Sunday, March 30, 2008

You might be a Lutheran if. . .

I've seen this several times, and laugh every time. It's on the end of a Garrison Keillor piece about singing with the Lutherans, which is delightful, although I'm not sure who added it. A friend forwarded it today, so I'm adding it for a chuckle--my comments are in brackets about our congregation, UALC. Parentheses belong to someone else.
    The following list was compiled by a 20th century Lutheran who, observing other Lutherans, wrote down exactly what he saw or heard:

    1. Lutherans believe in prayer, but would practically die if asked to pray out loud.

    2. Lutherans like to sing, except when confronted with a new hymn or a hymn with more than four stanzas.

    3. Lutherans believe their pastors will visit them in the hospital, even if they don't notify them that they are there.

    4. Lutherans usually follow the official liturgy and will feel it is their way of suffering for their sins. [Not at UALC.]

    5. Lutherans believe in miracles and even expect miracles, especially during their stewardship visitation programs or when passing the plate.

    6. Lutherans feel that applauding for their children's choirs would make the kids too proud and conceited. [at UALC we've been applauding at least 30 years for the children, and occasionally the organist after the postlude]

    7. Lutherans think that the Bible forbids them from crossing the aisle while passing the peace. [at UALC we wander around during this greeting time]

    8. Lutherans drink coffee as if it were the Third Sacrament.

    9. Some Lutherans still believe that an ELCA bride and an LC-MS groom make for a mixed marriage. (For those of you who are not Lutherans, ELCA is Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and LC-MS is Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, two different divisions of the same Protestant religion. And when and where I grew up in Minnesota, intermarriage between the two was about as popular as Lutherans and Catholics marrying.)

    10. Lutherans feel guilty for not staying to clean up after their own wedding reception in the Fellowship Hall.

    11. Lutherans are willing to pay up to one dollar for a meal at church.

    12. Lutherans think that Garrison Keillor stories are totally factual.

    13. Lutherans still serve Jell-O in the proper liturgical color of the season and think that peas in a tuna noodle casserole add a little too much color.

    14. Lutherans believe that it is OK to poke fun at themselves and never take themselves too seriously.

    And finally, you know you're a Lutheran when:

    *It's 100 degrees, with 90% humidity, and you still have coffee after the service;

    *You hear something really funny during the sermon and smile as loudly as you can;

    *Donuts are a line item in the church budget, just like coffee;

    *The communion cabinet is open to all, but the coffee cabinet is locked up tight;

    *When you watch a 'Star Wars' movie and they say, 'May the Force be with you', you respond, 'and also with you';

    *And lastly, it takes 15 minutes to say, 'Good-bye'.
May you wake each day with His blessings,
Sleep each night in His keeping,
And always walk in His tender care.
Shared by a Lutheran

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Another black pastor speaks out on genocide

The liberal UCC pastor of Trinity Church, Jeremiah Wright, has blamed whites for genocide in the black community, for AIDS, and for black on black crime. Another black pastor, Jesse Peterson, has also spoken out, but he's doing something about it.
    "I believe there is a reason for the silence of black churches and black politicians regarding abortion. They actually have much in common with the abortionists: Abortionists are simply using blacks for power and wealth, the same way much of the black clergy, black politicians and liberal elite whites have used blacks for years.

    I notice that when I am in front of the clinics or talk about abortion on my radio show, most of the anger, hostility and attacks come from young white and black educated women. These women typically hate their fathers, and men who have used them in the wrong way. Our universities have taken this hatred and "educated" these young women with "facts" that reinforce their existing inner rage and prejudices.

    It is time for America, but especially the black community, to come out of its state of denial and realize that true racism is the attack on the black unborn baby, started by Margaret Sanger and carried out by the liberal elite in this country. The solution to this problem is a strong belief in the Creator, strong families and self-respect.

    Most importantly, men must step to the forefront of this issue. They must return back to their proper state as men of character and as the head of their families, or the horrors we've already seen in this "one nation under God" will be dwarfed by the horrors to come."
Stop by his archives page and take a look.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Abortionist lauded as "courageous" for illegal abortions

Partial-birth abortion specialist Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, KS, was caught on video admitting to aborting babies a day before the mother's due date. The woman introducing him at the Feminist Majority Foundation's annual Women's Leadership Conference held at the National Education Association (NEA) on March 9 is enough to make you retch. This is leadership? Courage? Dripping with pity that women had to drive to Kansas to kill their babies.

The video shows graphic pictures of babies with abnormalities that he had aborted, so as to make the case for late-term abortions as necessary medical procedure. Full video available online at:

Full story at

Birthday Prayers in verse

These are from "A Book of Prayers for Boys and Girls" by G.J. Neumann, Wartburg Press, 1943.

O Listen, Lord Jesus,
And hear what I say:
There's something I'm wanting
To tell you today.

For this is my birthday--
O come, be my Guest;
Of all I'm inviting
I love you the best. Amen.

Lord Jesus, today
A blessing I pray
As a birthday gift for my mother dear;
With happiness, health,
And love's pure wealth
Bless her, O Lord, for many a year. Amen.

Wartburg Press used to be located in Columbus, Ohio, and became part of Augsburg Press, which is now Augsburg-Fortress, the publishing arm of the ELCA.

An interesting footnote

This footnote I'm about to quote (#10) appears on p. 863 of v. 2 of "What Luther Says," (Concordia, 1959) and references the content of a letter Martin Luther had written to Count Philipp von Hesse in October 1529. The discussion concerned what the church fathers said about the real presence of Christ's body and blood in the Lord's Supper, and Luther says to the Count it was a comfort to know that their faith which rested solely on God's word was witnessed to in the church. The editor's footnote to this one sentence, reports that among Lutherans of the era the church fathers
    "were cited as witnesses, not judges. . . When a generation later, Martin Chemnitz examined the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent, two words of his revealed the great change that the Reformation had introduced. He quoted the noted axiom which Vincent of Lerins (died ca. A.D. 450) had coined: that the Catholic faith is quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus est creditum (what has been believed always, everywhere, by all) but significantly added ex Scriptura (from or on the basis of Scripture)."
For this the editor cites W. Elert, Morphologie, I, 252f, and adds for modern day readers, "This is the Lutheran position."

This is an amazing layering of citation skill, showing how detailed and careful the editors of this work were. 1) the letter of 1529, 2) in which Luther cites a colloquy with Zwingli and his followers, moving ahead a generation to 3) Martin Chemnitz examining the Council of Trent, 4) Vincent of Lerins, 1100 years before, 5) all of which is recorded in Elert's work, citing the German, not the English translation, 6) and apparently in a footnote [I think that's what the lower case f refers to] of that piece, and finally, 7) the editor's statement: This is the Lutheran position.

Now, if Lutherans could just agree on what scripture says we'd be good to go.

Friday, March 21, 2008

But enough about Jesus and the cross

"Let's talk about you and your needs and hopes."

The emergent, velvet, purpose driven church

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The questions I haven't seen about Wright and Obama

Am I the only one who thinks donating $20,000 over 20 years is paltry for a two income, political, Ivy-League educated family? That's less than $5 a week each for Barack and Michelle.

Where was the United Church of Christ higher ups (don't know if they are bishops or deacons or just chairs) in all this? Having a preacher of their denomination give rousing, hate-filled sermons and not losing his credentials. I'm guessing they wouldn't be so kind, so open, so understanding if a a UCC minister tried to preach on what Paul mean about sexuality and God's wrath in the book of Romans. The guy or gal would have been shown the door before she could hang up her robe.

Even if Obama won't repudiate his mentor, Jeremiah Wright, does he grasp how this hate speech fuels crime and hopelessness among people who didn't have his advantages?

Why are white liberal Christians even surprised (or maybe they weren't)? They've known about black liberation theology for about 30 years and embraced it warmly. Maybe it just feels so good when the whipping stops? I read James Cone's book years ago--when I was a member of a large liberal church. I've heard elements of it from black pulpits when I listen to services here in Columbus on Sunday morning. Apparently, his sermon didn't surprise African Americans. They agree with him.
    "Last Friday, in an effort to gauge just how "out there" Wright's sermons are in the context of the African-American church tradition, Newsweek phoned at least two dozen of the country's most prominent and thoughtful African-American scholars and pastors, representing a wide range of denominations and points of view. Not one person would say that Wright had crossed any kind of significant line." James Taranto, WSJ, Mar 19
It's become a way for white churches to keep the black Christians separate and out of their power structure--down on the plantation, as it were, because it's a theme you wouldn't hear any where else. It's the same hypocrisy that had a gang of white liberal preachers in Columbus going after Rod Parsley's tax exempt (World Harvest Church) status at his conservative church while ignoring the political preaching that goes on Sunday after Sunday in black churches.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Church of the Lutheran Brethren

These Lutherans sound like nice folks--sort of casual in style, but deep in substance. I came across the website of one of the churches in MN (can only find one in Ohio), because someone came to my site looking for a recipe for the Church of the Brethren communion bread. When I backtracked through Google, I found the Lutheran Brethren (who also have a recipe for communion bread). The Lutheran Brethren have a very active missions program.

Here's the recipe for the Brethren from Granddaughter's Inglenook Cookbook. 1942.

10 C. flour
1 lb. butter
3-5 tablespoons sugar
1 pint milk
1/2 pint cream
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix dry ingredients thoroughly; add cream and milk to make a medium dough. Divide into three or four parts and knead well. When dough is smooth and free drom bubbles roll out with rolling pin onto metal baking sheets. Trim, mark with ruler, cut, and stick with fork. Bake in slow oven until well done. Cut strips apart before removing from baking sheets. From the Elgin church. p. 31

Sunday, March 16, 2008

One flock, one shepherd, many sheep

It's difficult to keep track of the battles ongoing among Lutherans--never mind all the other Christians. And don't think for a moment just because they give allegiance to one church, that Roman Catholics don't have great diversity among their parishes and orders. I may never live long enough to understand how we are all Christians.

The other day I was reading an advice column from WELS--Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. A woman, who apparently attends an ELCA congregation (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) somewhat reluctantly, was asking if it was proper to once a year attend a Mennonite service out of respect and in memory of her dear saintly mother, who was a Mennonite. Her concern was apparently worship participation with those Christians who were not confessional Lutherans. The e-pastor gently but firmly chided her for worrying about 1/365 of the year, when the 364 other days she was subjecting her mind and spirit to the teachings of the ELCA!

Then today I came across the webpage of the Church of the Lutheran Confession, which is even more exclusionary than WELS. It will not fellowship with a number of Lutheran bodies because of "unionism," which is not labor unions, but churches which keep their own polity, adhere to the Lutheran confessions, but cooperate with each other in some form. Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) from which the CLC evolved in the 1930s is beyond the pale because although they don't ordain women, women are allowed a voice in the church by voting, and LCMS fellowships with WELS in some areas, which taints WELS, for CLC.

At the other end of the spectrum, I looked at a webpage of an ELCA pastor who attended our congregation when he was in seminary here in Columbus--don't remember the year, but probably late 80s. They were a wonderful family and contributed so much to our small group Bible study which they joined. Both husband and wife were gifted Bible teachers--although his English was better (both foreign born). The seminary in Columbus is very liberal, but he was able to get by with his strong Biblical views because they needed minority students. Looking at the various things he's involved in, he seems to now be a gay pastor supporting the marriage of gays, lesbians and transgendered. The web page of his church and the organizations where I found his photo and name do not seem Biblical to me. So at that end of Lutheranism, I would seem as narrow as the CLC decrying women being allowed to vote as unbiblical.

Fortunately, Jesus will sort this all out when he returns.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Audacity to Hope

Here's the sermon by Jeremiah Wright preached in 1990, from which it is said comes Barack Obama's theme.

The Audacity to Hope

The assistant pastor of Obama's church was at Lakeside the summer of 2007. He was a fine preacher with a good message.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Nothing new under the sun

"The last two years have been good for atheism. A rash of books making the case for unbelief, including Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion (2006) and Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (2007), have sold millions of copies. Strident atheist Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass, one of his atheistic tomes designed to rescue children from belief in God, was made into a movie. Even pop star Elton John got into the act, calling for a ban on religion. Leaders of the so-called New Atheism are aggressive and proselytizing. They don't just condemn belief in God; they also condemn respect for belief in God." Read more "Skepticism, Agnosticism and Atheism; A Brief History of Unbelief" by M. Z. Hemingway, Modern Reformation, March/April Vol. 17 No. 2 2008 Pages 18-23.

My public library, which has such a poor collection of Christian books, has 7 copies of Dawkins' most recent book, and 10 of his titles; 9 copies of the Hitchens' title; 30 copies of Golden Compass in various formats--books, oversize books, CDs, and a Blueray and DVD on order. It's probably his deepest wish to rot the minds of children, and if I were a parent, I wouldn't have it in the house. Because parents aren't allowed to know what children are checking out, you'd probably better look at the book bags or go with them to the library.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Christian contemporary music

Much of it sets my teeth on edge and makes me weep for how self-centered it is. But I've been pleased with this album The samples are long enough to enjoy and to decide if you wish to buy. I'm not familiar with any of the names. Nice acoustic guitar. And when it isn't the amplification isn't overwhelming. Nothing blasting my eardrums or trying to wake up God that I've heard.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Not all males are men

Our pastors have commented that our Lenten series on the miracles of the cross is challenging. Probably nothing like this passage from the Old Testament.
    Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone.
However, it can be done.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Serving and experiencing Communion

This morning during my walk I was thinking about how Protestants disagree on the meaning of "literal." Take this verse for instance:
    "Jesus took the cup of wine, gave thanks and offered it to his disciples, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.' " Matt 26:27-28
There are similar passages in the other gospels. In the Church of the Brethren where I was baptized and which I attended until I was an adult, the "love feast" and communion were somewhat literal in the setting and was held only twice a year. There was a simple meal of a broth type soup, time for personal reflection, foot washing, sharing communion unleaven bread and grape juice. The women wore prayer coverings for the service, even if they didn't in every day life, even in the mid-90s, when I last attended while visiting my parents.

In the Lutheran Church (ELCA) we use wine, break bread which is baked by ladies of the church (formerly made by deaconesses and purchased in packages), and some congregations have communion once a week (Advent Lutheran on Kenney Rd), some once a month and more frequently during special seasons like advent and lent (UALC on Lytham Rd). Our church also offers grape juice for those who prefer it.

Lutherans take the passage more literally than the anabaptists, but not as literally as the Catholics. I'm not sure of the theology here, but Jesus says THIS IS so he is "in under around and through" the elements; they have not been miraculously changed into his actual body and blood; nor is the meal only a memorial to his life and death. Nor do Lutherans, or any other group I know, think it is important to reinact any part of the meal with the disciples, other than the bread and wine.

This morning I was thinking about my mother who died 8 years ago. If someone suggested I could spend a few minutes 1) looking at her photos, or 2) reading her letters, or 3) sitting in her robe at her kitchen table eating her favorite breakfast of cheese on toast, I would choose the third option. It has the touch, feel, taste and comfort of Mother, even if she isn't there in person. That's sort of how I think of the communion experience at UALC.