Friday, October 30, 2015

Concordia Seminary Launches New app, Websites

News from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis

Seminary's new app, websites give easy access to resources

Concordia Seminary, St. Louis – one of the largest denominational seminaries and home to the second largest Lutheran library in North America – is making its vast trove of theological and scholarly resources more readily available to people around the world.

Users now have three new choices to get the Seminary’s rich content: two websites and a new mobile app. They can access classes on Greek or Hebrew, Bible studies and other helps for biblical interpretation, podcasts, academic papers, journal articles, videos and more.

The new tools are:
The scholar site — — is the home of the Seminary’s digital institutional repository. Offering an ultramodern, long-term solution for managing digital content, the site mimics a library catalog of resources. Digital versions of the Seminary’s vast collection of published materials, conference and scholarly works, lectures and items from the rare book collection are available complete with full descriptions and tagging for maximum search ability. This site requires a full screen for best accessibility.
Thanks to the ingenuity of the Seminary’s in-house Technology Services team, the new custom-designed resources website — — offers visitors a user-friendly, Netflix-style experience for accessing on-demand content. From the home page, visitors can choose from a carousel of options with the most popular items leading the feed. A key feature is easy scrolling to access a huge variety of resources. The same resources available on the scholar site are available here; they are just presented in a different way. This site is mobile-friendly.

Concordia Seminary mobile app (#CSLapp)
With the launch of its first-ever app, the Seminary joins with leading educational institutions in the mobile space. Students, pastors and other church workers, scholars, seekers and lay members alike are able to connect with the Seminary anytime from any place. The free app features a campus map and a robust collection of links to resources, news and giving opportunities to support the Seminary’s mission. Users also can connect to the Seminary’s official social media apps and watch live-streamed events. To get the app, search “Concordia Seminary” on the Apple and Android (Google Play) app stores.

“In our increasingly mobile society, it’s imperative that we offer the tools that make our resources available to those who need them in the way they need them,” said Rev. Ben Haupt, the Seminary’s director of library services. “As we launch these new accessibility tools, I’m excited to see how they will help to spread the light of the Gospel.”

To learn more, click here or visit
Learn more about Concordia Seminary's academic programs and theological resources for pastors, other church leaders, and congregations. Click here to visit our website.
Click here for theological resources from Concordia Seminary faculty including Concordia Journal, Lectionary at Lunch+, posts from profs, and more.
Concordia Seminary has a rich history of church leader formation spanning more than 175 years. Click here for a peek into our history and to see highlights from our anniversary celebration.

Worship Notes for All Saints' Day, 2015

Friday after Reformation Sunday
October 30, 2015

The Lord be with you.

Well, I’m a day late in posting the worship notes for this coming Sunday but that is because I’ve been out of town. But, as my mother used to say, “Better late than never.”

This coming Sunday is All Saints’ Day, November 1. We will celebrate this Feast using the appointed readings for the day and sharing in the Lord’s Supper. In the past we have used a special liturgy for the day but this year we will use Divine Service, Setting One (page 151).

The appointed lections for the day are Revelation 7:2-17, 1 John 3:1-3 and Matthew 5:1-12. The text for the sermon will be Revelation 7:9. The sermon is titled “Living in Heaven.”

Our opening hymn will be “Sing with All the Saints in Glory” (LSB 671). Our sermon hymn will be “I’m But A Stranger Here” (LSB 748). Our closing hymn will be “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” (LSB 649). We will have only two distribution hymns as the second one has eight verses. They are “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” (LSB 621) and “For All the Saints” (LSB 677).

During our prayers we will remember saints who have gone to be with the Lord.

Below is a video of our sermon hymn, “I’m But A Stranger Here,” sung by the Lutheran Quartet.

Our adult Bible class continues with the study, Word: God Speaks to Us. Though you may have missed the class up to this poing, you are still encouraged to attend. What you learn will be a blessing. The Bible study hour begins at 9:00 am. Fill free to bring children. Class is provided for them as well.  

What follows is a synopsis of Sunday’s lessons, provided by the synod, then the lessons.  Following the readings are some additional important notes.

Saints Are Blessed in the Eternal Presence of Christ
“A great multitude … from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages,” cry out, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne” (Rev. 7:9–17). Faith-filled saints from every place and time, with unified voices, eternally magnify the Lamb of God. As His beloved children, we, too, “shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:1–3). Joined with the throng of angels and a myriad of saints, we shall “serve him day and night in his temple” (Rev. 7:9–17). In our earthly tension vacillating between saint and sinner, faith and doubt, sacred and profane, we earnestly seek Jesus to calm our fears, comfort our spirits and forgive our sins. The Holy Spirit through faith in Christ propels us forward, fortifying us in Word and Sacrament, to our eternal home. In the midst of our constant struggle as believers, we need to be blessed. And so we are. The poor in spirit, the meek, the hungry, the thirsty, the merciful, the pure and the persecuted are all blessed, and we will most certainly inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:1–12).

Revelation 7:2-17
2           Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, 3“Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

5           12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,
            12,000 from the tribe of Reuben,
            12,000 from the tribe of Gad,
6           12,000 from the tribe of Asher,
            12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali,
            12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,
7           12,000 from the tribe of Simeon,
            12,000 from the tribe of Levi,
            12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,
8           12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun,
            12,000 from the tribe of Joseph,
            12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.

9           After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13          Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15          “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
                        and serve him day and night in his temple;
                        and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16          They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
                        the sun shall not strike them,
                        nor any scorching heat.
17          For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
                        and he will guide them to springs of living water,
            and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

1 John 3:1-3
3:1         See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Matthew 5:1-12
5:1         Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
2           And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3           “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4           “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5           “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6           “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7           “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8           “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9           “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10          “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11          “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Some Additional Notes

  • Daylight Savings Time ends. Set your clocks back one hour before going to sleep Saturday.

  • Our Second Coat Drive is in full swing. We team with the Bethlehem Center, who distributes the coats to individuals in need. An insert will be in the bulletin with more information.

  • Our November newsletter has been posted. Just go to the page on the right-hand side of the blog to read it.

  • Keep Praying for your Neighbors and Walking your Neighborhoods.

  • Don’t forget to check out the other posts from earlier this week. An easy way to review the titles is by looking at the left hand side of this blog. If a title catches your attention, just click on it and you will go to that post. Remember, you can link one or more of our blog posts to your facebook (or other social media) page. Find one you like and share it.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Rickert

Why Did Luther Post His 95 Theses on Halloween?

Blest Halloween!

This article first appeared on October 2, 2009 in The Lutheran Witness.

It was no coincidence that Martin Luther chose Oct. 31 as the day to nail his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

by Rev. Mark Loest

For most people, October means cooler weather, raking leaves, and, at the end of the month, celebrating Halloween. For Lutherans, October includes the commemoration of Reformation Day–the day Martin Luther is said to have nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

It may seem strange that a day so preoccupied with the devil and death is also Reformation Day. But Luther chose this date with a purpose. His theses (academic statements for discussion and debate) were on the topic of indulgences, and Luther chose the eve of All Saints Day–when the church commemorates the faithful departed–as the date to make them public.

Penance and Indulgences

By the time they are confirmed, Lutherans know that the public outcry that fueled the Reformation of the church started with Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses. They also know that Luther’s theses had to do with the selling of indulgences. However, today’s Lutherans do not always understand exactly what indulgences are and why Luther protested their sale.

Indulgences have to do with the Roman Catholic Church’s practice surrounding the Sacrament of Penance that developed during the Middle Ages. Penance is the fourth of the seven Roman Catholic sacraments.

Basically, sinners, fallen from the grace they originally received in Baptism, may, by God’s moving and by certain acts (contrition, confession, and satisfaction), recover the lost grace. Sinners are absolved only after displaying sorrow through prescribed acts of penance, such as praying, taking a pilgrimage, or giving alms. In other words, doing works, as well as having faith in the mercy of God, are necessary for full forgiveness.

But what especially alarmed Luther were the outright payments in connection with indulgences.

For money (and sometimes even goods like fowl and dairy products), a person could buy an indulgence that claimed to offer the merits of the saints–and even of Christ–on behalf of the owner, and, in that way, sins were forgiven and a place was secured in heaven.

Defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, an indulgence is “the remissions before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven.”

According to the Catholic teaching, indulgences offer forgiveness for the penalties that come with sin, even though Christ paid for those sins. A Christian can acquire an indulgence in a number of ways through the Church, which has authority over the “treasury” of Christ and the saints. In other words, indulgences either transfer or reduce penitential acts and punishment for sin. An indulgence is considered partial if it removes part of the temporal punishment due to sin and plenary if it removes all punishment.

Indulgences have been around for about one thousand years. In 1096, Pope Urban II offered plenary (meaning complete) indulgences in connection with the first crusade.

The great medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas (c. 1224-74) fully developed indulgence theory, allowing for the possibility of indulgences to be applied to souls in purgatory. For the sinner who does not make complete satisfaction in this life, there is purgatory–an intermediate state between heaven and hell. The soul that departs this life and is not immediately judged to heaven or hell is purified for a time in purgatory until released to heaven.

The result was that by the time of Luther, Christians cared more about avoiding purgatory than living and dying a Christian life and death. And indulgence claims were inflated beyond the original idea of release simply from temporal punishment imposed by a priest.

In 1530, the Augsburg Confession rejected the medieval errors concerning penance by declaring: “Rejected … are those who teach that forgiveness of sin is not obtained through faith but through the satisfaction made by man” (Augsburg Confession, Article XII, page 35–Tappert).

95 Theses

Martin Luther (born Nov. 10, 1483), was the son of Hans Luder, a mine and foundry owner in Mansfeld, Germany. He originally began his studies to become a lawyer, but in July 1505, everything changed when during a terrible thunderstorm–and fearing for his life–he promised St. Anna that if she would spare his life he would become a monk.

Luther survived the storm and kept his promise, promptly quitting his university studies and joining the Augustinians in Erfurt. Taking his vows seriously, he soon experienced great spiritual conflicts over the forgiveness-of-sins-through-good-works system of monastery, which he came to realize was a completely inadequate way to be forgiven. In order to save the young monk from spiritual ruin, his superior, Johann Staupitz, directed Brother Martin to Scripture.

Luther began his studies again–only this time in biblical theology. By 1508, he was lecturing. In 1512, he earned his doctorate. Upon completing a trip to Rome (from the fall of 1510 until the spring of 1511), Luther may well have begun to question the medieval penitential system, especially in light of what he saw in the “holy” city, but he said nothing publicly at the moment. More would happen to shape his insights.

At the same time, Luther was transferred permanently to Wittenberg, to eventually take the place of Father Staupitz as professor of biblical theology. It was in Scripture that he was to find the answers that troubled his soul.

Luther describes what happened at Wittenberg:“At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, ‘In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.”’

“There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is revealed by the Gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’ Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 34, page 337–Concordia Publishing House).

It was as a preacher, rather than professor, that Luther encountered the abuses of indulgences. Against the wishes of Luther’s prince, Frederick the Wise of electoral Saxony, indulgences were hawked to the people of his land, albeit in neighboring ducal Saxony. They needed only to cross the border to purchase them. To make matters worse, the indulgence-salesman and friar John Tetzel told Luther’s parishioners they could even purchase indulgences from him for sins they had not yet committed.

It was no coincidence that Martin Luther chose what we know as Halloween as the day to put forth is 95 Theses, mailing them to the archbishop in charge so something might be done, and, as the story goes, nailing them to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. In Wittenberg, Luther’s own prince offered the pious the opportunity of indulgence through his enormous collection of relics in the Castle Church on the Day of All Saints, Nov. 1.

Luther took advantage of the occasion. Luther himself never told the story, but after his death, co-worker Philipp Melanchthon described the scene.

On the Eve of All Saints, Oct. 31, 1517, Luther posted on the door of the Castle Church (in a manner customary at the university) the 95 Theses, which called into question and for discussion the abuses associated with indulgences.

The posting of the theses became the spark that ignited the Reformation.

A poem written long ago to commemorate the Reformation praises Halloween with the words:

Blest Halloween that struck the hour
When Luther’s hammer rose and fell
At Wittenberg in heaven-born power
And rang dark popery’s funeral-knell,
When long and cruel night was gone
And smiling rose the promised dawn!

Rev. Mark A. Loest is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church of Frankentrost, Saginaw, Mich. This story appeared originally in the October 2001 Lutheran Witness. LCMS congregations may reprint this article for parish use. All other rights reserved. Text copyright © 2001 by Mark A. Loest.

The Lutheran Witness — Providing Missouri Synod laypeople with stories and information that
complement congregational life, foster personal growth in faith, and help interpret the
contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.

Know Where You Stand

Rev. Matthew Harrison