Saturday, December 25, 2010

Nothing new in Christian debates of today

In my previous entry I noted how much I'm enjoying reading "The story of Christian Spirituality." So many discussions and arguments I read in the various faith traditions go way back--most can be found in Paul's letters to the young churches. That's what I love about this book--the background on how people of different eras struggle, and excerpts from the writings of martyrs, theologians, academics, pastors and monks. Even those most caught up in contemplative non-thought or mysteries of the faith, took time to write it down and tell others to do it their way. This advice from Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022 A.D.), an aristocrat who entered a monastery in Constantinople, for those seeking experience and those saying it is wrong sounds so contemporary:

Do not say: It is impossible to receive the Holy Spirit;
Do not say: It is possible to be saved without Him.
Do not say that one can possess the Spirit without being aware of it.
Do not: But God does not appear to men.
Do not say: But men do not see the divine light--
Or at least it is impossible in this current generation.

This is a thing, my friends, which is never impossible, at any time.
On the contrary it is entirely possible for those who long for it." [Hymns of Divine Love, #27]

Excellent summary by John A. McGuckin, who wrote Chapter 4 of this book.

Audio about Symeon by McGuckin.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas potluck at Lytham Road tonight

plus music of the Worthington Civic Band Concert at 7:30. At first I thought I'd use up one of those carrot cake mixes in the pantry, but thought better of it and opted for a bowl of fresh fruit mixed with a little mayo and whipped cream.

I'm reading the most wonderful book from the UALC library and I want to recommend it to every Christian of any sect or group: "The Story of Christian Spirituality." [You can Google the title to get a look inside.] When I read a "Christian" book I want the author to at least give Jesus a nod and the Gospel a line or two. This book ties all faith traditions in Christianity together the rational, theological, meditative, contemplative and still manages to lift high the cross. The art work is fabulous and the paper quality is wonderful. The first chapter, rightfully so, begins with Judaism, then the birth of Christ. It ends with the end of the 20th century. In the past I have dipped into some of the more contemplative and meditative writers, but have found little that pulls it all together like this title. This book, with its outstanding bibliography, could be a college course and a worship experience rolled into one.

I'll be returning this to the church library because I so fell in love with it that I have ordered a copy. Although it is a Fortress Press (2001), to get a new copy I had it sent from UK (Lion), and it was $22 + $7 shipping. And considering that many used copies were much higher, I thought it a fair price. It has beautiful art work and meaningful selections of text.

Another find was discovering I had a few books in my own collection that supported many of the writings in this book.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

What the early church taught about the value of life

The Didache (Διδαχὴ, Koine Greek for "Teaching" was the earliest Christian rule book and was used in the first century church by pastors and missionaries who needed to explain to converts the teachings of the church. It would not be popular in the 21st century church because there are so many negatives--don't do this, don't do that. There was no official canon (Bible), but there are passages from Matthew, Luke, Acts Peter and other early writers. There are rules for loving God and rules for loving your neighbor. Included under loving your neighbor is a prohibition for violating or corrupting boys (i.e., sodomy or homosexuality) and murdering a child through abortion, or killing an infant when born. Both practices were acceptable in Greek and pagan society, but forbidden to Christians.

"You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill one that has been born" (Didache 2:2 [A.D. 70])."

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Two Lutheran Tribes

There are two Lutheran churches in America, writes Peter Berger. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), aka Aunt Elka. There are two kinds of Lutheran fundamentalism. "There is a theological fundamentalism very visible in the LCMS. A political fundamentalism (aka “political correctness”) is very evident in the “airport culture” of the ELCA—it shares it with the mainline Protestantism into which it is morphing."

The article has some good background on the current woes of ELCA and the financial struggles of those congregations who are leaving it. Since 1988, when the ELCA was formed, contributions have declined by 50%, on the other hand, the newly formed NALC (which our congregation has joined) doesn't yet have enough financial clout to support many of the struggling smaller congregations that have left ELCA. So, staying or leaving, these "Lutheran" congregations are facing tough times. I didn't know that ELCA's headquarters were at O'Hare Airport. So, how nice that the new NALC headquarters will be at our own Mill Run Church.

I commented a few entries ago at my regular blog that ethnicity trumps everything. ELCA is no longer ethnically identifiable and has become a blob of its former selves--Germans, Norwegians, Swedes, Finns-- merged into one big mushy protestantly bland and policially liberal church. LCMS for now anyway, still has the glue of ethnicity to hold together its theological structure.

Two Lutheran Tribes | Religion and Other Curiosities

Please note, there are other Lutheran synods and groups, but I think Berger's point is that LCMS and ELCA are the biggies.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Giving Thanks and Thanksgiving

We were reminded today by Pastor Paul of the terrific selection of readings we have for the two weeks preceding Thanksgiving week, and Joanne Foster in the children's sermon mentioned several opportunities to give while thanking--like Operation Christmas Child (packing a shoe box), the Angel Tree project (gifts for children of prisoners), and packing a grocery sack or two to bring to church for the Lutheran Food Pantry.

The gospel for the 25th Sunday after Pentecost was John 6:22-35, where Jesus explains he is the Bread of Life. Paul noted that our food donations matter because it is hard to hear the gospel when one is hungry. It's also not unreasonable to think that it's difficult to impress on those who have everything--enough food, leisure activities and wonderful vacations, good health, lovely home, multiple automobiles, a safe and lucrative career--that they still need Jesus, the Bread of Life.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Let's not get theological . . .

The grandson of friends is enrolled in a sociology class at Ohio State University. Recently, the instructor brought in a guest speaker, a lesbian Lutheran pastor who had been a member of the sexuality task force that has split the ELCA and caused a steady decline in membership since the synod was formed in 1988. Gay men and women were allowed to become Lutheran pastors but had to take a vow of celibacy in the past. She told the class how proud she was of her role in the August 19, 2009 Human Sexuality Statement and reversing that "discriminatory" rule. (I'd truly like to say you could read this without tearing your hair out over the obfuscation and double-speak, but sadly I can't.) In short, it provides for gay pastors in "committed relationships." Our congregation has voted to leave the ELCA, but many Lutheran congregations have never been given an opportunity to vote, or even discuss leaving.

The student is still in his teens, however, he is not a Lutheran but was aware of the ELCA decision. When she asked for questions there were none about the church's new stance, only about her personally. So the young man bravely raised his hand, and began to clarify points in her presentation. "You said that. . . ." and she agreed; and "further you said that. . . " and she agreed, that yes, that is what she said. Finally, after clarifying all her major points, he asked her where in the Bible she found justification for this decision by the synod.

At that point she brushed him off and said, "Let's not get theological. . ." I guess it's all right to bring a gay Lutheran pastor to class, but not God and his word. And isn't that the crux of the matter for the ELCA?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An Analysis of the Pre-Pauline Creed in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Last night in Pastor Eric's class "Ten tough questions" at the Mill Run campus of Upper Arlington Lutheran Church he discussed the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is absolutely central to the Christian faith, and I've been surprised by some who prefer to focus everything on the cross, or everything on good works. Eric showed us the 12 appearances of Jesus over a period of 40 days after his death (after a very vivid description with slides of how and why no one survived a crucifixion). Then he focused on the first Christian creed, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, which predates all the Gospel accounts and predates Paul's own experience (Damascus Road). It's a fairly simple creed, but one the earliest Christians may have been saying to each other 1-3 years after the Resurrection. You are wasting your time hanging around Christian churches for the music, the values, the projects that make you feel good, or even a salary, if you deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus. And this is our hope for our future, too.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance

that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures
and that he was buried
and that he was raised on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures
and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

Eric's presentation isn't on the web site yet (the class is recorded), but here's something very similar.

An Analysis of the Pre-Pauline Creed in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My mother's retreat center

"I can't save the world, but I can save four acres."

Monday, October 18, 2010

Why would you do this?

I was just checking on some college costs--I have no one in college--was just curious. I attended a church related college my Freshman year, and the costs then were the same as my second year at a state university.

California Lutheran Tuition, fees, books, supplies, room & board is $44,980

Capital University, Columbus, for the same is $40,374.

Ohio State University is $18,700.

California Lutheran and Capital University are affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), but I'm guessing that like most church liberal arts colleges, there is little in the way of religion to be found on the campus that couldn't be found at a state university. Why would any parent fork out this kind of money, or student take on a debt load like this?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Stewardship series

Many churches have stewardship campaigns in the fall--ours is always very low key, and there have been years in the past, where nothing was said at all. But giving is part of worship, and we miss a lot if the topic never comes up. Here are the passages:

September 27 - October 3, 2010
27 Matthew 6:1-4, 19-24 (Giving and treasures)
28 Matthew 13:1-23 (Parable of the soils)
29 Matthew 15:1-9 (Care of parents)
30 Matthew 17:24-27 (Jesus pays temple tax)
1 Matthew 18:21-35 (Parable of the unmerciful servant)
2 Matthew 19:16-30 (The rich young man)
3 2 Corinthians 8:1-9 Grace Giving

October 4 - 10, 2010
4 Matthew 20:1-16 (Parable of the workers in the vineyard)
5 Matthew 21:12-17 (Temple purpose)
6 Matthew 22:15-22 (Paying taxes)
7 Matthew 23:23-28 (Pharisees’ righteousness)
8 Matthew 25:14-30 (Parable of the talents)
9 Matthew 25:31-46 (Day of Judgment)
10 2 Corinthians 8:10-24 Giving by Churches

October 11 - 17, 2010
11 Mark 12:41-44 (The widow’s offering)
12 Mark 14:1-11 (A costly anointing)
13 Luke 12:13-21 (Parable of the rich fool)
14 Luke 16:1-15 (Parable of the shrewd manager)
15 Luke 18:9-14 (Parable of the Pharisee & Tax Collector)
16 Luke 19:1-10 (Zacchaeus the Tax Collector)
17 2 Corinthians 9:1-9 Giving Blesses All

We began tithing in our 30s after joining UALC, a tithe of the gross, not net, and really didn't experience the "too much month" feeling after that. If you take 10% off the top, you learn to live on what remains. God blesses. Christians can argue about what Scripture teaches, but not the results.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stem Cell Awareness Day Poetry winner requires an apology--still

CIRM has "apologized" for its offensive winner in a poetry contest, reporting
    "[it] contained some religious language that is identical to liturgical language used in the context of Christian and Catholic sacraments. The language introduces a religious element that we now realize was offensive to some people. We are deeply sorry for any offense caused by the poem. Neither the author nor CIRM intended for the language to insult or offend any religious group. When CIRM recognized that the language was of concern we removed all four poems from the CIRM web site and from the Stem Cell Awareness Day web site."
I'm not surprised that people who advocate embryonic stem cell research didn't recognize "this is my body given for you."

UPDATE -- Stem Cell Awareness Day Poetry Contest Winners Announced | California Institute for Regenerative Medicine

CIRM continues on the embryonic quest for a cure for something, even though all the success in stem cell research has been with adult stem cells. It was created in California in 2004 to counteract the limited number of lines available through the federal funding (embryonic stem cell research has never been illegal--private money could do it).

Saturday, October 02, 2010

What's wrong with this prayer?

    Eternal Parent, we praise and thank you for the loving rules you provide to guide us. Strengthen our trust in you and our willingness to obey in order to serve you better and to live in loving fellowship with all of your children. Amen.
Not very personal, is it? Feminist to the core. Just can't say "Father," or "Son."

It was a meditation on the hymn, Trust and Obey. You might start with the language.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Human Sexuality

This is a paragraph from UALC's "What we believe" which among many other topics, addresses human sexuality:
    We believe that our sexuality is a good gift from God. Sexual intimacy is blessed by Him when expressed according to God’s design, within the context of monogamous heterosexual marriage. Outside of that context, sexual intimacy, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is sin. All who desire to turn from sin, sexual or otherwise, can be forgiven and renewed by the grace of God in Jesus. (Genesis 2:24; Exodus 20:14; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Romans 1:26-32)
And yet when 92% of the voting members of UALC chose to leave the ELCA synod because after 22 years of parsing words and cutting corners a tiny minority of members of a task force had decided that God could bless homosexual unions among our clergy, good friends have decided to look elsewhere for a believing congregation. They said, "The percentage voting to leave surprised me and made me feel unwelcome. I had no idea the congregation was this conservative."

Like they had been worshipping and serving on a different planet. I wonder what they thought the phrase "monogamous heterosexual marriage" meant?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Paul Ulring of UALC is Moderator of CORE

The August 26-27, 2010 Lutheran CORE Convocation elected Pr. Paull Spring as Bishop of the North American Lutheran Church for a provisional one-year term, and Pr. Paul Ulring as Moderator of Lutheran CORE for a two-year term. From the Press release:

"A new Lutheran denominational body was born on Friday, Aug. 27, as Lutherans from throughout North America voted overwhelmingly and enthusiastically to form the North American Lutheran Church (NALC).
The decision to form the new church body was made at the annual Convocation of Lutheran CORE which attracted more than 1,100 Lutherans Thursday and Friday at Grove City Church of the Nazarene. Thousands more watched the convocation online. The Convocation adopted a constitution and elected provisional leaders for the NALC. The Rev. Paull Spring of State College, Pa., was elected as bishop of the NALC. Spring served as the
bishop of the Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) for 14 years."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Books with "secret" in the title--Brian McLaren

Recently I've dropped out of a Christian book group that has chosen to read Brian McLaren's The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything . I just didn't do my homework when I agreed to buy the book (fortunately I have not enriched this author's errors by buying it). If someone tells you who he is, believe him--to paraphrase Maya Angelou. Here's the starter:

"What if Jesus' secret message reveals a secret plan?" asks Brian McLaren in his new book, The Secret Message of Jesus. "What if he didn't come to start a new religion--but rather came to start a political, social, religious, artistic, economic, intellectual, and spiritual revolution that would give birth to a new world?"[1-page 4]

Was Jesus so stupid and such a manipulator of people that he could have kept it quiet if he were leading a political movement? Why would you follow a liar, and why would you read McLaren, one of the leaders of the Emergent Church movement, a movement that says, Y'all come, no boundaries here, no repentence necessary, sin is a figment of your imagination if it's personal and it's all out there in government, cultural and social structures.

No thanks. I went through all that in the early 1970s when I was a member of a liberal, open door church, and I have no intention of going back.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Will Yancy ever find what he's looking for?

Some people love Philip Yancey's books. I find him constantly searching--and that's boring. Reminds me of a church we used to belong to.  If I were this on the fence and so filled with angst over the BIG questions after so many years of writing, I think I'd throw in the towel--or typewriter.  However, I haven't read this one.  Maybe he finally gets it?

Friday, September 03, 2010

Little Hannah prays up a storm

We’re not going to listen to that old Satan, we’re going to heaven anyway!

He’s an awesome God, he can do mighty things.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Parent's Wish - For My Children

Hindu Wisdom - Yoga

I'm always surprised how many Christians believe Yoga is just a form of exercise. Why not ask and expert?
    "The word yoga is derived from the root yuj, which means to unite or to join together. The practice of yoga may lead to the union of the human with the divine - all within the self. The aim of yoga is the transformation of human beings from their natural form to a perfected form. The Yogic practices originated in the primordial depths of India's past. From this early period the inner attitudes and disciplines which were later identified and given orderly expression by Patanjali." Hindu Wisdom
In very simple language, it's a way to convince yourself through physical movement and techniques you're god. And isn't that the oldest form of idolatry? Good luck getting it out of the tax supported schools that won't even let kids sing Christmas carols for fear of someone falling into prayer and faith.

Hindu Wisdom - Yoga

Monday, June 28, 2010

Morning and Evening Hymns

Have you ever used a hymnbook for your devotion time? This morning I was up a bit earlier than usual (4:30 a.m.), so I pulled the 1964 The Methodist Hymnal off my book shelf. This was published before the feminists got a hold of the English language, the revision beginning in 1960, and while the thees and thous still made it easy to rhyme. It is both ecumenical and Wesleyan.

So I turned to the section "Morning and Evening." To my surprise, there weren't very many morning hymns. And also evening is often presented in somewhat sinister themes. But think about it. In the days before electricity, or even in 3rd world countries today, after the sun went down there was no light. Only the wealthy could have afforded candles and kerosene, or whale oil, or whatever was being used for light. Darkness was not your friend--especially because theives and animals could attack. The other night we had a storm here (Lakeside) and the power went out around midnight for 2.5 hours. It's amazing how black it is--our very tall trees even blot out the sky, which of course was cloud covered.

But I did see a nice Chinese translated hymn, "Rise to greet the sun," by Chao Tzu-Ch'en, translated by Bliss Wiant to the melody of a Chinese folk melody.

Rise to greet the sun,
Reddening in the sky,
Warriorlike and strong,
Comely as a groom;
Birds pass high in flight,
Fragrant flowers now bloom;
With the gracious light
I my toil resume.

Father, I implore,
Safely keep this hild'
Make my conduct good,
Actions calm and mild;
Venerating age,
Humbly teaching youth,
Always serving thee,
Sharing they rich truth.

May this day be blest;
Trusting Jesus' love,
My heart's freed from ill,
Fair blue sky's above.
Glad for cotton coat,
Plain food satisfies;
All my countless needs
Thy kind hand supplies. Amen

Interesting cultural points. It is the groom who is comely, not the bride. Age is venerated. The coat is cotton and the food plain. Christianity is not a Western religion; it is world wide and user friendly for all cultures. It is growing very fast in China and Africa. Much more vibrant than in the U.S., and certainly stronger than in Europe.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Hold your friends close, and your wallet even closer

Summary: Older people who have a close companion friend in the place where they worship are more likely to rate their health in a favorable way over time. However, these health-related benefits emerge only among the oldest-old study participants. The data results further indicate that having a close friend at church is associated with fewer outpatient physician visits over time, but once again, the results are observed only among the oldest old. "Close Companions at Church, Health,and Health Care Use in Late Life," by Neal Krause. Journal of Aging and Health 22(4) 434–453, 2010.

Here's my take. If you have friends at church they nag you about your health and offer to take you to the doctor. But the idea that government and insurance costs can be reduced or kept in check by the oldest having close church friends really doesn't make sense. If you live to 90 instead of 85, don't you have more health related expenses than if you'd died at 85?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Short series on the Apostles' Creed

Our latest sermon series has been on the Apostles' Creed, which first appeared around the year 200, and is the essence of and distills the teachings of the New Testament.

The scripture (first reading) today was Colossians 1:15-23. Wow. What a powerful text. I looked at it in several versions when I got home, but still like the NIV the best. If every church committee, board and service group were to read this at every gathering and meeting, I do believe there would be less squabbling about acquiescing to the demands of various movements and contemporary culture. . . "so that in everything he might have the supremacy"

Colossians 1:15-29 (New International Version)

The Supremacy of Christ

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[a] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Paul's Labor for the Church

24 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29 To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On preparing for heaven by Richard Baxter

Richard Baxter was a Puritan, 1615-1691, who wrote many books. "How to lead a heavenly life upon Earth" is part of The Saints Everlasting Rest. This section of praise is interesting and useful for preparing for heaven:
    Praising God is the work of angels and saints in heaven, and will be our own everlasting work; and if we were more in it now, we should be more like what we shall be then. As desire, faith and hope are of shorter continuance than love and joy, so also preaching, prayer, and ordinances, and all means for expressing and confirming our faith and hope, shall cease, when our triumphant expressions of love and joy shall abide for ever. The liveliest emblem of heaven that I know upon earth, is when the people of God, in the deep sense of his excellency and bounty, from hearts abounding with love and joy, join together, both in heart and voice, in the cheerful and melodious singing of his praises. These delights, like the testimony of the Spirit, witness themselves to be of God, and bring the evidences of their heavenly parentage along with them."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Do you hear what I hear?

This morning I was reading an article in Christianity Today (March 2010) about evangelizing the deaf, one video at a time. So I went on-line to look at the ministry started by David and Ruby Stecca, Deaf Video Communications (DVC). They began the ministry in their basement in 1983, and today have a broadcast quality studio with $300,000 of video equipment. They have produced almost 500 videos of Bible stories, sermons, dramas, and marriage counseling sessions as well as children's programing. The roots of this actually go back to a domestic dispute when David was a policeman and responded to a fight between deaf parents. He learned ASL and later left his job to begin this ministry.

Christianity began as The Word, spoken and written, but both leave many deaf without the gospel. What a wonderful use of modern technology.

DVC History

Also, yesterday I came across the website for Shepherd's College for the Developmentally Disabled. Here's another mission field right at home to reach a group most churches miss. Located in Wisconsin, it's a 3 year program focusing on life skills and two career paths, culinary arts and horticulture. This college is an outgrowth of a Sunday School class started over 50 years ago by Sheperd's Ministries.
    Shepherds Ministries has traditionally focused on a residential home for severely disabled adults. At a chapel service for these residents, audience members share something in common besides their various disabilities: age. The contrast between the fresh-faced, high-functioning students of Shepherds College, and the gray-haired, often severely disabled clients of Shepherds Ministries is crystal clear. Many of these residents have lived here for over 30 years, a legacy of a different era. Shepherds was built and expanded throughout the '50s, '60s, and '70s, a time when institutionalization was the national model. Children were labeled "retarded" and hidden away. In the '80s and '90s, the approach changed as parents more often kept their children at home. Special education programs in public schools helped make it possible for parents of developmentally disabled children to keep their families intact. As the population living at Shepherds grew older, new admissions slowed to a trickle. "Shepherds was guilty of trying to keep the old way intact," William Amstutz, President of Shepherds Ministries, said. "If we would have continued on as we were, we would have aged out." Shepherds College is perhaps the ultimate realization of the new goal of helping the developmentally disabled reach independence rather than institutionalization. Although it is located on the same property and run by Shepherds Ministries, the program is otherwise completely separate from the programs for the more severely disabled residents. It helps to fill a new gap in the social safety net, the transition between graduation from a high-school special education program to work and independent living.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Safe From Persecution, a refugee group finds a home church in Albany NY

There's an "amazing grace" Methodist church in Albany, NY called Emmaus--it has taken in and resettled many refugees including survivors of a 2004 massacre in a United Nations refugee camp called Gatumba, which lies in Burundi near the border with Congo.
    "After decades of ethnic oppression, the Banyamulenge, third-generation Christians, identify strongly with the tribulations of Old Testament Jews. In their gospel songs, the survivors seek solace from the violence at Gatumba, which echoed the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s, and still threatens those they left behind.

    Albany might seem an unlikely place for resettlement of refugees like Christine Nyabatware, a widow with five small children, and Butoto Ndbarishe, 13, whose twin sister was killed at his side during the massacre, along with his father, a pastor, and two brothers. But since the first family arrived here in March, coatless and stunned to find what appeared to be a cold desert of leafless trees, the city has become a beacon to other Gatumba survivors around the country. . . “The Americans show us love,” said Mr. Mandevu after a potluck meal in the basement of the church, where a congregation that includes members from Pakistan, Iran and the Philippines traded hugs. “People are so nice. Here no one can throw stones on you."

Safe From Persecution, Still Bearing Its Scars - New York Times

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg (1746-1807)

John Muhlenberg, Lutheran and Anglican pastor, was discussed on tonight's Glenn Beck show about the Black Regiment--the pastors who led in the colonies' fight for independence from Britain. He was the eldest son of Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg, Lutheran missionary to America and for whom Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania is named.

John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg (1746-1807), University of Pennsylvania Archives

The epic story of the heroic Muhlenberg family,...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Augsburg Fortress Pensions

"Employees and retirees of Minneapolis publisher Augsburg Fortress are suing their employer, alleging in their complaint that it allowed their pension plan to fail, and used its connection to the Lutheran church as a legal shield to avoid paying them all their pensions.

The suit, filed in federal court in Minneapolis on Wednesday, comes more than three months after the company announced it was terminating the plan, saying it had been underfunded for nine years. The plan had only $8.6 million to pay $24.2 million in pension obligations to 500 employees and retirees, said the company, which publishes books for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, including hymnals, the works of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Garrison Keillor's latest book."

Publisher's Employees Sue Over Church-Related Pension -

Pension Rights explained

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What's the point if there is no point?

From Genesis to Revelation, it is all about Jesus and salvation. That's the point. When Christians begin pointing to Easter just once a year, that's when we get into trouble and start working on getting to heaven on our own steam or denying what we have to others.

Yesterday I "fanned" a site recommended by a member of my church. On the Facebook page I thought the "mission statement" sounded a bit academic, almost jargon of the type that often signals trouble ahead. My years as a liberal didn't fail me. I clicked over to the webpage of this group that attempts to save people from some of the horrors of this life--mostly political and material--evidence that we do indeed live in a fallen world. There was not a word about Jesus on any page I looked at. It was Christ-less, God-less and hope-less, and it quickly brought me back to 1974 when I looked out the dining room window of my nice home in the suburbs with adorable healthy children and happy marriage and realized I didn't know God and it meant nothing.

The Gospel is also for believers. It is by hearing it from our pulpits or in our small groups or in our mission work, even if some think it's too often and too much, that the good news takes us out of our own little séance of navel gazing, thinking it's all about us.

Too often organized Christianity uses the misfortunes of others either to whip themselves into guilt over material blessings or to elevate themselves by doing good works. The poor and hungry need the gospel just as much as the CEO out in the suburbs with the comfortable home and fat investment account, so let's not leave them without hope in the event we don't get the well dug or the school opened or the home built as we move on to the next crisis that hits the headlines.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

LutheranCORE - Theological Implications of the 2009 ELCA Decisions

The LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) has consistently expressed its understanding that same-gender sexual activity is contrary to the Scriptures. It has also joined together with the other 33 members of the International Lutheran Council in unanimously affirming that:
    [T]he lifelong committed union of one man and one woman is the place the Lord intends for human sexuality to be lived out. Biblical passages which address the practice of homosexuality do so in terms of disapproval. Rooted in the Bible‘s witness and in keeping with Christian teaching through 2000 years, we continue to believe that the practice of homosexuality—in any and all situations—violates the will of the Creator God and must be recognized as sin.
While the current discord in Lutheranism and other Christian traditions regarding these questions is distressing in many ways, we believe this is also a time of opportunity. Many are asking not only what various churches teach and practice, but are also wondering about the theological implications of these beliefs and practices. In debates about homosexual issues, churches have an opportunity to testify to even more foundational truths and convictions, such as different understandings of biblical authority and also a different understanding of marriage. This is revelatory of something more than matters of sexuality and sexual behavior.

Full document LutheranCORE - Theological Implications of the 2009 ELCA Decisions

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The first time I watched this Vidi Aquam by the monks of St. Bernard Abbey I didn't realize there were 5 singers, because of the formating--couldn't see the man on the far right. I was watching the director, whom no one was watching except perhaps from the corner of their eye. Two men have their hand inside their robes; one appears to have 12 fingers; the director slips in a little smile--either because he knows what he's saying (I don't), or he's just really pleased with the sound and quality.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Coloring inside the lines

Yesterday at Marc's I bought three Bible stories coloring books for 99 cents each. The drawings probably aren't great art, but the stories of Noah, David, Adam and Eve, Moses and Job are accurate and faithful to Scripture. A Christian who knows the hope of a Redeemer for sin and how that story is woven through out the Old Testament can use this book easily to explain things to children.

I loved coloring books when I was a kid, and it didn't squash my talent at all (you are born with talent and no amount of "expressing" yourself throwing globs on canvas will create what isn't there). I drew and wrote stories all the time--especially about horses and dogs. I particularly enjoyed coloring as a group activity where we could discuss and debate the colors, and why you chose to do something a certain way. It was only the academics in art, teachers and the critics who decided learning to color inside the lines was bad for creativity. Hey! Not everyone can be a leader--this world needs some good followers, too!

Here's another example of "inside the lines" working outward. Mary Polin was a professor education steeped in the radical assumptions of deconstructivism--advancing her career by deciding authors didn't really mean what they said, and that truth was simply a social construction bound to culture and gender which today's academic could set free.

Then in 1993 she met Jesus and was really set free from radical feminism and secular humanism. She then began to write the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs out by hand, word for word, and as she did so, her mind began to heal. That's a beautiful story (found in "A professor reconstructed," A faith and culture devotional, by Kelly Kullberg and Lael Arrington, Zondervan, 2008). Kelly is on Facebook and so are the fans of this book. And I see her husband regularly at the coffee shop.

Friday, April 02, 2010

The churches and the U.S. Census

Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio wants me to be sure to complete my Census form to bring much-needed federal dollars to help pay for community and social services (The Leader Newsletter, Spring, 2010). For every person not counted, Ohio could lose $12,000 over the 10-year census cycle we‘re told. Yes, Jesus was adamant about asking the government for money so we could “love our neighbor.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Anne Lamott

I love Anne Lamott's writings, but I hope she's been misquoted, or misparaphrased here:
    Lamott described herself to Krista as a spiritual “woman of faith” who disdains dogma and “the great evil” of religious fundamentalism. She calls out fundamentalism as a terrifying peril of our time: “a conviction of being right and of feeling that we are chosen and that other people can be denied a seat at the banquet table.”
I guess she's never read any of Jesus' parables, or Paul, or Moses, or Nahum or a host of other Biblical writers. This was from one of those "I'm spiritual but not religious" gibberish websites.

I'm a fundamentalist about a number of things. It means having core beliefs, adhering to the fundamentals. Like the weakest (the unborn) need our protection, love and healthcare. Or, if we accept, buy or take in a pet, we absolutely have responsibilities to protect and care for it. Or, there are about 70 references to the first 11 chapters of Genesis in the New Testament, so who am I to question how God did it. And this one, Jesus never, never suggested you take money from one neighbor you didn't know to help out another one you did. That's called stealing, according to Moses, who also had a pretty good relationship with God. Lust and adultery always, always come to bad ends in the Bible. Call it fundamentalism or dogma, but I'd hardly call it the peril of our times. Even religious wars are rarely about religion--they're about ethnicity, power and land grabs from my reading of history. There are manipulative leaders who inflame religious fervor for their own purposes, but again, that's about power, not fundamental beliefs.

The oh wow cool dude whatever crowd are probably just high on something. When they come down, sober up, or dry out, they probably know something about fundamentals, too.

SOF Observed - Thinking of Anne Lamott As We Create a New Show...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Whatever happened to Spiritual Mapping?

"It is an attractive package: evangelism is the goal, God is to be praised, Christians work in harmony, and prayer is the foundational method. All that is needed is a spiritual map. How could any Christian possibly be against it?"

It seems our church flirted with this as an evangelism tool maybe 15 years ago. Anyone remember? I never got on board, and neither did the author of this article.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Whatever happened to SALT groups?

After we joined UALC in 1976 we invited the others in our "new member" class to our home to see if they were interested in becoming a more permanent, contract group that would meet on a regular basis. We had been in a Couples Group at First Community Church for eight years and liked that model with rotating host family choosing the topic or speaker for the evening with occasional social events or service projects. Five of the six couples came, and four decided to stay together.

At that time, UALC had no mechanism for creating small groups. It had traditional "Lutheran" type groups like women's study/social circles, Altar Guild, ad hoc task groups, choir, and committees that reported to various staff or board members. That first couples group stayed together about 4 or 5 years. After that group disbanded we either joined or created (can't remember which) another group that was a bit more fluid--there were some core members, but others came and went--8 or 10--as it suited their needs and schedule. The third group we joined was about a year old and its leader died shortly after we joined. My husband took over even though we'd only been in the group a short time. By then (early 90s?) the church had actively begun to organize small groups and christen them SALT, or, "Sharing and Living Together." (I much prefer the term Serving and Learning Together but . . . oh well). The church had regular meetings for SALT group leaders for communicating with the rest of us and a staff member to oversee putting new groups together. After 10+ years with that group, we went a few years without an intimate friend-fellowship-prayer group meeting regularly, and we missed it. About three-four years ago we were invited to join a group that had begun in the late 1990s from a new members class and we're still together.

SALT has been a successful model for bringing people who don't know each other together in a very large church with four styles of worship in three locations and nine services. At some of our Sunday evening meetings, we may have heard four different service leaders/pastors that morning. We still rotate hosting and planning, and occasionally have service projects or attend an event together.

So why has UALC dropped any mention of SALT on its Web page or printed small group "connected" and "study" brochures reprinted in 2009? Why is there no shepherd for SALT on the paid staff? Not even a volunteer? The worship attendance is dropping (decrease of 414 between Dec. 2007 and Dec. 2009 according to the Jan 19 Council minutes). Maybe we need to get back to a model that was in use when we were bursting at the seams and decided we needed another campus? Technology like Facebook, Twitter and web sites are great--but they don't take the place of face to face contact, praying together, studying together, going out to eat, sharing child care or visiting a friend in the hospital.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Lutheran Confessions: Roundtable 44: The Marriage of Priests (Smalcald Articles Part III, Article XI)

Yes, it's hard to believe but The Book of Concord has a blog (or several), a Facebook page, and it sends Tweets. Isn't technology amazing? I'm not sure if the BoC has spoken to our latest marriage controversy of two males or two females (and committed groups (mix and match) of three and four will be down the road, you just wait and see), but here's one on celibacy rules and the problems it causes.

Concordia | The Lutheran Confessions: Roundtable 44: The Marriage of Priests (Smalcald Articles Part III, Article XI)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lutheran CORE releases proposal

Leaders of Lutheran CORE released a proposal for the reconfiguration of Lutheranism in North American on Thursday, February 18, 2010, the date church calendars commemorate Martin Luther, who died February 18, 1546.

The new Lutheran church body is called North American Lutheran Church (NALC).

I'm somewhat amused (and saddened) that the liberal Christian press are calling those who have chosen to honor what God has said about male and female, marriage, and the bride of Christ "dissidents" and "disaffected," and that NALC will be a "rival." Well over 20 years ago (my first clipping is dated 1988), the push began by a tiny minority to change history, scripture and church tradition on human sexuality. With a document that is an embarrassment and travesty for the English language, they finally squeaked through. The traditionalists have announced in their proposal that "both staying in and leaving the ELCA and ELCIC can be faithful courses for confessing Lutherans." The somewhat editorialized copy distributed by Religious New Service now wallpapering webpages across the Net (sort of an AP for religious groups) offers no such olive branch.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

So close. . .

Today I was looking at the web page (and outstanding technology to spread the word) of Spirit & Truth Fellowship International. Hmmm. Most of what I checked seemed on target--until the speaker (I was watching a video) mentioned such and so wasn't really in the Bible and therefore many Christian groups were wrong on that issue (happened to be about women). So I googled the leaders. They are former members of The Way International, a very active cult I remembered from the 1970s. Well, I suppose they could have left the cult and become Christians. Looked through a few more things and finally googled, "cult awareness spirit and truth fellowship" and here's what I found,
    "group describes itself as "A worldwide community of Christians who desire to make known the written Word of God so as to proclaim the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ." Among other teachings, the group denies the Trinity and affirms that "when a person dies, his life is gone and he no longer exists anywhere in any form." "
Hmmm. Definitely not Christian. A cult is a cult even when the leaders leave the wrong headed teaching they started with. Even ELCA with all its problems and wandering away from the clear message of Scripture, gets the Trinity and the bodily resurrection of believers right.

Lutherans distribute Arch Books in Haiti

Food, water, and something to read. There is great need.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What did Jesus say about himself?

by Pastor Eric Waters, UALC

"Pretty much every year, just in time for Easter, magazines and cable shows appear claiming that Jesus is not the person we think he is. Invariably, these shows and articles smugly conclude that the Church has gotten it wrong when it comes to Jesus. They’ll say, “Jesus was a great teacher, but the Church corrupted his teaching.” Well, let’s take a look at what Jesus taught.

First, Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man. It was Jesus’ favorite way of referring to himself. The title comes from a prophecy in the Book of Daniel: “I saw one like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven… He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations, and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion…” (Daniel 7:13-14). Who can rightly claim dominion and authority over all people; who can rule a kingdom that lasts forever; who can receive the worship of all people, except for God alone?

Second, Jesus claimed to judge the world. He warns, “When the Son of Man comes… All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:31-32). Jesus further claims that the basis for separation will be how people respond to him: “Whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8-9). Who has authority to judge the hearts of people and demand their ultimate allegiance, except God alone?

Third, Jesus claimed to forgive sins. Early in his ministry (Mark 2:1-12), four men carried their paralyzed friend to Jesus on a mat. Jesus said to him, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” People in the crowd were stunned, saying, “He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” They’re absolutely right – who can forgive sins, but God alone? Yet to prove that he was who he claimed to be, Jesus healed the paralyzed man so that the man “got up, took his mat, and walked out in full view of them all.”

Fourth, claimed authority to edit the Word of God. Throughout the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus taught, “You have heard it said… But I say to you…” Each time, what “they heard said” was God’s Word. Similarly, in his teaching on divorce (Matthew 19:1-9), Jesus claimed to understand what God was thinking when he wrote his Word, and authority to overrule what Moses had allowed. Finally, when Jesus “declared all foods ‘clean’” (Mark 7:1-23), he did nothing less than set aside the entire Kosher system God had set up! Who has authority to edit what God has said, except God alone?

So has the Church gotten it wrong when it comes to Jesus? Look at what Jesus taught, look at what Jesus said about himself, and see for yourself that Jesus claimed to be no one less than God."

— Pastor Eric Waters
The Cornerstone, March 14-20, 2010
Upper Arlington Lutheran Church

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sunday, March 07, 2010

David Householder's advice on technology for Pastors

This is excellent advice. And although I'm not an expert on church growth, evangelism, or technology, most of it sounds right to me. Especially this one on church web sites.

And sure, websites are old school, but there are trends to watch.

1) Simple is good. Think iPod. If you aren’t going to update it, don’t post it. Stale dates, etc. are a bad sign.

2) Never ever ever use stock photos of “beautiful people.” Use real pix of your people. Authentic is everything.

3) Make it easy to “contact us.” Real phone numbers and email addresses. Don’t make people have to hunt to find you.

4) Prominently feature the picture and bio of the senior pastor. People are looking for this.

5) Come right out and tell people what your worship style and political/theological stances are. Don’t be vague. If you’re pro-life, say so. If you are liturgical, say so. Etc.

6) Make sure the branding, colors, logos, etc. actually match your church service and “vibe.” Don’t have an artsy, brooding (albeit cool) website if you are a happy clappy church. The medium is the message.

Check out our site

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

13 liberal Columbus pastors going to DC

But not for "social justice." They want to deprive another Christian organization of its tax exempt status. Perhaps their churches should give up their tax status too and start turning down government grants for their Biblical "good works."

Dispatch Story.
    The Rev. Eric Williams, pastor of the North Congregational United Church of Christ on W. Henderson Road, said he had vaguely followed early news reports about C Street Center and, "at some point, I heard that C Street was a church - and that's what hooked me. The more I read about it, the more I discovered there is no transparency and there is clearly a blending of private influence with public officials."

    He organized a group of activist pastors in Columbus who in recent years have fashioned themselves as watchdogs for the separation of church and state, filing IRS complaints twice against central Ohio churches they think improperly delved into politics.

    In their complaint, the pastors cite news reports, property records, IRS regulations, congressional records and other sources to bolster their case that the C Street Center is not a church but a boardinghouse providing cheap rent for members of Congress.
I'm just so impressed that there are no poor, no hurting, no needy, no unchurched, no unsaved in Columbus, Ohio. Nice that these folks have the time, money and desire to clean things up in another city. Is this the same gang that went after Rod Parsley? Has any of them ever led a sinner to Christ?

Friday, February 12, 2010

It was his wife's singing that led him to the Lord

"Solomon and Emma were married August 27, 1893. They did not have the financial start in life that many think is necessary. . . Solomon was in debt $50. Emma had $5. And there was no easy way for farm people to make money, with eggs 8 cents a dozen, butter 15 cents a pound, and a man's wages $2.50 a week. This was in the midst of what was called the "Cleveland Panic" and the severe depression following it. . .

Emma had such a beautiful singing voice, and she did lots of singing as she went about her household duties. Her godly life and melodious voice seemed to touch a tender chord in Solomon's soul. When he would be out at work and come in near the house, the songs of the church would fall upon his ears. When Emma saw him coming in the house, she would quit singing, which "got to" Solomon because he realized she was not wanting to be too persuasive. . . One summer day as Solomon came home from town, Emma was in the kitchen singing hymns, and he could hear her beautiful voice as it came floating out the open window. He stopped and stood along the woodshed and listened to the beautiful old hymn she was singing. And as he listened and meditated, it was there that he decided to accept the Lord and come to the church. So at the age of 22, Solomon Stoner was baptized into the Old German Baptist Church. In his last years, he said it was Emma's singing that brought him to the church. . ." Shuman, Herman, "The country preacher; the life and ministry of Elder Solomon Stoner," Hudson Printing Co., Anderson, IN (1992), pp. 4-5.

The author, Herman Shuman, and I were 2nd cousins (share the same great grandparents). He lived on a farm near Pendleton, IN, and authored several books on the Old German Baptist Brethren. He died last year at 93.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

In memory of Officer Blankenship

The flowers on the altar today at UALC Lytham Road were given in memory of Michael Blankenship by Kim McKee, a friend. He was killed on February 10, 1997 when he and another officer responded to a theft call at the Ohio State University.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Obama's Faith Based appointee under fire

Harry Knox, Obama's appointed member of the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, once again demonstrated his attitude toward the Catholic faith, its teachings and leader by reaffirming his belief that the Pope “is hurting people in the name of Jesus” by not promoting the use of condoms as a means to control the spread of HIV. Letter to the president from Roman Catholics
    Dear Mr. President,

    The self-proclaimed anti-Catholic bigot you appointed to head up faith-based partnerships has reiterated his deep seeded prejudice against the Pope and the teachings of the Catholic Church, and your failure to remove him from office speaks volumes about how much you really value respect for diversity and religious differences.

    We first warned you in a May 2009 letter that Knox’s long and tainted history of bashing the leader of our faith stood in direct opposition to the community he was tasked with building.

    But you never responded. You never acknowledged that his appointment to the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships stood in sharp contrast with the Council’s mission to “bring everyone together – from both the secular and faith-based communities.”

    In fact, you never even acknowledged that Knox’s comments were the least bit offensive, even when we gave you the benefit of the doubt that perhaps you were unaware of Knox’s prejudices before appointing him.

    Now that Mr. Knox has again offended millions of Catholic Americans – standing behind his brazen assertion that the Pope “is hurting people in the name of Jesus” – we can only interpret your continued silence and complicity with his grave offense as wholehearted support for this bigot and his words of hatred.

    We are now forced to demand the firing of Harry Knox. It is the only remaining action you can take to dissuade faithful Catholics that your Council is not a sham and that your “commitment to diversity” is an absolute mockery.


    John Boehner
    House Republican Leader
    Member of Congress

    Rep. Thaddeus McCotter
    Member of Congress

    L. Brent Bozell, III
    Founder and President
    Media Research Center

    Alfred S. Regnery
    The American Spectator

    Richard Viguerie
    American Target Advertising

    Thomas Peters
    American Papist Blog

    Dr. Kevin Roberts
    Executive Director
    Catholic Families for America

    Larry Cirignano
    Faithful Catholic Citizens

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Laurie Smith TLC's Trading Places witness

"We, as Christians, have invited Christ to dwell in us, and I think that when we don't involve God in all the intimacies of our lives, we cause Him great pain. Living prayer is just talking to God about the day-in, day-out stuff.

The ultimate goal of interior design is to create a room that brings joy to and nurtures its occupants. If my soul is Christ's dwelling place, then I need to decorate it so it will nurture Him. I do that through prayer and reading the Bible. That's my inspiration for life and the way I hold Jesus in highest esteem." Laurie Smith, quoted in

"God's Design for My Life," by Julie Martens, Lily; beautiful living through faith, Spring 2006, p. 62-65.

Friday, January 29, 2010

John Wesley's Blog

Cedric Poole is blogging on behalf of John Wesley, using his journal.

This has a familiar ring, doesn't it?

Fri 29 Jan: We had our general Quarterly Meeting, whereby it appeared, that the society received and expended about three thousand pounds a year; but our expense still exceeded our income.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Luther's seal

Copies are available in the UALC church library (LR), provided by Lutheran Brotherhood, a fraternal benefit society.

This little light of mine

I'm part of a prayer group that meets before the services at 7 a.m. to pray about the needs and concerns of the day, the preachers bring the message at our 9 services, and our various missions and leadership. Last Sunday morning the lights kept flickering, but held during the 8:15 traditional service and the 9:30 celebration service. But at the 11 a.m. traditional service the lights went out in the building, according to Pastor John. "Allan didn’t miss a beat moving in the dark from the organ to the piano and the ushers collected the offering in the dark. We sang in the dark “This little Light of Mine,” and left to share our light in our neighborhoods."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lutran Airlines

I've heard this before; pretty funny--if you're Lutheran or Scandanavian. Helen sent it. If you can't get the audio to work, I've added the transcript.

Lutran Airlines

If you are travelin soon, consider Lutran Air, da no-frills airline. You're all in da same boat on Lutran Air, where flyin is an upliftin experience.

Der is no first class on any Lutran Air flight. Meals are potluck. Rows 1-6, bring rolls; 7-15, bring a salad; 16-21, a main dish, and 22-30, a dessert. Basses and tenors please sit in da rear of de aircraft. Everyone is responsible for his or her own baggage. All fares are by freewill offering and da plane will not land 'til da budget is met.

Pay attention to your flight attendant, who will acquaint you with da safety system aboard dis Lutran Air 599. "Okay den, listen up. I'm only gonna say dis once. In de event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, I am frankly going to be real surprised and so will Captain Olson, because we fly right around two tousand feet, so loss of cabin pressure would probably indicate da Second Coming or someting of dat nature, and I wouldn't boder with doze little masks on da rubber tubes. You're gonna have bigger tings to worry about than dat. Just stuff doze back up in dair little holes. Probably da masks fell out because of turbulence which, to be honest wit you, we're going to have quite a bit of at two tousand feet ... sort a like driving across a plowed field; but after a while you get used to it. In de event of a water landing, I'd say, forget it. Start saying da Lord's Prayer and just hope you get to da part about forgive us our sins as we forgive doze who sin against us, which some people say 'trespass against us,' which isn't right, but what can you do?"

De use of cell phones on da plane is strictly forbidden, not because day may interfere with da plane's navigational system, which is by seats of da pants all da way. No, it's because cell phones are a pain in da wazoo, and if God meant you to use a cell phone, He would have put your mout on da side of your head.

We're going to start lunch right about noon and it's buffet style with da coffee pot up front. Den, we'll have da hymn sing; hymnals are in da seat pocket in front of you. Don't take yours wit you when you go or I am going to be real upset and I am not kiddin!

Right now it is time I'll say Grace. "Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest and let deze gifts to us be blessed. Fadar, Son, and Holy Ghost, may we land in Dulut or pretty close. Amen!"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A foundation principle--the husband's headship

"Since it is mainly on the facts of creation that Paul bases his case for the husband's headship (Eph. 5:22f.), his argument has permanent and universal validity, and is not to be dismissed as culturally limited. The cultural elements of his teaching are to be found in the applications of the principle, in the requirement of 'veiling' certainly, and I think also in the requirement of 'silence'. But the man's (and especially the husband's) 'headship' is not a cultural application of a principle; it is the foundation principle itself. This is not chauvinism, but creationism. The new creation in Christ frees us from the distortion of relations between the sexes caused by the fall (e.g. Gn. 3:16), but it establishes the riginal intention of the creation. It was to this 'beginning' that Jesus himself went back (e.g. Mt. 19:4-6). He confirmed the teaching of Genesis 1 and 2. So must we. What creation established, no culture is able to destroy."

--From "The Message of Ephesians" (The Bible Speaks Today series: Leicester: IVP, 1979), p. 221.

This is from John Stott's Daily Thought subscription which you can read in your e-mail. There is a Bible study and newsletter through, one of the hundreds of resources I came across reading Kelly Kullberg's book, A faith and culture devotional; daily readings in art, science, and life. It's like getting a college education in your quiet time!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Now that's cold

While checking where some of my readers live, I came across the Gardonville Cooperative Telephone Association in MN, and then the West Douglas County Record. It's the kind of community paper I remember from years ago. Pastor Borchardt of the Millersville Trinity Lutheran Church said, "When it hits 30 below I promise I will turn on the furnace." and Micahel Peterson of Chippewa Lutheran in Brandon advises using these cold days to read some life stories in the Bible, particularly that one that's told 4 times. There's also a photo of the school children all bundled up who were sent out side for some exercise and energy burning (looked about 5 below to me).

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Savior State

"When I speak of the audacity of the state, the kind of state I have in mind is what we may call the savior state. The main characteristic of the savior state is that it presents itself as the people’s guardian, as the guarantor of the citizen’s well-being. The savior state is the paternal state, which not only sees to the security of its territory and the enforcement of its laws but also promises to feed, clothe, house, educate, monitor, medicate, and in general to care for its people. Some prefer to call it the nanny state, but that label fails to reckon with its inherently religious character. The savior state does have a religious character, precisely in its paternalism, and may even be comfortable with religious rhetoric."

From The Audacity of the state at Touchstone by Douglas Farrow

SALT groups at UALC

Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, which has three campuses (Upper Arlington, Hilliard, and Columbus Hilltop area) has for many years used committed, contract groups known as SALT to bring people together in small groups of 8-12. I haven't heard much about SALT groups lately--things are always changing and maybe they aren't the priority they once were. We've been in four groups over the last 35 years and they've all been "the church" for us. SALT means Sharing and Living Together, but I prefer Serving and Learning Together, since we technically don't live together and don't share much, not even location or worship style once we expanded beyond the liturgical service. The two things we do together as a real community is service and education. However, this blog entry is not about style or form, but about history and salt. Today I was reading Christianity in America, A Handbook and came across a little item that the SPCK had helped resettle the Salzburg Lutherans in Georgia when they were expelled from Austria in 1731. I'd never heard of that, so I googled it and learned:
    "Lutherans took the "salt oath," dipping one finger into a dish of salt or touching a salt block, then placing that finger on their tongue, while raising the other hand to God as Witness of loyalty to God's Word, identifying with Jesus' saying, You are the salt of the earth.(15)

    Saltzburg. Salzburg (Salt-city) was an independent city-state founded on the Salzach River in Europe named for a large salt mine discovered by the Celts and, later, the Romans. The additional discoveries of silver, gold, iron, and other ores furthered settlement and prosperity. In 1816 Salzburg was given to Austria.

    In 1727 Roman Catholic Count Leopold Anton Eleutherius von Firmian bought the office of Archbishop of Salzburg from the Pope for $75,000.00 (today's exchange) and upon the legal basis of the Peace of Augsburg tried to purify Salzburg of non-Catholic teachings. On October 31, 1731, he signed the Emigrationspatent or Edict of Expulsion for all persons who refused to accept the Roman Catholic faith and published the document on November 11, the anniversary of Luther's baptism. However, Archbishop Firmian was shocked when more than 20,000 citizens were listed as professing Protestant beliefs, but he forced them into exile.

    Tradesmen and miners were given only 8 days to dispose of goods. Land owners were given 3 months to sell and leave. All cattle, sheep, land, houses and furniture dumped on the market caused prices to plummet. Catholics bought Protestant goods and lands cheaply. All Protestant Bibles, books and hymnals were burned.

    The first Lutheran Salzburgers left, 1731, in a November snowstorm, seeking shelter in Protestant cities in Germany and Prussia. The Protestant King of Prussia, Frederick Wilhelm I of East Prussia and Lithuania, accepted 12,000 Salzburger emigrants.

    General James Edward Oglethorpe, wealthy young British Protestant Member of Parliament and philanthropist, was appointed in 1732 to head the new Colony of Georgia and settled there in 1733. Lutheran King George II of England (of German Lutheran extraction) offered aid through the Trustees for the Colony of Georgia to all Salzburgers willing to settle in the new Colony. Support came from Protestants in Augsburg, Germany, and from The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, S. P. C. K., in London. A group of Lutheran Salzburgers and Germans agreed to go to Georgia, organized their congregation at St. Ann's Lutheran Church in Augsburg, Germany, in 1733, then traveled down the Rhine River to Rotterdam, Holland, where they were met by Lutheran pastors, Johann Martin Boltzius, age 31, and Israel Christian Gronau, age 27, who sailed with them to Dover, England, then to Georgia.

    On March 3, 1734, the Georgia Salzburger pastors read texts praising God for deliverance after a severe storm at sea nearing the end of their Atlantic voyage on the ship Purysburg. Among these texts was I Samuel 7:12. Samuel placed a stone where God had saved his people from their enemy and named it Eben-Ezer, stone of help.

    On March 11-12, 1734, the ship grounded on a sand bar off the coast of Georgia, increasing anxiety of shipwreck. Finally, on March 12, 1734, the first Salzburger immigrants landed safely at Savannah. Later, they were assigned land 25 miles north of Savannah by Gen. Oglethorpe in a swamp on a creek bordering Uchee Indians. The pastors chose the name Eben Ezer, stone of help, or monument to God's protection, and recommended the name to General Oglethorpe, who named the town, its bordering creek, and the Parish, Ebenezer.

    Half of the settlers died the first year of disease and Pastor Boltzius asked permission to settle on a high bluff of red clay bordering the Savannah River. Oglethorpe wanted, first, only English settlers on the river, but, later, granted permission and Pastor Boltzius led his flock to the new location of Ebenezer. The two locations are labeled on some maps as Old Ebenezer and New Ebenezer. Pastor Boltzius referred, unofficially, to Old Ebenezer, thus distinguishing their locations. He and Gen. Oglethorpe feared that news of a settlement failure at the old site might cut off funds from both London and Augsburg so they called the new site by the same name, Ebenezer.

    Financial support came from Lutheran friends in Germany, from The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in England and from the Trustees of the Georgia Colony. Theological and Political Roots of Georgia Salzburgers by The Rev. Frank L. Perry, Jr.
There is much more to this article, but I thought the "salt" connection was interesting. And the SPCK is still doing good works!
    The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) is the oldest Anglican mission agency in the world, founded by Thomas Bray in 1698. Working to fulfill his vision to "promote religion and learning" and to "propagate Christian knowledge," The USA chapter of SPCK, SPCK/USA, has been expanding the mission of SPCK since 1983.

Monday, January 04, 2010

The budget

The pastor, speaking on stewardship, says:
"I have some good news, and some bad news.
The good news is that we have all the money we need to do the work God is calling us to do!
The bad news is that much of that money is in your pockets..."

Seen at RevGalBlgPals.