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Ehre Gott mit deinen Opfern gern und reichlich, und gib deine Erstlingsgaben, ohne zu geizen (Lutherbibel 1984). Gladly and generously honor God with your sacrificial offering, and give your gifts of first-fruits without being stingy (personal translation). —Sir. 35,10

With Jesus, and thus with God, glory is found in shame. Possession is found in nonpossession. Life is found in death. Everything is found in nothing. “If anyone would serve me,” Jesus says, “let him follow me, and where I am, there my servant will also be. If anyone would serve me, he will honor the Father.” Put differently, “Follow me to shame, to nonpossession, to death, to nothing. Serve me there. Honor the Father there. There you will find glory, possession, life, everything.”

The resurrection of Jesus does not run counter to this; rather, it confirms all of it by way of historical reality and gives all of it to us in the only way that resurrection knows how to do so—Baptism. In Baptism we join Jesus in shame, in nonpossession, in death, in nothing. And in doing so, in Baptism we join Jesus in glory, in possession, in life, in everything. And in this life, with every reality and facet and moment drenched by baptismal water, Jesus continually leads us on through all of the shame, all of the nonpossession, all of the death, all of the nothing of this world. And, having been shorn of every recourse to be stingy, with this Jesus, this first-fruits offering from God that is truly ours to cherish, to make use of, and to give, we thus honor God, gladly and generously.

Thus faith is formed and strengthened through absolution, through hearing the gospel, and through use of the sacraments, so that it might not succumb in its struggle against the terrors of sin an d death. This under- standing of repentance is plain and clear. It increases the v alue of the sacraments and the power of the keys, illumines the benefits of Christ, and teaches us to make use of Christ as our mediator and propitiator.

—Apology of the Augsburg Confession, XII.,

 

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Personal News from Christopher and Elizabeth and Family:  Preparing for Normal, as Currently Understood

Having gotten settled back into the swing of life in Leipzig, having enhanced it by the ability to legally drive our car with permanent German driver’s licenses, having altered it with a whole new rhythm of daily routines and weekly schedules, we’ve now been settling back into the upcoming “normal” way of life, at least for the next number of months. “Normal” here, of course, truly means nothing, as

1) we’ve all but signed the forthcoming contract for use of Lukaskirche , beginning Easter 2015,

2) we’re busy planning events during the upcoming 2-year Test Phase,

3) Chris is busy planning lectures, lecture-recitals, recitals, masterclasses and workshops for work abroad in Europe,

4) Chris is busy preparing a proposed budget for anticipated needs,

5) Elizabeth is ever- busy preparing devotional and news posts for the Eurasia blog,

6) likely 2-3 other things that are not coming to mind at the moment! In short, things are busy, but in a good sort of way. May this preparation put us in good stead for service to others and gracious public witness to Jesus Christ and his grace and mercy for us all.

Elizabeth and I are very happy to announce that we’re expecting our third child in April! Of course, this delivery will be unique, as it will occur overseas, unlike those of our two older children. Nevertheless, like the previous two, this delivery will be another hallowed event. So far, everything maternal is proceeding wonderfully, for which we’re very thankful. Thomas has nearly completed his first month of school, and so far it has gone very well. We have found his school to be caring, highly competent, and Christian in both form and manner, and for this we are thankful. Matthias is ever happy, and loves to observe and play. However, he has a health problem with his right leg, resulting in his not wanting to put weight on it, and thus not wanting to walk. We’ve been seeing physicians and a physical therapist, and have received good results from one blood test while we still await others. We’ll update you here as things develop. May God in Christ through the Spirit bless you now and forever.

How you can help Check out the LCMS Eurasia Blog: To support my work financially, you may send a tax-deductible gift to: The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod or Mission Central P.O. Box 790089 40718 Highway E 16 St. Louis, MO 63179-0089 Mapleton, IA 51034 Make checks payable to The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Mark checks “Support of Christopher Ahlman.” Gifts can also be given securely online through the LCMS website, on my online giving page at www.lcms.org/ ahlman .

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