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Showing posts from September, 2008

Who Can Save?

1 Timothy 4:12-16

13Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture,to the reading');" onmouseout="return nd();">*14 to exhorting, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders.by the presbytery');" onmouseout="return nd();">*1516 Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.


This past Sunday (9/28), I was installed as the pastor of the Lutheran Church of Hope (Anchorage, AK). The passage above was read directly from the ELCA's installation service as one of the scriptural charges to me. (The service doesn't actually i…

Johnny Appleseed

Friday was Johnny Appleseed Day. I didn't get to post then, but here are some thoughts today in the form of the Friday Five, which comes from here.

September 26, 1774 was his birthday. "Johnny Appleseed" (John Chapman) is one of America's great legends. He was a nurseryman who started out planting trees in western New York and Pennsylvania, but he was among those who were captivated by the movement west across the continent.
As Johnny traveled west (at that time, the "West" was places like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois) he planted apple trees and sold trees to settlers. With every apple tree that was planted, the legend grew. A devout Christian, he was known to preach during his travels. According to legend, Johny Appleseed led a simple life and wanted little. He rarely accepted money and often donated any money he received to churches or charities. He planted hundreds of orchards, considering it his service to humankind. There is some link between J…

Angels

Hebrews 1:14

"Are not all angelsspirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?" (NRSV)
"Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" (NIV)
"Isn't it obvious that all angels are sent to help out with those lined up to receive salvation?" (The Message)

During a recent study on the book of Hebrews, this verse brought up many questions and sparked curious conversations. Basically, the questions boil down to this: we do not know what angels do.

What do we know: Angels are created being like us, but possibly even more transient in nature. (Psalm 104:4, Hebrews 1:7) They are guardians for us (Ps. 91:11) and they have tasks that come from God and are working on our behalf (Heb. 1:14).

Angels do not achieve salvation or fight the forces that oppose God (that's the work of the Son). Angels are not our Advocate nor do they stir up in us the gift of faith (that's the wo…

Brother's Keeper

Genesis 4:8-9 (NRSV)
Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let us go out to the field."And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?"

Genesis 4:8-9 (The Message)
Cain had words with his brother. They were out in the field; Cain came at Abel his brother and killed him. God said to Cain, "Where is Abel, your brother?" He said, "How should I know? Am I his babysitter?"


I was recently reading a book that urged congregations to accept the idea of being one's brother's keeper. The idea sort of irked the Libertarian in me. I'm glad to help my brother, but I'd like to see him take some responsibility. Yet, even within my own thoughts, I knew that there is a chasm between being your brother's keeper and totally ignoring him.

"To be my brother's keeper" has taken on an extre…

It's not Fair (Sermon 9/21)

Jonah 3:10- 4:11; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16

Hands down, the last line of the book of Jonah is one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible. Not only does it show God’s exasperation with Jonah, but it also shows that God has a sense of humor and cares about all of creation. God says, “And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?” In short, “Who is going to love this city full of idiots and their animals if I don’t?”

But let’s back up from that verse for a few minutes and think about the rest of Jonah’s story. You may recall that Jonah, a Jew, was called by God to go to Nineveh, a city full of people who had persecuted the Jews. Jonah is called to go to Nineveh and preach repentance to them. God wants the people of Nineveh to have the abundant life that is only possible within the knowledge of God’s grace, so he sends…

Fall Equinox Friday Five

As this vivid season begins, tell us five favorite things about fall:

First I should comment for the majority of my blog readers (in Alaska), we know in our heart of hearts that fall is nearly over, not just beginning. The snow on the mountains creeps ever closer to my house in the Eagle River Valley. The first snow that appears on the hills in called "termination dust" in Alaskan parlance... and I'm not totally sure why. I think it's because it represents the sure termination of summer; however, my husband thinks the name comes from the fact that the snow "kills" everything it on which it falls. That being said... a few thoughts on fall as prompted by the RevGalBlogPals site.

1) A fragrance
What does fall smell like? I think the smell of wet leaves and the smell of animals. I know that the moose and bears are traveling through my yard these days- my little doggy lets me know when they pass by. And when I take him outside, we both sniff. I only smell wet horse…

It's about Forgiveness

Genesis 50:15-21; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35

When I was 17, my boyfriend at the time gave me a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. I kept the chocolates in the room I shared with my sister, not hidden, but not exactly on public display. A couple days after the holiday I noticed that a few additional chocolates seemed to be missing. I didn’t have to look far to discover the culprit.

She had to buy a replacement box of chocolates for me. Shortly thereafter, I came home to discover my chocolates, which where hidden this time, were fewer in number than I remembered. Furthermore, there was tooth mark in one of the chocolates. No intensive sleuthing was needed… I knew who did this.

As I recall, the scenario happened a third time, but I confess that I did not make it to forgiveness a third time. Seven times? Ha! Seventy times seven? Double-ha! I couldn’t even forgive three times in a row.

That brings us to an interesting point in Jesus’ words to Peter here. This takes pl…

Excommunication (Sermon 9/7)

Ezekiel 33:7-11; Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20



How do you feel when you hear the term “excommunication”? (Worried, wonder what it is, curious, angry…) It is not a term that’s very much used in the church in this day and age, though we hear occasionally hear rumors of it. Maybe in your mind, right now, you can think of someone you would like to have excommunicated in a prior time. Maybe someone is thinking of you, or me, when they hear that word.

When it comes to issues like excommunication or bad behavior in the church or flagrant sinfulness, it is hard for us to think about anything, but the Law. I do not mean what’s on the books in terms of law; I mean, what’s in the Book. In traditional Lutheran understanding, the Law is found throughout scripture. It is the portions that prick our hearts and remind us of how far we fallen from grace. The Law serves as a reminder of our constant and desperate need for God’s love and forgiveness.

The gospel passage today seems very full …