Saturday, December 31, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Form of Prayer for the Ordination of a Deaconess

Book 8, Section III, XX of Apostolic Constitutions
XX . O Eternal God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of man and of woman, who replenished with the Spirit Miriam, and Deborah, and Anna, and Huldah; who did not disdain that Your only begotten Son should be born of a woman; who also in the tabernacle of the testimony, and in the temple, ordained women to be keepers of Your holy gates—do Thou now also look down upon this Your servant, who is to be ordained to the office of a deaconess, and grant her Your Holy Spirit, and cleanse her from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, 2 Corinthians 7:1 that she may worthily discharge the work which is committed to her to Your glory, and the praise of Your Christ, with whom glory and adoration be to You and the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.
Issue 101 of Christian History is on Healthcare and hospitals in the mission of the church. There is a small article on Deaconesses on the front lines of care in the early church. Other women mentioned in this issue are Margery Kempe, an English lay-woman who wept for Christ's passion, and was known for devotion and intercession for the sick and her charitable acts; Paula and her daughter Eustochium who spent their wealth founding monasteries and helping the poor, and Fabiola, a Christian widow who founded the first Christian hospital.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I'm pro-life, but. . .

This just doesn't sound like good holiday table talk to me.
The holiday dinner table offers a natural forum for congenial (hopefully!) conversation about current events and issues. Defenders of unborn human life should be prepared to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Here are some suggestions to help you effectively discuss abortion with family members and friends who may not share the pro-life view.
I don't know anyone who doesn't have a pretty firm idea on where they stand on abortion. That said, the ideas presented in this article are good for discussions--with strangers.

A pro-life conversation guide.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Haiti's national holiday

November 18th is a major national holiday in Haiti (my husband has been on 5 mission trips and loves the people), commemorating the Battle of Vertières, in which the army of the escaped slaves conquered the last remnant of the French army. Dave Mann, our pastor who serves there, says it's the only enduring successful slave revolt in the history of the world, and it was against one of the strongest military forces of the world at the time, that of Napoleon Bonaparte.

And look at Haiti today, compared to countries whose governments or colonial powers which freed their slaves or serfs due to moral outrage or pressure from Christians and folded them into the economy. The Haitian slaves knew they wanted something elusive, like "freedom." However, they didn't have much cooperation of powerful forces in other countries which also had slaves and feared revolts--like the United States, Mexico, Brazil, etc.

And even if they had, they didn't know how to run the plantations or cities or schools or the government and army. They soon occupied the mansions and consumed the wealth of their former masters, put brutal dictators (lighter skinned than the masses, but still African) in charge who again stole their much reduced wealth, and sunk into poverty that exists to this day. Even so, the faith in God of the Haitian
people would put their wealthier neighbors in the U.S. to shame.

This moment in history brings to my mind today's "Occupiers," vague on the concept of freedom, naive about economics, offending all forces around them that might be more reasonable, and consuming their movement from the inside, but unlike the devout Haitians, they have no faith in anything higher than themselves.

Dave Mann with student choir, 2007, at Institution Univers, Ouanaminthe, a private Christian school.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Getting the Bible into Heart Languages

Yesterday I received mailings from two Christian organizations I support, The World Mission Prayer League, and Lutheran Bible Translators. What amazing people and ministries! Just a few stats to illustrate their importance: There are 6,800+ languages in the world. There are about 340 million people who speak the 2,000 languages where there are no translation projects yet. 1,211 language communities have access to the New Testament, and 457 language communities have the entire Bible in their "heart language." It's very difficult. Imagine Psalm 23 in languages with no word for sheep, or the message of Jesus with no word for forgiveness!

My friend Anna Wan told me something Communism and Chairman Mao did for Christ. He standardized the language--Mandarin. That made the Bible much more accessible and Christianity is growing quickly in China, although they are still a persecuted minority. However, there are almost 36 million Chinese whose heart language is Xiang and there is no Scripture in that language.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Branching out

Pastor Paul Ulring, our senior pastor at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, gave the sermon last Sunday at the Mill Run campus sanctuary service on the theme branching out. He first reminded us that the "enemy of the best is the good," (you know you're about to hear you're doing good things but not enough when you hear that). He said "branching out" means that living things reproduce--they have offspring, and if they are churches, they make disciples. Then he suggested we always be prepared to tell "our story"--how we came to know Jesus. Later in the narthex I saw Ruth Foster and told her I remembered how she was part of my story when we met in a women's Bible study called "Harried Housewives" at First Community Church in 1974 and she worked at WCVO. Paul went on to say that UALC has made a commitment to a church plant on the east side of Columbus of $150,000 to help a new congregation get started. This congregation will be part of our newly formed synod, North American Lutheran Church.

I jotted down these four points about branching out:

1) You care about what you pray about.

2) Be watchful and thankful--don't miss opportunities.

3) Be wise in the way you act.

4) Be sure your conversation is seasoned with salt, full of grace.

I sort of smiled remembering that I've heard us admonished before about not being so aggressive with our witness that we turn people off. Really. I could count on one hand the number of times I've heard a witness about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that I thought was over the top. But I myself have missed thousands, maybe millions of opportunities to offer hope, love, justice, peace and a place in heaven to an unbeliever.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Once I found the answer, I had to look it up in a Bible dictionary. These kids' quizes are tough! But found out something very interesting about them: "The Herodians at the time of Jesus were focused on political goals rather than the eternal goals that Jesus proclaimed. They thought Herod might bring temporary peace politically. But Jesus came to bring us eternal salvation, by dying on the cross to pay for our sins."

The Christian left today focuses on political solutions too--George H.W. Bush's thousand points of light program has pushed Christians into the arms of the federal government to create unholy alliances and to forget the gospel.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Father Corapi has left the room

Very few people on Catholic radio had the charisma, charm and story telling ability of Father Corapi. Don't know what happened, and we may never know, unless he tells us in his book.

Fr. Corapi Has Lost It | Blogs |

The new mass

A scene at the coffee shop this morning

"What do you know about this new mass?" asked the Baptist.

"They've been doing something to get us ready, but I really don't know anything about," said the Catholic.

So the Baptist pushed the morning newspaper across the table to her Catholic friend so she could find out about the new mass.

Catholic Culture : On The News : 'Loyal opposition' to the new Mass translation

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's the tax code that limits free speech of pastors

Lyndon Johnson when he was a Senator got an amendment to the tax code passed in 1954 with no legislative analysis, no committee hearings, and no debate which silenced pastors criticizing specific candidates. . . like Lyndon B. Johnson. For the last 57 years, that amendment to the tax code has scared off pastors from saying anything that might be construed as political--like marriage, abortion, education, etc. Let’s take back the first amendment rights of pastors and churches. (Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.)

Appeals Court Rules for Religious Freedom |

Although I'm not sure what "dressing like a Catholic" looks like, this decision looks like a win for Church employers.
St. Catherine and other ministries have the right to employ only those who agree with their religious teachings and apply them to their daily lives. The Court said a contrary result would be “nonsensical,” reasoning that ”Kennedy admits that St. Catherine could fire her for her religion without any recourse. But, by first asking if she would consider changing her clothing before terminating her—i.e., by giving her the opportunity to keep her job—St. Catherine would suddenly open itself up to the strictures of Title VII. Such an approach cannot be squared with Congress’ desire in the first instance to permit a cooperative, accommodative approach to workplace discrimination.”
Appeals Court Rules for Religious Freedom |

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Luther and "omne trium perfectum"

I never get tired of reading Luther. Today I noticed in ONE paragraph he used the "rule of 3" 11 times. That would be: "omne trium perfectum" (everything that comes in threes is perfect, or, every set of three is complete). I'd never heard of that rule, but figured it must be out there, so I googled it and found it. Luther's article was on "Christian Freedom" and I assume it was written in Latin, then translated to German, then to English, so that's 3 also!
  • victory, salvation and redemption
  • has neither sinned nor died and is not condemned
  • he cannot sin, die or be condemned
  • his righteousness, life and salvation are unconquerable
  • [in the wedding ring of faith] he shares in the sins, death and pains of hell of his bride [the church]
  • makes them [sins] his own and acts as if they were his own, and as if he himself had sinned
  • suffered, died and descended into hell
  • his righteousness is greater than the sins of all men, his life stronger than death, his salvation more invincible than hell
  • [believer] is free from all sins, secure against death and hell and is endowed with eternal righteousness
  • by faith in the Word of life, righteousness and salvation
  • he marries her in mercies, righteousness and justice
And those groups of three were inside a power of faith, also three.

John records that "King of the Jews" was written in 3 languages and posted on the cross: Hebrew, Latin, and Greek--the language of the Jews--God's chosen people, the language of the political power of the world--Rome, and the language of literature, art, history, philosophy, science, mathematics, drama and all educated people.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Leaning on the everlasting arms

We sang that old hymn at the dockside service at Lakeside last Sunday, Sept. 4. Published in 1887, it tells of the assurance of God's steadfast care and guidance in tough times, and offers the peace of a relationship with him. I grew up in the Church of the Brethren where I don't recall we sang anything that had a beat--and then in 1974 became a Lutheran and they missed out on those twangy camp songs too, being mostly ethnic Scandinavians (in our synod). The first time I heard it was in Flat Creek, Kentucky in 1956 where my sister Carol was a volunteer church worker through Brethren Volunteer Service. Because she was only 19 at the time, and I was her "little" sister, I was stunned at the level of spiritual and social responsibility she had. Like riding horseback into the mountains to provide Sunday school in areas that had no passable roads; working in the garden and taking care of chickens (and plucking them) for food for the staff (I think there were 5 people living in a little house); helping the local women with sewing and. . . leading hymns like this one. In that area of the country it was sung like a dirge and a capella--not peppy and clappy the way we did it at dockside with an electronic organ. Carol went to be with the Lord in 1996, but everytime I hear "Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms; leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms," I think of that amazing, fearless teen-ager. Now I keep track of her 5 grandchildren (4 teens) on Facebook, Will, Jenny, Rachel, Catie and Chris.

Carol's BVS unit 1955. Wearing white blouse, looking between two women in the second row. She also helped flood victims in Pennsylvania, canvassed a neighborhood in Denver for a church plant, and was a "guinea pig" for the NIH. In 1957 she entered Goshen College in Indiana where she got her RN.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Lutheran Book of Worship

At the Lakeside Women's Club booksale August 7 I got an LBW in excellent condition for $.20. I got a "bag of books" for $1, so that made this one pretty cheap. Although our MR campus is not using a hymnal, our LR campus does, and often I see something I want to read, but have to move on in the service.

There is no stamp of ownership, but inside there is a hymn glued to the cover written and composed for the Centennial Anniversary of Emmanuel Lutheran Church. I checked Google, and didn't find a church named Emmanuel founded in 1896, however, it's possible that the hymn was written for another dedication and just added here. Except for a yellow paper clip, there's not much record of use.

Friday, August 12, 2011

We're using an "ecumenical" wording of the Lord's Prayer at the Sunday lakefront services. It was ecumenical and familiar to all as long as there was a tip provided about debts or trespasses or sins. Now evereyone stumbles.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

John Stott Has Died

Dead at 90. A writer who helped so many.
From his conversion at Rugby secondary school in 1938 to his death in 2011 at 90 years old, Stott exemplified how extraordinary plain, ordinary Christianity can be. He was not known as an original thinker, nor did he seek to be. He always turned to the Bible for understanding, and his unforgettable gift was to penetrate and explain the Scriptures.

John Stott Has Died | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

Sunday, July 03, 2011

A message about poverty for Chrisitans

From a church newsletter. "One in five children in the United States now lives in poverty in our nation, the wealthiest nation in the world. Our faith compels us to speak out and to act on behalf of 'the least of these' (Matthew 25: 40)."

Most children who live in poverty do so because fathers have not married mothers. Very few children of married parents live in poverty.

Why doesn't the church say more about the economic importance of marriage?

Lutherans leaving ELCA

On the hotel porch at Lakeside this summer I struck up a conversation with the lady sitting next to me. It turns out she is also Lutheran and is familiar with the church where we are members, Upper Arlington Lutheran Church. I mentioned that our congregation voted to leave ELCA (the issue--to allow noncelibate homosexuals to serve as clergy), and she said hers did too. Then she noted something I already knew. Most ELCA Lutherans didn't get a chance to vote--some didn't even know anything about it. For the most part, this has been a decision made by pastors. Not to leave or stay, but to even let their congregation know what was happening.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Social Justice Gospel or Just-Us Gospel

I've heard so much about "social justice" this week I realized that the real good news about Jesus and salvation is for "just us" in many Christian main line denominations who don't seem to want to share it--or are afraid to. It's so much easier to form a committee or group or protest than change a heart.

There used to be complaints about missionaries creating "rice Christians," people who joined the church so they could get food. These days the church lures people with promises of government block grants for housing and summer lunch programs, but they aren't allowed to share the gospel. At least the "rice Christians" got both food and the bread of life.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

United Methodists on gay marriage

From the Documents of United Methodist Church, I see no wiggle room for two men or two women, or one man and two women, or any other configuration.

We affirm the family and work to strengthen its relationships. We affirm the sanctity of marriage and shared fidelity between a man and a woman. We recognize divorce as regrettable and intend to minister to the members of divorced families. We affirm the integrity of single persons. We recognize that sexuality is a good gift of God and that sex between a man and woman is only to be clearly affirmed in the marriage bond. We recognize the tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion and urge prayerful consideration

Church and society

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bigotry only found in Christian churches?

"Religious and human rights activists are asking U.S. churches to invite Jewish and Muslim clergy to their sanctuaries June 26 to read from sacred texts in an initiative designed to counter anti-Muslim bigotry. The initiative is called "Faith Shared:Uniting in Prayer and Understanding," and is cosponsored by the Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First." As reported in Christian Century, June 14, 2011.

One could take this a bit more seriously if they were to look at bigotry, discrimination and hatred being preached in U.S. mosques against Christians and Jews.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Churches need to separate from the state

This is wrong. Morally and ethically and pragmatically. It weakens the churches and prevents them from proclaiming their message of salvation to people who are poor, suffering and vulnerable.

From 2006 to 2010, the state spent $11.7 million on its Texas Alternatives to Abortion Services Program, with nearly $7 million of that finding its way to 33 nonprofits (all but one with Christian affiliations) via the state’s primary contractor, the nonprofit Texas Pregnancy Care Network, according to public records obtained by the Texas Independent.

The Alternatives to Abortion Program — funded by state and federal money — was created in the 2005 legislative session for “the development and operation of a statewide program for females focused on pregnancy support services that promote childbirth,” according to the contract between the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and TPCN.

Nearly all of Texas’ anti-abortion subcontractors are Christian groups | The Washington Independent

Whether it's pregnancy services, summer lunch programs, food pantries, tutoring and language services, housing programs, financial counseling or jobs programming, churches need to cut the siphon that leads to the federal and state governments' money tank. If we're not allowed to discuss Christian marriage with the recipient of counseling services, or tell Bible stories while the children eat lunch, then it's time to ask member Christians for more money and tell the feds to get out of your church.

Cross posted at Collecting My Thoughts.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The real hope and change, according to Paul writing to the Romans

Hope and Change has a nice biblical ring and cadence, but it has been misused as a political slogan. Paul explains hope and change in Romans 7-14 with a crash course in Jewish history.

God made a promise to Abraham--that he would populate the earth with his descendants through his wife Sarah, who was beyond child bearing age (and laughed at God's plan). Abraham received this promise through faith, not by being a good person (which he wasn't, at least not good enough).

Even when there was no reason for HOPE, Abraham kept hoping--believing someday he would be the father of many nations. He believed in God who brings the dead back to life and created galaxies and universes out of nothing.

Abraham believed God. That's what his HOPE was based on. He was convinced that God would keep his word. For this he was counted as righteous. And so are we, children of Abraham, believing in the one who raised Jesus from the dead, making us righteous and bringing us to a place of undeserved, unearned privilege and joy. . . and that's the change.

Don't fall for a slogan, a pretty face or handouts from the government to do God's work. Do it Paul's way.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Raped While a Peace Corps Volunteer - ABC News

More than 1,000 young American women have been raped or sexually assaulted in the last decade while serving as Peace Corps volunteers in foreign countries, an ABC News 20/20 investigation has found.

Raped While a Peace Corps Volunteer - ABC News

Monday, May 09, 2011

David Livingstone, Christian missionary, fought the Arab slave trade in Africa

Galaxy of Images | Smithsonian Institution Libraries

In [David] Livingstone's day Arab and African merchants dominated the slave and ivory trade from the east [African] coast ports, notably Mombassa and Kilwa. From about 1840 the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba became increasingly important in this economy. These islands were under the control of the sultanate of Oman. They were slave-based plantation economies devoted to growing cloves. Many slaves were shipped from this area to the Sakalava chiefdoms of north western Madagascar and to the Persian Gulf. By the time of Livingstone's arrival, trade routes for slaves and ivory extended deep into Africa. Lake Nyassa, from which the Shire emerges, was the epicentre of this trade as slaves from central Africa were transported around or across the lake to reach the east coast. As slaves came east, so Islam spread inland. Between six and twenty million people (estimates vary) were victims of this trade between 1830 and 1873. In this later year, when the trading of slaves in East Africa was at its height, the Anglo-Zanzibar Treaty prohibited the export of slaves from the mainland.

David Livingstone's Africa

Friday, May 06, 2011

Earth Day: Environmentalism the new national religion

"Environmentalism has become our newest religion. According to Joel Garreau, professor of law, culture and values at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, a religion is characterized by “a distinction between sacred and profane objects; a moral code; feelings of awe, mystery and guilt; adoration in the presence of sacred objects and during rituals; a worldview that includes a notion of where the individual fits; and a cohesive social group of the likeminded.” Environmentalism, Garreau concluded in an article last year, fits this definition of religion very well."

Earth Day: Newsroom: The Independent Institute

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I hope I die before I get old

Interesting topic for a panel--since "old" is always about 10 years older than you are at the time. The topic seems to be about poverty, or government spending priorities--at least whenever there is the word "justice" in a title. We know they aren't talking about God's justice, rather some sort of redistributive method to even things out that happens in Washington, not in the church. Before discussing economic justice perhaps they should address some Biblical values like stewardship, servanthood, authority, etc.

I wasn't impressed by the speakers' list of Christians invited to respond--Jim Wallis (of recent fame for denying he's taken money from George Soros), Tony Campollo, Gideon Strauss (CEO of the Center for Public Justice), Ron Sider (Genesis House), Jordan Ballor (Acton Institute)--all quite to the left of me or at least not conservative in thought word and deed. I didn't recognize the conservatives. Considering how our government has all sorts of programs for the poor--all supported by both parties over the years, not to mention Medicaid, billions thrown helter skelter at the schools, and a housing crash run up based on the falty idea that even low income families "deserve" a mortgage they can't afford, not just the middle class.

I saw a statistic the other day that only 10% of the U.S. elderly today meet the government standard for poverty, compared to 30% about 40 years ago--now whether that has to do with the success of government programs, or a more successful market economy remains to be seen, because even much of higher education which leads to higher income is often government supported; many medical advances in public health have been pioneered by the government; safer environment in work and home and transportation have been regulated by government. All this leads to old age and less income (although income isn't wealth)--and probably to a more comfortable old age. I know many seniors (if married) who have 5 or 6 streams of income--2 pensions, 2 Social Security checks, personal IRAs and investment accounts. They live carefully, and well--they travel, enjoy an extended life through a variety of medications, and have lots of friends and family.

One panelist said he doesn't see solutions coming from the conservative churches--he might have added he doesn't see solutions or generous giving coming from the liberal churches--they have turned over that responsibility for the poor to the government.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

At Ghanaian Funerals, a Time to Dance and Celebrate

"The Irish may be known for their spirited wakes, but Ghanaians have perfected the over-the-top funeral. And in New York City, these parties anchor the social calendar of the fast-growing community of immigrants from that West African nation.

Held nearly every weekend in church auditoriums and social halls across the city, they are all-night affairs with open bars and window-rattling music. While the families are raising money to cover funeral expenses, teams of flourishing entrepreneurs — disc jockeys, photographers, videographers, bartenders and security guards — keep it all humming while turning a tidy profit.

There may or may not be a body present, or a clergyman. The beliefs expressed may be evangelical Christian, Roman Catholic or secular. The deceased may have died in New York or in Africa, a few days or a few months earlier. But the funerals all serve the same ends — as festive fund-raisers for bereaved families and as midnight reunions for Ghanaian nurses, students, scientists and cabdrivers looking to dance off the grind of immigrant life in New York."
At Ghanaian Funerals, a Time to Dance and Celebrate -

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

S.B. 72 Ohio Late Term Abortion

(COLUMBUS, OH) - Today, the Late-Term Abortion Ban was voted out of the Senate and moved one step closer to saving the lives of unborn children in Ohio. The Ohio Right to Life supported bill passed today by a 24 to 8 vote with overwhelming bipartisan support.

"Soon, abortionists will no longer be able to perform these brutal late-term abortions when the child can feel pain," said Mike Gonidakis, Executive Director at Ohio Right to Life. "That will be a true victory for human rights."

The Late-Term Abortion Ban requires physicians to determine the viability of an unborn child if the mother sought an abortion at 20 weeks or later into her pregnancy. If the child is found to be able to live outside the mother's womb, the abortion cannot be performed.

S.B. 72, sponsored by Senator Peggy Lehner (R- Dayton) and 15 additional co-sponsors, would save countless lives every year in the state of Ohio, and would be the most important piece of pro-life legislation Ohio has passed in years.

"Abortions can currently be performed in Ohio up to the moment of birth, but many doctors agree that a child can live outside the womb after just 22-24 weeks," Senator Peggy Lehner said. "This bill will prevent late-term abortions...and help better protect our youngest and most vulnerable citizens."

Copied from e-mail from Ohio Right to Life.

They'd better be looking for "strings" on this money

"Texas lawmakers passed a series of amendments to the biennial state budget that would move nearly $70 million in funding for family planning to organizations that provide alternatives to abortion and other health services." writes

Taking government money has not been good for faith-based organizations--at least not federal money. Go to any church supported food pantry or homeless shelter and you'll be hard pressed to find a prayer, a hymn or a scrap of paper that proclaims the gospel. Why should we hold all the riches and deny it to them?

Why is OSU hosting a "founder" of the Jesus Seminar?

Because many academics at state universities and colleges are confused about spiritual values to begin with, and they just love poking at Christians. And they are joined in their disbelief and mockery by other academics at private, and formerly Christian institutions.

It would be nice to say, just move along, nothing new here. The Jesus Seminar is the DaVinci Code for egg-heads. But having a department of comparative studies bring in an "authority" on Jesus I suppose gives it some credibility. (They will never try to discredit the Koran because they value their heads.) Trying to destroy Christianity by saying the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is fantasy, is nothing new, and actually Christians have done a pretty good job of that without outside help with their squabbling over details and minutiae.

What exactly is The Jesus Seminar? First you need some academic credentials, a gullible public, and cooperating media and venues. Like the Ohio State University Department of Comparative Studies.

    "The Department of Comparative Studies is presenting the 2011 Davis Lecture, featuring John Dominic Crossan on "Divine Violence and the Christian Bible," at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday (4/13) in the Wexner Center Film/Video Theater. Crossan is professor emeritus of religious studies at DePaul University and co–founder of the Jesus Seminar and the author of 25 books on the historical Jesus and early Christianity."
According to Mark D. Roberts, on the founder (died in 2005), founding and meaning of "the seminar:
    "Robert Funk managed to convince the mainstream media that he and his fellows were discovering once and for all what Jesus really said and did. For several years Funk was omnipresent in newspapers and on television programs, assuring us that Jesus never really said most of what is attributed to him in the gospels, and that he didn't rise from the dead, and that orthodox Christianity is completely wrong in almost everything it believes about Jesus. Funk explained all of this soberly, allowing the public to believe that the Jesus Seminar was a theologically-neutral effort of well-meaning scholars to discover the truth about Jesus. By perpetuating this image, quite in contrast to his more honest remarks in meetings of the Jesus Seminar, Funk was less than fully candid. But the secular media, predictably enough, swallowed Funk's bait, hook, line, and sinker. For years we saw stories about how the Jesus Seminar concluded that Jesus didn't say much of what is attributed to him in the gospels, and that He didn't actually rise from the dead. (Gasp! What a surprised conclusion!)
Roberts provides some extensive research on this anti-Jesus Christ movement.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Visiting churches in California

This week we're visiting family in California. On Thursday we attended a neighborhood Bible Study group at our brother-in-law's daughter's home (I think that makes her a shirt tail relative). This very vital group is part of a branch of the Vineyard. Before listening to a CD by a speaker (unknown to me but know to them), and after a dinner provided by the hosts, there was about 1/2 hour of praise songs. I knew most of the songs because they are used at either our Celebration service or X-Alt at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church in Columbus, OH. Then on Sunday we attended Sound Chapel, a Foursquare Gosple church in Santa Ana. We sang many of the songs we've heard at our services, too, and they had a lovely worship team, with the pastor on guitar and a woman lead singer whose voice could be professional. The congregation only has 45 members, but I expect them to grow. It was one of the friendliest and most welcoming congregations I've ever met.

This is just to say, that although this style of music [too loud] is not my favorite, it certainly brings Christians of all groups together.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Print this and save trees

"Chuck [Leavell]'s email tagline reads: "Notice: It's OK to print this email. Paper is a biodegradable, renewable, sustainable product made from trees. Growing and harvesting trees provides jobs for millions of Americans. Working forests are good for the environment and provide clean air and water, wildlife habitat and carbon storage. Thanks to improved forest management, we have more trees in America today than we had 100 years ago." "

WSJ March 31, 2011, "Save a Forest: Print Your Emails" Chuck Leavell

God has appointed mankind to shepherd his creation. Don't turn it over to those who disrespect him and the accomplishments of his children.

Friday, March 18, 2011

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, c.315-386

March 18 is the memorial for St. Cyril, "Famous as a teacher and preacher, he has left a series of catechetical instructions that constitute a priceless heirloom from Christian antiquity. Of the twenty-four extant discourses, nineteen were directed to catechumens during Lent as a preparation for baptism, while five so-called mystagogical instructions were given during Easter time to make the mysteries of Christianity better known to those already baptized."

Catholic Culture : Liturgical Year

His writings show the great care the early church took in the instruction and training of converts before admitting them to baptism.

Additional sources with excerpts from his instructions.

A prayer for Christians on strike

Today I came across a published prayer for Christians on strike in the 1957 My Prayer Book by Concordia Publishing House (Lutheran) and I thought about all the hard feelings among Christians demonstrating at the state houses and watching on TV. In quoting I've somewhat modernized the pronouns thee and thou. Somehow, I don't think workers in King James era were going on strike.
    "Owing to disagreements between my labor union and my employer, I am now on strike and out of work. I know you love all, and it is your will that I love all men as brothers. Therefore help me, my fellow workers, and my employer to overcome all selfishness and pride and to seek a fair solution of our difficulties. . .

    Protect the property of strikers and employers during the conferences between them. Give our employer a sympathetic understanding of the problems and needs of his workers. Likewise give me and the other workers a proper insight into the problems and resources of our employer, that we may not ask more than is reasonable. Prevent bitterness and strife, and where ungodly strife is present, grant your healing and peace. Guide the negotiations toward an early agreement whereby both employer and worker may profit. May fairness and justice prevail for all concerned. . .

    Give your blessing to honest labor everywhere that the needs of mankind may be supplied and that your kingdom may flourish; through Jesus Christ. Amen."

In 1957 there were no unions representing government employees--it was practically unthinkable. Wisconsin, the "progressive" state, was the first to allow state employees to bargain with their employers. In 1957, both public and private workers knew the basics of negotiating and that if you negotiate with yourself, you, not your neighbor [employer], always are the winner because of self-interest. It's like going into a ballgame where the final score is already determined. Home team wins every time. Public sector unions are negotiating with "self," i.e., the workers' union representatives are negotiating with the workers' elected representatives, and often with their own political party representatives [Democrats]. Therefore, this 1957 prayer sounds archaic--from a long distant past--and it is.

There is no "justice to prevail" at the state houses of Ohio or Wisconsin or New Jersey where one group of workers doesn't pay for their benefits at the expense of another group of workers who pay the salaries of the other group. A public sector worker employed for 35 years will pull out thousands of dollars more a year in her retirement check than a private sector worker who worked 50 years to receive Social Security. Both SS and STRS/PERS are government plans. But the school teacher who retires at 55 may get $80,000 a year (or more), and the real estate broker or small businessman who can't retire until 66 will get $28,400. And the businessman, if self-employed has contributed more! Both have elected representatives, but one has double the representation.

[Similar piece at Collecting my thoughts]

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The beginning of Lent

Upper Arlington Lutheran Church (UALC) is a multi-campus Lutheran Congregation (NALC) located in Upper Arlington, Hilliard, and Columbus, Ohio. At three locations we have nine services and 4 worship styles on Sunday, two traditional (at Lytham only), celebration/contemporary (two at Mill Run and one Lytham), X-alt (two at Mill Run and one Lytham), and blended (at Hilltop).

There are a number of opportunities for Ash Wednesday, the traditional starting date for Lent, when Christians observe 40 days before Easter (not counting Sundays) of prayer, service, and repentence.

Ash Wednesday, March 9
Services at Lytham Road, 2300 Lytham Rd., Upper Arlington, OH 43220
6:30 am, Spoken service with communion
12:00 pm, Traditional service with communion, light lunch following
6:00 pm, Family service, ashes for children
7:30 pm, Traditional service with communion

Services at Mill Run, 3500 Mill Run Dr., Hilliard, OH 43026
6:30 pm, Family service, ashes for children, with communion
7:30 pm, Contemporary service with communion

Service at Hilltop, 12 S. Terrace Ave., Columbus, OH 43204
7:00 pm, Worship with communion

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Paterson pastor pleads not guilty to stabbing another preacher |

It's interesting what the website Religion News Blog considers "religious news." Two pastors, a married man and a single woman, are having a lovers' quarrel which results in a stabbing. Yes, it's a sin, but the fact they are both pastors doesn't make it religious news. If they were both engineers, would it be engineering news?

Religion News Blog pointed to this unfortunate event Paterson pastor pleads not guilty to stabbing another preacher |

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Nobody but Jesus

When I was in Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) in the summer of 1957 in Fresno, California, I lived dormitory style with 7 other young volunteers. Someone put on a Mahalia record every morning and cranked it. I'd never heard Gospel, only traditional hymns. It was a great way to start the day.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Social Injustice

Jesus didn't come to liberate you or a group defined by gender, race or income from social, political or economic injustice. His mission was to liberate all people, rich or poor, brown or black, male or female, CEOs or slaves, educated or dropouts, hedonists or stoics, philosphers or farmers from the bondage of sin. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. . ." Bring that message to people regardless of their circumstances, and the church will grow as it has in China the last 60 years. From 700,000 when it was outlawed and persecuted by Mao to 150,000,000 today.

You can be a lost beggar living in a $10 million home in a pristine suburb with acres of land without Jesus.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Speaking civility out of the left side of his mouth--Jim Wallis

Chuck Colson and Jim Wallis have co-authored an appeal for civility in Christianity Today. In 2007, Wallis didn't mind ripping people in government from limb to limb.

“I believe that Dick Cheney is a liar; that Donald Rumsfeld is also a liar; and that George W. Bush was, and is, clueless about how to be the president of the United States. They have shamed our beloved nation in the world by this [Iraq] war and the shameful way they have fought it.”

Americans and Iraqis died “because of their lies, incompetence, and corruption.” Wallis went on to say he favors investigations of the top officials of the Bush administration on “official deception, war crimes, and corruption charges.” And if they were found guilty of these “high crimes,” Wallis wrote, “I believe they should spend the rest of their lives in prison. … Deliberately lying about going to war should not be forgiven.”

Peter Wehner

Monday, January 31, 2011


I didn't know that in the first decades of American Protestantism, ministers were addressed as "Father." By the 18th century it was used primarily for older clergy, but continued into the 19th century.

"Fathers and Brethren," Church History, v. 37, no. 3, September 1968

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Early Eucharistic prayer from The Didache

According to John McGuckin in The Story of Christian Spirituality, p. 64, the bishop of the local community in the first and early second century, lead the prayer on Sunday to honor the resurrection, with scripture reading and psalms. He received offerings of bread and wine from the people, some of which was set aside for the poor. This prayer below was a sample of what could be said, although they had freedom in prayer. By the 3rd century Hippolytus included in his Apostolic Constitutions, a more formal liturgy.

"We give you thanks, Our Father, for the holy vine of David your servant, which you have made known to us through your servant [child] Jesus. To you be the glory unto the ages. We give you thanks, Our Father, for the life and knowledge which you have made known to us through your servant [child] Jesus. To you be the glory unto the ages. Just as this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains and then was gathered together into one, so many your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom. For yours is the glory and the power, through Jesus Christ, unto the ages."

[When finished]

“We thank you, holy Father, for your name which you enshrined in our hearts. We thank you for the knowledge and faith and immortality which you revealed to us through your servant Jesus. To you be glory for ever. Almighty ruler, you created all things for the sake of your name; you gave men food and drink to enjoy so that they might give you thanks. Now you have favored us through Jesus your servant with spiritual food and drink as well as with eternal life. Above all we thank you because you are mighty. To you be glory for ever.

“Remember, Lord, your Church and deliver her from all evil. Perfect her in your love; and, once she has been sanctified, gather her together from the four winds into the kingdom which you have prepared for her. For power and glory are yours for ever."

“May grace come and this world pass away! Hosanna to the God of David. If anyone is holy, let him come. If anyone is not, let him repent. Maranatha. Amen”.

Bibliography on the Didache.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The prayer at the memorial in Tucson was very odd

From another post:

"Regarding the Indian prayer:
It was jarring. Rep. Giffords is a Conservative Jew not a Native American, the Judge a Roman Catholic. I would venture that none of the dead or wounded were Native American.

Where was the Rabbi, Priest or Minister. Has the God of Jews and Christians become politically unaccceptable?"

Rhetorical question, isn't it? Yes, it has become unacceptable to pray in public, but only for Christians and Jews. A later correction said Giffords is a Reformed Jew, not Conservative. I have no information one way or the other.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

From the Letter to Diognetus

Today in reading "The Story of Christian Spirituality" I came across a small quote from The Epistle to Dignetus, then looked it up in my McGill's "Masterpieces of Christian Literature." It is indeed a masterpiece, with a message for today, yet little is known about it, but the only copy was destroyed in 1870. The recepient wants to know everything about this new religion (appears to have been written early in the 2nd century when Christians were still an underground, persecuted group), so the author tells Diognetus that in order to understand Christianity he needs to put aside false reports and prepare to hear a new story.

"For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.

To sum up all in one word--what the soul is in the body, that are Christians in the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, yet is not of the body; and Christians dwell in the world, yet are not of the world."

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

You are not the one who is lost

In any spiritual conversation about Jesus in which you feel inadequate or unprepared, Pastor Eric Waters said last Sunday, "Remember you are not the one who is lost, . . .you've been found!" He was preparing the congreation for a 10 week series on evangelism. "We know the way home, that Jesus is the only way to the Father." The decks are cleared for action--the calendar is clear. The church is out of debt; we've settled the synod decision. Now is the time. . .

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The Shepherd of Hermas--the 12 Mandates

Continuing to read in "The Story of Christian Spirituality," I dipped in The Shepherd of Hermas, which came close to being included in the New Testament. It consists of revelations, rules and parables--always a favorite for Christians of all eras. The book was written in Rome by a former slave who had no particular office in the early church. Hermas receives 5 visions while walking and then recorded his experiences; 12 mandates; and 10 parables. I have a translation in my Goodspeed "The Apostalic Fathers, an American Translation" (Harper, 1950), which I haven't found on the internet, but this one by Crombie from the mid 1800s sounds pretty good--doesn't seem to have the thees, thous and -eth (s) endings for verbs.

1) believe that God is one, that He has made all things and contains all things and is Himself alone uncontained.

2) simplicity keeps one from evil-speaking and encourages one to live according to God

3) love truth and by doing so one receives a spirit free from lies; abstain from lying and one lives with God

4) purity; healing for the one who sins; the baptized need to live sinless lives; no second repentence

5) long-suffering and prudent; power over all evil deeds; the Devil dwells in ill-temper. Keeping this command gives strength to keep the others

6) believe only the righteous and not the unrighteous angels

7) fear of the Lord is the means for keeping His commandments; do not fear the Devil

8) temperance and self-control--list of things to avoid: "theft, lying, robbery, false witness, covetousness, lust, deceit, vainglory, ostentation, and everything like them"; things one doesn't need to avoid: "faith, fear of the Lord, love, harmony, upright speech, truthfulness, endurance"--these bring blessings, and these will follow, waiting on widows, looking after orphas and needy people, delivering the slaves of God from distress, being hospitable, nonresistance to anyone, being quiet, being more needy than all men, revering the aged, practicing uprightness, observing brotherhood, putting up with insolence, being patient, not holding a grudge, encourageing the weary in heart, not casting out those who have stumbled from the faith, but converting and encouraging them, not oppressing debtors and those in need."

9) purity of heart--doubt is the worst and causes double-mindedness

10) grief is the sister of double-mindedness and corrupts man more than other evils; to combat grief, put on joyfulness, which always is acceptable to God; the joyful man does good deeds, has good thoughts and despises grief

11) don't listen to false prophets who are impudent and shameless and lead a life of luxury--if he accepts money, he's false; true prophet is meek, gentle and lowly minded

12) put away every evil desire--carnal desires are the worst; whoever believes these commandments can be kept will be able to keep them, and without keeping them there is no salvation.

Help with summary from Masterpieces of Christian Literature in Summary Form, edited by Frank Magill (Harper & Row, 1963)

Other patristic literature