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Showing posts from February, 2009

How much is that Bible in the window?

I've never had as much feedback or commentary on a blog post as I have on my prior post on church shopping. To be clear, in that post, I did mention that I can see and understand, yea verily sympathize with, all kinds of reasons for searching through churches and visiting a variety of congregations. The post was not necessarily to people who have been looking at churches for a while or who have felt the need to see "what else is out there", but to people who chronically experience serial monogamy with churches- staying at a church for a year or two and then moving on, for whatever reason.

There are two issues at hand in "church shopping" (or seeking). One is trying to find a church that fits your needs at a given time. Granted, your family church of three generations may not do that every Sunday of every week of every year of your life. It probably didn't for your grandmother either.

The other issue at hand is does not pertain specifically to the chur…

Lord, to whom shall we go?

Here I sit on a Friday morning, jotting down notes and trying to prepare for Sunday's sermon. The texts are oriented toward baptism, but there is more to consider than just the sacrament. What have people heard recently (from me or others) about baptism? (The Baptism of our Lord was only six weeks ago.) What do potential visitors know about baptism? What can be said about this crucial part of Christian life and practice in a clear, specific way without relying on "code words" or assumptions that everyone knows what I mean? Furthermore, there is the temptation narrative which deserves comment, as well as the beginning of the season of Lent.

One sermon cannot contain everything and woe to the pastor who tries to do that. I wander as I ponder and I came across this article in Slate magazine about church shopping. The article posits that the phenomenon of wandering from congregation to congregation after a few months or a year or so or of rotating between a few congregations …

Indulgences

I've sat on this story for a couple weeks, though I haven't totally refrained from comment. By clicking the link, you'll be directed to a New York Times article about the re-introduction of the practice of indulgences in the Roman Catholic Church. This practice hadn't completely disappeared, but the RCC is encouraging the practice once more, as part of a concerted effort to reinvigorate people's interest in and practice of Confession.

The article states:
According to church teaching, even after sinners are absolved in the confessional and say their Our Fathers or Hail Marys as penance, they still face punishment after death, in Purgatory, before they can enter heaven. In exchange for certain prayers, devotions or pilgrimages in special years, a Catholic can receive an indulgence, which reduces or erases that punishment instantly, with no formal ceremony or sacrament. There are partial indulgences, which reduce purgatorial time by a certain number of days or years…

Drive-by Posting

So I know I've been very delinquent in my blogging lately. It's not been for lack of ideas: Martin Luther's death date, the re-emergence of indulgences in the Roman Catholic Church, the texts of Epiphany, 43 more crucial Scripture passages. Trust me, I've written amazing posts about all of those... in my head.

It's hard to get back on the writing horse once you fall off it. I could blame it on the pregnancy. It does make you tired and I didn't want to mention it until I was ready to mention it, but that only covers the first few weeks of January, when I was too tired to think straight.

So, there are no excuses, other than the fact that I have been busy. However, I do consider the maintenance of this blog and the providing of thought-provoking posts of at least semi-substance as a portion of my job.

So, I'm throwing myself back in the saddle and we'll see how it goes. I read something recently that said if you expect to keep something like a blog with any k…

Transfiguration Day Sermon

2 KINGS 2:1-12; 2 CORINTHIANS 4:3-6; MARK 9:2-9


So, am I going to drop a piece of news like [I'm having a baby in August] on you and go right on preaching? In the words of another Alaskan woman who hid a pregnancy for a while, “You betcha.” It’s not because I’m stubborn or because I put the gospel above everything else. Well, both of those things are true, but the gospel message for us on this Sunday (or any Sunday) is too good to ignore.

However, the heart of Transfiguration Sunday is absorbing the truth of the epiphany and carrying it with us beyond this particular mountaintop. The season of Epiphany is about learning more about who this Jesus is, born to us and all people at Christmas. The more we learn about him, the more we know the heart of God, and the more we come to realize what faith in Jesus may require of us. The season of Lent is about wrestling with those requirements.

The mountain of Transfiguration Sunday gives us a peak to see where we’ve been, the birth, the baptism…

Exorcised Faith (Sermon 2/1)

DEUTERONOMY 18:15-20; 1 CORINTHIANS 8:1-13; MARK 1:21-28

In the texts for today, we have a Lutheran friendly options and a less- friendly option. In the letter to the Corinthians, Paul is building up to his big chapter on love in community. He leads up to it with discussions about food and respecting those around. This is Lutheran-friendly. Be we German, Norwegian, Swede or some other Lutheran extraction, we know those who tout the spiritual dimensions of lutefisk and Jello salad and those who would rather avoid those foods. Lutherans know about food.

In the Deuteronomy text, God speaks through Moses to the Israelites one last time at the end of Moses’ life. God promises to raise up another prophet, an important promise for the Israelites and one that points us to the authority of the One who is to come. Certainly, this is a text that Lutherans can embrace.

But then we come to that Gospel passage and a section that causes some Lutheran nerves to jump. Is this an exorcism? The…