Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Five - Fork in the Road

Songbird over at the RevGalBlogPals writes:

I am at a life-changing juncture. I do not know which way I will go, but I have been thinking about the times, people and events that changed my life (for good or ill) in significant ways. For today's Friday Five, share with us five "fork-in-the-road" events, or persons, or choices. And how did life change after these forks in the road?

Wow. That is an interesting question. I feel like I've had quite a few of them.
The thing about all of these is that I'm a person who usually does not agonize over decisions. All of these were decisions I made pretty quickly some perhaps impulsively but I never had second thoughts or regretted them. That's me. I jump in and I don't look back.

1. My first life changing decision was when I decided to go on a
Semester at Sea in my junior year of college. This is a ship on which you
literally travel around the world while taking college classes. I dropped out of school for 6 months to work full time to earn the money to do it and got a work study grant that paid for half of it. Even that experience of going to work everyday (I was a receptionist at an office in downtown Los Angeles) at such a young age was good for grounding me and giving me a taste of how many people live their lives because after that I was going to spend a LONG time going to school

Most of our stops were third world countries. It changed me and my outlook forever. And it put a taste in me for travel that has stayed forever though I've never again done anything quite that adventurous.

2.My next life-changing decisions was to go to seminary. That took me a few years. First I was accepted at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago but I was living in San Francisco at the time and at the last minute decided to stay and go to Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley. I lasted about one semester, dropped out and worked (for the travel industry!) for a couple of years. Then I quit my job, took a trip to Israel and went back to Seminary.

3. The next fork involved a lot of changes and tranistions in just a few years. Between 1985-1988 I graduated, moved across the country to Wisconsin (the picture is of me in my new car about to set off from Berkeley to Coon Valley Wisconsin) got ordained (1986), got married (1987) and had my first child (1988)!

4. My fourth life changing event was not any decision I made. My husband was killed suddenly in a car accident on August 1, 1999. I did make a decision that I was going to survive, that I was not going to be sad for the rest of my life. That next part of my life was the most difficult in my life, my children were 9 and 11 at the time. Both my kids had it very hard, my son was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome during that time. Plus I was in a mean, sick, dysfunctional congregation. It was horrible. But we all survived. And it looks like my kids turned out okay, they are in college and are really good people.

5) Well I'm in a new period of my life. Kids are ready to be more independent and don't need me as much. I'm in a healthier congregation. I sense there is a fork coming around the corner sooner than later and I'm ready for it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The New First Dog

According to an interview with Michelle Obama in People magazine, the Presidential family is leaning towards a Portuguese water dog. And yes, thank you they will be looking for a shelter dog. Apparently this breed fits the requirement that it be hypoallergenic. Tedd Kennedy has these dogs and was campaigning heavily for them.

This kind of news is always met with mixed feelings from repsonsible breeders and people who are really concerned about animals. As is laid out in this article
Obamas' pet preference gives some pause - The Boston Globe

There's always a danger when one particular breed gets designated "The" breed to have. First of all, they get bred indiscriminately to meet the demand. Also not every dog is right for every family. Any dog, not trained properly can become aggressive, a nuisance and a menace. Families find they are not prepared to deal with this cute trendy animal and already full shelters make room for more pets on their way to being euthanized. But the good news is that they are going to a shelter and hopefully that will influence people as well.

Also there was a news release put out a few hours after the People magazine story saying that the family has not make the final decision on the dog. So stay tuned for further updates on this important issue.

I'm a cat person myself.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Do Women Really Sin Differently than Men?

Here's a good late Ash Wednesday night topic!

At the risk of having to turn in my feminist card, I don't know that I buy the "sin is different for women" doctrine. Or if it is different, it's not that we are so humble and self-sacrificing. I mean really - What is your sin? "Oh my sin is that I'm such selfless person" That may what work in a job interview when they ask what your weakness is and you are supposed to answer, "Oh my weakness is that I just work so hard and I care too much about the company..."but I don't think it's gonna fool God!

I have known some of the most selfish and self-absorbed women who really got into "Oh my problem is that I don't take care of myself or think of myself enough" "Really?" I think as my eyes glaze over "Because we've just spent the last 45 minutes talking about you." And the woman I knew who said "For Lent I'm going to take care of myself" And I wonder, how would she notice the difference?

I think perhaps sin for women is manipulation. We want the same things men want - we just go about getting it in a more sneaky way.

Women have to get over this victim stuff and own up to ways we managed to survive and get our way even in male dominated cultures. Cuz, you know, we have what you guys want.

Ash Wednesday Prayer

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy

Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God, according to YOUR steadfast love and mercy.

Do not judge me the way I would judge myself, for I am both too easy and too hard on myself. 

I am too easy in that I don’t demand of myself what YOU, oh Lord have given me the gifts and ability and call to do. I am too easy on myself and too hard on others often for the same transgressions. 

And yet that same arrogance and pride can so easily be wiped away as I turn to the to an almost prideful despair that assumes my sin is the only one that can never be forgiven.

So give me the faith to trust in your steadfast love and mercy that lifts me out of despair and gives me the confidence and encouragement to do what you have called me to do this day. 

Let me wear my ashes not in pride or despair, but in humble gratitude for what you have made out of me and my brothers and sisters of ashes and clay. 

I only ask for what I need for today, for we both know I’ll be back tomorrow for more. Amen.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Law and Gospel" and Contemporary Biblical Interpretation

This year's ELCA The Hein-Fry lecture topic for 2009 is Hearing the Word: Lutheran Perspectives on Biblical Interpretation

So time for another road trip to Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque to hear Mark Allan Powell talk on the topic of Law and Gospel.

Lutherans like to talk about Law and Gospel. A LOT. The problem is that often non-Lutherans don't really know what we mean by that and it's misunderstood and misused by Lutherans themselves. Sometimes people think we are setting up an Old Testament/New Testament dichotomy but that is not the case at all-as you can find Gospel in the Old Testament and Gospel and Law in the New Testament. Nor is it the case that Law is bad and must be avoided at all cost. the whole idea of the Law/Gospel dichotomy is that you need both.

Powell defines Law and Gospel this way - the Law is that which accuses and judges and teh Gospel is that which comforts and saves us. There are a lot of way to say that. I personally like the Law reveals our brokenness, the Gospel heals our brokenness. Faithful interpretation of scriputre discerns law and gospel; faithful proclamation declares law and gospel.
Two-fold or Three-fold Use of the Law?

Lutherans have traditionally recognized two uses and argued over a possible third use of the law. The first is the political function of maintaining some semblance of law and order in society. This is the law that everyone recognizes and we can keep in order to maintain civic order.
The second use of the law is the theolgoical function of showing us our need for the law. This is God's standard of righteousness that human beings cannot possibly fulfill and so are driven to rely on the grace of God instead.

Third Use? This is the ethical or catechetical function of teaching us right from wrong. The controversy comes about in that Luther did not actually mention a third use of the law, but Melanthon does in Article 6 of the Confession.

Powell handles this by talking about multiplicity of meanings for the word "Law" In this case he says there are two "Lutheran" definitions of Law -

1) God's standard of righteousness--the holy will of God in light of which all human endeavors are judges and

This law has only two functions - two maintain a semblence of order in society and to show us a our need for the Gospel.

2) Law as a genre of biblical literature--commandments and otehr materials that relate how God wants his people to live It has one function and that is to teach us right from wrong. According to Powell what some call "third use" of the law belongs in this category and not the first, which has only two uses.

I think this is helpful but thinking along those lines I can't really understand why the first use - civic function would not be in the same category as teaching us how to live. I asked that question during the Q&A and the answer was that the first use is for everyone and the third use is for the baptized. That didn't really clear it up for me.

According to Powell, preaching a catechitical sermon on how to live and the difference between right and wrong is not preaching Law at all. Preaching Law is proclaiming God's holiness that demands absolute holy perfection from us.

Powell argues against Carl Braaton who speaks of Law and Gospel as commands and promises. He sees that as a limited reductionist view of Law and Gospel. Law is not just about commands we cannot keep. The Law reveals God's holiness and ourselves as sinners. Even if we obeyed every command and law, we would still be sinners. We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners.

Powell's thesis is that Law and Gospel is a hermeneutical principle, not an exegetical one. "The task of exegesis is to consider texts within their historical and literary contexts and determine the meaning of each text it was intended to have" We cannot assume that every biblical text intened a Law/Gospel message.

Law and Gospel is primarily a homiletical principle. Powell argues that the purpose of the sermon is not to teach but it is a part of the liturgy. "A sermon is a liturgical act that serves as ameans of grace, conveying law and gospel to people. The goal of a sermon is not to provide peopel with doctrinal or moral instruction. It is to proclaim gods' word that judges or accuse and Gods word that comfort or saves" But you would not necessarily use that principle in an educational setting.

Also Powell argues that Law and Gospel assumes a reader-oriented approach to scriputure. Law and gospel are defined in terms of how the recipient hears the message, not necesarily the intent of the auther. He talked about "Reader Response Criticism" Okay I've been out of seminary 20 some year. I try to keep up but I've never heard of this. This fills the gap between the historical critical method and the proclamation. This is how you get Law and Gospel from any text whether or not the author intended it. People can hear law and gospel in anything. "You shall have no other Gods" That can be heard as law if you have made other idols in your life into gods. OTOH, it can be good news to someone who has been trying to please a bunch of gods. Only one! Whoo hoo!"

I have to say this "reader response criticism" makes me a little nervous because I see a danger of turning the bible into "whatever it means to me"

So that's pretty much what I got out of the lecture. I was just starting to feel convicted (I heard LAW) because I don't consciously think in terms of law/gospel for every sermon. I do use the words "The bad news is...the good news is" quite a bit. I do consciously think "What is the good news in this text?" And I had a wicked thought..."Is it really so bad to preach only the Gospel?"

And then came the response session from Wartburg professors Dr. Gwen Saylor and Dr. Ann

Fritschel's response was a more traditional one. She sees the Law Gospel principle as one worth keeping but wants us to explore more updated images and language. She noted that the a existential angst about our inability to keep the law is not really at the top of North American post-modern folk. The question she hears today is "Where can I find value, meaning and purpose in a meaningless world?" She also said that most people experience Law in a thousand different ways in their lives and wonders if we really need to hear more of it on Sundays in worship. She also mentioned how often a 15 minute sermon will spend 12 minutes on law and then use the gospel as kind of the Jack in the box ending. And then Jesus makes it all better. Amen. To me that is the real challenge. It is very easy to talk about the Law, to articulate the brokenness and what is wrong with the world. How to make concrete the transformation that the Gospel brings into our lives?

Saylor is much more willing to throw out the whole dichotomy and look for alternatives to the Law Gospel hermeneutic. She noted how law/gospel tends to define sin in ways that do not reflect the experience of women. For women the basic sin is not always "pride" - it's often our inablity to see ourselves as the image of God and a unhealthy self-deprecation that leads to acceptence of abuse.

Saylor is also concerned about the sundering of sanctification from justification and noted that Pauls spends much more time talking about ethics in his letters than justification.

Saylor suggested that instead of started from anthropology (ie sinful humans) and moving to soteriology (justification) - that we should start with the salvation event and go on to how the justified live faithfuly in response to grace. She thought we should pay some more attention to the New Perspectives on Paul as an alternative.

It was all very thought provoking. I found Saylor's alternatives attractive, but Lutheran that I am, have some trepidation. I just don't think we can start from being saved and go on from there and never look back. I think Luther's understanding that day and after day we have to go back to our baptism and start again. I think we may get excited about living faithfully in response to grace and then we start thinking we are doing this on our own and that we can save the world and the only thing that can bring us back to reality is the Law which reminds us we can't save the world, and then the word of grace that it's okay, we don't have to save the world, and then we get back to the business of living out our faith in response to grace. But I agree there's not been enough attention paid to the business of living out our faith and that there is a place for that in proclamation.

Well, if you've followed me this far, I'd love to hear some comments - Lutheran or not!

1994 Winter Olympics - 15 Years Later

I can't believe it's been 15 years since the infamous 1994 Winter Olympics and the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding saga. And don't forget the little Ukrainian orphan Oksana Baiul who stole the show and the gold Medal.
It began when Nancy was attacked after a practice at Nationals; rival Tonya Harding's husband Jeff Gillooly was involved in the conspiracy to take Kerrigan out of Olympic contention. Tonya maintained her innocence in the whole affair and boy I wanted so badly to believe her. I bought the whole "poor figure skater – never accepted by the figure skating community because I was born on the wrong side of the tracks" persona she portrayed. But as time went on it became more and more clear that she was a master manipulator and in fact, not as innocent as I wanted to believe.

But Tonya held on to her spot on the Olympic team, as did Nancy. Tanya ever the drama queen had the broken shoe lace incident—and was allowed more time to find another shoe lace and start her program over. My daughter and I have both skated in little competitions – and we don't go ANYWHERE without extra laces. Who shows up at the OLYMPICS without an extra set of laces? But this was nothing new for Tanya – in the past she had wardrobe malfunctions, skate blade problems…supposed death threats….
Another competitor that suffered from her drama was Canada's Jose Chouinard who had to go on early when Tonya got her extra time. She did not skate her best and later admitted (when asked not in a whiney way) that having to go on early did throw her off a bit.
Nancy skated probably the best she ever did but it wasn't enough andit was the World Champion Oksana Baiul who won the day in a controversial tiny margin. Nancy didn't follow the prescribed "always gracious always smiling" script for lady figure skaters and suddenly all the support and sympathy she had from the attack disappeared and she was never very popular after that.
Oksana at the ripe old age of 16 went pro and went on a downward spiral of alcoholism and never skated very well after that either.
But Figure Skating as a sport benefited from the whole affair. That and the fact that CBS lost the rights to Sunday afternoon NFL football and so started showing Figure Skating instead. Thus began about an 8 year "Golden Era" of figure skating…with all kinds of silly pro events that some purists hated but I loved because they featured my favorites – Scott Hamilton, Paul Wylie, Kristi Yamaguchi, Katarina Witt, Rosalynn Sumners, Kurt Browning….
But nothing lasts forever and all we get these days is a few days of Nationals and Worlds. And a new crop of little girls who jump jump jump…which to me was never what figure skating was about.

Mardi Gras

There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink and find enjoyment, for these are from the hand of God.

Ecclesiastes 2:24

Mardi Gras or Carnival began as a the time before Lent, an austere time of fasting and penitence to prepare for Easter. Although it has degenerated into a time of excesses practiced by those who have no intention of participating in the Lenten fast, the idea of a time of celebration before fasting is a good one.

Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist, and make use of the creation to the full as in youth.
Let us take our fill of costly wine and perfumes, and let now flower of spring pass us by.
Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before t they wither.
Let none of us fail to share in our revelry;
because this is our portion, and this is our lot.

Wisdom 2:6-9

After the carnival feasting, after the last games and the dances, we sing our final Alleluia and we sing it in rounds. Then we bury it in a deep chest. The Alleluia that we bury is fist lettered on a long scroll and decorated with Spring flowers by all the participants. We will not hear or use this expression of greatest joy until it is sung again during Easter night. Then we settle down. We remove some of our silliness and gather for community night prayer. Drawing the revelry to a close, we face into tomorrow's Ash Wednesday. We offer one another a sing of peace and best wishes for a holy and fruitful Lent. With that, we begin a great silence. Everything is cleaned up, and everybody moves about collecting belongings, but nobody says a world.

Tonight I have danced with the bagman. Tonight I have danced with a general. I have danced with clowns and cowboys. I have danced with the president and an elephant. I have danced with a cheerleader, with Apollo, with Dionysus. Tonight I have danced with God.

Gertrude Mueller Nelson
At that Time: Cycles and Seasons in the life of a Christian"

Monday, February 23, 2009

Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, martyr, died 156

"Stand fast, therefore, in this conduct and follow the example of the Lord, 'firm and unchangeable in faith, lovers of the brotherhood, loving each other, united in truth,' helping each other with the mildness of the Lord, despising no man"

Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians

Polycarp, who lived from 70 to 156 AD and was a student of the Apostle John, is to us a bridge between the New Testament and early Church. He was bishop of Smyrna, on the west coast of Turkey. The letters to the "seven churches in Asia" at the beginning of the book of Revelation include a letter to the church in Smyrna, identifying it as a church undergoing persecution. At the age of 86 he was arrested for being a Christian. The Roman official, who arrested him, felt sorry for him because he was an old man and urged him to just burn a bit of incense for the Emperor in order to avoid death. Polycarp refused, saying "Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?"

The magistrate had no choice but to order him burned, however he had a soldier stab him to death before he was thrown into the fire.

Polycarp was urged to compromise his faith "just a little" by a sympathetic magistrate who did not want to kill an innocent old man. Just burn a little incense, what could it hurt?

I wonder how many ways today we are urged by those who think they have our best interests at heart to just "burn a little incense – what could it hurt?" And for most of us, these temptations to give up a little of our faith, a little of our values, a little of our certainty, a little of our very selves are to avoid consequences far worse than the fire of martyrdom. I think the witness of a resolute old man is relevant for us today. "Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?"

O God, the maker of heaven and earth, who gave to your Venerable servant, the holy and gentle Polycarp, boldness to confess Jesus Christ as King and Saviour, and steadfastness to die for his faith: Give us grace, following his example, to share the cup of Christ and rise to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rest in Peace - Socks

Socks, the white house kitty of the Clinton era has passed away having been euthanized after suffering from throat cancer.

Here's a nice June 2008 story about him and his life after the white house with Betty Currie, former white house secretary. Socks took a liking to her in the white house and the Clintons gave him to her after she lost her own kitty.

Socks still rocks

The Transfiguration of Our Lord

I found this prayer by Safiyah Fosua from General Board of Discipleship worship website

Lord of the Mountaintop
A Prayer for Transfiguration Sunday
by Safiyah Fosua

A 21st Century Africana Liturgy Resource

Lord of the Mountaintop, God of dazzling clothes,
Be with us when we come down from the height of worship
To face a world
That didn't see what we just saw in you.
Show us what to do.

When demons rage though elementary schools
Let it not be said that your disciples could not cast the devil out.
When violence threatens to engulf our communities
Let it not be said that your disciples cowered in fear
Or walked on the other side of the road.
When there is peril or fire or flood,
Let it not be said that your disciples cleared the unwanted junk from their
And called it charity….

Lord of the Mountaintop experience, God of dazzling clothes
Show us how to be.
Change us; transfigure us
So that this world might see what we have just seen, and worship you.


Lord of the Mountaintop" Copyright © 2007 The General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church, PO Box 340003, Nashville TN 37203-0003. Worship website:

Sermon's Done

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thinking about the Garden

Well today was payday so I surfed on over to Burpee and picked out my seeds.

Last year my daughter graduated from High School and I so I never got around to starting the tomatoes inside like I usually do. I did buy some plants but I was glad I didn’t’ spend too much effort on them because we had flooding, the garden was underwater for a few weeks and the blight was something awful.

I always fight blight here but this was too much. I got enough tomatoes to make a couple of dinners …but not enough to can.

See I don’t like raw tomatoes. I like them in sauce …
so I grow paste tomatoes and can them. I make tomato sauce and salsa and can it and enjoy it in the winter.
Not this winter though. The wonderful thing about a garden is that there is always next year!

These are the seeds I ordered:

Tomato Big Mama Hybrid: These are my favorite - very meaty, big and few seeds.

Tomato Viva Italia Hybrid: these are smaller but I like to hedge my bets by planting these as well because they are more resistent to blight.

I'll probably check out some of my heirloom catalogs and buy some weird tomato and grow them for fun. I like orange tomatoes. I used to make chili on Halloween when the kids were home and one Halloween I made the chili with all orange tomatoes and orange peppers.

Speaking of peppers - peppers and tomatoes are the staple of my garden. This is what I've ordered:

Sweet Pepper Early Crisp Hybrid : I'm going to try these because they are early. I prefer red bells and they are pretty pricey in the stores but they have such a long season it's hard to get any red ones before the frost.

Burpee doesn't have the greatest variety when it comes to peppers so I'll have to check out some of my other catelogs. I'll probably pick up some jalapeno seeds at Target... I used to buy these "jingle bell" --little bells that got red early - so cute...

Gotta have some beans:
I have trouble with vine borers and I found if I buy cucumbor plants they are past the stage where the mama shoots those buggers in the vine so that's what I'll do this year.

I don't plant cabbage or broccli...I dont' like fighting the worms. I'm a pretty lazy gardner. I plant what survives with little fussing. For me that's pretty much tomatoes and peppers. Some beans.

I also have an herb garden. I pulled up my flat leaf parsley by mistake last year so I'll need to plant some more of that. I have oregano and chives. I'll plant some different kinds of basil and cilantro of course.

And I'm going to grow some milkweed for the monarchs.
Dill for the black swallowtail - though I didn't see any last year. I had some the year before on my dill so I'm hoping they'll come back.

That's a start. It's such a hopeful thing to order seeds!

Rasmus Jensen, First Lutheran Pastor in North America,1620

The story of the first Lutheran Pastor in North America is a dismal one.
In 1619, King Christian IV of Norway and Denmark sent two ships and 64 men to search for the Northwest Passage to India. The chaplain of the expedition was Rasmus Jensen. They got as far as the site of Churchill, Manitoba, on the western shore of Hudson Bay. There they became trapped by ice and without adequite supplies the crew began to die of scurvey. P
astor Jensen also fell ill and heir captain, Jens Munk, recorded in his journal:
On the 23rd of January... the priest sat up in his berth and gave the people a sermon, which sermon was the last he delivered in this world.... On the 20th of February, in the evening, died the priest, Mr Rasmus Jensen as aforesaid, who had been ill and kept his bed a long time....
In July, the Captain sailed for home with the only two surviving members of his crew. They reached Norway in September. He published his journal of the his trip. Pffaetteicher in "Festivals and Commemorations" calls it a "moving and melancholy account of hardship, death and bravery" A memorial to the expedition has been erected at Port Churchill.

This is a picture of Port Churchill in the winter in 1955 -
so you can imagine what it was like in 1620

Friday Five

It's my first "Friday Five" from the RevGalBlogPals:

Where we live, it's February School Vacation Week!

Yes, that's an odd thing, a vacation extending President's Day. But it's part of our lives here. Some people go South or go skiing, but we always stay home and find more humble amusements.

In that spirit, I offer this Taking a Break Friday Five. Tell us how you would spend:

1. a 15 minute break
2. an afternoon off
3. an unexpected free day
4. a week's vacation
5. a sabbatical
A 15 Minute Break - You know I'm pretty fortunate - my life is not so regimented that I have to think it terms of a 15 minute break. When I'm at a lecture --I'm not so good at sitting still so I always try to go outside and walk around the block. Except when it's 20 below. When I'm working at home I get up to load the dishwasher, do a FlyLady and do some spot cleaning...

An afternoon off: I get up at 4 am to skate so afternoon naps are usually my first choice. When Spring comes, it will be my garden that beckons me. I keep thinking I want to go see a movie but when it comes to going out in the cold and actually doing it, I stay home.

4. a week's vacation Is this real or is money no object? With two kids in college and trying to pay off debt that has gotten barely managable, there' s no extra money to do what I really want to do- travel. Anywwhere. It's hard to take a vacation when you have no money. This year I'll vacationing at home. Gardening. Reading. Skating. Getting caught up with the scrapbooks. Day trips. Wouldn't be so bad.

An Unexpected Free Day - Does cleaning house count? It's winter and all I can think of is just hanging around the house, cleaning house. Do some reading. Maybe drive to Omaha for an ice -dancing lesson. No dance coaches around here.

5. a sabbatical I actually may apply for a Lily Grant and try to do this in a couple years. It would involve study AND a figure skating camp somewhere. I would travel somewhere they have an adult skating camp and a place to study theology. And write. But I would have to figure out what to do with my 11 cats.

I'm going to add one - A Sunday off

So the end of the year was coming and I still had a Sunday off but no money and bad weather put the nix on going away for even the weekend. What I did was go to church in another town. It was wonderful. It's a long story but I'm in a congregation with a Haugian background and not only do we not have the new cranberry book - they never got the LBW. NO LITURGY. So I found a church that uses the new book....and the pastor chanted the Great Thanksgiving and I nearly wept. Oh how I miss chanting the Great Thanksgiving. And the Kryia. My daughter was home from college and we got sit together and worship together which -me being a pastor and all - doesn't happen much. It was so wonderful thinking about it that I think I'll take the Sunday off of her Spring Break and do it again...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's Here

Proposed Statement on Sexuality and Recommendations on Ministry by Task Force on Human Sexuality.

Lawd have mercy on us all...

I'm not saying anything till I get a chance to talk to my folk.

Great Post from Rural Minister

The Man of God

Come on ladies, don't be put off by the title. It's a beautiful thought.

This is why we should not belittle the role of the pastor. We represent Christ, the Church, even God to the world. This is not to say that only clergy do this...but in a special way, we are called to bear that witness. It's not an ego thing, especially if you remember that it is not about you and how special you are, how great a preacher you are, how likable you are. It is the role. Do not take it lightly - you are the Man or Woman of God.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Confirmation Tonight

So I didn't really have enough prepared tonight. We suspend classes for Lent - I find I get better attendance at worship and I'd rather see the family worshiping together than dropping the kid off for class.

I had a little power point prepared on Martin Luther which didn't last long. Then I just started my story telling. I'm a pretty good story teller. They like it when I tell them bible stories. I try to get them to read the bible "No you tell us the story, Pastor - we like to hear you tell it" Yup, feed my ego. I'll tell you a story.

So I told them the story of Martin helping Katie escape from the convent in a pickle barrel. And how Martin tried to get Katie to marry some of his friends and she wouldn't settle for anyone less than him. And how he reluctantly agreed to marry her because he was not setting a good example marrying off his monk friends but refusing to settle down himself. And I said how that wasn't a very romantic start but what a deep and lasting love they had and what a comfort Katie was to him in the difficult times and how they comforted one another when they lost their dear daughter.

"Wow," breathed one of the 15 year old boys. "That is a great story!"

Yes it is.

Lutherans are Losing their Grip....

...on Pauline theology apparently. I took a two and a half hour road trip for some continuing ed yesterday. I'm about as South West as you can get in the Iowa Northeastern Synod, so anything I want to do is going to be a few hours away. I went to a presentation by Dr. Phil Quanbeck II, Chair of the Religion Department, Augsburg College, MN on "New Perspectives on Paul"

So apparently Lutherans have pretty much dominated Pauline interpretation up until recently. 

Unfortunately Lutherans have not done much in this area recently and there's some new folks in town like N.T. Wright and Dominic Crosson who are suggesting (horrors!)-- that justification was not the central concern of Paul.

This new perspective pays more attention to the context of Roman imperial propaganda, Paul as a rhetorician and the social world of Pauline congregations, as well as the importance of honor and shame in Mediterranean culture.

I had been thinking about doing my summer Bible Study on Romans and now I think I will for sure. I'll pick up Wright's book on Paul. I think there is something to his insight that Paul is staking a claim for the Lordship of Christ over and against the claims of Caesar. 

A couple of summers ago I did a study on Revelation and that seemed to be a clear theme as well. I was also found interesting Paul's use of "ekkelisa" is a town council - a political union where there would be free speech and open discussion. Another blatant slap against the Empire. Not exactly what we think of when we read "church".

I'm also intrigued by the work that compares Paul's writings to the standards of rhetoric at the time...if you look at it in terms of logical arguments he's making - it seems less like a lot of run on sentences that can drive you crazy.

And seeing Romans Romans 1-5 in the light of Mediterranean concepts of honor and shame is very helpful especially if you translate "hope does not disappoint us" to "hope does not put us to shame" Our claim to honor is based in our future, not our past.

All of this is good stuff and I'm going to try to at least read Wright's book on Paul (Jewett's commentary is a little out of my budget right now).

 I don't think any of it negates the centrality of justification and grace. I think the Lutheran grip is still pretty secure...

Luther's Sacristy Prayer

In honor of today's commemoration of Martin Luther, Renewer of the Church, 1483-1546

Luther’s Sacristy Prayer

Lord God, You have appointed me as a pastor in Your Church, but you see how unsuited I am to meet so great and difficult a task. If I had lacked Your help, I would have ruined everything long
ago. Therefore, I call upon You: I wish to devote my mouth and my heart to you; I shall teach the people. I myself will learn and ponder diligently upon You Word. Use me as Your instrument -- but do not forsake me, for if ever I should be on my own, I would easily wreck it all.
This text was translated in 1999 for Project Wittenberg
by James Kellerman

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I Love Facebook

This is a great article at Time Magazine:

Why Facebook is for Old Foagies

Back in May I opened a facebook account to start a facebook group for my church youth. I was having a really hard time getting in touch with them. They were never home to answer the phone. They didn't seem to read their email - at least not from me. And forget about snail mail! But I knew from my daughter that they checked their Facebook several times a day!

I still remember asking my daughter how to start a group on facebook --she was a senior in high school and she was dumbfounded..."YOU, MOTHER...have a facebook??" Then she said no one would be my friend and she refused to be my friend. But all of her friends thought it was cool that I was on facebook and they all became my friends. So she reluctantly added me. Now that she's in college it is a great way to keep in touch.

It worked great for the youth group and for me knowing what was going on in their lives - because you know - they update their status' constantly.

But it wasn't long that I was finding old college and seminary friends, people I'd lost touch with..made new friends with people I had similar interests. I think those old foagies who complain it hurts social action are just wrong. It enhances social interaction.

Facebook. It's not just for kids!