The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost A, September 10, 2023

Sentinels, watchmen, sentries—all serve important functions during times of war and conflict.  They keep watch for the coming of the enemy.  They sound the alarm and warn the people when the enemy is sighted.  The forewarned people have opportunity to prepare their defenses or to escape the oncoming adversary.

The Lord appoints Ezekiel to the work of sentinel.  He is to announce the coming of the enemy upon the house of Israel.  The coming enemy is none other than the Lord who is visiting wrath and judgment upon his people.  Ezekiel is to listen to the Word the Lord is giving him.  When the Lord says “wrath,” Ezekiel must say so to the people.  When the Lord says “mercy,” Ezekiel must say so to the people.  Ezekiel’s word is the Word of the Lord.

The Lord continues to appoint people to the work of sentinel—people to serve as watchmen and sentries.  The person called to be pastor is one so appointed.  The pastor listens to the Word that the Lord gives.  Then the pastor delivers that Word—either wrath or mercy—to the people.  The Lord’s Word kills and makes alive.  It puts the wicked to death, ending their miserable existence.  It raises those dead sinners to the newness of life in Christ.  In this way your pastor delivers the Word of the Lord as the preaching of Law and Gospel.  People hear it as command and promise:  Die, sinner!  Rise up, oh saints of God!  In the face of God’s wrath revealed through the commandments, God delivers mercy in the person of Jesus Christ who is the Gospel promise.

Table Talk:  Discuss the importance of sentinels.  How do the commands and promises of the Lord work upon you?

Prayer:  Father, reveal our sin so we may confess and be forgiven them in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

Ezekiel 33:7-9

7 So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8 If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 9 But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.

The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost A

Jesus speaks here of misbehavior within the family of God—that is, when your Christian brother sins against you.  This brother would be a baptized member of the body of Christ.  The misbehavior… the sin… the fault… would be behavior out of character for that brother’s identity bestowed by the act of baptism—that is, the identity of the new creature in Christ.  To expose your brother’s fault in this way does not make an accusation under the law but rather makes an appeal to the identity established by baptism… by the gospel.  The appeal here is not to legal discipline but to an evangelical character.  As the intensity of the appeal grows from a solo conversation to a conversation with witnesses to a conversation before the whole congregation, the concern is not that of publishing far and wide your brother’s misdeed so that you would win the sympathy of the body.  No, the concern is to bear witness to your brother in Christ of his baptism into Christ.  That witness begins with you.  The plea is not an accusation but a lament, “How could you do this, brother?  You’ve been baptized!”  If your witness is insufficient to deliver repentance to your brother, then join with others and together witness to your brother’s baptism.  If that witness is still not enough, have the whole congregation give witness to your brother’s baptism.  If, after that, the brother remains adamantly unrepentant, then that brother is to have the gospel preached to him again, just as the tax collectors and sinners had to hear it.  In this life of the flesh, the baptized bear the cross of continual and constant repentance and not the glory of arrogance.

Prayers from one of those who love their legal righteousness…

Father of my brother, Jesus Christ, in my baptism into Christ you have made me a member of your household.  Grant that I live in conformity with that blessed identity and do not covet an identity under the law.  With all my brothers and sisters, I say, “Amen.”    

Father of my brother, Jesus Christ, in my baptism into Christ you have made me a member of your household.  Grant that as I live from my identity as a child of God and a member of your royal household, that I would seek to serve my Lord in love as I have been loved.  With all my brothers and sisters, I say, “Amen.”    

Father of my brother, Jesus Christ, in my baptism into Christ you have made me a member of your household.  Grant, that as I serve my Lord in love, my neighbors benefit from my loving service to them as well.  With all my brothers and sisters, I say, “Amen.”    

Father of my brother, Jesus Christ, in my baptism into Christ you have made me a member of your household.  Hold me in such faith that I remain confident of your faithfulness to me in spite of all evidence to the contrary.  With all my brothers and sisters, I say, “Amen.”    

Father of my brother, Jesus Christ, in my baptism into Christ you have made me a member of your household.  As I experience the contradictions of life in this world broken by sin and passing away, hold me in the promise of Jesus Christ for me who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  With all my brothers and sisters, I say, “Amen.”    

Father of my brother, Jesus Christ, in my baptism into Christ you have made me a member of your household.  Grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology so fashion and form its students that they, too, come to know their place in your royal household.  With all my brothers and sisters, I say, “Amen.”    

Father of my brother, Jesus Christ, in my baptism into Christ you have made me a member of your household.    Give me patience to wait for the visible manifestation of the household of God and keep me from an impatient pre-empting of its visibility.   With all my brothers and sisters, I say, “Amen.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost A, September 3, 2023

Imagined or real, the fear of being caught in the grip—the clutches—of something or someone unpleasant and dangerous has come to us all.  Whether it’s the childhood anxiety of fleeing the grasp of monsters unseen by any grown-up or the adult reality of being “gripped” by circumstances—a relationship, a job, an addiction—holding us powerless, to be “grasped” is to be under the control of another.

The prophet Jeremiah has been under the control of those to whom he’s been prophesying.   The Word of the Lord which he delivers is unwelcome and unwanted.  Those hearers of the Word of God have insulted, persecuted, and imprisoned the Lord’s messenger.  Jeremiah’s only contentment has come from the promise and assurance coming through the Word of the Lord.  So, the prophet calls out to the Lord for help; he cries for deliverance.  In answer, the Lord gives Jeremiah, and all who hear this word, a promise: “I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked… from the grasp of the ruthless!”  God will not leave this prophet… his very messenger… to remain under the control of another.  By the Father’s hand… by the Lord’s hand… Jeremiah is delivered and redeemed.

The promise received by Jeremiah all those many centuries ago… that promise has come to you today.  It has come in the person of Jesus Christ, your deliverer and redeemer.  These “wicked” and “ruthless” ones are the “NO ONES” to whom Jesus refers when he says:   “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and NO ONE is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand”  (John 10:29). God, our Father, is greater than even the wicked and ruthless; held in the Father’s hand, you are secure… secure in the grasp of the one Lord and not any other.

Table Talk:  Discuss the fear of being caught and how it’s overcome by confidence and faith in someone stronger.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, hold us securely in the faith of Jesus your son so that we may not be afraid.  Amen

Jeremiah 15:15-21

15 O Lord, you know;

remember me and visit me,

and take vengeance for me on my persecutors.

In your forbearance take me not away;

know that for your sake I bear reproach.

16 Your words were found, and I ate them,

and your words became to me a joy

and the delight of my heart,

for I am called by your name,

O Lord, God of hosts.

17 I did not sit in the company of revelers,

nor did I rejoice;

I sat alone, because your hand was upon me,

for you had filled me with indignation.

18 Why is my pain unceasing,

my wound incurable,

refusing to be healed?

Will you be to me like a deceitful brook,

like waters that fail?

19 Therefore thus says the Lord:

If you return, I will restore you,

and you shall stand before me.

If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless,

you shall be as my mouth.

They shall turn to you,

but you shall not turn to them.

20 And I will make you to this people

a fortified wall of bronze;

they will fight against you,

but they shall not prevail over you,

for I am with you

to save you and deliver you,

declares the Lord.

21 I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked,

and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost A

For this impassioned outburst, you could say that Peter earns himself the title of “Peter the Rebuked.”  Jesus has just delivered to his disciples a prediction of his passion, i.e., the necessity of the cross.  Peter, fully aware of the shame, dishonor, and death associated with that end denies the cross’ reality in Jesus’ future.  For this denial, Jesus rebukes him, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” (vs. 23).  Peter receives this rebuke for openly expressing himself as a theologian of glory.  Jesus goes on to set forth the distinction between a theologian of glory and a theologian of the cross.  The glory theologian (as Peter has just revealed himself to be) sets his mind on the things of men.  A theologian of the cross, in contrast, sets his mind on the things of God—in this case, the cross.  After making this distinction, Jesus speaks further on someone whose mind is set on the things of God.  Such a theologian has his mind set on bearing the cross of God’s will, not his own… his mind set on losing that which constitutes his life—that is, the things of this world.  Jesus will be his life.  A theologian of the cross has her mind set on receiving her soul from Jesus Christ and not achieving it through her works in this world.  Theologians of glory receive a rebuke while theologians of the cross receive Jesus Christ as their life.

Prayers from one worthy… or so very worthy… of rebuke from his Lord…

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ suffered the passion of your will worked upon him.  Grant me to suffer the passion of your will worked upon me that I would know Christ and his salvation.  Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ suffered the passion of your will worked upon him.  As I come to know Christ and his salvation, grant me, too, the confession of Jesus as your Son, the Son of the Living God.  Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ suffered the passion of your will worked upon him.   In my confession of Christ as the Son of the Living God, grant me, as well, the confession of Christ as one who was crucified, died, and was buried.  Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ suffered the passion of your will worked upon him.  As I confess the cross of Christ, grant me to confess that on the third day he arose from the dead.  Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ suffered the passion of your will worked upon him.  As I come to confess my Lord as both crucified and risen, grant me to live under him in his kingdom and serve him in everlasting righteousness and blessedness.  Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ suffered the passion of your will worked upon him.  Grant that, as I suffer the passion of your will worked upon me, the Institute of Lutheran Theology also suffers the passion of your will to be worked upon it.  Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ suffered the passion of your will worked upon him.  Grant that your will be worked upon me all the days of my baptism so that my days of waiting for your Son to come in his glory are filled with the passion of you having your way with me.  Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.

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Back to School 2023

Classes resumed at ILT on Monday August 21. This is the beginning of ILT’s 13th fall semester. Much has changed for ILT students and faculty over the last 13 years. The inclusion of additional and expanded programs gives students many more options when it comes to completing their educational goals. Students now can complete undergraduate degrees as well as seminary and post graduate programs.

While registration is not closed and the head count number may still change some, here is what we can say about the student body at the end of the first week of classes.

Christ School of Theology
The Christ School of Theology is ILT’s Seminary and Graduate School. This semester there are 94 students taking courses at the Christ School of Theology. Thirty-two (32) are students who are working toward some ministry degree or certification. These students are working in congregational ministry or chaplaincy. Some are Master of Divinity students, some are taking the set of Lutheran classes, and some are going to serve in military chaplaincy. Fifty-six (56) of these students are working on graduate work after their master’s degree. These students are working on STM, Doctor of Ministry, and Ph.D. programs.

Christ College
Christ College is ILT’s Undergraduate School. This semester there are 30 students at Christ College. These students are taking classes toward an associate or baccalaureate degree, a certificate, or as continuing education. There are currently 16 A.A. and B.A. students, four of whom are on the pre-seminary track and planning to become pastors. There are also 10 Pastoral Ministry Students who are taking classes while they serve their home congregations.

Partnership with ILT
We will say more about the student numbers when they are finalized after census day. Our continued growth is important, because the mission of ILT is to provide training for pastors and teachers of the church. We are doing this, and we continue to grow. This growth, however, means that ILT needs more partners to support the financial needs of the students. One of the major issues for students is the cost of education. We keep tuition as low as possible and we make every effort to ensure that our students do not graduate with debt. To this day, no student has gone into debt to pay tuition.

This is where we need your help. ILT has a financial aid fund to support our financially challenged students and congregations. Please consider becoming an ILT partner and supporting your future pastor by donating to this fund. Currently, about $70,000 of tuition is paid out of this fund every semester. This means we need to raise about $140,000 a year to support these students. Your contributions will go to ensure that there are pastors in the future and that those pastors do not live under the unnecessary burden of student debt.

Click on the buttons below for more information about how you can support our students or please contact Joel Williams by emailing him at jwilliams@ilt.edu.

Donate Today

Why Suppport ILT

The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost A, August 27, 2023

One of the skills I learned as a child was how to drive a nail.  At times I bent the nail instead of driving it straight.  My father showed me how to straighten nails by hammering flat their bent places.  Once straightened the nail would be useful again.

     There can be no argument about the burdens of life:  they weigh us down, bend us over, and eventually we’re so “curved in” on ourselves that all we can see is ourselves and our troubles.  In Latin, this is “in curvatus in se.”  This describes what sin is—being curved in upon oneself—our eyes are full of ourselves and our needs.

     In that position we need to be “straightened out”—to be “justified.”  This is exactly what the Lord does by his Word:  he justifies us; he straightens us out with a simple command: “Lift up your eyes…!”  And the giving of a promise: “My salvation will be forever…!”  Like hammer blows God’s Word falls upon our bent places, hammering us straight until we’re useful—righteous—once again.  Again, and again our heavenly Father drives home the reality that the things of this life—its troubles, its burdens, its sin—are all temporary.  The Lord, when he comes to rule openly, drives the earth and the sky away from him; the old has no place anymore (cf. Rev. 20:11).  Only the Word of the Lord and the salvation it delivers are permanent; they will last forever!  The Lord and his new creation… a new heaven, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem abide forever in the undismayed righteousness of the one whose salvation has gone out before him.

Table Talk:  Discuss the difference between temporary and permanent; between being bent and being straightened.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, straighten us and make us useful again

Isaiah 51:1-6

Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,

you who seek the Lord:

look to the rock from which you were hewn,

and to the quarry from which you were dug.

2 Look to Abraham your father

and to Sarah who bore you;

for he was but one when I called him,

that I might bless him and multiply him.

3 For the Lord comforts Zion;

he comforts all her waste places

and makes her wilderness like Eden,

her desert like the garden of the Lord;

joy and gladness will be found in her,

thanksgiving and the voice of song.

4 Give attention to me, my people,

and give ear to me, my nation;

for a law will go out from me,

and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples.

5 My righteousness draws near,

my salvation has gone out,

and my arms will judge the peoples;

the coastlands hope for me,

and for my arm they wait.

6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,

and look at the earth beneath;

for the heavens vanish like smoke,

the earth will wear out like a garment,

and they who dwell in it will die in like manner;

but my salvation will be forever,

and my righteousness will never be dismayed.

The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost A

Peter has just confessed that Jesus is the Son of the Living God (v. 16).  Jesus immediately insures against Peter’s taking credit for his confession.  Peter does not get to take any pride in being that student who presents the teacher with the correct answer.  No, Peter’s recognition of Jesus as God’s Son is a gift from the Father.  The Father is the source of revelation; the Holy Spirit is the agent of revelation; Jesus is the content of the revelation.  In this simple exchange between Jesus and Peter… between student and teacher… between disciple and master… we catch a glimpse of the divine Trinity at work.  This God of ours—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is not some distant entity, some far-off eminence of holy transcendence.  No, this God of ours is right here… right now… in our midst.  He is imminent, immediate, and Immanuel (God with us).  That we would come, like Peter, to confess Jesus as the Son of the Living God is not to our credit. The confession is to the credit of our God who works upon us.

Prayers from one who ever enjoys taking credit for making the right confession…

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, your Holy Spirit has called, gathered, enlightened, and kept me in the faith of Jesus Christ so that I live and move and have my being in your divine presence.  Thanks be to you, O Lord!

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, your Holy Spirit has called, gathered, enlightened, and kept me in the faith of Jesus Christ so that I can be confident that my Lord Jesus will never leave me nor forsake me.  Thanks be to you, O Lord!

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, your Holy Spirit has called, gathered, enlightened, and kept me in the faith of Jesus Christ so that Jesus words, “I will not leave you orphaned,” ring true in my ears.  Thanks be to you, O Lord!

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, your Holy Spirit has called, gathered, enlightened, and kept me in the faith of Jesus Christ so that I trust my Lord who says, “I will be with you even unto the end of the age.”  Thanks be to you, O Lord!

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, your Holy Spirit has called, gathered, enlightened, and kept me in the faith of Jesus Christ so that I do not look to the works of my hands, the affections of my heart, or the prowess of my reason for the justification of my existence.  Thanks be to you, O Lord!

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, your Holy Spirit has called, gathered, enlightened, and kept me in the faith of Jesus Christ so that I bear witness before the Institute of Lutheran Theology of the sole sufficiency of Jesus Christ as savior and lord.  Thanks be to you, O Lord!

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, your Holy Spirit has called, gathered, enlightened, and kept me in the faith of Jesus Christ so that I would live out the days of my baptism in faith that I have received the gifts of Christ—the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.  Thanks be to you, O Lord!

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The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost A, August 20, 2023

The prophet here anticipates Jesus, for Jesus himself echoes this passage from Isaiah.  Isaiah, it is said, addresses the Israelites of three distinct time periods—before their exile in Babylon, during their exile in Babylon, and after their exile in Babylon.  Here, in the book’s third section (chapters 56-66), Isaiah begins to encourage and hearten the returned exiles in their task of rebuilding Jerusalem and its Temple.

The Lord refers to “my house, a house of prayer, for all people” (vs. 7).  This reference is to the Temple, on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem, on the holy hill.  No longer will it be restricted to Jews and their priests alone, but foreigners—joined to the Lord, ministering to the Lord, loving the Lord’s name, keeping the Sabbath, and holding fast to the covenant—will have their worship accepted there.  Jesus, after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, goes to the Temple and finds it full of people (perhaps foreigners) with none of those qualities.  Jesus drives them out, announcing, “It is written, my house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers” (Mt. 21:13, Lk. 19:46; Mk. 11:17).

A second passage echoed by Jesus comes when the Lord announces, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.”  Jesus, too, announces similar words, “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold.  I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.  So there will be one flock, one shepherd” (Jn. 10:16).  A possible third allusion is found as the foreigners of vs. 6 are drawn to the Lord’s holy mountain; Jesus possibly echoes this with the Samaritan woman at the well in Sychar, “…the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:23).

You, too, are encouraged and heartened.  You do not worship in vain in the Lord’s house but establish it as a place where Jesus’ voice can be heard and the other sheep will be gathered—one flock, one shepherd.  You will all hear and pray together.

Table Talk:  Discuss connections such as these between the prophets and Jesus. 

Pray:  Heavenly Father, grant that I and the other sheep, hear Jesus’ voice and come together as one flock.  Amen

Isaiah 56:1, 6-8

Thus says the Lord:

Keep justice, and do righteousness,

for soon my salvation will come,

and my deliverance be revealed.

6 And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
and holds fast my covenant—
7 these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.
8 The Lord God,
who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,
I will gather yet others to him
besides those already gathered.

Les stimulants biogéniques sont des compléments alimentaires et des plantes médicinales. Contrairement aux médicaments, la sécurité et l’efficacité des compléments alimentaires et des plantes médicinales n’ont pas été testées. La concentration de ce l’ingrédient actif qu’ils contiennent peut varier d’un emballage à l’autre, de sorte qu’ils n’agissent pas du tout ou agissent de manière imprévisible.

The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost A

Jesus rewards faith.  He acknowledges this Samaritan woman’s faith, even as he has likened her to a dog beneath the table (vs. 24).  This “great faith” he rewards by granting her the answer to her prayer, “Lord, help me”.  This is confusing.  Last week, Peter, whom Jesus declares as “one of little faith,” (Mt. 14:31) … Peter gets his prayer, “Lord, save me!” answered as well.  It’s confusing for Jesus rewards little faith … and Jesus rewards great faith… Perhaps it’s not the quantity of faith that’s being rewarded but simply the presence of faith.  Once, a fellow student of mine asked our teacher how much faith was required.  Our teacher answered by saying however much faith you have when it’s needed is sufficient.  Little faith… great faith… Jesus rewards the faith that calls on him (Ro. 10:13).

Prayers from a sinner inclined to have more faith in himself than in Jesus…

Our Father who art in heaven, bring me into the presence of a preacher of Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone, that you have sent so that I would hear this Word of yours and be called by the Holy Spirit into faith.  Grant me this faith, O Lord.

Our Father who art in heaven, grant me to trust the hearing of such a Word that I not come to trust the work of my hands, the affections of my heart, or prowess of my reason for my faith.  Grant me this faith, O Lord.

Our Father who art in heaven, hold me in such trust that I live out the days of my baptism in confidence that you, who have begun a good work within me, will assuredly bring that work to completion.  Grant me this faith, O Lord.

Our Father who art in heaven, give me such faith that I can walk among the good works you have prepared for me to do without claiming them for myself and my credit.  Grant me this faith, O Lord.

Our Father who art in heaven, make it so that I do not question the quantity of my faith but simply accept its presence as received by the Holy Spirit who calls me through the gospel.  Grant me this faith, O Lord.

Our Father who art in heaven, grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology continue as a purveyor of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the exclusion of all its competitors.  Grant me this faith, O Lord.

Our Father who art in heaven, grant that the days of my baptism pass with my ears filled with your Word and my heart filled with confidence that the Holy Spirit works faith within it.  Grant me this faith, O Lord.

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NALC Lutheran Week

Since 2012, the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) has each year convened a group of younger theological, historical, and biblical scholars prior to “Lutheran Week,” which includes the NALC convocation. Formerly known as the “Younger Theologians,” the group is now known as “Theologians for the Church.” Participants gather to reflect on topics in theology, support each other, and discuss the relevance of theology for the current Lutheran situation in North America and the world.

ILT has been represented at this gathering over the years. This year at the NALC Lutheran Week in Oklahoma City, Dr. Thomas Jacobson, Assistant Professor of History, was in attendance and has been a participant from the beginning. Thomas Thorstad, current Ph.D. student at ILT, also participated.

This year, participants discussed the theme “God the Father Creates…In His Image.” Each member reflected on a particular biblical passage in light of their area of specialty. We are grateful for ILT’s continuing contribution to the field of Lutheran theology through this organization.

Written by Rev. Thomas Jacobson,
Ph.D. Assistant Professor of History

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