Thursday, October 30, 2008

Proclaiming the resurrection of the dead in the All Saints Sunday liturgy

All Saints Candles

I remember walking cemeteries on the evening of All Saints in Slovakia, and the thousands of candles folks had lit and placed at the graves. A good tradition, making visible the line: "Rest eternal grant them, O Lord, and light perpetual shine upon them."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Youth Ministry Podcast

This IYM - Podcast Page is a good resource if you're interested in listening to some of the foremost youth ministry folk talk about missional church and sustainable youth ministry.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

BBC NEWS | Business | Rich nations 'reneging' over aid

BBC NEWS | Business | Rich nations reneging over aid

Fasting Resources

Fasting Resources

Consider a fast this weekend and set aside time to pray for the hungry and poor.

Bishop's Statement on Presidential Election

This is a fine, solid expression of a Lutheran understanding of civic engagement and political discourse.

October 16, 2008

Pastoral letter to the ELCA on the U.S. Presidential Election

In the Lutheran community of faith we value both public and private discourse, because we believe God works in vital and redemptive ways with human words. In the closing weeks of a presidential campaign, we share with our neighbors of all faiths high expectation for our public discourse. The words uttered by those seeking office and those voting have power, not only to provide the substance necessary for good decision making, but also to bring hope.

Let us maintain a level of discourse worthy of this important moment in our nation’s history and the pressing issues demanding our attention. Let us focus on the vital issues facing our nation and the world. The ELCA’s social statement, "The Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective," calls this church to "promote sound, critical, and creative citizenship and public service" and encourages us to join in public deliberations. As we are called also "to contribute toward the upbuilding of the common good," we can express the expectation that the candidates call for an end to personal attacks, and focus on the issues and things that matter to all of us.

With the current financial crisis sweeping the United States and the world, it is too easy to forget those who are most vulnerable, people who live in poverty here at home and abroad. They deserve our attention too, as we prepare to determine this nation’s direction for the next four years. Instead of personal attacks, I appeal to the McCain and Obama campaigns and related message groups to bear in mind and recall for all of us the situations of our sisters and brothers who will suffer the most from our current economic turmoil.

Finally, I call on all of us eligible to vote to exercise faithful civic engagement on November 4. Lutherans acknowledge the instrumental role of government in society, and participation in the electoral process is an example of our affirmation of baptism to "serve all people, following the example of our Lord Jesus" and "to strive for justice and peace in all the earth."

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Current Financial Crisis

I re-print here the te of a statement from the ELCA Conference of Bishops on the current financial crisis. To read the ELCA social statement on such matters, visit here.

Some preliminary reflections from a pastor of the ELCA. First of all, I'm glad at least one group of people this fall is making a statement about the impact of all of this on the poor. If you listen to our national leaders, you'd think the only thing that mattered was the impact on the banks, the markets, and the middle class.

Second, why no mention of greed? It is greed that has created the reality we now face.

Third, why no reflection on the tradition in the church of opposing usury? Isn't it a variety of usurious practices that have contributed to our overall financial crisis?

On the Current Financial Crisis
The Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, October 7, 2008

Almighty God, ...teach us how to govern the ways of business to the harm of none and for the sake of the common good; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 78

Grace and peace to you.

As bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, we are deeply concerned about the current financial crisis, which is affecting not only our nation but the entire global economy. This crisis is causing fear and loss in our country as thousands of families face unemployment, foreclosure, and uncertainty about savings and pensions. Meanwhile, they struggle to put food on the table and gas into their cars. The future is uncertain for all of us, but it is especially frightening for those who are already vulnerable and struggling to survive. We offer our prayers for those whose lives are being affected and for our national leaders as they seek to address this complex matter.

We call on all people in our own communities of faith and those from every segment of our society who seek the health of our nation to join in conversation and prayer about our collective economic life, our financial behaviors, and the interconnectedness of all life and creation that cries out to be reclaimed.

This church has addressed the issues surrounding economic life in its social statement, “Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All", and we encourage the use of this statement as a way to understand more fully how the following theological and biblical principles are central as we respond to this situation.

Concern for People in Poverty
The constitution of the ELCA calls this church to serve by “standing with the poor and powerless and committing itself to their needs.” (ELCA 4.02.c.). We are grateful for the pastors and leaders in our congregations who already have stepped forward to care for those who are suffering, and we encourage them to continue this response and to provide leadership in the task of turning our attention to the causes and effects of this crisis. We are called to work toward an economic system that truly serves the common good and especially the needs of the poor. We look for partnership with all those who seek to address this financial crisis in a way that also recognizes the humanitarian issues involved.

Personal and Corporate Responsibility
The ELCA social statement on economic life calls for individuals to live responsibly and within their means and to beware of the dangers of over-consumption and unnecessary accumulation, which draw us beyond authentic need into excess and destructive indebtedness. We call on businesses and corporations of all sizes to consider the social implications of company policies and to practice good stewardship of creation (Genesis 1:26).

The Need for Good Government
We hold and teach that government has an instrumental and constructive role to play in our shared life. This role includes “limiting or countering narrow economic interests and promoting the common good” (“Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All,” p. 11). We call on government to hold corporations and other powerful economic actors accountable for the effects of their practices on workers, communities, and the environment.

The Benefits and Limits of Free Markets
For many people, the current market-based economy has proven to be effective as a system to meet material need, generate wealth, and create opportunity. However, we hold and teach that any economic system should be measured by the degree to which it serves God’s purposes for humankind and creation. Those who have been blessed by the fruits of our economy are called to be generous in giving to those who have lost much and to advocate for accountability and appropriate regulation in this system.

As people of the God who calls us out of fear into hope and community, we welcome all people into widespread and respectful discussion about this current crisis. In this way we can create partnerships that will help those whose lives are being shattered and encourage responsibility and integrity in our national economic life.

As people of faith we pray:

Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ dignified our labor by sharing our toil. Guide us with your justice in the workplace, so that we may never value things above people, or surrender honor to love of gain or lust for power. Prosper all efforts to put an end to work that brings no joy, and teach us how to govern the ways of business to the harm of none and for the sake of the common good; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Conference of Bishops
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
October 7, 2008

Monday, October 06, 2008

Nadia Bolz-Weber's Salvation on the Small Screen?

Nadia has posted reflections from her new book here. The book is definitely worth picking up. How often do you get to read theology that is also genuinely funny?