All Saints Day 2016

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Happy All Saints Day!  Like the sunlight in that tree, it is the Word of God that makes the saints shine.

“I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”  (Revelation 21:2, ESV).  How does the Church dress beautifully for her husband, Christ?  She adorns herself with the words and promises of God by believing them.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

— Revelation 21:3-4, ESV.

God’s word shines in our hearts giving us light and life.

At the entrance to High Cliff State Park this red maple stood in a sun beam between the clouds and green trees.  After parking, I walked back, waited for the sun to reappear, and shot some photos with my old Canon A550.

Recently, my Canon G12 died.  I ordered a new camera, but the new camera had to be returned because it had a dead pixel.  So my A550 has come out of retirement.  The 7.1 megapixel A550 was my first ever digital camera, and I have always had a lot of fun with it.  When it retired, the batteries were not making a good connection, but I managed to fix that issue, and now the camera seems to be working as well as ever.

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But for my old A550, this scene would have been lost.  I hope you like the pictures, and that you have a blessed All Saints Day!

Blessed Reformation and All Saints Days

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Blessed Reformation and All Saints Days!

Thy strong word did cleave the darkness;
At Thy speaking it was done.
For created light we thank Thee,
While Thine ordered seasons run.

Lo, on those who dwelt in darkness,
Dark as night and deep as death,
Broke the light of Thy salvation,
Breathed Thine own life-breathing breath.

Thy strong Word bespeaks us righteous;
Bright with Thine own holiness,
Glorious now, we press toward glory,
And our lives our hopes confess.

From the cross Thy wisdom shining
Breaketh forth in conqu’ring might;
From the cross forever beameth
All Thy bright redeeming light.

— “Thy Strong Word,” LSB 578:1-4.

From the cross shines the wisdom of God.  This wisdom is foolishness to the world and the worldly.

Notes:

The picture is of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in downtown Appleton, WI.

Holy Voices of All Saints

Happy All Saints Day!

The saints on earth and those above
But one communion make;
Joined to their Lord in bonds of love,
All of His grace partake.

The Lutheran Hymnal, “The Saints on Earth and Those Above,” 478:1.

Hark! the sound of holy voices
Chanting at the crystal sea,
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Alleluia, Lord, to Thee.
Multitudes which none can number
Like the stars in glory stand,
Clothed in white apparel, holding
Palms of vict’ry in their hand.

They have come from tribulation
And have washed their robes in blood,
Washed them in the blood of Jesus;
Tried they were, and firm they stood.
Mocked, imprisoned, stoned, tormented,
Sawn asunder, slain with sword,
They have conquered death and Satan
By the might of Christ the Lord.

Marching with Thy cross, their banner,
They have triumphed, following
Thee, the Captain of salvation,
Thee, their savior and their King.
Gladly, Lord, with Thee they suffered,
Gladly, Lord, with Thee they died,
And by death to life immortal
They were born and glorified.

Now they reign in heavenly glory,
Now they walk in golden light,
Now they drink, as from a river,
Holy bliss and infinite.
Love and peace they taste forever
And all truth and knowledge see
In the beatific vision
of the blessed Trinity.

God of God, the One-begotten
Light of Light, Emmanuel,
In whose body, joined together,
All the saints forever dwell,
Pour upon us of Thy fulness
That we may forevermore
God the Father, God the Spirit,
One with Thee on high, adore.

The Lutheran Hymnal, “Hark! the Sound of Holy Voices,” 471:1, 3-6.

Notes: The picture above is of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in downtown Appleton, WI.

Hallowe’en Moon

Those waves in the video are from billows of rising air heated by the sun.  We see this effect above fires, and a similar effect causes the stars to twinkle.  The moon’s movement from left to right in the picture is caused by the earth’s rotation.

When Jesus was on earth, he looked at the same moon and the same stars.  Happy Hallowe’en and All Saints Day.

Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel:
“O sun, stand still over Gibeon,
O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”

So the sun stood still,
and the moon stopped,  [Joshua 10:12-13].

Therefore, we sing to God:

O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.

From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise…

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor

You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet.  [Psalm 8:1-6].

The son of man and the son of David is Jesus.  He is the reason God cares for us, he atoned for our sins, and as a man he has been made ruler over even the stars.  About Jesus, God says:

I will not take my love from him,
nor will I ever betray my faithfulness.

I will not violate my covenant
or alter what my lips have uttered.

Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness—
and I will not lie to David—
that his line will continue forever
and his throne endure before me like the sun;

it will be established forever like the moon,
the faithful witness in the sky.”   [Psalm 89:33-37]

Jesus reigns forever, and all creation sings:

Praise the LORD from the heavens,
praise him in the heights above.

Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.

Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars.   [Psalm 148:1-3]

Amen.

All Saints’ Day & Treasury of Daily Prayer

Happy All Saints’ Day!

A bright sunset was illuminating these leaves in the grass near my new “Treasury of Daily Prayer.”  It was a beautiful Indian Summer day: a good Autumn day to read outdoors.  The “Treasury of Daily Prayer” is a brand new release from Concordia Publishing House, an excellent resource, and a blessing for all Christians.  As part of a review, here are some of the prayers, hymns, and messages that are included in this book for today:

Hymnody

Let shouts of gladness rise
Triumphant to the skies.
Now comes the King most glorious
To reign o’er all victorious.
Hosanna, praise, and glory!
Our King, we bow before Thee.

—O Bride of Christ, Rejoice (LSB 335:2)

One of the essential blessings of the “Treasury of Daily Prayer” is the inclusion of writings from Church fathers.  It is a powerful demonstration of the continuity of the Christian faith and the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy: “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”  (Matthew 16:18).  For obvious reasons, this is a poignant part of the celebration of All Saints’ Day:

Writing

All the saints, from the beginning of the world who have died believing in the Redeemer, whether he was yet to come or had come in the flesh, all members of the people of God of all times to the present day—in this sense, all are fathers of the church.  Whether Christians have found themselves in the loneliness of a Siberian prison camp or the isolation of the diaspora or suffering inner alienation within the great secularized “churches” of our century, it has become ever more the consolation of those who have suffered for the sake of the church and whom God has led on a “lonely path” to know that they are not alone in the one church of God.  They who have been removed from every error and sin of the earthly church stand with us in the seamless fellowship of the body of Christ.

—Hermann Sasse.  [Emphasis added].

The daily prayers are deeper than most could compose alone.  Through them Christ helps us grow in love and truth as a part of His Church.  He has joined us together into all the faithful, we have become a part of some One greater than just ourselves:

Prayer of the Day

Almighty and everlasting God, You knit together Your faithful people of all times and places into one holy communion, the mystical body of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that, together with them, we may come to the unspeakable joys You have prepared for those who love You; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  (F34).

And finally there are included explanations of the specific feasts of the day:

All Saints’ Day

This feast is the most comprehensive of the days of commemoration, encompassing the entire scope of that great cloud of witnesses with which we are surrounded (Hebrews 12:1).  It holds before the eyes of faith that great multitude which no man can number: all the saints of God in Christ—who have come “out of the great tribulation . . . who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9, 14).  As such, it sets before us the full height and depth and breadth and length of our dear Lord’s gracious salvation (Ephesians 3:17-19).  It shares with Easter a celebration of the resurrection, since all those who have died with Christ Jesus have also been raised with Him (Romans 6:3-8).  It shares with Pentecost a celebration of the ingathering of the entire Church catholic—in heaven and on earth, in all times and places—in the one Body of Christ . . .  In all of these emphases, the purpose of this feast is to fix our eyes upon Jesus . . .

“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”  (Luke 5:16).

This is another book from Concordia Publishing House that dares Lutherans to be Lutheran, and invites all Christians to fully understand the words we recite together in the Creed: “We believe in one holy Christian and Apostolic Church.”  Overall, my review of the new “Treasury of Daily Prayer” for All Saints’ Day and all days is this:  It receives my highest recommendation.

May God bless you.