Commemoration: Joseph of Arimathea

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

John 19:30-42

“Burying Christ” by Pietro Perugino, 1495; Joseph of Arimathea is depicted as the well-dressed man about to wrap Christ’s feet in linen.

Commemoration: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

John 11:1-44

“Jésus pleura” or “Jesus Wept” by James Tissot, circa 1886-1894.

St. James the Elder

Today is the feast of St. James the Elder, Apostle. The readings for today paint a picture of a sinner, a martyr, and a saint and conqueror through Him who loved us.

“Saint James the Greater” by Jusepe de Ribera, circa 1615/16.

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

MARK 10:35-45

About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

ACTS 12:1-5

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

ROMANS 8:31-39

CTSFW at Synod Convention

Synod Convention comes to a close soon as voting ends and the delegates begin to go home. Here are some visual highlights of the week as we worked with our sister seminary from St. Louis. The booth design itself reflected the reality that though we are two distinct seminaries, we exist for the same Church and mission, especially as we hear the cry from our congregations for more pastors, praying that the Lord of the harvest may send more laborers into His harvest. We met with many visitors, from alumni to laypeople to a number of prospects, some of them from the Concordia Universities’ booth that was kitty corner to our location (this year they too decided to share booth space) and others who are considering the ministry as a second career.

One of our giveaways was a T-shirt, printed with “We Are Your Seminaries: For the Gospel” (with the sem logos on each sleeve) in Fort Wayne blue and St. Louis green. Our seminary presidents, Dr. Lawrence Rast Jr. and Dr. Dale Meyer, stopped by and posed with each others’ school colors. It was a joy to work with our brothers and sisters from Concordia Seminary; we shared duties and spent a lot of time laughing and trying to one up each other to see who could hand off the most swag throughout the week. We finished with the alumni reception, which was also held jointly, allowing our pastors and deaconesses to spend the evening together.

One of the smaller giveaways–a prayer card tucked into the tote bags (with both seminary logos on them, one on each side)–encapsulated our purpose and intent this week (and every week), as we worked together in Christ:

Dear God, we ask that You continue to bless both of our seminaries as they seek to prepare men for pastoral ministry, women for service as deaconesses in Your Church and other workers for Your ministry. Be with their students, faculty and staff as they seek to do Your will. We also ask You to raise up and send new laborers into Your harvest so that Your salvation reaches the ends of the earth. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

The two seminaries shared a sign and a tower (we posed with our St. Louis counterparts in front of the tower as we began cleanup yesterday afternoon), and had separate kiosk space, though there was a lot of crossover back and forth as we worked together. Dr. Just joined us for awhile as well.

A snapshot of some of the work we did: one of our IT guys meeting with a deaconess from Bethesda to discuss technology options for the men and women they serve, working together with the St. Louis crew to stuff tote bags, handing out T-shirts, and scooping out the last of the M&Ms. We had candy dispensers at each kiosk with M&Ms special printed in blue and white and green and yellow with sem graphics printed on them. (Hauling 80 pounds of candy through the airports is another story in and of itself, but they were a big hit and well worth it.)

A snapshot of the alumni reception. Dr. Rast and Dr. Meyer are in the first picture, more alumni, including newly ordained graduate of CTSFW, is in the second, and Dr. Gard and Dr. Fickenscher (left to right, respectively, in the last picture) said they were celebrating the nine year anniversary of their mutual defeat: they not only roomed together during the 2010 Synod Convention, they allowed their names to stand as presidential candidates (numbers 4 and 5 they explained, grinning, and only on the list for necessity).

Here are some of the items we handed out to our booth visitors. The totes were the same–the picture here is simply showing the two sides–and you can catch a glimpse of the silhouette of Kramer Chapel on the blue and white M&Ms and the CSL seal on the green and yellow ones.

(Side note: the cup the M&Ms are artfully arranged in is actually a LCEF mug, who were in the booth right next door.)

St. Mary Magdalene

Today is a feast day, in honor of St. Mary Magdalene. Mary, like all the saints, is a witness who points to Christ. From the readings today:

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

John 20:1-18

The “Rabboni” sculpture by Gutzon Borglum, depicts Mary Magdalene emerging from the empty tomb of Christ on Easter. Photograph by Kathleen Cole.

Deaconess Placements

Yesterday in chapel, Dr. Bushur, Director of Deaconess Formation, announced three placements and one internship of our deaconess students. He began with his thanks:

“As I announce these placements, I again, of course, also express my appreciation to the whole Placement Department and all who contributed to the process. I especially give thanks to God for Deaconess Amy Rast, my Associate Director, for all of her work. The placement process of deaconesses is a little bit like farming. Placements take cultivation and maybe even a little nourishing and fertilizing, maybe even some weed pulling, that are involved before they come to fruition. And let’s just say Deaconess Rast has become a pretty good farmer over the years. So I certainly appreciate her work.
“And finally, we must also, as always, give thanks to God for these calling congregations and institutions. And so, as always, these placements are made with our fervent prayer that the Lord bless our students, blesses these congregations, institutions, and their pastors as they now together fulfill their service to Christ.”
Deaconess placements occur throughout the year, and in this particular case all four women were placed in the Indiana District:

Wendy Boehm (2019 grad)
Placement: Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Ossian, IN

Amanda Hahn (2018 grad)
Placement: St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church, Brownstown, IN

Katherine Rittner (2019 grad)
Placement: Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN
(Note: Serving as Director of the Food & Clothing Co-op)

Taylor (Brown) Fickenscher (Intern)
Internship: Grace Lutheran Church, Columbus, IN

Commemoration: Ruth

“Ruth and Naomi” by Ary Scheffer, 1855/56.

In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

Ruth 1:1-18

LLDP Partnership

This week, CTSFW is hosting the Lutheran Leadership Development Program (LLDP). The LLDP is a certificate program of the International Lutheran Council (ILC) in partnership with CPH and CTSFW. Dr. Naomichi Masaki serves as its Director. CTSFW hosts two sessions out of three sessions a year on its campus. President Lawrence Rast teaches History of the Lutheran Church this week and Dean Charles Gieschen will teach Lutheran Hermeneutics next week. Participants in this cohort are bishops, presidents, and general secretary from several African countries, including our brethren from South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Ghana.

Dr. Rast teaching his course “History of the Lutheran Church” in the library.

This week’s class is about much more than mere places and dates. The rich history and doctrinal heritage of the Lutheran Church is key to understanding who we are as Lutherans and what we believe. The course covers the complex historical circumstances that informed the development of Lutheranism, the internal relationship between the confessional writings and the way they have informed later expressions of Lutheranism, and the vital coherence of doctrine, practice, and life. As such, these men will grow as theologians, gaining a renewed commitment to the Lutheran Confessions as they confess doctrine in the way of the Gospel as articulated in the book of Concord. As leaders, the program will give them the tools to evaluate and address contemporary issues in the Church through the Lutheran Confessions in light of the history of the Church.

Left: Students Modise Maragelo and Tsegahun Assefa; Right: President Lawrence Rast

God’s richest blessings to these Lutheran leaders as they learn and later return to their home countries. May they gain much not only from the class but also from fellowship with one another and in our community here!

With Mandla Thwala, Tsegahun Assefa, Helmut Paul, Lawrence Rast, Daniel Mono, Modise Maragelo and Emmanuel Joseph Makala.

With thanks to Dr. Naomichi Masaki for the pictures and for the description of the program.

CTSFW at LWML Convention

It’s quiet on campus leading into the 4th of July, especially with the conclusion of Christ Academy and the Intermediate/Advanced Organist Workshop (about 90 campus guests and visitors in all). That means today is a good time to catch up on some of the events we missed last week. One such event was the LWML Convention in Mobile, Alabama, where the Director of the Food & Clothing Co-op, Katherine Rittner, manned the CTSFW booth. Dr. and Mrs. Rast were also in attendance.

Photo courtesy LWML Iowa East District.

The photos showcase some of the activity around the booth. In this first picture, Katherine Rittner is standing to the right of Diane Torrey from the LWML Iowa East District. The Iowa East District is just one of the many districts that support the Co-op, which helps care for future church workers by providing food and clothing while they’re just students trying to balance seminary with the practical demands of family and finances. The LWML Convention served as an excellent place to show those who care for these men and women how much they’re doing in support of their formation.

“There’s this hum and this buzz going through and everybody’s excited to be there, glad to see what’s coming next; how they can continue to serve the Lord with gladness but always asking what’s coming next,” Katherine said of the atmosphere at the LWML convention. As to “what’s next” for the Co-op, the specifics may change but the foundational answer is always the same: “We help in that preparation [forming servants in Jesus Christ] by taking care of them. We help to grow the harvesters so that we can continue to harvest the harvest field.”

Dr. Rast spent time at the booth as well, greeting people (among them alumni and recent grads) and, at one point, interviewing with the LWML National Office via cell camera. Deaconess Amy Rast was kept busy answering questions about the Deaconess Program at CTSFW, as well as about Christ Academy (which is a great opportunity for young women to find out more about the vocation of deaconess and the role of mercy work in the Church). Both she and Katherine, who just graduated from the Deaconess Program this past May, had many opportunities to talk about the residential and distance programs available at CTSFW for diaconal education.

In this particular picture taken by Katherine, Deaconess Rast is standing to the right of Rev. Thomas Dunseth, who works with Mill Neck Foundation for Deaf Ministry as they talk with two young women. If you recognize this organization’s name, it’s because they run the Church Interpreter Training Institute (more commonly referred to as CITI) that takes place each summer right before Christ Academy. We wouldn’t be able to offer these Deaf Ministry courses for our students without their partnership, as they also provide instructors for Deaf Ministry here at CTSFW.

One of the moments that particularly stuck out to the Director of our Co-op was the opportunity to meet with many of the LCMS District Presidents, even if for less than a minute. “Being able to get just that little 30 second time slot, you tell them, personally, thank you, to let them know how important they are to us—to tell them, in all honesty, without them I can’t do my job and I can’t take care of our future pastors and deaconesses and their families,” Katherine explained. “To tell them what it means to me and to the students, to have their continued prayers and support, makes a huge difference. Not just for them but also for me.”

And she always comes to these conventions armed with thank you letters from students. Though the majority of these LWML women and the future servants they’re supporting will never meet face-to-face in this life, the pen-and-paper notes create a tangible connection. Said one LWML convention attendee, “I read the note and I couldn’t help but cry.”

Thank you. Thank you all for your prayers, your encouragement, and your support. From Thessalonians 1:2-3: “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

[With credit to the LWML Iowa East District for the photo of Katherine and Diane next to the CTSFW booth.]