By Paul Koch

A little framed picture hangs to the right of the door exiting my study which leads into the sanctuary of the church. Most people leaving through that door probably never even notice it, but I do. Though it is small, behind the glass is a simple and eloquent prayer. I’ve had it hanging on the wall of my study ever since I’ve had a study. I’ve read the words printed there so often that I have them memorized and simply looking at the dark mahogany frame causes me to recite them like some sort of strange Pavlovian reaction. It’s a prayer written by Luther, a prayer written for people like me. The first line reads:

 By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament text for this Sunday, July 8, 2018, the seventh Sunday after Pentecost, is from the book of the prophet Ezekiel. The text is Ezekiel 2:1-5 and is usually entitled the “Call of Ezekiel,” although the language of the Hebrew more indicates the “Sending of Ezekiel.” We see this language also in the “Call” of other prophets as well (Isaiah; Jeremiah). Horace Hummel, whose Commentary on Ezekiel 1-20 in the Concordia Commentary series we will point to on occasion, titles this section as “The Prophetic Commissioning of Ezekiel: Part 1.” Part 2 of this commissioning would begin then in chapter three.

By Paul Koch

Peddlers of bulls**t are nothing new. Our lives often seem to be saturated in their mess. We’re used to hearing bulls**t from our politicians and bureaucrats of almost any stripe. There’s bulls**t on the left and bulls**t on the right. There’s the difficult to decipher bulls**t that comes from mainline media outlets and the intentionally crafted and personally curated bulls**t we find in our preferred online news sources. I’ve been accused of peddling bulls**t myself. Hell, I’ve probably even been guilty of it more times than I would like to admit.

By Jeff Pulse

Our text for this Sunday is from the book of the prophet Ezekiel. The text, Ezekiel 17:22-24, is quite short, only three verses, but it is quite interesting in the larger context of chapter 17. The chapter begins with a riddle, an allegory, which is introduced by, “The Word of Yahweh came to me.” Note also that this phrase is repeated in verse 11, which begins the second major portion of the chapter and contains our pericope. As we go through these three verses it is interesting and important to see them in the larger context of the allegory in the opening portion of chapter 17.

By Paul Koch

Once a month, all my colleagues get together for a regular meeting of all the pastors in our circuit. We sit around and talk shop over coffee and breakfast type foods. We undertake some sort of theological study and catch up on any important news from our district (though it’s never as important as they think). Yet the pinnacle moment of our time together and the thing I enjoy the most is worship. That’s right, we gather together to receive the Word and Sacraments of our Lord, and it is something I cherish.

By Paul Koch

I have a confession to make, I’ve never really liked the phrase “sharing Jesus.” I’m not sure why, but it has just always sounded weird to me. But I hear it all the time. I was watching the call service for the new pastors from the Seminary in St. Louis and the preacher must have emphasized over a dozen times the need to “share Jesus”. You must share him with the people, share him in this or that particular way, go out of your way to share your Lord. It makes it sound like you’re sitting down next to your neighbors with a big bowl of Jesus and you’re inviting them to dig in and get a bite. Like he is some sort of quantifiable substance that is passed back and forth. And it all sounds so easy, right? Just share him! Well, it’s not such a simple and straightforward task. It’s complicated. We have difficulty sharing Jesus with our own family and friends, let alone people we don’t know all that well. So just to say that you need to or ought to share Jesus doesn’t actually do much.

By Paul Koch

There is great comfort found in the traditional liturgy of the Church. When you wander into a congregation gathered around the gifts of Christ, the liturgy of their worship provides a rhythm and focus to the things that are happening. There is a movement and purpose that aids in carrying the individual from whatever was going before that moment into a genuine experience with the Almighty located in Word and Sacrament.