And now they’re no longer nameless. “One of the two who heard John and followed Him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother” (1:40). With faith in Christ comes a Christian name. And then that faith compels him to tell his brother that their long-felt hopes had finally been fulfilled. “We have found the Messiah!”, he proclaims. And so from the first Christian comes the first preaching. And his brother hears and believes. Simon, too, is brought to Jesus. It’s not his choice or his movement, but the Word has its way with him. And as if to mark the change it has made, Jesus gives him a new name: “You shall be called Cephas (which means Peter [Rock])” (1:42). First Christian, first preacher, first new lives.

We hear nothing more about Andrew, for John’s Gospel is concerned first and foremost with Jesus. Jesus calls more disciples to Himself. Andrew for a time fades from view. Perhaps he returned to his old life, though not as his old self. When he reappears in Matthew’s Gospel (4:18-20) he’s called to be a fisher of men, a preacher of the Gospel. Though faith wasn’t incompatible with his old vocation, this new call certainly is. And so he abandons everything, even his own father, and together with his brother Peter he embarks on the new life to which Christ has called him: apostleship. From now on this is all that matters. Each time he appears in the story, he’s a preacher. He’s one of the twelve. He’s sent forth to proclaim the kingdom. He brings the Greeks seeking Jesus to meet their Lord (John 12). This is what preachers do, and if it were all we knew of Andrew, it would be more than enough reason to remember him in this divine service.

Oddly enough, it’s the non-biblical side of his story that’s most well-known. Who doesn’t St Andrew crossknow that a cross turned 45 degrees into the shape of an X (or perhaps the Greek letter chi) is a St Andrew’s cross? It’s the national symbol of Scotland, for whom Andrew is patron, and represents their land in the combined crosses of Britain’s Union Flag. This past autumn, unbeknownst to most of you, it’s been plastered across the faces of the so-called Tartan Army, the legions of fans following Scotland’s recent mediocre performances in the Rugby World Cup and their sad failure to qualify for next summer’s European soccer championship. Even in defeat, they stand proud under this sign. Yet for Andrew himself, this cross was no source of pride or banner of glory. Like his brother Peter, who asked to be crucified upside down lest he be thought to imitate Christ too closely, Andrew suffered a sort of anti-crucifixion. Legend tells that in AD 60 he was laid on that famous X-shaped cross, and that he was tied to it, not nailed, to prolong his agony. His tormentors’ ploy backfired, though, as from the cross with the strength of the Spirit he continuously proclaimed Christ. And many were converted by his testimony. He remained the preacher to the bitter end.

St Andrew (Foxe's)Andrew’s death for me pictures the complicated nature of the Christian’s relationship with Christ. We are like Him and yet unlike Him. We’re called to suffer with Him, and yet our suffering can never duplicate or replace His. Our suffering is deep, painful, and prolonged, yet never as deep as the suffering Christ bore for the sake of the whole world. We cannot escape the cross because we’ve been baptised into it; yet Christ suffered it for us so that we might be released from it and rise from its death. We mustn’t choose our own suffering; it will come to us as God wills. But we can choose to receive it in Christ or apart from Him, in faith that He will see us through it, or in an unbelief that claims I don’t really deserve it. So the cross itself is both bad news and very good news at the same time. It crucifies our self-centredness, pride, comfort, and worldliness; and it unites us with the One who sacrificed Himself for us, who humbled Himself for us, and who will lead us through resurrection into a glorious life beyond all suffering.

And this thought brings us back to Andrew’s very first words: “Rabbi, where are You staying?” (1:38). He asks where Jesus is dwelling, with the intention of giving up all things to be with Him. He follows Jesus to His home, and like Mary he sits at Jesus’ feet to hear His Word and simply be in His presence. Nothing else matters. Andrew can ultimately face his cross because he has from the very start achieved the most important thing: to be with His Lord. The Gospel writer chooses to use that most precious verb μένω, so warmly translated in our old Bibles as “abide” or “dwell”. “They came and saw where [Jesus] dwelt, and abode with Him that day” (Jn 1:39 KJV). Forty times John uses this verb, more than any other NT writer by far. That’s what it’s all about: coming to dwell with Jesus, and Andrew leads us there. You see, it wasn’t in his own crucifixion that Andrew was joined most closely with Jesus, but in that first meeting when He was joined to Jesus by His Word. And that joining continued throughout their lives as He kept listening to Jesus, and came ultimately to be among the first who would receive His Body and Blood with their mouths. So we, too, are little Andrews today. We’re brought to Jesus by His Word, and we’re joined with Him by His Supper. We have found the Messiah. This is where He dwells. Come and abide with Him. Amen

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Help the Seminary with Your Christmas Shopping

As you do your Christmas shopping, you can support the seminary in a few simple ways.

If you shop at Amazon, you can put your shopping to work for us as well. Anything you buy at Amazon can be credited to us if you enter Amazon through our seminary link. This applies to books, electronics, housewares, anything they sell. The price doesn’t go up; it costs you nothing more. But Amazon pays a portion of the proceeds to the seminary just for the referral. Simply go to the seminary’s homepage ( and enter Amazon (US or Canada) by clicking on the appropriate link, or click one of these links:

AmazonCA AmazonUS
Then just shop as usual and the seminary gets the credit (you need to click on our link each time you start shopping at Amazon).

You can also buy gifts from the seminary’s bookstore. As we move out of the bookshop business, all books are 50% off! Gift certificates are available. Check the seminary website for book lists and shopping options or e-mail Sarah:

Tara Lyn Hart, Perfect HolidayThe bookstore still has copies of Tara Lyn Hart’s Christmas CD available for $10 plus $2.99 shipping.

We also have warm and stylish CLTS winter scarves for sale ($15), as well as CLTS ball caps ($10). Show your love for your seminary proudly!Scarf

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Recent Faculty Publications

Nagel Festschrift coverThe tripus (gen. tripodis) is a well-worn academic metaphor–referring to the three-legged stool on which the student tepidly sits while being interrogated by his university examiners. The tripus has also been used to illustrate the threefold work of a professor: teaching, research/writing, and administration. It is difficult for anyone to excel at all three, but our seminaries expect their faculty to aim for at least two!

The research and writing leg has been particularly muscular in the working life of the CLTS faculty. Much of this fruit is delivered to the church through Lutheran Theological Review, now in its 27th volume. The faculty’s other published works are listed on their Mendeley home pages, where interested readers can download pdfs of essays or find order details for their books.

OxfordDr John Stephenson was honoured to be asked to write the definitive short essay, “Sacraments in Lutheranism, 1600–1800” in the prestigious Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theology, 1600-1800 (to be released in print in 2016). The article is already available online to Oxford subscribers. He is also busy writing a biography of Wilhelm Löhe, for which reason he was deeply pleased finally to be able to visit Neuendettelsau, Germany, this past October.

Dr Thomas Winger’s Ephesians commentary, published by Concordia Publishing House, has been available since May. This past week, a Festschrift was released honouring Dr Norman Nagel on the occasion of his 90th birthday. Entitled Dona Gratis Donata (“Gifts Freely Given”), the volume includes essays by Dr Winger (“The Epistle in the Liturgy and with the Ministry”) and CUE’s Dr Gerald Krispin (“A Mirror of Life in the Face of Death: A Study in the Pastoral Care of Phillip Nicolai”). You may order the volume from Amazon Canada or Amazon US. (Please use these links so that your purchase can support the seminary.)

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Call for Award Nominations

Each May at the annual Call Service Concordia Luthern Theological Seminary has the opportunity to confer two major awards on worthy pastors or lay members of Lutheran Church–Canada. The recipient of the “Friend of the Seminary” award is nominated by the faculty or Board of Regents for making a significant contribution to the well-being of the seminary.

CLTS Call Service 2013The Delta Chi Medal, by contrast, is awarded by the seminary on behalf of the wider church. This “highest and most distinguished award” is “presented to an individual, either clergy or lay, whose life exemplifies service to Christ in his/her everyday living and vocation.” In nominating, one should consider the person’s service to the local congregation, the community, the synodical district, the church at large, church service organizations, and educational institutions. Delta Chi refers to the initials of the Greek expression διάκονος χριστοῦ “servant of Christ”.

Anyone in LCC may nominate a candidate for the Delta Chi award. No current faculty or board member is eligible. Please submit your nomination in writing to the seminary or via e-mail to The deadline for nominations is 15 January 2016.

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Advent Lessons and Carols 2015

The seminary community warmly invites you to our service of Advent Lessons and Carols. This treasured annual event takes place this year on the Second Sunday in Advent, 6 December 2015, at 4.00pm. The seminary faculty, staff, and students will be joined by Resurrection Lutheran Choir, under the direction of Dianne Humann. As members of the seminary community read lessons from the prophets that prepare for Christ’s coming, the congregation and choirs sing beloved Advent hymns and carols. The service culminates with the announcement of the Christmas Gospel, by which the students anticipate Christmas just before leaving for the holidays. Please join us for this service of Word, music, prayer, and praise.

A link to the live video stream will be posted closer to the date of the service.

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