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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New Volume of Lutheran Theological Review Released

Lutheran Theological Review is an annual journal published by the two seminary faculties of Lutheran Church–Canada. It provides a forum for our professors and pastors to publish their research, and for the seminaries to provide resources and to stimulate the minds of our pastorate and laity. Free copies are sent to every pastor in LCC, and paid subscriptions are available.

In public service to the church we also provide the full text in pdf format on our website. Click here to download volume 27, the latest issue. It contains:


Short Studies

An Interdisciplinary Foray, or: A Theological Cat among the Philosophical Pigeons
John R. Stephenson


Confessional Unity
Brian A. Dunlop

Worship in the Lutheran Confessions
Warren Hamp

Origin, Authority, and Duty of the Office of the Holy Ministry
Jack Hetzel

Culture of Want, Culture of Ruin?
Jonathan S. Riches

Greying Canadians and Americans Today: Products and Victims of the 1960s?
John R. Stephenson


“Preach!” (II Tim. 4:1-5)
Edward G. Kettner

“Did You See Jesus?” (Jn 1:43-51)
William F. Mundt

St Joseph, Guardian of Jesus (Mt. 2:13-23)
Thomas M. Winger


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Sermon: The Commemoration of Martin Luther 2015

The following sermon was preached by Rev. Dr John Stephenson in the seminary’s Martin Luther Chapel for a divine service on the occasion of Martin Luther’s birthday.

Commemoration of Martin Luther
10 November 2015
St John 6:52-69

Words are decidedly dangerous things, which is why policemen warn those they arrest that, “Anything you say may be taken down and used in evidence against you.” It’s bad enough when foolish or unguarded words get you in trouble with earthly authorities, but all of us have a courtroom appointment looming ahead, although we are uncertain about the date: “After death comes judgement” (Heb 9:27b) and “We must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ” (2 Cor 5:10). Clever and unscrupulous people can to some extent pull the wool over the eyes of earthly authorities, but there will be no escape when Jesus’ gaze meets yours, there will be no sassy comeback to the judgement of the One to whom all hearts are open and from whom no secrets are hid. As if to underline the danger that faces us and all the living and the dead, our Lord expressly says, “I tell you, on the day of judgement men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Mt 12:36).

One of the deeply unsettling things about Jesus of Nazareth is the way He uses His human lips and tongue and voice. Unlike other public figures, He doesn’t need a script or a teleprompter. As a man He speaks straight from the heart and yet in such a way that He is on the same level as God. This means that all the more than remarkable things that our Creeds and Confessions say about Christ weren’t invented decades or even centuries after Jesus walked on earth, no, the substance of these more than startling statements is found in all four Gospels already; indeed, He was speaking this way as a twelve year-old boy already. Once you grasp this point you may be amazed, even alarmed by a sentence from this morning’s Gospel, but it won’t surprise you when you hear our Lord say, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (Jn 6:63b). Jesus pushes this claim all the way to the end of time and space: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Mt 24:35).

Not only are they dangerous, but words are also absolutely indispensable for human life both here and hereafter, and this is true with respect to both the spoken and the written word. Just think of the handicaps suffered by those with impaired hearing or voice or sight. Even though various strategies exist for minimising these handicaps, the deaf and the dumb and the blind tragically miss out on a lot.

When incarnate God speaks, which He does in Jesus, the broken world is repaired and the world to come somehow breaks into time and space. I pick up from the exegetes that we need to use a capital S and a capital L to get what Jesus means by, “The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and Life”; His words are God-filled, God-imparting words, words that don’t just give you a momentary lift, but words that transmit the life He has eternally enjoyed with the Father. Remember that Jesus’ words are Spirit and Life when He speaks them through Dr Winger’s vocal chords at the climax of this morning’s service.

What have these reflections on a single verse from St John got to do with today’s commemoration of the birth of Dr Martin Luther some 532 years ago today, you might ask? Well, we might begin by observing that a servant is not above his master, indeed, does not even come close to the level of his master. In the Resurrection our Lord received justification for other people, not for Himself; He doesn’t need to retract any word that He spoke from infancy onwards. Obviously, things were very different for Father Martin, who sailed perilously close to the wind at times. Along with Origen, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Philipp Jakob Spener, and Karl Barth, Luther wrote so many words that libraries can barely hold them. And, yes, we need to sieve Luther’s words, some of which should never have been written.

And yet, to quote a great Methodist scholar, it is also the case that some of Luther’s words are among the most beautiful expressions of the holy Gospel ever crafted, and they will build up the Church both within and outside the boundaries of Lutheran Christendom till the Last Day.

Since at least the time of the Zwickau Prophets, lots of well-meaning people have derided book-learning and the whole enterprise of the academic study of theology. A whole modern church body was founded on the slogan “Deeds not creeds.” And a certain prominent clergyman can always count on a round of cheap applause when he says that bishops should be men of action, not men of learning, that shepherds should simply acquire the smell of the sheep and not concern themselves unduly whether they feed them bread or stones. But unless you pay attention to the most minute detail of words, you might very well get Reverend before your name and a stole around your neck and go forth to gain great popularity in the world, all the world filling people’s bellies with stones that will weigh them down to Hell and not in any way build them up for eternal life.

Today’s commemoration means at the very least that we don’t need to make any apologies for focusing on words, including foreign words, on the grammatical form of words and on the syntactical arrangement of words. If you don’t have a grasp of words, you can’t preach, you can’t teach, you can’t communicate one ounce of the superabundant reality of Christ Jesus apart from which no one will ever enter the kingdom of God. Is there more to the Church than the whole office of the Word in its widest sense? Yes, obviously there is, there’s what Luther calls the whole order of Christian love. One member of the laity is helping another through a rough patch right now, and as someone is performing a menial task for one of the least of these Christ’s brethren he or she is doing it for Christ Himself. But all of this Christian love wouldn’t get to the starter’s gate apart from the Gospel that is the power of God unto salvation to the one who believes. And for this Gospel to resound through the world, for Jesus’ Spirit- and Life-filled words to bear their fruit, some men must go to the limits of mental endurance in the study of words that will make a difference in time and eternity. Those Zwickau Prophets were a flash in the pan, even though many have followed in their steps, but the core of Dr Luther’s work has endured, and some of his many words will shine through eternity. Thank God, then, for his birth so long ago, and gird up your loins and roll up your sleeves to ply his trade in your own time.

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Lutheran Pastor’s Desk Diary 2016

00_COVER_2009Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, is again pleased to offer to the church the annual Pastor’s Desk Diary. It contains readings from the three-year and one-year lectionaries, including variants for the major Lutheran churches in Canada (LCC, ELCIC, WELS). The original work of Thrivent Financial in the US has been adapted to the Canadian calendar.

Although we can no longer offer the diary for free, the cost has been kept to $19 (plus shipping and GST) through the support of our advertisers. The diary is available through, an online, print-on-demand service. You may order your diary, which will be shipped directly to you, by searching on or following this direct link:

The base shipping cost in Canada is $5.99, but there are quantity discounts available if you can put an order together with other pastors or church workers. (It’s always worthwhile to check Lulu’s website for specials like discounts and free shipping.)

Please note that you must order this yourself. The seminary produces the diary as a service to the church and does not make a profit. Thus, our paid staff cannot be expected to order the diary for you. If you have difficulty with online ordering, please ask for help from a family member or parishioner.

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Sermon: St Simon and St Jude 2015

The following sermon was preached in the seminary’s Chapel of Martin Luther by Dr John Stephenson on the Festival of St Simon and St Jude, Wednesday, 28 October 2015.

St Simon & St Jude 2015

Send out Your light and Your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise You with the lyre, O God, my God. (Ps 43:3-4)

Rich irony hovers over this morning’s rite of Holy Communion. In a pointedly, if not pugnaciously Lutheran move that might have something to do with the 31st of October being only three days away, the fixed parts, the so-called Ordinary of the Divine Service, are being paraphrased with a series of elaborate chorales from the sixteenth century (LSB setting five). But at the same time, whether by design or by accident, today’s Introit comes from the very Psalm that stood at the beginning of the ancient Mass to which Luther took his pruning shears. Perhaps this feature of our service attests a deep level of Christian unity that persists despite the multiple divisions that have scarred the face of Western Christendom for five centuries.

Simon and Jude knew already that these words from the 43rd Psalm and the ancient Western Mass are much more than a hollow wish. In Jesus Christ our Lord they are an answered prayer, even a fulfilled prophecy. Jesus is the Light of the world, He is the Truth per se, His sacred manhood is the place where the whole fullness of Godhead dwells bodily. On at least two occasions He brought Simon and Jude to a holy hill, once when He called them to Himself on the mountain where He appointed twelve of His disciples to be the patriarchs of the New Israel, and a second time when as the Risen Lord He empowered them to carry out the Great Commission. And Christ has brought all of us to His holy hill as He has fulfilled the great prophecy of Isaiah by lifting us up to “the mountain of the house of the LORD that has been established as the highest of the mountains,” which is a figurative way of talking of the one holy Church that will abide forever.

The whole sermon at the ordination of our brother Joseph, now Pastor Singh was based on just eight of the words that have been so long and so appropriately prayed at the beginning of the Holy Eucharist: “I will go to the altar of God.” Joseph had been assisting at Our Saviour, Etobicoke, for several years in the capacity of a deacon; he had been engaged in outreach, in catechesis, and even in preaching. Pr Johnson nailed down for his flock what would be different about Joseph from the moment of his ordination. Once invested with the office, Pr Singh would go to the altar of God to celebrate Holy Communion, to feed Christ’s sheep with the cleansing, refreshing sacrificial banquet of His body and blood. Of course, Pr Singh would not be the only one who would go to the altar; he would invite and welcome the people to the sacred place, to God’s holy hill, to God’s dwelling. Not by accident does the Church call this service our heaven on earth, the Eucharist or thanksgiving: “I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise You with the lyre, o God, my God.” May the Lord sustain Joseph in his ministry, and grant that his labours bear much fruit for His Kingdom.

Of course, Simon and Jude preceded Joseph by many centuries in their joyful march to the altar, and it goes without saying that their ministry of the Word culminated for their converts in their celebration of this holy sacrament. It’s a remarkable thing that, although Simon and Jude were invested with so high an office and carried out such important work, and notwithstanding the fact that they will one day sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of the New Israel, we nevertheless know next to nothing about them. From the way the evangelists describe him, Simon, who features as Apostle #10, was initially one of those 1st-century Jews inclined to engage in guerilla warfare against the Roman occupiers. And as we wonder what Jude had to do with the letter of Jude and whether he was related to the Holy Family in some way, we note that the evangelists describe Apostle #11 in negative terms as Judas not Iscariot. By the will of God Apostles #10 and #11 were spared the limelight.

The Early Church remembered Simon as a missionary to Egypt and Jude as a missionary to Mesopotamia, and both of them as having undertaken a joint mission to Persia, where they died as martyrs. So the difference Christ made for Simon included the fact that in his struggle for God’s Kingdom he laid down his own life rather than taking the lives of others. Now mention of the martyrdom of Apostles #10 and #11 demonstrates the truth of our Lord’s words in the upper room included in today’s Gospel: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. … If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you.”

Perhaps the sombre topic of martyrdom strikes you as a radical departure from the joyful words of the Psalmist that have been much prayed in the Western Church. But no, “I will go to the altar of God” is an exclamation of much depth and many levels, and the altar in question also includes the disciple’s sharing in the fate of his Lord, which the world views as a defeat while heaven celebrates it as a triumph. When they gave their lives for their Lord, Simon and Jude, along with many other ministers in subsequent centuries and with many more between now and the Last Day, experienced a fulfilment of the mysterious, perplexing, but entirely true words of the Apostle Paul, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Col 1:24).

With Simon and Jude and with an innumerable multitude, we go once again to the altar of God, as Lutheran Christians accustomed to certain distinctive hymns, as Western Christians who fitly pray the 43rd Psalm as we prepare for the holy mysteries, above all as disciples of Jesus Christ whom He leads to His holy hill to participate in the sacrificial banquet of His body and blood for our cleansing and our refreshment, as baptised members of His mystical body called to give ourselves unflinchingly in His service as we walk the way His providence has prepared for us.


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Harvest Day brought together the Seminary Guild and students of CLTS

The traditional Harvest Day gathering, held on Saturday the 17th of October, saw more than 90 members of the Seminary Guild come together to conduct business and meet members of the student body and faculty for a day marked with fellowship, support and shared joy in the gifts of God.

The Seminarians introduced themselves and their families to the Guild.

In its business meeting, the Guild expressed their special gratitude to Kay Tiffney, the retiring editor of the Guild Newsletter, and Liz Mellecke, relinquishing her position as the membership chairman. Sara Winger has taken over the job of newsletter editor, while the still vacant office of the membership chairman will be filled later.

The service of Matins, conducted by seminarians Matthew Fenn (liturgist) and Kirk Radford (preaching), centred on the ever-relevant topic of gratitude. Expounding on the pericope of the ten lepers, Kirk Radford noted how the Samaritan who returned to give thanks was, by Jewish law, forbidden to enter the temple with the other nine. “He therefore returns to Christ who is the True Temple and our true High Priest”, Kirk underlined.

The day was enriched with the performance by the Lutheran Chamber Singers, led by Heidi Gallas.

Following a choral performance of the Lutheran Chamber Singers led by Heidi Gallas, the members of the student body – grateful for the ongoing tradition of congregations showing their support by adopting seminary students – introduced themselves and their families to the guild. Proving true Dr. Winger’s remark in his opening words, the Harvest Day was a blessed day where the seminary staff and students were given a chance to experience first-hand the encouragement and support the Church shows to those preparing to serve her in the work of the ministry.

More photos of the event and information about the Seminary Guild can be found on CLTS’s website. Inquiries about adopting students can be sent to Linda Lantz ( or Esko Murto (

Harvest Day concluded with a shared lunch provided by the Seminary Guild.

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Give Thanks to God for Your Seminary

Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, autumn colours

At Thanksgiving we not only give thanks to God for the blessings of our country and its rich harvest, but we remember His grace shown to us in Jesus Christ, our Saviour. That message is the focus of the Holy Ministry that Jesus instituted to preach the Gospel to all the world. This Thanksgiving please remember the needs of the seminary, which is dedicated to preparing men for Christ’s ministry. Visiting professor Pastor Esko Murto tells what it’s like to move to our country, and writes of our seminary’s vital work in his Thanksgiving letter to the Church. You may donate online through Canada Helps, or learn of other ways to help from our website: “Support Us”.

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