Sunday, September 30, 2007

I've arrived... a town on the shore of Lake Michigan after a lot of driving today and a
lot of driving on Friday. Friday, my first stop was at a clinic in a city on
the shore of Lake Superior. Who would have thought that a clinic visit for a
few "shots," scheduled for 10:30 am would not be done until 12:15. I wonder
what THAT will cost! But what a gorgeous view from the third floor windows of
that clinic!

Driving pet peeve: driving on a four lane road, not too many cars near me,
being passed by another car, which then proceeds to pull over right in front of
me so that I have to slow down. Grrrr. Made worse when it is raining and the
passing car has no mud flaps, so that it is followed by a mini cloud which
impairs my vision.

Second driving pet peeve: being stopped by a cop in a suburb because when I
attempted to move to the left lane for a left turn, I looked over my shoulder
and saw a car approaching too fast, so I straightened out back to the center
lane. At the very most, my left front wheel touched the white line. The cop
told me that I should do a better job of watching where I'm driving. "YES
SIR!" Why wasn't that other car, which was traveling twice as fast as anybody
else, the one stopped? The cop also told me that I was "fleeing" from him.
Ahemmmm, I was driving 5 mph, looking for a safe place to stop. My
"witnesses," the passangers in the car, said I did nothing wrong. They were
alertly watching the road with me because they were giving me directions.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Away, away, I'll be away!

Family doings, lots of driving by myself……..

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Autumn and the end of the drought

Last week I took a drive south for 30 miles, across the continental divide, where bedrock sticks out of the ground. The maples were in their glory. They are always beautiful, but even more so when they are in contrast to the dark green of pines and spruces. All three species love to grow on high ground and rocky soil. Isn't amazing how what seems to be the worse ground can produce such beauty? Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera along that day. But I did take a picture this past weekend while I was at a retreat.

The mushrooms are growing in my yard. We've had about 4 -5 inches of rain in the last few weeks, slightly making up of the prolonged drought. However, east and north of here, several places had that much rain two different times. The lakes and rivers are again full. Our lawn has been mowed a couple of times this month, but not since early July.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Who's the biggest Lutheran?

Hmmmm, I am dyed in the wool Lutheran, but I only got 130 points on this quiz.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

blog pause?

My sister has serious surgery yesterday and I will drive to see her today (100 miles.)  And I’m supposed to be ‘retreating’ this weekend, starting tomorrow.  We’ll see, as I don’t feel like I’m going to be able to relax much.  Actually, it is a working retreat, not spiritual or intellectual, but never-the-less, a time away.  I hope it will be artistically inspirational for me.



Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Link corrected for the CRC

Christian Unity in Appalachia

This is the correct link for # 7. I'm having trouble getting the correct link to "take." Thanks for the correction.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Christian Reconciliation Carnival #8 – September links posted.

Throughout my life, I have strongly identified myself with my denomination, so much so that when I’ve moved, I automatically joined the local church of my denomination without checking out other churches. Now I’ve been a member of the same church for 30 years. I LIKE my church, but I don’t look around much because I’m in a rut. A rut can certainly narrow one’s view so that the rich variety of the Christian Church in the world isn’t even in sight.

Occasionally I’ve met people who identify themselves by the name “Christian” rather than with a denominational title because they’ve moved around and attended a variety of churches. They know from experience that they attend Christ’s Church, not a denominational church, no matter where they are. It is, of course, legitimate to ask the question, “Is it possible to be so broad minded as to have no depth?”

The question of the month speaks to the richness of the Church, and it invites readers to think about times they have looked at something in a new way when they’ve stepped out of their own tradition.

How have you experienced Christian worship and practice in another culture or country or denomination that expanded your view of God, worship, or how to live the Christian life? This might include how encountering a different practice led you to a new/different interpretation of some Bible verses. Did you see your own traditional ways with new eyes? Have you actually changed the way you live or work?

While we may also encounter practices that we reject, this is intended to focus on Christian expressions which broaden our horizons in a positive way.

1) D. W. Congdon at The Fire and The Rose asks the basic question,
“How do we define the church?” He takes us on a time travel trip with answers from the Gospels, early church fathers, various creeds, as well as modern denominations.

2) Mark Olson at Pseudo-Polymath discusses visited Roman Catholic Churches in The Philippines which opened his eyes to practices he hadn’t observed before. He goes on to discuss Eastern Orthodoxy.

3) Weekend Fisher at Heart, Mind, Soul and Strength vividly recalls a trip to Mexico when she was 18. “The old saying ‘there’s more than one way to do things’ became less of a cliché and more of a living reality to me as I spent some time worshiping alongside Baptists. The lines dividing Christians seemed to me an unfortunate thing” This experience may be the beginning of her heart for reconciliation.

4) The Lutheran Zephyr describes encounters with three Christian groups: Evangelical Christianity, Roman Catholicism, and Latino Lutheranism. “I am grateful for the saints of God I have met in these traditions, and give thanks to God for the ways in which I have seen the Holy beyond the walls of my own tradition and culture.”

5) I (PS) recall the blessings of interdenominational Bible Study

6) Andy at Sinning Boldly posted Mother Russia: A Reminiscence. There he had “an experiential knowledge of what is meant by worshipping with the whole Church” and observed (and tried to participate in) the physical movements of the orthodox worship experience.

7) D.P. nominated a blog post by the Internet Monk (Michael Spencer) about Christian Unity in Appalachia. He describes both the pros and cons of a kind of “ground level ecumenism” and cooperation among many Christian groups. For example, he says, “The result is a remarkable amount of unity among diverse Christian communities as they work against the common enemies – drug use and corruption – with a common strategy at the core: the eventual conversion of dealers and user to Christ.”

Perhaps the rich variety of the Christian world could be viewed as menu choices at a wholesome restaurant. We love our comfort food; we occasionally try new foods; and we’ll be fine as long as we don’t eat just desert. We might be surprised by the joy of a new taste treat, even as we are nourished by the main entrée, the Gospel.

Quite some years ago, our pastor invited some musicians, Roman Catholic relatives of the church secretary, to do the Polka Mass for our church service. I went, even though I was prepared to hate it. I was surprised by joy. The Gospel message was expressed in such simple, straightforward language that it moved me anew. The link has music and pictures of Pope John Paul II and Father Perkovich.

Why do we so often make this all so complicated and set up barriers?

Other Submissions:

8) Joel Spencer at The Double Edged Sword takes a new and deeper look at Romans 12:2, which talks about the renewing of our mind. “We have been given a Helper, the Holy Spirit, to assist us, convict us, and enable us to be transformed, but we must daily, instance by instance choose to renew our minds.”

Ed. Note: I’m wondering if this is the same thing I’ve heard expressed as “making a daily decision for Christ” in my own tradition?

Three sequential blog posts by three authors discuss “Innovations For Your Church!”

9) Jared at The Gospel-Driven Church posted first.

10) The Internet Monk added several more "shocking" points.

11) Dr. Platypus added a few ideas of his own.

Ed. Note: The comment sections are interesting. A couple of the readers, myself included, thought “HUH? Your church doesn’t already do these things?” I told you I was in a rut. I didn’t know that there were churches that don’t have Bible reading, communion and preaching of the Gospel. Did I understand this all correctly? Is it sarcastic?


Jeff Pinyon at The Cross Reference and Weekend Fisher contributed a diablog discussion of what “having Christ” means and how one becomes “worthy.”

12) “Having Christ” Meriting Eternal Life and

13) Christ, Eternal Life, and Merit

Other Submissions:

14) PrincipiumUnitatis gives a number of links to various discussions on the unity or reunion of Christians. “We have to believe that we can tear down those walls that now divide the Body of Christ. Protestants and Catholics are ten years away from being separated from each other for five hundred years. Catholics and Orthodox are forty-seven years from being separated from each other for one thousand years. Come, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us tear down these walls, for the glory of Christ, and the sake of His sacred pierced heart that continues to cry out for the peace and full unity of His covenant people.”

Two blogs discussed where Christians can agree about Baptism.

15) Adrian Warnock cites Lig Duncan and

16) Reformation 21 posts 17 statements that were agreed upon by Dever and Coffin in 2001.

17) And lastly, Pseudo-Polymath discusses how ecumenical differences may be approached.

Ed. Note: If there are problems with the links or my interpretations, please post a comment or email me.

Any other submissions on the topic of the month could be considered for future publication of the CRC. I KNOW that some of you have previously posted about your cross-boundary worship experiences.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bumping up against other Christians

My faith journey has taken me down the Lutheran path. I started on this path because my mother and her family were Lutheran. I know I’ll stay on a Lutheran path because of the strong emphasis on God’s saving grace and because Lutherans are comfortable “living in the tensions” of life.

Looking back on my faith journey, I can see that there were some strong influences that occurred when I bumped up against other traditions.

I was raised in a church in Milwaukee with year round Sunday School and a strong memorization program in Confirmation class. I am grateful for what I learned! However, there was no mention of spirituality or putting faith into practice. In fact, in my confirmation classes, we recited. We NEVER discussed the meanings of the passages, nor did we question anything. [Is this really how it used to be elsewhere or was this an extreme case???] The term Frozen Chosen could have applied to this church. I was never taught that other churches were wrong, but somehow I got the strong feeling that we were a “little more right.”

I had a strong faith, nevertheless, but untested.

My first memory of encountering another tradition was when my neighbor invited me to a Christian youth group she attended. This group still exists as VCY America, a Christian radio network. I still remember hearing the sermon on John 3:16 and the altar call. Of course, I didn’t know about altar calls. We were asked, “Who needs Jesus in your life? Raise your hand.” Of course I needed Jesus in my life; what would my life be without Jesus? My friend made be go forward because I had raised my hand. I was flustered, to say the least. Maybe I even felt that I had been “had.” I didn’t understand that they were really asking people who had no faith to step forward in faith.

This might seem an odd recollection to put forth in a Reconciliation Carnival, but I think it sets the stage for some of my later thoughts.

Ten years later, I was in a new place with a new job and a new roommate. It was a very down time for me due to my father being in his last illness, among other things. The Lutheran pastor invited a few people from several churches to a Bible study that was to be discussion, not a class. He wanted to study with a group of faithful people from various denominational backgrounds without being the leader. This was a rich and heart-opening experience.

Our slightly different takes on some verses and our different prayer styles enriched our time together. The most important lesson I learned was about putting faith into practice and serving others even when it costs us something. I was greatly served by a couple in that group at a difficult time. I also read some inspiring books about prayer and praise that were new concepts to me. Later I was married by that Lutheran pastor in that church, even though I had moved back to Milwaukee.

After we moved to our present location, I was invited to join an informal Bible study in a senior citizens housing apartment. This also was a group with a mixed background, denominationally. I found it a joy and blessing to study with Christians who had been through the valleys of life and come out the other side with great faith. My daughter tagged along to these meetings when she was a preschooler. She learned a great deal about prayer just from observing these faithful older women.

A few years later after I had a health crisis [minor on the grand scheme of things, but important to me.] my faith became pretty “thin.” I was invited to a study group of young mothers which hired a baby sitter to watch the kids while we studied. This group met at the Baptist church, but was “independent” and mixed. The woman who invited me was of Baptist background, but she was the long time organist at my Lutheran church. She knew the Bible at least as well as any pastor I’ve met and had a gift for leading small groups. Later our pastor encouraged her to begin studies, and she went on to become rostered by the ELCA. Another woman in the group was raised on an Indian reservation because her father was a Baptist mission pastor. She had a gift for taking a Bible passage and showing us how we could put it into practice in our daily life.

Again I felt that having people of mixed denominational backgrounds lead to a richness in our discussions. Our prayers were “enlarged” by our various styles. I learned about some faith-life disciplines that I hadn’t yet encountered. I learned anew that our faith is in Jesus, the son of God, who saved us. That this binds us, no matter how differently we might express some of the points of doctrine. I also learned that sometimes when we think we aren’t agreeing, we may be just using different language to express the same thing. I’ve learned those groups that so easily ask, “Are you saved” teach their people a sincere desire to spread the Gospel. I’ve learned that some of the meanings of the words used when one talks about “being saved” varies by denomination and culture.

I’ve also been visited many many times by the Jehovah Witnesses, one woman in particular. During the first few visits, 30 years ago, I quickly found out that my Bible knowledge had no depth. I had memorized a lot of verses and doctrinal statements, but I didn’t know “why” I “believed” them. I was challenged! I read books about some doctrinal issues, and I read about the JWs. I now view the visits of the JWs as a mission field which steps right into my house. I tell them about how God is working in my life.

Windows to View God

About 18 years ago, I was in a class taught by H. George Anderson. A metaphor he used has been very meaningful to me. He said something like: Doctrine should not be a hoop that one jumps through in order to belong to a church group. But rather, good doctrine is like a window which helps one see God more clearly. I have expanded this metaphor based on what it is like to view a mountain, which represents God.

When I first saw the mountains, say, across the plains of Montana, they were small and distant, but they were real and enticing. When I was finally closer, I was in the foothills, which at times hid the view of the mountains. I came around a curve, and then I saw one very large mountain. I drove closer to where I could get out and hike. By then I could no longer see the peak, only the road and the path and the trees rising up the mountainside. I walked up through those trees, until I was above the tree line. Finally the peak again came into view. What a magnificent view, but how limited. I could see just one side of the peak. I could not see much in the lateral directions because of the trees and I could not see the base of the mountain.

Each of our doctrinal “windows” allows us to view God, but God is too big to be seen wholly and understood wholly. Some of the windows give a view of God from the north, some from the south. Some are wide picture windows, but God is quite distant through that viewpoint. Some windows are narrow, but hold a closer, more limited view. There might even be an aerial view, but from that vantage point, the contours are flattened out.

In my life, I’ve learned more about God because for 30 years I’ve had the privilege of attending a midweek Bible study with people of a variety of denominational background who know that loving the Lord is central to their life. I’ve been able to appreciate several views of God beyond that of the Lutheran doctrinal window. Praise God!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Christian Reconciliation Carnival

Any more submissions for the carnival?  See topic and guidelines below.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Rain - Respite!

We had 3.75 inches of rain on Thursday!  Hooray!  We are still 8 or 10 inches below normal, but the fire danger is over. 

Monday, September 03, 2007

Christian Reconciliation Carnival: Call for Submissions

The Christian Reconciliation Carnival was started at Heart, Mind, Soul and Strength in January, 2007 as a forum for Christian bloggers to post contributions, as W. F. put it: “It's intended as a "Road to Reconciliation" Carnival, a place where we do not expect too much of ourselves except humility, and a Carnival that is a cease-fire zone.”

See below for this month’s topic, but blog postings on other topics related to Christian Reconciliation may also be nominated (see guidelines). You may nominate blog articles by other writers, as long as the guidelines are followed. In the spirit of reconciliation, how about asking the writer’s permission, please!

To take part in the September Carnival, please send an email here, by 9/10/2007, with your blogging name, topic name, etc. (see guidelines), and a link to the URL of the blog post. Don’t send the links or emails directly to my email address. Please feel free to let your blog friends in on this and/or post a link on your blog.

I’ll compile a list of the postings, which will appear on this blog on about 9/15/2007, God willing, and if my really slow internet connection cooperates.

We reserve the right to not post links to articles that are very similar to another writer’s contribution, and, of course, any that are detrimental to reconciliation.

I chose this month’s topic because I realize that I am really comfortable with my denomination, perhaps stuck in a rut in it, yet over the years I’ve had ah-ha moments when studying the Bible with Christians from other groups. And, I’m looking forward to a trip to Africa where I anticipate worshiping with Christians who will do things quite differently than I’m used to, not to mention, worshiping in another language.

Topic for September, 2007:

How have you experienced Christian worship and practice in another culture or country or denomination that expanded your view of God, worship, or how to live the Christian life? This might include how encountering a different practice led you to a new/different interpretation of some Bible verses. Did you see your own traditional ways with new eyes? Have you heard some Bible passages with new ears? Have you actually changed the way you live or work?

While we may also encounter practices that we reject, this is intended to focus on Christian expressions which broaden our horizons in a positive way.

May God bless your reflection on this topic!

Those wishing to host future CRCs, see guidelines and email here.