House of Living Stones

No one at CPH asked me to write a review of a new book they’ll be releasing later this fall. It’s called House of Living Stones. It’s a novel; a work of fiction. It’s about a small town Lutheran congregation and some of the people of said congregation.

I suppose they didn’t ask me to review the book and give them a pull quote because the author of House of Living Stones just so happens to be my wife. Maybe they think I’m a little too biased? That’s probably a fair reason.

But…whether they’ve asked or not, I’m going to briefly review it anyway.

It’s phenomenal. Speaking as a Lutheran pastor, it’s everything I want from a book from our publishing house. This is a story about the objective forgiveness of Christ given out in His means of grace; about the rejoicing and suffering we go through together as the Body of Christ; about the remarkable love and communion we share. This is the Christian fiction I want the people entrusted to my care to be reading. I reckon it’s the Christian fiction you want your brothers and sisters in Christ to be reading, too.

This isn’t a sappy book. It’s not trite. It’s not “chick lit”. It’s true. It’s sincere. It’s for the whole Body of Christ.

I couldn’t be prouder of my wife for her work on this. I can’t wait to read my own published copy. And I sincerely, without bias, can’t recommend enough that you purchase a copy for yourself, for your church library, for your pastor, and for anyone else you know who loves a good story and loves our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you want to pre-order the book, you can do so from CPH or from Amazon. It will also be available on Kindle.

A Picture of Christian Vocation in Action

D-Day-Mass

On this anniversary of D-Day, I came across a picture of that day that illustrates the vocation of the Christian so very well.

The vocation of the Christian is 1) repenting and faithfully receiving forgiveness from Christ in Word and Sacrament, and 2) serving the neighbor in love through whatever other vocations the Lord has put us in.

After the landing and battle; after the soldiers have done their duty in serving their neighbor, they gather together and are served by our Lord Himself in His word of forgiveness preached and in His Body and Blood of forgiveness fed.

How amazing and merciful our Lord is!

Mother’s Day – A Pastoral Plea

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. For the barren woman, attending church on this particular Sunday is often an exercise in frustration, woe, even great shame brought on by the absence of longed-for children. Far too often, we pastors help amplify these feelings in her.

This is a pastoral plea. Brothers, I beg you, remember every Sunday your entire flock. But especially this Sunday, remember all the faithful women who Christ has entrusted to your care.

Remember that a part of your flock have received from the Lord the blessed vocation of motherhood, whether their children are biological or adopted. In the prayers of the church rejoice with them, give thanks to God for them, and ask God to help them raise up these gifts from Him faithfully.

But remember too that many in your flock – whom you may or may not be aware of – have not received the gift of children from God. And they may be longing for that gift. Please be sensitive to them. Recall that the natural inclination of sinful man towards a theology of glory has resulted in them receiving countless “helpful” comments and encouragements that are nothing but empty promises and legalistic claptrap. Pray for these women, too, that they would receive what they long for: the gift of a child, biological or adopted. But also do not fail to pray on their behalf that God would give them the faith and trust to contentedly rejoice in what He ultimately does give to them. It may not be a child. In other words, help them to pray “Nevertheless, Lord, Thy will be done.”

And also remember the sheep of Christ’s flock who are past the time of having any expectation of receiving the gift of a child. Please don’t leave them out. Pray for them, too, that they would recognize in their lives all the good gifts the Lord has given to them.

Please don’t parade them in front of the congregation in order to offer up prayers on their behalf. Please don’t draw unneeded attention to them by giving flowers or some other admittedly well-intentioned gift only to those in the congregation who have children. Allow the barren to sit and grieve, to receive from their Lord, and to pray along with you. That’s your God-given task in the Divine Service, anyway: to lead them in prayer and to care for them with Christ’s true, comforting word and sacrament.

In fact, my encouragement would be, if at all possible, to limit your Mother’s Day references in the service to the prayers. Keep your whole flock focused on Jesus and His forgiveness present there for them today. But in the prayers do indeed pray, praise, and give thanks for the mothers, and mothers-to-be, and all those who desire motherhood but have not or will not receive that gift from God.

I think these words, included in this year’s Let Us Pray for Easter 7 from the LC-MS, fit the bill nicely:

Father of glory, Your Son, our Lord Jesus, in His incarnation, took on our created human flesh and was born of the Virgin Mary. He submitted to His mother, honoring and obeying her, so fulfilling the commandment where we have not. On this Mothers’ Day, graciously accept our thanksgiving for our mothers, whom you have given to us. Teach us to honor them aright — loving, obeying and giving thanks for them, as is fitting in Your sight. Strengthen all women with child and protect them in their deliverance. Comfort all women who long to have children, but cannot, that they may find their consolation in You and Your unfailing love. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

This is cross-posted on He Remembers the Barren