Sunday, June 29, 2008

Modern Parables: Bible Studies for People Who Like Movies

Modern Parables: Bible Studies for People Who Like Movies These look incredible, I'll be reviewing them soon to decide if they are suitable for our Wednesday evening worship and study time.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Luther and Suffering | Commentary on Romans 5:4

"Since the Lord in many passages is given the name of Savior and Helper in suffering, the one who is unwilling to suffer as much as he can deprives Christ of His true titles and names. Thus to this person there will be no Jesus, that is, no Savior, because that person is unwilling to be damned; for them there will be no God the Creator because they are unwilling to be nothing, so that God may be their Creator. God will be no power, wisdom, or good to that person, because they do not want God to uphold them in their weakness, foolishment, or their punishment" (LW Volume 25, page 290).

"Of whatever quality suffering finds characteristics and people to be, it makes them even more. Thus if a person is carnal, weak, blind, evil, irascible, arrogant, etc., when trial comes, they become more carnal, weaker, blinder, more evil, more irascible, more arrogant, etc. And on the other hand, if they are spiritual, brave, wise good, meek, and humble, they become more spiritual, braver, wiser, better, meeker, and humbler. In Psalm 4:1 we read: 'Thou hast given me room when I was in distress.' But concerning the other kind of people, Matthew 7:27 says, 'The flood came and the winds blew and beat against that house, and great was the fall thereof.'" (page 288)

I have been pondering how to connect the Romans 5 passage to the events of this past week, with all the flooding, etc., and I have found these two quotes of Luther in his commentary on Romans to be of immeasurable help.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Lutheran Disaster Response to Widespread Flooding in the Midwest

Lutheran Disaster Response - LDR

Widespread flooding across the midwest
An update from Lutheran Disaster Response

June 13, 2008

One right after another, terrible storms have left indelible marks this week on individuals and communities across the Midwest, and it seems as though the news headlines have continually focused national attention on the region. As the long effort of cleaning up and rebuilding begins, Lutheran Disaster Response is poised to bring help and hope, and to walk side by side with those affected.

This week, Michael Nevergall, LDR associate, and Cindy Johnson, LDR coordinator for Minnesota, traveled to Iowa to assist LDR coordinator Michael Stadie with assessments and response there, and to accompany leaders from the ELCA Northeastern Iowa Synod. At the same time, Rev. Kevin Massey, LDR Director, traveled to Wisconsin to accompany leaders in the ELCA La Crosse Area and South-Central Wisconsin synods during these trying times.

Major flooding continues to spread south through Iowa, with Des Moines and other cities now under a voluntary evacuation. Across the state, fifty-four different counties have been declared state disaster areas. The city of Cedar Rapids is nearly at a stand still, with water rising into the 500-year flood plain and the downtown completely flooded. The ELCA Northeastern Iowa Synod has postponed its synod assembly, scheduled for this weekend in Waverly, due to the difficulty of traveling on roads throughout the state. At least two Lutheran camp properties are under water and a number of Lutheran congregations have been directly impacted.

In Wisconsin, where we saw stunning video of the water powerfully leaving Lake Delton and ripping homes apart in its path, the waters continue to rise across the southern portion of the state. Farm fields throughout the region are completely under water, raising questions about the long-term economic impact of these floods on the region’s agriculture. Highways throughout the state are closed, making travel nearly impossible. Similarly, in Indiana, thirty counties have been declared as disaster areas, with waters still rising in portions of the state. Flooding also is affecting, or threatening to affect, communities in Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri.

Additionally, two major systems of tornadoes swept through portions of Iowa and Kansas this week, including the storm that killed four Boy Scouts at a camp. Scherer Memorial Lutheran (ELCA) in Chapman, Kansas sustained severe damage to its building, and the entire town is completely shut off, even to residents, at this point.

Today, Bishop Bruce Burnside of the ELCA South-Central Synod of Wisconsin traveled around the affected areas with Rev. Massey and Gary Grindeland, LDR coordinator for Wisconsin. In describing the impact of this flooding on his synod and congregations, he related the importance for the church to meet this new challenge. “God’s gift of this water seems to now be our enemy, but we are reminded that out of the waters, new life is born,” he said. “God tamed the chaos of the waters to form the earth, and God, in Jesus, calmed the stormy seas,” said Bishop Burnside.

In addition to your prayers, we invite you to consider giving to support the long-term response to this disaster. You can donate through your congregation, or you can give a gift directly by mail, by phone, or online. If you would like to designate your gift for this response, please be sure to note it for “Flooding – United States.” Gifts designated for a particular disaster will be used in full – 100% – for that response.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

LIRS Legislative Update


JUNE 2008
Gregory Chen, Director for Legislative Affairs,
Eric Sigmon, Assistant Director for Legislative Affairs,

In May, there was exceptional focus on the U.S. immigration detention system, including three delegation visits to detention facilities, two new bills introduced, and major reports on medical treatment for those detained.

VISITS TO DETENTION FACILITIES On May 21, ELCA Bishops Schreiber (S/E MI Synod) and Schleicher (N/W Lower MI Synod) toured the Dickerson Detention Facility in Detroit with staff from Freedom House, Lutheran Social Services of Michigan and LIRS.
On May 13, ELCA Bishops Mauney (VA Synod), Gordy (S/E Synod), Graham (Metro DC Synod), and Knoche (DE-MD Synod), synod staff, and LIRS staff, toured the Pamunkey Regional Jail in Hanover, VA. The delegation also met with Sen. Menendez (D-NJ), Rep. Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Lofgren (D-CA) to discuss immigration detention. The next day the Richmond Times-Dispatch ran a story on the visit quoting Bishop Gordy. Click HERE for the article.
On April 28, Bishop Boerger (N/W WA Synod) and a delegation of State Public Policy Office Directors of the ELCA toured a detention facility in Tacoma, WA.

NEW DETENTION REFORM BILLS In May, Sen. Menendez and Rep. Lofgren introduced the Detainee Basic Medical Care Act, H.R. 5950/ S. 3005, companion bills that would require basic minimum standards of medical care for people held in immigration detention. LIRS supports both bills and is actively working toward their passage.
On May 21, Bishop Riley (NJ ELCA Synod) spoke at a press conference with Menendez, Lofgren, and Rep. Conyers (D-MI) to support the bills. On June 4, Bp. Riley will testify before the House Immigration Subcommittee on medical treatment for immigration detainees.

HEADLINES ON IMMIGRATION DETENTION In May, the Washington Post, New York Times, and 60 Minutes published investigative reports documenting grossly substandard medical care for immigrants in detention.

Rep. Holt (D-NJ) mentioned LSS of New Jersey in floor speech in the House May 5. Click HERE for statement.
On May 12, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, conducted the largest single immigration raid in U.S. history in Postville, IA, arresting about 400 individuals in a town of just over 2000 residents. Given the level of humanitarian need that resulted from the raid, the ELCA designated Postville a domestic disaster. Click HERE for the ELCA press release. LIRS staff helped coordinate assistance, including legal counsel to those affected. On May 20, Bishop Ullestad of the ELCA N/E Iowa Synod and LIRS issued a joint statement about the raids submitted for the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Workforce Protection hearing on “ICE Workplace Raids: Their Impact on U.S. Children and Families.” Click HERE to read the statement. LIRS President Ralie Deffenbaugh spoke at a press conference that day organized by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

The Senate and House of Representatives passed a bill to modify the Special Immigrant Visa program for Iraqis and Afghans whose lives are at risk due to their service to the U.S. The bill has been sent to President Bush.

In April, LIRS and 16 ELCA bishops sent letters to Congress opposing the SAVE Act, a bill that would mandate all employers to verify the work authorization of their employees based on a database fraught with errors, expand detention space by 8,000 beds, and require local police officers to enforce federal immigration law. These efforts combined with the work of other advocates have held back SAVE and other “look-alike” bills. The issue has been addressed in various congressional hearings. Click HERE to read the LIRS letter on SAVE.

LIRS and our refugee resettlement affiliates are working with our Refugee Council USA to recruit members of Congress to join the Bi-Partisan Refugee Caucus, which has championed the needs of refugees. After hearing from Peter D. Vogelaar from Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, Rep. Arcuri (D-NY) joined the caucus. Vogelaar and LIRS met with Arcuri’s office on May 6 to thank him for joining.

|| LIRS || Advocacy Update -- June 2008

|| LIRS || Advocacy Update -- June 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rising Food Prices

Rising Food Prices

Take the Five-Day Solidarity Challenge: For five days, eat as half the world’s population does, with meals of oatmeal, rice, beans and vegetables. Set aside the money you would have spent on additional groceries to redirect those dollars to help alleviate hunger by making a donation to Bread for the World or your denominational hunger program.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Brief Thesis on Prayer

One way to talk about prayer is to say that prayer is Christ speaking to the Father, and we chime in (the Lord's Prayer), or it is the Spirit groaning (Romans 8) when we are no longer articulate and lack words. In this way prayer is precisely NOT talking to yourself. It is our way of participating in the divine conversation. We pray "in" God either through the Word or through the Spirit, "as" Christ or groaning as creation enlivened by Spirit.

We are "praying animals." It is a central, if not THE central aspect of our humanness. We pray.

Friday, June 06, 2008

NPR: About a Song: I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

NPR: About a Song: I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

Great idea, NPR! And thanks for starting with my favorite Wilco song...

Martin Luther's Commentary on Romans

Martin Luther's Commentary on the Romans:Luther writes: "This letter is truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian's while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul. It is impossible to read or to meditate on this letter too much or too well. The more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes. Therefore I want to carry out my service and, with this preface, provide an introduction to the letter, insofar as God gives me the ability, so that every one can gain the fullest possible understanding of it. Up to now it has been darkened by glosses [explanatory notes and comments which accompany a text] and by many a useless comment, but it is in itself a bright light, almost bright enough to illumine the entire Scripture."

Thursday, June 05, 2008