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For the picture on this month’s cover, as well as for others appearing in this issue direct from “Lutherland,” thanks goes to CLC President Daniel Fleischer. These photographs were taken last spring when CLC representatives made a synodically-sponsored visitation trip to Germany and France.

Those who have been there know that Luther’s homeland makes much of its heritage stemming from the Reformer’s work. For example, you won’t be disappointed if you go looking for monuments erected to and of Dr. Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon, and others associated with the 16th century Lutheran Reformation. In cities famous as sites in the life of Luther are found, on many street corners, statues and plaques noting Reformation people and events.

Touch these monuments today, however, and feel the coldness, the deadness. The true spirit of Luther, and what he stood for by the grace of God are practically gone. The Religion & Society Report, Jan. 1996, had this to say in connection with the 450th anniversary of the Reformer’s death (in 1546 at the age of 63 years):

“The rich heritage of Lutheranism in ‘the land of the Reformation’ seems hardly to inspire many Germans today, for the state-related, largely Lutheran churches often remain virtually empty on most Sundays. And in Luther’s own native region of Saxony (formerly East Germany), the churches are on the verge of financial catastrophe, surviving only thanks to contributions from the better-funded Protestant churches of the West.”

Of all the monuments in the land of the Reformation, the saddest of all are the empty churches–which sad fact leads also to the following comments.

In his memorial address at the death of Luther, his dear friend Philip Melanchthon said: “Use Luther’s books diligently, for we shall have need of his testimonies very often in the future.”

All others aside, one of the best monuments to Luther would be to faithfully read and use his books — starting with the Small Catechism.

And there is yet another. A century ago, in a sermon on Reformation Day, 1896, a concerned Lutheran professor said: “One certainly cannot say of Lutherans who are indifferent and lazy about hearing preaching: Behold these are people who honor the memory of Luther in their hearts! In our former fatherland there are many splendid monuments to Luther; but the churches are sadly empty (This observation was made over 100 years ago already!! — Ed.). The statues of marble and bronze say: There once lived a man named Luther — and the empty churches say: They know nothing of a man like Luther. Brothers and sisters, let everyone of us, by faithful hearing of preaching, prove himself a walking, living memorial in honor of Luther. Let us fill our dear church to the last seat. Full Lutheran churches are the finest monuments to the memory of Luther.” (emphasis ours)

To which words we can only add “Amen!”


(Little or nothing has been said on these pages as far as what has been happening in our nation’s capital recently. We think the following, written last August by Pastor Daniel Fleischer for his congregation in Corpus Christi, Tex., states well some Christian perspectives on the matter.)

We have been hearing much about the subject of forgiveness and consequence with the sordid and sorry carryings on in the capital. Frankly, your pastor has had a difficult time in coming to terms with what has happened and is still unfolding. Not because he doesn’t understand human frailty, including his own, but because of the sordidness, the lack of candor, the defense of what happened compounded by the lying that has sought to cover it up. This in turn is compounded by the fact that many citizens are apparently willing to brush it off as inconsequential.

Shall we forgive? . . . Surely the Christian is ready to forgive. Seven times seventy times. But what shall we forgive? We have not yet heard an honest, forthright, and unvarnished admission of sorrow. We have heard no admission of the lying. What we have heard are weasel words, trial balloons, and political shills covering tracks. Where is the repentance which we could and would gladly follow up with the assurance of forgiveness? The Bible distinguishes between a “godly sorrow” and the “sorrow of the world.” “Godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world works death” (2 Cor. 7:10), even if it saves a political career. The sorrow of the world is of the Law and is practiced to save one’s hide, or out of fear of the consequence. Godly sorrow is that which expresses sorrow for having offended God. It is a recognition that one has grieved the Savior God. To such a sorrowing and repentant sinner we will be ready to pronounce not only personal forgiveness but assurance of God the Father’s forgiveness in Christ.

But even in the latter case, while God forgives unconditionally and the soul is saved, there are consequences in this life. They serve as chastisements (cf. Heb. 12:6). Moses was forgiven, but did not enter the promised land because he had disobeyed. David’s son by Bathsheba died. The forgiven alcoholic still suffers physical consequences. The most remorseful and penitent thief still has a debt to pay to society. There are consequences for evil deeds–which do not diminish the truth of divine forgiveness or our personal forgiveness.

Instead, morals and truth have been set on their ear. An honorable and necessary occupation has been demeaned. The confusion being spun–unfortunately even by some clergy, that the nation should simply forgive and forget and get on with life–also sends a wrong message theologically. On the other hand, the Christian who believes the Bible and for whom the Bible is more than a prop, knows that sin is sin, confession is confession, forgiveness is forgiveness, and that the gracious God who forgives the penitent also helps the sorrowful and trusting soul to bear the consequence. But where there is no confession there is no understanding of grace.

We have seen no understanding of the gravity of the situation nationally or spiritually. That is most troubling and unhealthy for our nation, most of all for those who look at sin as a mere inconvenience while looking for a rug under which to sweep the dirt.


(MAY 6, 1926 – AUGUST 17, 1998)

The Spokesman has a periodic feature intended to introduce our readers to teachers of Jesus’ little lambs in CLC Christian Day Schools. Mrs. Lola Lyndgaard Bode had retired from the teaching ministry before we began this feature. Some of our readers may have known her from her faithful ministry in their midst.

Mrs. Lyndgaard Bode (nee Lola May Greve) died in a Mankato, Minn. hospital at the age of 72 years. She had taught in schools in Hader, Nebr., Elkton, White, and Columbia, S.Dak. before accepting a divine call to teach at Immanuel Lutheran School in Mankato (1969-81). Later she served Jesus in classrooms at St. Luke’s of Lemmon, S.Dak. (1981-1984) and Gethsemane of Spokane, Wash. (1985-1986).

She was married to James H. Lyndgaard in 1948 in Aurora, S.Dak. This union was blessed with three children. Her first husband preceded her in death in 1963. In 1990 she was married to Eugene F. Bode in Mankato. At the time of her death, following a period of extended illness, Mrs. Bode and her husband had been members of Faith Lutheran Church, New Ulm, Minn. The Christian Gospel which she had taught others graciously sustained God’s servant through this vale of tears until He took her to Himself.

The funeral was held at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Mankato, Minn. on Friday, August 21, 1998, with Pastor Paul Fleischer officiating. Christian friends and family celebrated together the victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death for all His believers. Interment was in Lake Benton, Minn.

* ‘WWJD’

We’ve meant to make comment a couple of times. We held off since we expected this fad would do what fads usually do–soon disappear from the scene.

This one doesn’t appear to be dying so easily. According to a July 1998 article in the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press, the fad which began in 1996 as one man’s idea for his Christian youth group keeps on spreading. Last year 15 million WWJD buttons, wrist bands, and bracelets were sold. As the Associated Press article says, it’s “not just for church kids anymore.” Some kids, we read, have changed the meaning to “We Want Jack Daniels.” And, we’re told, many now buy the brightly-colored items, originally sold only at religious stores, at places like Wal-Mart or the corner gas station. In many cases it seems they are worn more for fashion than for the originally intended good meaning.

That intended meaning, of course, was “What Would Jesus Do?” The idea was to inspire and/or motivate the wearer to live a Christ-like life.

The very first time we saw a WWJD bracelet, we raised our spiritually-sensitive eyebrows. What message, we thought, was being conveyed here? Was it a message we could whole-heartedly endorse?

In a sermon last Lenten season we had occasion to give expression to our concern. Here is part of what was said:

“A caution is in place, I believe, if those fad bracelets are looked upon as some kind of good luck piece or spiritually-empowering mechanism. The impression should not be left that just the wearing of one will give the person strength to live in accord with God’s will, to prioritize one’s life aright, to make the right choices in keeping with God’s holy and sacred will. In fact, I recently read where a Lutheran Christian critical of the fad made a suggestion. Efface the second ‘W,’ he said, and replace it with an ‘H’ (WHJD), which would stand for “What HAS Jesus Done?” The good point he wished to make is that WWJD is Law. You see, the danger is that WWJD makes Jesus more a model than a Savior. We grant that Jesus was and is perfect. He lived a holy life. Yet none of us can live up to His holy standard. By contrast, WHJD would be pure Gospel–it would be a reminder of what Jesus has done for me by dying on the cross for all of my sins. And it is only our appreciation of our Savior, isn’t it, which can strengthen and help us to begin to make right choices in life and to begin to live our lives in keeping with God’s holy will?”

Something like that is what we should talk with our children about if they have and/or wear this twentieth century phylactery.