Commemoration: Aurelius Ambrosius

Savior of the nations, come,
Virgin’s Son, make here Your home!
Marvel now, O heav’n and earth,
That the Lord chose such a birth.

Not by human flesh and blood,
By the Spirit of our God,
Was the Word of God made flesh—
Woman’s offspring, pure and fresh.

#332 in the LSB was written by Ambrose of Milan, born in Germany in 337 AD and died on Good Friday, April 4, 397 in Milan, Italy. We commemorate Aurelius Ambrosius as a pastor and hymnwriter, one of the four great Latin Doctors of the Church alongside Augustine, Jerome and Gregory the Great.

Ambrose was chosen as pastor of Milan while still serving as a civil governor. History says that the Christians of Milan were divided into factions at the time, and when the 34-year-old catechumen addressed the crowd gathered to elect a new bishop (trying to seek peace between them), someone yelled, “Ambrose, bishop!” The entire crowd agreed, so after Ambrose was baptized on December 7, he was consecrated bishop of Milan. He was bold in his defense of the faith, and pivotal in the theological fight against Arianism (the heresy that inspired Santa Claus to supposedly slap Arius, as mentioned in yesterday’s post).

During this Advent, as at all times, we look to Scripture and Christ crucified as the defense against every false doctrine, and thank God for the servants He has given us across time and space to preserve His Church. If you are looking for materials that focus on Jesus during this holy season, check out the Advent devotional put out by Christ Academy. You can make it a part of your daily devotions by downloading it HERE or by clicking this picture of the cover:

Authors of the devotional include pastors and seminarians, many of them either former attendees or proctors at Christ Academy.

Commemoration: John of Damascus

The day of resurrection!
Earth, tell it out abroad,
The passover of gladness,
The passover of God.
From death to life eternal,
From sin’s dominion free,
Our Christ has brought us over
With hymns of victory.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
Let hearts be purged of evil
That we may see aright
The Lord in rays eternal
Of resurrection light
And, list’ning to His accents,
May hear, so calm and plain,
His own “All hail!” and, hearing,
May raise the victor strain.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
Now let the heav’ns be joyful,
Let earth its song begin,
Let all the world keep triumph
And all that is therein.
Let all things, seen and unseen,
Their notes of gladness blend;
For Christ the Lord has risen,
Our joy that has no end.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
All praise to God the Father,
All praise to God the Son,
All praise to God the Spirit,
Eternal Three in One!
Let all the ransomed number
Fall down before the throne
And honor, pow’r and glory
Ascribe to God alone!

Today we commemorate John of Damascus, theologian and hymnwriter. You can find two of his Easter hymns in the Lutheran Service Book, and this one (#478) happens to be my favorite. Anyone looking for some organ-heavy karaoke this afternoon can listen to the tune and sing along here:

Born in 675 AD and died 749, John of Damascus is known as the last great Greek theologian. Before he became a priest, John gave up an influential position in the Islamic court to devote himself to Christianity. He argued against the prohibition of icons, wrote theological defenses against common heresies of the time, and summarized the orthodox faith and the writings of previous theologians in a book known as the Fount of Wisdom.

Commemoration: Philipp Nicolai, Johann Heermann, and Paul Gerhardt

Yesterday was the commemoration of three faithful women in the Church, and because our calendar stacks these things on top of each other, today we commemorate three hymnwriters, Philipp Nicolai, Johann Heermann and Paul Gerhardt.

Some highlights: Nicolai wrote the tune to “Allelulia! Let Praises Ring”/”O Holy Spirit Enter In,” and the other two wrote the text to a couple of my favorite Lenten hymns, “O Dearest Jesus, What Law Hast Thou Broken” (Heermann) and “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” (Gerhardt). However, since neither are in season I’ll leave you with an Easter hymn by Gerhardt instead (LSB 467):

Awake, my heart, with gladness,
See what today is done;
Now, after gloom and sadness,
Comes forth the glorious sun.
My Savior there was laid
Where our bed must be made
When to the realms of light
Our spirit wings its flight.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
The foe in triumph shouted
When Christ lay in the tomb;
But lo, he now is routed,
His boast is turned to gloom.
For Christ again is free;
In glorious victory
He who is strong to save
Has triumphed o’er the grave.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
This is a sight that gladdens–
What peace it doth impart!
Now nothing ever saddens
The joy within my heart.
No gloom shall ever shake,
No foe shall ever take
The hope which God’s own Son
In love for me hath won.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
Now hell, its prince, the devil,
Of all their pow’r are shorn;
Now I am safe from evil,
And sin I laugh to scorn.
Grim death with all his might
Cannot my soul affright;
It is a pow’rless form,
Howe’er it rave and storm.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
The world against me rages,
Its fury I disdain;
Though bitter war it wages,
Its work is all in vain.
My heart from care is free,
No trouble troubles me.
Misfortune now is play,
And night is bright as day.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
Now I will cling forever
To Christ, my Savior true;
My Lord will leave me never,
Whate’er He passes through.
He rends death’s iron chain;
He breaks through sin and pain;
He shatters hell’s dark thrall;
I follow Him through all.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
He brings me to the portal
That leads to bliss untold,
Whereon this rhyme immortal
Is found in script of gold:
“Who there My cross has shared
Finds here a crown prepared;
Who there with Me has died
Shall here be glorified.”

International LCMS Disaster Response Conference

Dr. Douglas Rutt, international director of Lutheran Hour Ministries, shares his presentation on LHM resources that bring spiritual comfort after tragedy.

As recovery for the devastation caused by earthquakes and hurricanes continues in some places and begins in others, we thank God for the opportunity to come together to learn from those who have firsthand experience of disasters around the world. CTSFW welcomes the 2017 International LCMS Disaster Response Conference, which began yesterday morning in Sihler Auditorium and goes until Thursday.

Rev. Nicolas Ranara, pastor in Tacloban City, Leyte Island, Philippines, speaks on “Looking Back at Typhoon Haiyan – 4 Years Later.”

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home:

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone,
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Soon bears us all away;
We fly forgotten as a dream
Dies at the op’ning day.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while life shall last
And our eternal home!

O God, Our Help in Ages Past

Mireya Johnson, a deaconess who received her M.A. in Religious Studies from CTSFW in 2002, translates for the Spanish-speaking members in the audience. Mireya is married to Dr. Ross Johnson, director of LCMS Disaster Response and another CTSFW grad (M.Div. 2006; D. Min. 2017).