Advent: New Year, New Life

Happy New Year, people! That’s right, the Christian Church doesn’t wait for the rest of the world to celebrate the new. We live in the new. We are new people. We await a new heaven and a new earth. We walk in newness of life. We have been given new birth into a living hope. I could go on, but once in a while I should try to keep these blog posts short.

We at Let the Bird Fly! are all about new life. We are about living freely in a world given back to us. Sometimes we get the point across better than others. Sometimes that focus frames what we do better than others. For all the times we’ve failed to get out of the way of that message, forgive us. For the times we’ve managed to help bring it home, we give thanks and glory to God. At the end of the day, we want to be and are about letting the bird fly, about freedom in Christ, about sinners learning to fly as saints—and we are chief of those. As the psalmist sang, so we podcast, “We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped! Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:7,8 ESV).

As we discussed in our last episode, Advent is about Christ’s coming, His arrivals. Christ came at the Annunciation and Christmas as God in the flesh, one of us for us. From the virgin womb He went to the virgin tomb, from the wood of the manger to the wood of the cross, from the Gloria of angels to the Alleluias of fear-fraught disciples, slow to believe, yet moved by angelic “Don not be afraid”s. Just as importantly, Christ will come again, and He will come, not in terrors for us, for we are His and He is ours, but with healing in His wings, with a new home, now long prepared, our baptismal birthright. And so we pray a hopeful prayer this new season, this first season of the church year. We pray, indeed, we plead, insist, “Come, Lord Jesus, come!”

Advent marks a new year—no need to wait for the world to catch up to us. Happy New Year! And this new year means new life. Washed daily in the waters of your baptism, relived through contrition and absolution, through daily repentance, go forth as a child of God into a world you can recognize and enjoy for what it is: filled with gifts, marvelous gifts, and yet penultimate. And in the freedom that provides such perspective, there’s no need to search desperately for a way to thank God, to serve Him. He’s already set you in such stations, plopped you on such paths. You have vocations. He has prepared in advance works for you to walk in, in newness of life, even with all the stumbling of a sinner-saint.

We don’t always get it right on the podcast. We don’t always say things as well as we’d like, or as charitably, or as clearly, or, well, a lot of things. Ultimately, though, we pray you’ll jump into this new year with us (and season two of the podcast, which starts now), into this new year in and with Christ, who is all for us. Live freely in a world given back to you, friends. Live free in Christ, crucified for sinners—and we qualify! Christ has come. Christ still comes. Christ will come again, all for you and for me, and for Ben, and for Mike, and even for Peter. Happy New Year! Let the bird fly!

Wade Johnston

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What’s It Gonna Take to Make You Happy?

I spent a lot of time working in restaurants before I went to seminary. I liked it, too, for the most part. There was one time, though, that really got under my skin. I was in college, nearing the end. There was a guy who used to come in where I worked almost every day when I was there. He was almost always unbearable. Morning after morning it was the same routine. He’d come in, berate one of the girls working up front (high school girls on the weekend, most working their first job), and complain no matter how quickly he was served. One day I lost it. Continue reading “What’s It Gonna Take to Make You Happy?”

Melancholy and Angst

Luther talked about Anfechtung. Kierkegaard talked about Angest. All manner of philosophers and theologians have put it in different ways. Ultimately, though, what they are driving at is something similar: life in a fallen world isn’t easy, and it plays with your psyche, your nerves, your gut. Anxiety is a terrible thing. It can shut a person down. It can overwhelm them. It can take captive an otherwise wonderful mind. It can cripple a body. Melancholy can do the same. Continue reading “Melancholy and Angst”

The Black Geneva Piety of the Wisconsin Synod by Rev. Dr. Mark Braun

On Episode 29 of Let the Bird Fly! Rev. Dr. Mark Braun returned to talk about an essay he wrote entitled The Black Geneva Piety of the Wisconsin Synod. We are grateful to The Lutheran Historical Conference for granting us permission to share this article.

So if you’ve listened to the episode and were itching to get your hands on the essay, you’re in luck. And if you haven’t listened yet, here’s your chance to read the article first, read as you listen, or read it once you’ve listened (either way, we think you’ll find it’s time well spent).

Thanks again to The Lutheran Historical Conference, and thanks to you for listening! If you’re diggin’ the show, join us on Facebook and take a minute to rate and review us on iTunes (it really helps us get the word out).

And as always, go live freely friends and Let the Bird Fly!


A Classical Education Conference


In episode 18 of Let the Bird Fly! we were privileged to have Dr. Jason Merritt on to discuss Classical Education. For our listeners who found that discussion interesting, and who in the Milwaukee area, we thought you might like to know of a free conference on Lutheran classical education that is being held this Friday and Saturday, September 29th – 30th. You can find all the information on that conference (including information on registration) through this link. And if you haven’t listened to episode 18 yet, you can find that right here.

Thanks for listening, thanks for sharing, thanks for joining the conversation! We hope you’re diggin’ it as much as we are.

(If you do decide to go, sent Peter a quick email at He’ll be there, so then he’ll know to keep an eye out for you.)