Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jewish Soccer Parents Upset

This article in the WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL details the problems of scheduling a soccer tournament during Rosh Hashanah. I wonder similarly why more Christian parents aren't worried that so many sports now plan events and tournaments on Sundays. At what point do sports rise to the level of idolatry, putting the sport before God?

Forget Who Pays Medical Bills, It’s Who Sets the Cost - NYTimes.com

Forget Who Pays Medical Bills, It’s Who Sets the Cost - NYTimes.com

This article describes what should be self-evident, but it is so strange how disconnected public opinion is from the reality. Worth reading. I support some kind of single payer health care program, and I also think the Hippocratic oath needs to include doctors prescribing procedures because they are needed, not because they are profitable.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Youth Gathering Featured in New Orleans Paper

So far the New Orleans ELCA Youth Gathering has exceeded expectations. We've repeatedly been told by local residents that they are so happy we are here. We learned that we are the largest group to come to New Orleans since Katrina in 2005. That's awesomeness. We're proud.

Here's an article.

37,000 Lutheran youth, heading out on service projects in groups of 12,000 each day. It really is kind of amazing. Praise God.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

WorkingPreacher.org on 2 Samuel 7

Richard Nysse's exegesis of the lectionary text for this Sunday in the david cycle is simply outstanding.

Check it out here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Paste Magazine :: Home

Paste Magazine :: Home

Have you subscribed? This is the best rock and culture magazine out there! Check it out.

NPR: All Songs Considered Blog

NPR: All Songs Considered Blog

This is always fun. Vote for the best albums of the year mid-year. My votes were:

Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear
Wilco (The Album)
Neko Case's album
Andrew Bird Noble Beast
Animal Collective--Meriweather Post Pavilion

Who Lincoln Was

Who Lincoln Was

If you're overwhelmed by all the Lincoln books published in this anniversary year, here is a splendid review. Kudos to TNR for publishing a review of Lincoln books that took up the final 25 pages of a 50 page magazine! Who else would do that?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Contextual Leadership Initiative - Ministry in Context newsletter

Contextual Leadership Initiative - Ministry in Context newsletter

We have an intern arriving at our congregation in less than a month. Although this newsletter to which I'm linking is designed especially for internship committees, pastors, and interns, I think it can also give many people insight into the rhythms of congregational life. Consider subscribing.

Friday, July 03, 2009

First Prayer in Congress

Jacob Duché's First Prayer in Congress "[September 7, 1774](1)

O! Lord, our heavenly father,(2) King of Kings and Lord of lords: who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth and reignest with power supreme & uncontrouled(3) over all kingdoms, empires and governments, look down in mercy,(4) we beseech thee, upon these our(5) American states who have fled to thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves upon thy gracious protection, desiring henceforth to be(6) dependent only on thee. To thee they have appealed for the righteousness of their Cause; to Thee do they look up,(7) for that countenance & support which Thou alone canst give. Take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under thy nurturing care: give them wisdom in council, valour in the field. Defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries. Convince them of the unrighteousness of their cause. And if they persist(8) in their sanguinary purposes, O! let the voice of thy(9) unerring justice sounding in their hearts constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their enerved(10) hands in the day of battle. Be thou present, O God of Wisdom and direct the counsels(11) of this honourable Assembly. Enable them to settle things upon the best and surest foundation, that the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that(12) harmony and peace may effectually be restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety prevail and flourish amongst thy people. Preserve the health of their bodies and the vigour of their minds; shower down upon them and the millions they represent(13) such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world, and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ thy son, Our Saviour, Amen.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Pastoral Letter from Bishop Hanon on Church Unity

July 1, 2009

Dear colleagues in ministry,

As we approach the churchwide assembly, I am thankful for the thoughtful and respectful discussion at synod assemblies of the proposed social statement on human sexuality and the ministry policy recommendations. I am mindful, however, that we remain a church body that is not of one mind about these decisions, and that these continuing differences have raised concerns among some about whether we are headed toward a church-dividing decision.

I am writing to express my shared, heartfelt commitment to the church’s unity, and, even more, my deep confidence that this unity will not be lost. For this reason please join me in reflecting on the unity of Christ’s church that is the foundation both for our life together in the ELCA and our relationships with other Christians throughout the world.

The unity of Christ’s church is God’s daily work through the Holy Spirit calling, gathering, enlightening and sanctifying us with the gospel. Sometimes, when I hear concerns about division in the ELCA, I worry that they express a fear that unity depends on the actions of church leaders or assemblies. Our unity, however, comes to us because God gives it freely and undeservedly in Jesus Christ. Although everyone in leadership shares responsibility for stewarding our unity in Christ, it will not be won or lost at the churchwide assembly in a plenary session vote. Rather, it will be received as a gracious gift from God when the assembly is gathered each noon by the Word and Sacrament through which God gives us unity, making us one in Jesus Christ.

We hold in common this confession that God makes us one in Jesus Christ, but it is not making this confession that makes us one. Rather, because God unites us to Jesus Christ in Baptism we are also united to each other in one body that transcends any other difference. Paul states this clearly. “For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).

A marvelous insight into this unity was made recently during a Bible study as members of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Executive Committee took turns reading Paul’s familiar words about the body of Christ in their own languages. The differences were fascinating. Several read, “all the members of the body, though many, are one body” (1 Corinthians 12:12). Others read, “all the members of the body, being many, are one body.” Our Bible study leader suggested that “though many” implies that our “many-ness” (that is, our diversity or differences) is a problem that compromises the unity of the body of Christ. But, “being many” within the Body of Christ implies that diversity is unity’s strength, not its weakness. The witness of Scripture is that both unity and diversity are God’s gifts. There is one Spirit, one Baptism, one faith, one Lord of us all, but a variety of gifts and callings are given for the sake of the gospel and the common good.

God’s gift of unity in Christ informs our life and witness together in the community of Christ’s church. Rather than approach the assembly apprehensively, I invite you to see it as an opportunity for faith-filled witness to the larger human family that struggles with division and yearns for healing and wholeness that is real and true. We live in a polarized culture that equates unity with uniformity and sees differences as a reason for division. This moment, and our witness as a church body in the midst of it, deserves something better from us. We have the opportunity to offer the witness of our unity in Christ—diverse, filled with different-ness and differences, broken in sin, and yet united and whole in Christ. This moment deserves the witness of a community that finds and trusts its unity in Christ alone, engages one another with respect, and seeks a communal discernment of the Spirit’s leading.

In recent weeks I have been re-reading Bonhoeffer’s Life Together where he writes, “God already has laid the only foundation of our community, because God has united us in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ long before we entered into common life with them.” He says that other Christians who may be different and yet live by God’s call, forgiveness, and promise are a gift and a reason to give thanks. He continues with this remarkable insight about all of us and the unifying power of Christ’s forgiveness:
Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the common life, is not the one who sins still a person with whom I too stand under the Word of Christ? Will not another Christian’s sin be an occasion for me ever anew to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ? Therefore, will not the very moment of great disillusionment with my brother or sister be incomparably wholesome for me because it so thoroughly teaches me that both of us can never live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and deed that really binds us together, the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ? (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, vol. 5, pp. 36-37.)

Some may question why I am writing and wonder if this letter is advocating for a particular position on the questions before the churchwide assembly. It is not. Rather, it is an honest expression of my conviction that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s mission for the life of the world, and the members of this church deserve this witness from us: In Christ we are members of one body serving God’s mission for the life of the world.

As we approach the Assembly, I invite you to join me in confident hope, grounded in Christ, where we meet one another not in our agreements or disagreements, but at the foot of the cross. We meet as we hear the Word, confess our faith, receive Christ’s presence in bread and wine, sing our praises to God, make our offerings, and then go in peace, to share the Good News, remember the poor and serve the Lord.

God is faithful. Christ is with us. By the power of the Spirit we are one in him. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:31)

In God’s grace,
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America