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Showing posts from October, 2007

November Newsletter

A small moment of fear strikes my heart when I announce “Time for the Children’s Sermon” because I wonder if today will be the Sunday when some well-meaning child asks me a huge theological question. I envision everyone sliding forward in their seats to watch Vicar Julia squirm and answer, “What was before God?” or “What happens when we die?” or “Why do bad things happen?” Yet that fear quickly dissipates when I see all the children squeezing out of pews and scrambling to get to the front of the church. The joy of children who are still excited about coming to church is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. How can we encourage that joy and excitement? Parents, pastors, teachers and the whole church family promise at baptism to help children learn about their faith and what God has done for them and for the world. When we baptize children, we are witnessing the miracle of God’s claiming them and joining them to us as fellow children of God. Since they are part of this fa

Reborn Free

Reformation Day Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Anchorage, AK October 28, 2007 Vicar Julia Seymour Jeremiah 31:31-34; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36 Peace and grace to you in the name of the Holy Trinity who gathers us here, nourishes us and will go forward with us into the world. Is there anyone else here who grew up in the American South? I don’t know if you had this experience, but more than once in my life I’ ve had people who were not from the South and had never been there ask me one question. This question was not “What are grits” or “Why do you talk like that” or “Why is your tea sweeter than pop”. People will ask if they can make a personal inquiry and then lean in and quietly ask, “Do you still have slaves in the South?” That’s the equivalent of asking an Alaskan if he or she lives in an igloo or sees penguins all the time. I was usually tempted to put on my thickest drawl and go on and on about the joys a

Taste and See

It's been awhile, but the fat, white flakes have me in a reflective mood. All week long I have been waiting for the snow to accumulate and I've been thinking about my maternal grandmother. My grandma taught me how to make snow cream- a delicious combination of evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla and snow. Since I grew up in North Carolina, the opportunities for snow cream were few and far between- but the sweet, creamy goodness is a strong gustatory memory of my childhood. I've been waiting this week to make this year's first batch of snow cream. Thinking about that taste memory led me down a dreamy path of other reflection. The scent of Deep Woods Off makes me think of summer camp. The smell of cold jet engine fuel takes me back to deplaning in Nome. The sound of studded tires slowly rolling over pavement reminds me of the crunch of gravel under my bike tires when I was young. The sight of children playing with dolls outdoors brings to mind how my sister and

What to do?

I was recently asked about how ELCA Lutherans handle difficult passages in the Bible, particularly ones dealing with women's ordination. Do we dismiss them as being from a different cultural context or should we take them literally? So today I want to take a look at one of those passages and one way we might consider it. 1 Timothy 2:9- 14 " 10 11 [A] lso that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty. " The easy way to d

Ordinary Time

Yesterday when I was putting on my alb (the white robe) before church, I reflected, a little disappointedly , on the service to come. I confess that I had the thought, "It's kind of a boring Sunday." There were no baptisms, no special recognitions, I wasn't preaching... so nothing new, just the same, same, same service that happens all the time. The service began with announcements as usual, the confession and forgiveness and then a hymn, etc. You know how it goes. Yet it was somewhere around the children's sermon that I felt that thrill of ecclesial excitement. It's hard to describe, but it's like the Holy Spirit blowing up my spine and saying, "Wake up! Look, look! Here's something else!" (In my mind, the HS has to use Dick and Jane syntax- otherwise we might miss the point. See the sunrise! Taste the bread! Grace is good! Count the blessings- 1, 2, 3.) Back to the church service and my tingling spine, as I heard about the wo

What Shall I Say (October Newsletter)

The first time I ever talked formally with a pastor about my sense of call to ministry that pastor prayed with me. The second time, she handed me a book called “What Shall I Say?” This was a slim black paperback with a leaf pictured on the cover. It is the book put out by the ELCA that describes the various opportunities for ministry in the church. “What Shall I Say?” describes what an ordained pastor does, what a diaconal minister does, and so on. When I read the book, for the first time, I really saw in print what someone would expect of a pastor and how the church will guide people in different ministry roles. The funny thing is that “What Shall I Say?” could be the theme for my ministry training. That phrase comes into my head all the time. If I know I am going to meet with someone, what shall I say? Will the words come that are helpful to this person? When I am preparing a sermon, what shall I say? How can I make this text clear and relevant to the congregation? When I am pr

Idol Chatter

Lectionary 26 September 30, 2007 Amos 6:1a, 4-7; 1 Timothy 6:6-19; Luke 16:19-31 Idol Chatter Peace and grace to you in the name of the Holy Trinity who gathers us together here, nourishes us and will go forward with us into the world. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” What does the pursuit of happiness entail? How will you know when you have attained that which you pursue? Our culture tells us there are many things we need to make us happy. Maybe we are not receiving advertisements for beds of ivory or wine bowls, but we do need a Victrola…a hi-fi…an eight-track player…a cassette player… a Walkman… a CD player…a Discman… an I-Pod. There is always something newer, better, faster, bigger to be had. It’s not even to keep up with the neighbors an

Jesus Loves Me

This Sunday, there was a grace moment in church- a moment so filled with and blessed by the Holy Spirit that I will always remember it. The pianist played a beautiful version of 'Jesus Loves Me' during the offertory. As the notes rippled throughout the sanctuary, so did another sound... the soft sound of voices singing the hymn, quietly and gently. As I looked out at the congregation, I saw so many people, young and old, singing the song together. Parents encouraging their young children with the words, older people with smiles on their faces at the familiar tune, elderly members silently moving their lips to a song they've known for years. It was such a powerful visual. Almost a liturgical Norman Rockwell painting- the family of God gives their offerings and rejoices in song. Yet there was more than just a nice visual and a sweet sound. There was a genuine sincerity in the music. These weren't lyrics to puzzle over or a new melody. The song was sung from memory