Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial Day Flower

The Bleeding Heart

I am grateful for all of those who served our country, especially those who put themselves in harms way, to protect us and our liberties. I am grateful to live in a country where I can worship freely and say or write things that might criticize those in positions of authority.

Pray for our men and women serving our country, especially those in harms way. They see things they shouldn't see. Their hearts are bleeding.

Pray for the families of those serving overseas. Pray for those left behind by the death of a loved one killed in the service of our country. Their hearts are bleeding.

Pray especially for those many men and women who return home with injuries. There sacrifice will go on for years. Pray for the men and women who serve our military people with their medical skills. Their hearts are bleeding.

Pray for our leaders, that they will seek peace and the long term good of our people and the people of the whole world. Let them see that hearts are bleeding.

Pray for the leaders of countries that are our allies.
Let them see that hearts are bleeding.

Pray for our enemies, as Jesus commanded us. Pray that all leaders will seek the good of all mankind.
Let them see that hearts are bleeding. Let hearts not bleed for selfish purposes.

Pray for those who serve others as missionaries and in agencies which want to help get food to starving people, build houses for the homeless, and teach skills for better living. They serve those whose hearts are bleeding.

Pray that citizens have good judgment about which policies of their government are wise and in line with God’s will. Pray that citizens will speak up when their government has policies that harm people or the earth. When hearts bleed, let there be voices speaking God's will.

Pray that none of us gets so callous or self-centered that our hearts don’t bleed when we hear of harm done to others.

Dear Lord: We are thankful for our freedoms. Thank you for those who gave that we might have freedom. Teach us to work for the good of the whole world. And teach us ways to work for freedom in ways that don’t involve war. Please bring forth leaders with new insights and good skills who look to you for strength.Amen.
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Monday, May 29, 2006

Knowing Jesus...In our "Hearts" or in our "Head"


Or both?


I believe that God made the whole of us, so that if we are engaging only part of our being in our faith journey, then we are missing the whole of the Gifts that God has given us, although each person's gifts will be a bit different. 


The problem with too much emphasis on the feelings (so called-heart knowledge) is that when we have down times, we might think we've strayed from being saved, i.e. we don't "feel" saved.  And the bigger problem with that, from a Lutheran point of view, is that we put the emphasis on what we have "done" or "felt" or a "decision we've made" rather than on what Jesus accomplished 2000 years ago. 


The problem with too much emphasis on the confessional type of faith, perhaps "head knowledge," is when it doesn't move beyond that.  At its worst, it is saying we are saved because we say we're saved just because we say the creed on Sundays.  At its best, a Confessional faith carries us through the down times of blah feelings of our faith because we Know (head knowledge based on the Bible) we are saved because of what Jesus did 2000 years ago.


I learned this last point in a very real way during a difficult time in my life.  I couldn't pray or truly participate in worship, but I learned that the Holy Spirit truly did dwell in me since the time of my baptism, just as I had been taught in the Lutheran Church.  I was "still saved" even though I wasn't able to put anything "into" this faith at that time.


Jesus did the work...so what is our response?  That is where others will see what this means to us.  Are we grateful?  Joyous?  Serving others?  Maybe these are the things that really make a difference between the head and heart knowledge.  This Lutheran message is a big deal.  Do we act like it is a big deal?  Not that these actions save us.   


 On the other hand, if we've come to faith because of hearing some preaching of the "feelings" of faith, that is still real faith, because faith comes from God.  And the Lutheran confessional way can help people like this who have down times.


Luther encouraged a daily decision to live in our baptismal covenant.    These are the thoughts, actions, prayers and feelings that we have based on our response to the Gospel message.  One of my favorite verses is 1 Peter 3:15.    It implies that there is outward evidence, perhaps joy, of the "hope that you have."   It goes on to mention "good behavior in Christ." 



I hope this clarifies my "feelings" and "thoughts" on my faith.  I think the verse from 1 Peter shows that somehow we tell others by the way that we live it out, not by theology.


Discussion prompted by God’s Upside Down Kingdom at http://frombelow.wordpress.com/

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Diet of Worms

I couldn't help it. When I saw this sign, I thought of good ol' confirmation class, learning about Martin Luther, and the "Diet of Worms." Well, I was in 8th grade then.

My confirmation class was really boring, but I learned a lot. I actually remember most of what I learned because we memorized the whole book. My brain wasn't overfull then. We didn't learn anything "relevant" or learn about putting Christian ways into our daily life. We didn't do any service or any lock-ins. We didn't do any fund raisers. We just sat there every Saturday morning for two years, and we listened to the pastor tell us what to memorize and then we listened to the other students repeat what they had memorized from the week before. There was no rebellion. There wasn't even any discussion. This was back in the last century, and nobody had told us that learning was supposed to be fun.

I am somewhat grateful that I learned all that stuff. But I'm really grateful that before we could be confirmed we had to read books about Martin Luther and write a paper about his life. So I learned about the Diet of Worms....and that is something that is bound to stick in the mind of an 8th grader. Posted by Picasa


The other day my husband joked with me when I made a slightly negative comment about the sea of yellow dandelions in our yard, “If they were considered flowers, you’d think they were pretty.”

Today I was doing yard work that included trying to clip out an invasive perennial plant that has grown in, around, and behind my favorite early summer perennials. I did not plant that invasive plant; it just showed up and started taking over about 12 years ago, spreading more each year. At this point in the season, it is as tall as my favorite plant, which will grow at least another foot in the next month. But my favorite is on the verge of blooming now. I want to see the flowers!

My choices to defeat the invader: fully dig out the whole garden, thereby having everything have to start over as a small plant; weed-whack in-between the “good plants,” likely whacking a couple of the good stalks in the process; treating with a kill-everything spray judiciously, (yeah right); and/or clip out the major stalks of the invader just to keep it shorter than my preferred plant.

But isn’t this plant also one of God’s plants? His Creation?

And isn’t this how we deal with people that we consider “other?” Or evil? Are they not also God’s creation?

Or shall we see the invader as sin and spin a metaphor on how we deal with sin in our midst? Or the threat of sin… How do we keep our kids away from sin and sinful things away from our kids? Do we just keep our plants/our kids in the “green house” away from everything, including God’s rain and wind? Do we whack out the offending things/people/places/entertainment and, in the process, smack the kids or the kids’ spirits as well?

Help, I need a plant prophet.

How does God act in this world?

a new life emerging pointed out this powerful article The fragile mortality of God by Julie Bogart this morning. I have to agree with one of the over-all points that we often have to come up with our own theology to explain God and our relationship to/with God. There are so many contradictions and questions in the usual explanations about God and God's actions/non-actions in the world. Can we explain away the contradictions? Can we live in the tensions of the paradoxes? Does God really stir His/Her finger in the pot that is the earth? This article lays out some hard issues that I don't always want to think about.

Why it is hard for non-Christians to take (our) religion seriously.

Out of the Middens makes some pointed comments about the role of Christian faith in the lives of some prominent people in the US.

Lay, Mister Lay, Lay

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Linked with Christians around the Globe.

Linked with Christians around the Globe

Dietrich Bonhoffer said in Life Together:

It is the voice of the Church that is heard in singing together. It is not you that sings, it is the Church that is singing, and you, as a member of the Church, may share in its song. Thus all singing together…serves to widen our spiritual horizon, make us see our little company as a member of the great Christian Church on earth, and help us willingly and gladly to join our singing, be it feeble or good, to the song of the Church.

I like this thought.

Some time ago, a pastor preached a Maundy Thursday sermon about the Last Supper and the Communion we were about to partake in. He emphasized that through the communion, the bread and the wine, we were not only fed by Christ, but we were linked, “in communion,” with the members of Christ’s church all over the world, including those from all the past centuries who were now with God, and those of the time to come. This thought has stayed with me when we celebrate communion.

Bonhoffer’s thought may serve to remind me of why we sing. It is a good reason to try music from other cultures and from other times.

My jumping off point for this thought is from Lutheran Zephry Christian Worship & the Pastor's Personality” at

Lutheran Zephyr

Ah yes, God is Good!

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Good questions

http://justjosmidden.blogspot.com/  Out of the Middens asks some good questions about the current political games, excuse me, climate that is going on.  Someone I know called their congressmen's answering machines 'cause you can't get through to the real people, and said that this tax cut was immoral.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Iraqi President Says Killing Must Stop

I just read this headline on an AP report.  Maybe I'm cynical???  My reaction was, "Well, DUH!"
I don't think any rational person would have thought that they would "kill their own" at a greater rate than they've killed the outsiders. 

pathetic and glad

I checked the email address associated with this blog and there were 5 email!  Hooray. 
I'm glad I checked it because there was a very detailed reply to the questions I posed and there was a reply regarding a trip I'm taking to Philly and LTSP next week. 
But the other emails:  a couple of emails to myself because I was checking to see if that address was actually working.  Sheesh.
And a spam.  Weird spam of the same type I've been getting at my main address for the last three months in increasing numbers.  It has an odd pastel background, a very blocky font, odd syntax, and about economic stuff.  I've only scanned my eyes over it.  My ISP is now filtering me with the Spam Assassin, and I filter suspected spam right to the delete file.  However, I do have to double check at times because sometimes a good email also gets filtered out.
I think that this particular type of spam has something to do with blogger/blogspot or blogs in general because the more I've been blogging and reading blogs, the more of these I've gotten.  And now this has followed me to my blog email as well.  Our household does not get these at our other email address.
I guess I just felt that I was pathetic to get excited about the number of emails. 

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Survey for Lutherans

I have lived in the same place, attended the same church for quite some time. I don’t often get to attend other churches due to distance or having to travel on a Sunday when visiting relatives, most of whom are Lutheran.

I've been reading lots of Lutheran blogs, which has led me to the conclusion that Lutheran churches may have different styles of worship, perhaps depending on the types of members and especially on the interests and styles of the pastors.

I'd be interested in finding out how other churches work so that I can get a sense of the sameness or uniqueness of various Lutheran churches. Answer whatever you can or write a narrative about your church, either here or at your blog, but put the URL in the comments section.

1. What is the approximate numbers who worship on a Sunday morning? How many services? Are there midweek worship opportunities? Why? Are there any outreach worship services?

2. Do people travel a long way to this church? Are there other Lutheran churches people can choose from without traveling more than 15 miles? Is your church in a tiny town, rural area, small city, big city?

3. What age groups does your church attract? Since younger adults often don’t attend church, if you do have lots of young adults, do you know what brings them to your church? Do you have a youth group? Do you have adults who volunteer to help? Do you pay a youth leader?

4. Does this church have a mixture of ethnic backgrounds? Does this church have mostly people who were always Lutheran or does it have many people who came from other types of denominations? If your church has people of mixed denominational backgrounds, do you know why they come to your church?

5. How many pastors does your church have? Other employees who do ministry, such as a youth director or parish nurse?

6. Would you say that your church has a strong pastoral leadership style or a style of lots of lay leaders, committees, that are active and that the pastor can delegate to? Other styles? Does your church have any lay people who are willing to be the worship leader at a Sunday service? Lay people who preach? Lay people who visit the shut-ins? Lay people who help serve communion? Other opportunities for lay people? If you are in a church where the pastor is in charge of everything, what do you think would happen if a new pastor wanted the people to be part of the ministry? Is your pastor pulled in many directions, in danger of being over committed and worn out? Do you think that most people realize all that a pastor does?

7. What is the worship style of your church? Green book? Blue book? Maroon book? Your own music or books? Liturgical? Formal? Informal? Mixed even in the same service? Different services for different types of styles? Do you have an organ, piano, guitar, other instruments? Does the pastor or worship leader sing the liturgy? Choir? Mostly traditional hymns? Newer praise music? Music from various ethnic backgrounds, even if your people are not of that background? Who decides what hymns will be sung and what liturgical setting will be used?

8. Is your church building a "traditional" style building? More modern style? Older building remodeled into a modern style? Explain. Do you think that the style of the building influences they style of the worship?

9. Have you had a woman as president of the church or council? Have you had a woman pastor or a woman in another leadership position? If so, is there anything notable in the way the woman was view in that role?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

National Day of Prayer

National Day of Prayer


I guess today is the National Day of Prayer.  This is something I don’t pay much attention to because I don’t like much about public showiness of religion.  I do think it is good that a number of politicians in Washington and elsewhere do get together on a regular basis for sharing their faith and prayer.  However, this annual day gets on the television, which I think is the purpose more than praying is the purpose.


I do want to note with sadness something that seems to be common when a public person comments on a heartbreaking event.  Many of these speakers, interviewees, and commentators have said, “We send our prayers out to her.”  Or “Send your prayers in his direction.”




Don’t prayers go (up) to God?  I don’t know that God is “up,” but that is the common metaphor.  Maybe prayers go out to God or over to God or down to God, but they aren’t meant to go TO the person prayed about. 


I haven’t quite figured out if this is a tongue tied expression from someone not used to speaking of faith related issues in public or perhaps it is an attempt by the person to jump on the current band wagon of public faith issues, but that person isn’t literate in churchy talk, and so makes this mistake.


Has anyone else noticed this?


What do you think?  Am I too cynical?